Last Word

The foolproof way to end an argument when you're cohabiting in lockdown

All you have to do is ask yourself this simple question

17 May 2020 - 00:01 By
When you're in a relationship arguments can be like hangovers that last for days.
When you're in a relationship arguments can be like hangovers that last for days.
Image: 123RF/Wavebreak Media Ltd

Have you ever played a game called Would you rather? It's a good one to play during challenging circumstances — whether that's a 19-hour in-airport layover, sitting through the 400th ad break in My Kitchen Rules or during a global pandemic. It's a great reminder that no matter what you end up with, there's always a worse option.

As Drew Carey says in the game show, Whose Line is it Anyway?: “It's a game where everything's made up and the points don't matter.” They don't matter, just like everything you say after sex, or restraint at a buffet or wearing pants for a Zoom call.

The rules are simple; you take turns asking each other “Would-you-rather” questions. They can live in any realm, from the easy: Would you rather have Cyril or Zuma as president during a crisis? to the pertinent, “Would you rather homeschool your kids or school-school 30 of other people's kids?”

There's the thought-provoking, “Would you rather your shirts were always one size too small or two sizes too big?” and the diabolical, “Would you rather have one nipple or two belly buttons?", “Would you rather only ever eat dirt or slime?” or “Would you rather run out of loo paper or a sense of humour?”

I asked my business partner's six-year-old over Skype, “Would you rather have a kiss or a hug?” and he said, “A puppy”. Which leads to the next logical question, would you rather play “Would you rather” with a six-year old or a biscuit tin?

I've even been playing by myself during lockdown, with rounds like, “Would you rather do the dishes or eat eggs with your fingers?” But it's easier to cheat when you play by yourself.

We're all doing what we can to entertain ourselves right now. When day fifty-eleventy — or whatever day we're at — rolled around, I realised I had reached peak sense of humour failure. And judging by social media, I'm not the only one. I read an article about it.

Psychologists and researchers pulled together statistics from astronauts in space for months and climatologists stuck in the Arctic and called it the “Third Quarter of Isolation” and now it's a “thing”. We're proven to hit our natural cohabiting lockdown slump round about now. Which is probably why last week my guy and I had The Argument.

Some couples thrive on rows, maybe because it's the only time they get to have angry-then-happy sex. Me, I hate arguing. Probably because I have four sisters and we shared a bathroom for more than a decade.

Some couples thrive on rows, maybe because it's the only time they get to have angry-then-happy sex

So, The Argument. It was one of those that somehow tectonically shift the shape of the relationship. Call it frustration, call it cabin fever or call it the last bottle of wine, call it whatever, just don't tell it to “Relax”, “Chill” or “Calm down”.

In a relationship, arguments are like hangovers. There are one-day ones, two-day ones and the all-fall-down ones, where you can feel the effects for anything from three days to a lifetime. There are brands of both ex-boyfriend and tequila that if I get even a whiff of today, years later, still make me feel sick.

What was it about? I don't know. In the novel, The Most Fun We Ever Had, by Claire Lombardo, she describes one argument as “Just textbook being a person”, and that's the best way I can think to explain it. He was being a person, I was being a person and disagreeing ensued.

How do you know you've won an argument as an adult? Is it the person who sulks the longest? It can't be if only one of you is a sulker. Is it the one who is the bigger person and apologises first? Or is that an admission of guilt, so then it's automatically the other person who takes the trophy? Is it the one who smiles first or hides a dark chocolate Ferrero Rocher ball on the other person's pillow?

Or does nobody win and you both just flare down after a bit, only more wary and bruised than you were before, until that too fades and the disagreement ultimately deepens your understanding of each other?

Anyway, on day three of The Argument hangover my business partner played “Would you rather be on lockdown with the person you're with or with one of your exes?” Which was when I realised that we were going to be okay and I still liked him on the whole, so it didn't actually matter that he'd been wrong or — if he'd written this column — that I'd been wrong.

So last round before we go, would you rather always be right or always be happy?

Follow the author of this article, Paige Nick, on Twitter: @paigen

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