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The “In a van, down by the river” fight

Sam and I deal with stress in very different ways. I like to harp on things, to figure out every possible solution to a problem that may or may not occur. He likes to take his time with decisions, and to come to a definite solution to an already presented problem and stick with it.

Naturally, planning to move with no definite time frame and the house not selling causes us a lot of friction and stress lately.

From our marriage counselor, we learned some great communication tools, along with the problems we both bring to the table when we argue. I tend to explode and get easily irritated, Sam bottles it all up and then gets upset later on.

So the other day we’re talking about what happens if our house doesn’t sell by the time he has to go to work. We don’t have a date for that yet, so he doesn’t want to chat on a non-issue, and I want to talk about it for hours. I tell him I’ll have to stay here while he moves so I can take care of the house until it sells. Neither of us are pleased with this option. It means he would be gone all week, and we have to pay for him to live somewhere else while paying the mortgage here. We can’t afford that.

So Sam says, “I can just live in the car down there.”

Which instantly infuriates me. It seems like he’s just pulling things out of thin air instead of thinking of a reasonable solution. I start in, “What? What are you talking about? How would you live in the car? Where would you iron your clothes? Cook? Get ready for work?”

He shrugs. “I lived in worse conditions in Iraq.”

This makes me even angrier, because we aren’t in Iraq and I can’t imagine us telling people, “Oh, Sam lives in the Kia while we’re waiting for the house to sell,” and everyone being ok with that. I’m upset he isn’t being realistic about this, talking with me about ways to work everything out.

“How stupid,” I retort, “Why don’t you come up with some real options? Like living in a motel or an apartment and I’ll go back to work for a while down here to pay for it?”

He shakes his head and starts in again about living in the car if he needed to. By this time I am really mad. We go round and round about it, with me saying that he isn’t being logical, and him saying that he doesn’t know any other way we can afford it.

I tell him he’s crazy and out to prove how macho he is by saying he’ll “live off the land” in a car on the freeway somewhere, and he counters by telling me he doesn’t want to do that, but he would if it came down to it so I didn’t have to work. He would live in the car.

Furious, I yell (Bella’s in bed) that he’s being ridiculous, that I don’t want to ta lk about it anymore, and that if he says anything about “living in a van down by the river” again I’m going to really flip out.

At that point we both start to laugh. That SNL skit with Chris Farley is one of our favorites and we both are picturing him in the room with us screaming about it.

Sam explains, after we both calm down, that he just wanted me to understand no matter how tough times are, he would make sure that Bella and I were cared for.

Even if it took him living out of the car.

I explain that, to me, living in a car isn’t a feasible option. I’d rather focus my time thinking about ways to make sure he was safe and could do well at his job if he had to live there alone for a while. Him mentioning the car idea just gave me more stress.

We agreed to let it go until we know a date he starts work. I try not to bring it up anymore, since it doesn’t do any good hashing out phantom ideas that might never come to pass. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

And, if worse comes to worse, well – we’ll all just live in the van down by the river for a while.