fantastic four

In ALL, MOVIES by Stephanie Klein36 Comments

I’m watching The Fantastic Four right now.  I’m lying on the floor, on my stomach, typing this.  The Suitor is on the sofa, watching me and the movie.  We’re at the scene where Plastic Man says to the sometimes-invisible Jessica Alba, "I mean, you broke up with me right?  I mean, you walked out the door."  She was ready for the next step.  She wanted to share an apartment.  "Did you feel anything when I left?  Do you feel anything now?"  Well, it went something like that.

So I slinked away to write this.  I cannot begin to express how lucky I am.  I hear things like that and remember when I was there, in that position of trying to move things forward, of wanting more, of having talks about "us."  Don’t get me wrong, I bring up the "us talk" probably way more than The Suitor would like, but it’s what I do, part of that introspective me who wants to reaffirm things daily.  But when I hear it I realize how lucky I am not to be there now, to be in a relationship with someone who, despite how much we argue, never EVER makes me feel like I’m trying to convince him of "us."  In fact, he does a lot more of the cheerleading.  I want to run, and he reminds me why I’m there.  He reminds me that I never want to leave; I just want to run out of fear.  So we stand our ground, and we share it.  And I’m so so Goddamn lucky to have someone in my life, a partner, who always wants to move things forward, who isn’t afraid of our future, who loves us and me, and I’m lucky not just because he never makes me doubt that but because he reminds me that he’s my choice.  I chose him not because of how in love he was with me, is with me, but because of who he is, every single day.  I feel blessed because I get to live with him, to sleep with him, to smell him and hear his stories every day.  I get to be the voice he hears when he walks in the door.  To be his dinner companion, his Marc Cohn True Companion, as cheeseass as that sounds.  I get to see him every day!  I am so blessed. Yes, he is a big pain in the ass, my God, he really really is, but I love him.  And it’s not "but I love him" in that way that excuses anything.  Believe me, I know how I want to be treated, and for the most part, except when he’s frustrated and screams "fuck yourself" at me (which I know he regrets), he exceeds my expectations.  I love him so much it makes me cry.  Okay, everything makes me cry, but he makes me cry in a way that makes me feel more alive.  He makes me want to be a better person, as much as I argue with him about it at the time.  I will admit though, I’m scared.

I’m scared of losing my identity, especially during a fight.  As soon as I admit, "you’re right.  I was wrong.  I’m sorry," I worry that I’m giving up too much of myself.  Intellectually though, I know it’s just a conversation, that I’m growing by saying, "I’m sorry; you were right," but emotionally, I feel like I’m handing him a piece of me, a thigh or a breast.  I feel like a chicken.  I’m so scared that it will become a habit, each of us in our roles, of right and wrong.  So scared that if I give in, I’m giving in a piece of me.  It stands for something bigger; I worry that I’m losing my footing on solid ground.  But I know that’s not the case when I step away from it, get some perspective, think about the situation as if I weren’t part of it.  It’s still hard, the letting go.

We had a fight the other night, and for the first time, we went to sleep angry with each other.  And you know what?  It worked.  Letting it go just worked.  Part of me wanted to bring it up again the next day, to prove my point.  At weddings, I sometimes hear that advice in some speech from some uncle about "never go to sleep mad," but it’s a myth.  Sometimes it takes morning.  I didn’t bring it up because I realize we have the rest of our lives to work through together.  What’s giving up one fight?  It’s a lot when you’re one of us.  But we’re both working on it.  And it’s hard, and I’m glad because "hard" means I’m growing.  When we struggle and hurt and think too much, I really believe we’re growing.  I’m growing all the time lately, and I’m okay with that.  Yeah, I think way too much, but I’m a writer, and that’s my sick little analyzing way, and I’m okay with that too.

It’s called picking your battles and learning how to control your emotions, not unlike the fantastic four.


  1. Sometimes, we go to sleep mad. Just as cliche as "never go to sleep mad" is "everything looks better in the morning" – sometimes we just need to sleep on whatever it is we fought about, and sometimes the issue is really just bullshit, and all it takes is a night's sleep to get rid of it.

    I don't know, it works for us. And I feel you on the giving in. I have a hard time with that, too.

  2. Does there always have to be a right or a wrong? Can't you both have an opinion? Talk about cliche, I learned something in a management training class (aah the good ol' days). Great teacher, really. A people person, he was. He reminded us that sometimes, it isn't always best to be right. Sometimes, it's better to be effective. He called it the GULP theory. Greatest Unifying Leadership Principle. He said when you want to be right and you know it just isn't going to help the situation, just swallow, don't say anything–>Gulp. Can I have my 5 cents now?

  3. "At weddings, I sometimes hear that advice in some speech from some uncle about "never go to sleep mad," but it's a myth. Sometimes it takes morning."

    Amen sister! Aint that the truth…

  4. "A partner who loves…us…"

    That's the thing. That's what *I* think it's all about. It's loving the other person, of course, but also loving and liking the "we." No, it's not a separate entity, but it's part of the equation. You. Me. We.

    I really think the best relationships are where each person knows that there are always two people thinking about them. Wait, I promise, it makes sense. If you're thinking about yourself and your partner, and your partner is thinking about himself and you, there are always two. And the two are weighing priorities. "Is her need to talk greater than my need to be alone?" And vice versa. Two people always thinking of one.

    "Sorry." Is it more important to be right or more important not to hurt the one you love? No, it's not about sacrificing who you are. (Trust me. The last thing I would *ever* do is lose myself in someone else. The last thing I would do is mute myself.) It's about realizing you may have said something that hurt the one you love. It's about using the censor button before spewing crap. That's worthy of being sorry.

  5. First – how freakin' cool is it to be able to say "I'm a writer" and MEAN it? Go you.

    Second – I could not believe the crazy drama in the comments on another blog (I'm sure you know what I'm talking about). Good lord.

    Last – awwww. I know EXACTLY how you feel. Rob (er, Wilman) and I are going through a lot of the same stuff – knowing we love each other for who we are…but still driving each other crazy for various things and trying to figure out how to still be ourselves and still be a part of this amazing relationship and…it's just plain overwhelming sometimes. And we, too, have just let an argument work itself out overnight, although I have (in the past) totally fallen for all the Uncle Whoevers' speeches about never going to bed mad – and I agree with you that it totally works. And works well. (Although I still don't want to make a habit of it).

    I don't even know you, but I'm so glad you're happy. That sort of happiness is hard to come by.

  6. I think the best part of being in the right place with your significant other is knowing that you can speak your mind and be honest and not have to worry if that will put the two of you over the edge into some "never look back" territory.

    We rarely argue, but if/when we do it always gets resolved in one way, shape or form or another. But the most important thing is that we care enough about each other to know that no matter what we say — at least for the most part — one of us will still extend an olive branch once it's done.

    I don't think we've ever gone to bed angry, mostly because we make each other too happy to let it go that long. But agreeing to disagree — despite the fact that we're both stubborn, opinionated and committed to our values — saves many a cold night and makes for very warm, easy mornings.

  7. Its hard for me to 'leave' anything. When I try, he always comes out with something like 'this is all so very droll' in his sounds-just-like-Simon-Cowell accent. And I flip out.

    I cant argue…at all….because I get angry and lose all credibility. I haven't managed the 'control your emotions' part of being an adult. Luckily, I'm with someone who can. And its working. Droll or no…

  8. i really liked your paragraph transition in this one. 2nd was so confident and strong, then the 3rd was insecure and questioning. Just like real life.

  9. I don't think I'd like it if my boyfriend and I argued all the time and when he was frustrated he told me to go fcuk myself. Esp. the cursing part. I think that's totally disrespectful and completely juvenile.

  10. Just a suggestion, but have you ever thought of simply ignoring the Suitor (and vice versa) instead of fighting? First of all, even giving you the benefit of the doubt, you're probably not right more than 50% of the time, so half the time, you have no grounds for fighting. Secondly, at least 50% of the fights are about pure crap anyway, so even when you're 100% correct, there is still no reason to fight.

    My wife and I have fought over some really stupid and insignificant issues. And it takes a psychological toll. And there is always the issue about having a catastrophic fight that you cannot recover from.

    So here's my rules:

    1-Am I right?
    2-Is this important?
    3-Can I win?
    4-Can I win this without fighting? To the extent, I find writing a note to my wife a better option. It sounds silly, but people tend to lose the ability to listen when fighting. So I write up my proposal. I literally wrote up an entire schedule for the year, including x hours for the SB, x hours for opening day, etc. She can read this without having the pressure of responding to me.

  11. years ago i was in a relationship where we didn't just fight, we were ruthless to each other. after we broke up and i was able to take a breath and look back to try to figure out how that happened, i realized that we let ourselves to disrespect each other and once that happens, it seems like the relationship fell apart.

    i think there is a way to fight clean and to fight dirty – where you are out to hurt that other person, at the same time, you can fight and still have respect and care for each other. what the uncle said is actually from the bible, this is what it says (ephesians 4:26) "Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry–but don't use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don't stay angry. Don't go to bed angry."

  12. Even after 8 years of marriage- I still cannot admit verbally that I completely and wholly love someone else like you express here in your post. I'm like you in some respects I suppose– if I admit it- it means that my control slides. Its a slipperly slope- and it sucks. On the other hand- we live our lives- everyday and he doesnt hear enough about how much I adore him. He hears it sometimes- and I think he knows it- but I'm not sure he hears it enough. I hate to say- "he completes me" — but he does– even though he drives me nuts and isnt really in tune with me all of the time. We "fit"… thats the beautiful part.

  13. Stephanie – I read your site because you are single… and living a dream life in NY. I'm so happy that you are in love… but please, for the love of God, promise me that you no matter what happens with you and the suitor, you will pretend to be single.

    I just can't take another blog about planning a wedding, or what color some kid's snot was….

    I promise I will be SO HAPPY FOR YOU but could you pretend for me, stay single in NYC forever…

  14. pretty lucky…
    i read this and i know, in my bones, that one day i will have that. it's not a "hope" it's a stance. i have to believe that.

  15. It's only been two months, but I avoid talks about 'us'. He doesn't. But my boy has a habit of jumping into things heart first and that scares me a bit. He said he wanted to be exclusive first. He said I love you first.

    I'm glad you're happy. I have to wonder, though, how can you stand having The Suitor tell you to "fuck yourself"? I would have to knock my boy into next year if he did that.

  16. my guy might do it once, but then he wouldn't be my guy any longer. My ex husband crossed that line…that enters my realm of 'unforgiveable'. No calling names because they're impossible to forget.

    Back to the point, I'm so happy you're happy – I know that's the message we should be celebrating. Have a splendid weekend.

  17. In my last relationship, I was dealing with a overly dramatic and irrational woman. When we fought, 99% of the time I would prefer to just sleep on it…it always helped me move on. However, she always wanted to settle it before going to sleep. It never worked…she was trying to settle something that didn't need to be settled. Mature people recognize that you can agree to disagree and let's move on to the next topic. Irrational, dramatic, and emotionally unstable people need to beat the dead horse over and over again.

  18. I think "go fuck yourself" is just another way of saying "I think you're being ridiculous". He's not saying that you're a bad person, or making any long-term judgements — just expressing complete frustration in the moment. And you know, if you can fight well, you can have a relationship well.

  19. Funny how with time, you just slide into the "us" like it was always that way. I'm still afraid of being trapped or losing myself, and gawd knows I still want to cut and run sometimes, but he keeps me sane…and he makes laugh, which, no matter how mad I get, makes all the difference.

    What can I say? He makes me a better person. For that, I don't mind losing a little of me. It's worth the trade.

  20. Hope you're not sensitive about the swearing…. People get pissed off. It's not like he was disparaging your charater. I don't even think it's disrespectful. It's more of a familiar way to say "leave me alone, damn it" …of course, I'm fluent in obsene language, so my perspective may be a bit skewed. I figure that if there's no personal attack, it's more of a dramatic declaration or exclamation.

  21. WHOA…You must have a secret microscope, looking into my BF and I's relationship.
    Had the most TERRIBLE fight the other weekend, went to bed mad at one another, woke up refreshed and resolved. We still talked, but he woke up and said, "I'm sorry for yesterday. It was good to go to bed and not have 'mad sex'"
    I always read and love it!

  22. i have to admit, this sentence made me laugh:

    "except when he's frustrated and screams "fuck yourself" at me (which I know he regrets), he exceeds my expectations"

    because i immediately thought:

    "except when he's frustrated and punches me in the face (which I know he regrets), he exceeds my expectations"

    i really don't understand what people fight about all the time. i don't think i ever had a yelling fight with any boyfriend, ever. i mean, i can understand getting frustrated. but screaming and yelling? my parents did that for a few years and then they broke up. it's totally pointless.

    then again, i like to go out with people who don't make me upset.

  23. Wait, why all of a sudden the constant use of the f-word in full-out spelling? What happened to fcuk? I miss that….

  24. Sandra and Christa — I totally agree with your assessment of the use of the statement "fuck yourself."

    Ari, there's a world of difference between passionately arguing about something and physical violence. I have been with my boyfriend for over three years and we have had any number of passionate arguments….and never in all the time have I ever felt physically threatened, despite the usage of any number of curse words on both our parts.

    Stephanie, I loved this post because it really struck a chord with me. I am also with someone who makes me feel good about being part of an "us" while still being "me". He is also someone I argue with passionately, someone who made me realize that going to bed mad isn't always a bad thing. Things really can "look better in the morning."

  25. I am sorry but why all of a sudden the f-word is spelled out in its entirety?
    what happened to the beloved fcuk? I miss it

  26. Sundry-

    I like what Amy said- 'We fit'. It's probably a good way to describe a lot of successful relationships.

    I also totally agree with Ari. I just don't see the need fighting, screaming and yelling. I don't yell at anyone, unless I am yelled at first. And I don't fight with anyone unless they instigate it. When I was in my 20's, it was always guys picking fights with other guys. Now that I'm a bit older, I'm finding girls like to fight a LOT more than guys. My POV is that you can tell/ask me anything, and as long as it's with a smile and a nice tone.

    On the GFY remark, I hope I would never say that, or never hear it (at least to my wife ,although someone in the local pub could easily hear it from me). I think it's obscene. However, I hear my neighbors husband say STFU on more than one occassion, and his wife says nothing. But somehow, it sounds more perfunctory than the way I say it. Perhaps when the suitor says it, it doesn't sound as bad.

    But I would still discourage it.

  27. I used to be with a guy who was definitely into us. Too bad I wasn't. I've been trying to convince every other guy since him. It must be great to not have to get him on board with the whole us thing, cause he's already there.

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