Doling out marriage advice isn't something I really feel qualified to do. I'll wax expert on tiny-apartment living all day, but an expert on a happy marriage? Come back to me in a few years. Still, readers write in on a fairly frequent basis asking how we survive moments of marital strife in a tiny space. Mostly the call for help is something along the lines of nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide. In keeping with this week's national discussion of marriage, here's a trick for surviving a fight in a tiny apartment with your husband, or wife, or anything you got now.
I'm a 0 to 60 in 5 seconds flat kind of person. I blow up easily, I feel bad about blowing up, and then I want an immediate recovery. I do cry out loud, I don't keep it inside. James is the opposite. Of course. He's quiet and contemplative during arguments. It drives me bonkers. Where I want to talk through things right away--often while my temper is still flaring--James needs a minute to separate himself. I can be pretty bad about giving it to him, and not just because there's nowhere for him to hide in our tiny space.
I'm trying a new trick that is kind of mortifying to write about, but I'm going to anyway:
Play a love song.
Sometimes creating emotional distance from the fight itself is more important than creating physical distance. It's really hard to keep your blood boiling when you listen to a song that you love, with the person who you love, about love. It's kind of like putting on a lullaby to soothe a crying baby. If you force yourself to listen through a song, even if you're hot-tempered like me, you might just give yourself and your loved one the time that you need, as James would say, to "bring it down a notch." This is an old favorite.
We also sometimes scurry up the stairs* to the loft, or sequester ourselves in the bathroom, but neither of these options are really very helpful. Especially if you're James...I follow him up there every single time, poor thing.
*PS. James and I repainted our stairs this past weekend. Game changer.
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