By Joe Rector

When people are together for any length of time, they are bound to argue. If they are family members, the spats are worse, sometimes even leading to fights. To be honest, most of those family quarrels begin over rather ridiculous things.

Husbands and wives sometimes have disagreements. When Amy and I first married, those times came quite often. We were learning to live together, something that is difficult for two individuals who have never been in such a close relationship. Each of us made messes that irked the other. Sometimes the arguments began over what television show we would watch.

Most of the time, I wound up in trouble with my wife for being “insensitive.” I’d say or do something that Amy considered thoughtless. Did I know that I had hurt her feelings by my comments or actions? No, I was oblivious to the faux pas, but I knew that something I did had landed me in trouble. Any attempts at discussion usually led to my wife’s going silent and my growing frustrated and angry. The resolution to the situation arrived when I uttered, “I’m sorry’” although I had no idea what sin I had committed.

Brothers and sisters constantly argue. The older child has an intense dislike for younger family members. Life was so much better when the older one was the only one. Fights occur everywhere; that includes at home and in cars, motel  rooms, and restaurants. A younger child invades the space of the older one, and screams of “get out of my room” echo throughout the house.

In cars, the wars start in the back seat. One child squalls, “Stop touching me” That only serves to up the ante as the offending small person holds a finger just above the complainer’s arm. “Stop! STOP! STOP!” the volume goes up with each successive command until the sound is close to piercing adult eardrums. At that point, the parent chimes in with his own demanding barks that tell both sides to cease and desist. The command is usually followed by a demand that begins with “Or else.” Only the bravest children dare to tempt fate then; they know that the wrath of a stressed parent can lead to painful consequences.

Teens and their parents engage in the most ridiculous arguments. The younger person punches the buttons of the parent, and the fight is on. My daughter Lacey was a master button pusher. She would complain about home, and on one occasion commented that she wished she could leave and never come back. I replied that I wished I could help her pack her bags. That wasn’t the best way to handle the situation, but she had managed to push the right buttons to lead to the answer.

One evening the family traveled to West Town Mall. I noticed that Lacey was sporting a thumb ring. For the life of me, I didn’t understand it, so I commented that “The demise of the Egyptian civilization was in part due to the preoccupation with personal appearance. For a minute the entire family sat silent, somewhat dumbfounded by the comment. Then my loving wife, who should have supported me, spewed out laughter that was followed by raucous yuks from my children. I fumed the rest of the evening, and when we arrived home, Amy and I spent more than a few minutes arguing about her outburst. Years later, I see why she found my words so humorous perfectly.

Over the years, my family has engaged in some ridiculous arguments. Most of the time, they were based on raw moods or inabilities to adapt to situations. In the end, however, we still love each other and have survived those disagreements with little or no lasting repercussions. The best thing about those battles is that they bring back memories that are always followed by laughter. Yes, families engage in absurd arguments, but they give a bit of spice and color to life. They also teach folks to develop thicker skins.