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

July 7, 2010

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 talk 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.


  • Sara

    July 8, 2010 at 11:35 am

    I totally get where you’re coming from. He’s thinking he’s saying something sweet about how he’ll do anything for you & Bella (which he is!) and you’re hearing him throw out random ideas just to try & pacify you. Been there.

  • Melodramamma

    July 8, 2010 at 12:08 am

    First, I LOVE the title! Love me some Chris Farley. Second, isn’t that so sweet. Sam saying he would be willing to live in a car if that’s what was needed to provide. It’s funny the way in the heat of the moment we don’t see the intentions of the heart, just our own perspectives. I’m sorry you guys are going through such a tough time. Hang in there. I know it will get better.

  • Meredith

    July 7, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    My husband and I are like this too…AND last year made a big move under similar circumstances, no one lived in a car but I did have to live with my mom for about 6 months until we were all together again. Selling a house is so stressful but it will happen, good luck with everything!

  • metta1313

    July 7, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    First, I think the way you and Sam deal with things…you wanting to talk it up and him bottling things up, is right up my marriage alley. Second, when I over packed for our weekend this past week and we could all barely fit in the car b/c we took the dog too, the hubs brought up how he used to pack a small backpack and live in cars and camp and sleep at rest stops while on Phish tour in the 90s. I think our hubs think alike like we think alike. They can make due with a lot less….not that your hubs was on Phish tour. And I’m so glad you guys were able to laugh it up at the end with thinking about living down by the river.

  • Tweets that mention The “In a van, down by the river” fight | Hormonal Imbalances —

    July 7, 2010 at 12:29 pm

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  • Kim

    July 7, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    This sounds like a song lyric! So love it. Art and I argue the same way. I need to discuss the possible outcomes of the possibilities. He does not. How?? I mean, maybe we NEED to talk about what would happen if we had to move to Hawaii and live off the land. Just sayin’.

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  • Cindy @ This Adventure, Our Life

    July 7, 2010 at 8:27 am

    Diana, I LOVE this post…this is EXACTLY how my husband and I are. He likes to think about things for a while and I like to talk about it now and get it over with! It drives him nuts and he end up getting mad at me cause he is not ready to talk, and then I get mad also because it seems like he does not care (but he does) and so on!!! We always end up working it out and it usually ends in laughing!! Sam, is a great person to put you and Bella first, but I know you already know that (this is what my husband would say also, living out of a car and all). You guys came to a good compromise though, something that you can not control is best to wait a little bit on.

  • harmskills

    July 7, 2010 at 8:20 am

    in college our rugby coach lived in a tent by the river. im not kidding

    maybe he can rent a room in a house??? no van living. we are too old and not sketchy enough for that

  • La@TheReelFamily

    July 7, 2010 at 7:59 am

    Haha I am pretty sure craig And i fight the same way. At least you can find some humor in all the stress. You guys are my thoughts.

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