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Have you ever asked a simple question of someone, like ‘what would you like for dinner?’ and wondered, half an hour later, how on earth you are arguing and what you’re actually arguing about? I’m sure you have. If I hate arguments as much as I do and have had these mindless episodes of warfare, the chances are you’ve blown up with your partner in the same way.

I’ve been told this is normal. I’ve debated with many as to whether it’s normal. And in all my conversations and ruminating over this, I could never be happy calling it normal. Today, I realised why.

Normal means that it happens often. And I agree that these arguments do. But ‘normal’ also implies that it’s to be expected, we are to expect these things to happen. And when we expect things to happen, we tend to relinquish some control over the process. We tend to approach the circumstance with thoughts like, ‘oh no, here we go again’ and ‘yep, I knew it would go this way’, and let it happen anyway. If we pass these occasions off as ‘normal’, both parties abdicate responsibility for it, for the words we speak, the energy we emanate, the hurt we cause.

Precisely because it’s normal, we get to say things like, ‘oh I didn’t really mean that’ and ‘are you still worrying about that?’ afterwards. It becomes like storm clouds in the sky, an inconvenience over which we have no control and that a new warmth will naturally arrive and magic all evidence away. If it’s to be expected and it’s beyond everyone’s full responsibility, there is less inclination to go back over it, to fix things, to apologise for things.

So what if we were to call it ‘common’ instead. People driving home after more than a few drinks is common, but I don’t know that we’d want to accept that as normal. Infidelity is common but not accepted as normal. The difference? We consider there to be an innate responsibility in those actions, that there is a choice made somewhere. Common implies that it happens often but without the added weight of expectation and the tacit condoning of the action.

My question to you then is what might you be accepting as normal which is, in fact, only common? What have you grown to expect and accept that perhaps you shouldn’t be accepting because it doesn’t make you feel great, loved, bonded or safe? Understand that normal is a definition built up by consensus, people in agreement with each other, accepting it as is. So opt-out if your perspective is different. Others don’t have to agree with you, but you don’t have to contribute to it.

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