marriage: an investigation

The One Thing I Wish My Partner Would Say When We Fight

They say you can never understand someone else’s marriage. But this week, New York Magazine and the Cut decided to try. We interrogated dozens of couples (and a throuple) to see what makes their marriages work — or not.

“I’m a high-risk pregnancy, and in my first trimester, I was convinced I would miscarry at any moment, so I was a little on-edge. My husband and I fought a lot during that time, mostly because I was acting crazy, but also because he wasn’t taking care of me the way I needed him to. After hauling up the groceries plus laundry one day, I just snapped. I said, ‘If I miscarry, it’s because you didn’t take good care of me.’ He was like, ‘You are awful. Listen to what you just said. You’re so mean.’ I wanted him to say, ‘Jesus Christ, get off your feet right now. You’re not lifting a finger until we know this pregnancy is healthy. I forbid you from taking any risks because I love you and our future baby too much.’ Be that overprotective guy for once!” —Sonya, 41, married four years

“My husband’s very wealthy, blue-blood family isn’t very accepting of us, and we fight every time they visit us because I feel disrespected in my own home. I’ve started just avoiding their visits, which my husband thinks is childish, and so we fight about it. He defends them. What I need him to say is: ‘Yes, they are assholes and they are snobs and I can’t imagine how much it sucks to hang out with them when you’re not biologically obligated to, but please, I need you there with me, and I’ll buy you a huge thank-you present for it.’” —Todd, 45, married for three years

“My wife is way too open with our daughters, in my opinion. She talks about sex and gossip, and it worries me because they cling to every word she says, and they’re teenagers. I recently snapped at her, in front of them, about whatever was coming out of her mouth. This enraged her. She said I was disempowering her in front of her children and taking her voice away. I wish she said, ‘Shit, you know what? You’re right. I took it too far. I’ll check myself next time.’” —Mario, 50, married 15 years

“My husband sent out a photo of our young son that I begged him not to share with anyone. It was just a terrible, embarrassing photo. I learned he shared it with his pals, and I called him screaming that he was mocking our kid. He accused me over overreacting when all I wanted him to say was, ‘I’m emailing everyone now to tell them to delete that immediately. I’ll fix this.’” —Jessica, 38, married five years

*A version of this article appears in the April 1, 2019, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!

The One Thing I Wish My Partner Would Say When We Fight