Just as the bad turned to worse, my wife and I had it out this morning. She was angry that as soon as we got back at my aunt's house where we are staying (she is living in a Jewish boat community in another state for the winter months), I sat down in front of the TV and zoned out. She was still upset that I wasn't holding the baby so that she could look for apartments.
The fight progressed into unrelated topics (when people are angry, it is often hard to stay on topic because so many hurts come to the surface) and then when I returned to the topic of appreciation she said the biggest insult of all which was that I didn't respect her when she went to work for a year while I was home doing who knows what. I almost flipped because I feel even now that I worked harder then than I ever did to find a job because my goal was to give her the home that she deserved and the life that she deserved instead of sending her off to work each day while I did the laundry. Plus, it killed me that she had to work (aka that she had work and I didn't) while I was home and the hardest part was convincing her that while I wasn't bringing in any money, that job hunting was the biggest killer of my energy and time and that I was fully enmeshed in it while she was at work.
Anyway, back to our argument, I saw that she was past the cool and calm point that she usually fights from, and I was also past the calm but highly annoyed point because in a ferocious tone (but still controlled) I told her that she was acting like a "B-I-T-C-H" (even during our argument I spelled it out instead of saying it) and at that point, the fight escalated to her almost crying, but I didn't back off the way I usually do at that point; I wanted to hear what she had to say because I thought that maybe I was wrong.
In short, she was feeling overwhelmed with everything she was doing and she thought I was telling her that she wasn't doing anything right, when I was just telling her that she wasn't doing the apartment hunting right. I then (I was crying at this point, but she didn't notice) told her that she does things as a mother that take so much devotion and skill that I could never do them nearly as good as her and that I am always impressed by the level of love and devotion that she gives our son and that I think she is amazing for being able to do that. Then she softened in her tone, but she couldn't understand why I needed to feel appreciated when she does what she does without the need for appreciation.
I then proceeded to tell her that some people have a need for appreciation and others simply don't; I do. I went into a few examples of why I need appreciation, and that being of the male race, we need it more than females do and this is just the way we are.
As soon as I saw that she acknowledged that I work hard and that she understood that we both worked extremely hard to get to where we are, I softened up because all I wanted from our conversation was to express the need that I needed to feel appreciation because I felt that she wasn't appreciating any of the work that I have done over the time we have known eachother to get us to where we are today.
While I am never proud of fighting with my wife, and while I am not happy with the way things went last night and the majority of this morning's fight (she went to bed without saying goodnight; I slept in another room; we both woke up angry and frazzled), I would say that this turned out to be one of our best fights because I felt that the way we fought in the end made her feel as if I understood her completely without either of us budging one teeny bit from our underlying points. I am not happy that I won the fight, because all in all I did win it, not by destroying her (chos v'sholom -- I never degrade her or insult her, and I try never to even fight in anger), but by communicating skillfully and lovingly. After all, nobody will doubt that she is an amazing mother, and nobody will doubt that she spends every second of her life devoted to our son's every waking moment. She just didn't realize that I was feeling unappreciated for the things we have accomplished.
PS - As I am writing, she is sitting across from me looking at apartments. We spoke about our fight this morning and laughed at the point that I felt that I won this morning's fight -- she said the reason I was so excited about it was because I usually end up being wrong and so winning a fight is a rare thing for me. I love my wife.