We're Always Fighting

Visitor's Question from a 21-30 year old Female
my boyfriend and i have been going out for about 6 months already. we have known each other for two years though...we were friends first. the problem is that we ALWAYS get into fights and its not even big deal of a fight. He never wants to talk and when i try to bring up a subject that has lead us into an argument he immediately shuts me out and remains quiet for the rest of the time that we are together. i always try to give him space but he doesnt talk to me. when enough time has passed he never calls me i always have to call him no matter what the situation. i feel like we are always playing a game with each other and he doesnt want to lose, therefore he doesnt call nor does he show ANY interest in me. i know that he loves me and i love him, but i am afraid that so much arguing will lead to the end of us. how can i make the harsh fighting stop when he doesnt want to talk to me? please help. thank you in advance

RomanceClass.com Advice
I know it's a very hard thing to deal with a lot of fighting in a relationship. And I know it's really hard to deal with someone who refuses to talk to you. So to start with, you're in a tough situation and it's going to require hard work to fix the relationship. Take a deep breath and let's see what can be done.

First off, it's sort of strange, but a lot of people who are young adults think that fighting in a relationship is *normal*. Maybe it's because teenagers tend to fight with their parents and siblings a lot and this is just the way they handle stress. Maybe their parents are stressed by having teenagers in the house and are fighting with each other a lot. Maybe they're watching a lot of exciting movies where couples yell and they think this is normal. But really, a happy couple does NOT fight all the time. In fact, most happy couples I know discuss issues without yelling at all. Yes, they care passionately about things. But you can care passionately about a topic without yelling at the person you *love*. Yelling and screaming at someone you love shows disrespect for them, that you don't care how they feel. If you did care, you'd explain your position and they would listen to you even if they didn't *agree* with you. To have to scream and yell and *especially* to name-call or worse is a huge, huge sign that the relationship is flawed and cracking.

It's not easy to un-train yourself from the yelling pattern. But it can be done. Just as his pattern of turning into a clam when you bring up issues can be un-trained. Both HAVE to be for this to work. You can't lead a happy life if you're being yelled at, and you can't have a happy relationship if one of you actively avoids talking about issues.

So start with the yelling/anger part. If you feel yourself getting angry about something, take a walk. Look out the window. Count to 100. Sing a song in your head. It sounds silly, yes. But YOU in your mind are the only one who can handle your own emotions. He can't. There are people who are perfectly peaceful even when others call them names and so on. Nobody can MAKE you angry. Only you can ALLOW yourself to get angry. Again, this isn't new-age voodoo. This is just one of those realities of life that you need to practice to get through some of the things life throws at you.

If he starts to get angry, walk away. Tell him you'll talk about it later. There is NOTHING so critical in a relationship that it has to be resolved immediately. Yes, you might miss a movie or something. In the grand scheme of things, saving your relationship is much, much more important than one movie.

OK, so the fights are now being defused. But the issues of course are still there. So a few hours later, when you are both feeling more quiet, bring up the issue in a TOGETHER-WE-CAN-DO-THIS way. 99% of solving a problem is knowing what it is and accepting it. So don't start out by saying "You never help me cook!!" That turns him into a clam. Instead, say something like "I'm so happy when we try new foods, I'd like us to take turns cooking." Make it a positive thing, that you two can handle together, and that you are willing to do your part on. Yes, a problem may be 99% his problem. But in order to fix it you have to find a way to describe it as your JOINT problem that together you can face. That way, when you two overcome it together, you build this pattern that "yes, we have issues - so does everybody - but we can get through them."

It may be he's clamming because he's afraid of being yelled at or shown he's not perfect. So part of your aim here is to show him that talking about an issue is NOT ABOUT BLAME. It is about an "irritant" in your world that together you both can handle and make better. You can't just ignore irritants. They grow and grow and destroy relationships. If he tries to avoid it, say gently that you need to nip this problem when it is small, otherwise it will grow into something huge. And that you know together you can handle it. The more you get him to buy in to what is going on, the more he'll be open and not clam up. And the more you do this, the less he'll clam up in the future because he'll see that this is a positive thing for you both.

-- from Jenn
One of Your Friendly Advisors at RomanceClass.com

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