What to do to stop arguing?

by Julianne
(Sydney, Australia)

We're always arguing (models)

We're always arguing (models)

For four weeks now, we have been arguing every second day. These arguments end in tears for both of us. We are constantly at the brink of breaking up.

We have been together in an official relationship for 5 months, before that we dated for 7 months. We do not live together, and have no children, are not financially tied. I work for the government and he works for a Media company. I do not wish to end this relationship. I am 22 and he is 27.

Part of the issue is the fact that I have a tendency to mishear/misinterpret things that he says, which in turn make me upset and I react. I am at time defensive, he says that I do not communicate my thoughts with him, instead, I only selectively speak to him about issues (beating around the bush). The worst part is that the arguments are over unimportant things.

I admit that frequently I do say things without thinking, and that is indeed one of my downfalls. However I have been working on this and I think I am doing better, which he doesn't seem to see. When he upsets me and I approach him about this, we end up arguing about how I have approached him about my feelings and we do not end up addressing the original issue because the way I am acting or speaking becomes the main focus. I find it frustrating and upsetting that I am constantly the one to blame, whilst he will do and say upsetting things, these are never approached because to him they are justified by my actions. He thinks that telling me that he has stopped caring about me while we are arguing is fine, because he only said it because I have upset him. I don't think it is, I don't think two wrongs make a right.

We have a hard time communicating, I don't know how to express my feelings of upset or anger about a situation without it turning into a huge fight. I don't know how to make myself realise that not every small thing that upsets me is worth mentioning. I just need a strategy that will make us both talk without arguing and without having our defences up.

Thank you in advance

Elly's reply

I can almost feel your frustration as I read your post, Julianne. How sad and frustrating that the two of you end up arguing so much.

What about your compatibility?

I have a feeling that the two of you are complete opposites, though I could be wrong of course. You take on the blame too easily, endlessly churning over where you went wrong and how you feel about that.

Whilst you are 'navel gassing', Sam defences and deflects by turning the focus to you. That way he stays 'safe' from having to do any self-reflection at all and you end up feeling guilty and resentful.

I worry for you that the situation is only going to get worse if you don't address it now. So, I am really glad you wrote to me. I am just sorry it took a while for me to respond to your post.

Admitting to getting it wrong

It can feel quite punishing to have a partner who appears (at least from what you are telling me) to be very reluctant to admit to making mistakes. Sam appears to manipulate the conversation so that you may end up taking the blame. Neither of you have your needs met, end up hurt, angry and disappointed, only for the whole cycle to repeat itself again with the next argument.

Remember, by your repeating the same behaviour, you are always going to get the same results. It is time for a change and since you wrote to me - take responsibility for that change. Sam may or may not follow you, but what have you got to lose?

Learning better relationship communication skills

Lee Baucom, PhD, a brilliant couple therapist, has developed a programme especially for people/couples who appear to 'misinterpret' messages from their partner/spouse. Let's face it though - we are all at risk of doing that!

I have reviewed his programme: How to save your marriage (relationship). Have a look at it; I think it would really set you up to understand yourself better and help you to interpret Sam's 'messages' (good and bad) much more effectively and learn to respond much more helpfully.

Stopping the blame game

In the meantime, if you think Sam is 'slipping away' from the focus of a conversation by blaming you, you can simply say: "that may be so, but let's look at … right now - we can get back to my stuff later."

You will need to think on how you start the conversation. What has triggered that emotional response that causes you to challenge him - perhaps in an unhelpful way? Was it really Sam or was there a hint of some 'old stuff' from your past? What is it that you do or say when you approach him, that he appears to feel so attacked and in need to immediately defend himself? The likelihood though is, that he too relies on a well-rehearsed response that is rooted in his past.

I hope this is of some help to you, Julianne.
Wishing you happier times ahead.


Return to Arguing .

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Elly Prior

It's me - Elly Prior, I'm the Founder and Author of this site. I'm a 'real' person! I'm hoping to make a positive difference, small or large, to every person who visits my site.

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