I believe we can learn a lot from each other’s difficulties and accomplishments. I created the Ask Dr. Michelle column to share my advice with many people at the same time, who although they don’t know it, are often facing some of the same challenges. I hope that my comments provide you with some insight into situations that you are facing in your life. If you have a question that you want me to answer, submit it below. I wish you all the best. (I try to answer as many questions as possible, but please understand that due to the number of questions that I receive I am not able to answer every question.)
I have been with my boyfriend for a year and a half. We are very serious but it has gotten to the point that when we get on the phone all we do is argue. We argue about anything and everything. Even when we aren’t talking we’re arguing. Could you please give me some advice?
The first thing you should do is realize that arguing is a very common problem in relationships, and there is something you can do about it. Disagreement in a relationship is normal. We all come from different backgrounds, have different personalities, and have had different experiences that influence our opinions and what we think is important. What can be most critical to the success of a relationship is making sure that both partners are interested in resolving the problem and moving forward.
How do you begin to resolve this problem? Start by shifting your focus from the conflict, to conflict resolution. One of the things that separates the couples who stay together from those who split up, is each partner’s willingness to try to meet the other partner half-way. You have to want to stop arguing and be happy together again. Usually that means that either one, or both of you is going to have to compromise on something. After a heated argument, when you have both had time to relax, think about how you can bridge the gap on the issue. If you can agree to give your partner some of the things he wants, he should be willing to give you some of the things you want. Try to identify things that you can each do differently to prevent the problem in the future. Once you make an agreement to work on the issue, you can’t continue to hold a grudge or keep throwing the issue in your partner’s face while you are in the middle of trying to work on making things better.
If you feel that you are arguing about an issue that can’t be forgotten or compromised on, like infidelity, then your issue is not about how to stop arguing, your issue is how to find a partner who respects you and your agreements. Usually, if you can’t find a way to compromise on the issue, either your partner is asking you to compromise your values and break your own personal rules about what is right or, you aren’t really interested in ending the fighting which may be a sign that you are looking for a way out of the relationship.
You cannot avoid disagreement in relationships, but people who really love, value and respect each other will try to find ways to listen to their partner’s concerns and find ways to work together to resolve their problems.