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Dear Christine, Arguing in Alma

| November 12, 2018

Dear Christine,

My girlfriend and I were in the honeymoon stage for the first year with absolutely no arguments. Now it seems we argue at least once a week about something. Our fights are never over anything serious and no reason for us to break up. In fact, they shouldn’t even be fights. She comes from a loud and emotional family I now see as I’m getting to know them all better.  I come from a quieter family that rarely argued and when we did it wasn’t so intense.

I will admit that it takes two to argue and I’ve been sucked right in to a habit I’d like us to break. Any suggestions?

Arguing in Alma

Dear Arguing,

Congratulations!  You have met and fallen in love with your opposite!  She is loud and emotional and you are not!  We are drawn to our opposite personality type in relationships.

What are both of your flash points that are triggering the fights?  Are these issues that are non-negotiable, or are these littler things, like the toothpaste cap or which way the toilet paper is installed?

What was going on that first year together that there were no disagreements?  Usually people are on their best behavior when they are interested in someone.  One may spend a lot of time participating with their significant other in activities that aren’t really a good fit.  I can remember listening with rapt attention when a new love of mine rattled on and on and on about a stereo or a computer.  I listened because just being together was amazing at that early time.  Later, I had enough of that topic and would walk out of the room when she started in on some audio or computing wonder that I really didn’t care about.
Another thing to talk about with each other.  How does the relationship feel to both of you that first year with no fighting, compared to the fighting going on now?  I have met people who enjoy being loud and debating and even yelling about stuff that I don’t find rewarding.  There is a family up the street from me that uses a higher decibel level than I usually do, always!  That’s their family culture.  My family culture was very quiet.  Some people have told me that they don’t mind the fighting, but they really like the making up, particularly sex after a fight.  They feel they have real passion in their relationship.  They are bored in a peaceful, contented and quiet relationship.

It’s important to talk about your experiences and feelings with each other and find a happy medium that allows each of you to be the unique person you are, and doesn’t constrain the other.  Dating is a time to try out being with someone who is a very different personality and from a different family culture to see how that meshes with you.  The early stage of any love relationship is called “love psychosis”  by the Japanese.  It seems true when you look back on some early relationships, before you learned who you are and what you need in a relationship.

You probably put up with some behaviors and conditions that you no longer would consider in a potential date.

If you can figure out your triggers, and can communicate them, then come up with a strategy to let each other know when triggers occur.  Then you can take a step back without your significant other feeling emotionally abandoned, and each think about what is really bothering you and how to present that to the other so she can hear your experience, and vice versa.  Feeling heard by your significant other often is enough to diffuse the fights.

Good luck and peace to you both.

Christine Cantrell, PhD.

Licensed Psychologist

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

Click here to email Christine.

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