My boyfriend and I had a whirlwind romance. After years of friendship, we both revealed that we had feelings for each other. Our origin story often feels more like a romantic comedy than real life. We're now in our late 20s and have been dating for about seven months now.
I know we both see this as a long-term thing and plan on moving in together when our leases are up this winter. We love each other a lot. The only real issue with us is how we fight. I tend to withdraw to process how I feel, and he tends to get mad and frustrated, often yelling, but gets over it really quickly. For me, this yelling is almost a deal-breaker. My parents never raised their voice at me growing up. I know that this is rare, but my way of communicating has never involved yelling or any type of outburst. Often our fights end up with my boyfriend wanting to move on but me hanging on to the fact that he just yelled, and it's definitely not OK.
Am I expecting too much? We've had plenty of talks about how to move forward. And he's told me better ways to approach issues with him in the future to help. He says he is working on it and I believe him. It has gotten better but it's still very much there. Is there a way for us to solve this without time and more tiring conversations? I love him and genuinely feel like this is one of our only issues. I know it's not as easy as taking a walk or counting to 10 but any advice would be greatly appreciated.
– Fighting Sucks
"Is there a way for us to solve this without time and more tiring conversations?"
I think you need a few more tiring conversations – but with a helper of some kind.
Sometimes couples therapy is meant to be long-term, to address about 1,000 things. But one way to use it is to ask for one lesson: in your case, how to fight. You can talk about very specific steps for how to stop and start confrontations, whether you'd be better off putting things in writing, and words you both can use in the moment to let each other know it's too much.
It's difficult to "work on" something when you don't know how. It's hard to change the way you've been doing things for years. Personally, I'm a cold shoulder-er. I've had to learn how to engage in conflict without sounding like a movie villain who stays silent while plotting evil.
I just want to add ... this is a big deal. You're not expecting too much. Conflict resolution is a big part of any relationship. You shouldn't be afraid to disagree, to step into uncomfortable conversations, to say what you need. Don't push it aside or save it for later. Don't wait until it's untenable. It's complicated to get a therapist right now (I think a lot of people are like ... OK, it's time), but make some calls. Get on a wait list if there's no one available right now. Let your boyfriend know you'd like to solve this during the best of times.
Also, for now, taking a walk isn't such a bad idea. When you need to leave a room, go.
Readers? How did you learn to fight? Are there books you've read? Lessons you've been given? Ways you've gotten better at conflict with a partner?