Problem Point: I Really Want Marriage But My Boyfriend Is Unsure.

Image by Tumisu

Q. We fight all the time and at the core of the fighting is the fact that I’m hurt that he is so unsure. It’s had a downward spiral effect on the relationship. His family doesn’t like me anymore because of the fighting which have just gotten more and more hurtful. What started out so wonderful is now a mess, but I love him and he loves me. He just can’t commit to a future the way we are now, and I can’t go any Ionger with no commitment.

A. A rather sad story in view of the fact that the fight is about actually progressing your love! If you fight all the time, that is not a good basis for a marriage, anyway, and being married won’t make it better. Constant fights, for whatever reason, is a sign of being unsuitable for each other; that your values are not in tune  and your relationship is not going anywhere. In fact, I think after two years together you both sense that the relationship is dying, and fear that eventuality, so you think being married will make things better while he perhaps believe that it won’t.

It is his right not to commit to a future, if he doesn’t want to, and he is entitled to have that accepted. However, it is also your right to find someone else who will commit to you and share your values of emotional security. It is not your place to badger him into any kind of commitment. Such commitment must be mutual, and voluntary, to work. As things stand now, your chief value is not being fulfilled because he won’t commit, and his value is not being fulfilled, either, because you are badgering him to commit. Not very good. Either give him some space to actually miss you enough to reconsider his position, or leave him alone altogether and find someone whom you really love and who loves you enough to commit to you. It seems that you might love him, but he doesn’t love you as much, because when we truly love we would wish to commit to that person in some way. We wouldn’t be working against them.

As you said, your fights have become more and more hurtful. That’s not the basis for a loving relationship. It will just keep getting worse until the relationship dies. Time to follow your instincts and let it be; to find someone who matches you a little more in what you seek than to grow increasingly resentful, bitter, aggressive and unattractive with someone who doesn’t really value you to the same extent.

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Problem Point: I’m Always Afraid Of Drama? How Can I Be Stronger?

Image by Gerd Altmann 

Q. I’m an 18 year old guy who shouldn’t be feeling like this. Plus I hang out with friends who always get in fights and they sometimes drag me in it. Can I avoid the constant drama?

A. Sounds like you are easily influenced because of your need for approval. You can only be stronger by building your own confidence. You obviously have a lot of fear in your life through a lack of affirmation and value from those you care about. Yet only learning to love and value yourself will give you the gradual strength you need to face the world. 

The first thing you could do is to change your friends. Friends who are always fighting or dragging you into it, especially when you don’t really want to, will do nothing for you. Strength isn’t about fighting. That merely shows a lack of coping skills that is replaced by aggression. Strength is about confidence, high self-esteem, personal appreciation and living to your own values. 

You feel weak because you really don’t want to fight and are living against your values. You need the confidence to stick by your own principles, not just follow what others do in a blind, accepting kind of way. You will feel much better for it, too, when you start hanging out with people who share your aspirations, beliefs and principles, as you will feel reinforced and affirmed as a person.

In answer to your question, you are afraid of drama because that is against your nature, yet you are hanging out with people who are only interested in drama. That would create continual dissonance for you:  always making you feel  stressed and inadequate because you are not being affirmed in your beliefs and whom you wish to be. Time to change your crowd and find people who share your world and hopes. You will start to feel much better about who you are and what you care about.

We all have a feeling of wanting to BELONG, to be included and valued by others. Your wish to belong is drawing you towards the wrong kind of people for you which does nothing for your self- esteem because they don’t reflect how you really feel. I think once you change your friends – perhaps by joining clubs and societies that you like – you are likely to find that you feel much better within yourself and far less troubled about your life.

(NOTE: Paid subscribers, or significant Donors, can have their questions answered publicly. A private service is available separately.)


Problem Point: How Can I Avoid Conflict With a Spouse Who Seems Set on Fighting?

Image by succo

When someone seems to like conflict in a relationship rather than harmony, at least four things are happening:

  1. That person genuinely feels that the only way they can engage you is through arguments and conflict. You obviously don’t like their behaviour, and try to avoid them, which means you pay more attention to preventing clashes developing than to any other way of resolving issues. That person feels they get your attention at such times, and so will spoil for an argument whenever they can.
  2. They do not feel they are being listened to, or acknowledged in their needs or complaints. When we feel the other person doesn’t want to listen to us, and makes no effort to help to deal with our concerns, we are likely to adopt a form of sabotage in its place, just to get attention, and feel heard. That’s the only tool they believe they have and will use it as necessary.
  3. When respect and care are deteriorating. If we have little respect for the other person, we won’t care how they feel, and we won’t care what we do to hurt them either. That is perhaps the state of your relationship just now: two uncaring people seeking to ignore or hurt each other in the best way they know how: one by not listening, or paying any attention to the other, while they, in turn, seek to cause as much conflict and discomfort as possible.
  4. One person is low in self-esteem and has a need to feel more significant by using aggression against the other in order to exercise some power. Conflict and perhaps intimidation is their only way of feeling in control.

When things have reached such a low level, it is time to reboot your relationship in a more positive vein, before it disintegrates altogether. For example, begin by scheduling a set time each week (like 1–2 hours) to sit together and talk about concerns. Actually LISTEN to each other without commenting until the other is finished, and try to work on solutions together. You might have to do this twice per week, initially, until you both get used to trusting each other again, and want to work as a team instead of two opponents and coping with frustrations.

When these sessions are in place, if there is any conflict arising, you politely explain that it won’t solve anything, and that any grievance should be saved for the discussion sessions, as conflict will only exacerbate the situation. If the person refuses, you should leave the scene entirely and do something else. But one hand cannot clap, and if you stay where the person can use you for their frustrations, they will carry on doing it in exactly the same way.

Sooner or later, the hope is that they will see the beneficial effects of the discussions and regular communication: mainly that they lead to far more positivity than constant arguments and conflict. You will also be reinforcing the discussions with listening and empathising, while refusing to join in any argument to please them or to give them any sense of power over you.

(NOTE: Paid subscribers, or significant Donors, can have their questions answered publicly. A private service is available separately.)


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