How Much Arguing is Too Much?
Q: My boyfriend and I knew each other for a long time before we started dating eight months ago. We've had great times together. I thought he's the one for me, whatever that means.:) However, we have a major communication problem. We argue a lot over stupid things. Is it fixable or when does one have to just walk away? -- Lauren, 22
Dr. Susan: Those "stupid" things you argue about: do you both agree that they're stupid? Possibly in each argument some deeper issues are hiding. Like, for instance, if you argue about how much to spend or where to go, it could mean that you both have deep-seated issues around spending money. If you can get at those deeper issues, then you can decide what to do next. Sometimes it's okay to say, "I know this seems nuts to you, but I feel strongly about this because . . . . ".
Your disagreements could also mean you're both struggling for control, fearful (subconsciously) of being smothered by someone else's preferences, while at the same time fearful of losing that other person. It might work for you to sit down together (or take a walk in a pretty place) when you're not arguing, and try to figure out what's underneath all the fusses and frets. Some couples just battle their way through a long relationship, but that's hardly ideal. If two people love each other, they can learn to fight (and to fight fairly) only when it matters.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.