Lifelines: Anne Chilton on carping couples

Picture: Contributed
Picture: Contributed
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MY PARTNER and I row continually and I can’t stand it any longer.

We have been together for six years and things have always been a bit volatile between us as we both have strong views. Over the last year we have spent less time together as we both have demanding jobs and when we are together we just row. I can’t even say what the rows are about, everything and anything can set us off. We used to get on so well and were planning to start a family, but I don’t want to do either with how we are now.

You seem to be recognising that things are getting out of control and it is distressing for both of you. I wonder what the real purpose of your rows is, what do you gain from it? Sometimes it can feel like the only time we feel emotionally connected to our partner is when we are rowing. You say you spend little time together these days. How did you become so distant? Relationships, like most other things, start to fray round the edges if they are not tended to. You and your partner had plans together, for your future, for your life, what happened to these? When did you last sit down and really talk about how you are feeling, listen to each other, laugh and cry together? You say you don’t know what you row about; maybe you both actually miss being together and are angry about it?

My girlfriend is driving me mad. We get these situations where I decide something and she disagrees. What happens then is we start to row about it and it comes down to who is right and who is wrong. The last one, we were planning a short trip away and I said Barcelona was a better bet for a weekend than Paris and she went mad saying Paris was far superior and then we argued for the best part of two hours and ended up not speaking for a week. We made up, but I had to agree Paris was better and I know Barcelona is simmering under my skin. I just don’t want it to be like this, why doesn’t she listen to me?

So one of you has to be the winner and one the loser, no wonder the rows never end. Accepting and understanding our partners will hold different views to the ones we hold is a central part of relationships. We are a couple but also individuals. I wonder what it means to you and your girlfriend not to be the winner; and I wonder what provokes you into not standing your ground? In the scheme of things whether Barcelona or Paris is best is more than just a straight right or wrong answer. Being able to listen to each other’s views and find a solution that is good for both of you is a skill that seems to be missing. If you can listen to your partner without fearing your views will take second place, you can start to look at other ways to resolve difficulties, which might make things easier for both of you.

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