Hey everyone - this is my first post on the board. I'd like to start of by saying I came across this site a few months while Googling random things and have been amazed with the quality of some of the stuff I've read on here. It's great stuff. I figured I'd post out some things I'm dealing with and see if there was anyone out there with some good advice to offer up.
The situation I find myself in has been going for nearly 2 years now. I met an amazing girl who I pretty much fell in love with instantly (corny, I know). Things started pretty fast, but we've only really found ourselves in an actual relationship with each other for a very short period. The other times have been spent in a very laid back manner, enjoying each other's company but more under the "dating" label.
We're both a little immature and fight quite a bit. I can't count the number of times where we've gone a week without speaking to each other because one of us was upset with the other. But no matter what, we find ourselves back in each other's company shortly thereafter, not for lack of better options, because there is a love there between us that I've never really encountered before. There have been other women in my life during these fights and breaks, but all really of a physical nature with nothing emotional underneath (the lacking discipline aspect of things is what brought me to AoM in the first place). Our futures are very uncertain at the current time, which is one of the main causes of frustration for both of us and leads to many of these disagreements.
I guess what I'm looking for is a little advice. Clearly, from the outside of things, it doesn't necessarily seem like a healthy relationship, which many of my friends have pointed out. We've both toyed with the idea of removing each other from our lives, but in the end, neither of us has been willing to do that. I'd like to change things to prevent unintended disagreements from happening, but don't really know how to do that. She is more of a laid back, take things as they come type, whereas I am more of a plan oriented, anal (not that one) person.
If nothing else, thanks for reading what I had to say. I look forward to becoming a bigger part of the board in the coming months.
What do you think a healthy relationship looks like?
I guess I don't really know. My previous relationships have been more normal in the sense of fighting less, more planned interaction and what not. The relationship has a huge amount of peaks and valleys, which is something I'm not really accustomed to.
Normal is boring.
Maybe functional is a better word?
What does functional look like?
I guess it means things going smoothly for more than a few weeks at a time. In my eyes, it would be better communication between the two of us and less disagreements as a result of that poor communication. But those communication problems are sometimes just my problems, as she'll see nothing wrong with the way things are going, but leaving myself feeling needy and unsatisfied for bringing them up.
I've read that yelling can be a perfectly acceptable arguing style, approved by therapists. Not saying that's what you do, just pointing out that not every healthy relationship has to fit the Rom-Com picture.
The thing to look for is are the fights more or less frequent? The times apart longer or shorter? Also, when you separate, is it I-never-want-to-see-you-again, or I-can't-handle-this-right-now? Answer those questions, either here or just to yourself, and you have your way forward.
I'd say the fights are less frequent, but more painful. We've never told each other we never want to see the other person again. I think we both know deep down that regardless of what fight we are in, either one of us could text the other the next week and be receptive towards an apology (perhaps that makes us both suckers :/ )
So don't get into relationships?
How old are you two?
I'm 27 and she is 26.
Here's my view. The feeling of love is not enough. Any feeling can come and go. If you keep fighting and the fights hurt, it will go. (But maybe the fights don't hurt. Still, if you spend a week not speaking because of a hurt, it sounds like they do.)
I think you need (or maybe I should say I need!): compatible values and life plans; ways to resolve conflict; commitment (but that's the last thing); and love. Head and heart must be in agreement.
But what you really asked was to avoid unintended disagreements (or maybe defuse them?) I recommend John Gottman, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. It shows you "the four horsemen of the apocalypse" (marriage killers) and signs of things going wrong; and notes how couples do "repair attempts" when there's a disagreement. Distinguishing temporary problems from chronic ones (and the chronic ones aren't a marriage-killer, but it's good to know). The part on repair attempts might be what you're looking for.