3/5/2000 Advice Column
My boyfriend and I have been together for 2 1/2 years and we love each other a great deal. When we fight it is awful. We interrupt each other. We go in circles. I just need to know some way to fight fair.
However, sometimes even the closest of couples has a fight. It happens. Every relationship that lasts has to be able to survive a fight. So when you can't stop yourself and a fight breaks out despite your best intentions, remember that there doesn't have to be a winner and a loser. The relationship has to win -- by continuing. The first rule of fair fighting is don't threaten to break up if you don't get your way.
A fair fight means no screaming, no threatening, no physical violence. To fight fair, stay on the subject. Don't bring up past battles. Don't use the "you" word. Don't say, "You always," or "You never."
The best way to keep things under control is agree not to interrupt each other. Let one of you talk until you've said everything you have to say while the other one listens. The listener is only allowed to say, "Is that all?" Or, "What else is bothering you?" Or, "I understand how you feel." Those are the only allowed responses. When the first person is done, then it's the next person's turn to talk and the former talker's turn to listen and make the same responses.
If you can't come to agreement, agree to consider each other's positions. Often, thinking things over is better than trying to settle an argument on the spot. You don't have to fight to the death of your relationship. If a fight seems to be getting out of control, leave the room or even the house. Sometimes a cooling off period is called for.
And remember, this is the person you have shared many good times with and whom you love. Don't let a fight ruin all you have together.
The trouble is that you, like most women, think romance has to be a spontaneous act that the man thinks of on his own. You think that if you have to tell him you'd like him to send you a birthday card, tell you he loves you more, take you out to a romantic dinner or bring flowers, it doesn't count. Well, that's just not true. It does count. Many men just don't have a romantic mindset, and so you have to tell them what to do.
If you want a birthday gift, start hinting broadly weeks before your birthday. Say, "I wonder what you're going to get me for a birthday, (or Valentine's Day,) gift?" Or, "Nothing would make me happier on my birthday to get flowers from you."
Sure, gifts are supposed to come from the heart, but there are lots of men out there that just don't get it. They express love the way they feel love, and gifts are not necessarily part of their life experience. So if you want gifts, give gifts. Show him by example. Make a big fuss over his birthday, your mutual anniversary, etc.
Some men think of gifts all the time, and other men just don't. But don't throw the man away just because he's gift-insensitive. Instead, educate him. He can be taught to give gifts. But he already has the most important qualities - he's kind and considerate.
If he loves you and he knows it would mean a lot to you, he'll begin to give you what you want. But you'll have to get over hoping he'll do it on his own.
HELP, PLEASE!!! I would appreciate any suggestions you have to solve this problem!!!
If you continue in this relationship with a terrible sex life, no devotion, and a man who obviously doesn't respect you enough to be faithful, you're a fool. You'll be destroying your own self-esteem and wind up not loving yourself or him.
If you allow him to go to meet his cybersex sweetie in a San Antonio motel, and then take him back, you'll be exposing yourself to every sexual disease that she and all of her previous lovers may carry - that is if he ever decides to have sex with you again. If he doesn't want sex with you, you'll begin to feel that there's something wrong with you. No woman can live for very long with a man who doesn't desire her without wondering why not.
Don't waste another minute on this man who doesn't appreciate you. If you are intelligent as you say, start using your brains to get the kind of man you deserve. Whether you are great looking or not, you don't deserve this kind of treatment.
Dr. Tracy says, "Is your question urgent? Many of the most beseeching, desperate messages I get are not answered in this column because the answer is just a couple of clicks away in my Love Library. Have you tried my Love Library? I know that nobody goes to libraries anymore, but check this one out -- it's so easily searchable that it's fun and easy to use!"
If you can't find your answer in the Library and you feel you MUST have an answer, you can get a personal answer from Dr. Tracy within 48 hours by availing yourself of her inexpensive private counseling.
You may submit your question to Dr.Tracy's column by e-mail here. (Tips: to increase your chances of having your question chosen, state your age and your marital history, and remember to use paragraph breaks so that your question isn't just one big, hard-to-read clump of words. Also, questions in all caps won't be answered.)