Hax: Think through the causes of those fights

The Washington PostNovember 21, 2013 

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Hi, Carolyn: Is it normal to have fights so serious that you contemplate breaking up? My wonderful significant other and I are engaged, and we have been having some fights lately that have led me to consider putting off the wedding. I have these thoughts only when we have long, drawn-out fights about what I consider to be insignificant issues. Once we recover and talk it through, I go right back to walking on clouds. I care deeply about my S.O., but these thoughts might be a sign of cold feet. I guess I just want to know if this is normal.


It’s normal, maybe, but so is divorce.

In the early stages of your next fight, do something different — something you select from a short list of actions that fall under the categories of kindness, good communication, self-discipline and integrity.

For example: “I’m hearing you say (paraphrase of your S.O.’s position). Is that accurate?” — followed by listening as your S.O. clarifies, if you’ve gotten it wrong, or by promising to give that view some thought, if you’ve paraphrased it accurately.

However you choose to do it, remain calm and give yourself room to think about and identify any larger issues driving these petty fights. If you do find yourself convinced this is more than just frayed nerves, then do not chicken out of these: premarital counseling, and postponing the wedding.

Dear Carolyn: A few months ago, one of the most important romantic relationships of my life dissolved. It was a relationship that was on and off for about 10 years. I was going to marry this man, until I realized I didn’t love him anymore. How do I move on while keeping that important part of my life — do I throw away all our pictures? All the gifts?


Don’t do anything with the gifts or photos that you can’t undo. Whatever you’re unsure about, box it up and put it away for a time when your feelings aren’t so raw.

Email tellme@washpost.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

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