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At least one fight a week

Ken wrote:

Crazy deal, but my girlfriend of 2.5 years and I have had a relationship which involves a minimum of one fight a week, and usually about three a week. I'm not trying to avoid blame, but I've honestly tried to examine myself to think as hard as I can about my failings (and I'm not perfect), but I guess I'm thinking that she is not being reasonable. And virtually every fight is generated with her yelling, rolling her eyes, making a critical comment. And I guess I wouldn't call it a fight -- usually I'm being yelled at. I don't raise my voice -- if it gets too bad, I just walk away.

Can you just tell me if either a) I'm an insane, insensitive jerk and need sensitivity training, or alternatively, b) she is not being reasonable? I'll try to briefly present both sides with three typical examples.

1) I went to a friend's wedding; I invited her, but she had to work, so I let her know I'd probably attend on my own and see her later in the evening. She was furious at me that I went without her and said that I should have waited for her to get off work, even though it would have meant missing the wedding. We could have made the last half of the reception (probably -- it was a drive of a couple hours away).

2) When we were watching a video in the living room and she fell asleep, I turned off the TV and went into my bedroom to sleep (the couch hurts my back if I sleep on it). I invited her to come in and sleep with me (and that isn't unusual for us). She was furious and started yelling that I was insensitive and should have been courteous enough to stay out on the couch with her.

3) I've told her that I love her, but I didn't feel like we could really move forward if we were having constant fights (or more accurately, I was being yelled at) but I'd stick by her and even attend counseling with her. She counters that the phrase "I love you but" is a form of verbal abuse itself and that if I can't accept how she deals with conflict that means I just don't love her unconditionally.

85% of the time it's just terrific. She says that fighting is just one way of communicating and I'm shooting for an unrealistic standard. On my end, I accept that fights do happen, but I really think that an occasional bad fight is all that most healthy relationships should have. Am I being unrealistic?

Dear Ken

The way you describe it, She starts all these fights - you merely rise to the bait. And if that's so, your error is that you are reinforcing her weird way of communicating.

Why do you put up with it? You two don't like each other very much, and - far more serious - you do not respect each other.

Instead of looking into each fight, step back, look at the bigger picture. Can the relationship last? Do you want it to? Really?

Because it sounds like you are so far down the line that nothing short of six months apart will help (and I doubt that will). Is it that neither of you can face the relief of parting?

Try to take control of the conversation and ask her if she thinks it's worth persevering. If you two think there's love, you need to decide what love means. And forget the bickering and whining, what is the real problem?

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