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Alicia_MSW, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 794
Experience:  Specializing in relationship/family counseling
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My partner and I have been together for over 5 years and we

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My partner and I have been together for over 5 years and we are both 29 years old. We have always had issues with having blazing rows over nothing and the general pattern is that if I'm stressed or low on energy I snap at him and then he gets defensive and blows up. He has a bad temper, no patience and a very short fuse. If he feels at all criticised it sparks into an arguement (often I feel I'm not criticising him at all) and then comes the tirade of criticisms about how I'm never happy, I'm unnecessarily negative, I'm unsupportive etc etc. I feel that this is unwarranted.

We are different people. he is an ideas person who likes to make big plans and start big projects. He's a leader and I'm the support. I'm a simple, caring person who likes things to be simple, managable and stress free. I love him and I feel that he has helped me to be more spontaneous, to worry less and be less of a perfectionist. At the same time, his projects tend to impact on me and my time and I wish that he'd recognise that and be grateful for my contribution. Instead he always brings up that I'm not contributing enough, that I'm not doing well enough, that I'm failing in some way that in turn makes things bad for him. (Ruins HIS day, wastes HIS time, makes him feel uncomfortable in HIS home !!! OUR!!!!)

I'm running out of emotional energy. I feel so worn down and he is beginning to scare me with his temper. I want to feel like we have a future together and whilst we have committed to staying together I just can't imagine a time that things would be stable enough for us to get married or have children. It makes me really sad. Any insight you could provide would be much appreciated. I don't want to give up but this is really getting me down.

I fell pregnant and had an abortion at the very beginning of our relationship and although I had extensive counselling I'm not sure I've ever completely got over it. I really want to have children in the next few years.
Hi, I'm Alicia. Thanks for asking your question - I'm happy to help you today.

I empathize with what you are going through right now with your partner, and from what you are saying, it does indeed sound that he could be more supportive of you.

It sounds like you're involved in a pattern that's relatively common in relationships. One of you has a bad day, feels stressed or angry or anxious or whatever it is, doesn't intend to snap at the other person but somehow, something happens that causes you (or him) to say something in a way that you don't intend, and things quickly escalate and get out of control.

However, it does sound that you have a basically good relationship and that you care very much for each other, so I do think that you can work this out with him.

Before I discuss that, I would like to say, with regard to your feelings about the abortion and wanting to have children - I am not sure this is something you ever truly "get over". I think that as time passes, it becomes easier, but it's something that will always be in your memory. It doesn't have to affect you so much, and these feelings will become easier once you do have children. But I would encourage you to seek additional counseling if you feel you need it.

Talking and discussing things more with your partner probably is not going to change this pattern. You both are too emotionally involved and things are going to quickly get out of control if the slightest thing is misinterpreted.

And no, no one is positive, happy or not stressed all the time. It is not reasonable to expect that, either. After all, he gets angry - you could say that perhaps then it's not reasonable for him to get angry and he should be calm 100% of the time - but you know that's also not realistic.

I would suggest a few steps here to improve the communication pattern in your relationship.

First, read "Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus" by XXXXX XXXXX. A lot of problems like you're experiencing are caused because men communicate differently than women (and vice versa.) So, for example, whereas women need to talk about problems to feel better and unwind, men might see this as complaining, because they tend to be solution-oriented. The book discusses this and many other common patterns and how to resolve and/or avoid them.

Second - don't try to talk about relationship-oriented things when either of you is stressed or angry. Nothing positive can come of this - and if either of you needs to talk about the relationship, either do so with a friend or family member. OR write your feelings down in a letter to your partner. Writing things down helps you get a better perspective and takes away the potential for things to get out of control. XXXXX XXXXX discusses this in his book as well.

If things get out of control - take a time out. Don't try and continue the discussion. Step away, tell him (he should do this too) you need 10 minutes, and go into a different room or go for a walk. This really helps to stop things from escalating and to give you a fresh perspective.

The thing is, it's never 100% your fault or his fault. It's a combination of the two of you, and you both have to work at this to get things on a better track. I would suggest that if things don't improve on your own, that you both think about seeing a couples counselor - temporarily. Even for a few sessions, just to discuss these issues with a non-biased, third party - it can point out some of the unconscious patterns you're both engaging in, and give you further advice as to how to change things.

Don't give up - it's normal for couples to go through periods like this, especially after you've been together for some time. But it usually balances out.

I hope that is helpful. Please let me know if you need additional assistance. Best wishes.
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