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Dear Shoestring: WW3?

July 28, 2010

Another reader has written in this time about dealing with conflict. Dear readers please weight in.


I am Nigerian (a US Citizen).  I have been in the US for 12 years.  I met my boyfriend online two years ago. He is white.  We have so much in common.  We are Catholic, with six siblings each.   We were brought up in conservative Catholic backgrounds.  We will be moving in days in a hush-hush manner.  Only few family and friends are aware of this because of the whole ‘Catholic’ issue and living in sin.  Not that it is a  big deal but we just don’t want to have to explain this to our parents.
When we fight, it is explosive.  He yells and gets in my face.  I try to get away so we both can calm down but he is interested in getting his point made and won’t let it go.  It seems like when he gets into his tirade, NOTHING can calm him down.  He brings up issues from weeks or months ago and refuses to just take a deep breath.  Some days, I just stay quiet until it blows over and some days, I just let him have it.
He is usually contrite and sorry after it is over.  He is a good man and always puts me and my needs first.  I am not saying I am perfect.  Sometimes I can be unemotional and unfeeling but not intentionally.  I guess it is a cultural thing. I can’t say Nigerians are very lovey dovey people with our loved ones so … so yes, I know he thinks I don’t show him enough affection.  For instance kissing.  He likes to make out.  Not me.  I was not raised that way.  Kissing is done briefly in public and in private…at least that is what I was taught.
I guess all I am saying is that I need a better way to handle potentially dangerous situations that will cause him or me to go off and then start WWIII.  I hope your readers can help.




Have you tried fighting naked? That usually works. It is very hard for them to be angry with you when you are stark naked looking at them from the couch. I am just sayin’

I don’t believe Cory and I are the most compatible couple in a world. I dislike saying that because I really don’t like admitting our flaws. He is a pizza and beer kind of guy and I am a homemade tortellini and Chambord and champagne kind of girl. I love reading. It is my passion. Really anything to do with words. I like talking, writing, reading. Cory is a visual and audio guy (that’s why I am so hot *wink*) he likes movies, video games and music. I love Lady Gaga he loves Bullet for my Valentine. The one of the biggest thing Cory and I have got going for us (in my opinion) is communication. John Hagee in What Every Man Wants In A Woman writes “Problems and differences in marriage are not dangerous, but not being able to communicate with each other about those problems is very dangerous. Communication is to love what blood is to the body”.

He then goes on to say, “In the midst of a marital argument or disagreement on any matter, the question each person must ask himself or herself this: “Do I want to reconciled to my mate, or do I merely want to be ‘right’?” If you want to be reconciled … give your jaws a rest.”

Most couples I know have an unwritten set of argument rules. What might work for one couple might not neccessarily work for another. Cory and I’s “Rules of Engagement” are as follows:

  1. Never go to sleep on our anger
  2. Don’t let the argument get personal
  3. No yelling or raising your voice
  4. No name calling

And I think that’s about it. If you and your Beloved do not have your own “Rules of Engagement” I would suggest sitting down and talking about some that would make sense to the both of you. I know some people think it is a good idea to sleep on your anger because everything looks better in the mornings. So find somethings you both can agree on.

I have the same reaction you do in an argument. I get in my car and I drive away. At first Cory reacted the same way most men get: they have their point and they want to make it now, by golly, before the game comes on. In the end I had to sit him down real nice like (when he was not breathing smoke out his nostrils), and tell him in plain and simple English that when I am walking away I am not turning my back on him, or trying to avoid an argument (even though I secretly am), I just need a couple of minutes (or hours) to clear my thoughts and calm down. Or else I was prone to say some pretty nasty things. (That is the problem when I am mad, I fight dirty. I find your weak spot, your sensitive area, that one thing you are touchy about then I get a knife stick it in, and twist it just to get my point across. Not literally speaking of course. Word to the wise, I wouldn’t recommend it.) Cory in turn has learn to let me go.

My pastor and his wife have their own set of “Rules of Engagement” and when one of them breaks it, the other gets up (one of their rules is you have to sit down while arguing) and says “we are both very upset right now. When we have calm down, we will revisit this issue” and walks away. Which takes more guts than people know.

So what are everyone’s steps to avoid World War Three in your relationships? What are your own “Rules of Engagement”?



3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 28, 2010 5:52 pm

    i have to ask myself this everytime we fight, because I love to be right, but not more than I love to cuddle and have fun with the guy: Do I want to reconciled to my mate, or do I merely want to be ‘right’?

  2. audrey permalink
    August 3, 2010 7:06 pm

    I am a counselor at a woman’s center, and I have heard countless women tell me the exact same story you have. This sounds like the perfect example of emotional abuse. Here’s a link to an illustration of the cycle of domestic abuse:
    If this linked image resonates with you and you feel it is an accurate reflection of the dynamic of your relationship, you may want to consider what is worth tolerating. If you need to talk about this with someone, and are located in the US, please call 211. It’s confidential, you won’t be pressured to do anything you’re not comfortable with, and they will be able to connect you with your local women’s center to talk to this with a trained professional. The big thing that resonated with me is that, regardless of how you react, whether submissively or aggressively, it doesn’t change the way he acts towards you. That strikes me as controlling of you and a worrying lack of control over himself. A committed relationship of equals shouldn’t function like that. I see many women at my center with amazing, happy, healthy relationships as well (we deal with a variety of stuff, not just dv), and I just don’t see the qualities that make those relationships great in what you just described.
    No matter what, I hope you are happy and healthy and satisfied with whatever you do decide to do.

  3. KathyRo permalink
    August 31, 2010 12:14 pm

    Thank you Audrey for that information! Jesselyn your reader needs to pay her advice close attention. That fact that she’s using words like “dangerous situation” and “tirade” is very disconcerting. I suspect her arguments with her partner and yours are very different.

    The biggest mistake she can make is thinking she can avoid his outburts and his wrath but being “perfect” and by never doing anything that might upset him. His reactions are inappropriate and he is the ONLY person who can control them.

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