Our fights are driving us apart

-- Question for John --

My boyfriend and I fight a lot. Our fights are driving us apart. And it’s always because of the same reasons. I get very jealous when he spends his time with other women, even though I know they are just friends. And he reacts very badly when he gets mad at me for being jealous. His first reaction is always to yell and name call and then apologize later.

What can I do to help control my feelings and how can I help him to control his temper? These two little things are going to drive us apart if we don’t fix them!! Thanks so much!

-- Answer from John --

Jealousy is one thing, but the communication pattern between the two of you is a far more important and potentially devastating issue. I’ll give you something to try for yourself on jealousy below. But first I’m going to discuss getting on track with better communication.

Here is an important thing for you to consider: What’s the real difference between couples who split up and those whose relationships are lasting?

Couples that stay together have just as many problems to resolve as couples who split up (i.e. disagreements, differences, conflicts, etc.). That’s not the difference.

But here is the important difference: Couples who stay together and are happy have learned more skills in how to resolve their issues.

You are asking the right question — how to change the style of his temper — and whatever your part is in the communication pattern (and I don’t mean the jealousy itself).

The style, or process, you use is the real issue. Not the topics of the arguments. Not the jealousy itself, but what you are both doing with it.

There are many books out on how to fight fair, etc. These usually revolve around making “I” statements and the like. They do not necessarily work, because in the heat of emotion, most of us forget about using these fine techniques.

Jealousy is often a reflection of inner insecurity that gets triggered. One inner resource that can be built, then, is self-love and self-acceptance. I don’t know how things will ultimately turn out with your boyfriend, but I do know that you will build a stronger inner core from doing this.