I am really, really sorry for your loss.
Coming from an emotionally and physically absusive past, I had a really hard time managing my emotions when I was younger. Not only did I pick up some abusive habits, but since I was never allowed to show anger I had a lifetime of overwhelming anger to work through. I had to do a lot of work on myself over the years. One really important lesson I had to learn was what a mature, respectful relationship actually looked like. You both need to learn these lessons as well. Here’s the most important lesson:
It is NOT ok to swear at your partner. It’s NOT ok to call them names. It’s NOT ok to yell at them. That is not fighting, it is abuse.
The only way your relationship will ever work is if you both can recognize how you are BOTH killing the relationship and work together to change this. Counseling would be beneficial, but if you can’t do that I’ve outlined some steps that I have taken with various partners that might help you.
Take some time to think about your role. Be completely honest about the ways you are contributing. What behaviors are you engaging in that could be absusive? In which ways are you pushing his buttons? If you need help identifying the issues, read some articles on positive communication in relationships.
Sit down with your boyfriend and tell him that you have done a lot of thinking about your relationship. Tell him that you love him so much and are committed to him, but that you recognize that the way you have both been fighting has been hurtful, disrespectful, and toxic. Refer to the trip you took previously as an example. Admit to the mistakes you realize you have been making, and apologize for them. Ask him if he would be willing to work on improving the communication in the relationship before breaking up. If he says yes, then ask if him he would please take some time to reflect on any ways he thinks he is contributing to the toxic fighting, and anything you are doing that is contributing that you might not have mentioned. Make a plan to revisit in a day or two.
This is a hard discussion, so before you have it, agree to some ground rules. These are mine:
– Stay calm, no raising voices or yelling
– If anyone starts to get angry, take a 10 min break. you cannot say no to your partner needing a break
– Focus on each other with no distractions. It helps to sit facing each other and holding hands to first establish a loving connection.
– Do not excuse bad behavior by blaming your partner. Your actions are each your own.
First, go through your mistakes a second time and again apologize. Then ask him to share his relfections. Really listen. When he’s done, acknowledge it. Say something like, “So when I do abc, you feel xyz. I can understand how that would be hurtful and I’m sorry.” You don’t have to agree with everything he says but you do have to respect it, even if it’s hard to hear. When you are done, talk about what is triggering you both to have the reactions you are, and brainstorm some ways to combat those triggers. For example, my fiance and I are both emotional and make our points passionately…which is great individually but sometimes together it means there’s a lot of talking but not a lot of listening going on. So for us, it’s important that we take breaks when we need it, and also we often take turns speaking. So I’ll have 1 minute where I can make a single point, and then he has a minute to respond. You can only take an additional minute if both people agree to it.
If you both start getting heated and it seems like things are getting out of control, then table the discussion for later. Agree on a time to talk again so it’s not up in the air. You might need to discuss this several times.
This is something you will have to work on EVERY TIME you have an argument. So, you need to remember a few things:
– your ground rules
– your triggers and his as well
– focus on the issue you want to solve today, don’t bring up the past
– additional issues that have been brought up can be scheduled for a later discussion, don’t get sidetracked
You might want to repeat these or whatever rules you have for yourselves before an argument to help you both stay on track.
Your partner is not your enemy. They are the person you love. They deserve to be treated with respect regardless of your anger or their actions. I bet you would take a bullet for your boyfriend, but then you don’t hesitate to call him names or swear at him. If you love someone, that love shouldn’t stop because you are having a fight. There needs to be love in all aspects of your relationship. Also, people are imperfect and you will both mess up. Respect each other enough to be understanding of that, and don’t let it prevent you from doing better in the future. It’s a process, sometimes a lifelong one.
I know that this is pretty wordy but I hope it helps you, or at least someone out there.