Meeting a friend in the suburbs for a cup of coffee, I found her bleary-eyed and exhausted even though it was two in the afternoon. “Got to bed at four o’clock this morning. We argued and argued�” she said to me, explaining that she thought he’d been philandering with another woman at a dinner party. On his part, he had been exasperated — placating, reasoning and finally apologising so that they could kiss and make up.
They are a contemporary twosome in a live-in relationship. What I learnt was that this sleeping at three and four in the morning was a regular feature of their relationship, the arguments covering a variety of subjects. To me, she seemed to be the offending party. She half-admitted herself too, that once she got a bee in her bonnet, she just has to get to the bottom of the perceived issue even if it took all night. And invariably, she regretted her uncalled for insecurities, tiresome nit-picking and the waste of entire nights in a series of accusations, fault-findings and more until he gave in and apologised, regardless of whether he was at fault or not. She paid the price for her own errors with guilt and misgivings that he’d leave her, hate her and so on.
I wondered why she continued to do this when she was so perfectly aware of how uncalled for these arguments were, but she said that she couldn’t help herself. It was almost like a compulsive disorder, she rued. I thought she seemed so normal. Maybe she was letting herself into a vicious cycle of guilt and insecurity, lunging for control in the relationship when she really didn’t need to. We talked. I asked her why she felt as though she had to be the boss over her well-meaning partner. She seemed to see that I had a point, but came back to insisting that she can’t help herself. She hoped they were going to marry eventually, but was deadly afraid that she would drive him away before they even reached that stage.
Nagging and haranguing are part of a negative communication pattern that actually becomes the cause of betrayal and infidelity where it does not exist. Women are more prone to it, according to statistics, and couples can actually fall out of love because of it. Either partner can keep the other in check in such matters, and sort things out before they escalate to a bigger problem.
People respond better to conversation and communication than loud voices and shouting matches. An interesting trick is to write post-its and leave them at strategic places for your partner to find, or simply to write out an email to them. At school, we had been taught that we always have a choice, and we must let our better self triumph over the temptation to cheat or to take the wrong path to our goals.
I asked my friend to follow the same thumb rule when it came to her outbursts with her partner. We adults need to control our impulses and pay heed to our better selves too, after all.
The writer is a columnist, designer and brand consultant. Mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org Tweet to her at @nishjamvwal
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