Fussing and fighting in new marriage

All Woman

Dear Counsellor,

I have been married for three months and we are quarrelling all the time. He yells at me a lot and I respond likewise. I wish we could control our tempers, as we both say some unkind things to each other when we are angry. I don't even look forward to the weekends anymore. I feel like we should never have gotten married. I need advice on what to do.

The transition from being boyfriend/girlfriend to husband/wife can be a quite a tumultuous experience for some couples. It is at this stage that the masks are removed and the real people are revealed. The saint whom you dated during the courtship period has disappeared and you now wonder where this monster appeared from.

It is for this reason that premarital counselling sessions are highly recommended so that the couple can have a glimpse of what to expect if and when they decide to commit to each other in marriage. The Jamaican idiom, “See me an come live with me a two different thing”, comes alive for most couples making the transition.

So it appears that the challenge you both have centres around communication and conflict management. When there is a breakdown in the communication process the partners in the relationship tend to disregard and disrespect each other. Each person is fighting to outdo the other and ends up saying mean things to the other that they later regret. From this conflict arises and the couple begins to drift apart.

Now that you both realise that your present style of communicating is more harmful then helpful, it is the opportune time to learn and practise effective communication and conflict management skills.

So, sit with your partner and have a conversation about the current state of the relationship and share what you both would want going forward. The first step to effective communication is attentive listening. This means giving each other undivided attention and paying attention to the verbal and non-verbal cues. Avoid making unkind comments and value the opinion of your partner. It is okay to disagree but do so with a measure of regard for each other's dignity.

There are several books out there that can provide effective communication and conflict management tips that would aid in teaching these skills. If you believe that seeing a professional would be more helpful, then make an appointment to see a marriage counsellor as soon as possible.

I urge you not to ignore the communication challenges as failure to address them promptly can result in the detriment of your marriage. Hopefully your partner is on board and will join you on the mission to keep the marriage happy and peaceful.

All the best.

Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to agapemft@gmail.com. Check his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MFTCounselor/.

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