Arguments overload in this long-distance relationship
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I am in a long-distance relationship with my girlfriend of 12 years. The last six-and-a-half years have been long distance. I cheated a few times in the relationship when she was here, and now that she is overseas, I did it again. She found out and my life has been a living hell since. But the thing about it is, she has done the same thing, too, and I forgave her. None of us is perfect and we make mistakes, but she keeps bringing up the argument every day and I'm tired of it. I really do love her and want the relationship to work, but the arguments are non-stop. I am not an argumentative person; I don't like conflict at all. I know she is hurting and that's why she argues, but it has been one year now (since the last episode) and the arguments continue. What can I do? By the way, she is still overseas and I am in Jamaica. She got married to get her papers, and when she got them, she came back for the first time last June. I just need someone to talk to.

Thanks for joining in on The Couch. It is quite a quagmire of a situation, but it's not unique to you both. I do have some questions though, like, if you love each other, why have you been in an informal relationship for 12 years? Did you ask her to marry you before? That's important to note because I think this could be an issue that's weighing on her mind.

Also, regarding the cheating, didn't you think you would get found out? And what did you think would be the consequences? There certainly would be arguments. I am wondering if you both are convinced that this is a redeemable relationship.

I'm not surprised that the "arguments are non-stop", based on all you've said. Infidelity isn't easy to deal with, because critical trust is broken. You said that she has cheated, too, and you forgave her. That's good, but it doesn't remove the insecurities that now exist between both of you. Some people choose open relationships in situations like these. But, in my estimation, those are never healthy and they never end well. I believe the dynamics of sexual intimacy are meant for just two committed people. Anything apart from that opens a Pandora's box of in-fighting, distrust, and confusion. You're also dealing with the difficult dynamic of her being married for "papers" — it all sounds fragile and risky for both of you.

Here's my advice:

Determine what you want: Think about it carefully and figure out if this is really what you want. If it was to be, I think you might have handled things differently before. Some relationships are best being platonic and not romantic. And the fact that she's married, albeit for "status", says it's all very thin ice. Being in the friend zone isn't a curse.

Long-distance relationships are hard: Some folks need physical contact in their relationship, and distance won't work for them. Prolonged distance is difficult, even for a strong, committed couple. Six-and-a-half years of distance, not many relationships could ever survive that. The baggage formed over those years can be too weighty for anyone to carry. This is not sustainable for you if you are hoping to salvage this relationship.

Get further help: Some people see doctors for routine physical examinations, yet ignore getting routine emotional and psychological check-ups with trained, experienced counsellors. And a best friend isn't a counsellor — your mother isn't a counsellor (chances are). The weight of life does often cause us all to need someone to talk to. So there's nothing strange about needing that. And while it's important to have friends to vent with, it's important to have a good counsellor.

I pray for happiness and God's guidance for both of you.

Get on The Counsellor's Couch with Rev Christopher Brodber, who is a counsellor and minister of religion. E-mail questions to

Christopher BRODBER

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