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Sandra A Doron LCSW

Dear Sandra:

I read your previous column and was curious to find out how to handle arguments. My boyfriend and I often become enraged with each other, in fact, our arguments scare me so much that they could escalate into something physical, and we both want to prevent that from happening. We both love each other, but cannot communicate in a civil way or hear each other once we reach that breaking point. Help-Me-If-You-Can

Dear Help-Me-If-You-Can:

Every couple has arguments, and this is healthy and normal. If you didn’t have disagreements and arguments, I would be concerned. However, you are very perceptive to realize that when these arguments escalate, and both of you are feeling out-of-control, you need to take a look at what is happening, and try to change the pattern. If you do not change, the chances that you and your boyfriend will make it into an ongoing relationship appear unlikely. The consequences could be devastating if your arguments do become physical.

I believe that couples need to address their arguments before the evening is over. Going to bed angry and hurt only makes it more difficult to talk about it . If one or both of you realize that you cannot speak calmly with each other after a disagreement, agree to the following plan:

1. Take a time-out, but before doing so, agree on a time that you will come together to talk about the problem. The best plan is to agree to talk well before going to bed that night.

2. During your time-out, take a walk, or find a place where you can think clearly. Taking a drive is not a good idea. Think of one thing you said or did that was wrong during your last argument, and one thing you said or did that was right.

3. When you come together with your partner, do not talk about any past argument—only this one. Share with each other the one right and one wrong thing you said or did.

4. Limit the discussion to less than 30 minutes. You may not resolve the problem, but listen to each other, and try to hear your partner’s side. In a healthy disagreement, there is no “winner” or “loser,”, but rather two listeners.

If you would like to attend a Couples Communication class, Kaiser Permanente and the San Diego Community College District offer free classes. They are excellent and are open to all couples living in California. The next class is being offered in the fall. For more information about these classes, call 858- 627-2545, or visit my website at

Sandra A Doron LCSW is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. A & A Couples Counseling Acknowledge & Appreciate (Keys to a Successful Relationship)


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This site was last updated 01/22/06