Relationship discernment/taking a break

I have been dating my boyfriend for 2 years. We are both working to grow our faith together. Our relationship has not been an easy one, we have always persisted and worked together to overcome our issues. We have embraced a life of chastity, and have started together a youth prayer group at our parish.

The problem at hand is that we have constantly been quarreling over the past month or so. The issues are insignificant and in hindsight we always realise that we can prevent these arguments by being more patient and understanding of one another.

But it just keeps happening. Something in our mannerisms, tone of voice, the words we choose - whatever - seems to annoy/anger the other person and we end up in an argument.

It’s gotten to the point where he’s exhausted and I completely understand why. The past few weeks I’ve tried my best to cheer him up when he’s down after another argument, and he’s done the same for me. I know him well enough to know that he doesn’t want to give up, but he’s just tired of being constantly unhappy, and wondering if we’re going to fight again today. I know that I could keep going at it until it gets better, but I don’t think that’s the wisest thing to do.

We love each other and know that we want to get married. At the present moment, however, the relationship is draining the both of us. He’s always been very busy with work and studies, and I know this issue is difficult for him to handle on top of everything.

I’m sorry it’s such a long post, but I suppose the real question is this: Do you think it’s suitable to suggest that we take a break from the relationship? I’ve always heard that “a break leads to a break up” and that “if you need to take a break, there is no relationship”. Is that necessarily the case/is it worth the risk?
If so, what’s a good way of going about it? Are there some ground rules we should set? How should we discuss it together?

Thanks in advance!

I’d suggest you consider it this way…

In marriage, there are no breaks.

If you want to marry this man and hope for it to be successful, I suggest you either work through these issues and develop the sort of communication between you that will work in a marriage, or you agree that the two of you are not suited for marriage and end it.

Taking a break will:

a) likely lead to a break up.

b) only defer the issues, not solve them.

Note: this isn’t to say that spending a little less time together for a while isn’t a good idea. Whatever you decide, giving yourself a little space for a few days to clear your mind would be a good idea.

While that is not necessarily the case, it is very frequently the case. In your situation, however, where you are both drained and exhausted from dealing with each other, it is very possible that you two are “just not meant to be.” If you think it’s bad now, just wait until you have made a life-long commitment to stay together. At least now you can get out. If you just don’t have it in you to officially break up, “taking a break” might be a way to ease into it. It won’t be less painful, but you’ll spread the pain out over a longer period of time.

If so, what’s a good way of going about it? Are there some ground rules we should set? How should we discuss it together?

“Ground rules” for a “trial break” are just silly. I mean, what do you except him to do? Sit and wait while you try to find yourself? If you’re going to go the “trial break” route, just agree that you have broken up for the agreed upon time frame. If you decide you can’t live with each other, great. You’ve learned a valuable lesson. It’s more likely, however, that you’ll enjoy the peace of not fighting all the time, and you’ll realize that you dodged a bullet.

In either case, good luck to you.

Track the timing for the arguments. It may be that they’re happening when you’re tired or hungry.

If you’re going to have an argument, “schedule” it for after dinner or lunch. I suspect you’ll find that when rested and with a full tummy, half of your arguments will sound pointless.

Never talk about controversial stuff before meals unless it’s life and death.

Hahaha this made me laugh because I do have a tendency to get ‘hangry’ and he gets easily irritated when tired- I think this may definitely be a factor.

I will be seeing him tonight so we will most likely have a chat about how to take it from here. But I agree- it would be much more worth the while trying to implement ways of communication that work, rather than going off on our own and trying to figure things out.

Have you ever heard of the book For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhan? If you haven’t read it, as your sister in Christ, I would be doing such a disservice to you if I didn’t recommend this book with all of my heart. I don’t know exactly what all you’re fighting over, but so many relationship/marriage issues stem from a lack of understanding the HUGE differences between how men and women think. Once you read this book, you’ll understand 200% better how your boyfriend thinks, and you’ll be able to see why things may be upsetting him that you don’t understand. And just in general, you’ll be able to relate to men a lot better wherever you go. I’m not even in a relationship, and I’ve already noticed just by taking the advice this book gives and applying it to my friendships with guys that they really do respond when you treat them the way they need to be treated. It’s life-changing stuff, not even exagerrating.
And Feldhan’s a Christian FYI, so she gives biblically based advice and quotes Scripture a lot. So don’t worry about it being one of those secular self-help relationship junk books. :thumbsup:

Praying to the Holy Spirit to give you guidance & direction in your time of need.


How does anyone time or schedule an argument ? :rolleyes:

Ours happen, and that is that. :blush:

Let’s say you start, suddenly realize, oh it’s just before lunch, my blood sugar is plunging, and I’m feeling crabby!!!

So you stop, have lunch and then resume. Or not. I find that everything looks less tragic after lunch.

If you were married and wanting to take a break from the relationship, I’d ask you if you had ever considered marriage counseling.

Since you’re not yet married, I’d say there’s counseling, individual or couple, to have someone more objective to speak to about these issues.

There are ground rules for relationships, or should be. A counselor can help one set healthy boundaries.

What is the fighting over? Time? Money? Friends?

If you do decide to get married, Precana is very good about helping one know if this person is the right one.

Also, consider another thing. One is generally on his best behavior while dating. So, this IS his best foot forward and yours. If you both don’t like it now, it probably won’t get better in marriage. While he might finish his degree, you might have children and a home. It’ll always be something. If it’s not working, it’s best to discover that now rather than later.

If the fighting over insignificant issues is enough to make you want to consider taking a break, what if something major came? What if one of you had cancer or a disability or lost a job, had problems with the kids, a real problem? If it’s getting too much over nothing, then I can’t help wonder what it’d be like if it was ever something.

Thank you, I love reading. I’m currently reading The Temperament God Gave You- I’d definitely recommend it. It’s also about communication and relationships, based on our different temperament types. I’ll put that one on my to-read list.

Thank you, I truly appreciate it :slight_smile:

It’s not so much about certain topics but the way we communicate that clash. For example, I’m quite a worry-wart and care a lot about how I phrase things in case I were to accidentally offend anyone. On the other hand, he tends to say things extremely bluntly. Though I don’t expect him to sugarcoat anything and I know that’s just how he is, at times I’ll find myself taking it to heart. It’s these tiny things that usually spark an argument. It’s always in hindsight that I ask myself why I couldn’t have just been more understanding when I know he doesn’t mean to be rude.

Funnily enough, we seem to come together and really bond over getting through major problems together. We’ve handled a lot of the big stuff, but seem to sweat over the small stuff. Does anyone else do this too?

That’s only one side of the coin. Sure, if you can try not to take things to heart that would be good. But he must understand how you take these things, and work towards expressing himself in a more sensitive manner. If he will not or cannot change, and you know how you take these things, it will not go well.

Arguing over small stuff is a real problem - because life is always full of small stuff (as opposed to big stuff, which as you say you handle better together, but is hopefully rare). You do not want a marriage filled with such fighting - him constantly being blunt and you constantly taking it to heart.

I’m not saying your relationship is doomed, but sometimes you can’t see how a good relationship ought to be until you find it, and you can only find it when you are out of bad ones.

It isn’t the mountain ahead that wears you out — it’s the grain of sand in your shoe. Robert Service

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