My partner and me seem to argue over the silliest things, which then get blown out of all proportion.

The latest row was over washing up, I know it sounds silly but things went too far and we ended up having a blazing row outside of school. Whenever we have a slight disagreement she tells me that I can leave if I’m not happy… which makes me really sad and angry, so I say hurtful things which makes her want to leave and take the children. Which makes me even angrier and I’m ashamed to say I have threatened to be violent with her.

We really love each other and are great together when things are good but everything can change in a split second if one of us says the wrong thing. We want to make it work but neither of us knows how to stop flying off the handle with each other and it’s starting to affect our children now. Are there any strategy’s you are aware of that could help us to communicate more effectively without it ending in a massive bust up?

A: Thanks for asking this couples question. The fact that this is an ongoing issue that the two of you get activated by one another, and that is appears to be escalating mean there are underlying issues that need to be addressed. When you are arguing about washing up something else is going on.

It seems clear that the level of dysregulation has reached a critical mass, and untangling the problem needs the help of a professional. I would strongly recommend you use the find help tab at the top of the page and find a local therapist who is able to do couples counseling. To jump start your work you may want to try a couple’s therapy weekend, such as can be offered by the well-established program developed by Harville Hendrix with Imago therapy.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral