February 11, 2011 - submitted by Caitlin, United States of America

"I have a bit of a problem, I have been with my boyfriend for almost 10 years, we even have a 2 year old together, but lately we have been arguing non stop. If I didn't have a child with him I'm sure I would break it off. I almost feel like all of this fighting is getting in the way of my parenting. What should I do? Caitlin."

The Oracle replies:

This isn't a simple case of being able to say one thing to you because there are layers to this that need tackling individually even though they all contribute to the end result.
Firstly I'd advise you to tackle the parenting; think what is best for your 2 year old and immediately find a way to keep any necessary fighting private; you'd be amazed to know what effect that will be having on your child even at such an early age.
Notice I said necessary because fighting can become habitual. Try to have a calm yet brutally honest conversation with your boyfriend to discuss the problems in your relationship. If you think it will help, suggest that you both write a list of what is irritating you both about the other. Counter balance this with things that you like about each other - if you can't think of anything in the moment, remind yourselves of what you did once love. Allow each other time to say your piece without interrupting or shouting.
Ten years is a long time and you may be fighting for many reasons: pressures (financial, work, child care etc.) or you may have become stuck in a rut with each other. When the routine becomes so set that you discover there's nothing much outside of it, it's time to make time. Bringing up a child is very hard and can impact on a relationship but it's important for you both to take time out; individually and together. Why not have a date night and take it in turns to suggest ways to spend it? Even if the first date night is to discuss where you both feel it is going wrong.
Of course as you mentioned that you're sure you'd leave if you didn't have a child I have to address that too. Maybe you would but you do have a child and there's a chance that's the reason it started to go downhill so do look carefully before you stand by that statement because... IF you truly do think the relationship has run its course and there's no going back it may be wise to consider ending it. I say from experience that I do not believe that staying together for the sake of the child is always a good idea - in fact, I find it's rarely so.
To go back to the parenting, two separated parents who aren't fighting and are happy without the other is going to be a better influence on your child than the current situation. Good luck. Over to you...

This is a tricky situation because it has been proven that it's beneficial for children to be raised with both parents, however, you are not happy in the relationship. I know you think it's best for your child if you stay together with your boyfriend but when your child gets older, he or she will be able to see that you are not happy. I'm sure he/she won't want to be the reason you stayed in an unhealthy relationship. The best thing you can do for your child is to be happy, with or without your boyfriend. Also, this could just be a rough patch that all couples go through so try to work it out and if you honestly feel like it is hopeless, end the relationship but make sure the father is still in your child's life. Take Care. Katie, USA

Wow you have quite an issue before you... you say you have been with this man for 10 yrs!! Well that's should be long enough to know someone and certainly long enough to make a commitment in your relationship. I have to wonder why you are not married?? It raises a red flag with me right away but on to the problem at hand. You say you are arguing - what are you arguing about?? Your parenting approach? Is it money? Or is there another issue? You have to figure out why you are not resolving this. In order to go forward, you may not like how it ends. Be brave and ask yourself what it is you REALLY want from this relationship and if you are likely to get it. The answer will be obvious to you. I wish you nothing but the best and hope it all works out but if not chin up, move forward, you will be ok, take care , Laurie

Staying with your boyfriend just because you had a child together may not be grounds to do so at all. In fact, this could hinder your child's development in one way or another in the long run. Ask him what he thinks is in the child's best interest and work from there. If you believe that your constant arguing is detrimental to your child and your parenting, then it might be a good idea to take a break with your boyfriend in order to give you both time to cool off. Regardless of your decision, make sure your child has the opportunity to spend plenty of time with you and his father. Blake

I think that you and your boyfriend should take a weekend off just the two of you... a romantic weekend so you can talk and try to figure out what's going on.
Try to not fight in front of your beautiful baby and I think If you guys talk, you should be able to fix everything. Gisela, Argentina

Try and work it out. You have been together for 10 years and have a child so there must be something there between each of you, and to have a loving mother and father in union there for your child is definitely worth sticking it out; as long as you and your child are safe and not being physically or emotional abused. Generally I don't think people argue for the sake of arguing, there must be some sort of underlying issue that can likely be resolved, possibly some form of resentment has manifested over the years that needs to be identified and forgiven. Ask yourself how it would be to live with someone like yourself? Maybe there are things you can do or not do to contribute to a more positive relationship. Talk and at a time that is convenient for both of you, where each of you have a clear and cooperative mind set; that's likely not immediately before or after work, take time to cool down. Try to stay calm, use a neutral or positive tone, listen, understand, empathise and lead by example and if you do this don't use it as a pedestal to look down upon; I know we are human and it can be hard to control our emotion and state of mind, just do your best. Try to identify the problem and come to terms with it and if necessary seek externally assistance. It might help to talk about the issue with family or friends, whether that be in a manner to resolve or simply to vent. To that don't take the entire burden upon yourself, I believe it will take a commitment from both of you and maybe even the support from those around each of you. Most importantly try your utmost best not to argue in front of your child nor bring them into a situation that is not good for them. Well I hope that helps and all the best with your future. Joshua

You've been together for 10 years – that is significant. You have a child with this man. Being parents to small children can be very stressful. I don't feel like we're getting the whole picture though. Do you two sit down together regularly, after the baby's in bed, to talk? Are there any subjects that don't culminate in an argument? What are some triggers? I don't feel it's good practice to fight in front of your child. The bickering and arguing isn't good for any of you. It heightens your stress levels, which makes the hard job of parenting more difficult.
I strongly suggest that you find a good therapist who specializes in couples' counseling. Stepping outside of your normal arena may help to change the dynamics of your arguments, and having an impartial referee who can help you navigate tricky topics in a neutral setting is worth every cent. You obviously care about your partner and want to have a future together as a family. I hope you two are able to ride out this rough patch and move forward.
Good luck to you, Aimee.

Thank you to everyone who took time out to send responses to Caitlin. Next week I know you'll all be full of love & romance so click to read this week's Team Oracle question, and send us your answer.