DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I fight a lot. It has been going on for a year now. Every day we have an argument in which we yell, scream and put each other down. The language gets very ugly. These episodes are triggered by trivial things. We resolve these arguments by ignoring each other or by going to sleep. The next day, it's as if nothing had happened and we're fine until the next argument.
Our families and friends have no idea, since we're very private about our fighting. They all think we're a "perfect" couple and frequently ask about our wedding plans. I don't want them to know because I feel embarrassed about our behavior.
We both grew up in emotionally abusive homes and both sets of parents are divorced. I was abandoned by my father and my boyfriend was abandoned by his mother. We don't want to end up like our parents, but I'm afraid the cycle is continuing. We want to marry and have children, but I'm afraid of how our family would turn out if we did.
I am depressed and stressed because of this. We love each other very much and want to get help to change our behavior, but money is tight. We're both college students and can't afford therapy. Any advice, Abby? -- IN LOVE AND FIGHTING
DEAR IN LOVE AND FIGHTING: Go to the student health center and ask to speak with a counselor. Free or low-cost counseling is offered to students on most college and university campuses. You and your boyfriend need to understand what is triggering these outbursts and learn to constructively vent your frustrations.
Since you both recognize there is a problem and are willing to work on it, I'm sure it can be solved. I commend you for wanting to do something about it before this relationship goes any further. That's mature thinking. I wish you both the best.