Relationship Advice is a column in CLEO where we ask relationship coaches, psychologists and experts on problems that twenty-something women in Singapore might face in different stages of their relationship. If you have a question for an expert, drop us an email at cleo@sph.com.sg


This column is contributed by Cindy Leong from Relationship Studio. Cindy is an Enneagram Personality Coach and Corporate Trainer who helps people make sense of their professional and personal relationships.

It’s not uncommon to hear about couples having more arguments during this circuit breaker, whether or not they live together, and it’s not hard to understand why—in living together, it can be difficult being around each other 24/7, and yet in not doing so, video calls can only compensate for so much after all this while.

And as if the increased fights aren’t bad enough, things are made worse if there hasn’t been much quality time together or if one partner exhibits avoidant behaviour during these heated moments. So how should you go about resolving fights during this trying time, whichever boat you’re in?

We talk and interact lesser now. How do I get us to engage in conversation more?

One of the top five needs of men is companionship, while for women, it’s conversation. It’s true that men don’t need to talk as much as women but the way to get men to open up and talk is through companionship. 

If you guys live together, make the effort to do couple activities like working on relationship goals or completing a jigsaw puzzle together. If you guys don’t, try doing online activities together.

Misunderstandings happen often and we don’t see eye to eye. How do we fix this?

Give each other some space to think about the issue and agree on a time to talk things out—a time which both parties are comfortable with. We need to understand that different people have different needs for space; some people are OK to talk about misunderstandings after 10 minutes while others prefer to take a two-hour breather. 

When talking about the misunderstanding, avoid playing the blame game and focus on the solution, not the problem.

We’re arguing on the phone and my partner hangs up out of anger. What do I do?

If you are hurt by his behaviour, bring this up another time to let him know such behaviour makes you uncomfortable. Be vulnerable, share what made you uncomfortable and propose that he express his anger in ways that are less hurtful

For example, suggest that he say: “Sorry, I really need to hang up, let’s talk tomorrow.” This would  give you a mental prep first before he hangs up.

I’m upset with my partner and I refuse to answer any text messages or calls from them. Is this OK?

Let him know how much time you need to cool down. Again, if boundaries have been drawn earlier, it would be easier. Express your need for space to think and reflect,  and let him know what you are doing with that space to help you cool down.

Assure him that things are OK and that you just need the space to sort out your thoughts. Some people are more clingy and anxious than others because they don’t feel secure in times of ambiguity. 

Assure him that you are not ignoring him, and that things are not getting worse. Having time to cool down is just part of the process to working things out and it would lead to a better outcome, not a worse one.