setting ground rules in conflict resolution

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Michael is sitting on a three-seater sofa in the middle of the room with his slender iPhone as I enter the living room with a composed smile.
Me: Hey, how the hell are you doing?
Michael: I’m all right, thank you. (He’s getting up to give me a hug and a short kiss on my left check) How was your day?
Uh, me: It’s been a busy day at work. There was a lot of work to do that was running out of time so we had to drive an extra mile to make sure everything was finished before we could leave the premises. Michael: I guess I don’t have to ask why you are a bit later than on normal days.

Me: Yeah, I guess so. I didn’t imagine you would come this early.

Michael: I knew you would be at home very early as usual so I decided to come as a bit early.

Me: (Heading towards the refrigerator on the extreme left wall of the living room from the main door). Do we have anything to eat in this house? I am feeling hungry and drained after such a long day.

Michael: You must be lucky because I thought you would come home hungry. Therefore I decided to buy takeaway food in case you might be hungry.

Me: That is very kind of you. I like so much how you do care for me.

Michael: I have to take care of you now that I love you. (Goes through the kitchen door and comes back with two packages wrapped in khaki papers with ‘KFC’ print on the wrappers. He hands me one package and goes back into the kitchen and comes with two glasses and a bottle of wine)

Me: Wow! I didn’t know it could be such a wonderful night.

Michael: Just a simple dinner for us. You said over the phone that you needed us to talk about something so I decided to find something to keep the conversation lively and as romantic as possible.

Me: Yeah, I did want us to talk about something.

Michael: (After filling the glasses with wine and handing me one of them) Okay, so what is it?

Me: I wanted us to get to know each other more.

Michael: I thought we know each to a great level.

Me: Yes, we do, but it is not enough considering that we are planning to get married.

Michael: C’mon Sam, just shoot whatever is on your mind?

Me: I want to us to go for a check up on our HIV status.

Michael: (A surprise expression on his face. What has come over to your mind? Do you think that I have been cheating on you?

Me: Nope! I don’t mean it that way.

Michael: Then what is the meaning of such an issue coming from nowhere all of sudden?

Me: I don’t know what is on your mind, but I just need us to be sure about each other. It is good for both of us.

Michael: (sighing) Enlighten me.

Me: If we get to know our status, it is the best chance for us to know how to take good care of each other.

Michael: But you know we are gay partners, unlike other heterosexual relationships in which the chances of infecting one another are very high.

Me: I know very well we are gay partners, but that doesn’t mean we cannot be affected by STIs (Darbes, Chakravarty, Neilands, Beougher, & Hoff, 2013). We cannot live on the assumption that we cannot be affected like other relationships between a man and a woman. I need us to take the initiative of seeking medical advice concerning this matter.

Michael: What you are suggesting is somehow difficult, and you know it.

Me: How is it difficult?

Michael: Where the hell on this earth will we get a medical practitioner, who is ready to offer such a service to a gay couple?

Me: Gay marriage is legal, and we no longer need to hide for being gay.

Michael: (Raising his voice). It is legal, but I don’t like the expressions on people’s faces when they hear of a gay couple.

Me: I think you are victimizing yourself for being gay. If you love me and you want this relationship to work out, you should not be keeping it a secret. You should be open about it for everyone to know that you are sure of who are and you are not ashamed of your choice.

Michael: You know very well that I have given everything for this relationship.

Me: Then this simple issue should not be such as a big problem.

Michael: Okay, if it is good for us and gives you the happiness you deserve then we can do it as soon as possible.

Me: I promise you it is the best for both of us.


Darbes, L., Chakravarty, D., Neilands, T., Beougher, S., & Hoff, C. (2013). Sexual risk for hiv among gay male couples: A longitudinal study of the impact of relationship dynamics. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 43(1), 47-60.

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