For the past ten years I have been involved in a very volatile relationship. For the most part, not many physical fights have transpired, but almost every disagreement ends up being verbally abusive. Apparently, this was the norm for my partner's parents; however, I never witnessed my parents exchange words during their 15-year marriage. Even though I have walked out and ended the relationship many times in the past, we keep getting back together.
We now have 2 beautiful girls and I know I do not want them to ever be involved in this kind of disrespectful relationship. My partner loves our daughters just as much as I do and is a very active father. As a matter of fact, I know that he loves me - to the best of his ability. I have made it perfectly clear that I am not happy with the quality of this relationship and have asked that he seek counseling for his temper control as well as couples' counseling together. The minute I pack to leave he says he'll do something, then after I stay for a while, the issue is buried.
If I leave, the girls are disrupted and I don't want to drag them through any added pain or confusion. I do love him, but I'm not prepared to go through another decade like the last one. The sad thing is that he possesses a lot of good qualities and we're so good together in many ways. He just cannot control his temper or his mouth. He creates scenes when he feels he's been wronged (which is often) and says the most outrageous things in public. I think the real eye-opener is that his mother has now come to live with us, and the way he speaks to her is deplorable. If he speaks to her that way (in front of the girls) how can I ever expect any better? At this point, I don't even know how I feel about our future. Obviously I care about him, but I am very disappointed and resentful. I feel that I should get my own place with the girls and try to figure out what I want to do with my future, while at the same time forcing him to see that I'm serious about the counseling issue.
But is this the best scenario for my children? How do I get him to see the importance of counseling without uprooting the kids? I am 31 years old and I need to make a decision as to how I intend to live the rest of my life. Please advise me the best solution.
Let me address the question of getting him into counseling too. First, go to counseling yourself no matter what he does. You need to clarify where you are at and whether it is the best place for you. As you begin to change however, he will notice so don't be surprised if he works particularly hard to prevent you from going to counseling or keep you the way you are. Talk to your counselor about ways to engage him in counseling. Perhaps you can suggest to him that he needs to come to counseling to help you. After all, he probably thinks you are the source of the problems anyway, that you need all the help but he may be willing to go for counseling if he feels the focus won't be on him, won't blame him or threaten him. But no matter what he does, go to counseling for yourself.
The other thing that worries me is your daughters. They are seeing how you are allowing yourself be treated by this man. They hear how speaks of his mother who is coming to live with you. As they grow up they will allow themselves to be treated the same way by the men in their lives. I can't believe this is what you want for them. But what else will they expect. They see the verbal and physical abuse. They see him making promises to get help with you then going back on that promise. They see their lives disrupted by you moving out, then back in, etc. They hear what he says about you and his own mother and they draw conclusions about how men and women interact, what value they have as young women and how they can expect to be treated. If you don't want your daughters to seek and repeat the type of relationship you have you need to get out. Clearly he does not respect you and you seem to lack self-respect consequently you put up with this stuff. Don't let it happen to your daughters too.
Thomas H Schear
This question was answered by Thomas H Schear. Dr. Schear has over 20 years experience as a front line counselor, clinical supervisor, program director and college instructor. Currently he provides online and telephone counseling service as well as home-study and online course for the helping professional from his website.For more information visit: http://www.ccmsinc.net/