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Can we finally stop fighting, and be happy?

Published on December 10, 2012 by rchris

My boyfriend and I have known each other for over 8 years, and we have been in a serious relationship for over 5 years. I am 26 and he’s 41; he is my first “real” adult relationship- he, being 15 years my senior has had more long-term relationships than myself; maybe that’s a source for some of our problems? In the beginning of our time together he was smitten with me (always staring at me, taking tons of pictures, etc.), he was very attentive and caring for me. Always telling me that I was his "number 1," even without me asking. Over the past few years however, those things have slowly disappeared, and it seems like we are ALWAYS fighting now. In an argument I do the talking, and he disengages and becomes defensive. I can't even communicate my feelings to him without him immediately disengaging. He is very passive, and tends to let things bottle up (when he finally blows- he gets extremely mad) me on the other hand- I wear my emotions on my sleeve. When I'm upset I let him know... he says I'm always mad about something (that is simply not true.) When we have a fight, sometimes we'll go weeks without speaking (we don't live together.) I am typically ALWAYS the one who has to call or stop by to break the silence. Sometimes he will do this, but like I say that’s not normally the case. Another personal issue that I know contributes to problems is my lack of friendships. I admit that over the course of the past few years- I have put many of my friendships on the back burner. I would rather be with Joe, but I'm slowly trying to re-establish my friendships for myself (I know I need to make time for others besides Joe) this lack of other people to spend time with has definitely put a strain on our relationship- also maybe this contributes to a sense of obligation he feels that he doesn’t want to abandon me and leave me all alone? Maybe I’m too available all the time, maybe if I went out more he would make it more of a priority to spend time with me, and in turn our relationship would get stronger? Even when we are in a good place- its like I always have to be the initiator. I honestly feel that if I didn’t organize and plan every time we spend together, then we probably would never hang out. Anymore, he will always say something like “why would I want to hang out, we always fight,” or “why would I call you when I always have to listen to this, it’s the same thing over and over with you.” He says I can never let things go, like we’ll have a fight, and won’t talk for a while, then after we reconnect I want to talk about it, but he doesn’t- he always tells me that I never want to let it go and move on. But, all I want is for him to acknowledge what has happened, and talk about it with me. For instance if he wrongs me- I want him to apologize not “Alright I’m sorry!!” I feel as though I apologize when I’m wrong… My family and close friends say- maybe its time to break things off with him, but I love him sooo much, and desperately want to make it work. I know there are things I can do to help, and I’m slowly trying to incorporate those things. It’s like, when we’re good we’re great, but when we’re bad we’re horrible. I mean the night before our last fight we were snuggling on the couch, and being very affectionate, and having a great time. There is a huge reason we always fight though, and it happens every time I spend the night with him. The day/night before; it’s great, but almost always the next day he’s got this jerky moody attitude going. Even when we talk about it he acknowledges it, but still it continues to happen without fail the next time. Later, he says, “you can never let it go”, and I say that’s because you do the same thing over and over (this has been happening, at least, over the past three years) After I leave in anger, later he acts like I should just get over it! This infuriates me even more- its like he can never try and understand the way I feel. Okay, this is very long I know, but I’m about to wrap it up. The last “morning after” happened about a month and a half ago. I decided I was fed up, and left like normal. I told him that he really needs to change, and become more sensitive to my needs, and treat me like I deserve to be treated (he says he will change- like always). This was about 2 and half weeks before he left the country to visit his family for a month. Before he left, and once while he was gone he attempted to talk to me, but I informed him that I did not want to talk (I guess I wanted him to try harder). Later, I sent him an email after I had not heard from him (for weeks) for Thanksgiving. I was very upset, and explained that he could have at least attempted to try and contact me (when he’s out of the country we usually Skype, e-mail, and text quite often), but I got nothing from him, until I gave him grief about it... Through a couple of emails we became more cordial, and were casually talking about things like the weather, daily events, and what not. We left off on my text that he never responded to (about some sunglasses he was asking me about.) Here’s my issue (I’m finally getting to it) I know from facebook- (I barely use it, and he knows that I don’t check it on a regular basis) that he got back into town Friday night (12/7), here it is Monday (12/10), and he has made NO attempt to contact me (his return date was left open and not planned). He is out of work, and its not like he’s so busy or something. Here I am going CRAZY wondering why he hasn’t called, and I’m wondering what could be going through his head right now? All I know is that I’m super stressed, and knowing him, he probably isn’t even thinking about it, or even cares. This sounds pretty sad as I sit here typing, but I really don’t know what to do. It will be 12/12/12 soon, and we’ve talked about how special this is. If he doesn’t call by then I don’t know what I’ll do☹ I planed to wait until he calls- he knows that I really don’t get on facebook much (neither does he) so, really I might not even know he’s home. I have prepared a short script type outline for when he does call- just so I don’t blow up, and get all upset with him. I feel like from his point of view; if I’m around than that’s fine, and if I’m not around that’s fine too! Its like he doesn’t care, and I know he’s capable of caring, but I just don’t know if we can get back to that place again. While he’s been gone I have been reconnecting with friends, and it has been great ☺ but at the same time I’m always thinking about Joe. I also want to mention that I have been taking care of his place while he was gone (watering plants, and getting mail.) If it weren’t for 12/12/12 I would probably be more patient waiting for his call. However, these kind of special dates and astrological alignments are kind of special to us (kind of weird, I know, but it’s the last triple date!) Usually, I go to his house every Tuesday and Thursday after school to check on things (he knows this) maybe he’s just waiting for me to casually drop by? I’m wondering if I should go to his place after school Tuesday, and sort of act like I didn’t know he was back? Maybe this will open conversation? I would be friendly, but I would also act busy, and leave ASAP to let him know that I’m fine without him. I don’t want to be gullible and give in this easily, but I don’t know… Really he should have called me by now, but I know that I contribute to our relationship problems as well, and I want to make things work between us. What should I do? Sorry this is so long… thank you in advance.

Happy Holidays, Rachelle

ANSWERS

Update: He finally sent me a text this morning, but I was disappointed it wasn't a call. We really haven't gotten anywhere still yet...

Wow, it seems you've been holding on to this for a long time! It's true, guys' reaction can be frustrating at times, it feels they just don't get why we "make a big deal" out of things when in fact we just mention that we don't like something! But it all comes from our and their different way of thinking - as they see it even a mention of a problem existing is already a deal for them, because they usually don't bother to think at all about small things. And usually the more we girls try to push guys to acknowledge that something is wrong the more resistant they get, this is where their feeling of us "constantly being upset with something" comes from.

You man is 40, meaning he spent a great deal of time being the way he is and it worked for him. I know the promise of him changing sounds so nice, but think about it - if he has been like that for at least couple of years during your relationship is it likely that he is going to one day change all of a sudden? Then what stopped him from making those changes before? I know you say he is capable of caring and in his own way he does care about you, but what was in the beginning years doesn't mean will stay throughout the whole time - I mean first years are always happy, it what comes afterwards counts, how good both parties are able to contribute to relationship. I know you are just trying to save what you both have by saying how you feel, however if there is so much that makes you unhappy put aside love for him for a minute and think is it all worth saving? Imagine yourself in 3, 5, 10 years from now with him being as he is and look will that make you happy? Is your love still there if he is who he is now? And most likely he will be...

My honest opinion is that you desperately want it to work, you even mentioned this word, and desperate is never good, it unables us to see the real way things are. I don't judge you, I feel for you, that you don't have many close people besides Joe in your life now, that's why even with everything bad happening you are afraid to lose him. Break up is never easy, but friends are a great support during that time, so just reconnect with them, as a minimum you won't have to pretend to be busy you actually will be busy with other people. Of course it's your decision what to do, but from what you wrote I have an impression that there are only two ways to go on: either be ok with how things are (meaning honestly accepting whatever he throws at you, not try to mention or fix anything whatsoever) or make a hard choice and become single for a while. And it really will be for a while, because there are plenty of nice guys out there who wouldn't mistreat you even after many years and are willing to talk about things and change them, it's just not Joe unfortunately. Stay strong, all the best whatever decision you make!

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