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Dr. Michael
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience:  Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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Hi, I have lived with my fiance now for 7 1/2 years.Weve been

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Hi, I have lived with my fiance now for 7 1/2 years.We've been together for 9. I knew pretty quickly that he had a history of depression but is intelligent, caring &funny so this seemed manageable. The true test came when his Mother was diagnosed with lung cancer in dec 2004. Our relationship immediatly changed & his depression really came to the fore. She died in July 05 & we have sice been living like Brother & Sister. We argue a lot, especially over his drinkng. When he does drink I become the enemy & he says he cant love me because he can only love his Mother. He takes his anger out on me, verbally which is really upsetting. To add insult to injury he is unemployed & it appears has no intention of working,although he has a 1st class degree in history,is clever & articticulate. He doesnt drive either. I'm a Nurse & work long,hard hours.I'm exhausted most of the time. I just feel our life is a mess.There are 3 of us in this relationship & one of them is dead
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 3 years ago.
Hello. I believe I can be of help to you with this issue.

Oh my.........your boyfriend is really, really 'stuck' in time, developmentally.

5.5 years have gone by and he can't reconcile himself to his mother's death. He is continuing to live 'as if' his life can't really move on because of this loss. His anger toward you occurs because you DO represent the present and the future and you are a role model for living for today, trying to plan for the future, etc. Therefore, you distress him and threaten him emotionally because he feels the subtle, unconscious messages from you and others around him that he must truly 'bury' his mother and deal with his abandonment issues honestly and directly. He isn't really ready to give her up and let her be dead. What I'm suggesting that is this cognitive behavioral therapist hasn't done him much good-----much of his depression is likely rooted in a more childlike and infantile core belief system I suspect his therapists don't have a clue about-----"Please don't make me accept the fact that my mother is truly dead because I 'cannot' move on without her. Don't make me move on without her because I don't want to forget her, lose her, etc." Now here is the really difficult part to probably accept (for you): There is a certain level of ccomfort and emotional gain he is receiving from staying 'stuck', continually grieving his mother and not moving on with life because he is very, very fearful to do so.

Also, in many ways, you have become a surrogate mother to him over the years, helping to reinforce his childlike sense of 'self'. Pretty darned unhealthy emotional relationship in this area of your life together, wouldn't you agree? I think he would feel some sense of identity loss, or he feels that some aspect of his 'self' would be destroyed if he truly buried his mother and agreed to face life ALONE. He would never admit it, but as smart as he is intellectually, he does embrace a rather magical, and utterly irrational belief: "If I continue to mourn my mother and never abandon her memory day-by-day, she will continue to 'be there' for me and perhaps I can undo history---she can magically become undead if I love her enough and cling to her". I realize this sounds bizarre, but we DO this all the time when we suffer a loss. For example, if we have an accident and someone is seriously injured or killed, it is very common to replay and replay, and replay the events in our mind and try to figure out how we could have prevented it !! It is as if, we truly believe: "If I think about that automobile accident long enough and hard enough, maybe I can figure out how I can prevent it in the first place, or somehow change history".

What do you think?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your opinion, it reinforces what I think & why I feel resentful towards him. I do feel like his Mother at times not his partner. I love him so much & cant imagine my life without him, but unless he sorts himself out we will break up. I need to start living & getting back some friends & hobbies. Maybe if he sees I can survive without him he'll do something. In the mean time I have told him hehas to get a job. He's using hisMothers death as an excuse to live & function as an adult.
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 3 years ago.
Very smart. You must allow the objective, rational trains of thought dominate your actions, rather than the emotional 'tugs' at your heartstrings and your emotional trains of thought about this relationship.

I hope this information is helpful to you. Please let me know if I have overlooked any aspect of your original question. Please hit the green Accept button at the bottom of the screen. Thanks.
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience: Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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