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I am in my 30's and have been in a long-term relationship for 6 years (the past 2 of those have been spent living together). We share a home and pets. I love my boyfriend and very much would like to resolve our issues. My boyfriend has stated that he DOES want to get married and have children.
In the past year, however, we have had several major issues that have caused continual fighting and tension between us. I have tried to discuss our future, and where our relationship is headed. I've mentioned numerous times that I want to be married and start a family, and I felt that he's dated me for long enough to know me and who I am. He has personal issues with my personality and behaviors, and has made it clear that he will not marry me until he believes the issues are resolved.
We are both college educated, middle to upper class individuals. We are both in business. I'd like to point out that I travel nationally for work and can be gone anytime from 3-4 days a week. My boyfriend is extremely detail oriented, neat, and organized. I am very laid-back and relaxed. He is not spontaneous and wants to plan very far in advance. I'm much more carefree. I have a great deal amount of stress and work, and just don't want to feel as rigid and scheduled at home. He has issues with my domestic abilities, how often I clean our home, assist with household activities, etc. He has issues with me not planning things far enough in advance. He says a relationship is a 50/50 and he should not have to pull all the weight. He's commented that this isn't a hotel. I understand that fact. I'm beginning to resent him, though. He expects for me to pay for half of everything, household items, a new tv, equal rent. At this point, we aren't married, no children. It is his home he owns, and I pay rent. He wants me to split buying all of our new furniture, paying for paint to remodel, etc. I've purchased appliances, thousands of dollars of items for a home that isn't mine. I've also stated that if I going to be spending money like this, I want to feel committed. He says that if we don't work out, I can take some of the items I've purchased and he will split the finances on other items he would want to keep. I feel like a roommate expected to play the role of a wife. When we discuss marriage, he continues to state that he still has many concerns about me and my issues, and won't commit to marriage until I change. I've asked for timelines (EXAMPLE: if I show you I've changed in 3 months can we re-evaluate? Can you provide me a list of items I need to work on)? My personal feeling is that he expects perfection before he will commit.
In all fairness, he is a very good boyfriend and would be a wonderful husband. He is very caring and loyal, he's responsible, extremely disciplined, funny, athletic, determined. All good qualities. Also, he is very domestic! He is always cleaning! Washing the sheets, doing the dishes, chores, etc. Its constant. He was vacuuming at 8pm last night while I was watching tv. That bothered him that I was sitting down not being productive while he was working. I'm ok if there are dirty dishes in the sink for a night, he lives by the policy work before play. He will write action item lists for me to do. He itemizes our monthly spending and provides me an invoice to pay including meals, utilities, groceries, rent, etc. We have both been this way our entire relationship, and I've known how he is, he certainly knows how I am. When I ask him how we can have dated for 6 years, and we are at this point of him being unsure about marrying me, he says that he loves me and he does want a future with me-he just thought that I would change. He's said that obviously I don't care enough to change to what he needs in a relationship. Also, he said that I would have these problems in any relationship, and I should be embarrassed that I don't want to change. He's also mentioned that if I CAN fix the issues that concern him, then he would move forward marrying me. We have had this discussion 4-5 times over the past year. I work on improving being domestic and appeasing him, he seems happy for a short period of time, then we are back to square one. I know I need to improve. I do. I understand that its not acceptable to pile up dry cleaning and leave dishes on the counter. I acknowledge that he has expectations and I need to meet them. The issue is that I am exhausted. I feel constantly judged and criticized by him. His comments and requests are never-ending.
A few examples:
I used to be a very outgoing person, and now feel sad and desperate that I will lose this relationship if I don't meet his standards. He feels I am messy, when I have down time I should be picking up and cleaning. When he comes home from a morning appointment, and I am in my pj's with coffee at my desk, he asks if I am going to do anything productive today, and what's on my itinerary? When I'm not traveling for work, I have a home office-conference calls, meetings, emails, etc. and he is frustrated when he returns from work and the house is not clean and laundry done because I was home all day. I will admit that I am disorganized. There are hair and makeup products on the counter. I leave coffee cups out on table. I will set work papers on the dining room table and not pick them up for a few days. These things don't bother me. He comments DAILY now on these things, though. Why did you leave a dishes on the counter, why didn't you get the mail, why didn't you multitask and do the laundry while you were on your conference call? I know I am constantly disappointing him and making him unhappy.
My friends and family have all turned on me and state my boyfriend is controlling and that they are shocked often times by his behavior, his eye rolls at me, his comments. I believe he is a very good person, and we just have some personality difference and issues between us. I'm just trying to determine my next steps as I want to get married, I want to have a family. He holds being engaged over my head. I feel he promises that IF I change, he'll marry me. I do constantly beat myself up and am trying to change and make this relationship work. I often feel nothing I do is good enough, or when I do one thing, its something else. Last week, I cleaned the house before he came home. When he got home, I made mention of it. He said, "That's good, that's what you should be doing. I'm not going to tell you good job over something that is supposed to be done. It's part of be responsible, being in a relationship, and helping out". Sometimes I feel he isn't going to ever see me as the perfect person he's expecting.
Again, I apologize for the length of my description. I will certainly compensate you for your time.
What options do we have in this relationship?
Is this relationship salvagable?
Will I ever be able to meet his expectations?
I know that I am a large part of the problem. What can I do personally?
Thank you again immensely for your time and response.
Thank you for the information. The detail helps a lot.
The point that stands out most in your question is how unhappy you are. I can see it in everything you wrote. You want to be happy and have made great effort to do so. But it is impossible in this situation. This is not your fault. It is your boyfriend's.
It is often hard to see your own situation objectively. You are in it and have strong feelings about it. But after seeing what you are going through, it is clear that your boyfriend is abusive. He is controlling, cruel and demeaning to you. He manipulates and threatens. You are unhappy and feel your self esteem is low because of the relationship. You see no solutions and no matter how hard you try, the relationship does not improve. Your friends are leaving and your boyfriend encourages you to lose your identity by ignoring your family because you "belong" in his family now. These are all signs that you are in a domestic abuse situation.
Your boyfriend sees himself as the "victim" of your behavior. This shows no insight and uses a very common abuse tactic- "If you would just do as I tell you then everything would be ok and I would not need to treat you this way". This is using psychological manipulation to get you to comply. Withholding love, attention and sex to force someone to bend to your will is abuse.
Your boyfriend uses control with himself and now with you most likely because he either learned this from his family as an acceptable form of behavior, or he was abused and learned to control so he would not have to experience his feelings. Controlling your own environment helps you feel in control as a person. When something is out of place, you feel out of control and the hidden feelings threaten to emerge.
To answer your questions:
There are few options in your relationship. Unless you are willing to comply with your boyfriend's demands, this is how your relationship will be, quite possibly even worse. Once you are married to him, he will try to gain control over everything you do. He may insist you quit your job so you can stay home and focus on "domestic issues" and if you have children, he will subject them to his control. The children's psychological well being would be harmed by his behavior and they could suffer from a number of psychological issues as a result.
Your relationship is not salvageable unless you are willing to follow everything your boyfriend says and live without your own life or choices. He will continue to withhold love and attention each time you "make a mistake" or fail to live up to his expectations. Unless he is the one willing to change, you will need to accept your relationship as it is.
You will never be able to meet his expectations. He expects the impossible. No one could keep up that level of cleaning, work full time and live within his range of acceptable behaviors and be healthy emotionally. You are expected to give up your life in order to do what he wants and even then he does not respond with affection, love or approval. He expects you to follow his orders as if you were a child and he treats you as such. You are not deserving of respect, your own opinion or any freedom according to him. Most people would break down psychologically under such demands.
You are not the problem here. He is. Your behavior is well within normal. No one is perfect. Leaving messes around for a few days because you are caught up in work, need downtime or are otherwise busy is very normal behavior. Cleaning obsessively, expecting your partner to do as you say, having impossible expectations, expecting to be paid for half of everything including your own property, expecting to be paid to help someone and expecting someone to give up their life for you is abnormal behavior. This is not something you caused and there is nothing you can do personally to fix him. He needs help. He needs to see he has a problem. But it is unlikely he will see he is the problem. Most likely, he will continue to blame you for everything.
You may want to consider getting out of this relationship now. I understand that it easier said than done. If you can't leave right away, consider slowly removing yourself from the relationship. Learn what you can about domestic abuse. Join support groups, start therapy, and reconnect with your friends. They can help you see your boyfriend's behavior objectively and can support you when you feel the need to give in to him again. To get you started, here are some resources:
This may take some time to absorb. Give yourself time to think it through. I am here to help so if you have follow up questions, want clarification or just need to talk, just let me know. I want to help in any way I can.