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Ask TherapistMaryAnn Your Own Question

TherapistMaryAnn, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 5786
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues
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I have been with my partner for 13 yrs, we have a six year

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I have been with my partner for 13 yrs, we have a six year old daughter. Recently the relationship has become very strained, and I feel like I am walking on egg shells around him. Recently his mother moved to be closer to him and our daughter and since then, he and his mother seem to have become increasingly socially reliant on each other. This has left me feeling like the lodger. We both work full time and equally share care of our daughter. This has meant we spend less and less time together as a family and virtually no time together as a couple. We have recently had some serious arguments, and during these times, my partner has said we don't have a relationship, and that my 'jealousy' of his mother was the problem. After each argument there is a brief period of tension followed by a brief desire to work things out, but never any constructive progress. We have both gotten older but I feel that we have not grown up in the relationship. My partner, I feel, is under a lot of emotional stress but is unable or unwilling to deal with it. He had serious child hood illnesses resulting in prolonged periods in hospital. He was brought up as an only child by his single mother, knowing where his father lived, but with no contact. His mother married when he was teenager to a lovely man, who had 2 unpleasant children from a previous marriage that he had custody of. This man died about a month before I met my partner, so I feel in the euphoria of a new relationship, he did not greave for this man, but also left his mother to greave alone. He has a stressful job in the ambulance service, a job he fell into because his mother felt his first choice to be a nurse was not suitable for a man. There is no real progress within the ambulance service, and I have for the most part of our relationship earned more money than him. He has no close male friends, his best friend moved to Australia about 3 years ago. They did not talk about serious issues, but he was able to de-stress by acting stupid with this friend. I feel his has deliberatley isolated himself from me emotionally he doesn't want to be weak, and without a suitable male role model, he does not know how a man in this situation should behave.
The last argument we had was vitriolic on his behalf, with him insulting me and my family, doubting my skills as a parent, asking me to leave, and claiming that he and his mother would be able to take everything from me as she has the financial back up (ie, the child and the house that we both own).
Despite understanding why he may be in a very 'dark' place at the moment, I don't know how to deal with his behaviour, it resembles that of a very stroppy teanage boy most of the time. Making faces if he doesn't have a mature answer, or blaming me if things are wrong. He reacts completely over the top if something material is broken, almost like someone had died when the microwave broke. Or as if I had damaged something on purpose just to upset him. I'm not sure if I have the emotional energy to support him, and feel that leaving him would be the best answer for me. But I know he is not in a position to help himself, and I don't feel that his mother is deep enough to see that he is troubled. I am at my wits end with him, and have been advised by some of my family members to leave him, in case his behaviour escalates. I personally feel he will not become violent, but I do feel the emotional bully is always close to the surface.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  TherapistMaryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.


It sounds like your partner has a lot of unresolved issues from his past. He is bringing those issues, including those with his mother, into your relationship with him. He needs to resolve this issues in order to be able to have a stable relationship.


You have two options here. You can stay with him but insist on counseling. In counseling, you both can sort out these problems and work on how to communicate better. Your partner can also see how his past is affecting his relationship with you. If he refuses to go, go yourself. You can use the support to help you decide what to do.


Your other option is to leave. This is a hard decision because it not only affects you, but your child as well. But given that he is being abusive, leaving is a good option. You do not want your child exposed to his behavior. It is natural that you still care enough that you don't want to leave him without the ability to help himself, but he is an adult and he will need to be responsible for his own needs. You cannot stay in a bad relationship just so you can take care of him. If you base your leaving on that criteria, you may not get out of the relationship at all.


I hope this helps you,

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
His emotional abuse is very much centred towards me, very few people outside of our relationaship would see it, because superficially he 'such a good bloke'. My worry is custody and his threats to challenge me for custody. I feel that it would be important for our daughter to have a relationship with him, and shared custody would be suitable, as I would need to work full time in order to maintain a home of my own. This can mean as little as 3 long days giving me 4 off each week. However, at his most poisonous (and I do think there is a frightened animal talking inside somewhere) he has threatened to go for full custody of our daughter by discrediting me. Unfortunately I got drunk at a house party last year, and did make a fool of my self. I apologised to the hosts the next day, and have gone on to regain their trust since, even looking after their son after school etc., but when my partner feels like it he brings it up, and states that he can prove that I am some kind of drunk that cannot be responsible for a child. Some off the people present were his work colleagues, and I feel he may canvas them for support if he felt it necessary. So apart from the odd misdemeanour, which I feel is part of human nature, I work, cook, clean, collect from school, taxi to after school activities, make plans for activities, prepare packed lunches when necessary. His biggest bug bears, because has some form of OCD, is that he feels I deliberately forget to brush her hair, or I let her choose her own clothes which, may be more creative than he would like, because he likes everything to be matching and 'sterile'. I am 1 of seven children, and was brought up in a lot of loving chaos, he was an only child of a single mother in the 60's when it was still frowned upon. So as we have developed as partners our differences have begun to widen. Its making sure that leaving is the right thing and that I get shared custody of our daughter. I know she will be affected, but it's minimising the trauma. He has also tried that ' due you know what you will do to her if you leave' thing.
Expert:  TherapistMaryAnn replied 5 years ago.

I understand. It sounds like you need to consult an attorney to see what evidence you need to be gathering for your custody case. You both are at odds with each other and gearing up for a custody fight. It does sound like the relationship is over.


Also, consider getting your daughter into treatment so whatever happens she is not affected as badly. Ask your attorney if you should have an evaluation as well to prove that you are mental fit to care for your child.



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