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Ask Rev.Dr. August Abbott Your Own Question

Rev.Dr. August Abbott
Rev.Dr. August Abbott, Clergy
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 7354
Experience:  Ordained minister: Counselor (spiritual/life)
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I moved in with my girlfriend and over the last 8 months she

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I moved in with my girlfriend and over the last 8 months she constantly reorganizes everything, moving furniture, changing places of my things, sometimes hiding them out of sight; almost compulsively like she's trying to cover up my existence. Am I being overly sensitive? How do I deal with this? I feel perturbed and sort of violated when she does it, and typically it's to "make the place look less cluttered" but hiding a wine fridge in a closet is kind of ridiculous.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Rev.Dr. August Abbott replied 1 year ago.

Did you move in with her at a place she had been living for a while on her own and then combine your household with hers? Or did you both secure a new place to share together right from the beginning?

What age group do you both fall into? How long have you been together and are either of you (or both of you) previously married or in long term, live-in relationships before this one?

Whatever details you can add will help a great deal

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Yes, I moved into her place.

33-37 years of age. No prior marriages. Both of us have had live-in relationships prior to this. We've been together nearly 2 years.

Expert:  Rev.Dr. August Abbott replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for the additional info.

If you were to imagine your partner moving into YOUR place and making changes to the landscape that you were living on your own in, comfortably, for any length of time, it might become more clear what your gf's little 'adjustments' to where your things are placed might really mean.

It isn't that she doesn't want you there or doesn't appreciate your things, it's just a high stressor to have our comfort zones changed, no matter what the reason and no matter who the interloper is or what they mean to us. It's important to note and remind yourself frequently that her actions are part of our basic 'territorial' instincts and have very little to do with our higher emotional processes.

And "clutter" is in the eye of the beholder. This is a frequent area of contention with couples or even plutonic roommates. What seems homey and warm to you can appear messy or disorganized to her.

----------------------

One option that is obvious is to find a place that you can both move into and organize together. Neither 'her' place or 'his' place it would be 'our' place right from the start.

Not feasible? Then perhaps giving some thought to a massive, combined house sale where both of you let go of pretty much everything and strip the living space down to bare bones in order to re build it with mutually chosen styles and arrangement.

Still not workable? Then take some time to just talk about this, but away from the house/apartment/condo. A quiet coffee shop or park - and bring a sketch pad. Then talk about your own vision for the place and how you imagine it, while she does the same. Chances are that two people who found each other important enough to move in together will end up with plenty of areas where your visions overlap. That's where you start and the rest is a matter of compromise.

You are perfectly right to ask that she speak with you before moving anything, as long as you have asked before you place something.

From your description and the intelligent, eloquent way you have approached this, I don't think this is going to be one of those things that is naggingly difficult. It's still fresh, it's still a stressor for both of you (good things can still cause stress reactions) - but communication and compromise go together to build sturdy, lasting relationships and reinforce the structure for the test of time

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX cogent advice. I appreciate your view and presumed a similar approach to the sale of our belongings. I do sometimes feel like I gave up a lot of my belongings to meld into her space, and at times feel sensitive to that and react more negatively when I come home to a reorganized space.
I think a bigger issue is that when I try to discuss it openly and later express the immediate reaction I have, she becomes eristic. Rather than accept that her action had an effect, she tries to justify every argument, almost for the sake of winning her side vs coming to an understanding. Which sadly drives me to a point of frustration that makes me storm out of the room. Not a trait I hold highly, but it seems we manipulate each other with some form of habitual passive-aggressive cues. Any advice to this would be genuinely appreciated.
Expert:  Rev.Dr. August Abbott replied 1 year ago.
When it comes to recognizing that you're pushing buttons and having your own pushed back, understand that it's extremely difficult to break patterns that become comfortable to us. As strange as it seems, even if that pattern is unhealthy and negative, there's a comfort in knowing that in an uncertain world when our lives seem unfamiliar to us, the one thing we can count on is "if I do this - then that happens". Even if it's saying the one thing that prompts your partner to say her one thing and the ultimate result is storming off, not speaking for 3 days and then making up.

It's like watching a favorite movie over and over. You know the dialogue, you know where the anxiety occurs, where the resolution begins and how it ends.

Now, IF you're pushing buttons over and over with hopes that something new gets accomplished - that perhaps one day your partner suddenly says, "Oh! Now I see that you're right and I'm wrong and I'll change starting today" - you've veered into self delusional territory.

It's like watching your favorite movie for the 1,001st time and not just hoping, but honestly expecting the ending to be different.

-----
So to stop the pattern you see emerging, stop doing what you do. Since you can't live your gf's part (we only get our own to live), stop your part in the response. Not at all easy to do when an established and 'comfortable'/predictable pattern begins and you're reacting more than thinking clearly.

Lots of couples get the edge on a long lasting relationship by attending couples counseling early on. Believe me, it's more 'fun' to do this when you don't really have to rather than use it as a "Hail Mary Pass" down the road when things are bad.


Your lady needs to learn that she can BE 'wrong' or give in or even fail at something and that you won't see her any less loveable than if she remains strong, in control and always right. Can you imagine how hard it is for her to carry this burden of needing to always be 'perfect' in her own view? To always 'win' or have a justification?

That's a burden with enough weight to make anyone rather cranky don't you think?

And it tends to be rooted in soil cultivated in childhood. It isn't you. Once you know this without doubt that it truly isn't you or even (really) about you, you should find it easier to be compassionate rather than confrontational or defensive.

---------------

It sounds like you might be in human resources to some degree. You have sharp insights.

Look at things from a 3rd person's, unbiased viewpoint and then trust your objective instincts about what to do (WITH help from a professional counselor just to keep you honest)



Rev.Dr. August Abbott, Clergy
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 7354
Experience: Ordained minister: Counselor (spiritual/life)
Rev.Dr. August Abbott and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you Rev. Dr. Abbott. Thanks for listening, and thank you for being that 3rd person narrative I often seek internally. This was my first time using this service, while skeptical at first, I'm quite satisfied with the outcome.
I am not in HR, rather winemaking, but I spent a lot of time working in restaurants which of course lends itself to a myriad of different personalities, clashing and otherwise. I don't wish to control my partner, which is something I learned to do in that industry as a placative method. I think she and I realize what we have is truly unique and special and worth fighting for... we just need to figure out how to deal with each others idiosyncrasies. Or as the poet Robert Bly says, "the long bag that drags behind us". I've been told I'm astute when reading people, I definitely know I need to utilize this ability and then offer more compassion in all of my relationships and as you said not become defensive or confrontational. So funny to me to be able to see the bigger picture from a 3rd person sense, but in the situation fall to the mercy of old habits. Perhaps letting her read all of this might offer some insight as well. I will ponder that move before doing so.
Again, much thanks for the direction and the relief.

À votre santé!
C

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