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Steven Olsen
Steven Olsen, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1765
Experience:  More than twenty years of expertise in counseling, psychological diagnosis and education
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I need some help with relationship issues (again). I have

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I need some help with relationship issues (again). I have been seperated from my soon to be ex husband for over a year and the divorce will be final in two weeks. Last year I met a man that was divorced with a three year old daughter. We started dating and I became pregnant back in April. The baby is due in December. I already have a 5 and 3 year old and share joint custody with my ex. My boyfriend and I plan on getting engaged when my divorce is final but I did move in with him a month ago and put my home on the market (can not afford on one salary). It seems like we are fighing every other day. I say something that sets him off and then he is unaffectionate and unloving for a day or two, goes back to one peaceful day and then the cycle starts all over again. We fight about his daily marijuana use, we fight about him wanting to be out with his friends a lot, we fight about parenting styles, we fight about how he treats my kids, etc. If I bring up a concern he immediately thinks I am telling him quote "not good enough" and gets defensive and angry with me. We started therapy but he says he doesn't think we need it and that we should just "plough along." He goes from one day telling me I am the love of his life to the next day when mad how much he doesn't like me and that I am the most difficult person he has ever met and how we should plan for our future divorce because he thinks we will end up divorced?? I am feeling sad and depressed over all this several times a week. I can't tell if it is because it really is a bad situation (our relationship) or if it is my 6 month pregnancy hormones, or the fact that my divorce is almost final. My ex is constantly begging me to come back and try to make it work for the sake of our children and how much he loves me. The problem there is after years of verbal abuse (and he was diagnosed bi-polar) I emotionally disconnected from my husband. He is much better now with medication and is a great father. I just know if I go back it will be a platonic marriage and I am worried it will end up splitting again because I want a life partner that I have a romantic attachment to. The last big fight (and he is still not talking to me) is that I suggested a hyphenated last name for our baby. The reason is we are not married and should we end up going our seperate ways I want my daughter to have my name in the legal last name. If I was married and had his name then it wouldn't be an issue. He is furious because my legal name is ***** ***** name. I kept it because I wanted my name to be the same as my two kids. He pretty much said I was crushing him and that I have no care for what he wants (only his name). I told him I would drop my name from her name when we do get married but because of the way things are right now I feel more comfortable having a hyphenated name. So I guess my questions are to you....why are we fighting so much? Why is he going back and forth so much on how he feels about me in terms of loving me? Should I get back with my ex husband where things will be calmer but platonic? Am I being offensive by suggesting a hyphenated name? Thank you for your time and help. I hate feeling sad/depressed when I am typically a cheerful optimistic person.

I am sorry you are going through all of this. This is a lot to deal with, and being six months pregnant has to be adding significant stress to this situation. I am sure that day to day you sometimes feel that you are about to go crazy with all this stress.

Let's look at this one issue at a time:

Your feelings about your current relationship do not seem at all inappropriate. More or less constant fighting and conflict will make most people very sad. To top it off the man in your relationship now is not open to counseling and is employing what I call the hope method of relationship recovery; You tough it out and hope for the best...which mostly does not work.

Why so much fighting? Truth: This relationship is relatively new psychologically speaking, yet is it going through very complex stresses such as waiting for a divorce, a pregnancy, a potential marriage and the raising of very young children.

For any couple this is more than a plateful, and to add all the complexity of this to your life such as your ex husband and his needs; it is a lot. It is no wonder you feel as you do. Fights are common when this level of stress is present. But that does not mean that he should just "plough along" either. You both need support. For him to say that he thinks you can do this yourself (him and you) is a bit shortsighted. I will say it is very male behavior, but that stubbornness does not make it right.

Without a doubt you need support. Even if your current partner will not go to counseling for whatever he reasons, you should go. You need the perspective, support and the unbiased help this can provide. You are worth it.

The hyphenated name: You are not married to the father. This is a child who needs an identity. It is possible based on the conflict that is seen in the relationship that you both might not stay together. The hyphenated name is ***** ***** idea. I am not sure what his issue might be on this, but it certainly makes sense. It is a good call. I see nothing wrong with the choice.

This is not the time to decide anything so huge as going back to your ex. That is a decision for another time. But now the key is for you to be at peace. You need it. It is too much to be exposed to constant fighting and conflict. I would suggest that you choose a path where there is the least conflict. If that is living with the current man and you disengaging and refusing to fight and talk unless it is civil, so be it. If it means living with a relative or anyone else, so be it. (or even your ex if things get that bad) But The key is less stress and what you are facing is not good for you or the baby.

Pursue peace even if it means giving up a lot. You do not need emotional fights and drama on top of everything else. Choose the path that offers this and once the baby arrives, with a counselor's help, work out the next steps. Steven

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Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I agree and that is all good advice. I sometimes just want to get away from being here in this house but at the same time I want his love and affection. The constant withdrawing of affection on his part when he is angry is draining me. If one thing is making him mad I don't get held, kissed or even told I am loved (like when he was angry over the name thing). I am trying not to be "needy" but I am affectionate myself and like it in return. He tries to brush it off saying he is just not an affectionate person but it seems like he is withdrawing affection every time we have a disagreement. I wish I knew how to handle all this better. I want my new relationship to be better and healthier than my marriage was or what is the point of being in it? I have been in therapy by myself in the past but will start going again. If I did not love my boyfriend so much I probably would have left a few months ago.

Who would not want to be loved and cared for?

That is normal and I certainly understand why you want to feel cared about.

But there are limits to what you can tolerate in terms of fighting and conflict and what I also think is something very close to emotional abuse.

Clearly your love "language" is dominant in terms of touch and attention, and his is not as much. What is disturbing is that he punishes you by withholding affection and making you feel alone. He cannot say, unless he is totally oblivious, that he is unaware that this make you feel rejected. He must be aware of this at some level.

The real worry here is that this behavior shows a man who is not in touch with the consequences of his actions, and this does not bode well for how he might handle stress over the long haul. That doesn't mean that he cannot change, but in the present I do not see him giving you what you need. He has some unfinished emotional issues himself that need to be worked through.

I would suggest attempting (at a place like a quiet restaurant without the kids) to have a serious discussion with him about his choices. (Withdrawing of affection as punishment, a key negotiating point.) I would also work out rules to fighting and conflict. Set some guidelines for how much yelling or where this type of thing occurs in the house and go from there.

Truly I am glad that you will seek out face to face help. There is a lot going on and it can be confusing...but if you can, try to create a peaceful part of your life, even if it does mean living with a less than ideal situation (place, affection etc) until the baby arrives. Steven

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thank you very much and that is helpful. I appreciate your time today and hope you have a nice day! :)

You are so welcome.