Thanks for the quick reply. I think you are right about the anger piece.
He has had anger management issues in the past and has actually gone to
court-mandated counseling for it when he was a teenager. (He didn't think
it was useful, and is against any type of counseling now.) He has been
working on these issues on his own, because he says it used to be a lot
worse. His anger growing up stemmed from having a father who abandoned the
family. His anger now is more centered around his work. He made a lot of
sacrifices to move out across the country and he is not getting everything he was promised for the work he does.
I'm also glad to hear that we've doing some of the right things. We have
created some rules for how we talk to each other (not interrupting).
He sometimes listens very dismissively, but it takes a while for us to emotionally connect. Sometimes we never get there. I have
also tried to set boundaries around abusive language. There was one time
he called me a f**king whore, which especially hurt because one of our big
issues was me hiding my past, and when I finally have the courage to tell
him about my previous relationships, it became ammunition for him. We almost
broke up. We did set boundaries around this kind of disrespect.
So I guess what is still unclear to me is how to proceed. I've suspected
for a long time that his work stress was affecting our relationship, but he insists its
not. He thinks the problems stem from me not meeting his emotional needs,
by not putting him first and not being there for him. I am trying to be
more careful about his triggers and more concerned with how he may be
feeling, but he obviously needs to do his part too. How do I find out whether he's really willing to work on these issues, and not just saying it? If he refuses counseling, what else is there?
There's a lot of information I've been reading about verbal abuse too, and some of it resonates. Do you think this is verbal abuse, and if so, does that mean this relationship doomed? My boyfriend told me I'm the last girlfriend he wants to have. I believe him. How do we make this work?