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Ask TherapistMaryAnn Your Own Question
TherapistMaryAnn, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 5839
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues
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MaryAnn, again hoping to get some last minute advice. This

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Hello MaryAnn, this is Erik again hoping to get some last minute advice. This is of course about the situation you helped me with yesterday. My fiancé's father has passed away, and she wants me to come with her to ND to be with her and her family. Now I spoke with her and told her about how badly she hurt me, and she has changed her tune and apologized but still is being very harsh and insulting towards me when ever she gets the chance but she is grieving from the loss of her father who she was very close to. Right now, we are in a stand off, I demanded that she treat me better, but she is still being hard on me. She wants me to "self my pain" and be there for her in her time of need. Which I understand. Should I shelf my pain and go to ND to be with her family and try and save my relationship? Or should I countinue to insist that she treat me better before I invest more into this relationship and not go to ND, but probably end my relationship? Thank you for your patience in this... I am very broken up about this and I miss her very much. Should I be there for her and her children; my family? Or should I take time apart from her... I don't know... please help me.

Hi Erik! I am happy to help.

If she is continuing to treat you badly and tells you to "shelf your pain" in favor of her needs and bad treatment, that is not a good sign. When someone needs support while mourning a loss, they should not feel free to take out their issues on others. Getting upset, feeling sad or other related emotions is normal. But to expect you to ignore your needs and to accept poor treatment, along with being there for her to support her needs, is asking a lot.

It sounds like she is trying to use her father's passing as a reason to continue to treat you badly and it does not appear that she is not focused on the loss of her father as much as using that loss in to get what she wants from you.

Also, you don't want to go with your fiancee just because you feel guilty not going. Part of the indecision about going could be what she is telling you- that you need to support her and ignore your own needs and you feel guilty not doing so. The other part may just be that you are a normal person who understands that loved ones are to be supported during difficult times and by not complying with her request, you are doing something wrong. However, your fiancee is not willing to treat you with any respect or pay attention to your needs. And if you do go, ask yourself how it will help you in your relationship or change anything between you? Will she stop treating you badly? Are your feelings going to matter? Is this going to improve your relationship? If not, then guilt may be the only reason you are feeling the need to go.

You mentioned before that you are close to her children so if you can, you may want to explain to her children why you cannot go. Use age appropriate explanations and never put their mother in a bad light. You don't want to pull them into the emotional upheaval created by their mother. But letting them know you acknowledge their needs and telling them you care about them goes a long way in helping them deal with the situation.


Customer: replied 1 month ago.
I seem to always be in a chicken and egg argument with her, a cycle that never seems to end... heres where we stand today; She wants me to go with her. In all honestly, there is a huge part of me that doesn't want to go. My reason for not wanting to go is because 2 weeks (ish) ago she broke up with me, and did all the terrible things I mentioned in my previous question yesterday. And the reason that she offers as her excuse for doing all that to me, was that just I generally hurt her, I don't do enough with the kids, or not spending all weekend with her and she was fed up. Even though I spend a lot of time with the kids and am over as often as I can be. When she says this I retort with the fact that I spend a lot of time with her. She didn't want me to move in because it messes with her control, and having the mental issues she has; that causes huge strife. She has kicked me out of her house multiple times at 2 am for no other reason then she "needs me out of her realm". She says that I don't financially contribute to the household. I have given her thousands of dollars ($5500+) in the past three or four months. So to make a long story short, I feel like I give her about 75% of everything I am. I'll admit, I could give her more, but I'm afraid to because I don't feel secure in the relationship. So I don't, I hold back something to protect myself because of the way she has treated me. Then she treats me worse, and I withdraw more, which makes her treat me worse. And on it goes. We try to fix things and come to common ground, but I feel like I'm the one who has to bend to her. We even had this conversation, and she said that I needed to go first. Meaning I needed to give her more, then after I did, she would treat me better. There are times that I have given her more and she does get slightly better, but then she always finds something to harp on me for. But it goes further than harping, she takes things way to far... I don't know I feel like I'm talking in circles. Does any of this make sense?

What you are saying does make lots of sense. It sounds like she has issues with control and that she wants you to treat her well and do what she asks, yet she does not do the same for you. Nor does she seem to hold herself just as responsible for her behavior as she holds you responsible for your behavior. And to tell you to leave in the middle of the night just to get you out of "her realm" sounds like a kingdom rather than a relationship. When someone treats others in this manner it is usually a sign of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). If your fiancee has NPD, then it is likely she will never change her behavior. A main symptom of NPD is lack of insight. No matter what happens, the person is unable to see their own behavior (abuse of others) as a problem. They continually blame others for everything. That may explain why, no matter what you do, she is not happy with the relationship.

Relationships are supposed to be a give and take. Sometimes you may do more but your fiancee or spouse eventually does more for you. Only in cases such as illness should there be more giving on one person's part. But in your relationship, it sounds like the only one giving is you. And the only reason you hold back giving more is because of the lack of trust, which makes sense. You cannot trust someone who thinks you are to blame for everything and who is never happy no matter what you do to comply with their wants and needs. You give yet it seems like it is never enough. She continues to ask more and more from you. But there is no balance where you get your needs met as well.

It seems clear that the relationship is not going to work unless she changes. And from what we have talked about, your fiancee is not willing to see any of the problems between you as her fault. She continues to demand from you and treats you poorly. A relationship that is one sided cannot work no matter what you do. She has to want to change. You cannot do anything to make her even if you give in to every whim and request. She will continue as she always has and your needs will be ignored. This is not easy to realize, especially when you care about the person and have given so much of yourself. That is why it's important you start taking care of yourself and doing what you need to so you can cope or move on.


Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Well, I just told my fiancé that I will not be going with her to North Dakota. I hope that we can be together when she comes home but I seriously doubt that she will ever forgive me for this... quick example, A bit about me first, I am in adventure and explore, a world traveler. She is fine with me being this way and having this hobby, but never wants to go with me, nor will she allow me to ever be gone more than three days and two nights. Anyway, this past Labor Day weekend I went spelunking, you know crawling around through cracks in caves. I was gone for two days and one night. When I got home, I immediately went over to her house and spent the remainder of the holiday weekend with her and the kids. But this was not enough for her, she went off about me being selfish because I didn't think of bringing her and the kids with me. I honestly didn't even think about them coming with me and just going into a little town and doing shopping or something, I was to busy preping for the cave. We never made plans for anything else to happen and this trip was planned for me weeks in advance. I thought she was ok with it. Anyway, when I got home she became extremely upset with me That I was gone for part of Labor Day weekend. She accused me of cheating on her, (which is ludicrous and has no truth) and we got into a huge fight. It escalated to the point that she was blind with rage. Hitting me, throwing things at me. And this was for me missing Labor Day weekend, and not even all of it. I told her that I was going, weeks in advance and we didn't have any other plans. She gave me no indication that she wanted to do anything at all. I can't imagine she's going to react very positively to me being gone during her father's passing. I went to go see her yesterday, even though that she didn't lay a hand on me, I said something that upset her, (I said I wanted to go home, and she asked why, and I replied with "Because I don't want to be here") and she began to scream yell, and threaten me saying that I was lucky I was a man and she was a woman or else she would beat me bloody. It's this behavior that prevents me from giving her more, and is also a main factor of why I didn't go to North Dakota with her this morning. But I guess my question is, am I being selfish? Should I just cut her a break because she isn't sleeping, not eating, all because of her fathers death. Should I just suck it up and deal with everything later? Or should I hold her proverbial feet to the proverbial fire as it were. (That sounds harsh but i feel that's I'm doing; and I feel TERRIBLE for it) Does that make me a bad person that I feel this way? I mean, something I said to her yesterday was that she picked a fine time to "destroy" me and break my heart. Because in all honesty, if she would not have freaked out on me so badly over Labor Day weekend, and if two weeks ago she wouldn't have spent an entire week breaking my heart... I would be there for her in a heart beat. I would be in ND now. I love her and want to be with her... am I selfish for taking this stance? Or should I cut her a break. FYI I texted her to leave for ND already but I can catch her still if I need to. ... sorry can I admit that I have no idea what I'm doing...

If she treated you badly once and apologized for it, then you ended the relationship, that could be seen as a self centered move. But you are describing years of being treated poorly with no apologies or attention to your needs. Going away on a trip without her is not selfish. If you had never asked her to go with you or she indicated that she wanted to go with you and you said no. that might be seen as selfish. But you did neither. You asked her several times, she refused each time. To ask her again even though she has never agreed to go seems like she expects you to ask so you can be rejected again.

At this point, you may want to ask yourself why you feel so bad leaving a relationship that is hurting you and giving you nothing but negative feelings. You deserve to be happy. And relationships are supposed to add to your life, not create so much drama that you feel miserable. Why would you want to stay in such a relationship? That is a good question to ask yourself.


Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Honest answer... brutally honest answer. Our sex life is perfect. And I mean perfect, she fulfills every need I have and out of all relationships I've ever had, I have never found someone who can complete that aspect of my life. With her, I am sexually complete. How much weight should I give that? Also, I love her kids, and when she and I actually get along. She can be sweet. She cooks and cleans and can be the "perfect wife" but it doesn't happen very often anymore. And even when she was perfect to me... I Gave up bits of myself, gave up a lot of things and gave her everything I could. When I would bring this up, and say I didn't want to give up these things; she would say that, that's what married couples do for each other. So I gave things up for her. But you know... the part that hurts me the most is that when we are cuddling in bed and she rolls over and hugs me and plays with my chest hair and then says very calmly... "you know... we aren't ever going to be together" and I think, what the hell was that for? We've had a great week, great night, great sex, and while we are embracing in the middle of the night she says that? ... it just breaks my heart. I love her because she we have amazing times together if we just let things go and be happy. Something I've been begging her to do, but we just can't seem to find our stride... by the way I know I must be taking up a lot of your time and I do apologize. I'll give you a good tip... I just really need an outsiders opinion on this situation.

I think you need to ask yourself if the good times outweigh or make up for the bad treatment. Relationships are supposed to have ups and downs but for the most part, they are balanced. Each person gives something to the relationship and focuses on the other person's happiness. But that doesn't sound like it is happening in your relationship. You are giving a lot of yourself. Even when she is nice to you, there is a stinger right afterwards where you get hurt.

You may need to explore why you want to continue in a relationship where you are hurting. She seems to say mean things to you at vulnerable times, such as when you have had sex. Picking a time to say something cruel to you after sharing a close time together is particularly disturbing. She is showing you signs of abusive behavior even during one of the best parts of your relationship. That does not seem to indicate that your sex life is perfect. What it does say is that she uses that time to be especially cruel to you.

As I mentioned, sex is an important part of a relationship. It is meant to express deep feelings of love and connection to one another. It is also being vulnerable with each other. In order for those feelings to work, sex has to be a part of a mutually beneficial relationship. One that has each person caring for the other and loving that person fully. That does not seem to be what is going on in your relationship.

If someone hurts you like your fiancee does, you should ask yourself why you want to give her any more of your time. She will probably never apologize or recognize your hurt feelings. Instead of waiting for her to do so, you may want to see yourself as a valuable person and redirect your feelings. Stop making excuses for her behavior and trying to find the good in a bad relationship. See yourself as deserving better. And if you feel you cannot do that, try therapy. You may have something in your past that causes you to see this relationship as more than it really is. A therapist can help you find out what that is and encourage you to build your own self esteem so you stop allowing others to treat you as less than you deserve.


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