I’m a male, 27, in an 18-month common-law relationship with my girlfriend, 29, whom I’ve known for almost 10 years.
My girlfriend’s anxiety and depression are crippling but she refuses to get help.
I understand, as I’ve battled - and overcome - severe anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, depression, alcoholism, and substance abuse.
I continue to regularly see my doctor and take prescribed medication.
A family member sexually abused my girlfriend as a child. She occasionally texts me saying that she wants to commit suicide… yet feels she can "manage" by herself.
Her negative moods and outbursts affect me. She argues over minor things, is housebound for days.
She won't go out in public unless it's an absolute necessity. She won't let me leave the house or see friends.
I’m increasingly worried that she’s becoming a toxic influence in my life. Yet she stood by me through my difficulties so I feel obligated to do the same. I still love her and want the relationship to work.
She’s now willing to get couple's counseling, but I think she also needs individual help.
She doesn’t appreciate that she lives rent-free and doesn't contribute to common expenses.
She also resents my close relationship with my family, seeing it as competition, so refuses to see them.
Looking for Guidance
Start couples’ counselling immediately. A good professional will soon recognize your girlfriend’s need for getting help on her own, too.
Do not blame your girlfriend for all your relationship problems, but do mention her isolation from going out and from your family, which also affects you.
Ask the counsellor if you two can resolve joint problems if she won’t discuss her personal problems.
Give the process some time. She needs your support, at least for now.
My husband and I purchased our first home, an hour away from my parents, and three hours from his.
We’re part of a tight knit, small community where everyone’s very involved and knows each other. However, our safe haven could be under attack.
My younger sister is constantly trying to outdo me or prove that she’s “the better one.” She’s threatened to banish me from events if I don’t do exactly what she says in the way that she wants it.
She single-handedly caused stress and chaos the morning of our wedding.
My family members know how terrible she can be to me, but as the older sibling I’m told to “be the bigger person” and get over it.
She’s recently moved back in with my parents after getting pregnant and is searching for a house.
She’s commented that she wanted to move close to me. I think it’s to make it easier to compete with what we have, and be “better” in our community. My husband agrees.
I don’t even like being associated with her in public.
I honestly don’t think we could continue living here, with the risk of seeing her frequently, having her stop by unannounced, always asking me to watch her kids, or constantly comparing our homes, lives, etc.
What can I do?
It’s hard to bar a person from moving into “your” community. Trying to do so might intensify her competitive efforts.
Decide with your husband on some basic house “rules,” example, no “drop-ins,” you’re busy. No spontaneous babysitting requests. Close down conversations about comparisons. Hope this works.
OR, you could try something new, and attempt a new sibling relationship, by not reacting. Instead, try getting to know each other as adults away from the parental home.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman with reduced finances who feels unvalued by her adult children (Feb. 1):
Reader – “Your comment about babysitting as a way to spend time with her grandchildren, showed she needs to realize that family relationships aren’t primarily about money, restaurants, "cheap" or "expensive" gifts, etc.
“She doesn't mention inviting the grandchildren (singly or in groups) to her home for crafts, movies, cooking lessons, sleepovers.
“Nor planning family activities like hikes, picnics, trips to free concerts and plays, sports events, local attractions.
“Does she have regular conversations with her children and their partners? Sadly, I didn’t see the word "love" once in her letter, for the adult children or grandchildren.
“But she does sound lonely. Does she have friends her own age, or activities she can enjoy?
“All these things could add to her and her family's feeling "special" for each other, and for her not feeling dependent only on family for her self-worth.”
Tip of the day:
Encourage a partner towards professional help for mental health issues.