My live-in girlfriend of 18 months and I are late-20s, working full-time at demanding jobs. I also study most evenings and some time on the weekends for advanced levels in my field.
My girlfriend always says that I don’t do enough for her. She says this mostly during angry outbursts that happen a couple of times a month.
Truthfully, I feel that I do so much for her and am trying my hardest to show her my love. Sometimes I feel like I can’t win, that she’s trying to start an argument just to get me upset, though I’m already doing my best. I’m worried that she’s just trying to push me to break up, but I don’t know why.
Can’t Please Her
There are so many possible reasons why a person lashes out in anger, that you have to know her well enough to try to figure it out, and then address the problem.
She could be immature, insecure, have general anger issues or suffer hormonal swings of emotion, or have unrealistic expectations of a relationship… and more possibilities.
You also have to realistically assess your own behaviour if you want to change this dynamic.
Do you plan ahead with her to clear time for just being together? Do you share in clean-up, shopping, cooking, laundry, or make mutual arrangements to get it done?
Most important, have you tried, when there’s no incident or argument to set things off, telling each other what you each want to happen to improve the relationship?
This conversation has to be honest, clear and held without resorting to blame. It’s not easy, but can reveal a lot of hidden wants and needs.
You may hear revelations that you hadn’t considered before. OR, you may both find that you can’t handle the discussion without counselling, for which each must be willing. If not, the relationship won’t last.
I got married last year, and my father passed away last year. My mother has coped with my father's passing fairly well, but she’s a homebody. Several attempts were made to get her involved with volunteering, going out with friends, etc. but she refuses.
During my father's sickness and after his passing, I’ve spent a lot of time with her and it’s created distance between my husband and me. I'm bouncing between hurting either her feelings or my husband's.
He feels he can't count on me, that it doesn't feel like a marriage. I also feel terribly guilty when I know my mother’s home alone for extended periods. How do I balance time needs of both of them?
Torn Two Ways
These are new relationships between you and the two people you love, both with strong emotional pull.
Mom has to adjust her life, not just rely on you. Your husband needs reassurance that your marital relationship’s primary. Once you establish that, he’ll be more relaxed about some of your attention to your mom.
Call/text her regularly, but not during your time together – a morning check to see that she’s awake and okay, an afternoon call before you’re with your husband. You may have to tell her that, barring an emergency, your evening time’s devoted to him.
Make your visits to her shorter, fit some in when he’s busy. Once he’s secure in your attention, you should be able, periodically, to invite her for dinner with you two or visit her together.
Insist she sees a doctor about possible ongoing depression, then arrange a get-together with her friends.
Reader’s Commentary “After reporting sexual assault at my workplace in 2010 and being retaliated because of it, I was severely mentally injured. One unforeseen consequence of my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was the secondary injury to my child.
“Mental health advocacy regarding such a secondary injury is rare.
“My PTSD injured my child: Anxiety and depression impacted school attendance, academic achievement and career. Worse for a young person, was to lose most friends.
“People with mental disability are harder to be friends with, but empathy, acceptance and encouragement go a long way.
“We have to continue advocating for a society that's more inclusive and less discriminatory.”
Ellie – You were right to report it at the time, but you’re sadly correct that a sexual assault leaves scars for years, and also affects more than one victim.
Speaking out about this to get mental health sufferers the understanding and help they need, is crucial.
Tip of the day:
Repeated angry outbursts and blaming signal that a relationship needs honest discussion and/or counselling.