I’m 44, living for 10 years with my partner who’s 51. He’s asked me to marry him and is pressuring me for an answer.
I’ve hesitated though I love him, because within our mostly-good relationship, there’ve been some nasty moments.
He’d drink to excess, and then suddenly lash out yelling, swearing, and accusing me of undermining him in some way.
Always a huge misinterpretation on his part, since I soon knew to avoid his temper.
He finally went to anger management a year ago, and lessened his alcohol intake. This was after I left the house for several days following a bad episode.
(He used to drink a lot of wine on social occasions, then end the night with hard liquor, which would prompt the outbursts every two months or so).
He’s otherwise a very interesting, intelligent, romantic, and sexy man who insists he loves me and wants the next step of marriage with me.
Do I take a chance that he’s been helped to overcome his past rages and drinking bouts, or is he marrying me believing I’ll be less likely to leave him if it happens again?
Weigh past experience with his more recent behaviour since the anger management therapy, and also, go with your gut instinct on how much you believe he’s truly changed.
Then, if marriage still seems an option, insist that it be preceded by some couples’ counselling together.
This is not to repeat the anger management but to help him see how his rages affected you. Also, the process should help you both understand the roots of his anger from his past, having nothing to do with you, and the roots of his drinking pattern, which he must control.
My grandmother’s been verbally abusive, has belittled, ignored, and embarrassed me for most of my life after becoming a teenager. But during my teenage years, I was told to be quiet by various family members and not to pick fights.
When I was in university, I became depressed. With the help of my therapist, I was diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and an eating disorder.
I discovered how my grandmother is a trigger for my anxiety and promptly informed my parents. They promised me that I would have limited exposure to my grandmother.
When my grandfather died, I was at the hospital and my grandmother took me aside and said I was wasting everyone's time and money with my studies of a stupid subject and she’d rather I get married before I got fatter.
Currently, my aunt wants me to go to family reunions because my grandmother is eighty-three and wants time with her grandchildren.
My mother is now in the middle and has asked me what I’d like to do.
My first reaction is to say no. However I don't want to make my mother feel like she has to choose.
Protect yourself. If you feel your grandmother could trigger the same reactions, you have every reason of health, from past experience, to refuse.
It’s possible that through therapy you may have, or will later, build enough confidence to rise above her comments and ignore them. Only you will know when you’re at that point.
Meanwhile, understand that your mother is on your side; she’s not in the middle. Other relatives will have to understand, especially if your mother supports your decision.
Your grandmother and others may think she’s helping you “shape up” to her high standards through harsh comments. She’s been proven wrong.
FEEDBACK Regarding whether a caregiver of a spouse should also care for her mother-in-law (Dec. 17):
Reader – “My information is that between 70 and 80 percent of caregivers will die before the person to whom they’re giving care.
“This person is likely already covering up of the toll her responsibilities for her spouse is taking on her own health.
“Relatives often don’t realize how bad things are becoming for the cared-for AND the caregiver.
“Yet often, as soon as the caregiver dies, family who didn't want the relative in a “home,” will place that person in a facility.
“I hope that this caregiver will refuse to take on yet another person needing care.
“Your advice is right on about getting services involved in assessment and getting help early on. It’s not about being selfish. It’s about survival.
“This writer seems a wonderful person, who needs information and support to make a tough decision and stick with it.”
Tip of the day:
Work on resolving destructive relationship issues together before the wedding.