How to compromise

by Cookie
(Palo Alto, California USA)

I am feeling at my wits end regarding my relationship with my boyfriend of nine months. It feels like we constantly argue and offend each other. Lately I've been questioning myself (my own actions and words), and thinking about his. I feel that I cannot explain to him the way I feel, why I feel the way I do without him "disapproving" my reasons. I feel he does not render my feelings as valid, thus he thinks it's my fault for our arguments.

We are not married, have no children, we are both accountants for a living. He is 30 and I am 29 years old. I feel like he has power over my words when we talk. This is the problem for me that I feel he cannot understand. He would tell me that I'm wrong and use his reasons to override mine. Due to this, I struggle to communicate with him effectively.

Aside from our quarrels, we actually really get along and love each other. But I feel that there's been a wall growing between us for the past month, and some weeks it feels like a landmine is about to blow when I'm around him or on the phone with him.

I know he's going through a bad time, as he failed his exam for entrance to graduate school. I don't have a problem being patient with him, but I wish he would be upfront about his problem with me and be nicer in his attitude. He can be a real a*****e at times, and it's feeling like a constant basis for his demeanor. I'm almost "used to it" but can't help but wonder if there's something deeper in the roots lurking beneath the surface of the issue. I know he does not like his job, and he feels stuck in his situation.

Asides from our full-time jobs, we don't have anything financially. He rents a room in the garage because he's not willing to pay any more for rent. I live at home with my parents to save money. Our jobs provide enough for daily expenses and entertainment, but not enough to purchase a home of our own overnight. His father is extremely old and in poor health. He has no respect for his mother.

I want to know what you see can benefit his situation. Is there something I can do to help him and our relationship? I'm willing to do all I can on my end to help the situation. I'm so tired of the arguing and his abusive attitude.

Thank you for taking the time to read.


Elly's advice

Cookie, you sound completely exasperated with your relationship! From what you have written it seems that your partner can be quite manipulative. 'Manipulation' is often used by people who have not learned to meet their emotional needs in more helpful ways. I would not be surprised if you felt that he likes to be in control.

It may reveal something about his childhood. Were his emotional needs met in balance when he was a youngster? It is worrying also that you describe him as a a*****e. That makes me think that he is abusive towards you. Contempt is a definite deal-breaker in my books.

I wonder if you, in your responses to him, also show contempt. After all, that word you describe him is less than flattering and not the best way to communicate either.

It is worth remembering that when either one or both of you are very angry or in any other way highly emotional, it is not the best time to discuss the state of your relationship. The more emotional we are as human beings the more stupid we become, as we lose the ability to think straight, see any logic or context and make sensible decisions.

Whatever it is that is bothering him (and you), it takes two to tango. I would suggest you find a good couples counsellor/therapist. Suggest to your partner that it would be helpful for you both to have someone independent suggest more effective ways for you to communicate. If ultimately he is unable to change, than you have to make a decision. The situation in that case is likely to get worse. Whilst I would hate to see you to take all the responsibility in trying to sort it out, Cookie, if your partner really doesn't want to go for relationship counselling, then I recommend Save your relationship.

In any case, I would suggest that you take my Relationship test to help you see more clearly what is actually wrong (and right) in your relationship. This will help you make a decision about what your next step should be.

I hope this is of help to you and I wish you all the best for happier times ahead, Cookie.


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