I am hoping that you can offer some advice for my situation. My boyfriend & I have been together for a year now, and we have just moved in together.The last month or so I have started to have my doubts about the future of our relationship. My initial reaction was to ignore them, thinking that with time they would just go away, but so far, they haven’t, and seem to be getting stronger.One of the things that I think has added to this problem is the fact that I have just returned from an overseas trip with my family, on which I received quite a bit of attention from other guys, and I’ve got to be honest I didn’t mind it one bit, since my current man isn’t great at giving compliments & the like.However, now that I’ve retuned, I’m starting to notice more & more things about him that annoy me. Even the things I used to like about him annoy me. We have also started arguing quite a lot about little things. . but only because he always has to be the one to make a decision (like on where a picture should go on the wall) and though we’ve talked about compromise, I am not seeing any progress in the actual compromising ‘actions’.I know this sounds pretty bad but my problem is that we’ve just moved in together & we also work together, and it’s not as easy as’just end it’.How can I get him to listen to me? Is there hope for this relationship?I need your help.
First you need to listen to yourself. You have reason to be worried about whether this relationship can work.Tell him exactly what you told me. That is, calmly describe exactly what he’s doing and how you feel about it.For example, you might say, ‘I am having doubts about our future because of two main problems. First you make decisions without considering my opinion and this makes me feel (say what you feel. . . . angry, wiped out, invisible). The second problem is that you say you will compromise with me and then you don’t change your behavior and this makes me feel (say what you feel. . . . frustrated, hurt, angry). ‘I would then ask him how he wants you to feel when he promises change and doesn’t change. Does he realize that making and breaking promises is an act of aggression against you? Does he know that he’s behaving in a hostile way toward you? Is he mad at you for something else? Is he mad at his parents and getting even with them through you (this is called displacement)?Tell him that all behavior is a communication of unconscious thoughts and feelings. Ask him what his need to have things his way says about how he feels inside and how he feels toward you.Is his need to be in control motivated by an inner struggle. For example, is he trying to have his way now because he grew up with parents who controlled him and never let him have his way when he was young? Is he behaving in a controlling way because he’s mimicking the controlling behavior of one or both of his parents? Does he need to have his own way because he feels weak or inadequate and is this is a way of temporarily building himself up? Does he need to be in control because he has a very weak ego and does being the boss protect him from being taken over or bossed by you?In other words, is his behavior due to an internal struggle that has nothing to do with you. Are you just getting the fallout of his emotional baggage? Or, on the contrary, is his controlling behavior and lack of follow-through on his promises more interpersonally based.For example, is he behaving in these ways because he’s mad at you and is his behavior a way of punishing you for something that you said or did to anger him.To help him understand whether his behavior is triggered by an internal or interpersonal issue, ask him to tell you what he thinks his actions say about how he feels inside and how he feels toward you. Also ask him how he wants you to feel toward him. Does he want you mad at him? Is he not even thinking about you when he acts the way he does?Ask him to also examine where his behavior comes from. Is he acting like mom or dad? How did he feel when his parents treated him this way? Does he want you to feel the pain that he suffered as a child so that he will feel more understood and less alone in his suffering? Or is he using you like an emotional toilet bowl and dumping onto you his bad feelings over having been controlled as a kid?Finally, I would also ask him if he’s willing to maintain his control even if it means losing you? As you can see, there is a lot that needs to be explored and discussed. This kind of conflict discussion is practically impossible to handle without help.Use my book, Till Death Do Us Part (Unless I Kill You First) and you will know exactly how to navigate your conversation, how to avoid potholes, and how to guide the discussion to a resolution. Obviously I don’t have space in this column to rewrite the entire book. Just read my book and put the steps that I outline into practice.When he identifies and resolves the old wounds that cause him to be so controlling, you will feel less angry with him and less doubtful about the future of your relationship.