R.G. in Port of Spain writes:
I am divorced, but I have been in a live-in relationship with my boyfriend for the last 6 years. During our time together he has cheated on me several times – and several times we lived apart for short periods. Each time we got back together love was sweet, but it never went smoothly. He is verbally abusive when I disagree with him. Whenever he has an outburst and begins cursing, it upsets me. My teenage daughter tells me at times that we should live without him, as much as she loves him. She is sad to see me hurt.
Throughout the years, I have given my all toward him and the home – emotionally and financially. He has no control over his spending habits, and most of the time he abuses my money. I try to hold on to some of what I have, so I can afford to buy a home – but each time I think I am moving forward, I seem to be taking two steps backward. I feel so stagnant, and I can’t seem to prosper. Sometimes, I think he is my setback in prosperity, and that he is not a good support for me. I think of my child, and I know she suffers inside – and does not let me know.
She holds herself back from doing things, if it means leaving me at home. It is almost as if she is afraid to leave me alone with this partner. I have just asked him to move out, as our quarrels continue – but even though I have done this, part of me wants him to just change for the better and stay with us. What do you see for me with this man – or will there be another man for me soon enough? I just want to live in peace, and for my daughter to be comfortable and happy. Please, give me some of your time and guidance – I need it so urgently.
Dear R G,
Love can often cloud rational judgment, and create the illusion that, “this time, things will be different.” Unfortunately, unless the people involved want change and are willing to change, this remains a hopeful theory floating in the ethers of your chaotic reality. The patterns of your relationship run firm and deep, and this strengthens the probability of history repeating itself.
I don’t see this man of yours changing – nor do I get the sense that he wants to. Under your care, things are working out rather well for him. There are no repercussions. The more badly he behaves, the more likely you are to cave in and give him his way. You would never allow your daughter to get away with half of the crap that he puts you through, so you really need to think about why you choose to tolerate such volatile behaviors from the man who is supposed to be your life partner… and the impact both his and your decisions have on your family.
You have failed to set and uphold healthy boundaries in this relationship. While it may seem that your boyfriend is holding you back from the prosperity you want, you can’t look past the fact that you are enabling him. The only way he can spend your money is if you have given him permission to – and he has access to that money. If he can’t find it, he can’t touch it. Naturally, removing his access to your funds is going to cause a doozey of a fight – but you need to decide what is more important: avoiding an argument, or buying a house.
Your daughter has assumed a position of responsibility. She feels the need to protect you, to take care of you, and to make sure that you are okay. Her desire to be a good daughter has placed much adult responsibility on her young shoulders. Flat out, this is not fair to her. While you know that in your heart, and you feel bad about it, you are still permitting it. It is your job to protect her – not her obligation to protect you. I know you love her very much, and want the best for her, so regardless of what you choose to do with your personal life please be strong enough to allow her to experience and enjoy the fleeting years of her youth. She only has one chance to experience the freedom of youth. Her turn to be the parent will come one day.
I’m not trying to be unkind, but I am about to hand you a dose of hard truth: You have some decisions to make. You can choose to be at the mercy of your relationship and the negative impact it has on your life and your daughter, or you can choose to change it. Your boyfriend has some issues that he isn’t willing to address – therefore, he isn’t going to change or magically transform into the man you want him to be. So if you want a better, healthier and more prosperous life you must create it. It isn’t going to be easy on you, but it is far from impossible.
You are mentally and emotionally abused and battered. Until you are ready to face that, you are going to continue to struggle. Prince Charming isn’t coming to save you, but you can save yourself. Get some help, R.G. Find a therapist or group to help you sort through all of this turmoil. You know in your heart what the answers are, but you do need a little support and guidance to help you overcome your fears of being alone, and to empower you to create the life that you and your daughter deserve.
Darkness surrounds the unhealthy relationship you are currently in. It is only after a period of healing and learning to stand on your own that a healthy, loving relationship with someone new can begin.
You can do it! Good luck.