Run as fast as you can
We've got an anger management problem
I'm in an abusive relationship -- but I really think we can change.
By Cary Tennis
Aug. 16, 2006 | Dear Cary:
I have been in a relationship for four years with a man who is wonderful, intelligent and generous. We were close friends before we became romantically involved, and our relationship became intimate around the time that my parent passed away suddenly. Since that time he has been tremendously supportive of me through my grieving process and has been an absolute rock during some of the difficult family situations that have resulted since this death. I love this man dearly and want to spend the rest of my life with him. He has told me he feels the same, but has also expressed doubts about our relationship due to our inability to resolve an ongoing issue with fights that escalate rapidly into incidents of violent rage on his part, and of crying and groveling on my part. And yes, a few times these incidents have turned physical (pushing, shoving, grabbing), but to his credit he has not put his hands on me in over a year, after vowing that he would never do it again. However, the fights are still incredibly ugly and often involve name-calling, public humiliation, smashing objects, threats to leave, actual packing up and leaving, and me being the recipient of the silent treatment for days following.
Despite our best efforts to communicate, compromise and avoid conflict it seems that this is something we can not overcome together. Fairly routine fights and arguments quickly turn to blowups at least once every two to three months, sometimes more frequently. If I am honest with myself, I do feel that I am in a relationship that is emotionally abusive, as it seems no matter what I do the end result is always the same.
From his point of view, I know that he sees me as controlling and feels that I wrongfully accuse him of being a "monster" when he is merely emotional, not angry. I know in my heart there is no way I could consider having children with this man and risk their being exposed to that kind of anger and violence. We have both had issues with different forms of abuse in our childhoods, so I also take responsibility for enabling this behavior and I do understand why this type of dynamic exists between us. I just don't know how to fix it.
In the past he has made promises to seek counseling or to take an anger management course, but so far has not delivered other than attending a session with me and my therapist.
To put it simply, when things are good, they are very, very good, but when they are bad, they are horrid. I can't imagine my life without him, but I also can't imagine a life with this kind of violence and rage as a part of it. I am 34 and I want to have a child in the next few years and am wondering if there is a possibility for change, or if it is time for me to move on.
A Scared and Sad Woman
Dear Scared and Sad,
I think it is a shame when relationships between people who genuinely love each other fall apart because they cannot take a disciplined, organized approach to solving a behavioral problem between them. This is especially true when the problem is readily solvable. I know it is hard. Of course it is hard. That is why relationships between people who genuinely love each other fall apart: It is hard to fix these things. But this problem is solvable.
This is real simple:
Cop: We found the body right here.
Detective: With the broken lamp on the floor?
Cop: Yeah. The suspect says he didn't mean it.
Detective: He caved in her fucking skull.
Cop: He said he just lost it.
Detective: Yeah, on her fucking head.
When someone is this angry, death or premanent injury is a likely outcome.
posted by Steve @ 2:14:00 PM