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Abusive Or Just Having A Tough Time?

by Bella
(San Jose)

I've been in a relationship now for 4 years and my boyfriend and I decided to get engaged about 3 months ago. He's always had tiny outbursts of anger, usually when he hasn't slept or eaten right.

However, for the past year or so, as soon as he gets angry he starts throwing things. Although he never throws things at me directly, it scares me. We've had fruit smashing into walls, water bottles, pillows, clothes and remote controls. Basically, anything he can get his hands on.

In our recent fight, I told him calmly to "please control your anger and don't throw stuff because it scares me." He replied with even more throwing of stuff and eventually he packed a bag and threatened to leave.

He did, for 30 min, then he came back.

In public places he doesn't refrain from calling me names if he gets angry. Nor does he refrain from "making a scene."

I love him, unconditionally and he knows this. He loves me unconditionally as well, but it doesn't feel like it when he gets angry. It's like he becomes a different person.

I'm afraid to suggest anger management because it will only aggravate him more. And, I'm not even sure if this qualifies as an "abusive relationship" because he would never physically hurt me.

Any ideas?, suggestions? Leaving is really not an option for me because I love him too much.

Quick background about him: Father is absent and did abuse his mother, the fight is always my fault (I'll never believe that though). He does apologize sometimes, his work is demanding and we have a decade of age difference. Not sure if it makes a difference though.

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Bella, and thanks for telling your story here. I'm glad that you and your fiance love each other. That is something to be truly grateful for. I can also see why his behavior scares you when he's angry. I will try to help.

The patterns you describe in his anger outbursts are definitely unhealthy. Most of the time, this type of problem tends to get worse if the person doesn't get help. He will have to be the one to get the help, ultimately, since you can't fix this for him. What you can do is to get your priorities healthy and clear. If he goes downhill with this anger problem, and you go down with him, that's not love, and it won't do him any good.

Please read the following pages about relationships, and follow the recommendations you find there:

verbal abuse and what to do about it
how to deal with abusive relationships

One of the things you said that is the most alarming is that he blames you for the fights. If that continues, the abuse could get worse.

Take care of yourself, Bella. If you don't, nobody else can. Believe the best of your fiance, and focus on your own well being. He will either change, or he won't, that's up to him.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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