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I Am So Lost!

by Sara
(Charleston, SC)

I need help. I am engaged to a man who I love so much, however he has anger issues. I just can’t seem to do things right. For example yesterday in the car he got super frustrated and threw a water bottle. I said "Sweetie, be careful, what if that was open?" and he got frustrated at me because I treated him like a child.

I apologized and tried to calm him down because I could see him getting mad. That didn't work so I remained quiet because I did not want to trigger him. I remained on my tippy toes the rest of the night. He asked me why I was quiet and I told him. That started WW3. I just don't know how to handle these situations. They seem to repeat themselves.

When he is angry he has the way of making me feel 5 inches tall. I try everything to make him happy and will always apologize if I have done something wrong. I have never been in a relationship like this and the only person I have ever known with anger is my father who is a terrible man who was very emotionally abusive. I admit I have had a hard year, my momma died, I am in grad school, changed my entire life to be with him. I know that can be hard on a person and I own all of that. I am a very happy, easy going person and I do not let little things bug me because it is now worth it.

He says I need to work on my communication with him, but HE IS so hard to communicate with sometimes. At the end of the night I end up in a ball of tears on the floor wishing my life was different.

He knows he has problems and has gotten better, I give him that. But I know that how he treats me in an anger state is awful and I don't deserve that. Is the problem really me? I know it should be 50/50 but it always comes back on me, then the next day he feels bad. But then in a week or two it will happen again. I'm just lost and want to be happy me.

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Sara, and thanks for telling your story here. It is clear that you are a nice person, and you want your relationship to be better. I will try to help.

From what you’ve described here, the problems clearly are not your fault. Your fiance has serious anger problems, and he blames you for them...but his anger is 100% his responsibility, regardless of what challenges you may have with communication. You are in an abusive relationship, and your tendency to doubt and question yourself fits the pattern of the battered women syndrome. You are trying to keep from making him angry, when it’s not your job at’s his.

Most likely, you learned this pattern as a child, because of the emotional abuse from your father.

I encourage you to learn about the many benefits of journaling, and consider using some of these exercises to become stronger in your self awareness and self care.

Your focus needs to be on your own emotional safety and well being, Sara. If your fiance does not get some intensive help for his anger, his anger is likely to continue to get worse. You are the only person who can insure your safety.

You are worthy of respect and care, Sara. And no one has the right to treat you badly.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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