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Should We Get Married Despite The Emotional Abuse?

by Andrea

I am desperate for some real advice. My boyfriend and I have been together 18 months. I have 4 kids and he has 2 kids that visit on the weekends.

My youngest son is almost 2 and only knows my boyfriend as his daddy due to his bio dad not being in the picture. Even though the dynamic with the kids, money, schedules, exes, etc. can be pretty stressful we seem to manage all that okay.

We have a lot in common and enjoy the same activities and share a lot of the same values and opinions on things. We both cook, do housework, pay bills, and share our responsibilities evenly so there’s no issue there either.

We have started planning our future together and agreed that someday we do want to get married, buy a house, and have another child together. However, the only issue we have is a big one and I can’t commit the rest of my life to him unless we can find a way to resolve this. We are both insecure and don’t trust each other.

My insecurities stem from being cheated on by my ex and having low self-esteem. I also caught my boyfriend watching porn after we both agreed not to do that, so that caused me to lose trust in him. After about 5 months into our relationship I also noticed he was checking out other women. He admitted it was a habit he formed while being single and that he would stop doing it because he doesn’t want me checking out other men.

Knowing he was doing this in the beginning of our relationship also caused me to lose trust in him because it made me feel like he was still looking for something better when we first got together. This was also right after we moved in together.

However, I trusted him anyway. I am the type of person who gives someone trust and then they can either keep it or lose it. He is the type of person to make people earn his trust.

After I caught him looking at women he began accusing me of checking out men. I had never been accused of this before and I am sure I do not have a problem keeping my eyes away from men. Then other things started.

He would question why I look at my phone first thing in the morning (because it forces me to keep my eyes open so I can wake up). He started accusing me of masturbating while he was asleep. We have sex almost every day and sometimes multiple times a day.

He also started questioning my outfits and why I was wearing make-up and trying to look nice. He accused me of trying to get attention from other men and he started snooping through my phone on a daily basis. He would come up with the most bizarre scenarios and he was so sure I was doing something behind his back.

He blames it all on me because I caught him looking at women and he says that’s what started everything. He also said it takes him 2 years to really know if he can trust me. He holds my past against me because I have 4 kids with 3 different men but I never cheated and I didn’t sleep around. It just ended up that way unfortunately.

So I have broken up with him a few times for him treating me this way but wasn’t really serious and was just trying to get him to change. I didn’t tell anyone we broke up or anything like that. He would admit that what he was doing was wrong and that he would get better so we would get back together and things would be good for a couple weeks but always go back to the way they were.

It seems like the only way to get him to make a change was to threaten breaking up with him.

Also, I have PTSD from an abusive relationship where my ex was very controlling and manipulative. So I am way over sensitive when it comes to controlling behavior. He triggers my PTSD and the counselor said that’s probably why I try to break up with him even though I really don’t want to because it is my fight or flight reaction.

My brain gets triggered and he “becomes” my abuser and in those moments I say terrible things to him and scream at him and usually don’t remember everything once I’ve calmed down. Then it makes me really depressed for days afterwards and he holds what I did and said against me. I feel like he is causing these triggers though because I tell him exactly what to stop doing and he keeps doing it and keeps triggering me.

In February of this year I told him things weren’t working and if we didn’t have it figured out by tax season (I owed him money) then I would pay him what I owe him and help him get his own place. At this point he was still in denial of his actions and blamed everything on me. He claimed he was not controlling me and that he wasn’t the one making me feel this way. He refused to go to counseling.

So come April things had gotten much worse. I broke up with him and let everyone know. We were broken up for 3 days and I decided to give him another chance. He admitted that he did in fact have a control issue before we got together but he thought he was over it. He agreed that the way he was treating me was unacceptable and that he would do couples counseling with me.

Fast forward until June and nothing got better with counseling. The accusations got worse and I began playing the games too. Now I wasn’t able to trust him anymore. There must have been a reason he was so suspicious all the time and in my head it was because he was guilty of the things he had accused me of. I began questioning him too and we argued all the time and in front of the kids. My daughter started telling people how we argue all the time and nobody was happy in our household. So in June I had enough again and I broke up with him again. This time I thought it was for good.

I still loved him. I missed him so much and we were broken up for almost 3 weeks this time. He begged me for another chance and used my son as a reason because he really loves my boyfriend like a daddy. He said he didn’t want to lose the life he has with me and that my kids and I are his family.

He had also started medication for depression and claimed it was working and that that was his only problem is that he was depressed. So we got back together and things were better than they ever had been before. No questioning, no accusations, and I felt free to do what I wanted. I didn’t feel controlled anymore and we were working really well together on everything and hardly arguing. Things were wonderful.

Well here we are a month later and back to the same old stuff. This time it’s still both of us but mostly him. The only thing I am still insecure about is him checking out other women but we hardly go into public together anymore so I don’t say anything about this that often. I am also insecure about his job because he works with mostly women but I rarely ever say anything about it either. But I can’t take the way he is treating me again.

He told me not to tan in our fenced back yard because the neighbors might see me (I wouldn’t consider myself to be fat or ugly and my body has fared well after 4 kids.) He accused me of masturbating in the shower. He’s been increasingly paranoid about his phone and always thinks I am trying to snoop on it.

He gives me the cold shoulder when he comes home from work and sometimes takes hours for him to start being nice to me. And he’s back to making comments about what I wear and how I look and accuses me of trying to get attention from other men. If I need to go to the store he thinks it’s suspicious, if I get a message in the middle of the night (usually a game notification) he gets suspicious, and I can’t even feel comfortable in my back yard because he accuses me of checking out the neighbor guys who are old and bald and ugly anyway.

I can’t take it anymore. I don’t want to break up with him but I also don’t want to marry him. I thought I did but not if it’s going to be like this forever. But I have invested a lot in this guy and planned a future and my kids are attached to him. We get along really good if we’re not being insecure. We are actually very compatible but we don’t have trust and I know that’s one of the main things a relationship has to have to survive.

My questions are: Is it worth trying to make it work or should I cut my losses and move on? Also, what can I do to stop feeling insecure about him checking out other women and the women at his work? And lastly, is there any way I can help him feel more secure without compromising who I am?

I don’t want to start dressing differently, not tanning, etc. like I did in my last abusive relationship which eventually led to complete isolation and me basically changing everything about myself to please a man who can't be pleased. So, is there hope for us?

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Sep 14, 2015
A Lot To Consider
by: Dr. DeFoore

Hi Andrea. Thanks for your submission. I'll try to help.

Ultimately, these decisions have to be yours, and you're the only person who knows the full story, including how you feel deep inside.

Here are some responses to your questions:

1) The best way to know if it's worth trying is to check on your feelings and your energy level. If it's too taxing to your system, then it's time to consider alternatives. You have to take care of yourself first.

2) It's unrealistic to expect that you (or anybody) could be OK with your partner checking out other women. In a healthy relationship, that doesn't happen. You have to ask yourself what you want, and then ask yourself if you think he can provide that.

3) His feelings of insecurity are his business alone, and you can't really help him with those. He's either working on his issues or he's not...and if he's not, you can expect things to get worse over time.

I hope this helps you in your decision making process.

My best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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