Q: I’ve been dating my boyfriend for 7 years now and I can confidently say that 90% of the time our relationship is great. We’re getting married in 2 months and I have absolute faith in my decision until we get into a fight. When he gets angry with me I go into a completely debilitating panic. I can’t breathe, my heart starts pounding, I feel like I’m going to faint and often I need to run to the bathroom as my stomach is immediately upset. I will do almost anything I can to avoid these kinds of fights with him because he gets so angry that he will say horribly hurtful things that keep me crying for days. I have no coping mechanism for fighting with him and feel absolutely powerless in the situation. I can’t imagine having children with him when these fights happen as I wouldn’t want a child to be caught between the tension and hostility between us. When I am angry I tend to chose my words carefully, as I know how painful the things he says to me are and I wish that he would do the same for me but when he gets so extremely angry he just attacks. I am afraid to go near him when he is in this state and usually give him some time to cool off. But after this most recent fight, he is still not speaking to me after 3 days. I apologized and apologized but he still comes home, ignores me, slams things around and avoids me by going in the other room. When I walk by him my heart starts pounding and I almost lose it but I’m afraid to make the first move. I feel so drained by all this that I don’t know what to do. I don’t feel like eating or doing anything when these fights happen. I want him to listen to me and let me explain my side and understand how his treatment of me hurts me and is unfair but this is also compounded by the guilt I feel over having inadvertently hurt him. Our fights tend to be about the same thing, one of them being sex. I am only 30 years old but my sexual desire is not as high as his (I just don’t really don’t care for sex in general, he’s the only man I’ve ever slept with and I lost my virginity to him at the rather mature age of 23) but he interprets this as a form of rejection. He says that my lack of sexual desire for him makes him feel like a “loser” which really upsets me as that’s not how I feel about him at all. I try to compensate for this with lots of physical affection (I don’t mind oral or manual stimulation but have more anxiety about intercourse as its still somewhat painful for me). I wish that I could avoid these fight altogether but I’m realistic, fights happen in a marriage but I wish that I had a way to hold my own in them.
A: I would say that you should think twice about going ahead and marrying this man. You have listed several major issues that are tough “make or break” issues. If you cannot fight fairly as a couple, how are you ever going to communicate well? A healthy relationship relies on trust and communication. You cannot trust him with your feelings or even your wellbeing and he appears unwilling to communicate in healthy ways. One of the remedies for sexual problems also comes down to good clear communication as well as compromise. If he either yells and says hurtful things or ignores you for days, how could you ever compromise? It is to the point that your feel physically sick and have developed severe anxiety. If you can’t imagine exposing children to his behavior, why is it ok to expose yourself to it? I strongly suggest finding a good couple’s therapist to see if he is willing to change, or ending this relationship so you can find someone else and start a family if you want it. No one should accept abuse and disrespect from the one who is supposed to love you. Good luck.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 19 Jun 2007
Counts, H. (2007). Anxiety and anger issues in my relationship. Should I marry him?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/06/19/anxiety-and-anger-issues-in-my-relationship-should-i-marry-him/