He runs away from our problems!

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

my boyfriend is 18 years older than me & we have 2 lil’ girls together, we’ve been together 6 years & took a 1 year break in that 6 years! We argue constantly & its driving me crazy:( I have explained untill ive been blue in the face, how he makes me feel & what he could do better! It seems everytime i open my mouth “to him” im bitching. When i constantly repeat myself about “me feeling alone”, “noone helps me with the kids”, that “he doesnt have no rules for his 17 yr. old”, “the 17 yr. old doesnt do what i ask”,”etc….!If we talk & agree on something, he turns his back on me and does what he wants to do.

Example..”when just the 2 of us go out & the 17 yr. old watches the kids, i think she needs to change diapers, clean up after them, more less pay attention to them like its a real babysitting job! Instead of being on the computer & texting the whole time and when i come home i have to clean up the mess & my kids are sitting in their diapers i left them in! He agreed! But, yet never said nothing to her & if he did, she didnt listen and yet he does nothing about it. He wonders why i dont ever want to go anywhere?! He never gives her ultimatums or makes her do anything for that matter! Thats been most of our problem lately!! His daughter has no chores, no nothing! We have discussed it and discussed it, but when we fight about her, he says i hate her & i just want him to scream at her or beat her! Pretty harsh words that did not come out of my mouth, ya think??

Everytime i have a problem & try to talk to him, he says im bitching! So, how am i supposed to talk to this man!?? He makes me irrate! It just keeps getting worse:( After, him saying hes tired of hearing me bitch, he walks away and then it just pisses me off & i start screaming & crying! He all of a sudden has something “important” to do! I shouldnt scream, but i feel this enormous burst of anger, hurt & lost feelings come across me and my body starts to shake, i feel rage! It takes along time for me to calm down! So, he just walks away & ignores the situation.

Here lately, ive gotten so irrate, i threaten to kill myself.. It has to be for attention but, no matter what i say.. he will not give me attention! He leaves me like that for the rest of the day & with my lil’ girls ALONE! Our kids do not need to be around this and i have told him what to do when i get like that, “just hug me or act concerned”. Then the next day he acts like everythings okay & says “can you stop being mad today?”.. Noooo, im not gonna stop being mad untill the freakin issue is solved and thats NEVER! Like now, hes been gone for 32 hours and is 2 hours away from home. Left me with no car, no money and both of the kids while i was crying!

Is this normal?? Am i the crazy one? I think i have really come to HATE him, for what i feel he has done to me and put me thru! Thers a hundred situations just like this one that im not going to get into but, he constantly leaves me at my most vulnerable & depressed times! He knows im depressed & recently started a medication for it and there are tons of side effects.. but its useless for me to say anything and when i dont it just bottles up inside me and i EXPLODE! help??????????

A: Oh my. What a mess. Okay. If you really want to change this situation, it’s time for you to take a deep, deep breath and a huge step back. Obviously, screaming and crying and going after your boyfriend doesn’t work. He’s now gotten so used to the explosions they have no effect. You have to decide if you want to be angry or you want to be effective. If effective is what you want, I can offer at least a few suggestions.

First: Understand that when you decide to be in a relationship with someone who is almost a generation older, you are deciding to fold into his life and to accept that he is who he is. It is highly unlikely that he will change much for you. He has lived the way he lives for almost 50 years. As much as he cares for you and the children you have had together, he has already shown you that he isn’t motivated to make major changes.

Second: Let go of thinking of the 17-year-old as your babysitter. She’s not. She’s his daughter. She probably has strong feelings about your relationship with her dad. You are closer in age to her than to her dad. She doesn’t see you as a mother figure. She doesn’t see her half-sisters as her responsibility. It is likely that she resents you and the kids for being the family that replaced hers. You’d do much better to try to befriend her than to try to lay down the law. That being said, you and your boyfriend do need to have a calm and thoughtful talk about the living arrangement and what can be reasonably expected of her. My guess is that he isn’t giving her rules because he thinks he is somehow making things up to her for leaving her mother or for not having the kind of family she wishes she has. That ultimately isn’t going to be helpful for her. At 17, she needs his love and support — and she needs to have his counsel in figuring out what she needs to do to become an independent adult. That might be college or a job or a gap year experience. But whatever it is, it doesn’t necessarily involve helping you. Hopefully, if you can bring the emotional temperature down in the house, she will make relationships with her little half-siblings and want to help. But that will come later.

Third: When you yell, he can’t hear you. When you resort to drama like threats to kill yourself, he takes you less and less seriously. The two of you need to learn some ways to communicate effectively. He leaves because he hasn’t a clue how to deal with you when you go off. You go off because he leaves. And around and around it goes. If you two want to save this relationship, you need to get into some couples counseling and learn some communication skills.

Finally: You are absolutely right. Your children shouldn’t be going through all this. Please get connected to a parent education group or family resource center where there are classes in how to manage taking care of young kids and where you can meet other parents in the same stage of life. I’m very concerned about how alone you feel. You need a support system of other young parents so that you have people to turn to besides your boyfriend. You need a network of babysitters to draw on so you aren’t dependent on a reluctant stepdaughter.

I suspect that one of the reasons you aren’t married is that the two of you haven’t been willing to make the commitment when things are so emotionally difficult between you. Do what you can to settle this down so you can focus on making a loving and nurturing family for yourself, your children, and the man you loved enough to decide to bring two children into the world with him. You were right to write. You all deserve so much better than this.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 Jul 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). He runs away from our problems!. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/07/29/he-runs-away-from-our-problems/