I have a problem getting my boyfriend to respect my needs. We have lived together for three years now, and I’ve tried what seems like everything to get him to respect my requests, but have failed miserably. For instance, when he gets up to go to work in the morning, which is often very early, he turns on all of the lights, asks me to iron his suit or shirt last minute, asks me to help him find his shoes, and so forth. I’ve tried many times to reason with him and refuse his ridiculous demands, but I end up getting yelled and cussed at. It is much easier to just get up and do it so as to shut him up. Another problem is, however, that I can not go back to sleep once I am awake, and I end up feeling tired and unproductive all day. I’ve tried explaining this to him but he complains that I’m just lazy, and that I sleep all day (which is unfortunately untrue). Please- I need help!

A: Although I’m shocked that the man you are describing is in his late 20s instead of 14, I have to tell you that you can’t make him change. His desire for a maid seems to be bigger than his desire for a mutual, loving relationship. The person you can change is you. Don’t “try” to reason with him. Simply, politely, and lovingly explain – once – that partners don’t treat each other like this. If he has a tantrum, just look at him like he has two heads and politely explain – once – that partners don’t yell and cuss at people they love. Shut out the lights and go back to bed. If he escalates instead of tucking you in, you have a huge decision to make. Is there really enough positive in the relationship to sign on for a lifetime of waiting on this guy? If your answer is “maybe,” then it might be worth a few sessions with a couples counselor to see if you can work out a more equal relationship. If your answer is “no,” then perhaps it’s time to pack. You deserve better.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie