Dear Relationship Expert,
Hello. My boyfriend of one year and five months and I recently found out that I am 9 weeks pregnant. We've had a mildly stormy relationship in the past but lately we seem to be creeping into a massive twister. He is perpetually suspicious of me cheating on him, not due to any shady behavior on my part, but more or less because of experiences he's had with women in the past. He perceives all women to be sex driven and deceptive in relationships. I feel that I've proven myself to be quite faithful.
Frankly, I am at the end of my rope here, I can not tolerate the accusations day after day, and lately I've been trying to communicate with him how hurtful it is. He claims that he can not control his behavior because of his past experiences and present perceptions of women and "the world today."
To some degree, I accept that he has a very hard life and childhood. He is only 19 and has already been on his own for 5 years. He was homeless for quite some time because he ran away from a very abusive family. I understand that he is insecure and wary of what life has to bring, but why should I have to deal with that, too?
Yes, I know that since we are a team now we deal with things together, but why is it my fault that I react to his suspicions in a negative way? Who wouldn't especially when I've been faithful to him since day one? I've done so much for this man financially but it's not enough for him. He wants my support and help emotionally, but it seems I am utterly incapable of giving it when he is so openly unsure of my intentions.
I want to be there for him but when he says things like, "I hope you don't think you can fuck whoever you want now because you won't get pregnant" it hurts, and it tends to linger on in my mind for a while. Then if I ever bring it up or I snap out of moodiness or frustration, I'm not understanding or caring. No one will ever love him the way he needs to be loved.
I'm fed up with crying everyday and being so stressed out. I'm sure that's not good for the baby. It makes me want to leave but then there are the good times that I want to hold onto forever because he can be so sweet and charming. He says if I was always nice and sweet and cute, he would treat me like gold.
Are we fighting because of my emotional wall because I have one equivalent in stature to China's? Or is it him? Or both? What could I do to fix my issues with him? We cannot talk anymore without me crying or him yelling or both of us doing both crying and yelling. I'm so scared that I'm going to lose him because I know he loves me. There are just so many issues that I feel are hopeless though. I can't even imagine putting a baby into this equation at this point. We can't even handle each other! Help!
Wow. This sounds very tough. I would ask him to go to therapy with you and look for someone with EMDR experience because it will resolve faster. This is only likely to get worse if not treated. If you want to experiment with changing things around you can try thinking about it differently and responding differently -- like, "I know you are only saying these accusations because you love me so much but it is really hard for me to hear them. Can you tell me you love me so much that it activates all your fears before you ask me about your imaginary fears?"
Never accept that if you were always sweet I would always be sweet. That is the way a batterer talks. Married couples always disappoint each other in little ways. What determines whether couples make it is how well they handle normal little disappointments and upsets. There is a video program called PREP that you may be able to get from your local library if you have big library system (I don't know where you are) that could teach you how to talk about these issues more calmly. How you talk about them is the most important to whether your marriage/relationship lasts and whether the marriage is good for your baby.
If he will not go to counseling try to find a church couple, church counselor or a happily married couple to be your coach. You will need them as this will only get worse as baby is added unless you get help. If he won't go then go by yourself.
Good Luck and let me know how you do.
Carol Ummel-Lindquist, author of Happily Married with Kids: It's Not Just a Fairy Tale, received a Masters and Ph.D. degree in clinical psychology at the University of Illinois and completed a pre-doctoral clinical internship at the University Psychological and Counseling Services in Champaign-Urbana. She is a board-certified clinical psychologist and a Professor Emerita of psychology at California State Fullerton, where she has trained other marital therapists for more than twenty years.
Dr. Lindquist retired from California State University Fullerton to devote her time to private practice, workshops for couples with children and completing a book "Happily Married With Children", published by Berkley Press. She lives with her husband and two sons in Laguna Beach, California.