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Ask TherapistMaryAnn Your Own Question
TherapistMaryAnn, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 722
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues
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I have been in a relationship with my girlfriend

Customer Question

Hi,I have been in a relationship with my girlfriend for 2 ½ years, we have a son who is almost 11 months old. We live together in a house that her and her ex husband built. They separated shortly before we met in 2013.At the minute the divorce etc is still ongoing and they still have to sort out other issues, the main one being who gets the house. My girlfriend had a turbulent marriage with her husband, they met when she was 15 and she developed an eating disorder at the age of about 17 – she wont seek help with this and suffers with it every day.The problem is though we have now been having a lot of relationship problems lately. We were so happy at the beginning but since the child was born and i have moved in it has just got gradually worse and worse, we are arguing constantly. I am a very quiet down to earth lad and don’t like confrontation but this is starting to really bring me down. I love my son so much and i’m just scared that i won’t get to see him enough if we do break up – it also worries me that when i think of us breaking up it’s not seeing my son every day that really bothers me, i’m not sure if i would miss her or notI don’t know if i love her anymore but i can say for certain i am definitely not in love. We just don’t seem to have anything in common, its even the simplest wee things such as: we don’t like the same kind of music, tv or anything. We rarely go out and never eat out – this however is down to her disorder. If we go on holidays we sit in a restaurant – i eat, she doesn’t. Even at home i usually dine on my own – it has got to the stage where i can’t wait until my son is older we can eat together and i can take him to restaurants etc. Even once every few months i would love to get out to see my mates for a night out – this now causes an argument – she will tray and make me feel guilty for leaving her and the child at home while i go outI also don’t want to live in the house that she and her husband built, there’s too many (bad) memories in it, my family live 30 mins away, my parents said they are leaving our home to me so that’s where i want live eventually – preferably with my sonMe being in bad form does contribute to the arguments i must admit, but she snaps a lot at me and i think its her anxiety/stress more than anything that causes her mood swings – she has recently fallen out with 2 of her best friends and her sister (not all her fault mind you) and this just adds to the problems at home.Can i have some advice please on what i should do, please ask me if there’s any more info you need. Am i being selfish?Please don’t make this letter public on the website!Thanks,Pierce
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 2 years ago.
I'm sorry but your initial letter is published on this website, tho only for the relationship experts to read. If you want your discussion to be private, I will have to offer you additional services for an additional fee, and thus we will be able to exchange private emails or skype contacts. THEN we can keep our discussion and counsel private.I will say out front (because I have to leave for several errandes now) two strikes against your relationship lasting: 1. You got involved with her way before she was over the influence of her tumuluous marriage, so she couldn't possibly be ready for a new commitment--she's acting out the problems she brought with her, over which YOU have no control, and only extended counseling&therapy can help her to learn her lessons. And2. The 2-3 year point is the commonest time for serious loves to come apart, because the initial honeymoon with rosecolored feeling-glasses has dissolved and you haven't built any interaction habits for dealing with all of the differencesw (which you mention) and problems that have been suppressed until now. (My wife & I also don't like the same music and can't go out to eat together more than once a year, but that doesn't stop us from loving and lasting--but we've been married for 30 years, so we can cope with our numerous diffeences because of a lot of practice.) We're not young like you are.I'd guess without taking anymore time right now, that the best (or even only) chance you have of getting your relationship to survive is to get into couples therapy NOW and get her into individual therapy connected to that. And think also that you'd be doing that in order to improve your chances of remaining strongly connected to your baby if separantion and possibly also divorce does eventually happen. You'll need the emotional coping help of a skilled "emotionally focused therapist" (if you can find one in your part of the world) in order to discover the love you still have underneath the suffering and anger you've been thrashing about in for the months since you moved in together.I'll write more later, and now I'll offer additional services at a fee so we can take our discussion private if you want to. You don't have to agree and pay more, if you want to keep it public with other experts able to view it.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi. Thanks for your reply, i cant really afford to pay any more but i appreciate the advice you have given me. So by what i have said you dont think i am being a selfish boyfriend or father if i did decide to end things?? My only concern if things do end is that i wont get to see my child as much as i would like to.Thanks.
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 2 years ago.
I don't think deciding whether it's self-centered to quit the relationship is the most important decision to make: What's important is what you're going to do about fathering a child who's likely to feel abandoned if you give up and leave just because you can get away now. I've tried to explain that you're not feeling LOVE now because you haven't had any expert/professional help to get thru your hurt feelings and untrained inability to get thru the layers of anger and hurt on the surface of your hearts to realize that there's still love for each other underneath. I have said that your chances of developing a continuing relatinship that's good for your child are very slim if you DON'T get professional help; but your child deserves the effort you could make to dig down thru your hurt and disappointment ande discover the value that you still have for each other.I would not call your desire to avoid the difficult terrain of emotional repair with your partner "selfish", but fearful and immature --since you could learn NOW that love is not a shallow feeling state that flies away when you don't know how to peel away your feelings; you just need an emotional communication manager to help you express yourself.If you're just asking me to tell you not to feel guilty if you avoid getting the psychological help together that could lead to her getting what she really needs AND you growing up some in how you understand and manage your emotions--then YES, you SHOULD FEEL GUILTY. Because you are both dodging a chance to do some maturing in your own ability to manage your emotions and to conduct a relationship that is very difficult at present AND leaving your infant son to fend for himself without doing what you can BEFORE leaving to build a viable supportive relationship with your partner that will make it more likely that she will want you to have frequent access to your son and possibly HER as well. It is emotionally and spiritually RIGHT to feel guilt when you avoid a chance to grow your own maturity and to make the best efforts you can to support your son. (If you don't think you can pay for sessions with a professional marriage & family counselor, then ask your parents to help out, since they have a stake in your boy as their grandson. Apparently your family and social group don't understand and believe in the value of professional psychologists to help manage difficult transitions like the one you're in the midst of; so I don't disapprove of your choice to take the quickest way out and back home to your parents. But I DO need to give you the psychological truth that your emotional urge to blame yourself as "selfish" DOES represent a healthy impulse to take on some guilt for not choosing a more difficult and mature option such as I have described.
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 2 years ago.
I'm not saying you're WRONG to quit, because I don't know enough about your situation. I'm just saying your RIGHT to feel guilty, because what you're doing doesn't sound best for your own maturation as a father and for your son's and abortive parent/partner's welfare. It's easier to SAY you don't love her anymore, but love is more than your current conscious feeling, when you're more aware of what's not working than what you have felt through this process before now--and 2.5-3 years is the normal crisis time when the honeymoon phase is over, but that doesn't mean that all love has (conveniently) died inside of you. Even though HER love for you might be more disturbed by her immediate past than yours for her.And if YOU did set up a few couples counseling sessions because YOU need it to help YOU make the best out of your commitment to this parenting&lover relationship (despite HER mistake of starting it before SHE was anywhere near ready), you could at least show her that you want things to work well for continued cooperation and perhaps even loving relationship. Then if she refused to participate for YOUR sake, you could say "at least I tried."
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 2 years ago.
YOU DON'T HAVE TO PAY ME ANY MORE. Just respond to what I'm advising and explaining to you, so I can know if I've helped you any. You are making a very important choice that will affect your son for the rest of his life, so you DO have a responsibility to do what you can do to make the future work out as well as possible. If you choose to quit the relationship NOW because of your current FEELING STATE, you will still have to make many more difficult decisions down the road. So it would be wise (beyond your chronological age I'm sure) to get some access to trained psychological expertise for both of you by asserting yourself to bring her into couples counseling for YOUR needs.You should express your desire in this way to her so she doesn't think it's because you think SHE'S almost all of the problem, even though you DO think that. Thinking that way is NORMAL thinking when you're disappointed, angry and hurt by how things have turned out. You were too young to realize you were stepping into a Bear-Trap by entering sexual relations with a newly separated/undivorced young woman desperate for love and security. But now you have many challenges to grow up FAST, so getting professionally trained counseling is worth the cost (even a few sessions could help you a lot, and you could get advice on popularizing books to read to help yourself too). You could get that from going to an urban center for young parents or single parent services.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi. Thanks very much for your advice it has been most helpful. My partner and myself are going for a weekend away tomorrow so we will see what happens. I will be in touch if i need further advice.Thanks again.
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 2 years ago.
Don't worry about the price. I'll give what advice I can. Just remember that your goal should be to use counseling to build the most durable connection with your GF that you can FIRST, and SECOND (of equal priority) to gain the most maturation YOU can for your present & future role in this family AND to get her interested in the professional reparenting&growth help that she needs. [So it's also extremely important to find and interview potential professionals to insure that they have the training, dedication & personality that it takes to make those contributions to your future. And FUNDING this help needs to be a secondary consideration that you're willing to humble yourself to obtain, NOT a reason to turn away from it as your partner has done. Youth is not a good excuse for handicapping the life of a child.If you're willing to read, get a used copy of The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. Its first sentence reads: "Life is difficult."