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Tori, Psychologist
Tori, Psychologist, Psychologist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 273
Experience:  Work/Coaching Psychologist & Therapist
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I've been with my girlfriend for 19 years and we are

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Hi. I've been with my girlfriend for 19 years and we are planning to get married this December but I don't feel we should. I am struggling to end the relationship because she is mentally unwell and i am worried about her and my 15 year old daughter.
JA: The Psychologist will know what to do. Is there anything else important you think the Psychologist should know?
Customer: I have been verbally abusive to her for yearswhich has knocked her confidence greatly. I am full of guilt and regret for what I have done because I care for her and want what is best for her. We get into heated arguments sometimes and I react by putting her down.
Customer: replied 16 days ago.
My girlfriend doesn't have a job because her confidence is very low and I worry how she would cope on her own withour daughter. I have suggested we end the relationship a few times but she gets so upset that I change my mind everytime.

Hi, I hope I can offer some help with your question.

I have read through the information you have provided and feel it would be helpful for me to understand your current perspective, if you could clarify your reasons for considering ending this 19 year relationship?

You have stated that it would be best to end the relationship because you feel when you have argued in the past you have become verbally abusive? Is it therefore out of guilt and regret about this that you feel you want to end the relationship? As in you feel you are not now worthy of continuing the relationship? or is it that your frustration with the relationship comes out when you argue, and your true feelings are that you yourself now feel you want to leave the relationship for your own wellbeing? Your feelings seem quite conflicted.

On the one hand you seem to have strong and genuine feelings for your girlfriend, clearly you have been together a long time, and have discussed and began planning to get married, and you share a child, and on the other hand you want to leave.

You have stated that your girlfriend is mentally unwell, however this could mean a lot of things. i.e. is she suffering from a diagnosed mental health problem, and if so, is this due to circumstances she has endured in the past which may continue to impact on her now and perhaps haven't been addressed and resolved satisfactorily, or is this a mental health condition unrelated to circumstances? Either way, loving someone who is dealing with these issues can be challenging, and and can put a strain on the relationship and the individuals involved.

From what I can understand she doesn't want you to break up, and so although your arguments may have a tendency to lead to you, and presumably her too? saying hurtful things you don't mean and regret later, this does not in and of itself necessitate the end of the relationship. What it does indicate is that you are human, and make mistakes, and get frustrated, and angry, and that you can recognise those mistakes when you have made them, and feel remorse afterwards, and want to do the best and right thing, because you care about her.

This may also indicate that the way things are currently being addressed between you is not as effective as it could be and that the way you are both communicating your needs and wants with each other, and responding to each other could be improved. If you are willing to address the situation from this perspective, and have a desire to move forward as a family, but in a healthier, and more effective way, then this is certainly achievable.

I hope this provides a different view of and perspective on your situation. Do let me know if I can offer any further help with your question.

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
I feel our relationship needs to end for the following reasons:
My mental and physical wellbeing is at risk as well as my girlfriends. I get very angry and frustrated during our arguments and it is taking a toll on our body and mind.
Our 15 year old daughter hears us arguing and she needs this to stop just as much as us.
Me and my girlfriend walk on eggshells around each other a lot and we are anxious that conflict could happen at any time.
I love my girlfriend and want what is best for her but I am not physically attracted to her anymore. This could possibly change if we both made an effort romantically but I struggle to pursue this.
To be honest if my girlfriend told me that she wanted to leave me and I was confident she could look after herself and my daughter I would be happy for us to end our relationship.
My girlfriend is mentally unwell. She has not been diagnosed and isn't willing to seek help. She shows signs of depression, stress and anxiety on a weekly basis. She has also said that she thinks about killing herself following our conflicts. She has suffered awful trauma in her past and has never discussed it with a professional. My verbal abuse is making her condition worse and to help resolve this I have been to many therapy sessions over the past 6 years to work on my anger, stress and anxiety.
So to summarise I feel trapped in this relationship because I am scared of what might happen if I end it.
I would really appreciate your professional opinion to cut through the emotion I have and give me some good advice.
Thank you.

The initial concern is for your daughter. How would she be affected and her wellbeing ensured, financially and emotionally if you were to leave. Clearly your intention would be to leave her in the care of her mother, although you are equally responsible for her as her parent also.

If your partner has suffered awful trauma in her past, depending on what this has involved, it is possible that she has in some way been attracted to the qualities in you that you have described and sought therapy for, in that they are in some way familiar and normal to her, and therefore she may have learned and expected that love is painful, and you have fulfilled and perpetuated this cycle for her, exacerbating rather than healing the trauma, and leading to prolonged mental distress, and the possible depression, anxiety and stress.

It is possible that she was suffering from Complex-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when she met you, and that this is now ongoing due to the nature of your relationship and the lack of support or recognition she has perhaps been provided by you.

C-PTSD can often be mistaken for other mental health issues as it can appear similar. It is likely that your arguments make this worse, and that in some ways your relationship, due to your inappropriate responses to her insecurities, have kept her in trauma mode. In order to heal she will have required empathy, compassion, validation and acceptance, as well as a sense of security in her home life. Partners who do not understand this, or the protected ways that she will have learned to seek it, can respond inappropriately, becoming defensive, aggressive, frustrated, and taking things personally, rather than better understanding the bigger picture.

Your partner will have developed a tremendous inner strength and resilience to have overcome the past trauma, and your current relationship. You both need to be honest with each other, and respectful, in that if you do not want to be with her, do not feel the compassion and empathy towards her that she requires, and no longer find her attractive, letting her think you are getting married now is inappropriate. You are not protecting her by doing this.

It is likely that the defensiveness and frustration and anger that you feel towards her comes from an expectation that she isn't fulfilling your needs, and rather than seek to find out what she needs to be content, you have been getting mad at her for not being content. She will not heal in this environment. The only way to move forward together would be for you to want her as she is, and then watch her flourish, rather than get mad at her for not being what you want, and then getting mad at her for shrinking.

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
Thank you for your valuable advice. I agree with what you have said so I will now think carefully about our relationship and then talk things through with my girlfriend. There is a lot to consider here and I'm sure there are hard times ahead if we stay together or not. I want to take responsibility for my family and my actions and do the right thing, I'm just not sure what the best decision is at this time.

Can I suggest having a look at some of the information available on becoming trauma-informed and around the impact and support required in C-PTSD.

Overall, the message is that society as a whole, schools, hospitals, emergency services, and all of us need to become more trauma-informed. In practice, to be trauma informed requires a cultural shift from ‘What’s wrong with you?’ to ‘What happened to you?’’ and to follow through with ‘How has this affected your life?’ and ‘Who is there for you?’ This has been severely lacking across the board, where rather than receiving appropriate support, victims of trauma have effectively been misunderstood, under-supported and victim blamed for years. It is not their responsibility to fix themselves, it is our joint responsibility to provide them with the support they need.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/modern-day-slavery/201707/trauma-informed-care-and-why-it-matters

Tori, Psychologist and 2 other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 13 days ago.
I will definitely read up on C-PTSD and I hope it will help me to better understand my girlfriend and strengthen our relationship.