This week’s questions bring up important reminders to all of us. Cheating is cheating whether it’s on the phone, the Internet or in the bedroom, and although more men are physically abusive, women are abusive too. The resources for men who are emotionally battered are much more limited than for women. The last question reminds us the only way to have a happy marriage is to be the best partner you can be. Blaming your spouse is not a healthy way to manage your conflict, and it leads to resentment as well as divorce.
Dear Mary Jo,
I have been in a domestic partnership for almost 2 years. Things seemed to be going quite well until I found numerous texts on my boyfriend’s phone from a married female co-worker. The texts were of a sexual nature. I asked him about them and he freaked. What do you think?
One of the signs of classic cheating is doing something behind your partner’s back that you don’t want them to know about. He did not think he’d get caught. When couples are committed and monogamous they don’t send sexual messages to anyone but their partner. I think your boyfriend is cheating. It may not be of the physical sexual nature, but it certainly is of the emotional one. The question comes back to you….”Do you want to be with someone who sends sexual messages to co-workers?” If you don’t, this would be a justifiable reason to break up.
Dear Mary Jo,
My wife has no respect for me, talks down to me and always says hurtful things to me when she is mad. She has no heart or feelings. We have discussed this numerous times and it stops for a while, but then it happens again. What do I do?
Your wife sounds as though she is emotionally abusive. This will not go away. You need to give her an ultimatum…either she goes to a therapist and her medical doctor for an evaluation and help or you are leaving (if you fear your emotional health you should leave anyway). She is hurting you, and I am concerned that you are co-dependent and beginning to believe you somehow deserve it. If you stay in the relationship, you will begin to feel more shame, guilt and deserving. Neither you nor anyone else deserves this. Your wife is mentally ill. If you need emotional help taking a stand and getting out, a very good place to call is: Domestic abuse help line for men: 1-888-7HELPLINE (1-888-743-5754). They can help direct you to a center in your area. Please call them, Joseph.
Dear Mary Jo,
So, if I have to take all the blame all of the time even though the majority of the time I am not at fault, how do I progress a relationship when I can feel so much resentment building up inside. I am easy going, but enough is enough.
Thanks for your help,
It sounds as though your wife is angry and unhappy in her life, and she is taking it out on you. You both will benefit from going to therapy and learning how to handle conflict. Conflict is the number one area of communication that destroys relationships, so learning how to fight fair and resolve past hurts is important.
Asking for a therapist is easy if you begin by asking your primary care physician for names. Secondly, talk to your insurance provider and find out who is in your network. Lastly, check them out on the Internet to see if they sound like someone you could talk to.
Fighting fair requires both partners to want to heal their marriage, so I would encourage you to sit down with your wife and tell her exactly what you have told me. Then tell her exactly what I have suggested. If she has no interests in making the marriage better, then you have choices to make. I would suggest you go to therapy by yourself and see if you can change your behaviors to feeling stronger and better about yourself, and if your changes elicit no change from her, then leaving the marriage may be your only option.
Sometimes we have to make changes we don’t want to make in an effort to take care of our own mental and physical health.