please help me figure out what I want to say to my partner with regard to our major, major problems, and how to say it. It's long, omg so long.
posted by sockpuppet yo to Human Relations (69 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
My partner and I have been together for two and a half years. When it's good, it's amazing. When it's bad, it's really, dreadfully awful. I
I made a lot of mistakes in the first few months of our relationship; I was getting out of a previous long-term relationship, had not really gotten my financial or emotional life together, etc. A lot of this came out in ways that sort of betrayed my partner (acting like my finances were fine when I was really in debt, not being honest about my emotional/technical availability when we first met). Bad way to start a relationship. We agreed that we wanted to try to be together, though, and to move on.
Se started with a lot of baggage, and for him, it seems, new stuff keeps getting added, new reasons not to trust or believe me, new ways in which I'm not trustworthy, etc. This is always a situation where normal bumpy misunderstanding about something becomes, in his mind, me deliberately lying about where I was, what I was doing, what my motives are. Basically, he doesn't trust me, not even to say that I'd rather eat at X restaurant than Y. He's constantly questioning my motives and behaviors. It's crazy-making and exhausting.
I've struggled with self-harm, eating disorders, and depression for years. But I'm slowly-but-surely working on myself, and I've become a lot more stable and successful at handling myself since we first got together. In the past, I've acted out when feeling particularly frustrated (cutting myself, drinking too much, etc), but I've figured out coping strategies and where my own standards are and I'm much less likely to do this stuff now.
But I'm still "the problem" in any contentious interaction we have. It's difficult for us to have any kind of discussion without bringing piles of baggage to it, and in every fight I feel like I'm getting buried under of a pile of "you behaved badly two years ago, and I'm holding you accountable for it now, so your argument/feelings/whatever isn't valid..." or whatever. It feels really, really awful. I react emotionally, it blows up into a whole thing (he says mean stuff, I shut down, which feels mean to him), we're both upset for days.
We both know that we have a mountain to climb communication and empathy-wise if we want to stay together. I want to do this. In theory, he wants to do this. But I really don't think my partner gets how problematic it is for him to think that every problem of ours boils down one way or another to something that I'm doing. I want to tell him that it doesn't even matter if I AM wrong all the time (as he thinks—I don't think I am, though)—being completely unable to believe me or give me the benefit of the doubt even about my own feelings is never, ever going to get us anywhere.
Therapy hasn't gone well for us in the past, but theoretically he's willing to try again. But I feel like it won't be useful if he can't acknowledge that his attitude is at least a tiny miniscule part of the problem. I want to talk to him about this before we try again. Any advice for figuring out what I want to say—and being heard over/despite all the typical dismissing that happens?
I love and trust and care for this person, and believe we could be amazing together—I know we can, because we have been and still sometimes are. I would appreciate *constructive* advice more than anything else. Thanks.