Cancelled Wedding - How would you react?
May 4, 2011 5:16 PM   Subscribe

For the women: Canceled Wedding Date - how would you feel?

Fiance and I got into a huge fight, the following happened, in no particular order:

1) She said she wanted to kill herself.

2) She said she was going back home with her parents (several thousand miles away)

3) She stopped me from spending a weekend day with the CEO and his family. Great networking opportunity for my career - literally blocked the door and said I have to stay with her.

4) She stopped my son from going on an easter egg hunt with said CEOs family (happened on Easter)

5) Yelling in front of my son, throwing things in front of him, freaking him out...he's only 4 (divorced ex when he was 10 months old).

6) Throwing things at a wall, one included a knife that almost hit me. She wasn't aiming for me, it just bounced that way.

I left the house and canceled the wedding. I told her I still want to work on our relationship because I think it has hope.

My question is, as a woman, how would you feel about canceling the wedding given these circumstances?

----You can stop here unless you want less important details----

It took a few days, but she apologized and said it was all her fault. Leading up to this I may have been not focused on her, and instead focused on my son, who I only get to see a few times a year.

It's eating her up right now and she can't let it go. She wants to keep the wedding date, to the point that it's crippling any sort of recovery of our relationship. I really want it to work, but this topic keeps coming up.

For instance, looking around for a new place to rent, she said, "I don't want to rent that place because the people that live there now are getting married...it would remind me of marriage".

It comes up every conversation now...not sure what to do.

Any help is appreciated.
posted by MeatFilter to Human Relations (173 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
My question is, as a woman, how would you feel about canceling the wedding given these circumstances?

Wow, are you asking the wrong question. Run.
posted by lalex at 5:22 PM on May 4, 2011 [184 favorites]


I told her I still want to work on our relationship because I think it has hope.

I think this is the only part you did wrong.

I hope when you say looking around for a new place to rent you mean this woman renting by herself. Don't sign a lease with crazy.'

Leading up to this I may have been not focused on her, and instead focused on my son, who I only get to see a few times a year

Which seems entirely reasonable, and if she's complaining about you focusing on your son as a cause of this, she isn't really taking responsibility at all.
posted by lwb at 5:22 PM on May 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure I understand the question. You're asking how I would feel as a woman as though your ex-fiance and I would handle things the same way just because we're women, and I can tell from how you describe her that she and I are definitely not the same.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:23 PM on May 4, 2011 [86 favorites]


I think you need to think about how you feel, at this point. She sounds kind of nutty, honestly, so maybe you need to make a choice. Do you want to marry her?
posted by amodelcitizen at 5:23 PM on May 4, 2011


How would I, a relatively sane, emotionally stable, non-manipulative woman react to your canceling our wedding date? I'd want to know why, maybe cry a bit, would call my friends and maybe drink some wine.

If I'd done the completely lunatic things she did, I'd then apologize deeply, break up with you for the foreseeable future, and check myself into SERIOUS, serious therapy.

Run. Now. And that would be my advice even if you didn't have a child mixed up in this fiasco.
posted by you're a kitty! at 5:23 PM on May 4, 2011 [44 favorites]


I would feel that you were perfectly justified.
posted by marimeko at 5:23 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


My question is, as a woman, how would you feel about canceling the wedding given these circumstances?

I am a woman, and I would be absolutely heartbroken if my wedding were canceled, but this is seriously not the question at the heart of the matter. The question is what the hell is going on with your fiancée and why isn't she in therapy?

Her mind is definitely not where our minds are right now, so there's not much sense in us trying to guess at why she reacted the way she did or tell you what she should feel.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:26 PM on May 4, 2011 [21 favorites]


Not female here, but I've been married to your wife.

I can tell you how my ex-wife would have reacted, but you've already seen most of it.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:26 PM on May 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


Throwing knives seems to me to be, in any circumstance, pretty much a deal-breaker. Her behavior sounds abusive, and you've got a kid who is going to be learning from the relationships he witnesses. I'm sure she's hurt and furious, but that's not really the issue here.
posted by craichead at 5:28 PM on May 4, 2011 [13 favorites]


Uh, as a woman I would never yell in front of a 4 year old or throw a knife at anyone.

I would never, NEVER expect someone to give me attention at the expense of a child they rarely see. I would encourage them to see their child and do everything possible to make that their focus (take over chores, cook, make myself scarce).

If I had done those things your fiancee has done,
I would be seeking serious psychiatric assistance (like, possibly inpatient help).

A wedding would not even be crossing my mind.

She is being manipulative and abusive in the extreme by trying to bully you to marry her DESPITE her completely inappropriate behavior. She is making this your fault and making your completely reasonable action (calling off the wedding) the focus to take the focus off of her bad behavior.

The fact that you think are already trying to justify her actions by blaming your completely appropriate behavior (focusing on a small child who needs parenting instead of on her, a completely grown adult) is a very, very bad sign.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:29 PM on May 4, 2011 [55 favorites]


Okay, I know that you wanted the woman's perspective on this, but I honestly don't think that the most important perspective is the one of your (ex?)fiancee here. I don't know about your relationship history, but — and I admit I may reading between the lines here — she sounds like someone who is pretty tightly wound and attention-seeking, to the point where she kidnapped you and threw a tantrum involving potential weapons because you hadn't been paying attention to you.

Please, please consider the environment that this woman will create for your son, and for yourself. In light of what you have written, I would run, not walk, away from this woman. I would not agree to work on the relationship. What you describe are not just dealbreakers, they are warning signs that she is deeply unstable.

I would not think about this woman's perspective. I would arrange for there to be other people there when she came to pick up her stuff. I would change my passwords, my locks, and possibly my phone number.
posted by gauche at 5:29 PM on May 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Let me clarify my question: As a woman, could you ever forgive your fiance for canceling your wedding?

I gave the circumstances for background as to why I did it. I think she just felt neglected and needed attention. She's apologized profusely and said she was incredibly wrong.

She says that all she wants is the wedding to make her happy.
posted by MeatFilter at 5:29 PM on May 4, 2011


I wrote:

Not female here, but I've been married to your wife.

Er, fiancee...

-T
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:30 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


What does "canceling" mean? Like, had you already sent out the invitations?
posted by amro at 5:31 PM on May 4, 2011


She says that all she wants is the wedding to make her happy.

You get married (and have a wedding, if the couple so desires) because you are already happy. Not to *make* someone happy.
posted by raztaj at 5:31 PM on May 4, 2011 [97 favorites]


What?? You have your 4 year old around an abusive person who THROWS KNIVES. And you're worrying about the WEDDING ISSUE continuing to come up??? Wake up!
posted by Ashley801 at 5:32 PM on May 4, 2011 [67 favorites]


As a woman, could you ever forgive your fiance for canceling your wedding?

Yes. I could. In this case I would thank my fiance for canceling my wedding because I obviously would not be in my right mind and would need therapy and professional assistance before considering such a huge life step.

This woman is showing a pattern of behavior that will lead to traumatizing your son and alienating him from you because she needs all the attention. Please think of his needs as well.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:32 PM on May 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


As a woman, could you ever forgive your fiance for canceling your wedding?

Uh, this is not your fault, friend. Don't make go all Good Will Hunting on your ass. It's not your fault. THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:32 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


She says that all she wants is the wedding to make her happy.

Don't know the context, but that line raises a red flag for me.
posted by Meta-4 at 5:32 PM on May 4, 2011 [22 favorites]


Let me clarify my question: As a woman, could you ever forgive your fiance for canceling your wedding?

Look: everyone here is telling you that her forgiveness is not an issue for you. This woman is dangerous, and whether she forgives you or not should be a purely academic question because the right thing to do is to never know whether she has forgiven you because she is not in your life anymore.
posted by gauche at 5:32 PM on May 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


How would anyone feel iof their wedding was cancelled? As Metroid Baby says: heartbroken. That's so f***ing obvious that it raises a red flag for me that you even ask it. I begin to think, not is she right for you but are you right for her.

You mention a "huge fight". What about? Did you do something to profoundly upset her? In which case her behaviour, while not justifiable in some ways I guess, may be completely understandable. Again, this raises a red flag for me, about you.

When you marry someone, it's for better or worse. She's plainly an emotional woman. So sometimes she will throw things at the wall. If you love her, so what? If you love her, so what you missed a "great networking opportunity" - there will be others. Even, so what she yelled etc in front of your son - if you love each other, your son will get the hang of it.

Do you think it's easy marrying someone with a child already?

Do you love her or not? If you do, marry her on schedule. If not, let her go.
posted by londongeezer at 5:33 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


She says that all she wants is the wedding to make her happy.

Weddings are big parties at which you and your friends have a great time for a few hours.

Weddings cannot make you meaningfully happy in any lasting way.

Marriage does not transform a unhappy situation.

If she's expecting a wedding to fix her problems, then she should not be getting married.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 5:33 PM on May 4, 2011 [32 favorites]


She threw a knife and almost hit the father of your child, if not your child himself. Does it help to look at it that way?

Egad man, if you can't break it off for yourself, do it for your boy. What is going to happen when she gets angry at him?
posted by 4ster at 5:33 PM on May 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


SHE THREW A KNIFE AT YOU.
SHE PHYSICALLY BLOCKED YOU FROM LEAVING A ROOM.

This is the part of the relationship where you leave.
This woman is no good for you.
This woman is no good for your son.


Get out.
posted by DWRoelands at 5:34 PM on May 4, 2011 [41 favorites]


As a woman, could you ever forgive your fiance for canceling your wedding?

That's a strange way to look at it. You're cancelling the wedding. You're no longer a fiancé and you're not the one needing to be forgiven. DTMFA, sweetie.
posted by zadcat at 5:34 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


"You mention a "huge fight". What about? Did you do something to profoundly upset her? "

He paid attention to his small child which is unacceptable. If you're seriously mentally ill.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:34 PM on May 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


As a woman, I would probably forgive you if you cancelled our wedding under the circumstances. I would also probably recognize that my behavior was totally unacceptable and that I need to work on my problems.

It's a sad situation, but you shouldn't feel guilty about cancelling. It sounds like the wisest course of action.
posted by kendrak at 5:35 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


As a woman, could you ever forgive your fiance for canceling your wedding?
As a woman, I'm vaguely insulted that someone would think I'd have a direct line to the consciousness of someone who is, hopefully unlike me, clearly mentally unstable.

But here's what I do know. As someone's child, I think I'd have had a hard time forgiving my dad if he'd married a violent, manipulative jerk.
posted by craichead at 5:35 PM on May 4, 2011 [65 favorites]


Even with your clarification, this isn't really a question that depends much on gender. And if all she wants is a wedding to make her happy, probably don't marry her just yet. What comes after the wedding is much more important to happiness than the wedding itself, and I doubt that a wedding will solve the issues of someone who's throwing knives and threatening suicide. If you kept going with the wedding, you'd just end up in this same situation, with a different trigger and a binding legal obligation to this person.

As a woman, I say this has little/nothing to do with your fiance being a woman.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 5:35 PM on May 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


(And a lot to do with unresolved issues that a wedding will not resolve.)
posted by c'mon sea legs at 5:36 PM on May 4, 2011


Not to pry, but has anything similar to this event ever happened before, and how long have you two been together?
posted by Meta-4 at 5:36 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Consider it a blessing. Get a new wife.
posted by darkgroove at 5:36 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


How would anyone feel iof their wedding was cancelled? As Metroid Baby says: heartbroken. That's so f***ing obvious that it raises a red flag for me that you even ask it. I begin to think, not is she right for you but are you right for her.

Good point. I'm not the most emotionally perceptive person in the world. I want her to be happy and I try, but I think sometimes I fall short. I have a time draining career and a son from a previous marriage, so I'm sure it's stressful for her...
posted by MeatFilter at 5:36 PM on May 4, 2011


I just noticed your tags. Here they are for others:

"marriage, fiance, crazy, axe, wielding, girlfriend"

At a guess I would say that you're already aware of the danger involved here so if you don't mind me asking: what exactly are you looking to find out? Whether she'll carry through on her suicide threat or possibly hurt you or your boy?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:37 PM on May 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow, you are not getting it. The woman is psychotic. You should not marry her. You will rue the day FOREVER if you do. Your SON will rue the day forever if you do. She has no compunction about fucking up your life on a crazy whim? She THROWS KNIVES? Run, run like the wind.

Yes, she'll be upset that you canceled the wedding, but duh, SHE'S UPSET ABOUT EVERYTHING YOU DO BECAUSE SHE IS CRAZY. Run, run, run!
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:37 PM on May 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


As a woman, I would cancel any number of weddings, an INFINITE number of weddings, to keep someone who behaved like your fiancee AWAY FROM MY CHILD.

And if I were, for some reason, in the emotional difficulties your fiancee finds herself at present, I would certainly forgive anyone who had the fortitude to cancel my wedding to keep me from harming a child (physically or emotionally) and strength to refuse to marry me until I got help. Probably not until after I got the help, but dude, this is NUTS.

"She says that all she wants is the wedding to make her happy."

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiight.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:37 PM on May 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


She may have apologized, but her actions show that she's not in control of her actions when she gets angry. If you're considering a life together, it's not the last time she'll get angry, and she needs to independently work out her MAJOR RAGE AND MANIPULATION ISSUES before you even think about marrying her. If she really loved you and was even a little bit in her right mind at the moment, she'd have been calling off the wedding, not you.

Maybe someday she'll have put the hard work in (therapy and, probably, medication) to be in a healthy place, and then she may apologize to you, at which point - if you really genuinely believe that she's changed, and your son is older - you can consider thinking about rebuilding a relationship. But we're talking years.
posted by you're a kitty! at 5:37 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Run, as a woman I am fully aware that I am never never allowed to throw things, hit, or otherwise threaten any other human being including my SO no matter how angry I am ( except in genuine self-defense and this doesn't include attention seeking). Don't consider her feelings, consider the situation. If she has ever done this before even to a lesser degree, break up now and do not consider marrying her ever. If this is the absolute first time she has done anything like this, cancel the wedding and tell her that unless she goes into therapy immediately there is no chance of you dating her let alone getting married.

It is easy to rationalize in abusive relationships, I would venture to say that it is even more common for men (the rationalizing, not the abuse) because you see her as vulnerable and rightly see yourself as stronger and unlikely to be physically harmed by her. Even so, this behavior, especially the knife throwing, is absolutely unacceptable. As a man with a child, even if you see him only rarely, you need to put your foot down.
posted by boobjob at 5:38 PM on May 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


if you love each other, your son will get the hang of it.

What? No. A child should not have to 'get the hang' of abusive behaviour. No. No no no.
posted by lwb at 5:38 PM on May 4, 2011 [40 favorites]


As this woman? No.
posted by marimeko at 5:38 PM on May 4, 2011


Don't marry crazy. She gave you an unexpected gift: a view of how every future disagreement with her could eventually play out. Breaking off the wedding was the right move, for your sake and for the sake of your son. Frankly, her reaction to your reaction doesn't really matter; kidnapping and knife throwing trumps all. Get out while you can.
posted by mosk at 5:39 PM on May 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Adding to the chorus. Get out now. Your fiancee has serious anger issues. This is not the sort of behavior anyone should have to deal with in a relationship. Especially where children are involved.
posted by xenophile at 5:39 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not to pry, but has anything similar to this event ever happened before, and how long have you two been together?

Never this severe. She's been upset before and cried and screamed...but I think that's typical of the women I've dated, everyone needs a release now and then.

Wow...this question kind of blew up. I was expecting just a few responses.
posted by MeatFilter at 5:39 PM on May 4, 2011


At a guess I would say that you're already aware of the danger involved here so if you don't mind me asking: what exactly are you looking to find out? Whether she'll carry through on her suicide threat or possibly hurt you or your boy?

I have to keep a sense of humor...right?
posted by MeatFilter at 5:40 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


You owe it to your son to NOT make her his step-mother. Just think how angrily she reacted to you... do you want her doing that to him? Plenty of fish... Move on...
posted by brownrd at 5:40 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


lwb: getting in an emotional state sometimes does not necessarily qualify as "abusive behaviour" even in front of a child. And she's apologised and repented. Does that mean nothing?
posted by londongeezer at 5:40 PM on May 4, 2011


It is unacceptable for a person to throw a hissy fit like you described in response to a parent caring for and paying attention to his child. THE END.

Be happy that you found this out before the wedding.

There is no working on the relationship. This is not your fault. This person is fundamentally broken. The child has to come first. When you meet someone (and you will) that understands parenting and life in a way that involves more than their immediate needs for attention, THAT is when you should think about a relationship. This is not the girl.
posted by Edubya at 5:40 PM on May 4, 2011


As to the question of forgiveness, she may eventually forgive you if she's able to really understand how terribly dangerous her behavior was. Just apologizing isn't enough. If you genuinely believe the relationship still has hope, you should go to therapy together until you can be sure this behavior won't be repeated the next time she's feeling neglected. Ideally, she should seek medical help.

And hold your ground on the wedding cancellation. You made the right decision there. Instead of feeling guilty for hurting her feelings, seek help together so that this doesn't happen again.
posted by Gator at 5:40 PM on May 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


WOW...it's so hard to hear the question over the clambering voices of other things I'd like to say... I would feel rejected. I would feel hurt. I would feel truly humiliated, since there's really no way to hide this from a hundred or so of my nearest and dearest. And then I would do either one of two things: Throw the biggest pissy-fit sulk the world has ever seen & tell the guy to go to Hell & I hated him OR spend some time seriously reflecting what had brought us to this pass.

Ask yourself: Does the former sound like someone who's thinking about US, a couple, who will be called upon to go through thick & thin together & either will or will not make it as a team? Or like an overgrown child who's yet to learn how to put other people's wants and needs in front of their own?

As for the latter possibility...I might just deserve a second chance. Maybe. With a proper apology & six months or so of therapy/anger management. Or, having calmed down & been forced to reflect, maybe I too might realize that there is something seriously fucked up in this dynamic.

I think throwing the emergency brake and drawing a bright line where you did might quite possibly be the smartest thing you will ever do in your life. Do not let tears & apologies revive the date. There should be real consequences to going that far over the line, and giving in now will just prove that there are no limits.

You guys need more time to determine if you are ready for a life together. She needs more time to pull her s**t together.
posted by Ys at 5:41 PM on May 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


I really want it to work

Is your desire for the relationship to work out seriously more important than protecting your son from the verbal and psychological abuse he's already suffered as well as the physical abuse he is in danger of???

You wanted to know how women would react to this. This woman is reacting in astonishment at your prorities here, so single-mindedly focused on "your relationship" and seemingly not caring at all about the effects on your child.

FYI, This woman isn't abusive because you canceled the wedding, and she won't refrain from being abusive in the future just because you agree to a wedding in the future. She's abusive because that's how she is.
posted by Ashley801 at 5:41 PM on May 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


I have to keep a sense of humor...right?

Hard to say. Looking back at it I'd say I humored my fiancee/wife far too long.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:41 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


As a woman, yes. I would forgive you for canceling this wedding because I would realize that my actions were abusive and physically threatening to you. I would forgive you even though I had apologized, and I would forgive you despite my own irrational desire to have a wedding to make myself happy.
posted by joan_holloway at 5:42 PM on May 4, 2011


It sounds like it's hard for you to hear everyone else's opinion on your fiance. Could you maybe go read this and see if anything pops out at you?
posted by Margalo Epps at 5:42 PM on May 4, 2011


If that's your fiancée's reaction to being neglected a little while you have your son round, you need to leave her. What if you have a child with her and your focus is shifted to that child instead of her? If she screams, prevents you from leaving, throws knives, and threatens suicide, well, that's not a good situation for a child to grow up in.

Keep the wedding called off and stop having sex with the crazy.
posted by daysocks at 5:43 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


"lwb: getting in an emotional state sometimes does not necessarily qualify as "abusive behaviour" even in front of a child."

Throwing knives and physically restraining people is absolutely abusive. There's a school of thought whereby women can never actually be abusive because it's totally normal for us to be "emotional" and "hysterical" and "have fits" and generally be weepy, emotionally incontinent, and generally irrational. It's complete bullshit and no one should have to put up with it, especially not a small child.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:45 PM on May 4, 2011 [57 favorites]


This is wholly unsafe for your child. Manipulating you the way she did is inexcusable. My partner was married to someone who reacted the way your (ex?) fiancée did. If i wasn't on my phone right now I'd hunt down a comment he made about never being able to forget the fear in his child when he couldn't shield her from seeing her mother flip out. You have the opportunity to make sure that it never happens again with your child. Please heed the signs.
posted by Zophi at 5:45 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow...this question kind of blew up. I was expecting just a few responses.

This is a sign that you're completely in over your head, and have lost all sense of perspective in the midsts of the drama. People are reacting so dramatically because what you're telling us - without even realizing it - is incredibly, seriously, dangerously bad.
posted by you're a kitty! at 5:46 PM on May 4, 2011 [54 favorites]


I think she just felt neglected and needed attention. She's apologized profusely and said she was incredibly wrong.

Here are some additional questions for you to consider:

What made her think her actions were appropriate to begin with?

What concrete steps is she going to take to make sure she never does this again? When is she going to start doing this?

Does your son deserve a stepmother who views him as nothing more than competition?

What are you going to do if she yells or throws objects at your son?
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:46 PM on May 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Your tags are crazy, axe, wielding, fiancé. I think the person whose emotions you aren't perceptive to are your own, but clearly they are there. Listen to them. Run from the axe, not towards.
posted by whoaali at 5:47 PM on May 4, 2011


Ok, as a response to your clarification, I have been there somewhat and as a sane person yes I would forgive you. My SO and I had big plans to move in together, and a couple months before it was to happen I went a bit crazy, got really emotional, insecure, etc. (no throwing knives or other violence) I fully admit I was a pretty difficult person to be around. As a result he called the move-in off. I know this is not as big as marriage but it was an incredibly big deal to me and I was devastated. However, after intense reflection I understood why it was necessary that I get my shit together before we take the next step. Its two years later and we are happy as clams and I don't resent him one bit. Its not even that I had to forgive him, I had to accept that the way I was behaving was unacceptable and forgive myself and commit to permanent change.
posted by boobjob at 5:47 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Please please please listen to what people are telling you, and don't just sift through here for the answers that you like, that tell you what you wan to hear.
posted by you're a kitty! at 5:47 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


What if the knife had bounced toward your son instead of you?
posted by biochemist at 5:49 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Never this severe. She's been upset before and cried and screamed...but I think that's typical of the women I've dated, everyone needs a release now and then.


Yes, every women (and every person) needs a release now and then. But never, ever through violence, and I'd also say never through screaming and yelling at another person. If this is a pattern you've seen in past relationships, it might be helpful if you sought a little therapy (after completely ending ties with your fiance/girlfriend), why you keep dating women who are emotionally abusive. This is not how a healthy person, man or woman, deals with disagreement, arguments, and stress in a partnership.

It's one thing if someone has a bad day and needs to let out a big, loud "ARRRGGGHHHHH!" It's something else entirely when you scream or yell AT another person. Not ok. Not a healthy "release." No.
posted by raztaj at 5:49 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


It sounds like it's hard for you to hear everyone else's opinion on your fiance. Could you maybe go read this and see if anything pops out at you?

That's very interesting. I could almost say that I do the some of the stuff there to her, belittling side to a certain degree, not the controlling stuff.

I appreciate everyone's comments about running away, but I did that with my first marriage and regret it to a certain degree. She went through almost the same type of breakdown, except it included cheating...maybe I just like that type of girl?). I feel like I didn't try hard enough to keep it together the first time, so I don't want to just "give up" this time without some effort.

THANK YOU to everyone for answering, these are great perspectives to read. We are going to see a therapist as soon as possible.
posted by MeatFilter at 5:50 PM on May 4, 2011


the young rope-rider:

"Throwing knives and physically restraining people is absolutely abusive. There's a school of thought whereby women can never actually be abusive because it's totally normal for us to be "emotional" and "hysterical" and "have fits" and generally be weepy, emotionally incontinent, and generally irrational. It's complete bullshit and no one should have to put up with it, especially not a small child."

Not everyone is rational all the time. And whether you like it or not, some people are more emotional than others. Don't they have rights? We don't know what the OP did to drive her to this. Ignoring someone in the run-up to a wedding isn't very nice: is he going to ignore her every time his kid comes to stay after they're married, too? You can't say you're going to marry someone and then make them feel second-best, you have to keep all the balls in the air.
posted by londongeezer at 5:51 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]



Seriously, are you trolling?


No, subtle humor is just my personality. I'm just glad someone noticed the tags... :-)
posted by MeatFilter at 5:51 PM on May 4, 2011


Never this severe. She's been upset before and cried and screamed...but I think that's typical of the women I've dated, everyone needs a release now and then.

I can't directly answer the original question, but I can tell you a more important question is: Should you marry this person at this time?

A few points to consider:

A significant part of marriage is negotiation. She has already shown you a pattern of histrionics and not compromise.

While "everyone needs a release", mature ways of "releasing" do not involve suicide threats, leaving the relationship, throwing potentially harmful objects, or making you choose "it's me or your job".

To me, these are signs of a marriage that is not going to work out in the long run, at this current level of maturity.

Based on what you've posted, I would suggest it's less painful to delay the wedding than to go through another divorce. Consider some relationship therapy together if you really, really love her.
posted by Meta-4 at 5:52 PM on May 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is a sign that you're completely in over your head, and have lost all sense of perspective in the midsts of the drama. People are reacting so dramatically because what you're telling us - without even realizing it - is incredibly, seriously, dangerously bad.

This. A thousand times this.

The abusive relationship I was once in, I had no idea just how far over the line it was until much, much afterwards, when I had restored a sense of my own self-worth. You deserve better than this, but the fact that your question was "can she forgive me?" suggests to me that you're not in any kind of a place to believe that you deserve better.

I think that's why this thread went from 0 to 60 so fast.
posted by gauche at 5:53 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even, so what she yelled etc in front of your son - if you love each other, your son will get the hang of it.

My stepfather yelled at my mom in front of me and I can't say I ever got the hang of it. I can still remember the sinking feeling that I'd get when I could see a fight brewing. So from my experience, that is an odd, odd thing to say.

I agree with all the answers here that tell you to run away from this situation because it is toxic for you and your son. But it doesn't sound like this is what you want to hear. I can see two problems with your question: 1) you are polling for "female opinions", but your fiancee isn't your run-of-the-mill female. So while many women here will say "yeah, i'd get over it because I know that what I did was wrong", this is very likely not how she will see it because she has some very specific issues,. 2) You're coming at this from an angle that ignores that humngous central issue, which is her problem with anger management, and going straight to "will she still want to be with me?". The question should be, "do I still want to be with her"?

I'm, frankly, surprised that you are seemingly ok with exposing your son to this kind of behavior. Do you really think a wedding will make it all better? This is what people say when they want to avoid dealing with their very large problems ("if only you could give me X, then I'll be okay". You give her X, but of course X doesn't solve anything, and then later it's "if you could only give me Y, then I'll be okay". It's a never ending cycle of "this ONE THING is all I need to be aaaaaallll beeeeetter". And you must have been around the block enough times to know that this never, ever works.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 5:53 PM on May 4, 2011 [15 favorites]


If she's willing to go to therapy with you, that's a very hopeful sign. We've seen countless AskMe questions in the past from people in deeply troubled and abusive relationships whose partners refuse to take part in therapy, whether jointly or on their own. So good luck, and take your sweet time.
posted by Gator at 5:54 PM on May 4, 2011


If you're bent on not leaving her yet (and it's not running away if you leave for a good reason, fyi):

Therapy, therapy, therapy. You need therapy to discern why you're attracted to histronic women, she needs therapy to learn coping behaviours when she gets emotional, and you need couples therapy to learn better communication.

Before setting another date.
posted by daysocks at 5:54 PM on May 4, 2011


I don't want to just "give up" this time without some effort.

Making sure that your child is always safe is not giving up.
posted by Zophi at 5:55 PM on May 4, 2011 [12 favorites]


Never this severe. She's been upset before and cried and screamed...but I think that's typical of the women I've dated

Dude, the problem here is that you are dating the wrong kind of women. Stable women do not throw knives or hysterically block doors, and if you are habitually dating women that do those kinds of things, maybe you should look into why you do that.
posted by crankylex at 5:55 PM on May 4, 2011 [27 favorites]


I have to keep a sense of humor...right?

Not when it comes to an adult who loses control of herself so much that she throws a knife. Not when you have a four-year-old. Not when the out of control adult would be that four-year-old's stepmother. No, you shouldn't have a sense of humor about that.
posted by Meg_Murry at 5:56 PM on May 4, 2011 [18 favorites]


I think she just felt neglected and needed attention.

If I felt neglected and needed attention, I might throw a hissy fit. What I wouldn't throw is a knife. Get out now.
posted by Daily Alice at 5:58 PM on May 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm, frankly, surprised that you are seemingly ok with exposing your son to this kind of behavior.

I'm not ok with it. That's why I left immediately and got us into counseling at the first appointment I could and took him back to his mother asap.

That brings up another issue though that I hadn't thought of. Everything might be fixed while he's not around, but what happens when he comes back....there is no other way to test that without having him come back, unfortunately.
posted by MeatFilter at 5:59 PM on May 4, 2011


"Good point. I'm not the most emotionally perceptive person in the world. I want her to be happy and I try, but I think sometimes I fall short. I have a time draining career and a son from a previous marriage, so I'm sure it's stressful for her..."

Look, my husband has a time-sucking and stressful career, as well as community commitments that I sometimes feel overwhelm our family life. He's not the most emotionally perceptive person in the world. Sometimes it is stressful for me, and sometimes I feel neglected. Sometimes I have myself a good cry.

I DO NOT THROW KNIVES. Or threaten to kill myself. Or sabotage my husband's career.

Presumably she knew when you got together that you had a child from a previous marriage and a time-sucking career. While obviously romantic relationships require some balancing with other aspects of one's life, you don't date or marry someone with a time-sucking career or previous children if YOU DON'T WANT TO DEAL WITH THOSE THINGS. Spouses should support each other; part of my job is to make my husband's work life LESS stressful, not MORE stressful. Part of his job is to smooth the path for me in my work.

If this sort of dramarama is typical of the women you date and/or marry, you may need some solo therapy to figure out why you seek out immature, unstable partners.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:59 PM on May 4, 2011 [18 favorites]


I appreciate everyone's comments about running away, but I did that with my first marriage and regret it to a certain degree. She went through almost the same type of breakdown, except it included cheating...maybe I just like that type of girl?). I feel like I didn't try hard enough to keep it together the first time, so I don't want to just "give up" this time without some effort.

THANK YOU to everyone for answering, these are great perspectives to read. We are going to see a therapist as soon as possible.


I think it is great you are seeing a therapist, but I think you are seeking help for the wrong problem.

Fixing this relationship isn't the issue. The issue is discovering why you have chosen the same type of woman again when it wasn't a good fit the first time. Not every relationship is meant to be. The one you need to work on right now, is your relationship with yourself. Figure out what triggers you in a partner that reacts in these ways, and recognize it when it starts to happen, so you can back out slowly and find a healthy partner somewhere else.


Work that out. You'll make better choices.
posted by Edubya at 6:00 PM on May 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Not everyone is rational all the time. And whether you like it or not, some people are more emotional than others. Don't they have rights? "

No one has the right to physically restrain or threaten someone who is doing them no harm.

That is absolutely not anyone's right.

Nor is it anyone's right to marry someone after they have abused them.

It is every child's right to NEVER be exposed to frightening adult behavior or physical violence.

It is every child's right to have time and attention from their dad, if that's healthy for them.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:03 PM on May 4, 2011 [32 favorites]


As a woman, if my son told me that his father and his father's fiancee had a huge fight in front of him, during which the fiancee yelled, threatened suicide, blocked people from leaving, and threw things (including a knife), I would take steps to make sure that my son was never in the presence of the fiancee again.

You said that you only get to see your son a few times a year. Please consider that if you marry your fiancee, you may find that you get to see your son even less.

Only you can decide whether your relationship with your fiancee is worth saving. Your relationship with your son is more important than her feelings.
posted by Boogiechild at 6:03 PM on May 4, 2011 [17 favorites]


I'm sorry. this sounds like a terrible heart-wrenching situation, but she was violent and out-of-control in the presence of your young child. she is a dangerous, unstable person who needs professional care and honestly, I think you should separate from her completely. it sounds like she has a lot of very serious work to do with herself before she'll be ready to be an equal partner in a good marriage.
posted by supermedusa at 6:04 PM on May 4, 2011



Presumably she knew when you got together that you had a child from a previous marriage and a time-sucking career. While obviously romantic relationships require some balancing with other aspects of one's life, you don't date or marry someone with a time-sucking career or previous children if YOU DON'T WANT TO DEAL WITH THOSE THINGS. Spouses should support each other; part of my job is to make my husband's work life LESS stressful, not MORE stressful. Part of his job is to smooth the path for me in my work.


She said that she didn't understand before how important my son was to me, but now she does and she should support my spending time with him. She asked me, during the fight, "Who is more important, me or him?" and I was so angry she even asked, but my response was "He wins every time"...I think that she finally realized it.

I would like to have an SO that made my life less stressful....
posted by MeatFilter at 6:05 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Everything might be fixed while he's not around, but what happens when he comes back....there is no other way to test that without having him come back, unfortunately.

This is one of many things that should be addressed in therapy. Since you said you only get to see him a few times a year, for the time being you'll probably want to make arrangements for your fiancée to be elsewhere the next time he visits. She can visit her parents, or take a weekend spa vacation or something. Time and good therapy should give you a better idea of how she'll behave in the future and whether you can trust her not to go ballistic in front of your child again. Don't rush it.
posted by Gator at 6:05 PM on May 4, 2011


Not everyone is rational all the time. And whether you like it or not, some people are more emotional than others. Don't they have rights? We don't know what the OP did to drive her to this. Ignoring someone in the run-up to a wedding isn't very nice: is he going to ignore her every time his kid comes to stay after they're married, too? You can't say you're going to marry someone and then make them feel second-best, you have to keep all the balls in the air.

londongeezer, you're right that everyone is not rational all the time. But if I ever threw a fucking knife at my partner, he would be out the door in a heartbeat. And if he ever threw a knife at me, I'd be gone so fast I'd leave a palomar-shaped dust cloud behind me. Most sane people would not stick around when knives start flying around.

Getting angry and yelling is being emotional. Throwing a damn knife is not being "more emotional". That's losing complete control of your emotions, acting on a whim without regard for the safety of anyone else in the room and acting like an insane, extremely volatile, over-entitled brat.

As for the issue about "making someone feel second best"... WTF? This is the man's CHILD we're talking about. This is a four year old boy who doesn't get to see his father very often. He wanted to go to an Easter egg hunt with his dad, and his dad's fiancee BLOCKED THE DOOR and THREW A KNIFE IN RAGE. In front of a four year old. Is that acceptable to you? Because it sure as hell is not acceptable to me.

Here's something I learned from dating a single parent: The kid comes first. The kid was there before you, you have to be the adult and learn to share. If you can't handle that, you're not a suitable partner for a parent.

OP, run like hell.
posted by palomar at 6:07 PM on May 4, 2011 [16 favorites]


Everything might be fixed while he's not around, but what happens when he comes back....there is no other way to test that without having him come back, unfortunately.

Your girlfriend needs therapy and it's good that she is getting it. But you have a son to protect, which means that she needs to get that help on her own, because what happens if she has a setback in her therapy, and goes ballistic again? I really feel that that responsible thing to do here is to move on, and to get some therapy of your own to explore why you seem to be drawn to these kinds of women. If you are considering continuing the relationship (even with therapy involved), then you are, in a way, ok with possibly exposing him to this kind of drama again.

It's also worth exploring the difference between "running away" and ending things for legitimate reasons. It's hard sometimes, for sure.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 6:07 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


londongeezer: "Not everyone is rational all the time. And whether you like it or not, some people are more emotional than others. Don't they have rights?"

What?! Of course emotional people have rights. They have the right to vent in a nonviolent manner. No one is saying "DON'T VENT". What everyone is saying is don't vent by throwing freaking KNIVES.

Of course, angry people have rights. Of course, emotional people have rights. Having or not having rights isn't the issue here!!

But since you're so worried about angry people rights, let me put it clearly:

NO ONE has the "right" to put another person in danger, regardless of how angry or emotional or worked up they are. Increased adrenaline does not give someone license to potentially harm others.

My neighbor just threw her coffee maker out her third floor window today. She was angry, yes. I could hear her fighting. BUT THAT DOESN'T MAKE IT OKAY. What if the coffee maker hit someone who was walking on the sidewalk below? THEY WOULD HAVE DIED. Yes, she was VERY OBVIOUSLY EMOTIONAL AND ANGRY. Does that give her the right to throw coffee makers out a third story window? ABSOLUTELY NOT.
posted by joyeuxamelie at 6:08 PM on May 4, 2011 [7 favorites]



This is one of many things that should be addressed in therapy. Since you said you only get to see him a few times a year, for the time being you'll probably want to make arrangements for your fiancée to be elsewhere the next time he visits. She can visit her parents, or take a weekend spa vacation or something. Time and good therapy should give you a better idea of how she'll behave in the future and whether you can trust her not to go ballistic in front of your child again. Don't rush it.


Good advice. He lives about 3000 miles from me, so maybe I'll just stay in his area for a few weeks the next time it happens. Good idea.
posted by MeatFilter at 6:08 PM on May 4, 2011


"Who is more important, me or him?"

Seriously, things like this rarely improve.
posted by marimeko at 6:09 PM on May 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


She asked me, during the fight, "Who is more important, me or him?"

I'm going to step out of this thread now because this is so chilling to me. Those words are terrifying, coming from a mentally unstable potential stepmother. They reveal deep-seated resentment and rage towards your child. Those are the kinds of words spoken by people who would harm your child every time your back was turned.
posted by Ashley801 at 6:09 PM on May 4, 2011 [109 favorites]


I would like to have an SO that made my life less stressful....

OP: You just solved your real dilemma. You know what you want. So get it. Drop crazy lady and move on.
posted by joyeuxamelie at 6:09 PM on May 4, 2011 [24 favorites]


>>what happens when he comes back

That would be a great topic to discuss with the therapist you have engaged. And her demonstrated ability to cope with, relate to, and even bond with your child should be a non-negotiable point in your willingness to re-set the wedding date.

There are plenty of stepparents who are standoffish regarding stepchildren but still make things work. three out of five of mine were; I'd even be willing to say it's not a particularly bad deal. But actively hostile? No. It's a non-starter. Guaranteed problems for everyone involved, especially your son.
posted by Ys at 6:11 PM on May 4, 2011


I'm going to step out of this thread now because this is so chilling to me. Those words are terrifying, coming from a mentally unstable potential stepmother. They reveal deep-seated resentment and rage towards your child. Those are the kinds of words spoken by people who would harm your child every time your back was turned.

I am just going to repeat what Ashley801 said because it is so, so important. You need to protect your child.
posted by lalex at 6:12 PM on May 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Fixing this relationship isn't the issue. The issue is discovering why you have chosen the same type of woman again when it wasn't a good fit the first time. Not every relationship is meant to be. The one you need to work on right now, is your relationship with yourself. Figure out what triggers you in a partner that reacts in these ways, and recognize it when it starts to happen, so you can back out slowly and find a healthy partner somewhere else.

If I could favorite this a thousand times, I would. This is the heart of the matter.

Your fiancee appears, from what you've written, to be struggling with mental illness and/or a personality disorder of some sort. You, from what you've written, appear to be signficantly codependent and only partially clear just how toxic, dangerous, and inappropriate this relationship is for both you and your child.

Couples counseling is not the next step and will not fix these issues. Couples counseling really only works with two (relatively) healthy adults who are willing and able to invest the insight, introspection, and effort into building a healthier relationship. Those necessary preconditions do not exist right now for either you or your fiancee. She appears to need (again, based on what you're saying) significant and individual medical and therapeutic intervention above and beyond what any couples counselor can give, and you would seem to benefit from individual counseling as well to address this destructive pattern of being in this type of relationship.

Beyond that: let me underscore that not every relationship is meant to be. Not every relationship is salvageable. Not every unhealthy relationship can be made healthy. To acknowledge this is NOT to "run away" from the relationship but, rather, to face reality.
posted by scody at 6:12 PM on May 4, 2011 [28 favorites]


That does sound like a good plan.

I would watch for further (perhaps violent) manipulation on her part to prevent you from leaving her for the visit and think through ways of handling it. She might act like you're abandoning her or hurting her. Do not allow her to alienate you from your child. That's the relationship you should absolutely never give up on--your relationship with your son.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:13 PM on May 4, 2011


Do not put your son in that situation again. If she's distraught about the attention she gets, it will only get worse if you two have kids.

Think about the long run here and not the now. If she's throwing things, temper tantrums, and being abusive, can you imagine how she will react when you guys have kids and your son comes for a visit?

She can't handle that your son was there, thus taking attention from her. Now here's the scenario: You two have a kid (maybe 2) and your son comes for the week. You take your son from previous marriage out for dinner, maybe a bite of ice-cream afterwards. You guys come home from your few hours of fun and she's giving you death glares. After the kids are in bed, she starts to demand why you favor your first son. Why don't you do that with our other two? Why didn't you invite us all? Etc etc etc. Then hysterics follow quickly after.

Is that what you really want to deal with or make your son deal with? She's always going to treat him as an outsider and nothing more. RUN
posted by Sweetmag at 6:14 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is going end badly. I promise you. I'm sure you won't listen, but just in case you will: you need to end this relationship ASAP, if you continue you're setting yourself , and more importantly your son, in a situation you WILL come to regret.
posted by pyro979 at 6:15 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think you should seriously consider independent therapy (for you). As someone who is codependent and was in a bad marriage because of it... you're not just going to fix this on your own. I can't say for sure what your issue is, but therapy can help you find out (but seriously hard not to imagine you're at least a little codependent given what you're putting up with).

At the VERY LEAST do not get married until both of you have worked out your issues! I mean, I tend to think this marriage would never be a good idea, but thats hard to say. I'm positive you're not ready to get married, however.
posted by wildcrdj at 6:17 PM on May 4, 2011


My father remarried, to a woman who was loud and "emotional." That is to say, she was manipulative and demanding, she screamed, she pushed him around. It was really frightening. I was scared almost all of the time I was around her. The yelling and the breaking things (? Not sure, just heard the sounds) went on behind closed doors, when I was visiting. Even though I wasn't right there to see it, I could certainly hear it.

I was afraid for my dad. I was afraid for myself. I did not understand and did not really know what was going on. Sometimes she seemed really great, but that was never, never enough to make up for how frightened I was when she was out of control.

My dad told me that he loved her, and that he was helping her, and so it was all right. It was not all right. I trusted my dad and I wanted it to be all right because he said so, but it was not all right.

I was in my teens at the time. I can't imagine how much worse that would have been as a 4-yr-old. And I was never in direct, visible danger; I was never in the room when the really awful stuff went down. Your son was in the room for that, he saw it, he experienced it directly, he might even have been injured.

HOW CAN YOU EVEN THINK ABOUT PUTTING YOUR SON IN THAT SITUATION AGAIN? HOW? Even if you're willing to take the risk personally, how can you think it is okay to risk your SON? Not just physically, but emotionally? This is a *terrifying* thing to put a child through, even if you are all extremely lucky and he's never actually injured.

Your son wins every time? Never let this woman around him again. That's what he *needs*.
posted by galadriel at 6:17 PM on May 4, 2011 [50 favorites]


Going back to your original question:
how would you feel about canceling the wedding given these circumstances?

As others have pointed out, you're asking the wrong question. I ask you:
How will your son feel if you go through with this wedding - knowing that you're choosing to be with a woman who resents him, denies him opportunities for normal fun activities (Easter egg hunt), and expresses her anger by throwing knives?

You should be more concerned about his feeling than about hers.
posted by kbar1 at 6:27 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


In families, it is quite normal for children to sometimes resent the attention given to other children in the family. Sibling rivalry is not a great thing, but as old as time.

Throwing things is also a pretty common thing among children. Little kids don't know much better. They throw things, they scream, they grab onto their parents legs/arms/whatever to kidnap their parents and try to make them stay. Whether it's the parents trying to drop them off for kindergarten or the parent trying to leave for work, this hostage-taking is undesirable behavior that's nonetheless widespread.

Begging and wheedling for the reinstatement of toys and fun activities that have been taken away for bad behavior happens all the time. You ground the kid, they beg to watch just one more episode of Spongebob, or promise if you let them go to Susie's party they will never do it again. But as a parent, you have to stand strong and address the underlying issues rather than giving in, otherwise the kid is not going to learn.

So I wouldn't be too worried about this behavior. Remind her that she is as loved as your other child, explain that throwing things is completely unacceptable behavior and will not be tolerated, and explain that the wedding is called off until she's addressed her bad behavior and rectified the issues.

. . . wait, the wedding? Oh, she's an adult competing with your toddler son? I'm sorry, I thought you were saying you had two children. Good luck, man.
posted by schroedinger at 6:27 PM on May 4, 2011 [63 favorites]


the young rope-rider: "No one has the right to physically restrain or threaten someone who is doing them no harm."

We're not in a court of law. Sometimes people transgress. It's not unforgiveable. And she's regretted it and apologised. She's a human being, not a robot.

palomar: she threw a bunch of things at the wall, a knife among them, not at the OP. That he's complaining that the knife bounced and "almost hit me" seems a bit whiney. In the real world, outside the OP's kitchen, folk are being shot, mown down by automobiles, poisoned by nuclear meltdowns.

The OP has admitted that in the run up to the wedding he ignored his wife-to-be; then later he admits to some abusive behaviours he's just read about and to belittling her. That just isn't the way you treat your fiancée, no matter if your son is around or not, above all when you're about to marry her. It sounds unbelievably cruel, disdainful, undermining. The best thing he can do is meet her apology with HIS apology, work on the issues and, if he loves her and she loves him, honour his commitment.
posted by londongeezer at 6:39 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


. . . wait, the wedding? Oh, she's an adult competing with your toddler son? I'm sorry, I thought you were saying you had two children. Good luck, man.

The whole post was funny...and sad...

Thanks for the laugh and the reality check...
posted by MeatFilter at 6:40 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


The OP has admitted that in the run up to the wedding he ignored his wife-to-be; then later he admits to some abusive behaviours he's just read about and to belittling her. That just isn't the way you treat your fiancée, no matter if your son is around or not, above all when you're about to marry her. It sounds unbelievably cruel, disdainful, undermining. The best thing he can do is meet her apology with HIS apology, work on the issues and, if he loves her and she loves him, honour his commitment.

Perceptive...and still involves working on the issues before agreeing to set a date. That's the approach I'm going to take and keep my son away from her until I feel like she's made progress.

If she keeps on me about setting a wedding date, then I don't think I can stay with her.
posted by MeatFilter at 6:45 PM on May 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


In the real world, outside the OP's kitchen, folk are being shot, mown down by automobiles, poisoned by nuclear meltdowns.

Yes, and I'm pretty sure that if they had warnings and the opportunity to get out of those situations, they would do so. That's like saying you shouldn't eat your dinner because there are starving kids in Africa. It's not 'whiny' to not want knives thrown anywhere near you (or your children.)
posted by lwb at 6:47 PM on May 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


She asked me, during the fight, "Who is more important, me or him?"

Buh?

What nominally sane person over the age of 16 would even ask that question? Who doesn't know the answer to that? Who would question that?

Whoa, dude, I'm really sorry this is working out badly, but run - run like the wind. She sounds like a psycho older sister who will emotionally and physically torture this poor fucking kid every time your back is turned.
posted by tristeza at 6:47 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


That brings up another issue though that I hadn't thought of. Everything might be fixed while he's not around, but what happens when he comes back....there is no other way to test that without having him come back, unfortunately.

If I was that child's mother no way in hades would he ever be in the presence of that woman ever again. Period.

And seriously, I'd say that even if you work on the relationship it needs to be as people dating and NOT as an engaged couple. As a matter of fact it might be even smarter if y'all took a break. Long enough for you to get some real perspective on this from a distance and without the little head chiming in on the thought process.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:54 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the real world, outside the OP's kitchen, folk are being shot, mown down by automobiles

There are very few straight-up evil people in the world. Many, if not most of the people involved in gun violence, and especially the people involved road rage incidents aren't evil so much as mentally unstable, have poor impulse control, are unable to foresee the consequences of their actions, and let themselves get out-of-control angry.

The OP's fiancee shows poor impulse control (throwing the knife), serious anger issues (screaming, blocking the door), and severe immaturity ("Who is more important?"). Those aren't bad habits the OP should help her break. They're not mere flaws he should overlook because no one is perfect. They're concrete reasons she should not be the stepmother of his son.
posted by Meg_Murry at 6:55 PM on May 4, 2011 [21 favorites]


The OP has admitted that in the run up to the wedding he ignored his wife-to-be; then later he admits to some abusive behaviours he's just read about and to belittling her. That just isn't the way you treat your fiancée, no matter if your son is around or not, above all when you're about to marry her. It sounds unbelievably cruel, disdainful, undermining. The best thing he can do is meet her apology with HIS apology, work on the issues and, if he loves her and she loves him, honour his commitment.

They should do this only if they're trying to be the next Alpha Couple.

Getting married to someone who is abusive doesn't become a good idea because you're abusive too, even if you both apologize and double promise that it will never happen again.

Make sure you have a place to go and that your son is out of harm's way. Cancel the wedding. Don't take her calls. The rest is up to you and your therapist.
posted by Marty Marx at 6:56 PM on May 4, 2011


[OP is not anonymous - non-answer "advice" needs to go to MeMail not here.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:04 PM on May 4, 2011


I agree with most of the comments above but just want to add a few points:

1) This relationship has the very definite possibility of impacting negatively your custody arrangement. If you care about that, get out. Even if you don't at this point, get out.

2) Seriously, do you not think your son will infuriate her at some point? Kids are wacky and do thoughtless things that adults consider unacceptable, pretty much by definition. Step-parents need to be seriously committed to being good about this.

3) Sometimes people are just not good for each other. I've known great people that brought out the worst in each other. It's a shame but in those instances, you just have to walk away.
posted by Morrigan at 7:06 PM on May 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


In answer to your question:
As a woman, how would I feel about canceling a wedding given these circumstances?

As the woman I am now, I would wonder how the hell I got to the point of doing what your ex-fiance did, and I would run, not walk, to seek therapy, knowing that I would not be capable of dealing with a relationship with you, and most likely with anyone else.

As the woman in the past with undiagnosed bi-polar disease in a dysfunctional relationship, knowing now that the person I was with was not healthy for me to be around, as well as my not being good for him, I wish that he had gracefully left me to work on my issues, while he went on to work on his.


My two cents:
This is not the person you should marry. You are not the person she should marry. I'm hoping for her sake, for your sake, and most especially for the sake of your son you do not marry.

You need therapy as much as this woman does to deal with the issue of why you are with someone who is emotionally unstable. This whole scene didn't come out of the clear blue sky. From what you have said about previous scenes with this woman as well as issues in the past, you may have problems with distancing and being emotionally abusive and controlling. I hope not, but you may want to explore this, for the sake of the relationship with your son, as well as a future spouse.

You have acknowledged several posts that suggest that you seek therapy. I hope you do.

I wish you well.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:12 PM on May 4, 2011


The news tells me that it's pretty routine that a mother with untreated mental health problems kills her kids before killing herself. Did you not read about the last one three weeks ago in New York?

That you don't even see the danger of your situation makes me wonder if you're in the same reality I'm in. Back up from this and take a look at your situation as if you're an outsider. Don't marry her, and don't get her pregnant either. If she thinks a wedding will fix her, what better way for her to snag you?

Look out for yourself and your son. Nobody else is going to. It's your responsibility.
posted by fritley at 7:17 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


It took a few days, but she apologized and said it was all her fault.... It's eating her up right now and she can't let it go.

Don't let that mislead you: this woman does not sound emotionally fit for a relationship and probably won't be without years of ongoing therapy. She's probably genuinely upset over her actions, but it doesn't change the fact that she was totally unable to stop herself from acting that way. Regret is not a good indicator of future change; I'd be willing to bet heavily that she feels this guilty every time she loses control like this.

To be totally clear, I'm shocked you even think this relationship is worth hoping for. She may be a wonderful woman in her best moments and I'm not saying she's not worth caring about, but between the threats of suicide, threats of leaving you, making you choose between her and your career, throwing what sounds like a sustained tantrum starting around Easter, and showing an amazingly hostile jealousy regarding your son*.... That's a lot of Grade A emotional manipulation right there, and then immediately after the crisis, she starts it back up again by pushing to get the marriage back on track.

Seriously, the appropriate response from her would be to recognize that she just actively wiped out all the trust you had in her, and then to give you whatever time and space you need until you're comfortable enough to start building that back up again. That is how she would tell you she Gets It, takes responsibility for her problems, and wants to make things work. The passive-aggressive pushing about the date does not say that.

*Regarding your son, bear in mind that this has nothing to do with him at all. Any person important enough to you to take your time and attention away from her is going to provoke this kind of response, e.g., the time you wanted to spend with your CEO. The main difference is that your son is totally defenseless, so she doesn't feel compelled to dial it down in front of him. It's not about him, and to be brutally honest it's not necessarily about you either -- though I'd definitely suggest therapy for you to get a better sense of your own role in this situation, so that you can take responsibility for your own problems.

Best of luck.
posted by toxotes at 7:29 PM on May 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


For me, scody's comment completely nails it. I highly encourage you to read it again and give it some serious thought. Before you consider going to couples counseling together, I think you might want to consider some individual counseling to try to better sort out what exactly it is that you, personally, want from a relationship, why you've been falling into this similar pattern with your ex-wife and this girlfriend, and how best to address the patterns of codependency that you appear to be expressing in this thread (for example, your "I want her to be happy and I try, but I think sometimes I fall short" raises a red flag for me, along with the overall denial of the situation that comes through in your comments, especially the fact that your primary concern right now seems to be her feelings about the cancelled wedding date).

I'd disengage from her and take a break in your relationship for a while while you work on these issues with an individual counselor. If you've taken some time, explored the pros and cons with a therapist, and have truly concluded that it would be best for you – not you, but her – if you two give the relationship another try, that's when couples counseling might be able to help, but I think you really need to focus on your own feelings and desires right now and assess what kind of role, if any, she plays in what you want for the future.
posted by zachlipton at 7:42 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think (hope!) part of the reason you aren't taking this too seriously is because of the fact that your son does not actually LIVE with you the majority of the time. Ok, so we'll say that he's rarely around and therefore crazy-lady won't be scaring him/throwing sharp objects on a regular basis. Fine. BUT what if you actually want to maintain visitation with him a few weeks a year?

Like a couple posters mentioned before, if the boy's mother has any sense, she'll make sure that you never see that child again or at least not without her or a social worker present. Going to his town to visit and leaving crazy-lady behind won't change the fact that you are exercising questionable judgment by having anything to do with her. Do you ever want to see your son again??
posted by lovelygirl at 7:43 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's why I left immediately and got us into counseling at the first appointment I could and took him back to his mother asap.

So really it sounds like your fiancee is more important. Think about it: next time your son is around and she wants more attention, she can do a super freak and you'll send your son away. And, if you're married to her, you are stuck.

The only way to truly show that your son is first in your life is to send her away instead.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:46 PM on May 4, 2011 [38 favorites]


You mention a "huge fight". What about? Did you do something to profoundly upset her? In which case her behaviour, while not justifiable in some ways I guess, may be completely understandable. Again, this raises a red flag for me, about you.

She was barricading him into the house and threw a knife. Throwing knives is completely and utterly unacceptable unless you are in immediate physical danger (it's not such a great self defense tactic, but that's a different problem) and is simply not "understandable" unless the knife thrower is so completely disconnected from reality so as to be unable to control her own actions in the slightest. Fortunately, you get to choose whether you want to be in a relationship with someone. If that person's behavior involves the throwing of knives, for whatever possible reason, you get to choose not to have any further contact with her.

Do you love her or not? If you do, marry her on schedule. If not, let her go.

That's not how it works. I know plenty of people who love each other and can't stand to be in the same room as each other. You marry someone because you believe the two of you can happily live together in matrimony and that form of relationship will best serve both of you. It takes more than love.

if you love each other, your son will get the hang of it.

No. Not how the world works. Sorry.
posted by zachlipton at 7:53 PM on May 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


You might have some of the same problems she does, and trust me, I understand, and I understand that it feels like cutting off a part of yourself. But are you violent around your child? You might have the same amount of pain and so you understand her, but are you allowing it dominate your behavior and hurt people around you and your son? If so, take a deep breath and really, and begin working on that. Therapy is part of that, but the bigger commitment starts with you being willing to face what is inside you. Which is likely not your fault to being with. Work through it.

You have ZERO power to turn this woman into someone safe. You have lightyears worth of power to do that within yourself. When there are children involved, dating becomes meaningless. The children matter so much unspeakably more. Most of us tend to get blinded by "the good" we see in our partners. That's why the abuse statistics in step parents are so high. This is how it happens. If people sound a bit harsh in their responses, it's because child abuse is a really really really really ..... really really reall really big deal and devastates lives.

You could show your child another way. Considering your child's mother probably displays some of this behavior herself, as you mentioned, I understand why you would be numb to it and overwhelmed knowing your child is already exposed to it. Consider un-numbifying yourself to accepting this behavior. Hang out with your son more and instead of showing him more of the same-- show him there is another way! That people can be kind and gentle and thoughtful and put their kids above all else, have fun, listen, be silly....

You might not know what that world is like... maybe it's time to explore. Bring to your sons life things that no one really brought to yours. And have fun with it! : )
posted by xarnop at 7:55 PM on May 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


TL,DR. Forget the knives and suicide threats...as a woman who loves her son, I would dump anyone for the sole reason of physically restraining me from taking my son to an Easter egg hunt. It would break my heart to pieces to disappoint my son by not allowing him to partake in a fun thing he wanted to do for no legitimate reason. Knife wielding crazy is not a good reason.

Have you also given thought that you might lose custody or visitaion of your son if you marry (or even stay with) this woman. I would be in a courtroom seeking sole custody faster than you could imagine if I thought my son would be subjected to this shit.
posted by murrey at 8:07 PM on May 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


You might have some of the same problems she does, and trust me, I understand, and I understand that it feels like cutting off a part of yourself. But are you violent around your child? You might have the same amount of pain and so you understand her, but are you allowing it dominate your behavior and hurt people around you and your son?

Never violent around him, I make a huge effort to never let him see me argue with anyone.

I agree that I can make changes within myself...but at least all these posts have shown me not feel guilty about canceling the wedding. That it was the right thing to do and I shouldn't back down just because she feels bad about it.
posted by MeatFilter at 8:09 PM on May 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


If I was a woman behaving as your fiancee seems to be behaving, and was really, really attached to the idea of getting married, and was as close as she was to walking down the aisle, and you called it off, I would be pissed. And then I would be scared that I wouldn't be able to get you to marry me.

So I'd probably cry uncontrollably, and apologize, and tell you that I don't know what happened - that I was stressed, that it's just that I love you so much, and I'd try to remind you of all of the good things we have together. I might point out about how it's partially your fault, because you don't have the time or energy to have me in your life, or haven't been putting us first. And then because I was panicked, I imagine I'd probably promise you anything I thought you would want to hear - that I treated your son poorly, that we needed to go to therapy to work it out, that throwing knives was wrong. I might try to encourage you to have sex with me, and be as kind and as loving and as attentive as possible, perhaps bringing you small gifts or cooking you a favorite meal.

I think I'd probably do this because I was scared shitless that you would leave me, even as I was secretly enraged that you would even think of leaving me, and had put me in a situation of awful humiliation of having to explain to my friends and family about why we weren't getting married. And I would try to avoid conflict with you at all cost and mildly pressure you to set a wedding date again, first by pretending that nothing's wrong, that acting as if every therapy session was a breakthrough, and being coy and flirty, and occasionally breaking down into tears or angry accusations. If it took more than 3-6 months for you to set the date, I'd probably kind of lose my shit, and find myself spilling into anger more and more.

In my heart of hearts, if I truly failed to ever understand or take responsibility for my role in this entire dysfunctional experience, I'd never really forget that you pulled the rug from under me, and I'd hold it against you. The idea of being 'second' best to your son would eat me alive - I'd be livid, and I'd swing between finding another man and leaving your ass, and redoubling my efforts to get you to marry me.

I'd probably do all of these things because even though I am an adult, I am deeply, deeply unaware of how to treat myself or my partner with respect. Which matters, not when all is sweetness and light, but when things are rough, and claustrophobic, and prickly. Perhaps no one ever taught me, or I never learned. But I'd behave this way because I didn't understand that marriage is about being and behaving like the partner that you wish to have. And that the response to someone who can't love me the way I want to be loved is not to throw knives. It's to leave.

And the response to someone who has stepped up and taken responsibility for their child, even as they let our relationship suffer, is to respect them for their choice, and if I felt neglected, leave. And that if I was in a messed up relationship before, where I let someone else treat my poorly, and I found myself letting it turn me into a person who acted in a way that I was ashamed to let my friends and family know about, I'd leave. And if I was somehow so tied up in mental knots that I actually considered that I was hurting and bullying, throwing knives and blocking, yelling and blaming a person I claim to love because they wouldn't marry me, just so they would marry me, so we could live happily ever after, then in my quietest moments, I would be horrified at myself. The rest of the time, I'd probably be horrible to him.

Because I would realize that the man I'm with could never give me what I wanted, and it wouldn't change after we get married. And that my partner did not bring out the best in me. And that I didn't accept them for who they were, but kept bringing them down for not being who I wanted them to be. And I'd wonder how the fuck things got so convoluted, and I got so far from myself, when all I wanted was to love someone and be loved.

It's isn't chicken or egg with marriage. It isn't; as soon as you marry me i'll stop nagging you, and treating you poorly, and start treating you with respect. It's egg. It's always egg. It always starts with: I treat you and yours and ours and mine, and myself with respect. That's why marriage is a possibility, an option that so many people can forgo and still have rich, loving relationships. For some reason, that respect is missing in key places in your relationship. During times of discontent, you both turn on each other, rather than turning on the problem. Maybe you'll figure it out. Maybe she will. Maybe you'll figure it out together. Maybe apart. But it doesn't get figured out just because you get married. It will hit you again and again. And the blows are worse when you're married. So Your ability to figure this out before you decide to marry is the test. But like many a fairy tale, she needs to at least figure out that the way to have a true relationship with you is ironically, to let go of her death grip on marriage. If she can't let it go, you have to let her go. Because she doesn't want you. She wants to be married. And any guy would do for that. You sound like you want someone who wants you, married or not. Which is a good sign that somewhere in there, no matter how screwed up you feel and we may be pointing out to you, you've got some good, healthy behaviors in you.

TL;DR: Egg. It's always egg.
posted by anitanita at 8:32 PM on May 4, 2011 [102 favorites]


Consider yourself blessed that you have had the good fortune to sample her future behavior. It's just like her past behavior, over the interval you have been involved, discounting the first part wherein neither of you were being honest.

So if this were a business, would you want this partner?

If this question were written by your adult son, how would you advise him?

How do you think the revised dynamic of a marriage relationship will affect prospective spouse's behavior, once you are legally intertwined?

Have you ever been emotionally manipulated like this by anyone else before? Did you enjoy it? Are you prepared for more crazy, or are you just a silly man who thinks this is normal behavior?

Personally, I'd move and change my name. Wait, I already did that. Ok, so I'd move and change my name and tell no one. Better plan.

Deal with this problem BEFORE the wedding since you are marrying into it. If you insist on following through with a wedding, you most certainly will be seeing more of it.

( The best wedding, IMHO, is on stage, in community theatre, as an actor. Everyone involved knows that it's fantasy and is OK with it. Plus, it's cheaper. And often longer lasting than the 'real' thing. Just saying.... )

Don't. do. it.
posted by FauxScot at 8:35 PM on May 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Your question was 'Could you ever forgive your SO for cancelling the wedding?'. My answer would be yes, speaking as a woman.

Now, speaking as a true romantic who fully advocates marriage and lifelong promises and one and only fairy tales, please...don't walk, run.
posted by pink candy floss at 8:49 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Now, speaking as a true romantic who fully advocates marriage and lifelong promises and one and only fairy tales, please...don't walk, run.

No disrespect, but marriage is no fairy tale. Lifelong promises are kinda a myth, depending on who you ask. However, you are not likely to be able to fix these issues with your fiance, no matter what kind of rationale you apply from whatever source. I am of the opinion that you may never be able to fix this. She got in the way of your job and your child. *Sound the alarm*. Now, we have no idea what is going on in those departments, and those particular stories could explain a few things here, but in no way should you feel guilty for drawing that "bright line", as you have recognized, and in no way should you feel obligated to continue walking down the path that you had a hand in creating. Take some time and think about this. Keep the boundary up for a while. There is so much in this thread that is useful and it would credit your situation to at least consider what has been said so far.

And, would I be pissed if you called off the wedding after I threw a knife at the wall, etc? Honey, I don't play like that. I'd be much worse off if you married me after that bullshit.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 10:17 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd like to think if I was planning to marry someone, I would respect them and their needs enough to be ok with a wedding postponement.

Maybe you really do love this woman. I am sure that she has many excellent qualities, otherwise you wouldn't be engaged to her. Maybe she is a good person who has some control issues. Maybe she really does love you back.

All of those things could be true, and it still wouldn't make it necessarily a good idea for you to get married, or even to be in a relationship with each other.

Love is wonderful, but it's not unique. There are many people out there who you are mutually compatible with, who you can find love with.
posted by bq at 10:20 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, honey. I'm newly out of an abusive relationship (no really, I'm still walking around with a broken nose) and all I can think is run. You sound too familiar, and she will grind you away to nothing. Run, run, run. If you're near Louisiana, I'll gladly help.

You cannot save her. Save you.
posted by honeydew at 10:42 PM on May 4, 2011 [18 favorites]


^
yep
posted by lakersfan1222 at 10:46 PM on May 4, 2011


Let me clarify my question: As a woman, could you ever forgive your fiance for canceling your wedding?

I gave the circumstances for background as to why I did it. I think she just felt neglected and needed attention. She's apologized profusely and said she was incredibly wrong.

She says that all she wants is the wedding to make her happy.


This is not a Venus vs Mars issue.

Throwing knives to get attention is not a rational or acceptable way to express feeling neglected, even if you ARE neglected. Screaming, yelling, silent treatment, storming out, whatever, sure, but throwing knives is just fucked up.

Unfortunately, her admitting that "she was wrong" doesn't contradict the success of her delusion, because look how much of your attention she's getting now. But anyone who wants "a wedding" more than a functional relationship is not ready to be successfully married.
posted by desuetude at 11:04 PM on May 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


You need therapy, to find out why you are so self-loathing you would even remotely entertain the self-destructive idea of staying with this violent, unstable person.

Seriously. Work on yourself: the best friend you could ever have, if only you would let him be that.

Stay away from this deeply disturbed person you almost married.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:34 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I didn't read all the responses so this is probably nthing but...

a. she is being extremely controlling (physically blocking the doorway? Sounds like a five year old having a temper tantrum)
b. complaining that you're spending too much time with the kid instead of her? I've been the kid in this scenario (without the crazy--but I've been in a situation in which my father seemed to value time with his girlfriend more than with us) and I felt like shit. As an adult (without kids) I understand that relationships are important, but you at least have to pretend with all your heart that taking care of the kid is the thing you WANT to do above all. If not the kid is going to resent you. The kid will know eventually. In a less crazy situation, I would advise telling future stepmom that you love her, but you only see the kid x amount of times and you want to be a good father. In a less crazy situation she would hopefully understand a tiny bit more.
c. SHE IS THROWING KNIVES. She has some crazy anger management problems. It won't get better. Dude. You have a four year old and a person throwing knives. Do not put the kid in that type of situation. This lady will repeat her behavior. I have an adult sister who acts just like this (but throws razors instead). So far nothing has changed, in fact she just threw a bunch of stuff at me a few days ago.

She needs some serious therapy. Please, for the sake of the kid at least if not yourself, do not marry this lady. In fact, DTMFA, and I do not say that lightly.
posted by tweedle at 1:33 AM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


what happens when he comes back

What makes you think he will? If I was the mother of a child, and his father's fiancee's hatred of attention paid to that child extended to throwing knives around, then the kid would not be staying with his dad again until the fiancee was gone. I'd be off to the lawyer and court the day my kid got home.
posted by rodgerd at 1:43 AM on May 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sometimes taking the crazy stressful thing off the horizon is BETTER. She might not realize this at first, but maybe after some distance, and talking about how this isn't "we're never getting married" but "we can't get married right now."

I think, especially if I were insecure and acting out this way, I would feel like a complete failure, it would trigger any abandonment problems I had, and also commitment issues. I would maybe not understand this, and instead act out in other ways, maybe trying to "buy" my way into normalcy by trying to be some sort of superwoman ideal. It would probably set up an emotionally volatile time that I wouldn't process because it would be SCARY. Therapy would help....and a lot of reassurance.

You may be able to help out this reaction by emphasizing how those sorts of fears aren't the case - you want to work on the relationship, she's not a failure, you are staying committed, just not getting married now.

It sounds like a rough time for you...I hope it gets better.

I want to speak to the parts of the situation that weren't questions, I think you're getting enough of that except to say this:

When I was younger I always wondered, "Why is my mom putting me in this situation? I don't feel safe. Why isn't my mom protecting me from my stepfather's crazy behavior?" He had emotional problems and was getting better, but it was a rough rocky time. Eventually I left home early, and distanced myself as much as I could from my family. The home situation is still crazy (but better) and it's been a problem in my relationship with my mom ever since. She clings to this guy as the only guy that could make her happy and her last chance to be married because she needs to be married. It made it hard to speak up and tell her how much I felt abandoned and let down.

I have no advice for that. It has shaped my relationships with family and significant others. It has stolen some of the closeness I felt I had with my mom. It's something I could fix maybe, but even being "grown up" I still feel a sort of childish uneasiness bringing up this "adult part" of her life.

posted by nile_red at 1:50 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


[I have LOADS of opinions about dating people who throw anything at me, or in the presence of children, but I think that base is well covered]
posted by nile_red at 1:52 AM on May 5, 2011


Yeah, I agree with everyone who says that this isn't a healthy relationship and not one that's likely to get any better from here on. I'm going to say also that probably you could do with some therapy yourself?

I say it because of the suggestion that "as a woman" I might be able to empathise with this insane behaviour... which suggests to me that you perhaps think that all/most/many women behave/think like this? Which suggests that maybe you have had more than your share of crazy women in your life, possibly stretching back to mother/other caregivers?

I may be totally off here, but if you think this is reasonable because, eg, this is how your mom always treated your dad or you've had several relationships with women like this, please for your own sake and your son's sort out this emotional tangle in therapy before getting into another relationship.
posted by acalthla at 1:56 AM on May 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


"She said that she didn't understand before how important my son was to me, but now she does and she should support my spending time with him. She asked me, during the fight, "Who is more important, me or him?" and I was so angry she even asked, but my response was "He wins every time"...I think that she finally realized it."

Didn't realize how important your son was to you? Really? You got all the way to planning a wedding and she didn't know this...but now that you yanked the wedding she does? I'm glad you liked anitanita's post because it addresses the staggering preposterousness of this better than anyone here.

No, your son does not win every time. She pitched fit and he didn't spend time with his dad doing something fun for him. She exposed him to violence and rage and you...sent him back to mom and went to counseling with her?

If anything it sounds like a pretty damn effective strategy so far. She feels threatened by kid - she freaks out - kid goes away....with the cherry on top bonus of heaps more attention lavished on her because of said freak out.

You're willing to spend a lot of time and energy on a relationship with someone who does not implicitly, reflexively respect the sacredness of your relationship with your child. How does he win if you have to work this hard for the most basic acknowledgment of that sacredness? If you can't convince a bunch of strangers on the green that you acknowledge this and are willing to prioritize your child over your girlfriend, how are you going to convince him?

"My kid wins every time" is a hearty line I've heard over and over again from folks who like to sound like a stand-up parents. Don't be that person.

Be the stand-up parent by investing the time, energy and money that you're willing to put into your girlfriend into understanding why you keep repeating these patterns. Make yourself healthier so you really can be a stand-up dad.
posted by space_cookie at 2:27 AM on May 5, 2011 [22 favorites]


A wedding will not make her happy.
posted by Neofelis at 2:49 AM on May 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Listen to me really carefully:

If I were the mother of your son, and I were sending my son to stay with you (I am assuming great distance here since you only see him a few times a year), and I learned that someone who is a regular member of your household (doesn't matter who) threw a knife at you, I'd be on the phone with my lawyer before you could say "new custody arrangement" to find out what I could do to keep my son safe.

What rights do I have to prevent such a person from going near my son when someone in my ex's household is throwing knives?

If you marry this woman, it will affect your relationship with your son because you will have to tell his mother everything like this that goes down when he is with you (and jesus, if you haven't told her about this yet, you really need to) because if you don't, he almost certainly will. And it would be better coming from you.

Forget about the wedding for a moment and think about your son --- if your son really wins every time, then you won't have anything more to do with this woman. Or at least, not if you want to continue to have him in your life. Marrying her --- even being in a relationship with her --- will hurt your relationship with your son through factors beyond which you can control.
posted by zizzle at 3:54 AM on May 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


space_cookie is right. By even asking the question, you are not putting your son first. You are showing by your actions that your fiancée is the more important one. Please wake up.
posted by tel3path at 4:03 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, and as for the underlying assumption that this abusiveness can be interpreted in terms of normative female behaviour? Ladies do not throw knives.

They really don't.

Ever.
posted by tel3path at 4:08 AM on May 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


Also, listen. Women and men are not so different. I promise. We like to pretend to be quite different and it's fun - like horoscopes are fun - to go "oh yeah, I like chatting to people and you like fixing stuff because I'm a woman and you're a man".

But actually there are a million times more things that unite us than divide us. Men and women want the same things: to feel loved, to succeed in our goals, to feel we've made a difference, to be part of a wider community or friendship group.

So that fun little game of "men like blue things and women like pink things" falls down badly when it comes to abusive behaviour. A guy who says "oh baby, I don't want to hit you but you know how we men are when we see some other guy giving our girl the eye," is using his gender as an excuse for his abuse and we all know it. Not all men hit. Violence is not biologically necessary. Saying "I'm a man so I can't help it" is a *lie*.

I don't know if this is what's going on but if at any point your fiancee has said "oh honey I'm sorry I threw that knife at you but you know how we women are when it comes to our weddings" then that is also a *lie*.

Women are not less rational than men, women are not more impulsive than men, women are not more needy than men. There is no bad behaviour which can ever, ever, *ever* be excused by "it's because I'm a woman".

And if you find you have been specifically drawn to women who are irrational, impulsive and needy then, as per my previous answer, a good therapist can probably help you untangle that quite effectively.
posted by acalthla at 5:28 AM on May 5, 2011 [36 favorites]


She says that all she wants is the wedding to make her happy.

This is a game that you will never win, because the goalposts will always shift.

All I want is the wedding and I'll be happy.
All I want is a bigger house and I'll be happy.
All I want is for you to quit your job and get another one and I'll be happy.
All I want is for you to spend the holidays with me and I'll be happy.
All I want is a baby and I'll be happy.
All I want is for you to put our new family first and I'll be happy.

If you marry this woman, she will try to box out your son. She will throw tantrums when you put him first, because you have shown her that when she throws a tantrum and throws knives, she gets what she wants. You sent your son away. You should've sent your fiancée away, or taken yourself and your son someplace far away from her.

Please don't subject your son to a step-mother who will not treat him with love, kindness and generosity of spirit. Your son deserves better.
posted by Georgina at 6:21 AM on May 5, 2011 [16 favorites]


Look, this woman threw things at you, threatened suicide, and had to ask whether your child or her deserved attention, among a whole lot of other things. And, by your own admission, you were ignoring her, you take the whole thing as something requiring a joke to get through, and you have a lot of constraints on your time. At the very least, you should have broken up with this woman, if not gone to the authorities. Then you should have suggested extensive therapy for her, done the same for yourself, and made plans for your child to be never be around her (as in forever), and likely to be away from you until your therapist had given you the green light.

Sadly, the theme of your replies seems to be like you're not actually willing to change anything (the "joking" about it is IMO appalling), but instead wanted to vent and get answers about how to get back together with this woman, not how to actually repair yourselves before even thinking about the slightest actual chance you have of repairing what has become an abusive relationship. I really really really hope that I'm just misinterpreting you here, because if you're not absorbing what almost everyone else in this thread is telling you because it's a joke to you, then what do you really want?
posted by zombieflanders at 6:56 AM on May 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Dude, if you're still reading, here's one woman's perspective: If I found out that you let my son be in the same room as this woman after she threw a knife at you, I would haul your ass into court so fast your head would spin. Social services would already be up your ass. I would do everything in my power to ensure that the only contact you had with my son was supervised by a therapist for the next five years. And if you married that woman, I would make sure my son never visited you again.

My question is, why don't you feel that way?
posted by freshwater at 7:13 AM on May 5, 2011 [10 favorites]


I have been with somebody like this. It will never get better. If a person can drift so into irrationality that they are able to throw knives, then it is not going to get better.

You're not going to be able to make her better.

If she checked herself into the hospital after the knife throwing, then maybe it could have worked out, but she didn't. Instead, she only is trying to manipulate you into getting married.

Things can only get worse.

Do yourself the biggest favor of your entire life and leave this situation immediately.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:15 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Most of us here are probably in agreement that this woman very likely has a mental illness of some sort (though some of us have been less kind in our phrasing of it). The thing is, people with mental illnesses deserve a chance to get better. They don't deserve to put children and others in harm's way, but they certainly deserve to be loved and cared for. She's apparently willing to be helped, which is more than can be said for many an abusive, off-the-rails partner out there. This is a good thing.

To put it in a different perspective, there are a lot of criminals out there who just keep repeating their crimes and going back to jail. They're habitual recidivists and that's just the way they are and the way they want to be. They don't want to change. But there are also plenty of people who do something stupid and dangerous, go to jail for a while to pay for the crime, and then manage to go the rest of their lives without repeating their mistake. There are people who respond to rehabilitation, therapy, and medical treatment.

OP, don't dismiss your fiancée's behavior, don't believe her when she promises never to freak out again, and don't let her be around your son for the foreseeable future. But do work together with her in therapy, and don't stop going even if she says all the right words. It's her actions, not her words, that matter. If at all possible, get her to see a medical doctor. She may need medication. I urge you to bring this up with your therapist.

I'd like to say I hope you'll follow up with us about how the counseling went, but I'm afraid everybody's just going to keep telling you to drop her like a hot rock no matter what happens. Ultimately this is up to you, but I hope things get better for you all around. Take care, and keep making good decisions for yourself and your son.
posted by Gator at 7:20 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


raztaj: "She says that all she wants is the wedding to make her happy.

You get married (and have a wedding, if the couple so desires) because you are already happy. Not to *make* someone happy.
"

This is exactly it!!! Marriage isn't a "fix-it" for something that's broken or troubled. Marriage is HARD, so please don't get married because someone is unhappy and they think this will solve the problem. There are serious problems here...get those resolved BEFORE getting married! This is even more true if there is a child involved.

Your question reminds me of people that think having a child will solve all of their relationship angst...IT DOESN'T! They just end up divorced that much later with a lot of extra complications.
posted by victoriab at 7:59 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, I was once in an abusive relationship with a bad news bear (of a slightly different variety than what is mentioned above, but no matter). It was really hard to get out because I loved him so much! and wanted to make things work! and knew he was a damaged soul who needed understanding!

You know how I managed to leave him?

A) I called my Dad crying, told him everything that had been going on, and took every ounce of support he threw my way, after I had... B) Read a number of mefi threads on abusive behavior that eventually lead me to see my relationship from an outside perspective and realize that I, too, was dealing with abuse and that I, too, should leave before things got worse.

So: read this. And this. Maybe something here will feel familiar. Some of this may apply. This could be useful. This one was kind of scary. At least this one probably went better. More milquetoast, but seems to be a common question. Hm.

I dunno. Not everything will fit. But you may want to seriously ask yourself: does any of this strongly resonate with me?
posted by vivid postcard at 8:01 AM on May 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


She's apparently willing to be helped

This may be true? But the OP does not actually come and say this at any point in the original question, or in any of his follow-ups.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 8:06 AM on May 5, 2011




I can't speak for all women; I can only speak for myself. What I can say is, if I ever found myself in a relationship where I became so infuriated that I just started picking up whatever was near me and throwing it, knife or not, and I felt compelled to physically block my fiance from going to a work event because I felt that I was such a low priority in his life, I would have to seriously evaluate what good that relationship is to me and whether or not I'd be better off alone.

It is not your fault that your wife did what she did. Her actions are inexcusable, and she should know that. She should also know that getting married does not fix existing relationship problems, and it does not make people happy who were not happy before the wedding. But all this points to the fact that you may want to consider that you two do not make a good couple, since it doesn't seem like you're considering that. It's probably not JUST her, and it's definitely not just you. It's you and her together. With her putting such a value on the wedding, I'm guessing she's too afraid of being alone to really want to consider ending the relationship, so instead she's trying to control that which she cannot control, which is only making her crazier and putting all of you into a toxic, dangerous situation. It sounds like she's a very unhappy person.

Therapy may help you two reach some understandings, and maybe it will make your relationship better. I suppose it's worth a shot. But with the information we have here, it sounds like you're on different levels and really don't understand each other at all.
posted by wondermouse at 8:42 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Egad man, if you can't break it off for yourself, do it for your boy. What is going to happen when she gets angry at him?

I cannot possibly emphasize 4ster's comment enough. I very sincerely hope you are taking these suggestions to heart. People aren't ganging up on your ex-fiancee because we're big meanies who hate love. These are people who are a step back from the situation and see the bigger picture, and who have been there before or seen it play out.

I am shocked that your question after all of this went down was whether or not to hurt her feelings regarding the wedding. Something is wrong here.
posted by amicamentis at 9:06 AM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's a serious question: what could you possibly be getting out of your relationship with this woman that makes up for putting yourself through this kind of behavior, and exposing your son to this kind of risk? Not rhetorical - try to answer it. Because usually when people come in here and it's clear to all of us that they're in a toxic, abusive relationship (which, really, you are), they have some reason for staying. It's rarely a good one, but they do have one. So far, the only one I've seen from you is this:

I feel like I didn't try hard enough to keep it together the first time, so I don't want to just "give up" this time without some effort.

That's not even remotely good enough.
posted by Ragged Richard at 9:17 AM on May 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


And, actually, here's something else I'd suggest. Read this recent AskMe. If you can, read the whole thread. See how we're all freaking out because the OP is putting herself in a terrible, dangerous position and can't seem to realize it? See how clear it is that she needs to run far away from this guy as quickly as possible, and how hard it is for her to do it? How tragic it is that she comes in at the end of the thread to tell us all that she knows we're right but she's staying with him anyway?

Your question is the same as hers, and has the same answer.
posted by Ragged Richard at 9:20 AM on May 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


She said that she didn't understand before how important my son was to me, but now she does and she should support my spending time with him.

Doesn't matter at all. Even if you'd been completely in the wrong and the argument had been all your fault, her reaction (screaming fits, suicide threats, and throwing things) would still be utterly unacceptable behavior for any adult. That she had this bizarre reaction purely as attention-seeking behavior, purely because she felt "neglected" while you spent a few days with your son, adds a whole other layer of crazy, but there was a good solid foundation of crazy to begin with.

Don't marry this woman unless you want your life to feature a lot of screaming fits, suicide threats, and thrown objects.

I think that's typical of the women I've dated, everyone needs a release now and then.

No. Most grownups are able to get through life without throwing screaming crying fits. If you're consistently dating women of this type, maybe as well as canceling this wedding you might want to take a break from dating altogether for a while until you figure out why that is.
posted by ook at 12:07 PM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


When I first read your post, I was going to say that maybe with intense therapy, things might work out. Lots of couples have experienced isolated incidents involving very poor judgement.

Then I read this....

"She said that she didn't understand before how important my son was to me, but now she does and she should support my spending time with him. She asked me, during the fight, "Who is more important, me or him?" and I was so angry she even asked, but my response was "He wins every time"...I think that she finally realized it."

I think you need to get far away from this woman. She actually sounds like a sociopath of sorts.

She didn't understand that your son was important to you?! I can't even fathom the thought process going on in her mind. It leads me to believe she doesn't even have the most basic form of empathy. It seems to me that she is incredibly selfish and only cares about herself and now that her wedding might get taken away, she is going to pout and say whatever it takes to get you back. I would end this relationship now.
posted by parakeetdog at 12:11 PM on May 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Nthing.

People don't get married after one person throws knives at the other, they get divorced.

I'm a woman, not terribly young, but not yet 30. I'm dating an absolutely wonderful intelligent man, once divorced, with a young daughter he sees about one weekend every two weeks. Dating someone with a kid was a new experience for me. It surprised even me, as I have never felt any hints of motherly urges.

So I've never wanted to be a mom and kids are okay. Now I love this kid (both as a part of my super boyfriend and as her own super cool kid self), and if I ever felt the slightest twinge of resenting either my boyfriend or his daughter for spending time with each other, I would give myself a mental slap and check myself into therapy.

In this relationship, his daughter comes first and I come second. That's just how it is, and it's totally awesome that way. It's great when the three of us are together, and it's great when any combination of two are together. But I cannot emphasize enough: for both my boyfriend and me, his daughter comes first. I would never scream at her father in front of her. I am not in the habit of throwing anything, let alone knives, but I would never, ever, ever, ever be violent toward someone I loved, especially not in front their miniature version (whom I also adore).

She asked me, during the fight, "Who is more important, me or him?"

She does not get it. She does not see the three of you as a team with a common goal (being happy together forever after). It is possible that with some therapy and a lot of mental rearranging she will re-evaluate.

But if I threw knives at my boyfriend in a misguided attempt to make him choose me over his kid, I would be so distraught over my violent behavior, my lack of restraint, my utter and complete lack of value and priorities, that I would cancel the wedding myself and check myself into therapy.

Do everyone a favor. No wedding, now or ever.
posted by nicodine at 12:23 PM on May 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


I spent my teen years in a situation pretty similar to galadriel's, with the main difference being that my dad had primary custody, and so I lived basically full-time with him and my stepmother.

I moved out about a year ago, had a big fight with them a few months back that has led to having pretty minimal contact since, and am still untangling my feelings about them. One of the things that strikes me is that even now, I'll remember something that happened while I was there, and I'll say to myself, wow. That was fucked up. How did I not realize how fucked up that was? But I know the answer to that. It's because these situations are really hard to look at with any sort of objectivity when you're in the middle of them.

The other real surprise is that while I still am trying to process my anger and regret towards my stepmother, I'm starting to forgive her. The things she did when I was growing up were not--are not--excusable, and I shouldn't have had to live with them, but I know that she's someone who's had a hard time in her life. I think she perceived any action that doesn't align with her wants as a betrayal, and from that (very pathological) point of view, I can see why she acted the way she did. I can see that while she was capable of great cruelty, she could also be very kind, even if that kindness came with a lot of strings attached. I think, in the end, she's been the person most hurt by her own personality issues, and I genuinely hope that she can get better some day, because she doesn't deserve that.

I'm actually having a harder time forgiving my dad. He should've known better. Worse, I think he did know better, I think he did understand that we were not a healthy family. But he thought that he could smooth over all the rough edges, and then everything would be fine. He'd convince me to apologize to her for whatever perceived wrong I'd committed, even while he acknowledged that he thought I was in the right. He'd ask to borrow money from me, in secret, to avoid another fight about his job. I think he still wants us to match his vision of a perfect family, even though she and I haven't spoken in nearly 3 months. I think he still thinks he can make it happen.

He cared more about making it "work out" than whether or not any of us was happy.

Please don't be my dad.
posted by kagredon at 12:24 PM on May 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


My mother got angry, yelled and screamed, threw things, and did hysterical, sabotaging things to my father.

She did all those things to me, too. She also hit me. When he wasn't watching.

Just sayin'.
posted by amberwb at 1:22 PM on May 5, 2011


Kagredon -- I had the same "Wow, I never realized how fucked up my life was" experience, too. In fact, the culture shock of living in a "normal" family (with my father and stepmom when I was 15) was almost as bad as the "damage" from growing up abused. Realizing what life was like NOT being abused, and thinking back to all that hell that didn't have to be that way really fucked me up.
posted by amberwb at 1:25 PM on May 5, 2011


Women are not less rational than men, women are not more impulsive than men, women are not more needy than men. There is no bad behaviour which can ever, ever, *ever* be excused by "it's because I'm a woman".

I also want to second this, fiercely. Throwing knives, pitching tantrums, physically blocking people from leaving the room, making men choose between "me or the kid" -- these are NOT just "things women do because weddings mean so much" or just letting off steam because we're so darn emotional. NONE of what your fiancee does is normal, healthy behavior for a woman because it's not normal, healthy behavior for ANY ADULT, male or female. This is not about gender. It's about abuse and mental illness.
posted by scody at 2:40 PM on May 5, 2011 [13 favorites]


Before I left work to have babies, I worked in health. I live in Australia. Every person who works in the Health Department is a trained "mandatory reporter". That means, if there is any suggestion of abuse, to report to the Department of Welfare equivalent.

I have read enough here that if you were in Australia, I would have reported your situation as an emergency case and assisted in having your son removed from your custody until you had ceased all contact with your fiancé, forever.

That's how serious it is. And what the professionals would do. If you think it's ok that your son EVER spend time with her again, then you are not currently a fit parent.

I'm sorry to be tough, but he has the RIGHT to be protected. It is the law.
posted by taff at 3:02 PM on May 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


From the beginning, I've been troubled by the jaunty tone in which the OP and the followups were all written, even though the subject matter is as serious as taff points out.

We all keep repeating ourselves because we feel we're not getting through. OP, I hope I'm misreading you, I really do, but please pay attention to what taff has said here.
posted by tel3path at 3:35 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


if your exwife was dating/engaged/married to a man who physically kept her/your child from leaving, threw things, threatened suicide, etc - what would your response be?
posted by nadawi at 3:49 PM on May 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Despite, or perhaps in light of, my comments above, I would like to add a counterpoint to what many people are saying. Your fiancee is not necessarily irreparably damaged goods. As I said, when I was a teenager I was majorly fucked in the head, both from the abuse and from the culture shock of realizing that suburban American life didn't JUST happen on TV, and that normal people didn't scream at each other to "solve" problems. I initially screamed at people to "solve" problems. I initially threw and destroyed things in anger. I learned not to. I am now happily married, with a child, and I have never raised my voice above the level of frustration (or, in the case of my toddler daughter, sharp barks to get her to stop doing something dangerous) at either of them. Ever.

Granted, I was a teen/young adult when this learning-to-be-rational thing occurred, and presumably your fiancee is older than 17. But nonetheless, most people CAN learn to control themselves.

However, until it is VERY clear that she can, and wants to, control herself, she should not EVER be ANYWHERE near your child. And that alone may be a dealbreaker, because who wants to feel like they're being treated like a child abuser? Even my mom denies being a child abuser, because she has managed to reframe everything she's done as "doing what [she] needed to do to get by." She believes she did her best as a parent, and maybe she did, but her best included whipping me with coathangers and stomping on my back.



And while you're chewing on that, here's another "just sayin'" story for you...

A significant time after I left, my mom lived with / was engaged to this guy who was the nicest guy EVER. This guy, I thought, was really getting her on the right track to cleaning up her life. He was so attentive, did EVERYTHING for her, thought the world of her. He also, it turns out, followed her around while she was at home and essentially wanted all of her attention and time, and was really jealous of anyone else who got her attention. He's what I think of now when I run across the term mate guarding. One day, out of the blue, he lost his shit and beat the piss out of her. Mind you, he was probably at most 3/4 her size (he was on the small side of average, while she is rather tall and overweight). He was really sorry, and didn't know what happened, and OMG what can I do so that you'll forgive me? She made him move out, but they kept "seeing" each other. Slowly, things settled back to how they were before, and he moved back in. And some time later, of course, it happened again, only worse. Luckily, she wasn't an idiot the second time, and it was Restraining Order Central from there on out.
posted by amberwb at 4:24 PM on May 5, 2011


OP: there are a lot of children from abusive backgrounds posting in this thread. I'll also echo the "wow I didn't know how fucked up that was" statement. As a kid, you might think, this isn't fair, it shouldn't be this way, but you don't KNOW that. You don't know it isn't normal, and you don't know what you do and don't deserve to live with. You don't have the experience to assert yourself and demand better, and so a lot of times you don't. Even when asked by your parent "Are things ok?" You aren't equipped to properly respond. It's the parents' job to look out for you.


It's not something that will stop affecting the kid when he/she grows up. We just get hit with weird relationship issues, and realizations of how far from normal things were.


PLEASE read and maybe re-read these sorts of comments.
posted by nile_red at 8:35 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Good advice. He lives about 3000 miles from me, so maybe I'll just stay in his area for a few weeks the next time it happens. Good idea.

Okay, reasonable idea to keep your crazy girlfriend away from your son, but it's not a permanent solution. What happens if you do marry your fiance? Are things going to be magically better with her and your son? And God forbid, what if your first wife gets hit by a bus the day after your wedding? You could end up with primary custody at any time, your next wife has to be able to handle that possibility.

I don't think your fiance is a monster, but there are some relationships where people aren't good for each other and they just bring out the worst in each other. Let your fiance find her happiness by finding a relationship that doesn't trigger her issues.
posted by fermezporte at 3:37 AM on May 6, 2011


I think it's important to point out that your gf is just a person with issues. That said, guess what: SO ARE MOST CHILD ABUSERS. Being "good somewhere inside it all" does NOT ok make.

I am really happy that you shared that despite any emotional issues or functional struggles you share with this woman that allows her to feel like "a good match" you do not tolerate abusive behavior from yourself around your son.

Consider that this woman does not share that ability: or even that VALUE. If she shared the same value the minute she felt emotional or "out of control" and your son was around, she would have said, "I'm feeling emotional and I need to go outside for a walk, I'd like to talk to about this when I've calmed down and after you've finished having a good visit with your son."

Whether she can't or won't do that, the fact that she is capable of this behavior tells you that this will happen again. Even if she goes to therapy and even if she tries. Healing the level of issues this woman has to the extent she could be trusted with a child would literally take years. And the most important part: This is a person who has absolutely no business being in you or your sons life. When you have kids, relationships stop being about you. This woman is not part of your sons family, she does not care about your son, she doesn't give a shit about your son and her words and actions demonstrate that clearly. The best she has been able to do sounds like she is FORGIVING YOU for valueing your son at all. She in no way shares the value of doing everything in her power to give your child a good environment. Deciding that having a partner who shares your value of unconditional love and commitment to giving your child a good environment will probably reduce the pool of dating possibilities to close to nil. It's still required of you.

Relationships stop being about what you want, or what your partner wants when you have kids. As an innocent in the situations whose needs MUST be met above any emotional wants or desires of parents, the child has the right to a safe environment even if it means you giving up relationships entirely.

Which sounds like it might be a good idea for a while until you have worked through your issues to the point that you find it the idea of allowing an abusive person near your child to sound equally despicable to you as actually behaving abusively toward your child.

Because ultimately, from the childs experience: It's EXACTLY the same thing. You are responsable for the behaviors of people you keep in your life and how those behaviors affect your child. She might not be a monster and she might be full of wonderful goodness underneath her issues. I think most people are and it's part of why it's so hard to leave abusive people. You can see their "goodness" underneath all the unaccaptable abusive behaviors.

Realistically, she will not be able to be good for a child anytime in the near future and possibly ever. That is up to her. If you stay with her while she recovers you are telling her "I accept your behavior because I know you're a good person under this"

This gives her ZERO reason to work through it, there's a little word for it... hmmm oh what was it, oh yes, you may have heard it: ENABLING.

Any attempt you put forth to "work through it" is sending the message to your son, "People who are a danger to you should be kept in your life because they are more important than your safety."

If an animal with rabies were threatening your child would you keep it in the house and try to care for it even it kept getting out of the cage and trying to attack your son? Yes the animal might be WONDERFUL underneath the rabies. The rabies is not the animals fault and perhaps, some veteranarians combined with "animal whisperers" and mystical animal healers could reach into the good animal within and heal the disease and then bring the animals behaviors back to healthy. Maybe. someday.

But this sort of mission has no businness occuring in the presence of a child. Ever. When children are involved, sometimes you have to send good people with problems out into the abyss, because ultimately, your kid is counting on you to protect them even if it means giving up on hero missions that are unlikely to pan out anyway.
posted by xarnop at 7:46 AM on May 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I stumbled across this question a little late to get in on the main conversation, but it struck a chord with me and I wanted to share some of my own experience to give you a little more perspective.

I'm writing from my sock puppet account so I can have a little anonymity, although it wouldn't be hard to find my primary account. I joined Metafilter about 4 1/2 years ago when someone asked a question about potentially marrying a woman with a diagnosed mental illness. My wife is mentally ill, and things were going kinda-sorta okayish at the time, so I jumped in with a very encouraging answer about how they could make it work and it would all be fine--an answer I've since thought about a lot and come to regret.

Before we were married, my wife also had some suicidal moments, but I chalked them up to stress and medicine adjustments. I knew that we would have some difficult times together, but I always thought that as long as we were a team we could work through anything. But there came a point when she wasn't just dealing with depressive episodes and a rare suicidal ideation. After about six years of marriage she actively turned against me. Anything I said was twisted to have the most negative possible meaning. Anything I did was somehow seen as a slight to her. Our home was constant chaos--and by then we had a child, and soon one more on the way.

Two years ago we had a nice home and I was making $72,000/year plus benefits, which is very close to the top of the salary scale in my profession. But she began accusing me of physically and emotionally abusing her (when, in reality, it was she who was hitting and berating me). Without my knowledge, she contacted my supervisors and regaled them with her stories about how scared she was of me, and how unsupportive I was. It wasn't too long before they found a reason to get rid of me. Reputation is everything in my chosen field, and the grapevine is extremely effective. When door after door was closed to me for new positions, I began to realize what was going on.

My training was very specialized, and doesn't translate easily to other careers. My wife's accusations essentially ended my vocation. And even if I did find another position, she would likely do the same thing again.

Not long after I lost my job, she took the kids and went to the most aggressive attorney in town with plans to file for divorce and seek full custody. At the time, she was the only one with a job and there were widespread allegations of abuse being leveled against me, and I was deeply afraid that she would win, or that I would bankrupt myself fighting a messy divorce in court. She eventually relented.

That was about a year ago. We couldn't make it on her income, so we were forced to move in with some relatives who had spare room. I'm making $800 a month as an adjunct instructor for a community college, and she just got fired for her erratic job performance, so we soon won't have her income, either. To make matters worse, baby number 3 is going to be born any day now (I suspect she tinkered with the birth control somehow in an effort to hold on to the marriage by bringing another kid into it.) So, at 38 years old, I have a mountain of debt, a formerly good career that I can't return to, soon to be three kids to provide for, and a crazy wife who can turn on me at any moment. I would have divorced her already, but unless I get settled in some kind of new career, I just don't have the resources to do it.

Here's the thing: my decision to marry her was unwise, but at the time, she hadn't done anything to really hurt me. Your fiancee has already begun to affect your career advancement and she's already engaged in abusive actions and potentially very dangerous ones--and in front of your little boy. If you get married, her behavior will only get worse, because she'll feel like you are less likely to leave a wife than a fiancee. Please, learn from my mistakes. Leave her right now while it's still easy, and never look back. I am writing to you from the ruins of what my life used to be. Save yourself and your son before it is too late.
posted by cute little Billy Henderson, age 4 at 1:39 PM on May 7, 2011 [50 favorites]


Just wanted to add. Most commenters above are treating your fiancée, a person, as though she were fungible. I.e. she can be exchanged for someone just as good, just as functional as a wife. They're suggesting you take her now for a kind of test-drive. But she isn't fungible, she's a unique individual. And having said you'd marry her, to say you'd now like to test-drive her may not give you the result you want. That's why I asked if you love her. Because if you do, if you don't go ahead and marry her, you may regret it. She's obviously emotional (and this is nothing to do with being a woman, it's to do with her being her), she's sentimental, and she thought she was going to get married to you. She's apologised for what she did. If you don't now just accept her apology but instead put her through a trial period, she may go along with it, but I'd bet dollars to donuts she'll be looking for a way out: looking for a guy who can cope with her emotions, who won't belittle her, maybe who doesn't have a child for her to cope with, and who makes peace with her when she apologises without testing her out. You may conclude the test-period to your satisfaction, offer to restart the marriage process, and find she says, "No, it's over."
posted by londongeezer at 6:26 AM on May 9, 2011


That's why I asked if you love her. Because if you do, if you don't go ahead and marry her, you may regret it. She's obviously emotional (and this is nothing to do with being a woman, it's to do with her being her), she's sentimental, and she thought she was going to get married to you. ... she'll be looking for a way out: looking for a guy who can cope with her emotions, who won't belittle her, maybe who doesn't have a child for her to cope with, and who makes peace with her when she apologises without testing her out"

Look, you will fall in love with someone new. I don't know what fairy tale londongeezer lives in, but in my world, there are no soul mates, there are no Ms. Rights. Instead, there are piles and piles of people out there, some of whom you will get along with better than others. Choose someone who is a real match and who doesn't go crazy all the time, and you will be happy. It is as simple as that.

Also, don't mistake behavior for emotions. It's slightly immature but understandable for her to feel jealousy, anger, or fear over the love you hold for son, which will hopefully (and should!) always trump your love for her. It's unacceptable for her actions in response to those emotions to include physical aggression.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:47 AM on May 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


But she isn't fungible, she's a unique individual. And having said you'd marry her, to say you'd now like to test-drive her may not give you the result you want. That's why I asked if you love her. Because if you do, if you don't go ahead and marry her, you may regret it...She's apologised for what she did. If you don't now just accept her apology but instead put her through a trial period, she may go along with it, but I'd bet dollars to donuts ...

And if you go ahead and marry her, you may regret it too. The feeling of love and the compatibility of living together in marriage aren't the same thing at all. It's entirely possible to be madly in love with someone and still not be a good match. In fact, you may well regret not marrying her and still be dead certain you made the right decision.

No one is saying that she's fungible and can simply be replaced with a clone who doesn't act in this way, but that doesn't mean that letting the relationship end is the same thing as coldly exchanging her for someone else. It is perfectly legitimate to decide that while there are some great things about being together, there are also certain negatives (e.g. the throwing of knives and suicide threats), and so you break up. You might still miss some of those great things and that's ok, but in the end you've made your decision.

Finally, just because someone has apologized doesn't mean you should always blindly accept their apology and have everything go back to the way it was. That's fine for the small stuff, but eventually there's a limit. There's a difference between "sorry I forgot to pickup the dry cleaning" and "sorry I threw a knife in front of your son and blockaded you in the house." You can forgive her, even understand and empathize with her, and still decide that you don't belong together in the same house.
posted by zachlipton at 12:04 PM on May 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Most commenters above are treating your fiancée, a person, as though she were fungible. I.e. she can be exchanged for someone just as good, just as functional as a wife. They're suggesting you take her now for a kind of test-drive.

I'd say most of us are not suggesting that you take your fiance for a test drive. What most of us are suggesting is that you run far away from her as quickly as possible. It is absolutely true that there's a chance you would never find another woman to marry you. It's extremely unlikely, but I'll admit that it's possible - not everyone finds love, after all. But you should still break things off with her and stop seeing her. Here's why: being single for the rest of your life is better than marrying someone who throws knives when she gets angry and views your son as a rival for her attention. Being single for the rest of your life is better than being married to someone who threatens suicide when she gets upset (the knife thing was so dramatic that I think a lot of us lost sight of that detail). These are deeply troubling behaviors that are extremely unlikely to be confined to this one incident, will be tremendously difficult for you to deal with, and are potentially dangerous for your four year old son.

In a lot of these relationship AskMes, there's an unspoken premise lurking behind the question: that being in a relationship, any relationship, is always better than being single. This is simply not true. OP, from what you've posted here, even if the price you pay for breaking off this engagement is that you never marry again (unlikely but possible), you should still end this relationship.
posted by Ragged Richard at 1:36 PM on May 9, 2011 [13 favorites]


I disagree with londongeezer. I am a woman, I also have bipolar disorder and attendant 'issues', I also get 'needy' and weird and upset, and because my SO lives in a different city at the moment it gets hard to cope with things, however much I want to be able to manage alone. I can understand someone feeling neglected because they feel you spend more time with your job than her - not because I'm in this situation, but because it's hard not to spend time with an SO when you've had a bad day and need someone to tell you funny stories or give advice.

I'd also be really pissed off if someone cancelled my wedding. I'd feel insecure about the future, worried about what to do, and wondering what happens next.

That said, someone who is throwing knives, threatening suicide because things aren't going in the way they would prefer, and involving a child in it is not a healthy person and needs not a wedding, but help, very quickly. Being manipulative is more than being manipulative - it's a sign that someone#s not a very healthy individual upstairs. I think the most caring thing you can do for her is not marry her, but get her some help. Also, lay off the crazy humour - it's not going to help her mental state right now.

Also, your kid will remember this stuff. I still remember my dad pinning my brother to the wall and screaming and spitting in his face about something he did when I was about seven. Once he left home, it was me. Please don't put a child in that situation.
posted by mippy at 4:40 AM on May 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


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