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Need advice for differing opinions

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  • #403702
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hi everyone! This is my first time posting here so apologies if it’s not formatted correctly.

    My partner and I have been together for about a year and I’m noticing some differences in our core values. For reference, I’m 23 and he’s 30 and we met via friends. We recently had a disagreement about the hypothetical scenario of having to choose between a mother or a child during a complicated birth. We’re not anywhere close to having children, but I think it’s important for couples to discuss these things before marriage and settling down together. It was hurtful for me to hear him say he would pick the child and that he’d leave someone if the situation occurred more than once. His reasoning is that healthy babies should not be killed over and over, a husband would need a lot of consolation from the wife because his offspring is dead, and you can always find someone new to raise the baby with.

    I understand people can have differing opinions on things but I was shocked to hear he wouldn’t advocate for me in that situation. There was no yelling or name calling but he decided to go home early instead of continuing to spend the rest of our weekend together (we only see each on weekends). I feel he lacked some empathy in the discussion and I envisioned a scenario between us where he’d want ME to console him despite almost dying. I still reached out to him last night to check in and no response yet. Was it in appropriate of me to bring up the topic in the first place?

    Another thing that’s been bothering me is the gap in emotional intelligence and communication skills. I know I’m not perfect although it does feel like I have to teach my boyfriend very basic things, like holding space, articulating his feelings, communicating when he’s upset with me, not running away when there’s problems, etc. I’ve asked him to let me know when things bother him but he prefers to keep it to himself… I’m wondering if anyone can give me any advice on how to work through anything I’ve mentioned.

    #403705
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Miss Pickles:

    Welcome to the forums! Your formatting is fine, as far as I am concerned.

    I think it’s important for couples to discuss these things before marriage and settling down together” – I agree.

    Was it appropriate of me to bring up the topic in the first place?” -I think that it was appropriate for you to bring up the topic because it gives you an opportunity to learn more about your boyfriend.

    We recently had a disagreement about the hypothetical scenario of having to choose between a mother or a child during a complicated birth“- although it is a hypothetical scenario, your boyfriend reacted not to a hypothetical scenario, but to real-life very personal experience, seems to me.

    His answer: “he would pick the child… healthy babies should not be killed over and over, a husband would need a lot of consolation from the wife because his offspring is dead, and you can always find someone new to raise the baby with“. His behavior after his answer: “he decided to go home early instead of continuing to spend the rest of our weekend together“.

    Here is a possible explanation to his answer and behavior that followed:  he identified with the baby (and with the husband) in the scenario, and saw his own mother as the mother/ wife in the scenario. He carries hurt and anger at his mother for… emotionally killing him over and over, and for not giving him the emotional support and consolation that he needed.

    What do you think about this possible explanation?

    anita

    #403706
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hi Anita! Thank you for your response. I agree that he may have also identified with the scenario, although in a different way than imagined. I’m frustrated his responses to me were so cold towards me and he’s treating me as though I did something wrong. Still no response. I’m upset he wouldn’t advocate for me in this situation and I doubt he’ll change his opinion. Was it wrong for me to bring up?

    #403707
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Miss Pickles:

    I don’t think that it was wrong for you to have brought it up because you were not able at the time to predict his reaction. Now you know that you hit a sensitive spot, an overly-sensitive spot, so when you are back to talking with him, be careful about bringing it up.

    his responses to me were so clod..  he’s treating me as though I did something wrong“- he is angry because someone did him wrong. You are saying that it is not his mother who did him wrong?

    anita

    #403708
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hi Anita,

    He grew up in a single parent household and was often neglected. As a result, he’s a very hyper-independent and successful adult. In our disagreement, we also discussed what our idea of a healthy family structure looks like and he was visibly upset by my response, although I’m not sure why because I’ve said this multiple times before. I believe a strong marriage/partnership is the foundation to a healthy family dynamic. I don’t think everyone needs to be married or coupled to have a healthy family dynamic but I personally would prefer to have a solid marriage prior to. Part of this is due to the baby mama/baby daddy culture in the area we live in and I don’t want to be a part of it, it’s very stressful. I also think it’s easier to be partnered and raise children, I don’t want to do it by myself. He just responded, “So, you’re saying it’s unacceptable for people to have healthy family dynamics without two parents?” That’s not at all what I said, but maybe he was offended because he comes from a single parent household.

    He also said he was confused by the word partner and asked for a definition. I defined a partner as a spouse or long term/serious boyfriend. He said he’ll still be confused if someone brings up having a partner instead of a spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend and will want them to clarify. I don’t know if he seriously didn’t know what the word partner meant or if he was just nitpicking my words. He has admitted he needs to work on communication, but I feel that I’m having to hold his hand too much also in terms of holding space, helping him articulate his feelings, communicate when he’s upset with me, being direct, etc. I’m also a bit younger than him so his behavior is disappointing. I haven’t heard from him since he left my place yesterday. Should I avoid reaching out again?

    #403709
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    To answer your question, I don’t know he feels resentment towards his mother but I do know he does for his father who was never around. He says he understands his mother was more hands-off in parenting and just says he hopes not to do the same. From how he describes her, she’s was always very nice but not very present either in his childhood.

    #403710
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Miss Pickles:

    I’ve said this multiple times before. I believe a strong marriage/partnership is the foundation to a healthy family dynamic… He also said he was confused by the word partner and asked for a definition… I feel that I’m having to hold his hand too much also in terms of holding space, helping him articulate his feelings, communicate when he’s upset with me, being direct, etc. I’m also a bit younger than him so his behavior is disappointing“-

    -I think that you should make some changes if you want to greatly improve your communication with him: (1) Use simpler, casual language style, not the academic essay style, (2) Remove the word “partner” and use girlfriend or spouse instead; use words that he is comfortable with, (3) I think that your feeling of superiority over him- of being like a mature mother figure having to hold his child hand and teach him basics- probably shows and turns him off. I figure better you make an attitude change in this regard and communicate with him like an equal.

    I haven’t heard from him since he left my place yesterday. Should I avoid reaching out again?“- if you reach out to him do it using simple, casual, non-academic language style, talking to him like an equal, two equal adults. Does this make sense to you?

    anita

     

    #403711
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hi Anita,

    I asked him yesterday if he preferred I called him my boyfriend and he said he didn’t care. I’ll consider just using the word boyfriend from now on instead of partner. My language may be coming across as more academic as I’m writing on a forum, I’m usually a much more casual in my language!

    I do want to provide context for why I feel like I’ve had to teach him certain things. Some things I’ve had to explain were to ask my day and my interests (not just talk about his), be considerate in planning (not cancel on me at the last minute multiple weekends in a row), to communicate when he’s upset (instead of ignoring me until I beg to know what happened), to apologize when he’s at fault (I tend to over-apologize and am generally the first to say sorry), etc. These type of things have made me feel like I am begging for his attention and that I have to teach him to be nice to me. He says he is serious about me but he’s not great at showing it lately.

    #403712
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    I just checked my phone and he replied in a friend group chat but still hasn’t responded to me. He has the time to engage with them and not me 🙁

    #403713
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Miss Pickles:

    My language may be coming across as more academic as I’m writing on a forum, I’m usually a much more casual in my language!“-

    -you wrote earlier: ” I’ve said this multiple times (to him) I believe a strong marriage/partnership is the foundation to a healthy family dynamic…. I personally would prefer to have a solid marriage prior to“- can you tell me how you said the italicized casually to him?

    Some things I’ve had to explain were… be considerate in planning (not cancel on me at the last minute multiple weekends in a row), to communicate when he’s upset (instead of ignoring me until I beg to know what happened)” – I am sorry to read this… what a shame. Any improvement at all on his part, following you explaining these things to him?

    I just checked my phone and he replied in a friend group chat but still hasn’t responded to me. He has the time to engage with them and not me“- this is congruent with him ignoring you when he is upset until you reach out to him, begging to know what happened (above), isn’t it?

    I’ll be away from the computer for an hour and a bit, hoping to read from you when I am back and reply.

    anita

     

    #403714
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hi Anita,

    I really appreciate you writing to me and helping me navigate this situation despite being under no obligation to. It’s been helpful to have someone else look at the situation so thank you.

    He asked me to define a “healthy family” and I said: “I think that strong marriages are the foundation of healthy families. It’s easier to raise kids if your wife is on the same team as you. It’s possible to have healthy family relationships without parents being married or even together but I want to be married for awhile before having kids. I want to make sure my husband and I know how to support each other and work through problems before having kids. I also don’t want to be a single mom because I see it around me a lot and it looks really hard. I’m scared of raising kids by myself and that is really really common in [our city] with girls my age. That’s why I want to be married first and take my time before having kids.”

    He has been better about not canceling on me last minute. He shared that he needs a lot of alone time and we brainstormed some solutions to help him manage his alone time while still prioritizing our relationship. His alone time has nothing to do with me and even his friends say he’s always been like this, but I explained it’s difficult for me to rearrange my schedule around his and not have a single hangout guaranteed in any given week. Once I started making my own plans without working around his schedule, he stopped canceling on me and started respecting my time more. He’s still not good at saying when he’s mad about something and often times he doesn’t know how he feels when I ask how he’s doing. He said once he gets annoyed when I ask how he feels so I stopped… but it feels kinda weird to me not to do that as his girlfriend.

    And yes, he is ignoring me again. I think this time I’ve decided not to reach out again. If he wants to sulk I’ll let him because I don’t really have the energy to chase him right now.

    #403715
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Miss Pickles:

    You are welcome, and thank you for your kind words. I think that you explained to him your position about marriage and children very well. (I agree with all that you expressed to him).

    I re-read your previous posts. Regarding his reply to your hypothetical scenario, he said: “a husband would need a lot of consolation from the wife because his offspring is dead, and you can always find someone new to raise the baby with” – sounds like he feels that (1) a woman is an incubator: an enclosed apparatus providing a controlled environment for the care and protection of HIS offspring, and (2) women in a man’s life are replaceable.

    “He grew up in a single parent household and was often neglected… he does (feel resentment) for his father who was never around. He says he understands his mother was more hands-off in parenting and just says he hopes not to do the same… she’s was always very nice but not very present either in his childhood”, “As a result, he’s a very hyper-independent and successful adult”-

    – he expressed resentment (an emotion that has been described as a mixture of disappointment, disgust, anger and fear) for his father, but I sense that he feels resentment for his mother as well, maybe more than for his father. Possibly, he feels comfortable expressing resentment for his father because his father was never around, but he feels uncomfortable/ guilty to express resentment (although feeling it) toward his mother because she was “always very nice” when she was around.

    His resolution (probably made early on) to be “hyper-independent” reads to me like him saying to his mother something like: you weren’t there for me when I depended on you, but that’s okay because I don’t need you! I am super-hyper independent!

    “Some things I’ve had to explain… to communicate when he’s upset (instead of ignoring me until I beg to know what happened), to apologize when he’s at fault (I tend to over-apologize and am generally the first to say sorry).. And yes, he is ignoring me again. I think this time I’ve decided not to reach out again… I don’t really have the energy to chase him right now.“- when he is angry at you, he ignores you and waits for you to reach out to him, to chase him, to beg him, to apologize to him: reads like he is repeatedly and habitually punishing you with silent treatment/withdrawal.

    He shared that he needs a lot of alone time… his friends say he’s always been like this… Once I started making my own plans without working around his schedule, he stopped canceling on me and started respecting my time more” – (1) people who need a lot of alone time need it because being around people distresses them too much, (2) cancelling plans with you and insisting on his alone time could also be a form of punishing you, punishing his mother perhaps through you, (3) reads like he needs you on one hand, and needs to be away from you, on the other, an ongoing conflict within him.

    “He’s still not good at saying when he’s mad about something and often times he doesn’t know how he feels when I ask how he’s doing. He said once he gets annoyed when I ask how he feels so I stopped”- he gets angry around people, angry when people ask him how he is feeling, when people use the wrong word (in his mind) like “partner”, when people express positions he disagrees with. When he is alone, he is protected from feeling distress (mad, annoyed, resentful, etc.).

    anita

    #403716
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hi Anita,

    I do agree it sounds like he thinks women are incubators. I don’t know if this is how he truly feels as sometimes he likes to play devil’s advocate with me and double down on things that don’t affect him… either way, it’s not great for us to have this incompatibility nor for him to be contrarian with me. I’m hoping giving him space will allow him to express more clearly when/if he reaches out again. It’s been a full day and still haven’t heard from him.

    He does withdraw pretty often and I’ve pointed it to him, although very gently. Each time, he says he needs his space and he’ll be okay but won’t always say what it is that’s bothering him.

    I’m feeling really hurt right now and I don’t know what to do. I thought he cared for me and he is ignoring me after expressing some very misogynistic opinions… this is so backwards. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the situation all day and I probably won’t be able to see him until next weekend. I feel stupid for not knowing this sooner. What should I do?

    #403717
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Miss Pickles:

    You read like an intelligent and exceptionally mature woman, especially for a 23 year old, and it also reads to me that you have a good heart. I feel sad that in spite of these good qualities you are hurting right now and that you’ve been in this less than satisfactory relationship for a year.

    What should I do?“- you know that it would be easy for me to tell you what I think you should do, but you are the one with the emotional attachment to him, so it can’t be easy for you. Here is what I think nonetheless: his pattern of punishing you by disappearing when he feels angry at you is hurting you,  and it is unfair to you. Every time  you reach out to him/ chase him, apologize to him following a disappearance- you encourage him to continue his dishonestly manipulative and hurtful behavior.

    Imagine you having children with him and he punishes them too every time he gets angry by emotionally withdrawing from them or disappearing altogether- he will be hurting and harming your children!

    I am guessing that if you don’t reach out to him, he will eventually contact you, but he will continue the pattern because it is his habit by now. I wouldn’t like you to torture yourself not contacting him, only for him to contact you in a week and next thing you know, it all happens all over again. Breaking up with him comes to mind.. is it too extreme? What do you think?

    anita

    #403718
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Miss Pickles:

    I will be going to bed soon and be back in about 10 hours from now. I wanted to say: it is your choice of course, what you do next and whether or not you post here again. When I asked you about breaking up with him, I was thinking about the easiest solution to a problem. It is not something I suggested that you do but something that crossed my mind. I bet it crossed your mind too. Better take some time to think further and make an intelligent, wise plan. There is no reason for an intelligent wise woman to make an exception to her intelligence and wisdom when it comes to romantic relationships.

    anita

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