My boyfriend for the last few years has been behaving very badly. He gets angry over every small issue and he is over possessive. I know he loves me a lot. He is totally different when he is not angry. His family background is not very healthy, and his parents did not treat him well. His childhood was not good and he witnessed lots of domestic violence in his home. We have been together for the past five years and want to get married soon. He is not working and is very frustrated which results in aggression towards me. I am very concerned about him and the future of the relationship. I am hurting deeply as well. Please help.
It is not uncommon for people who are undergoing stressful periods in their lives to lose their cool and snap at everything and everybody and behave in ways that are uncharacteristic.
Your boyfriend is jobless which no doubts affects his self-esteem and sense of manhood. Some men become quite depressed and withdrawn while others resort to violence to maintain power and soothe their bruised egos. It appears your boyfriend is in the latter group.
Although he may have witnessed domestic violence in his family of origin, this is no excuse for him to display aggression towards you. This is a learned behaviour which he can unlearn if he chooses to. A “real” man who is mentally and emotionally stable would sit with his partner, calmly and rationally talk about his feelings, and together they would work through the issues. Turning your frustration on your partner is a sign of immaturity and insecurity.
It is obviously difficult for you to see your man in this hostile state, but you should not accept as okay him using you as his target. He needs to learn more appropriate ways to manage his anger.
Sit with your man and assure him that you will stand with him during the rough patches that he is experiencing and that he does not have to worry that you are going to walk out on him. His over possessiveness and controlling behaviour are all because he believes he will eventually lose you to someone who is more financially stable.
Try your best not to put undue pressure on him particularly if he is earnestly seeking employment or wants to start a business. Be patient and do not intimidate or humiliate him. Of course, if he is making no effort to do something productive, then he must be made to understand that you will not tolerate laziness and lack of ambition.
This is a good way of knowing how he will deal with the “valley” experiences that will come in marriage. Is it that he will attack you instead of treating with the problem at hand? Will you be the sponge to soak up his frustrations? Certainly, this would be emotionally and physically draining for you and result in a threat to your mental health.
It is recommended that you and your boyfriend sit with a counsellor and talk through the challenges and if necessary he should engage in anger management counselling. Take care.
Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to a firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com . Check out his work on www.seekingshalom.org and his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MFTCounselor/ .