I am in a relationship with a woman from another country. We live together now. Sometimes I find her abrupt, but the real problem is that she often talks down to me, making statements such as, “You are stupid” or “You are so retarded”. When I tell her to stop, she persists, which leads to my leaving the house to avoid a verbal fight. I feel very unhappy and unloved. I shared my hurt with a female co-worker of mine, and she expressed her sympathy for my situation and invited me to a concert to cheer me up. Do you think my girlfriend loves me and this is her way of expressing herself? When she is in a good mood, she is quite affectionate and loving. What should I do?
Navigating cultural differences is a key element in the success of inter-cultural relationships. There are some behaviour patterns that are acceptable in one culture that are distasteful in others. In some cultures women are fiercely independent and speak their minds without fear or regard for the feelings of their male counterparts, including their spouses. Could it be that your lady is a product of such culture? If she is, a conversation must take place between you both as to the communication interplay.
Regardless of the cultural norms assimilated from one's country of birth or family of origin, respect and regard for each other's feelings in a relationship must be paramount. There is no place for emotional abuse from either partner, or if it exists, it must be eliminated as soon as it rears its ugly head.
You have indicated how sad and distraught you become when your lady demoralises you to the degree that you leave the space in order to manage your emotions. This can't be healthy for any relationship regardless of cultural background.
When there is tension in a relationship, there is always the opportunity for the “wounded” partner to get emotional support from another member of the opposite sex, which, if not handled properly can lead to an unplanned affair. In other words, there will always be someone out there who will reach out to the vulnerable hurting partner. The motive of the “saviour” may or may not be sincere and so the “wounded” partner must be careful with whom he/she shares their emotional pain and suffering.
Regarding your co-worker, just be mindful of the possibility of you developing an emotional attachment to her which could further complicate matters on the home front.
If it would be problematic to have a face-to face conversation with your lady without it turning into an argument, then suggest to her that you both sit with a counsellor to discuss effective communication and conflict management skills and strategies.
Be hopeful. Do take care and all the best to you both.
Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Check his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MFTCounselor/.