Girl­friend’s low blows may break their bond

The Washington Post Sunday - - E9 - Write to Amy Dick­in­son at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michi­gan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611. © 2011 by the Chicago Tribune Dis­trib­uted by Tribune Me­dia Ser­vices

My girl­friend and I have been to­gether for more than five years. We have grown a lot and got­ten past the im­ma­tu­rity of our early 20s.

We used to fight con­stantly, but nowour fights are so rare that Iwould saywe have a great re­la­tion­ship with great com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

My girl­friend can say some ex­tremely cruel things when she is an­gry. I’mtalk­ing about per­sonal attacks. The gist of them is ba­si­cally thatmy fam­ily doesn’t have any money. Once whenwe were on the verge of a breakup, she calledme“ghetto trash.”

While it’s true thatmy fam­ily isn’twell off, I nev­er­went with­out any­thing I needed and rarely­went with­out things Iwanted. My mother did a great job. I have a good job and no le­gal trou­bles of any kind.

While even­tu­ally I do for­get these fights and for­givemy girl­friend, these re­marks hurt so much thatwhen I’mre­minded I’m left cry­ing and de­pressed. I’mnot ex­actly the most sen­si­tive guy, but I find these com­ments dev­as­tat­ing. Howdo I ad­dress this, Amy?

Kicked Be­low the Belt

Some peo­ple dis­ap­pear into a kind of white-hot trance when they’re an­gry and strike with cru­elty.

But it is never okay to ver­bally abuse or be­lit­tle some­one— and the com­ment your girl­friend made about you is be­lit­tling and mean.

You don’t need to de­scribe and de­fend your fam­ily, tome or to her. In­stead, you should treat this like the se­ri­ous mat­ter it is, talk to your girl­friend about it, and re­ceive a sin­cere and be­liev­able apol­ogy from her.

It’s won­der­ful that you two have a more sta­ble and peace­ful re­la­tion­ship than you used to have, but you need to talk about how to fight fairly.

You should also se­ri­ously con­sider what choice you will make if this hap­pens again. When your girl­friend trashes your fam­ily, she is trash­ing you. If she can’t fig­ure out away to be­have dif­fer­ently, this is a deal­breaker, inmy mind.

The let­ter from “A Hap­pyWife” re­ally got to me. She pines for her fam­ily at hol­i­day times, and I com­pletely un­der­stand.

My fam­ily and I are very close. They live in Aus­tralia and I amin the United States. It is a rare hol­i­day that I spend with them.

I choose to ap­pre­ci­ate the sad­ness and long­ing I feel for them dur­ing hol­i­days, see­ing it as an in­di­ca­tion of just how­muchwe love one an­other.

Howoften do you hear about peo­ple dread­ing go­ing to the fam­ily gath­er­ing?

I feel so lucky that ev­ery event I get to share withmy ex­tended fam­ily is one I truly look for­ward to and en­joy.

Home­sick and Cop­ing

You have em­braced the very thing that makes you sad, and in my mind that’s an emo­tion­ally healthy re­sponse to the wist­ful­ness of the hol­i­day sea­son.

My fam­ily and Iwere talk­ing about NewYear’s res­o­lu­tions. Do peo­ple ever keep them?

The­NewYear’s res­o­lu­tions that last the long­est are mod­est, spe­cific and achiev­able.

Rather than re­solve, “ This year I’mgo­ing to be a bet­ter friend,” you can prom­ise your­self, “ This year I’mgo­ing to reach out to one friend ev­ery day.”

I’d love to hear about read­ers’ res­o­lu­tions.

Won­der­ing

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