CAROLYN HAX

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Life -

DEAR CAROLYN: I’m a mess. I’ve been with my part­ner for over four years and I’ve been emo­tion­ally abu­sive in the way that I keep break­ing up with her and then get­ting back to­gether just to break up again. I think I’ve done it at least 10 times, start­ing around 8 months in.

Usu­ally she talks me into stay­ing with her, but on at least two oc­ca­sions I’ve changed my mind and asked to be taken back. It’s ter­ri­ble for her self-es­teem. Also, I am re­sent­ful to­ward her. Small things re­ally irk me, like her obsession with child­ish things, and her at-times-poor English.

She is a beau­ti­ful, lov­ing, car­ing, sup­port­ive per­son and we share many in­ter­ests. But I have to stop my­self oc­ca­sion­ally from treat­ing her like a child. I am in my early 30s and she is mid/late 20s. I be­come cold at times and em­bar­rassed by her in pub­lic, which I feel aw­ful about.

She loves me so much – why can’t I just love her back un­con­di­tion­ally, and with the re­spect a per­son de­serves?

Abu­sive Mess

DEAR MESS: When you feel – and there­fore are, for all prac­ti­cal pur­poses – un­able to stop your­self from hurt­ing some­one, then you need to get good ther­a­peu­tic care. I don’t con­sider this open to de­bate. Look up rep­utable ther­a­pists, pick some, call. To­day.

To help the process along, I would like to chal­lenge a cou­ple of as­sump­tions you’ve made:

“She loves me so much.” She has a strong at­tach­ment to you for sure, but what you de­scribe is de­pen­dency. Hers on you, yours on her. Mis­tak­ing that for love is one of the rea­sons you’re on your fourth year of mis­ery to­gether and star­ing hope­lessly at more.

“Why can’t I just love her back?” The “why” doesn’t mat­ter af­ter the “what” of your not lov­ing her. It’s the end of any in­quiry, not the be­gin­ning.

Im­plied through­out is that her en­joy­ing, lov­ing and want­ing you are rea­sons for you to stay. No. Those would be rea­sons for her to stay. Her rea­sons gov­ern her, and your rea­sons gov­ern you, and any over­lap is a bound­ary is­sue.

Good is­sues for ther­apy all, by no co­in­ci­dence – es­pe­cially the last.

DEAR CAROLYN: My hus­band had two kids by his first wife, one with me. Our child, early 30s, is en­gaged to be mar­ried. She has had no con­tact with his older child; none of us has. His se­cond child also only con­tacts Dad when drama oc­curs, maybe one or two times a year, caus­ing up­roar.

Our daugh­ter doesn’t want to in­vite ei­ther half sib­ling to the wed­ding. Dad is push­ing for her to in­vite the se­cond one. I side with my daugh­ter be­cause noth­ing good ever comes from this con­tact.

What say you? She hasn’t had any con­tact with this sib­ling in prob­a­bly two to three years. For what it’s worth, this sib­ling is 15 years older.

Stuck Mom

DEAR STUCK MOM: Your daugh­ter is an adult who can in­vite, or not in­vite, any­one she wants to her wed­ding. Not just a new adult, ei­ther, but a sea­soned one – not that it changes my point.

Her de­ci­sions may come with con­se­quences, but those are for her (and her in­tended) to an­tic­i­pate, ac­cept and ab­sorb.

There­fore, you are not “stuck.”

You are in an ex­cel­lent po­si­tion, though, to re­mind your daugh­ter and hus­band both that she is an adult who can in­vite, or not in­vite, any­one she wants to her wed­ding, and take re­spon­si­bil­ity for any con­se­quences.

Any fur­ther dis­cus­sion of this sib­ling’s in­clu­sion is for your daugh­ter and hus­band to have be­tween them.

If you have his at­ten­tion, though, then I also rec­om­mend rec­om­mend­ing to him that he drop it.

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