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My boyfriend and I bring out the worst in each other. What can we do?

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Hi Mark,

I purchased five of your programs last night and I am determined and praying hard that they will work well on and for me. Mark, I need your help, I feel lost.

My partner and I bring out the worst in each other over small issues, such as if I was to ask him to help me put the laptop away after using it or if my daughter innocently corrected him on something (I addressed that and told my kid not to), he would get mad. He feels that I do not treat him with respect and our conversation would normally end up in a name-calling fight.

I don’t like this; this is not how things should be. We call each other names and put each other down. It’s sad. We feel sad. Over the past two and a half years, I have slapped my boyfriend twice, pushed him, and even threw a book at him. I am not proud of my actions and, just for the record, never had I been physical like that with my exes.

I need help. We need help. I read your site and found that my boyfriend seems to be suffering from self-esteem issues. And I need to figure out exactly what sort of therapy/counselling I need. Please help, thanks for listening.

This question was submitted by 'Shirley'

mark tyrrell

Mark says...

Hello Shirley and thank you for writing in.

It sounds as if your relationship has become more competitive than reciprocal, more of a struggle than a boon to you and your boyfriend's health, self-esteem, and happiness. Relationships, when they work well, help us feel strong, cared for, and caring. There is a sense of personal and joint growth and development through time.

You have been physically abusive to him in the past and, of course, you are not proud of that, but that was not normal for you, had never happened before. You don't mention in your message whether you actually feel you and he are compatible, whether the relationship has ever worked well, or why you are together. You mention possible therapy for self-esteem issues.

The question here, I think, is were there pre-existing self-esteem issues before you got together or is something about the two of you together damaging both of your self-esteem? If you haven't already, I suggest you read this article: 'Do Your Relationships Damage Your Self-Esteem? (And what to do about it)'.

I think you could also do well to not just read, but actually work together to put into action the strategies in this article: 'Stop Arguing Your Relationships to Death'. And also work together to bring intimacy and respect back into your relationship: 'Increase Emotional Intimacy in Relationships'.

A good therapist shouldn't just look for causes or reasons as to why things went wrong, but actively encourage both of you to follow the kinds of steps outlined in these articles. It only takes one person to stop an argument. So, the person most motivated to change may need to change so that the other person has to change, if that makes sense.

Keep listening to the downloads as, at the very least, they will help introduce calm and emotional choice back into your relationship.

All best wishes,

Mark

watch icon Published by Mark Tyrrell - November 26th, 2014 in

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