You've seen celebrity clinical psychologist Dr. Sherry Blake, author of The Single Married Woman: True Stories of Why Women Feel All Alone in Their Marriages, keep the Braxton sisters calm on the hit show Braxton Family Values. Now it's your turn to sit in her chair...
Q: “My boyfriend and I have dated for three years. He is a good provider and a loving father to my daughter and there is no doubt in my mind that he loves me, and I love him with all my heart. But my biggest problem with him is that when we have a disagreement he reminds me of all the things that he has done for me and my child. As long as I put up with his mental abuse, everything is OK, but to me abuse is abuse and no one should put up with it no matter what the situation is. I work, and I took care of my child and my household long before I met him, so it's not like I am home doing nothing. Recently I got tired of it and called the relationship off, but now he wants to continue to be a part of my daughter’s life, which is OK with me, but I have reservations. I need your advice. Please help!” — Anonymous
A: You are right! Abuse is abuse, regardless of whether it is physical, verbal or emotional. No one deserves to be abused. Many times, people think that if there are no scars, there is no abuse. Actually, verbal and emotional abuse can be more damaging than physical abuse. In your case, it sounds as if your boyfriend may be both emotionally and verbally abusive. You say that his abuse becomes apparent when you have a disagreement. I have to wonder whether or not you have a communication problem with your boyfriend, and because of it, he lashes out verbally in anger. That may be somewhat different than abuse. You must make sure when you use words like “abuse,” there is actually an ongoing pattern of behaviors to support it. If he is indeed abusive, you must ask yourself why it has taken you this long to leave.
It is wonderful that he is a good provider and a loving father to your daughter, but at what cost? The fact that you have decided to end the relationship suggests that it may not be worth the cost. Given that you stated that you loved him, and there is no doubt in your mind that he loves you, you may want to consider seeking couple’s psychotherapy. It may be worth trying to work through issues in order to see if the relationship is worth saving. Your boyfriend sounds committed to your daughter. This may be a positive because the issues are between the two of you rather than between him and your daughter. I would suggest that you have an honest conversation with him regarding his involvement with your daughter. I would also recommend that you monitor his relationship with your daughter to make sure there are no abusive traits apparent. — Dr. Sherry
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