Home General Are my past medical problems an excuse for his behavior?

Are my past medical problems an excuse for his behavior?

by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

My domestic partner and I have been together for almost 5 years. Two years ago, I was in a terrible car accident. Since that time, I developed severe anxiety attacks, twice I had to leave work because they became so debilitating and severe that I could not work. For two or three full months I had the sensation that I was living in a kind of dream world, everything was hazy. I had a paralyzing fear that I was going to die almost constantly. I tell people that it was like being forced to be on a drug; I didn’t want to feel that way, but I had no choice in the matter. I’ve never done any type of drugs, and I rarely ever drink. Then one day I just woke up and “snapped out of it.” Since that time, I have developed ways of stopping the anxiety attacks and they are almost nonexistent. I was out of work for about 6 months. I’ve been working full time for seven months and going to school full time with absolutely no problems.
This affected both of us; my partner had to work a lot of overtime just to break even on bills we had to pay. We’d just bought a house, and were soon compiling credit card debt. My partner ended up getting depressed, but claimed that he worked his way out of it.
Early this year my partner began not feeling well. He ended up going on sick leave for 2 months and was diagnosed with an irritable stomach. In the first week he went back to work, he called out sick 75% of that week, and 50% the next week. Within the first month and a half he had gone though half of his vacation time (three weeks). I know for a fact that some of the time he was not feeling well, but a majority of the time he called out because he didn’t want to go to work. I think he has a problem with moderation. If we go out to see a movie and he likes it, he’ll want to go every night for a few nights to see other movies. If we get fast food one day, we’ll have to go back for a few more days. He tends to go to work consistently for 3 weeks to a month, and then he’ll call out multiple times within a week and claim that he’s not feeling well.
He once told me that he has a fear of losing me, and that he want to spend all of his time with me. Coincidentally about 80 percent of the time he calls out just happen to be days I have off from work.
This has put a huge strain on our relationship. He’s the primary breadwinner. Every day he calls out sick only inches us closer to not being able to pay bills. He promises me that things will change, but things are the same. I have to threaten to leave, only then will he take me seriously. I tell him that he’s being lazy and immature; nothing like the man he promised he’d be. I tell him to be responsible and goal-oriented if our relationship has any hope.
He counters that he was always there for me when I needed him, but I feel circumstances are different. I tried as hard as I could to get out of the anxiety and depression. I feel like he’s content to do the bare minimum in order to slide by. He didn’t used to be this way, he used put on a shirt and tie, dress pants and dress shoes to go to work, this morning he put on gym pants, ratty old sneakers, and an old t-shirt. Where did the man I fell in love with go? I’m at the end of my rope.

As a side note, three years ago he bought me an engagement ring. At the time I told him the only thing I wanted was for him to give it to me, my family is very religious and I stressed above all else that I wanted him to give me the ring before we moved in together. He responded by making me wait four years. He claimed he forgot about it, and then he claimed that he wanted it to be special. We fought about this more than anything else. When he finally did get around giving it to me, it was after I threatened to leave him three times. He cleaned the house one day and gave it to me. To me, he put more effort into cleaning the house than he did in asking me to marry him! All after making me wait four years! This will likely always be a point of contention in our relationship. Is there anything that can be done to move on? We’ve been best friends, and we probably always will, but is there even any hope for a long term partnership or marriage?
Any suggestions on anything I’ve stated you would be very much appreciated. Every other answer I’ve been given is “just stay with him” or “just leave him”. I’m willing to do what it takes to repair our once happy relationship.

I’m sorry you went through such a hard time following your accident. It must be a huge relief to feel like yourself again. You’ve presented a complicated picture. Short term: It sounds like the accident traumatized you both. You got anxious. He got depressed. You both worked it through. Good for you.
However, there are longer term issues that are very serious. This relationship is more about a power-struggle than love. He didn’t “make” you wait for four years for your ring. He was willing to put up with you giving him a hard time to show you he wouldn’t be pushed. You were willing to be miserable for four years in order to finally win. You are both repeating the same pattern with the fight about his work. This is not a healthy basis for a marriage. If you really do love each other underneathe it all, please get yourselves a couples counselor. This has been going on too long for you to change it on your own. You need help getting out of this toxic pattern and into a more loving and giving relationship.
I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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