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My Boyfriend is Putting his Family First
December 29, 2011 Ask Dr. Love Advice Column
I have been with my boyfriend for the past 10 yrs and we are now leaving together. The only problem is he does not trustMutual trust is a shared belief that you can depend on each other to achieve a common purpose. More comprehensively trust defined as "the willingness of a party (trustor) to be vulnerable to the...(Click for full definition.) me at all. I dont ask him for anything at the end of the month regarding money matters but every month he gives his savings to his sister to put in the bank rather than doing it himself and this tends to offend me as his family is aware of his family matters whereas im left in the dark. I do not want to take charge of his money but he needs to keep his family out of his financial matters and be more responsible. When i try to talk to him about this he gets all defensive and says that i am jealous. Am i overeacting or does he need to change his attitude?
V.C Needs some advice
I notice that you wrote we are “leaving” together. You didn’t type the word: living. In fact that Freudian slip says a great deal. Do you wish to leave him? Do you feel that he’s leaving you?
The bottom line is the more you try to get him to change his attitude the more he digs his heels and resists. Now you’re in a power struggle.
What you need to do is let go of the rope. Stop trying to change his attitude and behavior. Instead, what you want to do is open the door to true intimacy and communication. When this happens, the power struggle will vaporize.
Let’s look at your situation from a wider angle. Actions are communications of thoughts and feelings. The problem for most couples is that they get caught up arguing over the other person’s behavior, rather than understand what thoughts and feelings are being communicated by the behavior. When you speak from the heart and truly understand each other, adjustments happen naturally.
You both are emotional strangers to each other. You don’t understand why he’s doing what he’s doing with the deposits and he doesn’t understand why you object.
Let’s break this down. Keeping his money separate is a way for him to keep one foot out the door. He’s always symbolically leaving you (hence your Freudian slip!). What feeling is beneath this action? Is he scared to be too close? Is he afraid of committing fully to you? How does this connect to his history? Did his mother swallow him up? Control him? You get the idea. You want to understand what’s in his heart and soul. If he feels that you truly want to understand him (not twist his arm and change him) he will feel closer and more bonded to you.
Now as for you…What are your true feelings regarding the way he handles his money? Do you feel hurt? Do you feel left? Do you feel unloved? How does this issue connect to your history? Did you feel a parent favored another sibling over you? Realize that this issue with him is merely a trigger. To the unconscious mind, money generally symbolizes love. His keeping his money separate has ripped off the scab of a much earlier and deeper wound in which you didn’t feel properly loved and fed. It is this wound that needs to be identified and healed. When you heal the original wound, you will be able to be cooler with him, which will further help your discussions progress more constructively.
Your power struggle is a smokescreen for each of your wounds. Using a technique that I created called “Stripping Away the Content of Your Fight,” I show you how to identify the real wound that underlies the overt fight you’re having. I outline this technique in my book Till Death Do Us Part (Unless I Kill You First): A Step-By-Step Guide for Resolving Relationship Conflict.
Over my 30-year career, my method has brought healing to thousands of couples. It’s very simple. Unhealed childhood wounds cause all chronic relationship arguments. Since our wounds were caused by our relationships, the best way to heal these wounds is in our relationships. My method shows you how to work together to help each other heal. Since your wounds are complementary, like two perfectly fitting puzzle pieces, when one heals, the other heals.
Helping each other identify and heal the original wounds will have the effect of magically vaporizing the power struggle. You will also be amazed at how much closer you become.
"If anger and fighting are ruining your dream of a happy marriage, Dr. Turndorf’s conflict resolution program is for you."
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Author of NY Times #1 bestseller Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus
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Pulitzer Prize winning author and Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School
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