Don’t confuse a partner’s right to autonomy with what is part of a reasonable relational agreement. If your partner continually arrives later than promised for dinner, it is appropriate to insist he keep his word.
If you can, insist your partner keep his word and he continues to disregard you, create effective consequences; the more creative the consequences, the better.
Equally important, let the consequences fit the occasion. For example, with a constantly tardy mate, you might stop taking him into account for your evening plans.
Eat when and where you want, without discussing it with him. When your lover returns home enough times to a cold meal or an empty house, he will probably learn to become timely. Or at least you won’t be held up and disappointed. Whatever you do, make an impression.
One of my clients recently described a yachting trip with her husband. As they prepared to set sail, he taught her to move quickly – by purposely pinning her leg between the dock and their forty-foot sailboat. Despite this voyage into Stephen Kingland, the client wasn’t sure this qualified as abuse.
If you are uncertain, but even suspect, that you are in a seriously abusive relationship, seek professional help immediately.
Just as it is with the toughest prisoners of war, the longer you are victimized, the more difficult it becomes to stand up and break out of it… and the more difficult it becomes even to recognize that you are being abused.
Don’t fool yourself that it will get better by itself, or that if you just did the right thing you can make it stop, or that in some way you deserve to be mistreated. It won’t get better by itself.
There is no doing the right thing – except for leaving. And though your childhood might have conditioned you to be abused, no one deserves it.
Do not collaborate with abuse
1. Make a list of your partner’s behavior that might be considered abusive.
2. Call a help hot-line (it isn’t necessary to give your name) or see a mental health professional and ask for expert opinion about whether the behavior is abusive.
3. If it is, visit a mental health agency or specialist dealing with abuse.