Other columnist thinks explosive boyfriend can learn to control his fuse. Think again.
My boyfriend of ten years, with whom I’ve been living for two, has always struggled with depression, anxiety and anger. He occasionally explodes and throws things and punches or kicks inanimate objects.
I know this is serious, especially after he recently threw a potted plant across the room when I “disturbed his process” while he was making dinner. After this outburst, he set an appointment with a therapist and promises he will stop drinking. Still, while family and friends agree that underneath he’s a good guy, they tell me to leave him.
I don’t want to give up on him, especially now that he’s seeking treatment. Am I an idiot for not walking away?
Wants to stay
Other columnists might suggest that you focus on you rather than trying to save him. However, now that your boyfriend is seeking help, they’d tell you to visit the therapist together and ask the therapist whether it would be better to live apart while he works on his “issues.” Such other columnists miss the underlying problem.
The promise to “stop drinking” is key. If drinking can be connected to the awful misbehaviors some of the time, drinking must be assumed to be the root cause of all the other issues. Every story of recovery includes an ultimatum, a credible threat of consequences. If you want a future with this man, who is no doubt a wonderful guy deep down as everyone says, you must provide that ultimatum. Note that it may or may not work, and certainly won’t if he doesn’t think you will follow through. You must tell him he needs not a therapist, but AA or another treatment for alcoholism (AA is by far the cheapest). If you stay with him, tell him up front you reserve the right to test his blood alcohol level at any time (breathalyzers run an inexpensive $25 or so) and do random other-drug tests using test kits any pharmacy can provide (at about $30 each). Should he fail, for any reason whatsoever, you leave. That doesn’t mean the relationship ends, however. After being with him for ten years, this could be a process in which he slowly realizes you will no longer enable. Hopefully, his love for you will prove greater than his love for the drug, as was the case for Paul Weller, whose classic story is briefly recounted above, under “disenabler of the month.”
(Source for story idea: “Dear Abby,” April 20, 2015.)