Should I

by Suzanna
(Wake Forest, NC, USA)

I need advice. A little background: I am a 49 year old divorced mother of two (both over 18) in a committed, monogamous relationship with a 57 year old divorced father of three (all daughters and all over 18) We met online in late 2015. We maintain separate homes but spend every weekend together. We are both happy with this arrangement and have no plans to marry or to live together full-time.

Until recently there has been little conflict in our relationship, except for the occasional squabble over his lack of boundaries with his youngest daughter, “Anna”. He loved being the “cool dad” and was always trying to buy his daughter’s love. His (then 17 year old) daughter took full advantage of this. She would get her dad to buy her and her friends booze and he would host drinking parties his house. I quickly put the kabosh on the underage drinking while I was around. Until I came into the picture, his youngest was always able to manipulate her dad because he felt guilty about the divorce and for marrying a full-blown sociopath (ex-wife #2). From what I understand, this particular kid has always been a spoiled brat even before his remarriage.

Fast forward to last February. Things have deteriorated between father & daughter (now 19 and a freshman in college) I should mention that, aside from his permissive parenting style, this man is an otherwise loving and devoted father. The daughter, however, does not seem appreciative of anything he does for her, including buying her a Jeep Grand Cherokee for her 16th birthday and giving her $36,000 for college. She seems to always want more, and if he doesn’t capitulate, she throws a tantrum and/or gives him the cold shoulder.

Two weeks ago, somewhat out of the blue, my boyfriend received an angry voicemail from his daughter telling him she no longer wanted him in her life. My boyfriend is usually a very calm, easy-going type of guy but after the voicemail his demeanor took a sharp turn for the worse. Since then he has been unusually short-tempered and distant with me, picking fights over the the smallest things. I should also mention that he is under tremendous pressure at work.

After a difficult week I decided the best course of action was to give him some space in hopes that things would calm down. To be quite honest, I am happy to see her go. Boyfriend, however, is devastated because she is still his child and he desperately wants her to love him, no matter how obnoxious and spoiled she is.

Boyfriend and I have a camper at a nearby lake where we enjoy spending weekends together during the summer months. I was looking forward to our weekend at the lake as we had not seen each other all last week, nor had we spoken by phone (he was very busy and I didn’t want to put any pressure on him).

We drove to the lake late Friday evening. We were both in a good mood and looking forward to a fun and relaxing weekend. We decided to have a drink and ride our golf cart before going to bed. Boyfriend stopped to chat with some friends. The conversation dragged on a bit too long and I told him that I wanted to go back to the camper. I had already sat there for 45 minutes or so listening to the men talk among themselves and was not enjoying myself. Boyfriend thought I was being unreasonable even though I said I was okay with him going back to shoot the bull with his friends after dropping me off. He said he felt I wasn’t being “supportive” and that I “embarrassed” him and “ruined” his evening. He felt I should have continued to sit there quietly like the other wives/girlfriends were doing.

His mood became very hostile. I think he may have had too much to drink. He drank a few beers with his friends, on top of the mixed drinks we had when we arrived, and we had not eaten anything that day since lunch.

As we were heading
back to the camper, we began to argue. Without warning, my boyfriend pulled the golf cart over and grabbed hold of my head in what I can only describe as a “vise grip”. I yelled, “(boyfriend’s name) please let go, you are hurting me!!” But he did not let go. He just kept squeezing my head harder. Terrified, I hit him upside the head just as hard as I could and I dug my fingernails into his arms until he finally let go. He did not apologize or show any remorse immediately afterwards, instead he made a point to show me all of the injuries that I inflicted upon him (in self-defense) He was bleeding from the side of his face and from his arms.

When I tried to talk to him about what the hell just happened, he got pissed off again and put all the blame on me. I should add that this behavior is TOTALLY out of character for this man. We have since talked things out and he did apologize the next day.

Last night it was as if nothing happened. He was kind and attentive towards me like he was in the beginning of our relationship. So, for the sake of the relationship, I decided to just let it go and continue to be a loving and supportive partner to this man. If I didn’t believe he was a good man, I probably would have ended the relationship over this. I ended a previous relationship due to verbal abuse, and this guy never laid a hand on me.

I truly believe this is an isolated incident brought on by the stress of being “discarded” by his hateful, narcissistic youngest daughter. I would think he would be thrilled that this “child” is out of his life as she has given him nothing but grief and heartache. Instead, he is brokenhearted and taking his heartache out on me, and it’s not fair. I do not deserve to be treated this way.

I should also mention that the day my boyfriend’s daughter told him she no longer wanted him in her life we got into a very heated argument because I felt he was more concerned about his daughter’s feelings than with mine. He literally “threw me under the bus” and blamed me for all the problems he and his daughter were having, saying if I hadn’t “stuck my nose where it didn’t belong” none of this would have ever happened. I accused him of not standing up for me whenever she spoke disrespectfully about me. He said I was the reason for their falling out because I texted her and told her to stop giving her father a hard time. Out of sheer anger and frustration I responded with, “Fuck you!” and took a swipe at him.

He almost hit me back (which I would have deserved at that moment) but instead he grabbed me by my shoulders, looked me right in the eye and said, “Get your stuff and get out”. Devastated by his total lack of concern for my feelings, I apologized and begged him for his forgiveness. After taking some time alone to cool off, we made up later that evening.

I am still deeply ashamed of my behavior because it was so out of character for me. I’ll be honest, I felt threatened by the daughter. I know that she resents my presence in her father’s life and has indicated to him on more than one occasion that she objects to our relationship (I saw her texts) I was afraid he would decide his relationship with his daughter was more important than his relationship with me. It was my fear and insecurity that drove me over the edge.

Do you think this relationship still has a chance, or am I just fooling myself? I’m not getting any younger and it’s hard to find a good man at my age. I don’t want to end up old and alone. Sometimes I think I should just “put up and shut up” because the alternative is a whole lot worse. Then I think to myself, I deserve so much better.

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Relationship and Counseling Forum.

If you would like to receive the Couples Guide Newsletter containing articles on relationships, please sign up below.

Visit  The Relationship Forum  to get and give advice on your relationship issues.

If you're struggling with your relationship, this is the place to talk about it!
Our counselors will answer your questions.
And you, our readers, can offer advice from your experience.

Eugene Kayser, MA, MFT's profile on the Gottman Referral Network