I am semi-engaged to a guy. He proposed and I accepted, but we have not made it official yet, because we are waiting for my parents to come from overseas, where they live.
The problem is that everything always has to be his way. He always has to win a disagreement, whether about something I wear, places to eat, or other things. And if he ever gives in, he gets angry and makes sure that the next time I lose, big time. It’s not that he is always wrong about having his way. Sometimes he is right. But what would be the big deal if he gave in once in a while?
Other than that, he is a really amazing guy. He is cute, smart, funny, makes an excellent living, and also a good learner.
How can I get him to understand that I also need to have things my way sometimes? Do you think that after we get married he will calm down?
By Baila Sebrow
It sounds like you have a real winner of a guy! After all, he always gets his way and wins. And if he ever does find himself in that gracious moment of giving in, then in the future you can expect to be penalized by losing “big time.” It appears that this guy subscribes to the old idea of “my way or the highway.”
For all the other wonderful qualities you rave about, this guy gives the impression of being unreasonably rigid. He seems to enjoy the success of achieving your submission. Not only that, but when it appears that he allows you to get your way, which from what you describe is not too often, he makes sure that you understand who is in charge and in control of this relationship.
From what you are describing, you do not make it too difficult for him either. Perhaps you possess peacemaking tendencies. You might also be the type of person who does not like conflict of any kind, and you therefore avoid getting into any power struggles. Despite the way you praise him, the underlying sentiment conveyed is that you resent this guy’s behavior.
Although you accepted this guy’s proposal with the awareness of how he treats you, do not be afraid to ask yourself the following question: Did you get engaged because this is the type of guy that you had always hoped to marry, or did you perchance not want to turn him down?
It is common that when a girl dates a guy with aspects in his personality that bother her, the fear that she may not find anyone else may cause her to ignore the red flags that are waving in her face. Instead, it becomes natural for her to make excuses for him. Even when others may point out what is obvious bad behavior on the part of the guy, whether in a restaurant or other public area, the girl will still be on the guy’s side. This is frequently seen even amongst intelligent girls. When on a date with a guy who seems on the surface to have all that you are looking for, and who seems to like you as much as you like him, the negative becomes clouded—and in some cases is even viewed as positive.
In one of my workshops, a girl in a relationship similar to yours had expressed that the guy she was dating was always telling her what to wear and what to say and basically wanted everything his way. In her mind she convinced herself that he was behaving in this manner because he really cared about her. That relationship ended when the girl, after much encouragement, began to stand up for herself. Upon seeing that he could no longer control her, the guy broke up with her. She is one of the lucky ones.
There are those who end up marrying a guy like the one you are dating and discover that not only does his behavior become increasingly disturbing, but it is impossible to live with a person who behaves like a dictator.
I understand how you feel in wondering whether there is any remedy to get this guy to understand that at times you to need to have things done your way, or at least to have him compromise. It is not unusual to hope for some way to make a relationship tolerable. However, the answer is no, you will never change his behavior. Do not kid yourself, as others sadly have, that the wedding is a magic potion that finally makes everything OK.
This “amazing” guy appears to have anger-management issues as well. People who are prone to anger have their own set pattern of expectations. In a twisted way, they set up their own justice system. This system comes with a set of rules that only they can make sense of.
These people believe whatever they put into their minds, and those who act out of line, according to their standards, cause them to get angry. One can wonder how these people often hold high positions of employment and have families of their own. It is commonly assumed that controlling and angry people are not liked, and therefore unable to achieve normal roles in life. But as bizarre as it may be, their success is based on intimidation.
Most of the time, these types of people use intimidation tactics. They may threaten or emotionally blackmail people to do their bidding. Some are more clever, and instead will use charm as their way to manipulate others. Mind-boggling for the healthy person, but these people have no shame. Even when they are aware that people dislike them, that still does not change their pattern of behavior. Their main objective is to win against all odds.
In your case, or at least for the time being, I believe this guy is charming you. Yet he is also intimidating you. He is quite astute in recognizing that you are taken by the exterior qualities he possesses. He also believes that you are scared that by not giving in, you may lose him. I am convinced that he senses that weakness and takes advantage of it.
Being human, you too have the need to have it your way at times. You were blessed with an intelligent mind and you have the right to express your opinion. You have the right to not be worried that the guy you marry will leave you because you do not give in to his ways. And even after marriage, a wife should not have to worry about negative consequences in going against the opinion of her husband.
Even though you state that he is not necessarily always wrong, a healthy, non-egotistical guy would allow you equal opportunity to do things your way. It is part of enjoying a healthy relationship.
This guy is not looking for a wife to be his partner in life. He is seeking a victim to call “wife.” Anyone who marries such a person is potentially setting herself up for future abuse. I will not go so far as to accuse him of physical abuse. However, there is no doubt in my mind that this guy, should you choose to marry him, will eventually abuse you emotionally and verbally. And you are currently getting a preview of what is yet to come.
I could recommend that this guy go for therapy. G‑d knows he needs it badly. But I doubt that he will even be open to such a suggestion. On the contrary, he will use his manipulative tactics to somehow convince you that he does not need therapy. By the end of the discussion, he will talk you into believing that it is you who will benefit from therapy most.
Even if there is a slight chance that he would go for counseling, whatever he is dealing with will take years to undo, if it can fully be undone at all. It is a blessing that you have not yet made your engagement public. When your parents arrive, please share everything about this relationship with them. I am certain they will agree that this guy is currently not able to be a good husband to you. I also recommend that you speak to a therapist to help you identify the characteristics of a healthy relationship and how to break free from a dysfunctional one.
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. ϖ
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