I'm not an emotional punch bag. Or am I?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-03-2010
I'm not an emotional punch bag. Or am I?
11
Tue, 11-20-2012 - 8:04am

[Some background]

My girlfriend (32) and I (36) have been together for three years now, having met when I came to Germany for work. We moved in together a year ago and I'm very happy to stay here and settle down.

She has a child of eleven from a previous relationship that turned sour. Thankfully, she's on good terms with her sons father, so her son gets to spend most weekends with his Dad, and one night a week too. It's all nice and amicable. Her son has accepted me; we get on really well. I love him to bits and it seems like he loves me to bits too.

About six months ago my girlfriend decided she wanted to improve herself with some home study. The topics are pretty varied: Physics, Maths, History, English and German (e.g. Grammar). When she began her studies she worked in a kindergarten on a morning and a youth club on an afternoon. She soon realised she didn't get enough time to study. I had no problem helping here and supported her so she quit the kindergarten job. This meant she could study on a morning, in addition to the hour or so on an evening when her son has gone to bed. She still works in the youth centre, from 4pm to 7pm. I took over paying the rent completely to counter for the loss of her kindergarten job.

I help out as much as I can. I get up with her at 0630 and help prepare the breakfast. I leave for work at 0730 and work my eight hours plus lunch so I can return home as soon as possible to clean around and get some dinner ready. At 1850 I cycle the ten minutes to her work and meet her because she likes cycling home together. We get home, have dinner, and clean up. Then she makes sure her son is ready for the next days school, has done his homework, puts him to bed, massages his feet, reads to him, and sings a bed time song. Some evenings I help him with his English and Vocabulary. By the time my girlfriend is ready it's getting late (around 2145-2200) but she starts studying. I'm always there to help if she needs me and try my best to support her. If she doesn't need me, I make sure the ironing is done, get the next batch of washing on and take care of any tasks that need doing (e.g. fridge cleaning, floor cleaning, etc). Once these are done, I then settle down in front of the computer and have a blast on a game or read the news. Of course, I don't get that much time for a game, if at all as there's so much to do and I'm usually very tired after the days events. But it happens occasionally. :) I don't go to bed until she is ready too. She doesn't like me going to bed without her.

[The Problem]

Despite my being English and having a decent enough command of my native language I'm not able to help my girlfriend as much as she would like. When she wants me to sit with her and go through vocabulary, I'm there immediately. But... I just can't explain some of the deeper concepts of grammer. It confuses me. I need to do a course first too! I'd love to help her more but it's very difficult. I try though. I search around on wikipedia and google. It's almost impossible to help her with German grammar until I learn the language more myself.

What's bothering me is this: When she gets frustrated with her course (which is often!), when she feels like she can't do it (which is often!), she takes it out on me in quite a nasty way. She starts shouting at me and accusing me of enjoying her suffering. She tells me that I "don't want her to progress", that I'm "happy for her to struggle". I try to sympathise with her, to empathise, to listen but also I try to defend myself a little and ask her why she feels that way because there is no part of me that enjoys her suffering or wants her to fail/struggle. Quite the opposite!

This morning I phoned her up. Our brief daily calls are nice and something she wants. She oftens mentions to me not to forget calling her. When I called I could tell from her abrupt answer, and tone, that she was angry. I knew immediately that it was the german grammar giving her a headache. Walking on egg shells, I asked her "how are things going?" (in a sympathetic tone) only to receive a torrent of abuse and claims that I'm "laughing at her problems", and  "not giving her enough help". That I "don't want to help her". She was shouting. Then she hung up on me. I've had this happen in the past and have always called her back. But today, I have had enough. I'm not going to call back like some puppy that's been kicked, running back to master for love and reassurance. This situation leaves a bitter taste in my mouth considering all that I do. And that's the point really: considering all that I do, how I support her financially, emotionally, and so on, why do I deserve to be treated like this? I understand she's frustrated but I don't agree with how she handles it!

I hope someone can offer some advice, support and perhaps a little sympathy because this can't go on. I'm not a punch bag. I'm not a dog to kick when times are hard. I deserve better.

Hope someone can help.

M :)

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-03-2010
Thu, 12-13-2012 - 11:51am

Thanks for all the comments. Things came to head last week after my parents visited. I hardly see them as I live in Gemany and they live in England.  Even so, the one night when I couldn't ride to her work to ride back with her (because i was cooking a lentil soup and cleaning the rabbits and waiting in for my parents and had a puncture) resulted in a big fight because I had promised we'd spend some time together. The fact is, I didn't have the time to go, gave her plenty of warning, couldn't exactly leave my parents in the cold, and had a puncture so would have had to walk for about 30 mins there and 30 minutes back.

Despite this, she gave me such a hard time and was pretty nasty to me about it all. In the end she started threatening the end of the relationship which has become a real constant over the last year.

So.. on Thursday morning of last week, the night after she had made this threat (including "when can you move out?, can you do it tomorow?") and then she decided to spend the night at a female friends house, i decided i couldn't take enough of this. A few friends mentioned a web site which is about emotional abuse in a relationship. It sounds like a pretty classic case. I gathered my things and moved out. Now I'm dealing with the relationship meltdown. Fingers crossed. I love this girl so much and miss her. But I feel like I was mistreated and can't take it. Such a shame. Ironically, she's now telling me she didn't mean all this stuff about me going and wants me to come back. But I have to let this go. :(

There were some wonderful times in the relationship. We had a connection. But the bad times, the anger, jealousy, controlling, isolation from friends/family, isolation from going out, pressure to run around after her, walking on egg shells, just became to much. In the end I thought of her as a kind of Jekyll and Hide. I tried my hardest to nurture the Jekyll and lived in fear of the Hyde. I read somewhere about unconditional love, and giving love even if your partner is horrible to you. But I can't do it. I can't live like that. I think there's only so far that unconditional love can take you. You can't unconditionally love someone who treats you this way? Surely.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-09-2008

Sounds like she's got herself overwhelmed and is too anxious to figure out what to do.  If she's taking out her frustration on you, that's not fair.  I will tell you I remember from Psych 101 that people often "take it out" on the person they think will stick by them the most, no matter what - maybe for her that's you.  Doesn't make it right, of course.  It sounds like you are doing all you can to be helpful, and that's what solid couples do.  But I hear her taking you for granted, too, and many of us on these boards share getting really weary of THAT.  If she is overdoing it, it's up to HER to decide if she wants things to continue like that or maybe she simply needs to back off and take her classwork more slowly - she'll still get there, it just could take longer - a LOT of folks have to do it like that.  The language problems are not YOUR problems, it's up to her to get assistance with that if she needs it.  She also needs to hear that this is making you feel like nothing - I'll bet the bank down deep she feels like #$*$&^# for treating you as she's doing too often, it sounds like you are trying really hard to make things work.  Lots of us have been thru the college thing, doing our best being supportive or even the breadwinner while our partner is taking all those classes, and it really does get testy at times.  But if you really are feeling beaten up on,  something has to give.  And you both need to have more fun than you're having, no matter how busy things are.  Nothing better than laughing together. 

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-22-2012
Completely agree with Mav33 on this -- it's time to take a stand and stop letting her march all over you.
Avatar for xxxs
Community Leader
Registered: 01-25-2010

  I am a bit confused.  You mentioned language problems.  Are you a native English speaker from ?  is she a native English speaker?    Is the language you are having problems with German?  Those communication problems are many times frustrating.  If it is German language that is the problem the a class for non native German speakers is warranted.  There are non translatable concepts in German. 

   IMO would say her "studying" is avoidance behavior.  This needs to be addressed. 

Goldfish

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-05-2006
Wed, 11-21-2012 - 1:16pm

All true SS and the flip side of that coin is maybe she feels that she does not deserve him (ie. he could do better) if she is not giving enough back. Hence, she is afraid of losing him so she rejects the help via the attitude since he is the one 'attacking' the balance in the relationship.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-04-2006
I learned the hard way that the surest way to guarantee someone you're involved with will treat you disrespectfully is to "do soooo much" for them. When you bend over backwards and twist yourself into a pretzel to do things they like, to do things they way they want them done, to do things because they want you to, what that teaches them is that you'll do anything, anything at all to keep them. They learn that you are fearful of losing them, and therefore they can do whatever they want, say whatever they want, and you will just accept it. You'll never leave and never stand up for yourself and they know it. And if they do decide to treat you badly, it's going to be you, not them, who comes forward to apologize and make peace because you fear losing them. Now, you may be doing all these nice things because you love her and you're a genuinely nice guy, but deep down inside I bet you are afraid of losing her. Maybe she's extremely attractive and has lots of men interested in her, maybe you've had a failed relationship with someone who tore your heart out, or maybe someone you used to be involved with told you you're selfish and don't do enough. I don't know, but I bet there's that little voice inside your head that tells you that you absolutely must do whatever she wants in order to keep her. Maybe you tell yourself that you LIKE to do all these things for her, but the basis of that thought process is usually fear. Fear of being alone, fear of being abandoned or rejected, whatever. I've found that men ( and people in general) respect me a lot more when I don't go to extremes to do things for them. I can be myself and have an equal relationship and you know what? That works a lot better than my former method of "do whatever he wants so he'll stay around". My ex, who I used to cater to and who dumped me anyway, is now living with a woman who doesn't do a thing for him. And he's devoted to her. So yeah, I learned from that. So I suggest you stop all the catering to her and certainly let her know that you won't accept her verbal abuse. She's perfectly capable of being a decent partner to you, but she won't as long as you allow her to call all the shots.
Avatar for Kendahke1
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-09-2012

alwaysaknight wrote:
<p><span style="font-family:verdana,geneva; font-size:small"><strong>[Some background]</strong></span></p><p><span style="font-family:verdana,geneva; font-size:small">My girlfriend (32) and I (36) have been together for three years now, having met when I came to Germany for work. We moved in together a year ago and I'm very happy to stay here and settle down.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:verdana,geneva; font-size:small">She has a child of eleven from a previous relationship that turned sour. Thankfully, she's on good terms with her sons father, so her son gets to spend most weekends with his Dad, and one night a week too. It's all nice and amicable. Her son has accepted me; we get on really well. I love him to bits and it seems like he loves me to bits too.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:verdana,geneva; font-size:small">About six months ago my girlfriend decided she wanted to improve herself with some home study. The topics are pretty varied: Physics, Maths, History, English and German (e.g. Grammar). When she began her studies she worked in a kindergarten on a morning and a youth club on an afternoon. She soon realised she didn't get enough time to study. I had no problem helping here and supported her so she quit the kindergarten job. This meant she could study on a morning, in addition to the hour or so on an evening when her son has gone to bed. She still works in the youth centre, from 4pm to 7pm. I took over paying the rent completely to counter for the loss of her kindergarten job.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:verdana,geneva; font-size:small">I help out as much as I can. I get up with her at 0630 and help prepare the breakfast. I leave for work at 0730 and work my eight hours plus lunch so I can return home as soon as possible to clean around and get some dinner ready. At 1850 I cycle the ten minutes to her work and meet her because she likes cycling home together. We get home, have dinner, and clean up. Then she makes sure her son is ready for the next days school, has done his homework, puts him to bed, massages his feet, reads to him, and sings a bed time song. Some evenings I help him with his English and Vocabulary. By the time my girlfriend is ready it's getting late (around 2145-2200) but she starts studying. I'm always there to help if she needs me and try my best to support her. If she doesn't need me, I make sure the ironing is done, get the next batch of washing on and take care of any tasks that need doing (e.g. fridge cleaning, floor cleaning, etc). Once these are done, I then settle down in front of the computer and have a blast on a game or read the news. Of course, I don't get that much time for a game, if at all as there's so much to do and I'm usually very tired after the days events. But it happens occasionally. :) I don't go to bed until she is ready too. She doesn't like me going to bed without her.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:verdana,geneva; font-size:small"><strong>[The Problem]</strong></span></p><p><span style="font-family:verdana,geneva; font-size:small">Despite my being English and having a decent enough command of my native language I'm not able to help my girlfriend as much as she would like. When she wants me to sit with her and go through vocabulary, I'm there immediately. But... I just can't explain some of the deeper concepts of grammer. It confuses me. I need to do a course first too! I'd love to help her more but it's very difficult. I try though. I search around on wikipedia and google. It's almost impossible to help her with German grammar until I learn the language more myself.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:verdana,geneva; font-size:small">What's bothering me is this: When she gets frustrated with her course (which is often!), when she feels like she can't do it (which is often!), she takes it out on me in quite a nasty way. She starts shouting at me and accusing me of enjoying her suffering. She tells me that I "don't want her to progress", that I'm "happy for her to struggle". I try to sympathise with her, to empathise, to listen but also I try to defend myself a little and ask her why she feels that way because there is no part of me that enjoys her suffering or wants her to fail/struggle. Quite the opposite!</span></p><p><span style="font-family:verdana,geneva; font-size:small">This morning I phoned her up. Our brief daily calls are nice and something she wants. She oftens mentions to me not to forget calling her. When I called I could tell from her abrupt answer, and tone, that she was angry. I knew immediately that it was the german grammar giving her a headache. Walking on egg shells, I asked her "how are things going?" (in a sympathetic tone) only to receive a torrent of abuse and claims that I'm "laughing at her problems", and  "not giving her enough help". That I "don't want to help her". She was shouting. Then she hung up on me. I've had this happen in the past and have always called her back. But today, I have had enough. I'm not going to call back like some puppy that's been kicked, running back to master for love and reassurance. This situation leaves a bitter taste in my mouth considering all that I do. And that's the point really: considering all that I do, how I support her financially, emotionally, and so on, why do I deserve to be treated like this? I understand she's frustrated but I don't agree with how she handles it!</span></p><p><span style="font-family:verdana,geneva; font-size:small">I hope someone can offer some advice, support and perhaps a little sympathy because this can't go on. I'm not a punch bag. I'm not a dog to kick when times are hard. I deserve better.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:verdana,geneva; font-size:small">Hope someone can help.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:verdana,geneva; font-size:small">M :)</span></p>

Now you can see why she has failed relationships lying in her wake.  She has anger managment problems. Verbal abuse should never be tolerated, no matter how good sex is with her.

I think you need to put some reason to her like:  "How can I be of help to you when any answer I give you may be the wrong answer?  Doing that would mean that I truly did love to see you suffer and be made a fool of in your class---and the fact that I don't should say something to you.  I'm struck by the fact that it doesn't. I'm also struck by the fact that you feel it is ok to verbally abuse me when it is clear you've taken on more than you can handle. You are a grown woman, not a child.  You can drop some of your course load until you are able to handle the rigors of the courses.  Since you are not working for financial compensation outside the house, you have the time to put into your studies to achieve the understanding.  I don't go out and work all day long to come home and be your punching bag. I'm not here for that.  If you believe that you have the right to verbally abuse me, then perhaps it's time to rethink living together because this isn't working for me."

Really. If you can't say something like that to her, then it's time to scale back your relationship with her--because this is how she handles stress. She takes it out on you. Right now, it's verbal abuse. It may escalate into physical abuse if you stay there and tolerate it.

There are a myriad of videos on youtube that teach Englsih as a second language that she needs to be looking at. Yes, English is a really, really hard language to understand--especially understanding it like a native speaker. What she is learning right now in class is what we all learned back when we were 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 years old... not to mention it was spoken to us from in utero.  The same probably is true for German--they learn all that grammar stuff when they are in grade school when the brain is able to absorb all of that.  Right now, I can't say why how I speak sounds like it does--it came from years of grade school grammar classes.

I've had pretty much the same conversation with the guy who does my nails. He's taking ESL courses and always asks me for clarification. I try to give him information to the best of my ability, but I have to confess that the reason why I know it is because I learned it in my youth--just like it would be torturous for me to learn Vietnamese--and he agrees because it's a difficult language to learn.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-05-2006
Tue, 11-20-2012 - 12:29pm

Dude, get away from her when she studies. You tell us how little help you really offer anyway. If she brings the problem to you, ask slyly... "You must really want me to enjoy your suffering, don't ya?"

Problem solved.

Avatar for khatru1
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-07-2004
Tue, 11-20-2012 - 12:05pm

Your self assessment is correct. You are being mistreated and taken advantage of. It's up to you to change it. You must stand up for yourself and demand respect. If this continues ad nauseum then you will likely hit your breaking point and blow your lid. It is not a way to live one's life. Its a simple choice for her, either she gives you the respect you deserve or you and she are done.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Tue, 11-20-2012 - 11:02am

I agree with Mav--this sounds like a pretty one-sided relationship.  I'd like to know what she does for you. You said she was doing "home study."  Is there some kind of goal in mind?  Is she going to get a college degree?  Is she thinking that if she improves her English she could get a better job?  It seems like if she is just doing this on her own and not for college or something like that, there should be no pressure at all.  Learning something because you want to is supposed to be interesting and fun--if it's not, she could just quit.  Or maybe she is taking too many classes at the same time--but this is not your fault.  Not to mention, that you aren't a student & it's not your responsibility to be helping her with her homework.  if you know something, like the proper way to say something in English, you could read her paper and help her with the English words.  But that would be a favor--it's not your responsibility.  I mean, I have kids (one now grown up)--I might read over their papers for suggestions, but I don't do their work for them.  She's an adult so she should be able to handle this herself--and what kind of example is she setting for her child?  When he has trouble with his schoolwork, should he be going around yelling at people about it?

It also seems like everything is because *she* likes it.  You bike to her work cause she likes company going home.  That's fine if you enjoy the bike ride too, but what if you don't feel like it some night or you feel sick or something?  Do you feel free to tell her that you don't want to ride over or will she yell at you for that too?  You won't go to bed until she is ready even if you are tired?--that seems nutty to me.  I've been married twice and we just went to bed when we were tired--my 2nd DH had to get up for work at 5:30 while my son didn't go to school until 9:00 so I wouldn't have to get up until closer to 8:00--so if he wanted to go to bed at 10:00 and I didn't want to go to bed so early, I would just stay up sometimes.  And the whole quitting one of her jobs so you could support her--I could see that if she was going to attend college and then after she obtained a degree, it would help her to get a better job in the future, as that would benefit everybody, but that also sounds like she is taking advantage of your generosity.  You're not married either so I see that situation a little differently than married people as far as expecting someone's financial support.

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