[I took this post down after Patrick complained. I'm republishing it for continuity and because I have no intention of protecting abusive men ever again.]
In two and a half years, Patrick and I have been in maybe six fights. We almost never have any issues and there's a reason for that, which is that I can't stand it. Every time we struggle, it feels like END TIMES to me. And the same scenario plays out every time I bring up a complaint* - we fight until I back down, which I always do, and it isn't so much a defeat as it is an acknowledgement that I'm not willing to end the relationship over whatever it is I'm upset about, no matter how valid.
We've made some agreements after our big disagreements. He's not allowed to ask for space unless he's been to therapy at least once during the preceding two weeks. We long-ago defined "space" as me sleeping/staying elsewhere until he's okay again, a thing I wholeheartedly agreed to before we moved in because the poor guy had had about three days of "space" in his whole life. As long as he asks instead of disappearing without warning me, I'm happy to give him whatever he needs. I LIKE giving my partners what they need.
Sadly, we're in a fight right now. Even worse is that the fight started the night the kids and I brought home the Christmas tree. THE MOST BEAUTIFUL MAJESTICAL TREE THAT HAS EVER EXISTED IN THE HISTORY OF MAJESTY.
It's fifteen feet tall. Don't tell the kids, but I had to pull the coffee table over and then put the ladder on top of it to reach high enough to put the star up, and even then it involved an unsafe level of leaning and jumping.
And... it's ruined.
Because because because because because...
Patrick had agreed to come help us pick out the tree (on iCalendar no less), but then he couldn't because he was super, terrible busy getting ready for a product launch, which I totally understood. But he also promised to help us get the tree up when we got home because by then his east-coast partners would be done for the day. But then we got home and he was still working. And then I almost lost a thigh holding the tree base down while Finn and Alex tried to get it upright without his help. So I yelled for him.
A LOT. So did Finn. So did Alex.
So we yelled too much. TRAGIC-LY MUCH. WAAAAAAY TOO MUCH. Unbeknownst to me he was on a client call and couldn't answer us. I thought he was taking a shit, so when we kept yelling for his help, he...
I won't repeat the whole of the words he used when he came out of our room and yelled over the balcony because it is highly unflattering, but it happened. I have witnesses (including my 12-year old son). He had every right to be mad that we were interrupting his phone call, but starting out with yelling, "YOU FUCKERS, SHUT THE FUCK UP," was definitely over the top.
Needless to say he went back to his call and Finn and I pulled muscles getting that tree up without any help from THAT GUY.
When he came down from that phone call, I refused to speak to him until he apologized.
The more Patrick and I talk about it, the worse it gets.
Par for the course. I've been here. I get here every time.
I never know what to do in this situation. Patrick is the sweetest, kindest, most attentive partner I've ever had. Right up until I bring him a complaint! Then it always escalates to me either backing down or ejecting him from this beautiful life we've built together. Him accepting fault and backing down is never an option.
And that usually isn't a big deal. My criticisms are just that... They aren't necessarily deal-breaking. He acted like an asshole that time!
But it sucks. And what happens over time is that I lose my purchase. I hesitate to speak my grievances, because whether or not they're justified, the outcome is the same. I'm better off keeping my mouth shut, just like I was with both of my exes.
Patrick is an amazing partner 99% of the time.
I think I'm not alone when I say FUCK THE ONE PERCENT.
* Important to note: Patrick isn't the type to bring up very many grievances, but when he does, I am 100% IMMEDIATELY apologetic and will do anything to right the wrong. I don't need facts or evidence or discussion, if I did something that HURT him, I'm an asshole (which isn't as rare as I wish it was) and I will beg and plead and do the work until I fix it. When we get into these fights, he is want to tell me that he rarely ever says anything when I upset him. Which sucks. Mostly because I can't SHOW him with my own behavior how to react to criticism if he won't criticize me. After decades of TERRIBLE relationships and five straight years of therapy, I can only model healthy behavior when given the opportunity. I only wish he criticized me more so I could show him what safe, healthy reactions look like.