Check out this slightly altered Dear Abby column and see what you think.
Dear Abby: I think I have an abuse problem. I’ve been with my girlfriend for a year, and already I feel she is fed up with me. I don’t want to lose her.
When I was younger, my father used to abuse me. It was years ago, but I feel like I might have gotten that trait from him. In addition, I have a tendency to smack my girlfriend on the arm when she’s verbally abusing me. I just want it to stop.
I love this woman and I feel terrible after I do it. I keep telling her I’m sorry and that I have the worst tendency to act on impulse. Please tell me how to stop because I CAN’T lose her.
Sorry in Kansas City, Mo.
Dear Sorry: If you want your relationship to improve, you must realize it will take effort, not only on your part, but also your girlfriend’s. Neither of you handles anger or frustration appropriately. She shouldn’t verbally abuse you if something bothers her. And you need to find other ways than hitting her to make her stop.
Couples counseling could help you communicate more effectively with each other. Many licensed mental health professionals offer it. Please don’t wait.
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Tom Golden is the author or three books, Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing, The Way Men Heal, and Helping Mothers be Closer to Their Sons: UnderStanding the Unique World of Boys. Tom was the creator of the youtube channel Men Are Good and served as the vice chairman of the Maryland Commission for Men’s Health. He has been a therapist in private practice for over 30 years.