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My Boyfriend Brings His Work and Its Problems Home
tbm25 posted:
My boyfriend and I have been together about 2 1/2-years now. I should have noticed it at the beginning but it has become far more aparent now. He is a manager at a store with odd hours and odd days off. He is either on the phone texting co-workers or speaking with them on the phone. Initially, it was about orders that need to be made while he isn't at the store. The conversations can be work related and it can be gossip and frustration about higher up management or just about anything to complain about other peers.

We have been living together the past year. So, I can over hear his conversations because he speaks loudly. When he is frustrated about something at his work, I feel like he is taking it out on me because I can sense the tension and hear it in his voice and then he begins to complain about something in our home. I feel forced to listen about his complaining with no solutions or ideas on how to make his employment more enjoyable.

Lately, he has become even more bitter and frustrated with his employment. So, the only thing he wants to talk about is work and its problems. In the beginning he spoke about returning to college, now it is nothing but excuses and complaining when I ask him about college for upward mobility. It is driving me crazy. I have even told him so in a polite manner how his stress is stressing me out. I also try to encourage him to seek new employment or seek a solution to the problems. I recomend books or other types of tools to help but in return he says things to me that I complain about things also? I have shut down with anything that troubles me because he is quick to jump to a conclusion and give his opinion. For myself, I find it rare to give him advice unless he asks and I mostly listen.

For fear or regret of an argument, I fib when he asks what is wrong and I say, "nothing" when he is what is troubling me.

How do I return the focus on him when I exress his job stress is causing me stress? Also, when he turns the problem to me, how do I get him to understand if he has a problem with something about me or my character, then bring it up then not when I bring up something about him? Or could this just be a man set in his ways and I am wasting my time? I know the only one I can change is me. I just don't know how to cope with his constant conversations of work troubles.
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD responded:
Frequently, the best approach to begin with is the direct one. You might try this. Lay out the problem; such as how he changes the subject to a problem with you when you are addressing a problem you have with him. Express how it affects you (e.g. you are frustrated with him). Request what you want from him (e.g. stay on topic, bring up issues about you at another time). And say how it will affect things if he does this (e.g. you will be happier with the relationship).

It is best to approach difficult subjects at a time when you are both calm; and when he seems like he might be more open. If attempts to address particular problems are ineffective and you are questioning the whole relationship because of it, you might find it helpful to be direct about this. In the end, though, he must be willing to really listen and engage with you around fixing these problems.
tbm25 replied to Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD's response:
Your advice makes sense. I will have to practice your advice to stay on topic and he can bring up his issues with me at another time. And yes, due to other situations occuring with his ex wife and son also causing some stress to him. I may be at the end of my rope with him.
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to tbm25's response:
Good luck.

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