My boyfriend and I have been together for five years. We are in our mid-to-late 20s, and have been living together for a year. We generally have a great relationship, and we have talked about getting engaged soon.
However, Iím not sure if staying with him is the best decision for me. He was diagnosed with ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) as a child, and I feel as though this is really detrimental to our relationship. He gets annoyed and frustrated extremely easily, which often leads to a fight in which he gets very angry, and tends to hit or throw things (though I am 100 percent sure he would never touch me, he only throws and hits things like pillows). I grew up in a very peaceful household where there was never any violence, so dealing with his anger is totally foreign and scary to me.
I know these are symptoms of his ADHD and whatever adult ODD is or becomes, but I am at a loss of what to do. He has taken medication off and on in the past but doesnít like how it makes him feel. I donít want to leave him but I canít imagine a future with both him and these symptoms. What do you suggest?
ó Disorder Overload
Leave. Either you arenít up to this challenge or you donít want to be, and thatís all you need to know, because choosing a life partner isnít about being open-minded or fair or noble. It isnít just about loving or being in love, either. Itís about an unflinching estimation of what works. ďForeign and scaryĒ five years in = Does Not Work.
We can stop here, but I wonít, because:
Your ď100 percent sureĒ requires me to say, no, you arenít. Dumb luck excepted, good decisions arenít possible unless you admit what you can and canít know. Facts (equal sign) certainty. Future (equal sign) conjecture.
Itís important to clarify that a serious diagnosis is not the end of hope for a committed partnership. It just means added diligence for it to work: The person with the illness needs to manage the condition effectively, and the partner needs to be temperamentally suited for and at peace with the challenge. You and your boyfriend are apparently, right now, 0 for 3.
People who donít feel ready to leave often tune out people who suggest it. If thatís you, then please at least heed this: You owe it to both of you to express your misgivings to him as you have to me. Tell him his short temper and rages scare you. Tell him it would mean a lot to you if he made more of an effort to manage his condition ó if not through medication than with therapy and other adaptations. The National Resource Center on ADHD, 1-800-233-4050, and its parent, CHADD, www.chadd.org, are rich with suggestions.
Then, as you assess the result, donít flinch.
My older brother, 19, took my sandals on a camping trip without asking me and ruined them. They are stained, misshapen, worn and cut up. He decided as his punishment he will pay me $25 for the shoes, and then in return he gets to keep them. My parents said this is to be solved between us.
I do not think his paying me for them and then getting to keep them is right, because it teaches him that itís OK to steal, harm and keep something as long as you pay for it. Am I being unfair?
ó Younger Brother
Depends on how fair your definition of ďfairĒ is.
First, the basics: Your brother owes you the replacement cost of the shoes. Not what you paid for them, but what the same pair (or closest equivalent to them) costs right now. If $25 covers that, great, but if not, then you have standing to ask for replacement before youíll agree this is ďsolved.Ē
Once the money is settled, then weíre into the murkier definitions of fairness that come with family. You apparently think fairness demands that your brother learn a lesson ó so, youíre not content to be compensated, but instead want your brother punished as well.
You might have a point in a vacuum, but families are all context. Is your brotherís comeuppance worth holding out for every bit you feel youíre owed, making this the Great Sandal Incident of 2014? While it might not feel satisfying, you wouldnít be the first just to take the money (and the admission of guilt that it represents), ask that he please not do this again, and secure your valuables from now on. Life under one roof is likely all youíre used to, but itís fleeting for most, and Sandal Man is 19. Forgiveness of everything beyond the money might be the fairest solution, for you. That and not putting those nasty things back on your feet.
(c) 2014, Washington Post Writers Group
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