Tough love vs enabling
Hello. I'm at a loss and I have absolutely no idea how to go about this. I've been in my relationship almost three years. There is so much about it that's easy. It's almost like we sincerely were designed for each other, even if I still am not sure I believe in soul mates. We communicate quite well, a lot of our old habits in past relationships have been worked on, we genuinely enjoy and love one another. I think that's why I'm so torn right now.
The last six months have been a struggle. My partner has faced a lot of hardship. He has two children and a past relationship that's still somewhat present in his life due to the kids. Now that the reality is setting in and the honeymoon stage of us is over, a lot of his struggles are coming to light and he's forced to face them, only he won't.
I've never really been a patient person, but I found with him I wanted to be. I had been there myself before and I know how hard it is when reality hits and you're facing a new life and the routine you've had for years is truly gone. No natter what you have in your current life, it's hard, it's different. He's been very grateful to me for listening, he is open to talking about it, it took a while but he really tried and he's done amazingly well. Though there are still some very significant moments he won't let me in on. He can't seem to completely let go of that life and accept he needs to move forward. He is stuck in the limbo/misery state of it and can't get out. I've truly tried every possible thing to be there and be supportive and reassure him that I'm not going anywhere and that I'm in this for good, but I think by doing that, I've almost enabled him and I excuse his behavior when he puts me on the backburner for so many things.
I can't seem to give him tough love, which I think he needs, because I'm afraid he'll see it as me abandoning him (like everyone else in his past has because of how he's pushed them away), and because I don't want to lose him. I think we truly can get through this. The thing is, I'm the one he's willing to hurt and upset because he knows I'll be there. I've thought about it for a long time but today he confirmed that. I don't want to play games and threaten he will lose me if he doesn't quit it because, like I said, that's a game, and we're beyond that. But at some point I have to stand up for myself. I make excuse after excuse for how he treats me and he's fully aware of it. This in itself probably sounds like I'm excusing his behavior, but I can tell he knows he's hurting me and he says he just freezes and doesn't know what to do and in turn, puts my needs second to everyone else's because I'll be there.
I'm at a point where I know I need to give him the tough love. I've been standing up for myself and I've been honest with how he makes me feel, and I'm starting to realize my only option may be to walk away and let him figure his stuff out, but then I risk him doing the old "well she left too" and never fighting for me. That's all I want is to feel important.
He gets very self-deprecating and down on himself and can't imagine why after all he's thrown at me I'm still here. I want to say, he's not abusive or mean or anything like that, he just constantly puts my needs last. He recently started lying, not big stuff, but he'd say he was going to do something and then wouldn't, and then he'd brush me off and finally I called him out and he admitted to it. I could tell like he felt like the worse person. Thing is, I've been there, I've done that, and it's not okay, but I do understand its easier to brush it off than to be honest sometimes, especially when it's not something big.
I just don't know what to do. Is there a way to give him tough love without seeming like I'm bailing on him? I don't want to use threats, or anything like that. I may get to the point where I have to walk away, but it's not to that point yet, I'm trying to figure this out before we get there. I'm not an idiot and I've been in a similar situation before and if it's time to leave, I will and I'm confident I will. But for now I want to see if anyone has any advice on how to be supportive but also be up front and if there is any possibility of that working? Any advice I would be sincerely grateful for.
Thank you for your time.
When it's all said and done, you need to ensure that your man is over his past relationship completely regardless of children. He needs to be able to function with you and be able to focus on you and his relationship with you 100% for both of you to be happy. He needs to able to trust you and communicate with you before you can have any success of supporting him properly. It's a matter of opinion whether it's all OK for him to continually 'throw rocks at you', but you need to ask yourself why he does this and why you keep on taking the hits.
Respectfully, if he loved you, he would fight to stay with you and at least attempt to keep you happy. It's no use hanging in there for him and supporting him with everything if it's not being returned to you. By staying with him, you risk your own health and well being and while you feel that tough love won't work with him, it's you that you need to be looking out for.