When Hopeful Turns to Hopeless

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My girlfriend and I have been living together for two years and she’s changed. I keep trying to hang in there and fix it. I minimized her behavior changes, but she’s more manipulative and angry.

She wanted to get married about six months ago, and I said we need to work out our problems, first. That made everything worse.

She used to be very helpful, generous, and sweet, but now she tells me to cook my own meals (we used to cook together), or clean my own room (but she lives here, too). She got furious because I wouldn’t take her camping with me and my kids, saying I always took her with us. But I only did that once.

Now she’s telling everyone about our “toxic relationship.” She wouldn’t have a calm discussion with me, so I told her to get out. I love her, but I want the girl I fell in love with back!

Signed,

Hopeless

Dear Sir,

The first months of marriage are called the “honeymoon period” for a reason – being the time period of settling into living together. But when you find yourself living together, more by chance than a pledge, the waters have a tendency to become murky and the fear of the unknown can seep into a relationship without you recognizing it. This may be why you are struggling together.    

The percentage of people living together before tying the knot is now at an all-time high of over 70 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a National Center for Health Statistics report (based on 18-44 year-olds), the Journal of Marriage and Family, and Psychology Today.

These reports say most couples slide into cohabitating, rather than making clear-cut decisions about their futures and, contrary to popular belief, those who live together prior to marriage are more likely, not less, to struggle in marriage and get divorced.

The reports also state that children born during cohabitation suffer the most, creating family instability and identity and commitment issues in the children and those cohabitating. These are the facts.

It’s impossible for one person alone to “fix” a marriage or living arrangement. Your situation absolutely requires professional help. Your children need you to make the right choice for them and that’s imperative. You could further disturb their development by “hanging in there” because you don’t want another failed relationship.

We would encourage you to do the difficult decision-making now and for your future. Commitment in marriage creates the most unwavering relationships. Reality can’t be treated as a delicate flower. There are natural consequences for every decision.

Signed, Rhonda and Dr. Cheri