I have been in a relationship with a guy for seven years. (Before I was with this man, I was married to another.) He is a good man and a good father, but frequently he brings up my past and insinuates that I committed questionable acts…. I feel offended, so I defend myself; but he says that, if it’s not true, I shouldn’t be offended….
That makes me wonder if he really does value, love, and respect me…. I want to make it clear that there is no truth to anything he insinuates that I did….
Is it healthy to be in a relationship like this? Can I do anything to make it better? I feel disrespected.
It is obvious that this man tries to make you feel badly in order to feel better about himself. He feels threatened on some level, and uses lies as a weapon against you so that you too will feel uncomfortable and off balance. When he manipulates your feelings with his insinuations, he feels power over you, and that power hides his insecurity.
We agree with you that his words set up an unhealthy dynamic. He may love you, but his way of cruelly manipulating your feelings is not the way to show love. It’s possible that he justifies his taunting by believing that he is just playing a game with you. He probably tells himself that you shouldn’t be so emotional and that this experience will teach you to be more resilient.
However, it doesn’t really matter why he does it. The fact that his words hurt you should be a sufficient reason to cause him to stop. Yet even though you have asked him not to insinuate those things about you, he continues to do it.
We don’t really understand why you would choose to live with a man who cares so little about how you feel. The Apostle Paul taught: “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1)
God designed romantic intimacy to be enjoyed within the safety and commitment of marriage. When a man and a woman make the decision to become one, they then protect their own interests by caring for and treasuring one another. They can no longer hurt each other without hurting themselves.
The fact that many people do not keep their marriage vows does not diminish God’s intention or plan. And the fact that many marriages end in divorce does not bring doubt upon the institution of marriage but rather on the two people who broke their vows.
We do not believe that you should live with any man to whom you are not married. Therefore, we advise you to get professional counseling with the intention of resolving this issue so that you can either get married or break up for good. Continuing on as things currently are should not be an option.
We wish you well,
1 1Co 13:6-7 (NIV)