Pack Up and Get Out!

Pack Up and Get Out!

Q: I have been living with my fiancé, John, for a year and a half, and it has not been the smoothest relationship. Although, I love him very much and really want to have a life with him, I am starting to get nervous that we are not going to make it to the altar. The biggest problem is that we can’t seem to communicate about anything of importance without it blowing up into a huge fight. The worst part of it is that every time we get into one of these fights he inevitably tells me to “pack my bags and get out”. John lived in our house and I moved in once we got engaged, he definitely considers it his house. It is so hard to be kicked out of the place I live every time we have a disagreement. It makes it so difficult to feel like I can come to him with my feelings because I’m always afraid it will end in a fight and me spending time trying to find a place to live. Please give me some advice on how to handle this, I really want to be with him but we can’t seem to get out of this negative cycle of fighting.

HE: It seems like John has not yet learned the basic rules of communication in a relationship. This is a skill that takes some time and work, so all is not lost if he is willing to put some energy into it. What concerns me more is that he has also not learned the basic rules of cooperation and sharing. These are skills that a guy is supposed to learn at a very early age- long before he gets involved in relationship.  So in a way, you are dealing with a relationship adolescent, who may need the remedial skill building that most of us learned in elementary school. Like an adolescent playing ball, when the game isn’t going his way, he threatens to take his ball and go home.  When John refers to your home as “his house”, feel free to refer to your vagina as “my vagina” and see if this focusses his awareness of the topics of selfishness and sharing.  My guess is that he will find the motivation to work on those skills.

Since these are skills that may take a long time to develop, you will need to be sure that you are committed to what may become a real project.  If you decide to go forth with the getting married, make sure that you are satisfied that John is committed and making progress. If you find yourself married to him and his behavior continues, divorce him, take half of his house and let the courts teach him how to share.

SHE: Interesting twist on withholding sex as punishment?  Although I don’t agree on using sex as a form of communication, it does have the ability to make a point.

As Andy said, the problem seems to be that you both are missing basic communication skills.  From my experience, this is the number one thing that brings couples into therapy.  Communication is essential to a positive relationship, but is very difficult.  It is clear that John is using possessions as a way of trying to have the last word, the ultimate “if you don’t agree with me……”.  Aside from this being a tragic way to cut off a conversation, but it also demonstrates a fundamental lack of commitment to the relationship.

My suggestion to you is to communicate with a friend or relative in the area that you may soon need a place to stay for a while, and the next time he uses this tactic as a way of communication, calmly (this is a time to demonstrate strength not hysteria) grab an overnight bag and leave him to enjoy his win.  In a couple days, when he begins to freak out because you have not acquiesced and come crawling home, and begins to blow up your phone with texts of remorse and love, it will be your opportunity to have the upper hand and make it clear to him that this behavior is unacceptable and will not again be tolerated.  You are showing him your worth by allowing him to talk to you in this way.  Your relationship is off balance and he must understand that you will not be mistreated or taken for granted.  In the end, I would guess, if this behavior does not change, this is probably not the relationship you want long term anyway.

Dr. Jen Semmes and Andy Wilson have been (mostly) happily married for nine years (currently happily).  They are the owners of Coastal Counseling therapy center in Carlsbad, California.  Jen holds a license in clinical social work and a doctorate in psychology, and is a therapist at Coastal Counseling. Andy just tries to hold it together.

If you, or anyone you know, has a question for ‘He said, She said’ please send a private message to Coastal Counseling on Facebook or email the question to


Leave a Reply