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My boyfriend and I have been dating for 3 years, in our late 20's, both very much involved in each other's families and absolutely plan on moving in together, getting married, and having children.

However, he has deep-rooted anger management issues. He gets angry very easily at the smallest thing (ie. when I misunderstand what the drive-thru lady has asked me) and especially at my flightiness and forgetfulness. I'm a gemini, if that gives you some insight into my personality. I'm quite carefree, and unnaturally happy, I guess. He's stubborn and very grounded. But make no mistake, he's the wittiest, funniest, most charming guy I've ever known. So lovable and generous too. But he has a lot of rage in him that comes out in random outburts, typically directed towards me.

I'm pretty patient. I try to reason with him, but he sees my behaviour as patronizing and as I'm trying to soothe him into a calmer state, he just gets angrier. These outburts follow [U]the same pattern[/U]: I stay calm. His anger escalates. I eventually snap and either start to cry uncontrollably (I've punched him repeatedly, not in the face) and once I've finally reached my breaking point, he calms down. It's as if he needs me to get as angry as him before he can feel at peace. It's effed up, I know.

[B]Anyway, I tolerate it. [/B]I've broken up with him time and time again, but I keep going back. Because in the calm after storm? He's apologetic, full of remorse, and I'm blinded by all the love he shows me.

His father has been sick for about 2 years now, and a few weeks ago his health declined considerably. He's in the hospital. I'd rather not get into details, but his prospects are grim. ='(

I'm at the hospital every single day, with my BF. I do everything that I can for the family. Babysit his nieces and nephews when his sister wants to go to the hosp, etc. Everyone's told me that there's nothing I can do right now except to be there and be patient and be prepared for some of the hardest years of his (and my) life.

I'm prepared.

But his anger problems...while he has come a LONG way from how we used to fight in the beginning...are still present. He snaps at the smallest things. The other day he got angry at me because I didn't re-wash a knife that I'd gotten from the dishrack of the lounge in the hospital. He gave me attitude and ignored me for a while. Earlier this week he was arguing with his sister and I interjected to help her case, but after she left the room in a huff he told me he "didn't want to see me for the rest of the night." He ignored me, and later, asked his sister to drive him home. I left by myself, and got an apologetic text msg later that night.

Today we got into an argument while I was at work because I told him I'd be staying late to make up for some lost time, and he couldn't believe I'd forgotten that I was supposed to drive him somewhere. It was a misunderstanding - I didn't forget at all - but the damage was done. He launched into a lengthy tirade about how forgetful and flighty I am, and how he can't handle it anymore.

We've had this fight several times over, but we never really break up. There's a lot of love between us and we always, always end up back in each other's arms.

I can't leave him at a time like this. I love him too much to leave him + his family right now. I need some real suggestions on how to handle his irrational outbursts of anger.

Practical advice, please... Preferably from people who are like him?

My guy tried a couple of times to verbally abuse me (by calling me filthy names) a couple of times. We were living together at the time. I left the second time he pulled it, didn't tell him where I was going, just left. I stayed with family for a couple of days, then came back and announced I was moving out. He was shocked and surprised, but I followed through. I moved out and got my own place and do not plan to live with him ever again.

We still see each other, but on my terms and if he even thinks about acting like that toward me for a second, I set him straight. I told him I will NOT tolerate that kind of behavior and if he insists, I will leave and he'll never see me again. He shaped up when he saw I meant it. And for the record, he's going through a lot of family issues too, including both of his parents' illnesses, but that is no excuse for him to treat me poorly. It took me moving out for him to see I meant business.

Was your B/F behaving this way before his father's illness? Has he always become angry and mistreated you while angry? Because if so, the illness is just an excuse. He did it before and will continue to do so as long as you allow it. I advise that when he starts in on you, that you leave. Don't tell him, just leave. He'll contact you to find out why, and you can tell him when he's ready to treat you decently you'll think about returning. And stick to it.
That's why I made the suggestion I made. If there are no negative consequences to his angry outbursts ("we always end up back in each other's arms") then he has no incentive to change.

I realized that my guy would continue to put me down and say mean things as long as I put up with it. If I kept forgiving him and accepting his apologies, he'd never stop. I had to make him see that if he continued to treat me badly, he'd lose me. And I didn't want to take years of it before I insisted on a change, because he'd get used to the idea that he could do anything he wanted and I'd forgive him.

And as far as his background, that only works as an excuse for a certain amount of time. He's an adult now and is capable of making choices. He is choosing to have angry outbursts at you and feels he is perfectly within his rights to do so. It's not your job to educate him, but you don't have to accept it either. He needs to accept responsibility for his own actions instead of blaming you.

When it happens again (and it will), I suggest you leave and when he calls or texts to ask where you are, explain that you aren't interested in taking his abuse and you are staying away until he decides he wants to treat you with respect. Then stick to it. Even if he apologizes prettily (and he will, since it always worked in the past), explain you will go back when YOU are convinced he means it. Tell him you want to be there to support him, but not if it involves taking verbal abuse.

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