However, sometimes she treats me poorly on account of how she feels. She’ll make catty remarks, snap at me, etc. I know she doesn’t mean any of it, but it’s hurtful and unfair. I don’t know what to say or how to act. I tell her that she’s gorgeous and I’m proud of her, but that makes about as much difference as a raindrop to the ocean. I have this weird mixture of sympathy and resentment that she doesn’t see herself, me, or our relationship the way I do. I feel like it’s easy for me to talk, because I’m satisfied with my life. And then I get upset that I feel guilty for being content. It’s a losing game.
Complicating all of this is the fact that I have a chronic, progressive disease. My golden years are already over, and knowing that I’m heading downhill gives me a good perspective when it comes to appreciating what I have. Sometimes I’m tempted — I mean REALLY tempted — to bring up my impending decline when she’s being mean, but that wouldn’t help either of us.
What the heck should I do? — Green-Eyed Monster Bait
No, don’t bring up your health when she’s being mean, but you could bring it up when she’s not being mean. Like, maybe when things are going well, you could open a dialogue about appreciating all the good things you have going for you, including your relationship, because your illness has given you perspective you may not otherwise have and you know how quickly things can change. You could then remind her that, while on the outside your life may look perfect and may incite envy, you still have to deal with things — like a chronic, progressive disease — that most other people your age don’t.
I also wonder if perhaps your girlfriend is more aware than you think she is about your condition and she’s feeling anxious about the thought of losing you/ seeing you suffer. If she’s in love with you, the idea of watching you decline is probably something very scary to think about. It’s possible that this envy is displaced emotion. Maybe it’s easier to envy you or even be angry with you than it is to fully embrace the thought of missing you.
Regardless, it’s time for you to have a heart-to-heart with her about the way she’s behaving. If your golden years truly are behind you — and I’m so sorry to hear that that’s the case — then you deserve to spend what time you have left living to the fullest, not nursing someone’s low self-esteem. If your girlfriend is treating you poorly, you need to let her know that that has to stop. She needs to quit making you pay for her inability to get a grip on her own emotions. It’s not right.
And if she can’t stop, you should probably MOA. I know you care about her and you say you have a loving relationship. But the resentment you describe will only build up over time and chip away at whatever happiness and love you feel toward your girlfriend. There are probably better ways you could spend you limited time than dealing with an emotionally-draining relationship.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.