You’ve recognized a problem, which is a HUGE step in the right direction. I read your post with a sinking heart, because it reminded me so so so much of my ex-FI and me. My counselor at the time called it “Manipulative Emotional Abuse” – I have no idea if that’s a technical term, or just a descriptive one, but it really hits the nail on the head as far as I’m concerned.
Over-reacting in an attempt to get a ‘rise’ out of your FI is counter productive and incredibly unhealthy. It’s also ineffective, as he gets more and more attuned to your threats and over reactions, and thus reacts less and less himself. It’s a cycle that’s just going to intensify and make you MORE angry, reactionary and emotionally manipulative in the future if you don’t fix it. At least, it did for me.
I started out with what you’re describing – threats to leave him, in a misguided effort to make him act like a normal, emotional human being, instead of the too-cool automon I felt like he was being. It felt like he was not being real with me, which I let push me to it, instead of talking to him about my feelings. It also felt really belittling when he would sit there and be all ‘patient’ (i.e. demeaning) while I was mad, or crying, or whatever else. For a really ‘sensitive guy’ he had a real lack of emotion at times, haha.
For me, I let it escalate even further and MORE out of control. I started yelling at him in public, blatantly mocking him in front of our friends or his sister and BIL (never his parents though, although his mom and I would regularly trash talk him when he wasn’t around… messed. up. relationship. hah), accusing him of cheating on me (or wanting to), threatening to have lesbian affairs, leaving emails from an ex who I am still friends with open on his computer (he’s the jealous type)… I think you get the drift.
It was FAR from healthy.
Aside from the fact that our relationship was also riddled with him sexually, financially and emotionally abusing me (and actually cheating on me, twice; ironically I was right one of the times I accused him), if I could do it over again, I would handle things VERY differently.
I would advise several things:
0) be honest with yourself. Is there truth to your claims? DO you not want to marry him? Because it’s not too late to get out if so.
1) don’t get married until you and your FI can communicate in a healthy way. Seriously. It seems harsh, BUT it will give you both strong incentive to learn to communicate. As a difficult task, it’s too easy to put it off. I’m not saying be perfect, but you DO need to see growth before it’s okay to move forward in your relationship, IMHO.
2) see a counselor, together, and separately! what I see you describing is the beginnings of emotional abuse, and while no one likes to admit they’re abusing someone they love, well… professional help can really help. a lot.
3) Figure yourself out. Sit down alone and look back on the several most recent or most serious fights you’ve had where you’ve seen this behavior in yourself. Try to pin point where you ‘snapped’ and what (specifically) you were reacting to. His tone of voice? The fact that he didn’t make eye contact and seemed to be dismissing your emotions? His too-cool attitude? be as specific as you can, and take breaks if you find yourself getting upset again. Don’t drink while you do this hehe.
4) TALK TO HIM. Tell him what bugs you about your communication styles, and why you see them conflict. Again, take breaks if you find yourself getting upset. It’s CRUCIAL that you have this conversation like a rational individual, because he might not understand the significance of it if you can’t. Tell him from the start, “If I get upset when we’re talking, we’ll just have to take a break and then start in again, because it’s important to me that I’m able to clearly state what upsets me, so we can work through it.
He may need time to absorb what you’re telling him, depending on how he is. If so, give it to him, but schedule a time to talk about this specifically again later. Give yourselves plenty of time without too many unwanted interruptions.
5) Find a way to work through it together, whether that means time out cards (a non-emotional way to signal you need a break from an argument), a vent journal (where you write your emotional thoughts down to get them out, then move on, coming back later to see if there was any truth to it), teaching him to ask better questions (and teaching you to be more explicit) in order to understand each other better, whatever you find that works for you.
Good luck! I hope your relationship ends better than mine with my ex did!