Dear Patricia Marie,

My boyfriend and I have been together two years and we plan to marry next summer. The problem is he swears at me all the time. When he's angry, it's almost every other word. I've told him many times that it bothers me, and sometimes he apologises and promises to change, but he always goes back to his old ways and tells me I'm a prude to object. I don't know if the swearing is likely to turn into violence. Am I overreacting?

Patricia Marie says...

The man you are planning to marry is exhibiting little respect for you, verbally attacking you and dismissing your feelings when you ask him to stop swearing. His refusal to listen, and the anger he displays, is a cause for concern. This isn't the act of a loving man ready for marriage.

If you allow his behaviour to continue, your self esteem will plummet, and you will begin to see your own needs as irrelevant. Verbal abusers use bad language to gain control, and this tends to increase over time, often leading to them resorting to physical violence to maintain their control.

Whist I admire you for acknowledging the seriousness of your problem, it is now imperative to put a firm stop to it, before the situation worsens. Your boyfriend's G.P could refer him for anger management classes, although be prepared for his refusal to attend, as nearly all abusers are in denial and blame others for their behaviour. Ask him also to attend some Relate counselling sessions with you, in preparation for a happy marriage.

However, if he is unwilling to deal with his volatile temperament, think again before marrying him. To help you recognise, gain a better understanding, and respond safely and appropriately to him, I recommend: The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans.

Relate: 0300 100 1234 www.relate.org.uk