Dear Ellie: Time to move on from overly critical boyfriend

Dear Ellie: My boyfriend and I have lost our passion.

Physically, I look the same as five years ago, though we both agree I want to get more fit.

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He always says I have bad breath. But my brutally honest friends don’t think my breath smells. Yet unless I’ve just brushed my teeth/used an oral strip, he insists it smells bad. I feel awful and helpless.

I’ve said that if he loves me, has passion toward me, this shouldn’t be such a huge issue. What should I or we do?

Helpless

It may be tempting for many readers to just think, “Dump him.”

But let’s first consider some basic facts about bad breath (halitosis):

It can be caused by poor oral hygiene, strong-smelling foods and dental-health problems.

Chronic bad breath usually results from bacteria on the tongue and mouth surfaces, releasing unpleasant odours.

Short-term bad breath is associated with strong-smelling foods and drinks e.g. fish, onions, garlic and coffee.

You and a caring boyfriend should’ve already researched these facts online, then checked further if needed.

Poor dental care can cause bad odour, as can health problems like postnasal drip, chronic reflux (heartburn) and some more serious diseases.

However, what else could be going on here?

Why is he so critical of your physical shape and so persistent about your breath being bad when no one else agrees?

Most important, why does he make you feel helpless?

Here’s what you can do now: Get to a dental clinic, fast. If fine, see your doctor.

If there’s no dental/medical/food-related cause, drop the bad-breath label by dumping him.

You deserve better. Someone who makes you feel awful and helpless is no longer a good partner for you, passion or not.

Dear Ellie: My wife is smart, and has been a terrific mother for our kids from day one.

The problem is, she’s always right. When we need to discuss something, she always begins with her final answer. It isn’t easy to get a real exchange of views.

Also, these impasses often arise when the kids are around. I’ll raise a topic and she’ll make a pronouncement before I finish the sentence.

I then tense up, and we’re all uncomfortable.

There are times when her decision on what’s right is not right for us, as a couple or family.

But she clings so hard to her first opinion, that even when she occasionally accepts my view, she never apologizes.

I love her, but it’s tough being only a so-called partner.

Frustrated

Some would call it a power play, since she clearly feels she has to be right.

But that can also mean that, for reasons you either don’t know or don’t get, she’s insecure.

Living together, raising children, working at a job or at home, all require a constant stream of decisions.

Sometimes, the early years of raising newborns and small children moves one parent to adapt quickly and choose what seems the best practices.

The feeling of being the responsible one, can lead to inflexibility about the ways of doing things.

Over time, it can create a sometimes-dominant personality.

Meanwhile, in your particular situation, you’ve stayed together and you admire your wife for her positive qualities.

Tell her so, and raise the idea of couples’ counselling as a new look together at how you can both learn to improve your communication and make decisions that leave you both feeling satisfied (instead of stressing who’s “right” or not).

Ellie’s tip of the day

A loving partner helps you find out why your breath smells bad, rather than just shaming you.

Send relationship questions to ellie@thestar.ca.

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