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My boyfriend never seems to be satisfied with me - please take the time to help

#1
Hi everyone,
I am hoping for some advice on my relationship I am in. Here's some background:
My boyfriend and I have been friends for about 2-3 years. We are very similar people, same interests, life views and opinions and similar personality. We naturally get along very well. He was previously married, and then divorced. He and his ex-wife have a 5 year old daughter together. Since this, we have been dating for a year and a half, and now living together.
Our relationship has been a rough one - his ex-wife constantly calls and texts and uses the daughter frequently to speak with him as often as possible. The daughter and I have a very nice relationship - she comes to me for advice, copies me, we spend a lot of time together with my boyfriend and one-on-one time. I love kids, and easily took to her and she to me - so this is a great thing.
My issue is that I am very frustrated with my boyfriends past life. I'm irritated his ex calls constantly, and even that she exists. I do not believe she is a good mother so it pains me to be around this little girl who I truly love and know her mother uses her in the ways she does. We can't go anywhere or do anything without hearing from the ex which then irritates both of us. I am angry inside that he has been married before, lived in the house with her we now live in, had a baby together etc. Idk, it just is hard for me to swallow. He is constantly having new issues with this ex that creates turmoil for us and has for the past year and a half. I've tried to be civil with her, but she is very much impossible.
I try to be the best girlfriend I can be. I eat healthy, and go to the gym regularly to keep my figure. I feel like I am constantly cleaning the house so it is neat and maintained. I buy the groceries and make all the dinner. In the good weather I landscape and plant flowers. When he comes home from work, I greet him with a smile, a hug, ask how his day went. I try to be up for whatever he wants to do and I encourage "us time" and "date night" once a week. I am very, very good to his daughter - take her places, buy her things, help her with her school work/reading. Somehow though, my boyfriend seems to NEVER be satisfied with me. If we get along great for 2-3 weeks without any issue but then have an argument, he acts like it's the end of the world. If I make dinner Mon-Thurs but not Friday, he makes a comment about it. He expects a LOT from me - to watch his daughter when he's working, to clean the house (he doesn't rarely do anything to maintain the cleanliness of our house), make all the meals, and still be very positive with a smile on my face at the end of the day. I get very overwhelmed. I went from 26 with no kids, and my own responsibilities to having a family basically and all these responsibilities. I am trying incredibly hard to do everything he wants and needs because I love him so much and don't want to disappoint him, but it seems like it's never enough. When I get overwhelmed, I feel almost taken advantage of so I talk with him about it and he gets angry - says I must not want this life and forget doing anything he'll "do it all himself". He never just listens and tries to understand - he immediately gets defensive.
We do go on dates and he pays and drives. He is sweet, he is fun to be around, he texts me everyday good morning, and we have a lot in common. However, as mentioned earlier in this dreadfully long post. we are very similar. I am difficult, complex, and stubborn - and he is as well if not worse. When an argument starts between us, it can't seem to find an end. He gets so upset, brings up old fights, and I get sad and usually start to cry. Our fights are typically followed by us recovering the next day by me saying - I will try harder, I apologize. When I bring up to him that I feel he isn't satisfied or that I am always the one making the effort to "be better" he gets mad and says I am sarcastic and aren't "myself".
I apologize if this is confusing - we have great days, but the bad days are bad. He says I'm not as happy as I once was. If I take a step back and look at maybe why - I get to that: 1) I am not happy about his ex and how she is and how it always affects us 2) I am overwhelmed by all the house work and the child 3) I can't talk to him about how I feel and know he'll understand because he just gets angry and turns it around
Is this a fixable relationship? I get insecure that he always finds something wrong with me and seems never fully happy and that makes him even more angry. If you are wondering why his marriage ended - they dated about a month and got pregnant. Dated through the pregnancy and thereafter but he always said "he knew she wasn't the one". Married her because he thought it was the right thing to do. He cheated on her several times, and they divorced. This makes me incredibly insecure, but he says I am judging his past and would never do that to me.
Thoughts on our whole relationship? Advice? Please help. I'm at a loss and feeling hopeless.

Re: My boyfriend never seems to be satisfied with me - please take the time to help

#2
It sounds like the two of you are not compatible. :?

It's great that you're so honest in expressing your feelings about his ex-wife, to the extent that you wish she didn't exist -- but this doesn't sound like a great relationship for you because she does exist, and she's going to be in your life for at least as long as her daughter is of minority -- and probably longer. It also sounds like your boyfriend has a set of circumstances that will never work for you, and the two of you have conflicting personalities where you're both complex and stubborn, and you'd each do better with someone who rolls with the punches, is flakey in a good way, and doesn't feel so put upon. I'm sure there are wonderful things about this relationship, and each other, but it really sounds like there are some deal breakers lurking here, and that it's hard to break up with him because nothing is wildly dramatic -- it's just a slow drip of unhappiness. :(

I hope this helps.
April Masini is a relationship and etiquette expert, author of 4 books and the #1 relationship advice forum, blue-chip corporate spokesperson and preferred go-to source for the world’s most prominent media and news outlets.

Re: My boyfriend never seems to be satisfied with me - please take the time to help

#3
My fiance's ex 100%. She is emotionally unstable toward my fiance. It interferes with her ability to co-parent or parent their daughter consistently. (She has had lice 6 times in 1.5 years, this is one example) BECAUSE of this stress my fiance acts like yours. Sometimes I can't believe some of the things he says to me or how he acts. He acts out when he gets overwhelmed. I have learned that when he criticizes me, he does it because he feels inadequate. Once I point this out to him he gets it and apologizes and stops. When he is being angry or negative I know he is again, feeling inadequate but more toward financial responsibilities, thinking he is not "providing" us with what we deserve. I take in to account that he has spent his life being told he is not good enough by the females in his life. His father also died when he was a teenager leaving him with no male role model. I remain patient with him and point out, no matter how pissed he gets, when he is acting out and why it is wrong. Then I tell him a better way to have handled the emotion/situation. If he gets pissed I say my peace and give him space. He is not trying to be a jerk. I truly believe he lacks direction and believes he is nothing. So I remind him everyday what I love about him, praise him and I don't take any of his criticism personally. It is always caused by something eating at him deeply. I shift the struggle into helping him process his emotions in a healthy way and show him love and support. It is a lot of work, but I had someone walk out of my life when I really needed them to be by my side through the same type of issues within myself. If you love him and see yourself happy with him working toward common goals then keep going. A counselor may be able to break down what you are trying to get through to him. It has united us so much more and has given us hope. We also listen to a lot of Tony Robbins and live by the Law of Attraction. Faith goes a long way.

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