Hi Laura B:
Sounds like you're in a predicament that many a couple gets into at some point in their relationship. It's the, "I'm going north, he's going south" Syndrome. But you're in good company, and many have traveled this path before you.
Your boyfriend is stuck in a victim mode mentality right now, and until he comes to terms with the truth about his situation at work, there is probably nothing you will be able to do to get his attention. Quite honestly it's his victimhood and he owns it.
You can't make him do anything he doesn't want to do. The more you try to force action the more he will probably react in defiance because he hasn't seen or created a vision for himself that things can be any differently than the way he sees them from his "woe is me" vantage point.
So what can you do?
Decide if this is acceptable and if so for how much longer?
Become the mirror. In other words, be the example of things are not as bad as they seem without actually saying those words.
Never say to him, "I totally understand." Quite honestly, you don't and you can't. No one else can ever understand fully what someone else is feeling.
Ask him flat out in a loving way, "What can I do to support you," or "How would you like me to be with you when you feel down about work?"
Be honest with him. Maybe say something like, "I sense that your energy is totally being drained and you lack any motivation to do anything other than get through the day at work. It seems to also be really hard for you to have any energy or excitement about our relationship. So I am curious if what I am observing is how you also feel, and if so, would you like talk through this and see if we can create an plan to at least bring some joy back into your life around our relationship.
Of course the other option is to just leave him alone and not say anything. However, this strategy typically only leads to both of individuals bottling up unending stress which then leads to an emotional explosion.
I hope this was helpful and that it gave you something to think on.
Rick, The Coming Out Coach
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You can only help your boyfriend if he wants to be helped. It doesn't sound like he wants to be helped now. The more you try to make him talk about these things and see that things aren't as bad as he thinks, the more he'll resist because he's in pain and isn't ready to move forward.
Everyone has a different way of working through hard times and we tend to want our partner to work through their pain the way we would. Don't expect or want your boyfriend to handle this situation the way you would. If your relationship with your boyfriend has been good up until now, express how you're feeling for you (not because you need him to do something or be a certain way. This means talking from your heart without an attachment to the outcome.
When you communicate from your heart for you, he'll be able to hear you better. If you communicate with expectations on what you want him to do or how you want him to be, he'll feel that you don't accept him for who he is. This will make him close up even more.
If he is "the one" and isn't usually affected by situations that could be perceived as negative, instead of needing him to talk about you and him or where you and he are heading, be patient with him. Don't let him bring you down. Keep a positive attitude and outlook.
If he has a history of letting a lot of situations bring him down, do you want to be with someone who is easily and constantly affected negatively? If you know in your heart that this relationship isn't for you, the bigger questions to ask are, "Why am I still here?" "What's keeping me from leaving?"
I hope this helps.
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