I dated on and off throughout my early 20’s, but I never seemed to meet a guy who would stick around. I had become okay with never finding someone and I went on with my life not really looking for anything meaningful. Then, I met my fiancé. The first time we met we talked all night. There was no going back after that.
As in all relationships, we had our “honeymoon phase”. This was so great and I was really beginning to think I had found the man I had never known I needed. However, as the relationship progressed, I started letting my mind get the better of me.
I somehow got it in my head that he was way out of my league. I couldn’t understand why this man who was so wonderful and handsome would choose me over all the other options he could have. I started to convince myself that there was no way he wasn’t looking for somebody better than me.
Unfortunately, this led to accusations that he wasn’t into our relationship as much as I was. I was constantly on alert because I felt like it was only a matter of time before he would move on like everybody else had done in my past. I started to say things that pushed him away. Eventually, this is exactly what happened. He admitted that he created a dating profile and wasn’t sure he wanted to keep dating me. He said that he didn’t know if he loved me anymore.
I can see that I had been so wrapped up in my fear of him looking elsewhere that I completely gave up on nurturing our relationship. I had pushed him away and made my worst fear come true.
We’ve had an honest talk about what each of us was feeling and we decided that we both wanted to fix our relationship if it isn’t too late.
Is there anyway this can be salvaged? Can our love be nurtured back to life? I appreciate any input you may have.
Your relationship doesn’t have to automatically end just because you made these mistakes. There is work to do, obviously, but if you are both willing to stay with it, it’s likely you can build a strong relationship.
First, the fact that you are willing to step up and take an honest look at how you contributed to the disconnection in your relationship is an important first step in repairing things. You had your own insecurities and shame that told you there was no way he could possibly love you. The rejections of the past felt like a life sentence for you, so you couldn’t imagine any other outcome for this relationship.
Even though you recognize this as a problem that caused this crisis, it’s not enough to recognize it. I encourage you to continue getting help for this insecurity so it doesn’t hijack your thinking and damage your relationship. If you continue to believe this, it won’t matter how loving and reassuring he is toward you. You have a responsibility to eliminate any intimacy-blocking beliefs that make it impossible for you to receive the love he’s freely giving you. Most people find it helpful to work with a professional counselor who can help identify and change these shame-based beliefs about one’s worthiness to receive love.
Please be aware that any insecurity you had about his ability to love you before this meltdown will now be heightened by the fact that you’ve now given him an actual reason to leave you. This additional vulnerability will threaten to sabotage your relationship if you can’t accept his choice to try again. Be gentle on yourself when you feel that additional emotional turbulence.
Remember, he chose you the first time and he’s willing to choose you again; even after your insecurities overwhelmed both of you. You will be tempted to believe things about him that could set in motion unhealthy behaviors. Do your work to challenge these beliefs while remembering that there is nothing wrong with asking for occasional reassurance instead of guessing what he’s thinking.
You are nervous about starting your marriage with this messy situation firmly planted in your relationship story. Please know that messy relationships can, with lots of work and patience, produce strong relationships.
Intimate relationships expose our blind spots and vulnerabilities. It’s not until we give ourselves to another person and rely on them completely that we see more clearly our shortcomings. It’s precisely in these moments that we can choose to do the individual and relationship work to build a relationship that will last, or make excuses and give up.
You and your fiancé have discovered your vulnerability of not trusting he wants to be with you. Your willingness to own and explore this discovery creates conditions that reinforce the strength and integrity of the relationship. This isn’t the first and won’t be the last discovery you make in this relationship. If you’re both willing to do the work to build on these discoveries, this relationship has beautiful potential.
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are his and not those of St. George News.
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