- 2 years ago
- Wedding: January 2019
OP how did the talk go?
OP how did the talk go?
TLDR: I’m writing to update on the ultimatum given yesterday because I realize someone in a rough place may read this in the future. Looking into a fiancés eyes and saying “We will either in the next week as a couple agree to arrange for personal counseling, couples therapy as well as agree to hold off on setting a firm wedding date until progress has been made from therapy … or I will be taking steps to end the relationship” was very difficult (despite all the logical reasons supporting the ultimatum). Nothing even holds a candle emotionally …but once you actually say it, it’s much easier to stay cool, calm, collected and hold your resolve. Enable nothing.
I’m a firm believer in, among other things, not “holding a relationship hostage” when things go awry so it took an extreme like this to put things into a healthier perspective. But if you don’t have a fully functioning relationship to begin with and it’s at no fault of your own, you don’t have a relationship to hold hostage. A sinking ship can still be taking on water while moving forward in the illusion of progress. The ultimatum was absolutely necessary.
Backstory: I see many posters asking if she’d acted like this before. The response is I’ve never seen anything to this extent. Has she experienced high levels of irrational irritability (and all the wonderful, loving talk someone can use during those phases)? Yes, at least monthly with anxious spells and mood shifts in-between. That said, I’ve been a longtime reader of things like “how to be a good partner to someone with anxiety” in addition to general relationship guidance, because for the longest time I felt it was black and white that’s what was up. The tools I was given from these “partners-of-someone-with-anxiety” readings did allow me to put things into context and not be as offended as I likely should have been during previous, repeated displays of irrational irritability. No, it has never once been this bad. But I have to admit I fully rationalized everything/wrote way too much off prior as being attributable to “anxiety.”
Unfortunately, even if she has anxiety or if it’s just her way of treating me the way her parents treated her, that’s not the entirety of the problem. In effect, my incorrect viewpoint got shattered from this event and I realized the extent to which I’ve enabled things. I’ve always stood up for myself- that’s not the point. The point is there are some things I should’ve stood up for in a much different way and much sooner. One can only use so many pareve responses, “when you/I” phrases and have supportive talks.
How things went: After I laid things out to her, the night got considerably darker before the dawn. She went from a stage of denial, to an entire night and a morning of the textbook definition of “inconsolable,” to a state of “halfway-apology/half-way you triggered me,” to owning up to being in the wrong and apologizing. I stood extremely firm and [enter emphasis on the short term here] it’s panning out better than I expected. Once the dust settled, we talked and were able to connect for hours. Calmly. We connected on a wavelength the exact way I would always hope to connect with a wife.
In short, 3+ hours of talk lead to the discovery, among other things, of a rumination problem as well as hurts from childhood. We both acknowledged this wasn’t getting better on its own and formed a game plan for counseling as well as healthier ways of being able to sit down and calmly step through miscommunications in the meantime in the event she “goes to that place” again.
It still really hurts to be in this position- I honestly have zero patience left and told myself I’d give my last ounce of it to her in our conversation after my ultimatum- but knowing it’s a step in the right direction is relieving. I do love her, tremendously, more than I’ve ever loved a woman- but that doesn’t change the fact we’re at a crossroads. Just going to focus on me right now, accept I very well may ultimately have to call off the engagement despite my best efforts and let the cards fall where they may.
Ball is in her court.
This is the most mature resolution I’ve ever seen on here. Best of luck, you definitely are dealing with this the best way possible and I hope you are able to work it out.
I have anxiety. I’ve had several full panic attacks. And I see a therapist for self care. But I do NOT take out my stress or insecurity on my husband. Anxiety doesn’t make me manipulative, and it doesn’t impare my communication. What you are describing – and considering her difficult childhood you mentioned – sounds a lot like Boarderline Personality Disorder.
My brother, like you, is also kind, reasonable, calm, and very pragmatic. He dated a woman with Boarderline Personality Disorder for several years. It took him a long time to realize what he was up against. I suggest you look into a book titled “I hate you, don’t leave me” (the PDF is free online). If this book applies to your finace, then I STRONGLY suggest, for your own emotional well being, that you end this engagement.
You’ve handled this so well!!!! You deserve to marry your peer!
Thanks for the good update! You are right this is a really great update for others in a similar situation to hear. You are really thinking this through with all the patience and love you can muster while also making sure you do what is right for yourself.
Please keep us updated on how this turns out, all of us are very interested to see if she does do the work necessary to be a loving supportive partner to you or not.
Hold on to that courage you have found and keep firm to what you know you deserve. Do that and no matter how it turns out you will be ok. Let us know how it goes!
I’m going to get flamed for this but it’s the Internet so I don’t care.
You knew that closely spaced proposals would be potentially controversial, because you sought your brother’s (and your father’s) opinion to make sure it was okay with them. At no time did you think of addressing this with your fiancee to see how she felt about it? She clearly was not badgering you for a proposal (as she expressed “surprise” when you did it and may have preferred you wait until after your brother’s engagement. Maybe she wanted a holiday proposal, as both she and her dad hinted at. Maybe in light of this, she would have preferred you wait until next year. You discussed and okayed a proposal timeline with 3 people – all men – and not the woman getting proposed to. Why?
In all honesty, the way you talk about her in this entire thread comes across very demeaning and patriarchal. I wouldn’t be surprised if everything going forward is “That’s just your anxiety, honey” and none of her actual concerns ever get heard.
Also “cherished family stomping grounds” has this weird Kennedy-esque feel to it. Gross.
For both your sakes, I hope she gives you back the ring. Preferably at Thanksgiving.
Both brothers felt “past due” to propose but decided to wait until after their sister’s wedding, presumably to not take any attention away from their sister. Yet they and their father are also in agreement that “You can’t put your life on hold for anyone else”? Anyone else besides their sister I guess. And with that, OP’s “tentative” plans to propose were suddenly perfect.
So OP’s sister had the summer for her wedding, and the brother and his fiancee get Thanksgiving at the Kennedy Compound. And OP got to propose when the “timing felt perfect” (to him and his brother at least). Sounds like OP’s fiancee got the short end of the stick here. Again, this doesn’t excuse her behavior or her attempt to deter the brother (it’s not his fault that OP decided to propose when he did). But I understand why it would bother her.
Also I hear you on the tone throughout. I think, regardless of whether they go their seperate ways, that they both could benefit from therapy (assuming OP is open to some self reflection).
And I disagree that if a woman gets a proposal and accepts then she should just shut up and be happy she got engaged. Again not condoning this fiancee’s behavior specfically, but more generally the idea that a woman should just be grateful that she got a proposal at all.
I do think there are men who say “you’re just being emotional” or dismiss something as “anxiety”, but the OP doesn’t seem to be doing that. He read books on the subject to make sure he was communicating well and on her terms. That’s very proactive!
This women is being competetive about something that should be good news. I don’t see that as the OP being condescending. If I were him, I would be baffeled by such an unmeasured responce to what should be a slam dunk for happiness.
1. Give up and accept that the brother is going to propose
2. Call off the engagement (and end the relationship in doing so)
So what is the way out? This is really a hopeless situation for the fiancee and – while I don’t condone her behavior – I can see someone acting this way as a response to a situation that doesn’t have a mutually beneficial solution. She probably feels trapped and knows she has to sacrifice what she wants if she wants to stay with OP.
You’re also spot on with the “just be happy he proposed” mindset. She has a voice too.
Many couples get engaged without necessarily discussing time lines and that does not mean the man views his girlfriend as less than equal. A lot of men don’t “consult” their girlfriend before proposing, a proposal is simply a question at the end of the day, why would you need to consult on asking a question?