Hey, I actually wanted to add a second post when I saw you’d written him an email that made him mad. I think I might be able to help illuminate certain word choices that I think you wrote because you cared, but could be perceived in the wrong way, and how it could have led him to lose hope and shut down.
I don’t know where you are in terms of how you feel about him at this point, so please, please forgive me in advance for being presumptuous, I am no shrink, just a business person who likes to study behavioral psychology. This post is in no way a personal judgment on you, you sound like a beautiful, loving, and wonderrful woman and I want nothing but the best for you. I want you to be happy and in a relationship that can be healthy for life. I humbly offer you some feedback on certain actions and word choices you’ve used that I think can be refined so that they convey how much you care and want to fix the relationship. I am writing this in the hopes that perhaps can shed more light onto a difficult situation. Feel free to take my words or completely ignore them!
I really don’t know where you guys are at in your relationship. I know that you really, really care about his wellbeing, but if he is a person who responds to words of affirmation (and it really sounds like he is, from the way he doesn’t like you yelling), you need to affirm FIRST. Your email started with doubt. It could start with something like, “I really love you. I care about you, I care about us, and I don’t want to give up”
“There are things that I want changed and there are things that you want changed and the only way we’re both going to be happy is if the other person just accepts those changes and promises to fix things and gives it 100% and moves forward.”
I would disagree a little bit here in that… part of loving a person is loving them for who they are, NOW. If you don’t love them for who they are, trying to force change on them will only hurt both of you. Obviously I wanted my fiance to improve, but if he did absolutely nothing to change his personality today, I would still be head over heels in love with him. You both need to learn to accept each other currently with both your strengths and weaknesses before moving forward.
“You want me to work harder to lose weight? Diet harder? Workout more often? I can do that, but I need you to back off.”
This sentence sounded defensive, and a little threatening when you ask him to “back off” [but it might just be me], especially if this is on an email and I’m not sure how you normally talk, but since I’m a person who is sensitive to words, and it sounds like he might be too, word choice is very important.
“It’s silly for you to say we can’t do the same workouts, that’s simply not true.”
This is an example of a broad “always” or “never” statement that I would have avoided, because you told him he was silly (a put down) and you are telling him that he is not telling you a truth, but there could be a little truth in what he’s saying.
“X-friend and Y-friend (couple) follow the same routine together.”
Comparison is the thief of joy. Once you start comparing yourselves to other people that he might perceive to be in a better position, it takes away motivation and it crushes the ego. I can see how a statement similar to this can demotivate a person because he is not your x-friend! You guys are unique, and you can find something that suits both of your needs together .
I get a really good sense from your email that you value quality time with your partner, it makes you feel loved, it’s your love language! You guys need to undersatnd how each other loves and receives love. A better way would be to say, “I feel really closer to you when we get to work out together. I can understand if you do not feel the same way, but it would really feel loving if you could consider working out with me once a week”
“bend a little with me and I’ll bend a little with you.”
The attitude I’m seeing from you here is that you see the relationship as a tit for tat. I agree that both of you need to put in the effort, however, you won’t bend unless he bends. I think you’re trying to communicate that a relationship is a two-way street, but these words are defensive and passive, not active. To break the impasse that both of you are facing, someone has to become sacrificing and just. LOVE. You are in a much better position than he is to do that.
“First, I want you to fix your sleeping schedule. I want you to do whatever it takes, whatever it costs in medical bills – to figure out why you can’t sleep right. This is REALLY affecting ME and our relationship. I can’t keep telling you for 3 ½ years now that this bothers me. It ruins every weekend. It aggravates me and stresses me out during the week.”
This paragraph puts you into attack mode. You need to find out why he is having a bad sleeping schedule, in a non-threatening way. You are also saying that it “ruins every weekend”, so it sounds like a really deep issue. There is definitely medical hope, so try to remove your emotions from this and approach this with a caring tone such as
“I’m really worried about your sleeping schedule, and I want to find out if there is a way that medicine can help. I don’t want you to have to suffer when I think you can be healed. Do you mind if we went to the doctor today to see if your sleeping can be treated?”
“I work best when things are written down and we have schedules. If I can get a “schedule” of when I need to work out and when I get to go on the computer or watch TV, then I would work really well that way. I think this way, I can work on losing weight like you want me to and we can be on a schedule, together.”
I laughed a little bit here because you sound like me, you’re a J-oriented personality on the Myers-Briggs test, you like schedules, structure. However, not all people are like that. I don’t know the Myers-Briggs type for your guy, but he may very well be a natural P! P-type people go with the flow, don’t make plans, do things on the fly. It doesn’t mean that they’re disorganized, P-type people can still be highly effective, but it does make a J-type person uncomfortable. You also need to learn to be okay with his way of doing things and you have to trust him to get it done. Just as J-type people get insanely happy by making to-do lists and organizing their book collection, P-type people will find that environment stifling, controlling, and quashes their creativity. The way I’ve managed P-type personalities (thankfully, my Fiance is a J) is that I will ask them if they can provide me with a time by which THEY think something will be done. But then, I also set an expectation that they could change! I have a friend who is chronically late. I just tell her dinner time is 7PM and I show up at 7:30PM, and lo and behold, we arrive at the same time! LOL!! Opposites will both have to learn how to meet each other in the middle.
“Anyway, that’s what I think and my proposal.. back to work for now..”
Here too, you ended your email without positive reinforcement, and you actually took the attention back to your job. If I were your Fiance, I’d think two things. 1) your work sounds more important than fixing this relationship 2) Also, you just reminded him you have a job and he didn’t. Oops.
I always provide feedback in a hamburger approach. Start with something sweet, then talk about the bad, then something sweet again. It takes 10 positive experience to undo 1 bad experience.
Anyway, a lot of the context and assumptions I’m making come from relationship books and also from advice I’d received over the years. I think it’s really, really great you are so open, and so wonderfully generous with your thoughts to everyone here on this board. You have not appeared emotional or immature here, I see a real beautiful lady in you, with a lot of potential, a lot of love and you care!! You are working really hard, you are thinking about family, you move and changed jobs – you are clearly committed, and willing to work on things! I see a lot of hope in here too because I don’t think all is lost. I think if you believe that he was wonderful when he first started, that can still come back.