My fiancé and I have a lot of tensions and arguments. When we started dating, I fell hard, but he was holding back. I discovered that he had a commitment (made by his parents years before) to a distant female cousin, whom he’d eventually marry.
We were both 23 then. I said he had no obligation to her and should choose for himself.
Within two more years, we’d moved in together to my apartment and got engaged three years ago. We’re now 28. We’d saved for and planned a large wedding for this past June, but COVID-19 intervened.
We’re being stressed by his parents who keep mentioning the cousin who’s still single. I have a short fuse on this subject, especially since his father would even tell him in my presence about how wonderfully the cousin’s doing in her job.
I’ve ended up screaming at him about this.
I’m not sure if we’ve gone past the point of no return. My anger boils up beyond control, and he runs for cover rather than reassure me.
I now have huge doubts about whether we should go ahead with any sort of wedding at all.
- Not Yet a Bride
I understand how frustrating it can be to have this long-ago decision made by his parents still be mentioned while you’re living together as partners and engaged to marry.
It’s even harder to understand why he’s not stated firmly to them that it’s not his choice, isn’t going to happen and their mentioning it is unfairly upsetting the woman he loves.
That said, you still have an urgent need – for your own sake as well as his – to learn how to handle your anger.
Without understanding and practising anger management, there’s little hope for a lasting, happy marriage and concern for any future relationship you may have.
It seems you’ve both reached a crisis point following a repeated cycle of events – sparked by the trigger of negative information, met by your verbal explosion, soon avoided by his retreat.
So, beyond dealing with the anger that’s so hard on you both, there’s also a huge need for relationship repair.
As I’ve written, not everyone needs or wants professional counselling. But I believe you both can benefit from it.
Feedback regarding the effects of menopause (Feb. 4):
Reader: Despite menopause being a shock to me, I’m grateful to my gynecologist for recommending using coconut oil when having sex. I’m happily enjoying sex at 65.
Ellie: Readers should check this out through their doctor.
Reader’s commentary regarding the woman whose husband walked out twice (Feb. 5):
My heart goes out to the kids particularly.
While the concrete steps you suggest are good, it's also worth considering the intangible things. When I split up with my son's mom when he was five, I did three things:
- I told him casually but often, that this was an "adult problem" not caused by him in any way and that we both loved him as much as ever.
- I told him that I’d never, ever, leave him – that we were together for life, no matter how hard or easy it might be.
- I bought a ring (yes, a bit corny), and wore it on my left baby finger as my “son ring” that was a symbol of my commitment to him. I said he could always look at it and know that my commitment to him was real.
Reader 2: How does someone just leave their family and say they’ve found their “true match”? It happened to me too. He left me for a woman he’d known for only three weeks, convinced that she was his only chance at true love.
I couldn’t understand why and was devastated. It was 15 years ago. I read about a Montreal-based psychotherapist whose husband did this to her after 21 years of marriage.
She decided to research it in a study of over 400 women, which she called the Sudden Wife Abandonment Project and I was one of those many women who answered her call to participate.
Her name is Vikki Stark. She published the results of her study in a book, Runaway Husbands: The Abandoned Wife’s Guide to Recovery and Renewal, in 2010.
The type of men who do this are narcissists. Her book helped me a lot.
Ellie’s tip of the day:
- Angry outbursts increase tensions, create anxiety and weaken relationships. Anger management counselling helps change the pattern.
Read Ellie Monday to Saturday. Send relationship questions to [email protected]. Follow @ellieadvice.