Join 3,497 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Can this relationship be salvaged?
January 15, 2012 10:54 AM   Subscribe

My fiancée is pushing me away and after years trying to make things work, I've lost most of my hope.

My fiancée and I (both 23) have been together for just over 5 years and living together for the past 3. There have been ups and downs during that time, including a month-long break up about 2 years ago, but I love her and want to spend the rest of my life with her. She had a rough childhood (alcoholic father who left) and I think that this is negatively affecting our relationship and her self-image.

I had a female best friend from high school, who I knew before I met my fiancée, but I have largely given up this relationship because my then-girlfriend was jealous. It was a slow and ugly process and since then my fiancée has thought that I could and should find someone better suited to me than she herself is. I have tried my best to quell her insecurities, but they have been around for most of our relationship.

I proposed about a year ago and she said yes. Things seemed to be going well, but a few months later there was a conflict between my fiancée and sister at a wedding planning convention. I wasn't there, but my sister was apparently late and then didn't stay for very long, which my fiancée and her mother took offence to. Since then there has been tension between my fiancée and sister. This is even more concerning for me, since both of my parents are deceased and my sister is the only immediate family that I have left.

This past September was a terrible month for my fiancée, as her father died and she was laid off from her job. I tried to be as emotionally supportive as I could, but she didn't lean on me as much as I would have expected.

Roughly 2 months ago she started saying that she didn't feel right wearing the ring that I gave her because the diamond that I used is from my mother's wedding ring, and my fiancée thinks that the diamond should stay in the family (sister). I talked to my sister about using the diamond before I got the ring made and she was ok with the plan and the way I see it, once we get married my fiancée will be in the family anyway.

About the same time she told me that she had started taking anti-depressants. She said that she had thought about suicide, but had no immediate plans to do it in the future. I encouraged her to see a therapist, but she only took the pills which were prescribed to her. My fiancée stopped wearing the ring two weeks ago and a few days later she said that she really doesn't want to live anymore and that she has been pushing me away intentionally. I found her a therapist myself this time, and made sure that she went. She said that the therapist was insightful, but it hasn't made her change her mind. She said that she doesn't really want to go again.

We've tried talking about this, but she is emotionally distant and insists that I find another girlfriend so that she can leave me and not be missed. Feeling confused and unsure about what to do, I asked her best friend if she knew what was going on with my fiancée. She told me that she didn't know that my fiancée was thinking about suicide but that she did know that she was having second thoughts about the wedding and that she was stressed out about money.

So here I am. I'm scare and confused. I've tried my best to show my fiancée that I love her and that she deserves to be loved, but she is pushing me away. I'm tired of struggling to keep this relationship going, but now I'm worried that she will hurt herself if we break up. She seems to want to continue our normal day-to-day routine and act like nothing is wrong, but I just can't play this charade.

Any thoughts about this situation are welcome. I'm looking for some outside perspective to help me figure out what to do next. Let me know if I've left out any important details. Thanks.
posted by Homo economicus to Human Relations (31 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
You cannot make someone, even your fiancée, get help. She's going to have to do it on her own. If she's pushing you away, it may be because you've been together since you were basically children, and she's had a lot of traumatic things happen to her recently.

Give her space. Be her friend. If she mentions suicide again, call and make her get help.

Date other people who will be healthy for you.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:57 AM on January 15, 2012


You must let her go.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:10 AM on January 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, I'm so sorry. I know this is so scary and sad. She is breaking up with you, in her own imperfect way. You can't control the situation to make her get help, whether or not you stay together (and for that matter: you can't make the two of you stay together, either, if she doesn't want to), but you can be a loving friend and encourage her to do so. That's all you can really do for her.

For yourself: you might want to consider seeing a therapist as well, even for a short-term spell, as the grief of losing a relationship like this is extremely significant. Be gentle with yourself. This is going to be painful, but I promise that it will eventually get better and you will be able to move on down the road.
posted by scody at 11:20 AM on January 15, 2012 [20 favorites]


Roughly 2 months ago she started saying that she didn't feel right wearing the ring that I gave her... About the same time she told me that she had started taking anti-depressants.

I'm no psychiatrist, but I think the whole process of getting married might be contributing in a major way to her depression. If that's the case, no amount of being there for her or loving her or anything-ing her is going to make this better; in fact, they may be making things worse. Advice: let her break up with you.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:25 AM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think you need to talk to a therapist.

You can't make someone love you or want to be with you and it appears that your fiancée, for whatever reason, does not want to be in a relationship with you. It's possible that the situation will change in the future and there are a lot of extenuating circumstances and love of your life and etc etc, but right now only one of you wants to stay together and that's not enough.

You worry that she might hurt herself if you break up. I can't tell if that's the case or not (no one can. Not even her), but it sure looks to me like she already thinks you are broken up.

So, talk to a therapist. This will help you get your feelings in order and give you the tools to deal with the next few months. The good thing is that it will get better eventually, but it won't start getting better until you actually accept where you are headed.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:26 AM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sometimes people aren't as strong as we would like them to be, we deserve them to be, or they should be. Much (most) of this sounds like she does not to marry you or be in a relationship with you, but for whatever reason she isn't capable of ending it herself -- so she wants you to end it.

The depression thing with suicidal tendencies... I have no idea about the state of her mental health. But you absolutely cannot stay with someone because you hope it will keep them well. It doesn't work like that. It won't work like that. But even if it did, here, I get the sense that breaking off the relationship would actually be a relief to her.
posted by J. Wilson at 11:27 AM on January 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Marriage doesn't fix problems in a relationship. Staying in a relationship doesn't fix problems in a person. You're struggling to keep it going, she's been struggling for some distance - in fact, she's using everything she has at hand to let you know this short of saying the words most brutally, and still you won't let her go.

It doesn't seem like the problem is that you love her and she doesn't see it - it's how you love her, and how, no matter how great that might be, she doesn't want it. It's hard to turn down what so many others seek just because it's not what you want.

But she must feel that she's got to do it to get on with the life she wants, not just a life that's the continuation of a path she started down with you when you were both very young. The death of a parent can really bring this close to home. And, it's natural that with your losses at your age you'd want to cling to her and the stability of a relationship like this and all it represents - but you also have to learn that down the road, other people will love you too.
posted by peagood at 11:48 AM on January 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


FWIW, right now is near the peak of the time of year that people feel their worst. The combination of post holiday, lack of light build up (even though days are starting to get longer), cold, and traditionally more housebound than most times of year.

You have known her 5 years. Does she have a pattern of being more depressed, or generally less energetic this time of year?

My guess? It will get better as the year moves on, but even if it does that is not a reason to then ignore what has happened, but to advocate for her to be proactive in subsequent years to hopefully avoid the deep depression of winter (there are a lot of Askme treads abut depression).

It may be worth it to hang on for a few more months / 1/2 year, to see if things do get better and if she is willing to take some preventative measures after than.
posted by edgeways at 11:53 AM on January 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


I agree you should seek counseling for you - it'll help you sort out what's going on in your own head, as well as what you can and cannot control about your fiancee, your relationship with her, and whether or not this marriage goes forward.

Try not to make any decisions, promises, threats, etc. until you've gone to see that counselor a few times, BTW. And stop trying to get her to do anything but have a decently positive "right now" (that is, it's okay to try and have a nice day with her, but it is not okay to have a long discussion about how you should be together forever and all this will blow over, or that she shouldn't be wanting to kill herself, or even that she should be going to that therapist.)
posted by SMPA at 11:54 AM on January 15, 2012


Stop being clingy. Give her space.
posted by Neekee at 12:21 PM on January 15, 2012


I'm going to go against (most of) the grain here and say that you should hang on a little while longer, under the condition that she seek therapy before you guys continue wedding planning. I don't think she actually wants to break up with you--I think she's scared shitless that if she lets go and trusts you to be her life-partner, then the "inevitable" rejection will be that much more hurtful and humiliating. I also had--and have--a very dysfunctional family dynamic that at times severely depresses me, even to the point of suicidal thoughts. The thing that depresses me the most is the feeling of being utterly broken, damaged and un-loveable in a world of people who have seemingly had way better childhoods than I and are much more well-adjusted and capable of healthy relationships. It's irrational, I know, but it's a real feeling and it's very difficult to shake.

Feeling this way can cause you to push away those who profess to love you--because it seems like a cruel joke or a doomed fantasy. Maybe she wants to give the ring back because she doesn't believe she'll really be part of your family, and instead feels like an intruder. I have done similar things if I'm feeling this way and partners try to include me in family stuff, insisting that I could not possibly be wanted and won't be missed if I take a pass. My absence then looks like drama-queen behavior, and I feel even more broken and misunderstood.

That said, it's way way easier to push people away and reject those who love you out of preemptive self-defense than it is to work on your behavior and learn to trust loving kindness and the promise of family and friendship. I say hang on for a few more months, but insist that she gets therapy if you guys are to be married. Insist. Postpone the wedding, and make sure she knows that it is not because you don't want to marry her, but it is because you want to give her time to accept what is possible between you two. It sounds like you love her a lot, and that she makes you happy when she's not struggling with this stuff. I wish you guys the best.
posted by swingbraid at 12:28 PM on January 15, 2012 [15 favorites]


It could be depression, it could be that she is genuinely wants to break up with you. You can't know which it is. I recommend a therapist for yourself, so you can look after your own mental health. Put all the talk of weddings, etc., on the back burner, and let her focus on the here and now.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 12:36 PM on January 15, 2012


insist that she gets therapy if you guys are to be married. Insist. postpone the wedding, and make sure she knows that it is not because you don't want to marry her, but it is because you want to give her time to accept what is possible between you two.

I agree that at the very, very least the wedding needs to be postponed. But I disagree with putting the situation in these terms, because it frames it in such a way that the OP still knows what's best for the two of them, and that his fiancee merely needs to "accept" this. If she genuinely wants to end the relationship, that is her prerogative, regardless of what may appear to be possible between the two of them as a couple and regardless of how profoundly sad it might be for both parties not to fulfill that potential as a couple.
posted by scody at 12:43 PM on January 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


scody: " insist that she gets therapy if you guys are to be married. Insist. postpone the wedding, and make sure she knows that it is not because you don't want to marry her, but it is because you want to give her time to accept what is possible between you two.

I agree that at the very, very least the wedding needs to be postponed. But I disagree with putting the situation in these terms, because it frames it in such a way that the OP still knows what's best for the two of them, and that his fiancee merely needs to "accept" this. If she genuinely wants to end the relationship, that is her prerogative, regardless of what may appear to be possible between the two of them as a couple and regardless of how profoundly sad it might be for both parties not to fulfill that potential as a couple.
"

To clarify: in no way am I stating that the OP knows what is best for his partner, or that she is not capable of deciding what is best for herself. I'm saying that it is possible that they can make their relationship work.

I don't think they should stay together just to avoid heartache, but that he should give it a few more months if she decides to seek help.
posted by swingbraid at 1:06 PM on January 15, 2012


"It could be depression, it could be that she is genuinely wants to break up with you."

From the text of your question I'm betting both, with a heavy dose of the latter.

You question reads as a list of ways in which she is trying to detach from you but doesn't feel safe actually coming out and saying directly without other things in the mix you can't argue with. If in your heart of hearts you know that if she were to have told you directly that this isn't a relationship she wants for the rest of her life you would argue with her until she changed her mind then you already know why.

The best thing that you can do for both of you is to respect her stated desires. When you do it will feel incredibly liberating for both of you, scary, uncertain, but liberating.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:10 PM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


A lot of us have been in situations with some of these elements. It sucks so bad and I'm so sorry. I remember being there and bringing my girlfriend roses in the hopes that it would make her happy with me just for a moment. She looked at those roses like I was trying to hand her a dead rat. I'll never forget that.

She doesn't want to marry you. She's picking fights over stupid things and hoping to put the leaving part on you. It only gets worse from here. You can kill yourself with worry trying to figure out why she wants things this way, but there's nothing here that you have the power to fix.

You might be sick of hearing it but: you're young. This relationship is a major lesson for you that is going to be invaluable when you end up being a stable, constructive partner in a stable, constructive, healthy relationship.
posted by ftm at 1:36 PM on January 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think it sounds like Depression. If you look at this stress scale you can see that she is close to 300 points in the past 6 months and at risk of illness (which Depression is).
If it is mental illness, anti-depressants without regular talk therapy where the Dr can monitor the anti-depresent effectiveness are not going to alleviate her illness.

Can you find a couple's counsellor to discuss these issues with? Meanwhile, four things that help someone with depression are people, places, rituals, and routines that give her stability and consistency. That is why she wants to act like nothing has changed. If she choses to not deal with her illness there is nothing you can do to force her; you have to accept that is the choice she has made.

I am sorry, this sounds very hard to deal with and you should also be looking for support for yourself outside this relationship.
posted by saucysault at 2:15 PM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


About the same time she told me that she had started taking anti-depressants. She said that she had thought about suicide,...she said that she really doesn't want to live anymore...she is emotionally distant and insists that I find another girlfriend so that she can leave me and not be missed.

Reading this thread, I wonder if everyone else is reading the same question as I am. To me, this is an emergency situation. Your fiancee is threatening suicide and making preparations to kill herself.

I would advise you, for the moment, to put aside your worries about the status of the relationship. It's not that the relationship isn't important; it's just that your fiancee's life is in danger right now. You can worry about replacing the brakes after the car is not on fire anymore. For the moment, you need to take your fiancee's words seriously. Some actions that you could take:
- call the national suicide hotline (1-800-273-8255) for advice
- call 911 if she is actively making suicide threats

I am not an expert on suicide prevention, but I know enough to know that you need to take her threats seriously. Please do call the hotline; it's staffed with folks who have a great deal of experience dealing with situations like this.
posted by ourobouros at 2:16 PM on January 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


I do agree with ourobouros, OP, that you should absolutely call 911 if she makes an active threat or otherwise appears to be an imminent danger to herself. Also, here are some suggestions on how you can be immediately helpful.
posted by scody at 2:43 PM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree with J. Wilson -- it sounds like leaving this relationship would be a relief to her now. I recommend seeing a therapist on your own. The great thing about therapy that isn't necessarily true with confiding in friends/family is that they'll not only help you make decisions that are best for you, but can see down the road and will have a sense of how those decisions will affect your life in the immediate future. There's difficulty with this now, but there will be more difficulty going forward as you deal with the fallout from this, whatever your decision.

It does sound like you need to let this go.
posted by sweetkid at 3:29 PM on January 15, 2012


Thanks everyone for taking the time to respond. I think that swingbraid has a good idea of what's going on. I had a talk with my fiancee this afternoon and she said that she does love me, but part of her is convinced that all good things end, and that nothing good lasts. She is still discouraged with life, but she has agreed to go back to see the therapist again.
posted by Homo economicus at 3:33 PM on January 15, 2012


From Mayo Clinic

Suicide warning signs or suicidal thoughts include:

Talking about suicide, including making such statements as "I'm going to kill myself," "I wish I was dead" or "I wish I hadn't been born"

Getting the means to commit suicide, such as getting a gun or stockpiling pills

Withdrawing from social contact and wanting to be left alone

Having mood swings, such as being emotionally high one day and deeply discouraged the next

Being preoccupied with death, dying or violence

Feeling trapped or hopeless about a situation

Increased use of alcohol or drugs

Changing normal routine, including eating or sleeping patterns

Doing risky or self-destructive things, such as using drugs or driving recklessly

Giving away belongings or getting affairs in order

Saying goodbye to people as if they won't be seen again

Developing personality changes, such as becoming very outgoing after being shy


I think that the relationship is a red herring here. She's been depressed since her father died, and losing her job and the stress of a wedding can't possibly have helped this situation. Her medication might be contributing to any suicidal thoughts if the dosage/meds are wrong.

You and the people who care about her need to treat this as a life-threatening situation. If she's pushing you away, then get her family/friends involved.

Depression is such a deceptive illness, and so much of what she's saying right now could just be her illness trying to isolate her and make her feel worthless. Whether you stay with her through this is a personal decision, but I wouldn't judge her willingness to be in a relationship with you from things she says while suicidally depressed.
posted by jnaps at 3:38 PM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Depression is such a deceptive illness, and so much of what she's saying right now could just be her illness trying to isolate her and make her feel worthless. Whether you stay with her through this is a personal decision, but I wouldn't judge her willingness to be in a relationship with you from things she says while suicidally depressed.

This is all completely true, and these may not be her true feelings, but the OP should still respect her feelings if she says she doesn't want to be together. It sounds like she might not have said this expressly, but if she's saying things that hint at this, those things still need to be discussed. It can be incredibly frustrating to depressed people to have their feelings waved away with "this is the depression talking" because everything still feels so real.
posted by sweetkid at 4:09 PM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


My fiancée and I (both 23) have been together for just over 5 years and living together for the past 3.

You’re both very young. There are a few people who get married early and manage to make it last…but in this case, you’re too young to get married. She knows this, you don’t. Yet. You probably haven’t really even lived on your own, or away from home at all, right?

There have been ups and downs during that time, including a month-long break up about 2 years ago

A break-up is a break-up is final. Getting back together almost never works. Going forward in your life, please remember this, and remember that you don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you. Think of it like this: breaking up with you is a dealbreaker. One strike, and they’re out.

but I love her

I don’t doubt you love her. Love is sometimes not enough.

and want to spend the rest of my life with her.

Life is long. Minds change. We can’t always know ourselves perfectly. I’m not saying you’re not right- but life is long.

there was a conflict between my fiancée and sister at a wedding planning convention.
she didn't feel right wearing the ring that I gave her because the diamond that I used is from my mother's wedding ring, and my fiancée thinks that the diamond should stay in the family (sister). I talked to my sister about using the diamond before I got the ring made and she was ok with the plan and the way I see it, once we get married my fiancée will be in the family anyway.


Actually, your fiancée has a point. Maybe she’s supersensitive because of her depression and imagining slights, or maybe your sister actually does have mixed feelings about the marriage and losing your mother’s wedding ring and has been a little snippy with her. I would really try to grill the sister a little more. It sounds like the problem is on both sides.

both of my parents are deceased and my sister is the only immediate family that I have left.
She had a rough childhood (alcoholic father who left)
her father died and she was laid off from her job.


It also sounds like you're both struggling with very difficult life situations. You're pretty isolated without much support- no wonder you’re clinging to each other. What you need is friendship and a support system. Maybe you’ve stayed together so long not because you’re truly the best match, but because you were sheltering in each other in the face of your hardships. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it’s beautiful in some ways, but it’s not the best foundation for a free partnership.

Consider that you may not be the best match since you both have very small and fractured families. It might be better for each of you to marry into a more stable family situation, rather than creating one in which three out of four parents are dead and there's only an iffy relationship with the one remaining sister. That’s very isolating and stressful. I know that sounds harsh and practical…but well, life is harsh and practical.

she is emotionally distant and insists that I find another girlfriend so that she can leave me and not be missed. I asked her best friend if she knew what was going on with my fiancée. She told me that she didn't know that my fiancée was thinking about suicide but that she did know that she was having second thoughts about the wedding and that she was stressed out about money.

She probably is thinking of suicide but didn’t tell the friend this. Regardless, any suicidal ideation must be taken seriously. It was very good of you to insist that she see a therapist. If I were you I would immediately call or write to her mother and tell her everything you told us, stressing that she needs to be in therapy. Try to get her to see the therapist for another session, if she felt like she connected with the one she saw before. But her mother needs to take over from there.

The decks are stacked against you. Young, prior breakup, depression, unstable life situation- a marriage under these circumstances would have to be extraordinary to work out well. In short, you are most likely the rule, not the exception.
posted by stockpuppet at 4:23 PM on January 15, 2012


There are two issues here: her depression and your relationship. You may need to put your concerns about the relationship to the side until things are more stable for your fiancée.

a few days later she said that she really doesn't want to live anymore and that she has been pushing me away intentionally.

We've tried talking about this, but she is emotionally distant and insists that I find another girlfriend so that she can leave me and not be missed.

These are things that people who are depressed say. People who are depressed often think that people would be better off without them, that it would be better if they could be replaced by (by whatever measure) superior partners, that it would be better if no one cared about them so they could disappear.

Maybe she wants to be with you and maybe she doesn't. She may not know right now and it may not be possible for her to know right now.

Make it clear to her that you want to help in any way you can and that you are willing to talk about adjusting your relationship (postponing the wedding, if one is scheduled) as needed. Are there others that can help her (her mother, friends, etc.)? She may well need a lot of support and a) you can't provide it all and b) if you do end up breaking up, she may need a significant support network that isn't you. Can you talk to your fiancée more about treatment? Is she seeing a psychiatrist?

Unfortunately, you are going to have to put your feelings about your relationship on the backburner for a while, if at all possible, to try to help your fiancée.
posted by ssg at 4:38 PM on January 15, 2012


You clearly love this girl and want to support her. It is confusing for you that she doesn't indicate a want for your support right now or at least she isn't opening her heart to you in the way you expect.

First of all, let go of your expectations of how she should react. It has been a difficult time for both of you and in many ways you are both still maturing in your response to the world around you. If you love her and have future plans together, the roads will be rocky at times and she needs to be comfortable to express herself however she feels.

Secondly, give yourself some time and space to clear your mind, start going on regular outdoor walks.

Thirdly, you need to encourage her to find a confidant to talk to who has an objective point of view or is unbiased, she is clearly depressed and she should be able to freely express her worries. Whether it is professional (she may dislike you encouraging her to seek professional help "at this stage" as that can be a slap in the face to sensitive types) or a known mentor that she trusts, it will give her the sense that she doesn't need to come to you if she doesn't want to as well and she will respect you for that.

Finally, hold off the wedding plans. Way to much stress for her and for you right now. I recall planning my wedding a few years back and I hated every moment of it (funnily enough the marriage didn't work out). My ex was pressuring me along the way to get the wedding over with as quickly as possible, if we had actually stepped back a bit the relationship might have survived.

Good luck!
posted by Under the Sea at 4:40 PM on January 15, 2012


OMG! HER PSYCH MEDS! HER PSYCH MEDS MIGHT TO BLAME!!!!!!!!!!!

DOCTOR. STAT.

Sorry to yell, but a quick scan didn't show anyone else bringing this up. Those things are notorious, and too easily prescribed. There's every chance the pills are hurting her and not helping, or should be changed or adjusted...

Fuckin' Hell. Get her to the damn doctor.


My very very best hope she's OK.
posted by jbenben at 7:18 PM on January 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


She is depressed. "Depressed" is not a meaner form of sad, it is a medical problem occurring due to a chemical imbalance brought on by her environment. Call those hotlines, and get her mental help, stat. Not "a friend to talk to", a psychiatrist who can prescribe drugs and can begin to figure out how to help.

Depression is also a deadly disease - it increases death rates by 80%. Help save her life.
posted by pmb at 10:19 AM on January 16, 2012


Couple of things that might have been previously mentioned:

- her meds: if she's only been taking them for a couple of months, may not be at thereaputic dosage or may not be right for her. Is she getting them from her MD or from a psychiatrist? ADs are not one-size-fits-all and for some people, certain meds can make things worse. This may need re-addressing.

- the wedding: wedding planning is extremely stressful for even the most balanced of people and I hope that you have put that off for the time being, if possible, especially if she is having doubts about your future. Focus on right now, not the future.

- back off: I know it seems probably nonsensical to do this, but your post makes me feel like you are trying too hard and that's probably causing her to pull away further. It's difficult because you love her and you live together, but you need to be supportive and at the same time, give her some space (rally people around her, so it's not only you that she has to lean on, for example).

Thing is, there are lots of things going on and this relationship may not be salvageable. But right now isn't the time to figure it out.
posted by sm1tten at 4:48 PM on January 16, 2012


No. Please take this in the spirit it is intended. Just one man's opinion.

You make it sound like your fiancee is suicidal; that you may be the only thing keeping her alive. Most of the Mefites responses are about her depression. Yet your subtitle is: "My fiancée is pushing me away and after years trying to make things work, I've lost most of my hope."

"This past September was a terrible month for my fiancée, as her father died and she was laid off from her job. I tried to be as emotionally supportive as I could, but she didn't lean on me as much as I would have expected."

Her father dies, and what your radar detects that is amiss is how she treats you.

Do you think you know her better than anyone? No, I think you believe other people have more facts about her, but that you can interpret them better than anyone. That's unlikely, but even if it's true then this:

"I asked her best friend if she knew what was going on with my fiancée. She told me that she didn't know that my fiancée was thinking about suicide but that she did know that she was having second thoughts about the wedding and that she was stressed out about money."

indicates that her best friend's view of the "facts" is that the problem is you/marriage, not suicide. But instead of considering what that might suggest, you move to:

"So here I am. I'm scare and confused. "


You wrote that you proposed "about a year ago." I wanted to get a sense of where your head was at around that time. Fair guess you got married in Feb 2011? At that time, you Asked Metafilter: "The Liberal Education ideal is ruining my life. Please help disabuse me of it."

"It started with Mortimer J Adler and his ‘How to Read a Book’. I bought it about two years ago, and shortly after that time I became fixated on the idea of getting a liberal education and reading the Great Books."

I also have a tendency to avoid my university studies to look for "something else", some other activity or field of knowledge which will bring satisfaction to my life. I’m not sure if this is strictly procrastination, or if its something more. I started with reading books from Adler’s list and other similar lists on the internet... Then I rekindled my learning of French. I’ve given up on the idea of learning to play an instrument, but I feel like I ought to, and I occasionally browse the web for pianos and piano lessons.

This much I could handle resonably well, but then I found the The Teaching Company and The Modern Scholar. ...I’ve downloaded most of the courses that I could find through torrents, and have since been listening to the lectures for an average of 20 hours each week for the past 7 months.

I also need to find a job as my savings have nearly run dry.



I’m guessing I have a combination of an inferiority complex, a habit of procrastination, and a tad of neuroticism thrown in for good measure."





Somewhere around this point you asked a woman, "honey, will you marry me?"

A month later you Asked: "How can I feel good about finding a job and starting a career?" Not how can you get a career-- how can you feel good about it?


"I’m an economics major who doesn’t know what the hell he is going to do for a career after graduating, and frankly doesn’t feel qualified to do very much. I went into university thinking that I would try for medical school, but I was one of those kids in high school who got good grades without trying very hard, and my nearly non-existent study habits have left me with a C average, although even that has been slipping lately. Now that I’m nearing the end of my academic career, I’m starting to freak out about my career potential, and the related anxiety has me neglecting school work even further.

Last year in a labour economics class, my prof stated that first jobs after college correlate with lifetime earnings. This has also added to my worrying, and I have been putting off getting a much needed part time job (partly) because of it.
"


I go through all this not to embarrass you or criticize you but to show you two things: your life around this time is marked by ambivalence, anxiety, uncertainty, yet you decide to get married. But of course it makes sense that you would try to lock down at least one aspect of your life. You chose marriage. But what if she's as ambivalent as you about the future, but she needs something else (other than marriage) to lock down? Now marriage is one more burden of uncertainty she has to carry around with her.

The second thing all this shows you that while you are very intelligent, interested, eclectic, hungry-- you are very conflicted, ambivalent, and uncertain, and how obvious that is to anyone who pays attention to you. If I can see all this just from Metafilter posts alone, it is absolutely certain that your fiancee detects it in you. Maybe she senses that you're grasping on to her because she's an anchor, and she doesn't want to be an anchor, she needs an anchor. I don't think most women want to be responsible for their man's stability, and she sounds like she wants some attention all for herself of her own. Maybe she doesn't want to be married, maybe she's depressed, maybe she...

...regardless of the reason, she needs to get help, a therapist, and you need to get focused and NOT a therapist. Your problem is not unique: too much freedom. Too many possibilities. Your parents being deceased, being in college, being smart... that's ether that a naturally worried, "is this good enough?" young man finds himself. The mistake many with that problem make is thinking that the problem is "themselves" and they need more introspection, or more insight, or more "brain hacks." You need less of those things. What you need are goals.

So I think your relationship will end, hopefully you'll both be strong enough and mature enough to do it without drama and the stickiness that accompanies furtive attempts at breaking up (this is your third time?) I'm sorry for you, these things are inconsolably painful for a while. But whatever happens, your future happiness is entirely related to your ability to impose your own limits on your freedom. The time has come to not be everything you want to be, but to be one thing you've wanted to be.

I may as well tell you that once you've chosen a specific goal, and begin to legitimately work towards it, you may then find a different path suits you better; but that kind of insight is only possible after activity, after doing. Less thinking, more doing.

Good luck. I hope it works out well for you.
posted by TheLastPsychiatrist at 10:18 PM on January 27, 2012 [14 favorites]


I agree with everything you wrote, TheLastPsychiatrist, but why NOT a therapist for the OP? Therapy can be great at helping with goal setting.
posted by sweetkid at 9:51 AM on January 28, 2012


« Older What is the German word for th...   |  What games (PC, Mac, iOS, or A... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.