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Alicia_MSW, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 794
Experience:  Specializing in mental health counseling
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Hi Im in a tough place at the moment,

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Hi I'm in a tough place at the moment, I have been in a relationship for 5 years now we have been engaged for three... we haven't got married yet as we have been saving money and its getting to the point where i just want to get married and to go home and have babies. We both work huge hours and i've been very stressed lately and we have been fighting a lot mainly me instigating it but i feel he doesn't love me anymore and doesn't want to do anything with me... he just tells me to get over it... we have never been really good at fighting he feels i'm attacking him and shuts down. I have tried different approaches. We haven't spoken in about 3 days even though we live together. I don't want to loose him but i know the fighting is killing him but I just want to know if he loves me or am i wasting my time? i have written emails and letters to try to get through to him but he won't talk to me... 

Hi there,

I'm Alicia. Thanks for your question, I'm happy to help you today.

I can understand where you're coming from and the level of frustration you're experiencing is certainly understandable. You feel like you're ready to get the ball rolling, so to speak, but it sounds like there have been a number of obstacles in your way, including the stress and fighting (which are obviously related, of course.) It sounds like you're not really sure if he's totally committed to you and you're doubting his feelings, whether he really wants to get married (at some point) or whether he's stringing you along. After reading your message, my feeling is that the biggest problem you're both facing is the high level of stress and the impact that places on your ability to communicate with each other. It also sounds like you feel that you have certain needs that aren't being met or adequately addressed. And it seems that he's not being very receptive to your attempts to discuss it (i.e. with him saying that you should just "get over it." It's not a very sympathetic thing to say when you're really just trying to reach out and get validation that he does, in fact, love you, but it seems that his behavior is stemming more from frustration than from a lack of love or concern for you.)

It can be very tempting to beat the subject to death when you feel like you're not getting the answer you want. As women, we want to talk about and share our feelings with our partners to try to get our needs met. As a man, your partner probably feels stressed and insecure because, on some level, he realizes how you feel and he feels inadequate because he knows he's not meeting your needs and not making you happy. And it's not so unusual that he shuts down, because he doesn't know how to handle the situation. Instead of talking it over with you and trying to find a solution, he pushes you away. And that's making you doubt your relationship and your future with him.

The thing is, by trying to force him to talk about it, by continually trying to "talk" or writing emails and letters, you are accomplishing the exact opposite of what you want to achieve. He doesn't want to be constantly reminded of his inadequacy and the fact that he's not making you happy. I'm not a mind reader, so I can't say for sure in his case, but most men want to make their partners happy. It makes them feel like "men" - they feel like they can take care of you and that you need them. And by constantly trying to talk about it, you're reminding him of the fact that he's just not measuring up.

I realize that you're feeling anxious, and that you don't want to waste your time if things aren't going to progress with him. But first of all, it does both of you no good to discuss this when you're feeling stressed. Nothing good can come of it, and neither one of you will be seeing the situation rationally. And trying to force the subject is not going to work, either. He will only continue to shut down and push you away even more.

What I would suggest, since you say you haven't spoken in 3 days, is to just give him some space. You don't know how he's feeling - even though it seems like he doesn't care, this is just his way of protecting himself. He probably does actually care very deeply but he just can't bring himself to admit that he feels like he's not living up to your expectations. Perhaps he does want to get married just as badly as you do, but he wants to be able to give you the wedding you deserve, maybe financially speaking, you're not quite at that place yet, but he wishes he could do more to make things happen more quickly (for example.)

Don't try and make him talk about things just yet. Give him a day or two to just be alone with his thoughts and feelings. If you haven't ready Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus by XXXXX XXXXX, I would highly recommend it. In it, he talks about how men retreat into their "caves" (metaphorically speaking) when they feel stressed or inadequate. And the worst thing you can do is force him to come out before he's ready. It's hard, but giving him time and space to unwind, relax and get rid of some stress is one of the best things you can do.

The next thing I would recommend is to just drop the subject for a little while. It doesn't mean it's not important, it just means that now is not the best time to talk about it. Instead, do something fun together. It sounds like you need to reconnect and rediscover what brought you together in the first place. When you were first dating, you weren't demanding things from each other - things just flowed naturally (at least, this happens in most cases). Try to just relax and let yourself enjoy being with him without putting pressure to move things ahead right now. Sometimes, letting go is the best way to get what you want. As you see, forcing it hasn't gotten the results you desire, so now it's time to take a different approach.

Try to just let go for a few weeks. There's no rush, and nothing is going to change in a few weeks, anyway. Let him rediscover his feelings for you. Focus on just being together, doing things that are fun or relaxing, and don't talk about the relationship.

After you are both able to reconnect and let go of stress, then you can broach the subject again in a more relaxed manner. You might think about seeing a couples counselor if there are relationship issues that you feel are too overwhelming or difficult to handle on your own. (You can find a counselor on this website:

Things have to start to flow more naturally before they can move ahead. My gut feeling is that you are not wasting your time, and that he does love you, but because of all the factors I've mentioned, he just can't deal with things as they are right now. So try and just ease up, also for your own peace of mind. You're dealing with a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety, so you also deserve and need some time to unwind and just have fun without worrying about the future too much.

You'll know when it's the right time to bring things up with him again. You don't want to come across as demanding or putting an ultimatum, but you do have a right to know what direction your relationship is heading. You might then (in a few weeks) try the letter-writing approach again, coming from a loving standpoint instead of complaining or demanding (I am not saying this is what you're doing, but it's very common in situations like this to focus on what's wrong instead of what's right.) and focusing on the things about him that you do love and enjoy. He's more likely to respond the way you want if you approach him from a positive, complimentary and appreciative standpoint.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any further questions. If you'd like to talk some more, just reply to this message. Best wishes.
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