Have Relationship Questions? Ask a Counselor for Answers ASAP
Welcome! I'm a Professional Counselor, Behavioral Consultant and Relationship Expert.
I'd like to ask a few questions to better understand your situation before answering your question. Do you have a few minutes to chat? I'll check back shortly to see if you're back online......
Thank you. Let me quickly re-read your presenting statement and then we can chat.
I've read your your question again carefully. I'd like to confirm that you would like to understand what causes his continued delay. Are you also interested in developing a strategy to get a stronger commitment for marriage from your boyfriend?
Yes, I am good enough to do the womenly chores in the house and look after his kid but I am not good enought to commit too, I want to know what he is waiting for?
Yes, I need to either develope a strategy to get him to commit or I have to get out and cut my losses and move on
It sounds like I dont love him however I love him very much but right now I am feeling like he is just using me because it's a conveniance for him. I am the somebody who fills his ex-wifes shoes.
You know, I hear you very clearly hear. I can sense your frustration. This kind of frustration and sometimes anger is a reactive or secondary emotion that comes from feeling and underling sense of hurt or even fear at the "attachment level" or loving connection to your partner. As human beings we have an inbuilt need to feel like we come first in our partner's lives that they will love us and protect us emotionally. Much like a child needs love and emotional protection from a caregiver. Your very, normal wish to get married and have a clear commitment springs from the underlying need to feel more secure. When he marries you it will say to you "I love you" and "I put you first". This ring means that I am yours alone. His hesitation and delay also delay these more subtle expressions.....
When these tender emotions are frustrated, our communication can become critical sometimes. Strong relationship science shows that relationship breakdown (divorce in married couples) can be predicted with almost 100% accuracy based on the presence of 1) criticism, 2) defensiveness, 3) stonewalling and, 4) relational contempt.....
Stonewalling is avoidance and may be what your boyfriend is doing in part.
Healthy relationships are based on effectively communicating core-relationship needs. If they are not directly expressed and met unambiguously they lead to frustration. The frustration then leads to the negative communication patterns I've outlined.
If you can express and then meet each others needs reciprocally then you have the healthy relationship formula.
So, I have 2 suggestions. 1) ultimately you need to be able to express your core relationship needs and meet them for one and other much better than you are now, a healthy relationship is just now possible, with out this process.
2) I think you need to have a "role clarification process" for your boyfriend. This means that he provides you with a very clear plan and time line for getting married. It is absolutely his responsibility to protect you emotionally. To build trust through action and follow through.
I recommend stetting up a date to talk to him, with no other distractions and let him know that you want to really discuss marriage. You are entitled to that clarification. You do so much for him.
You would then want to ask him very straight but non-critically, for a more specific plan.
Don't let him use non-specific language.
Ask for a date. When he hesitates or gives a vague answer, gently direct him, to be more specific in terms of dates and planning.
non-specific's that's exactly what he keeps giving me every time I bring this subject about marriage up. Oh, not to long, soon but never an exactly indication
Ask only open ended questions that can't be answered in a simple yes or no response.
Always stay in tune with your underling emotions the first ones before you get frustrated and express these in words.
So for example, don't say you always this or you never that....say instead, "I need a commitment because without one I fee....(your words here).
Let me ask you how do you feel with all this non commitment underneath the frustration or anger?
Please use "I feel statements" notice the natural tendency to say he or to focus on his bad choices.
I feel I am being used and perhaps waisting my time
Ok, "used" takes it back to his actions and not your feelings. How are you feeling underneath the frustration of being used?
And thank you for your patience here. I think you'll see what I mean as we chat. This is a good exercise.
I will not allow it i deserve better
Your right you can't allow it anymore because its not healthy for you to feel this way. But is there not a sense of hurt underneath the self protection?
What makes you love this guy? You could not feel so frustrated if you didn't really, really care for him.
Yes, I am very hurt! I feel I am giving so much and maybe to much of myself and I am getting not much in return
Now, have you expressed this hurt and sense of feeling cheated to your partner?
Not in so many words
Well I think It's time to fully and effectively communicate your needs and your sense of underling hurt.
Your moving into self protective detachment.
Again, its his responsibility to comfort you through his actions and communication.
Like most men though, he probably doesn't know how to communicate.
Emotionally that is.
He may have also really been hurt in the past and have a problem with trust at that same deep level of attachment.
If he dosn't here in so many words, what you are really feeling and needing, it may be very easy for him to continue this way unknowingly.
Yes, I dont believe he understands how important this is for me
Many couples, I've helped stabilize, fall into what I call the relationship "mind reading trap".
It's very normal..
what do you mean with "mind reading trap"
They just think if their partner really loved them, they would just "know" exactly what we need and when we need it.
Yes, like if he really wanted to buy me the "ring" he would manage to arrange for the funds, somehow!
As I mentioned above attachment-needs can be seen in childhood as well as adulthood. As you know young children can't communicate and their caregivers are very attuned to them and meet their needs without communication.
When we are distressed we have this same need to be soothed as adults.
Our frustration and criticism and shutting down is like the babe crying in an abstract sense.
But as adults we need to communicate these needs and get them met for one and other.
So basically I have to sit him down and explain in very specific terms what I desire and need from him, what if he still can't commit?
There are two points here...
1) He is commitment averse. He doesn't trust that he will be "safe" in marriage, that his needs will go unmet. You can help him with this by setting up an emotionally corrective experience, through learning to communicate with him together, and to really meet each others needs through real emotional intimacy....
2) He is not "attached" to you emotionally, and is genuinely benefiting from the comfort and work you provide him. If this is the case you need to find out so you know what you are working with. If he doesn't commit. Then it's not an emotionally healthy relationship for you and there are ways of adapting to that.
3) One way of adapting to 2) above, would be to learn how to communicate and meet core relationship needs together, and essentially fall in love through the process. There may be a bit of 1 2 and 3 operating here.
I need to take an important call. I will be back within 10 minutes.....
you are right now that you mentioned it I dont believe is emotionally attached to me and he certainly dont fill my emtional needs, that's why when I asked him about marrige last night again he cut me off short
In the mean time please take a look at some of Sue Johnson's thoughts. She's the leading relationship researcher and therapist in the world right now:
Sorry. Still need 10 more minutes..
Ok! I'm back.
So what are your thoughts at this point, based on our chat so far?
I understand that he obviously do not understand the importance of marriage to me and that I now need to make it clear to him. However I am concern that he is not there for me emotionally he always tells me and you have as well that he cant mind read what he is suppose to do but then I tell him
I am a little confused because as I said before he offen tells me he cant mind read and I should tell him what I want but then I do like asking him for a commitment on getting ingaged and he stonewalls me! What do I do,
I think it's time to initiate the "role clarification process" I described earlier.
You want to express your urgent need for a specific commitment.
Always work with action clarification statements. Vague language doesn't work in these situations.
I'd let him know that you need a date (perhaps a month) when you will get married once you re-establish his vague commitment to do so. Then get right to your primary feelings, to feel like you come first in his life, to feel safe and to trust that he will display his love for you with a real marriage plan and the month if not the date for your marriage. Let him know in "I language" what has hurt you about the repeated vagary...
and again, how it hurts and scares you.
The relationship science shows that when you display your hurt and fear underneath the frustration and anger your partner will feel compelled to soothe and protect you from feeling that way.
So be very specific, truthful honest and very clear as to what I want and expect? Last night he told me that I should not be the one asking about marriage and engagements it his job BUT if I leave it he plainly igonores it
Yes, the defensive or reactive negative feelings (anger etc) cause defensiveness and stonewalling...
So if you can stay calm and positive, ask open ended questions to learn more about why he hesitates to act and provide a date.
Again, you have to be very careful not to criticize, - ever, if you can help it. It's very hard.
When it comes to core-relationship needs people get very sensitive. It's very, very difficult to express criticism with I language and primary emotional descriptions.
That's why you want to focus on what you need and how it makes you feel, and ask what he needs and what his primary emotions are around those needs.
Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX to be a challenge to stay calm because I believe I have left this for too long perhaps which has caused me to be very sensitive but i will try
For example, does he feel pressured? Why if so? How does it feel? Where does it come from, this sense of pressure?
You're welcome. And you're right you never want to communicate when you are emotionally flooded. That's why the reactive emotions of fear and anger are so dangerous to couples communication.
When we get angry and/or anxious we get a corespondent drop in our IQ or intelligence. To put it crudely: When we get sad or hurt, we get mad and scared, when we get mad and scared we get "stupid".
One last resource.
Evidence shows that couples who can self-invoke relaxation when flooded are much more effective at communication in the way I have described. You mentioned trying to stay calm. Here is a set of techniques that if you practice for 20 minutes a day, you can learn to become totally relaxed in just a few seconds under pressure:
It's not the flashiest online resource but it is very high quality relaxation training:
Well I hope I have been helpful here. Is there anything else you would like to chat about today?
have a great weeken
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