How to Know if You`re Really in Love/Questioning my relationship


Hello Jan.
I recently I got engaged about three months ago, since then I have noticed a change in my fiancÚ. I use to work long hours and most nights where I would only see her for about an hour a night and on weekends I would meet her friends or some where else.
I was starting to get physically and emotionally  sick from working so much and  late night finishes. So I've started to change my working hours and slowly following a new career. But since doing this and having more time at home and being with her, she become more distant from me and we have trouble discussing simple things.
So we have arguments more often and I don't seem to be included in her social activities. Is it that selfishness on my part or should I just give her that independence?  
I'd really like to work this problem out because it's playing on my mind.


Love Again ~ Creating Relationships Without Blame
Love Again ~ Creating  
Hi, Chris -

The closer people are to each other, the more issues come up!  Just the fact that you love each other and are engaged = problems.  Or, as I like to think of it, = inevitable necessity to learn about how to do relationships.

It is so, so important to know one thing about relationships.  It is IMPOSSIBLE to be in a relationship, even a good one, and not have confusing feelings come up.  Love is not enough.  If we do not have a way to honestly talk with each other about our feelings - I call it being "connected" with each other - love will become buried.  Hurt and misunderstandings, distance and finally anger will take its place.

Without judgment or criticism,  you, like the rest of us, have not yet learned how to communicate.  Where in our culture are we taught this or do we have it modeled?  Because none of us is completely aware of all the feelings going on in us, and why they're there.  That's what we have to learn.  And when we get into an important relationship, it is crucial to learn.  It's just a project, not a problem, and EVERY couple needs to do it, if they want to have the relationship they both long for.

None of us feel like something's wrong if we don't know something in school.  We just have to study it.  All through life we will have feelings and thoughts and challenges that we CANNOT possibly understand - because we haven't studied ourselves.

I think it would be a great thing if every couple in the whole world would "study" relationships and themselves.  You and your fiancee can decide to be "learning partners."  Because you are drawn to each other, you have the opportunity to really look more deeply into whatever comes up inside you for your whole life, and learn to be even more wise, and more connected with each other.

I think you need to talk about how to have an open and honest relationship, even though it feels hard.  I'd try to take a relationship class together, or read a book together.

Look at it this way.  You wouldn't expect yourself or your fiancee to be able to just start talking Italian, would you?  Not being able to talk Italian doesn't mean that anything is wrong with either of you - you've just never studied it and learned.  Having a relationship is the same thing.  None of us really know how to do it the right way.  (Just look at all the heart-breaking and tragic break-ups and divorces there are.)  We need to learn.   And, NO ONE automatically just "knows."    It's the ONLY way to create a relationship that will last.

Most people are good, but they are definitely IGNORANT, and that can lead to just as much heartache.  I really suggest your educating yourself on relationships.  That will help you be aware of the dynamics that occur in EVERY relationship, so you will be prepared and - not on guard - but ready.  My husband and I wrote a really good explanation of what happens in relationships, if you want to check out our book - you can see it on our website.  If it doesn't appeal, go to your local library or bookstore.  What we don't learn haunts us and sets us up for failure.  No one magically becomes knowledgeable or wise.  Until we work on understanding relationships, we won't understand them.  That waiting would be like me waiting to learn how to change the oil in my car. Good luck with that one!  Or, how's this?  I burned up my first car engine!  I had seen people putting gas into cars at gas stations, but didn't realize they also put oil and water in!  I had no father, and we didn't even have money for a car when I was a child, so I never got educated.... until driving down the freeway, one day, the engine burst into FLAMES!

Learn, so that your ignorance doesn't make the relationship burst into flames!

Good luck to you!
Jan Harrell, PhD
Author, Love Again ~ Creating Relationships Without Blame

How to Know if You`re Really in Love

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Jan Harrell, PhD


I believe I can address any questions and concerns a person might have.


I have been a clinical psychologist for 32 years. I co-authored a book on relationships, Love Again ~ Creating Relationships Without Blame, with my husband of 40 years, who is also a psychologist. I have taught at UCLA and at Southern Oregon University. I was the psychology columnist for the magazine, Make You Happen! for 1 1/2 years.

I have a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of Southern California.

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