How to Strengthen Your Relationship/Stressed Relationship.

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QUESTION: Hello, I have been dating this wonderful man for over 2 years now and we have been engaged for about a year. WE are planning our weeding next year. We are habing some major issues with trust, and anger. He confessed to me last week that he hasnt been happy, and only feels happy when at work or at home alone. I admit I feel the same way. We are struggling with making our relationship work and actually enjoy our time together. I always feel irratated or upset when he is around, I don't feel like I'm getting the attention that I need. But he feels like he is trying too hard, and doesn't feel he needs to try more. He wants to try less in hopes it will make our relationship flow better. How do we fix our relationship? Make it so we enjoy each others company again, and can actually get along and not argue over the stupid things.

ANSWER: Hello Brittanie,

Before we go any further, please (I beg of you), postpone the wedding until you get this resolved. I know that it's a hassle and people are counting on you and you have made plans and may have even started to pay for the wedding, but unless you resolve your issues, you wedding could end up being a great day that is just wasted. And, coupoles going into marriage with major issues, DO NOT resolve them just because they say "I do." So, cease with the invitations, the bridesmaids' dresses and the bridal registry, and focs on the relationship...first and foremost.

Tell me more about your trust issues. Are you not trusting him or is he not trusting you? And, are these feelings warranted? Lay it all on me? Regarding not wanting to be around one another, that needs to be remedied seeing that most married couples sped time together. I know you can't speak for him, but from your point of view, what's changed? You say you don't feel as though you are getting the attention you want. Have you always felt this way or were things okay in the beginning? If there's been change, tell me when it began, how it manifested and what you think may have triggered it.

How does he explain himself when he says he feels as though he's trying too hard. What does that mean in his words? And, what is "trying" to him. COuld be that he really is trying in his eyes, but you don't see it, because you are expecting "trying" to mean something else. One thing you should know is that many couples speak different love languages. There's a great book by Gary Chapman called" The Five Love Languages". You might want to take a look into it. You can get a great deal on Amazon. But, before you do, take this quiz together to see what love languages each of you are talking (http://www.polyu.edu.hk/sao/publications/emagazine/issue133/love%20language2.pdf).

Let me ask you something else; if neither of you are happy with the other, why do you want to stay together? I assume that there are positive qualities that you see in one another, but they may be lying below the surface and right now it's easier to focus on this imbalance. Yet, if you are planning a wedding together, you must see something n one another enough to vow to be together forever.

I wish I could talk to you both and just have you two just lay it all out on the table and get right down to the crux of the problem. I feel as though we need to dig through a few layers to really find out what's going on here with you two.

Please get back to me with the answers to the questions I asked. And we can move froward from there. Thanks.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hey Leon,
I'm going to lay it on you. And its going to be rough. I talked to Zack last night (my fiance) about this and your response. We talked/argued about the best steps to take with this. We decided that it would be best if I just responded to you, instead of both of us. He is really wary of someone else being involved in our relationship struggles. And btw, the wedding is planned for September 1st 2014. We have over a year to fix this. I am waiting till this September to start planning. I am hoping that is enough time to fix our struggles.
Now to start with the trust issues. I'm going to try and explain this as best as I can without it getting confusing. Last January I left to Florida for a college program for 4 months. 2 months before I left, I found that he was chatting with a couple girls of Facebook inappropriately and almost ended it. But then told him that he had to 2 months to fix it before I left. He did, and by the time I left I had a promise ring to go with it. In the span of 3 months of me being gone, he became extremely distant, non supportive of my first adventure away from home, and didn't want to talk on the phone. Pretty much, I realized how much I didn't need him while I was gone so I planed on ending it when I got home, within the month. In that time, I was carefree, and "cheated" on him with a man with intentions of ending it when I got home.
When I did arrive home, Zack was a completely different person than he was when I left. He had realized why I was gone how much he loved and wanted me in his life. He then discovered my dishonesty and how I cheated on him. He stayed with me, and we have grown past that over the past year together. He trusts me more than I trust him. I am scared that he will cheat on me. It's my own insecurities that are holding us back in that aspect. I have no idea how to over come that issue. He has proven time and time again that he isn't cheating, does everything right, and allows me to look at his phone if I ask, which I never do, btw.
On to the can't standing each other:
I tend to get extremely emotional, I have recently started birthcontrol about a month ago, and my body is taking the change really hard, making it ten times harder for me to control my emotions. I freak out about everything that doesn't go my way. I seriously have been acting like a brat, and that is what has pushed him away. That isn't me as a person, and I will continue the birthcontrol until I can find another alternative.
Last night, we discussed alot of different issues, but one thing that he said cut deep. He said, it was my fault for him being unhappy with me. Which makes complete sense. I pick at something at least once a day, I wouldn't want to be around me either. This whole thing started when we both started out new jobs, with opposite schedules and I hated not spending the time with him like before. It was really hard for me to adjust. And that is where the whole attention problem started as well.
When he says he is trying to hard, he means in every aspect when it comes to us, the communication, expression, reassurance. I see it, but like I said before I want things to go my way, and if they don't I freak. Its hard for me not to. One of my big problems.
We talked about ending things the other night. He actually broke it off, but we talked through that. We aren't ready to give up on us. We have been through so much already and we know we want to be together. This hump in the road though is really taking its toll. Sad to say, I really think I'm the cause of all of this.
Thank you for your response, it was extremely helpful. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Answer
Hello again, Brittanie,

So, you both have past trust issues that you seem to have overcome as far as understanding your mistakes and growing from them. the problem is, although both of you appear to have realized your errs, the memories still linger for the other partner, and they can't help to wonder if there will be another slip.

I mean, he should have known better than to be leaving inappropriate posts on FB and you should have known better than to be with another man, even if you had the intention of breaking up, UNTIL you actually were broken up. But, both of you get this and are on the straight and narrow, but he probably is still a bit worried that you may start again. And, because there's this obstacle in your relationship, you probably are wondering if he'll turn toward FB again.

As far as not getting along, if you think it's you and this is relatively new, since the inception of your birth control, rush to your doctor and let him/her know how it's affecting your emotions and get it changed...ASAP! What are the repercussions of just stopping now until you get a new prescription (other than getting pregnant)? If you are at odds with one another, I'm guessing you're not having sex, so there's no fear of pregnancy, but are there other negatives associated with stopping birth control right away? If not, you may want to consider it.

It seems you both agree that you are the cause of this imbalance in your relationship, but I do want to set one thing straight. He may be unhappy with you. You may be difficult to be with, but HE is responsible for his own happiness. We all are. Other people can make it more difficult for us to be happy, but happiness is something we must own, and not blame on others...PERIOD.

That being said, you need to try and just let things go. If it bugs you, try to let it roll off your back. If it still plagues you, write in a journal why, then write why it's really not that big of a deal. You'll get your frustrations out without starting an argument while also reasoning with yourself why it's not such a big deal.

Ultimately, though, I think the two of you would benefit from couples counseling. I know he is hesitant to get a third party involved, but maybe you can find someone in your area that he would be comfortable with. September 2014 will be here sooner than you think. You need to start rebuilding this relationship today so that you will have your foundation back in place by the wedding.

One more thing, consider when the two of you talk like this again, using "I" statements. It will lessen the need to feel as though you need to attack and defend. Here's a link to how to use them (http://couplescommittedtolove.com/a/reports/make-it-all-about-you/).

Good luck.

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