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Can This Engagement Be Saved?

Can This Engagement Be Saved?

After getting engaged, I changed from a confident young woman to a depressed, emotional basket-case.

by Ariella Froman

"I wish I could trust that he loves me..."

I remember writing this line, a desperate prayer to no one in particular, after being engaged for a mere two months. I had looked forward to my engagement ever since Adam had broached the topic. We were both studying in Israel for the year and had been dating a number of months by the time the subject arose. "Engagement" -- it had sounded like a fantasy existence and I couldn't wait to take our relationship to the next level and commit to the man I loved.

We waited until we returned to the United States and then made the news official: Adam and I were planning on getting married. Both our families freaked out. I weathered my fair share of "What are you thinking?! You're out of your mind!" But eventually everyone calmed down and the wedding plans began.

Life was bliss for two months, and then I crashed.

And being engaged was indeed a rush. I had committed to the man I loved, I was the envy of all my peers and my biggest problem seemed to be choosing a color for the bridesmaid dresses; not to mention that the subtle and elegant way my diamond ring caught the sunlight drove me wild. Life was bliss for two months, and then I crashed.

I'm not exactly sure what caused it. Maybe subconsciously I wasn't ready to handle such a great responsibility as marriage, or perhaps it was my inexperience with relationships. Maybe it was a combination of those and many other stresses. Either way I became a different person. I slowly changed from an effervescent, outgoing, confident young woman to an anxious, depressed, emotional basket-case.

Dark and Scary

At first I attributed my mood to exhaustion. Attending college and working part time, my "me" time was often stolen from what should be my "sleep" time. I figured my short temper was merely a side effect of my fatigue and did my best to ignore my virtually incessant desire to cry. But as time went on, it seemed that my fiance could no longer do anything right, my friends were perpetually judging me and my parents were set on completely infantilizing me in every way possible. In my new state of mind the world had turned against me and everyone was either a critic or completely incompetent at everything.

Though I hadn't yet realized it, I was adopting a dark and scary persona that was causing me to over-analyze my relationships, regard my friends and loved ones with distrust -- Adam in particular -- and push away the people who had always been closest to me.

For months my family, friends and fiance thought the devil had completely taken over my body. I would cause unnecessary and unprecedented fights with my parents. The slightest infraction on Adam's part or a hint that on occasion he might want to spend time with someone other than me left me inconsolable. I was in a constant state of irritation and worried consistently about everything from my car in the hands of my newly-licensed brother to midterms to Iran and the threat of a nuclear war. I also began to feel physically ill at random and proceeded to lose weight along with my sanity.

It was finally Adam who snapped me back into reality with a blow I hadn't been expecting. I had become perpetually insecure in the relationship, needing reminders after every argument that he still had the intention of marrying me and he still loved me. My inability to give him space without the fear of losing him translated into him spending every moment of his free time with me and he was slowly losing touch with his own friends. He told me he felt trapped in our relationship. He felt he was no longer receiving anything from my end, and no matter how much he tried to reason with his psyche, he found himself questioning why he was still involved with me.

He saw no way that he could marry me and spend his life with the woman I had become.

We were both falling apart, he said, and if things continued as they were, he saw no way that he could marry me and spend his life with the woman I had become.

He cried. I mourned at what seemed like the fruition of a self-fulfilling prophesy. My insecurities about him leaving me had driven me to suffocate Adam to the point that I had actually driven him away. My worst fear was now being realized.

I refused to apologize for what I assumed was a manifest of my personality, and Adam could see no way around the discomfort of being in a suffocating relationship with an overly-emotional partner. With a mixture of sorrow and resentment in our voices, we prepared to part ways forever.

Getting Help

On a whim we posed our problems to an objective source who identified that I had been suffering from what is often known as "situational depression" and a bit of an anxious personality. But it was nothing I couldn't control, nor would last forever. On top of that, some of our biggest issues were simply standard guy/girl drama that every relationship encounters. This news came as a relief to the both of us and we began the slow and intense process of healing our relationship.

That was over two months ago. Now I stare and reread the sentence on the page before me: "I wish I could trust that he loves me..." I had been in so much pain when I wrote that line, so hopeless and scared that I would never be happy in my relationship with Adam. I smile to myself. A number of therapy sessions and a couple of "self-help" books later and I am in a completely different place than I had been when I penned that desperate prayer.

I am in the process of healing my relationship with my family, I have a social life again, and Adam and I are better than ever. We meet with a pre-marriage counselor weekly and have identified the importance of communication in our relationship. We're working on understanding that neither of us are mind readers and sometimes it's imperative that we express what is on our minds or how we're feeling rather than assuming our significant other will intuit our mood.

I realized that a lot of my anxiety had been triggered by the fact that I had been expecting certain romantic responses or "mushy" gestures from Adam that I had not been receiving. Instead of expressing my needs to Adam, I had convinced myself that his lack of romantic gestures implied a lack of connection on his part. And Adam is working on communicating with me as well, especially when it comes to romance. He now understands that "mushiness" is something I need in order to establish security in a relationship.

Looking back on my experience I truly believe Adam is my "bashert."

I have also realized how important it is to give to one's significant other -- and people in general -- in accordance with his or her own needs rather than one's own ideas as to what is right or wrong for the other person.

In Judaism there exists a mystical concept called "bashert" or "soul mate." What a soul mate is meant to do is challenge his or her partner in areas where the partner needs improvement. These challenges are meant to aid a partner in achieving his or her ultimate purpose in this world. Looking back on my experience I truly believe Adam is my "bashert." I have learned so much about myself in the past few months, and have matured as a person and a partner. I could never have done it if not for my relationship with Adam and the wonderful ways he challenges me to analyze my character flaws as we both work to better our relationship.

I look up from the page as my cell phone begins to vibrate. It's a text message from Adam telling me that he loves me and I am on his mind. I feel tingles running down my back and, though I try, I can't hide the ridiculous smile on my face. Placing the paper in a drawer, I make a mental note to call Adam on my break just to tell him that I love him more than anything else in this world.

Published: March 21, 2009


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Visitor Comments: 36

(36) Anonymous, June 27, 2012 2:13 AM

recommendations

I'm finding myself in a very similar position...it's really comforting to hear that I am not the only one..and it isn't abnormal. The only reason we probably haven't broken this off is because of his incredible patience..but I can see it hurts him. We don't really have time to work with a pre-marriage counselor, as we are getting married in two months...what books would you recommend with regard to self-help and communication (we have very similar issues as you describe). I want to be able to work on myself..without feeling as though I am faking and losing my identity. Thank you!

(35) Sue, April 3, 2011 8:56 AM

what I am experiencing now..

I am really hoping and praying that everything will be fine with my fiance and I..the fact that we are in a long distance relationship for two years now..I haven't see him in person actually cause of our situation and all...and I feel like I'm not giving him happiness cause of these insecurities, doubts and trust issues I'm facing...I hope I can get back to what I think before and wishing i could changed the things I've caused him to be unhappy around me these couple of months...I really do love him so much that I'm scared of losing him....I hope he will understand me...i really do love him so much even if we haven't seen each other.. I like this article btw... :)

(34) Simcha, August 4, 2009 6:19 AM

Communication and trust are the keys to a happy relationship :)

If you don't speak up, how is the other person supposed to know what's bothering you? You're just gonna blame the other person because you're assuming things. Thanx for the article, lesson learned and now I have hope for my own relationship. Hashkacha pratis because I was rethinking things. :)

(33) Meir, June 16, 2009 9:25 PM

thank you for sharing your courageous journey

Thank you for sharing your courageous journey. It's an amazing gift from Hashem when to discover who we really are. You found someone who helped you unlock all these real and challenging feelings and by doing so will help you to work through those feelings before you get married. The ultimate gift those closest to us can give is the support and inspiration to bridge the gap between our hearts and minds. A painfully transformative gift, but perhaps the greatest gift a human being can give another. In your ordeal, you have displayed great courage and authenticity. I wish you and Adam a beautiful, meaningful, and joyous life together. A life where you can build a Bayit Neeman B'Yisroel. Wishing both Bracha and Hatzlacha, Meir

(32) alex, May 31, 2009 10:58 PM

trust

trust:respect=happy marriage

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