When you have the potential for a great relationship but don’t have a clue on how to keep it healthy, it can go downhill fast. This was my situation not long ago. I’m happily married now, but I tried to sabotage my relationship and almost lost out on a pretty amazing guy — my now-husband — all because I was scared. Here’s what happened:
I pushed him away when I wanted him closer. When our arguments weren’t going anywhere, we had different ideas on how to end it. He’d ask to hold me and while I wanted to so much, I also hated the idea of physical contact after such a heated exchange. No matter how much he tried, I wouldn’t let him.
I still carried baggage from my last relationship. Before we got together, I was in an LTR with someone I had no business being with. We were incompatible on so many levels, but we wanted to make it worth for the sake of trying. Arguments, trust issues and the off-and-on status of our relationship was too much. I decided to end things but ended up carrying baggage from one relationship to the next.
I had no reason to, but I didn’t trust him, and he knew it. I was always afraid of committing for fear of my partner being unfaithful to me. In my last relationship, the guy had done some pretty sketchy things that made me question his fidelity. I ended up projecting my distrust to the new guy, which was totally unfair since he was nothing but honest with me. Still, it was hard as hell to trust him — and he knew it.
I thought I wasn’t “wife” material. I made a great friend and a pretty decent girlfriend. But when my boyfriend proposed to me, I panicked. The prospect of marriage and all it entailed scared the hell out of me. I accepted the proposal, but the nagging feeling that I didn’t have what it took to be a wife floated around in my head and took a while to leave.
I didn’t know how to communicate with him. If I was pissed, there was either radio silence or some pretty harsh words flying around. It was another thing I’d carried in from my last relationship and made it difficult for us to sort out problems we had. I always want to talk but rarely gave him a chance to speak his mind without interrupting him. It was just bad all the way around.
I just wanted to go back to my old life. I loved being single. I loved living by myself, in the city that I was raised where all my friends and family were. After we had married, we moved across the country. And when our relationship got rocky, I resented him for uprooting me from everything I’d known — even though I agreed to it in the first place. This new life frightened me. I was convinced I’d made the wrong decision and wanted to hit ‘reset’ on our relationship.
I felt like I didn’t deserve him. I fully confess to being a bitch sometimes when he didn’t deserve it. No matter what I did — tuned him out, snapped at him, forced space between us — he never gave up on me. He was typically patient, kind, loving and wanted to make things right. In some ways, this made me feel even worse like he deserved someone who could offer him the same.
Sometimes, I felt like he didn’t deserve me. What I couldn’t say, I tried to make up for in doing. I’m not the domestic type at heart, but I balanced pursuing my career with doing little things around the house; cooking meals, doing laundry, making sure bills were paid on time. Early on, I rarely ever got a thank-you for these things. I felt like I was being taken for granted.
We weren’t prepared for the bumpy ride that is marriage. If anyone tells you that you can prepare for married life, they are lying. Period. Even after two years of friendship, during which we thought we had shared all there was to know about each other, we were still strangers as romantic partners. We had all the tools to make sure our friendship stayed intact, but those tools were a much different set from keeping a relationship healthy.
I was scared to love him unconditionally. When you agree to love someone monogamously, you’re giving all of yourself to them. Some people have no problem with this. For others, including myself, this was a terrifying proposition. I always guarded my heart, even in past relationships. Giving myself entirely to someone else yielded too much of a risk, and I felt that I just couldn’t do it.
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