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Greif Pushing Us Apart
My fiance and I have been together for over a year. A good portion of it was long distance, although I recently moved back as a close family member was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I wanted to be there to support her.
It's been a challenging time, but our relationship has been filled with a lot of love. That said, she is more of a secure-anxious attachment style, whereas I am secure-avoidant - when we do argue, I tend to ignore feelings and sweep things under the rug, where she's very emotional and I unknowingly shut her down.
Unfortunately since the passing of her close family member, she has become very depressed. However, she's been very great at hiding it and pretending that everything is fine and although I may not have been giving her the full emotional support she needs, I just assumed everything was fine and she was moving forward.
We had a argument last weekend over something silly that escalated into me pushing her away and increasing her anxiety. As usual the next day I acted like everything was fine, but it wasn't.
She's now told me that she has been extremely unhappy for a while but just didn't talk because she was afraid. She doesn't know what she wants, but knows she needs to mend and deal with everything that's happened and find her happiness again after her loss.
I am confused as we don't have a toxic relationship and there is a lot of love from both sides - the main issue is when we do argue that I am the typical alpha male who gets angry and doesn't express feelings, and she's the loving female with a lot of emotion.
All I genuinely want is for her to be happy and mend. Obviously I feel her depression is affecting her thoughts and decisions, and that the grief has her feeling numb, lost and confused and just focusing on the negatives.
Last week we were planning a wedding and family, this week she wants out. She said she still loves me and cares, and I have been there through her darkest days but she's just not sure we have a future any more which is a hard pill to swallow.
Any tips or advice would be much appreciated. I love and care for her very much, but am giving her space and hoping for the best.
Welcome here to the Forum. I think it is very sensible of you to set out how things are, at least here you will get some fresh perspective.
Things have obviously gone badly, from a loving relationship to the state where wedding plans are at least on hold. You moved closer to support her which is great, and she has had illness and a death to try to contend with.
I'm not sure if this is the whole problem but it looks to me from what you have written that when there is emotional pain to deal with, or arguments, each person acts in a way that brings out the wrong tactic in the other.
To live a life together this really does have to be sorted out and I don't know, perhaps you might be the one who makes a change. I might guess that being an alpha male, bottling things up and withdrawing, plus assuming the next day that matters are sorted all tend to leave your fiancée feeling neglected, isolated and not understood.
If this continued it would not be surprising if your fiancée started to become afraid to show her emotions, fearing what seems like a knock-back. It does not mean you do not love, or have good intent, just that the current way is not working.She will not feel nurtured.
I think if it was me I'd see if there was any possibility of couples counseling with someone knowledgeable about this side of being together. Relationships Australia (1300 364 277) might be a good place to start.
I hope you return and say how you feel about these suggestions
Hello Croix and thank you very much for the reply and welcoming me to the forums.
You are right in that things have gone badly, but our relationship hasn't been filled with a lot of fighting or anger, we are just very different at times and don't see eye to eye which can make things a lot worse at times. Add in our current situation and her dealing with severe depression and grief and it's a recipe for disaster.
I think you've hit the nail on the head 100% in that she has become afraid to show her emotions in the fear of being shut down and isolated herself into feeling misunderstood and unsure of things. What makes it hard is that I truly do love her and care so much, and being unaware of her exact feelings allowed me to continue on which just bottled things up to beyond an unhealthy level.
She does not think couples counselling is a good idea (there still seems to be such a stigma around it) but having some of my own personal demons from the past that I want to clear up, I am looking into my own personal counselling as I want to learn to show more emotions within myself and be able to communicate and understand better.
I can just hope she is able to give us an honest chance to put things on the table and move forward as there is genuinely a lot of love and we are far from toxic, just going through difficult times with a lot of external pressures adding to the fire.
I think you are making a great start in seeking counseling for your self. You are right, being able to deal with your emotions and bottling things in, and maybe been given an idea more about what she needs may well be the right path.
Grief is not a quick process, and many react in different ways.
It also sets a good example. Some people would regard the suggestion of couples counseling as being a criticism, and say no as a result. By leading the way things might change. At least you are showing you care and are trying hard to make things work.
Please let us know how you get on
Thank you very much for your insightful advice and encouragement.
I'm feeling positive for the future. The best things don't come easily or overnight, but I will keep working hard and hoping for the best outcomes.
I will definitely keep you updated. Thanks again