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  1. Hi, Anthony, Ditto to Redboots above. Have you prayed directly to God to ask if this is the relationship God wants you to stick with for the rest of your life, or if you should let go? It really helps not only to analyze with the head and heart, but also to listen to that still small voice of guidance inside. In my husband's and my premarrieds class, one of the homework assignments involved a needs assessment. EACH PARTNER IS TO FILL OUT THE SURVEY ALONE AND FULLY HONESTLY. Here's a summary of the questionnaire: "We all enter marriage with certain basic needs. And, as we do we bring the assumption that our mate will know what our needs are and will meet those needs. Because we all have a need to love and be loved, we enter marriage expecting to love our mate and be loved in return. While some of our needs are evident and easily seen, others are not so apparent and recognizable. Becoming aware of our own needs and our mate's needs is a life-long process of discovery. This discovery process takes commitment, communication, and hard work. Will all of our needs be met in marriage? Believing that all of our needs will be met in marriage is an unrealistic expectation. However, it is realistic to expect that many of our needs can and will be met within marriage. The homework exercise that follows is designed to help you begin to discover some of the basic needs which you and your fiancee will be bringing into marriage." Rate each need you have: 1=not a need; 2=somewhat a need; 3=great need 1. To know I am accepted and loved as I am 2. To know I am trusted 3. To be told I am loved 4. To be shown affection 5. To be open, hones, and transparent 6. To show love and affection to others 7. To be encouraged in my efforts to do well 8. To make decisions as a couple 9. To resolve conflict 10. To be accepted when I fail and make mistakes 11. To plan the family budget together 12. To be told the truth in everything 13. To win every argument 14. To spend time with my family 15. To be alone sometimes 16. To be able to cry 17. To know the other person is listening to me 18. To have a secure income 19. To have more laughter in my life 20. To express my thoughts and feelings 21. To have time to read 22. To have children 23. To have "dates" together after marriage 24. To have more friends 25. To get involved in helping others 26. To handle my depression better 27. To set goals as a couple 28. To participate in sports activities 29. To have long-range economic security 30. To initiate sex in our marriage 31. To have a prayer-life together 32. To learn how to handle criticism 33. To change my job or career 34. To be kind to others 35. To have kindness shown to me 36. To take more responsibiity for myself 37. To grow as an individual and as a couple 38. To grow in my understanding of God 39. To talk about this exercise "Compare your answers with the answers of your fiancee, and then answer the following together: 1. What will you receive out of marriage that you won't receive by remaining single? 2. In what ways are you and your fiancee similar? How are you different? How can your similarities or differences help each other in marriage? 3. Expectations are brought into marriage by both fiances. Expectations carry with them an attitude of hope about good things for the future. List expectations you and your fiancee have about your marriage. They can be simple or elaborate, but at least half should deal with responsibilitles (i.e. who's going to take out the trash?) 4. Tell about three of the most disappointing experiences of your life. How did you feel? What did you do? ******** As you can see, even answering those questions honestly takes a fair bit of maturity. Maybe the questionnaire can help you see the potential in this particular relationship or not? You know, my husband told me that one of the reasons (besides our rare spiritual compatibility) that he was willing to marry me is that I had taken the time out to analyze my past and work out and resolve past ugly feelings towards my father, who had abused me in the past. I had forgiven and developed a friendly relationship with my father by the time my husband entered my life. My husband's self-preserving but important observation (and he is a keen observer and a good listener for people of all genders, ages, and backgrounds) was that girls/women who had anger or other issues with their fathers inevitably transferred them unconsiously right onto their husbands, and the husbands would really suffer. He is a softie at heart who wants to help women, but he disciplined himself to not marry one who had not resolved the father-daughter relationship. He has been very willing to help me do the work to get to that same place of resolution with my mother--but he says (and I think it's true) that bitterness, anger, despising or laughing at or making fun of or otherwise diminutizing the father, etc. from the daughter towards the father really affects her ability to give and receive love with a husband. My husband and I each had short, but important to each of us, lists of other "dealbreakers" as well, like "spiritual compatibility and a willingness to pray together", "no infidelity", "able to communicate well and learn to communicate even better", "willing to work towards constant improvement of self and relationship", "willing to get help when necessary", "no smoking" and "no financial irresponsibility" (not necessarily "make a lot of money", though money is great to have and we are grateful to have it, but rather a shared vision of what financial responsibility would mean--a willingness to cut back on expenses to trim down debt, to wait to buy things we can't afford yet, to enjoy money when we have it while also saving it, to consult with each other before major purchases, to fully disclose finances to each other and to set a budget together, etc..). What is your honest list of "dealbreakers"? Your fiancees? Good luck....keep us posted!
  2. Even the Bible allows out of a marriage for reasons of sexual infidelity...I believe God understands how you feel and is not cruel enough to expect people to sit by and endure the hurt that cheating brings. It would be perfectly okay if you decided to leave. People do overcome anything and everything, though, so I won't say that it is wrong for you to work on the marriage. I AM very concerned about your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Please follow everyone's advice and get tested for STDs right away--a thorough, thorough testing for everything under the sun--explain the prostitutes to the doctor so they take you seriously (sometimes they see you and think "this nice lady is married--is probably just worried for no reason," and they don't test you for the harder things). Also insist that your husband get tested immediately for everything (again, explaining the prostitutes to the doctor so the doctor knows how seriously to take it) and insist that he keep getting tested at regular intervals for as long as it takes for the TWO of you to know that he has completely beat the problem--plus an extra six months to a year!, even after you both feel that all is okay again! Your children's parents' lives are at risk here. As icky as it may feel to have to be constantly reminded of the physical risks that you are both exposed to, you have to deal with it. If you can deal with the icky physical check-up/reminders of what has happened (I would be too angry to live with him for a long time), and KNOW for a fact that nothing else is happening... then next, I agree with everyone that the two of you will need lots of counseling. Has he expressed a willingness to get help to understand what has led to behavior? I understand the desire to keep things as normal as possible for the sake of your kids. However, kids sense more than we realize when something is wrong between the parents. Imagine ten years from now if you had a daughter who repeated the unconscious pattern of her parents and dated or married into a similar situation as yours, and she found out what had happened in your marriage. Imagine her looking at you as the role model in her life, and asking, "But if you knew, why did you stay, Mom?" What example are you setting for her? For your son(s) as future husbands? If you stay, be crystal clear and honest with yourself about how you believe staying will teach your children what you want them to learn about marriage. I do know that people have worked through this kind of problem, so I believe that it's possible to succeed. I would add that even if it will temporarily disrupt your chidren's routine, you might want to consider getting a place of your own while you and your husband get counseling and figure out what is going on. You will probably be going through a lot of emotional ups and downs (who wouldn't!!!!) as a result of his past actions. He may not be able to handle your emotions very skillfully... You should not have to live with the pressure of pretending that everything is okay when your world has just been turned upside down. You need to give yourself permission to go through the grief and anger process in an honest way, and that's going to take time. If your husband doesn't understand what you are going through, it might be better to stay apart for a while to take care of yourself and respect your emotions, until counseling reveals how deep his love for you is...or isn't. Again...it's not like you're REALLY going to be able to hide things from your kids...they may not be able to verbalize it, but their spirits know. So I hope you will consider the option of getting a place of your own for a while while time and counseling reveal what will happen with your marriage. I'm so sorry for what you have been going through....
  3. Hi, Anthony, Yes, no worries, the way you are feeling is VERY normal. "It's hard lately as even though we row a lot, my fiance still seems to think we have a great relationship. I wonder if it's because her parents, despite staying together all their married lives, have never got on together and always argue, so maybe my fiance thinks that's normal." Yes, I agree, maybe fighting seems normal to her and at some level she might even feel uncomfortable if it's NOT there...there's even a possibility that it might unconsciously feel to her as though something is "missing" if everything is just fine and there is no fighting. Also, I am sure that, decent chap that you are, you try hard to treat her very nicely...so from her point of view, what she has with you may actually already be very good compared to what her parents have with each other. I feel sad when I think about the world your fiancee has grown up in...it sounds like she honestly doesn't know how good things can be between a man and a woman and in a family, and that because of her upbringing, she doesn't have an understanding of the principles and behaviors that lead to that happiness. Maybe she is counting herself "happy enough" right now with you and she might be content with anything that is just better than her family was--she may not even be able to imagine the level of happiness that is the ideal that you envision for family life... It would make sense from her point of view, right? "She's made it clear on the religious/spiritual front that she's not interested in finding a faith or exploring spirituality. She's got a carpe diem (sieze the day) philosophy to life, which is fine as everyone needs to have some fun, but I just feel that our combined mentality as a couple will drift more and more, the further I continue attending church and studying spirituality." You each have to follow the path that you think is right for you. Was your fiancee raised in a dogmatic and/or repressive religious atmosphere that she associates with the concept of God? She might have a legitimate need to leave behind what she considers to be the "church" and all the baggage that she might associate with it and explore what "freedom" is. Personally, even though I believe in and love Christ, I feel that 99.9% of churchgoers have a severely narrowed view of what a "religious" life means and their views are not Biblically based--they come from church dogma and from taking limited snippets out of the Bible out of context. There's a lot to legitimately reject about the worldly manifestations of the church in actual practice. It is possible (and my hope for your fiancee is) that later on in life she will discover that living with God actually brings the ultimate freedom, and find her way back either to her original church with a new outlook, or find her way to a different church. But you can never know or force someone else's path or timeline. Well, enough musings about that for now. Time will tell the paths that you take. Sounds like you are putting one foot in front of the other and taking each day one day at a time. You're doing great, even if the feelings at the moment are not so fun. Hang in there!
  4. Hi, Anthony, I am so glad that the two of you have some breathing room to let the dust settle and to sort things out properly now! I know how incredible the pressure surrounding a wedding can be. You've been keeping up a really good attitude through everything-- I think it speaks volumes for your character and sincerety in how you approach life! It may be a little late to answer now (sorry I had to leave for a few days, but I was thinking about you and your fiancee during that time), but you asked: "I felt very much strenghtened when I read about how the class helped you break off your engagement, get therapy and then feel confident enough to announce yout engagement again. Can I ask why you went back to fighting and being miserable after than, resulting in you breaking off the engagement a 2nd time, and did you lose any friends or wedding suppliers as a result of cancelling it twice?" In answer to your first question about why we went back to fighting and being miserable in spite of getting counseling, I think that we didn't get enough of the right kind kind of counseling on our first try, and it was expensive on top of that, so we quit after a relatively short time. The first counselor did help us to learn some basic ground rules for how to behave during disagreements. When we earnestly applied what we had learned, we saw marked improvement in our ability to communicate. Maybe we got a little overconfident, because we were secretly/unconsiously hoping to find a shortcut to actually DEALING with all our problems. We got better, but not better ENOUGH, if that makes sense. We didn't get help from that particular counselor with incorporating our spiritual beliefs into our problem solving and that was important to us. So for good reasons and bad ones, we quit. Once on our own again, we did well for a little while, but the actual underlying issues between us (and more importantly inside each of us as INDIVIDUALS) still hadn't been fixed. I am not surprised that we went back to being miserable. Not enough inside of us had changed. It is now easy for me to admit that as a survivor of childhood abuse, I had a lot more to learn about happiness than my husband did. Crazy at it sounds, my mom actually raised me to believe that happiness was selfish and wrong, so I could never get comfortable with it and I would sabotage things when they were going well. I finally got a heavy heavy dose of therapy in a hospital outpatient program that (thankfully) health insurance covered. Once I was able to make enough changes in my OWN thinking and communicating patterns and show my husband with reliably changed behavior how determined I was to make our relationship work, my husband (who honestly had every right to leave me, given the way that I used to be) responded in kind and started working really really hard on his end of things. It was smart for us to be cautious about getting back together. We had stayed friends during the break up and concentrated on learning how to show Christian love towards each other. For us, it worked. Again, I want to emphasize how much it has meant to both my husband and to myself that we share similar spiritual beliefs in spite of our different religious upbringings. It doesn't matter so much where you are coming from when you both share a strong desire to journey together to reach the same ideals of being a more loving person. Because we agreed on what we were trying to attain in terms of a husband and wife relationship, the huge efforts that we made actually moved us in the direction that we wanted to go. Have you ever run a three-legged race (the kind where two people tie stand side by side and tie their inner legs together and then try to run forward)? Some couples find their rhythm right away and zoom forward and make it look easy. Some couple stumble a LOT, but they make progress forward. Imagine if the two people who are tied together don't agree on what direction they are trying to travel!!! They will not only stumble, they will get nowhere. All their energy will go into pulling against each other, instead of into moving in the direction of their choosing together. Either that, or one person will end up yanking the other one along against his/her will, in which case someone is sure to end up miserable. Not a pretty picture. If two people can agree to disagree about direction but giggle and laugh about it while they stumble around and get nowhere, then at least they are having fun, and maybe that is what is most important to them, so then they ARE reaching the same goal together in spirit, even if they get nowhere in a practical sense. I am confident that with time you will know one way or the other more clearly whether you and your fiancee want to move towards the same goals (spiritually, emotionally, etc.--not just financially, though that is important, too) and whether or not you can enjoy your efforts together as three-legged partners in life. With regards to your second question...no, there were no bad feelings from friends or wedding vendors when we had to postpone the wedding indefinitely. As others here have said, true friends don't want you to make a mistake in marriage--they really, really want what is best for you. The wedding vendors we chose were likewise first and foremost quality human beings who wanted us to be happy as a couple, and they patiently waited for us to figure out what would be best for us. If they hadn't been nice about it, so what! Then I would have known not to use them as vendors in the future! You're not being immature and whimsical here. You really have some serious stuff to deal with, and you have to do what you have to do! Odd as it may sound, I want to say congratulations! to the two of you for taking a really big step by calling the wedding off! I think that it was really wise to give yourselves more time. Best wishes to the both of you as you step back and re-evaluate. It'll all work out for the best for everybody in the end.
  5. For now, I would suggest that you just keep giving her genuine feedback about all the positive qualities that you see in her and build the relationship by letting her know how you feel, and I wouldn't expect any sudden changes (though they may happen). With time, if you are a good and caring listener, you will surely get to know more about her family and her past relationships and whatever factors might have contributed to her being so hard on herself. It is not uncommon, by the way, for intelligent people (and she sounds very intelligent from what you say) to feel responsible for taking the world onto their shoulders and to be very hard on themselves for not fully/constantly living up to their own perfectionistic standards for themselves. She sounds like a wonderful person who wants to do her best for others. If there turn out to be issues stemming from childhood, etc. that start to affect your relationship, they can often be addressed through counseling, if there is love and both parties are willing to work at it. Do you think culture might have anything to do with her views of herself? Some cultures are just more self-deprecating (or modest/humble, you could say) than others. Just curious.
  6. Hi, alivejp, I'm just glad that you are going to see a lawyer to find out the reamifications of the three options that you have to choose from: divorce, annulment, and mediation. Given your Roman Catholic background and the potential that a future mate might be Roman Catholic, maybe you could look a little more seriously into an annulment. I don't know how hard it would be to obtain the annnulment vs. the other two options. (Is it really true that mediation would diqualify you from an annulment? Couldn't a mediator help the two of you to agree mutually to an annulment?) I was wondering.. does anyone know if there such a thing as a legal divorce TOGETHER with a church annulment? After all, aren't church and state are different? I know I may be asking a silly question, but I am just wondering...it seems like it would be the ideal solution in this case, if it were possible...
  7. May I ask how you would view a potential partner if he were divorced under circumstances like yours, vs. if he had gotten an annulment? Do you have strong religious views one way or the other? Are you comfortable with being with someone who MUST get married in a certain denomination of church (specifically one that will not marry divorced people)? What spiritual views in a partner are you able to live with without conflict? I would guess that spiritual compatibility would be something you would look for in a future partner.
  8. [. I'm not in love with him or anything ..] Isn't this the more important factor to consider when deciding whether or not to break up with him? If you don't love him, and don't think that you will grow to love him with time, then you shouldn't be with him. It's not fair to either of you. In the future, if you do find someone who loves you and whom you love, I hope it does not feel like such a hardship to you to communicate about the little things (or the big ones). Communication is a joy when it's between two people who are good at it and who genuinely care about each other, and you can't have a good relationship without it. What do you think you look for in a boyfriend the next time?
  9. I agree with others on this post that maybe the husband is feeling neglected, or like a lesser priority. He might not be wrong, either. There ARE people who dont' realize that they pay more attention to and love their pets (or hobbies, or whatever) MORE than the human beings in their lives who are supposed to be their primary relationships. My husband and I have watched many Wife Swap episodes on TV in which one of the marriage partners is completely out of balance in terms of dedication to a pet in comparison to what they do for their spouse and children. Or sometimes, both husband and wife are so into their animals that the children suffer. Again, replace "pet" with "hobby" or "video games" or "working out" or "church activities" or "friends" or any number of otherwise healthy pasttimes that become harmful when they take over one's life. If the forum lady possibly too involved with her guinea pigs, without realizing it? By the way, my husband and I love our cat dearly. We love animals just as much as anybody. It's all about balance.
  10. As someone who screens resumes, I have the following advice: The most important thing is to write clearly and articulately, without spelling or grammar errors. Your cover letter is an opportunity for you to sell yourself in a way that your resume alone might not be able to do. If the position requires someone with a brain, then you are at an advantage if you can show that you have one by writing a polite and professional cover letter. If the employer has advertised certain hours, and those hours fit with your own needs, you can mention your specific availability for those hours. If they are looking for certain skills, you can briefly reiterate them in the cover letter. If you see other things in the job description that make you think that you are an ideal candidate, the cover letter is an excellent opportunity for you to convey that information. You are starting a dialogue with the employer that hopefully will lead to future discussions. I have accepted cover letters that were attachments and cover letters that were in the body of the email, as long as they were written well. One advantage of writing a separate attachment cover letter is that you can show off your writing skills a tiny bit more. Use proper formatting and the spell checker and realize that you are producing a writing sample for the employer to review. It can definitely work in your favor if you are a good writer. Good luck!
  11. "Transferring to another school sounds hard because then I have to pack up, move, find an apartment in the big city, find a job, meet new professors to suck up to, its a lot." If you quit college altogether, most likely you are going to have to pack up, move, find an apartment in some city, find a job, and meet new bosses to "suck up" to a boss, if that's how you choose to view your current relationship with your professors. I hope you can see that quitting school and joining the work force as a responsible adult who pays his own way through life (as I assume you will do) is not going to be easy, either. It may be the right choice for you, but just don't expect it to be piece of cake necessarily. And the attitudes that you carry with you into the workforce will determine your happiness level--you might not be any happier working than you are in school, if you don't like taking direction from bosses, doing tasks that make no sense to you (even if they make sense to someone else), etc. I wouldn't mind you leaving school, but I would strongly suggest examining your attitudes before embarking on a new adventure. The world is going to respond to whatever attitudes you carry with you. Also consider that when you start at the bottom (especially without a degree), very often you WILL be taking orders from someone else and doing the repetitive tasks, until you learn enough to be promoted to do the more interesting tasks with bigger responsibilities. Sometimes people have a great talent for something and make it big right away without starting at the bottom, but it's rare...and if those people don't have an education, it can be very easy for others to take advantage of them. Think of all the sports stars who make millions during their active years and then get "help" investing it, and end up with nothing ten years later while the people claiming to help them walked away rich. Boxing was notorious for that. Leon Sphinx, former heavyweight champion, is working in a McDonald's. I don't think it makes sense to spend all the time and money for college if you can't see that going to get you something that you want in the end. It's a lot easier to make the sacrifices if you have a goal that excites you. Why not take a leave of absense from school for a year and work with the goal of finding something that excites you?
  12. If you just want to be somewhere for a few months or a year, especially Europe, you could be an au pair (nanny). That way you get to know a family, too. There are agencies that make the arrangements and do prescreening for the protection of everyone concerned.
  13. Do you have a community college near you? That is often a very good option for getting started on a college education without all the associated cost.
  14. After my first marriage failed, my father (who had never mentioned his spiritual views to me in my life) shocked me by writing to me that marriage is not a contract between two people, but a contract between three entities: the husband, the wife, and God. If he had said that to me at any time before in my life, I would have scoffed. But after the divorce, I suddenly understood exactly what had been missing in my first marriage. My current husband and I are very happy being married. We made our commitment before God, and we include God in our relationship in a very active way. It makes all the difference in the world for us. My husband has opened up to me tremendously since the actual wedding ceremony. He was rejected a lot in the past by other women and was never sure, despite my reassurances, that I wasn't going to leave him, too. Now that he knows I am not going anywhere, he feels safe and secure. Maybe he was "supposed" to feel secure before we got married, but the fact of the matter is, he does feel more secure now that we actually are married. I am thrilled by the change and I have to admit that I feel more secure, too. I wouldn't want to have children with someone who wasn't in it for the long haul. Yes, children survive when their parents split, but it's not a happy thing for them. My husband's parents split when he was young, and in spite of the great job his mom did as a single mother, it really affected him deeply. So especially if a couple is considering having children, I recommend marriage. Why have the children if you don't plan on making family your number one commitment and priority in life? And if you do make family your number one priority, then why not get married? As a practical matter, if I were hospitalized with some serious injury or condition, I would not want the hospital to keep my husband from seeing me just because only direct family members are allowed into the emergency room etc. My husband knows my wishes and I would want him to be able to sign decision-making papers for me--I don't want my parents, who don't understand my wishes, to be my legal next of kin. This is an aside, but I have a gay friend who was unable to visit his partner (who had no other family members close by) in the hospital because they were unable to be legally married. That was really, really terrible. By the way, I am for civil unions for same-sex couples for that reason, even though I do not believe that the law should force churches to perform church marriages for those couples.
  15. I had a drama-filled childhood, too. A long time agao, I had a good-natured boyfriend who just wouldn't get into the drama with me, but I put him down for it, thinking that he was stupid. A divorce and several failed relationships later, I looked back on that boyfriend and how well we had gotten along, even if there hadn't been fireworks, and thought, "Boy, if I ever get a chance like that again, I will appreciate it and hang onto it for dear life." I reached a point where I was tired and WANTED peace in the home. I did get another chance--with my current husband. We did go through our own drama phase (mostly my doing again), but I got a lot of therapy and we worked our way out of it and now we are sooo happy. We laugh a lot and talk about EVERYTHING and I feel sooo blessed. I thank God every day for the happiness I finally have in marriage. As long as I stay close in my relationship to God, He brings the joy into the equation, in little ways that light me up. It sounds like you finally have a wonderful man, and that you truly do love him. Is your relationship secure enough for you to be able to discuss your feelings with him? You want to frame it in the context that you did for us here at ENA--that you came from drama in your past and maybe you just feel uncomfortable because everything is so good, and it might take you a while to get used to "good". My husband was very understanding when I talked to him about similar things, and that helped me love him even more. I would suggest putting off the actual wedding until you get to a place where things feel right for you. It wouldn't be fair to your fiance (or even to you) if you were just going through the motions of the wedding ceremony without being able to feel the excitement and joy of the occasion. Can you get counseling? Maybe you have fears that things will blow up again, and you are somehow protecting yourself from going through that any more (which would be very sensible). Or something like that. I think what you are experiencing doesn't sound unreasonable at all, given your history, and it doesn't mean that there is something wrong with your relationship. I'd get some counseling if I could and work through it. This man sounds like a real keeper.
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