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Engaged but unhappy, need to talk to someone


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Hi all...


First off, I apologize in advance if this gets long-winded. I need to get some feedback for the feelings I'm having, but I need to codify them first. Guess it's the engineer in me - needs to get his feelings down on paper before he can understand them.


I've had a relationship with my fiancee for about two and a half years. You can get some background information from this post: link removed . We've enjoyed a really good relationship, lots of good times, and reasonably decent chemistry. Like I said in the linked post, we have the kind of relationship that single people want and dating couples aspire to.


That said, I wouldn't be posting this if there wasn't a "but" to go along with it. But is the most powerful word in the English language, you know!


After we got engaged this past June, feelings began slowly changing. There are a variety of reasons for this, stemmed from specific issues:



We've always gotten in fights and had the occasional meltdown - that's perfectly normal - but after our engagement, it seemed like every conversation turned into some combination of an argument, her dumping on me about something, or me feeling inept or inadequate in a "can't do anything quite right enough for you" kind of way. She has a very powerful way of making me feel like whatever I try is simply not good enough.


Nice things gone wrong

This pattern really distrubs me. I try to do nice things for her; not petty stuff like bringing chocolates, but bigger things that thoughtful couples do for each other. Take an example: during a long car trip, she was tired and fell asleep. I wanted to stop at my Dad's place to catch up and drop some stuff off, so I let her sleep for the time I was inside. After we got back to her place, she blew up, saying I should have brought her home and that I was insensitive for leaving her to sleep in the car. Meanwhile, I was trying to be nice and super-quiet and not disturb her! I even checked on her every few minutes while at my Dad's, to make sure she was still sleeping and comfortable. All she had to do was poke her head in the door and say "honey I want to go home", but she instead chose to cause what turned into a major meltdown.


Crumby intimacy

We've always been a pretty touchy-feely couple. We hold hands a lot, cuddle during movies and regularly get caught sneaking a kiss or two. But when it comes to closer, more sexual intimacy, we lack severely. We've tried many times to have intercourse, but it's painful for her and she's not willing to keep trying so that it'll become more comfortable/enjoyable. Meanwhile, the things we do instead are band-aids at best, and as a result of the frusteration (on my part) of trying to have sex (as a result of failed attempt after failed attempt), I've pretty much given up. Sometimes this manifests itself as lets-just-go-to-sleep disinterest, and other times disgust or a "smothered" feeling when she tries to initiate activity. Still other times, I find myself more into her and what we're doing... so we're not totally sterile!


Dwindling attractedness

As a result of our physical distancing, I've noticed my attractedness toward her waning. Instead of the beautiful girl I saw when we were dating, I see someone else. It's hard to describe, but it results in difficulty keeping my gaze off of the other pretty people around me, and I don't want that to spiral down to me looking elsewhere for intimacy or a relationship. I like to have a healthy appreciation for attractive people, but I don't want to all of a suddent find myself desiring them one day because I've lost so much of my attraction for the one who I'm supposed to be attracted to!


All of this, plus some other feelings that I can't get a handle on right now, have resulted in a few different things. For one, I'm just not as happy when we're together as I used to be. Just being around each other is no longer cause for celebration. This unhappiness brings her down too, even more so when she asks me what's wrong and I can't explain it. Further, it's dragged us both into a state of wondering whether we really want to go through with getting married. Sure, this is the right time to wonder that, but I always thought when I got this far I'd know for sure - kind of in a you're-supposed-to-just-know fairly tale kind of way. I didn't plan on having this much doubt.


Beyond this, it's getting to be a problem logistically. All these things that have come between us have caused us to deprioritize our time together in favor of the rest of our lives, both of which are very, very busy! As a result, we spend less time trying to work through problems and figure out if we really want to get married, and this leads to more confusion and unhappiness. Kind of a vicious cycle thing.


Still having good days, mediocre days and downright bad days (today is one of the later) but I'm starting to think that what's causing them is more complex and deep-rooted than what I described in my previous post.


SO my purpose here was not really to solicit advice as much as to start dialogue. I'd love to hear your recommendations to me, and I'd even more love to have you ask me additional questions - things that will force me to dig deeper into my feelings and maybe help me understand them better.


Thank you so much in advance, and thank you for reading!



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Hmm... it sounds to me like most of the "problems" are more symptoms of something underlying than actual issues, which seems to be the conclusion you're arriving at yourself.


It sounds as if you're both pulling back from the relationship per se, and the underlying tension you're both feeling as one person feels it and responds TO it by also pulling back in some area is feeding it in a cycle. The more unhappy and unsure you are of each other, the more you'll tend to pull back and reassess where the relationship is going. Little things become cause for arguments because the tension is already there waiting for a release. Knowing the arguments are waiting to happen makes you avoid each other, which ultimately creates MORE tension. See where I'm going here? And tension and sex are NOT exactly a winning combination. Plus the more you lack intimacy, and not just the physical intimacy, in your relationship, the more the need becomes apparent, and the more you're going to tend to start finding others attractive, there's a gap there that your instincts are going to try to push you to look to fill.


Frankly, it sounds like things moved too fast for both of you. How did you feel when you actually got engaged, 100% sure, or more that it was an expected step in the progress of your relationship for both of you? Would it help any if you guys sat down and talked, and postponed any definite wedding plans? I'd have a heart to heart talk with her, explain how you feel and how tense things have gotten, and see if between the two of you you can come up with some answers that might help ease things a bit, and see how it goes from there. Maybe see a counselor if it might help get to some underlying fears she's uncomfortable voicing, but find out what's going on now, don't put it off until you drive each other away bitterly.

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Hi Upstatemedic,


I know many of the things that you are describing only too well. I was in a relationship that showed similar problems over time, and the person that I split up with was not the person that I got together with 4 years previous.


Firstly, can you commuinicate your way out of this situation with her? That is going to be your only solution I fear.


You are not happy, and she need to know that. She also needs to know that you will not stay with her under these circumstances, and that the wedding is off until you see light at the end of the tunnel. You are willing to work at this I believe, but she doesn't sound like she is. If I know her like I believe I do know part of her, she will happily sit in this relationship until it falls apart completely. You need to show her that you will not.


Do you value yourself? Is this what you want in a relationship? If I told you the week you guys got together that this would be the case in the future, would you have continued?


If you are not happy, you are only fooling yourself in a relationship. You are not happy. You need to do something about this and make a final stand. If she does not react, then you have to let her go - for both your goods. You can not make her pull her weight in this situation, but you can certainly encourage her and give her the oppertunity to be with you - a great guy, who deserves to get the sort of relationship that he wants.


Don't waste time in life, it's too short. Give her a chance, but don't let the slope go down down down down down. It will probably be like a hyperbolic curve if you do!! lol


Hope this helps you some and makes you think a bit

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Do you value yourself? Is this what you want in a relationship? If I told you the week you guys got together that this would be the case in the future, would you have continued?


Charmed has hit the proverbial nail on the head here. How does this woman make you feel? As a person, as a man? Do you want a wife who interprets you in a negative, faulted light, instead of a positive, competent one? Do you want to spend your life second-guessing and doubting yourself, because you have a constant critic who will find and expose the faults no matter how hard she has to dig? Do you have positive traits that she ignores or is too ignorant to see? Do you want a woman who has a sour outlook on life?


Is it better to be single than to choose a person who does not fit what you are REALLY looking for? What ARE you really looking for? Is your life and happiness able to stand alone, without another person, with a hope of finding someone who fits into your life and who you are?


Hope this helps...

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Thank you for your replies. I've printed out the thread, and I'm going to walk through them while trying to sort things out a bit. Hopefully now that I'm home from work and my tummy is full, I'll be a bit more objective. And hopefully the trick-or-treaters won't interrupt too many times!


Reading over your replies, it sounds like there is a general consensus on at least one point: We definitely need communication in this thing. Granted that's a basic requirement for pretty much any relationship, but it'll be particularly crucial to working through the problems that we're having. And I do desperately want to sit down and have a solid, heart-to-heart talk with her about what I'm concerned about. Unfortunately, it's pretty hard to solidify that right now - one of the primary reasons I posted earlier, since I want to try to sort out my feelings and organize my thoughts before we sit down and start talking. Nothing bugs me more than hearing myself ramble confusedly.


Now I'll preface this with the fact that I just spoke with her; she stopped by to drop off some Halloween cup cakes and see me before heading off to a party (which it was my choice not to attend). I let her know I need to talk to her tomorrow, about a bunch of different things pertaining to "us". She agrees - we need some quiet time without distractions and prior obligations. So tomorrow will be it. (I think I'm gonna need cue cards, like Simon's housekeeper in As Good as it Gets)


I think one major confusion point is that the feelings I've described are not constant. They're not always there, every time I see her. Some days we're happy together and I enjoy being with her, and that makes me want to go through with the engagement. It makes me feel toward her much the way I did when we started dating. After all, she's a good person, a very loving person and she's a sweetheart a good chunk of the time.


Other days, I feel like they're "one of those days" and it seems natural that we're not getting along 100% - every couple has some of those days, and they're totally normal. But a lot of days, I just feel trapped...


Trapped because I know there are good parts of this relationship, things I really love about her and us, and I don't want to let them go. Trapped by all the things around me and pieces of my life that I would have to dismantle if we decided to call it off. Trapped by how I'd feel explaining it to my family and friends, and by how clearly I can remember how lonely I was before meeting her.


Now I can hear the analogy now... if you have a car with a bad engine, you can't overlook the fact that it doesn't run just because the seats are comfortable and you have pictures of the car all over your apartment. You either take it in for an overhaul or reluctantly part with it. Same with relationships I guess - if the core isn't what you need and want, you can't overlook it just because the periphery is rosy.


So I'm still left wondering exactly what I'm going to say to her... so I figure it'll go something like this...


-- Since we got engaged, things seem to have changed, slowly, between us

-- Been really unhappy the past few days because the feelings seem to be accumulating beyond the overflow point

-- It's hard to say specifically what's bothering me, because specifics aren't what bother me. What really bothers me is the way all the little unhappinesses sum up and affect the overall way I feel when I'm around you.

-- I can feel the ripples of the unhappiness all through our relationship; from the way we are around each other, to the way we are in bed, to how we look at our problems, to the way we act when we're apart.

-- I can see us planting the seeds now for a tumultuous marriage that might come to a family-wrenching end over something silly, or might stop over one (or both) of us having an affair, or could just deteriorate into two people living out their days in boredom and regret.

-- I'm tired of feeling this way, and having these fears, and I'm tired of wondering why it's happening, and wondering if it'll stop.

-- We need to make a decision - do we want to turn our efforts up to 110% and turn this thing around? Or would we rather take a break for a while to clear our heads and hearts, and re-evaluate just what this relationship means to us? Or would we rather call it off now, cut our losses and carry with us what we've learned?


You all are very right - it's not worth wading through this any more with no plan except to hope things will get better. Forced feelings and hollow I-love-yous aren't getting us any where, so we either need to add the missing ingredients or move on.


Thank you.



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You bring up a good point ... the answer to that question will be pretty critical!


I'm not sure I know it, unfortunately. Some days, the answer would definitely be YES! Other days (today, for instance), I would have a real hard time answering it. And still others, I know I'd probably say no. But those "no" days are usually clouded with confusion anyway.


Anyway, guess I've got my thinking cut out for me tonight...





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Reading over your replies, it sounds like there is a general consensus on at least one point: We definitely need communication in this thing. Granted that's a basic requirement for pretty much any relationship, but it'll be particularly crucial to working through the problems that we're having.


It's good that you are thinking communication is a bare minimum, because communication is itself is not going to get you very far, in my opinion. What's far more important is "goodwill." This is the stuff that shapes how your actions (e.g., letting her sleep in the car) are interpreted and processed by her, and vice versa. If there are large reserves of goodwill in a relationship, then little slips of the tongue or imperfections are humorous, not something that creates tension and anger. One excellent way to measure the level of goodwill is through "repair attempts," which is when one person for example tries to explain or reason or make light of a problem. The question is, how does the partner receive the repair attempts? Are they accepted and given with ease, or does a little explanation or joke become an excuse for a line such as "there you go again?"


This is very esoteric stuff, I know, but I think it's something you should be thinking about, because without goodwill, nothing else really matters.

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Hi Charmed...


Yes, the chat went very well, though it got off to a rough start. We spent most of the day Saturday and a good chunk of Sunday morning talking, taking a (much needed) break Saturday night to retreat to our apartments and get some sleep. We basically decided that we really do enjoy being around each other when things are going well; we have a lot of fun and are beaucoup compatible...


When things get fouled up and one of us is unhappy around the other one, the problem has largely been that it's kept very hush-hush, so one of us thinks everything is fine and the other is miserable and lets it affect their overall view of the relationship. So with better spot communication during times when things are sub-par, we should do a lot better. We've both agreed to try to be more approachable, so that there's no inhibition in bringing it up when something doesn't feel right.


As for the intimacy issues, we're working through them - she has a doctor's appt this week to get some attention in that area. Meanwhile, we're just taking it a day at a time and doing a lot of cuddling...


Thanks so much,


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