Being supporting, getting tough

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-02-2003
Being supporting, getting tough
Tue, 09-02-2003 - 2:34pm
Hi - I'm currently engaged to a wonderful girl and am finding myself having difficulty with the results of her upbringing. Her mother has been divorced a couple times and her father pretty much took off when she was in her teens. Her mother's second husband developed a good relationship with her, and then they got divorced and he took off too, never to be seen again. Clearly, she is worried about being abandonded. On top of this, her mother is quite selfish, often not showing genuine interest in her daughter, my fiance. As a result, she often feels unloved and that nobody cares for her.

I feel the affects of this in that I can tell she doesn't completely trust me and she gets worried that I'm going to fall out of love with her, change my mind about wanting to be with her, etc. All of these difficulties in her upbringing have made her a high stress person. She gets worried about health, scared to go on trips, and many other small things. It doesn't consume her constantly, but she gets very worried about many things. Things that to me seem rediculous. Then, when I'm not supportive of her anxiety she gets very angry at me that I'm not caring for her.

She knows she does this, knows she has these fears, stess, etc. She acknowledges most of it, but doesn't seem to be able to handle it very well. I can't tell if she's improving, getting worse, or is staying the same. I'm a very positive and trusting person so I want to believe that she's getting better, but I just don't know.

So, what am I asking here? Well, I guess I'm looking for a little insight from anyone on this. Will this improve? I'm worried that I'm going to always have to go over the top to show her that I love her and to trust that I love her. I love her, but I think that there is more love that I can give and more love I could feel if she trusted me more. I'm also worried that there will always be these fears that she is going to have and I'm going to have to deal with. I care for her a lot, but her stress and fears rub off on me and put her in moods that are very difficult for me to handle. She can get very angry and frustrated with me when she is in these modes and I therefore feel the affect. It's very hard and I'm scared that it's never going to change.

Any insight out there?

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-02-2003
Tue, 09-02-2003 - 3:32pm
Yes, it will improve, but your fiancee will continue to test you.

I had the carpet yanked out from under me when I was 18 after a tumultuous childhood and my entire family disappeared overnight never to be seen again. The wounds go very deep and it took a long time for me to trust anyone ever again.

I have been with my husband 12 years and for the past 2 years I can say I have *almost* completely let go go of my inhibitions in trusting he won't flee from me in the middle of the night. :)

He has never given me a reason not to trust or a reason to think he would disappear overnight. He is the most loving person I know. Anytime I ever have doubts he always patiently reassures me that he will continue to be there and that I'm being ridiculous for thinking otherwise.

Be patient with your fiancee. Once she sees no matter the situation you are patient and kind with her and in it for the long haul she will calm down. But patience and kindness are the key. Think of it like potty training a 2-year old. Always give *positive* reinforcement.

Good luck!

Avatar for leslie2353
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Tue, 09-02-2003 - 8:32pm
I agree with you completely. I undestand where you're coming from and how you're feeling.

That girl (your fiancee) is me, and I know how DH reacts when I go into one of those times. I try to be as normal as can be when I'm around work. But once I'm at home, and something hits my nerve, I behaved just like I did before. Especially when I'm around those who angered me the most (as a child growing up: parents or sister). Maybe it's the moon, but it brings back so much memories when I can't control myself. In the beginning, DH would say to me: "if you're not going to stop behaving like a maniac, . . . " threatening me or trying to reason w/me just won't do for me. Getting a good scolding or punishment just won't do it for me. But once that child is traumatize, it's hard for them to go back normal. They just keep coming back to them. It's harder on the people who loves them when they're not acting up or behaving like a maniac. It takes alot of patience. For those who have NO PATIENCE they can't take it anymore and leave FOR GOOD.

DH must have love me too much to remain w/me, or that he's insecure enough to leave me that he don't know what I'll do if he leaves me. But he's got alot of patience w/me.

If you have patience until ETERNITY, stay, but I promise you it's not always a bed full of roses. There are times when you sleep with roses full of thorns. If that's not a life you want, say your goodbye now. But she'll be devastated. Unless she finds someone who cares enough he'll stay thru thick or thin, till death do them part.

Married 29yrs. for both of us. P.S. he knew about this since day one.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Wed, 09-03-2003 - 10:10am
I have a couple of thoughts here that you may not want to read. Let me say that I have been married twice and divorced once, as has my DH. The advice I give you is based on both of our mistakes.

I think that the most common mistake that people make is that they marry the potential that a person has rather than the actual person. The fact that you want her to chang, or "get better" (the implication is that she is not already good enough) is not a good sign, in fact, I would call it a red flag. You need to go very slowly with this relationship. I am not saying that what you want is unreasonable, but know that that she may not get better and may even get worse after you get married. If you are not willing to marry the person she is now, you may need to reconsider your long-term commitment to this relationship. Are you willing to wait until she is that person?

The fact that she knows she has problems is only a very small step towards dealing with them. What is she actually DOING to help herself deal with her past? She has some serious issues that should be dealt with well before your marriage, is she making any effort to do so? In this case, I would recommend counseling, both individual and couples for both of you. If she won't go, you go. Her I-hate-you-don't-leave-me kind of behavior is characteristic of Borderline Personality Disorder, I am not saying that she is diagnosable, but you could find some helpful strategies on the internet for dealing with certain kinds of behavior by looking up websites devoted to BPS.

In therapy, things often get worse before they get better, so it is difficult to say, given the current state of things, whether it is getting better or not, or if it will. She has to want to change and be willing to put the effort into changing in order for it to get better. You need to ask yourself if she is not willing to put the effort into dealing with these issues which would make your relationship infinitly better, is she really committed to your relationship?

One more thing, you are not responsible for her emotional state.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Wed, 09-03-2003 - 10:16am
I think I am a lot like your fiance but i push away. Its like i think "I know that he will leave eventually so ill just give him a reason to". I try not to do it and have been catching myself and making myself think twice before i give the push again and that is just the result of counseling so far.

I think your fiance would benefit a great deal from counseling, perhaps couples therapy so you can be with her.