Please Help! (Sorry so long)

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Registered: 12-31-1969
Please Help! (Sorry so long)
6
Fri, 08-24-2012 - 8:42pm

I am a 20 year old nursing student who has been in a relationship with a 22 year old Army soldier for 4 years. We have been together since I was 15 and he was 17. Initially, when we first started to get to know each other he never told me he had a girlfriend at the time. His girlfriend came to me after she found out we were "getting to know each other" and told me they were together. He assured me that they were together but they had not actually been around each other in months. He broke it off with her and we began to date in April 2008. The relationship was great for the first few months. We talked all of the time, spend as much time with each other as we could. Then after he graduated from high school he told me that he was joining the Army. We stayed together through all of his training and his tour of Iraq. While he was in Iraq, he chose to miss my prom and graduation to stay longer in Iraq to make more money. He told me that when he came home that we would get married in July. He had a wedding band (not a normal engagement ring, but a wedding band as my engagement ring) mailed to my house in April 2010 and said he wanted to pick out the engagement ring in person when he got home. He came home after a year in Iraq in June 2010 and never said a word about us getting married. I was so focused on making sure he was adapting to civilian life that I didn't want to bring it up. Finally after a few months down the line I asked him why we did not get married, and he said that he wanted to give me the wedding of my dreams, instead of just going to the courthouse. I stayed with him and for about a year we argued a lot about getting married and he eventually told me he simply was not ready. The following June he was in one of his Army buddies', whom we both knew from going to high school together, wedding as a groomsmen and had me to go with him to get fitted for his tux. Of course this stirred up more emotions about not being married, but on top of that he did not even have an invitation sent to me. I eventually forgave him. A few months later my grandmother died from pancreatic cancer. My bf always told me to spend as much time with her as I could, and I did. I asked him to go to the hospital and hospice to see her but he never would. It was a very quick illness, within two months of being diagnosed, she was gone. I expected my boyfriend to be there for me and comfort me. He would hold me, but he did not go the funeral and he spend less and less time with me when I needed him most. I was hurt but again, I associated this with his war time. Afterwards he has been spending less and less time together and we talk less and less each week. We only live 15 minutes away from each other, but he still does not make an effort to spend time with me. I even ask him can I come over to his home, but he never allows me to and gets angry when I show up to surprise him. By the way, he lives with his mother and his two brothers and one sister. A few months ago we were in an accident one night when I was behind him and  he made a U-turn in the middle of the road and I side swiped him. He verbally disrespected me in every way possible that night and insisted that I leave him alone. However, the next day he texted me and called me to fix everything. The accident was filed under my insurance and he has never once admitted that he did make a U-turn. Again, I forgave him for this and that has been 5 months ago now. Last month, he started to tell me that he did not want to be with any more. I asked him why and he said that he loss some feelings for me after the accident. I was blindsided because I thought we were doing fine. Although we only see each other once a week and we barely talk on the phone we were working on our issues. He simply said he was tired of trying to make it work. So for the pass month he has been very verbally disrespected and even told my mother that he did not know why I would not leave him alone, that was last Friday. That same night after he stormed out of my house he sent me a text message apologizing for how he has been treating me and has been acting more like his normal self. With all of this behavior, I have always associated it with his tour in Iraq. Before he joined the military he was a completely different person. He was loving and caring, he did sweet thoughtful things, and he wanted to spend every moment with me that he could. For the past two years he has been spending less and less time with me and does not show me the love he use to. Some times he is the guy I fell in love with and sometimes he is a completely emotionally numb different person. After he is mean to me, he apologizes and then after a month or so he will start being mean and distant again. Now for the past week he has been talking to me a little bit more, but still not as much as he should. I'm at a point in this relationship where I just want stability and I want to know if this is going in the right direction. He tells me he wants to marry me when he gets his career and becomes financially stable and I respect him wanting to provide. But for any woman, you can only imagine how hard is it everyday not being married, yet still in a relationship with a guy who proposed two years ago and came home from Iraq and never mentioned it. I love him so much, and I have always been there for him. I don't feel like he has been there for me when I really needed him to, but I still want to make it work. He is a great guy: no children, working to save money, going to school, he is faithful, and I do believe that he loves me. I just don't know why he switches his whole personality so often. Every time I ask him, he insists he is fine and that nothing is wrong. I do believe he is suffering from PTSD, but he won't seek help. I love this guy and I don't want to give up on him. I want to marry him and have children with him, but eveytime I bring up marriage he just says he is not ready and does not know when he will be. When I try to focus on the present, and us doing things as a couple and spending time together and talking to each other, he always wants to be with me and talk to me as little as possible. What is wrong?  I would greatly appreciate any advice/ comments that you have. I'm at a crossroad.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Fri, 08-24-2012 - 11:24pm

I am writing to you as the mom of a 23 yr old DD (also a nurse) and I say at the age of 20, when you should be concentrating on starting your career and really living as an independent adult, are you in such a rush to get married?  You must know that statistically people who marry young have a much higher rate of divorce anyway but add into that the fact that your BF was in the military & changed a lot and you aren't really getting along well and it's a recipe for disaster.  He argues with you, he says disrespectful things, he doesn't take responsibility for his actions (possibly causing the car accident), he told you he didn't want to be with you & then changed his mind the next day, he doesn't want to spend time with you.  when people say they want to "work on their relationships" that should be for married people who need to put in the effort to their marriage cause they don't want to get divorced, not for young people.  Both of you should have the experience of dating other people before you get married to make sure that you are with the right person.  You could break up w/ him and find a much better guy who treats you a lot better than this--why do you feel that you have to stay with him?

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-22-2007
Sat, 08-25-2012 - 8:43pm

Lovekay, I'm telling you my story so that you don't think I'm being old and patronising.

25 years ago, I was you.   Well, without the Iraq complications, but all the same, 19-20 years old ready to marry and with a guy who wouldn't discuss it.    I'm a planner by nature and it was really tough having this big question mark hanging over my head.   Honestly, having a "no" or a "it's too early, let's discuss this in 5 years" would have been better than a "I'm the man, it has to be done on my time line with no input from the girl" attitude.

Anyway, he eventually proposed and we married.  And then divorced 4 years later.   With hindsight, we were far too young.    And I'd say that any woman in the western world is also probably too young to be marrying at 20.   Honestly, we change so much during our 20's, that who are you are now and what you want now won't be the same in 5-10 years.   My husband changed in one direction and I changed in the other.

My advice is to forget marriage and work on making yourself a strong, independant woman.   Stay with him if you want, but if he's still wishy washy in 5 years, then it's probably time to cut him loose and find a man who thinks like you do and wants what you want.

Avatar for khatru1
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-07-2004
Tue, 08-28-2012 - 1:03pm

Here is a table I copied from a divorce statistics site. You can plainly see where the most at-risk groups are, and you falling right into the highest risk area. Do not rush it, you have PLENTY of time to get married.

Age at marriage for those who divorce in America

Age Women Men Under 20 years old 27.6% 11.7% 20 to 24 years old 36.6% 38.8% 25 to 29 years old 16.4% 22.3% 30 to 34 years old 8.5% 11.6% 35 to 39 years old 5.1% 6.5%