I’ve mentioned once or twice that the fiancé and I consider the foundation of our relationship to be love, trust, and communication. Since blogging has become a way for me to process my thoughts and emotions, I thought I’d do a three-part series on each one of these foundations instead of always lumping them in together.
Love has taken an odd path through our relationship. Since we were both dating other people when we met and began hanging out, both the fiancé and I were resistant to the idea of falling in love. But I’d never met anybody like him. No one had ever been so emotionally doting or so physically affectionate in a way that didn’t creep me out.
I thought that perhaps if he was so open emotionally that maybe I should give it a shot. Almost the second I did, I fell deeply and passionately in love with a man who, unbeknownst to me, had trust issues, sincerity issues, and self-awareness issues.
I’ll be telling this whole story in the “my story” posts, but I’ll sum it up here. After I fell in love, I kept it to myself, but I’m quite sure it was obvious. It took him dating someone else, losing me, and fighting to get me back to realize he loved me. Our love still wasn’t on the same level. He hadn’t truly begun to understand what it means to love someone, and I was busy trying to lock away the love I felt for him so I couldn’t get hurt so bad if he changed his mind about wanting to be with me again.
Our relationship still grew and blossomed. We began to come to a mutual decision on all love entailed. We grew closer and deeper in love. He started feeling the passionate and unbelievably strong love I had felt for him. But by this point, our relationship had taken a couple hits and I was in self-preservation mode.
I didn’t even realize I was in that mode until confronted with having to decide whether I could really walk away from a relationship founded partly on trust that had lost all it’s trust. When I decided to stay, the fiancé and I had a real deep discussion of our love.
When he described his love for me, it sounded exactly like what I would’ve said had I vocalized what I’d been feeling back then. It took him over a year to get to that feeling, but he was so comfortable there and never wanted to leave. At that moment, I realized I didn’t share those feelings. I did, but I didn’t feel it. I felt more numb.
I remember vividly how I used to feel. It was a love so deep my whole body shook when I thought about it. But I had pushed those feelings away for so long that I’d forgotten how to access them. I felt like I was standing at the entrance to my attic looking at a box way in the back marked “Love”. I’d have to crawl over dozens of other boxes and risk falling through the ceiling to get to it.
I began to understand that if we were going to have this firm foundation on love, I’d have to make the effort to dig out the old love box. I couldn’t just get by on my muted love. The fiancé deserved for me to access those feelings that were on par with what he was feeling. He never felt me lacking in love for him, not through my actions or words.
When I described for him the last day I truly let myself feel that deep over-powering love, he knew the day well. It was the last day we spent in Chicago before I went to St. Louis and he told me he’d picked the other chick. When he compared that to everyday since, he truly understood the difference in how I’d been feeling.
Now that these two versions of my love for him were out in the open, it was clear what had to happen. I had to be able to open myself back up to feel that love. But my self-preservation has been in tact for so long, I’m honestly not sure how to do it.
The best plan I have so far is to work on our trust. When I made the decision to try and be open before, I was going on blind trust, taking things at face value. I don’t have that luxury anymore, but what I do have now is experience and eventually I’ll have real trust.
Then I won’t be afraid to open up my heart again. I’ve always said I wanted a marriage that was filled with love and passion. I love the fiancé so much and I feel so passionate about and towards him. To know that can grow ever deeper if I open myself back up again makes me yearn for feeling safe enough to go there.
I think I can get to that point. We’re both committed to having our love be as deep as possible. And it’s there, I just have to let it back in.
There’s this metaphor I came up with on Sunday. I think of re-building the trust is my relationship as planting a seed and watching it grow into a tree.
The fiancé and I discussed how hard it is for me to just magically start trusting him again. My new natural instinct had been to question everything he said, if not aloud then at least in my mind. I couldn’t think of anything that he’d said in the preceding several days that I just believed.
I’m not a cynical or distrustful person by nature, so I was feeling very uncomfortable in this new stage of my relationship and not sure how to move forward. Then, the fiancé said, “you trusted my strength, and you believed me when I said I pick you over lying.”
I had a powerful paradigm shift right at the moment. I realized he was right. When we discussed how his strenght pulled us through that rough patch, I never doubted it. I believed him when he said he’d be strong for the both of us. I knew he was telling the truth and I knew I could count on him.
Out of all this tumult, we emerged feeling closer and more intimate than ever. We are able freely discuss all our emotions, which is totally new for me. Being emotionally vulnerable all the time, never having to put on a strong front has done magnificent things for our mental, emotional, and spiritual connection as a couple.
I realized that the trust I have in him to be strong for both of us was a starting point. It was a metaphorical seed I could plant and nurture into a strong tree. I felt immensely better almost immediately. Knowing I had something he’d said and done that I just instinctively believed and trusted gave me a feeling of peace.
I stopped worrying about how long it would take to heal our rift. I knew it would take time, but I knew we could do it. All I needed was a starting point to go from, and I had that!
The foundation of our relationship is love, trust, and communication. We talk about those three a lot, but I don’t think I’ve ever really focused on one at a time in my own time to think about it. Writing things out in this blog has become a way for me to process and sort through my logic, emotions, etc., so I think I’m going to do blog posts about it.
Back to this seed. I think sunlight, water, and plant food ought to do the trick. Metaphorically I think that’s keeping up our emotional connection, keeping up our mental connection, and taking specific note of new situations that build trust.
Alternate Post Title: And we still together. (If you don’t get that reference to In Living Color, don’t ever say you are a fan of the 1990s)
I wrote a post last week about a big blow-up I attributed to pre-wedding jitters. When I look back on that moment, I just feel tired.
Having not yet regained my will to fight, the fiancé seems to sense this and he is working over time to make sure nothing goes wrong. I know life doesn’t work that way. Stuff goes wrong. Disagreements happen. Problems arise.
But I feel like I’m recovering from being stabbed in the stomach. So it’s nice to have some time where I sit back and just heal without being on the lookout for something that may make my stitches pop.
We’ve had some serious heart-to-hearts since that happened. I feel closer to him than ever. The fiancé and I know each other better than anyone else has ever known us, and I think that (and the love) will get us through. Understanding why we do the things we do helps the other person be understanding and helps each of us control our bad habits.
One thing that surprisingly helps me cope with all of this is talking about the future. Not the wedding, but our married lives together. Talking about travelling and grad school and who’s going to pay what bill is really soothing for me.
I’m a planner and a supporter by nature, so plotting our what year we’ll move where as well as giving him encouragement for his dreams keeps me focused on what’s really important. Our lives together and what we’ve built is what’s most important.
If I’m honest with myself, re-building the trust in our relationship is going to be hard. I feel like we’re broken and I don’t know how to fix it. I know the steps to take. 1) Read the bible and pray about it. 2) Have discussions where we’re open and honest and get all skeletons, feelings, and thoughts out into the open. 3) Devise a plan to move forward. 4) Honestly accept what has happened, completely forgive, and take each day as it comes, making better decisions.
I’m a logical person, so I know what has to be done. And we’re doing most of that, just not necessarily in that healthy step-wise fashion. I just don’t yet have the strength to do the work. The fiancé is being strong for both of us. He’s constantly reminding me that he will make sure he’s worthy of my trust, he will keep the lines of communication open, and he never lets me forget how much we love each other.
And when all else fails, we talk about the future. Our future, as discussed recently, is actually a topic for another blog post.
I thought I was immune to the cold-feet stereotype that you see in movies and television for almost-weds. Turns out I am not.
For me, the pre-wedding jitters has manifested itself in the most horrible way possible. I said the words to the fiancé that I never thought I would say: “I don’t think I can do this.”
Looking back, I still can’t believe those words came out my mouth. I’ll tell you what happened so I’m not sounding increasingly vague and oddly mysterious.
It started with a lie. the fiancé lied to me about something concerning his ex. There was an omission, a misleading statement, and an outright lie. I completely lost it. There was yelling and arguing. Ultimately I told him I couldn’t marry him if he was a liar.
We’d been working on our trust and communication since we’ve been dating (an issue I’m sure I’ll explain eventually in one the “My Story” posts). It’s hard for me to trust him because he doesn’t always tell the truth up front. He always tells the truth eventually, but that “eventually” part was starting to wear on me.
Also, I’ve got anger issues. Things don’t make me angry right away. But if I get a little angry about something, the next time it happens, I get twice as angry. So imagine how angry (and probably scary) I can get the 17th time I’m angry about something. For you math folks, that’s [angry *2^n].
So between his eventual truth, my exponentially increasing anger (linearly?), and our occasional breakdown of communication, it’s obvious where this was heading. The argument about the ex ended with him promising never to willingly lie to me again. That’s a big promise, but he made it.
Less than 36 hours later, we had a miscommunication about the guest list and the role the fiancé has been playing in wedding planning. The argument escalated because I thought he lied about something. He didn’t explain himself well at all, likely because I barely let him get a word in because I was so angry.
I said, “I don’t think I can do this. I can’t marry you. I don’t trust you and we don’t communicate well. I can’t rely on you. I can’t do this.”
I’ve never seen him look so hurt. I meant it when I said it, and there was no reasoning with me at first. He kept pushing me to talk about it. I had to get ready to leave for work (stupid night shifts), and I wasn’t ready to talk yet. We usually have a rule that he gives me space to think things through we have a disagreement, but this was an extenuating circumstance.
He kept calling and texting me for the whole hour drive to work and for the first 5 hours I was at work. We sorted through our confusions and got on the same page about the issues. But I still felt so weary. When I thought about leaving him, it seemed so hard.
Pragmatically, the hassle of one of us moving out of the apartment, calling of a wedding that cost tens of thousands of dollars only 26 days out, etc., just seemed like too much. But emotionally, the thought of having that same fight over and over again for the rest of my life just made me feel dejected and sad and weary and listless. I felt like I didn’t have any fight left in me for this particular topic.
But the fiancé stayed strong. He expressed that he hated feeling like he was the only one fighting for our relationship. I told him I’d lost my energy to fight. I told him I could love him and miss him and never love anyone else as much ever again and still be without him because there are some non-negotiables I just can’t get down with (constant lying, any kind of abuse towards me, any kind of substance abuse, suddenly turning Atheist). He doesn’t have all of those, but he’s struggled with the first one.
But the fiancé stayed strong. He told me he couldn’t be without me and that I wouldn’t have to live the rest of my life living with one of my non-negotiables. I told him if the situation were reversed, I’d be doing what he was doing. I’d be fighting for our relationship, even if I felt like I was fighting by myself.
It’s nice to think every couple fights just as hard together all the time for their relationship, but that’s not realistic. Sometimes one person has to be strong for the other. That’s what the fiancé did for me. He was strong when I couldn’t be strong.
He talked me back from the ledge. I still feel weary and dread the thought of what’s going to happen then next time we have a miscommunication or heaven forbid he lies about something. But I’m done talking about not marrying him.
I’m almost 100% sure I would have had a different response had we not been less than 30 days from the wedding. I think the urgency of the situation, feeling somehow like all of our major issues had to be worked out prior to the wedding was pulling me towards behaving in a very crazy way.
If I’m being realistic, I would realize that since the time that we decided to get married, we’ve been all in. I just didn’t realize how my emotions would change in the days leading up to the wedding.
We argued about one of our big issues and I know it’s not the last conversation we’ll have about it, but I know now reactions were more about the timeframe of the wedding than the topic of the argument.
I’m glad the fiancé was strong when I couldn’t be. I hope I’m never in his position, but if I am, I’ll be strong like he was. For right now, we’re working on my anger, his consistency, and forgiveness. I’m going to forgive him for misleading me yet again, and he’s going to forgive me for not being strong and letting my pre-wedding jitters get the best of me.