Wedding-ringsDear Life Matters,

I am feeling depressed, but I am really more confused than depressed. At the end of June, I suddenly called off my wedding. I know why, at least I think I do. I feel kind of crazy to have gotten so far along only to have abruptly called it off.

We are still together. He thinks that I just got cold feet and even though it has caused him great embarrassment, which he constantly makes a point of, he forgives me because he understands that I have certain “weaknesses.”

My friends and family think that I am nuts because he is so perfect in so many ways. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Ivy League colleges, he is already successful and well on his way to great things. He is also quite handsome and from a very good and wealthy family.

My family is also well off and my father has been very successful. I am quite close to my father, but the truth is that I have problems with my mother, who is always pointing out my flaws and trying to change and perfect me. Actually, this is one of the reasons that I stopped the wedding. My fiancé reminds me of my mother.

He “loves” me, but I am never quite as good as I should be or as good as he is. He is really great in all the ways that I have said and that my friends and family say. I do love him; he has a very sweet side. But he is hard on himself and hard on me. It’s as if he is addicted to perfection.

But despite being hard on himself, he is also very vain. He is constantly bragging about himself and putting others down behind their backs. This is the side of him that I just hate. It really scares me. Yet he seems like that guy that most any woman would want and I really feel crazy, as in confused.

 

Signed,

Help

 

Dear Help,

I am really feeling you and understand your confusion. It is far better to stop and wait, trust your intuition and examine your fears before proceeding into such a big commitment.

While it may not seem so anymore, marriage is (meant to be) for a lifetime. If you break up the first year like many marriages do, you still will have spent lots of money unnecessarily and you will still experience the pain of a lost dream and feelings of embarrassment for having failed. And of course you will have to break up the household that you have set up, one of you will have to move and there will most likely be arguments over the wedding gifts.

If you continue in your marriage and then get pregnant, you will be together for the rest of your lives. And unless you get along well, your children will feel the effects of a bad marriage or divorce.

If you have big questions now you are right to step back and truly explore your concerns. Love is not enough! It can wear off quickly if you are not well suited for each other or if either one of you have problems with the others’ character.

Simplifying it, you should have the three Cs: 1) Common values and goals 2) Character 3) Communication.

If you do not have all three, you are most likely headed for trouble.

I always recommend pre-marital counseling, with a religious leader or therapist, for anyone who has questions. This can give you the opportunity to clarify whether you have the same goals and values and if you have the same or at least similar expectations about what your family will look like.

It can also help you have better communication. It is often said that communication is the secret to staying in love.

Finally, it is extremely important that you like and respect your partner’s character. Character is not something you can change later and if you don’t like it now, that flame that burns hot today will eventually flicker out.

In your case, you have already called the wedding off so it should be no surprise that you want to do some counseling to be sure. If he won’t go, that tells you a lot and I strongly advise you to go on your own.

There is not enough room or time here to go into what might be going on with him. However, I will say that he sounds deeply insecure. I realize it does not look like it, but anyone who constantly brags about himself or herself and puts others down is, in my view, someone who is trying to convince himself but probably does not know it. Underneath it all, there is serious insecurity.

But again, this is part of character and does not change on its own. If anything, it may get worse unless he is lucky enough to get some psychological help.

 

Dr. JoAnne Barge is a licensed psychologist and licensed marriage and family therapist with offices in Brentwood. Visit her at www.drbarge.com or send your anonymous questions to newshrink@gmail.com. Got something on your mind? Let me help you with your life matters because it does.