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This Exchange simulates the original Couples Coping Support Group. It is designed to help persons with concerns in their relationships, family, marriage, seperation, divorce, etc.Offering a wide range of real world, personal experiences, information, knowledge, suggestions, & views from real people.
Is the relationship over? Or just needs more time and effort?
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Ellie262011 posted:
I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for almost 5 years and I don't know if it's time to move on or if with help, we maybe have a chance. We're 29 and as of right now, we would both like things to work out and want to be together. Many discussions have been had; he isn't the best communicator and doesn't enjoy the seriousness of the topic coming up so often here lately, but he tries and I appreciate that.
Basically, it feels as if there is less of a connection between us and the intimacy department is really feeling a drought. He is more of a worry free/go with the flow type of person and I am definitely more of a planner/analyzer type. We met through friends and liked each other immediately. We didn't live so close at first and then he had a job working nights, so the first few years were spent developing a relationship by phone during the week and in person on the weekends. He has always been way ahead of me in the relationship...he fell faster, said I love you first, had more sexual experience, etc. I did have walls up and was just trying to be careful of my heart. Looking back now, I see the time frame in the last two years where things maybe started to spiral some. I thought then that something may be going on with him-a feeling of wanting to stay young while he sees a lot of friends getting married/having babies. He seemed to develop an attitude that was very much...I'm not getting old and I'm going to do whatever makes me happy. I have never pushed any kind of timeline on marriage/kids. We talk about it, but only in a check-in type of way, is it something we both see in the future, etc. Also in looking back and things that he has said about the past, I may have felt this spiral and distance growing then and became more controlling over things in the relationship, decisions, etc. He recently talked about this time and mentioned that he felt like I was a boss not a girlfriend.

Just this year he took a job where the shift changes every three months between days and nights and that has seemed to only put the relationship in more distress. Now it feels as if we have exchanged spots...I am very much in love with him and he says he loves me but doesn't know if it's enough anymore. Maybe this is because I took too long to jump in with both feet and to love completely? Too little too late? This is where I should also add that about a year ago I started experiencing life altering migraines almost daily. Everything was affected as a result and only very recently have I felt some relief after many doctors. I am starting to regain a daily life again. He stood by me through all of this and was a great caretaker, but it was no easy task for him I'm sure. I know he dealt with a very difficult person who never felt well and he says had a terrible attitude most days. He says this and the previous bossy time really took a toll on him and that things are tainted now...that he needs time to see if things can rebound. I don't want to lose him. I am so scared that what is lost won't return for him, all while my feelings are stronger than ever. It is evident that there is a problem. He doesn't hug, kiss, or have sex with me but maybe once a month. I feel strongly for him, yet he is so out of reach. I don't know what to do. He is on day shift now and we decided to take the three months to really work on our relationship. I have improved quite a bit, just my health alone helped greatly. I am working on myself, my attitude, etc. The three months are up at the end of this month. I see effort from him in some areas, but not at all in intimacy. He says he is doing the mental work first. But how can someone know if things can really rebound if there are no actions being explored? I am doing twice as much mental as I am actions, but I'm still doing the actions. I feel very unloved and rejected. What else can I or should I be doing? Where do we go from here? Help please.
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3point14 responded:
Would you consider couples therapy?
 
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Ellie262011 replied to 3point14's response:
I absolutely would and have. He wouldn't. His opinion is a relationship that needs therapy before marriage is one that just shouldn't be. I haven't come right out and asked him about us, but my best friend went to therapy with her boyfriend and he thought that was just crazy. They are doing well now and an engagement is probably going to happen for them in the next couple of months. Members of my family thought the idea of them going was crazy also. I don't really have support in that idea.
 
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stephs_3_kidz replied to Ellie262011's response:
I think a lot of people view counseling as a way to force a relationship. It isn't. It's a way to teach couples better communication and coping skills. Very valuable.
 
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3point14 replied to Ellie262011's response:
Does he realize that your relationship is a relationship that needs therapy before marriage? If you were to tell him that you'd feel more comfortable continuing your relationship with getting therapy and would consider walking away without therapy, would that change his opinion? I don't mean to sound combative, but maybe if he were to see how dire you feel things are getting, it would encourage him either to re-think his ideas, or (hate to say it) force him to realize according to what his ideas of relationships should be, yours isn't one "meant to be".

This is your LIFE hun, and you've both spent a lot of time working on something that doesn't sound like it's making either one of you very happy. Maybe expressing to him your level of unhappiness would be a catalyst?

Ask him why he isn't making more of an effort with the intimacy. Ask him how he feels that's improving your relationship. Explain to him how a relationship isn't a bunch of factors, it's the sum of those factors, so that doing the "mental work" isn't working for you, and you want to be satisfied (and to satisfy!) on every level.

Other things you could do would be to set up an intimacy schedule.
 
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Ellie262011 replied to 3point14's response:
I don't think he allows himself to think of relationships as needing therapy unless the couple is married. I think he only sees relationships as 1) worth trying to save (therapy only if married) or 2) one that has nothing to save. I think he absolutely sees it as the poster steph said above. I'm not sure me mentioning walking away if no therapy would change his opinion of it, I think this would only make him view the relationship as number 2. Where as now, we both see it as number 1. Also, I've mentioned walking away when discussing other topics, such as I can't be in a relationship where I no longer feel loved or desired. I've made it pretty clear how dire I feel things are. I think he also feels the direness on his end. When it gets discussed, we again both decide to work on things. I see effort from him in other areas, but I'm really needing it in intimacy. I've told him this. His reply is the tainted comment from my last post and that he needs time. But if a couple has a good 2 weeks, 1 week, or even a day...I would think the frequency of intimacy might increase. Right? It didn't and he just said I'm not giving it enough time. Maybe my definition of good and his are different? Maybe he's affected more than I know or he's let on? Maybe I should just relax and give it more time that that?

I guess I don't feel like we've really spent a lot of time working on the relationship. We were just in it, even if bad, before when the problems began about 2 years ago. We talked about working on things then, but I'm not sure either of us really understood what the other person was needing. We were on a merry-go-round at this time of nothing changing or trying to be changed. The intimacy issue wasn't present until this past September. Now he was also laid off around this time. Maybe that affected him more than I know? The problems really maxed this year when he had third shift. We lived two separate lives and the lack of intimacy only made me feel insecure causing more problems.

These three months are the first time I think we've actually noticed effort from each other. I would just really like it to roll over to the intimacy. I've thought of an intimacy schedule, but he is very much into it needs to be because of feelings/wants, not forced. I guess that is why he is all mental work right now, which I still don't fully understand. I would think you wouldn't know fully until you get to actions and see how you're feelings are. Also, I have stopped initiating (I was never the greater initiater to begin with), because I have the feelings of not being loved or desired. There have been times I've been rejected, so that doesn't make me want to continue either. Should I be initiating anyway? Will that help him to be more involved in solving the issue or turn him away?

I want to think there is hope for us, but I don't want to be blinded either.


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