I’ve been with my partner for over three years, in a good relationship. She's a wonderful person and a positive influence on me.
However, lately, due to social pressure and maternal instincts, there’s been increasing pressure on me for marriage and children. I’d eventually like both but can't figure out if I want them with her.
Recently, I initiated a short break to figure things out. I don't know if I love her, though I know she loves me (I do care for her very much).
I know that she’d be good for me in the long run and a fantastic partner.
Sometimes it seems counselling is a good idea; other times the clean break seems best.
Am I Selfish?
It’s not selfish to want to be sure you’d marry someone for the right reasons for you, not just for her.
This break is your opportunity to consider whether you miss her for herself, not just for convenience or her positive influence on you.
Counselling for you alone would be an added approach, to probe why you’re so unsure of your own feelings.
You may have feelings about marriage and parenthood from your own background that may not be realistic today. You may think that love should be a passionate obsession. Or, you may just not love her enough to be together for years.
You have to be clear about the decision, for both your sakes.
One of my sisters never asks, she just pushes her way through. She wanted to take my teenage daughter to a concert and instead of checking with me, she mailed her the tickets directly.
She just says "I’ll come over and keep you company" (like she's doing me a favour).
You cannot say No to her; she’ll cut you off, which has happened now. I started to stand up to her and she’s stopped talking to me.
She’s always thought her ideas are the best, she acts superior, and when she and I were seeing each other she’d show up with such fanfare, you’d think the Queen had arrived.
It’s hard to be close to her because somehow you feel you’re a bit player in her onstage performance. She’s never overly pushy but just acts like everything she does is awesome.
Is she just too proud, has to have things her own way, and cannot tolerate accommodating others? Or, what’s going on here?
I’ve been unable to re-establish a relationship with her once she stopped talking to me, so you’re answering this question may not make a difference but it may help me to understand her better.
It seems a long-standing dynamic, which has resulted in your resenting her style for years. She always comes on as super-confident, but that’s often the sign of someone who’s actually insecure among her sisters and trying to hide it.
She makes what could be seen in others as generous gestures – the concert tickets, the desire to drop by and spend time with you – but apparently because of your history as siblings, you interpret these as arrogant and intrusive.
You’ve now reacted in a new way, whatever “standing up to her” implies. She was likely more hurt than angry, not understanding the sudden change.
Whatever happens next is up to you. Either you want her in your life, or not. You have other sisters.
Either you all accept each other’s differences, or you and she will remain at odds, which will create some awkward moments when there are family get-togethers and crises.
FEEDBACK Regarding the husband who’s passive aggressive when he’s stressed and/or hungry (June 30):
Reader – “Any aggressive behaviour, which may become less passive over time, bears looking into. Changes in behaviour of this type are found in uncontrolled diabetes and other physical problems.
“Having healthy snacks in the fridge won't help in this case. But a few sessions with a family counselor, without blaming one person as the identifiable patient, may help, with the approach of, “how can our family life run smoother?”
“People seek this kind of family-oriented guidance e.g. to help around tension with teens, or illness, or divorce, or stepfamilies, by airing their views in a safe place with a therapist.”
Ellie – Good suggestion.
I also frequently recommend a medical check-up as well (which would detect diabetes) when there’s been a change in the person’s behaviour. However, the wife said she’d seen this reaction many times during their 10 years.
Tip of the day:
Understand your own attitudes towards love and marriage.