Rosenthal: ‘How do I win back my fiance?’
Vail CO, Colorado
Dear Neil: The lady I have been involved with and engaged to for the past three years has recently become increasingly frustrated with our relationship and has threatened to leave me several times. So I went online and looked for other women to date. She learned what I had done and broke off our relationship. I realize that I did wrong in looking at others. However, I did not start a relationship or even meet one of these people. She says I cheated on her. I have apologized but she has rejected me. Is there anything I can do?
” Spurned in New Zealand
Dear New Zealand: If I understand your story correctly, your fiancee was unhappy with things before you went online. Your going there gave her an excuse to cut off a relationship in which she felt unhappy or unfulfilled in.
So start there. See if you can initiate a conversation with her about the causes of her dissatisfaction with you and/or the relationship, and what she would need in order to feel the relationship was back on track. Listen to her without getting angry or defensive, and see if you can address her concerns one by one.
No doubt it was rough on her to learn that you were thinking about dating other women. It likely threatened her and made her question your commitment. You will need to reassure her, and act trustworthy and totally committed to her in the future. But in order to right the ship, you’re going to have to address or fix what was in the way all along.
Dear Neil: I’m in my mid-40s, and about a year ago my dear wife died, leaving me with two beautiful daughters. It may sound very impractical, but I know that I shall be with her again after I die. I would like to remarry. I may not be able to guide my daughters like a mom does ” and my house is in a mess. To straighten all this, a wife is necessary ” anything in a lesser capacity will not fill the void. But it is not possible for me to remarry, because although my wife has departed from this world, she is (and shall continue to be) with me, so I can’t let another woman in. Any advice?
” I Live Far Away in India
Dear India: It sounds as if you’re not ready to remarry at this time. You’re still too attached to your departed wife, and your heart is not available to offer to another woman right now. Your task, therefore, is to make peace with your wife’s passing, and to decide what kind of future you would like for yourself. What do you want for your life and for the lives of your daughters over the next five years? If a new wife doesn’t fit into your vision, you could still guide your daughters to the very best of your ability ” and live a rich and full life without a woman.
You could start by cleaning up the mess in your house so that you and your girls feel good about being there. This is something you could do ” it doesn’t require a woman ” but if it’s too hard to face, hire a housekeeper to do the work. After another year or two, revisit the decision about remarrying and whether you would be willing to accept another woman as your wife, focus your energies into saying good-bye to your departed wife and healing your loss. Life is for the living, and you’re still alive.
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Denver and Boulder, specializing in how people strengthen their intimate relationships. He can be reached at (303) 758-8777, or e-mail him from his website, heartrelationships.com.
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