Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Quickies: “I’m Newly Engaged and My Fiancé Won’t Spend Time with Me”

I am recently engaged and feeling frustrated with my fiancé lately. He has a tendency to become less attentive at times, and we are in the middle of this cycle right now. It seems like we have less and less time for each other, and quality time is so important to me. For the first time in a month, we went on a date tonight. While we were waiting for our table, we started having this great talk about where we wanted to go on our honeymoon. Then he got a text from his dad asking how to buy movie tickets online, and he said he had to go make a call. I asked why, and then I said, “No, don’t leave,” but he did leave. My mood was completely ruined and I was frustrated when they called our name for the table and he wasn’t even in the restaurant. He talks to his parents constantly and I try to be patient, but I couldn’t stand it this time. I told him I could understand if it were something really important but that I want our time to be more valuable. This happens frequently, so I think I’m just feeling sensitive right now. What do you think? — Recently Engaged

Your feelings are valid, so I don’t understand the “just” in “I’m just feeling sensitive right now,” as if you’re trying to justify feelings you are absolutely entitled to. If this happens frequently, THAT is the reason you’re upset, not that you’re particularly sensitive. (Although you may be sensitive and that may exacerbate the problem, the main issue here isn’t that you are sensitive but that your fiancé is INsensitive.) This is a real problem because your very reasonable needs are not being met even when you express them. Your fiancé is not giving you the attention you want and deserve, and since it sounds like this is a pattern, you need to put your engagement on hold until this gets figured out. And if it doesn’t get figured out, don’t marry the guy. I mean, yeah, planning a honeymoon is fun — AND HE CAN’T EVEN GIVE HIS FULL ATTENTION TO THAT! — but the marriage is way, way more important than a honeymoon, and if your needs aren’t met NOW, before you’re even in the honeymoon phase, then, honey, this does not bode well for a satisfying and successful marriage.

So, what do you do? Pre-marriage counseling, stat. He needs to understand, with the help of a mediator, that you are unhappy. And you need to understand, if this is a cycle like you say it is, what triggers the cycle and how you can help him find less personally destructive ways to deal with the triggers. And if the trigger is related to his general feelings about you, a commitment to you, planning your future together, etc., then it’s time for some serious discussions about whether this relationship has a future at all, let alone a life-long future. Being newly engaged is a really special time, and if your fiancé can’t even carve out one night in a whole month to devote his attention solely to you, it makes me wonder whether he really wants to be with you. You should be wondering this too, and asking him, and seeking the help of a counselor to seek a genuine and authentic answer (and not just the answer your fiancé thinks you want to hear because he’s afraid of hurting you or afraid of being alone or of making an irreparable mistake…).

Lately, my uncle, who was a key person in my life, has been quite odd; he didn’t show up to my wedding even though he was like a father to me. Recently I logged on pto Facebook to see him commenting on posts with another woman. When I clicked on her page, it turns out that she is his girlfriend and there are comments and posts saying he loves her and they want to take trips and so on. What do I do about this? Am I supposed to say something? People haven’t figured it out yet, but I can see how my sunt struggles—-I can see how she just hides in the back and tries to keep to herself and hide her pain. What am I supposed to do with this information? Delete him? They aren’t divorced, and from what I know he just sneaks away randomly. As much as I wish to tell her and him something I feel I am in no place to do so. — My Place to Say?

 
Yeah, this isn’t your place to say anything. And since your uncle isn’t hiding anything — these comments are on a public Facebook page, right? — surely your aunt already knows what’s going on. And what’s going on between them is really none of your business. Obviously, your uncle is dealing with some personal changes in his life, and what you ARE entitled to discuss with him is your relationship with him and your feelings about the change in it. You should tell him how hurt you were that he skipped your wedding, how you’ve always thought of him like a father figure, and how you’re sad that he failed to show up for you. You could even express concern about his well-being, but stay out of his marriage. You could tell him you’re worried about him, you hope he’s ok, you love him and miss him, and you hope he finds his way back into your life. You could ask if there’s anything you can do to support him. But telling his wife that you know – or think you know – that he’s having an affair? No. Not your story to tell.

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.

8 comments… add one
  • avatar

    LisforLeslie December 16, 2019, 10:15 am

    LW #1 – when you got engaged, was there any discussion of these issues? Part of me thinks he proposed because this was the easiest way to minimize any complaints or concerns you have, without actually dealing with your issues. As you can see, engagement is not making this issue any better and marriage will not either unless you both take deliberate steps and he starts cutting those apron strings.

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      LisforLeslie December 16, 2019, 10:39 am

      By “your” issues I mean your issues as a couple.

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    ron December 16, 2019, 10:28 am

    You are engaged and still coming in a distant second to his parents. I disagree with Wendy’s discussion. I don’t think counseling is going to solve this. How could he possibly not already know that you are unhappy. The primary problem is his inability to put some distance between himself and his parents and be an independent adult. This is his personal issue, not really a couples issue. Your individual issue is why you have put up with this and actually gotten engaged to this not-quite-adult man. That is your individual counseling goal. Perhaps after you have each worked on your issues, and his are far greater than yours, couples counseling will have merit. I’m not at all sure of that since there doesn’t appear to be much of a relationship here to salvage. Did you leave out the good parts in your post, or are you that desperate for any husband? Honestly, this guy is not even close to being ready to marry anyone.

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    • avatar

      Skyblossom December 16, 2019, 11:00 am

      I’m thinking the same thing. He has never become independent from his parents. Their wants or needs, even when trivial, override everything else. This is who he is. This is who he will remain unless he chooses to change.

      LW1 Most people don’t change. You take them as they are. He’s a guy who is going to put his parents before you and your marriage. Do you find that acceptable? Do you love him so much that you don’t mind a lifetime of coming in second or third in his life? If you have kids will you be raising them by yourself because he will be so busy catering to his parents? Think this through. Can you live that way because that’s what you are signing up for at this point.

      I’d put a break on being engaged. Either don’t set a date and don’t plan or give the ring back. If you don’t set a date have a date in mind where you will break the engagement if nothing has changed. Then you need to see sustained change for at least a year before getting engaged or setting a date. Even then, I’d set a date for at least another year in the future. You don’t want him to temporarily change just so that you marry him and then he reverts right back to what he has always done. Don’t be afraid to walk away if you are unhappy. There are lots of men out there and some of them make great partners.

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  • avatar

    anonymousse December 16, 2019, 11:49 am

    I agree with Wendy. This is a serious problem, and the worst part is you’ve told him how you felt and he is still doing it. Without apology. His parents figure largely in his life. Is that something you want to marry into?

    Take a step back and postpone the marriage at all costs. See a premarital counselor. Don’t try to brush this under the rug.

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  • avatar

    Skyblossom December 16, 2019, 12:30 pm

    “This happens frequently, so I think I’m just feeling sensitive right now.”

    You aren’t being too sensitive. You’ve probably ignored this too much. I hope you haven’t gotten the idea that you are too sensitive from him. If he sees you as being the problem when he walks out on your date then the two of you aren’t compatible.

    I’d talk to him. Ask him why he considers your date as less important than his dad’s need to buy tickets at that moment. He’ll probably say he doesn’t but if his dad sent the message while he was at work he wouldn’t walk out on work, at least I’m assuming he wouldn’t. I’d tell him that if it is bad to do at work it is bad to do to your relationship. Surely your relationship is as valuable as his job. Tell him it is rude to do what he did. Tell him that you expect to be treated with respect. If he wouldn’t do it to other people he can’t do it to you.

    If he doesn’t show drastic, long term improvement you need to break up.

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  • avatar

    Essie December 16, 2019, 2:35 pm

    LW1: Yes, there are times in relationships where both parties are super-busy with work, family, etc, and you’re not as focused on each other as you could be. But those are temporary situations – a parent is ill, there’s a huge project at work and the deadline is coming up, etc.

    This sounds like an ongoing problem for you, though. And you’re not being over-sensitive. As you said, if it were something really important and urgent – like “your mother is having chest pains and the ambulance is here” – yes, he needed to call right away. But a text about buying movie tickets? No. That’s a text you glance at and put the phone back in your pocket until you get home, and then you call. “Sorry, I couldn’t get back to you right away, fiancee and I were having dinner out.”

    There will be times when parents needs will take priority. That’s inevitable as parents age. But all the time? No. And over ordering movie tickets? No. What he did was rude and dismissive.

    I’m sorry, but your engagement needs to be on hold until the two of you get this sorted out.

    LW2: You have no idea what is going on in your aunt and uncle’s marriage. You think you know, but you don’t. If he’s posting on social media, she must know. Stay out of it, it’s not your business.

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  • avatar

    Rava December 17, 2019, 9:35 am

    Oooh, I love Wendy’s call-out to the “being sensitive” part.
    I’m sorry to hear this, LW. It might be that your fiancé feels overly responsible for his parents’ well-being. His father may not even had texted him had he known you two were on a date, but he did text, and your fiancé obviously finds it hard to ignore that. But it’s very important that he learns just how much this is affecting you both. Couple’s therapy is great. I went in with a cynical boyfriend (who kind of did it for me) and came out with a boyfriend who’s now telling *everyone* how great therapy was, haha. You learn to understand each other better and you get some tools to cope with patterns. And if that doesn’t work, or if it only works for a short period of time, or if he doesn’t even want to go into therapy with you, then please get out of the relationship.

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