Pre-Marriage Concerns and Guidance

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    • #89051

      Hello all! I am new to this forum, so please work with me – this is my first post.
      I am reaching out because my fiancee and I are planning to get married within the next year, and I have some worries/concerns that I would love to get some feedback on.

      Here’s the short version of it:
      I’m 23, have depression, PTSD, and anxiety. My fiancee is 31, has ADD, depression, and anxiety. We are planning on getting married when I finish my masters and have both agreed to go to couples counseling beforehand to ensure we have the tools for a successful marriage. My personal therapist has been less than helpful in providing guidance on how to move forward and has suggested that my fiancee and I break up and that’s not what I want. But we do have some problem areas that make communication, connection, and day-to-day activities a serious struggle. They are all a combination of her ADD and depression symptoms. I am by no means perfect, and have been in CBT for the last 6 months trying to learn how to be a better support but feel that I am getting nowhere. If you are comfortable with sharing your thoughts please feel feel free. Our problem areas surround the following symptoms:
      1. My fiancee cannot remember anything, needs constant reminders, and is always relying on me to make things happen for her. I cook, clean, bathe her, dress her (sometimes), call doctors, dentists, credit companies, and any business that she has questions for (even if she’s sitting next to me and is doing literally nothing).
      2. We cannot communicate. She is constantly interrupting me, ignoring me, and asking for reiterations. Even when I am having a difficult mental health day, she just cannot pay attention for 2 minutes.
      3. Her anger is causing us to drift. She is angry about literally everything from the weather, to construction, to how her clothes fit, to the way other people drive. Her family at home instigates this and now her home life with her parents and 2 brothers has gotten stressful, so every time she’s home there’s usually a screaming match going on over nothing.
      4. She acts entirely helpless. She acts like she cannot cook or clean for herself, she acts like she doesn’t know how to make doctor appointments or ask questions about insurance. She acts like she can’t even feed her dog. She is asking everyone in the house to do seriously everything for her. When we say no she comes really angry and unwilling to even attempt to do things on her own. It’s a serious Parent-Child dynamic between us. I am a parent, not a partner at this point.

      Basically, I am left feeling ignored, unloved, and unappreciated. And she feels nagged, overwhelmed, and misunderstood. I know that she does not do these things on purpose, she does not ignore me or say hurtful things just to be mean, and we always manage to work through our arguments, but I am so emotionally drained that I am wondering if there is even anything that can be done about this.
      She takes extended release Adderall. That’s her treatment plan. She’s glued to her cellphone and her playstation. She was on antidepressants but they made her feel worse so her doctor took her off them 2 months before we met. She has not attempted to try any kind of antidepressant in 3 years even though she knows she needs them. She also refuses to see a therapist, counselor, or coach to help her learn new organizational skills, combat her depressive thoughts and behaviors, or learn how to overcome some of her ADD symptoms. She is unwilling. I am always encouraging her to at least give it a shot, what does she have to lose? But she is not taking it seriously. She seems completely uninterested in changing her life for the better. After four years I am wondering if she is more content sitting in her anger and distress and manipulating others to care for her than she would be to change her behaviors to be successful. On that same note, she is always talking about how she feels like a failure and incapable of making a change. I am unsure how to help her. I do things for her, I help her do things when she wants to do them on her own (i only jump in when she asks). I have tried every aspect of approaching our problems from being honest about not understanding, about our feelings about our problems, I have tried encouraging her to see a professional who can give her the skills she needs to move past these problems she’s having, I have tried tough love, and I have tried not helping at all (but i always cave and take care of everything for her).

      How can I bring these issues up in our couples counseling? And does anyone have any input on if counseling and therapy would A. be worth it, and B. how I can convince her at least try it. If she tries it and hates it and genuinely learns nothing then fine, but she isn’t willing to try. How can I tell her that I feel unloved, like a parent or a maid, and that she doesn’t seem to care that she’s hurting me without making her feel attacked? I want to help her get better, not make things worse. But there is only so much I can do and I can’t be the parent forever. I want to be her partner, not her caretaker. I don’t know how much more of this unwillingness to change I can handle, but I don’t want to give up. I know we can work past it, we can make changes together, we can overcome these symptoms and problems together as a family/unit, but I just don’t know how to get there when she refuses to try anything.

      Thank you,

    • #89057

      I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but you can’t change other people. We all know it, but we tend to act as if it isn’t true, or we convince ourselves this one situation is different.

      First and foremost, you must accept that a person can only change by their own decision and action to do so. Furthermore, any efforts to push them in that direction are most likely to cause the opposite reaction.

      Do you two live together now? There’s no need to jump into marriage. I have a friend who has been with his high-school sweetheart his entire adulthood, they even raised a child together. They just got married this year.

      The best way to know if a marriage will work, is to live together. If you already are living together, understand that it doesn’t change just because you put a certificate on it. What you have living together is what you have after marriage as well.

      Control what you can control: yourself. Do what you need to for your own treatment first! Don’t let the relationship hold you back from that, because if you do it always will. If your efforts in that direction put a strain on your relationship, then that’s why your current therapist recommended not getting married. By working on yourself in spite of it, you will either learn the relationship is not going to work, or you will inspire her to do so for herself as well. But don’t do it for that reason, do it for you with no expectation of her following.

      Write down all the things you’re willing to do and put up with under the assumption that she will remain as she is now (not how you’d like her to be). Do you still feel like you must get married, even under this assumption?

      Then spend some serious time thinking about whether or not you can spend the next 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, etc. under those conditions. How will life’s inevitable challenges change things?

    • #89201

      Honestly I agree with your therapist. I am the non-ADHD partner in my relationship and I often feel like you do and trust me it doesn’t get easier once you are married. If she is unwilling or unable to make the necessary changes to make this work it won’t work. Just think in 5 or 10 years you may decide to add children or more pets and you will still do a brunt of the work. If she truly loves you and wants to make it work she would be hearing you and your concerns and working on her issues. It sounds like you are doing the work to have a strong relationship, but is she? If you aren’t ready to leave yet I would have an open and frank conversation about this and she if she finally hears you.

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