Hi, Carolyn: My fiance is the giver and I am the receiver. He does everything for me; on paper he is the perfect husband. But for some reason I’ve been debating this marriage for months now. I am unsure why I feel this way or if I’m being spoiled and ungrateful for what I have.
G.: I appreciate your looking at this as a matter of gratitude. Too many people on the receiving end of such doting attention would take advantage of your fiance without the kind of hesitation you feel. In that sense, he’s lucky to have you as well.
But I think it's luck in another sense that you need to consider. Is it really so great to be on the receiving end of “everything?” Aside from wanting to do some things for ourselves, don't we all feel better for giving to others? Won't you go numb?
What you describe doesn't sound “perfect”; it sounds uncomfortably out of balance. And that is more than enough reason to have doubts about following through with marriage.
Even if you don't have the same qualms I do about an imbalance like yours with your fiance, it's not all about what you get; it also matters from whom. If you're not sure you feel lucky to have him in your life for who he is, independent of what he provides you, then that too is enough reason to have doubts. It's the ultimate basis for doubts.
So you have important thinking to do. To help you sort it out, please dispense with the idea that you “should” feel a certain way about him or about marriage because of any reason you could put “on paper.” Look for these instead: Do you light up when he walks in the room? Is he the first person you want to tell things? Are you your favorite self when you're with him? Does he inspire you to give to him? There is no “perfect,” but these will get you as close as anything can.
Dear Carolyn: My husband and I have had numerous conversations about his habit of looking at young, thin, scantily clad women on Facebook. He says it’s normal and while I don’t necessarily disagree with that, it causes me a lot of insecurity. So is it my problem — my insecurity — or is he being insensitive? Or is he just being a guy and it’s what guys do? How can I make this okay for myself and thus for us?
Anonymous: People look. Creeps leer.
Cowards make excuses.
And stereotypes reflect on the people who use them, not the people they're about.
Do you feel as if you’re always the one in your marriage who has to “make” things “okay” “for us”? Being the assumed carrier of that entire weight would disgust me more than the leering.
You can point out to your husband that if this is “what guys do” and you somehow didn't know that already, then apparently some men are able to be discreet about it. So perhaps he can be more discreet about it, too. (Blaming an entire sex, which you both seem to want to do, is also worse than leering.)
And if he refuses to be more discreet simply as a kindness to you, then how hard are you willing to work to “make this okay?”
Insecurities are internal, of course. They're yours and they're your responsibility to work on if you can't feel good knowing there are hotter bodies out there.
However, insecurities can be targeted, manipulated and exacerbated by a partner whose behavior undermines your confidence instead of building it.
So my advice is to ask yourself whether you would feel good about yourself in this marriage if you didn’t know about the gawking. It’s a counterfactual, you can’t know, but you can figure out a lot just by paying careful attention to how well — or coldly, dismissively, contemptuously — you’re treated at home.
Dear Carolyn: I’m a lucky girl; people give me presents. I don’t have room in my house to display them all, all the time. So when I know Aunt Petunia and Uncle Herm are coming to visit, I switch things around and display the gifts they’ve given me.
And if I know Uncle Herm loathes Uncle Marv, I'll put Uncle Marv's picture in a drawer when I know Uncle Herm will be visiting.
My sister thinks this is disingenuous. She says if I don’t like an object enough to display it all the time, I’m “faking it” to put it out only when I know the givers will see it. Sis disapproves of picture-switching as well, saying it’s like lying to my friends and relatives. What’s your opinion?
Sister: I think without absolute integrity in our decorative accessories, civilization is doomed.
I think your sister sounds exhausting. I think she knows she goes in a drawer.
Feather your nest as you wish.
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