Update at 1:30 p.m. ... Some questions answered by the letter writer via email:
Yes, he was deployed and saw combat many years ago (before we were together). He is out now and has a new career. The period of long distance was toward the beginning of the relationship. We've been living separately but close to each other and spending many nights together for the past 2 1/2 years. Yes, he is continuing therapy alone. There have been some failed or failing marriages and engagements very close to us recently. He has referred to these. Yes, the final decision to cancel the wedding was mutual, but he was the catalyst for the conversation.
My fiance and I just called off our wedding and I don't know if I should stay with him.
Background: I am a mid-20s professional working in Boston, he's in his early 30s and was in the military. We've been together for over 5 years. We've been through a lot together including long-distance. He's the first person I've dated that I really thought I could marry. We started having problems a few months ago when we moved in together. Once a loving, affectionate person, he became distant and cold. We didn't talk much (unless we were arguing) and all of a sudden I felt like I didn't know this person I've been with for so long. I tried many times to talk about what was bothering him, but we never really got anywhere. We both realized there was a problem, but didn't know what to do. I suggested counseling and we started going.
Finally he tells me that he's unsure about getting married. He's afraid that things will continue the way they've been for the last few months and we'll end up getting divorced. (Honestly, I've had the same nagging fear, but truly believed that we could work through this tough time together.) He says it's not me, but his own fears that are causing him to feel this way. After a lot of talking, we both decided that we should not get married this fall like we had planned. Of course I'm devastated, but I'm also relieved that this has come out now rather than later.
I stayed for a while and we tried to work on things, but I ended up moving out of our house. He had become really resistant in counseling and didn't want to try any of the things the counselor suggested. I felt like he had completely given up on us. I was so frustrated that I had to take myself out of the situation, even though it was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I am still in need of help though, because now he's decided he wants to work it out. He has completely changed his tune, saying that it was a huge mistake to let me go and he'll do anything to fix it. I really do love him but is it healthy for me to stay with him? Or should I try to move on with my life? It's true that I've been unhappy for the past few months, even miserable at times, but for years we were smitten together. Is it possible for us to ever get back there again?
– Should I stay or Should I Go, Massachusetts
It's not possible to go back to where you were, but it is possible to evolve into something more honest.
My advice is to spend some time with him without rehashing all of the problems. Go out for some dinners and watch some movies. Cuddle up. Take a day trip. See if the romance is still there. If it isn't, and you can't be in the same room without bickering or feeling bad about yourself, that's your answer. Sometimes the damage is just too great to get beyond. But if you find that you can enjoy each other and that the space has given your relationship new life, keep dating. Then maybe visit that therapist once or twice to talk about what comes next.
Usually, when it's over, it's over. But your situation is a bit trickier. You were long distance. He was in the military. Then you were suddenly learning to live together and planning a wedding at the same time. Without all of the pressure and rushing, you just might thrive.
You have to find out whether you're trying to save something that's still there, or if you're just hanging on to history. Explain to him that you just want to enjoy him without all of the pressure. Find out if that's possible.
Readers? Any possibility of a second chance? Was this just about the pressure? Can they go out without rehashing all that happened? Thoughts? Discuss.