Did stress ruin the relationship?

Dear Meredith, et al.

Last year I ended a long, sexless marriage. I spent a lot of time in therapy working on my junk (low self-esteem and other various not-seeing-value-in-myself issues), moved into a new place by myself, and, at the suggestion of my therapist, began online dating. I went on a few duds, started talking to "the one that got away" (and realized why we never took off to begin with), and then met D.

D and I hit it off magically right out the gate. I'm incredibly attracted to him, he's intelligent and kind, and we have the best sex I've ever had in my life. The most outstanding thing about him is he never had to tell me how much he loved me – because I felt it. I felt it in his touch, in the way he looked at me, in how he kissed me. I have never felt that before in my life – the security and the confidence. After my "six months of living alone" boundary expired, he moved in. Everything was great until external stresses began taking their tolls and we had a pregnancy scare (I'm indifferent, he's against).

About a week after that was my birthday, which was coincidentally on the same day as another pivotal life moment. I talked about it for months, we made plans to do something cool together (I make significantly more, so I happily paid), and I made it clear I was really excited about it. However, he did nothing to acknowledge it (I also made it clear that he didn't have to spend money on the occasion). We ended up getting in a very emotional conversation that lasted two days and resulted in a lot of crying together, him saying he didn't want to let me down but the baby thing freaked him out, and us declaring how much we love each other. I felt close to him after that, but I think my guard went up because I am afraid of getting hurt. I haven't felt the magic, ooey gooey, I-can-feel-that-you-love-me feeling since.

Flash forward a couple months. More external stresses of mine have driven a bit of a wedge between us. I haven't taken it out on him, but I come home obviously stressed and emotionally spent as opposed to my cheerful, fun-loving self. It gets old. I get it. I've apologized and thanked him for being supportive. He's told me it's taken a toll on him too because it's hard seeing me this way. Things are slowly resolving themselves professionally, but I still feel really distant. Again, I don't know if I still harbor a protective shell from the birthday thing or if it's because of the stress. I don't want to beat a dead horse and keep talking about how weird things are – I think it will just make them weirder. He says everything is back to normal, but I just don't feel it yet. I miss him.

- Am I being unreasonable?


This is what happens when you move in with someone after six months. You wind up learning big relationship lessons without having any space to process them. You go from stomach butterflies and perfection (what you call "ooey gooey") to big issues without warning. You're dealing with reality now, and there was no time to prepare.

You're not going to get back to where you were, because the honeymoon phase is over. (For the record, what you describe at the start of your letter – "his touch ... the way he looked at me ... how he kissed me" – just sounds like really great sex.) Instead of having more talks (which, yes, will make things weirder right now), please take it one day at a time and let the relationship settle. You guys are learning how to function through stress, and there's no quick solution for that.

Slow down and accept that you still don't know what "back to normal" looks like. No matter how you feel about this guy, the relationship is too new for big answers.

Readers? Are things back to normal? Is there a normal yet?

– Meredith