Tell me about it: My depressed fiance broke up with me

Illustration: Thinkstock

Illustration: Thinkstock

Tue, Mar 18, 2014, 01:00

Q I have split up with my fiance. It was a whirlwind romance: we met at a party , within weeks we were dating, and a year and a half later we were engaged. To the outside world this was a fairy tale romance but the real reason was I was pregnant. Unfortunately I had a miscarriage a couple of weeks later.

We were both living at home to save for a place of our own. Then my parents bought an investment property and offered it to us to rent. We accepted and moved in, but lasted just two weeks . I still don’t understand what happened.

He was under a crippling amount of stress at work . He told me he was confused and wanted to postpone the wedding. His behaviour put me on edge and I became anxious.

I contacted his family to seek advice and, looking back , I probably told them too much. His mum had a chat with him, she told him I had issued an ultimat um – “set a date for the wedding or else” – which is not true as I never truly believed he proposed for the right reasons. The next day he broke up with me. Within 48 hours he had moved his belongings out of the house.

He has been in contact asking to talk . His doctor has prescribed him anti-depressants. I have been very calm with him but I find it hard when I see him crying. I know I have to put myself first.

A A whirlwind indeed. Your romance was fast-tracked to engagement by your unexpected pregnancy, then propelled by your parents’ offer of a property. It sounds like your boyfriend wasn’t ready and, taking into account the stress of his work, he is feeling overwhelmed.

Supporting a person who is depressed and anxious is difficult, especially when you’re feeling anxious yourself.

Presumably you see him as your best friend, so how would you support a friend in his situation? You would let him know you are there for him no matter what and you wouldn’t pressure him.

Seeing into next week is probably difficult for him, never mind making a decision about the rest of his life.

Perhaps you were not quite ready for all this change either.

Psychotherapist Teresa Bergin says: “Your distress following the wedding postponement prompted you to talk to his family. It’s understandable that you wanted support and hoped that talking it through with them would bring some clarity. Something got lost in translation, however, in the subsequent conversation between your boyfriend and his mother.

“She may have meant well, but the conversation was not helpful. It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.”

It’s positive that your boyfriend wants to talk with you. I understand that you are afraid when you see him cry, but depression is a part of life and tears a sign of strength. Learning not to fear each other’s emotions and to share feelings without being threatened is vital to a successful marriage.

“It is a good time now for the two of you to talk about what happened and explore whether you want to get your relationship back on track. If this is possible, it will be important to discuss what trajectory you would like your relationship to take and – importantly – the pace of this,” says Bergin.

Think back to when you first met and to why you enjoyed each other’s company. Enjoy being together without discussing babies and houses.

Involving parents is problematic, as you’ve learned the hard way.

“It will be important to draw a boundary around this relationship and maintain privacy about what goes on inside it,” says Bergin. “Sometimes we look to family for support and advice, but in doing so risk the confusion of other views and agendas. Right now, the most important people you need to talk to are each other.”

Try a date night, full of romance, pretending you have just met. All is not lost if you start again.

Email your questions to tellmeaboutit@irishtimes.com or contact Kate on Twitter, @kateholmquist. We regret that personal correspondence cannot be entered into

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