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LOVE LETTERS

Is there hope for a second chance?

She worries that getting back with her ex is doomed to fail

By Meredith Goldstein
Globe Staff / August 6, 2011

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Q. 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 five 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

A. 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.

MEREDITH

READERS RESPOND

You called off the wedding. This relationship is over. I’m sorry. I know it hurts, but at least you found out now rather than this winter after you were married. BOSTONGAL109

I think Meredith is onto something when she says you should go out on a few dates. If I were you, I’d date him again and see what happens rather than “get back together’’ right away. Obviously this won’t be like dating someone new, but it will give you both time to see where things are and to make sure you’re in the same place.

CARRAWAY34

I don’t like Meredith’s advice for once. Don’t hang out and ignore your problems. If he’s not willing to try to work through things, what is going to happen when something is wrong in your marriage?

NOUDON

When I got married, I knew I’d never get divorced. I literally twirled down the aisle because I was so confident. Several years later, the joke was on me. So if you’re getting ready to walk down the aisle fearing this is your fate already, you’ve already done the right thing and you should be very proud of yourself. TWINSTER

I think Meredith’s advice is good today, but it worries me that you couldn’t stay living together and couldn’t even communicate through counseling. It sounds like your guy is even more confused and hurt too, which is why I’m guessing he’s flip-flopping. (Being a military sister myself, is there something underlying going on with him from his service? Just a thought.)

Please do take a weekend with him, and then maybe take one without him too.

NITTANYLIONNESS

Do you know what I absolutely hated about marriage counseling? It focused almost entirely on the negative. I would walk out of there in worse mood than when I went in. So all I could think is no wonder he was resistant. That’s why I love this line from Meredith: “My advice is to spend some time with him without rehashing all of the problems.’’ Most people here today will probably tell you to walk away. However, I completely agree with Meredith’s charmingly rose-colored “always believe in love’’ advice. I think you give it one more shot. LILY

Meredith is full of [it]. My personal opinion is that, if you have issues you can’t deal with and are in counseling before you get married, this relationship is destined to fail. Sorry.

SOMEONEWHOCARES

Edited and reprinted from www.boston.com/loveletters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgoldstein@globe.com. She chats online Wednesday at 1 p.m.