She's TOO Independent
Q: I have been dating my fiance for over 9 months. I'm 27, and she's the most wonderful woman I have ever met. It's her nature to be very independent. We have talked about it in the past, and she has agreed that she is too independent, but that I need to give her time to get used to how wonderful our relationship is. The problem is that sometimes she is very quiet, and I know something is on her mind. I literally have to pry it out of her, and after I do, we talk and then go on with our lives. Also, she does not call me or let me know what she is thinking too often. Will this eventually fade away, and she will open up more in time? Also, she has agreed to take my name, but she has admitted that she doesn't feel it is necessary. I told her that my wife will have my name, and that I could never be happy with her decision not to have it. Am I being too hard on her after only 9 months? -- Larry
Dr. Susan: Has it ever occurred to you, Larry, that part of what makes her the most wonderful woman you've ever met is her very independence? I'm a little troubled by her agreeing with you that she's too independent, and by your insistence that she somehow become less that way over time. Before you commit to her for good, you need to consider that she may not change in the direction you have in mind for her. People do certainly change over the years of a relationship or marriage, but not usually in the way that their partners expect. You have to be prepared to love her as she is right now, rather than saying to yourself, "So long as she gets more expressive and less independent, I will continue to love her." You are clearly the one who is more dependent here, and I would lay odds that this is the way it's going to stay, with you reaching out to her, with you calling her and asking her about her feelings, and with you wanting something more emotionally intense from her than she's able or willing to give.
On the other hand, yes, over time, she may trust you more and be able to open up more. Some people do, but some never do. And, I must add, your insistence that you could never be happy if she didn't take your name shows a little unwillingness to compromise on your part. I mean, asking her to change her name is fine -- I changed mine both times I married and I'm not at all sorry -- but if she doesn't feel it's necessary and you do, at least acknowledge that she's being generous in giving in about it. Your relationship styles do seem at variance here. How about staying engaged another year before committing for good?
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.