I’M engaged to be married, but my engagement has been put on hold due to a very strange problem.

My fiance and I quarrelled because of a disagreement. It’s because he’s unable to have a proper sexual relationship due to his past and he also has a problem with anger.

Before he met me, and when he was a teenager, he was involved with a girl and she became pregnant. Being teenagers, she decided she couldn’t keep the baby and had an abortion. She didn’t tell him about it until much later and by then, it was too late. Today, she appears to be happily married to another man and they have a few kids of their own.

However, my fiance was fraught with guilt and he kept harping on the past. He said he would have done the “right thing”, married her and raised the child, even though they were both in their teens then. He refuses to come to terms with the present and move on, and can’t seem to forgive himself.

I tried to persuade him to go for counselling. I even offered to attend the counselling session together with him, but he refused. He said he just wants the past to remain buried. I wish it was that simple, but it keeps resurfacing to affect our relationship at times. The girl from his past seems to have moved on, and built her own family and they are happy. But he is unable to forgive himself or perhaps her – I’m not really sure.

Although we love each other, we have come to a deadlock because of this issue. In the end, I gave him an ultimatum, to seek counselling and deal with it, or we would break up. And the latter happened.

I’m not sure what else to do. Am I being too harsh? Should I just accept him as he is and look the other way whenever the past resurfaces to haunt us? Or should I just forget him and move on?

Helpless

You are right in thinking that your fiance needs to address the memory of his past actions. And, yes, counselling is a safe way to do this. A counsellor adds the perspective of someone who is not involved in your life and would be able to address the different issues such as guilt and anger. While a counsellor doesn’t give advice or tell you what to do, he or she will help with sorting out different issues to help you reach your own decisions. The counselling process is also a safe way to express one’s thoughts and feelings without the fear of being judged.

But, alas, many people forego counselling or think it is not necessary because of the stigma attached to seeing a mental health professional. Many people believe that seeing a mental health professional means that one is weak as they are unable to sort out their own problems, or that they have mental health problems.

It is too bad that your fiance does not want to give counselling a chance. As you suspect, his sexual problems may be due to his past experience.

Unwanted pregnancy is not about sex, but about practising unsafe sex. This knowledge may have prevented the events in your fiance’s past, and is also something to consider if he is worried about you becoming pregnant.

Having said that, it’s important to also note that sexual fulfilment is not limited to penetrative sexual acts. There are other safe ways to enjoy each other and the intimacy that comes along with intercourse. To learn more about this, it may be beneficial to speak to a doctor or an expert on sexual matters in relationships. This is an option if you want to pursue your relationship and future with your fiance.

Perhaps, more important than seeking the help of a counsellor, it may be worthwhile to have a discussion with your fiance to see what his idea of your future as a couple is. What does marriage mean to him? Does he see your future as a family with, or without, children? And, just as importantly, are his answers consistent with what you see in your future as a family? If not, one or both of you are going to have to make some compromises. Is that something you are both ready for?

You are right in thinking that your fiance needs to move on after what has happened in his past. His inability to do so is affecting you. If you want to move forward with him in your life, you are going to have to make some important decisions, and have the strength and courage to see them through.



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