DEAR AMY: My boyfriend left for a student exchange program in France for six months, there are still more than two months left. The thing is, after he left I had a breakdown; school was too much, and him being away wasn’t helping. I texted him things I deeply regret. I questioned his love many times. I feel like he still loves me, but it’s not the same as before. I have been trying for almost a month to be positive. I’m trying not to doubt him and to be there for him. I even asked him if there was something I could change that would make him happier, but nothing seems to work. Sometimes I feel like I am doing too much and am too intense, but I fear losing him. I tried talking about our plans for the future but he told me he doesn’t like to plan this far ahead because he doesn’t even know what he wants to do after his studies. The other day, I told him how many days were left before he came back and he became angry. He told me he didn’t like it that I was keeping track. I just took back control over my life and losing him would put me back where I started. I don’t know how to act or what to do anymore.
DEAR DISTRESSED: Long distance is never easy, and on top of that you’ve gone through something traumatic. I’m very sorry.
An important reminder here: It is much harder to be left than it is to leave. Your job right now is to keep putting yourself back together, and that means cutting yourself (and your boyfriend) some slack. Your insecurity is affecting your relationship. Even at a distance, he feels crowded. Please, give your relationship some space to breathe. It will be good for both of you. If you don’t push so hard, you will actually feel more in control.
Your main focus right now should be on getting better, not on altering yourself to make up for things you did when you weren’t well. Remember that mental well-being is a process, so try not to let setbacks derail you, and try not to jump to conclusions about your relationship right now.
It is scary to think that your relationship might have changed, but ultimately this experience will teach you about yourself. Living in a foreign country can be a liberating experience, but it can also be very isolating, especially when someone you care about is having a difficult time. If you stop demanding attention, you may receive it more readily.
I hope you’re connecting with people closer to home. Family, friends, or a support group may be able to give you perspective on this. Definitely check in with your school’s counselor.
DEAR AMY: Tonight my husband and I were out to dinner with his sister and her husband. My husband ran into a friend, and introduced his sister and her husband. A few minutes later he introduced me as his ex-wife. Amy, he and I have been married for 23 years, and for both of us this is a second marriage. He indicated it was a joke, but I don’t understand the humor. I am still upset about it and he doesn’t think he should apologize to me. So, crazy as this is, I am reaching out for an opinion. Should I have laughed or been upset?
Still Burning in Boston
DEAR BURNING: Ouch.
One of the perks to being a person is that you’re allowed to have feelings. In this case, your irritation seems appropriate to the occasion. For the record, I’d be pretty mad, too. And embarrassed, for him.
Unfortunately, another irritating aspect of humanity is you can’t always get people to see your side. Try to discuss this one more time; maybe throw in a joke of your own like, “if you ever do that again, I really will be your ex-wife.” See how he takes your hilarity.
Then, you need to let it go. At least now if this ever comes up again, your husband will know how you feel about this particular brand of domestic comedy.
DEAR AMY: “Heartsick” described how a family friend literally bullied her and her husband into having a honeymoon night at a cheap hotel, instead of at home. How come so many couples turn over their lives to others when they get married?
DEAR WONDERING: Getting married is stressful, and couples are vulnerable to being controlled through money, or simply through someone else being more forceful during a time when couples are very concerned about being polite.