He became very closed and distant

-- Question for John --

I am about to marry the man I thought was my “soulmate.” For the first year, he was amazing. He was everything I could have hoped for in a man, then we became engaged and he pulled the old “bait and switch.” He became very closed and distant. He seems so defensive if I try to talk to him about my feelings.

Like I am blaming him for everything. I try to preface things by stating that it is not him alone, and that I have to work on things as well, if he would just talk to me. He will not include me on his decision making, including a change in location that he wants us to make.

I feel like he wants out of this relationship, but if I try to talk about it, he cuts me off and then 3 hours later acts like nothing is wrong. He claims I am his best friend, but spends more time at the gym and in front of the TV.

I love him and want to marry the man I fell in love with! I find myself acting very differently from the strong, independent professional woman that I am. I act weak and needy… two traits I find apalling. HELP!!!

-- Answer from John --

It is normal in relationship that once you have gotten to a certain level of commitment, then the “stuff” starts coming up inside of each of you.

Challenges in love are not a sign of abnormality. Experts say that couples in trouble don’t need therapy — they need new skills! Relationship problems are the elegant way that love demands each of us to learn and grow as individuals.

Current research shows educational models to be the best way to help people achieve successful relationships. Bottom line, we have all been under-prepared to be in a successful, longterm, passionate, growing intimate relationship. In fact, most of our educational experience around relationship has been an exposure to models quite the contrary.

The fact that you are suddenly falling into a so-called “weak” and “needy” place is partly your stuff coming up. That he is suddenly falling into his “closed” and “distant” place is partly his stuff coming up. Mix the two and you are both suddenly involved in a full-scale polarity dance. This is upsetting, to be sure, but entirely predictable.

There is a path through that unsettling landscape. You can get to another place — successfully, together — and be transformed in a very positive way by taking that journey. But understand that you will be traveling completely in the dark, as there are few lamp posts lighting the way. Your best bet is to get ahold of good reading materials that suggest a useful map for the journey that is required of each of you to move forward.

Becoming soulmates is a process. When you meet that person who feels like a “soulmate” at first, that is a potential soulmate. The honeymoon can show you a strong glimpse of the fulfillment you can have together. But then a normal and necessary Phase 2 comes in, where the stuff comes up and you are challenged. This is where people get upset, and furthermore, they get upset that they are upset… and things can go downhill from there.

I suggest you get this material and read it. Then invite him to participate with you on this journey to get to the other side of where you are right now. I believe that each of you is capable and intelligent enough to do this, if you have the information and new strategies to implement. So get started on your educational journey right now!