Having trouble trusting


#1

I have always been a very in-control person. I never take a decision without all the information, and I never believe the information until I see the original documents with my own eyes.

While this is useful in my job (I work in quality assurance) and in my life as a single person, it’s driving my fiancee insane, and I think it makes it hard for her to trust me.

I turn into such a control freak and such a worrier whenever we talk about planning our future together. It’s especially hard because we’re dealing with immigration papers, and the paperwork is half with her and half with me. I know she’s at least as intelligent and has as much life experience as me, but yet I find myself treating her like a child and with so much suspicion too whenever we talk about planning anything. Her style of decision making is much more impulsive, but just as effective in practice. As a result, I wouldn’t be surprised if she did indeed hide bad news from me to stop me worrying. This suspicion in turn fuels a lack of trust, and makes the cycle worse.

I love her so much, but I can’t seem to let go of this planning addiction. I realise I come across as really pessimistic too, and though that sits well with my personality, I know it hurts her.

I have always lived by the principle that to trust in God is wise but to trust in other people is foolish.

How do I learn to put my trust in another person?


#2

Well, I think the starting point is “know thyself”. And, turning inward to find the root of this behavior. I’m not suggesting “therapy” per se, but some self reflection to find the triggers so you can know them and avoid them.

I also really suggest the Myers-Briggs type indicator-- you should both take it and determine your type-- and read the book Please Understand Me. I’ve been administering the personal style inventory to my staff for close to 20 years and it helps tremendously with teams and working relationships. Many diocese use it, and I think it’s a valuable tool in communicating between couples. My DH and I both have taken MBTI and use it as a communication device-- we are exact opposites on the 4 dimensions (which is quite common in spouses).

Those things alone won’t stop your behavior-- only an act of the will can do that. But, these things can help you identify it even before you act on it.

The only advice I have is in the absence of facts, assume the best because you love this person and they love you. A person who loves you doesn’t purposely harm you.

Has it ever been the case when something wasn’t done or wasn’t handled? Are there any facts that you have that prove she can’t be trusted? If not, “in the absence of fact assume the best” because you are missing the *fact *that she’s never let you down.

Repeat it until you believe it.

Now, when/if the facts prove that something wasn’t handled, then deal only with those facts-- don’t extrapolate that into a general rule or apply it to future situations without evidence.

Even in quality assurance, you are sampling and using a statistical analysis to presume that your defect rate is X/Y-- you don’t look at every widget.


#3

Thanks for your advice. I have taken a Myers-Briggs style test at a previous employer, not quite sure how I’d suggest to my fiancee that she take one, unless it’s something our priests suggest we do as wedding preparation. I think personality tests aside, British people are just more pessimistic than Americans, and I’m quite pessimistic even for a British guy, while my fiancee is really upbeat and positive even by American standards.

There is one occasion where something wasn’t handled perfectly, and though it was a tiny mistake, it had consequences for our immigration situation. I think that’s one reason I’ve found it hard. Also, in my most negative moments when I’m worrying and planning for the worst, she has said that she just won’t tell me bad news in future to stop that from happening. I know she’d never purposely harm me.

I love and trust her, but I think we’re both finding it harder and harder to want to make any decisions together. It’s reached the point where I don’t want to talk about my concerns anymore when we’re planning for our future for fear of hurting her, but I know if I don’t voice my concerns I’ll regret it. At the same time, it’s reached the point where my fiancee doesn’t even suggest things that might go well because I’ll always identify all the things that could go wrong (only so that I can prevent them going wrong) but instead we find ourselves always planning to avoid doing anything unnecessary, and taking the worst route so that we’re not disappointed. I know if it came to it, that bare minimum route would work, but I want more out of my married life than that, and I know my fiancee does too.


#4

As you know, we live in a fallen world. This is just the beginning of many things in life which will not be handled “perfectly,” no matter which of you does the planning. I’m wondering, are you more comfortable when you do the planning because then if something doesn’t go just right, you have no one to blame but yourself? Does it make you angry when someone else does the planning and then things are messed up, or can you let it go, thinking, “ah well, that’s life…?” You don’t have to answer, it’s just a thought.

“Being in control” is an illusion. None of us is really in control of anything, not even our next breath. Yet some people (I’m not saying you are one of these) realize this deep down, so they fight all the harder to control the things they think they can control. They aren’t much fun to live with. I speak from experience; my father was that way.

…she has said that she just won’t tell me bad news in future to stop that from happening… we’re both finding it harder and harder to want to make any decisions together… It’s reached the point where I don’t want to talk about my concerns anymore when we’re planning for our future for fear of hurting her, but I know if I don’t voice my concerns I’ll regret it.

It sounds as if you two are on the fast track to some serious communication issues. I would advise you to get some counseling together to resolve this. Neither of you wants to spend the rest of your lives walking on eggshells, withholding information from the other, and living in fear of what the other might be doing behind your back. I’m glad that you are at least acknowledging that there is a problem – that’s the first step toward resolving it. Best of luck to you, and God bless.


#5

Sorry. You’re not going to like my answer. Please do her a favor and end the engagement. She deserves to be married to someone who trusts her and doesn’t make comments about her intellect and doesn’t admit to treating her like a child. She has found a way to trust a control freak like you, yet you are already nitpicking her decisions. Becoming a wife and mother will change her profoundly. In ways you will not be able to control.

It won’t work.

Because when you marry, and you have children and buy and sell houses and make career decisions and medical decisions and try to decide what to have for dinner, you will actually have to leave stuff to her discretion and not treat her like a child. And eventually she will resent your condescending attitude. And she will withhold stuff from you even more just because it’s easier to make the decision without all the grief you give her. And then you will fight with her and it will all end badly.

And your treatment of her will kill her optimism and her self confidence. And eventually you won’t recognize the woman you married. You will have turned her into a self-fulfilling prophesy. If she’s already turning insane, and you haven’t yet even moved your micromanaging into her house, it does not bode well for the future.

If you can’t communicate now, set her free and find someone you can trust. You claim you trust God. But I suspect you really don’t. Or you wouldn’t be checking and demanding proof on everything in a world that sorely lacks proof. When you marry, your spouse isn’t in the same category as the rest of the world where you can’t trust them. If you’re already suspicious and she’s already walking on eggshells and hiding information because she doesn’t want to face your reactions, it will not work.

Sometimes, pal, you have to let go of the controls and throw yourself into the void and trust that God has a plan that YOU are not controlling. But if you marry this poor girl, everything bad that happens in life (and yes, there is much bad that befalls even the most carefully-planned cautiously researched life plan in spite of the risk management on your part)… well, everything bad will be blamed on her. Right? Because if she had talked to you, or if her intellect was just about as brilliant as yours, you wouldn’t be in that mess would you? Because in your world, nothing happens without your say-so.

That’s not living. That’s existing behind a wall of caution. Things like illness, children, careers, death… all of that punches holes in that illusion that you actually control anything. But you are not ready to take that step and recognize that. Do yourself a favor and everyone else, and do not attempt to marry until you learn to trust God’s plan, let go of your illusions and trust the person you claim you want to spend your life with.

Life is not a factory where quality control exists. It’s a big messy affair where you have disaster contingencies that have to be implemented on the fly. Sometimes that girl you love has to make decisions without all the facts. We don’t all know everything. We do our best. And being second-guessed and picked at makes people mad. And it makes them do things to avoid being criticized and have their thought processes examined under a microscope.

Ask yourself: Do you trust this person to raise your children without your input if you are run over by a bus? If you can’t unequivocally answer that question with a resounding yes, please let her go marry someone who can appreciate her talents and good qualities.

But I suspect you will never trust anyone else until you learn to trust God. That is your biggest problem. Only God knows and controls everything. He did not make you His deputy. Recognize that and other things will fall into place in a better fashion. Good luck.

And if you end it, please lay all the blame on your own self and your own inability to trust. Don’t tell her it was her fault she didn’t file the immigration papers right.


#6

That’s a sobering thought. I think again I have fallen into the trap of always portraying my worst qualities as my strongest, and that makes me look like I’m a complete wreck. Things really aren’t as bad as you portray it, and I’m not going to end a 9 month engagement with the woman I love on the advice of one anonymous forum post. All the same, this is another one of my failings, and one that almost caused my fiancee to end things with me in the past, I always over-stress my bad qualities and make myself sound completely unloveable. This too is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The fact that my fiancee and I both recognise this situation and are working on it is a positive sign in my view. As to the question of whether I would trust her to raise my children if I was hit by a bus, I don’t even need to pause for a second before saying YES - when it comes to the big things in life, I trust this woman implicitly. I am there for her when she can’t make it on her own, and she is there for me, and when we trust eachother with those big decisions, everything works out wonderfully. It’s all the stupid little stuff like filling in forms and booking wedding venues and planning travel for our visits together that stresses me out, and it’s that stress that stresses her out.

I just see the small stuff while she sees the big picture. We need to learn to play to eachothers’ strengths. Maybe take a more strategic view of decision making where we take every decision together, but with me working out the detail on my own and her doing the big stuff on her own, with eachothers’ love and support to fall back on. We’ve tried this once and it worked really well. That still means not talking about every detail together, but if that helps us to avoid this situation, wouldn’t that be better?


#7

Well, then this sounds somewhat hopeful. But again… being a wife and a mother requires her to make a thousand little decisions every day. And guess what? You won’t be there for her to run them by you. Whether it’s chicken or beef for dinner, white tennis shoes or black for the kids, what phone numbers to put on the school consent forms for the field trips… you’re going to have to trust her on the little things.

Because even the little things can be like the Chinese water torture… one drop at a time till you can’t take it anymore.

Here’s a useful American phrase. Adopt it as your own. There is a wealth of wisdom in it.

“Sh!t happens.”

Guess what? You can’t control everything. You can’t stop it. Sometimes there isn’t even anyone to blame for it. And it is no excuse not to trust your fiancee.

But maybe you aren’t as unable to trust as you first let on. Just let go of the rope. Or it’s going to be a long 50 years. And not in a good way.


#8

I can picture the following scenario. Your fiancee is about to undertake an important effort that will affect both of you. Before she begins, you give her a list of 15 difficulties or pitfalls that she might encounter, because you want to make sure that she’s prepared to handle any situation.

But, this stresses her out, because she doesn’t want to think about anything that might go wrong.

However, NOT talking about contingencies stresses YOU out, because then you don’t feel prepared.

This is a difficult situation. One way of handling situations stresses HER out, and the other way of handling situations stresses YOU out. In other words, no matter how you do things, one of you is going to be stressed.

Am I correct in my assessment of you, or am I completely off-base?

If I’m correct in my assessment…

It seems like you have more of an “anxiety disorder” problem than a “control freak” problem. You don’t really want to control her. You don’t really care about controlling her. But, you worry about things, and you get stressed out when she isn’t worrying about the same things.


#9

To me, this is a big sign of trouble, because *everything *is amplified 100x when you are married. I mean, if you can’t talk now, the next 50 years look pretty rough.

Maybe you should rethink things from the ground up. This is not a peripheral aspect of your relationship, it is a central component of how you relate to each other.


#10

How about, “honey, I’d like you to look in to taking the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator. It can be a great tool for communication. I’ve taken it through work, and if you take it too, we can read some books on it together and see if we can improve our communication and problem-solving together.”


#11

That’s pretty much hit the nail on the head. I think what I need to do is just say my thing and shut up. I can tell her what’s on my mind, but she doesn’t need to hear it 100 times over.

I do have a mild anxiety disorder, which I’m slowly overcoming. Used to have serious health anxiety/hypochondria but that’s much less of an issue than it used to be. I need to be careful not to transfer that anxiety onto worries about our wedding and immigration.

As for everything else, I really don’t mind what decisions my fiancee takes without asking me, in the day-to-day management of our lives. I’m not a control freak in that sense, I just find it stressful to take decisions in a different way to the one I’m used to.

Does anyone have any positive experience of changing their decision making and planning strategies as married people to give their partner more control. I want my fiancee to feel that she’s in control too, and I want us to be able to talk about our future together without getting into these endless downward circles of worrying and stress.


closed #12

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