Direct Answers from Wayne &Tamara

Relationship advice authors and columnists Wayne & Tamara Mitchell

Relationship Advice Authors and Columnists

Direct Answers from Wayne &Tamara

Relationship advice authors and columnists Wayne & Tamara Mitchell

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The Straw that Broke the Camel's Back

The seemingly insignificant thing which causes the inability or unwillingness to endure any more of the burden.

January 25, 2021 -- Week # 1137


The Deep End

Q I have been engaged three months. For that entire time I have been absolutely terrified I might be making a mistake. My fiancée and I are in the process of setting a date, and every step forward makes me more and more nervous.

     She is a wonderful person and treats me with so much love. She calls me her “dream guy.” She also said, after dating a few months, she was sure I was “the one.”

     She is my best friend and I love her very much. We have been caring to each other throughout our three year relationship. We met each other’s families and they approve.

     There is only one problem—my physical attraction to her is low. It isn’t that I have a low libido. It isn’t that one of us wants to ‘experiment’ or anything like that. It’s just there isn’t much raw physical attraction. I don’t miss sex with her or look forward to it when she’s not around.

     I think she is pretty, and I like hugging her and holding her. I just don’t find her sexy. I try to put this aside by reminding myself she is probably a better person than the other women I’ve met. Although my experience is pretty limited for someone my age, this has not been an issue in any previous relationship. 

     We are both 35, and she really wants to have kids soon, so I felt pressure to propose and get on with it. I wasn’t sure I really loved her. Because she was so sure and insistent, I kept thinking my doubts would fade away.

     I thought maybe getting past the proposal would make me feel better. When I tried a couple of times to tell her my fears, she was understanding (another of her great qualities), but she thinks I have “commitment phobia” and my parents’ divorce made me scared of marriage.

     She says everything will be fine once we are married, and I should just relax and enjoy the wedding. Maybe she is right—I can often find fault with myself and get nervous about big decisions.

     I always thought I would get married and have kids someday. If I knew this is “as good as it gets,” or knew for sure my expectations are unrealistic, I would happily marry her because she is a good person and I like her.

     I just keep having this nagging feeling there might be something more out there for me. I’m scared if I go ahead with the wedding, then a few years down the road I’ll feel frustrated, or worse, be tempted to have an affair.

     But I also am afraid if I break things off, she will be absolutely crushed. It will be too late for her to meet someone else in time to have children. Besides, will I ever find someone who is as good a person as her? 

     I want to make the right decision, the one that will make both of us happiest in the long run. How can I tell whether this is an attack of prewedding nerves, or a sign we should break it off?


A Dominic, you climbed the ladder to the high dive. You’re nearing the top. Your friends and family are watching. It would be embarrassing to turn around now, but you are afraid of the water.

     Your fiancée is below, blocking your path of escape. You won’t be able to back out without a fight. She will block, parry, and argue with anything that stops the wedding. Worse still, you know it will crush her.

     That’s pretty much the story, isn’t it?

     What you told us is you love her as a friend, you respect her as a person, and you don’t want to wound her.

     Perhaps when you dated, you kept thinking, “It’s not an engagement.” Perhaps when you gave into the engagement, you thought, “It’s not a marriage.” Now you understand the error in that line of reasoning. After the wedding, her problems will be solved, but not yours.

     Some might pooh-pooh this and say you are being shallow. But that’s not it. If you were absolutely and completely in love with her, you wouldn’t be speculating about other women.

     The real story is how you ended up in an intimate relationship with someone you only see as a friend. The blame may be evenly distributed.

     She acts as if the problem is wedding day jitters, your parents’ marital history, or your unrealistic fears. But on your side the issue is deeper. When you see a car you can afford but don’t want to buy, it’s not commitment phobia. You don’t want to buy that car.

     Her arguments don’t refute your feelings.

     She wants you to close your eyes and take the plunge. We’re afraid there is no water in the pool.

     Wayne & Tamara