I just wrote about how when I got back together with B I went to a prayer room and it basically convinced me God wanted me to dive in and marry her. Well, fast forward 2 months and things have gotten hard again and I’ve started questioning things again.

She just says things that shut me down sometimes. They sound really dumb to me. And although she’s amazing in so many ways, sometimes she says enough that feel so disappointed that I question everything. Then B gave me a deadline. She said, “It’s been two years of dating and I’m in my 40’s. I need you to give me a final answer of if you’re in this or not by December 30th (that was about a month away).

Well, the other day I went to another prayer room (this pressure has forced me to find this place and there I’ve found more closeness to God than I have had in my life before!). Anyway, when I was there this guy came up to me with this scripture, Isaiah 52:11-12 and said, I don’t know what it means, but I feel like God gave me this scripture to give you.

“Depart, depart, go out from there!
    Touch no unclean thing!
Come out from it and be pure,
    you who carry the articles of the Lord’s house.
12 But you will not leave in haste
    or go in flight;
for the Lord will go before you,
    the God of Israel will be your rear guard.

So when B told me that if I wasn’t feeling pretty good about this that she didn’t want me to go home with her for Christmas. So about two weeks before that, I was really questioning things and had to tell her, I’m not confident enough to go home with you for Christmas.

This felt like a portent of the end to her and it was a really hard and disappointing moment for her. I told her what I would need to feel good about this would be a good chunk of great days to say yes. We said, it feels like we need a miracle to get to that yes place.

While sitting in that place of disappointment I said, “B, I don’t know why it seems like I’m getting mixed messages from God. I feel like I got that prayer about jumping in two months ago but I went to the prayer room the other day and got a scripture about leaving.” I read her the scripture. It seems to match pretty well, don’t leave in haste (wait until the 30th) and don’t touch any defiled thing (no hanky panky).

And after a few moments I said, I wonder if it’s because we’ve crossed sexual boundaries so much (no intercourse, just other sexual stuff). Maybe God was blessing this until we sinned.

We both knelt over the couch and prayed we were sorry. And that if crossing boundaries was at the expense of losing this relationship, we did not want that.

This led into a short season of prayer where we both saw visions and found symbolism of what God might be trying to say to each other and to us cummulatively.

I’ll write about that in the next post entitled “God: I will not take your ring from you.”

-January 6, 2021

God says, pray instead of overthinking

A couple months ago I got back together with B and I went to a prayer room to gain the confidence to propose. I had been obsessing like I had been when we were first dating. I had told B and some others that the fear of proposing felt like I was on the edge of a cliff afraid of cliff diving. B had told me, R, the most important thing I think you need to know is how God sees you.

I don’t know what your belief system is but I am a Christian and I thought I better get some pointed help with the thing that is most difficult in my life. A guy met me as I was coming in and I asked for prayer because I was thinking of proposing. That’s all I told him, that and my name.

He said, it’s so funny that you would come right now- I’m never here but this is the perfect time. Let’s go pray. He prayed for me for 20 minutes and the first ten of them were him telling me, “The most important thing God wants to know how he sees you. He absolutely delights in you.” Then he went on to tell me in prayer “I think God is saying you overthink things too much and he wants you to take those thoughts and just talk to him instead.” That describes rOCD pretty well, I’d say. Then he said, “my little daughter used to stand at the end of the pool saying, daddy catch me! She didn’t realize that her ability had nothing about her ability to jump but all about my ability to catch her.”

So that pretty much convinced me I would do it!

A few minutes later my step mother called and said she was so excited I had asked my dad to send the ring again. She said, if you don’t treat her well, we will be on her side. You will never find a better one than her.

-September sometime (written here on January 6, 2021)

God comes through

I woke up this morning just feeling so regretful I had told B the things I did last night. When she didn’t understand that part in the movie I basically said “If you don’t know that, how can I trust you understand anything? I know you’re trying to become a spiritual director, but if I were your student I don’t know if I’d really trust what you had to say.”

So yeah, that’s horrible. Way to ruin someone, R. I tried to cushion it by saying “You have incredibly insightful things sometimes but I don’t want people to write you off because you say dumb-sounding stuff. I’d love for you to say you’ll try to work on it, instead of always saying it’s my rOCD. When you told me I missed like 5 things when I was trying to help you in the kitchen, I was concerned and expressed a desire to change. I would like to hear the same from you.”

But still, I said some horrible and unfair things and I felt desperate this morning. I prayed for a long time. “Why is this so hard? Where are you, God? It seems like I’m still at where I’ve always been! Where are you!?”

Today I received 4 unexpected phone calls. I meant not to talk much about B, because I imagine everyone is tired and frustrated from hearing my broken record complaints and anxiety regarding her. But they asked and I was honest.

You know what I realized in the last few minutes of the last conversation? I think they all had one thing in common. They said something to the effect of “Focus on the positives.”

Apparently John Gottman wrote marriage books and says to change a situation like I’m in, get in the habit of writing a bunch of affirmations of what you like about your partner. Things they’ve done that you love. Reasons that you are grateful to have them. I think I’ll do that.

My brother suggested a couple things along those lines too. I’ve been keeping a spreadsheet of how I feel about our dates. I think I probably have almost every date for two years recorded with a few memories and an associated score between -5 and +5. It helps me look at how many good days we’ve had when I’m just feeling like we have nothing but bad days. I’m trending about 1.7.

But my brother suggested stop marking the negative scores. You don’t need any help remembering those. Just focus on the positives.

He also said, maybe you need a physical reminder in your pocket or something that reminds you of your favorite things about B. So that in those moments you’re fighting negative thoughts, you can go to those for help.

So, maybe God did come through. I asked him for help, and it seems caring people who I didn’t even ask for help all called and happened to have the same advice. I’ll receive that.

I think sometimes God likes to give to us from other people, so that not only do we get to enjoy the goodness of God, but we get to embrace little versions of him in the flesh.


Why didn’t you get that?

I was doing okay today. We planned out our mornings so we each did our quiet time separately, did some exercise, watched a sermon together and really had a good discussion about a scripture from the sermon.

We watched a show a friend had suggested to us (Virgin River) and I made relentless fun of how corny and lacking of subtlety it was. She made us grilled cheese with avocados inside and we started to watch Avatar. I was doing okay, despite just noticing that the way she said things just bugged me. They sounded dumb to me, though they probably weren’t technically dumb things.

About 1/3 into the movie she asked if we could stop it and asked, “Wait, so if the blue creatures are on that planet, where are the humans? A different planet or something?”

As her question came together disappointment and “are you serious” coalesced on my face. “B, I’m a little concerned you don’t know this. There are like five things they’ve shown us that should tell you they’re on the same planet.” And I listed them off. “This is really hard for me. If you don’t get that when they’ve given us so many clues, I just don’t know what else you don’t understand. And when I hear a tone of voice that sounds so naive when you’re talking to people I start to believe you really don’t understand very much and I feel like there’s a big mismatch here.”

She was obviously hurt, and I humbly admitted this was not kind, but extremely disappointed me and did she want me to hide my feelings? She said, I know authenticity is big for you and so I want you to tell me your feelings but you could do it in a kinder way.

I said, yes I could. But then said, “I just feel like there is no recognition or desire to remorse when I tell you these that really concern me. I just hear that you think I’m triggered and it seems like it’s all my fault. When you told me the ways I missed very obvious things when trying to help you in the kitchen the other day I was very concerned that I had memory problems and wanted to find ways to not miss those things in the future. But I feel like when I express what bothers me you don’t even offer to try to change.”

I wanted to find a blog that showed someone’s thoughts like this but couldn’t find one. So here I present my episodes with rOCD, so you can get an idea of how you are probably being ridiculous by seeing how I am acting ridiculous.

Dear God, give us help.


Is it supposed to be this hard?

Within half an hour of getting to her house I stepped out of the bathroom and told her, “I just don’t understand why sometimes everything you say from the moment I see you just feels discordant to me.” I just didn’t like the way she told me about her day. The way she presented her thoughts just frustrated me, and something about the tone of her voice; it’s so naively singsongy.

She said, “I could tell you were getting triggered. I was afraid to tell you that I didn’t feel productive today because I know you value productivity so much.”

I said, “I don’t think it was the fact that you weren’t productive; I wasn’t productive today either. It was just how you said it that hit me the wrong way.” I sat down with her on the couch. This was the fourth straight day of just really getting triggered by about everything she said. Four days ago was the deadline she had given me to decide, after two years, am I in or am I out.

She eventually could read between the lines and concluded, “It sounds like you just don’t like my personality very much.”

“Sometimes,” I corrected. “Like I’m sure you don’t enjoy mine sometimes. I know I delight in you very much sometimes.” But the more I thought about it, that really felt like the heart of the matter. I just didn’t like the way she thought or said things very often.

The last time I had been triggered like this, everything else we did after this got really ugly and I just got triggered more. It looked like this. I had feelt triggered by everything she said since I got there, and then I tried to show her the 3-D model dream house I designed that we could live in together. She asked “So, where’s the living room” twice, and the way she mentioned the landing it made me think she though it was supposed to represent the second level (which was super small and only half as high as a second floor would have been), and then she asked how would you get to this bathroom (where to me there was an obvious clear walking path to it). With that last one I just finally broke and asked her why she didn’t understand this stuff. Then in a valiant attempt to rescue the night she suggested we play a game where you read cards with deep questions to get to know each other. We tried but like 8 out of 10 of her answers were triggering to me. The card I remember was “What was a value your parents instilled into you.” She said, “Honesty.” I said, “Cool, how did that show up?” She replied, “They told us not to steal and stuff.” When she saw I was so triggered she said to tell her why one of them triggered me. I told her the stealing one bothered me because if your parents taught you honesty, why did you say that meant they told yo not to steal. Those seem fairly different to me. (The very next day I noticed a friend of mine equate the two when we were talking, and I realized my error.)

She said, “I just don’t know, Ross. I just don’t know what to do.” And we parted ways for the night, very discouraged, shortly after that.

This time felt similar. So instead of just trying to do another activity, I said, maybe I should just go to your room to get some alone time for a bit.

During this ten minutes I tried to remind myself of the good things about her, but could only remember things that bothered me. Eventually I just told myself just go out there, not caring about the outcome, and just have fun.

It seemed to work. The rest of the night was fun (we do fun together well), despite the residual unrest I felt from earlier.

Had a conversation with my brother today. He has a little bit of a difficult wife. Well, at least he told me he gets angry easily. There is a similarity to my life; we get stuck in our downstairs brains, where our instincts rule. His solution is he has to take a break for a while until his anger has subsided and he’s able to think rationally with his upper brain again. Then he comes to the table with actionable suggestions for his wife in a patient tone. That usually helps, he says.

Sounds like taking a break can be a big help.


Disappointing New Years

New Years eve was the day after she asked me to give her a final answer. They were also celebrating her roommate’s engagement at B’s house. B was helping to throw that party.

I went over there feeling pretty good. Although I knew that when her other friends were around, I often got triggered. My “relationship OCD” compulsion is that I’m usually afraid she’s not smart enough. And I usually get triggered when we’re around her friends. I think it’s because they sound smart and I like way they sound and when B speaks I’m disappointed. It sounds uniformed, ditzy, nasally, and naive. It just sounds really dumb, if I were to speak with my emotions. And of course this is probably me blowing things way out of proportion. That’s what our counselor told us; that my triggers by definition are me blowing things out of proportion.

Now, to be fair to my doubts I did have her roommate tell me in a private conversation that B is “ditzy, Naive, and sometimes she says things that make me think “where the f***k did you come up with that idea.” Her roommate says she often has to hold her tongue not to make B feel stupid. But her roommate is also very opinionated, smart, thinks a lot like me, and also admitted that she has insecurities about her own intelligence and had to learn not to correct others all the time.

B was doing a great job of putting up banners and setting up the fondue and she presented her roommate with a basket full of ‘bride to be’ type things. But something about it made me feel like “this is her thing, because she isn’t smart enough.” She has to go overboard on celebrating others and I don’t value that very much. What a waste of money, this stuff will only be able to be used once. It seems like she wanted others to make sure they saw how hard she worked to put it together

But later when she said, ‘would you like to talk about it’ she pointed out that it was a group effort to put together the gift basket and many of the girls had brought or sent things to put in the basket for her. And she pointed out that although that’s not my value, she happened to know that her roommate valued being celebrated very much.

Later at the dinner table B’s conversation just seemed so naive and uninformed in comparison to the others at the table. The others were smart, articulate, and funny. This is where I totally tanked and it lasted the rest of the night. She got about as many trivia card answers as I did for one of the categories but I got way more for one of the other categories. She probably got the least out of anybody.

Then we were watching the new year’s eve celebration and she said about one of the dancers, “her ams look so toned.” One of the guys says, “she just looks skinny to me.” I looked up and she just looked skinny to me too. I barely saw much tone. We went to bed in a funk, and messed around. We woke up in the morning and I was still in a funk.

We were watching a movie the next day and she asked, “You’re not doing very well, are you?” I said no. She asked do you want to say what you are feeling? I hesitated for a moment and whispered “disappointed” I guess.

After the movie she said would you like to talk about it. I hesitantly said okay but said I was hesitant because I didn’t want to say mean things to her. I brought up all the things I mentioned above and she humbly reasoned with me. This is when she told me the basket was a group effort and her roommate likes being humbled. She also pointed out that when she bought all the presents for my nephews and nieces, although that’s not how I would like to be celebrated, and I was afraid of spending money, the little kids really enjoy that stuff. She was right.

She said, that one of her other friends also affirmed that the dancer had toned arms, but I didn’t hear or remember that. She didn’t feel like she was left out of the conversation at the table or anything and noted that she could tell I was totally shut down during that conversation.

She said, you know how I know this is OCD? “How?” I asked. She said, there were things you did tonight that totally annoyed me and I let it go. I asked what they were and she pointed out how she asked me to help cook and put away dishes and she pointed out like five basic things she asked me to do and which she ended up having to redo or do for me.

I said, That seems super concerning to me and I would like to work on that. I said, one thing that is hard for me is that she almost never apologizes or wants to change the things I see wrong with her. Now, I’ve hesitated to ask her to change because these things are her personality. And some of them are just preference differences (like her celebrating people with gifts), but they disappoint me.

She said she’s open to changing and we can just talk about it when it happens.

It was so hard. So hard. My feelings were so torn between my disappointment and my desire not to hurt her.

At about this point I held up our little paper rings and said, “wow this is a cool feeling that we are committed to be in this together. But I’m so sorry this is so hard.”

She later said, “I was hoping New Year’s Eve would be a good night.”

It was fun in a lot of ways. There were memories like running out the door banging pots and pans at midnight. And playing fun games with her roommate and her fiance, except when I was being triggered by her not seeming to be able to do basic multiplication of the crowns by how many cards of one type she had, and not able to count five blocks across (she counted one diagonally).

And the walk together after our hard conversation redeemed it. It’s just so, so hard. Why is it this hard? I guess it is a very hot and powerful engine to conform us to something better. I hope I can become better through this if it doesn’t destroy us.

I woke up this morning very scared. We had two hard days after I said ‘let’s do this for the rest of our lives.’ What have I gotten myself into?

But there are moments that it is so beautiful. Either way, I love her. I know that. I just wish I liked her more sometimes.


A Disappointing Proposal

After two years of me volleying back and forth, my girlfriend said “by December 30th, you need to give me a final decision.”

We had an awesome time in the mountains with my family for Christmas (I managed to let a few things like how she sounded dumb when talking to others not take control of my thoughts) but on our way back we sat by a lady on the plane who was a little annoying. She was married to the guy seated in front of her. B went to sleep next to me but my head started obsessing. “Sometimes I just don’t like B like I don’t like this lady next to me. Am I about to decide to marry someone I don’t really like?” It felt like my stomach dropped and B said later she could tell I was in a bad mood since the plane. When B woke up and we got off the train, she was having trouble reading a map. This triggered me again. Can’t she read a basic map? She was struggling after I said something like, “it’s the northern-most stop.” And she struggled to find it. I had my arms wrapped around her through all of this (I try to keep my body in it when my mind and heart are not in it). Then I asked her politely, “Do you know which way is South on a map?”

She started to point up and to the right and then corrected herself and pointed down. “Yeah, I do.” I was silent. She almost pointed up. How can this girl not know such basic things? That’s what went through my head and my whole being felt it. It felt like disappointment.

So when she came over the next day and it was time to tell her my final answer, I was feeling very triggered. And everything she said that morning bothered me. I unenthusiastically said, “I feel a little bit rushed, and I’m sorry my feelings volley so much, but I know that this is good and I want to do this.” I feel so bad that I couldn’t offer her an enthusiastic “Yes, I want to be with you forever.” I could barely look her in the eyes because of the way I felt.

I gave her a paper ring (she really likes the Taylor Swift song by the same name). She told me she could tell I was super triggered. Her face said she was nervous and disappointed. We held each other. I told her this ring is not my proposal, but it is my intent to propose.

I told her I’m sorry I couldn’t make this moment more beautiful. She said, I expected that you would get triggered. In high pressure moments like this you have gotten super triggered in the past. I was hoping it would be otherwise, but I thought this might happen.

We started our couple’s counseling sesh. We had scheduled a zoom session with our couple’s counselor for the same day I was to give her my final decision.

So, we started our session and I was feeling so triggered. Everything my girlfriend said that morning sounded naive and unaware of how the world worked. I mentioned some of those things in our session and the counselor pointed out that part of a relationship is that you ask your partner to help work with you on some things. You can ask her if she can change her tone or be more aware of what she says.

I think a lot of the reason I’m triggered is because of her tone- her first language is Spanish though she’s completely fluent in English. But I think some of her tone of voice gets on my nerves. It sounds naive or dumb, and I blow that up into our whole relationship not being right. I ask myself if someone else had said the very same words and I usually conclude, that should have been okay but for some reason it REALLY BUGS me.

But after the counselor helped me realize these are things we can work on, it gave me hope again. And after our session I leaned over to her and held her tightly. She had been hurt by what I had said but was totally in this and ready to work with me on this.

She is that way- amazing. And I felt so close to her then. We were going through battle together. Although sometimes it seems like her versus me, we are beating this thing together. And I said, “I think this will be hard, but we will be close.”
And it felt beautiful and meaningful the rest of the day.