As a man, my biggest relationship fear is that I’m not good enough.
When my wife and I first met I had just started my career as a writer. I told her my ambitions and expressed to her that I had the work ethic to achieve them. But whenever I failed, I felt ashamed.
I started to ask myself: I work hard to achieve my dreams, but what if I can’t accomplish them? Does that mean I’m not good enough?
These may seem like crazy questions to ask myself, but it’s hard to overcome my insecurities in the moments when I’m down.
Plus, my job as a freelance writer has lots of ups and downs. Sometimes I have great months and make far more than I expected to, but in others, I struggle to get paid for my work.
I don’t subscribe to the notion that, as a man, I have to be the “breadwinner.” My wife does very well in her career, and I’m proud of her. Yet I also have a deep desire for her to be proud of me and to help provide for our family. It makes me feel horrible when I have to tell her that I didn’t get paid yet or others aren’t accepting my submissions.
If it were just me, I could take it—but it really scares me when I’m faced with the fear that I may not be the person I promised her I was when I got down on one knee.
Every time I failed I felt like I wasn’t good enough for her. And when I didn’t feel good enough, I would push her away. Unfortunately, it took me a few months and several discussions with my now wife before we realized what was going on: My insecurity about my ability to provide led me to think I had serious doubts about our relationship when really I had doubts about myself. And we noticed that my failures at work triggered those thoughts.
Once we identified this insecurity, we were able to work through it together. We talk about the ways I am good enough, but also how I can improve. It’s really helpful to be reminded that even though my wife does have high expectations for me, she also understands that I’m not perfect. This has helped a lot.
Instead of pushing her away, I’m drawing her in closer. I am good enough, and I can say that after talking to my wife about it. Not all men know to do that, so it can go along way when the women in their lives start a caring and loving conversation with them.
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