Q&A Do We Need Marriage as a Foundation?

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My partner and I (the unfaithful) have completed the bootcamp, read through many of the library articles, and are starting the EMS Online course. We've noticed this content is, understandably, directed at married couples. As boyfriend/girlfriend, we lack the marriage foundation many other couples have.

When my partner now looks at our five year history, she feels there's no foundation at all. When we met, I was in another relationship in which I was unhappy. I fell for my partner harder than I've ever experienced, however that didn't keep me from making every mistake possible over the first year including continuing my other relationship, sexual encounter with an ex, talking to women online, talking to an ex, lying and failing to disclose everything at once, and using pornography.

We did couple's therapy for a few months after that first year, but the fixes were temporary. My first failure was minimizing the role of pornography in my life that led to a regression I now recognize as addiction. Later, I began talking to a couple female coworkers outside of work which violated the boundaries of our already fragile relationship. These failures, combined with the failure of again disclosing this information as I should've, have brought back the pain of the first year and resulted in a lack of safety on both sides.

With the help of my partner, I've taken a far deeper introspective look at myself than the prior therapy provided. I've come to understand my many issues include commitment phobia, porn addiction, and possibly (undiagnosed) Narcissism; all of which I've begun working on in individual counseling. On top of my issues and the infidelity I created, my partner and I live 500 miles apart. Despite my partner's incredible love for me and desire to see us marry, she fears that my issues combined with our distance and lack of marriage foundation means I'm destined to fail in making permanent change. With our relationship having started on the basis of infidelity, nearly all of our five year history including some form of undesirable behavior, and my commitment phobia issues, there's little evidence to suggest she's wrong for feeling that way - regardless of the effort I intend to make.

Is it possible to overcome this trauma without the foundation of marriage? Should we continue together given our history and my issues, or would we be better served working through this period separately?



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