Help! I Feel Like I Don’t Deserve My Husband and He’ll Leave

My husband and I have been married for almost a year. Sometimes I can't believe my good fortune. He is a wonderful man, great with my kids (I brought two into the marriage), seems to adore me, treats me wonderfully, great provider for the family. Somehow, though, I am always fighting this nagging feeling that he will one day look for something better (if he isn't doing so already) and move on from me. It's like I don't feel like I deserve him. Maybe I don't. I have had some difficult relationships in the past and I hurt a couple of my partners very deeply, cheating on both multiple times. I grew up in a home where my dad cheated on my mom, ditching her (and me) in the end, and I grew up vowing that if anyone gets hurt in my relationships, it won't be me. But I have changed my ways. I have been completely faithful to my current husband. I love him dearly. I cannot imagine hurting him. But I can imagine him hurting me. Despite the evidence in front of me every day, I am convinced it's just a matter of time. What's my problem? —I'm Not Worthy
Dear I'm Not Worthy,

I think you have quite a bit of insight about your problem: your childhood experiences and past relationships have shaped your worldview in such a way that you don’t trust your current reality.

You have made yourself vulnerable by committing to not hurting your husband—and that feels scary to you. We all carry some baggage from our formative experiences into current relationships. It seems, however, that your fears are preventing you from enjoying your relationship as you could. I imagine you find yourself in a pretty constant state of anxiety or fear—watching and waiting for evidence that you might get hurt. That’s exhausting. It also can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. We expect someone to tire of us, and we push for reassurance or we accuse them of not caring enough until they do tire of our behaviors and disengage from the relationship. That then confirms what we believed all along—that people will hurt us and leave us.

Most people will leave us if we push them away hard enough. The challenge is not to push when we feel scared or vulnerable, but to engage and connect.

To accept love, you must feel worthy of love. It sounds as if that may be a significant part of your struggles.

There is no quick fix or easy answer to your question. I recommend that you find a therapist to work through your relationship fears and feelings of self-worth. There is quite a bit of healing that will likely need to happen before you can fully embrace being in relationship with another person.

To accept love, you must feel worthy of love. It sounds as if that may be a significant part of your struggles. You can talk with a therapist about how to bring your husband into the work you do together—as he can likely be a great support for you. If he understands your triggers and how to respond most effectively to you, that can only enhance your relationship. However, I do not suggest focusing on couples work. I think you would benefit first and foremost from individual work to address your concerns.

Best wishes,

Erika Myers
Erika Myers, MS, MEd, LPC, NCC is a licensed psychotherapist and former educator specializing in working with families in transition (often due to separation or divorce) as well as individuals seeking support with relationship issues, parenting, depression, anxiety, grief/loss/bereavement, and managing major life changes. Although her theoretical orientation is eclectic, she most frequently uses a person-centered, strengths-based approach and cognitive behavioral therapy in her practice.
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  • Reena


    October 16th, 2015 at 12:35 PM

    I think that you could be taking the things that you have done in the past totally cloud how you see your marriage today. You have to let the past go sometimes, as hard as that is, and if you know that you love your husband and that you have changed then that is it. Be confident in the fact that you have moved forward from that kind of behavior and the he loves you for the woman that you are TODAY, not what you used to be.

  • Gladys


    October 17th, 2015 at 10:33 AM

    I agree in that I think that there are definitely some things going on on your end that hae to be resolved before the two of you can start working on this doubt together.

  • Norma


    October 19th, 2015 at 11:35 AM

    I felt like this in my first marriage, that I did not deserve to be with him. In fact I did such a good job convincing myself of that, I believe that I also convinced him of that as well and he wound up leaving me for someone else. So be careful of what you are always thinking of yourself, but there is a good chance that you could get the other person to come around to thinking that same thing too… not a good thing in all cases.

  • Dawn


    October 21st, 2015 at 7:37 AM

    You sound like there is a whole lot of past history that you still need to deal with before you can make any kind of peace and resolution in yourself and your marriage. I know that it will be hard after all of these years to confront much of this but the truth is that you will continue to beat yourself up and maybe even drive this man that you love away if you do not make the commitment to resolve some of these issues. I suspect that this will mean doing some therapy on your own and maybe even later, going together

  • Iris


    October 29th, 2015 at 6:33 PM

    watch out- if you believe something long enough then it quite possibly will come true

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