What am I doing wrong?
Dear What am I Doing Wrong?
You may be Doing the Right Thing, The Wrong Way.
For many reasons, both known to us and unconscious, we choose actions and behaviors with the best of intentions. But the impact on our beloved may turn out to be a relationship snafu.
Welcome to the human world of Doing the Right Thing, The Wrong Way.
Remember, that despite feminism and many years since the "caveman," men are still wired to possess, provide, and protect. Not politically correct to say, but true nonetheless. From a brain perspective there is a big gap between evolution and culture.
Many a woman will say she doesn't want to be protected. Some women do, and some women don't; but whatever her desire in this arena, she wants to be protected in the way SHE wants it.
Here's a possible example from what you've said. Boy meets girl. They fall in love. He had a difficult upbringing and yet is smart, rebellious, and secretive--and successful, partly due to all of those traits. (And good for him to have developed the necessary survival skills for his particular childhood.) She is innocent, having grown up protected. To her, his early life story is tragic but romantic. He wants to protect her innocence, and also bask in it. She doesn't even think she needs protecting; she's competent and strong.
Time goes along, things happen and he is secretive--protecting her. With good intentions.
She finds out his secrets; her innocence is shattered and her trust in him plummets. This is the impact on her of his good, protective intentions.
Now his basking in innocence is shattered, too.
His desire to protect her was The Right Thing, but his implementation was flawed, and the outcome became The Wrong Way.
Can this couple rebuild trust? Absolutely. Will they have to change their methods? Absolutely.
He can still desire to protect her, but he has to learn from her what that means and looks like ? to her. Being secretive is out. Does she want to have innocence again? Likely. Does she want and deserve his protection? Absolutely.
So now they can work together on Doing the Right Thing, The Right Way; as a couple, consciously, explicitly, and intimately discussed.
So, What am I Doing Wrong, you need to ask her a lot of questions, listen, and respond with empathy (which doesn't mean you agree; it means you heard and you show your care for her).
Learn how to protect in ways that work for both of you. And no more secrets.
If there are amends to be made, do so. Show her this letter and your willingness to change.
Best of luck to you both.