Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

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Husband "Not Happy"
A Younger Person's Love
When to say "I love you"

Husband "Not Happy"

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 35 year old woman who has been married for 3 years. We have a 3 month old daughter. During my pregnancy my husband told me that he was no longer happy in our relationship. I later found out that he had an affair while I was pregnant and we grew further apart after he confessed. He kept telling me that he wanted some time alone to sort out his feelings. I often thought about ending the marriage but felt it was unfair to our daughter to end it without a fight, not to mention the fact that I do love this man and want nothing more than a happy family life.

Three weeks ago he moved out of our home and he is trying to figure out what he wants from life. I see him two or three times a week when he comes to see our daughter. My dilemma is do I allow him to call the shots and just wait for him to make up his mind? I want to talk about what's bothering him and get some counseling but he is reluctant to talk to me about it. He says that he needs time for things to "calm down". I have been very calm and have held back from screaming and yelling and crying so we can move on to repairing our relationship. But he keeps saying it's too soon. I did tell him that if he is having a relationship with someone else he will not be welcome back in our home, he swears that he is not seeing anyone. I am so very confused! What should I do?

Dear Confused,

Whether you're ready to face it or not, your marriage is in deep trouble. There's nothing worse than when a man moves out. And no matter what he says, the reason is usually that there's another woman in the picture or that he wants another woman in the picture.

Don't wait around to find out for sure. Take action right away. See a lawyer and find out your rights. Make copies of all important papers including tax returns. Hire a private detective if you suspect he's seeing someone else. Don't just sit around and allow him to call all the shots and wait for him to make a decision. It's your life and your child's life too, not just his.

Get family members and friends on your side to help you intervene with him. Insist that he go for counseling with you. If he absolutely refuses, that's pretty much the kiss of death for your marriage - and even more reason to go for counseling by yourself.

You say you've refrained from screaming, yelling and crying which is good. But why do you make a point of that? Has screaming, yelling and crying been your way of working out problems in the past? If so, you need to learn new ways to behave. Screaming, yelling and crying will usually drive a man away. Just as no woman wants an "unhappy husband," no man wants an unhappy wife.

In the meantime, work on pulling yourself together and taking care of your new baby. Your husband is a real jerk to have an affair while you were pregnant and then to move out and leave you and his 3 month old daughter. The sooner you realize that you're in love with a jerk, the better off you'll be. Don't let him treat you like you don't matter or you'll begin to believe it yourself.

I know you feel confused, but don't let your confusion keep you from acting.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

A Younger Person's Love

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Here is a very gay question. I realize this isn't a "gay" column, but you seem to be one of those rare individuals who see through all the haze without judgement. Except as it has to do with the relationship at hand, which is what I'm curious about. And, by the way, I was referred to you by another gay guy, so you probably do have a big following of us.

Here's my dilema. I am 40. Now before you imagine what I look or act like, I am truly often guessed to be 30. People cannot believe my true age when I tell them. I am very young inside as well, and I take care of myself physically and mentally, but I do have the experience of a 40 year old, including a 14 year relationship that ended 7 years ago (by the death of the other partner). By the way, I am HIV-negative.

Recently, I met a guy who I am crazy about, and I truly believe he wants me as much. He is 21. Born the year I graduated high school. He's my perfect physical "type", and intelligent, responsible, mature for his age as he has been on his own since age 18. Employed with a nice apartment and car...all of that. He even makes a point to pay for movies and stuff as much as I do, so he's not looking for a "daddy" to take care of him. In fact, I'm not wealthy anyway, and he knows it. And he is by far cute enough to find that if that's what he wanted.

When we are together, it's like the perfect meshing of two souls. We even have like esp, finishing each other's sentences, or the one calling just when the other is thinking about them. I did your "qualifying someone" quiz on him and he passed everything. He has never had a "serious" long term relationship...I would be the first.

We are thinking about a long term relationship. In fact, I think I am (finally) ready for another serious relationship. I would like it to be for life because I don't take this subject lightly. I know what it means "'til death do us part". I don't want to get into the pattern many gay guys have of a series of 1, 3 or 5 year relationships. For that I'd rather just date or fool around, as I have been. I want one where you plan and build, like buying a house, helping each other with school and business, and staying together in good times and bad.

I just remember how I was at 21 and how much I have grown and changed. I keep thinking, even if this guy is that much into me, and I believe he is, he almost certianly will change and grow, and maybe I'll not be exactly what he wants in 5 or 10 years. Then, I'll be even older....the 45 or 50 year old guy looking for a relationship (or devasted into being single forever). When he's 40, I'll be almost 60.

What do you think about this? Am I stupid for thinking this might work? Or is it possible that a lifetime commitment can made between a 21 and 40 year old gay couple? How long should we wait before living together or taking the plunge?

Dear Crazy,

Yup, you're crazy for him, but is it true love? I doubt it. Will it last? Like an ice cube in hell.

Your question isn't really so gay. Actually, the answer would be the same no matter the sexual proclivities of the participants. Sometimes gay relationships seem so much more intense, at least to the participants, and that may be why you are fantasizing about a lifetime with your young man.

It would be a miracle if this became a lifelong relationship, straight or gay. A 21-year-old is no match for a 40-year-old, even one who looks 30. His experience and life is so different, and the twenty year age chasm is huge.

So enjoy the relationship you have, let it be a memorable interlude in your life, but don't think it's going to be a forever kind of thing.

Twenty-one year olds change so much, as you noted, and they also have so much energy. It sounds like you understand the arithmetic -- in 20 years, you'll be sixty and he'll be forty -- but not the reality of it. He'll still be looking good and you'll be sagging - no matter how well preserved you are.

Everyone I've ever heard who's in love with a much younger person - straight or gay - describes their much younger lover as "oh so mature" for their age. It's a May/December (or, okay, a March/July) cliché.

Wait until you've known each other at least a year before you move in together, and then another couple of years before you commit. I really think the longterm odds for this relationship are terrible, but of course they're not zero. And that doesn't mean you couldn't be soulmates whose lives have touched and then moved on.

Just because a relationship doesn't last forever, doesn't mean it isn't valuable. Practice safe sex, and let me know if you're still together when you're on Social Security and I'll take back everything I said.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

When to say "I love you"

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I've been dating a 34 year old man now for about 8 months. I'm a 28 year old woman. Everything has been going well. We seem to communicate well and have a lot of fun together. Except for some problems a few months ago with his odd work schedule (he works night hours and I work business hours), we've had smooth sailing and been getting along great. What I wanted to ask you is this. He is very sweet to me, but he has yet to say he loves me (I haven't said it either, although I do). I've always been told to wait until the guy says he loves the woman. I'm afraid I'll be waiting quite awhile if I do that, though... Is there anything I can do to prompt him to say the words without being a nag or should I say them myself?

Also, someday I want to get married and possibly have a family. Although he said he wouldn't be opposed to someday marrying someone when we first started dating, the subject hasn't been brought up since then, and he's never said that he would want to marry me in particular. How do I get a clearer picture for what he may be thinking in the future with us without scaring him away? The M word seems to really scare a lot of guys...Maybe I should just go with the flow and not worry about it, I don't know? What's a reasonable amount of time to wait?

Sincerely, Not the Nag

Dear Not a Nag,

Of course you can't nag him into saying "I love you," and some guys make a real big deal about saying the words.

You've only been going out for 8 months. Give it a year and a half and then if he hasn't said it, write me again.

In the meantime, don't you even breathe the "L" word. The guy has to say it first. If you say it first, he'll think he's got it made with you and begin to take you for granted.

As for the "M" word, it always comes after the "L" word. So the best thing you could do is to hang in there, make him very happy when he's with you, and he'll be drawn to you. Men use the L word to cement the relationship. If you cement it first, he won't have to.

I'd say go with the flow, especially if the relationship is improving all the time. Relationships are like business deals. They either get better and better and become good for both parties, or they spiral downward and fall apart. As long as yours is getting better, you're on the right track.

After all, he has already told you he's open to someday marrying. Don't worry that he hasn't brought the subject up again. Men think if they talk about it, they have to do it. So they wait until they're sure. In the meantime, enjoy the ride.

How long should you wait? No more than a year and a half for the "L" word. No more than 3 years for the "M" word.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Submitting a Question to this column

Dr. Tracy regrets that it is simply impossible for her to answer all of the hundreds of questions submitted to this column each week. However, she does read every question, and tries to select the three which are of the most general interest to the visitors here.

Dr. Tracy says, "Is your question urgent? Many of the most beseeching, desperate messages I get are not answered in this column because the answer is just a couple of clicks away in my Love Library. Have you tried my Love Library? I know that nobody goes to libraries anymore, but check this one out -- it's so easily searchable that it's fun and easy to use!"

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(Featured art from cover of Letting Go, by Zev Wanderer and Tracy Cabot, published by "Bitan" Publishers, Tel-Aviv, Israel)
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