"Ask Dr. Tracy"

1/23/2000 Advice Column

Bride Fever
Entrepreneurial Madness
Ex-Lovers as Friends After Marriage

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am about to get married in a couple of months. My fiancee's cousin will be getting married a few weeks before us. He has just now asked my fiancee to be one of his groomsmen. We recently started looking around for photographer for our own wedding. I noticed that there are always pictures taken of each pair of bridesmaid/groomsman. Arm in arm. Some walking down the isle and some standing poses. I started to feel extremely jealous. I do not want my fiancee to be taking formal pictures with some other girl just weeks before our own wedding! I don't mind so much the actual ceremony. It's an honor that his cousin asked him to be one of the attendants. But I just can't get over the thought that he will be with some other girl in all of their wedding albums, which, I'm sure, they will be showing us after the wedding.

On the other hand, I do not want him to turn his cousin down. Like I said, I realize it's an honor to be someone's groomsmen. So I am not asking him to change his mind and screw up his cousin's whole plan.

One other thing which only adds to my frustration. My father's birthday is coming up in a week. We have been planning to go visit him for a long time. Just last week his cousin calls and invited him to their pre-wedding party, which, again, he could not refuse. This only made the whole matter worse. I feel as if he's putting his cousin's family and wedding ahead of ours. But at the same time I do understand that it would be rude for him not to go.

What can I do? Am I being selfish for feeling this way?

Dear Bride-to-Be,

All brides become a bit self-centered thinking about "their day," when they're supposed to be the center of attention and everything revolves around them. However, don't forget it's your groom's wedding too.

If he's not bothered about helping out at his cousin's wedding, you shouldn't be either. You do trust him, don't you? Sure there will be formal pictures, but nobody in their right mind thinks it means anything if the groomsmen and bridesmaids are photographed together -- except that they are good friends of the bride or groom.

Your fiance should also go to the pre-wedding party. After all, the whole wedding party will be there. Your father will have lots of birthdays, but hopefully your fiance's cousin will only have one wedding.

Yes, I'm afraid you are being selfish and unreasonable. Get a grip. Be gracious and lovely and get off your bridal high horse. The world does not revolve around you until your wedding day. On your cousin's wedding day, step out of the way and let your cousin's bride enjoy her day to the fullest.

This is your chance to show your fiance what a big person you are. Don't ruin your own wedding and make your fiance suffer by being petty and small over this.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am so confused. I have been dating the same guy for about 8 months exclusively. Our relationship has never been one of those relationships were we see each other everyday. Usually we get together once every week and we talk on the phone twice a week. He owns his own computer consulting firm and is working hard at making it a success. The problem is ... that after 8 months of dating the relationship is still not going anywhere.

Even though we haven't spent every waking moment together I have grown to love him and truly enjoy the time we do get to spend together. He has never expressed any feelings to me nor have I to him. (Men must express love first) He told me that after all these Y2K problems he would have more time for me. Unfortunately instead of us see each other more it is getting worse. He said he might only be able to see me once every couple weeks and that it might be another couple months before he is ready to work on our relationship. (he is opening another computer office)

I am afraid to leave him for fear of realizing a year down the road that I gave up too soon and missed out on what could be a wonderful relationship but at the same time I don't want to be the stupid fool that was understanding only in the end to lose. Kind of like the woman that helps put a man through medical school only to lose him when he becomes a doctor.

Oh by the way, I am 33 years old and I have been divorced about 5 years. I hear that biological clock of mine ticking away. Don't get me wrong I am not looking to get married only for children but for companionship also and would only get married if I felt it was right. I am of the age were every year counts. Heck it seems like yesterday I was 27. The years keep passing me by....

So my question is to you...Do you think I am wrong for thinking about waiting those 2 - 6 months before he is able to work a relationship leading to something permanent? So many people have told me to leave him, that I could do better. I really just don't know what to do. My heart wants to stay with him but a part of me feels like I might be waiting for something that might never happen. Sounds like a gamble to me.


Dear Confused,

One of our great women poets, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, once wrote, "Women love men, and men love work." How true that is.

Your fellow is caught up in entrepreneurial madness. For a man, a business venture is like having a baby, and after it's born he has to keep nurturing it and taking care of it. That's just the way it is. So his baby is already born and crying for attention. He probably means well when he promises to give you more attention after Y2K, or after he opens one more computer place, or after he makes one more big deal. But usually with entrepreneurs, deal mania never ends.

And what if he's not successful? He'll be very unhappy. And very likely to try again, with another new venture. Entrepreneurial madness is not easily cured.

But let's assume success. As soon as one deal is over, another one will follow, in a quest for growth and market share. Then he'll be caught up in going public, and even after that he won't be able to let up; there'll be all those shareholders to keep happy. You're liable to take second place for a very long time to come. So unless you're able to live without a lot of attention, don't expect this relationship to work out. If you can be self-sufficient and alone a lot, however, knowing that eventually he's going to show up, that's fine; you can have a relationship with a startup entrepreneur and be happy. Just don't expect him to put you ahead of the next big deal.

One last dark note about entrepreneurial madness: for most ambitious men, one of the secret payoffs of success is women. Rich, powerful men attract women in droves. That's the way it's always been. Don't expect it to change. If he becomes highly successful and is able to say no to all the women, he'll be an exception.

But back to now. You've only been with him exclusively for 8 months. That's not long enough to make a real commitment of the kind you want -- to get married and have babies. He says it'll be another couple of months before he can give you more time and attention, but I suspect it will be at least three times that long, or maybe never. So don't give up on him totally, but don't put all your eggs in one basket either. Give him another 6 months, but don't be idle. Start looking around to see who else may be out there who can give you more time. I'm also concerned that he's "never expressed any feelings" to you. If that doesn't happen in the next six months, put him way on the back burner and start looking elsewhere more seriously.

On the other hand, if you're a high-needs woman, and only you can know that, you should look elsewhere. Immediately. Look for a guy who isn't devoted to a startup business. Find one who's got a normal job or one whose business is mature and stable.

As far as your biological clock is concerned, the ticking will only get louder, and your chances of having an easy, successful pregnancy will decrease the longer you wait, going down dramatically after the age of 35. So if your priority is having children, either start on your own, or find a man who has the same priority. The one you have could take years before his biological time clock chimes in.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

What is your opinion on maintaining contact with former lovers after marriage? I've never doubted my husband's devotion, yet it still bothers me when he sends birthday cards, "keep in touch" letters & occasionally telephones several women that he's at one time been sexually intimate with. He says he understands my feelings, but then says he doesn't like to feel restricted in his actions. This makes me feel resentment & I wonder if my feelings of jealousy stem from my own insecurities or if his actions are inappropriate for a married man. I should say that I have no such feelings re his platonic women friendships and that my husband (of 3 years) is truely a caring person & not on the prowl. Thanks very much.

Dear Bothered,

Since you've never doubted your husband's devotion, I don't understand why you are so bothered by an occasional contact he has with his ex-lovers. After all, they are ex, not current. You have him and those other women don't.

The fact that he has maintained friendly relationships with his ex's shows his good character and his ability to be a nice guy even when the relationship didn't work out. It also shows that he didn't do anything so terrible to them that they never want to talk to him again. The women he loved before helped make him into the man you love today. So instead of being jealous and uncomfortable, be happy he's who is is. Instead of criticising him for his contacts, make friends with his ex's yourself.

I received a call recently from a lover I was involved with in the 60's, and my husband greeted him like an old friend on the phone. He has visited us and stayed in our home and my husband appreciates the warm relationship I have with him. My old lover represents a part of my past, my misspent youth, and many memories that are important to me. Since my husband knows that, there's no jealousy involved.

I am also friends with my husband's ex-wife. In addition, my husband, like yours, keeps in touch with some of his old lovers and female friends. All that's just fine with me. Like your husband, mine is a truly caring person and not on the prowl. So I don't worry about his contacts at all.

You've only been married three years compared to my 17 years. So think about it: my husband and I have kept our friendships with old lovers for all those years. Maintaining those friendships is actually something to be proud of, and as the years go by, I'm sure you'll begin to feel that way too.

Stop trying to control your husband's contacts with his old lovers. You're his wife. You have status they never achieved. So be gracious and generous. You'll get a lot further that way than by being small and jealous.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

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