Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

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Irked by her Career
Why Men Fear Marriage
Her Boyfriend's Spying

Irked by her Career

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 26 year old male and I am deeply in love with a 25 year old female. We have been dating for over a year and a half and I am ready to ask her to marry me.

But we have some very different moral issues that I would like to straighten out before we get married. The Main issue is that she is a musical theater performer in which I have no problem with because she is very talented in what she does. The problem I have is at some point in her career she may get into a show where she will have to be in a sexual situation on stage wether it is a revealing costume or personal contact. I think I would have a seriuos problem with her acting out in front of a thousand people what we share in our own personal bedroom.

Her defense is that it is not reality but to me it is very real. I am not asking her to give up her career, all I am asking is for her not to do maybe 7 or 8 shows in her entire career. Please reply and tell me if I am way out of line! thanks.

Dear Moral Man,

This is not a moral issue, at least not if you're living in this century and in this world. A woman who has a career in the theater is entitled to act, even if her acting means she will have to portray a love scene, have personal contact, or wear a revealing costume.

You are living in the dark ages if you can't accept her pretending to be enamored of someone on stage. She's absolutely right. It's not reality. It's a job. Most actors don't let their stage or screen lives interfere with their personal lives at all.

There's a real difference between what you do in the privacy of your own home between just the two of you and what she does at work with hundreds, maybe thousands of people looking on. If you can't accept her career and give her your blessings to do what she wants to do on stage, you are doomed to having a very troubled relationship. If she gets offered the part of a lifetime with a famous director telling her she has to be in a love scene, you can bet she's going to resent you like crazy if she has to turn it down because you object. This is not an issue of her morals, it is an issue of your jealousy and insecurity.

If you felt secure and if you had good self-esteem, you'd be able to handle her career and whatever it could reasonably demand. Of course, there is always the chance that the whole issue wouldn't arise, that she wouldn't succeed to that extent, and that your objections would never come up. However, you shouldn't marry her unless you are prepared to face the fact that if she's as talented as you say she is, she'll want to follow her star and develop her talents fully.

If you really love her, you wouldn't want to stand in the way of her success.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Why Men Fear Marriage

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 28 yr. old woman, and I have lived with my boyfriend for four years. We share all expenses (in fact, he is providing for me right now as I am in school). We've talked about marriage before, but he's always said that he was scared, and thought we should "gradually" become engaged. Our last conversation, I pretty much laid it out for him: I'm getting older, want children, etc. etc. I told him I needed to know one way or the other if he really wanted to marry me, and he said he did. No absolute engagement yet - during the conversation he seemed kind of scared of talking about it, and I asked him if he would ever feel comfortable bringing the subject up himself instead of me taking the initiative all the time, and he said he would (when, I don't know. He's had years to do it). I decided to give him a little more time to see if he'd figure it out on his own, but not much more.

I have chosen a day (per your advice to countless others), upon which I will make my "final stand" and tell him that he has had enough time to get used to the idea and that if he really still feels strange about the whole marriage process then it's time for us to break up - I'm not interested in waiting anymore. The dumb thing is that he'll probably agree to an actual date, letting everyone know, etc. once he realizes this is it. In other respects, he's committed to me (heck, he's paying for my college tuition and everything), yet I am still frustrated by his lack of, shall we say, enthusiasm.

My question is this: Why are men so typically scared of marriage? I've never been the type of gal who would swoon over an engagement ring, but I can see some pretty good reasons for tying the knot (including some strong legal reasons). I just can't understand why it seems to make men "ummmmmm" or "uhhhhh" or run away, even when the person talking to them about marriage happens to be the woman they love and want to spend the rest of their lives with. This drives me crazy.

I'd appreciate any insight.

Dear Almost Engaged,

My advice to you is to get engaged and don't expect him to have the same enthusiasm for getting engaged and getting married as you do. Men have a knee-jerk resistance to the whole thing, and just because you have to force him to do it, doesn't mean it won't work out or that you should be less happy about the whole thing.

He loves you, and you know it. He wants to spend the rest of his life with you. Perhaps he's been so brain-washed by his buddies that he can't bring himself to do anything but play hard to get when it comes to marriage. Many men are. They've been told that they'll lose their freedom, or that everything will change when they're married, or they won't get any sex after they're married, or that they'll wish they were single, or that they won't be able to go out with the guys, or who knows what else.

There's also a school of thought that says evolution has left men with deep instincts to spread their seed, whereas women's instincts are to nest and nurture, which of course is more compatible with marriage. In any case, his resistance is part of the male psyche, and smart women just ignore it. Don't let his lack of enthusiasm put a damper on yours. Continue to press for engagement and marriage. It sounds to me like he really wants to, but just wants to be pushed a little, like a virgin who really wants sex but doesn't want to admit it, so she wants the man to convince her.

Keep talking about the subject of engagement and marriage. Desensitize him to it by bringing it up in a calm, natural manner. Eventually, he won't cringe every time he hears the word marriage and he'll get used to the idea.

It's almost always the woman who has to make all the plans for engagement and marriage, because men just think that's "women's work." So don't fight it, keep your eye on your objective, and go after what you want. After all, you just want to make him happy, don't you?

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Her Boyfriend's Spying

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 27 y.o. mother of 2, and have been divoriced once. I have been in a long-term relationship for 5 1/2 yrs. with a 36 y.o. man, whose also been divoriced once. He has no kids with his previous wife, I have 1 from my previous, and we have 1 together. We both have had the same experience with our ex's, infedelity. He just seems to be affected by it more than me, I basically have gotten over it, and his saying is "once bitten, twice shy". So basically, I have been paying for his ex-wife's mistakes. O.K., I was able to deal with that for a while, but after 5 years now, ya think it would have slowly drifted away.

I have been through hell trying to prove myself to him, that I have no intentions of cheating, and that I don't want to be with anyone else. Our sex life is wonderful, I"m not out and about all the time. My social life is non-existent (besides being mom, I also attend college with a full class load) so I don't give him any reasons to suspect anything. But he does, all the time! I ask him how in the world could I possibly fit in another lover, and give him reassurance of my wanting to be with only him, but I guess it doesn't help.

This is the part that is killing me. Just the other day, I found out that he has small microphones on order, and should be here any day. He plans on putting one in my car, one in our living room, one in our bathroom in our bedroom, and one in the bedroom. His reasoning for this is to hear whatever I'm supposedly doing wrong. A friend of ours, that he trusts, is the one that told me about this. He was concerned for my well-being, he even saw the receipt for them. I always joked around with my sister about things like that, since she knows how he is, but for him to actually act on it, I'm definately in a state of shock. Is this a psychotic way of thinking?

I love him so much, but I obviously can't get through to him. He doesn't know that I am aware of his purchase, but there goes my singing along with the radio in the morning!! I just don't know what to do. Actually, I do, I need to get the hell out of here before he gets any crazier. But I am an unemployed student with two kids, and am living in his house (that I spent months on remodeling).

My heart is very heavy right now, just knowing that it is basically over. It's hard to face him, he knows that something's wrong. All I do is just stare at him, trying to find that laid back man that I know is still in there somewhere. I told him last night (crying), that I wish he knew how much I loved him. He says he does, but obviously that ain't enough. Why does he have to constantly try and find something that I'm doing wrong, it's like that's all he lives for. Please, if you have any advice, I'm really open to it. I have very little time before I decide on what to do, I can't keep going on living this way.

Thank you, Sad Momma

Dear Sad Momma,

Your guy is more than just "affected" by his ex-wife's infidelity, he's deeply wounded. He's gone over the edge, and his suspicions are not just unfounded, they're borderline paranoid.

The longer you put up with his suspicions and crazy behavior, the worse it will get. Stop being such a punching bag. Don't sit around staring at him and wondering what's going on. Talk to him. Confront his behavior and let him know that he is threatening your relationship.

Insist that he stop immediately. Tell him you won't stand for his putting microphones in your room and that he must get some counseling to help him get over his problems. He's going to turn into a totally controlling partner. The microphones are just the beginning. If you let him get away with installing microphones, who knows what'll be next. Cameras? Private detectives?

Actually, one way men control women is by taking care of them and making them totally dependent on them, just as he has with you. He knows you're an unemployed student with two kids living in his house and being supported by him, and he likes it that way because that gives him control over you financially and emotionally. But even that's not enough for him. He wants more.

He needs help. If he refuses to go to counseling, get out. It'll be hard -- you may have to get a job and drop out of school for awhile. But that will be better in the long run than living under his thumb and letting him control you with microphones and who knows what else.

Sometimes you have to take a risk, like leaving, to get your life back on track. And it's very possible that just letting him know you're not going to put up with his crazy behavior anymore will be enough to get him to stop. If not, leaving might. In any case, the longer you put up with his craziness, the worse he will get.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

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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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