Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

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Newlywed Problem
A Rose by Any Other Name is Still a Rose
Dating a Pothead

Newlywed Problem

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I have been reading your column for over 5 years and it has helped me with my relationships tremendously. I have just married the love of my life this past month. We are both 28 years old from NY and this is both our first marriage.

We have been together for over four years. My problem that I am exteremly jealous of my husbands past. When he was in college he lived with his girlfrend for 3 years. They went on many vacations together, had pets, their familes were close etc. It feels to me that even though they weren't married, it was very close to it. Now that was are living together for the first time now I can see how close they were, and it is making me jealous. Every "first" we have doesn't feel special to me because he already had that with someone else.

Its tearing me up inside, its even affecting our sex life because whenever I want to be intimate with him I think of all they have done and I get turned off. I know he's done nothing wrong and it's all me. Please, I need some advice how to get over this!

Dear Can't Get Over It

Everyone has a past. Your husband's past is what makes him the man he is and the person you love. He spent time with this other woman and had lots of good experiences as well as some bad ones. Those are the same experiences that make him able to love you.

The good experiences he had with her are ones he'll want to have with you too and the bad ones are ones he'll avoid with you. He got to practice on her, and if they had pets, went on vacations and had close families, that's a good thing. He learned the value of vacations, pets and family. Instead of being jealous, be grateful that he had this time with her and got some rough edges smoothed out on her time and not yours.

She taught him how to live with a woman and how to treat a woman. Maybe she taught him to put the toilet seat down and take out the trash. Living with her was a sort of trial marriage for him. Aren't you glad that she had the trial marriage and you got the real one? After all, he learned from being with her that she isn't the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with and you are. He also found out that he enjoys being in a committed relationship and you reap the rewards. Lucky you!

If you don't get over this jealousy soon, it's going to ruin your marriage. You've just married the love of your life, you're 28, you have your whole lives ahead of you, and you're going to mess up your lives with this unreasonable jealousy.

As for vacations, go somewhere they haven't been. Surely there are enough places in the world. As for pets, get one that's different from the one they had. As for families, vow to get along even better with his family than she did. As for sex, the same act done with a different person is always different. You probably had sex before too. After all, if he wanted to be having sex with her, he wouldn't be with you. So enjoy every minute and relish the newness of the affection and sex you have.

Actually, the ex-girlfriend is probably the one who's jealous. She spent three years with him and never had the security of being married and knowing that he was truly committed for life. Instead of feeling jealous of her, you should feel sorry for her.

If you can't totally stop your jealous feelings, don't let them affect your life and your relationship. Just because he's done something with someone else before doesn't mean that your first is any less valuable. You are the one who is ruining your firsts, not his relationship with his ex. When the jealous feelings come up for you, replace those feelings instead with gratitude to the woman who helped make him the man you love.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

A Rose by Any Other Name is Still a Rose

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I'm a 44 yr-old divorced Dad with three children. I'm in a long-term relationship with a wonderful woman that I hope to marry some day soon. We have been together for nearly two years and both divorced for more than 8 years.

Each time we discuss marriage, the subject of last names creates a bit of a conflict. She has been married and divorced twice, with one child from each marriage. Because of already having two children with separate last names, she is concerned about changing her last name to mine and the effect it would have on her children. She wants me to consider having her keep her current last name, which is the same as her second child even after we are married. I don't feel comfortable being married to someone with their ex-husband's last name. I also have children who live with me and she is concerned that the combined household - all with one last name except her two children would make them feel left out. What is your advice? Thank you!

Dear Hoping to Marry,

Forget the last names. Who cares? In today's world there are so many blended families that everyone has different last names and nobody thinks about it twice.

If she wants to keep her last name, let her. Maybe she's used to it. Maybe her kids are used to it. Maybe some day she'll decide to become a hyphenate and have two last names. It really doesn't matter at all and in the long run there are so many more important issues.

If the two of you are happy together, if you love her and she loves you, if your children can get along, if you support and respect each other, then go for it. As for how the children will feel, they will get used to the idea that they have different last names. Don't let then even think for a minute that you consider it a problem and they won't either.

My advice is to go ahead and get married, the sooner the better. You've been together two years. That's plenty long enough to know if you want to marry.

Let her know you support her wishes and that she can have any last name she wants. Some issues are just not worth the conflict. Last names is definitely a non-issue.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dating a Pothead

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am 25 and have been dating a thoughtful, attentive and incredibly caring guy for about 5 months now. He smokes cigarettes, which I knew going into the relationship, but recently he revealed during a conversation we had about our vices that he gets high almost every night. I was shocked that he smoked pot so regularly and I had never picked up on it or noticed changes in his behavior. But he told me it was because he never does it when I'm around or if he knows he's going to see me later in the day.

Aside from the fact that it is illegal and unhealthy, smoking pot doesn't affect his finances, ability to pay his bills, his work ethic, or the way he is with me. But it does bother me. So I talked to him about it. I told him that if we were to progress to the level of marriage or lifelong commitment, this vice would indeed be a deal breaker. At the same time, I want him to quit smoking (both types) for himself, not for me. After I told him this, he said he could make some changes down the road if it meant staying with me.

I guess my question is, should I sever this relationship now, or allow it to progress and myself get more attached with the possibility that he might not quit if/when the time comes? And, ultimately, is it ever okay to date a pothead?

Thank you for your help. And by the way, I absolutely love reading your sound advice.

Sincerely, Confused and contemplating ending things

Dear Pothead's Girlfriend,

There's nothing wrong with dating a pothead, as long as you are okay with the fact that he may always be a pothead. I personally know people who have smoked pot all their lives with no apparent consequences. They seem healthy, happy and productive.

On the other hand, if you're dead set against pot, if it offends you deeply that he does something that is unhealthy and illegal, and if you really hate the idea, get out now. Frankly, I don't blame you for worrying. Who wants a pothead husband and father driving their kids around or being stoned and forgetting to pick up the kids at school? Not that he would necessarily do that, but if he did, you'd blame the pot. As for the cigarettes, they might be even more dangerous than the pot. Second hand smoke has been responsible for all kinds of diseases. You and your kids would be at risk just being around him.

Even if he promises, with the best of intentions, to quit "down the road," he may not be able to. The truth is that potheads often keep smoking their whole lives, and cigarettes may be even more addictive.

So in spite of being a great guy, he has a couple of habits that are messy, expensive, illegal and potentially dangeous.

My advice is to ask him to stop now instead of waiting until you're more involved. Start by asking him to stop smoking cigarettes and see how he does with that. If he makes it through quitting tobacco, then move on to the pot. Who knows, you could save his life and your relationship as well.

Ultimately, yes, it's okay to date a pothead, as long as it doesn't bother you. But you say it's a dealbreaker down the road, so why wait until you are even more involved to find out if he's willing and able to quit for you -- and for himself too.

The other reason to get him to quit now is because he might go through some personality changes when he quits and you could decide you don't like the new sober, non-pothead guy. Might as well find out now if you're just smitten by his pothead self, or if you like him with or without the pot.

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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