"Ask Dr. Tracy"

5/16/99 Advice Column

Reconciliation Isn't Easy
When He Needs A Little Push
Porn Hubby

Dear Dr. Tracy,

My ex- wife and I have been talking and thinking about working things out and just wanted to get your view on things. We are pretty sure the we can work things out but have a few minor problems. Although her mom is highly in favor of the reunion, my family is not too keen on the idea. we would like to get some suggestions on how to go about getting this reconciliation started!!!

Dear Wanna-be Hubby Again,

The desire to be together again is almost universal. When ending a relationship, virtually everyone goes through moments when they wish they could reunite and recapture what was lost. You wouldn't believe how many letters I get from would-be reconcilers. But it's not easy for people to reconcile.

Unfortunately, most people who want to be together again haven't solved the problems that forced them to split apart to begin with. They think they've changed because they're out of the relationship, but deep down they haven't. They haven't become new people. They're the same old people with the same old problems - the same people who couldn't get along before.

And if they haven't changed, and haven't solved any of the problems, they'll have the same fights and disagreements they always had, they'll react in the same way, and they'll split again. That's what you'll do if you don't get some therapy and make plans to work out your problems.

For instance, agree to avoid your families for a while until you get your relationship back on track. Agree to attend a couples' weekend workshop to learn new techniques for dealing with problems. Find a couples therapist so that when problems come up you have an unbiased third party to act as a referee and to help you work out the problems. Turning to family members to solve your problems is always a mistake, since they have a vested interest in the decisions you make.

Start your reconciliation with new rules. The old ones didn't work, so you need to make new decisions. Don't sweep minor problems under the rug and hope they'll disappear. Instead, begin working out strategies to deal with them.

If she was annoyed before because you left your clothes on the floor, she's not going to be less annoyed when you do it now. If you went crazy when she left the cap off the toothpaste, it'll still bother you. Solve the problems by getting a clothes hamper and work on your bank shots and three-pointers. Buy toothpaste that comes in a different kind of dispenser - one without a top. There are solutions to minor, irritating problems, but they don't go away by themselves.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Very loving, dedicated, commitment fearing Waffler. Fits your description perfectly, except that he never cancels dates with me. Almost ready to move in together, but needs an extra push. In his own words he can't end his single life with his own hands.

Dear Waffler Lover,

Many men become classic wafflers when it comes to commitment. They have a knee-jerk reaction to marriage that says, "Not me, I don't want to give up my freedom," even if they really do love you and want to be with you.

So since he says he can't end his single life with his own hands (cute), the answer is to give him as big a push as he needs. Men expect to be pushed into marriage. They expect that they'll resist and you'll insist and persist until they give in.

Find out what his objections are and then overcome them. If he says he can't afford it, point out how two living together will save on rent, etc. If he says he doesn't know where all his stuff will fit into your place, open up some space and start planning exactly where what of his will go. If he says he doesn't know if he's ready, tell him you know he's ready. If he says he's overwhelmed by the idea of moving, take charge of everything.

Be firm. Be certain. Demand. Insist. Throw fits. Cry. But don't take no for an answer. Be prepared to help him make decisions by making them for him. After all, if he can't or isn't sure, he's looking to you to be sure. And it's not as if you're trying to convince him to rob a bank or break his diet. You have his interests and happiness at heart, so don't hesitate to use your wiles to positively influence him to be in a committed loving relationship.

If you have insecurities or doubts, keep them to yourself. He's got enough for both of you.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

My husband secretly hides porn material on computer discs even after I have told him that I feel very hurt by it. I recently found hundreds of photos that he has saved and he admitted that he has even more saved but that he loves me very much and that I shouldn't let it bother me. This topic has come up many times and I tell him each time that I am hurt by it but he keeps doing it. I feel like it takes away from our sex life, since we have sex less since he masturbates to these photos when I'm not home and sometimes when I am asleep. I am really upset by this, but he doesn't change his behavior. Why does he prefer to masturbate to these photos instead of making love to me sometimes? We had sex twice a day when we met 6 years ago, but now only about 3-4 times a week. It has also made me feel like he's a big pervert and that I can't trust him since he does this behind my back. I feel like he has a seperate sex life in addition to the one with me. In your other columns on this subject, you mention that married men often give up such behavior or do it less. Why hasn't my husband? What should I do? We have great sex, and are happy by all other respects. -sad and confused wife.

Dear Sad and Confused,

I agree with yourhusband that you shouldn't let his porn collection bother you. He's entitled to masturbate to porn all he wants. By making him sneak, you are only making it more enticing, more exciting, and more alluring. Stop making such a big deal over it.

He masturbates to his porn pics when you're not home or asleep. And when you're awake, you have sex three or four times a week. So you're not exactly sex-starved.

Why not go away somewhere for a long sexy weekend without the computer and then he'll be all yours. In the meantime, try to look at his pornography and masturbation as his way of relieving his stress, much as other men play tennis or golf. And it's a lot faster than a tennis or golf game, so in the long run, he's spending less time away to relieve his stress than a golfer.

Don't see his masturbation as a substitute for you. Masturbation is a lonely, solitary and selfish indulgence, like sneak eating a hot fudge Sunday. Masturbation doesn't hurt either the masturbator or any one else. It's not even fattening.

Your husband's not a big pervert. He's just a normal guy who likes to look at pictures, like many normal men. Men are more visual than women and find pictures of naked women more stimulating than women do.

Maybe he'll give it up eventually, maybe he won't. But since you have great sex and are happy in all other aspects of your relationship, relax and let him have his little pleasures. Of all the problems he could have (some men drink, gamble, abuse their wives), this is a minor one. Nobody's perfect. Give him a break. 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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