5/16/99 Advice Column
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.
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.
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,
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