Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

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Whom Can You Trust
Too Young To Be Serious
Separated But Not Divorced

Whom Can You Trust

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am 36 years old, and my husband is 45. He had a brief emotional affair - perhaps more, I think more, but I can't prove it - with my sister.

Yes, my sister. She and I had been very close. Somehow she and my husband formed a friendship of their own. Yes, she's married too. When I realized what was going on, they seemed to back off, but I don't think they really did until the final straw. Mind you I said nothing to her, only to him. I backed off from seeing and talking to her.

I know that he talked to her about everything that I told him. He finally quit making me think that it was all in my head when I confronted him with facts of their relationship that I found to be inappropriate. Like, the final straw, when she fell on the ice at her bank and called my husband to come and help her. In my opinion, if she was hurt so badly that she had to call for help, she should have called 911, or at least her own husband, but she didn't. He responded. Then we talked.

For about a month after our talk, he was much better, but then evidence came that showed me that they still saw each other. I confronted him again and he finally ended all contact when I wasn't around.

Her husband says nothing, I don't know if he even realizes it. But, now it's been a few months and I miss the relationship that I had with my sister. My husband has been an angel and has finally convinced me that he wants to be with me and not her.

I am feeling lately that I want to talk to my sister and explain my side of why I did what I did to keep them apart. What is your opinion on this? Do you think that it would open the door to them starting over again?

Dear Sister,

If you can't trust your own sister, then you're in big trouble. Right now, you don't know whether they had an affair or not, or at least that's what you say. And perhaps you don't really want to know, since you obviously haven't asked your sister.

It's time to get back in touch with your sister, but not to explain your side of why you kept them apart. You don't have to explain anything. Just let her know that you think it's inappropriate for your husband and your sister to have a friendship that doesn't include you. Tell her you love her and want to be close to her. Just that you can't put up with your husband seeing her on his own.

It's better if you don't actually accuse her of having an affair with your husband, but you can ask her "did anything happen?" Asking is different than accusing. Most likely, if you ask her, she'll deny it whether they did or didn't. But it doesn't hurt to ask. Your asking will let her know that you're watching her and that if she continues to see your husband without you, you will suspect her of having an affair with him.

If she really cares about you, she'll be more circumspect in the future and make sure you're included any time she and your husband are together. If she refuses to do that, then tell her you'll talk to her husband about the problem if it continues. However, I really think she'll value her relationship with you as much as you value yours with her. After all, sisters are special. You have a history together that reaches beyond any problems that you might have.

Make up with your sister. You'll be glad you did.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Too Young To Be Serious

Dear Dr. Tracy,

My boyfriend and I had dated for over a year. We were "madly in love" and had an amazing relationship, yada yada yada. Four months ago, he moved into my building, which showed me a sign of further commitment. We spent even more time together - - in hindisght, maybe too much time.

About a month later, he decided he didn't want to see me anymore, because of a variety of exuses which he seemed to pull out of "the sky" (i.e., work related stress - the market, he is a Portfolio Manager , we fight too much, different religions, I am jewish - he is Italian-, etc. ).

That was three months ago. He told a friend of mine that he thinks I am an amazing girl, but he is only 25 (I am 26)- too young for a serious relationship and he wants to be free, single, and have fun!!!!

Fine. How about telling Me that! I received no explanation for his sudden "change of heart" and further coldness. It is like "I died". He hasn't once asked how I am doing. He knows I come from a divorced family and KNOWS what this would do to me. So it seems to me that instead of taking responsibility for his actions, he ran - - like the "young" 25 year old he claims to be.

If he could only feel a pinch of the immense pain I went through in the last three months, I would be happy. He broke my heart and I can not heal because I do not even know what I did to deserve such utter disrespect. How can I get any closure? I am not sure if the right word is closure - or revenge - but I will opt for answer which gives me the most Karma points!

How can you break up with someone and never say goodbye??????

Dear Broken-Hearted,

There's nothing worse than losing the one you love, especially if you were "madly in love" and had so much together, but it's even worse the way it happened to you.

When a man just walks away, without fighting, without telling you what's wrong, without any warning, that's the worst kind of break up. It leaves you wondering "What's wrong with me? What could I have done differently?" Just as you're now wondering if maybe you saw too much of each other and that's the reason. Or if it was because of different religions? Or because you fought too much? Or because of the market?

Well, the truth is it could have been a combination of the above, but it's most likely what he told his friend -- that he wasn't ready for a serious relationship and wants to be free, single and have fun. That's man talk for "I want to play around and sleep with lots of women."

In relationships, timing is everything. You simply caught him at the wrong time for this relationship to last. His inexperience, his lack of sensitivity, and his selfishness has certainly come through in the way he left you. In a way, you should be glad you found out how he could turn from hot to cold so suddenly, without warning. At least you found out before you wound up married to him. Then, if he turned cold and started to treat you like you'd died, you would have been even more devastated.

Right now, you're hurt and angry and you have a right to be. He's been a jerk. But you can heal, and you don't really have to know exactly why he did what he did in order to heal. You just have to know that you will recover and you will love again. I recommend my book, "Letting Go, A 12-Week Personal Action Plan to Overcome A Broken Heart," which will give you a lot of insight into why you are feeling so much pain. It will also give you techniques to get over this.

For instance, you must stop thinking about him all the time. Use "thought-stopping." When you start to think about him and the whole sorry ending of this wonderful relationship, snap a rubber band on your wrist. Substitute a more positive thought, such as, "It's his loss."

You're looking for closure, and what you really need is forgiveness, understanding and getting on with your life. There isn't always closure. You don't always get to say good-bye. Don't worry about revenge. Life has a way of getting revenge for you. He may seem to have it all right now, but he'll get his, that's the way life is. Nobody gets out of this life without pain, especially those who hurt others. You don't have to get him back. Life will, I promise.

The most karma and the best revenge will come from living well and being happy without him.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Separated But Not Divorced

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Hi Dr. Tracy, Just wanted to ask a quik question, I'm 28 and my boyfriend is 31 we have been toghether for about a year seriously, but I have known him since 11-98

well I knew right off when I met him he was seperated, but I didn't bother me at the time, but now he practically lives with me, and although they have children I understand she will always be a part of his life, but if he loves her no more shouldn't he get a divorce now? He does love me I know that for a fact.. he spends all his time with me and my children practically, and I feel I have earned the right to have him get a divorce, but not just for me but for him too... there's no need to linger this on.

He offered me an engagement ring but it didn't feel right accepting it when I know he's still married. I feel kind of silly accepting it.... what should I do? every time I bring it up we argue... am I in a dead end deal here?.. or am I suppose to wait till he want's to get on the ball? or drop the subject?

torn in Arizona.

Dear Torn,

Accept the engagement ring. Then tell him you want to plan a wedding. He'll know that he'll have to get his divorce final in order for you to do that.

Being engaged will put real pressure on him to finalize his divorce. You have a good attitude about his ex and his children being a part of his life, and you can work this out.

You're right, you have earned the right to have him get a divorce, but right now you have no leverage and there's nothing that will make him do it, unless he wants to remarry you. Then he has no choice. So don't argue. Instead act as if you know he's going to get his divorce. Enjoy your time together and he'll realize that he can't wait forever. I don't think you're in a dead end deal, I just think you have to create the right pressures on him.

If he's so happy with you that he never wants to leave, if he wants to spend his life with you, if he wants to marry you, he'll get a divorce. So instead of talking about it, let your actions lead him into action.

Each step toward marrying you will push him further toward finalizing his divorce. If you're engaged, you'll want an engagement party. Then he'll have to tell people and there will be other pressures besides yours on him. Let circumstances push him to action. That way you won't have to argue with him over it.

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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