Dear Dr. Tracy,
Basically, the problem is that I consistently beat my
boyfriend in wrestling matches, and he can't seem to
deal with it. The whole thing stated when we were
watching some dumb action movie one night with an
actress who was kicking butt, and I mentioned to him
that i had taken a semester's worth of judo classs in
college (about 3 years ago) and could probably give
him a run for his money. I didn't actually think I
could beat him...He's pretty athletic and has a
significant weight advantage over me, and i'm no
amazon. I'm tall but slender; I jog and work out with
light weights a couple of times a week but that's it.
But when we got going I fended off his attempts to
take me down, and then caught him with a basic leg
sweep that sent him to the floor. I was able to keep
him down, mostly using my legs, and eventually I
I thought it was fun, and funny, and so did he at
first, but we've had several 'bouts" since then, and
i've beaten him every time, much to his increasing
chagrin. I know men have fragile egos about stuff like
this, but I am getting so sick of his petulant
attitude every time he loses. He seems to think it's
impossible that he could be outwrestled by a girl, and
becomes this total pouty, angry jerk as a result.
I mean, what am I supposed to do--let him win? I'm
proud that I can defeat him, and frankly, after years
of being labelled "the pretty girl" who was encouraged
to go out for cheerleading while my brothers played
sports in high school, I feel good that I'm showing
some athletic ability in this area. Still, it's become
a real source of friction between us, and I don't know
what to do. Any advice?
You really donít know much about men if you expect to continue beating your guy at wrestling and have him be happy about it. Men are very competitive Ė and they hate to lose. They especially hate to lose a physical contest with a woman.
Now itís fine to beat up on all the guys you want to Ė as long as youíre not in a romantic relationship with them. But unless itís a kinky kind of Ďletís wrestle naked until we get all sweaty and then have sex,í thing, donít wrestle with a man you care about.
If you win, heís going to be pissed off, no matter what. If you get hurt Ė or if he gets hurt Ė youíll both feel really stupid. Why on earth are you wrestling anyway? Do you feel a loss of power in your relationship and find that being physically superior makes you feel powerful?
Besides, youíve had judo classes and itís really not fair to wrestle someone who hasnít had the same advantage. If youíre determined to wrestle him, you should go to a judo class together so that he can throw you around a little too Ė or isnít that what you had in mind? If you donít want to be fair about it, then stop wrestling. Itís a stupid thing to do with a man anyway.
If you have the urge to be competitive Ė or he does Ė find a game that challenges you both more or less equally and that doesnít involve physical aggression toward each other. One good way to keep your relationships violence free is not to indulge in any violent play together.
Itís too late to let him win. You canít ďlet him winĒ now because heíd know you were throwing the fight. So all you can do is refuse to wrestle anymore. Whatís more important, having a good relationship with a happy man or showing him that you can beat him at wrestling? Think! Is beating him at wrestling really in your own best interest?
Keep this up and youíll be looking for a new boyfriend. You could look for a bigger, stronger one you canít beat up, or one who likes being beat up.
In the meantime, surely you two can find something else physical to do together!
Men and Work
Dear Dr. Tracy,
I am 30 years old and my husband is 43. Despite the age difference, we are on the same maturity level. When we first met, he was calm, quiet, humble and would devote all his time, energy and money to me. We got along famously and people were envious of our closeness and our "perfect relationship". This was a welcome change for me, as I had been married before to a very selfish, verbally abusive man. I felt as though I had finally found my soul mate.
We have been married 4 years now. About 2 years ago, my husband lost his job and decided to open his own business. We were a team at first - I'd come home from my job and devotedly help him with his business strategies, trying to make his business grow. Within the past year, his business has grown tremendously which is great for both of us financially, but it requires so much of him, as he is the only employee.
Six months ago we both agreed I needed to quit my job of 5 years in order to help him handle the enormous amount of phone calls, paperwork, deliveries, etc. I was excited to be helping him because who wouldn't want to work for their best friend? However, I had no idea the amount of stress he faces day to day and it began to take a toll on our marriage.
Although I do all I can, or at least I feel I do all I can, to help him, it never seems to be good enough. He takes his stress out on me, is angry most of the time, and complains about everything. I try to be understanding of what he has to deal with and I know he doesn't intentionally try to hurt me verbally, but he does. He always apologizes, but it feels like I have lost the man I once had - that quiet, caring, humble man who always put me first. I hurt when he hurts, I feel his stress, I listen when he wants to "vent", but I feel like I am losing myself.
I have hope that one day (hopefully soon) that he will be able to financially hire some help and he can focus more energy on me and our relationship, but I don't know how much longer I can hold out or how much more of myself I can give. I beg him to go on weekend trips, just the two of us, and let the answering machine take the calls for just 2 days. He agrees sometimes and I get my hopes up, but it seems something always comes up at the last minute. I feel like I'm empty sometimes, like I'm unimportant, like I'm second to his business and like I'm losing my sweet husband. What can be done?
Your husband is at a time in life when he is fiercely trying to make a success of his business. When a man starts a business, he feels paternal about it, almost the way a woman feels about her child. He loves it, he wants to nurture it, he wants to give it all his time and energy, and he feels upset and angry when anyone (including his partner) comes between him and his ďchild.Ē
Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote, ďWomen love men and men love work.Ē How true. We women find it hard to comprehend how much a man can love his work and how important it is to him. Often a manís self-esteem and total feelings of worthiness are wrapped up in his work.
Entrepreneurs are the most extreme example of this. They are devoted to their creation, often to the point of burning through all their assets to make a hopeless venture fly. You should at least be happy that his business is apparently growing and financially rewarding. It could be worse. He could be ignoring you and losing money.
Now youíve put extra stress on the situation by working together. Working together isnít the fantasy you thought it would be. Now that you are both working in the all-consuming business, you never get a break from it. Youíre both living in it and working at it 24/7. And thatís what entrepreneurs do.
Just having a weekend trip once in a while isnít going to fix this problem. Accept that heís going to be working like a crazy man and putting the business first for quite a while. Stop trying to go back to what you once had. That was then, this is now. By constantly comparing then and now youíll be playing a losing game.
Youíre in a ďno winĒ situation if you try to talk him out of devoting all his time and energy to his business. Heíll just say heís doing it for your future, he has to strike while the iron is hot, and that you donít understand.
Find other ways to get pleasure, and stop expecting your husband to devote all his time, energy and money to you. Thatís just not realistic under the circumstances. If youíre expecting all of your happiness to come from your husband, who has other priorities right now, youíre sure to be miserable.
On the other hand, you shouldnít be verbally abused. If he hurts you, let him know it. Leave the house or office if he wonít stop. If working together puts too much stress on your relationship, donít do it. Go back to work somewhere else and use your income to hire a helper for your husband. In a two-person operation, itís easy to take frustrations out on each other since thereís nobody else around.
Insist on some semblance of a normal life. Make plans to go out together. Have dinner dates. Try to find other things to talk about besides the business, but donít be surprised if thatís all heís interested in.
If you feel empty, donít expect your husband to be responsible for filling you up. Thatís too much to expect. Everyone has to be responsible for filling their own lives.
Just Want to be ďIn-LoveĒ Again
Dear Dr. Tracy,
I am a 28 year-old single female once in love and engaged to a 30 year-old man. Though I am no longer in love; I still hopelessly love this man and just want to become in love again.
We have been together for 7 years. The first 4 years were absolutely beautiful. Then on our 4th year anniversary we became engaged. Everything changed horribly and was never the same again. He started a new demanding career that had him going to other woman's houses among other things, and which left him little time for me. I became horribly and insanely jealous hearing about how these woman were so sweet and great homemakers; how they would make great wives and how one of them wore the same underwear as me (she left hers on the floor).
My mother moved away that year and I felt very alone. Plus, even though my fiancee didn't have time for me any longer, he still had time for the boys and for other things. When I asked him to make one day to spend time together, he proceeded to tell me I was childish and immature, and that I needed to get a hobby. He also told me I should get a better job to keep me busy. I am a Retail Manager.
Then we had booked a trip to go see my mother, he put off the plans for weeks. When there were two weeks left I started planning it, at the very last minute he said he couldn't go because of work. I went alone.
Well, that started the fighting. I was hurt and I would tell him, and then he would fly off into a rage. He started abusing me emotionally and physically. I would be in tears saying I am in so much pain and how could he do this to us and he would say I wish you were dead or hurting more, and then leave. When he came back he would still be pissed off, but he would apologize and tell me he loved me.
Then one day he took me along on one of his jobs, and I met one of the girls he was telling me about. She was very pretty and sweet just like he said. I noticed they seemed very interested in one another, but I wasn't sure if it was my jealousy or if it was really there. She invited us back to her house later to watch a movie and that her boyfriend would be there. Her boyfriend cancelled, but she had a female roommate (turns out the rommate went to bed as soon as we showed up).
We were supposed to go out that night, but I wanted to see what was going on. So I told him let's go back. Biggest mistake of my life. When we went back all of a sudden it was her and him, and I was just there. They started speaking in German to one another and my fiancee ignored me completely. She sat on his lap and he didn't push her away, he held her close and just was laughing and smiling with her. She had wine there and we drank a lot. I began to feel like a ghost, like I wasn't even there. He suggested we go to her bedroom cause she had the Television in there, and we could be more comfortable. I already felt like he didn't love me anymore, and after the weeks of fighting and abuse I was really just dead inside.
First, you should know I am insanely jealous and insecure. I would never want to have a threesome. He asked me when we were fighting if I would get wild with him, and I firmly said no. He also threatened to cheat on me, but said that it never happened.
Well, that night, I watched my fiancee fall all over this girl. We were on the bed with him in the middle. Suddenly, he started kissing us both, going back and forth, quick kisses. Then she got on top of him and was dressing him up with makeup and asking if him if I ever did this for him; massaging him and what not. She had a boyfriend at the time, but it felt like a competition. I just watched silently in shock everything that happened. The crazy thing was that they both kept telling each other how much they were in love with their significant others as they were touching and just emotionally turning each other on.
Well, things progressed, no sex happened, but she decided to take a shower. We all jumped in naked; I jumped too, not feeling anything, just so sad and feeling like I didn't exist. In the shower my fiancee was in the middle. I watched as he felt up her breasts and then put his head in her crotch. He looked at her like she was a goddess, and she danced around for him. When we got out, we all went back into the bedroom. The girl and I got dressed and he stayed naked. When he wanted us both to touch him I broke and finally woke up, and I told them I can't do this and ran out. I started walking around the neighborhood, and just praying that he would care about me and come find me...When I came back to get my things she was curled up in bed sleeping and he was dressed and smiling. He called her sweetie and kissed her good-bye.
When we got home, I stayed calm and told him maybe we could just be friends cause I was so dead inside. I told him I was leaving. He became a maniac and abusive again. He said why can't you be an adult and handle an adult situation. That it was my fault we went back there (which it was but I had no idea that would happen), and that it was a college experience. He also said he was telling her the whole time how much he loved me (which he was, but still) and that he left her and came home with me. He also said I was smiling the whole time, but I can't remember if I was and I don't remember him even looking at me.
So we broke up. While we were broken up he still spoke to her. He would tell me how she didn't even remember anything that happened, and that I was the bitch for tearing us apart and she was this sweet wonderful person.
His mother became very sick after that. I didn't want to be with him, but I loved her and still loved him. So I got back together with him, but I never got over that incident. He asked me to be there for him to be his friend after what he was going through. He quit his job and took care of her 24/7. I told him no I couldn't get over what had happened, but I would be there for her. He never forgave me for that. She passed away, and I never felt more lonely in dealing with him. She was our angel, and I thought she lived still somewhat in him. So we got back together.
I found out later that his father abused his mother, verbally and physically. It didn't stop my fiancee from doing the same thing to me.
It is now three years later. We are broken up again. We had a horrible fight this time with both of us being abusive. I felt awful, and still feel awful still. I called him to apologize and he said he wants to marry me still, and that there is just a lot going on in his life. So I told him I want to make things work, but we need to reestablish our earlier relationship, and spend more time together. I also told him we needed to go to counseling. He was all for it and promised to make time for me. Then he stood me up three times in a row.
The first time I called him and he kept telling me to call back in an hour, the last hour he told me to call back he remembered he had told his cousin he would help him move. The second time, he had to rehearse with his band. The third time he had a job to do.
He then told me that the girl from the incident had his cell phone number and wanted him to do a job. He wanted to protect his integrity, and since he blew her off the first time he had to show up the second to do an estimate. He told me he gave her a high but reasonable estimate for a friend. He found out she is married now. I caused another argument by asking why couldn't he just say he was booked and that he would give her the number of another electrician. He blew up at me and told me he hates me. That I am immature and that he is under a lot of stress with the rest of his family. I think he just wanted to see her.
I apologize for this long-winded confusing letter. I am just so confused, I still love him and want everything we had in the beginning. I want the house and family he says he wants to have. I just can't get over him and I could use some advice. Please. Also his 30th birthday is in two weeks and I was going to throw a party for him before he told me he hates me and all this. Now I don't know what to do......
Dear Insanely Jealous and Insecure,
This is the worst man in the world for you. He will play on your jealousy and insecurity and drive you nuts, which he has done for the last three years. Surely you donít want a lifetime like that.
You had four good years and three bad ones. Itís time to stop waiting for it to get good again. Youíve burned out this relationship. Youíve fought and made up too many times. Youíve used up the good will.
So you had an ďaccidentalĒ semi-threesome three years go. Get over it. Itís time to chalk it up as a life experience and move on. Itís also time to chalk this guy up as one of those relationships that just doesnít work out. Heís proved to be abusive, untrustworthy, and a player. He may talk of marriage, but talk is cheap. What gives you the slightest indication that he's ready to settle down? He likes being a roving electrician and you would always be wondering whose fuse heís lighting.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to let this one go. You and he have had too many arguments and youíve said too many cruel things to each other. Youíve seen sides of each other that you donít like, and the ďin loveĒ feeling is long gone.
Just because you love him doesnít mean that heíd make a good life partner. Just because youíre not going to have the house and family he's talked about doesnít mean that you will never have those things. It just means that you will have them with someone else.
You need a man you can trust, and you canít trust him.
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