"Ask Dr. Tracy"

4/2/2000 Advice Column

Can't Stop Fighting Long Enough To Get Married
He's Got Two Loves
She Wants to Try a Woman

Dear Dr. Tracy,

My Fiancé and I have been engaged for a year and been together for almost five years. I am 25 years old and he's 27. This is the first long-term, committed relationship that we've both been in. During this year of engagement, we have called the wedding off twice. We were supposed to be married in August. Both times we decided to break up and not deal with one another anymore. Throughout the relationship we would break up for no longer than a week and this last time wasn't any different. We have finally realized that our personal differences are what causing the conflict in our relationship and we need to find a way of dealing with these differences, constructively, and still get married. At this point we both feel hopeless. We have made promises to each other in the past to change our ways, but down the line we both end up forgetting these promises. Our differences would conflict once again, we say things (we would later regret), and break-up. This has been an on-going cycle throughout our entire relationship and I have to wonder if we can ever "get it right" or if we are even "meant" to be together. Is it suppose to be this hard???

Here's what causes our conflict?. I will admit that when things don't go my way, sometimes, I get upset and over react to the situation. And it frustrates me even more when the person involved doesn't understand why I am so upset. I feel like they don't care about the way I'm feeling. This clashes with my fiance's non-chalant and sometimes stubborn attitude. I feel he doesn't take things as seriously as I do. At one point, we decided that since we can't see things the same as the other we would compromise on the situation. However, he has admitted that his stubbornness keeps him from wanting to compromise.

Another conflict causing element in our relationship is the fact that sometimes, I feel we don't do enough things outside of the household together. The only things we both seem to enjoy is going to the movies and going out to eat. I enjoy any time we spend together, but I feel bad that those are the only things he enjoys doing with me. Actually, there's not much that he likes to do at all, besides watch sports. I've tried to suggest other things we could do together, but most of them he rejects, which brings on the conflict. I don't handle constant rejection very well. Again I feel that he needs to compromise, but obviously he wasn't feeling the same. During the course of the relationship, we both have done things that we really aren't use to doing like considering someone else's feelings when making decisions. I will admit it's an adjustment process, but I really don't mind doing it because I love having him as a part of my life. I think he's having trouble making this adjustment.

Despite our differences, we both agree that we have something to build on. We just need to find a way of building without demolishing what we've worked hard on. We are considering in-person relationship counseling to give us extra support. We both love each other very much and are serious about a future together. We are both willing and ready to commit to doing whatever to make this relationship work. Could you PLEASE give any advice you think would help us overcome our differences and live "happily ever after" together?

Dear Wanna-Be Bride,

You and your boyfriend/fiance have control issues. You have problems dealing with conflict because you are trying to control each other. You want him to be the way you want him to be instead of the way he is. That just isn't going to happen. It's time to decide that you fell in love with him the way he is, and stop trying to change him.

So what if he just wants to go to movies and dinner and watch sports? That makes him exactly like most of the other men in the world. As a matter of fact, some of them don't even want to do that. Instead of trying to change him into your do-everything buddy, find a girlfriend to do the other things that you want to do with. Don't expect him to fulfill every need you have.

In a healthy relationship, you don't get to be the boss. You don't even get to win half the time. You can get your way maybe ¼ of the time, he gets his way maybe ¼ of the time, and the other half of the time you compromise. That's the way two grownups get along.

You are involved in a power struggle that will only destroy your love. Get a couples counselor. Sometimes a couple just needs a third party to referee. Then instead of fighting it out, you can simply say, "We'll ask our counselor," and get on with your lives.

Go to a weekend workshop for couples. Get back in touch with why you love each other and stop fighting over every issue. Read Herville Hendrix's books for couples. Go through the exercises together. Learn to fight fair. Don't use the "you" word. Never say, "You always," or "You never." Don't call each other names and don't bring up the past. Stay in the present when you argue, and when you get upset, take a time out. Walking away can give both of you a chance to cool down.

Whatever you do, don't plan another wedding until you've worked through your problems. You don't want to wind up as the "fighting couple" that everybody avoids.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

The past year has been the most wonderful of my life. I’m 25 and have been dating a wonderful guy, 23, whom I was friends with for three years prior to us dating. We talk, we laugh, he’s incredibly supportive and sensitive of my needs and the sex is great. I feel that he is my one true soul mate.

But this fairy tale has a sour present. He is an aspiring filmmaker and has been offered two jobs. Both are in the States (we live in Puerto Rico). One will last six months and the other will require him to move permanently. We have talked about this and he is 100% against long-distance relationships. He says they don’t work and he would prefer that we break up when he leaves, remain friends and keep in touch than we try the long-distance thing only to find out later that it doesn’t work and we remain bitter towards each other. He says he doesn’t want to lose me and would rather have a clean, peaceful break up rather than grow apart.

Although I see his point of view and would definitely prefer to remain friends with him than grow apart, a part of me still wants to try the long distance-relationship. I even suggested moving with him if he chose the permanent job, but he says that this would be his first time moving away from home and that this is something he needs to do by himself.

Right now it seems that the end is inevitable. Whether I like it or not, he is going to leave, we are going to break up and everything that we have had up until now will be lost. We almost broke up once because I thought that it was useless to go on if we were going to break up anyway, but then we decided to stay together because he wasn’t leaving just yet. But everyday I’m with him I am reminded of how little time we have left and it hurts so much.

I will appreciate any word of wisdom that you could give me on this matter.

Sincerely, Confused

Dear Confused,

Your boyfriend is leaving, and he's trying to avoid a big scene. No matter how much he cares for you, there is another seductress out there that's calling to him - Hollywood.

People who dream of being in the film business almost always shut out the rest of the world. It's the kind of career that demands your every waking hour and full devotion. There's not time for anyone or anything that doesn't further your career. He's dreaming of being the next Spielberg, and unfortunately, that dream comes complete with starlets who throw themselves at his feet.

After living in LA for more than 20 years, I can tell you the town is crawling with would-be movie directors and producers, and I've never met one who stuck with the girl from back home. The movie business is hard on relationships. Even if you went with him to his new job in "the business" I doubt that your relationship would last. In his heart, your fella knows this and he's trying to move away gently now. You may remain friends, but his life is moving in a direction and to a place that doesn't include you.

Face the facts, this relationship is over for all intents and purposes. If it hurts you to continue seeing him, then break up now. Don't bother trying to make it to the very end because you'll only be hurt everyday you're with him. In a way, he's using you by continuing to see you until he leaves. He knows he's not going to be with you for very long, but doesn't want to be alone in Puerto Rico until the day he leaves.

Start looking for a new man right away. Then you, too, can have two loves. Let him have a taste of his own medicine.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 25 year old caucasian male and am engaged to a wonderful woman (26 yr. old). I love her with all my heart and I know that she loves me. She told me near the beginning of our relationship that she is "bi-curious". At first I didn't think anything of it (good or bad). After two years of being together, the subject has come up full force.

I am very uncomfortable with her having sex with someone else, male or female. I have done a little research on the subject and know that it is a normal feeling among women and that it is better to let her explore that part of herself before we get married. My main concern is what happens to our relationship afterwards? What happens if she likes it a lot and wants to be with a woman as much as she wants to be with me?

I am very concerned about this because I love her very much and am afraid that in the end our relationship will deteriorate and I will lose her. I admit that I am a jealous person and I know that I should be ok with this and should accept it but I am very confused and am having a hard time with this.

The other part of it is that she going to do it no matter how I feel and that she is willing to risk our love and our relationship because, according to her, it is something she needs to experience in order to complete herself as a person. I understand this, but am scared that I will lose her, partially because of my "close-mindedness" and partially because of the worry that the experience will increase her desire for woman and decrease the desire for me. I am very confused about this, and any advice you have would help me deal with this.

signed, Confused Fiancée

Dear Confused Fiancé,

In sex surveys I've taken, one of the most popular woman's fantasy is to make love to another woman. It almost always has nothing to do with a woman's sexual orientation. Rather it is curiousity -- a desire to experience the female vibe which is so very much different from the male.

A woman wants to know what it's like, often just to see what she feels like to a man. Sometimes a bi-curious woman turns out to be truly bi, but those are very rare cases. Ninety percent of the women who try sex with another woman, just to see what it feels like or to experience the softness of a woman compared to a man's hard body, decide that they want to remain heterosexual.

That said, there's probably nothing you can do to talk her out of it, and the more you object the more intrigued she's going to become. Your strong objections, your fears and your "close-mindedness" will only make her feel that she has to sneak and hide her feelings from you.

By being open and letting her explore this area and share the feelings she has with you, you will become closer. Your relationship won't have a big hidden part that you can't talk about, and you will probably continue to enjoy each other just as you always have. As a matter of fact, her girl-girl experience could make her even more sexual with you.

Since she's determined to go ahead with this no matter what you say, you might as well accept it and stop making such a big deal out of it. If it turns out that she decides she's gay or wants to be with a woman as much or more than she wants to be with you (very unlikely), then it's better that you find out before you're married.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

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