Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

Cartoon Kiss

6/4/06

He's Perfect Butů
Trusting Him Again
Ex-Husband Hassles



He's Perfect Butů

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 26 year old single mother of one. I have been seperated for the past 2 years and I am unsure if I am ready to get commited. Linked to this unsureness, I have been seeing a man 11 years my senior for the past 6 months now. I am realizing now that I am in love with this man. He makes me happy and is always there for me. Sounds perfect right? The problem is that this man does not live alone.

His story is that he lives with his 14 year old son and his son's mother. He claims they were seperated for 8 years before she moved in with him. His excuse is that he wanted to help her out while she was in school and he did not make it clear to her that it was a temporary arrangement. Now I am not naive about situations like this. Therefore, I am aware that this may all be a hoax. However, I do believe deep inside that it is true.

He and I spend all of our time together. So much that I believe that he feels for me the way that I feel about him. I've been with a few men in my life to be able to sense when I'm being fooled. I do not believe this is the case. His situation doesn't bother me at all and I feel good about being with him.

I guess my question is whether or not I should feel bad about it. I wonder about my lack of guilt. Is it just me? I should mention that my ex husband cheated on me. Could it be possible that I am lashing out against my past experience?

Extremely Confused

Dear Extremely Confused,

You're saying you're in love with a man who's 11 years older than you are and who is living with his son and his son's mother. No matter what his explanation is, the truth is that this isn't a great situation for you. If you've been dating him for six months, I'm wondering why you haven't been to his home. Is it off-limits since he doesn't want you to meet his family or see what's actually going on there?

You love him, but it's important to love yourself too. That includes caring about your own concerns. Don't just accept everything he says - you already admit you're suspicious and wonder if your past experience with infidelity is making you lash out. Instead, wonder if you're repeating the experience and finding another man who will cheat on you. Find out exactly what's going on and then make an informed decision.

You must insist on meeting the son and his mother. After all, if you're serious about this man, you will eventually have to meet them anyway. Why not ask the son's mother out to lunch and have a heart-to-heart talk with her about what arrangements exist between her and your guy?

You say he didn't make it clear to her that this is a temporary arrangement. Don't you wonder why and how long the arrangement is really for? Or is there a big part of you that really doesn't want to know?

You say you don't feel bad about it and have no guilt. I wonder why you should have guilt, unless it's because you know in your heart that you are short-changing yourself. Of course, the only thing that matters is that you're happy with the situation, whatever it is. But since things have bothered you enough to write me, you are obviously not happy and are wondering what the truth is.

The truth may hurt or it may make you feel really relieved. Since you're not sure you're ready for a committed relationship, you might be perfectly comfortable with a man you can't have for the time being. But if you continue this relationship, you'll get in deeper and deeper and begin to want more from him. It's best to find out now if you can get more, before you want it really badly and can't have it.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy



Trusting Him Again

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am 19 and now single in the NC area. Just fyi.

I was in a wonderful relationship for three years; we loved each other very much and were planning a future together. Until three months ago, when he broke it off, saying he had to "clear up doubts in his own life (his career is in a rut and we had a blowout over a religion issue)." He also asked me to date other guys while we were apart so I could clear up my own doubts. I have not done so, mainly because many of the men in my hometown are liars, players, or drunkards. Trust me. A week after our break up, and he is dating his ex of four years (his childhood sweetheart), whom he says he had loved all along, though he loved me too. He said he had no more feelings for me, and that he was staying with her forever.

At the beginning of this month, she breaks up with him. She is toying with his feelings for her again, doing the same thing she did the first time she broke up with him. That same night, he comes to me and apologizes (and has been since) for all he put me through; he had "a great thing and threw it away"; he "realy loved me the whole time, but wanted to clear his head the only way he knew how".

We have since been talking and having more fun than ever together, and he has asked if I will take him back, putting no pressure on me whatsoever, being willing to do anything I ask of him to get me back. I believe he is truly sorry and has grown a little bit through all this, like I have. My question: Should I take him back at all? If so, should I do it now, because I do miss him and love him. Or should I wait: I leave for school this fall, and now more than ever I want to explore my options. Because of him, I am smarter and more independent, but I also want to be with him.

Can I trust him at all again? If so, should I bring him back into my life?

Sincerely, LRS (aka At a Crossroads)

Dear At a Crossroads,

Everybody makes decisions in different ways, and one way men decide is by comparing. They compare one car to another and, unfortunately, they compare women. It's not unreasonable to think that he had to go back to his ex and try one more time to make sure you were the one.

That said, you have a right to wonder, if you take him back again, will he have another bout of indecision and have to go try her again, just to see. Trust is the most important part of a relationship, and if you can't trust a man then you can't be with him. Trust has to be earned and when someone has damaged the trust, he has to earn it back again.

He knows he should pay for what he did, leaving you and hurting you by saying he had no more feelings for you. If you don't exact a price, if there are no repercussions for his bad behavior, what's to keep him from doing it again?

You have to let him know he has transgressed big time. Don't take him back without making him crawl through every hoop you want first. He deserves to suffer and not have you just say, okay, everything's fine, we're on again. This is the time to make a list of everything you want from him that you haven't gotten yet. Then don't take him back until he agrees to give you those things, and shows that he's sincere. Make him earn his way back into your heart.

If you believe he's truly sorry, then take him back conditionally, that is on the condition that he absolutely behaves and shows you how wonderful he can be. Take time to make sure he's grown from the experience and that he's become the man you want.

Don't totally commit. Keep him working to get back in your good graces through the summer, and then leave for school thinking about whether you still want him or if you want someone else. Don't go to school totally committed to him. Instead, let him worry about who you're meeting and whether you're going to be his after the school year is over.

By not committing totally, you'll also leave yourself open to explore options and give yourself the experience of enjoying your newfound independence and smarts.

Only time will tell if you can trust him again. Give him lots of tests and give yourself time to be sure. Go to school with the freedom to meet someone even more wonderful. If he truly loves you, he'll wait for you.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy



Ex-Husband Hassles

Dear Dr. Tracy,

My husband and I have been married for 2 years. He has 2 children, 12 and 10 from a previous marriage and I have 1 child, 6 from a previous marriage. Our marriage at times can be the most wonderful marriage and at times I ask myself what was I thinking and what am I doing here.

We fight at least once a week and it always turns into a knock down drag out. 99% of our fights revolve around my ex-husband, his ex-wife or equality among our 3 children. Our latest fight is over the fact that my ex-husband dropped off my child's medication when my current husband was at work. He has been calling to talk to my daughter more than usual and this is really starting to make my husband mad.

I have tried to explain to my husband that my ex-husband has a right to be in our daughters life and he feels when I say this I am defending my ex-husband. He told me yesterday that he is ready to leave if my ex-husband will just move back in and take up the house note. I have explained to my husband that I love him and do not want to be with my ex-husband. He wants my ex-husband out of my daughters and my life. What can I do to show him that it is important for our daughter to have her father in her life and he has nothing to worry about when my ex-husband drops off her medicine to her?

Sincerely, Sick of Fighting

Dear Sick of Fighting,

You have two alpha males and you're trying to make them like the idea. It's just not going to work. There can only be one male in the house. Tell your ex husband not to come around anymore. If meds need to be transferred, let him drop them off at school for your daughter. There are other ways to do things.

If you want your ex-husband in your daughter's life, that's fine. Let her go visit him. But don't have him in your home where you live with your current husband. That's asking for trouble. Instead of having your ex-husband call your house when you know it upsets your current husband, arrange a schedule for your daughter to call him.

You and your husband need to find ways to solve problems without fighting. I recommend a good couple's therapist who can teach you how to get along. You both bring a lot of baggage to the relationship and unless you can find ways to deal with it, your marriage is doomed.

Get smart. Learn to negotiate instead of fighting. Remove the problems from your life without either one of you being "right" or "winning" and you'll find that your marriage will be happier.

Stop being so righteous. We all know it's important for your daughter to have her father in her life, and that he has a right to be there, but not at the expense of your current husband's happiness. Put your husband first, not last, and he'll be less ready to leave.

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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