Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

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Annoying Habits
A Dead Relationship
Haunted by his Dead Wife

Annoying Habits

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Hello. I am a 38-year old divorced woman with 3 teenagers. I have been dating a 36-year old divorced man for almost 3 months. We are very much alike in our personalities...quiet, sensitive, caring. He can be wonderful at times!

We get along well enough. Except he has these annoying habits that I am trying so hard to endure. Such as, he is always late. He is doing much better because I have to continually emphasize how important it is to be on time. I have even given him an ultimatim such as: "If you are going to be more that 15 minutes late, don't even come." or "If you can't make it on time for church, don't talk to me for the rest of the day."

He loves to sleep and eat. These two things are such a high priority in his life. I am just the opposite.

There are so many things that I find annoying that sometimes I wonder if I can live with his ways. How do I know when it may be time to break up? Or can I continue to forgive and stick it out and allow him to change?

Please help!

Dear Annoyed,

When a man has a habit that annoys you before you are married, guess what? Heíll have the same annoying habit after you are married, and it will annoy you much worse because you will feel trapped with it forever.

It sounds like you've done some of the right things in trying change him, such as being sure there are repercussions from his bad behaviour. But with so many things about him that annoy you, I wonder why you persist. You can't expect to do a complete makeover on a man.

You could, as you say, continue to "forgive." But do you want to wind up as a martyr, endlessly forgiving someone year after year, or do you want to wind up with a compatible life partner?

How do you know when itís time to break up? When his annoying habits are more annoying than his good ones are pleasing, itís time to get out. When you no longer love him enough to happily accept him the way he is, itís time to get out.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

A Dead Relationship

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am 37 years old and never been married. I have lived with the father of my second child for almost 16 years. It has been hard watching my daughters grow up and not being married myself trying to teach them not to sell themselves short and just have casual sex or to just shack up with someone. I wanted to get married and he did not. He always gave me excuses why he would not marry me.

I stopped asking and I just fell out of love with him. We still live together and raise our daughter. We have stopped having sex about 7 years ago. Recently I have been talking to an old high school friend who lives on the West coast. We have a good time talking to each other and found that we both are like minded on every single topic.

We have both talked about past relationships on how we have both been lead to believe that the other person wanted the something's like marriage and children, but both of our partners would never commit. He asked me if I would consider moving out there. I told him that I would need to think about it. I have a daughter who is going to start high school next year. I do not want to get out there and it be a mistake. He said he would give me all the time I needed. So we e-mail and instant MSG and call one another. I feel young and a live for the first time in over 10 years.

I even asked him if he would consider moving to the East coast again. He said he likes the weather out there and would hate to live back in the high humidity. We have decided that a year from June 1st that one of us would move to where the other lives. Am I crazy to want to be with someone I haven't seen in 20 years and be thinking about spending the rest of my life with them? He has also expressed that he wants to settle down with someone who would love and need him. Is this a mistake and just let it go?

Sincerely, A troubled Heart.

Dear Out Of Love,

Youíve been hanging on to this relationship way too long. Itís over. Finished. Thereís no reason for you to stay.

Youíre young enough to have a whole new life, and your daughter will adjust. That said, you need to visit this old friend before you make a decision about whether heís the one you should be with or not. Donít even think about moving there until youíve spent a couple of months with him to see how the two of you get along.

When youíre in a lousy relationship, itís easy to think that the first person who gives you an escape route and gives you lots of attention is Mr. Right. Itís important to be going toward a good relationship, not simply escaping a bad one.

You must make sure that your old friend is not just a way out, but someone you really want to be with. The best way to do that is to first get out of your present relationship. Then, when you're free and on your own, see how he looks compared to all the other single men out there.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Haunted by his Dead Wife

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I began dating a man a little more than 1 Ĺ years ago. We spend a lot of time together. His wife suddenly passed away a little more than 2 Ĺ years ago.

When we first started dating he had told me that he had taken down photos of his wife and him and that it was time he moved on. However, some of her clothing is still in the closet, her jewelry box and personal items are still out on the dresser. I often spend the night there and going to bed and waking up looking at these items bothers me. I have told him about it and he has said that he would take care of it, which he has not.

His daughter who is married and has a child came over and put one of the photos back in its original place.

This past Christmas, friends of his who own a local business that we have both frequented for years and now frequent together as a couple, hung Christmas stockings up for him and his deceased wife. I got upset over this. It was embarrassing, humiliating, and it hurt my feelings. Other people that also frequent this business have made comments to me about it, questioning why it was done. He did not see anything wrong with this. His daughter also works for these same friends at their business. They also put an announcement on the electronic marquis for he and his deceased wifeís wedding anniversary. He doesnít see anything wrong with this either and he also added that they did this, not him. I tried to explain that I thought he should take some control over this situation.

I am not asking for him to forget her or to not have fond memories and it doesnít bother me to listen to different stories he tells about her.

Am I being selfish or childish about these other situations? Am I just a bed buddy helping him kill time while he is ďmoving onĒ?

Dear Humiliated,

It really doesnít matter if youíre his bed buddy or the next love of his life, you have rights. One of them is that you should be comfortable going to sleep and waking up without having your guyís dead wifeís stuff all over the place and her picture looking you in the face. Heís being outrageously insensitive to you.

I suspect that all of this is deliberate -- a heavy-handed way of signaling to you that you're only a bed buddy and he has no intention of letting your relationship get more serious. Even so, you still have leverage. You can simply tell him "no nookie until those pictures are put in another room and the clothes are gone."

Regardless of his motives or intentions, this humiliation is continuing because you havenít really asserted yourself and made demands. That could be because youíre not sure you deserve to be put first. Sometimes you have to be willing to risk your relationship to get what you deserve.

If heís recovered enough from his wife's death to have you sleep over and be his bed buddy, heís recovered enough to move her stuff. He could put all her clothing and personal belongings in a special place where only he can see them. Or he could give them away to his daughter or donate them to a charity.

As for his friends and family, you're absolutely right: he should take control over the situation. Which means telling them that 2 Ĺ years is long enough; the Christmas stockings and the anniversary announcements were appreciated, but the time for that is over. From here on, he will remember his departed wife in his own way, and he wants them to be accepting and considerate of you.

Youíre not being at all childish or selfish, but you are being too willing to let him hurt you without demanding that he stop.

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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