Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

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His Little Lies
Too Much Time With His Mother
Wedding Rituals Tearing Them Apart

His Little Lies

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 27 year old, divorced woman. I had a high-school sweetheart that I broke up with when I was a junior in high school. I was just young and wanting to have fun at the time and he was way too serious. He is the most wonderful man I have ever met. We have always felt like we were destined for each other. After he graduated, he is 2 years older than me, he went to college and we lost contact, but not by any fault of his. I avioded him. Even though I still considered him a friend, I knew that he would want to get back together with me and I was still young and dating others.

I ended up marrying someone at the age of 23, after dating for 2 years. We were married 3 years and it ended for several reasons. Some include being totally incompatible, and I really didn't love him. I thought he was a nice person and I honestly didn't think anyone else would ever come along. Truthfully, my heart has belonged to my high-school boyfriend all along. I know he is the love of my life and I realized this more and more as I grew older.

After I divorced, I started talking to my high-school boyfriend again. I ran into an old friend of his and when his friend told him about seeing me, he called me the next day. He is divorced also. We started dating and after about 1 year, we moved in together. I know he loves me. He treats me like a queen and I feel so good about being with him. I know this is right. We are totally compatible. We come from similar upbringings and have alot of interests in common. We grew up in the same town and went to school together. I have know him most of my life and feel extremely comfortable with him. If there is such a thing as soulmates, than we are definately each others.

I'll get to my question now. I have something that is really bothering me and I don't know how to resolve it. He occasionally lies to me about little things. He says it is to protect me. If he hears some news that I may find troubling, he will hide it from me to aviod upsetting me. I have spoken to him on several occasions and told him to be honest with me about everything, but it seems he can't help being this "protector". I am really becoming hurt by his lies, even though they are never big lies, they are lies just the same. He will keep bills from me so I don't have to stress out about money and things along those lines. I tell him I need to know these things. I am now having trouble trusting him at all because I feel that if you can lie about one thing than you can certainly lie about something else. He knows that honesty is very important to me, but he feels that his lying is justified because he has my best interest at heart. I don't know what else to do about this. We have fought, talked and he sees how hurt I am by this, but it still continues. I don't want irreversable damage to be done to this relationship. It has taken us 12 years to be back to where we should have been all along. I need some advice on how to handle this. Could you please help?

Dear Bothered,

This is a serious problem. He says he's trying to protect you from any knowledge that would prove difficult or painful, but in fact, he's trying to control you, consciously or unconsciously.

Sure you don't trust him. And rightfully so. The truth is that he has found a way to control you by taking care of everything so that you don't know what's going on in your lives. In effect, he's saying that he is better able to handle things than you are -- he's wiser, stronger, more capable of dealing with problems. That's insulting. Knowledge is power. And as long as he has the knowledge about what's going on in your lives and you don't, he has power and you don't. You are powerless to plan your life and your future or to know where you are financially or otherwise.

Don't let him make you the helpless little woman. You don't want to wind up one of those women who suddenly find themselves deeply and irretrievably in debt and wondering what happened. Nor do you want to find out that he has kept some disturbing news from you that you should hear.

Let him know in no uncertain terms that this is a deal breaker. Tell him he absolutely has to tell you what's going on with the bills and with anything else. Explain to him that leaving something out is another way of lying, and that you will be unable to trust him and unable to stay in this relationship unless things change. If he won't change, or says he doesn't understand what he's done wrong, or continues to pretend that he's just doing it for your own good, insist that he go with you to talk to a counselor or therapist.

This is no small thing, and you're right, if he'll lie about one thing, who knows where it will stop. Put an end to this immediately, even if it means you have to leave him to get his attention and to make him change this unacceptable behavior.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Too Much Time With His Mother

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I need some advice, my father-in-law passed away last december and my husband took a new job that is 45 miles from our home but only 15 miles from his mothers home. He stays with his mother during the week and comes home on the weekends if he does not have to work.

In the beginning I thought this was nice that he was there for his mother, because she was alone. But now I find myself alone, going to bed alone, getting up in the morning alone and coming home from work to a empty house. This has been going on for 6 months now and it is really starting to bother me. Is this a normal behavior for a man to feel he is responsible to take care of his mother since his father is not there to do this anymore. I feel she is not able to go through the normal grieving process, because she basically has a replacement. At times I think I need to be more sympathetic but also feel distant from my husband like we are strangers now. I find myself crying in the evening, feeling lost and alone. I don't know how to even bring up the subject without causing hurt feelings. She has become a wedge between the marriage, and I am feeling alot of anger towards her for allowing him to stay with her. What should I do?

Dear Angry,

Well, you have a right to be angry. But you are being angry at the wrong person. Instead of being angry at your husband's mother, you should be angry at your husband. He's the one who has decided to spend all that time at his mother's and not at home.

You should also be angry at yourself. Why on earth did you agree to this arrangement in the first place? Of course he wanted to be there and comfort his mother in her time of bereavement, but there are limits. He could have visited her on the weekends or after work and then come home. A man should always put his wife first. It's ridiculous for a grown man to move back in with his mother

I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if there was more here than meets the eye. Are you sure he's just staying with his mother and doesn't have some other female interest on the side? Have you checked out what's going on at his mother's? Have you considered taking a week off from work and going to visit his mother's yourself just to see what he's really up to and what the attraction is?

The longer this bizarre arrangement goes on, the worse it is for you and the harder it will be for you and your husband to reestablish your marriage. Of course you're feeling like a stranger with your husband. When a couple is separated that much, they have to reestablish their connection every time they get back together. Married people aren't meant to be apart. You've been more than sympathetic. It's time for you to get your husband back before it's too late.

Don't be shy about bringing up the subject. Don't be angry toward his mother. Learn to assert yourself and speak up for what you want. I recommend a book by Wayne Dyer called "Pulling Your Own Strings," and another book by Pete Smith called "When I say No, I feel Guilty." Stop sacrificing yourself to be Mrs. Nice Guy. Nobody will thank you for it.

If his mother needs company all the time, suggest that she move closer to you and him or that she move into a retirement community where she can make her own friends and maybe even meet someone new.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Wedding Rituals Tearing Them Apart

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 25 year old asian female who is engaged to a 27 year old man. We have been together for a year now and decided that we want to get married sometimes within August of this year as we had planned. The problem is that our parents have their disagreements and pride on how the wedding tradition should be done and it is tearing us apart. Our wedding tradition is very complicated , old fashion, and rediculous but we must go through the process in order to be accepted as married couples to our families.

My parents suggested that it is only proper for the groom and his parents to send a very experienced elderly man whom is wise and familiar with the wedding tradition to come to the bride's parent's house and ask for her hands. Also, to bargain her dowry before the bride leaves home with the groom. If the bride leaves before the wedding is done and dowry is paid, she is considered not a virgin, unvaluable, and the bargaining of the bride's dowry will be lowered because the groom's parents could just easily say your daughter has already slept with my son so take what we offered or leave it. In a way, my parents are trying to protect my reputation and my innocence so that my fiance's family can not degrade me in the future by accusing me of running after their son.

On the other hand, my fiance's parents strongly does not want to practice this and suggested that their son take me home first and then they will return to my parent's house in 3 days to pay the dowry. They feel that if they came and ask for my hands at home, it will degrade them in a way that makes them seem little than my family and desperate. Moreover, this will help stoop down the dowry my parents expects from them. My fiance and I do not care whichever way to practice but we are afraid of disappointing them by having it our way. My fiance had tried talking his parents into changing their mind but his parents still refused and my parents will not give me away unless they come and ask for me at home. This whole thing is preventing us from getting married and we are getting nowhere but stalling from day to day.

According to our wedding tradition, both our parents must be involved and the rules must be followed correctly otherwise we will never be accepted as married couples and recognized as one by our families. Both my fiance and I are caught in the middle of our parent's disagreements and we are very sadden that both parents are stubborn and will not give in nor compromised. I'm sure both our parents wants what's best for us but they are tearing us apart and we can't seem to find a way to resolve this without disappointing them. All we want is to get the marriage on happily and spend our life together. Dr. Tracy, please help if you have any solutions to resolving this matter so my fiance and I can get on with our marriage. Thank you very much for your help and time in reading this letter.

Dear Caught in the Middle,

In every society getting married can be really stressful. Sometimes, it almost seems as if getting through the wedding is a test to see if the couple really love each other enough to sustain that love when there are problems. In many families the parents and relatives make planning a wedding torturous, no matter what country they live in. Yours seems especially difficult.

You and your fiance are certainly in a terrible position with two sets of stubborn parents. The good news is that underneath it all, they are both really willing to have you marry, they just don't want to lose face in the marriage arrangements. It's important for you to work out a way for them both to save face so that they will be able to come together at family gatherings in the future and so that they can be happy grandparents when the time comes.

You and your fiance have to be patient. Relax and enjoy being in love and stop pushing for instant resolution to this problem. If you have to, postpone the wedding. It's not the end of the world if you marry a few months later than you had planned.

By insisting on the deadline, you are putting unnecessary stress on yourselves. Let your parents negotiate as long as they want. This is their way of taking part in your wedding and you have to let them play it out. In the meantime, see if you can find that wise older man who is familiar with the traditions and who can help you and your groom work out the arrangements between your two sets of parents.

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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