Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

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Marriage in Name Only
Single Mother
Joining an Open Marriage

Marriage in Name Only

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 40 year old woman and married for the first time to my husband only 7 months ago. We met a little over 4 years ago, he is 41 and this is a second marriage for him. Our marriage is not a typical type of marriage. By this I mean he is 4th generation business owner of a company in Lexington Kentucky, and is there Monday - Friday afternoon. He travels 4 hours on Friday to be with me in Bristol Tennessee, and leaves Sunday around midnight. I travel as well to Lexington Kentucky but not as often.

The reason for this is my question. I have never been inside of his house, ever. When I am there we stay in a Hotel/Motel for the weekend. I have spoken to him about this on many occasions, letting him know how important is was for me to not only see the inside of the house, but to be able to stay there as well. His explanation to me is simply, I am ashamed for you to see it in it's present condition and want it to be fixed up before you see it.

Tracy, this has been going on for over four years now, how much time should it take to be in acceptable shape?? I am very hurt, and it bothers me very much that my husband is keeping this part of his life from me, especially now that we are married. I have friends who think it is very odd, and that I should demand to see it. There are times that I like to consider moving to Lexington to be with my husband more often, but I have no home to be in, no place to live. I did live in Lexington for six months, after we had known each other for about a year, I rented an apartment, and still never seen the inside of his home. He stayed with me occasionally, I was so unhappy that I moved back to Bristol.

There are good and bad to our situation, but we have been doing it for so long now.... it just works. I feel that if something is not done soon it could cause a major problem in our marriage. I find at times I cry at the thought that my husband does not want me in his home when I am there to be with him. I don't know if I am being unreasonable or not, but feel that I am not. How do I handle this situation?

Dear Sort of Married,

This isn't a real marriage, it's more like he's got weekend privileges with you, but doesn't really trust you with his secrets. A real marriage means full disclosure of everything. It means you trust each other to see everything about each other and still love one another. It means you don't have your own home and he has his.

If you want your marriage to be a real marriage, stop agreeing to this silly charade. Tell him in no uncertain terms that you want to live together, in his house in Lexington, not in a motel or apartment separate from him.

Frankly, I'm surprised you haven't peeked when he wasn't looking. I don't think I'd be able to stand the mystery of wondering what was really going on behind his doors. Haven't you ever been tempted to just go to his house when he wasn't home and look in the windows? Haven't you ever wondered just what he's hiding?

I don't believe for a minute that he doesn't want you to see it because it needs to be fixed up first. Are you sure he actually has a house he lives in? Are you sure he doesn't have a house with someone else (like another woman) living there? Have you ever considered having a private detective find out what's really going on there? Or is there a part of you that doesn't really want to know?

Even when you moved to Lexington for 6 months, he only stayed with you occasionally? That's outrageous. But you married him anyway, so he must have concluded that you thought it was okay for him to keep his house a secret.

You are not being unreasonable. Far from it. You have a right to demand that you be invited to live in his house. That's what married people do - they live together. You're going to have to get over being unhappy in Lexington and find friends there and integrate yourself into his community - whether he likes it or not.

Your low self-esteem is making you accept whatever he decides works. If you don't stop this immediately, you won't have a voice in your life at all.

I'm concerned because you never say you love him or that he treats you with love and affection that a husband should exhibit. There are sacrifices needed on both sides here. He has to make you a real part of his life and you have to give up your old life in Bristol and be with him.

Don't waste another year in this unhappy situation. Tell him things are going to change, and then change them. Otherwise, he will continue to do exactly what he has been doing - cutting you out of his life and treating you as a friend with weekend privileges, not a wife who's a real part of his life.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Single Mother

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I'm a single woman, never-married, about to turn 35. I definitely want children, and was hoping to have them with the love of my life, but I've been diligently looking (matchmakers, internet sites like match.com and eHarmony, letting all my friends and family know that I'm looking, etc.) for about 4 years now since my last relationship broke up (he wasn't willing to make a commitment). I live in a relatively small town, but my job doesn't really allow me to move to a larger city where my chances might be better. (Plus, I'm not sure I would want to give up a very fulfilling enjoyable job to move to a city only to look for a relationship).

At what point should you quit looking and decide to become a single mother? I realize this will interject a new set of issues into finding someone to spend my life with, but the clock is definitely ticking!

I value your advice - I almost always agree with it, and am a faithful reader of your column and books. Am I crazy to stick with a career where I am happy and decide to become a single mom? or should I give up my job and move to a larger city, hoping to find someone before it's too late to have children of my own?

Dear Wanna-be Mom,

Sadly, once you turn 35, your chances of conceiving go way down. Your eggs may not be a viable as they once were and having the children you want can become difficult.

That said, becoming a single mother by choice is a fine option, if you're ready to fully accept the responsibility of being a single mother. There are no rules about when to have a child without a man. The timing is up to you - but realize if you wait, you may miss your chance or conceiving could become very difficult and expensive.

Also, the longer you wait to become a mother, the harder it is. Being the mother of a six year old is easier when you're 25 than when you're 35 or 50.

So if having children is important to you and you love your career and are happy where you are, moving somewhere else to find a man could put you out of most your fertile years and could even be an exercise in futility.

Talk to other single moms. Check out www.singlemothers.org. Also read "Single Mothers By Choice," by Jane Mattes. Mattes says you have to have a helpful support group and be ready to sacrifice career goals. She also says that the decision to have a child by yourself will never find universal approval, but that you can do it.

Having a child alone is a big decision, but if having children is important to you, don't wait another day for Mr. Right. You'll be much more unhappy if you miss your chance to have children than if you miss your chance at Mr. Right or even Mr. Acceptable.

Your ability to have children won't last forever. Your ability to find a man can go on a lot longer.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Joining an Open Marriage

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am 23 and single by technicality i suppose, but my question revolves around being the extra guy in an open relationship. I have been very close friends with a female through long distance means. We have been talking over the internet and meet occasionally. It became clear over time that we were very close and if she wasn't in a happy marriage already, we would likely at the very least start dating. However we knew nothing like that could be (at the time anyway) and remained as close as we could without crossing too many lines.

However about a month ago, things changed. She came to me after having a very extensive conversation with her husband. It seemed like both of them were willing to experiment with an open relationship. I should also say that I was told this decision wasn't brought on because of me. As I had already made plans earlier to come visit her, at the time of telling me about their decision, she asked if I would like to be welcomed into her bed while her husband was away on business. I was also informed that this might be a one time thing or it could be a long term situation. After some time thinking about the pros and conns, I accepted and a few weeks later was spending one of the best weeks of my life with her companionship. I do not regret this trip in anyway and am glad to have had what i had with her.

However, now that I have returned home, I'm finding things a little hard now that I cannot be with her for sometime. She is very supportive of me and reassures me when she can, but I believe some of my sad feelings about this are revolving around jealousy. Not jealousy involved with her and her husband but at her discussing possible ventures between her and her husband and other couples or singles. I know for certain that if they decide my involvement should be a long term thing, then that is something i want. So i have come to you asking how I might be able to deal with this jealousy, and how i can work to make this relationship a healthy thing.

Thanks in advance

Dear Single by Technicality,

You're single for real, not by a technicality. This couple could just be looking for excitement in their marriage, not a new marital partner. Since they've only recently decided to bring others into their marriage, they're still experimenting to find out just how they feel about having an open relationship.

It's possible that they too have jealousy issues and won't continue their open marriage. I have known a number of people who had open marriages and most of them eventually ended the openness. When they took a third partner in, it didn't last. Even if this couple invites you back to become an ongoing part of their relationship, you will have no real standing. You will be there only as long as they continue to want you, and you will still most likely have to put up with others coming and going.

From your standpoint, this relationship is only worth pursuing if you truly believe that you can live with the fact that their relationship is primary and their relationship with you would be far secondary. Sadly, the third person in such a relationship is often used and then discarded. I hope that's not your experience.

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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