"Ask Dr. Tracy"

10/17/99 Advice Column

Love Me, Love My Dog
A Really Bad Surprise
He's Hot and She's Not

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am 34 years old divorced after 16 years of marriage and have no children. I adopted Roxy about 3 months ago and I tend to treat her like my child...this drive my boyfriend CRAZY. He has a son so perhaps he can't relate to the feelings I have towards my dog since I have no children. I really try and separate my time with my dog and him on the weekends but alot of times during the week, we get home from work late and I have to give her some attention before we go to bed. He likes when I block her from the room we are sitting in and I hate doing this since she has been home all day and only interacting with my two cats. However on the weekend I try to keep them separated as much as possible. You probably think he hates dogs but he doesn't, he takes Roxy for walks and plays ball with her..he just hates when she has my attention. HELP!!!! What do I do??

Dear Dog Lover,

At your tender age of 34, you are experiencing all the raging hormones a woman can have -- hormones that make you want to have children, have sex, and have love.

You have wisely gotten a loving dog to nurture you and fulfill some of your urges. We all want the kind of unconditional love that you can get from a pet, but not necessarily from a man. If your boyfriend really cared for you and had any smarts about how to reach a woman's heart, he'd make a point of showing how much he loves all God's critters, especially the ones who live with you. But if he's so insecure that he's bothered by the attention you give to your dog, you should be concerned. After all, what would happen if you gave attention to another man or a child?

I wonder if you've decided never to have children. The problem is that if you and this man are going to be together and you want children, he may be disturbed every time you give them more attention than you give him.

It's important to trust your own sense of reasonableness about this. It's one thing for a man to say "I don't want to sleep with the dog in the bed." It's another thing altogether when he says the dog can't even be in the living room when you're together. If you give in to his unreasonable demands about exiling your little doggy, it will set the stage for you to give in to him no matter how out of line his demands become. Soon he'll be making more rules like how much time you can spend with your friends and which ones to spend time with.

Before drawing any conclusions, though, be sure that you're giving your man as much attention and love as you give the dog. If you pet her and kiss her and touch her and praise her all the time and he doesn't get any of that same attention, he's bound to be disgruntled. So be sure to give him equal petting.

We are all a package deal. He comes with his baggage, you come with yours. At your age, you need to find a man who accepts every part of you, including your pets and the way you love them. It's not likely that you're going to change the core of who you are or how you love, and if you do make those kinds of compromises that go against your grain, you'll be unhappy.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I'm a 30 year old woman who's never been married, with a baffling relationship issue. I read your column with regularity, and I could really use some of your most candid, insightful advice.....

I've been going with a wonderful guy that I met over a year ago. Last week was the 1st anniversary of our first date. Surprisingly, we each remembered and marked the occasion in our own way, even though we hadn't reminded each other beforehand. My boyfriend sent a huge bouquet of roses to my office, while I'd hidden a surprise gift at his place. My surprise was a ticket go to see one of his favorite musical acts, who was coming to our town this weekend. That evening after he got home, he called me to thank me as soon as he found it. He'd always wanted to see this group, and he was so excited! .....at first anyway.

I then told him I had plans to go visit my mother this weekend, who lives out of state (which I hadn't told him previously) and that the concert was just for him to enjoy. He seemed noteably deflated after that and didn't say too much else other than thanks. He then asked if he could call me back later, and hung up. After a couple hours of waiting, I called him back and asked if he was mad at me or something. He'd only say that he wasn't mad, just a little dissapointed that I wasn't going with him, and then change the subject. It's like he just assumed that I had the other ticket, but I wanted this gift to be just for him. I think it's tacky when people buy gifts for someone that are really for themselves to enjoy too. I don't consider that a real gift. Anyway, after probing to see if there was something more going on, he admitted that he wasn't too interested in going to the concert if he had to go alone, and that he appreciated my gift but he probably would not be going, which just totally baffled me. Therein lies my dilemma.....

Some background on him. He's 37 years old and even though he's divorced, he's a very attractive, very independent, mature, self-assured guy who, before we started dating, always undertook plenty of solo activities since his divorce (4 yrs ago), even vacations to other countries. So I really don't get why he wouldn't want to go see one of his favorite groups alone. He's the strong, silent type, so he didn't really complain about my gift, but he's always been very giving, so I really wanted him to go. He's not the type to bitch or moan too much about anything really, but I know him well enough to know that he was actually very dissapointed in this gift, especially in contrast to how animated he was when he first found it.

When I told my best friend what happened, she rolled her eyes at me and said "why didn't you buy him 2 tickets?" with a touch of disgust, which I also don't get. Why should I have bought two when I knew I was going out of town? I don't make a lot of money, so knowing me, he would understand that I really couldn't afford to blow much money on another ticket when I wasn't going to be there. And, like I said, he's used to be very secure going places alone. Besides, he certainly had his share of women chasing him before he picked me, so I wouldn't want him to be tempted to take some other girl while I'm away (I do trust him, despite how that sounds). So her advice didn't make sense .....does it?

I don't get it, was this some kind of wierd macho thing that he wouldn't want to go? I tried to do something special for him, but I ended up feeling like it wasn't such a great idea. This is probably minor, but he's grown to be very important to me, so I just want to understand why this didn't come off the way I wanted. This was an important occasion for me. I needed to make him feel special, and hoped that he'd enjoy the show as much as I enjoy having him in my life. I guess I don't understand men all that much. What do you think he was feeling? What happened here?

Signed, "Hoping to keep a good thing going".....

Dear Anniversary Gal,

Well, you're right about one thing: you just don't "get it." You really blew it. First of all, there's no way you should have sent him one ticket to the event. That's not generous or thoughtful. Who wants to go to a concert alone to celebrate an anniversary? Nobody.

Self-reliance has nothing to do with this. It's no "wierd macho thing," and it's not about "understanding men." It's about understanding romance. An anniversary celebration is meant to be shared. You should have made plans to spend the anniversary celebration together. Instead, you have shown yourself to be unromantic and insensitive. No wonder your guy is in a funk about it. The fact that you still haven't figured out what you did wrong, even after seeing his reaction, probably has him in silent despair.

When two people are a couple, doing things together is very important. Even if the concert is not the kind of music you love, you should have gone. That would show that you love him enough to share what he likes.

The way you did it gives the message, "Here kid, if you want to see that kind of concert, I'll buy you a ticket, but don't expect me to go with you."

Life is a compromise when you're a couple. Sometimes you go to his concert, and sometimes he goes to yours. You also showed him that you don't want to compromise and that your anniversary isn't a sentimental occasion for you.

You picked the wrong weekend to visit mom. A man wants to think that he's the most important thing in your life, or right up there with your dog.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I've been reading your column for almost a year now and I never thought I'd submit a question, but here goes. (I'll try to keep it short.)

My husband and I have been happily married for almost two years. His one complaint is that we are not intimate as much as he would like. He would prefer "it" every other day and right now it's more like once a week. My argument regarding that is this: it's not that I don't want to, I just don't have the time. I have an extremely demanding job and I am working on a graduate degree. I am currently working 50+ hours per week and I am taking three grad classes. My husband is ready to have a child and I am not, due to my demanding schedule. (We did discuss this issue before we got married and we decided waiting 4-5 years would be best.) I want to finish my EdD before we conceive. I could take less classes, but then he/we would have to wait longer to have children, which he doesn't want. I know he'll be a wonderful father but realistically, the children will change my life more than his. Also, he feels that my biological clock is ticking. I'm almost 30 and he's 24. I also feel that we are not financially ready. As I'm sure you know, education is expensive and we have just purchased a new home which we need to furnish and we have car loans, student loans, etc., to pay off. Do you think it's wrong of me to want to wait to have children?

But wait...there's more. Lately I have found myself thinking of someone from my past, someone I was just about married to. He is married now also, to a woman who became pregnant while they were dating. (This was several years ago.) I find myself wondering how he's doing, did he have a boy or a girl, that kind of thing. I've never called him but I've thought about it. I don't really have anyone else I could contact to find out about him, and more than anything else I just want to know what's going on in his life. I don't love him, I don't have feelings for him at all, I'm just curious. Is that normal??? Should I try to locate him?

Signed, One busy but childless gal

Dear Timeless,

If your only excuse for not having more sex with your husband is that you don't have time, it's a poor one. Frankly, I have a lot of trouble believing that's why you don't want sex more often.

Perhaps you're worried that more sex will make you pregnant sooner, which you say you can't afford. However, you can afford a new home and all that education, so that excuse doesn't hold water either. Many people have children rather than buy new furniture. I think there are other reasons you don't want to have children right now, ones that you haven't really faced.

What's strange is that you do seem to have time for thinking about an old boyfriend. You are even willing to find time to look him up. If you can find time for all that, you can find time for sex. How long does a quickie take? Less time than looking up an old boyfriend who's happily married.

You and your husband need counseling to work out the details of your life together. You say you have to finish your degree before you have children. Why? Lots of women have children and still get their educations.

When you're old and gray, you won't be saying "I wish I'd worked more hours," or "I wish I'd gotten another degree." What you'll be saying is, "I wish I'd made love more often."

You're married to a much younger man who is in his sexual prime. Don't deny him a little more sex. One more time a week -- twenty minutes out of your busy schedule. Big deal!

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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