Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

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When She Makes More Money
What to Give Up For Love
Kids Are Forever

When She Makes More Money

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a twenty year old female, who has never been married. I have been dating a 27 year old man for 2 years. I was 18 when we first got together and he was 25. We have been living together for almost the entire two years(we moved in together very fast). I love him very much, and I know that he loves me.

I always have this thing bothering me in the back of my head though. It's because he has very bad credit. I do not have the greatest credit, but I am not thousands of dollars in debt like he is. I have a very good job that pays three times as much as his, he has a job that is about 20-30 hours a week. He doesn't even make in an entire month what I make in one paycheck. I want to settle down and be able to buy a house and have children. I do not come from a rich family, I come from a very poor family and I am trying to make a better life for myself. His life was the exact opposite. he came from a very well-to do family.

I try not to bring up the subject of how much he makes, because I know how hard it is to get a good job in California right now, and I do not want to be a nag. Will I always have this in the back of my head? Am I being selfish and should I stop and let nature take its course? Some of my friends say, "if he is this way now, he will never change. He is looking for someone to take care of him." But then some of my friends tell me, "He is trying his hardest, he loves you and one day it will all work out." I foot the bills a lot, I pay rent most months, I let him use my car and pay gas for it. I don't want to be a bitch, excuse my language.....how do I let him know what my fears are, and should I even bother?

Confused & Young & Making more money-in California

Dear Confused and Young,

If you absolutely canít accept him the way he is, tell him that heíll have to change. Set a deadline for him to make enough. Talk about finances and what you expect of him and when. Let him know that he has to take care of his debts for your relationship to continue.

Then, if he doesnít shape up, and if you really need a man who makes more money than you do, give this guy a break and tell him good-bye. Donít make yourself miserable worrying about whether heís ever going to get a good-paying job.

Realize though, that if he changes, your relationship will change. Being the big earner has its advantages. You get to feel powerful. You get to be more in charge of decisions. If he becomes the big earner, youíll have to share the power, or maybe let him have it. You should also face the fact that if he changes and becomes a big earner, he might change his behavior as well.

Men who make a lot of money are different from men who donít. Many expect the woman in their life to be strictly ornamental, with her interests always secondary to his, like a Stepford wife.

So if youíre happy with him and the relationship, make sure you don't become responsible for his debts, but otherwise, keep him around and continue paying most of the bills. Live your own life and not the life others expect you to live. Sure, other people will tell you they wouldnít put up with him, but theyíre not in your shoes. Thereís no real reason that a man has to be the big earner in a family.

Once, when women didnít have access to good jobs and high-paying careers, they had to find a man who earned enough to support them and their children. Today, things have changed. Many women make more than their mates. Many men stay home and take care of children, keep the house, or simply become a support system for the women in their lives.

Whatís important is not who pays for what and who makes how much, but rather whether the couple is satisfied with the arrangement. Talking honestly about money and how you feel about each otherís contributions will make you feel less taken advantage of and more like youíve agreed to the circumstances.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

What to Give Up For Love

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am only 16 years old, but I am having some trouble with something. I was wondering if there is anyway you would be able to help me. My boyfriend and I had been dating for 5 months. Three months into the relationship he tells me that he wants me to quit smoking cigarettes. I didn't think that I really had to, until he told me that he wouldn't continue dating me if i didn't. I thought it was wrong because he started dating me knowing that I had smoked cigarettes.

We are currently broken up. He wants to get back with me, and I think I want to get back with him too. I love him with all my heart. He also loves me. I think that if we were meant to be together then we would be right now. He said that he wants to wait until I quit. This is really hard for me to do. I need to quit for myself, and when I want to. Right now I don't feel the need to. I don't want to make it seem like I am only quitting for him. It's also not that easy to quit when he gets mad at me for smoking 1 1/2 a day. We just got into a fight, and he said he doesn't want to be my friend after telling me he was proud of me for only smoking 1/2 one day, and 1 1/2 the next. Please Help! Should I quit smoking for me, or for him? I am really confused. I hope you can help.

Sincerely, Depressed and Confused.

Dear Depressed and Confused,

When I hear about the things people do for love, giving up cigarettes doesnít seem so bad.

Iím sure thatís what your boyfriend is thinking Ė ďif she loves me, sheíll quit.ď And Iím sure youíre thinking, ďIf he loves me, he wonít care if I smoke or not.Ē You'd both be equally right except for one thing: what he wants would be good for you, and what you want is harmful to you. And you admit that part of why you're still smoking is just to be defiant - you don't want to make it seem like you are only quitting for him.

You have two choices here. One is cigarettes, accumulating lung damage and no boyfriend. The other is no cigarettes, good health and a boyfriend who loves you. Doesnít seem like a hard decision. You've said you "need to quit for myself, and when I want to." Okay. Decide you want to now.

Or do it just because it will make your boyfriend happy. Thatís part of what makes relationships work, doing something for someone else because you love them.

If you don't quit, you'll probably run into this again. You should know that there are lots of guys who donít want to date a woman who smokes. They donít like the way her hair and breath and clothes smell or the way the smell clings to everything -- including their car and where they live. Most smokers are in denial about this. Being so conditioned to the smell, they can't detect the lingering odor, so they think people are exaggerating or making it up.

Yes, you should quit -- for yourself, for him, for your relationship.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Kids Are Forever

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I normally don't look for sites like this, but right now I am at the end of my rope. I'll try to be as brief as I can. I am 51 years old, have a husband, three kids and 4 grandchildren. I was there almost by myself for 21 years while my husband did his career in the military, I was mom, dad, grandma, bill payer etc. I raised my kids and worked overseas, and did the best I could.

My kids are grown and each one has a problem in their life right now. My husband has never been one to talk to them or deal with their issues. I have been diagnosed with back disease, severe DJD, depression and anxiety. How do I stop feeling responsible for my kids problems? How do I stop feeling that I brought them up wrong, and most of all how do I get them to stop calling me and dumping their problems on me?

I feel sorry for them when I see them struggling, but I have done my part and now, I had to quit my government job with no possibility of retirement because of my illness. I have nothing to look forward to, but I do want peace of mind. After my kids call I am stressed, crying, depressed and feel so hopeless. My simple problems along with theirs are ripping me apart. I just need a way to go on. I am so tired now, every day I do less and less. I can feel the depression taking over. Please guide me in some way. Thank you kindly.

Dear Mom,

You never stop being a parent, but you can't carry your children on your shoulders their whole lives. There comes a time when the parent has to say, ďIíve done my best. Iíve given as much as I can. My kids are their own people now, with their own ideas and their own lives. Iím no longer responsible for them.Ē

Tell your kids, or at least tell one of them, that you canít handle their problems right now, and it's a matter of your own health. Ask the one you tell to tell the others.

You need to start doing things to make the rest of your life better. You canít help anyone if you arenít happy with yourself. Stop blaming yourself for the way you brought them up. You did the best you could with the abilities you had. Forgive yourself for anything you may or may not have done to make them the way they are.

Most of your physical problems will feel better if you get your mental health under control. The best cure for depression is activity. Find a hobby that gives you pleasure. Take daily walks. Go to a class. Volunteer. Join a group.

You need friends and a support system of your own. You do not have to solve your kidsí problems.

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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