Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

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When To Get Out
Too Old
The Wrong Man

When To Get Out

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am contemplating divorcing from my 3-month marriage. There are many reasons but I think the main ones are incompatibility and financial problems. I started having doubts a few months before the wedding but felt pressured into marrying him because of the whole engagement thing with our families and his promises that things will change once we're married. For example, that he will find a stable job. The truth is that he's been unemployed for over a year but I kept hoping that things will change. He's a business consultant and has had a few projects here and there. Since we've been married, it has been very hard on me financially. Now I cover most of his expenses and feel that I'm drowning in debt with him. I don't make enough to cover both of us over a long period of time. His parents are helping us out, but I feel really bad about this because I want to make it on our own. I am a very independent person and hate relying on families and friends for financial help. I told him that I don't really care what kind of job he gets, as long as he gets a paycheck. But he's been very picky about the salary, he wants to make enough to support the both of us. That's another issue. I've been very unhappy at my workplace and am not quitting yet because I have to bring home the money. I told him I resent him for this, because I have made so many compromises for him already. I want to support him and encourage him, but I don't know how longer I can do it. I can only bend so much before I break.

Another major issue I have with him is I think, incompatability. There's an 10-year difference between us, I am the younger one (28 years old). I am the type of person who likes to be active and do physical things. A typical weekend would be something like this: me going to the gym or running, while he is watching TV. I always tried to make it fun for him to join me but he always makes excuses not to. He would say that he has to look for work or doesn't have the energy but when I do come back from my activities I would find him asleep on the couch. He told me that he doesn't have the energy because he's depressed, and that once he does find a job he will go back to a regular schedule of exercising. But I've been living with him for over a year, and I just don't see him change. Also, I've noticed that my sexual appetite for him has taken a nosedive. Lately I don't allow him to make love to me, and I just don't ever feel in the mood for it. I am worried because I am usually the sexual one (I always initiate sex). That's another thing - we are incompatible here too because he's a cross-dresser and I just can't get used to it. I let him dress as a woman sometimes just because I want to please him, but inside I cannot get used to it and am very unhappy about this too. He told me that he will stop if I tell him, but sometimes I just feel so bad for him that I just give in.

He wants for me to take it on faith, that things will change once he finds a job. But the truth is, I don't know if I can do this much longer. I've been contemplating divorce because I've been so unhappy for a long time. I know that he loves me so much and that's why I've been able to bear this for so long. I love him too but I sometimes have these doubts lingering in the back of my mind. I tried to contemplate that if he does find a job, would I still be happy with him? I don't know, mainly because of the compatibility issues. I'm afraid of the whole divorce exercise, but I feel so trapped. What is your advice on what things I should consider in divorcing him or not? Please help!

Dear Hoping Things Will Change,

Your first mistake was marrying someone with the hope that things would change for the better once you were married. They never do.

The other person's bad habits that annoyed you when you were engaged are always more annoying after you're married. After you've married someone, you begin to feel that every problem is yours "for the rest of your life," and that alone magnifies whatever is bothering you.

When you combine that "trapped forever" feeling with the everyday living stresses that marriage brings, engagement problems almost always become worse, not better, after you're married. There are so many issues you and your husband should have worked out during the engagement - money, work, cross-dressing, sex. That's what being engaged is for.

Now that you've only been married a short time, you've established yourself as a doormat. In just three short months, you've let your husband get away with being a lazy liability who is a couch potato instead of a provider. He wouldn't do this if he couldn't get away with it.

Right now, you have become an "enabler." Even though you don't like what he does, your own actions have enabled him to continue doing exactly the things you don't like. Enablers like yourself often pay the bills, lie to cover up their mate's problems, etc., because it makes them feel like they hold the power in the relationship. However, you're not helping yourself or your husband. You're just making the situation worse.

It's time to sit down and make a list of everything that's bothering you. Then tell him that if these things don't change immediately, you're getting a divorce. Don't pussy-foot around. Don't beat around the bush. Don't worry about hurting his feelings. This is your life you're dealing with, and if you don't fix it, nobody else will. He certainly won't.

Tell him that you aren't happy about paying all the bills, having a husband who's always too tired to do anything, not having enough sex, his cross-dressing, and whatever else is bothering you. Let him know you aren't going to keep it up. Don't let him snow you into giving him more time. Tell him it's off the couch, to the gym, to the employment office, and no excuses. If he doesn't make changes right away and have a job within a month, then see a divorce lawyer.

Of course it's possible that even if he makes all the changes you want, you still won't be happy. It could be that you and he are basically incompatible in many ways no matter what he does. If that turns out to be the case, then don't delay. Get out while you're still young and find someone who is everything you want to spend your life with.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Too Old

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I'm 42 and recently divorced. i met this wonderful woman on the internet chat room. we have been communicating by phone, computer, mailing for the last 4 months. this women is 21 and is studying to be a nuero surgeon. She does not really care about our age diferences nor do i. we feel we love each other very much and want to be together. problem is, her parents are totaly against her seeing a divorced 42 year old man. they are catholic and have a problem with divorce. my girl respects her parents and for this reason i have not been able to be with her or really get to know her. im supposed to spend 3 weeks with my girl and her family (parents) for christmas. my girl loves me very much , but will do what her parents wish. is ther anything i can do to win her parents over . to allow their daughter to have a relationship with me? after spending time with parents , if they still disagree with us being together, i fear im going to loose this wonderful woman. we will both be heart broken. im not worried about my looks, being 42 im built good and look 28.

Dear Built Good,

No matter how good you are built, I don't blame this woman's parents one bit. Their daughter is half your age, she hasn't even finished her education, and she hasn't even met you. You might communicate great on the Internet, but if she were my daughter, I'd feel the same way, religion or not.

This woman is studying to be a neurosurgeon. She has many years of schooling to go and I really wonder (like her parents must) if you're going to help her achieve her life goals or stand in the way of her future plans.

You have a long way to go to win her parents over, and frankly, I doubt if you have an ice cube's chance in hell of getting them to approve of you. That said, your best bet would be to assure them that you're not rushing her into marriage or commitment and that you're willing to wait for her to finish her education before pursuing this relationship further.

They'll be worried that you'll be a distraction and interfere with her studies. They'll also be worried that you'll sleep with her and knock her up. And they'll be worried that you'll take her away from her religion. Those are all issues you'll have to address to convince them that you're not going to ruin her life.

Frankly, your character will be more important to her parents than your looks. Really, you're not focusing on what's important here. If you were, you'd realize that you should find someone your own age. I'm sure her parents will feel the same way. You're probably one Christmas guest they wish they didn't have to entertain.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

The Wrong Man

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 29 year old college student and parent of a 7 yr old son. I am still single with no boyfriend. My problem is that I seem to meet the wrong guys they all want to have fun but none have any substance. I have feelings about them but I have never been in love. I recently met this 26 year old gentlemen whom had everything that I prayed for each and every night. He has his own company, house, car and is very well established.

The problem is that he does not want to do anything with me. We have been together for four months. I have not met his mother but I have met his sister and two of his brothers. He doesn't come over to my apartment to visit, he only calls me when I leave him a message and it is usually around 11 or 12 in the morning when he calls back.

He says that he is not cheating, but he always seems to find time to hang-out with his friends and family. He goes on outings and never asks me to. I was laid off for about a month he never asked me if I needed any help with paying a bill or anything. But he always seem to ask me to do work for his company. He never paid me either.

He makes me feel that I should not be with him that I am not in his class. Because I do not have a car. We have the same goals in mind, the thing that he hates is that we are going to accomplish them at different times.

My mother says that he treats me this way because I told him how I felt about him. I recently told him that he did not know that he had a good thing until it is gone. His response was what was so good about it.

I am so glad that he never met my son.

So did I do the right thing by letting him go?

Dear Never Been In Love,

You talk about this man you met as being everything you ever wanted in life and then give your list: he has his own company, house, car and is well-established. Your priorities are all screwed up. No wonder you can't find a nice man who is marriage material.

Instead of looking for a man who has acquired things, look for a man who has inner qualities. Find a man who is kind, loving, considerate, responsible and dependable. Cars and houses come and go with the fickle luck of business. A man can lose all those things, but he will still have his character. And if he doesn't have good character, the rest doesn't matter at all.

A man who wants you to work for free, who doesn't call or care about you, is not a good bet to be your husband or a father to your son. I think you fell for what he has, not what he is.

Sure, you did the right thing by letting him go. But the truth is that you never had him. Find someone who respects you and who is a man your son can respect for his integrity and strength of character. Don't let your head be turned by fancy cars and other things.

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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