When You Have a Holiday Break-Up

While breaking up is typically difficult, a holiday break-up can be particularly painful.  The two stand in stark contrast to each other.  The holidays are so bright and cheery.  Nearly everyone is filled with excited anticipation.  A break-up, in contrast, is dark, dismal, and brooding.  Even the things that normally bring happiness don’t during a break-up.

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Recovery after an affair?

Dear Carol,

My husband and I have been married for 12 years. It has been a pretty rocky 12 years with him cheating physically and me cheating emotionally. We have finally got everything on the table and are trying to make things work. I am still really angry about his affair (with several different people and once in MY bed!) and he says he can’t trust what I say because of my emotional connection to another guy. I want us to re-do our vows and he says he isn’t ready yet. He says how can he trust that I really mean my vows when I lied to him. He refuses to go to counseling, saying he has said his piece and there is nothing else to talk about.

Where do I go from here?

 

Dear Where do I go from here,

Sounds like you have been through some really rough patches in your marriage. I am impressed that you are even still together. For couples that have been through as much infidelity as you have, I really think it is important to do some counseling to help you heal the wounds that have been created. Rebuilding trust is an incredibly hard thing to do and even harder when you don’t have someone guiding that process.

 

Recovering from an affair in the relationship is like going through the grieving process. Essentially you are grieving the loss of what your relationship used to be. It can no longer be the same as it was originally. It has to grow and become something new in order for it to survive. And thus, you need to go through those grief stages of denial, anger, bargaining,  and sadness before you get to accepting that a new relationship has to be born out of the old. Things will never be what they were before, but maybe, with time and help, it can be even better. Obviously there were things that weren’t working before, so with the new relationship, hopefully those things have gotten better.

 

So don’t give up on trying to get him to get some counseling. Don’t forget that there are less scary options like phone or internet counseling available so he doesn’t even have to leave the house. If  you just can’t get him to budge, I think you really should get some for yourself. Put it into the budget, even once a month, so that you have some support as you go through this rocky time.

 

Good Luck!

Carol Agnew, MA, LMFT

Online Counselor

www.asktheinternettherapist.com/online_counselor_ag.asp

Single Parenting

Single Parenting is extremely hard at its best and tremendously hard at its worst. You are trying to do the job of two people and don’t have the luxury of “passing the buck” when you need a time out. In addition, single parenting usually has the added stress of the “ex” and the ongoing (or lack thereof) relationship with that person. So for all of you single parents out there, I understand what a hard job you have. Unfortunately for many of you that job is made even harder when you don’t protect yourself and your children. When you have the sole responsibility for a child, it is your job to make sure you make good decisions about your welfare, including financially and providing food and shelter and safety. It is not good for kids to move around a lot, or move from one boyfriend’s house to another, so if you are thinking of getting more serious with someone, please think long and hard about the impact on your kids before making any big changes.

The following is a letter from a radio listener:

Good Morning Carol.

I am struggling with starting over. I am a Single Mom who has been raising my daughter for the last 9 years alone. 4 years ago, I fell in love with a man. He proposed to me and after a few months of talking, I said yes. I had an apartment with my daughter and he ask that I move in with him and being naive said yes with doubts. I moved in with my daughter and sold everything I owned and remodeled the house with my savings. Then we had a son not long after he proposed. He was very happy and I was extremely happy being pregnant, then after I had my son I feel into deep depression and my fiancé could not deal with it. I did not know I was depressed or what was going on with me. I was too busy to notice or take the time to address the issue. Working a full-time job, with an infant and 6 year old running errands along with swimming lessons, dance, cleaning the house and everything else was just very stressed but still get going. My fiancé called his parents and they told me he could not deal with this anymore and he wants you out. I was extremely upset and hurt that he could not sit down with me and discuss what he was feeling instead drag his parents in on it. After going back and forth over 2 years of being together and not, he told me to leave. I am very hurt, mad and frustrated. I am 37 mom with 2 kids and have no money and homeless, staying with my mom and having to start over is very overwhelming and scary. I don’t know what to do with myself and he won’t talk to me and when I do call he hangs up and then threatens he will call the Sheriff and have me arrested. I have all of my things and daughters things at the house. I spent all of my savings on remodeling his house and sold all my furniture and now I have nothing. Please give me advice. I feel the world has stopped and I don’t know what do to?

Struggling with being single again!

Dear Struggling,

It sounds like you have been through some crazy times with this guy. It also sounds like you made some “not so great” decisions along the way. At the moment, I think your approach needs to be about damage control and how much damage is done to your kids.

I am confused as to why you would stay with a guy who promises to marry you, but never follows through. I am also confused as to why you would stay with a guy who can’t tell you himself that he isn’t happy, but has to involve his parents. Relationships/marriage are about more than just “love”. I am sure if I asked you why, you would say that you Loved him, but unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to make this things work. If you had waited to have a child with him until after you were married, you wouldn’t be as tied to him.

I think what you do now is focus on how you are going to survive the immediate future. You need an income, your own bank account, some housing, etc. I think it is probably ok that you stay at your mom’s for now while you get back on your feet, but you need to make sure that isn’t a permanent solution. Check into the government programs where you live to see if there is any assistance with housing, food, medical insurance, etc. (also not a permanent solution, but something that will help you get on your feet.) I also think you need to go to the court and get some child support from this man for his child.

You need to find some self-esteem that tells you that you are a very capable woman and are deserving of a good life and to be treated with respect. If you can’t find that on your own, it is time for some counseling for yourself.

It is time for you to step up to the plate and give it all you have got. You are in a sink or swim situation and you have to swim for the sake of your kids.

Good Luck!

Carol Agnew, MA, LMFT

Online Counselor

www.asktheinternettherapist.com/online_counselor_ag.asp

Feeling Fat

Dear Carol,

 

I am in a relationship with the most wonderful guy in the world. I moved almost 1400 miles away from my family and friends to be with him. He has 2 children and I have one. He is a wonderful dad. He is one of my closest friends. I love him more than I ever thought was possible. Here’s is my problem. I have gained about 40-50 pounds since moving out here to be with him. We have been together for about 4 years now. I am ready for more of a commitment. We get into discussions about marriage and he just doesn’t understand why I feel we need to do that. I finally got him to admit that I had put on a few pounds and he is worried about my health and doesn’t want to marry me because I could get either bigger afterwards or my health could start to fade. So as a woman all I heard was you are too fat to marry, but good enough to live with and raise my kids and take care of my house. I don’t want to leave him but what to I do? Thanks!

 

Feeling Fat and Confused

 

Dear Feeling Fat,

It sounds like there are a couple of issues here. The first is why you would move yourself and your child 1400 miles WITHOUT the commitment of marriage in the first place. Did you think you weren’t good enough for him to marry you back then?

 

The second is your denial about his behavior. You spoke so highly of him in the beginning of your letter that it sounds like you don’t want to admit he could do something so cruel and heartless, which is exactly what he did: Something CRUEL and HEARTLESS to the woman he is supposed to love. OF COURSE you heard that you are too fat to marry, but not too fat to do everything else for him, that is they way women are programmed in this society. We are programmed to be so self conscious about how we look that it overrides normal, rational thought. If he really is such a good guy, then my guess is there is something else going on here. It sounds like fear of commitment, the reason for which you will have to do some digging. My guess is that it was easier to him to put the blame on you (since you were so ready to take that blame) than it was for him to admit that he was afraid of something. It could be he got burned the first time around with his kids’ mom and doesn’t want to do that again. Or, it could just be that he is a shallow jerk that is more concerned about appearances than about who you are as a person.  Whatever his reasons, he wasn’t being such a great guy when he let you take the blame.

 

It is time for some confrontation with him about what is really going on and if he truly won’t marry you because of your weight or if there is something else.  It is also time for you to gain some self-esteem. You have to believe that you ARE worth marrying before anyone will want to marry you. You need to do some soul searching and find that awesome, beautiful woman inside you. It may help you to talk with a counselor to figure out what gets in your way of feeling good about yourself.

 

Good Luck!
Carol Agnew, MA, LMFT

Online Counselor

www.asktheinternettherapist.com/online_counselor_ag.asp

Response to Comment

The following was listed as a comment and I wanted to follow up to it.

I have been with a wonderful man for 1 1/2 years. He just recently has told me that he wants to date other woman and that I was just an infatuation. All this has taken place since I moved in with him 8 months ago. We starting growing apart right from the beginning, and now it is like we are strangers. Is there anything I can do to bring him back to me. I love him and know he is what I need and want in my life. Please help me understand.

 

It is interesting that things started falling apart when you moved in together. It is the same problem married people have. The novelty and excitement seems to disappear when you are with eachother so much. You think that by moving in together you would be increasing your romance, but in fact, the opposite happens. It happens because now that you have access to each other, you aren’t as desired by the other. The idea of the “hunt” or the “chase” is gone, so you have to find other ways to make things exciting.

One way to do that is to find ways to “play” together. Studies have shown that couples who actively play together, whether it is a sport outside or at the gym or just having tickle time in the bedroom, are happier and stay together longer. So make an effort to add playful time to your daily routine.

Love notes and phone calls just to say “I love you” also are a big way to keep the flame going.

In this particular case, i think you need to have a serious heart to heart conversation with him about what he isn’t liking anymore and what is exciting about the new girl. Could be that he just likes the thrill of the chase and if that is the case, he isn’t emotionally ready to settle down with you and your best bet is to move on and learn from this experience. There are lots of men out there, even if it doesn’t seem like it.

Check out my web page at

www.http://www.asktheinternettherapist.com/online_counselor_ag.asp

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence happens so much more than we realize. It really needs to be taken seriously and we ALL need to realize the NONE of US DESERVE it, no matter what has happened in our lives. We also need to recognize that both men and women are prepetrators of domestic violence. Your typical scenario is the man hitting the woman, but it definitely happens the other way around as well, and that doesn’t make the abused man any less “manly” to admit that it is happening. Domestic violence can also take the form of the person being violent with stuff, breaking things, throwing things, etc. They may think it is ok because they aren’t actually hitting the other person, but there is still the message of power and fear and control being conveyed.

Here is a letter I answered this week about domestic violence.

Dear Carol,

I’ve been with the same man for 6 and 1/2 years; we have been married for a year and half of that time.  Since we’ve been married we have split up five times, as for now we are separated again.   When my husband gets mad he breaks anything and everything he can get his hands on. Just this weekend he got mad came to my house and punched my window out of my door and also punch my mail box and broke it. I’m not afraid of him, but I know this is not a healthy marriage.  I don’t know what to do go ahead and file for a divorce or keep trying to work things out. In our last fight he promised me he wouldn’t break anymore of my things, but this weekend was proof he lied. I love him for all of the things we’ve been through but I hate that we keep separating and I know things have to change. Please help me.

 

Unsure of my next move

 

Dear Unsure,

When we hear about stories about other people in violent situations it seems easy to just say “why don’t you just leave?”  but when it is us in the middle of it and there are mixed up feelings of love and loyalty and fear, it gets a whole lot more complicated.

 

I think you are in a very serious situation here that could end up with you getting hurt, if not killed. I think you are smart to be separated from him for now and I would recommend you not let him come over. You have to be the one to make the decision on whether to divorce or give it one more try, but I would recommend a few things to consider when you make that decision.

 

First, I want you to make a list/description of the kind of guy you want to be with for the next 50 years. Try not to think about your husband, just think of “the perfect man”. Then I want you to think of how life would be if you stayed with this man and he didn’t change at all over the next 50 years. What would you be like by then? What would he be like? What kind of father would he be? Is that the kind of father you want for your kids? Is that the kind of husband you want for you?

 

If you decide you need to give this relationship one last shot you will need to set some hard and fast ground rules for him where the deal is if he doesn’t follow them to the T, you are done and file for divorce. The ground rules should include at minimum weekly individual therapy for him (not a bad idea for you as well); Absolutely no violence around you; there may be Anger Management classes in your area that would also be a good idea. The next time there is violence, you call the police, no excuses on your part. If you want to have any chance at a healthy relationship here, you have to be firm and draw your line of what is acceptable and what is not. He continues this pattern because he can, because you let him. There may be a part of you that thinks you deserve this or don’t deserve any better than this, but you are wrong and that is where I think the counseling for you is a good idea. That way the next guy isn’t the same song, second verse.

 

It is time for you to take a stand for yourself, for your safety, for your health, for your sanity. There is no reason for you to continue to live with this violence. That is unacceptable.

 

Good luck, you have some hard work to do!

Carol Agnew, MA, LMFT

Online Counselor

www.asktheinternettherapist.com/online_counselor_ag.asp