She Wants New Man
Q: I got involved with a man 10 years my senior when I was 16. I didn't know better at the time and let him control me into marriage. I am now 22. My husband is unemployed (and has been for four years and is not looking!!!!). I come home, cook him dinner and take care of every other responsible area in our lives myself. I am so unhappy. Then, a couple years ago, I met another man, and we have become very close. I can't help my feelings for him, and he has the utmost respect for my marriage. A couple weeks ago we went out to a bar with a few other people. I drank more than I should have, and though I would never cheat on anyone, I did tell him how I felt. And he then told me he felt the same way. This could be the person for me. I love everything about him.
Yet my husband has an undying true love for me. I love him, but I'm not "in love" with him. Our marriage was a total mistake. I don't see the other man often, but I think of him constantly. I tried breaking it off with my husband about a week ago, but now he tells me he will do anything to keep us together. Do I give him ANOTHER chance and hope he gets it this time? Or do I take a chance to be really happy? Should I be true to my husband who is very disrespectful and irresponsible, but loves me like you would read about in a fairytale? -- Lola
Dr. Susan: When we're teenagers, we get fed the line that there's a major distinction between loving someone and being "in love" with him. The thing about being "in love" with someone is that your body and mind are more than half out of your control. And the feeling won't last. You always think it will, but it doesn't. If you're lucky, that early craziness turns into the real thing, a love that sustains two adults for a long, long time.
What you've got here is a troubled marriage where some serious issues have not been faced. You can't just hope he "gets it" this time. You must move heaven and earth to ensure that he gets it! He sounds like a great big teenager himself who hasn't been doing much to keep your love. And now you've added a third person to the mix, which messes with your hormones so you can't think straight. Your husband needs to find legitimate work, share in the household chores and spend time meeting your needs. If he won't, then maybe his fairytale love is as worthless as fairy dust. But what you feel for this other guy right now is not a solid thing. You may have to do some therapist shopping to find a good one, but give it a real try before walking out for keeps.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.