His Soul Mate Isn't So Sure
Q: Was married for 35 years. But then I fell in love with the woman who is my soul mate. She could never break the hold her family of origin had on her and after two years she told me she was going back to her husband. This devastated me. Suicide was a daily thought. Lost my business and moved away. Had moved in with a family and was starting to recover when, 9 months later, she comes back and tells me that leaving me was the stupidest thing she had ever done. She had given up on trying to get her husband back and wanted me. Told her that I had to have some assurance before I was going to leave the semi-stable situation I was in. She tells me she loves me and wants to spend her life with me but that she needs time to get her family of origin, who all hate me and blame me for her divorce, under control.
That was four months ago. Now it seems she doesn't know if she can go forward with me since I have little retirement and am currently looking to start another career. Before you tell me to run, bear in mind, I love her completely and truly believe she is my soul mate. When we are together, the world is right. It's only when her family gets their drama into the mix that we have problems. I'm a very young 58. Well educated and ambitious. I won't be down long, especially if she will support me in the changes we have ahead. I have told her many times that I need her to commit to this but she has gone to the "let's take this one day at a time" statement as a way of refusing to commit. What should I do? - Sam, 58
Dr. Susan: Assuming your lady love is no longer in her teens (I hope!), it doesn't bode well for your relationship that she is still stuck under the thumb of her family of origin. I understand that you love her madly and want to be with her very much (although I don't believe there are such things as actual soul-mates). She, on the other hand, is a confused woman who doesn't know who she loves or what she believes. Counseling might be useful, if anyone can get her to see that by putting her family of origin so high on her priority list at this stage, she may be cheating herself out of a gratifying and mature relationship. Maybe it's a cultural thing or a personality thing, but if financial security is that important to her, you may have to change your financial picture before she'll commit. For this to work as things stand, she has to believe in you and be willing to make a few sacrifices for the future. I would want to know, after all this time of knowing you, what she means by "one day at a time." Does she mean until something better comes along, or a parent dies, or you get rich, or what? Commitment always means taking a kind of leap of faith, and when we love someone, we commit to sticking with them no matter what. But it has to be a two-way deal.
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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.