Don’t set­tle for part­ner’s bound­eries

Cape Breton Post - - Religion/advice/games - Read El­lie Mon­day to Satur­day. Email el­lie@thes­ Fol­low @el­liead­vice. Copy­right 2017: El­lie Tesher Dis­trib­uted by: Torstar Syn­di­ca­tion Ser­vices

Q: I’ve known my wife for 13 years, mar­ried 11 years, with two beau­ti­ful kids and count­less mem­o­ries from the day I met her till now.

Last year, she told me that we were done, that she’d lost re­spect for me, that she may have never loved me, and there was noth­ing I could do to change her feel­ings.

She re­fused to con­sider coun­selling. Above any­thing else, she wanted to set out on her own.

For many rea­sons, while it’s al­most a year later, we’re still to­gether.

Our home life is still more than solid. We still have fun to­gether as a fam­ily.

But noth­ing’s changed be­tween the two of us, and she hasn’t seemed to change what she wants in life.

I feel that I’ve im­proved my ap­proach to life and am more mo­ti­vated, more use­ful, and even some­times more happy, which she’s men­tioned she’s no­ticed.

I feel I’m lucky that things are still sta­ble to al­low me to show her that.

I un­der­stand and re­spect her feel­ings, but I wish she’d try some pro­fes­sional coun­selling be­fore change makes that op­tion too late.

But I need her to choose coun­selling out of her own heart, not by me con­vinc­ing her.

Ev­ery­thing that makes me happy in life I al­ready have, which makes me feel like my best op­tion is to hang in there, im­prove, and be strong as a per­son ev­ery day and hope for the best.

Am I fool-hearty?

— Hang­ing In

A: A lot of peo­ple over the years have sent me their sto­ries of sud­den pro­nounce­ments by one part­ner or an­other of be­ing “done” with their re­la­tion­ship and want­ing out.

Yet there’s a “Wow” fac­tor in this case, for many rea­sons:

“Wow”, that she said all that to you, yet didn’t leave. “Wow” that you didn’t just lis­ten, you ac­tu­ally heard her and made changes in your­self.

But there’s also a wor­ri­some “wow” that nei­ther of you have sought some coun­selling for your own sakes, let alone for the mar­riage nor how her bomb­shell pro­nounce­ment could af­fect your chil­dren.

In some ways, I find you have more courage than she’s shown.

She chose hard-core truthtelling but just dumped her load of neg­a­tives on you. Yet you asked your­self what you could do about some of them and set to work.

No, I don’t think you’re “fool­hearty” but I do think you should bol­ster your­self for the fu­ture.

Get coun­selling for your­self. Learn how far you’re will­ing to go to keep the mar­riage to­gether, and dis­cover too where your boundaries ex­ist.

Would you ac­cept her hav­ing an af­fair, in or­der to stay to­gether? Are you okay with hav­ing a sex-less mar­riage? (You don’t men­tion in­ti­macy here at all, but I sus­pect there’s not much when you say, “noth­ing’s changed be­tween the two of us.”)

Your get­ting coun­selling may en­cour­age her to do the same. If not, her state­ment that “noth­ing you could do” would change her feel­ings re­mains a threat over­shad­ow­ing your re­la­tion­ship, im­ply­ing that she could walk out any day.

De­spite your de­sire to hang in, you should also pri­vately seek some le­gal ad­vice. While you’re mak­ing your own changes, she may just be bid­ing her time.

With chil­dren in­volved, you need to know your rights as a par­ent and your fi­nan­cial re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to her, should this hold­ing-pe­riod fall apart.

If all she wants is to “set out on her own,” she’ll be look­ing at the le­gal side of it, too.

Un­der­stand­ing and re­spect­ing her feel­ings is im­por­tant, but make sure you re­spect your­self, too.


: I’ve had a three-month whirl­wind ro­mance with a man who’s older than me and a suc­cess­ful busi­ness­man. We’ve dis­cussed a fu­ture to­gether.

Re­cently, when I was too busy to see him be­cause I was do­ing my taxes past the dead­line, he be­came an­gry and yelled at me.

He said I’m ir­re­spon­si­ble, han­dle money like a child, and too im­ma­ture for a se­ri­ous re­la­tion­ship with him.

I was shocked. What about our hav­ing said “I love you,” to each other? Is it fair to judge me from one small part of my life where I’m less or­ga­nized (and have less money to af­ford ac­coun­tants) than him?

What can I say or do to get our ro­mance on track again? — Harshly Judged

A: Ask him to help you or­ga­nize your tax process or rec­om­mend some­one who will, so this past-due ap­proach won’t hap­pen again.

Mean­while, watch for other signs of flash-tem­per and harsh judge­ment.

TIP OF THE DAY: A part­ner’s crit­i­cisms de­serve to be heard, but set boundaries on what you’ll ac­cept.

El­lie Tesher


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