This week, one reader struggles with a sense that her husband is being unfaithful, while another wants her boyfriend of two months to tell his adult children that he is dating. Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle cuts through the fluff with her love advice in TODAY.com's "30-second therapist" series.
Q: I've sensed for nearly a year and a half that my husband has been hiding something from me. Over time, I've been able to narrow it down, based on his behavior, reactions to certain questions/names and other credible circumstances. It’s related to a particular female coworker. I want to be clear I have no proof. However, I do not know how to ignore such a solid and persistent "gut feeling." It's to the point where I'd like to cut off our sexual relations. I don't know how to tell him this without bringing up my sense of infidelity. We have two young children I have to consider when making all my choices. I don't feel justified in calling it quits without having proof, but I feel I have viable indicators. How do I cut him off sexually while I sort through fact versus fiction? --One Confused Lady
Dear One Confused Lady,
Unless you’re paranoid, a gut feeling often signals information buried in the unconscious, too painful to rise to the surface. But something other than what you suspect may be going on. Write a list of the vague “behavior, reactions to certain questions/names and other credible circumstances” you have sensed. Put dates next to each item. Then make another dated list of ways your husband has expressed love to you and your kids.
Show your husband your findings, rather than play the passive-aggressive game of withholding sex. Mirror Sara Evans’ words in her song, “Slow Me Down:” "If there's something you still need to say, you need to say it now. Hurry up and slow me down.” When all is in the open, if there’s enough to salvage, counseling will help.—Dr. Gilda
Q: I have been dating a guy for two months who has grown daughters from a previous marriage, as well as one grandchild. He stated in the beginning that "his girls" were everything to him and he spends the weekends with them as a family, squeezing me in where he can. I asked if his girls were aware that he was dating and he said no, that his private life was his business. He's been divorced for five years. He has treated me with loving kindness, respect and devotion. My problem is that I feel like the "other woman" and know his daughters can make or break any potential relationship he and I may have. I suggested he tell them now that he's dating so they can get used to the idea. Then, should our relationship develop, it won’t be a shock if he eventually introduces me to them.--The Other Woman
Dear Other Woman,
Whoa, girl! What’s your rush? You seem to be pushing too hard, too soon. My Gilda-Gram™ warns, “An attempt to snare a love may actually scare a love.” So a man who feels whipped into romance will run.
The qualities you find endearing about this guy are the qualities that drive him to be a committed dad to his daughters. For five years, his social life consisted of substituting his kids’ company for that of a romantic partner. Allow him to figure out how he wants to proceed. If he comes around on his own, he’ll be far more ready to be a permanent partner. —Dr. Gilda
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Dr. Gilda Carle is the relationship expert to the stars. She is a professor emerita, has written 15 books, and her latest is “Don’t Bet on the Prince!”—Second Edition. She provides advice and coaching via Skype, email and phone.