This week, one reader says she and her boyfriend are more like roommates than a couple, while another says she hasn't been intimate with her husband in more than six years. Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle cuts through the fluff with her love advice in TODAY.com's "30-second therapist" series.
Q: My boyfriend and I have been together for six years. He's my best friend, but it often feels like we are roommates rather than a couple. There's no romance or “I love you.” I miss feeling special, and I need to know whether I should start thinking about moving on or just give up the fight. We've had several arguments about this matter, and I can't get him to see my side of the story. He provides the excuse that I'm too emotional and that unconditional love is something from a fairy tale. I often feel like we would be happier with different partners. As much as I would hate to lose a friend, I'm struggling to figure out what is best for the both of us. —Lost and Unloved
Dear Lost and Unloved,
Men feel pressed to wine and dine a woman as part of the seduction game. When a woman succumbs, she believes that life will continue this way. But now the man sighs, “Whew! I’m glad that’s over,” and the woman’s wine turns to a whine—about what she’s missing. It’s demeaning to beg for love, and belittling for your boyfriend to defend his position. In a peaceful setting, ask your guy to share his feelings about you. Don’t interrupt. When he’s finished, repeat back what you heard. He can confirm or correct what you think he said. Next, change roles. This exercise trains couples to be more sensitive to each other’s needs and pleas.Leaving is easy, but working this through has lasting rewards. —Dr. Gilda
Q: "D" and I have been married for seven years and have had two kids through in-vitro. For over six and a half years, we have not been intimate and before that it was only a handful of times. His mother was very abusive, and although I am not a yeller or name-caller, he said he cannot cope with any form of my disappointment -- referring to it all as anger. Even more, he essentially doesn't talk to me unless he has to. He's not intimate, even emotionally, mentally or spiritually. Is it worse for my kids to grow up seeing this as their example of love or to grow up in a divorced home? My babies are 3 and 5. —Just Miserable
Dear Just Miserable,
Rage, emotional distancing, and disappointment punctuate your household. As my Gilda-Gram™ advises, “If you’re ready to clean house, you’ll need to uncover the hidden dirt.” First, admit why it’s been all right for you to endure a non-supportive partnership all these years. Second, determine what qualities your man brings to the table. Third, decide whether what you're getting is worth the silent treatment. You’ll probably need the help of a therapist for these discoveries.
You ask about the emotional safety of your children, but this work is especially for you. As the nucleus of your family, your job is to make yourself a radiant rendition of someone your kids can emulate. Once you become an empowered mom, you’ll know whether to leave or stay. —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.