This week, one reader says she's not attracted to her boyfriend anymore because she pays all the bills, while another says she's upset that her husband doesn't want to have kids. 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 dating for a little over four years. A year ago, we moved so I could continue getting my degree. At first, he didn't want to move, but he ended up moving with me in the end. I got him a job where I was working, and he got fired. Now I'm paying all the bills, going to school, and working. He's five years older than I, and I can't stand that I have to take care of him. I don't feel attracted to him, and we haven't had sex in at least two months. I don't know if I'm not attracted anymore because I've gained weight, am stressed out, or what. I want to break up, but then again, I don't, even though half the time I can't stand him. The only time we seem to get along and be like old times is when our friends are around. I'm not sure if I'm only staying because I don't know anyone else here except for him, or if I still love him. —Sugar Mama Confused
Dear Sugar Mama,
Girlfriend, you’ve accurately called yourself mama to your spoiled man-child. You’re not having sex anymore because you don’t want to make love to your makeshift son! You’ve gained weight because you’re stuffing anger into your body, rather than leveling with your guy to get a life!
In passive aggressive mode, your boyfriend said he didn’t want to move, yet he did—and made you pay for the privilege of his company. My Gilda-Gram™ explains, “A behavior continues as long as there’s a payoff.” You’re symbolically “diapering” your dude, and baby’s lapping it up. Without respect for him, you moan, “Half the time I can’t stand him.” Rid the fear of riding solo, and see yourself as an accomplished woman! Boyfriend? What boyfriend? —Dr. Gilda
Q: My husband (33) and I (26) have been married for almost one and a half years but we’ve been together for seven years. He has two kids from a previous relationship, ages 11 and 7 and a half that we have 50% of the time. We were engaged for two years because I wanted to make sure we were on the same page about having more kids. I wanted the option on the table and I knew he didn't really WANT any more kids, but he said he would be fine with having one more.
Now that we’re married, everything that comes out of his mouth about having kids or kids in general is negative. We have gotten into a few arguments about it since being married and now he says he definitely doesn't want to have another child. I told him it’s either counseling or a divorce, but I don't know what to do. I love my husband more than anything, but I can see myself starting to resent him and his kids because I want to have one of my own. I give so much of my life to his kids, and it would be a slap in the face to never have one of my own. I sometimes wish that I’ll find out I can't have babies so the decision isn't up to me. I'm lost right now. Please help! —Mom in Waiting
Hubby changed his family-planning promise mid-game. You can continue to build more resentment, or hope the decision not to have babies is made by some outside force. But a more productive approach is to take action! In a loving tone, without accusation, begin a candid conversation with your man about how you feel. Ask him to help you sort this out. If the love between you is as solid as you say, he’ll want to access his feelings, too. This may require the aid of a marriage counselor.
You are both suppressing your emotions, which keeps resentment building, and reaches no solution. While there are no guarantees he’ll come around, the way you’re currently not communicating guarantees a continuation of this impasse! —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.