Dec. 16, 2013 at 3:52 PM ET
This week, one reader feels inadequate because his girlfriend believes he isn't financially stable, while another questions his widowed partner's inability to clean her home. Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle cuts through the fluff with her love advice in TODAY.com's "30-second therapist" series.
Q: I am in a relationship with a woman I love very much. I have two children from a previous marriage. I tried to make my marriage work, but the fighting was just too much. I love my girlfriend and have the most open relationship I've ever had, but she's suddenly turned on me, and I think it has something to do with her parents.
She says she loves me, but worries that she cannot have children with me, because I already have two of my own. She also does not think we will be financially stable. I own my own business, and it’s going well. I spent my life savings on opening this business just prior to meeting her, and money is very tight for me now. What should I do? I have been searching for a job that would make her feel more stable about the future and keep my business. I feel inadequate. Most of the tension is coming from her parents because every time she talks with them, she pushes me away. What should I do? —Lost
Dude, don’t swallow the “parents/children” excuse! Girlfriend’s quashing your passion and drive — and you’ve consumed her criticism and contorted yourself to feel more “adequate.” Stand up to her control!
Feeling overpowered by his boss, one client had no idea how it even felt to express emotional backbone. So being a holistic practitioner, I prescribed Pilates! Since it would take a while for the spine-strengthening exercises to take effect, I also recommended all-day shoulder straightening with the UpCouture t-shirt, whose resistance bands would continuously remind him to stand erect. Integrating mind and body worked! The guy stood taller, felt in charge, and has already gotten two promotions!
Try this physical approach to kick-start your emotional grit. Your girlfriend will respect you — if you still want her — and you’ll also reap dividends in your business! —Dr. Gilda
Q: I was married for over 30 years. I lost my wife four years ago. Since then, I have fallen for another woman, also a widow. The problem is, our house looks terrible. My wife was not the best housekeeper, but this is worse. I have tried to talk to her about cleaning, and I even offered to clean up for her, but she refuses. She says I might throw away something important from her marriage. I have tried everything, and I am afraid to let anyone visit. I really love her, and with the exception of this, I have no complaints. How can we de-clutter two combined houses without hurting each other’s feelings? —Cluttered Cowboy
Dear Cluttered Cowboy,
While you’re ready to rid yourself of baggage, your lady friend is not. Hanging on to material memories allows her to sustain the emotional comfort she derived from her former life. But as my Gilda-Gram™ says, “That which controls you, owns you.” Your lady is owned by her past, though you may believe she's ready to move on. When you offered to “clean up for her,” she panicked.
It’s too soon for her to be cohabiting. Do you want a love who loves her memories more than you? You might create a special space for yourself in your home, so her clutter doesn't disturb you. But you can’t rush grieving. It’s probably best to find a place of your own until more time passes. —Dr. Gilda