March 7, 2014 at 12:02 PM ET
This week, one reader says after studying abroad he wants a partner who is more educated than his wife, while another reader asks how to trust her husband again after he cheated while she was out of the country. Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle cuts through the fluff with her love advice in TODAY.com's "30-second therapist" series.
Q: I am a 27-year-old master's student. I recently got married. My wife and I have been together for 6 years. We are the same age. When we were 21, we jumped into our relationship. She is truly a man's dream. She is the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. She takes care of me, is sociable and extremely intelligent. She's also foreign and comes from a different culture that is much more conservative than ours. She gave me an ultimatum of marriage or break up. I panicked and we made preparations for marriage.
I am now in school abroad and we are long distance. Her intellect is one thing that attracted me to her, but she never graduated from college. Not only are we from different cultures, but also different social classes. I met her while she was waitressing at a restaurant. Now I am off in school in a prestigious program and have my ego stoked everyday by the faculty and visiting lecturers. Being apart from her is difficult, but I am also being confronted by girls who have a high education and the sort of job prospects that make for a more intriguing future.
I do try to remind myself that her lack of education does not reflect her intellect. Indeed, she is smarter than most of the people I meet at school. I do wish she had more opportunities in her life. I am aware that I sound like an elitist jerk, but I'm feeling riveted by girls that can have a conversation about world events, politics, and history. She knows nothing about these things. What should I do? —Scholarly Husband
So you married your wife because you feared you’d lose her. Was leaving her at home while you went abroad to school a form of revenge? Now the “elitist jerk” on campus suddenly feels shame that his mate’s credentials don’t match those of his new friends. Who are you trying to impress, hubby?
While you’re becoming educated in “world events, politics, and history,” you need schooling in matters of the heart. Sorry, but you won’t get 3 credits for this course of discovery. If your goal is to drape someone’s status on your arm to assist your upward climb, perhaps a more superficial partner would suit you best. —Dr. Gilda
Q: I found out my husband cheated on me while I was out of the country, visiting relatives. I love him and want to make our marriage work but not sure how I can ever trust him again, especially the next time I go out of the country. Now he is being transparent, he includes me in all telephone conversations, has given me passwords to Facebook and email accounts, and more. Nobody has a crystal ball, but what can I do to assure myself? —Distrustful
My Gilda-Gram™ says, “Don’t just forgive and forget. Forgive and remember!”
Forgiveness is for you—so the burden of the past does not continue to haunt you. Remembering is for your relationship—so whatever circumstances led to cheating will not return.
Besides the changes in your husband’s behaviors, the two of you must assess the health of your marriage—then and now. In the song, “Happy Ending,” Sugarland sings, “From the beginning, we’re all looking for a happy ending.” The only problem is that happy endings don’t happen on their own. As painful as it will be, your husband’s feelings at the time he cheated, and your emotional availability, must be explored. A therapist could help. Understanding and communicating are the only ways to rebuild trust. —Dr. Gilda
Want Dr. Gilda to answer your relationship questions? Send them in!
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.