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updated 8/24/2012 11:36:59 AM ET 2012-08-24T15:36:59

Dr. Gilda Carle

Need a quick answer to a relationship dilemma? Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle cuts through the fluff with her relationship advice in TODAY.com’s “30-second therapist” series.

Q: My husband and his ex-wife have a wildly inappropriate relationship throughout our courtship and marriage. They used to travel together, staying in the same hotel room with their teen kids while he and I were dating. His ex-wife is still in love with him and refuses to acknowledge our marriage. After six years together, I was never allowed to attend any family function until his son's recent college graduation, which I insisted on attending. When she’s in the same room with me, my husband’s ex cries and runs out. Yet he continues spending time with her "for the children" who are grown and living in other states. He says that denying her requests would be cruel, as he “tries to help her and the kids adjust to our marriage.” He does not seem to care if this hurts me. Otherwise, he is a very kind and loving husband. He tells me we have to give her time, but I’m enraged each time she calls. My question is, “Would any other woman on the planet put up with this?” —Enough!

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Dear Enough!,
The answer to your question is, “Only a woman desperate for love would accept this kind of ‘DE-rangement.’” Girl, you’ve had your head up the wrong part of your anatomy for years, and your cranial suppository is finally aching. Hubby is divorced only on paper, and he’s lapping up a menage a trois—with your blessing. You claim “he is a very kind and loving husband.” What are you smoking??

Wake up, speak up, and pack up if Dude throws more excuses at you! But discover WHY you’re so needy for this cad’s caring. If you can’t figure it out yourself, get counseling. Unless you find your motive, you’ll continue being this guy’s pet on a leash. —Dr. Gilda

Q: My husband of 12 years just laid a bombshell on me: he is not happy and doesn’t feel connected to me. I am devastated. We don't fight, we have fun, and have a good life together with our three children. I am trying to be strong and supportive, but he won't open up about what exactly is wrong. I have been reading relationship books, but they seem to contradict each other: some say shower him with love to show how much you care, others say don't let him see you as a doormat, don't cater to him, let him see the strong woman you are, and that you will be fine on your own. I'm totally confused about what to do. I love him and don't want to lose him. How do I keep him while trying to manage my frustration and sadness? —Wounded Wife

Dear Wounded Wife,
I don’t know what you’ve been reading, but the message throughout my writing and counseling is COMMUNICATE! (you evidently missed that memo!) You and hubby have donned “Yes, Dear” personalities, performed insipid marital roles, and since you “don’t fight,” you’ve missed the rich interchange of ideas that stimulate exciting love.

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Moreover, there are two marriages here—yours and his. You think you’re having “fun,” but he’s suffering a lack of happiness and connection. That tells you plenty! Instead of manipulating your man to love you according to some authors, share your heartfelt feelings. Sharing is symmetrical, and if you communicate first, he’ll eventually follow. When he does reveal himself, listen without judgment. The more vulnerable you become with each other, the more your relationship can grow. —Dr. Gilda

Do you agree with Dr. Gilda’s advice? Do you have your own? Share it in the comments below.

Want Dr. Gilda to answer your relationship questions? Click here to send them in!

Dr. Gilda Carle is the relationship expert to the stars. She is a professor emeritus, 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.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints

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