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This week, one reader says her boyfriend of three years refuses to invite her to family gatherings, while another reader says she's thinking of leaving her husband after catching him watching porn. Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle cuts through the fluff with her love advice in TODAY.com's "30-second therapist" series.
Q: My boyfriend of almost three years will not invite me over to his place or to see his family. In the span of two years I have seen his family two times, two hours total. Every time I bring up the subject or ask about why, he deflects the questions and says his family is always busy. His mom makes remarks sometimes about inviting me over to family events, but he never tells me. I pushed the issue one time, and never did again because I was placed in an awkward situation of showing up at his mom’s birthday party--without being told it was her birthday! I've never asked again. Some friends say it's a red flag, others say to leave it alone, because he might just not be close to his family. How should I approach this? We have been together for so long, but it's been over a year since I've seen his family without being invited over. —Struggling to Understand
Contrary to your friends’ opinions, boyfriend appears to be close enough to his relatives to go to their “family events”—but not with you. Whatever the reason, his exclusion signals you’re not an integral part of his emotional life. My Gilda-Gram™ advises, “If you need to beg for it, there is no love.”
Girlfriend, you’ve got to change your approach. Since you’ve remained mum for so long, your guy may not know the importance of this issue for you. Further, your capitulation to the status quo may be a trait you use often in life—which will keep you stuck. Invent a healthier future by sharing your truth. Even if this causes a showdown or worse, you will have grown immeasurably by learning to assert your needs. —Dr. Gilda
Q: I caught my husband watching pornography online. I was upset with him doing this to me many times. What should I do? Do you think his love for me is fading? Do you think setting him free is good? Do I have the right to hate him? Divorcing him would prevent me from getting hurt over and over again. This is the fourth time he did this. Why did he do this if he knew it would hurt me? Please, I need your help to explain to me why my husband does this! —Disgusted Wife
Dear Disgusted Wife,
Porn can be a quick visual stimulus for men, concluding in immediate satisfaction. Although many women are taught that porn is exploitive of their gender, and something they should shun, females are increasingly enjoying new-age porn story lines like “50 Shades of Grey.”
Understand that hubby is not deliberately “doing this to [you],” and leaving him won’t solve your issue of feeling persecuted when a guy pursues his instincts. Taylor Swift sings, “I just wanna know you better . . .” in her song, “Everything Has Changed.” Get to know your husband better by discussing your differing sexual appetites and mores, and how to accommodate them. Also expand your own sexual boundaries. If you become hubby’s sex kitten, the alley cat might purr for you! —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.