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This week, one reader wonders if her previous problem with alcohol will prevent her boyfriend from ever marrying her, while another says she's tired of bailing her boyfriend's kids out of trouble with their mother. Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle cuts through the fluff with her love advice in TODAY.com's "30-second therapist" series.
Q: I am 30 years old and dying to marry the man I have loved for five years, but I'm wondering if it's ever going to happen. We were engaged about two years in, but due to an alcohol problem on my end, we split for two months. I have since gotten clean and am soon to celebrate two years sober. All I want is for him to ask me to marry him again. I know I did some damage in the past, but isn't two years enough time to move forward? I have brought up the subject with him and his response has been, "We'll see." I have gone to great lengths to get my life back together for myself and for him, and I want to keep moving forward. Am I hoping for something that is never going to come? Should I cut my losses and continue moving forward on my own? —Sober Now
Dear Sober Now,
Congrats for mastering your struggle with alcohol. Since you know the high rate of recidivism for addicts, you can understand your guy’s concern. In the song, “Whiskey Lullaby,” Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss allegorically describe a man who “put the bottle to his head and pulled the trigger.” Serious stuff, girl! True, two years is a long time, but perhaps boyfriend will never forget the “damage.”
Be certain that your motivation for wanting to get clean is for you. Every day, list the benefits you’re enjoying as a result of your sober life. Whether your boyfriend accompanies you into the sunset or not pales in comparison to your ability to now navigate the sunset alone. Question your guy’s intentions, but be open to someone else in your life without the baggage of bad memories. —Dr. Gilda
Q: My boyfriend who lives with my two children and me has three children of his own. My problem is that when his kids get mad at their mom who has them all the time except every other weekend, they run to our house. I don't think this is healthy to keep bailing them out of fights with their mom. Am I right? I don't want a revolving door. Also, they are complete slobs when they come over, and he doesn't pick up after his children as I do mine, who are 8 and 9 years old. My boyfriend also doesn't pay for half the household bills as he said he would. No getting food from the store or toothpaste, laundry detergent, etc. I'm feeling overwhelmed with this relationship, and I have no clue how to handle it. —Household Maid
Dear Household Maid,
Kids need discipline and boundaries. Your boyfriend’s offspring are learning to run from issues rather than resolve them. They enjoy your house because it’s boundary-free. But they can’t be held accountable when they mirror their sloppy role model.
Honestly, when your guy doesn’t do his share, do you take on his heavy lifting? My Gilda-Gram™ explains, “When you overfunction for others, they underfunction for themselves.” Sound familiar?
You two must have a boundary discussion—and you need to relinquish your maid behavior. Your house will probably become a disaster until your boyfriend learns you’re not his mommy. In time, if he still doesn’t get it, you’d be best to end this lopsided distribution of power! —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.