You are currently browsing all posts tagged with 'communication'.

Dear Christine, Heart Broken in Holly

  • Posted on November 25, 2018 at 11:59 am

Dear Christine, I love her, but she assures me it’s over. She calls sometimes and makes plans with me and then cancels on short notice. I always get my hopes up and then I feel like shit when she does this. What should I do? What should I say to her? I do want to be friends with her but she makes that so hard, because everything has to be when she’s got time for me and then she cancels anyway. Heart Broken in Holly Dear Heart Broken, Oprah Winfrey once said “when people tell you who they are, listen to them.” If your ex still calls and makes plans and cancels abruptly, but insists it’s over, then believe the “it’s over” part of that. Words are easy, actions tell the truth. I hear that you are hurting and miss her, and that you feel like you are occasionally fit into her busy life, and hope keeps rising up, only to be dashed again. I imagine it’s not the description of the relationship you had with her, or that you would want with anyone. You can only make a choice for yourself here. Choose for it to be over. You…

Dear Christine, Damaged Goods in Dearborn Heights

  • Posted on October 22, 2018 at 9:15 am

Dear Christine, I am a 28-year-old gay man. I came out when I was 18 and since then I’ve enjoyed a healthy, active dating life. I’ve always been comfortable with my sexuality. Three months ago, however, I tested HIV-positive and since then feel like I have to come out all over again. I haven’t been able to start dating yet because I’m afraid of how people will react when I tell them about my situation. And I don’t know what the rules are. What do I tell people? When do I tell people? And, if safe sex really is safe, do I have to tell them at all? And mostly I’m afraid (although I know it sounds crazy) that no one’s ever going to love me again. Damaged Goods in Dearborn Heights Dear Damaged Goods, I hear you, coming out all over again, now as HIV + being just as confused and uncertain how to tell others as you were to tell people you were gay 10 years ago. Trust your instincts with people, and tell those who feels safe to you. There may be some rejection from some people, but if they were people you wanted to date or…

Dear Christine, Choices in Clinton Twp.

  • Posted on July 30, 2018 at 9:11 am

Dear Christine, I am having trouble making a decision. I moved to Michigan 3 years ago and have since met a wonderful woman who I have been living with for the last year. I have been missing, my home, family and friends back in New York though and now I have an opportunity to move back as I have been offered an amazing job opportunity. I want my girlfriend to come with me and she is saying no. She is retired, has no kids, no siblings and no parents in Michigan, only a few close friends. In New York, I have two sisters, and my two grown sons and a granddaughter who is a newborn. My choice is clearly to take the job and move back home, however, “J” is begging me to stay. We’ve talked about a long distance relationship and I’ll be making enough money to visit often but I’m so angry that she won’t move with me that I’m wondering if in the end, I should just break it off and move. I do absolutely love her but this opportunity is too good to pass up. I wish she would look at it as an adventure and…

Dear Christine, Feelings in Franklin

  • Posted on June 4, 2018 at 9:54 am

Dear Christine, My question is this: My partner of 12 years has decided she has feelings for another woman, who has been straight all her life & has 3 children & is currently married. My partner has been helping her with all her issues & has become emotionally attached to this woman & is questioning her feelings for me? What do I do? Look forward to your reply. Thx, Feelings in Franklin   Dear Feelings in Franklin, So, my question to you is, what’s missing in your 12 year relationship? For you? For your partner? I’m guessing you used to be close and intimate, and it was satisfying, but over the years, you’ve somehow grown apart emotionally. Now, your partner has been getting her emotional needs met by helping a friend, which are fueling her questioning of your relationship with her. She’s perceiving her friend as her emotional significant other, not you. What is she not getting in her relationship with you? What is it that she needs? What are your needs? Are they being communicated? Are they ever met? If you can’t answer these questions, then I’d start there, with yourself, and then moving on to her needs. Explore…

Dear Christine, When to Call it Quits in Westland

  • Posted on May 14, 2018 at 9:43 am

Dear Christine, my girlfriend has dumped me so many times – the day i went to mexico, two days before christmas – etc.! and i take her back every time. she said she left because a)i would not tolerate her excessively close relationship continuing with her ex and b) because i have teenage kids whom she did not like (she has no kids). now we are back together again, she said she was making the big commitment this time and no more running away, but i feel like something died and i can’t really get behind it emotionally. we have not had sex for almost two years! she is my first girlfriend. i hesitate to let her go, she’s a good person, but i don’t even want to hold her hand! i think something dies inside when you get so many hard hits. should i just cut her loose? another aspect is that she is not educated like i am, so i get frustrated that she cannot understand what i am saying…plus she is the perky type which i find irritating. did i answer my own question?? when to call it quits in Westland Dear When to Call it Quits, Most…

Stay or Leave in Southgate

  • Posted on November 28, 2016 at 5:58 am

Dear Christine, I keep wondering if its it worth it to stay in this relationship.  My partner, who I’ll call Anna, works constantly!  And then when she does have free time, she’s too tired to do anything fun.  There’s no time for us!  To top it off, Anna can’t stop herself from constantly telling me what to do and how to do everything better. I mean, she corrects me about EVERYthing, like cooking cleaning, singing, dancing, sex, money etc. Anna is a  know-it-all personality and the worst yet, is she never tells me “good job!”  Always, she tells me, I should have done it her way, instead.  I’m going crazy! Signed, Stay or Leave in Southgate Dear Stay or Leave, There’s a lot I don’t know about you and your relationship, like how old you both are and how long you’ve been together.  I’m assuming you are both adults and have been together several years.  That means you both entered into this relationship freely.  And you have been together long enough to know that you are partnered with a smarty-pants.  Commitment doesn’t change personalities, but those characteristics that drew you to her may well be the ones that are pushing…

Teetering in Trenton

  • Posted on October 2, 2016 at 9:46 pm

Dear Christine,

I’ve done something really impulsive and now I’m afraid to tell my husband. Each year his family comes in from out of town and stays with us for Thanksgiving for a 4 day weekend. That includes mom, dad, brother, his wife and three young kids. I love him. I’ve put up with his family who are still a bit judgey about the gay thing for 6 years now. I’ve been kind and gracious, I think, but I will lose my mind if I have to deal with them this year. I haven’t told him yet but I bought an airline ticket to visit my friend in New Mexico for that weekend. I can’t even work up the nerve to tell him. Now that I’ve done it I feel really guilty. What should I do? I’m teetering between getting out of town and cancelling my reservation. I’ve never even really told him how much I dread these visits. I love him so much. help!

Teetering in Trenton

Dear Teetering,

Seriously?!  You are married to your husband, co-hosting his “judgey-about- gays” family for Thanksgiving for not 1, not 2, not 3 but SIX years.  And it never crossed your mind to tell him that you dread these visits?  And you think he has no clue as to your actual feelings of dread? What kind of marriage is this?  Apparently, there is no honesty about what each of you need and how either one of you feel!  My prediction is that this marriage can’t last long.

Trust is one of the fundamentals of a healthy relationship.  Trust comes from being vulnerable, honest and open with your spouse.  It’s not easy.  It’s not fun.  But it’s entirely necessary to build trust.  It would seem that your husband values his family coming to visit at Thanksgiving each year, despite their moral stance.  Seriously, you have never said a word to him about how difficult this annual ordeal?!  Time to change that!

You can keep your reservations for New Mexico if you don’t tell him, but you might think about looking for a job and an apartment there while you are visiting your friend.  I’m not sure your husband will appreciate your surprise disappearance.  Or you can just fess up to your husband and let him know just how uncomfortable you are with his family visiting and see if he is willing to graciously let you out of this co-hosting of his family.  Or you can cancel the tickets and fess up to your husband that you’ve been hiding the real you from him for six long years and see if he gets your misery or feels hurt and angry.  Your choice.

Physics teaches that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  No matter what you decide to do or when you decide to do it, there will be a reaction.  You choose what is the best course for you and for your marriage.  If you have any hope of this being a long-term marriage, I’d suggest cancelling the tickets and then telling all to your husband.  And I mean all.
Maybe he’ll understand your desperation and give you the green light to avoid his  “judgey” family.  Maybe he won’t understand and resent your cowardice.  I don’t have a clue.  Good luck to you, but just remember, honesty is the best policy and the sooner the better.  This would have been a really good conversation in year 1 or 2.

Take care,
Christine Cantrell, PhD

Psychologist

Deal Breakers and Dating in Dexter

  • Posted on September 25, 2016 at 1:46 pm

Dear Christine,

I am recently dating someone that I really like.  I have a list of deal breakers that she actually got annoyed with me when I listed them to her on our first date.

Deal Breakers = No Smokers, No Drug Users and No Alcoholics. Those are the big ones.

On a lesser scale, must have a decent job, be fairly intelligent, no fussy eaters and must want kids in the future.

We have two little glitches. One, she doesn’t think I should have voiced my deal breakers so early in a relationship. Two, she doesn’t want kids and I really do. I always have hoped to have at least one child, perhaps two.

So the following questions are, is it ok to let people know what I want and expect in a relationship?  Can you change another persons expectations for the future?  Can I get her to change her mind about kids when she seems pretty firm?

Deal Breaking and Dating in Dexter

 

Dear Deal Breakers and Dating,
Keep dating!  It may seem too early to bring up deal breakers early on, but it sure saves you time and heart ache!  Now you know that this woman is definitely not a keeper for a committed relationship including children!  Time to move on.

One of the advantages I found of dating once I reached my early 30s is that I no longer wanted to play “the game.”  I didn’t want to try to change anyone else, but instead, I wanted to let dates know who I know I am and what I need to make a relationship work.  For me!  The might have been fun in teens and twenties, but it grows old.  You may have offended her by getting serious too quickly, but you also learned that she’s really not into kids.  And you are.  You both now know that about each other and you haven’t wasted 3 years living together and fighting all the time.

Have you ever tried to change something about yourself?  Like lose weight? Quit a bad habit?  How did it go for you?  Was it quick and easy?  Did it just take a couple of reminders to yourself, a couple of changes to your routine and the weight was gone or you gave up the bad habit?  Hmmm.  I didn’t think so.  And this was a change YOU wanted for you!

So, if you try to change someone else who is OK with how they are (she doesn’t want kids) and now you make it your mission to convince her to be a loving mom to only 1 or 2 children, how will that go?  Smoothly?  Easily?  What will that do to the children that you want her to help you raise?  Will they feel loved and cared for by her?  Or might she feel resentful towards them and you?

Be glad you know yourself so well.  It’s not romantic to tell your date all your non-negotiables the first or second date, but it does move the process of finding a life partner along well.  Be who you are, with no apologies!  Keep dating!
And keep me posted, OK?

Christine Cantrell, PhD

Psychologist

 

 

Piqued in Pontiac

  • Posted on July 10, 2016 at 1:49 pm

Dear Christine, I am married to a know-it-all!  I’ve dealt with it for years and it’s finally starting to get to me.  I had gotten used to her always having the better way to do something or the better answer but recently my grandson has come to stay with us for a while and she does it to him and though he’s being kind, it is really making me angry.  I’ve lived with it so long and accepted it, that I’m having a hard time trying to find a way to approach the subject. Subtle hints over the years haven’t worked.  Any thoughts? Piqued in Pontiac Dear Piqued, I imagine that your know-it-all wife has been knowing better than everyone else for many years.   You figured out a way to tolerate this arrogance in your marriage and you made the decision that staying married is right for you.  But now, your precious grandson is getting the same treatment! Subtleties don’t work with this sort of person.  I know.  My father is the same!  He’s always known everything and anything and has never been shy to voice his knowledge.  My parents will celebrate their 65 wedding anniversary in August.  I don’t…

Anita (a-neat-a) in Ann Arbor

  • Posted on January 10, 2016 at 1:43 pm

Dear Christine, 

I’ve been with my partner for 10 years and we get along great.  I feel the secret to our success has been keeping separate homes.  Every couple years my partner, Alice, really pushes for us to move in together.  I realize it would save us both a ton of money and it’s a pain going back and forth.  Plus, I do love her and plan to spend the rest of my life with her.  What holds me back is one, she’s a slob and I’m a neat freak, and two, I sometimes like my space and really feel the need to go home and sleep in my own bed alone. 

I’ve almost given in at times but I worry it will end us.  If we sell both of our homes and buy a new one and don’t make it, it’ll be a mess.  I have absolutely no one who agrees with me.  My friends, family and partner all think I’m wrong.  So I see you answer questions and I read your columns so I thought I’d ask.  Am I in the wrong? 

Anita in Ann Arbor

 

Dear Anita,

Your conflict is the fodder of comedy, as in The Odd Couple on TV and on stage.  It’s as common as can be in human existence.  And everyone you know likes to weigh in on who is “right” and who is “wrong.”  The only opinions that matter in this situation is yours and Alice’s. My first question is: What’s true about your relationship with Alice?  Do you and she really get along great or does she need you to cohabitate?  Is she just tolerating your quirk or does she also credit the success of your relationship to each of you having your own space?

There’s no right or wrong way to be a couple, so long as you both agree on the boundaries and ground rules.  I once had a client, a gay couple who lived in different houses a mile apart.  They were told by their therapist that they could NOT be a couple if they lived in different residences.  I don’t understand that requirement. One in the couple was fighting his ex for custody of their children, and living with someone out of wedlock was used against his case, so they bought 2 houses.  There’s plenty of straight couples who do not cohabitate, and sometimes live far from each other, one on the East Coast, the other on the West.  How do they manage to still be a couple?  I’m sure there’s a lot of commuting back and forth, phone calls, texting, Skyping and the like!  But no one disputes they are a couple. So, couples can be couples but not cohabitate, if that’s what they both choose.

Opposites attract.  It seems that every couple is made up of a lark and a night owl, and so co-sleeping can be difficult, as described in a New York Times article today:  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/10/fashion/sleep-marriage-couples.html.  People actually get better rest when sleeping alone, but report more satisfaction when sleeping next to their partner.  And if that partner snores, or if both of you have different sleeping schedules or work opposite shifts, sleep may suffer and the relationship might be stressed. But it is better for each to sleep as their unique chronotype (https://www.bioinfo.mpg.de/mctq/core_work_life/core/introduction.jsp?language=engdictates).  Forcing a lark to become a night owl may well put more stress on the relationship than sleeping separately.

What’s important is to recognize and accept differences between you and your partner.  That means, you accept Alice’s sloppiness and she has to accept your neatness.  What does acceptance look like?  That can vary considerably.  It might mean having one home, but double the size of either of your houses, so you can divide up the neat areas and the messy areas, and close doors to not see each other’s way of being.  And compromise on the common areas.  It may mean two houses.

What do you and Alice need to do to make your 10 year relationship work for you as you go into your 11th year? Talk openly and honestly about each of your needs.  Are there any points or areas of overlap?  Is there any sane way to live together in one house and have both of you feel comfortable and at home without resentment?  In the NYT sleep-marriage article, Bruce Feiler recommends that you accept your differences and not force the other to sleep or wake at your schedule, as that will cause the other to be tired, irritable, less focused and less able to function at work, and the demanding partner will be blamed.  Instead, carve out time when you both are alert and make sure that is quality time.  At least when it comes to sleep.

So, I’m not in the business of telling you if you are right or wrong.  😉   I just want you and Alice to negotiate with each other without benefit or detraction from family and friends’ opinions.  Be honest with each other about who you really are and what you must have and absolutely cannot have in the relationship.  I know you’ll figure out what is best for the two of you as individuals and as a couple.

Christine Cantrell, PhD,

Psychologist

christineccantrellphd@gmail.com