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Dear Christine, Annoyed in Adrian

  • Posted on October 30, 2017 at 11:51 am

Dear Christine, Every year for the past 10 years me and my wife travel either to her families home for the holiday or mine. We trade off each holiday between Florida and Southern California. Either way–nice to go to a warm place! This year it’s her families turn–that’s California. I just found out, however, that my mother is starting to fail. She’s 89 and my sisters are telling me this might be her last Christmas. My suggestion to my wife is that we go to visit my family this year and double up on hers for the next two years. She wasn’t having that so I suggested we each go our separate ways, me to mine and her to hers and she’s freaking out. We are at a standoff with neither of us giving in. All I know is, I AM going to see my mom! I can’t understand why my wife is not being more supportive. Any suggestions? I’m feeling angry at her. Signed, Annoyed in Adrian Dear Annoyed, I hear you! We all have limited days and we each have one Thanksgiving, one Christmas and one New Years per year. How to divide holidays between your two families…

Dear Christine, Concerned in Canton

  • Posted on October 16, 2017 at 11:04 am

Dear Christine, Every year it’s the same thing with my wife. I love her dearly and really try to understand but I am struggling. Both of her parents are gone and so is a sibling. They’ve been gone for over 20 years but each holiday she becomes so depressed that it practically ruins our holiday. She makes excuses not to attend parties and events because she says she’s too sad. I’ve had losses too. My parents are also gone and have had my heart broken a few time but I just want to choose to be happy and to enjoy the friends and family we do have. I’ve tried everything to talk her out of this seasonal depression to no avail. She’s fine the rest of the year but the holidays from Thanksgiving till the end of the year she just chooses to be miserable. This year I choose to be happy so I am going to accept invitations and let her make her choices. She passed on family Thanksgiving, I went to Christmas Eve party without her and Christmas she stayed home. Am I wrong to leave her at home alone? Signed, Concerned in Canton Dear Concerned, I think…

Dear Christine, Nervous in New Haven

  • Posted on October 9, 2017 at 11:08 am

Dear Christine, I’ve been asked to do a 10 minute speech to my coworkers because I won sales person of the month for 8 consecutive months. They want me to speak at our annual banquet in late November. I have a secret that no one knows at work. I am terrified to speak in public. Last time I did it in college I got tunnel vision during my speech but somehow managed to finish it. At least I think I did. It was all a blur afterwards. Should I tell them and decline, or is there a way to get over the fear? I’m embarrassed by it. Signed, Nervous in New Haven Dear Nervous, Welcome to the club!  The number one fear that human beings share is fear of public speaking!  More of us fear that than death!  There are some things you can do to prepare and possibly reduce your anxiety before your debut performance in November.  Prepare, of course.  Know yourself.  Do you do better by reading directly from a script or using notes or an outline.  I just read an interview with Rachel Maddow of MSNBC.  She wouldn’t show the interviewer her script she reads from, as…

Dear Christine, De-Gay in De-Troit

  • Posted on September 18, 2017 at 8:54 am

Dear Christine, My boyfriend and I have a 2 bedroom apartment, and we’ve been together for over a year, and I’m so tired of having to “de-gay” our home before his mom comes over. I have to take down all our pictures, all our rainbow symbols and make the second bedroom look like I sleep in it, which I don’t. He’s really close to her, but doesn’t think she knows he’s gay and doesn’t know we’re together. She’s really into the church, and he’s scared she won’t speak to him again, if he tells her that we’re a couple and he’s gay. I don’t think that’s true. She visits him all the time here. It’s really getting on my nerves and I don’t think I can take this double life anymore. I’ve been out for a couple of years and it’s really hard to go back in the closet for my boyfriend’s mom.

Dear De-Gay,  I hear your frustration! It’s hard to be in a relationship with someone who isn’t “out” full time. All I can ask of you is patience, and to keep talking with your boyfriend. He needs to make this decision to out himself to his mother in his time, not in yours. Talk together about how you each feel, what you each fear. Examine your own heart, and make sure that you are not violating a non-negotiable in your life. Must you be in a relationship with someone who is out to their family and friends, or can you find a middle way, as he figures out who he is and tells important others in his life? If it’s a non-negotiable, communicate that, as he needs to know what you need. He may not be able to meet your need, but at least he would know where you stand. Remember back to your coming out, or friends who struggled with rejection from family, and know that this is a process. Even if you believe his mom knows he’s gay, you aren’t going to convince him. It’s really important to listen, with love and acceptance of where he is. The only way change happens is when we stop trying to change, and instead just accept that this is how things are. In my experience, once I quit trying to change myself (or someone else) and let it be, that’s when things shift. So hard and so easy all at once. Christine C. Cantrell, PhD

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888
Click here to email Christine.

Dear Christine, Trans in Trenton

  • Posted on September 3, 2017 at 1:55 pm

Dear Christine,
How can I be happy when I’m never gonna be a cisgendered male, And the surgery is still not good enough?  I might as well end it, I can’t ever be happy with no support, or with the surgery results, No I haven’t started HRT just yet.  And on top of that I always get jealous of cismales.
Trans in Trenton
Dear Trans,
Thanks for writing Trans, and for my readers, I’ll start by explaining what your question means.  Cisgender male  or abbreviated to cis, is a word that’s been around since 1994, referring to someone who self-perception of their gender matches the sex they were assigned at birth and their personal identity.  (Cisgender has it’s origin in the Latin-derived cis-, meaning “on the side of) which is an antonym for trans-, meaning “across from” or “on the other side of”.)
I hear your pain and despair about your body and your identity not matching and the dread that it never will be in coherence adequately with hormones and/or surgery.  It’s a really tough place to be.  You have the option to end your life, but that is a permanent solution a problem that may not be so all pervasive once you start taking some steps to help your body look as you feel on the inside.  I’m just not sure that happiness is all wrapped up in a perfect body.
This is an extreme example, but Stephen Hawking is a man who has lived with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) for 50 years, far longer than most people with that disease.
It usually kills a person in just a few years, progressively paralyzing the muscles, until your lungs cannot breathe anymore.  Stephen Hawking got a terrible case of pneumonia in 1985, and his doctors asked his wife if it was time to pull the plug and let him die.  He was so very sick, and had ALS on top of it.  His wife said no.  She had him treated and eventually he came out of that very serious infection.   After that, he had no use of his voice, and has had to use a computer to generate a voice to read the words he types.  He is now a quadriplegic and on a ventilator.  And yet, he said that the bout of pneumonia in 1985 that almost killed him made him realize how brief life can be.  So, he set about his work in Physics.  He has lived longer than most people with ALS, and he has achieved more than most people in general.  He is internationally known for his work in black holes in astrophysics, and at 70 is awaiting data to confirm his M-theory, a complete theory of  the universe, which would launch him toward a Nobel Prize.  He has regrets, however, and one is that my disability “has prevented me from playing with my (3) children and my (3) grandchildren as fully as I want.”


So, I offer Mr. Hawkings as inspiration that happiness can be deeper and more lasting than the physical package which clothes our soul.  You have a spirit and you have a purpose.  Your job in this life is to figure out that purpose and live out your life being fully who you are!  I hope you can find a way to make peace with your limited and imperfect body, and perhaps hormones and surgery will get it looking closer to what you know of who you are on the inside.  No, you can’t be a cismale, and if that is all you focus your life on, you will always be miserable.  You can be a transman and you can make a difference in this world by living out loud, being you, trans and all.  Hormones do amazing things to resculpt bodies and there are new advances in transgender surgeries that get better all the time.  You are who your soul is, not your body.  It definitely helps to have your body look and function well, but who you are is a lot deeper than that.  Talk to a professional who can help you sort out your body image issues with being trans and not cis.  Explore options of going on hormones and start taking steps to make peace with the body you have, which will never be the body you want.  Even if you were to somehow magically become a cisman, aging happens to us all.  If you look at your parents and grandparents, you will see that their once young, handsome, strong bodies have become disfigured, sagging and arthritic, and their once gorgeous blonde or brown hair is now gray, or even bald.  No one is perfect and I highly doubt that anyone is 100% happy with their body, trans or cis.  Doing what you can with hormones, clothes, and possibly surgery will open the door to contentment with the wrapper your soul comes in.  It’s all a process.  Give yourself the space and time to explore this with people who can help you.  Keep in touch. Christine C. Cantrell, PhD

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

Click here to email Christine.

Dear Christine, Fearing Fatherhood

  • Posted on August 27, 2017 at 10:49 am

Dear Christine,
I am16 years old, now the thing is I’m not really sure of my sexuality, but I think I’m gay.
This weekend I had a talk with my grandma (this is when they start telling me my duties as a man and other crap) and she spoke about family and how I’m the only male of my generation with my granddads surname, so should I not have children, our surname kinda dies with me.
When I told her i don’t want kids, she threw a fit and lectured me about how I’d be killing a legacy. We also watched a popular TV show which features a gay couple, and she said to me “and I hope you don’t like what you see.”
Also, my mom is very homophobic (my dad seems more accepting) and if she found out about me, there will be a sh*t-storm. What’s worse is that even she expects me to carry on the family name.
Normally, I don’t care what people say (even my parents, but they know that I don’t want kids) but the way my gran spoke to me made me think. Part of me thinks that my family is selfish for expecting something of me that I’m not comfortable with, but another part thinks that I am being selfish for not wanting to have kids for the family.
I am not the kind of guy to just sleep with someone, so I won’t be having kids unless I actually marry the woman.
It seems that so far my only solution (which I am greatly considering) is either studying abroad and hopefully finding a job there so I can stay, or moving out of the country after studying and running away.
I know I’m only 16 and shouldn’t be worrying about kids, but let’s be honest, this is going to haunt me for a long time, so I might as well think about it now. So far I have no plans of coming out to my family.
What I want to know is whether I should go through life faking being straight, marry a woman and have kids with her? Also, any other advice would be appreciated.
Signed, Fearing Fatherhood in Farmington

Dear Fearing Fatherhood, Hey!  Last time I checked, most families didn’t want their 16 year old kids having babies just to carry on the name!  You are too young for all this pressure!  If you aren’t out to your family, then I’d encourage you to not come out until you’ve got more support in your life to cope with your family’s dreams and expectations of you.

David-Furnish-Elijah-Furnish-John-Zachary-Furnish-John-and-Sir-Elton-John

So, what do you do?  It’s hard to be out and proud with homophobics in the family.  You are not alone, however.  There’s support, here on the internet, and in the real world (Affirmations Youth Program would be a good place to start http://.goaffirmations.org).  If you have a parent (your dad seems more possible here) have him check out Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, PFLAG, a national non-profit organization with over 200,000 members and supporters.  There, your family can get facts and information about having a gay kid, and they can discover that it is completely possible for you to have your own children, even as a gay man!  Science is wonderful!  For PFLAG in general, check out this site:    http://pflag.org and for PFLAG Detroit’s area chapter see http://pflagdetroit.org or PFLAG Ann Arbor http://pflagaa.org or info@pflag-fr-detroit.org. 
I do not recommend trying to pretend to be straight to the point of marrying a woman and having children.  That’s not fair to the woman, or children, and it’s certainly not fair for you.  Focus on school.  Graduate High School, and the College.  Studying abroad is a great way to learn more about yourself as an independent adult (I studied in Jerusalem for a year).  There are others who make sure they move out of the family home as soon as they are able to support themselves, some even moving out of state, where they can explore who they are without family pressures.

Gay men have kids all the time these days.  There’s women who will be a surrogate for you, allowing her egg or someone else’s to be mixed with your sperm and implanted in her for the pregnancy.  There’s also plenty of foster children and children who need adoption.  They might not carry on your genes, but they are children who are here and desperately need a family to belong to and to love them.  I just heard an interview with Elton John on the radio last week, and learned he now has two sons, Zachary (2.5 y o) and Elijah, 9 mo old) both born of a surrogate mother.  He has been legally in a civil union with David Furnish since 2005, and is a staunch supporter of gay marriage in the United Kingdom.  The United States is changing rapidly in attitudes and laws about gay marriage.  There are currently 13 states that allow gays and lesbians to marry, and fifteen countries around the world that recognize gay marriage.  The Federal Agency that collects taxes in the US, the IRS, recently ruled that gay and lesbian couples who are legally married in any state or country must now file taxes as a married couple.  Social Security also just announced that same sex marriages will be recognized by the Social Security Association, allowing gay couples retirement and disability income rights, among others.  There are lawsuits going through in Michigan and Ohio and other non-gay marriage states that are working to overturn the state constitutional amendments that were made 6 -9 years ago to forbid gay marriage.  You’re 16.  By the time you’re ready to marry anyone, male or female, I’m guessing it could be 10 years.  That is a long time with how quickly change is happening in acceptance of gay and lesbian families and marriages.  By the time you finish college, you may well be out, living in a different state from your family and you may be out and happy with life.  And they may see what more straight but not narrow people see:  you are still their son/grandson, and they love you for who you are, nothing more, nothing less.  Take care, and keep in touch.

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

Click here to email Christine.

Dear Christine, Protective in Pontiac

  • Posted on May 22, 2017 at 9:17 am

Dear Christine,
My girlfriend and I met two years ago at a dance. We now live together, we keep separate bank accounts but share the bills. The house is mine but she wants to protect herself in case we ever breakup. She wants me to put it in writing that if we ever do breakup that she will get a portion of the equity.
The way I see it, she was paying rent before she met me and she is paying rent now so I’m not feeling good about giving her ownership in a house that I have lived in for 30 years. In fact, the home was may parents and I bought it from them before they passed. I do love her but I’m having a hard time giving her what she wants and she’s feeling hurt and I’m afraid it might be a deal breaker for her. Am I wrong to want to protect my assets?
Signed Protective in Pontiac
Dear Protective,
Pre-nups are never very romantic, but they have a purpose.  Each person in a relationship, whether married or just living together, has rights and responsibilities as well as assets.  And, just putting something “in writing” is not the best method, as most people’s writing would not pass muster in court, and that’s where it counts.
By all means you should protect your assets!  That’s where lawyers come in, say, Daniel Gwinn at www.gwinntaurianinenlaw.com.  Your girlfriend also wants to protect her investment in your home.  She has been paying you rent and she would be paying rent to live somewhere.  Normally, rent does not turn into an asset, unless you have a special rent-to-own deal.
The two of you are in a committed relationship together, presumably to build a future together.  In that case, protecting each other by legally marrying is the easiest option.  Or, you could sign a Quit Claim Deed with Rights of Survivorship is you want her to be included on the deed, or be able to stay in the house if you were to die.  Of course, even if you marry, you might want to protect assets obtained before the marriage, such as inheritance, a house or other investments.  That is possible, and if there is a chance of a divorce or break up, it will make that go a lot smoother for both of you.  Your girlfriend probably wants to feel equal to you in the relationship.  But the relationship is only 2 years along.  And you aren’t legally committed to each other.  I don’t think she has a right to demand or request half the house as settlement if there’s a split, but perhaps you would want to assure her of a cash payment to help her resettle (first and last months’ rent, maybe?).
My wife and I went through this exact scenario.  When we met, I moved from an apartment into her house that was almost paid off.  I moved in and paid her rent.  We still share bills but have separate accounts.  After a couple of years, she did sign a Quit Claim Deed with Rights of Survivorship so I would be assured a place to live if she died.
Eventually, we bought a new house together in both of our names, and later we legally married.  I am committed to treating her fairly, should we divorce for any reason.  Since she has contributed more than half towards this house,  I would want help in resettling.
We would definitely use a therapist and/or ediator and/or lawyer or two to divide assets fairly, which is not necessarily evenly.  Our marriage protects each of our rights.  My personal commitment is not to mistreat someone I love(d) should that relationship end for whatever reason.
So, I encourage you both to do research.  Talk to a lawyer, talk to friends who have not married by have shared a home that one bought before meeting the other.  Find out what works for both of you.  Keep talking, though, to find out what assumptions, feelings or meanings lie beneath the words each of you use.  Understand how each of you thinks about this relationship and commitment to each other.  Get into couple’s therapy to have someone mediate the conversation and keep the tone friendly.  And good luck.  Sincerely,
Christine Cantrell, PhD Licensed Psychologist

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

Click here to email Christine.