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

Dear Christine, Loving in Livonia

  • Posted on January 8, 2018 at 10:09 am

Dear Christine, I’m a gay man seeing a male therapist for issues I had after a bad breakup. Basically severe depression. After several months of therapy, I’m feeling pretty whole again but I don’t want to stop therapy because I have fallen in love with my therapist. My therapist is also gay and has never given me any reason to think he feels the same way, however, I guess I hope that he does. I’ve also never told him how I feel for fear he will ask me to stop seeing him. Question: should I tell him? I so look forward to my Wednesdays with… Signed, Loving in Livonia Dear Loving, I encourage you to talk to your therapist about this transference. You are in a relationship as a client with a therapist and there are legal and ethical boundaries that need to be in place to protect both of you. Your therapist will probably want to discuss your emotions, needs and expectations. And he will want to be clear about the professional boundaries of the therapeutic relationship you both have. It is not unusual for a client to have strong feelings of affection or love for a therapist, as…

Judging in Jackson

  • Posted on October 23, 2016 at 1:39 pm

Dear Christine, My wife and I have learned to live with the fact that she’s a republican and I’m a democrat years ago. We basically don’t talk about it but this year she told me she’s not voting at all to prove a point that, in her mind, neither candidate is acceptable. While I’m relieved that the woman I love is not voting for Trump, I’m a bit disappointment at her choice to do nothing. I’m keeping my mouth shut because I’m glad Trump is losing her vote but she’s doing the wrong thing, right?   Signed, Judging in Jackson Dear Judging, It sounds like you and your candidate lucked out in your household!  Your vote will not be cancelled out by your wife!  Your wife has her principles and you have yours.  The bottom line is someone will win the election and all the other candidates will lose.  Your vote gives you the right to complain, her abstention does not give her that right.  Most people complain anyway! Mike Rowe, host of “Dirty Jobs” addressed a fan’s request to urge fans to get out and vote on November 9, citing that it is a civic duty of all citizens and…

Pushed in Pontiac

  • Posted on October 2, 2016 at 10:02 pm

Dear Christine,

The woman that I just met 6 weeks ago is possibly the best thing that’s happened to me in a very long time. However, she seems way too concerned about the future. She constantly wants to discuss, Where will we live? When we should move in together?  Basically, she talks a lot about what our future will look like together.

I on the other hand am more concerned about really getting to know each other and protecting my heart. She’s ready this early to go all in and I am just a little scared and cautious.  Our histories are similar though. We’ve both been hurt and abandoned by those we were closest to in our lives.  I want to assure her that I’m excited about where this could go and I’ve tried but it’s never enough and it’s exhausting.  Reassuring her is getting in the way with the fun of dating and falling in love. I’m not going anywhere but how can I convince her without actually marrying her, which in no way would guarantee forever based on both of our pasts.

Thanks, Pushed in Pontiac

Dear Pushed,

It sounds like a lot is going very well for such a new relationship.  But, it’s also WAY too soon to be talking about marriage to reassure her of your commitment.  Neither of you is knows the other well enough to take that step yet!  That’s what dating is for!

A healthy relationship will allow each of you the space you need to explore the possibilities of what might become as you get to know each other.  Each of you needs to accept where the other one is without pressuring the other to be different.  If you think about some habit you’ve tried to change about yourself (flossing daily, losing weight, for example) you know how hard it is to change yourself when you are motivated and see the value of that change.  It’s almost impossible to change someone else, particularly if that person doesn’t see any need for change.

So, what that means is that you can’t change her neediness for you to make a life-long commitment after only 6 weeks together, and she can’t change your need to take your time and protect your heart until you are more certain that she is “the one.”  Talk to her to help her understand that her pushing you for a premature commitment or marriage could spell disaster for this fun relationship.  The best rule I’ve found is that of the lowest common denominator.  Whoever needs to move slowly, safely, must receive that space and time to feel safe in the relationship.  Just because one is ready to move in with the other doesn’t mean the other is ready to lose her own sacred space.

Keep talking to each other.  Help to her understand what you are feeling and where it is coming from.  If she just can’t hear you and insists on marriage now or never, then take care of yourself first.  You HAVE to live with yourself.  You choose to live with others.  If you aren’t comfortable with being pushed to make a choice you aren’t 100% sure about, then speak that truth.  If that ends the fun dating relationship, then so be it.

It’s ok to have boundaries.  Boundaries are what make it emotionally safe for emotional, social, sexual and physical vulnerability.  When you both have enough experience to validate trusting each other, then the love can blossom.  And you both will figure out what the next step is in this fun dating relationship.

Take care,
Christine Cantrell, PhD



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


Reading Books in Richmond

  • Posted on August 29, 2016 at 9:49 am

Dear Christine,

My wife and I love to read.  I’m into history and historical fiction and her, psychological thrillers.  Recently she found a list of 13  “must read” psychological thrillers.  She has taken her love of reading to a new high and no longer has time for anything else but work, come home and read and start all over again.  We used to come home from work and talk over dinner, maybe take a walk or do yard work together and then perhaps snuggle on the couch, each with a good book.  He obsession with finishing these 13 books is causing me to feel somewhat neglected. I have voiced my objection and her answer is, As soon as I finish these books, we will go back to normal.  At least she agrees, this isn’t normal!  She is about half way through her list.  So at the pace she’s reading, I have another 6 to 8 weeks of neglect which is making me feel everything from anger to loneliness to just plain sad. Should I risk a fight and demand more time with her or just try and be patient for another month or two? 


Reading Books in Richmond

Dear Reading,

I’m assuming you two have been living together for a number of years at this point.  Reading now is taking precedence over deep conversations, long stares into each other eyes and hot sex!  So, how long has it been?!

I don’t think I have had a question about reading interfering with a relationship before!  Texting, FaceBook, TV, friends even porn, yes!  But reading is new.  So at least you both are using your imaginations and keeping your brains fit.  Is there any time in your relationship in which you touch base with each other and see how each of you is doing/feeling?  I hope so.  That would be an excellent time to let her know that you are feeling replaced by some books and you could make a request that there be some time set aside without reading that you could attend to each other’s needs and feelings.

If not, then it’s important to let her know in a moment she doesn’t have her nose in a book, that you need to talk and connect with her and let her know how you have been missing her.  Have you had a date night?  Any time with just the two of you alone together?  Over dinner?  Before bed?  Or are books and electronic devices invading all times you might otherwise connect.  Speak up and let your feelings be known.  Waiting another 6-8 weeks seems a long time, but if you’ve already spent 20 years together, perhaps it’s a relatively small amount of time and will pass quickly.

It is important for couples to spend time checking in with each other and reconnecting their emotional, social and sexual connections with each other.  Ask for that if you’re not getting that at all.  If she puts these 13 books before you, then you clearly know where you stand.  That is a different issue.  Write me again if that is the outcome, ok?!

Christine C Cantrell, PhD,


Torn in Trenton

  • Posted on August 21, 2016 at 7:02 pm

Dear Christine,

I just turned 50 last week and it hit me. I’m finally ready to come out. I’ve led the life I thought I was supposed to for all these years. Married 22 years, two kids who are now 18 and 20 years old, and a successful career in auto sales.  I’ve never cheated, never sought out the gay community until now.  I put in some search words to find out how to handle this and found you. I’m ready to do this but need a push.  How do I do it without hurting the people I love and where do I start?  My plan is to come out at work as well as to my wife and kids. I’m terrified and have no idea how this will play out. 

Thanks, Torn in Trenton

Dear Torn,

Good question.  How do you come out and not hurt the people you love?  I don’t know if that’s possible. It sounds like you have lived your life according to others’ expectations and it isn’t working for you.  You love your family.  But you haven’t been you, who you really are, at your core.

The start is being honest with yourself about who you are and what you are feeling.  Then, you start telling people you trust.  People who can accept you for who you are.  Get some support for yourself as you go through this.  Get into psychotherapy with a gay affirming therapist.  Join a Coming Out group at Affirmations in Ferndale.  Find people who will listen non-judgmentally and with understanding.

Perhaps you don’t need a push.  You will know when it is the right time to tell family members.  They will not hurt less if you don’t tell them.  And perhaps some of them have seen this in you all along, or have wondered about you.  It’s a scary time, but give those you love a bit of time and space to deal with this.  You have been struggling through this for a while now, maybe even 22 years or more!  Your family will need support too.  Individual psychotherapy and  family counseling can help, and there are free support from groups such as PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).  There is a chapter, PFLAG Detroit that meets monthly on the second Sunday at 2 pm in Troy at the Lutheran Church on Crooks Road just north of 16 Mile.  Their website has a page on Our Friends and Allies at  This list may open more doors to support and information for you and your family.

If your wife does not have an inkling, this can be very hard for her.  The hardest is if you are in love with a man and you’ve finally accepted yourself, and you are finally happy.  She could feel rejection, low self worth and find it difficult to be glad for you.  She may feel lied to an betrayed.  She may be understanding and relieved as this piece of information may make sense to her about you and the marriage.

Give your family and friends space and time to adjust.  Encourage them to talk to you and share their experience.  If they can’t share with you, then offer them resources such as PFLAG to assist them in adjusting to your new reality.

I have watched families go through this  situation.  There may be a time of distance, hurt or misunderstanding, but over time, sometimes months, sometimes years, the love can find a way to continue among all of you.  Keep in touch and let me know how your coming out process goes.  Take care,
Christine Cantrell, PhD


Neutral in Novi

  • Posted on July 18, 2016 at 5:50 am

Dear Christine, My wife “Mary” and I have a beautiful, smart, well adjusted 12 year old son.  When we decided to have a child we made a decision that we would raise him to know both of our religions as well as educate him about other faiths so he could make his own decision.  This decision came out of a compromise we made years ago. “Mary” is very Catholic and I am a non-practicing Jew who didn’t want her son raised Catholic without exposure to other options.  It’s turned out to be an educational experiment and we have purposely tried not to sway his decision.  Last night our son came to us and announced that after thinking really hard about it, he doesn’t want to participate in any religion.  He said he thinks they are all just a bunch of made up stuff and there’s no truth to any of it.  I’m thrilled about his choice, My wife is quite upset and is telling him he needs to continue to go to church with her at least until he turns 18.  Needless to say, we have a problem.  I think he is old enough to make his own decision, but maybe that’s…

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…

Meatlover in Metamora

  • Posted on April 17, 2016 at 6:19 pm

Dear Christine,

Please share your thoughts.  My wife has recently gone vegan.  She is assuming I’m on board and will follow. She suddenly is insisting we have no meat, dairy or eggs in the fridge.  I am not OK with that.  I’m fine with her choice for herself but I can’t agree to remove all offending food items  from our house.  We are at odds on this subject and can’t seem to understand each other’s positions.  Holy cow I need a burger now!  

Signed, Meatlover in Metamora

Dear Meatlover,

A lot of people have “special diets” these days, some eating vegan, some Kosher, others no gluten, and then there’s the no milk products, or the people who eat paleo.  And so on!  I’m one of those people too, with several food sensitivities to common foods (lactose, fructose) which can make eating at other people’s homes or restaurants challenging.  My wife eats anything she choose, and though I can’t eat yogurt or cheese, onions, tomatoes or pears, she keeps all of these on hand for herself in the fridge.  My food sits next to hers in the fridge and on the table, though we don’t cook them in the same pan.  She’s been kind enough to sometimes make 2 separate meals to accommodate her differing tastes and my limitations.  When I go out to a friends’ house and even to a restaurant, I will often bring some food for me that I know I can eat, in case the menu is mostly Mexican or Italian!

Vegans are usually healthy people, so good for your wife for making a healthy change in her life!  However, it sounds sudden and it sounds like you don’t really understand why she’s made this change and why you have to eat the same way, to the point of not keeping non-vegan foods in the house.  A conversation is needed to find out what her concerns and fears are about keeping meat and eggs and dairy in the house.  This is where she needs to sell you on her diet so you really understand what the problem for her is.  I don’t see a problem putting a cup of yogurt in the fridge next to my quinoa, but that’s me!

I did work with a couple many years ago.  He was vegan and she was ok with that, but not as militant about as he was.  All was ok till they had a child.  He wanted all meat kept out of the house for ever.  She wanted to be able to expose her child to some meat, so when he was old enough to go to birthday parties, he would be able to participate in eating hotdogs or hamburgers or pizza and not feel left out.  To my surprise, the man said “if I find a piece of meat in our fridge, I will divorce you!”  I had never heard that threat before!

Turns out he did divorce her, many months later, but it was over her alcohol addiction, not meat.  In fact, I always wondered what happened to that child’s diet…

Your wife needs to explain clearly to you what her aversion is to having non-vegan food in the fridge and house.  I can’t imagine what it is, but she has got to enroll you in this issue, or it’s going to create a bigger problem between the two of you.  Right now, it seems unnecessary to me.

I am not Jewish, but I often go to Jewish friends’ home for Passover.  Being a “goy”, they usually “sell” me all their food that is not kosher for Passover, anything that has yeast, bread or leavening in it.  They give me a symbolic dollar, and put all those foods in the garage for the week.  I don’t usually stay more than a night or two, not the whole week.  I’m sure they put everything back in the cupboards after Passover.  Jews who keep kosher will even have 2 sets of pots and pans, dishes and silverware, one for meat meals and one for milk meals.  Then they would have a 3rd set used just for Passover.  But as far as I know, the food is in separate containers and stored in the same kitchen, just not mixed together in cooking or eating.

Good luck with this.  I hope you both can find some common ground, as keeping special diets is challenging enough!
Christine C Cantrell, PhD


Fertile in Farmington

  • Posted on January 26, 2016 at 10:24 am

Dear Christine,  

Hi there, My partner and I have been together 8 years–our anniversary is this week– Yeah!!  Celebration time!!!  We’re ready to start our family, and decided to go the “known donor” route so the child would be able to have some awareness of who their biological father is… Here’s the problem: none of the men we’ve approached (and don’t misunderstand, they’ve all been pretty together, gay-positive men) have been able to “handle the idea”. They say things like “How could I handle having a child, but not really being a father,” or “I would feel too responsible to the child.”  Geez, where are all the totally irresponsible men I dated before I figured out who I really am? They were only too happy to let ME worry about contraception back then. Why have the rules changed now? Talk about irony. We spend half our fertile lives before we’re mature enough to know who we are and what we want trying NOT to get pregnant and the other half trying desperately trying to. Sometimes, life sucks!

Signed, Fertile in Farmington

Dear Fertile in Farmington,

Congratulations on your readiness to start a family! Yeah, the timing isn’t so great for you, looking for a “together, gay positive man” to donate some sperm and be known to the child that results. Apparently, in the time you matured in your lesbian relationship, those “irresponsible” men have grown up too! Respect these men for taking your request seriously and sincerely. If you are going to have a “known” father for your child, he definitely needs to be on board with the whole fathering part, even if he is only known from a distance. Many men have strong feelings about wanting to be known or never known by their offspring. I heard a BBC story on the radio a few years ago about a sperm donor who was discovered by his 15 year old son several years back. Apparently the sperm donor donated sperm to help an infertile couple have children, much as you or I might donate blood to help someone else we’ll never meet. However, as the son grew up, he became curious about his parentage, and had access to the Internet, and was able to get his DNA checked, and realized that there were few other people in the UK with the particular markers of his DNA. He started calling people with the surname that was most common with these markers, and pretty soon found his sperm donor father. The father couldn’t have been more shocked! He had no idea he had a child out there, and never ever expected or wanted any contact with that child. Some agencies will help you get sperm from a donor, and a year after the child is born, they will contact the donor and see if he would like to be known. He is aware that this policy before donating, so he won’t be caught off guard as this British man was. Check for one of these sorts of agencies to see if you can get a ‘known” donor. Whatever way you choose to bring a child into your family, I wish you the best. Good luck to you both.

Christine Cantrell