Dear Feelings Doctor: I love my husband — really. It’s just that he always puts me down, and I have learned to think of myself lately like he does. Not good enough! It is driving a huge space between us. How do I fix this? It’s hurting me.
— Sheila in Santa Barbara
Dear Sheila: I hear what you are saying, and your husband needs to hear this, too! Tell him exactly what you have expressed here in this wonderful, gentle way.
Then perhaps it’s time you took something like karate or a self-defense class — not to use as a means to communicate with your husband, but for you, just you. Feel what it is like in your body to be strong, say yes to the things you wish, and no to the things you do not want around you. Just being self-assured will help you make that subtle, inner change for yourself.
Relationships can take on a life of their own, and before you realize what’s happening, things have shifted and the boat doesn’t steer straight anymore. It doesn’t sound like a serious all-or-nothing situation, but it is time to have that talk you have been thinking about for a while now.
Make some private time for the two of you to discuss this important issue and put things out on the table. Give him a chance to see the new, improved you so things can go forward to a better, more positive place. You will feel like a huge weight has been lifted — indeed it has!
Dear Feelings Doctor: My partner would like to remain friends with his ex. I didn’t have a problem with this at first; in fact, I said I’d like to be friends, too. His ex declined that idea and instead randomly calls him to do small favors for her when needed. The other night she called and asked him to put her garbage bins out as she was going away for the week, and would he like to come over in the morning and get her perishables. He said sure, be over at 8 a.m.!
I resented this — not the garbage bins, although I did wonder why she didn’t have a neighbor friend to ask — but his snap-to response about getting over there to retrieve her leftovers. It didn’t feel right. It felt manipulative and sort of degrading.
Needless to say, I voiced my concerns and we had a fight about it. We worked through it, but afterward I wondered if I was being petty. Your thoughts?
— Nancy in Santa Barbara
Dear Nancy: Ex lovers are sort of like back taxes — once the year has passed, you close the file and move on with the new year’s business. Remaining friends with an ex can be a possibility, but when the invitation for the “three” of you was turned down it feels like there is some sort of hidden agenda on her part.
Guys sometimes are oblivious to this type of thing and just want to be needed — sometimes. Other times, there is a subtle ex-lover syndrome lurking around the corner. If the ex has no desire to be friends with both of you, that should be the end of it. There should be no reason for further discussion. If your man doesn’t stand up for his current relationship, let him know that he is free to go have leftovers with her — permanently.
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Imagine This ...
Make room for grace. It stands right next to you. Take time each morning and again at night to practice and maintain an open, grateful heart.