Ask Wendy

How Do I Fight Fair In My Relationship

July 14, 2017
Hi Wendy,

My husband and I get along most of the time but when we disagree about something, boy, can it get ugly. Our fighting can last for days and sometimes we just give up with unresolved problems and more pain. I keep hearing we should “learn how to fight.” What does that mean and can you teach me how?

Hey Spouse,

I don’t fight with my partner, which doesn’t mean we don’t have any problems; it just means we’re kinda weird. We’re both dedicated to harmony and peace in our home, and fighting doesn’t create either of those things. So, the short answer is: asking me how to fight well is like asking the nerdiest kid on the playground how to win a boxing match. To advise us, I’ve enlisted the help of the leading expert of fighting fair, John Gottman. He is a super-smart psychologist and researcher, and (for over 30 years) he’s studied couples and how they communicate. He can predict with stunning accuracy if couples will stay together or not simply by watching them fight.

WHAT NOT TO DO IN A FIGHT

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Why Some Relationships Fail?

Reprinted from September 27, 2016
In your view, what causes a relationship to go into a downward spiral even though it went great for years and some things about it (sex for instance) are still great? What causes it to spiral down or end?

There are so, so, so, so many ways to screw up a perfectly good relationship. I’ve done it. You’ve done it. The list is massive.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll uncover my top half a dozen faves starting with respect and adoration.
RESPECT: When you lose respect for the man you love, it’s the beginning of the end. Your urge to do the nasty wanes. Your ability to listen to him, take advice or direction from him and participate in the invention of plans for the future are almost impossible. Flicking him in the forehead feels like the right thing to do. You may feel (more…)

How Can I Adjust to My Partner Coming Home From the Navy?

July 11, 2017
Hi Wendy,

I'm after your guidance. My partner is in the Navy and away for several months at a time. It's really challenging when he comes home as after the initial excitement of seeing him there seems to be a pattern of arguing for a few days.

It's like he comes home and wants to be the boss again when I have been managing everything while he is away. How can we adjust to being together again without arguing as it seems crazy to argue when we don't have a lot of time together as it is. Please help!

Sandra

Hi Sandra!

I’m responding under the assumption that you two have agreed on  him leading the family and playing the role of the boss – as in, him being a bossy-pants is something you both consented to when you got into this arrangement. Because if he’s bossy or controlling, and you don’t like him to act like that, well then, that’s an entirely different column.

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Am I a Rebound to a Widower?

Reprinted from September 23, 2016
I have met a really terrific guy. He is a widower. His wife passed away one year ago, a year after being diagnosed with an illness. His grieving process started well before the end. He thinks he's ready to start dating. I don't want to be just the rebound. How early is too soon? And should I assume we should take it very slowly before sex? I really don't want him to cry after (or God forbid) DURING sex.

No one wants to be a rebound, and as annoying as this is, there’s no way to predict how things will unfold. Some dive into a relationship and then bounce right out after they’ve hit something deep, while others have staying power.

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How Do I Form Meaningful Relationships with People? 

July 7, 2017
Hi Wendy,

I saw your Facebook Live video on June 9th where you talked about how important it is that the dating adventures not be lonely and to reach out and create a support system of friends, pets, etc. 

It was the moment you said this to me that I realized, all my connections with people are 'fake'.  By 'fake' I mean the relationships I form with someone whether it be a friendship or an attempt at something more start off with small talk... and they never progress far from there.  So, it feels like I know a ton of people but never really formed the actual connection to call them a good friend. 

My question for you is, how do I form more meaningful relationships with people?  I mean, the moment this ugly realization slapped me in the face I realized, okay so if all I do is form these acquaintance type of relationships with people, then no one will ever know me for who I am, or want to spend the rest of their life with me... I think I just figured out a reason why my 'dating' life is not working in my favor.

I hope you can offer some advice.

Hey Single Friend,

What a good question! And since you’re a fan of my Facebook Live, take a look at the one I created today (June 29, 2017). The basics of what you need to do are all demonstrated for you live there, and that is you need to be willing to look bad while still having grace.

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How Do I Ask My Boyfriend to Do His Part Before He Moves In?

Tuesday, July 4, 2017
Hey Wendy,

My boyfriend wants to move in, and my concern is that he's not going to be carrying his own weight if we move in together. Not just on a financial level, but really everything else, like running errands chores and things like that.

Any time I try to talk about this though he either gets upset, or tries to change the topic. His response is usually something along the lines of, "love will figure it out". I just don't know how to have this discussion.

Hey friend,

It sounds like you’ve already tried to have this discussion. This doesn’t look so good. The next time he brings up moving in, if I were in your shoes, I’d respond with, “Yeah—that’s not going to happen until we can have an adult conversation about division of costs and labor. Love doesn’t magically figure this out, we do. Are you ready to talk about that now?”

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Can I Trust My New Boyfriend?

June 30, 2017
Hey Wendy,

When I met the guy I’m dating I didn't expect anything would come of it, then BOOM we're falling for each other. We’re both in our late 30’s. He's handsome, intelligent, generous and really into me. I'm on cloud nine. As is standard in dating these days I googled him, and I learned that he's a registered sex offender!

I read that when he was 18 there was sexual misconduct with a 15-year-old. I was nauseous and disgusted. When I confronted him, he explained that when he was 18, he was dating a girl who said she was 17, and it turns out she lied about her age, and her parents turned him in to the authorities.

I've gotten over my disgust and am looking at this as a horrible time in his past. I believe he is the man in front of me and not the man of 20 years ago. But (social implications aside) is this naive of me? I don't want to involve myself with a pedophile. I can't settle my thoughts.

Dear girlfriend,

18 dating 15 is not pedophile territory—that’s a high-school-aged boy dating a high-school-aged girl within a reasonable age range.

Unfortunately, how things are reported on sex offender lists varies from state to state. So, you may or may not be able to get all the facts from public records.

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How Do You Love Someone & Remain Detached?

Reprinted from September 20, 2016
When getting serious and moving from dating into relationship, how do you open to adoring someone and also remain detached?

I don’t. And if you want an intimate relationship, you don’t either. Romance is tricky business. You actually have to be vulnerable. That’s where the magic happens, and nothing deep will ever develop if you’re working at being detached.

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How do I Deal with My Boyfriend Meeting My Crazy Mother?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Hey Wendy,

I’ve met my boyfriend’s parents multiple times, but he has yet to meet mine, and it’s about to happen and I’m freaking out. Here’s why:

My family consists of my mother and uncle, and they are coming for a visit next week. My mother is a tinfoil-hat-wearing-crazy-lady. Literally. She stuffs tinfoil into a baseball cap. She also wears tinfoil body armor, never bathes, and doesn’t wear her colostomy bag. Yup, that’s mom.

Boyfriend knows about the tinfoil but not about the other stuff. I'm freaked out because I feel like it’s one thing to hear about this stuff, it's a whole other thing to actually witness it in person and realize this could be your mother in law. Also there's that old saying that I've always hated, "If you want to see how your girlfriend will turn out, look at her mother." I'm afraid he'll take one look at her and run for the hills.

Also, I lied about his job. My family asked about his job and I panicked and said he worked at the museum where I first met him. He’s actually a driver. I don't know how to tell him that I lied about his job. I don't know how to tell my family about his job either. They are old school and think the man should be the primary breadwinner and that I should marry rich. I don't want to hurt his feelings, but I know my family is going to judge him for his job and judge me for dating him.

Hey Girlfriend,

Okay, wait a minute…you’re telling me you’re freaked out about Tinfoil Mama judging your boyfriend’s job? Umm, what now?

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Why Does My Husband Watch Porn?

Reprinted from September 16, 2017
My husband says he’s happily married to me, and he’s faithful, so why does he need to watch porn?

This is a hard issue for many women. We often don’t find out that our partner/husband/boyfriend uses porn until we’re living together and we stumble upon it. And there’s a predictable response many women have (anger and hurt feelings) which causes a predictable reaction from men: they stop watching it. No! That almost never happens!! What really happens instead is they go on the down-low. And this is not what you want, because it will cause distance and a lack of intimacy in your relationship if he feels he needs to hide things or lie to you.

So if you can’t stop it, and if you’re hurt by it, let me see if I can give you the “why” and also help to reframe it to see if you can live in harmony with your porn-viewing man.

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Why Won’t She Take My Name?

September 13, 2016
My fiance is refusing to take my last name. Why would the woman who says she loves me not take my name? ~ Troy

Troy, what’s your last name? Hitler? Dick? Crapper? These are real possibilities, ya know.

Maybe she loves her last name. Maybe she hates yours. Maybe she’s built a long-standing career around her name. Maybe it flows better, or is easier to spell. Maybe she’s rebelling against convention (and there’s not one thing wrong with that!).

I beg you to consider that this issue has nothing to do with her love for you. And I’d like to give you a history lesson for perspective.

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How Do I Deal with His High Sex Drive?

Friday, June 23, 2017
Dear Wendy,

I am three months into a new relationship and my boyfriend has the highest sex drive of anyone I have ever dated. We have sex six days per week, and out of those six days there are at least 2 days where we have sex more than once in the day. The one night out of the week when we don't have sex he wakes up the next morning frustrated with me. I feel like on those days I have failed him.

I don't know what to do. I feel like we’re having a ridiculous amount of sex, but it’s still not enough for him. I want to address it, but I don't know how. I would like to not feel Inadequate and like I’m failing him.

Dear girlfriend,

Wow. That’s a tough spot. Addressing it won’t be the most comfortable conversation you’ve ever had, but I recommend you spell it out directly all the same. Say, “Love, it seems like our sex drives are incompatible. Based on our history, you need sex every day, while I would like to have sex (your number here) times per week. This isn’t going to work for us for much longer. I feel put upon to have that much sex, and when we don’t, I feel your frustration, which in turn makes me feel like I’m failing you—that doesn’t work for me. Can we talk about this?” Then see what he says next.

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How Important is it to Have Things in Common within Your Relationship?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Hey Wendy,

How important is it to have things in common? I am motivated by things that are quite intellectual and academic, and even though my boyfriend tries to be interested in the things I find fascinating he struggles as it’s not his thing.

I'm trying to get past the fact that I can't have in-depth intellectual conversations with him about things like the nature of power/politics.
I love him and his kindness and warmth with every fiber of my being, but I miss that intellectual connection. Can this work?

Hey friend,

“Can this work?” is a question only you can answer, but you can gain some clarity with this query:  I hear that you love him, but do you respect him? If his lack of knowledge/interest in intellectual topics cause you to lose respect for him, you don’t stand much of a chance together.

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Who Initiates Communication Between Dates?

September 2, 2016
Who initiates communication between dates? 

After a first date, I would initiate contact. I’d write a quick email thanking him for the time we had. I did this to send the unspoken message it was safe to ask me out again if he were so inclined. These emails were always short; here’s a sample: “Hi Sean! I had a lovely time with you today. Thank you so much for taking me to the Legion of Honor Museum. I love that place! But my favorite part was sitting on the lawn getting to know you. You’re interesting. I hope you have a fun week ahead. Wendy”

Ball tossed squarely over his fence to pick up or leave behind.

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How Long is the Courting Phase Supposed to Last?

September 2, 2016
How long is the courting phase supposed to last? ~ A Girlfriend in the Making

Dear Girlfriend,

This is a trick question because there isn’t an end date. I do, however, want to speak to the courting phase, so thanks for bringing it up! There’s universal consensus about what the courting phase means:

  • Everyone’s on their best behavior.
  • It ends, you’re committed, and while you’re not going to fancy restaurants all the time anymore, it’s okay to wear sweatpants.

No!

May I create a new framework for daters to think about when they think “courting phase?” Permission granted? Okay, thank you, I will. (more…)

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