It’s the first thing she wants and the last thing he wants — when is it time to get help for your relationship from a third party expert?
Personally and professional I’ve met hundreds of perfectly lovely people in relationships who are at their wits end and feel “stuck.” They sound like this: “He/she was so fantastic when we met five years ago. We seemed on the same track, our ‘resumes’ were great, as was the sex. I thought I found ‘the one.’ Marnie, what happened?! Everything’s changed. My partner is surly, sex is in the dumpster, and all we talk about is money, if we talk at all. What should I do?”
The Big Question is, are you two in a valley in need of a leg up, or are you teetering next to a bottomless cliff? As a general rule, if despite your talks and “negotiations” you’re still like Jack and Jill falling down that hill, a competent counselor can help repair the problem — or allow you to part company with grace. Let’s look.
DO PASSION FIGHTERS NEED COUNSELING?
Marnie: My boyfriend and I are opinionated, loud and feisty. The problem is we fight a lot, and loud, have fabulous sex — then talk it out afterwards. We plan to marry someday when we’re both ready, but when I mentioned that to friends over lunch they were shocked and said we needed counseling! Is what we’re doing wrong? P.S. We also have sex when we’re not fighting. — Beverly Hills Goddess
MARNIE SAYS: Hmmm. Love, sex, fight, sex, talk. Is it wrong? For whom, poopsie? Your Aunt Fanny? The neighbors? Your friends? Do we care? No. It’s your relationship. You author it. The question is: Is it working? Well, let’s look.
Getting It! Your Personal Strategy:
* The “Is it Working” Quiz: Each of you, separately, answer Yes or No.
1) Are your fights verbal only? Y__ N__
2) Sexually I feel completely within my comfort zone and OK saying “no.” Y__ N__
3) Is important stuff resolved without getting buried by quivering silk sheets? Y__ N__
4) Are there ground rules you both agree to? Y__ N__
5) Do you argue and solve problems without make-up sex? Y__ N__
6) If you have kids, do you keep your passion problem-solving away from little ears? Y__ N __
* If both of you honestly answered “No” to any of the above, get with a counselor if you want a healthy relationship. A good pro should:
a) Help you set new ground rules such as settling some scores calmly before, well … scoring.
b) Make sure you do all the tough work of resolving issues after your mating dance is done.
* If both of you honestly answered “Yes” to all the questions above well, poopsie, your pals are into vanilla, and you two are rocky road. While sex isn’t fairy dust to whoosh away spats, many find a little tussle a turn-on. If you tackle the big stuff head-on and then head for the “dessert cart” after, it’s your call.
Now, quit listening to by-the-book matrons who may have retired their libidos years ago — and call what you do “normal.”
THREE MATES AND A MARRIAGE COUNSELOR?
Dear Marnie: I’m a single man, 32, who has never been married. The problem: I’m involved with a married woman online and her husband found out. They are undergoing counseling. The counselor requested she and I not communicate for six months. I have done my best to respect that, yet she has e-mailed me requesting we meet in person. She says she has some questions she wants to ask that will allow her to make a decision about her marriage. Part of me says that decision is between her and her husband. On the other hand, we have established ground rules for our relationship, and one was that we should be able to question each other and expect an honest answer. If I had to make a gut-wrenching decision where children are involved (hers), I would hope that my questions would be answered. What do you suggest? —Duke in San Diego
MARNIE SAYS: Well, I for one will rest easier just knowing that even cheaters have “ground rules.” Unfortunately, the pesky thing about rules is they should actually be fair. So precisely which rules should prevail? Hers? Yours? Theirs? Hold on! I’m staggering around in search of a machete to hack through this mess.
Getting It! Your Personal Strategy:
* According to your query, you’ve yet to share a corn dog with this lady. Yet her marriage will rise or fall on a few magic syllables from you? Ask yourself what kind of a horse’s patootie hands you, a stranger in the night the reins to her marriage? Now ask yourself how you’ll feel holding them?
* Repeat the following into a recorder. “The lady’s marriage rests on me. If I say the ‘secret word,’ she’ll (FILL IN THE BLANK).” Pause. Rewind. Play back. Quick, how do you feel? Proud? Powerful? How about guilty? Scared? Ask yourself why. (I’ll help.) Unnerved over wrecking her hearth? Breaking her children’s hearts? How about the prospect of Modem-Mama moving in?
* Ground Rules vs. Power Tools: Imagine, Duke, you own the kingdom. You make the laws. Rank these in order of importance: (I’ll help.)
1) a wife’s promise to her husband
2) a wife’s promise in counseling
3) a wife’s promise to some stranger she emails when her husband is snoring.
Since you’re considering No. 3, I’d say this is more about power — yours —rather than rules.
* Stay the holy heck out her head, her emails, and the counselor’s office. Your instinct is correct. It is between the two of them: counselor and couple.
COUNSELOR OUT TO LUNCH?
Marnie: My boyfriend and I are in counseling. I am 28, he is 45 and a well-known TV news personality. We’ve been seeing each other for six years and marriage has been discussed. When we met, neither of us were sure we wanted kids, but we left the option open. A month ago, in counseling, I found out he had a vasectomy and didn’t tell me. He told the counselor he just feels too old to start a family.
The counselor, a man, keeps questioning me over and over suggesting that maybe I pushed him into being OK with fathering a child with me. He’s making me the guilty party here implying my boyfriend felt helpless and didn’t have a choice. Marnie, I really don’t think I’ve pushed, and don’t even know myself how I feel about having children. This just doesn’t seem right. In your wisdom, can you please shed some light? —Confused in the Hollywood
MARNIE SAYS: Eeek, sweetie pie! Can I shed something else (like a few pounds)? Far be it from me to get all bollixed up in that holy relationship between counselor and clients, but assuming your missive is accurate, my hunch is this counselor either graduated from Yutz U or has issues of his own that require a counselor with talent and a working brain. It’s also possible that his scruples need straightening. You said your guy is a celeb. It could be your “pro” is sucking up which is dastardly.
Getting It! Your Personal Strategy:
* The first Big Issue here is your long-term guy went out, snipped a vital organ that affects you both, and didn’t bother to leave you a note! This behavior, even if you’ve decked out a nursery, reeks of lack of communication and trust between you.
* The second involves digging into his motives, which brings us back to number one. Sadly, he may have other reasons for cutting off his baby-maker. For example, where does he truly see this relationship going? If he’s unsure (or pretty sure you won’t be calling a caterer), he’s protecting his … assets and keeping his options open.
* If your counselor isn’t jumping on this, instead of looking for villains (you) and victims (him), California should swoop down and torch his license. If they don’t either change counselors … or maybe long-term boyfriends who would prefer sharing news more with you, rather than with millions of strangers.
Copyright © Marnie Macauley / 2014 Singular Communications, LLC