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Dr. Norman Brown
Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
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Need a Womans Point of view. Very long...too much to

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Need a Woman's Point of view. Very long...too much to cover in the space that Justanswer allows. So if a female counselor would be so kind to pick this up, and allow me to respond...probably a few times to discuss things I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.


 



My girlfriend and I are not doing so well. Rather than take up more space than allowed, I am going to attempt to hit the high spots over the past three years. She is a really good woman, and a terrific mother. With every negative aspect on my part I will try to explain, not justify, but explain. We started dating 3 years ago. I was still married and she knew this. It was a marriage that had turned very badly. I was longing for something more than what I was getting at home which was nothing. I came to know her some 28 years ago when I was dating her older sister. While I was dating her older sister, their house burned. I was there with her father when her mother and sister drove up from their brother's house in Louisiana. The younger sister (Sherry who I am now dating..and suppose to be engaged to) was crying profusely and looking for her teddy bear (she was 14 then). The older sister who I was dating then (Sheila) picked on Sherry, told her to grow up. No one ever stood up to Sheila the Queen Bitch. I stood up to her and told her to shut up and leave your sister alone! I then pulled Sherry over to me and held her and let her cry. I also then found her teddy bear. Sherry told me once we started dating that she has loved me every since that day. That is a little hard for me to wrap my head around, but ok, you women are different in many ways and so I guess it could be so. It wasn't exactly easy for me to decide "Overnight" that I wanted to end a 16 year marriage, loose half of a retirement, pay alimony, all the crap that comes with "Divorce" so it took me a little while. I had a lot of soul and heart searching I had to do. Sherry had originally planned to move to the coast in 2011, but the Divorce didn't happen as fast as we had planned so that didn't happen. Sherry has an Autistic son named Austin. We spent the summer of 2011 together and absolutely enjoyed each other. Her sister and my ex wife conspired to de-rail this relationship before it ever even started and turned her family against me entirely. Sherry moved back home with her mother when her then (18 years ago) husband walked out on her. It worked out good for Sherry because she was helping her mother with her dad who was dying with Alzheimer's and Sherry's mother could help with Austin. Sherry's mother gave Sherry an ultimatum, that if she continued to see me she could find another place to live. Sherry is a school teacher at a very small meaning very few tuition dollars private school. Her annual contract is for $20,000.00 as a teacher...with a degree! So Sherry can provide better for her son if she keeps her mouth shut and plays nice. So from 2011 until now we have had to "Sneak Around" like little school children to see each other. She will go "Shopping" and I will spend the day with her, or she will leave for "School" and drive to see me, and have to leave by 3:00 in order to be home by 5:00 as to not raise any suspicions. We get into 2012 and Sherry said that she didn't want to take Austin out of school his last year. That change is so very hard for a kid with autism. I agreed. I said let him finish high school with the same group of kids that he has known for 12 years now. So the plan was after he graduated they would move to the coast and join me. He graduated on 5-17-2013. Now to start "ME" bashing. We have not been getting along since around Christmas/New Year's. The distance between us (100 miles) and the way we have to "Sneak" as grown ass adults keeps my emotions extremely high so this is a contributing factor. I won't blame it all on that, but it contributes. At Christmas I was watching a compound bow on Ebay for Austin. A PSE which to most archers is one of the top of the line name brands. I had a set amount that we had agreed on that I wouldn't go over. At nearly midnight when the auction was due to end, I decided to increase my bid because I saw I was going to be outbid. I won it for about an additional $50.00. This caused a fight, because I didn't include her before making a decision, though I didn't want to wake her. She then asked if it came with arrows. I lied (figured I could just go get some no big deal) and said yes. I was found out...this created problems. Shortly after moving into an apartment and giving my ex our house, I was coming back from grocery shopping when a kid in a Mustang starts antagonizing me to race. I ignored him at first, then it got the better of me. I knew I could whip his ass, and so I did. I just wasn't calculating on a cop sitting in the shadows down the road running radar. Yep, that was a hefty ticket. Sherry and I are in almost "Constant" communication either by phone, or text. I didn't say anything about the ticket.....Running out of space so if you will pick this up I will finish once you have picked it up.

Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Relationship
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Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 1 year ago.

I'm shocked that no woman has picked up your request for a woman's point of view yet. It might be that the deposit you're offering isn't very much, since we only get a percentage of it (which I can't mention). I can do a decent job of empathizing with a woman's point of view sometimes, but I won't risk it until I see what the rest of your story is. At least you can write the rest now, and maybe that'll draw a woman who can give you what. But it might help too if you wrote a little about what children you have and what you've tried to do to repair your marriage before giving up on it, like if you tried any marriage counseling. One of the best ways to get a woman's point of view is to employ a marriage counselor, male or female, who's able to manage your communication with your wife so that each of you is able to speak safely and completely and the other is helped to understand what the speaker says and also what the speaker feels.

 

The only other comment I have so far is that it makes good emotional sense that Sherri created a love fantasy about you from when she was 14 and you stuck up for her in such a gallant way, and that her older sister hatched a hatred for you at the same time--both are facts of life that you kindled with your noble action. But that doesn't mean that Sherri and you really know each other outside of the very skewed drama of Romeo & Juliet with all her family disapproval to make things difficult.

 

 

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

So since we are in such "Constant" communication with each other I lied to her about opting to go to defensive driving school and telling her I got a ticket for racing on the highway. I didn't want to hear her preach to me. I knew I had to be out of touch with her for a couple of hours while in class, so I told her a cousin of mine, her husband, and I were all going to eat dinner together. I figured...what the heck, just go to class, get it over with and lesson learned. I have some friends (couple) who Sherry had never met. Dawn was pregnant right before Father's day 2 years ago and their van needed a radiator in it. Just in conversation I was telling Sherry about it. She asked if I would be able to install it, and I said of course. She asked what will the parts cost them knowing I wouldn't take anything for my labor. I said around $200.00 for everything, radiator, antifreeze, etc. This couple is barely making ends meet. A few days later Sherry ask me what their kids names were, and what their address was. I had no idea what she was doing. Chris and Dawn got a Father's Day card from their children with their children's names on it with 10 Twenty dollar bills in it. No return address, no nothing! It was from Sherry. Up to this point Sherry had never met them. I told Sherry that Lisa (ex-wife) initially had a problem with Dawn...until she found out there was a Chris in the picture..so I don't know if that planted seeds or not? The first time Sherry met Chris and Dawn, Chris wasn't at home at first and the three of us really couldn't have an adult conversation for the kids running in and out. So Sherry goes and plays with the kids in their room. I am seated in a chair, Dawn is seated on the couch right next to me. According to Sherry when she looked out several times Dawn had her hands on my leg or arm touching me? I don't really remember this, I sure don't remember her doing anything that made me feel uncomfortable. Could she have been "Talking" with her hands and touched me? Possibly. Then when her husband Chris came home, she suddenly according to Sherry gets up and goes and sits by him? I asked her well isn't that what she should do? As a good hostess, she should focus her attention on you and I, or me because you weren't in the room, and when Chris comes home, now her husband is home focus on him, or at least include him. She sees it differently. I just do not see what she sees and I have tried. When we first started dating I did not like the fact that she was still very close friends with a "David" a former lover and according to her I told her to choose between David and I. So she stopped having any contact with David. She initially told me I shouldn't be going over to Chris and Dawn's without Chris being there, which I would rarely do anyway, but I actually agreed with this. Well that wasn't good enough, because Dawn would invite me up for dinner when Chris was there. So Sherry told me she didn't want me to have anything to do with any of them, though she didn't have a problem with Chris at first. When I complained about it, she said you made me give David up. I don't recall this. I recall expressing dissatisfaction. However, let's say she's right. Let's say I did say "Choose" between David and I. It was her that made the choice! I didn't put a gun to her head and force her to make that choice. So now I have to be friends with my friends secretively which pisses me off, and I don't think it is fair, but I am trying to see her side. I still see a difference between "Friends" and a former "Lover". When she withdraws and gets mad she shortens her texts for example she will drop the "I" out of I love you and just say Love You. Here lately, she won't even say "Love You" she only replies to my saying I love you with a "K". So not pushing the issue, I just keep trying to draw her out. I keep saying I love you, because I do. About a week ago her and her son were at a water park and I said "I Love You" and I got "Love You" and I smiled so big my face actually hurt. Then the next several replies were "K". I should have left it alone but I couldn't help but ask, so I did. I asked "Did you make a mistake at the water park? She said "What". I explained that she had replied "Love You" and I have done NOTHING wrong, and now you are back to replying "K". She freaked out and said OMG Steven, just don't say it! I am reading "Men are from Mars/Women are from Venus" and also the "Love Dare". I am trying to fix some of the issues in our relationship, some of the areas that I have broken. But here is my dilemma. I can't fix them alone. I don't mind putting in 99.9% of the work initially, but it will never work if one is doing NOTHING. Furthermore I don't think she ever plans/planned to move down here, but when I think that I have to think...well every plate I eat off of, every glass I drink out of, every pan I cook in she bought. Why would a person who makes so very little as a teacher spend so much money investing in a home that she never plans on living in? Just doesn't make sense. Then I ask myself...can this really work with the hatred of her family? Is she really willing to turn her back on her family? Don't know. Here is what I do know. I am going to try my best to be what she deserves, give her the love that she has shown me. Stop lying, start treating her with respect and dignity, and see if I can draw her out. But I am NOT going to continue to date her under the situation that we currently are in. Damn, she is turning 42 this Wednesday! She is a grown woman! Tell your mother to F off! It is your life and you will live it how you damn well see fit to. If your mother gave you and ultimatum, take her up on it. You have a place to live. MOVE! I understood, prior to her son graduating why she wouldn't rock the boat. Now I feel she is out of excuses but the excuse now is she doesn't want to move her son from a bad and controlling environment that is safe and secure into a "Toxic" situation. I don't really think what we have is toxic, but you may see it differently. What can I do? Should I turn and walk away? I do feel I should at least try to fix the things I've broken, but if you will never see, never recognize, never warm up...is it really worth the effort? Thanks for your help.

Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 1 year ago.

It's absolutely worth the effort! Maybe you have a lousy relationship with both of your parents; that's less uncommon for men than it is for women. There are numerous comments I need to make about what you wrote, but I don't want to do much now, because I have a few hours before celebrating father's day with my wife & daughter when they both wake up (it's also our disabled-by-chronic-pain daughter's 25th birthday).

 

My wife turned her back on her family, FIRST, and got into Jungian analysis for almost 10 years after dumping her first husband, all before she met me; and I had turned my back on my family, though only my father was trying to keep his sons in obedient life paths, and my mother obediently died when I was 23. It takes a gutsy woman to do that, and mother-daughter bonds are like saltwatertoffee, so it will hurt a lot, and with her sister's jealousy too. Plus her autistic son. You're not buying yourself a cushy second marriage. But I didn't either. It may get harder and harder for you to get relationships to work out without greatly increasing your insights into yourself, not just to understand women, but see the blinders and fog in your own perspective.

 

My wife & I are both aware of each other's high discomfort about love-expressive stories involving former "great loves." And we've each endured a separate visit of the other with an "old flame" with considerable watchfulness. But my 1st and 2nd "great loves" (9yrs & 3.5 yrs) I Never see and rarely or never communicate with at all, esp #1 because there's a permanent record of that very good love life etched into my brain, so I don't even want to talk about it much, for fear of its effect either on my wife or on ME. My wife never sees her 1st great love either & never communicates. These are very persistent memory banks, with far too much influence on our present attitudes to be toyed with. [Your hostility towards your exwife shows quite a bit in the way you write, so it's clear that you've got persistent memories too, and they're affecting your attitudes toward Sherry.]

 

Now her demand about quitting the Dawn & Chris scene. FAIRNESS is not the fairest rule for love relations; LOVE is. That means wanting the other's happiness as much as your own, and seeking higher order resolutions to headbutting problems instead of WinLose options. What Sherry wants is for you to not just be impervious to Dawn's fawndling but aware of its effect on her, Sherry. Dawn might be oblivious to it too, or she might like doing it. You're actually safe to touch because you are taken. But Sherry's been through a lot of heartache, and since you love her you want her to be free of wounding from you wherever possible. So I suggest you let Sherry know that you will make sure Dawn doesn't touch you inappropriately, whether she is there or not, and if you get invited over, you will 1. invite Sherry if possible or 2. if not possible, ask Dawn (if it's her invitation) if Chris will be home, and either arrange to not arrive until Chris is home, or communicate very tactfully that it makes YOU uncomfortable to be at their place alone with her--a really good way to do that might be via email, so neither of you ever need to see&trigger each other's awkwardness (embarrassment) about dampening what neither of you may have realized could be an implicitly sexual tension between you. IT'S ACTUALLY PRETTY COMMON, tho not universal, FOR COUPLES TO NOT BE ABLE TO MAINTAIN CLOSE FRIENDS OF THE OPPOSITE SEX without a partner present one way or the other.

 

What's MORE important than HOW you show your intention to keep your behavior with Dawn from being secretive or too touchy-feely, is THAT you show Sherry that you will do WHATEVER it takes to make sure she's NOT THREATENED, rather than arguing that she SHOULDN'T BE THREATENED. This is not "fairness." This is devotion to eliminating emotional insecurity or disgust for her as far as you can. If Dawn & your speaking relationship is independent of Chris, then you may well have to pull way back on that, until Sherry knows that you're all hers, and she's all you'll ever want--and since both of you have left long-term marital partners, That's Not an Easy Sell.

 

I gotta say, so far this is not a woman's perspective, it's just a deeply human perspective. But you have a (typical) man's perspective on emotions, and that is that if your emotion doesn't seem to be JUSTIFIED by some logic or other, that we often make up as we go: Your-Ex-lover = NoNo; Wife-of-My-Friend = Innocent,NoProblem for me, So LogicallyNoProblem for you. My knowledge and experience says "GreatLoves" or ExMaritalPartners too much emotional momentum still trickling through from the past; minor affairs, maybe, maybe not. But that's my logic, not everybody's. What's Loving for you is not what I expect for me, because you're somebody OTHER than me.

 

Gotta go, but there's more where that came from.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Dr. Norman you are "GREAT" however, I think you may have misunderstood. The Ex-Lover friend was Sherry's, not mine. Her story is that I demanded her to choose between me and David. I don't remember that, but let's say she's right. I see a difference between a so called "Friend" whom you have been "Naked" with and know every square inch of their body, know them in very intimate ways -vs- Dawn who is NOTHING more than a friend. I am in NO way remotely attracted to Dawn, nor would I ever be.


 


Let me describe a little bit of a couple of text conversations with Sherry today. Sherry and I are suppose to "Sneak Meet" in Hattiesburg this Friday for a date. I really get so tired of this sneaking around, like I said this Wednesday she is turning 42. Isn't it about time to grow up and not let people control your life? So I told her I did not want to "Blind Side" her, but I found a counselor in Hattiesburg willing to meet with us Friday. I realize most of what is broken in this relationship, I broke, and I desperately want to fix it and have "US" back together, would you be willing to go and talk to a counselor with me for maybe an hour on Friday? Her first response was she doesn't have time to deal with what is my problem to fix. She has to worry about her son, she has a sick Aunt in the hospital, she has to take some continuing education courses to stay certified, so she doesn't have time. I said I understand that, I am not asking for you to go every week for weeks, or months on end, but in all fairness I think a counselor should hear from you to get your take on things...then we can work on fixing me. Her response then was she really had no desire to publicly humiliate herself in front of a total stranger and re-live me making her feel like nothing more than a cheap whore! I responded with, well I will continue to try, but I am just not sure how this is really going to work when one person is giving 100%, willing to seek counseling, do whatever it takes, and the other person is just sitting on the side lines waiting for me to be "Fixed". Dr. Norman, I don't see how it is suppose to work? If one is giving 100% and the other isn't even budging? 99.9% and .01% would be difficult, but there is something to work with. But not willing to do anything, no support, no recognition that you are at least trying, no NOTHING? How is that suppose to work?


 


Secondly Sherry is staying with an Aunt who is hospitalized for a bacterial infection and staying 12-15 hours per night, every night. So I asked her (and probably should have kept my mouth shut) but why isn't your sister Sheila, your mother, and better yet your Uncle staying with her? I just get the feeling that they know you are out of school for the summer, your mother will take care of your son, and you're being used to some degree. She agreed and said yes, but as long as I know I am doing what's right that's all that matters. I said OK. I then asked, why is your Uncle Charles paying for a hospital bill, and he is also paying for a sitter during the day when Sherry is at home sleeping? She said I obviously hadn't been in a hospital very much. I said No, I've had 2 surgeries in my life and one was elected. I have everything that i came on this earth with, wisdom teeth, appendix, tonsils, adnoids, everything. But it just seems that from a "Business" sense he is paying for nursing staff round the clock in the form of a hospital room, she isn't critical, and he is also paying for a sitter. However, from the "Heart" if that is what he wants to do to make sure his wife is taken care of it makes perfect sense and basically it is none of my business! She replied with "Nice to know how you feel about family in a business sense when they are sick" I just politely said good night. If you can't read "However, from the "Heart" if that's what he wants to do to make sure his wife is taken care of it makes perfect sense and basically it is none of my business! Well you're just wanting to pick a fight in my opinion! So I thought it best to just say "Good Night" I do love Sherry, but I am growing very weary of the drama! It has not always been like this. Honestly, my feeling is now that she is out of excuses, she is afraid to take that leap of faith and move. Afraid of turning her back on her family. She is comfortable with her living situation as it is even though it is very dysfunctional and controlling but it is all she has known for the past 18 years that she has been back home with her family..since Austin was born and her husband left 18 years ago. I think she doesn't know how to jump, and is afraid, so she is just picking fights thinking maybe I will just leave...and truthfully...if that is what it is...IT'S WORKING!

Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 1 year ago.

No, I didn't misunderstand you at all. I am not buying into your apparently rational & normal judgments that your case is different than Sherry's. It is, no doubt about that. But Sherry's feelings are her feelings. And if she had a friend's husband who occasionally spent time with her alone in his house and sat next to her, just talking enthusiastically and with his hands on her thigh when you happened to poke your head in, wouldn't you be a little concerned about what might happen when you weren't around?

But even if you're sure you'd have no cares in the world about a touchyfeely husband around Sherry, you asked for a woman's point of view, and I'm giving you Sherry's point of view. And I told you that the problem most men have is that they assume they're not ALLOWED to feel something unless they are JUSTIFIED by the facts of the situation (tho that's not the way men's hearts work either). And therefore they assume that a woman is crazy to feel something they think is unjustified. That's the trap you've fallen into; quite a normal trap for a normal man, but deadly for a male-female relationship, because the message Sherry would get is that she CAN'T feel threatened or you'll think she's SUPER-INSECURE and therefore inferior and a hysterical mess.

 

But your second paragraph is a different story. I trust YOUR feeling that you're being pushed around and she's probably very uncomfortable about risking extensive family opposition and she's taking it out on you. One of my axioms about emotions in couples or any other relationship is this: There's a kernel of truth in EVERY feeling, no matter how exaggerated or "misjustified" it may appear. That means her feeling about your "justified" righteousness about Dawn had a kernel of truth (that you didn't care what Dawn's behavior made her, Sherry feel); and your feeling that Sherry was picking fights had a kernel of truth too, because you felt attacked.

 

My guess from what you wrote is that you don't want to come clean about your lying unless you can be guaranteed that Sherry still wants to move in with you, and in that same session you want to bring up your desire that she fulfill her promise NOW that her boy is thru with high school.

 

You're already aware that Sherry will be putting her faith in you up against the opposition (and controlling ways) of her family if she goes through with moving to be with you: So She's Got Every Reason To Be Afraid. And you're Afraid too, that she won't move because you've f*ckd up several times (PS I've tried to get away with niding traffic tickets from my wife several times, for the same reason as you gave, so I'm not holier than thou). But you don't want to expose your own personal shame with a therapist unless she's going to reward you for 'fessing up' and promising to mend your ways by promising to move in with you.

 

PS Your battle with her mother over who OWNS her is humanly natural too: There's a natural tug of war between mother and lover for who gets top priority in a daughter's life. The myth of Pluto and Persephone and the tradition of the lover kidnapping his bride from her father's house in Sicily and of eloping when the parents won't approve of your marriage. The nambypamby happilyeverafter ending in America is the bride's parents' clichee: We're losing a daughter but we're gaining a son. But she'll go whither thou goest because you'll go whither Uncle Sam wants, so they're really NOT gaining a son.

 

But just being pissed off because she won't just cut the ropes right away is not going to help her one bit. You'll win her allegiance if you conspire with her about how to make her exit seem less extreme than it really is, such as by acting like you'll be coming with her often to visit. ("We're gaining a son"--even tho it's not going to be true.) You may need to ease the transition for her by assuring her that you don't want her to cut off any more connection with her mom than SHE wants to, since you know that as time goes on she'll want to be more free from mom than ever IF SHE'S HAPPY WITH YOU. And that's why Sherry's so worried about some ways you've pretended to please her but lied and sneaked around, just as you resent having to sneak around with her for over a year already.

 

BotXXXXX XXXXXne, you're doing the RIGHT THING in trying to get her to go to some counseling sessions with you. And you're BOTH scared about not being able to make this commitment work out that you've come right up to the edge of consummating, so you're picking fights, justifying yourselves and making the other one wrong, so YOU WON'T BE TO BLAME IS THE HOPED FOR UNIFICATION DOESN'T COME TO PASS.

 

But you can get more credibility with her if you go by yourself the first time, because then it won't look like the only reason you're trying to clean up your act is to make sure you can get her into your corral. If you go alone first, you can talk honestly about your own problems. And don't forget to mention my interpretation that like most men you think that every feeling has to be justified by the facts as YOU understand them, not as anybody else understands them, so you have a hard time empathizing with Sherry's feelings when she expresses them. And the paragraph above is true too about being scared and picking fights, YOU too. You can also strategize with the therapist on when and how to get Sherry to come in to a session--and that's a better therapeutic alliance than having me as an unknown man in Atlanta and nowhere near where you are. Realize this: You can get a lot of benefit from precisely targeted tutoring in understanding yourself and your woman even if she chokes after all and won't leave her mother. Because you'll be a lot more attractive to the next woman that discovers you if you know how to empathize with her instead of only justifize yourself.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

One final piece of advice:

 

As I have already stated, Sherry and I are suppose to meet in Hattiesburg this Friday. I can guarantee with 100% certainty that when we meet and I greet, and go to kiss her, that just as I go to hit the lips...she will turn her head and offer her cheek instead. I'm sure you will say just kiss her on the cheek. I don't feel I have done anything to warrant this cold and bitterness, so my heart tells me if she acts this way...then stop right before her cheek...don't kiss her...and let it be the coldest damn date she's ever been on! Don't kiss her, don't hold her hand, DON'T TOUCH HER! I know that this isn't healthy, but if she doesn't want to be kissed...fine, I want to respect that!

 

Sherry and her mother do not have the Mother/Daughter relationship that you may imagine. Sherry loves her mother of course, but they are not "Friends". So all the more reason if you are 42 years old (this Wednesday) why let someone control you? If you don't want to move in with me just yet, move out...go get yourself an apartment and get the hell out of that situation. I'm sorry but I just don't understand an adult that would permit another adult to have entire control over them. But then that goes back to the Aunt in the hospital and Sherry is the only one who is staying at the hospital. The uncle, whose wife it is isn't even staying at the hospital. Fair? I don't think so. However, her justification is all long as she knows she is doing what is right. Doing what is right by allowing yourself to be "Used"? I don't get it.

 

One other thing. I understand what you are saying that her feelings are hers and she has a right to them and though I know you are not saying that I am not entitled to my feelings. I do feel that I should protect her feelings, watch what I say and do with regards XXXXX XXXXX feelings...but isn't that a two way street? Or is it a one way street with me constantly walking on egg shells? Because that sir is not healthy.

 

Her meaning of treating her like a "Cheap Whore" comes from to me what seems like a double standard. First let me explain. Once we were shopping in Hattiesburg and she was trying on new dresses. She is a grown 41 year old woman. I am sure she can get dressed by herself. I am sure she has done this before. So I stood outside of the dressing rooms and waited patiently. Then she came and got me and escorted me to the dressing room under the bullshit premise that she needed help with her zipper, and she proceeded to undress and "Tease" me, kissing, and fondling. Did I mind? Of course not. What man would mind? Keep in mind there were people who could see that a man and woman went into the dressing room together, and they were no more than 3 feet away. So now that she has got my motor started so to speak when we left that store, basically I had one thing on my mind and it wasn't shopping. I found a deserted parking lot yards and yards away from anyone, and I have limo black tint on all of my windows. When I tried to get a little too friendly...she started crying and said she felt dirty...because I didn't respect her, because we were in "Public". Ok, double standard in my eyes! Another time we had her son in a park, and Sherry came and got me to go into the bathroom with her??? The door does not lock. But I guess it is fair to say as long as it is her idea all is ok right? But if it is my idea, or I act on a mixed signal then I am in the wrong correct?

Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 1 year ago.

While I understand it might be good to ventilate your frustrations by bad-mouthing Sherry to me, that's not going to help you succeed in getting the relationship with her that you want. Fooling around in public places can be exciting, but she doesn't have quite the same expectations that you do, and that is a dicey situation. It doesn't do either of you any good for me to act as judge and jury over who's right and who's wrong, because right and wrong don't work in couple relationships where feelings are the most important factors.

 

I've been protective of my wife's feelings and played a big role in her relationship to a horrible mother for the 29 years I've known her. But I had to watch what she wanted and warn her -- and I wanted to pry her away from any mothercontrol just as you do with Sherry. But Sherry's got NOBODY in her corner as her ally except possibly YOU. (My wife had 2 of her therapists over almost 10 years, mostly before she met me.) Sherry's never had therapy, or she wouldn't be so ignorant about what would happen in a first session at the therapist you said you're going to go to. I already advised you that if you want to win her, you need to BE her ALLY and brainstorm with her about how she'll get free of her mother and family. Help her be wily like a fox, and don't hit her over the head with what she should do, even while you know that if she doesn't get free of mom and sis, she'll never be able to be her own person with you. And remember, she already went back to live with her mother once when the other guy left her at her boy's birth. She needs you to help her, to rescue her from her evil mother's clutches, so you have to leave your judgmentalness about her behind and your battle of the sexes and discuss her situation as if you care most about how she can extricate herself in a way that works for her. Those words about "I'm doing the right thing" for Auntie suggest that the family throws guilt around and that's used against her for wanting to leave and be with you instead of them: What f*ckdup family WOULDN'T use guilt and other manipulations to control everybody in it?

 

You don't seem to have understood what I wrote before that BOTH you and Sherry are SCARED that your high hopes and plans won't come to fruit. And you're both substituting ANGER for your FEARS and blaming each other for messing things up. Your fears are VERY understandable, but your anger could easily scuttle the ship of your union before it gets to start its maiden voyage. That's why you need that therapist. That's why I won't get involved with choosing to agree that your anger at her is right or agree that her anger at you is right--and all I can say is, like everybody else who's ever gotten angry, you can both think of justifications for it, your lying, her Pteasing, and both of your feelings have kernels of truth in them. But it doesn't make one of you more right and the other more wrong.

 

Maybe you've got nobody in your corner to tell you YOU'RE right either. I really want you to succeed at this. But maybe you're realizing that Sherry isn't as great as you thought before--now that she's really stressed out and scared her uglier sides are showing. And now that you're stressed out and scared your uglier sides are showing too. Those uglier parts are normally things that take years of solid marriage to come out and lots of trust for the partners to cope with in each other and accept. I hope the distrust you're now showing for her, and she's showing for you (in her fears about Dawn) isn't too much for the hopes you've built up. And that's more reason for a few therapy sessions, so you can each confess your fears and your hopes in front of a skilled witness who can make sure you hear and believe each other.

 

OH, and FORGET the kissing scene. Don't even try to kiss her when it's only a TEST of how she feels before the date even starts--and you're distrusting her, and she's probably distrusting you too! Just touch her a little, and get to talking about how much you're hoping for her to move with you. And how you're going to the therapist by yourself at first,. And how you want to help her figure out how to untangle herself from her mother and get free in the best way possible--you don't know what's best in advance, but you want to figure it out WITH her. Become her ally and knight in shining armor and she'll WANT to kiss you--and probably Ptease you too. (I keep forgetting to put the l in there instead of the t.)

Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
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Experience: Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
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