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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
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Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology helping with relationships
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I would like to ask for advices about my relationship. I am

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I would like to ask for advices about my relationship. I am 40 year old asian guy. I have been dating with my girl friend (about 32 years old) about 1 year. We have had good time whenever we have been together such hang out at her place, go to movie, travel and party. However, after being with her for 6 months, I have found out that she have still contacted with her first love man eventhough he's still living from Vietnam and her mother has not allowed her to marry with him (with unclear reason. Eg: According to her, her mom said "her ex-boyfriend looks so weak"). She has told me that she always consider him as a closed friend but but she could not stand if she could not talk with him at least a few times a week. After testing my self about love with her such as wonder if she is important to my life, like to hang out and have intimate relationship with her, and missing her if we don't have time during week days, I have proposed her to be my wife. She has said yes and we have an engagement party on last Jun 2013. However, I have recognized that when I have told her not to contact with her ex since we are almost become husband and wife, she start getting upset and her uncle (a gay man who live with her independently) help her to lie to me such as buying an iphone for her to have facetime to chat with her ex, help her make friend with single dad man and later on I have a feeling that they have already had intimate contact. I feel bad for a couple days and stop talking to her since Friday ( only text her to answer her phone call). Pls give me some advise or recommendation. I appreciate very much.
Sincerely
Vince
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 1 year ago.

Hi! I believe I can be of help with this issue.


First, let me say I can imagine how confusing this situation must be for you. Your girlfriend has agreed to marriage and we assume that she wants to make this relationship into a real marriage. You are clearly a normal, caring, loving person. So you hear this and you understand it to mean a very specific type of commitment: marriage is a total commitment to each other. That is indeed how our society has always understood what marriage means traditionally. In my understanding, this is also true in Asian societies.

And this is actually the key to my answer to you that you need to consider and think about. In fact, you may decide it will be worthwhile to print it out and read it together with your fiance at a Starbucks or some other neutral site. I say this because the hurt that her behavior is causing you is a real hurt. It is not something that you are doing to yourself; her behavior is hurtful to you because you feel it to be a betrayal of your relationship together. And, as I said, this is how society for the most part views it .

This is not an issue of right or wrong. It is an issue of values. You understand the emotional commitment and exclusivity of marriage to be exactly what it says and you are concerned that she does not. Meaning, you understand that marriage means an exclusive interest in one's spouse. This excludes having an emotionally close, even if not physically close, relationship with another man.

You are treating engagement as a warm up to the marriage. If she is going to say she wants to marry you and loves you, she needs to show you that this is true and real, now, not just after the wedding ceremony. All the rules apply in your eyes. There is an exclusive level of commitment in that relationship.

She is expressing different values. It is possible that she will feel differently when you two are married, but that is not certain. It could well be that her values are different on the level of monogamy that marriage requires. She might feel that close platonic friendships with members of the opposite sex, and even with ex-lovers, are allowed and not a violation.


She may agree with you that marriage does preclude these relationships and that she shares your values. But she may believe that the period before marriage is not a period of commitment. That is also a values question: you do not see the wedding ceremony as an on/off switch. And so you are concerned that if she is going to feel it is permissible to have these relationships now, this will not suddenly change when she is wearing a wedding ring.

So, this is going to be a very pivotal discussion. I want you each to spend some time thinking about what marriage means to you and what your VALUES are. And see if they match. Because if there is a mismatch in the values between you, you need to know that now and decide if this problem is going to pop up continually and erode the closeness of your marriage. That one person sees the relationship to be one thing and require certain things and the other person sees it to be a different thing and require different things is not a good basis for a strong marriage.

BOTH of you need to understand that the central issue is that marriage is a bestowing of one's "specialness" to one human being. That includes sex, but is not just sex. It is emotional fulfillment, comfort, etc. It is the things that make a relationship "special". That means exclusivity. That means to you and to most people with traditional values that close friendships with people of the opposite sex are a violation. Now for the important point:

When one partner in a marriage feels that the other person has done something to lessen that relationship, the other person is actually being called upon to reaffirm the bond of "specialness" I refer to. I often see it in my office when husbands or wives are flirtatious at social events. Or that the spouse has a “friend” of the opposite gender that they feel is “just” a friend. The other spouse gets hurt. The real question is, even if the flirtation is innocent fun, why would the husband or fiance be more attached to that need for flirtatious fun than to their spouse’s discomfort with it? Even if the friend is just a friend, why would the husband or fiance be more attached to that need for the friend than to their spouse’s discomfort with it?

That's our question here with this one man from her past. For this period of time, your fiance is acting more attached to this relationship than to your needs. Why? Your needs are the needs of her future husband. That is supposed to be special. You see, this is why these are values issues.


Hopefully, going over my answer together in that discussion will help the two of you see what are the values that have to be weighed and what values you want to live by can be agreed to.


Okay, I wish you the very best!

My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for your quick, valuable, straight to the point advise. I did explain to her about the value and the honor of getting married and loyal to husband and wife relationship is most important. We have already deposited money for our wedding on December this year. If you were me, what should you do? Should I keep contact and hang out with her like a fiancee or keep a distance with her like just a boyfriend and wait if she can change herself and recognize the value of marriage? And if there is nothing change, should I postpone the wedding and give her more time or say good bye the wedding and consider her as a female closed friend? Thx again. I have fell really bad for couple days, but I am getting better now.


Best regard,


Vince

Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 1 year ago.
Vince, thank you for your patience: I had logged off before you replied last night.


These are good and important questions you are raising. Let's deal with each of them. I recommend that you deal with these issues in a two-step process. Let me explain.


The first issue is should you treat her like a fiance, meaning that you are ready and prepared to marry her, or should you treat her like a girlfriend, a more casual relationship? The second issue is whether you should postpone the wedding until she has resolved this relationship with her ex?


I think your first question is very important and shows a lot of insight on your part: you recognize that for you, the way she is behaving is NOT like a fiance. It is more like a girlfriend/boyfriend relationship that is not that serious. This is an important recognition for you. Like I wrote above, it's not that there is someone right and someone wrong here, it's that for you, this is not what being a fiance is like. Therefore, the first step should be indeed to let her know that you are not considering the relationship to be a fiance relationship at this time because of this situation.


If this step is taken, then the second step is suspending the wedding plans. This is a natural result of the above situation: given that you two are not really fiances, that she is not acting like a fiance in your beliefs, then to plan a wedding makes no sense any longer and the plans need to be suspended until this is resolved.


I wish you the very best, Vince.


My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for your analysis Dr Mark. I appreciate your help a lot. I will put more time to relax, focus on my daily work, ease my mind about this relationship in order to keep me back on track of normal life. My next step would be reconsider and take time to evaluate my love life and go slow and be more careful. Thanks again.


Best regard,


Vince

Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 1 year ago.
Vince,


That is a good approach and I commend you very much for following it. If you would kindly give a good rating before leaving the discussion, I would be very appreciative. And all the very best to you!


Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 5170
Experience: Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology helping with relationships
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Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology helping with relationships