This week we had marital therapist Andrew G Marshall in to answer all your relationship questions and queries, from getting over past relationships, to long-term singletons who are wondering where they are going wrong. You can read his answers below. Hello everyone – marital therapist and author @andrewgmarshall here, I'm going to be answering your relationship questions.
Q: ‘My boyfriend treats me like an angel but I feel insecure about his ex-girlfriend who was a huge part of his life. I get really upset when she is mentioned. How do I accept she is his past, I am his future?’ Anon
Think about the boundary between what's ok and what oversteps the line. Have a calm discussion and listen to what he thinks is appropriate.
Q: ‘I broke up with my boyfriend of 12 years due to his infidelity and dishonesty. We're still living together while he thinks of moving out. Sometimes I think I've made the right decision, sometimes I think I've chucked my possible future away. How do I know what's right?’ Anon
Accept that 'if only' is part of the mourning process. You will have regrets. Next time you have doubts think what would have to be different to make it work and how realistic it would be to turn wishes into reality.
Q: @rachelmedhurst asks: ‘A guy I want be with told me he is relationship shy and wants to see how it goes and not see me that often. I’m not sure if he’s genuine although he’s never been so open. That was three weeks ago, how can I be patient and not fret?’ Admire his honesty. Much better to take it slow and make it work than give into your fretting and ruin it. One date a week at the start of a relationship is plenty. I'm amazed by how often people spend too much time together too soon.
Q: ‘I left an abusive relationship two years ago. I lost my sense of self and I’ve worked hard to rebuild it. Now a man has come into my life who seems to be everything my ex wasn’t, but I'm scared he's tricking me and will turn out like my ex. How can I trust and love again?’ Anon Trust is built up over time, it is not all or nothing. So give yourself time and look for the differences between him and your ex. Rather than concentrate on the similarities. It will help if you understand how relationships change over time. This book might help.
Q: 'I am married to someone who has sexual dysfunction issues. Marital counseling hasn't worked and I want kids. What should I do?' Anon
I wonder if it is a sex issue? Perhaps your husband has problems asserting himself and being emotionally honest, so it is easier for him to switch off sexually than tell you what is really troubling him. More about assertiveness in this book.
Q: ‘Is it common for a man’s sex life to be hindered after the death of a loved one? He won’t go to a professional, will time help?’ Anon
Yes. It takes two years to feel something approaching normal after bereavement. Men tend to hand over their emotional welfare to a new partner and can feel unfaithful, if it was a lover. If it was a relative it is more straightforward to help but ultimately healing is his responsibility not yours. Sadly you can't do it for him but you might both find this book helpful.
Q: 'Everything is great with my boyfriend of two years except his drinking, particularly at weekends, he prefers partying with random people than spending time with me. He wants me to come with him, but I find it boring. It's damaging our relationship, especially our sex life.' Anon I'm normally the world's most optimistic person but this sounds a deal breaker to me. Imagine what it would be like if you had children.
Q: 'I’m 39 and single. I have dated lots, been engaged, they were all nice men, but it always ends. I always think they're The One, but get let down. Why?' Anon Because 'The One' is a myth. Read this.
Q: 'Since having kids, my husband and I are on different wavelengths. He dismisses my days at home with the kids, and I resent this. What can we do?' Anon You both sound really angry and you need to get it up to the surface and understand what the fight is really about. Start by asking, why are you angry? Don't defend yourself, listen and ask for clarification. This book will help.
Q: 'My partner and I (both early 40s) have three kids, and have been together seven years. I want marriage, he doesn't. Big issue for me, what can I do?' Anon Insist. Tell him it's important to your happiness to get married. No deadlines, no pushing, but keep firm. I cover this in detail in one of my books. Please read it so you get the balance of insisting and listening right
Q: 'It might seem silly, but my husband and I want different things from holidays. It's got so bad, we haven't been away together for a year. Should we take separate holidays?' Anon Nothing wrong with an occasional separate holiday, we don't have to do EVERYTHING to each other. However, try this tip from one of my best friends. It's called king and queen for a day. First you get your way for a day, and then he gets his way and both cooperate fully. You learn so much about each other and it can be fun. Described in detail here.
Q: ‘I am 26 and have only had two sixth month relationships. I choose guys who are not interested in long term or who suddenly lose interest. I’m considerate, fun, and not possessive, but think I have an anxious attachment style. How do I recognise guys who want a relationship?’ Anon It could be YOU who gets frightened because it brings back pain from the past, probably your childhood. More about anxious attachment here.
Q: @AnyaMore asks: ‘I don’t think that I love him, but we have sex. He is funny but I still remember my ex boyfriend. What should I do?’ Thinking about someone is part of the natural mourning process. It doesn't necessarily mean you should still be together. Give yourself a little more time with this guy. If you still feel the same 18 months into the relationship that's the time to worry. 18 months is the key moment to decide whether this relationship is forever or just a passing fancy. Sadly many people think they can tell on the first date!
Q: ‘How much chance does a couple have to save their marriage after a two year affair? He continued as his mistress threatened to ruin his life. We’ve had no sex for five years. He doesn’t want therapy, I don’t know how much understanding I have left in me.’ Anon Every chance and it could be better than ever before, but I'm more worried about no sex for five years than the affair. To be honest I want to suggest multiple books because it sounds like you are at the end of your tether and the next six months are crucial. Start with 'How can I ever trust you again?' for the affair, 'Make love like a prairie vole' for the sex, 'Help your partner say yes' for saving a relationship on your own. They can all be found here
Q: My husband berates me 24/7, it has been this way for two years, and has killed my positive feelings for him. How do I stop him doing his?' Anon He's obviously trying to tell you something, although in the worse possible way. Forget about WHAT he is doing, concentrate on WHY. We need to break this cycle, and listening to his message however unpleasant is better than the same old pattern. However I am worried about your self- esteem and why you're rising to the bait so easily. My guess is it triggers something from your childhood. PLEASE read this.
Q: ‘I’ve been single for a long time but have just been on a second date with a great guy. I’d like to be on a third date soon but I don’t want to seem pushy. How can I stop stressing?’ Anon Distract, distract, distract.
Q: ‘I have been with my partner for six years and we have a 3-year-old son. We care for one each other but no longer sleep in the same bed. The passion has gone, and we are more like friends. We are kept together by a mutual intense love for our son. I know this isn't healthy as I’m attracted to other men. I tried a date night but it was so awkward, what do I do?' Anon This sounds like a classic case of 'I love you but I'm not in love with you' which is nearly always caused by not arguing enough. We think suppressing niggles is good for love but it kills it one day at a time. Good news-you can reverse the trend. Read this.
That's all from me Andrew G Marshall – thanks for sharing and happy relationships.