I moved in with my boyfriend a year ago and when I thought our relationship would deepen, I think it has stayed the same or gone backwards. He does things like when his phone rings he leaves the room to answer it as if he doesn’t want me to hear the conversation and when he goes out on ‘errands’ he won’t tell me where he has been because he says it is none of my business. Last week he accepted an invitation to a wedding and told me that he did not want me to go with him. He’s not being mean and we seem to get along and the sex is great. I am so confused!
What’s going on here that I can’t seem to understand?
Alice B from Tampa
I beg to differ: He is being mean. Maybe he’s not yelling or calling you names, but saying that his whereabouts are “none of your business” and that he doesn’t want you to be his date to a wedding is harsh. These are not the actions of a man who respects his partner and they indicate that he’s hiding something from you.
It sounds like you both had different ideas of what living together would be like. You thought it would bring you closer and, seems to me, he didn’t think about it at all. It’s time to have the pre-move in conversation, a year post-move in.
Start by telling him you love him and you moved in with him because you thought that love would grow. Then ask him what he imagined living together would be like. Eventually tell him that things aren’t as you imagined they would be and it hurts your feelings when he leaves the room to answer the phone and all the other nonsense you mentioned.
When talking, use I-Statements such as, “I feel hurt when…” “I feel left out when…” It’s hard to argue—or get defensive—when someone is talking about how they feel. On the flip side are You-Statements which indicate blame, “You push me away.” “You aren’t treating me well.” Most people will move into fighting position when sentences start with “You!” So focus on telling him how his actions make you feel rather than blaming or interpreting the actions.
If he doesn’t care that your feelings are hurt and makes no effort to compromise, it’s time to move out and (eventually) move on.
LOVE COLUMNIST: SAMARA O’SHEA
Samara O’Shea is the author of Loves Me…Not: How to Survive (and Thrive!) in the Face of Unrequited Love. She has written for Marie Claire and The Huffington Post.Samara is currently pursuing a master’s degree in social work at Temple University with the end goal of becoming a licensed clinical social worker and having her own therapy practice. Stop by and say hi at SamaraOShea.com.
My wife is a horrible cook. I take her out or order in when I can, but I have never told her outright that her cooking is that bad. I even offered to take her to one of those culinary school nights and she said she didn’t want to go. Any suggestions?
Starving in Minneapolis
I hate to say it, but in this case I think your best bet is honesty. Chances are that your marriage, like any other, will weather far worse than hunger and a potentially bruised ego. And truly, your wife must have some inkling about the quality of her food. She too has taste buds. Be gentle, but be straightforward. In a marriage, it is the little things that make it work.
Key in this situation is how you approach your wife. Express gratitude for her efforts. Gratitude for what you have cannot only prime the other for constructive criticism, but can potentially change your eating experience. When we grow tired of what we are regularly served, from our wives or simply from life, this is the perfect time to check in and simply look to what we are thankful for. Still, I have tasted the fruits of another’s horrible cooking and I do understand your legitimate desperation.
Perhaps it’s worth asking why your wife is uninterested in cooking classes. She may feel shame and therefore unwilling. She may feel under appreciated and therefore indignant. She may feel exhausted and incapable of cooking with much care. You cannot know until you inquire. Remember, making assumptions about your spouses experience, even the simple experience of cooking, closes you off from supporting and appreciating what she has to offer. It’s also totally possible that she simply doesn’t enjoy cooking. Not all women do and to those that feel obligated or stuck in an expected role (yes, sometimes merely being expected to cook dinner every night can be cause for unhappiness), there is likely little motivation to improve.
I might consider if it’s possible to change up some of the home dynamics? How often do you offer to cook for your wife? Have you ever cooked together and turned the meal into a fun night for two? Is there room for some minimal lifestyle changes? Could taking trips to the farmer’s market and treating cooking like art become relevant for you both? If life just doesn’t offer that kind of time, is there something in your routine worth sacrificing so that the space for cooking with intention could become part of your daily life together?
There are a number of potential solutions. What is necessary is for you to decide is what you’d like to get out of encouraging a change in your eating habits. I’m sure the prospect of a tasty meal is enough, but imaginably, you may happen upon an exquisite food adventure if you were to speak your truth.
Caroline Wales is a Certified Holistic Life Coach and a PhD candidate in the field of Transpersonal Clinical Psychology. Her focus is in helping individuals learn to identify their strengths and to utilize tools and skills in coping with whatever life throws their way. Caroline’s philosophy is that with the practice of intention and the desire to go deeper, coaching can help provide insight into recognizing one’s own personal power, and to teach individuals how to tune into the body-mind, energy, and spirit, as a practice of loving and supporting oneself.
You can ask Samara and Caroline questions for the Love & Life Column here at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* The ideas and advice presented here are not a substitute for professional advice. Talk to your psychologist, counselor, physician or health care professional for situations that warrant further analysis.