Category Archives: Advice

Talk to Wendy (Love: The Good, The Bad, The Incredulous)

Wendy Olsen, MFT

Q: I’ve been with my wife for going on 13 year now. I love her, but to be honest I’ve never been in love with her.  Our marriage was somewhat out of necessity. I’ve spent the last 4 year trying to end things. We’ve had separations during that time and she’s even caught me a few different times with other women. However, no matter what she want let me leave.

Continue reading Talk to Wendy (Love: The Good, The Bad, The Incredulous)

Talk to Wendy: Our Realtionship Expert Tells It Like It Is

Q:  I’ve recently begun a relationship that couldn’t be better. He is everything that I need in a partner: complimentary, compassionate, and extremely intelligent. However, the but is that he is thirty years my junior. I’m the kind of person who usually doesn’t allow what others think to bother me, but it has become difficult to not be affected by the stares and snickers people give us when we go out. I have actually begun to avoid public outings with him altogether out of embarrassment. This has of course put somewhat of a strain in our relationship. I really think that what we have is love, but there is a part of me who can’t put it out of my head  that I’m dating someone who is the same age as my son. Do you advise that I just chalk this up as a fling and move on, or do I try to make it work, and if so, how?

Wendy: Whether he be 30 years your junior, 30 years older or your age, there’s no telling how long it can last.  Yes, it’s not a common pairing and there will be whispers (and maybe a few shouts) but all relationships have unwanted opinions to manage.  If you are enjoying this relationship, keep enjoying it.  Time will tell whether the two of you can weather this coupling.  It sounds like you have a clear idea of what will be challenging. Keep your eyes and your communication wide open and see what will be.

 

Q: My wife and I have been married for almost 7 years now. We’re happy, or as happy as you can be after seven years anyway, and have finally decided that it’s time to have a child. With that understanding, my wife came to me the other day and revealed that she had been propositioned for sex by a colleague of hers. She basically stated to me that this was an “itch” she would like to scratch before we had a child and she was fully in “unselfish” mode for the rest of her life- whatever that means. She told me that once it’s over, it’s over, however I’m not really sure what to do about it. On one hand I’m like, “No way!” But, on the other I’m thinking what if she doesn’t scratch it and it continues to bug her long after we’ve had our child? This is a real life 7 year itch!

Wendy:Let me start by dispelling a myth that seems to exist in at least your wife’s mind:  a desire to have sex with someone else isn’t a simple itch. In addition, children do not necessarily turn you into faithful, dedicated lifetime partners. There is absolutely no way she, or you, can predict with certainty that her tryst will be over once she’s gone for a roll or ten.  People have a funny way of getting attached to others that they share intimacies with, both physical and emotional.  Having said that, I also want to applaud you both for being so open with each other.  Many people have these same desires but keep them hidden for fear that it will cause irreparable harm to their partners. This is an opportunity to talk about your relationship and maybe address some things.  A quickie here and there with someone new is not the right salve for that particular itch.  Explore it more with your wife.  Is there any discussion about you having a desire to seek something outside of your marriage?  Is it a quid pro quo? It may seem scary, but these discussions are good for relationships if there is honesty and safety.  Spend a little time scratching her back while she scratches yours.

 

Q:I’m a 22 year old recent college graduate. My girlfriend and I have been together since High School, but it looks like we’ll be split apart for the next couple of years as she is doing a mission with the Peace Corps. I understand the whole thing about, “having my entire life before me,” and that you shouldn’t put your life on hold for someone, but I really love her and I want to marry her one day. She’s told me that she thinks that we should end things, just while she’s gone, and let life unfold as it will because it’s not fair to either one of us to “wait” for the other. “Whatever will be, will be.” I’m scared to let her go because I’m afraid that I’ll lose her. I’ve even thought about trying to join the Peace Corps myself so that we could be together. She’s the only person I’ve ever been with, and I feel the only person I want to be with. Shouldn’t I do whatever it takes to be with her?

Wendy: No, you shouldn’t do whatever it takes to be with her.  She has very graciously given you the gift of potential new experiences.  I believe you when you say that you love her and you have no interest in being with anyone else.  You have options.  Living a celibate life until her return is an option.  I don’t recommend it, but it is an option.  On the other hand, I don’t believe you when you say “I get it that I have my entire life before me.”  You can’t possibly understand that concept until you live an entire life (or most of one) and you can look back on your life.  That’s okay.  You’re not supposed to get it until later.  Let me tell you this one truth, you are capable of loving more than one person in your life.  She has told you what she wants and you have shared your desires with her.  Do the best that you can do for yourself by giving yourself the opportunity to have new experiences, whether they be in love, travel, education, volunteer work, careers or any or all of the above.  Who knows, at the end of this time apart, life will unfold and you may find yourself wanting something of a completely different flavor.
Wendy_PianoWendy Olsen is a Marriage & Family Therapist, specializing in Sex Therapy. You can find more of her advice at http://www.talk2wendyolsen.com

Talk To Wendy: Your Burning Love & Relationship Questions Answered

Love Love

Q: I’ve been dating my boyfriend for a little over 6 months now. Things started out really great with us. I do a lot of marathons, and triathlons, and he was very supportive of me, always coming out to cheer me on no matter the weather. He is very attentive to my needs and is always doing sweet things for me. The thing is, recently there’s been an abrupt change in his behavior. He gets extremely embarrassed, and angry, when I pay for dinner whenever we go out on dates, as I have a better paying job than he does, which is also something he gets angry about. He has started using language such as, “I will allow that,” or “that’s something I will take under advisement,” when I give him my opinion on a decision we should be making together, such as where to go on vacation or to eat. I’ve come to find out that he has a very “traditionalist” view of the male/female relationship, and adamantly believes that I should be “submissive” to him. This is the first time I’ve ever encountered this type of thing in a relationship and I’m not really sure how to broach this with him. I in no way, shape, or form plan on being submissive to him or anyone else. I think he’s awesome and could see us going further together but this is kind of a major hiccup. What do I do?

Wendy Says: All relationships have their challenges.  However, your challenge seems to be in the area of core values. You believe people are equals in a relationship and your boyfriend seems to believe that men rule the roost.  Whether his values are borne out of his insecurity in the wage-earning department or they are values instilled in him from birth, it is going to be his default mode when issues challenging his sense of self arise.  When you see anger regularly in a new relationship, see it as a big red flag.  He may have no idea how often it flares up as it may be a regular occurrence for him.  Trying to fix someone’s issues early on is a major remodel project you need to dust your hands of now.  He may have his great qualities, but they will always take a backseat to his rage.  I would encourage him to do some real work on his anger and attitudes toward women.  I would encourage you to find a partner that has similar values to you and a default mode void of anger.

 

Q: I’ve been with my boyfriend for over a year now and we were planning on moving in together, however, he recently revealed to me that he had been in sexual relationships with other males in his past. I want to flatly state that I am all for equality for everyone, and I know that in this day and age it shouldn’t bother me, but it does. I just don’t really know what to make of it, as it seems weird to me that he used to date men, and is now dating me. I have enough women to be jealous of without now being jealous of guys too. Maybe I’m overreacting but I just think it opens up Pandora’s Box of things down the road in our relationship. He says that past relationships or all the same, men, women, what difference does it make as he’s with me now. Is it wrong that this is bothering me so much?

Wendy Says: One thing is important to understand:  feelings are not right or wrong, they just ARE.  Feelings don’t think.  Actions can be right or wrong.  Having said that, I think it’s important that you acknowledge how this new information has made you feel.  You feel uncomfortable.  That’s okay.  You have to decide what to do regarding this new information.  Your comment about needing to be jealous of women is a concerning one. Prior to learning that your boyfriend has dated men, did you feel jealous in regards to how he has been around women?  If that’s the case, that’s an entirely different issue.  Security in a relationship is important.  If you trust him completely around women, why not around men?  Perhaps he can help you understand any differences, or lack thereof, in his romantic relationships with men and women.  What you may find is that he is drawn to similar characteristics in people whether they be male or female.  Including his interest in you.  We tend to be drawn to what is familiar to us emotionally (more so than physical characteristics.)  I would encourage to talk with him about your feelings and to learn more about how he has been in relationships historically.  If you notice a pattern of deceit, this relationship is not for you.  On the other hand, if you see that he has been a loyal boyfriend to others, chances are quite good that he’ll be the same with you.

 

Q: My wife and I got married right out of high school and have been together for almost 10 years, and have one child. I love my family, however, the thought that can’t escape from my head is that I got married too young and that I missed out on some of the best years of my life. Several of my friends, who are now just settling down, were able to experience things that I didn’t because I wed so early, and to be honest I’ve always been a bit envious of them. I’m finding myself starting to really resent my decision that I made as a teenager. Things just feel really suffocating right now. I’m not saying that I want to step out on my wife or get divorced, but I do think I really need to reassess things, and maybe we do need a little “break”. I’m not sure how to even bring the subject up with her or if I’m a bad person for doing so? What do you suggest?

 
Wendy Says: Marrying young and starting a family does present it’s own challenges.   Many people question their choices to do so later on when the pressures of family life seem particularly difficult.  On the other hand, being single can suck too.  It’s not all the fun and games it’s cracked up to be.  If one choice were clearly better over the other then everyone would make the same choice.  The question you need to ask yourself is:  what do I want?  If your answer is:  to run around with whomever I want doing whatever I want to do for an undetermined amount of time, perhaps you need to think more about the question.  You mentioned envying your friends’ freedom as single people.  Understandably, a lack of obligation as to where you’ll spend your weekends or evenings after work would be nice sometimes.  Is that an arrangement you and your wife can make for each other?  In other words, would it be okay for each of you to carve out some free time for yourselves to be with friends or have some alone time?  Do you think that would help alleviate some of the resentment you’re feeling?  Would that give you a bit of the break you referenced earlier?  One person can not meet all of our needs.  We need family, friends, colleagues, etc. to give us balance and support.  In fact, the better network we have the more we appreciate our partners.  In terms of how to bring it up to your wife, you just need to talk with her about the pressures you feel having so much responsibility so young.  Tell her how you feel about wishing you had fewer obligations at such a young age.  Ask her how she feels about all of her responsibilities at a young age.  You can’t go back in time and change things, obviously.  You have responsibilities now.  You’ve put a lot of time and effort into your life and family and that is extremely valuable.  Don’t discount what you have built in your life.  Work with your wife to give yourselves some personal perks that might help you appreciate what you have and help to abate the resentment.

 

Wendy Olsen is a Marriage & Family Therapist, specializing in Sex Therapy. You can find more of her advice at http://www.talk2wendyolsen.com

 

Talk To Wendy: Our Expert Answers Your Relationship Questions

Wendy Olsen, MFT, answers all the relationship questions you were dying to ask, but just couldn’t muster up the courage to. You can email questions to editor@southseattleemerald

Q: I’ve been having a fling with a colleague from work and things have been working fine, in that we both seem to be getting what we want physically out of the deal without any commitment. He however has started expressing that he wants more of an actual relationship with me but I honestly value my freedom a lot at this point in my life, and while I could see myself, maybe, dating him one day, now just isn’t that time. I don’t feel like I’d be stringing him along if I told him that someday I might be open to it but now I’d just like to continue the status quo, as sexually, things are great. I feel men do this all the time without shame, so would I be wrong?

Wendy: Being honest about how you really feel is the kindest thing you can do.  By being honest with him, you are allowing him to make the best choice for himself:  continue with sexual play and see what the future holds for the two of you or look for something more involved with someone else.  You both have choices in the matter.  Kudos to you for wanting to give him the truth and the option to opt out.

 

Q: I recently proposed to my girlfriend after two and a half years of dating. She said yes, but then revealed to me a couple weeks after we got engaged that she cheated on me with an ex-boyfriend a few months after we began dating. She says that it meant nothing and that it was early in our relationship. I respect that she told me even though she didn’t have to, however it does make me look at her in a different light, and somewhat makes me rethink our relationship and whether I should even marry her now. Am I overreacting or should I just appreciate her being honest and let it go?

Wendy: When someone reveals something that happened in the past, they’ve had time to resolve their feelings over it.  However, when we hear it for the first time, no matter how long ago it was, it is fresh for us.  Your feelings and confusion are normal.  Yes, she was honest with you and at great risk to herself and to your relationship.  She made herself very vulnerable by disclosing her indiscretion. In disclosing to you, she allowed you to fully give what I’ll call” informed consent” in your relationship. Now you know something more about her, a fault or mistake.  When she says it meant nothing, that very well may be the truth.  However, I would encourage both of you to explore why she cheated.  It is important for you both to have a clearer understanding about how that happened in order to avoid it happening in the future.  It may be as simple as, she was seeing you, but not yet committed.  The ex came back into the picture and by being with him again she realized that she didn’t want anything more with him and really did want a relationship with you.  Indiscretions happen.  It doesn’t mean that all is lost.

 

Q: My husband and I have been married for a little less than a year, and over time it’s been revealed that he likes some fairly lewd pornography. It’s something I’ve gone along with in terms of watching it with him, however it’s something I’m having an issue with tolerating any longer. He says that he needs it to “get in the mood,” but “hello” that’s what I’m supposed to be for. It makes me feel a bit disparaged knowing that this is what he needs. I’ve told him several times how I feel, but I’ll catch him still viewing it. I want to tell him, “It’s the porn or me,” but is that realistic?

Wendy: The porn issue is a common one in relationships.  Porn is the opposite of intimacy. When going solo, it is something that people use to become aroused and climax without worrying about meeting someone else’s needs. You only have to worry about yourself.  It’s fantasy. Some couples use it as a form of foreplay. On the other hand (no pun intended), if you are feeling sexually invisible to your husband, that is problematic.  When you say he tells you that he “needs it to get in the mood”, that may be something that you two need to talk more about.  If you are at the point that you feel his relationship to pornography is at the expense of the intimacy between the two of you, seek professional help.  A professional can help both of you understand your different needs sexually and emotionally and help you come to some sort of resolution.
Wendy Olsen is a Marriage & Family Therapist, specializing in Sex Therapy. You can find more of her advice at http://www.talk2wendyolsen.com

Wendy_Piano

Talk To Wendy: Our Relationship Expert Answers Your Questions

Wendy Olsen, MFT, answers all the relationship questions you were dying to ask, but just couldn’t muster up the courage to. You can email questions to editor@southseattleemerald

Q1)I’ve been involved with my boyfriend for over two years, but he still seems hesitant to commit to me. I’ve been very patient with him, however I’ve given him every indication that if he doesn’t soon show that he wants to take us to the next level (ask me to move in, engagement, at least allow me to leave his toothbrush over his house) then it might be time for both of us to move on. He doesn’t seem to be getting the hint though. Is it time for me to give him an explicit ultimatum?

Wendy: It is always best to be very clear with a partner about what your expectations in the relationship are.  It sounds like it’s time that you had the conversation with him about where you want  the relationship to go.  Men aren’t mind readers (neither are women.)  Don’t assume he knows anything that you haven’t stated very clearly.  He may want something very different from you and you need to know what the differences may be.  You also have to be willing to let the relationship go if you know he’ll never meet your expectations.  If you stay and don’t get what you want, you’ll spend your life resenting him and feeling disappointed. Know what your “bottom line” is and maintain it.

Q2) Me and my wife are recently married. Everything has been great, except for the sex. She was a virgin before we were married due to her religious beliefs, so I’m much more experienced than she is. Most of the time sex with her is either like directing traffic or being on top of a dead fish. Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife very much but I’m just not being fulfilled sexually. I’m scared to have a conversation with her about it, as I fear she might be ashamed. How do I bring up that perhaps we can try and learn “different” things in the bedroom?

Wendy: Unfortunately, many people don’t have conversations about sex and what they want or expect sexually prior to having sex with a partner. This problem doesn’t fix itself without communication. I suggest you try talking with her from the perspective of a loving husband that is concerned that his wife isn’t enjoying their sex life. If you can begin talking with her about what she enjoys or doesn’t enjoy in love making. There’s an old expression, “sex starts in the kitchen” meaning that there is a ramp up to sexually activity prior to intercourse. Foreplay, foreplay, foreplay. Not just kissing and cuddling immediately following intercourse, but checking in with her, asking about her day, helping around the house, noticing her, etc. These are the things that women report draws them closer to their partners. Feeling loved and secure are powerful aphrodisiacs.

Q3) I’ve been a married for the last 17 years and while I’ve enjoyed being married to my husband, the doldrums have long ago set in. I’m not thinking about a divorce, mainly for our children, however I’ve been propositioned by a colleague of mine to begin a purely physical relationship. I know that it might not be the most responsible thing, but I enjoy his advances and it brings some freshness to my life. Is it wrong to be a little wild and begin something with this guy, as long as I keep it compartmentalized from the rest of my life?

Wendy:  Right or wrong isn’t a question that I can answer for you.  What I can tell you is that if you decide to have a sexual relationship outside of your marriage, their is a price you have to be willing to pay.  Is your marriage worth risking?  (Studies show that when a woman cheats, there is a 7Xs more likely chance the marriage will end in divorce.) There is no guarantee that the new relationship will remain purely physical. There is no way to guarantee that your new relationship will remain “compartmentalized.”  The other thing people don’t consider when carrying on another relationship, is that there is a lot of work in keeping a secret.  Don’t get me wrong, sex with a new partner can be incredibly fun.  But, you have what I’ll call “extenuating circumstances.”  Your comment in regards to wanting freshness in your life is also understood.  My question to you is, why not explore that avenue with your husband?  Many couples need a revamp in the bedroom after years together.  Being noticed by someone else certainly can be alluring.  But, keep in mind that the newness in all relationships wears off.  You have invested a lot of love and time into your marriage.  You have to decide if sex on the side is worth the potential cost, whether or not your husband finds out.

Wendy Olsen is a Marriage & Family Therapist, specializing in Sex Therapy. You can find more of her advice at http://www.talk2wendyolsen.com

Wendy_Piano