I believe we can learn a lot from each other’s difficulties and accomplishments. I created the Ask Dr. Michelle column to share my advice with many people at the same time, who although they don’t know it, are often facing some of the same challenges. I hope that my comments provide you with some insight into situations that you are facing in your life. If you have a question that you want me to answer, submit it below. I wish you all the best. (I try to answer as many questions as possible, but please understand that due to the number of questions that I receive I am not able to answer every question.)
We had a huge fight. What’s the best way to fix it?
After a big nasty fight, it’s a good idea to apologize for the inappropriate and hurtful things you said. You said it; now own it. Tell him that you know the things you said were low blows, that you should not have said them, and that you don’t plan on saying anything like that again. Hopefully, he will follow your lead and also apologize for what he said. If he doesn’t, tell him how his words hurt you and made you feel. That way he understands that you didn’t forget about the fight and that it is having a lasting effect on you.
Once you clear the air and let each other know how sorry you are, why not do something fun or romantic to get things back on track. Spend some quiet time together at home or plan a romantic dinner to give yourselves the opportunity to reconnect and share loving feelings. It’s hard to move on “intimately” when you are still carrying negative emotions from the fight. If the fight affected your sex life, talking through those negative feelings should help open the door to more intimacy. After you’ve talked things through and you feel comfortable and ready, try getting physically close so that you can put this incident behind you and get things back on track.
Going forward you need to do everything in your power to avoid saying nasty things to each other. Cursing, insults and making fun of bad past experiences should always be off the table. As soon as something like that comes out of your mouth, you know that the conversation is now officially out of control and needs to stop immediately. Apologize, acknowledge that you are too upset to talk fairly and rationally, and ask for some time to calm down and then continue the conversation later.
I love my guy but I always think about my ex. How can I shake him?
First, figure out why you’re so attached to your ex. If you spent many years with him, it’s natural to go through an adjustment period while trying to move on. It’s also possible that you didn’t get the closure you needed and as a result, you re-hash the past. Whenever he pops into your head, try to remember all the reasons you broke up and why your new guy is a better fit—keep a list if you have to! And try not to hang out with him as friends because it makes it difficult to move on.
I cheated on my boyfriend and want to come clean. Is confessing this selfish or selfless?
Ask yourself: Are you unhappy in or out of the bedroom? If you love your guy (and you practiced safe sex), communicate your needs; maybe you two can work things out. Confessing rarely helps. Most men can’t handle the thought of their girlfriend with another guy, and his ego will likely be bruised irrevocably. But if you think your problems are un-fixable and that you may cheat again, it might be best to end the relationship.
After three years, my husband has a tumultuous battle with substance abuse. I have been supportive through al-anon and several treatment facilities during this period. I have had enough and I put him out of the family home (with a great deal of guilt!). I couldn’t ask for a more loving partner except for the fact that, when he relapses, he will lie, cheat and steal from anyone, including those who are closest to him. Of course, I love him, but I would like to know if this is the appropriate “tough love” technique to take?
I think you finally made a long over due decision. If you had said that you only supported him for three months instead of three years then I might say give it a little more time, but three years is long enough to wait for change. You have waited and supported him through many attempts to get clean. It is so hard to put someone out of the house when you know that they don’t have it all together, but the bottom line is, that is exactly why you have to put some people out. Someone who doesn’t have it together, like a drug abusing spouse, usually doesn’t get it together when they have you around to make it all too easy for them to stay exactly the way they are.
You have probably heard of “enablers.” Those are the people who help drug addicts maintain their habits by making excuses for the addicted person’s behavior and supporting them with money or other essentials. If he could continue to stay there with you and abuse drugs, lie, cheat and steal, why would he ever stop? I mean he could have stopped while still living at home, but he didn’t in over three years so that was a sign for you to take matters in your own hands. That is not to say that he will change overnight because he is out of the house but it is a first step towards making it clear that you will not tolerate that behavior or treatment and that you don’t want to expose the rest of the family to it either.
He will probably try to push you to change your mind and it may become difficult to maintain your decision to keep him out of the house until he is clean, but stay strong! Once you make a decision like that you need to stick with it until you get solid evidence that he is clean for good. If you change your mind and let him return while he is still addicted, he will know that he has the ability to manipulate you and that you don’t really mean what you say. You can’t tell him how serious you are–you have to show him. I know you said you love him, so show him by helping him to help himself. Once he is clean he will thank you for it.
I wish you and him all the best!
Should I hide my vibrator to spare my boyfriend’s ego?
No. Lots of guys see vibrators as a way to make sex even more exciting. Tell him you’d like to enhance the amazing sex you already have–that way, he’ll see your toy positively, not as inadequacy on his part. Then show him how you like to be stimulated. He’ll get off on the visual and receive a sexy education.
I feel as though nothing is going right. How do I get myself out of this bad mood I’m in?
I hope you feel better soon. In the short term there are simple things you can do like play some of your favorite upbeat music, call a good friend, take a walk to clear your mind, watch your favorite comedy or read an inspirational book. In the long term, one thing that often helps people is making a plan for the future and mapping out how you are going to change your situation for the better.Setting goals and finding things you can do on a daily basis to start you moving on the right track can help.Also, if you look around you, you can probably see people doing much worse than you and realize that as bummed out as you feel, you should be thankful that things aren’t even worse. Pray and stay close to what you think is your purpose here.Look for the lesson in what you’re going through and recognize that you are probably being prepared for greater things and realize that this funk is keeping you from achieving those things. Good luck!