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Ask Ellie: With mutual love and trust, independence isn't a threat

He must trust your best self as an individual with ambition and goals, and you must show him the consistency of being a loving partner.

Dear Ellie: One man has been important in my life for some years, and a second man is my ex-husband. Living this way has become very uncomfortable.

I’ve been best friends with the first guy since we met at school. I thought that he seemed interested in me, and I was flattered. But I soon learned that he and one of my friends had connected. Soon they were married with children.

I worked in the same city and needed a place to live. They generously invited me to rent a room at their place which was like a haven for me.

A few years passed, I got another job that involved travel, met the man whom I married and had children.

My husband is a good man, raised by parents who thought he was perfect. He grew up choosing his own pursuits. For example, if the kids and I wanted to go on a picnic, and their father preferred to stay home, he would do so. The distance between us grew.

I suggested a separation. He resisted. It took almost three years for him to accept it. He still sees our children.

Then a terrible shock happened. My best guy-friend’s wife suddenly died. I attended her funeral and comforted their children whom I’d known since their births.

I still worked and travelled, and my friend and I stayed in touch.

It’s four years later. My kids adjusted to divorce, and they know that my friend and I, living in different locales, connect whenever possible. He’s talking about us getting married, while I’m happy with our relationship as it is.

But I wonder if we’ve all been through too much drama and change. I love the man, maybe always have. Now, I worry about starting anew. Will he judge me as too independent when he still needs comfort and peace?

Can This Work?

A union between two people who love each other will work, if they let it. What’s needed now is NOT intense scrutiny and worries, but rather, thoughtful discussion and honesty on both your parts.

First, look to yourself: Do you love this man from the past? Or for today and a future together? Then ask him directly how he sees the “independence” of your working life which you value. Then consider the obvious possibility that he fears another painful loss of someone he loves and relies on.

With two sets of children affected, getting relationship counselling together could be very helpful at this time. With you two airing out your inner fears and assessing feedback from a professional therapist, he could be reassured of your feelings without needing you to change the career path you’re on.

It’s now about mutual commitment. He must trust your best self as an individual with ambition and goals, and you must show him the consistency of being a loving partner.

Dear Ellie: How do I deal with a husband who’s in jail? He got caught stealing a client’s money. I immediately wanted a divorce, but he’s repeatedly refused.

I’d love to meet someone whom I can respect and hopefully love, but I’m terrified of another disastrous choice.

Lonely Wife of a Jailbird

Socialize with close friends and drop the shame. You did nothing wrong. Tell trusted family that you’re ready to date. Attend events and gatherings where there are other singles. Seek someone with signs of good character and take time getting acquainted. Don’t rush.

Meanwhile, seek legal advice in your jurisdiction regarding refusal to divorce and legal options.

FEEDBACK Regarding the woman feeling disconnected from her husband (Nov. 30):

Reader – “When a relationship’s developing, we spend much time looking into each other’s eyes with soul-to-soul connection.

“Fast forward to a busy married life, and we talk to each other while doing household chores, minding children, watching TV, etc. We sometimes move past and around each other in a never-ending stretch of things-to-do.

“Stop! Look at each other face-to-face frequently and into their eyes. Tell yourself what you see. If they’re complaining, say, “I know, it’s hard and I hear you.”

“Instead of saying “but…,” instead, say, “what can we do to change this?”

“When you do get precious time with each other it’ll be much easier to truly enjoy yourselves without having to break down fences of irritability and stress.”

Ellie - Thoughtful suggestions for relationship issues that are universal, e.g., when chores become paramount instead of caring.

Ellie’s Tip of the Day

Where there’s committed love and trust, a partner’s independence isn’t a threat.

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