Featured Short Letter

This Week - Bullseye

I've been dating a man almost a year. The only problem is I am extremely affectionate, but he is the opposite. He says he has always been like this. He is generous and kind to me, but the lack of affection leaves me feeling unloved.

I have tried to let this go because everything else works so well, but it always comes back around in my mind. After our first date, when my best friend asked me how it went, my answer was, "He is emotionally unavailable."

I feel he stays with me because we get along so well, but he is still in love with the ex-wife who left him. Their relationship was miserable, but everyone seems to know how much he loved her, including me. I don't think he loves me like he loved her.

Kathryn

Kathryn, many women see a wedding as not just a goal but a magical gate. They think when they enter the gate, everything will be splendid. You have the wisdom to look over the gate and see what a future with this man holds.

There is a story from India about an archery teacher who put a target in a tree. When he asked each of his pupils to say what they saw as they aimed, most said they saw the tree, the target, and the other archers. That answer angered the teacher.

One archer, however, won the teacher's praise. He said when he aimed he saw only the target. That is what you must do. Adjust your aim and shoot for love.

Wayne

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Last Week - Personal Property

I have been with my husband four years, married for two. He has never accused me of cheating but insists that every man in a 10-mile radius is hot on my trail. At least once a month we fight about this.

I always ask why he doesn't trust me, and he says he does trust me, it's everyone else he doesn't trust. I don't know how to fix this. I have tried so hard. He offered to go to counseling but hasn't saved money for it, and I can't afford it either. I pay for everything else.

I am afraid my only option is divorce. I hate that I am tearing apart our family, but I don't know if I can continue. I feel alone, yet we have talked about this many times. I don't think he is capable of change.

Vonna

Vonna, your husband is trying to exert property rights over you. He is not in love with you, but he is afraid of claim jumpers. Every time he suggests you could be unfaithful he smirches your character. Every day you stay tells him he has the right to do what he is doing.

Like all good people you think this is your problem to fix. But it's not up to you. The only fix is letting him suffer the consequences.

Wayne & Tamara

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Two Weeks Ago - Chasing Rainbows

Growing up I thought I had a typical, possibly even idyllic, childhood until my mother left my father for another man. Both parents pressured me to be the woman of the house for my three younger siblings. Rightly or wrongly, I made the choice to abandon it all and move out. At 17 I was on my own.

Most people who meet my mom love her, but she is a manipulative, self-involved woman hiding behind the facade of perfection. Only those of us who see past that facade understand how destructive she can be.

My mother was raised in a strict Irish patriarchal household. While her family was patriarchal, ours revolved around her, her needs and wants and her requirements. She deludes herself into thinking she was the perfect parent, though the evidence is right in front of her face. One brother and I are distant from the family, our sister is extremely angry, and our other brother, in his 40s, still lives with her and has never married.

Today is Mother's Day. Our parents spend every holiday together as neither of them remarried, and today our family went to dinner at a nearby restaurant. Sitting next to my mother at dinner I had to restrain myself from snapping at her for the simplest things.

I allowed her to use my anger to manipulate me into saying things I am now regretting. The things I said were true, but expressing them to someone as sick as my mother was a bad choice. Still, I want to make her listen to me and hear her validate me and my feelings.

In the three years since I began counseling and started to see the path of destruction my mother set me on, I have learned not to allow her drama to impact my life. Instead of trying to change her behavior I have chosen to change how I react to it. Until now.

I feel guilty. I know from counseling that guilt is not an emotional response, and I have looked at the emotion behind it and I am just plain old angry with my mother. I'm a happy positive person with a great many friends who love me and I love them. The only time I feel like the angry resentful child I was at 17 is when I am with my mother.

I need to let this one go and let God handle it, but it's just not happening this time. It goes to show that this working-on-myself thing will be a lifelong battle, or at least as long as my mother is on this earth, bless her soul.

Shannon

Shannon, there is a difference between guilt and shame. Guilt is a red flag telling us to beware, someone is trying to manipulate us. Shame is different. Shame tells us we have done something which dishonors us. Shame requires us to mend our ways.

When you are with your mother, you are in the presence of someone who has no shame, who tries to make you feel shame. She uses guilt to manipulate you.

Many of us have the idea that our emotions are irrational. They are not. Emotions are a warning system like the smoke detector in our house. If we ignore the warning and rush into the fire, we will be scorched.

It is as if you are scouring the world over for a way to make your mother a good mother. But the satisfaction you seek is unattainable, because no matter what she does now she cannot undo your experience. You really want to have had a different life, but that wish can never be fulfilled.

Every time you have contact with her, you reinforce who she thinks she is. Listen to the smoke detector. Don't spend the rest of your life trying to make her into someone she is not.

Wayne & Tamara

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