Dear Amy: I came back with a girlfriend after being separated for 14 years. During this time, we kept in touch, and the two often wondered if we had called to leave too early.
Now we’re back together, obviously different people from those early years together, and it’s caused some heated arguments, disagreements, many misunderstandings, and more.
His communication style is blunt, direct, without excuse, and can be seen as mean. My style of communication is exactly the opposite, and that too causes a rift between us. We’ve only been living together for two months.
I’m not sure where to go from here. I love her deeply and I know she loves me. I really want us to practice, but I have to admit I wonder if we are wasting our time trying to rekindle a flame that has gone out.
I would consider therapy. I don’t want to share my problems with my family or friends for fear of judgments.
What would you suggest?
Dear Unsure: If you are open to couples counseling, definitely give it a try.
Different styles of communication can cause smaller cracks, but once you learn to communicate with each other more effectively, the intimacy will definitely deepen.
Does your girlfriend want to communicate differently? Does she want to engage by listening, even if she doesn’t agree with what you’re saying? Can you learn to accept her frankness, as long as she isn’t sarcastic or petty? Are you both ready to change your mind? What is the personal “cost” for both of you to stay in this relationship?
These are all questions to ask an advisor. Start as soon as you can, while your ideas and desire for change are still fresh.
Psychology Today (psychologytoday.com) offers a useful database of therapists, organized by specialties and geographic location, although location is no longer a deciding factor as many therapists will be working with clients remotely.
For a glimpse of how a therapist works, I highly recommend the “Couples Therapy” documentary series, currently airing on Amazon Prime.
Dear Amy: My ex-wife and I have been married for almost 30 years.
Eight years ago, she informed me that she wanted to change careers and move to another part of the country. For many reasons, I chose not to follow her on her new path, and we went through an amicable divorce. My ex and I had little contact but always cordial by phone and text. We have no children and we never expected to be reconciled.
Six years ago, I developed a relationship with another woman. I told her about my new relationship and she seemed happy to me.
Three months ago, my new wife and I got married.
A week or two after I got married, I texted my ex to let her know.
His response was brief and painful. It was like, “I thought we had an agreement that you would tell me before you got married.” I don’t think there is a reason for us to have future communications.
I don’t know how to handle this brushing, or even if I should try.
I don’t think I ever agreed to let her know before I remarried. But even though I did, his response seems to want to hurt me.
Dear Confused: I can’t speak to your ex-wife’s intentions, but it seems to me that she’s more focused on expressing her own hurt feelings, rather than trying to hurt you.
You could certainly fight back and defend yourself against his accusation. But if that’s your gut feeling, I think you should delete it and just let his statement hold, respecting his choice not to be in touch.
However, you might feel better about this episode (and your own behavior) if you answer it: calmly, kindly, and honestly. You could text her, “I’m so sorry and sad for your reaction to the news of my marriage. You are an important part of my story and my life, and I had hoped to remain friends.
Dear Amy: “Faithful” presented a chilling tale of how her boyfriend is constantly suspicious and watching over her.
I was relieved that you understood how scary it was and urged her to leave the relationship.
– Was there
Dear Summer There: A person’s story often reveals context they don’t seem to see. This is one of the reasons telling your own story is so important.
You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.