Ask Amy: Reconciled couple struggles in new relationship
Dear Amy: I got back together with a girlfriend after being separated for 14 years. During that time, we kept in contact, and both often wondered if we called it quits too soon.
Now we are back together, obviously different people from those first years together, and this has caused some heated arguments, disagreements, many misunderstandings, and more.
Her communication style is blunt, straightforward, unapologetic, and can be perceived as mean. My communication style is the exact opposite, and this too is causing a rift between us. We have only been living together for two months.
I am unsure of where to go from here. I love her deeply and I know she loves me. I truly want us to work out, but I have to admit that I wonder if we are wasting our time trying to rekindle a flame that has burned out.
I would consider therapy. I don’t want to share my problems with family or friends for fear of judgments.
What would you suggest? — Unsure
Dear Unsure: If you are open to couples counseling, then absolutely try it.
Different communication styles can cause smaller rifts to deepen, but once you learn to communicate more effectively with each other, 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 are saying? Can you learn to accept her bluntness, as long as it isn’t sarcastic or mean-spirited? Are you both willing to change your minds? What is the personal “cost” to both of you for staying in this relationship?
These are all questions to take to a counselor. Start as soon as you can, while your insights and desire to change are still fresh.
Psychology Today (psychologytoday.com) offers a helpful database of therapists, organized by specialties and geographical location, although location is no longer a deal breaker, because so many therapists will work with clients remotely.
For some insight into how one therapist works, I highly recommend the documentary series, “Couples Therapy,” currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Dear Amy: My former wife and I were married for almost 30 years.
Eight years ago, she informed me that she wanted to change careers and move to a different part of the country. For many different reasons, I chose not to follow her on her new path, and we went through an amicable divorce. My ex and I have had few but always cordial contact via telephone and text message. We have no children, and there was never any expectation that we would reconcile.
Six years ago, I developed a relationship with another woman. I told her about my new relationship, and she seemed happy for me.
Three months ago, my new wife and I got married.
A week or two after my wedding, I texted my ex to let her know.
Her reply was curt and painful. It was along the lines of, “I thought we had an agreement that you would tell me before you got married. I don’t think there’s any reason for us to have any future communications.”
I don’t know how to deal with this brush-off, or whether I should even try.
I do not believe I ever agreed to let her know before I got remarried. But even if I did, her response seems like it was intended to hurt me. — Confused
Dear Confused: I can’t speak to your ex-wife’s intentions, but to me it seems that she is more focused on expressing her own wounded feelings, versus trying to hurt you.
You could definitely retaliate and defend yourself against her accusation. But if that is your instinct, I think you should suppress it and simply let her statement stand, respecting her choice not to be in touch.
However, you might feel better about this episode (and your own behavior) if you replied to her: calmly, kindly, and honestly. You might text her, “I am genuinely sorry and sad about your reaction to the news of my wedding. You are an important part of my history and my life, and I had hoped to stay friends.”
Dear Amy: “Faithful” presented a chilling account of the ways her boyfriend is constantly suspicious and surveilling her.
I was relieved that you picked up on how creepy this was and urged her to leave the relationship. — Been There
Dear Been There: A person’s narrative often reveals context that they don’t seem to see. This is one reason telling your own story is so important.