Dr. Joy Brown speaks with a woman about her marriage troubles
Dr. Brown: Joy, you're on the air. I'm Dr. Joy Brown, hi. Joy: Yes, hi, Dr. Joy. Thank you for taking my call.
Dr. Brown: Sure.
Joy: I am fifty-five years old. I've been married recently two years ago, been with my partner three. Until then, he had a four-year relationship with a woman. She continues to call, occasionally shows up at our home, and last night she called again to ask him to have lunch or coffee with her; she is missing him.
Dr. Brown: Well, obviously you know this because he told you.
Joy: Correct. The issue is not with him, the issue is with me. Am I-I'm feeling uncomfortable about it. Do I need to just grow up?
Dr. Brown: [laughter] Let me back you up just a little bit on this. They were together four years-how long had they been apart when the two of you started dating?
Joy: Not long enough by your standards.
Dr. Brown: Yeah. See, I keep telling people this and they never believe me, but this is sort of the fallout from it. What does he want to do about this?
Joy: He asked me last night. He said, "I'll do whatever you would like me to do. Do you not want me to see her, I will tell her that." Either way, I think he's fine either way with it. Dr. Brown: Well, I think that there's no right decision for you to make here. I would say to him, "Listen. I trust you implicitly; I understand that the two of you were together a long time, that you're a good guy, that she's not your enemy. So I think you have to figure out what your position on this wants to be; whether you want to continue to have her a part of your life, understanding it's a little abrasive for me, but I can learn to live with it, or whether you're feeling like, 'Gee, I'm willing to meet with you this once, but I really don't want you calling the house, and I don't want you calling me at work. I don't want this to be an issue between the two of us.'" I think the smartest thing you can do is nothing, on this one, to be quite honest, because look at your options. If you say, "Sure, go ahead, I don't care," what does that mean? You do care. It's not really accurate communication, and in some ways, if she continues to call the house, he can say, "Yeah, but you said it didn't bother you." If, on the other hand, you say, "I don't want you to meet with her, our marriage is too new for this, I don't want her as a part of our life," then if she calls and begs him, then he's going to feel that he has to be sneaky about it. So there's nothing you can do that's right here. Therefore, don't do anything. I would say to him, "In a perfect world, I would probably have her living on another planet, but it's not a perfect world. You have to decide where your comfort level is, and I guess share that with me so there aren't secrets between the two of us. But the issue is not "does it irritate me," because we know it irritates me. The question is, what role do you want to play in her life, and how much is it going to cost you in our life together? I'm willing to listen to whatever you decide." But if I were you, I wouldn't have a feeling about this here, except being honest about your own feelings, because you don't want to dictate policy. You get it?
Joy: Oh, absolutely. Yes.
Dr. Brown: Cool. All right, I'm Dr. Joy Brown.