I Love You. Now Change.

I Love You. Now Change.

Everyone wants their partner to change.

“Why can’t he be more romantic?”
“If only we had more sex [hotter sex; less sex; any sex], I’d have no complaints.”
“I just want her to make me a priority.”

In my (gasp) 22-year career, the one constant among my clients is that each has believed with every fiber of her being that the key to her relationship success rested in her partner’s willingness to change.

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Just Say No

Dear Dr. Darcy: 

I just got married this past summer to my girlfriend of 3 years. She’s very close to her family to the point that we vacation with them every summer (just locally at the beach). This year, someone came up with the idea to vacation together mid-winter, which means we’ll be flying off to Aruba in a few weeks. I don’t exactly hate my in-laws. I mostly hate how much my wife loves them. And I’m not a fan of being cooped up with them on an island for 2 weeks. It’s tough enough when we’re just at our local beach but at least then I can hop in my car and head south if I need to get away. I’m feeling pressure to be a good new husband but I’m starting to loathe any time I have to spend with my wife’s parents. Do I just need to suck it up?

ANSWER

You definitely need to suck this vacation up. Future vacations, however, are negotiable. You do know that vacationing with your in-laws is optional, right? I’m not sure how you even wound up in this mess. I’m guessing you’re a really nice guy who doesn’t like to say no to his wife.  How are you going to feel when she asks if her parents can move in with you? Just painting some coming attractions for you to weigh against the pain of grabbing your balls and learning to speak your truth.

Resentment begins as a seed formed by saying yes when every cell in your body wants to scream no. Over time, that seed grows roots and the resentment comes out in passive aggressive ways – because there’s no way of muting your truth indefinitely.

My gut tells me that this is a small example of your propensity to be overly accommodating in your marriage, which probably means that she’s a very happy girl but that happiness is situated on a house of cards – it’s not stable or sustainable.

I used to be married to a man who told me everything I wanted to hear. When that relationship ended and I learned that the life I thought we shared was a series of beautiful stories spun to keep me happy in the moment, it sucked. I not only needed to mourn the relationship – I needed to mourn two versions of that relationship: The one he fed me daily and the one I later learned to be the truth. I can tell you without hesitation that I’d have preferred dealing with things I didn’t want to hear than feeling like I’d been sold a rip off instead of the Prada I’d proudly toted for years.

Go on this vacation because it’s what you committed to. When you come home, sit your beautiful bride down and tell her that she’s welcome to vacation with her parents, but that you’ll only be joining her on vacations that involve the two of you. She’ll thank you in the end.

Gender & Orientation: Male, Straight. 

Mommie Fearest

Dear Dr. Darcy: 

My 16-year old daughter is not doing well in school and currently has a solid B average. She is constantly studying hours every day but she is doing so badly! We have tried everything from tutoring to grounding her. She knows our expectations are to do engineering, pre-med, or business but her math marks are not good and I am afraid she will have no future. What can I do to help her?

ANSWER: 

The toughest part of this question is my choice of tone in the answer. I can lean in, give it to you straight and hard, which will entertain my followers but which will likely result in you shutting down and failing to learn anything…or I can spoon feed you an answer that will be more likely to resonate with you but which will surely result in viewers falling asleep before they hit the end. This is my dilemma. And I’m not sure which way to go.

As a parent, it behooves you to view your daughter through a lens of curiosity – which is the exact opposite of having expectations that you impose upon her. Ideally you’d be curious about what she likes, what she exceeds at, where her strengths lie. Instead, you’ve chosen to ignore the very obvious data - which I find odd given your affinity for math (or is it just your daughter who needs to excel at math?) - and you’re pushing her into a narrow choice of fields which require a skillset that doesn't appear to come easily to her. Do you know how it feels to spend your life trying to master an aptitude that doesn’t come naturally? It would be like me expecting you to work in my field, to utilize emotional intelligence on a daily basis.

If you choose to stay on this course, your child will continue to attempt to meet your highly unreasonable expectations, which will destroy her self-esteem and undermine her sense of self, the combination of which is the strongest indicator of life happiness or misery. THIS, not her choice of career, will result in a lifetime handicap, impacting every aspect of her world.  So you see, you have a decision to make: Let her live her life or force her to fail at yours.

Your daughter is doing very well, despite your parenting. The people who run this world and who make 7-figures tend to be the B and C students. Those are the people who become entrepreneurs, who create products, cures, and mathematical equations that change the world. Stop trying to bang a square peg into a round hole, and be grateful that you haven’t provoked an adolescent rebellion to rival our definition thereof.

In the final analysis, I’m not sure which tone I chose. Hopefully one that resonates with you – for your daughter’s sake.