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How to get back in touch with yourself after relationship ends

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Mom reluctant to let Dad take care of child

L.A.: My wife doesn't trust me around our baby. She has no reason not to, but I guess she has no real reason to, either. She has not said anything about it, and whenever I bring it up she seems not to know what I'm talking about. What do I do?

Carolyn: Please treat this as a serious problem. It's not just bad now — you can't care for your own child?! — but the trajectory goes to much scarier places, such as a sense of alienation from your child, a too-close attachment between mom and child, a lack of communication between dad and mom, husband and wife.

If talking about it isn't getting you anywhere, then try concrete suggestions: She starts a regular girls' night with her friends, you care for child; she takes a weekly class, you care for child; she picks up an exercise routine, you care for child, etc. Whatever you offer, tailor it to her pre-baby interests so it isn't easy for her to blow off.

If she goes for it, then you might find that it's enough for her to see, on a regular basis, that all is well when you're on duty. Some people just get freaked by the whole baby thing and refuse to let go until someone or something persuades them it's okay.

If instead she refuses, and nothing is persuasive enough for her to trust you with the child (a good indicator will be if she doesn't trust anybody but herself, or, say, one approved grandparent, probably her own mom or dad), then it's time for some professional intervention. Your pediatrician should be able to recommend a good marriage/family therapist. If she won't go, then go on your own.

How to get back in touch with yourself after relationship ends

Philadelphia: My fiance just broke off our engagement and ended all contact. We had been together for almost seven years and were house-hunting in the city where we had chosen to settle. I was planning a future, kids, etc. with this man.

Now he's gone, and I am daunted by the thought of going from having everything (in a romantic sense) to having nothing. It's like being 21 again except that I am definitely not 21 anymore and cannot imagine completely starting over. What would you do if you were me?

Carolyn: Start with small things. Start bringing back to your life whatever you dropped over the course of your seven years: benign things that you miss.

It doesn't have to be something huge — just, say, painting a room a color you love that you couldn't use before because he hated it or thought it was too whatever. Or, watching movies of a genre he didn't like, or cooking something you stopped serving, or seeing a friend who rubbed him the wrong way. Even the most compatible of mates have likes and dislikes that subtly change your daily lives together.

It's not only comforting in the short-term (and harmlessly vengeful) to bring back things you gave up, but it's also a sneaky way to reintroduce yourself to yourself, the person you are when there's no one else around. That's the person who will figure out what's next for you. When you're through grieving, you may really enjoy that next step.

How to get back in touch with yourself after relationship ends 08/03/09 [Last modified: Monday, August 3, 2009 6:32pm]

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