ASK DR. GILDA
How Can I Make Him Forgive Me?
DR. GILDA CARLE (Ph.D.)
Courtesy of Match.com’s Happen Magazine
Dear Dr. Gilda,
My husband left me three months ago. We were married for a year and a half. The night he moved out he was really angry and told me things that I did not even know he was feeling until then, like that he was not happy with the relationship because I'm very pushy at times, controlling, argumentative, I didn't appreciate him enough, and that our wants and needs were too different to stay together.
Since then, I've realized that everything he said was true. I love him so much and am willing to change so we can make things work. After three months, we still call and text each other frequently, see each other weekends, and he still hasn't told his out-of-state family that we are no longer together. I told him that I am changing to be a better person and willing to fight for our relationship; when asked, he says that he still has feelings for me, but he does not want to get back together because he strongly believes that we are better off as friends and getting married was a mistake.
Please give me some advice on how to make my ex forgive me and end this separation before he files for divorce and it's over for good!
Suddenly Seeing the Light
Dear Suddenly Seeing the Light,
What "light" are you actually seeing, honey? The "light" of your husband's criticism? The "light" of sudden solitude? The "light" of asking for forgiveness for being yourself? Your husband knew what your personality was like when he married you. And he still admits that he has feelings for you, despite your being "pushy," "controlling," and "argumentative." So what's this really about?
You are facilitating Hubby's one-foot-in, one-foot-out stance. You "still call and text each other frequently, see each other weekends, and he still hasn't told his out-of-state family that [you] are no longer together"— despite his insistence that your marriage was a mistake. So what's wrong with you, Suddenly? This in-and-out shuffling is perpetuating your pain. Either get professional help to fix what's broken or end your misery by divorcing. I assume you're intimate when you see each other on weekends. Yet he has made it clear that "he does not want to get back together..." What about that statement don't you understand? Why are you staying where you're not wanted?
Darling, you've conceded that "everything" Hubby criticized about you "is true." Everything? Are you sure? Twisting yourself into a pretzel to win his love will only make you unrecognizable to yourself. And even then, there's no guarantee your spouse will be happy with what you become. Examine closely what he really wants from you now. If he didn't feel appreciated while you were together, I'm sure he's feeling mighty now that you're begging him to return. Do you want a marriage based on the constant pressure to prove your love? When will you see how exhausting all this jockeying is? If an adjustment in your behavior really needs to be made, get counseling to guide you in making a productive self-change.
It takes two people to make or break a relationship. I don't like that you beg for forgiveness while Hubby exits with barbs. Ask these questions:
1. What role did EACH OF US play in our marital demise?
2. If we're still good communicators with feelings for each other, why aren't we seeking help to right our marital wrongs?
3. Where does my husband see the future going with our alleged "friendship?"
4. Would I be okay with the status quo if our separation continued indefinitely?
5. How would I handle my husband telling me he's found someone new?
Currently, there is no discussion of what derailed your marriage, there is no acknowledgment of your husband's role in it, and there is no plan for your own self-improvement. Marital repair is never a one-sided job. Then again, Hubby isn't interested in repairing it, anyway! So, decide why you're willing to remain in limbo.
This is what you must do:
1. Run — don't walk — to a therapist. You definitely need to find clarity.
2. As my Gilda-Gram advises, "Abandon your hero worship for your husband. Even heroes get warts."
3. Remember that you survived without this man before you met him, and you are capable of honoring your independence now.
No person should change just because someone tells her she needs to. Identify the behaviors that serve you and those that don't. Then, decide what YOU want in life. You may actually conclude that — shock of all shocks — YOU don't want him, either! Self-revelation opens eyes to enormous possibilities. Do the introspective work now so you can attract a man who adores you for exactly who you are.
DR. GILDA CARLE (Ph.D.) is an internationally known psychotherapist, relationship expert, and product spokesperson. She is Match.com’s “ASK DR. GILDA” advice columnist. She is also known as the Country Music Doctor, with her “Country Cures.” She is a motivational speaker, professor of psychology & communications, the author of the well-known “Don’t Bet on the Prince!,” a test question on “Jeopardy,” NOW IN ITS SECOND EDITION, 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity, How to Win When Your Mate Cheats, and many more. She was the therapist in HBO's Emmy Award winner, "Telling Nicholas," featured on Oprah, where she guided a family to tell their 7-year-old that his mom died in the World Trade Center bombing. DR. GILDA is the Love Doc advisor for the off-Broadway show, “Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating, & Marriage!” She is currently developing her own TV show. Visit www.DrGilda.com and get her Instant Advice!