Saturday, July 29, 2006

Ask OBA, Volume I

I've been getting a lot of e-mails asking me for relationship advice. I initially resisted the urge to respond because I didn't feel it was my place. My misgivings had nothing to do with any insecurities about a lack of qualifications on my end. Sure, I'm not a licensed therapist or counselor. I wasn't a psychology major, and, in fact, I never even took Psych 101. I'm not married, have never been married, and, to be perfectly truthful, my own relationship track record is hardly Hall of Fame material. After giving it a little bit of thought, however, I realized that these seeming lack of qualifications can actually be considered a plus. I'm not saddled with any of the baggage that comes from too much education, training, or experience. I figure, if a little bit of knowledge is dangerous, then who's to say that even less knowledge isn't incredibly beneficial?! One of my ex-girlfriends told me several months ago that she thought I gave good advice and was a good listener. Or something to that effect. Yak, yak, yak, that girl can ramble on. (If you're reading this, Lisa G., I'm just kidding) So, without further ado, here's the first installment of "Ask OBA". Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Dear OBA:

My girlfriend of three years (we've been living together for just over 18 months) has seemed very preoccupied lately. She's talking to her girlfriends all the time. She's also been highlighting wedding announcements in my Sunday paper, and doing the same thing to all the wedding photos in my college alumni magazine. Last week, she e-mailed me a bunch of articles on celebrity weddings and the financial mistakes that young married couples make. Is she trying to tell me something, and, if so, what is it?

Confused in Cleveland

Dear Confused:

You're from Cleveland so I already know you've got it rough. Let me make things easier on you. Things in your relationship are just fine. Three years is nothing! And 18 months living together? Please, you two kids are just getting to know each other. I'm sure that marriage is the furthest thing from your sweetie's mind. Unless I miss my guess, she's just been afraid to share with you a career change she's been contemplating for quite some time. So, my advice is to sit her down, look her in the eyes, and tell her that you completely understand her desire to be a wedding planner, (I suggest you watch that J-Lo flick first so you have some idea what you're talking about) and that you'll support her in whatever it is she does. She'll look shocked at first, but don't worry. That's just surprise as it dawns on her how perceptive and sensitive you really are. The tears that follow can be chalked up to tears of joy. Anyway, be sure to keep me posted on how her new business is going!


Dear OBA:

I met a cute guy at a party. We exchanged cell phone numbers and went out on a few dates. I was smitten. That was six months ago, and things have definitely heated up. There are a few things about him that are bothering me, though. He still hasn't invited me over to his place or told me what he does for a living. My girlfriends tell me he's hiding something (wife, kids, etc.), but I really like him and I don't want to lose him by seeming too jealous or clingy. Should I tell him how I'm feeling?

Lady E in Elmira

Dear Lady E:

Your girlfriends are the ones who are revealing how jealous they are! Don't let them keep you from Mr. Right. I can see where his behavior might raise a few eyebrows, but there's a perfectly logical explanation for each one of the "questions" you have. You haven't seen his place. Hmm, have you ever considered that this might be your fault? Perhaps he thinks you're a snob or a neat freak. He might be afraid that you'll think his place is too small, too messy, or not in the right neighborhood. Give him his space. If you still haven't seen his place after nine more months, then, perhaps, it's time to revisit the subject. The job thing is even easier to explain. He's probably a covert operative of some type. Instead of questioning him, you should feel flattered that (a) he cares about you enough not to involve you in any risky situations, and (b) he respects your intelligence enough to worry that you'd spot the clues to his "double life", putting yourself (and perhaps this nation's security) at risk. Don't mistake selflessness and patriotism for duplicity. He's given you his cell phone number, so he's already taken a big chance. Just consider yourself fortunate that your "James Bond" has opened up as much as he has. Patience, Lady E, patience.


Dear OBA:

I'm afraid that my wife is cheating on me. I've been unemployed for the last ten months. She's recently had to take a second job so that we can make ends meet. Or so she says. When I try to ask her about this second job, usually as she's trying to get ready for bed, she invariably claims to be too "worn out" to go into too many details. All I know is the name and address of the company and her supervisor's name and number. I haven't been able to check out the place because it's outside of walking distance, and my driver's license has been suspended for the last year (long story). I'd ask her in the morning, but, jeez, she's already out the door by 8:00 a.m. and I don't start stirring for at least another hour or so.

Another thing, in the early evening, the phone rings constantly. I answer only to hear a few moments of silence on the other end. When someone finally starts speaking, it's a person claiming to be a creditor or a telemarketer. When it's a creditor, the person always claims to be one of my creditors, just to make sure I get off the phone as quickly as possible. Anyway, I've hacked into my wife's e-mail accounts (the ones I know about, that is), but that hasn't turned up anything suspicious, other than the fact that her sister thinks I'm not good enough for her. Whatever. I also surreptitiously monitor her telephone conversations (on the alternate Saturdays she's not "working" at job number two). Again, nothing. This whole situation has me thoroughly stressed out. It's gotten to the point where it's interfering with my own job search. I scarcely have enough energy to turn on the computer most afternoons. I've thought about hiring a private eye, but unless she starts working overtime at her second "job", there's no way I could pay for it. Am I just projecting, or should I really be concerned?

Suspicious in Seattle

Dear Suspicious:

Trust, respect, and an equitable balance of responsiblities are the hallmark of any healthy relationship. If what you're telling me is true, your spouse is really dropping the ball here. She's an obvious work-a-holic, which leaves you to shoulder the burden for your own emotional well-being. She's clearly given you reason not to trust her! I suggest calling this second "job" and voicing your specific concerns to her supervisor. As for the private eye, remember, if she loves you, a little overtime will be a small price to pay to put your mind at ease.


Well, folks, that does it for Volume I. Keep the e-mails coming.


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