Chat with Dr. Brenda Shoshanna, author of Why Men Leave

Cmrebecca:Welcome to our chat with Dr. Brenda Shoshanna, author of Why Men Leave, to discuss how you can strengthen your relationship by understanding what is inside of him, not you, that causes him to back away. Do men really leave for another woman, or are there usually underlying conditions at home that make them go to other women, as a crutch or something?
BrendaShoshanna: No man leaves because of another woman. As you said, there have to be deep problems at home or in his other relationship first. If his needs are not being met consistently, he'll often look somewhere else.
Tiare17: I've had an extremely hard time getting my husband to try and satisfy me sexually. He won't even try.
BrendaShoshanna: Many men act out their feelings of anger through their sexuality. If your husband is not available to work this out with you, it's important to look at other aspects of your relationship and find out why he's withholding, what's upsetting him.
Ellaskan: Is "It's not you, it's me" typically just a line, or can it really be him?
BrendaShoshanna: Some men blame women for what's going wrong. Others blame themselves. If he's telling you it's him, not you, that's an opening for you to find out what it is that's going on with him. Take it as a chance to find out more.
Internos: If you see your husband hide something from you (a card), and he refuses to show you, is it reasonable to be suspicious?
BrendaShoshanna: Yes, of course. If there's something he's hiding -- especially a card -- you would naturally wonder what's going on. It's important both to have honesty and openness between two people and to respect the other's privacy and boundaries. Let him know this upsets you and makes you insecure, and see what he says.
Internos: I told him that -- he said the card was for me, that I would get it in "due time" and I shouldn't make him mad about it in the meantime. If you've never really had good communication, you certainly aren't going to have it in times of turmoil.

BrendaShoshanna: You are right. If you've never had good communication, it's hard to have it in time of turmoil -- almost impossible ... that's why it's so crucial to do it, in little steps and stages, all along. If you've suspected various affairs throughout the years and just let them slide, and continued to act as he wanted you to, it sounds as though you haven't been truthful to yourself. Rather, you've just been what he wanted you to be. Now you should get to know yourself, respect yourself, find out what's important to you and be the person you want to be.
Ellaskan: What are some rarely noticed signs that something is going wrong in a relationship? I think, perhaps, I may be missing something -- I seem to always feel things are going along fine, and when I find out they're not, it's traumatic. Not obvious signs, but signs most women wouldn't notice. Are there any? BrendaShoshanna: Many people find themselves shocked by the news that the relationship isn't working for the other person. The most important thing all along is ongoing communication between the two of you. Some signs that a relationship is not working are a man withdrawing, not calling or not being home when he says he will. These are signs that it is time to really sit down and talk (if you haven't already).
Ellaskan: If he does leave, how do you get him back? (Assuming that you want him back.)
BrendaShoshanna: If he does leave, first of all you really need to understand why -- and so does he. For you to "get him back" he has to want to come back. If he wants to, as you wisely said, you have to be sure you want him as well, and that there is a real way for the two of you to work out the problems you've had. Sometimes this can be done through honest communication. Other times professional counseling helps a great deal.
49carol: What if he says you have the problem, not him?
BrendaShoshanna: Many men blame the woman for the problem, but when something goes wrong in a relationship there are always two people involved. It's not about who's to blame really anyhow, but how to work the situation out. When you start pointing fingers, an adversarial situation arises and it's not a good environment to find solutions for both of you.

49carol: We've been together for 14 years, married for 11, now in the last past few months he wants to do things by himself. When we went on vacation, he would just go off, leaving me behind. This is really out of character -- what would you think? Communication has taken a dive -- if I try to strike up conversation, I'm prying, etc.
BrendaShoshanna: It sounds like your husband may be going through a midlife crisis or just feels the need for more space and personal growth in his life. This can be quite painful for you, and it is easy to feel rejected. Rather than take this as a personal rejection, let him have the time and space he needs. If he is sorting things out about his own life, he will appreciate your backing off and will return to the relationship refreshed. If he is pulling away, you will soon realize it. Trying to force someone to relate to you when they don't want to only makes things worse.
Cherokeeonly: I was in a relationship with a man who called me his soul mate for three years. He lives on a reservation and has never left his reservation except to be with me. This was considered a big deal. Our plans were for him to leave the reservation in Canada and move to the States. I got pregnant and he was thrilled at first. But then when I reached my sixth month of pregnancy I stopped hearing from him.
BrendaShoshanna: Some men blame women because they cannot bear to take responsibility for who and what they are. If a man cannot do that, there is little chance the relationship will work.
Cherokeeonly: He finally came around after the baby was born. He broke down and cried and told me he was scared to be a father. He got scared when I told him I was pregnant (his first). But he had decided that he would stay on his reservation and visit the baby whenever he can, whenever he can afford to come to the States. But yet he still tries to flirt with me as if he is trying to recapture what we used to have. I am hurt that he is leaving me to raise his child alone. He says his family needs him. He goes months sometimes without calling. He tells me he often can't sleep because he feels guilty about the baby and me.

BrendaShoshanna: It is indeed painful and disheartening to be abandoned by the father of your child. Understand that some men cannot take the pressure the responsibility a child carries with it. Others even feel jealous of the relationship between the mother and child. For others still, they cannot relate to a woman as a love object after she becomes a mother. These men have not grown fully. His flirtatious behavior with you is childish and means nothing. This is not the kind of man you need to be a husband to you and a real father to your child. Of course he feels guilty, but sadly enough he doesn't seem to know how to handle all the conflict he feels.
Cherokeeonly: What should I do about allowing him to visit?
BrendaShoshanna: I would like to let everyone know that there is more follow-up information about all this, and articles posted on my Web page I think you deserve a full time father, Cherokeeonly. His coming and going could be more hurtful.
Liztier: Why do men say one day they love you and the next they say goodbye?
BrendaShoshanna: For some men, love means they feel good at the moment, or they're turned on, or you fit their fantasy. It's important to know who the man is and what he means by love. In my book Why Men Leave this is gone into in great detail. There is a chapter in there called "Turnaround Procedure" that describes in detail how not to get caught in this kind of trap. It can be so painful. You must know who he really is before you become emotionally involved.
jazz1964: What's the best way to deal with a possessive guy?
BrendaShoshanna: Possessive men are usually insecure. Still, they can make your life miserable, especially if you fall into their demands. You have to be strong about your own boundaries, which demands of his feel suitable to you, and which you can't take. Let him know it from the start. The two of you should spend time together developing trust. Many possessive men are overly jealous and fearful of losing their women. Find out what he needs (that you can give comfortably) to help him feel more secure. There are articles about this on my Website It can be a difficult problem. Good luck.

tere5: My relationship is a classic Chapter Seven from your book, Brenda. He has the "Repetition Compulsion." He just left our relationship -- where he was loved -- to be with a woman who is like his mother so he can play out that role. I need to know what I can do for him now that he tells me he thinks he made a mistake by leaving. I want him back but am afraid he'll leave again for another woman who he can play out his unresolved issue with his mother. What do I do?
BrendaShoshanna: Yes, you are right -- these repetitive relationships go on compulsively unless the person develops self-awareness. Often times he'll need to get professional help. Tell him you love him, but want him to work out his problems with a professional. Sometimes, love is not enough -- it is wise to know when.
Icharus38: Why, after women have children, do they want to begin treating their husbands like children?
BrendaShoshanna: Some women feel more in control when they "infant-ize" their husbands, relate to them as children and even smother them. They feel the men will not leave them.
Slynnhill: Should there be any time limit to a separation? My man is leaving this weekend. We are both in individual counseling, but have no plans yet for joint. Should I set a target for time together in counseling?
BrendaShoshanna: It's a good idea to set some kind of time limit to a separation, or else many factors could make the whole process seem indefinite and as though it were all right for it to go on forever. Set up time-points, when at least you two can meet and confer about where you are. Otherwise, you can grow quite distant.
namaste123: I am REALLY struggling with my husband's addiction to porn chat. He loves talking to women, and he masquerades as a woman and trades nude pictures with them. Of course, he trades ones he has received from others. He spends time every day doing this -- at times for hours -- even when I am home. Another part is the fact that our sex life is virtually nil because he says he is experiencing impotence. He says the Net allows hit to play, but not perform. All this may be true, and I've tried to be understanding, but I can no longer deal with his new found pastime. I fought with him again yesterday, so we wiped out the site where he was chatting. He always says that he does not discuss sex, only trades nude pics! Anyway, today I checked the history on the computer and found he has just substituted different porn sites. Since he is not computer-savvy he does not know that I can see the history. I am at a loss how to proceed. I feel hurt, lonely and betrayed.

BrendaShoshanna: If your husband is involved in sexual activity which excludes you, or which includes others and you feel left out, betrayed, hurt, etc., you must straighten out your fundamental agreements in the relationship. The two of you must decide what kind of sexual behavior is comfortable and acceptable for both of you. If what he is doing is demeaning to you, and he will not, or cannot, stop it, either you can seek professional guidance together or you must leave the situation for your own emotional health.
Starrbrite1: My guy says he doesn't want a commitment but he's been around for eight months and gets very jealous. How long should I wait?
BrendaShoshanna: Some men can become very attached and bonded, and just want to go on like that forever. Obviously he cares for you, and wants you to act committed to him. He also must carry his share of the weight here. Decide a time that seems fair to you -- say, nine months or a year -- and if he can't make some kind of commitment by then, realize he has a problem. It won't get solved just with the passage of time. You must let him know what you need and expect, and if he can't step to the plate it's better to move on.
Starrbrite1: Thank you. I think I already knew the answer. I will give it a year ... it will be hard because I love him but have not told him. Should I tell?
BrendaShoshanna: Dear Starrbrite, let him know he means a lot to you and that you're hoping for more.
iodot: My husband screams and curses me (and anyone he's mad at), blocks my exit when I try to leave, grabs me (bruising me) and then blames me for it by saying that he's read that it always takes two people, and that we are having a 'relationship dance.' But when I 'dance away' from the relationship, he grabs me and puts a gun to my head. I get away, and the sheriffs laugh. He's found me before and beaten the heck out of me. He's buddies with the Sheriffs. Do YOU really think that 'it takes two' and that I share the blame for what he does to me?
BrendaShoshanna: Dear idiot, this is a horrible, dangerous relationship. No one deserves to be threatened and abused. Find a center or shelter for abused women in your location and tell them what is going on. Get professional help -- you need and deserve it. Our prayers are with you. I am recently divorced after 19 years. My current relationship is over two years young, yet the few times we've had miscommunication I become very introverted. Is there a way that I can get over my fear of being left/abused so I don't cause a breakup?
BrendaShoshanna: Dear giggle box, after a divorce or breakup of a long relationship we can become quite shaky. Try not to confuse this new relationship with the one and your former husband had. Focus on all that is good and right about yourself, and why you are desirable and worthy of being loved. Communicate a lot this time around and find out more and more about him. The best to you. I want to say to everyone that it's been wonderful to be here with you. Your questions run deep and you must all be gentle and patient with yourselves. We grow through relationships, and mistakes can turn to strength and wisdom. Good luck to you all.

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