Chat with John Gottman

John_Gottman: Cameo, I don't understand why you can't have a family with him in addition to being a stepparent. Millions of women do this every day.

cameo72: We are paying a tremendous amount in child support and I guess I hold this against him because I have to sacrifice.

John_Gottman: Cameo, in my experience money is rarely the issue -- the real issue is an emotional one. Somehow you are not feeling accepted, valued, respected or in control of the family planning process. Instead you're feeling victimized by it.

Jenhs: My first year of marriage was very difficult (we just celebrated our third anniversary). Much of the trouble I had was related to expectations -- what I expected him to be. I have made a lot of progress in this area but I wonder how can I forgive him for not being exactly who I wanted him to be?

John_Gottman: Jen, it sounds to me like you are very disappointed in him. Think about what your dream is about the kind of relationship that you want and talk to him honestly about those dreams.

Jenhs: Of course I love him, that is why I stayed. I think much of my problem was of my own doing. I had hoped he would grow up and be more responsible, take care of the house, help with chores and the bills.

John_Gottman: Jen, we often see this pattern where people feel they're not entitled to the dreams they have about relationships. Research has shown that the people who have higher expectations get what they want where as the people who lower their standards also get what they expect. My advice would be that instead of lowering your standards, you should talk to him about what you need -- you might be surprised. If you lower your expectations, the result is usually loneliness.

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