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Below is an Interactive Board sampler. A fuller listing is found in the "Stories" menu above.

4/14 Interactive Board: Codependent Partners

3/23 Interactive Board: He's Changing... I'm Not...

3/1 Interactive Board: D/s Lifestyle

1/14 Interactive Board: My Purrrfect Husband

12/12 Interactive Board: What if He Could Have Changed?

10/23 Interactive Board: Quandary Revisited

8/24 Interactive Board: Quandary! What's Going On?

7/20: Dr. Irene on cognitive behavior therapy and mindfulness

6/12 Interactive Board: Unintentional Abuse

11/7 Interactive Board: Is This Abusive?

12/29 Interactive Board: There Goes the Wife...

11/4 Interactive Board: A New Me!

10/8 Interactive Board: Seeming Impossibility

9/8 Interactive Board: My Ex MisTreats Our Son

5/1 Interactive Board: I feel Dead - Towards Him

4/26 Interactive Board: Why is This So Hard?

4/19 Interactive Board: I Lost My Love...

4/7 Interactive Board: Too Guilty!

So, Its Not All Me...

So, It's Not All Me...

Dear Dr Irene,

I discovered your website on Tuesday (11/23) - just after I had seen my doctor regarding getting counseling.  My partner and I had a stupid, stupid row on Sunday which ended with him suggesting I needed counseling - and me feeling like I never, ever wanted to think about sex again. Tangential? You bet!

I was torn on counseling since I thought it was about my hang-ups with my body, my attractiveness, and my social skills that were getting in the way of our relationship. I wasn't entirely sure all the problems were mine and wanted a second opinion.  On the other hand, I didn't want counseling precisely because I would be allowing somebody else to tell me if my thoughts and insecurities were "right."  Also, a lot of the stuff that was hurting me was about the unanswered questions a counselor would probably tell me to "ask!". 

I was too worried to ask. Asking stresses him. He brings up things I have done to him, and this develops into all-out attack (on both sides I may add). Usually he ends up spending the next few days sleeping on the sofa. This leads to more questions....

Would you believe that I have just spent the last 2 nights sleeping on the sofa because: if I don't, he will. That means he may get to watch a whole 10 MINUTES of the Adult Channel. That means I lay in bed rigid every night wanting to run downstairs and "catch him" - because he won't answer me directly if I ask. (And we call ourselves adults? ) 

My last attempt at "Do you watch pornography after I go to bed..." got an answer of "everybody has seen the Adult Channel (So?)", followed by rage - when I  won't drop the subject. Then he attacks me over my unfaithfulness 2 years ago. I won't defend this.

I am now faced with why I keep asking the same questions. I know that I am insecure about my appearance and uncomfortable with my partner watching pornography - particularly when it is something like a web cam where he can "talk" with the lady in question.  The stumper is - is he actually doing this?  

I shot myself in the foot early on in this relationship by reacting badly to a hint that he might be. Usually, I asked first, got a vague answer and then went into a strop.  He accused me of wanting to censor every single thing he came into contact with (Which I didn't - I couldn't!). I stooping to prying through his email and his internet cache.  I was told that he subscribed to web cams because he was trying to find out how to make his cam work, and he'd hidden his credit card bill because I'd go mad. I told him I'd have rather just have been told that was what he was going to do.  On another occasion he told me he did look at them for stimulation sometimes - because I'd already accused him of it he said he may as well do it.  And on another occasion, he could do anything he wanted because there was a monitor in the way and at least he hadn't slept with anyone else.

No he hadn't. But I owned up within days to my infidelity (I had allowed myself to be put in an uncomfortable situation by some one I didn't want to sleep with, but did anyhow.) and have never defended my actions. OK it was something I really didn't want to have happen, but it wasn't rape and it still happened.  Even now, I still tell him what happened when he asks.

It's not so much what he might have done in the past that bothers me - I don't think he still visits web cams, but I'm finding it hard to forgive and forget because I'm not certain whether or not there IS anything to forgive.  I'd rather feel hurt than paranoid.

And so it goes...

I'm not writing for an answer - although if you have got any comments feel free to post them and use this email on your site.  This is more of a "Thank you" letter.  I feel prepared for counseling sessions after reading pretty much everything on these pages. The site has given me a firm but loving kick in the butt regarding what the real problems actually are in our relationship.

It's not the infidelity or the web cams or his friends or my teenage bout of anorexia, but it certainly is about blame and lack of communication and lack of self control.  We both had bad childhoods ( his violent and abusive, mine tense and secretive) and we've both been treated for depression. I'm still being treated. So, we are both victim and abuser, we both are control freaks, and we're both stubborn. We've been together two and a half years and this has been going on nearly as long.

I think there is hope for us in the that after the arguments, the friendship starts to return.  Even more so when I visualize him on web cams and I don't feel badly; or visualize watching the Adult Channel together and enjoying it.

Why doesn't anybody even hint at stuff like this at school? You leave thinking you know how to marry, copulate and have a baby - but you haven't got a clue!

Your site seems unique in that you are not sexist and you do not blame or take sides.  You are firm, honest and very human.

Thank you again,    -Corinne

Dear Corinne,

Thank your for your thank you letter. I appreciate it!

Yep, you do get a few comments. Stuff you probably already suspect, but maybe didn't want to hear:

You need to deal with your body-image insecurities. You don't have to be a sex kitten for a man to love you. I'll never forget a former client who thought she had to have a perfect body to get married - until I asked her about how married fat and skinny ladies got married!

Good for you for not defending your past faux pas. It's over. You've apologized, and he's chosen to stay with you. End of story.

Phooey to him for withholding answers and behaving in a passive-aggressive manner. Even if he isn't doing anything, his evasive behavior is designed to keep you guessing and interested. Your young man needs to grow up. But he has to want to do that. 

You need to stop taking his bait and engaging. There is no sane reason to allow yourself to persist with a topic you are being provoking with. When you continue to nag him about his half-replies, you give him a way out. He gets to change the subject to your past crimes - and never has to face your very valid questions abut his withholding! Both out of control, you act out until the two of you are in another silly fight. The real issue never gets discussed, let alone solved.

My advice is to ask him whatever once. If he does not reply to your satisfaction, realize he is playing his game and pull away. Don't engage. Don't persist. Drop it. He is being passive-aggressive and is withholding. Furthermore, he is refusing to talk about being withholding - by being withholding! He wants you to "chase" him with questions so he can justify pinning the blame on you. Is this what you want to put up with? 

Good for you for considering counseling. You are nearly ready to break your denial and deal with reality.  

 Good luck to you!   -Dr. Irene