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Posted by: Gabby | 2007/03/28

Can A Leopard Change It's Spots?

Hi Doc. I hope you can provide some insight into a problem I'm having. My hubby and I have been married for several years and it hasn't been a smooth ride. Recently, I developed an online friendship with a man and ended up spending many hours chatting to him online. Before this, I had been invisible to my husband and now, suddenly, he became jealous and anxious. We went for marriage counselling, the second time in two years - the 1st time no other party was involved - and what transpired was that he realised he had been a very selfish person and would now start treating me like the wife I deserved to be. I ended the online friendship and our relationship was fantastic for a few months - he was the loving, tentative, interested husband I always dreamed of. I, naturally, responded subconsciously, giving him more attention etc. Now the attention has started to wane and he no longer comes to bed with me at night anymore (these were habits of the past) - which has caused unhappiness in me. It is bringing up the feelings of loneliness, once again. I am becoming anxious he is reverting to his old self, which is even more upsetting now because it's as if someone is taking a magnificent gift away from me. Last night I tried to speak to him about it because he constantly asks me to talk to him about things now. I was calm in my approach but he immediately became defensive, told me I was overreacting and is not speaking to me now. I apologised this morning for any harm I may have caused, but he is still sulking. Am I overracting and if not, is it possible for a Leopard to change it's spots? Your help and any suggestions would really be appreciated. Thanks.

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Our expert says:
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Have you ever met a striped or spotless leopard ?
Sounds like he is simply reverting to habit. It may not be anyhing very specifically about you or the relationship AS SUCH, but more force of habit --- bad habits, acieved over years of practice. There was at one stage a rather bizarre BBC / DSTV program in which women with problem husbands got the help of a woman Dog Trainer, but it did manage to make a few good points. While Communication in the sense of talking things over, is usually beneficial, it's rarely enough. And a good Dog Trainer would probably point out the value of training him consistently, with rewards and praise for each time he does treat you as you want to be treated ( "Good Boy!" might sound condascending, as would the offer of a doggy treat, but praise and rewards always increase and maintain desired new behaviour ) and ignoring or a slight chill in response to backsliding behaviour, can IN COMBINATION be really effective. Maybe the marriage counselling stopped a bit soon ?

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Our users say:
Posted by: Joy | 2007/03/28

I know this might sound a bit off but some men just work harder when they know their women are wanted by other men! Make more of an effort to dress nicer, smell nicer, dont always answer your phone when he calls, seem a little bit preoccupied when he calls like 'baby, can i call you back..duty calls' or ' babe, i'm really busy now, but i'll call you back okay?' when they dont feel like your whole life revolves around them then they make more of an effort for attention! It could be exhausting always having to put up a front, but you'll see the difference..trust me! Good luck&take care!

Reply to Joy
Posted by: Echelle | 2007/03/28

Get another friend online only to let him change again (just joking). Try something new in your relationship, something exciting you haven't done before. To keep a marriage going there must always be new and exciting/fun stuff to do together!

Reply to Echelle
Posted by: Maria | 2007/03/28

Have you read the book called "Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman? Perhaps you and hubby are not satisfying each other's needs because you don't really know what those needs are.

Reply to Maria
Posted by: Tango | 2007/03/28

Basically what you see is what you get. However, a person can certainly make an effort in a relationship to change habits and behaviour if that makes their partner happy.

Let the sulks pass and then say how much you loved it when he did such and such etc - you can also use "I feel " statements eg. " I feel so loving and special when you do....." rather than "You no longer do.....

Reply to Tango

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