December 9, 2009

Inside this Newsletter:

Do you believe how cold it is (13 below)?  I fell on the ice last week and pulled a ligament in my rotator cuff, but the doctor says it should heal on its own in a few weeks, so I actually feel lucky.

Alan and I both have birthdays this time of year – his was 11/11 and mine is 12/12, and we’re exactly one year apart in age.  I hate having a birthday in December!  I wish my birthday was in July!

Well Tiger certainly has given us something to talk about this holiday season.  See my article on Tiger below.  I’ll also be on KYGO 98.5FM tomorrow morning at 7:30 am discussing his situation and dealing with other relationship issues.

Alan and I are staying in town this Christmas and have decided to visit my family in January or February instead of traveling during the holidays.  So, I will be available for appointments during most of Christmas and New Year’s.


Tiger Woods - Good Guy or Bad Guy?

By Carolyn Bushong

Tiger, a very private and arrogant billionaire golfer, is in big trouble.  Why does this matter so much to all of us?  He says this is a private matter, but he is a public figure and we want to understand what happened here.

Why would a 32-year-old man who has everything, including a beautiful wife, risk losing it all for sex with other women?  Some people think maybe he’s a sex addict, and maybe he is.  But I believe he has the “I’m rich and famous and can do anything I want” syndrome.  OJ had it, Clinton and other politicians have had it, and even some of my seemingly normal clients who make a lot of money have it.  They believe that there is a certain “entitlement” that comes from being an exceptionally good provider.  One couple I’ll call Bob and Sue that I worked with here in my Denver office had this issue.  Bob made tons of money and cheated on Sue while they were engaged, and she couldn’t decide whether to continue with the wedding or not.  She did decide to go forward, but with my help, she set some conditions that he didn’t like very much.  He of course swore that he would never do it again.  She didn’t believe him, but said, “Fine then you won’t mind putting it in a pre-nup that if you cheat on me again, all three houses will be immediately transferred to my name, as well as the stock portfolio, then the rest will be split according to Colorado law.” He gulped, but eventually agreed.

Is it true “once a cheater always a cheater?”  Usually it is.  Most men who cheat just get better at covering it up as time goes on.  As we know, Tiger’s wife, Elin, had checked Tiger’s cell phone and found a name or names and phone numbers.  My female clients who suspect their men of cheating check their cell phones and credit card bills online, as well as the bank statements.  Long-term cheaters have learned to have separate cell hones and credit cards that they use only for their affairs.

Did Tiger do this because he wishes he was single again or wants to find someone else?

Probably not.  Men who cheat usually don’t want to leave their wives, instead they want it both ways.  They want the warm cozy family life as well as the wildly exciting life of dating a variety of women.  One of my male clients here in Denver I’ll call George recently suggested this to his wife of 30 years in a session with me.  She had just found a phone message from his assistant at work discussing her husband’s plans to go away with her.  Once confronted, he admitted it (which is rare) and suggested, “Why can’t we just take a break from the relationship and date other people for awhile and see what happens?”  You can imagine her response.

Did Tiger just get married too young to be able to settle down?  Tiger is only 32 and has been in a committed relationship since his mid-20’s.  He may not have sewn his wild oats, as they say.  I have a 26-year-old client I’ll call Sam who came in worried that he’s a serial cheater.  He says he married at 22 and cheated and then divorced.  Then he lived with a woman at 24, cheated and moved out.  And now is cheating on his present girlfriend.  I told him that his problem seems to be more that he is committing to monogamy too soon to women he likes -- that he’s too young to know what he wants long-term.  If he was honest with them and dated around instead of making promises he can’t keep, he probably would not be a cheater. Sam says he has to give the women what they want to keep them.  I told him to tell them he cares about them, but is not ready to settle down and probably won’t be ready for many more years.  I don’t know Tiger’s dating history, but I’m sure that being married when you’re in your prime (both age-wise and career-wise and have more opportunities than you ever dreamed of) is difficult.  Tiger said he wasn’t being true to his values.  He may be too young and immature to be able to be monogamous.  

Am I letting him off the hook?  Absolutely not.  Cheating is wrong.  When you make a commitment to someone, you should either keep it or get a divorce.  That’s the right thing to do.  But is it what most people do?  No, because there’s usually too much to lose – children, money, and in Tiger’s case, image.

So is Tiger a good guy or a bad guy?  Neither.  He’s a normal guy with flaws like the rest of us.  But that’s not the image he has projected.  He has presented a “perfect” image that makes us all hungry for this bad news.  When someone pretends to be “perfect,” we start to believe it at first, and then we are very relieved when we find out that he is as “imperfect” as we are.  For us to love Tiger again, he has to come off the pedestal and help us understand what really happened here so that we can embrace his humanness.

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Q & A: He Cheated & Won't Talk About It


Question:  I’ve been married 28 years and thought our marriage was based on trust and consideration.  Recently I was contacted by a man who claims, with evidence, that my husband and his wife have been having an affair for three years.  I confronted my husband and he emphatically denies it.  I’m sure he’s lying.  I can’t quit thinking about this, but my husband says I should forget it.  We can’t talk about it without him erupting.  I probably wouldn’t leave him even if he had an affair, but it’s difficult to forget without being able to work through my doubts and grief.  How can I get him to talk to me so we can work this out?  Should I keep questioning him about it?  I feel like I’m the only person in the world who has faced this situation.

Answer:  Your situation is more common than you think.  It’s estimated that 50% to 70% of married men cheat or have cheated.  It’s normal to feel very upset over this, but don’t let his anger intimidate you and keep you from insisting that this issue be dealt with.  You are the only one who has a right to be angry, not him.

As far as whether or not he did cheat, just know that 99% of men who have cheated will deny it until the day they die.  The fact that he is totally avoiding the issue is not a good sign.

You, of course, need information and communication to rebuild your trust.  You must insist that he fess up (or prove that it’s not true) and discuss the infidelity.  If he won’t, you should insist on marriage counseling.  He may be afraid to discuss it for fear you’ll leave, so let him know that you won’t leave if he’ll be honest and try to work it out with you.

On the other hand, if he won’t talk with you or go to counseling, you need to tell him that you will leave because you will not be able to trust him or feel close to him again.  Besides, if it’s not worked through, I can almost guarantee you that he will cheat again.  You need to be strong and give him an ultimatum.

It’s time to take care of you.  Ask yourself, “What do I need from him to get over this?”  Then be sure you get it.  Most women need to know if he loves her.  If he does, you need to let go and move on.  If not, a good marriage counselor should be able to help you put your relationship back together.

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What To Do If You Suspect He's Having an Affair

By Carolyn Bushong
{Excerpt from Carolyn’s Book: The 7 Dumbest Relationship Mistakes Smart People Make}

  • Don't deny it or keep your head in the sand. Don't make excuses or fish around for alternative explanations for his behavior.

  • Speak up and tell your mate what you suspect and why. Talk about it. Be vulnerable. Ask your mate whether he still loves you. If he says he does, ask him to stop the affair and work on the relationship. If he says he doesn't know, remind him of more loving times you two have had, and ask him to work with you to get the love back.

  • Make it easy for your mate to tell you the truth. Say, "I know you don't want to tell me the truth. And if you are cheating, I cannot pretend that the truth won't hurt. But if you'll just be honest with me, we may be able to work it out. If you are cheating, however, and you choose to lie about it, you leave me no choice but to make plans to leave you."

  • Give an ultimatum. Tell your mate he must either decide to stop the affair and work on your relationship or get out now—no ifs, ands, or buts. Hold your mate accountable for telling you what he was feeling about you when the affair happened and why. If he can't, insist on counseling.

  • Get a commitment to emotional honesty. Make him promise he'll tell you when he's feeling negative toward you or unloved by you so the two of you can help prevent this from happening again.

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7 Signs He's Cheating

By Carolyn Bushong
{Excerpt from Carolyn’s Book: The 7 Dumbest Relationship Mistakes Smart People Make}

  1. He is suddenly taking a new interest in his appearance.

  2. He has developed a new circle of friends and acquaintances that you are not invited to join.

  3. He has changed sexually: He's either too tired for sex or likes to be turned on in new ways.

  4. He is emotionally shut down with you to the point where he no longer shares or even fights with you anymore.

  5. He is experiencing a midlife crisis; his personality has undergone a change, and he's suddenly interested in new ideas, places, and things.

  6. He can't seem to stand being home for very long and no longer expresses pride or interest in what goes on there.

  7. He suddenly adopts a guilty or disinterested attitude of "Buy what you want, do what you want. I really don't care."

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About Carolyn

Carolyn Bushong, L.P.C, is an expert on relationships and a licensed therapist. She is known for being one of the top relationship therapists in the country and the author of 3 relationship books. She has appeared on Oprah, the View, and many other TV shows, and she has been giving relationship advice on Denver radio for 10 years. She has been helping people like you improve your life and relationships for more than 25 years. Cosmo, US Weekly and other magazines quote her expert relationship advice, and she was named by McCall's as one of the "Top Passion Doctors" in the country. Carolyn Bushong always has fresh, up-to-date, hot information on topics that will inspire you and change your life and improve your relationships. She has clients all over the country, some who come into her office and others who receive Carolyn's expert advice through phone counseling. Carolyn Bushong is an excellent psychotherapist, but she also lives what she teaches, as she is in a happy, healthy relationship with Alan, her mate of 21 years.

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