Dear Dr. Archer,
I married my husband when I was 18; he was 24. We've been married for seven years, and I love him very much. My problem is that I can't stop flirting with other men. I try to stop myself, but it's almost impossible. He doesn't deserve this! I know for a fact that he's been very, very loyal to me.
I feel like the reason I can't stop is that I resent him from stealing my youth. I know that's irrational, but I can't help it. I should have finished college; instead I dropped out and moved in with his parents so they could keep an eye on me. I had my first child at 21, and now I'm almost 25. I can't stop thinking about the life I could have had.
I don't want to be the kind of woman who remains negative rather than focusing on our beautiful children. I realize all the great things I have. It's difficult, because my husband constantly belittles me for not knowing how to do certain "life" things. How can I know how to do these things when I went from being taken care of by my mother, to being taken care of by him? I don't understand.
Sometimes I feel like he doesn't actually want me to learn to take care of myself, because if I try, he pokes fun at me and says, "How do you expect to ever become a ______ (insert chosen career here), if you can't even figure out how to do this?" Then, he won't even show me how to do whatever the task may be. It seems we have money for all the things he wants, but not enough money for a trip to see the neurologist so I can get my medication and finally learn to drive.
I can't do this anymore. I want to be responsible for my life in some way, but since I can't do anything productive, I resort to being in control of my sensuality. I hate doing unfaithful things. I hate it that he can't trust me anymore because of the flirting. Most of all, I hate that I can't be in control of me. What should I do?
Realize that flirting is neither good nor bad. It can be harmless fun or it can be an invitation for sex – or anything in between. I’m inclined to think that your flirting is simply a symptom of being unhappy with your marriage.
Getting married at 18 is indeed young, yet you chose to get married. I doubt very seriously it was a shotgun wedding, where you were forced to marry. So quit blaming your husband; that accomplishes nothing except fostering more resentment on your part.
If you want to be responsible and start taking care of yourself, start today. First and foremost, get your license. You seem to be of sound mind, so I'm not sure why you need a neurologist unless there is something you didn't tell me?
Either go to the DMV or look online and study the book. Check your area; there should be a driving school that will help you learn how to drive. Then, Lenny, go take your test. That little plastic card will open up doors for you that are presently shut.
Want to learn how to do things around the house? Most home improvement centers offer the public mini "how to" classes from fixing a leaky faucet to changing the floors in a home. Many large auto shops will occasionally offer a simple car maintenance class. There are many ways you can educate yourself and become more self sufficient.
Check out Weeno to find out how to do a number of things. Also, Lenny, go to YouTube. It's not just for funny kittens, comical dogs and precocious birds! You will find step-by-step videos of everything from how to change a light bulb to how to build a cabinet; from changing a baby's diaper to how to file your taxes. This can be a valuable tool, and the next best thing to having someone right there showing you how to do something.
If you are very serious about self improvement, go back to school and get a degree. Or you can simply look for a job that you would enjoy and bring in your own money. Be sure to read I'm Not Good Enough For Her and start implementing the suggestions I offer Dave. Once you start feeling good about yourself, you're not going to feel the need to flirt just to feel better.
Finally, tell your husband it's time to stop belittling you, that you're a mother and wife and you want to be responsible for yourself. If he's in the majority of men, he will appreciate your enthusiasm and encourage you to better yourself. Not many things are more attractive to a man than a self confident, mature woman who is in love with her mate and family.
Also, as you get more independent he will realize that you could do without him and will take steps to make sure you stay. If he doesn’t, then maybe you will have to re-think the marriage. I wish you much success.