Toxic Relationships (4-27-05)

Dear Zelda,

My husband has wandering eyes. When we go to a party, walking in the mall or down the street, he’s always checking out other women. He tells me he loves me, but this makes me feel so uncomfortable. I need your words of wisdom.

Wounded By Wandering Eyes

Dear Wounded,

What a dog! It?s time you gave your husband some obedience training. First of all, tell him clearly how much his habit of wandering eyes hurts you and is just plain unaccepta-bull. Sure it?s nice to hear, ?I love you,? but sometimes actions speak louder than words. His continual disrespect of your feelings is not a loving act. If you read Life Strategies by Phillip C. McGraw, Ph.D., you?ll get a lot more than just a piece of advice on how we can teach people to treat us. Susan Quillian's book, Body Language, gives you the doggone truth about non-verbal signs that might help you read what your husband is thinking and feeling. Your husband may try to turn the situation around and make it look like you?re the one with the problem, not him. Don?t back down! Eventually he?ll realize he?s in the dog house until he curbs his animal instincts and starts acting like a gentleman.

Zelda

Dear Zelda,

What am I to do? The man in my life is constantly criticizing me. Everything I do is wrong. I can't seem to make him happy. He told me he thought my hair was ?mousy brown,? so I became a blonde. Now he tells me I look like a ?cheap blonde?. The worst thing is that he makes fun of me in front of our friends. I'm afraid to leave him and afraid to stay. Any advice?

Tears on My Pillow

Dear Tears,

This time dye your hair red. Why? Not to please your ungrateful man but to get a taste of a redhead's temper. What you need now is a little of that legendary redheaded rage. Maybe then, you could tell your beau what you really think of his insulting treatment of you.

Honey, the only thing a doormat is good for is wiping muddy paws. Don't be this guy's doormat. If you are afraid to stand up to him now, start building up your courage so you'll be brave enough to tell him off, leave him or possibly both when the time comes.

Understand that it is okay to have opposing views, and it is equally OK to express them. Hold your ground and practice being assertive. He is pushing you into submission in order to feel validated.

I recommend that you read the book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, by Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. It's for people who know in their hearts what they should do; they just need a little nudge. If you read Verbal Abuse: Survivors Speak Out on Relationships and Recover, by Patricia Evans, you'll see you're not alone, and that there are ways to get out of an abusive situation. You can conquer almost any fear, so don't sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy. With dogged determination, you can defeat your self-doubt and fear. Dry your tears and pull yourself from underneath this man. You're one bright blonde for taking action by asking for advice.

Zelda

Dear Zelda,

I am having a problem with my dog. I have a one-year-old daughter, and my normally calm dog is getting aggressive with her! Do you have any tips on how to handle my usually docile dog? My one-year-old loves her doggy, but is now terrified because my dog wants to chew on her. Any advice would be very helpful. Thank you.

Watchful

Dear Watchful,

Your daughter's bone density test would only take one bite. I'm sure you know to NEVER leave your dog unattended with her. Dogs usually reach behavioral maturity at age two or three, and sometimes display aggressive behavior toward family members in order to achieve higher social status. Your dog may be jealous of this new creature in your house? the one who's getting the most attention and food. Your daughter's abrupt movements may also be interpreted as bids for dominance by your dog.

Most importantly, your dog cannot assume the upper paw in your family's structure. You have a problem that could really blow up and it's time for you to call your veterinarian and ask for help. You might need to look in the Yellow Pages for a pet psychologist or animal behavior specialist.

If you still don't feel comfortable letting your dog and daughter co-exist, somebody's got to go and I think that means the dog. Did I really say that? See if you can talk a friend or relative into adopting your dog, either permanently or until your child, by growing taller, looks less like a chew toy. Both Childproofing Your Dog; A Complete Guide to Preparing Your Dog for the Children in Your Life, by Brian Kilcommons and the section on “Kids and Dogs” in The Complete Idiot's Guide to Choosing, Training and Raising a Dog, by Sarah Hodgson, might be helpful. In the meantime, watch to see if your daughter pulls or hits your dog. We canines occasionally take matters into our own mouths.

Zelda