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What is it Like to be Married
After Living Together?

Letter #2

Dear Dr. Harley,

I was married only 4 months ago after having been with my husband for 7 years, 5 of which we lived together. Since the wedding my husband has been acting completely different.

He has turned our garage into his domain, complete with carpet, couches, appliances and everything you would need in the perfect bachelor pad. He constantly has friends over and I am excluded. When he is not spending time in the garage he is on-line or playing interactive computer games with his friends. He rarely comes to bed at the same time as me, and just generally does not seem to be interested in sharing anything with me lately.

I understand that marriage is a huge change, but he never acted this way before, why now? He is the one that really pushed getting married, I was very hesitant because of my parents' bad relationship. I even left him at one point 3 years ago because he was pressuring me so much. We discussed marriage at great length and both finally felt that it was the right time, so I do not understand his recent behavior.

Is this normal?

R.G.

Dear R.G.,

Your husband's transformation of the garage (and himself) is something he would not have done prior to marriage because you would have left him if he had. Before you married him, his decisions took your feelings into account because if he didn't, you would have been gone. He put pressure on you to marry him so he could do what he pleased without fear of you leaving him.

Now he thinks that because you are married you won't leave regardless of what he does, so he does anything he wants. He's wrong, of course. If he doesn't accommodate you soon, you'll fall out of love with him and eventually leave him just as you would have done before you married.

The solution to your problem is for both of you to make decisions that take each other's feelings into account. In other words, you should be following the Policy of Joint Agreement. Neither you nor he should do anything unless the other agrees to it, enthusiastically! If you had both been following that policy when you married, his "bachelor pad" would never have been created, and he would not have excluded you from his activities with friends.

If you don't follow this policy soon, you'll become another statistic. My book, Fall in Love, Stay in Love, will help you learn to apply the policy to your marriage. It will teach you how to resolve conflicts with consideration for each other's feelings. I recommend that you read it together.

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