Monday, May 16, 2011

Ask Kelli: Divorce, Fertility, and Other Life Cycle Events

by Kelli Miller

Dear Kelli,

I want out of my 20-year-old marriage. I've known this for over three years now. I've stayed primarily for the sake of our child who is now thirteen years old. Even though I think of leaving every moment of every day that my spouse is home, when I look at my child, I stay for my child's sake. There is no abuse, my spouse is a good, solid person -- it's just that we are in an emotionally dead marriage.

Keeping in mind what is best for our child, how can I end this, and when?

I Want Out

Dear I Want Out,

First, let me applaud you for staying this long for the sake of your child. Second, let me try to persuade you to stay even longer, for the sake of your child.

I understand how uncomfortable and frustrating it is to be in a marriage you don’t want to be in. But given that there is no danger of abuse, I would urge you to try to stick it out another five years, until your child is eighteen.

If this strikes you as absolutely impossible, are you open to counseling with your husband, so that the two of you can figure out how to make it work -- at least in the short term? How does he feel about the marriage? What do you think went wrong? Is there something he is not doing? Do you want him to change in some way? Does he know how you feel? There is obviously a lot for you two to discuss. I’m not sure exactly where you both are in this process but it seems to me that counseling couldn't hurt.

I’m not anti-divorce but I just know how traumatic divorce can be for children. So, in my opinion, if you can stick it out and try to make it work, that would be best for your child. And I know that was your goal in the first place.

All the best,


Dear Kelli,

My husband and I are trying to have a baby and are having some difficulty. I’ve resorted to taking my basal body temperature (BBT) every morning to see when I’m ovulating. The problem is that I analyze each dip and curve of the temperature chart. I’m obsessed! I would like to have good records to bring to my doctor, but I’m afraid it’s driving me crazy.

Temperature on the Rise

Dear Temperature on the Rise,

I have an idea. What if you took your temperature but did not look at the results and let your husband record it each morning? This way, you can still have your records when you need them but you aren’t examining each specific temperature.

If you find it takes too much willpower to avoid looking at the results each day, then continue taking and recording your temperature each morning but keep this thought in mind: BBT is like the stock market.You can’t analyze each peak and dip; you have to see the bigger picture. So tell yourself you aren’t really allowed to analyze until you can see the full picture, which would mostly like be at the end of several cycles (to be sure that one month's chart isn't simply an anomaly).

It might help to consider that analyzing your cycles is something best done by someone with years of medical training and experience. You may come up with the wrong assessment entirely. Let your doctor do his or her job, rather than try to "do it yourself." As you correctly observed, you will only drive yourself crazy. Let a professional handle this for you -- that can help you stay sane.

All the best,


Dear Kelli,

A friend of mine had a bris for her son. I wasn’t thrilled about going because it was an hour and fifteen minutes from my house, and I also have a little one at home who gets very fussy if he doesn’t nap on time. But I had already RSVPed that we would attend, because I felt it was the right thing to do. My husband wasn’t thrilled either, as he just came back from a trip overseas and wanted to spend time together as a family.

So as a compromise we decided to go to the bris but leave early, mainly because of my son’s nap schedule. To make sure this was okay with my friend I called her and asked her. She said she was absolutely fine with it. In fact, she said, "Judy, you know me. I don’t care about these things! I totally understand." I made sure that I was clear about how early we might go by saying, “Beth, it might be around 10:30 or so.” She still said, “No problem.”

So we drove an hour and fifteen minutes and left after forty minutes. The ceremony hadn’t begun but I could tell my son had had it. Plus we still had an hour and fifteen minute ride back!

The next day I got an email from my friend also cc-ing a few other of our mutual friends that this was a big day for her and her son and since “none of us could make it” she would post the pictures online.

I wrote her back and said, “Wait, I made it!” Then I said, “I know we couldn’t stay long but we still came out to celebrate. Your email hurt my feelings.”

She wrote back and said, “I know you came out but you didn’t stay for the ceremony.”

I’m so angry! Who’s right?

Need Perspective

Dear Need Perspective,

I understand completely why you are mad and I think you are justified for two good reasons. The first is that you feel underappreciated when you made the long drive out there (when you could have decided not to go at all) and second is that you got an okay to leave early from your friend the night before.

It sounds to me as if there are some other issues going on with your friend. You mentioned that she emailed a group of friends, so apparently there were fewer people at the ceremony than she'd hoped to have. That could well have been disappointing for her, and so she might be projecting some of her anger about that outcome on you. If that’s the case, that’s not fair.

So I'm siding with you on this one. You were upfront with your friend about leaving early and you took her at her word when she said she was fine with that. If that wasn't the truth, she should have been upfront with you about what she was feeling.

This might be a different story if you had left early without talking to her about it, but you did the right thing.

You should feel complimented that she wanted you there for the entire ceremony but it’s unfair of her to be angry with you about leaving early, when she had approved of your plan to do so.

All the best,


Kelli Miller, MSW is a therapist, author, and radio personality. Miller was a featured expert for SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 198, the co-host for the TV show Love and Money: The Advice Show, and the advice columnist for Playboy U, and the author of Professor Kelli’s Guide to Finding a Husband. Ask Kelli is published on All Life is Local and the Cleveland Park Listserv on Wednesdays.

Kelli welcomes your comments below.  Have a question? You can write to Kelli at advice (at) fastmail (dot) net or via Twitter @askkelli.Your name and email address will be kept confidential.

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