DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: My husband and I argue over everything -- my slow driving, his reckless driving, his spoiled kids, my ignored kids, his over-spending, my tight purse, his sex drive, my missing sex drive, his sense of humour, my lack of it, my helpless mom and his battle axe of a mother. So how did we get together? He was a handsome Canadian man and I couldn't speak English well enough to know what he was really like. He thought he had someone he could push around and has found out he can't. I was an A student in university in my country and I learned English perfectly the last five years. Now I know what a "jerk" (great Canadian expression) he can be, so we fight all the time. Since he is doing nothing to make life better, how do I make life better? Breaking up is not an option as he is not violent and he supports us -- all the children and both our mothers) and I stay at home. -- Domestic War Zone, Winnipeg
Dear Domestic War Zone: When there's an excess of fights happening -- big and small -- it helps to identify the underlying themes of these clashes. One of them in your relationship is power and another is your boredom. Since you are a very bright woman with an education, it's time you took that brain out of the house for exercise. That is the Canadian way. Instead of engaging in verbal battles about everything with this husband, redirect some of your mental energy into work that involves a challenge and let the grandmas babysit. It would also help you to feel equal and more respected if you started earning money to help with the big family. It's a big household to support alone, and that is not the Canadian way. An underlying theme for your husband may be worries about money and a feeling of being overburdened. And is there no fun in this family? One of the last things to get back is an ability to joke and show your sense of humour in a new language. In place of that, going out and doing fun activities while one of the grandmas babysits would be good for you as a couple. That does not mean shopping or going out to eat dinner and fight over your lives. It means going out to movies, bowling, plays, concerts and get-togethers with other couples. Fun restores the elasticity to a relationship and brings back feelings of pleasure and sexual desire. And since you're such a good student, hit the library and bring home Canadian comedy books. You and he both need to start laughing together.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I am dating a man I met online, but I suspect he sees other women. I see him twice a week on a regular schedule -- Wednesdays and Saturdays. If I phone him on a Friday or a Sunday he is never home. He's not at work either. Is he using me for sex twice a week? We never go anywhere -- just hang out. -- Left Wondering, Downtown
Dear Wondering: He sees you indoors twice a week and you always "hang out" and have sex and never ask questions? Honey, I hate to be harsh but this is not a relationship; it's a sexual pit stop. He may have sex seven days a week for all you know and a "real relationship" with someone else. Toss this user ASAP. Look for a real relationship that involves communication and feelings and seeing each other in public -- and then sex somewhere down the road when you really have something substantial emotionally to support it.