heart-logo_web.pngDear Dr. Monique, My husband and I are empty nesters for the past year. I’m afraid that because our children are off to college, we have grown apart. We only talk about the kids and what is going on in our families. Do you have any ideas on how we can bring the spark back?

Dear Empty Nester,
It is certainly not unusual for couples drift apart during the childrearing years as often the focus shifts almost entirely to the children, sometimes to the detriment of the marriage. However the good news is that you are both still together and you are interested in resurrecting your marriage.  It may have been a while since you thought about it, but consider writing down some of the things that the both of you used to enjoy as a couple before children.  Also write another list of the things that you know your husband at least used to enjoy. Each day you could suggest that you do one of the “couple activities,” or you could surprise your husband with an opportunity to participate in one of his special activities that you know he will enjoy. This couple time hopefully will remind you why you chose each other as your life partners, and may lead to that spark that you are looking for.

Dear Dr. Monique,
My boyfriend recently told me he has never had a bank account and he pays his bills through a check cashing store. He is 30 years old and I think it’s a bit irresponsible and a sign of immaturity? Should I be alarmed?
Financially Concerned

Dear Financially Concerned,
How you deal with this new knowledge depends on what your desire for your boyfriend and for your relationship together.  If you view him as a potential life partner, the way he handles his finances will definitely be a problem for you as a couple. However even as a friend you care about, helping to improve the manner in which he handles his finances will certainly add value to his future with our without you.  Perhaps you could start by researching some seminars on financial planning, and general advice on money matters, and suggest that you attend them together.  You could also introduce him to your financial advisor if you have one. Even if he does not attend, you will know that at the very least, you have sown the seed.

Dear Dr. Monique,
My fiancée maintains a loving, kind and close relationship with her ex-husband. She says she will always love him but they remain just good friends. I’m uncomfortable with this. Should I worry?
Worried Fiancée

Dear Worried Fiancée,
“Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.” Generally as human beings we are more uncomfortable with people or things that we know little about. Since your fiancé has made it clear that her ex-husband is an important part of her life, it seems to me that it is in your best interest to get to know him better. As you become more acquainted with him I am pretty sure you will be able to establish whether or not he is a threat to the relationship. Then you can act accordingly.

Dear Dr. Monique,
My husband of many years is nearing the end of two years of military deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s due to come back for good in a few months and I am not sure I want to be with him any longer as I enjoy the independence of being on my own? Should I wait until he settles back in or leave immediately so as to not create a deceitful environment for him?
Enjoying Her Independence

Dear Enjoying Her Independence,
I can only assume that since he is your husband of many years, he is someone that you know well and have loved at least at some point in your life. Because of your commitment and hopefully the love that you had or have for him, he deserves to have an opportunity to save his marriage if it is possible. Even if you think the marriage is over he deserves to have the opportunity to be aware of your reasons for leaving. 

I suggest you stay at least long enough for those goals to be achieved because I think  if you left without an explanation or giving him a chance that could be perceived as much more deceitful on your part.

Dr. Monique, an award-winning graduate of Harvard Medical School, who completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington DC., has years of experience in counseling and discussing relationship issues. Ask her your questions at drmonique@sfltimes.com