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28 Mar 2007

Can A Leopard Change It's Spots?
Hi Doc. I hope you can provide some insight into a problem I'm having. My hubby and I have been married for several years and it hasn't been a smooth ride. Recently, I developed an online friendship with a man and ended up spending many hours chatting to him online. Before this, I had been invisible to my husband and now, suddenly, he became jealous and anxious. We went for marriage counselling, the second time in two years - the 1st time no other party was involved - and what transpired was that he realised he had been a very selfish person and would now start treating me like the wife I deserved to be. I ended the online friendship and our relationship was fantastic for a few months - he was the loving, tentative, interested husband I always dreamed of. I, naturally, responded subconsciously, giving him more attention etc. Now the attention has started to wane and he no longer comes to bed with me at night anymore (these were habits of the past) - which has caused unhappiness in me. It is bringing up the feelings of loneliness, once again. I am becoming anxious he is reverting to his old self, which is even more upsetting now because it's as if someone is taking a magnificent gift away from me. Last night I tried to speak to him about it because he constantly asks me to talk to him about things now. I was calm in my approach but he immediately became defensive, told me I was overreacting and is not speaking to me now. I apologised this morning for any harm I may have caused, but he is still sulking. Am I overracting and if not, is it possible for a Leopard to change it's spots? Your help and any suggestions would really be appreciated. Thanks.
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Expert
CyberShrink
cybershrink

01 Jan 0001

Have you ever met a striped or spotless leopard ?
Sounds like he is simply reverting to habit. It may not be anyhing very specifically about you or the relationship AS SUCH, but more force of habit --- bad habits, acieved over years of practice. There was at one stage a rather bizarre BBC / DSTV program in which women with problem husbands got the help of a woman Dog Trainer, but it did manage to make a few good points. While Communication in the sense of talking things over, is usually beneficial, it's rarely enough. And a good Dog Trainer would probably point out the value of training him consistently, with rewards and praise for each time he does treat you as you want to be treated ( "Good Boy!" might sound condascending, as would the offer of a doggy treat, but praise and rewards always increase and maintain desired new behaviour ) and ignoring or a slight chill in response to backsliding behaviour, can IN COMBINATION be really effective. Maybe the marriage counselling stopped a bit soon ?
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