The Thought That Counts

A question for the brothers:

Michael and I had been dating exclusively for 10 months when Valentine's Day rolled around. For my birthday in October, he gave me a laptop computer; at Christmas, he gave me a 42" plasma TV (that was actually for his pleasure, I told him I didn't want a TV). We were talking after I got off work on Valentine's Day when he asked if I had received anything at work. When I said no, he indicated that he had spent $150 for some flowers. The next day, after "following up", he said he had sent the flowers to the wrong address. Now, here's the rub. He never said another word about it after that. Not "I'm sorry sweetie", not "I'll make it up to you", heck, he never even wished me a happy VD. I believe he was lying about sending the flowers. What do you think accounts for his behavior?

GARLAND: Thanks for your question.

It's been over a month and you are still angry because Michael hasn't wished you a happy Valentine's Day. Let me just tell you, in my opinion, that there is no "behavior" to account for. By your own admission, he bought you a laptop (about $800) and he bought you a 42 inch plasma (about $950) on the other requisite holidays, and when you don't get some flowers on Valetine's, suddenly in your eyes, your boyfriend is trippin'.

Chuck and I do our best not to "side" with anyone when we answer questions, and I'm not "siding" with your boyfriend, but I am going to call this just how I see it: More than likely, your boyfriend isn't lying or playing games or anything else sinister. His $150 flowers never made it to you and he's probably pissed off to the highest of pisstivity. Even saying the term "Happy Valentine's Day" probably rubs his nerves raw. So you may want to stop waiting for that to happen. You're boyfriend is probably still trying like hell to get that $150 put back in his bank account, and he will probably never see that money again, and you're mad that he didn't wish you a "Happy Fake-holiday-commercially-driven-dump-guilt-on-husbands-and-boyfriends-and-give-me-jewelry-tines Day"

A little tip when it comes to men and dating in general - past performance is the best indicator of future performance. If your man has 30 or 40 ex-girlfriends, chances are good that you'll be an ex very soon, If your man lies to you early on, chances are good that he'll lie to you more in the future, if your man buys you expensive gifts on holidays, chances are he'll do it more often. So, based on what YOU said, I can't figure out where all this doubt is coming from. You even put 'following up' in quotes to clearly indicate that you don't believe what he said. If you are this quick to toss your man under the bus when you don't get flowers on the busiest flower day of the year and suddenly now your man has no credibility - you are going to be miserable in this relationship.

Let me share just one bit of insight here. To you, you didn't get another gift or some kind words to your satisfaction. He tried to do something nice for you and may have lost $150 in the process - I guarantee that that florist is giving him a hard time when it comes to getting his money back. So right now, the last thing your boyfriend is thinking about is saying, "Happy Valetine's Day Sweetie!" He is thinking about his $150!

Do you know how men see 150 dollars? Like this:

  • A pair of LeBron James' Nike shoes

  • 2 custom made dress shirts

  • 7 brand new DVD movies

  • A month's worth of gas

  • 5 new pairs of cufflinks

  • A pair of Hugo Boss dress shoes

  • 3 new Xbox 360 games

  • 2 good lapdances (with tip)

  • 6 bad lapdances (with tip)

  • A whole night of poker at a casino

  • 4 very nice silk ties

  • A real nice DVD player

  • A pair of jeans and a Barry Sanders throwback jersey

  • 5 retro baseball caps

  • A detailed cleaning of his truck...
Okay, okay - let me stop here. My point is this - I think you're making a little bit too much of this. Your man is pissed off that he didn't get the flowers to you, he thinks he looks bad in your eyes [which he clearly does] and he'd really rather put the whole pseudo-holiday behind him. If this really bothers you though, chances are, you are going to find plenty of reasons [small as they may be] to be angry at him in the future. I say, for the sake of the women that are looking for a good guy - cut Mike loose and move on. Someone else will be happy with his laptops and TV's and good intentions. Either that - or find it in your heart to enjoy a guy that 'seems' to be doing the right thing.

CHUCK: Okay, Garland let you have it. And I'm... gonna let you have it. No, just kidding. But I do agree with most of what he said. About the six bad lapdances, I can only guess.

Let's see: $150 worth of flowers, delivered to the incorrect address that Michael provided. If those flowers were delivered, the chance that he could recover a full refund for those flowers is pretty slim.Whoops. Do I think it's a little strange that he didn't mention it again, even just to bitch about the florist's inflexible refund policy? I guess. Do I find it rude that he never said "Happy Valentine's," to you? Again, I guess, but given the colliding factors of frustration and embarrassment involved here, I can see it happening. Do I believe that it's unusual that you're still obsessing over this? Pretty much.

Let's examine your reaction for a minute. Has Michael ever given you cause to doubt his veracity? You haven't said. So why the knee-jerk jump to distrust? There's a possibility that he might have fabricated the flower story. Because, let's face it: the pressure is on men to "put out" on Valentine's Day. By that, I mean, prove their affection with money. And you were obviously looking for something attention-getting.Maybe he didn't want to disappoint you by saying that he couldn't afford a big gift, or he'd overspent on the past gifts he got you. So he made up this story, and disappointed you anyway.

Either way, since this is apparently bothering you, meet the issue head on. Ask him, "So what ever happened with those flowers." Gauge from his response whether he's telling the truth. But before you do that, think about how important this whole issue is to you. I understand, if he lies to you about this, what else will he lie about in the future? But this seems like a clear case to me of looking for problems where there might not be any.


What Happens in Vegas... (*)

I have been married to the same man for close to ten years. He is a good husband and father, and I have had no reason not to trust him. However, recently I've had reason to question that view. He accepted a new job about 8 months ago that required him to travel to Las Vegas with some co-workers. He had never been to Vegas before. I would have wanted to go, but I needed to stay home with the children.

While he was out there, all I heard about was how he hardly had time to see shows or gamble, because he was working so hard. I didn't doubt that. Until he returned and I received our Visa bill a month later. Along with the usual charges was a $68 charge from a suspiciously-named place in Las Vegas. When I called the phone number of the place, I found out that it was a strip club that offers lapdances!

I had always thought that my husband was a good Christian man. But aside from that, not only has he lied to me about his busy work schedule, he's charged his smut on our joint Visa. I don't feel as though $68 should break up our marriage, but it is getting hard to contain myself about this. Before the urge to confront him about this becomes overwhelming, let me know: Is it a good idea to talk to him about this? Is this normal behavior for men?

GARLAND: Yes, it's a good idea to talk to him. And, Is WHAT normal behavior for men?

I think you should just talk to him about this because I'm willing to bet that nothing has taken place that you should be worried about. So far, I don't think he's lied to you or done anything he needs to hide. $68 in LAS VEGAS might be a few rounds of drinks, or a dinner tab for a small group of business associates. All offical business in Vegas does not take place in offices or conference centers. On top of that - he charged it to the family Visa. Unless he's pretty stupid, nobody would put lapdances on the household credit card. Now, large cash withdrawls might be a different issue!!! Besides - if your husband got only $68 worth of lapdances in Las Vegas, YOU have nothing to worry about. $68 would only cover two drinks and maybe 1 song if he was lucky... which he wasn't.

As far as, "Is this normal behavior for men?" I'm going to make an assuption as to what you mean. "Do all men go to strip clubs when in Vegas without their wives and then not tell them?" - No. But, I'm sure that many do. Vegas strip clubs have a certain allure to many men: some go there to do business; some go to relax and have a few drinks; some go to see a wide variety of women that they would otherwise never see; and some go for more. The fact that he didn't tell you he went to The Crazy Horse or someplace like it, could have been an oversight or he could have just did what he had to do for the sake of business. But, him putting it on the family Visa tells me that he really wasn't up to any major mischief. If he was, you should be more upset that he's a dim-wit.

Chuck: I am tempted to tell you to wait until he goes to sleep tonight, pick up your pillow, and smother him to death. Because if he was up to anything bad, he is surely too stupid to live. But DON'T DO THAT. I'M KIDDING.

I generally agree with Garland. Instead of continuing to let this bother you, ask your husband about the charge. But try not to accuse him of anything. Although the chance exists that he made the charge thinking that he could beat you to the mail and get the Visa bill first, the odds are just as great there could be an innocent explanation. All business is not conducted in hotel conference rooms. It's also conducted on the golf course, in the gym, and sometimes, in the strip clubs in Vegas. That $68 could have bought a round of drinks for your husband and some clients.

I'm not gonna unequivocally say $68 couldn't buy a lapdance. Garland's experience with Vegas strip clubs might be greater than mine.

As for normal behavior of men, well, most men like to look at women. And men (and women) will tend to take advantage of the anonymous, taboo-free reputation of Las Vegas to do things they may not ordinarily do. At the very least, look on the bright side. Some other guy's wife has a Visa bill with a $10,000 charge from the Bunny Ranch on it.


Relationship Autopsy

QUESTION: Hi Chuck & Garland
My boyfriend of a year broke up with me recently because he said he wasn't in love with me anymore. He is 30, while I am 10 years younger, and hence he felt that there wasn't any end to this relationship at all as he would love to settle down and THINK that I did not. This came as a blow dealt to me as it wasn't what I had on my mind at all. I loved him and I had intentions to spend my life with him. Just 2 weeks ago, we came back from our new years holiday and everything was fine. Until I confronted him about some issues and he got upset with me for a week and said he needed a break. He finally talked on Sunday that week and that was when he said he needed to move on and find someone who would settle down with him. He felt that it was not going to be neither me nor him. He also claimed that it had nothing to do with ME, but it was him.
What really hurt me was when he said his feelings for me were always in a haze, when i asked him if he loved me before. Then when I asked him if he meant those things that he said before ie I love you and he said he meant it at that time but IT WAS HARD TO DEFINE. I was so terribly confused but he did not bother explaining anyway. He also said that I had not told him I loved him before but I did on a few occassion. I was thinking if it was because of the lack of reciprocation on my part that left to his insecurity in our relationship. He said I was right to know that he did truly care for me throughout our relationship. We practically lived together, me spending 4 days at his place and 3 at mine. I asked if there was someone else, he denied at first. And with my second probe, he said Yes maybe he was developing something for this girl back home in new zealand. I didn't know if it was true. He seemed pretty intent on this "quest" to look for a life partner, to the extent that he said we should limit contact because although he does spend time with his friends, he would love to devote/invest his time now to find "the one" now. I told him he made our relationship sound like a work transaction.

I am aware that I have to move on right now. It's so hard to remain here where I live because we have practically traveled the whole country and almost all her neighbours. I live in asia and it's so hard to stay anymore.

Thanks for letting me rant. There isn't any tangible questions in my letter but I am too confused that I do not know what too ask! There are so many things I want to know- Why does he not love me anymore? He just never give me a concrete answer for a proper closure.

GARLAND: No problem. I'm apologize for us taking so long to get to your question, sometimes questions get a bit lost when we carry them over from our inbox, I'm really sorry. I'm also sorry to hear that your boyfriend just switched on you like that.

I really wish I had some great insight for you, but sadly, some people are just jerks.

Giving you the runaround and then denying and then admitting that there was [or wasn't] someon else is the sign of someone that you are much much better off NOT having in your life. Don't sit back and waste time beating yourself up, look in the mirror and take a deep breath and remember that the woman you see is better than him and she deserves better for herself.

You are pretty young, 20ish, and believe me - you will look back on this guy as one of the positive things in your life. His treating you bad will make you stronger - TRUST ME ON THAT. If you don't believe anything else you hear in the next 12 months - BELIEVE THAT. You will come away from this stronger and wiser than you can ever imagine. You may not see that now, and your emotions may still be a bit raw - but down the road you are going to look back at this guy and laugh at what a loser he is and you will be so much the better by having moved on beyond him. TRUST ME, TRUST ME, TRUSE ME.

Best wishes to you!

CHUCK: I know that when someone breaks up with you, before you're ready to break up with them, there's a need to pore over the relationship to try to figure out what you did wrong. It's human nature. But that doesn't seem to be necessary here. Either this man is telling you the truth, about not feeling that you are the person that he wants to settle down with. Or he's giving you this line because he wants to be with someone else.

But does it really make a difference? Whatever the reason he broke up with you, he broke up with you. And, although he wasn't trying to spare your feelings when he did it, he did you a favor. The same way he believed you're not right for him, he's not right for you.
Take your time sifting through the ashes of this relationship if you must. But don't take too long. It seems it was hardly worth the effort. You're young, and when you're ready to settle down, you're going to find someone willing to settle down with you. Let the past be the past.


A problem with "Guys Night" (Repost)

QUESTION: My husband and I have been married for two years. Just over a year ago he started having 2 "Guy Nights" each month. Him and about 6 of his friends will get together of these nights and either shoot pool, play poker or go to sporting events (Yankees, Knicks, Nets, Islanders, Jets, Giants). I think he's trying to get away from me. I've asked him if I can go once in while and he usually finds a way not to answer me until he's on his way out the door. Tell me Chuck and Garland, what is he thinking? Is there a problem between us that he's not telling me?

GARLAND: OH! Let me get this one first - Chuck!!!

Thanks for the E-Mail!!! This is a great question for Chuck and I, because we are in a small group of friends that have a once a month "Men's Night!" It's a Poker Night to be exact!!!

I'm 99% sure that there is nothing wrong with your marriage and I'm 99% he's not trying to get away from you... Okay - he IS trying to get away from you, but not for BAD reasons!

I'm going to assume that your husband is a normal, hard working, red-blooded, family loving, faithful, heterosexual male like Chuck and I. If this is mostly true, then all he is doing is hanging out with the guys, telling GUY stories, cracking GUY jokes, doing GUY stuff and acting like an ass in front of who? The GUYS!

All he's doing is letting off some steam and probably having a few beers and a couple of slices of pizza. He still loves you very much I'm sure, but it's in a man's nature to be around other men sometimes... hunting stuff, killing stuff, helping others kill stuff and showing he's just as manly as the next man! This is everything you said he does:

HUNTING STUFF: Shooting pool - the stick is a metaphor for a spear, the ball is a rock or projectile, and the pocket is the quarry!
KILLING STUFF: Knocking off beer after beer and pizza after pizza!
HELPING OTHERS KILL STUFF: Rooting for his favorite sports team!
BEING A MANLY MAN: Winning big at the Poker table!

Things are fine, I'm sure. Two days out of thirty isn't bad at all to me. And, as far as asking to go to Men's Night... DON'T DO IT! PLEASE! He doesn't want to hurt your feelings by yelling "Hell, no! Woman!" Give him his time to get in touch with his inner caveman - he'll love you all the more for it! And, if you still really want to be a part of what he does - recommend a 'family night' event, with a Men's Night feel to it. Have his friends bring their wives or girlfriends over and play some cards or shoot some pool - but make sure he still gets his 2 Men's Nights that month!!!

CHUCK: While I'm not going as far out with the hunting/killing metaphors as Garland is, I'm in full agreement. Most married couples need some time apart to enjoy separate interests. Does it mean that he loves you less? Hardly. I know a couple who used to ride in to work together, eat lunch together nearly every day, and ride home together in the evening. What the hell did they ever talk about? Beats me.

Her: Did you see... Oh, wait. You were there.
Him: Yep.
Her: You remember that guy who cut us off this morning? The nerve!
Him: Uh-huh.
Her: Grunt.
Him: Grunt-grunt.

The only problems I can see with occasional nights out with friends are: A) If he is neglecting to spend time with you or your children; and B) If you don't feel you can trust the guys he's hanging out with. You don't state that either of these is an issue with you. Therefore, your main issue seems to be the feeling that he is enjoying himself away from you. Unless he's done something specifically to make you feel that way, don't take this personally. The fact that he's been stalling telling you that you "can't" go proves to me that he's trying to spare your feelings.

What you need to do is initiate your own night out with your friends. Set up a regular night or two with your friends to go to dinner, or the movies, or even play poker yourselves. Whatever you want to do. Schedule your girls' night out for the same night as your husband's, or another night, if necessary. Let your husband know what you're planning. But if he's got a problem with YOUR going out and spending time with your friends, you probably need to have a serious talk. About double standards.