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Ask Ellie: Relationships an exercise in personal growth

This is the time for giving and graciously receiving between you two

Dear Ellie: I’m a woman 36, who married my best friend 12 years ago, mostly because he proposed. I loved the wedding plans, my bridal dress and my family fussing over me.

But it only took two years to realize I didn’t love the husband as much as I’d loved the pal.

Once divorced, I found it easy meeting lots of guys online; many men wanted my company… or whatever.

I’m glad time has also passed. I ended a passionate relationship with a married man when I realized how I’d feel if the reverse happened to me. I dated a man who said we were “soul mates,” but realized he’d never commit long-term.

I stopped dating, spent more time with my women friends, and matured a lot.

I’ve since met a very fine man who truly cares about me and I feel the same. There’s total openness between us, no mind games, full trust. I don’t know where it’s going to lead, but I’m not pushing for a specific goal.

Any advice on how I stay in this happy lane? My only fear is that my past will come back to haunt me!

Mature Love

Congratulations on graduating from 10 years of working towards first place in your own life!

You experienced the “other” side of relationships — e.g., married cheaters and the singles who participate - until you understood the larger meaning of loving commitment.

Like a former addict, you realized you needed to grow out of relationship dependence, to recognize when you’ve found the real deal.

This is the time for giving and graciously receiving between you two - by being there when needed, and speaking up when wondering or concerned. Romantic love isn’t fragile, so trust yourself to handle it wisely.

Dear Ellie: I’ve lived here for 18 years and tried to annually visit my parents, living in India, where all my family was born. Only two siblings still live “back home.”

I visited my father, a devout Hindu, a couple months before Covid struck (Mom died five years ago) and am grateful for that time together. He’d been diagnosed with an early cancer. We visited relatives, brought out diaries and old scrapbooks to review our family’s history. A wonderful visit!

He hasn’t much time now. My siblings are with him and want me to return but I might not make it in time. I’m torn.

Nothing can replace the closeness he and I had experienced. The trip is expensive but there are important rituals to observe - a Hindu priest, songs, chants and scripture readings, guests leaving a single flower to pay final respects. Then, the cremation.

I can’t decide if it’s necessary to return.

Tough Decision

It’s every immigrant’s nightmare when family members back home are severely ill. Many, like you, become emotionally torn about how to respond.

And high-priced air fares also add to funeral expenses.

Your time with your father was what he wanted most then. Now, the decision is more about your own sense of obligation and religious duty, your siblings’ feelings, and whether you “owe” family this formal visit (you can provide financial help if you don’t physically attend).

But this is your family and you already know what some may think and feel. There’s your family here to consider, too.

Decide what you can live with, in your own heart, and then follow through.

FEEDBACK regarding the reader who finds a sexless marriage complaint “disgusting” (May 19):

Reader – “It’s ridiculous to think it’s wrong for the husband who wrote you for advice, to be unhappy that their marriage has become sex-less.

“Sex is a part of love, and marriage, too. To not sexually want someone anymore creates a very bad feeling for the partner!

“Being hurt about this isn’t wrong. I’d be crushed if I were that man, feeling no longer desired.

“The reader’s feedback sounded very entitled and insensitive. It’s completely reasonable to end a relationship if your partner’s no longer comfortable having sex with you.”

Ellie - Sex is an emotion-laden topic for many people, which is why it’s so sad when couples find they cannot/won’t express, seek therapy nor medical advice, to help understand their innermost reasons why they no longer feel sexually attracted to their mate.

Ellie’s tip of the day

A relationship is an experience. But learning how to live/love in a relationship is personal growth.

Send relationship questions to

Follow @ellieadvice.

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