Brandi and I have been together over four years. I admit, though, there’s been as much terrible fighting as there’s been passionate loving. I’ve always loved her dearly but have never liked that she’s a daily marijuana smoker, lazy, unambitious and, at times, a huge flirt. Brandi says I’m a nag, a workaholic, too uptight and have too much of a temper. Three weeks ago she suggested we stay together but take a temporary break. It was the last thing I wanted. I wanted to work out our problems cooperatively but she was adamant about separating so I gave in. After missing her terribly for two weeks, I woke up one night with a horrible premonition she was seeing someone else. I immediately drove to her house without calling and she was with another guy. When I confronted them, Brandi acted more concerned about the other guy’s feelings than mine. He left when I started to rage but what really hurt was that she followed him to his car and talked to him for a very long time. When she returned, she begged my forgiveness and kept saying he didn’t mean anything to her. I was unbelievably hurt and then I became numb and cold and walked out for good. As far as I was concerned, it was her actions that mattered, not her words, and I knew we were done. I truly loved Brandi and wanted to marry her in spite of all our problems, but I think I made the right decision in permanently severing our relationship.Last night, she showed up at my apartment and tried to get back together. She said she had made the worst mistake in her life when she betrayed me. I didn’t show it but love welled up inside of me and it was wonderful seeing her. All I wanted was to hold her but, deep down, I know this relationship isn’t good for me and never has been. I still love her but I know I can never forget what she did. How do I stay strong and keep her out of my life?

–Mathew

It’s a beautiful thing to feel deep love and passion for someone, and I would never devalue such attachment and affection. I can’t assure you that if you stay apart you won’t deeply miss Brandi, grieve for the relationship and possibly, at times, even regret leaving. Just because you love someone deeply, however, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a healthy relationship. You’re saying yourself that it wasn’t. Ask yourself the following questions:Why was your relationship turbulent in the first place?If you get back together, what will be different?How did your differences affect the relationship?What, if anything, has changed?The only thing I see that’s different is you now have the added problem of infidelity to contend with. The betrayal might increase your temper problem and Brandi’s defensive drug partaking. Your relationship was already rocky; if you reunite, your serious relationship issues will probably still be there.Strong passion for Brandi isn’t necessarily an indicator of a long, happy life together. If you sincerely believe she isn’t a good mate, the best way to heal your heart is to go cold turkey and completely cut off contact. If you truly want a new life, let yourself grieve for what could have been and then move on. I’m sorry it hurts so much but you have a decision to make: either make it work or shut the door and start over.If you haven’t already, go into individual therapy and focus on yourself, especially your temper issues. Do you get angry immediately and yet have difficulty getting out of the feeling?  Anger is resentment at being hurt. What’s the deep hurt about? Even if Brandi triggered those feelings, what happened in your history before her which caused you to be reactive rather than establishing firm boundaries?  It truly sounds like you want to grow and change your life. It’s not an easy task but it definitely can be done.The break-up could also signify a wake-up call for both of you. If so, it will take a great deal of commitment and effort on both sides, and I’d definitely recommend couple therapy. 


Patti Carmalt-Vener, a faculty member with the Southern California Society for Intensive Short Term Psychotherapy, has been a psychotherapist in private practice for 23 years and has offices in Pasadena, Santa Monica and Canoga Park. Contact her at (626) 584-8582 or email pcarmalt@aol.com. Visit her website, patticarmalt-vener.com.patticarmalt-vener.com.