Ask Dr Gilda-Will The Third Time Be A Charm

As her second failed marriage draws to a close, one woman wonders if her latest beau — a man who's 20 years her junior! — can deal with her baggage to become husband #3. Dr. Gilda offers some perspective.

By Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D.

ear Dr. Gilda,
I am separated from my second husband. My first husband told me he was gay. I jumped into this second marriage too soon after that, and now, 11 years later, I am tired of being lonely. Granted, I didn't really know
A moving target never gets hit — or finds love.
him when we tied the knot, but I tried to make it work during all this time. I've been pretty miserable, playing a role in which I was not comfortable. So now I think I am in love with a 25-year-old man, 20 years my junior. I have five children. Can this ever work?
– Always Running

Dear Always Running,
The answer to your question is in your sign-off name! A moving target never gets hit — or finds love. So how can you be in a new relationship if you're always running? Trying to explore love with a third man before you've washed yourself clean of the past two just doesn't work… and all this man-juggling, too, with five kids? While you're concerned over the age discrepancy you and your new beau share, what's more important is to delve into the red flags you ignored before you entered both of your marriages. The goal here is to prevent you from entering into another disastrous relationship.

A client of mine, Alice, had been going out with Fred for a month when she saw him blow up at the wait staff in every restaurant they frequented. She excused each outburst as an isolated incident that occurred after a stressful day. But as their romance continued, she noticed that he had a very short fuse whenever he didn't get his way. After he turned on her for something inconsequential, Alice became concerned and set up some online counseling sessions with me. We discussed the impact of this Gilda-Gram: "'Anger' is just a 'D' away from 'Danger.'" When she asked Fred to get help with anger management, he said he didn't need it. It had been a turbulent eight months, and despite loving him deeply, Alice knew she had to leave.

Even when you think you know someone well, spending plenty of time together often reveals surprises you would never have suspected. Thus, it is imperative to deal with each issue as it arises before it has the chance to gather momentum and explode out of control. How does a single person go about deriving this crucial emotional information from a prospective partner? Ask plenty of questions and take your time to see how that person behaves in different settings. As my Gilda-Gram cautions, "Courtship time is your antidote to divorce."

Instead of looking for a replacement for each husband, Always Running, your goal should have been then (and should
It's time to prevent your next love faux pas before it begins.
certainly be now) to take many breaths between different mates. You question whether your romance with this new man can "ever work." The answer is "No" — not because of your age difference, but because you never cleaned house regarding the husband from whom you are now separated. "Tired of being lonely" is not a reason to pursue love; that motive will only reflect your own neediness and attract a similarly insecure partner. In a healthy relationship, you must be willing to give as well as receive. You are not capable of giving right now, since you're still smarting from the fallout with Husband #2!

Take these steps at once:
  1. Change your sign-off name from "Always Running" to "Looking Inside." Follow that philosophy and immediately seek counseling. It's time to prevent your next love faux pas before it begins.
  2. At least temporarily, end your relationship with your new man and take some time to work entirely on you. Become totally goal-immersed in seeking the answers you need!
  3. Note how the Giving/Taking equation in your new relationship is one-sided, with you doing most of the taking. No partner will indefinitely put up with his or her needs being discounted in a relationship.
  4. Plot a strategy for GIVING more to any future partner. Even if this relationship doesn't survive, it is important you add GIVING into your relationship repertoire.
When your Running is fully replaced by Introspecting, you'll become prepared to secure real love for yourself with the right person. Right now, I'm afraid you're just heading in the same direction you've gone all these years. Of course, as a therapist, I have seen that anyone can change her fate if she chooses to do so. Begin now by getting the help you — and your kids — need to enjoy a more loving future!

Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D., gives Instant Advice throughout the world via Skype, email and phone. She is the 30-Second Therapist for Her best-selling books include Don’t Bet on the Prince!, 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity and How to Win When Your Mate Cheats. Please visit her website at (
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