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Advice Column: Share It With Dr. Sherry

Living with a partner when you’re no longer in love. Plus: Coping with hair loss.

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You’ve seen celebrity clinical psychologist Dr. Sherry Blake, author of Care for the Caregiver: Surviving the Emotional Roller Coaster, help the casts on The Real Housewives of Atlanta and the hit show Braxton Family Values manage the stressors of life. Now it’s your turn to engage with her about real life issues. Girl, we’re grown. Let’s talk about it. Click here to send your questions for Dr. Sherry.

Living with a partner when you’re no longer in love

Q: How can I explain to my husband that I'm no longer in love with him? I still have love for him and care about his well-being. But I want a divorce, and I just don't know how to start the conversation. I fell out of love years ago, and I’ve just been hanging on because I know how sensitive he is. We haven't slept together in about a year. We have separate bedrooms. I honestly think that he can live like this forever. I am so unhappy and I feel trapped. Would you please give me some advice?

A: You deserve love and happiness whether you remain married or choose to divorce. Although you are not legally divorced, it sounds as if you emotionally divorced your husband a long time ago! As difficult as it may be, it is time to have an honest conversation with your husband. To do so, however, you must first be honest with yourself. That may be difficult to do if you have not fully processed your own feelings. And if this is the case, it may be a reason you struggle emotionally with how to start the conversation. Ask yourself: Is caring for my husband’s well-being and having regard for him enough to keep me in a marriage in which I’m unhappy and feel trapped?

You deserve love and happiness whether you remain married or choose to divorce.

It is unclear what you meant when you stated that he is sensitive. Given that you occupy separate bedrooms and you feel as if he could live with that arrangement indefinitely, it’s possible that your husband has the same feelings as you but hasn’t shared them. I recommend that you seek individual therapy. Processing your feelings with a professional counselor can help you to understand why you are emotionally stuck. If you have doubts about divorcing, and if there is a possibility that you and your husband can work through these issues, marriage therapy may be helpful. It is important that you look at your needs and put yourself first. A major element in self-care is making sure you are making choices that are in your best interests. You must decide what happiness looks like for you!

Coping With Hair Loss

Q: How can I best accept having alopecia late in my life?

A: Hair loss at any time in life can be emotionally devastating. This is especially the case for women of color because of the ways in which hair is often celebrated. Alopecia is rarely talked about and often viewed as a source of embarrassment. As a woman gains understanding about the disorder, she can deal with the emotions more easily. Regardless of how much is known intellectually, or how many times women are told that we are more than our hair, the loss of hair can be emotional and impact your self-esteem. Many self-esteem issues relate to the fear of what other people will think or say. Please do not allow external influences, such as social media and pop culture, to determine your self-worth.

It’s important to know your options when addressing the issues with alopecia. I would suggest having a comprehensive evaluation to determine the type of hair loss you have and the treatment possibilities. If treatment is not an option, it is time to create and present a new personal look. This may range from rocking a chic bald look, to expressing your confidence and fearlessness by stepping out and rocking a short, medium or long wig of the style, color or texture of your choice. You may not have a choice in having alopecia, but you definitely have a choice in how you respond. How you show up, with or without hair, reflects your personality. You have the freedom of changing your look as often as your mood changes. Learn to embrace and love yourself no matter how your body changes. Try accentuating other personal features that make you smile and telling yourself, “Happiness is an inside job!” As years pass, we may lose some aspects of our body that we loved. We may gain other aspects that we can’t get rid of or change. Remember, it’s not how we look on the outside, but how we see ourselves on the inside.

Click here to send your questions for Dr. Sherry.