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Laura Hunt

Relationship Guide
March 2003: Keeping the promise to call
by Claire Hatch
Claire Hatch, MSW is a Licensed Social Worker and Certified Mediator who specializes in counseling couples. At The Bride’s Oasis in Kirkland, Washington, she helps engaged and newlywed couples learn to make love last and enjoy this special time. She is also responsible for the reflections part of our Calendar.

Claire will be happy to answer your relationship questions in this column. Please send them to or call her at 425.823.2273.
Meet her in person and sign up for her class: Stop Arguments before they start in Northgate or Kirkland.

Last month's column about Valentine's Day sparked this email from a reader:

Dear Claire,

I was wondering if you could give me some advice. The problem is my fianc├ę is in another country. He did not call me to wish me a happy Valentine's Day, nor did he send anything. I feel really sad and upset. We keep in touch most of the time, but this time he promised he would call. I was thinking of ignoring his calls until he came back. In the past, he has promised to call on a certain date and then calls at another time. Please help. I would appreciate it with all my heart.

Michell C.
Dear Michell,

Thank you for your mail.

I can understand why you're upset. Valentine's Day can be such a sensitive subject, can't it? Attention on Valentine's Day really means a lot to us. A woman's feelings can really get hurt when the man in her life doesn't understand.

It sounds like your problem involves more than just Valentine's Day. First, you say he PROMISED to call on Valentine's Day and then did not. Also, if I understand you correctly, your fianc├ę has a habit of not calling when he says he will.

Not only is it natural for you to feel hurt, but a pattern like this is bound to diminish the trust in your relationship. Doing what you say you will do is the foundation of a happy relationship.

I would choose a time when you both have time and say: "It really hurts me when you don't call when you say you will, and I'd like to talk about it." (Note: Do not say: "Can we talk?" This really stresses men out.) Then take turns. Listen to anything he has to say without interrupting him and then ask him to do the same for you. I call this "Listening until they're done-not just until they take a breath."

I do not suggest you ignore his calls until he gets back. That sends a very unclear message to him. It would probably decrease the trust between you and delay a solution.

I'm sure it is frustrating for you that you can't just talk whenever you feel like it. That is the stress of long distance relationships! I'm glad that you decided to ask me about it, and I hope that helps you relax a little.

I wish you the best.


Dear Claire,

I followed your advice and I want to thank you. We talked and fixed the misunderstanding.


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