January 29, 2009
“I want to know how one can facilitate an amicable divorce when the other party opposes the prospect. We’ve had marital counseling for 6 months. Despite telling the psychologist the past 40 years of our marriage was torture, my wife refuses to accept that we have irreconcilable differences. Our life as a couple is a sham but appears good. She wants us to stay together to maintain an air of perfection. It is purgatory. I am miserable. She is attractive and intelligent so does not need ‘us’ to succeed. I am willing to provide for her and ensure she is secure and comfortable financially. When I broach the subject of divorce, she threatens to protract any divorce proceedings until I die and turn my (adult) children against me. She is more than capable of doing this. How can I be expected to stay with those vindictive threats? How do I leave this toxic relationship without hurting anyone and in particular without losing my children?” (Minimal edits for space)
“Amicable divorce” is possible when mutually desired. Even then, it is tough. You want war without casualties. Hurt is inevitable and inescapable. Your relationships with your adult children, if sound, will weather any storm. Speak your truth to your wife AND your adult children.
January 7, 2009
“Everything was going well with a man I love. We had a child and were so happy. We were planning to move to another city because of the economy so I packed and went to live with my parents because he said we were going to save. After I left I tried phoning him but he did not want to talk. Finally he said he did not love me anymore. After two months I found there was another person. It was my friend’s sister who I had invited to my son’s birthday party. She was already living in the home I had left. I saw her picture in his wallet were my picture was once. I am hurting and I don’t know what is going to happen next. He tells me he left because I did not cook or clean much. I don’t know if he will ever come back because physically she is better than me. Do you have any comment?”
This is not about cooking or cleaning.
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You’ve loved a deceitful, irresponsible man who has moved on to his next victim. As tough as it is, I’d suggest you to take your future into your own hands and do what you can for you and your children.
December 9, 2008
You say we are each responsible for our own emotional health. I read that I am ‘one flesh’ with my husband. Surely I bear some responsibility for his emotional health? (Online question)
Go ahead. Try it. While you are at it, lose weight for him. Get him over his anger. Make him patient in traffic. Make him work more or less, depending on your needs and circumstances. Tackle, on his behalf, any one of the challenges each of us must individually face, and see how successful you are. Before you can say “Jack Robinson” (actually it might take quite a few years) you will be riddled and crippled with anxiety.
One flesh, united, soul mates, joined at the hip – use whatever picture works for you – but avoid taking on what is NOT yours to take on and avoid taking on the things you have no power to change. Resisting attempting to solve what are his issues (and his alone) does not make you less “one flesh” or less loving. I should think it is a greater demonstration of love and respect to “hold your own” while your partner is working through difficulties. Issues that are sufficiently powerful will readily take you both down. Then how much help would you be?
You can, of course, provide a context where your husband is supported in any of the individual challenges he must face but, like each of us, he has to take responsibility for his own emotional wellness.
Be responsible to him (do what is right and good) and not for him. Care about him, and not on his behalf. If this is too overwhelming for him, professional help is highly recommended.
July 30, 2008
Letters consistently pour in from men and women in unhealthy relationships. I think often of how much pain could be avoided if people were simply willing to see the warning signs before marriage, before children, before hearts harden, and before bitterness sets in. Here are some, of course not all, of the early warning signs that a relationship will sour short of a miracle. Although cumbersome, I have used “he/she” on each occasion for neither gender appears to be guiltless when it comes to distorting intimate relationships:
He/she does not respect his/her parents.
He/she lies about “little” things.
He/she is in debt at a young age.
He/she sees people as expendable (uses, then “dumps” people).
He/she gets angry very quickly with waiters or servers of any kind.
He/she feels entitled to respect he/she has not earned.
He/she is financially, morally, and sexually unfaithful, and appears unconcerned about the importance of personal integrity in his/her life.
He/she opens your mail, snoops in your business, and thinks you should have no secrets between you.
He/she speaks for you and tells you how you “should” feel, think and speak.
He/she tells you that you are stupid and that he/she knows you better than you know yourself.
He/she believes most other people are idiots and often says so.
June 29, 2008
“Horse and carriage” drives within you: deny either at your own peril…
A is for Autonomy*: a powerful instinctual longing within you. It’s the desire to be self-directed and separate. It is the “you” who wants to be free of all responsibilities. It is the “you” that fears absorption; the “you” who wants to let your hair blow in the wind, feel the sun on your back and go! It’s the lone-ranger and pioneer spirit within you. This desire is God-breathed, God-inspired and a necessary part of your growth. This need can be met, not by irresponsibly severing ties, but through regularly finding time to be alone.
I is for Intimacy: a powerful instinctual longing within you. It is the desire to nest. It is the “you” who wants to belong, be known, to be part of a family. It is the “you” who fears abandonment and longs for a shared journey. This is the part of you that longs for the sounds, symbols and reality of a shared life. This desire is God-breathed, God-inspired and a necessary part of your survival and growth. This need is met through regularly spending time in a loving family or community.
A with I = Emotional Health / A without I = Selfish Avoidance / I without A = Selfish Indulgence
*A is for Autonomy is the title of my new, up-and-coming book!
September 29, 2007
I am a person with a history to be respected, a present to enjoy and a future to build. I am fully capable of living my life to the full. I do not need a man or a woman to make me complete although a respectful, equal and mutual relationship will enlarge my life. I will not be sidetracked by unhealthy relationships again. I will not build friendships, go out with, or become intimate with anyone who does not regard me with utmost respect. I want equality, honesty and trust in my relationships. I am better off single, alone and lonely than I am “sharing” my life with a man or woman who lies to me, cheats on me and disrespects me. I will start to move my life in a healthy direction despite the difficult hurdles that are in my path.