My husband and I gave a neighbor a key to our house because we travel frequently and she takes care of our four dogs while we’re gone. But in the last six months, she has used the key when we’re home. On several occasions, my husband and I were on the couch watching TV when our neighbor would unlock the door and walk in, saying she wanted to borrow something but didn’t want to disturb us. Last week, my husband and I were in our bedroom having sex. She walked in, quickly excused herself and left. I want to tell her off for invading our privacy, but we need her to watch our dogs while we’re away. She does a really good job (we pay her for this). How do I handle this?
Like a dog. When someone enters their territory unexpectedly, are they silent and then later seething about the intrusion? Probably not. I imagine they either bark fiercely or, if they see a familiar face, yelp joyfully with tails a-wagging. What kept you from following the human equivalent of the same simple behavior when your neighbor entered your house? I’m not advocating that you yell at her, but I am wondering why you muzzled yourself. As weeks bloomed into months, your silence became her permission slip. So don’t be angry at her; be curious about why you failed to speak. Although your need for her dog-tending duties may be part of the dilemma, it’s a tiny part. Here’s the test: Would you be direct with her about any changes that you wanted in her relationship with your dogs? I bet you would. Give yourself the same support.
After spending some quiet time contemplating your reaction to your neighbor’s widening boundaries, talk to her. Don’t accuse her of invading your privacy. Playing the victim only inspires arguments. Just be honest. Tell her how hard it is for you to address this situation, and how you are afraid it might end the dog-sitting arrangement that you value. Calmly explain that you are uncomfortable having guests enter the house unexpectedly, and you would like her to refrain from coming over unless she is specifically invited, calls first or is caring for your dogs while you are away. You might also retrieve the key and return it to her as needed.
I attend a church that is spiritual, not religious. I have dated several men I met there, expecting that they would have a spiritual orientation in relationship. Ha! They have been just as commitment-phobic, Twelve-Step addicted, financially fractured, parentally enmeshed, depressed about former relationships or intimacy-stunted as the men I’ve met in bars. Am I crazy? Where are the spiritual men?
I think you’re confusing spiritual with perfect. To be a spiritual person is to live as if you are connected to all that is and to be conscious that you contain the potential for anything. Spiritual people own their imperfections. They are open and active in self-transformation. So it is possible for someone to be commitment-phobic and still be spiritual, if they are aware and attentively healing that aspect of themselves.
By the way, don’t be fooled by savvy marketing. Spirituality has nothing to do with rituals, services, dogma, disciplines or doctrine. If you’re attending a church, you’re part of a religion. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t spiritually oriented people there. It just means that the church is marketing to religion-phobic people. Enjoy!