Years ago, my fiancé was a gang member and he served time in prison. He has completely changed and I have no doubts about his commitment to a new life. Recently, my mother told me that we should not tell anyone except immediate family about his past. To me, that feels like hiding the truth. Besides, I’m proud of him. Please help me to understand this before it ruins my wedding.
Remember back in the day when she told you not to talk to strangers? Well, her current admonition is a variation of the same advice. I read recently that the Hebrew word for stranger is also the root of the word “border.” That fits. She’s asking you to erect boundaries around the past to prevent people from using your fiancé's history to reject you (or him). Does it work? Nah! Attempting to control your public image in hopes of controlling what others think of you is busywork. As Eliezer Shore, the esteemed teacher of Jewish spirituality, says: “The more dogmatically we cling to our beliefs, the more dangerous the stranger becomes, and the more strictly the borders of our perspective must be patrolled.” That means you become rigid and inflexible, trying to prove you are the one-dimensional person (i.e. no history or, more popularly, no negative thoughts) who you advertise yourself to be. Unless you’re a master of the brainwash or a senior executive with Hill and Knowlton (well, same thing), you can’t manipulate people into discarding their own thoughts in favor of yours. Reality check: people will use any reason to reject you and that reason often has little to do with you and everything to do with whatever is unresolved in their lives. As the Talmud says: “He who has been bitten by a snake is frightened by a rope.”
I applaud your openness. If the past is kept secret and someone finds out, they will believe they have been betrayed and thus feel righteous about prejudice, confrontation or gossip. If the past is treated as ordinary and over, people are more likely to focus on who you are now and appreciate the strength and perseverance that delivered you to the present. Or, in Shore’s words: “Spiritual realization is the experience of paradox, living at once within and beyond one’s boundaries.”
My husband says that I don’t know how to approach him for sex. It’s true. I don’t know how to turn him on, especially now that he is older and has trouble getting aroused. We have been married for 36 years. I have always been hesitant in bed and not very good at sex. I know my husband would enjoy more sex and, though I don’t need it, I love him and know that sex is an important part of marriage. Our relationship is wonderful otherwise. What do I do? And how?
Great sex requires a relaxed body. So take half of the responsibility for your sexual slowdown off your shoulders and place it on your husband’s. Ahhh, that’s good, isn’t it? Now, both of you need to see a physician to make certain that your biology (as a result of aging or whatever) isn’t blocking your potential for pleasure. Next, investigate your beliefs. Something is stopping you from understanding that sexual techniques are a skill, like cooking or parenting, that can be learned. Of all the books I’ve read, How to be a Great Lover by Lou Paget remains my favorite. Buy it. Once you begin to enjoy sex, your thoughts about not needing it may change. Then discovering what excites your husband is an adventure, not a chore.