Please help me choose between my 9-year-old son and my boyfriend of six years. My son and I live with my mother, who has legal custody of him. I love my son very much. I also love my boyfriend. He is moving out of state shortly because of his health and he wants me to move with him. He knows that I don’t want to have a long-distance relationship and that I don’t want to leave my son. If I try to get my son back and move out of state, I will be taking him from his family, friends and school. Plus, my son has made it clear that he does not want to move. He hates my boyfriend. My boyfriend thinks that if I don’t move with him, I don’t really love him. I do love him, but I love my son a lot more. I don’t know what to do.
You know precisely what to do, honey: stay here with your son. You just don’t know how to tell your boyfriend about that decision without losing your relationship. Don’t worry about losing your boyfriend. Be vigilant about refusing his attempts to manipulate you. When he says, “If you really love me, you would … ” he is insisting that you choose what is best for him, rather than what is best for you or your son. If you move away with him to prove your love, you’re moving away from your integrity. The suffering that accompanies such a choice can infect your entire life. Of course, if you don’t move away, your boyfriend will insist that you lied to him—you never really loved him after all. Nothing you say or do will ever be enough to prove otherwise, because he has a King Kong-sized insecurity problem.
Insecurity companions all of us from time to time. When insecurity is constant or enormous, we can intervene by being aware that it is arising within us, that it is related to the past (often our childhood) and not to whatever is unfolding before us. We are then free from acting on those fears. We can also remind ourselves that we are safe and loved. Your boyfriend must do this for himself; you can’t do it for him. Your mission is to not take the, “If you really love me, you would … ” bait. Instead, understand that he is desperately trying to use you to fill a void within himself that only he can fill. The more you attempt to fill that emptiness, the less either of you is available to genuine love.
I want to take a vacation alone. No big thing, right? Except I’ve been married for 15 years and I know that the minute I tell my wife, she will freak and insist that I’m having an affair. I’ve thought about telling her that I’m going with a bunch of guys just so she won’t go ballistic. I just need to get away from her and our four kids for a while. I want time to think and reconnect with myself. Is there a way to explain this to her so she can be supportive, not threatened?
Don’t lie. Postponing the truth just contaminates your marriage. The resulting environment is ripe for more betrayal. That’s not the kind of relationship you want with anyone, especially someone that you experience daily and have promised to spend the remainder of your days with. Besides, then you would be on holiday with a nasty argument revolving in your brain. Try this: read about the benefits of sabbaticals and research retreat centers. Then talk to your wife about your desire for a time-out for a contemplative retreat (time to think and reconnect). You might help her plan a similar restorative trip or arrange for an additional trip together.