Love or a clean kitchen?

Joey Garcia

I am carrying twins, and my doctors have suggested bed rest. Yesterday my fiancé's mother spent 45 minutes cleaning my kitchen. My fiancé used the kitchen and left a huge mess. I was enraged. His mother was kind enough to help. I felt we should show our gratitude by keeping the kitchen clean. Why do I feel like what my fiancé does is a reflection of me? If he does things I don’t respect, somehow I think that is a reflection of my values. I know that what he does and what I do are completely separate, but I can’t help but feel responsible for his actions, or at least embarrassed by them. How do I get free of this entanglement? I have felt this way in many different situations with him. Any thoughts?

Your chosen spiritual path is intimate relationship, and your fiancé is your teacher. Through his capacity to be himself, he reveals the parts of you that are as tightly closed as the fist of an infant in a tantrum. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have a tidy kitchen. It means you are being invited to discover the answer to the question beneath your question: Why is a clean kitchen more important to you than the experience of loving?

Embarrassment (or is it shame?) is a flag that your discomfort hails from childhood. If you grew up in a family where a parent suffered with chemical addictions, untreated mental illness or cycles of physical abuse, it is likely that you would fear being seen (again) as out of control. Failure to control your parents’ behavior and their inability to control it for your sake would institute a notion in you that if you were really loved (or loveable), people would do what they know is important to you. Failing this, you might attempt to control your environment. I noticed that you wrote “my kitchen” as if you are the sole owner of this portion of the house and thus totally responsible for its care. Being on bed rest, then, would be immensely frustrating.

Express your gratitude to your fiancé’s mother by saying, “Thank you.” As the mother of a man who doesn’t tidy after himself, she knows what to expect. Using her as the stick to beat yourself and him is unkind to you all. If you define yourself by his choices, you will eventually lose yourself and your ability to make choices of your own. Imagine God asking you, “Did you love your partner and yourself as deeply as possible, or did you keep the kitchen clean?” What would you want your answer to be?

I have serious feelings for a woman who is going through a separation, but we have not had sex. Does this mean there is something wrong with me? Also, what is the time frame to get over a sexual attraction? From what I can gather, her relationship with her husband was primarily sexual.

Yes, as major religions teach, you can be in love yet abstain from sex. Doing so allows you to focus on the quality of the relationship rather than on being infatuated (and in heat). When a relationship ends, the time required to grieve and let go varies. But if the process is truncated, people generally repeat past mistakes because they have not examined their behavior or integrated new realizations. If you have strong feelings for this woman, respect your attraction by allowing her to heal before sharing your intentions. If she is sexually addicted to her husband, getting involved now—regardless of your feelings—is a disservice to your own heart.

Meditation of the week
“Sound, when stretched, is music. Movement, when stretched, is dance. Mind, when stretched, is meditation. Life, when stretched, is celebration,” said musician Ravi Shankar. Are you ready to exercise?

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