Reading the heart

Joey Garcia

I’m gay and in a relationship that, until recently, was monogamous by mutual agreement. Now it’s an open relationship. I’m struggling to accept and live with this so my partner can work through whatever issues he has. I know he needs this for himself, but I’m in a quandary. Is this change a good thing? Am I going against my core beliefs? My relationship with my partner is important to me. But should I allow the relationship to be open? Or put down the gauntlet and ask for more acceptable conditions for myself?

Here’s my translation of your dilemma: Do you feel more like yourself when you are casually dating or when you are in an intimate, monogamous relationship? Your answer can guide you toward a direction where your heart will revel. That’s important, because it requires you to be yourself, not transformed into who you think your partner needs.

Sacrificing healthy values in order to stay in a relationship is self-betrayal. Here’s how: An open relationship equals dating. If monogamy is your ideal, you won’t be happy until you have it. So understanding that monogamy is among your core values allows you to weather this situation gracefully. For example, if you insist on monogamy and he refuses, you will have the strength to end the relationship. Sure, you may grieve for a time, but ultimately, you will be practicing compassionate self-care, so choosing to uphold your values will likely prove auspicious. If your own values are obscure, it’s harder to accept his absence. You may also find yourself inhibited by the past and thus suffering as you establish new relationships.

Another route through the thicket you’re in is to tenderly tell your partner that your love for him is important to you—as important as monogamy. Therefore, you will bring the relationship to a close as it is now and be available to begin a new relationship with him when he is ready to commit to you. That doesn’t mean that you have to sit home. Feel free to date (without comparing every man you meet to your former partner) or not while you practice the fine art of patience.

My husband goes in and out of anger and depression continually. He realizes he has a problem but is unwilling to do anything about it through any counseling or spiritual means. Recently, he said that maybe he needed Prozac. I don’t know if he would follow through on this either. His mood swings are affecting the family. We love him but don’t know how to help. Any suggestions?

Get your children and yourself to counselors, now. A perpetually unstable home environment is a war zone. Living under such violent conditions can permeate the mind, body and spirit in unexpected and disturbing ways. It is imperative that you and your children enlist professional therapeutic support to clean out any feelings of fear, guilt, anger, hurt, etc. in regards to your husband. Doing so will free each of you to be able to face whatever transition is necessary to ensure the family’s safety and sanity.

This means that you and your children are confident and comfortable in taking the next step, whether it is asking him to leave, calling a meeting with extended family or arranging a complete physical with his employer’s support. You have already discovered that you cannot force your husband to change or get help. Rely on your power to change yourself, and trust in your ability to manage this situation before it overwhelms you.

Meditation of the week
Thich Nhat Hahn, the Mahayana Buddhist monk, says “happy continuation day” is the proper birthday greeting. I think of this as I turn 40 during the season of rituals for what is supposedly dead. When old memories arise in you, do you say, “I thought that was dead!” or “Ah, an opportunity for another level of completion!”?

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