Marital rifts

Joey Garcia

My wife and I just celebrated 30 years of marriage. Now, I’m wondering whether to divorce her. She has changed a lot (personality, goals, care for her looks and sex drive). I have a hard time avoiding arguments with her about money and sex. I would love to have sex four times a week, but I only get it once a week if she is in the right mood and if I’m lucky and a good guy. She snaps at me about a budget and claims I live way over my earnings. (We fall $500 short each month.) We have a 21-year-old son at home who refuses to pay rent. Should we throw him out? My wife attends college and works part time but says I should pay all the bills. I remind her that it takes two incomes to survive. I am fed up. She said she no longer loves me but wants to remain married because we are Christians. I have a hard time being in a relationship and not being loved. Should we divorce?

I can’t imagine Jesus telling you to stay in a loveless marriage. I only advocate divorce if abuse, addiction or adultery is present, and even then, healing is possible through 12-step programs and psychotherapy. If you are Christians, you are responsible for forgiving those who have trespassed against you, so that you can be forgiven for trespassing against others. That means you and your wife must remove the obstacles within yourselves that inhibit each of you from being open to the love present in your union. And yes, you love each other. You just don’t like each other very much right now.

Have you asked your wife what money symbolizes to her? If, for example, it signifies security, then every time you overspend, she’s on orange alert. She locks down the perimeter of her body, mind and spirit and refuses intimacy (physical or otherwise) because your actions have terrorized her sense of safety. There may be medical issues, too, like menopause, that can be addressed after the money issues are handled. Shirah Bell, a certified financial planner and spiritual director who has a master of business administration and a doctorate from Stanford, teaches the best workshop on money that I have ever attended. Contact her at

If your adult son is a full-time college student, earning good grades, let him live at home. He should contribute to the household by performing his fair share of chores without being reminded. If he is working, but not in college, he should pay rent and complete weekly chores. If he’s unemployed, he needs a three-month deadline to find a job and a new place to live. If he ignores the deadline, help him pack, take back his house key and let him try mooching off of friends. Don’t buckle if he gets mad. Let him discover the world.

I am trying to get closer to my daughter, but she is always busy. I do love her and know that it’s sometimes hard for her to understand me. What I can do?

Would somebody cue Harry Chapin’s song “Cat’s in the Cradle”? After talking with you, it’s clear to me that your daughter became just like you in setting priorities. You admitted that throughout her childhood, your career always came first. Now you’re retired and ready for a relationship with her, but she puts her career and friends before you. You say that you love her. Do you also like her? How much do you know about her interests and dreams? You admit that your husband and former co-workers describe you as bossy and critical. I imagine that she would limit her time with you to avoid being criticized and controlled. If you want her to spend time with you, you’ll have to change. Therapy can help.

Meditation of the week
In his book Money and the Meaning of Life, philosopher Jacob Needleman writes, “We have no choice but to take very seriously the power money has … to show us what we can develop in ourselves that can never be bought or sold at any price.” How does this affect your willingness to tithe?

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