She’s leaving home

Joey Garcia

I have been married for 25 years to a considerate, good man. For 23 years, I have wanted to leave. My husband is thoughtful and affectionate, but he belittles me and is controlling. (He says, “Just kidding!” when I call him on it.) He has to know everything I do, when I do it, with whom I do it and why. He was so controlling with money that I got a separate checking account. I stayed because he is a good father, but our kids are grown. I have never cheated, but I have come close. Four years ago, counseling helped me to stop waffling and commit to our marriage and to him. Six months later, I attempted suicide. I told everyone it was accidental, but in my mind I was trying to leave without confronting him. (I no longer am suicidal.) I am sure he feels there are no problems, because I am so good at covering my feelings. He has been there for me when needed, but I cannot see living the rest of my life with him. How do I tell someone I have been dishonest with for 23 years that I am going to leave?

Look yourself in the mirror and say, “Honey, I have been dishonest with you for 23 years. I have buried my true thoughts and feelings, and by doing so, I have belittled those expressions. When an honest thought or feeling arose, I covered it up quickly with words that absolved my responsibility, just like [your husband’s name here] does when he says, ‘Just kidding!’ I promise I will find a competent therapist to discover why I have persisted in lying to you. I suspect that it is because I have harbored the belief that it would please other people, and then they would like me and be considerate and affectionate toward me. I see now that I have been pretending to be the victim when, in effect, I have been covertly manipulating my husband and myself. I vow now to change and to get help for my addiction to people-pleasing so that I can cease this unhealthy behavior, because I deserve better from me. I am going to leave the person I have been and become the person I know God intends me to be.”

The point is that your husband may be controlling, but so are you. Leaving your marriage is no guarantee of change, because the behavior that both of you are stuck in will present itself when either of you is emotionally intimate with someone. This does not mean that you are doomed to be alone. Rather, it is an invitation to heal. Similarly, your suicide attempt can be seen as an attempt to leave (the planet) without having to confront yourself. It’s difficult to commit to (or leave) a marriage, until we have committed to understanding and appreciating ourselves. You are ready. My prayers support you all the way.

In the eight years since my divorce, I rarely get past one or two dates with a person, because I just don’t feel that spark of real attraction. I wonder if I’m just not giving some perfectly nice guys a chance, but I believe that either the spark is there, or it’s not. If I am too picky, how do I get beyond this?

I’ve noticed that what people call “a spark” is often a herald of infatuation, lust or obsession. It’s as if one part of the ego has identified someone with whom it can work out a neurosis. So, not feeling a charge simply could mean there’s no drama. Instead of distracting yourself in interactions by searching for a spark, open your heart to be present to the deeper call to love. Remember, true love grows slowly.

Meditation of the week
I was shopping at Ross Dress For Less on Howe Avenue when a man sprinted out of the front door, his arms full of clothing he didn’t buy. “Hey, come back!” a cashier yelled as she chased him. He dropped the clothes. Later, a salesclerk chastised the cashier about the danger of pursuit. “I work here, and I can’t afford to buy clothes here,” the cashier responded. “There’s no way I’m going to let someone just take them.” How do you think the economy is doing?

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