Lent experiment

Joey Garcia

I have been married for six years to an unhappy man. He is honest, and we both have professional careers, although he hates his job. I love him, and I know he loves me, but he never wants to go anywhere, doesn’t show any interest in things I like, has little interest in sex and ignores my teenage children (from a previous marriage). He is 10 years older and saves every penny toward retirement. He is cheap with money, emotions, words and affection. Couples counseling did not help, but after I said I would divorce him unless he took classes to control his anger, he did, and it worked. He invites me for walks by the river and suggests renting a movie or going to Home Depot, but that’s it. I go through bouts of frustration and sadness, feeling lonely, ignored and unloved. What advice can you give me?

Be honest: Was he like this before you married? Did you notice behaviors that you ignored because you were listening for wedding bells? Come clean about how you may have contributed to the problem. If you were willing to fool yourself into believing that love would change him (or some similar delusion), admit it. Owning your part of the problem will free you to recognize the right solution.

If your husband’s behavior changed when you moved in together, it is possible that he is introverted and that the impact of constant contact with others forces him to withdraw. This could exacerbate any inclination he has toward depression.

What would happen if, as an experiment, you stopped asking him to be different? The Catholic liturgical calendar is in the midst of a period called Lent, meant to cleanse the attitudes and behaviors that keep us from being the people God calls us to be. Perhaps you can participate in this ritual by abstaining from any requests of your husband for 40 days and nights. Be content with whatever contact is comfortable for him while continuing to enjoy your favorite activities in the company of family and friends. Around Easter, you will know whether it’s time to seek a companion whose interests and expectations mirror your own. Of course, without the constant criticism that he is not enough, your husband may make a turnaround that surprises you.

My girlfriend of nine months and I broke up. This is the woman that I want as my life partner. We’ve talked about being friends with benefits but, alas, have not connected. I believe that she is the one for me. I’ve never felt such a connection from a woman before. I’ve seen it in her eyes that she loves me. I’ve gone on a few dates since the split and find no connections with other women. She’s often told me that I am just infatuated. I disagree because I am moving forward without her, but I feel that the universe has a plan for us. Am I blinded by love, or are we are meant for each other?

Are you trying to prove that you know her better than she knows herself? No wonder she says you are infatuated! Infatuation is invested in an ideal (of love, of romance, of the perfect partner, etc.), not in reality (genuine love grows slowly with time; relationships are hard work; people have problems). It is superficial, emotional and sex-centered.

So, here’s your answer: In this moment, you are not meant for each other, because you’re broken up. And, if you continue to cling to her, you are not ready to be dating anyone else. It’s not respectful to date while wishing you lived in the past. It blocks you from being available to connect. So, slow down, release the past and focus on learning how to be a true friend.

Meditation of the week
“The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem that you had last year,” said John Foster Dulles, former secretary of state. What does this say about you?

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