I moved to Davis in August and immediately fell for my neighbor. He offered my friends and I help when I was moving in and later hosted a welcome potluck so I could meet other people in our building. We share the same interests, politics, career goals and even favorite ice-cream flavor. We hang out about four times a week, but I’m technically engaged to my high-school sweetheart, who is finishing grad school in Iowa. Neither guy knows about the other, but my boyfriend is scheduled to visit (ring in hand) during winter break. Is meeting my new guy a sign that I should postpone my engagement? Is this just the universe testing my commitment? Or is my neighbor the life partner I’ve always dreamed of?
Um, shouldn’t the man you’re (nearly) engaged to marry be the life partner of your dreams? If not, you may be one of the millions of Americans hurtling toward marriage because of a persistent public rumor that it is an accomplishment as vital to their social résumé as a university degree is to their work résumé. Hey, marriage is a social, religious and political institution, that’s true. But because of the dynamic of human intellect and emotions, it is far more. When two conscious people wed, they are committing to a path of personal growth intended to burn away their own barriers to selfless love of God, each other and the world. Are you ready to enter that gate?
Friendship is definitely the best foundation for marriage. Through friendship we learn our own and the other’s capacity for truth, trust, sharing, loyalty and caring. Unfortunately, sometimes people interpret platonic friendship as an invitation to something more. If you and you new guy friend are hanging out, but he hasn’t asked you out, wake up. In this moment, you are friends. Stay present with reality.
I mentioned that truth is an essential ingredient in friendship (or, of course, any relationship). So are you ready to be honest with yourself? You need to uncover why you chose to hide your connection to each man. Spend some time, perhaps with a qualified psychotherapist, discovering why you opted for secrets and lies. Understanding this now will guide you toward becoming a good partner, regardless of who you marry.
After raising four kids, my widowed mom decided to adopt a child. We were all delighted until we met the 9-year-old that I’ll call “Karen.” Karen is manipulative and ungrateful. She believes she is entitled to expensive things and refuses to eat or behave until she gets what she demands. Now, Karen wants to take acting lessons and attend modeling school. Mom has already spent beyond her means. I am afraid that she will empty her retirement savings to please this child. Is there anything I can do?
If your mama is spiritual or religious, point out that she is helping Karen develop core values of greed and grandiosity. What Karen really needs is professional therapy. She may be motivated if the prize, after participating in six months of weekly counseling, is a six-week course in acting. Mama may balk because she believes Karen deserves a better life than she has had. What your mama needs to grasp is that a better life means helping Karen develop compassion, self-discipline and a conscience. If you believe your mama has a mental illness that is affecting her decision-making ability, encourage her to have a complete physical (but give her doc a heads-up first). You can also explain that the family may not be able to support her financially if she depletes her savings. But as far as dollars burned, it’s your mama’s choice how to spend her own money.