Ask Joey: Community disservice

Joey Garcia

How do I behave toward all of the people who knew my husband was cheating on me but did nothing about it? They didn’t bother to tell me or to talk him out of his affair. Most of them treat me like a pitiful person, but a few seem to be avoiding me altogether. I am so disgusted by their silence, especially because these are supposedly Christians who believe in marriage. What should I do?

Accept their limited understanding of love. Most people think of a wedding as a grand old party. But being a wedding guest is akin to saying yes to sharing responsibility for the spiritual life of the couple. So while the pair pledges faithfulness, the community promises to support that expectation. Yes, that means your friends and neighbors were responsible for guiding your husband back to sanity. It also means that a few of them should have had the backbone to tell him he had 48 hours to inform you or they would. Instead, your friends and neighbors chose to mind their own business. Or did they?

Behavior that harms the community is our business. The belief that we should not be involved in the lives of others is an overreaction to the fear of conflict. But investing in another person’s life story should never create fear or oppression. And it doesn’t when we continually do the inner work that cleans out our own hypocrisy. A compassionate awareness of the need to delicately edit the ego would have transformed the friend willing to call your husband back to love. It would also have changed your husband, inviting him to surrender secrecy in favor of his integrity. The process grants both individuals a greater sense of their own humanity.

It’s painful to discover that you are the last to know something that so deeply impacts every aspect of your life. It’s devastating to realize that you have been betrayed by the spouse who vowed to love you and by the community gathered to care for you. You may not yet be ready for the light in the darkness, but here it is: How wonderful it is to know the truth. People are imperfect. Few can see where their need to control, manipulate and appear “good” infects their words or actions. Forgive them. You are free now to make choices that can lead you to greater peace and joy. Do it and be glad.

When is the best time to say, “I love you” to someone? I have been dating a man for three months and blurted my feelings one night. He looked uncomfortable, smiled a little but kind of just let it slip by. It’s been weeks, and he has never said it back. He has never said anything close to what I feel for him. I am starting to pull away, because I am embarrassed. What should I do?

Appreciate your ability to wear your heart on your sleeve. Then, sift through those big feelings. True love grows slowly over time. You may be experiencing big feelings, but is it love? Real love offers security, creates trust, is honest, respects your value system and inspires you to become more generous and kind. Love is also patient. So if you can embrace your discomfort while also remaining consistent and present to this man, you are growing in love. Try focusing on the ways love transforms you. It is the perfect distraction from worrying about whether your love is being returned or not. And remember, it’s only been three months. Time will reveal whether this man is right for you. Until it does, please remember that the words “I love you” are a gift. Don’t charge transaction fees.

Meditation of the week
“When marrying, ask yourself this question: Do you believe that you will be able to converse well with this person into your old age? Everything else in marriage is transitory,” wrote the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Are you still texting and expecting intimacy to develop?

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