Open and shut

Joey Garcia

I don’t know how this happened, but I’m in an open relationship. I started dating a guy I really like and after a few dates he told me he sometimes still hooks up with his ex-wife. He said he loves her but can’t be in a relationship with her. He said he could be in a relationship with me because I really get who he is. He says I have to understand that he will always be in her life and she in his. I didn’t feel weird until I confided in my best friend. Now I’m freaking out. I love him. Do you think that if I wait it out, he will give up his ex-wife?

Of course not, honey, and neither do you. The man you are dating has been honest with you about who he is. He has told you the truth about his plans for his heart. You know he will never be fully engaged with you. He will always reserve a portion of his attention, affection and sexual intimacy for his ex-wife. Which makes me wonder: What evidence do you have that they are divorced? If you haven’t already searched online for a copy of the divorce decree, please do it now. You may discover that this man is attempting to excuse an affair with you by calling it an open relationship. But he may not be divorced and his wife might not have a clue that he is romancing another woman.

You seem confused about how you ended up in an open relationship. Consider this: When the man you are dating announced that he would never be emotionally or sexually yours alone, you didn’t balk. You didn’t end the relationship, either. Why not? You deserve a partner who is fully present to you. Don’t put your heart on hold waiting for a man who already knows what he wants.

My husband is 20 years older and having health problems. I know this sounds petty, but I’m really scared because I’m a lousy caregiver. I am deeply ashamed to admit this to him because he has nursed me through two rounds of cancer and did so with extraordinary love. I don’t think I can do the same for him. Please help.

Breathe. Fear is inviting you to slow down and process what is happening in your inner life. You are likely afraid of a loss in the connection you enjoy with your husband. You may have residual worries from your own illnesses. And you don’t trust yourself to give wholeheartedly. Here’s the antidote: Focus on extending love and kindness in ways that are natural for you. Ask family and friends to assist with the tasks you fear you cannot do. Or hire help. All the while, push yourself to give love in ways that are not as easy. Heck, challenge yourself to offer love in ways that are uncomfortable for you. In other words, practice what your husband has taught you about love.

I have a sister who is constantly in competition with me, gossiping, and manipulating. If I dared to address any of my feelings with her, it would get ugly. I struggle with the fact that most people cannot handle true feelings. It seems the more that I grow spiritually, the more of a threat I become. I try to hold on to my authentic self, always. Any advice?

You are expanding into a consciousness that many people cannot grasp. Be compassionate toward anyone who has not yet risen into that enlightened perspective. After all, you were there once. And take care when saying that most people can’t handle true feelings. If you withhold your feelings to avoid your sister’s reaction, you are struggling to handle true feelings, too.

Meditation of the week
“I hold this to be the highest task for a bond between two people: that each protects the solitude of the other,” wrote poet Rainer Maria Rilke. Does silence fill your empty places?

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