Refuse your confusion

Joey Garcia’s iPod rocks the Isley Brothers.

Ten years ago, I ended a seven-year relationship with a man who alluded to a future together but never asked me to marry him. When I finally got the nerve to bring it up, he said he had no desire to get married. I gave away too many years of my life on his terms, and I never mentioned marriage because I feared losing him. I am now in a wonderful six-month relationship with a man who adores me. We have a great deal in common and have similar values. We are very happy. He occasionally says things like, “In 20 years, will you still love me?” and, “You are really good for me.” The other day, he asked if he could “keep me forever.” But I am afraid to ask about his intentions after only six months. On the other hand, since marriage is so important to me, I don’t want to make the same mistake I did before. Is six months too soon to ask my boyfriend if he would ever consider getting married again?

Yes, unless you are ready to be honest. The real question is not whether your man would consider marriage but if he would marry you, right? So don’t let your fear of losing a man seduce you into asking the wrong question. More importantly, refuse to be confused by romantic language; insist on reality. You’re investing a lot of energy into interpreting your man’s one-liners in the hope that his words point to a happily ever after. But romantic language is intended to stir feelings. Love is primarily a decision or choice. Feelings arrive and depart on schedules that sometimes seem whimsical. Through it all, we must choose to continue loving others and to selflessly extend ourselves to make decisions that are win-wins. (People who are unable to do this are often active addicts or narcissists.) So is the man you are dating capable of putting your needs first? Does he cherish you and make choices that reveal his love? If so, tell him you want to be married, to him. Love always includes risk. Take yours.

My husband is leaving me because he says he loves me but he’s no longer “in love” with me. I am angry and hurt. I don’t understand what he means. I have given everything to make certain that our four children thrive and that our family life is good. Please help me understand what is happening.

When someone says “I love you but I’m not in love with you,” they are acknowledging that the romance and sexual attraction have diminished significantly or are dead. What remains are some aspects of friendship; he still likes some parts of your personality, cares for you and is willing to share what you both own in an amicable divorce. Comprende? A connection exists, but he is no longer willing to make sacrifices (emotional, mental, physical, spiritual) to honor the marriage commitment.

So, did you contribute to the death of your marriage? If you neglected your spouse and instead poured everything into the lives of your children, then yes, you did. A committed couple must keep their relationship a priority through the demands of parenting. If they don’t, the emotional intimacy slips away and the sexual intimacy will vanish very quickly afterward. That said, it might be possible to revive your marriage if you can tuck away your hurt feelings. Focus instead on courting your man with the sweet innocence of one who is discovering him for the first time—not the desperation of one who is intent on trapping him. Whether passion flames like a phoenix or the last embers flicker and die, at least you know you gave it your all.

Meditation of the Week

“O Master,make me chaste, but not yet!”St. Augustine of Hippo wrotein his book, <i>Confessions</i>. Ah, yes! How do you implore the Divine for help and then stand in the way of the transformation?