The other woman
My husband and I separated for three years but reconciled to benefit our son. Our reconciliation occurred just after my husband began dating a woman. Although he was honest with both of us, I’m sure her heart was broken. They maintained a platonic friendship and, through effort, the trust between my husband and me strengthened. (It was painful on my part! My gratitude goes to Al-Anon and my husband’s willingness to take similar steps with his spirituality.)
Six months ago, his former girlfriend was in love and planned to travel the world with her Mr. Right. My husband was happy. I guess I was, too. Now she is back. Her new relationship disintegrated. My husband is supportive. I am also, as much as I can be without really knowing her at all. The fact is I find her amazing, interesting and beautiful. I, too, am attracted to her. I understand why my husband wants to continue their friendship; people of such character are rare. I am grappling with a desire to shed the possessiveness that fills me with sadness and insecurity. I know that my part is to let go, but I feel alone in this unconventional set of circumstances.
You don’t know her at all but find her amazing, interesting and beautiful? How much of your admiration is a projection of the qualities you are afraid to acknowledge or develop within yourself? Your husband was happy that she was in love and off to explore the world and you “think” you felt the same. Were you ambivalent about losing her because she was such a potent distraction from deeper unresolved issues within the marriage? Perhaps neither question manages to touch the wound bleeding beneath the surface of your experience in marriage. I urge you to dig deeper and uncover the suffering that has been silenced. It can heal only after you allow it a voice.
You are right to use this situation to initiate change within yourself. Marriage is transforming; the unique container of marriage provides opportunities for each person to become their real self. You’re also right that you must let go; you cannot control your husband. You let go in service to your higher power, to your marriage, to yourself and your husband, to your son and to the community. A genuine marriage is in service to humanity.
However, if your husband invests inordinate energy into this friendship, you must love him spaciously enough to say that his choice is harming the marriage. This is consciousness, not control. If you fail to address problems, you fall into the trap of trying so hard to be spiritual that you abandon yourself and your responsibility to your marriage. One last thing: It’s normal to feel alone in a marriage sometimes. Remember that your higher power is always with you, so you are never alone.
I need some advice about jealousy. It is threatening my relationship with my girlfriend.
Read David Richo’s book How to Be an Adult in Relationships: the Five Keys to Mindful Loving. Here’s an excerpt: “Jealousy is a combination of three feelings: hurt, anger and fear. We are hurt and angered by a perceived betrayal. We are scared by the possibility of losing a source of nurturance and of never being able thereafter to find another—the paranoid belief that makes jealousy so poignant. Jealousy stands at the threshold of grief, which our ego does not let us cross. Instead of weeping in sadness and fear, our arrogant, affronted, possessive ego enters the fray and we lash out and blame, engaging in abuse instead of healthy anger as we declare our indignation about the perceived betrayal. Jealousy shows us that we are still fragile and childlike underneath. … [It] can thus deflate our ego, a giant spiritual step.”