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Welcome to this week’s Ask Me Anything, elephant journal’s weekly advice column—where no question is out of bounds.
To submit questions for next week, email me at [email protected] or private message me on Facebook.
I look forward to hearing from you.
I’ve been in a long term relationship with a great guy since high school.
We are now in our late twenties and thinking about marriage. I could not want anything better in a partner. He is sweet, ambitious, well educated and loves my family. In short, he is the perfect man.
So why am I not happy?
Erica, I went to on a work related trip overseas and I met a guy there. Things happened. He says he is in love with me, and I think I might be in love with him. I know this sounds like a total cliche, but I have never felt this way before.
I really don’t know what to do. This guy does not even live near me, so any relationship we’d have would be long distance, and I don’t want to hurt my boyfriend, but I can’t seem to get past this.
To make matters worse, he is Jewish, something I don’t care about one way or the other, but which my family will have a hard time with.
Should I stay with the tried and true? Or should I throw caution to the wind and give what could be the love of my life a chance?
~ In Love
Dear In Love,
You’re right, this is a cliche, and the reason is simple: long term relationships = old news and new flings = novel excitement. Who doesn’t crave a little excitement in their life? Especially a young, unmarried woman, who has been with the same guy since forever.
The problem isn’t which guy you should choose, it’s that you’re not ready to settle down with anybody.
Your long term boyfriend may indeed be the greatest guy who ever lived, but if you’re hooking up with someone else the first chance you get, it’s just not right.
Conversely, the new guy may in fact be “the love of your life,” but how can you ever figure that out if you don’t know yourself first?
It sounds to me like you have some growing up to do, and I mean that in a good way.
It’s time to explore your own life, savor your independence, and develop a sense of who you are outside of a committed relationship. If you do that for yourself now, when you do meet the right guy—at the right time—you’ll truly be able to give him 100 percent, rather than the 50/50 both of your guys are getting now.
Being “green” is really important to me.
I am a yoga teacher and what some might call a hippie, so maybe I’m being extreme, but I would say it’s one of the biggest concerns in my life.
In itself, this is not a problem, but my husband doesn’t share my point of view.
He will not recycle, he blasts the a/c, he leaves the car running when he waits to pick up our kids at school, when things break he just tosses them immediately instead of trying to fix them etc. etc., no matter how much I beg, plead or nag him to change his ways.
He is setting a terrible example for our children.
I have admittedly become more staunch on my stand on environmentalism since we got married over ten years ago. When my husband and I first met, I was more like a fun party girl and didn’t really know anything about veganism or trying to live locally or any of the other stuff that I now take so seriously. Yoga training was a big part of my evolution, and I’m so grateful for it, but while I’ve changed, my husband has stayed the same.
How can I reconcile the differences between us? How can I live with myself and watch this behavior continue? I don’t want to break my family up over this, but it’s getting to a point where I feel angry all the time and I don’t even want to be around my husband.
~ Green Girl
Dear Green Girl,
While I admire your stand on environmentalism, I don’t think you’re being very fair to your husband.
From what you describe, you are “angry all the time,” you “beg, plead and nag” him consistently, and you expect him to change to suit your needs and priorities. In that sense, you are the one setting a bad example for your children.
No matter how noble a stand we have may be, if it isn’t tempered with tolerance, especially for the people we love, we will cause more harm than good.
If you tweaked your attitude and expectations slightly, you might find you have greater success in leading your husband in the “right” direction.
First, explain to him simply and without anger why these issues are important to you—without telling him what he should do. Then apologize for being so judgmental. Tell him you realize you’ve changed, and that you’ve been pretty wrapped up in this new iteration of yourself.
See if there is anything—even something small—he is willing to do differently so you can be closer to being on the same page. Notice and praise any positive changes in behavior he makes. When you feel yourself succumbing to anger, breathe. Remember that nobody is perfect and focus on the good stuff.
You might find him a lot more willing to see and act upon your point of view when you come from a place of respect and love.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Katy Tegtmeyer/Flickr