My partner of 20 years decided to find God and, in the process, decided that she could no longer be committed to our relationship. She feels that being a lesbian will send her to hell. We have a successful business, three grown children and five grandchildren. I am totally lost, and don't know what to do or say. I believe that God put us together, but she no longer agrees. Our journey to heaven is based on our commitment to give to people and be all that we can be. I need advice about how to help my family and persuade the woman I love to truly believe again in our life's journey.
Janice C., 45, New York City
It sounds like your partner is experiencing an identity crises. Throughout our lives, we experience cycles of change in which we move from the birth of an idea through its growth and finally to its fulfillment. When the cycle ends, we may become depressed and feel a sense of loss, and we may struggle to define who we are in the transitional period between the end of an old cycle and the birth of a new one. Your partner has achieved the goals that you both set out to accomplish, and now she is faced with the question, "Who am I now?" The answer to that question lies within herself. I would recommend that you two sit down and create a new plan for the next stage of your lives that involves both of you. Take out a notebook and ask each other to write down three answers to the following question: "What is the wildest dream you have about how the two of us are going to spend our future?" This would also be a good time for you both to seek couples' coaching. Be strong and believe that she will find herself and find her way.
I've been married for over 23 years, and my husband just announced that he wants to do his own thing. I've been with this man since I was 15 and put off my dreams of attending college and having a career to care for my husband and children. However, since my children were approaching adulthood, I went back to college and successfully obtained an undergraduate and graduate degree. Now, after all these years, he wants to call it quits. Do you think it may have something to do with my recent accomplishments?
Tina T., 41, Los Angeles
Your recent accomplishments have changed the dynamic and roles within your relationship, and it sounds like your husband is struggling to be the man he has always been within that relationship. Your original roles were that he was the breadwinner and you were the caretaker. That role made you and your children financially dependent on him and gave him a sense of power and status as the one person whom the whole family depended on. Now that you have successfully obtained an undergraduate and graduate degree, you are capable of financially providing for yourself, and your husband may feel that he is no longer needed in the one capacity he has defined as the role of husband. Your accomplishments are incredible, and I want to congratulate and commend you on achieving so much. In order to help your marriage, you will have to show your husband that you need him for more than just fulfilling the financial requirements. He needs help seeing his own self-worth within this relationship and that he is valued.