Marriage?

cosmos bee

Dear Madame Olivia:

All things are pointed in the right direction when it comes to the romance that I share with my boyfriend. I love him, he loves me. He cares for my son, and gives him support and advice. It’s great to see them interact, and relate to one another. I enjoy listening to them talk, and I too gain insight into my 14 yr old, as well as share in their bonding. It is fun.

I have noticed a shift in my bf’s emotions. A good shift. He has been making gestures towards children. Earlier in the relationship he said that he loves kids, but feels that he would do a great disservice to the child if he were to have one now, because of his age… but I think he may be having other thoughts lately. Is it possible that I might be getting an invitation to the alter for marriage and start a family? I am not going to ask him, and I certainly do not want to push him. I want to wait and see, but is there something that Madame sees in my future that may give me a hint? I am 44 and my bf is 51. It is the first time in over 10 years that I have been with someone that is older than me… and I love it. We are good together, so if he were to ask, I would accept.

Cheers,

Wondering

Dear Wondering:

Madame Olivia loves your letter and the language you use to describe your situation, especially “the romance that I share with my boyfriend” and “he cares for my son”! You use the phrase “start a family” but it seems you already have one, and a terrific one at that, everybody included and getting along so well. Fantastic. Madame Olivia can see that you know what you have and her first inclination is to suggest simply that you sit with it and enjoy it fully.

A second option is a bit different, a kind of putting-it-out-to-the-universe model, where you continue to be mindful of what’s going on with him and kids, but consciously mindful. Things can happen with this kind of heightened mindfulness, for example, you might find yourself smiling at him when you both see a cute baby. This indirect approach can be powerful, as it creates a field that makes it easier for him to speak and be open.

That said, it would be nice if you could talk about future possibilities. Things seem to be working so well that Madame Olivia doesn’t want to rock the boat, and as you say, you don’t want to ask him and don’t want to push him, and as you know him your sensibilities are the guide here, but a very gentle invitation to talk could be wonderful. Such an invitation might occur in a contented and peaceful moment and might even sound like “I notice you paying a lot of attention to babies and little kids lately.” Make it a truly exploratory and agenda-free invitation. You of course will express your feelings and desires when the moment comes, and knowing you, Madame Olivia suspects it will be gently done. Wouldn’t it be funny if he’d been wanting it and thought you didn’t! Making sure everybody’s on the same page (or not) is one argument in favor of saying something, and another is to get the ball rolling, as it is better to begin working on the project now, while it is still so eminently doable.

Madame Olivia loves the way you think: people who know what they have are rare. (And by the way, your bf is a lucky man and it’s no accident you are together.) You deserve continued happiness and Madame Olivia is sending her most potent karmic encouragement. All the best to you, dear Wondering.

~Madame Olivia

Appliance Discipline

fridge pee

Dear Madame Olivia:

My three-year-old refrigerator still randomly pees on the floor. I feel like a failure as a refrigerator owner. Am I doing something wrong?

In Need of Understanding and Encouragement

Dear U and E:

You say you feel like a failure. Madame Olivia begs you to shift the blame to where it correctly belongs, namely, to the refrigerator. Random peeing is unacceptable and responsibility must be shouldered by the correct party.

This may sound harsh, but at the first sign of malfunction call a no-nonsense technician. This will put the fear of God into the appliance, as nobody likes strangers sticking their hands and pointy instruments into one’s water lines or monkeying with one’s compressor. Usually this does the trick and peeing ceases.

There is another side to this, of course. The refrigerator may be in need of help and doesn’t know how to ask for it. In fact, the more Madame Olivia thinks about this, the more inclined she is to this interpretation. Ironically the same action is called for, namely summoning a skilled technician. Such a one may be able to offer just the relief that is needed. A faulty discharge valve, for one example, can be painful and may actually be causing the peeing, and repair or replacement may restore your appliance to its jaunty, high-functioning self. There is nothing like pride of functioning for appliance contentment.

Wishing you and all the members of your household the very best in the coming year.

Madame Olivia

Haunted by Love

steve tour eiffel
Dear Madame Olivia:

It’s been over almost two years but this last relationship still haunts me today. I loved her so much but she betrayed me with not so much as a word, but with her actions. It has affected me worse than my divorce years ago. I can’t seem to move on emotionally. Why is it that she still comes to my dreams to this day? Is there a message? Is she trying to say she’s sorry?

Still Shattered

Dear Shattered:

Sorry it has taken so long for Madame Olivia to respond. She has thought about you a lot, and in fact she has been haunted by your letter and its poetic, yearning quality.

Madame Olivia definitely thinks there’s a message for you in your dreams. The question is, from whom? Madame Olivia does not discount the possibility that this woman has feelings for you that are somehow making it through the ether to you, whether it’s contrition or musing on the connection you once enjoyed.

More likely, however, is that this woman represented a part of you that you are somehow separated from, which is why you were so attached, and why the separation was and is so wrenching. Can you step back and look into yourself? What was it that drew you to her and that you loved so much? Imagination? Tenderness? Achievement? Beauty? Can you let go of the idea just for a moment that it was something outside yourself you were yearning for and that now feels so torn from you? Can you entertain the thought that your dreams are a message from you to you? Can you also entertain the possibility that the quality or qualities that entranced you exist in you? And need to be rescued?

You are thoughtful and full of feeling and write gracefully. Madame Olivia suspects that a part of you awaits your attention. If you let yourself think this new way, your shattered self can be gathered together in a beautiful new way. Remember that a change in perspective is not preparation for the work, it is the work.

All best wishes for the new year, dear Shattered.

Madame Olivia

Addicted to Love

Stage Show
Dear Madame Olivia:

I am desperately in love and can’t go an hour without thinking about the person, whom I’ll call Chris. Chris never texts or talks to me so when I’m being objective I realize this thing is doomed. It’s just that I feel myself wanting to love somebody, almost anybody, you know? And if Chris really kicks me to the curb then I’m going to find somebody else to love. I do have other ambitions in my life and I know this is horribly distracting and is holding me back. Can you help me?

~Desperate Lover

Dear Desperate Lover:

Madame Olivia’s first thought is a song:

You might as well face it, you’re addicted to love.

Her second thought is the same song:

You might as well face it, you’re addicted to love.

Did you ever notice the droning, narcotic beat of the refrain? Like a trap you can’t escape?

The bad news is that you really are in the clutches of an addiction, not to Chris, but as you note, to love itself. Madame Olivia doesn’t blame you, as it may be partly hard-wired (like a lot of addictions) and partly cultural (the relentless mandate to couple up). It may also be springing from an inner fear or vulnerability that’s hard to face, like the demands of life stage or fear of success.

But there’s very good news too: you have insight, as when you say “I feel myself wanting to love somebody, almost anybody.” This is huge. And you display the glimmerings of wanting to change. These two things mean change is definitely possible.

You can build on this good news, dear Desperate, but an addiction is too much for one person to battle alone. You need help, in the form of a group, a sane friend, a shrink: you’ve got to find an ally to help you through the struggle. Set yourself the task of taking a first tiny step in this direction and you will be amazed at where this leads you. Even a word to a trusted co-worker or friend can bring a surprising response, like “Oh, I know what you’re going through. Here’s what I did.”

Meanwhile, as you embark on this journey, change the lyric to something like “I’m not gonna take it, gonna bust out of love,” or whatever feels good to you. A mantra to mutter or sing to yourself over and over can be wondrously bolstering.

Sending you the strongest possible support mojo as you head toward the first tiny step.

You can do it.

Madame Olivia

Often Wonder

gate

Dear Madame Olivia:

My husband and I have been together for 29 years. We had our struggles in the beginning and got through them all, but I have not been happy for a very long time. At times I find myself wanting out, to just leave, to be by myself, but I am scared as to how I would manage on my own. I think I would be happier in an apartment by myself, and have wanted this for years, but I don’t even have the money for a down payment even if I really did do this. But is that the only thing stopping me? What do you think? Is this something I should really start to consider?

With thanks,

Unhappy One

Dear Unhappy One:

Madame Olivia is saddened by your unhappiness and sees 4 options. 1) Just move out. This is not a good option as you don’t have adequate financial resources and you could wind up in a bad situation. 2) Make a plan and move out. “Hope is not a plan” is a business maxim but it applies here. Make a detailed plan for gathering resources and figuring out where and how you would move (and with whose help), and then carry it out. Making a plan could be empowering for you in itself. 3) Talk to your husband about your unhappiness without blaming him. Is there the remotest chance that he will react with care and interest or even say something like “I’m not happy either, shall we work on it?” If this is even possible, Madame Olivia likes this option. However, if you think he would react with anger or disinterest, then go to another option. 4) Figure out what is missing from your life and create it in your current life. If what you’re longing for is going back to school or getting more training, see if you can make that happen now. If what you’re longing for is more friends and fun, then see if you can make that happen, by joining groups or calling up friends. This option can give you satisfaction now and might even lead to the dreamed-of departure. Whatever option you take, your first task is to take one small step, to bring your dreams into the realm of action.

With very best hopes and wishes for your much-deserved happiness,

Madame Olivia