"You must leave this man."
Dear Kristine - You don't know who I am, but I know who you are. I heard you speak at St. Olaf's Lutheran Church last month, and I still haven't forgotten what you said.
It was almost like you talked directly to me. You preached about suffering. You said the church has it all wrong. You said no one should suffer to make another person feel adequate; no one should suffer to feed a sick ego or contribute to evil.
I haven't been able to forget what you said. I live with a man who is many good things; a good father, a wonderful neighbor. He plows the entire block all winter long; no thanks, no reward. He does it because he's a good guy.
But he doesn't love me. No. In fact, the man in my life doesn't like me at all.
I've known this for a long, long time.
He's mean to me in ways people are mean because they don't care. I'll ask him to do something for me - and he'll tell me "no." Straight up. No reason why, nothing. Just, "no."
We've been married twenty-seven years. Three kids. We live in a great community; everyone thinks the world of him.
Except me. I'm so tired of pretending everything is okay between us - in our family.
My youngest child leaves home this fall for college in Northfield. I'm going to be in the house, alone with him.
I don't know how I will survive.
Kristine, he doesn't hit me - he shouts, throws things, and calls me names. He only does this when we are alone, and I know no one would believe me if I told them.
He says I have no real friends. He tells me that my neighbors speak poorly about me to him when I'm not there.
Before my mother died, he told me she didn't love me - that I am the least lovable woman he knows.
I've given this man my entire life.
What should I do?
Samantha - You know what to do. You know exactly what to do. You're writing me because you know I'll tell you to do exactly what you know you must.
You must leave this man.
I don't need to know anything more about your marriage, your family, or the way he treats you.
All I needed to know was that he is not loving; does not cherish you, honor you or value you.
When a man and a woman agree to live together, a great contract is formed. The premise of the contract is this: I show you my weaknesses, you show me yours. We protect each other from criticism, pain, suffering and humiliation. We strengthen each other. We help each other through the times when our weaknesses might overwhelm us. We reach out in love and support when the other is in pain.
We do not hurt each other.
My dear mentor Sheila Shanley once said that the true sign of love is this; when you show another person how to hurt you and they make certain you are never hurt.
You need to leave this man. I'm not sure how you will do it - but you will find a way. Leave him today. Leave him immediately.
Your action will change everything. Who knows? It might even save your marriage. And your life.
"It makes my skin crawl when a gay guy comes on to me. . ."
Dear Kristine; I couldn't help but notice that you seem to be tolerant of, and even inviting to, homosexuals and lesbians. Your website indicates you would even marry them, if you were asked to do so.
What's up with that? I've tried to get over this - but I just don't like gay men. I'm a great looking guy, and always get a lot of female attention. But it makes my skin crawl when a gay guy comes on to me.
I know it's not cool - and so I wonder about people like you who seem to be so relaxed about the whole thing.
I mean, I'm an educated person; I like to think of myself as sophisticated. I know that lots of my co-workers are probably gay or lesbian. I'm so uncomfortable around them - I'm sure that they have noticed. If they have not, that's terrific. I'd like to not feel as I do.
This is starting to get in the way of team building and "happy hour" trolling. What can you offer to help me get over this?
- Lost in Lesbo-Land
My, oh my.
You claim to know men and women who are gay and lesbian - and still you ask me this question. Lost, lost, lost. . . indeed, you might be.
Here's my advice. If you want to learn more about the world, open your mind. Read outside your comfort zone. View films that introduce you to worldviews different from your own.
Invite one of your gay co-workers out for drinks -and speak to him about your life, as though he were NOT gay. Let him talk to you about his as well. Let in the information - share yours freely.
As the days, weeks, months progress, remind yourself that this is not your planet alone. You inhabit it with a wide variety of humans and others. We are, all of us, under the same charge - to do well, be happy and help each other.
If you meet someone you think is gay, and you find yourself slipping into emotions that are unpleasant, remember that this person, like you, is a child of the universe; no less than the trees and the stars - and this person has a right to be here.
And whether or not any of this is clear to you - no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Your job is to strive to be happy. The secret to life, dear Lost, is to enjoy the passing of time.
Time with straights, gays, bisexuals, transgendered folks, and all the rest of us in between.
We're sliding down this razor blade together. So, try not to try too hard - - it's a lovely ride.
"I know my wife is in love with another man. . ."
I found out last night that my wife is cheating on me. I'm not sure she's having a full-tilt-boogie affair - but I know she's in love with another man. Kristine, what should I do? Should I speak with her right away? Should I kill the guy? I know his family and where he works. I'm so angry I don't know where to turn. Please help. - Spirited Husband
Your question raises other questions. First - are you certain you want to find out the "truth" about your wife's current behavior? If you do, how will you face it? If you are not clear how you would deal with the "worst case scenario," I advise you to look away, wait this out and hope for the best.
If you cannot ignore this, however, then you must confront it, head-on.
To do so means being strong in your affection for your wife You must feel the commitment to your marriage; to the importance of working through this difficult time. Fill your heart with love for her - then confront her with your suspicions. Tell her what and why you suspect her.
Assure her you will not leave her. Tell her how much she means to you - how much you love her. Do NOT tell her you value her for anything other than the love you share; don't mention the kids, her job, her good housekeeping - mention only your love. If you want to work to make this right, tell her how hard you will work.
Then, put your money where your mouth is. Begin today showing her how important this marriage is.
Ask her what she needs, what she wants. Deliver.
But don't be a fool. Give yourself a time frame for your hard attention. Six months from now, if your marriage is not better, think through your next strategy.
Meanwhile, do as Merlin advised Arthur when he confessed his confusion over Guenevere.
In the end - there is no deep, dark secret to making a woman happy. All you must do is love her. Simply love her. Merely love her, love her, love her.
Presbyterian pastor, broadcast commentator, playwright and great friend.