Bhutan – Gross Domestic Happiness

Less than 40 years ago, Bhutan opened its borders for the first time. Since then, it has gained an almost mythical status as a real-life Shangri-La, largely for its determined and methodical pursuit of the most elusive of concepts – national happiness.

Since 1971, the country has rejected GDP as the only way to measure progress. In its place, it has championed a new approach to development, which measures prosperity through formal principles of gross national happiness (GNH) and the spiritual, physical, social and environmental health of its citizens and natural environment.

For the past three decades, this belief that wellbeing should take preference over material growth has remained a global oddity. Now, in a world beset by collapsing financial systems, gross inequity and wide-scale environmental destruction, this tiny Buddhist state’s approach is attracting a lot of interest.





Expectations… I try so hard to lose them out of the proverbial bag of sorrow strapped to my back. I try to loosen this bag, empty this bag, one feeling at a time. Take it out and examine the reasons it is there.

Marriage = communication = acceptance

None of that really happened the way I expected it to. Especially the communication part. My Interpersonal communications professor once said in a lecture: The message communicated is in the power of the receiver. No matter how I communicated my message, he received them in a convoluted manner. Somehow I was viewed as intelligent but insane. A manipulator. I honestly didn’t see this in myself, yet knowing the blinds pulled on my Jahari Window, it is possible it was something I never saw but others did.

Marriage = monogamy unless both parties agree to keep the door open.

Marriage in retrospect is a union between 2 people ONLY. My mother and sister were right on this one. If we wanted to open the relationship door we should have never married. Still, had we never married, my son, my precious little man, would have not been born. The butterfly wings would have moved the wind in a different direction. Do I regret having relationships outside of our marriage that he initially agreed to? Yes and… no. I caused a lot of pain not by my decisions, but because of my ignorance in the manner of relationships.  I thought I did a good job in keeping my relationships outside of marriage separate. Many times he did not. Sometimes, so blinded by attachment to another, I refused to let the outside relationship go. At fifteen years of being married he asked me to leave and I left. He asked me to come back and I did, as a monogamous partner. I kept to this promise until the end. 

Straight versus Bi-sexual versus Lesbian

Straight = monogamy ( or not) to a man ( I am a woman)

Bi-sexual = love for both a man or woman, monogamous but often not

Lesbian = monogamy to a woman ( I am a woman)

Open marriage = multiple partners = affairs

This statement has been the hardest one for me to digest. My expectations in having both a husband and wife (singular) was that it closely resembled my bi-sexuality and sexual needs/desires/wants. One did not threaten the other, or at least I felt. As the receiver he saw this differently when his expectations were seldom met.

Divorce = A family separation; me separated from them

His family is one I adopted as my own. After establishing our open relationship, my mom and sister had nothing to do with me. My mother tried to keep a superficial relationship going, but I expected more and wanted more. My sister wanted to and succeeded to cut me and my family from her family’s existence. I never expected this. I fought hard to keep to my path, my desires, my true self and keep them, all 6 of them in my life, my children’s life. Until I came out to my sister about a relationship I had formed with a woman, we saw each other daily, her children and mine were very close. The fabric tear was so complete that the only way I can describe it was as if her family perished together in a horrific manner. I/ we lost them all suddenly and completely. Had I remained closeted, keeping my bi-sexual nature under the winter clothes, way in the back corner of the closet, perhaps I could have not made such a mess of things, both in my marriage and in my family relationships. The pain is so compounded and acute. 

I struggle not to sob from the pain Expectations, like jagged glass, have caused my soul, my being. 

Today I meet with my husband one last time as Husband and Wife. My dear friend said why didn’t you have the lawyer just mail him his copy? I need this tangible ending. I want to end it with physical evidence that I will always hold in my heart. I need to feel the raw emotions of saying goodbye to a 20 year relationship with this man to move on. It might mean that I also have to say goodbye to his family or at least move to let go of the expectations I hold, that nothing will change. His family = his family, not mine. I see them struggle to keep neutral and the pain it causes them. Change is constant and not always pain free. Still, if done right, it will not cause my foundation to falter. I will be strong and say goodbye, look toward the future with wonder and without the expectations that sometimes hinder my forward movement. I reside in God’s lap and there I am comforted.