Archive for June, 2006

June 29, 2006

Finding your unique voice in ALL your relationships

by Rod Smith

Every person has a voice that is designed, urging, even aching, for complete use and full expression. Some people have allowed their voices to be stolen, silenced or modified and such people might find it necessary to take time to find or re-establish the voice they have chosen to deny or ignore. There is nothing “spiritual” or humble about giving up your voice — not even God demands your silence!

Thankfully, suppressing a voice seldom kills it. It can usually be found even after years of denial and even cruelty. This is as true for individuals as it is of entire populations.

Having a voice means exerting your right to see, evaluate, and express who you are, and what you stand for, without apology. It means speaking up. It means telling the world who you are, and what you want. It involves telling the world who you are not and what you will and will not accept or tolerate. It is allowing your life to speak appropriately and boldly, without explanation or excuse.

When you find your voice, you will not allow people to speak for you, decide for you, and prescribe how you feel, think or see the world. Of course, you in turn will not take the voice of another away from them.

It is not loving to give up your voice, or to allow someone else to take your voice from you. People can hardly handle the power of their own voice, let alone handle the voice of two or three others.

Any person who will not hear what you have to say, or who tries to silence you, does not love you even if they say they do. It is never a loving act, except in very unusual circumstances (like severe illness), to stop someone from expressing who they are. Likewise, it is never a loving act to withhold your contribution to the world through maintaining your silence.

You were not created to be silent, and nor were you created to silence others. The world will benefit for hearing who you are, and what you have to say when the authentic voice within you is allowed growth and expression.

Part of owning a voice, and using it well involves the process of discovering how best to package and express your voice in a manner that facilitates others to hear who and what you are and what you have to say.

Please, compromise yourself, your talents and skills for no one. Be silenced or made “smaller,” rendered without a voice for no one. It is never worth it. There is no cause, no relationship, marriage or job, worthy of your silence.

There is no person of any rank, no spouse, boss or spiritual leader deserving of your downplaying who and what you are. It is those with dark motives, who seek for you to be less, minimized, diminished or silenced. Walk away from such small-mindedness, even when and if it is costly to do so.

Loving, good people will celebrate your strength, encourage your freedom and admire your talents. Stick with such people. Stay with those who enlarge your world, not restrict or contain it. Live fully, love fully, and speak fully – while embracing all the freedom life offers.

I am weary of men and women, irrespective of who or what they are, who hold others captive, especially in the name of love; of spiritual “leaders” who are afraid of gifted people; of bosses who silence talented people lest their own inadequacies be revealed.

If you live above, and beyond, the damaging jealousies that surround you, you will stimulate the dreams of everyone in your circle of influence, and make your own dreams come true before your very eyes – and the world will hear your voice.

June 29, 2006

The problem with jealousy…

by Rod Smith

Jealousy distorts reality. It becomes a lens through which the victim appears larger, more powerful than they are. If I am jealous, want you only for my own, I will notice everything you do and interpret everything you do and say as if it is connected to what you think and feel about me. I will read meaning never intended by your words or behavior.

The power to choose is essential to love. If removed, love ceases. Jealousy poisons choice and love. It robs a jealous person of the very love they think their jealousy will protect.

Jealousy makes people most unattractive. A jealous person can operate in this manner for so long that jealousy seems essential to their personality. They appear to know no other way to operate.

Unchecked (unmonitored, uncontrolled) jealousy will act as temporary glue, or repel your lover from you, or set you both on a course of anger and resentment. There are no positive rewards except the temporary, illusion of power jealousy offers.

If you think jealousy will keep someone with you, you have failed to see that the very act of ensuring someone be yours forever, is the removal from that person of the very essence of love – freedom to choose.

June 29, 2006

Recovered drunk asks if he owes a woman loyalty……

by Rod Smith

I was a drunkard for years but have been clean for more than five years. In my “stupidity years” I had a very supportive girlfriend. She tolerated everything. I keep asking myself whether I loved her then or was it because she had no problem with my drinking. I’ve met someone I communicate with easily. We are friends more than lovers, which was something that was missing from the other relationship. I feel she is not the right person for me. I feel I am betraying the woman who tolerated me all those years. What do I do? (Letter edited)

Congratulations on your sobriety. Drunks use people. The disease of alcoholism makes people very self-centered and it attracts (cultivates) people who are equally ill who “tolerate everything.” You used this woman. It appears she used you. Although she may deeply love you, toleration is no indication of love.

Tolerating someone because they tolerated you is hardly flattering. One would hope a woman would want more from a relationship than the fulfillment of obligation.

There is no “right” person for you. A healthy relationship will shape both persons into being right (and sometimes “wrong”) for each other. Sobriety means you have stopped drinking but it does not necessarily mean you have stopped using people.

You get to choose what kind of person you will be, and what kind of relationship you want. I hope you, and any woman with whom you share life, will always opt for complete mutuality, deeply shared respect and equality at every level of your sober life together.

June 29, 2006

Long distance romance keeps me at the phone……

by Rod Smith

Q: Regarding long-distance relationships a reader writes: “Does sitting by the phone, waiting for the other person to call, every day, even when they don’t call, mean you are dependent and heading towards an unhealthy relationship?”

A: Your behavior does not necessarily suggest you are “dependent and heading towards an unhealthy relationship.” Good friends frequently wait by the phone when they expect a call from someone they love. Wanting information and connection is a deeply human quality and ought not be interpreted in a negative light.

But, continuing to be glued to the phone “to be immobilized” just in case he calls, even when it is not scheduled call, while other tasks, other friendships, other responsibilities are neglected, certainly puts you on the way toward an unhealthy connection.

Does he know you are waiting? If he does, and then still does not call, his behavior is cruel and ought not be tolerated. If a person knows you are waiting, and does not call within reasonable time, I’d suggest you are working harder at the relationship than your counter-part. This, in itself, is a big red flag.

Long-distant relationships are very difficult. Distance (like darkness and disease) amplifies. Issues usually seem more drastic, extreme, urgent, the further apart people are.

June 27, 2006

Girlfriend and wife behavior at parties gets lots a mail…

by Rod Smith

Recent columns about friendliness, interpreted as flirting, have generated a lot of mail. Of course I do not support deception in relationships, and of course, when a partner salaciously fishes for the attention of the opposite sex it can damage the sanctity of a committed relationship.

But open (not covert) friendliness at parties that generates a jealous and anxious response from the partner, suggests deeper problematic issues between the couple, quite apart from the “flirting.”

A person who tries to curtail a significant other’s open friendliness through threats, withdrawal, the angry eye, by driving home in silence or in a rage, has a bigger issue than the one who “flirts.”

Love, aside from being the polar opposite of controlling behavior, resists jealousy. Love refuses to accommodate the demands of the jealous party. No relationship benefits when jealousy gets it nasty way.

I’d suggest women who are openly friendly at parties, who innocently enjoy people, continue to do so. I’d suggest jealous husbands deal with their jealousy without blaming it on the woman.

Then, if a woman is so desperate for male affirmation that she is truly salacious, I’d suggest something more helpful than curtailing her behavior at parties is required if the relationship is to survive.

June 25, 2006

The flirting discussion continues…..

by Rod Smith

A Reader Responds..

“I tell you at the outset I am a female and a lot older than you are. Still married to the one and only man I have ever ‘lived’ with, for over 53 years. My adult children have both been married for over 26 years and they and their respective families are successful and very happy with their lot in life.

“I am truly grateful that they did not read your reply (June 13, 2006) to that unfortunate man who is/was married to that ‘friendly’ flirtatious wife. She surely cannot know what unhappiness she is causing, and perhaps it is high time someone told her. Men and women (most often) flirt for only two reasons. One is to show-off. The other is to spark off with someone else to find a reaction. It is a ploy that is limited only to the unmarried and even then questionable.

“I sincerely hope that the husband concerned in the case you deigned to answer with such insensitivity, has been able to regard your response with the disdain it deserves and that his character and readiness to understand his wife’s stupidity, will help him to come to a truly satisfying and loving marriage situation.” (Letter shortened)

June 23, 2006

They live rent-free with me…

by Rod Smith

My son and his wife have lived with me for 3 years. They don’t pay rent. I thought that by letting them live with me they’d save a lot for their new home. I have been getting really cross when she wastes money they should put toward their house. I am going without things to help them and she doesn’t go without anything. I could only do this because my husband died many years ago and he planned very well. What should I do? (Edited)

Allowing adults to live rent-free is unwise. Remember that something for nothing always costs somebody something. You are in this situation because you did not clearly clarify your expectations at the outset.

Tell them you were wrong in not charging them rent. Give them a date (I’d suggest the beginning of August 2006) by which you will have them sign a lease and begin paying rent. I’d suggest you ask a little less than they’d pay were they not renting from family. You might choose, since you want to help them get their own home, to put aside something of what they pay, and offer it to them as a gift once they have already purchased their new home.

June 20, 2006

A Wonderful Life

by Rod Smith

Deciding, making a deliberate choice, to have a wonderful life is certainly an integral part of becoming a more fulfilled person. And it is in the seemingly smallest of ways that this decision begins to influence and change what we become, how we relate to others and determines so much of the attitude we display from day to day. This decision sets into motion the potential for greater fulfillment from within our often very ordinary lives.

A simple choice to forgive others of their wrongs (or perceived wrongs) toward us, choosing to have an openness to new ideas, new things, and having a willingness to go to places previously avoided to assume new and fresh challenges, are the “simple” things such a decision might involve.

A wonderful life is not the result of possessing great wealth (a cursory glimpse at the miserable lives of so many wealthy movie stars will attest to that) or the result of success in marriage, parenting, sports or a career.

A wonderful life encompasses the capacity to see the divine in the ordinary, to see the extraordinary within the daily grind and a repeated recognition of God’s grandeur at every turn.

June 13, 2006

Wife flirts at parties and I do not like it

by Rod Smith

My wife and I have lots of fights because at parties and family occasions she flirts with all the men. And NEVER flirts with me. She says she is just being friendly. I cannot understand why she carries on doing something she knows I do not like. What should I do?

It sounds like your wife has a lot more fun at parties and family occasions than you do. I'd suggest you stay home. If her friendliness is so threatening to you she ought to go alone. There are several reasons she "carries on doing something she knows" you do not like: she likes it; it is innocent; she understands it is not a good idea for you to control how she has fun.

Perhaps, if you took your focus off your wife and relaxed a little, she would want to flirt with you. Jealousy is not very attractive. The sooner you realize that your jealousy is your problem and that it has nothing at all to do with her behavior, the sooner you will be over it.

Two things: 1. He (or she) who has the feeling (in this case jealousy) has the problem. 2. Love and control cannot coexist in the same relationship.

June 13, 2006

Entitled, spoilt son (17) — please help: my response / see May 24th, 2006

by Rod Smith

To the father of the entitled teenager (17) who lives rather ungratefully under his parent’s generous roof?

You son is popular with others and therefore he has it within him to have a fulfilling child/parent relationship. At 17 he can enter a meaningful discussion about what’s bothering you. When addressing him, reflect on your experiences as the parent rather than on how unwise or ungrateful you perceive him to be.

It is not too late to refuse to do for him the things he appears to take for granted. Make such a stand understanding he is resourceful enough to get what he needs without you.

Be sure to establish what it is that you want before you try to correct his errant ways. If you really want a meaningful father/son relationship, first establish what that means to you.

“I’d like some time on a weekly basis to talk with you face-to-face,” is reasonable. “You are never home so you can go out once a month,” is probably unreasonable.

Do not fall for the lie that your son’s difficulties are somehow directly related to your failings. Your son is talented and young enough to make his own mistakes. The last thing he needs is a dad who feels responsible for his every error.