September 29, 2006
Reader Writes: I’m months away from getting married to a man who works and lives in a small town. Over a few months we had problems because wants me to come live with him, and, as much as I’d love to live in with him, I have a job and can’t imagine myself staying at home not working. It would kill me. I do not want to lose being independent and I am scared of depending on him for everything, including money. He has given me an ultimatum before, and since we are so close to getting married, I know that he will make me choose again between the life that I love (working and being financially independent) or staying with him to be a house-wife. I love him but I’m not sure if I can give up everything I am and have, including my happiness, for him. I also think it’s unfair of him to expect me to be the one doing all the sacrificing. Do you think I’m being unfair and unreasonable? (Letter shortened)
Rod Responds: Ultimatums sre not in the language of love. If this man had any sense he’d come running to join the wise woman your letter reveals you to be. Rethink everything. I’d suggest this is probably not a good match!
September 28, 2006
Reader’s Question: I am 74 and my wife is 66. We have been married for over 40 years and have enjoyed our intimate sex life. We have four very successful grown children spread out around the world. My question is at what age does one discontinue sexual intercourse? We still enjoy it.
Rod’s Response: Congratulations. You have achieved something rather rare. Married adults who mutually consent to respectful sexual acts and sexual play, with each other, ought to continue loving each other in this manner for as many years as possible, and as often as possible.
September 26, 2006
I get a number of letters each week about stepparenting, gone awry. The theme is usually something like, “the children were wonderful in the beginning,” and, “I am the only father/mother they could trust” and, “now I am being accused of trying to take over,” or “he/she said I am invading his/her boundaries,” and, “this is the last thing I expected from what was a very cute and loving little boy/girl.” Please help.
While such scenarios are hurtful to the well-meaning stepparent, whose honest desire is to love, guide and care for the child who accompanies the new spouse into the new marriage, the potential problems must be seen in a context: the child has emerged from the ruins of something (a broken marriage or relationship of some sort).
The adults in the “new” family constellations must address some matters from the very outset by avoiding the “too-much-too-soon” trap. This is the temptation is to be “larger” to a young child than the length, or depth, of the relationship can realistically allow. (Don’t behave like the relationship is longer or deeper than it actually is).
If you are entering a blended family, do not be “more” to the children, even if they will allow it. Being “more,” “bigger,” “greater,” than a biological parent will almost always come back to haunt the well-meaning “new” mom or dad.
September 26, 2006
READER: I am 22 and have been chasing the same woman for about three of four months and she seems less interested in me now than when we first met. At first she was friendly but then when I wanted to ask her out she began to ignore me. Her parents are very traditional in their ways. I think she is scared to be associated with me for fear of what her parents will do because I am from a different language group and we have different customs. Can you offer me any advice? (Letter edited)
ROD’S RESPONSE: Customs, language and parents aside, if you pursue someone who has demonstrated no interest in you, and who is “moving away” from you, your efforts will merely serve to push them further away. If there is no natural attraction, friendliness, warmth, evident from her toward you, I’d suggest you widen your lenses, and look beyond this person in pursuit of a mutual, respectful relationship.
September 25, 2006
Reader Writes: I am in a bad relationship with a man who is trustworthy but I have no ability to trust him. I jump down his throat a lot and feel disappointed when I don’t get the attention I require. I am jealous and suspicious and accusatory. He will leave me if I carry on like this. I am trying to change (through therapy) but it’s a process. My upbringing was abusive and I know my damage comes from there. I am scared of loosing this fantastic man who would be a fabulous dad and loyal husband. Being around him makes me face my fears but every day is a struggle and a headache. He comes from a stable, loving background and cannot understand my past. I don’t know whether to stay or go. He says he loves me and he imagines me having his babies. (Letter shortened)
Rod’s Response: Your honesty, his patience, and, adhering to the wisdom of your therapist might get you to the “other side” of your current problems. If you really seek to resolve your childhood issues, which are sounding so loudly in your present, be sure your therapist is skilled in “family-of-origin” therapy, so these powerful past experiences can lose their powerful grip upon your present.
September 20, 2006
If one spouse forgives the other for cheating, why does it (always) get brought up in conversations long after the cheating has ended and after the forgiveness has been granted? (Question asked “online”)
Here are four, of many, reasons:
1. Sexual infidelity severely wounds people (all people involved) and relationships on many levels. Its power to shake life ought never be underestimated. Betrayal cuts a deep wound and often dislodges the capacity for future trust. (This is for the victims and the perpetrators!)
2. Because of the intense intimacy that can accompany the sex act, the betrayed spouse might go on a quest to know if the “stolen sex” led his or her partner into deeper levels of intimacy than were achieved within the marriage.
3. The forgiver will probably interpret silence (or anger, or even “over” focus) as an indication the affair did not really cease, or that it has been re-ignited.
4. Talking can connect people, and it can (but does not always) offer hurt people a sense of legitimate control and order. People who have been betrayed often want to talk about their experience (hurt, pain) as an attempt to stop their lives from (the feeling of) running totally out of control.
Men and women who have participated in infidelity, and who yet have a forgiving spouse who is willing to work on the marriage, are encouraged to talk openly about anything the forgiving spouse may want talk about. There are some necessary limits to this which I will go into in another posting.
September 20, 2006
..reading to him while he is an infant, with him while he is a child, and alongside him when he is in his early teens.
..leaving as much of his school work and associated responsibilities up to him as early as possible.
..believing in his teachers, and in their capacity to inspire him to achieve worthwhile goals.
..refusing to compare a his academic or sporting achievements with anyone but with his own past achievements.
…reminding him he is 100% responsible for 100% of his behavior and his attitude at school, home, and everywhere he goes.
..keeping a shared, handwritten journal where you alternate entries with your son about anything affirming you’d both like to say about anything.
..encouraging as little exposure to TV in your home as possible.
..welcoming, enjoying, and offering and serving meals to his friends as often as possible.
…coming to peace with your own unresolved conflicts lest you burden the next generation with all you ignored or refused to resolve.
(Of course, while written using “he” and “him,” each point applies as much to daughters).
September 18, 2006
Reader: My girlfriend and I have been together for 3 years. At first I was the one who messed around with my ex-girlfriend. I was young and couldn’t let go. However, she stood strong and gave me another chance. Since that day something inside me changed. It was almost as she re-instilled my morals. I go out and go home to her. No cheating in any way. No flirting. She’s the only woman I want to be. For reasons to do with her education she’s moved away and I only see her every second weekend. We hardly talk because she is either busy or with friends who are mostly guys I have never met. I have had an uneasy feeling for a few weeks. What do you think? (Edited for space)
ROD’S REPLY: I trust your change, with or without her, is enduring. If this relationship is to last, you are going to have to learn to trust your girlfriend and resist allowing the distance to so unsettle you. Uneasiness within you will make your occasional conversations and visits feel controlling (for her). Talking with you will feel like a burden, and burdening her with your uneasiness, while she is enjoying herself, will only create a larger distance between you, and she might decide a long-distance “heavy” relationship is not worth the effort.
September 18, 2006
Speaking of kindness (”You and Me” Friday 15/9/06) it seems that along with being kind oneself, it may be useful to “amplify” those acts of kindness one sees in everyday situations. What we give our attention to, grows.
I was at a red light when a car pulled up alongside mine and stopped behind a motorcyclist who was also waiting for the green. The occupants of the car were three tough-looking young men, bodybuilders by the look of their T-shirts stretched across bulging chests and arms.
Suddenly, one of the men leaped from the car and ran over to the motorcyclist. Pointing to the biker’s shoe, he indicated the lace was loose – and in the midst of the busy traffic intersection, quickly knelt down and tied the lace before dashing back to his car. The biker looked surprised, and just had time to nod a hurried thanks over his shoulder before the light changed and the traffic roared off. I bet he was thankful – a loose shoe lace on a motorcyclist could be disastrous if caught in the drive-chain.
It seemed the bodybuilder figured that the biker would have had to dismount to tie the lace, so he just did it for him!
September 14, 2006
Genuine kindness expressed today, among us all –– colleagues at the office, the teachers in the staff room, doctors and nurses who pass each other running the hallways of a busy hospital –– wherever we find ourselves at work, will be helpful.
Small acts of kindness might not change the world, but they will enhance our individual experiences of work, and add to its meaning.
Here’’s kindness in a nutshell: Don’t gossip, or spread rumors, or tell tales, or waste time. Don’t lie. Try not to ignore people, or regard others as a means to your getting your way. Be generous, and wide-hearted, open-handed. Offer accurate compliments to those who might least expect kind words. Most of all, and this is a well-known secret to great fulfillment, do your job very well. It is a powerful way to be kind both to yourself and to your boss!