Archive for February, 2007

February 27, 2007


by Rod Smith

Someone who loves you will…

  1. almost always put their cellular phone off when you are together
  2. not avoid or screen your phone calls or check up on who you have been phoning
  3. not lie to you
  4. make eye contact when you speak and listen to what you are saying
  5. say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ a lot
  6. not tell you what you need or should do
  7. seldom mind if you keep them waiting, but will work hard at being prompt for you
  8. not mind if there are things you’d prefer not to tell them
  9. usually ask you about your day
  10. laugh at your jokes even if the jokes are older than your grandfather
  11. work hard at loving your extended family even if it is only out respect for you
  12. encourage you to have many close friends
  13. enjoy seeing you using your skills and talents
  14. not tell you how to dress
  15. enjoy working together on the mundane daily tasks of life (
  16. show appreciation on days other than birthdays, holidays and anniverseries (
  17. take care of body, mind, and spirit (
  18. keep the faith with you in hard times (
  19. have patience not to give up, or leave, when business problems arise (
  20. have ability to imagine what it’s like in the other person’s shoes before criticizing (
  21. not try to change you (this and the following 3 are from “Mmmm”)
  22. remember the little things that matter in your life
  23. want to know the important people in your life
  24. introduce you to the important people in his/her life to show you are important
  25. will do, using the best of his/her ability, tasks that you ask him/her to do, even if he/she doesn’t enjoy the tasks and if they are a hassle or have no promise of any reward (From Joe at
  26. has integrity, and will not say things just to make you feel better – even if they believe it to be untrue (
  27. will not insist on their way all the time
  28. will be kind to your friends
  29. will be careful with your feelings (
February 27, 2007

I want the sex details of her past relationships – it is my business, and she won’t tell…

by Rod Smith

QUESTION: My girlfriend was very sexually active before we met. Jealousy often rages in me. She won’t tell me about any of her past relationships and it feels to me like she still prefers other men.

ROD’S REPLY: I predict that the more this eats at you, the more you will want to know. The more she tells you, 0r refuses to tell you, the more you will ask. Every detail she divulges will haunt you, and finally, your obsessions will silence her. When she is silenced, you will claim that she has something to hide or that she still has “feelings” for some guy she probably no longer even knows. This is your issue, not hers.

Shakespeare did not call jealousy the “the green eyed monster” for nothing. Try to get over it. If you want this relationship to grow in a healthy manner, you had better understand what is, and is not, your business. Jealousy over relationships that predate you is unreasonable. Her behavior then, is none of your business, now.

I’d suggest you focus on trying to be a little less controlling. My guess is that were this not the issue, you’d be jealous about something else.

February 26, 2007

He asks me if I love him and then asks for cigarettes…

by Rod Smith

Reader Question: “My son is 19 failed his first semester of tech. He is very clever and has always been very popular and a great achiever. All this changed when he turned about 16. He became dark, and quiet and withdrawn. Round the same time be began smoking cigarettes and drinking socially with the odd binge. He now complains bitterly that he never has enough money. I feel like I am funding his habits. I buy him all his food and do his cooking, as he cannot manage the money properly. I have suggested he get a weekend job to subsidise his income. He will ask me how much I love him and then ask for cigarettes. I put my foot down last week, it resulted in a text message from him which was abusive and saying he would never be contacting me again for anything ever again. (Letter shortened)

Rod’s Response: Fundamental error: you’re working harder at your son’s life than he is. Of course you feel as if you are supporting his habits – you are. Cut ALL financial help. This is not easily done but you’d better do it soon. If you support his ugly ways they will only grow, and consume you, and all who love him.

February 23, 2007

Can I make a no-smoking rule in my own house?

by Rod Smith

Reader’s Question: My mother’s new boyfriend smokes a lot and I do not want him smoking in my house. It is bad for my children and leaves a horrible stench for days. What can I do and still welcome my mother’s new friend?

Rod’s Response: I am like you in this regard. I do not allow anyone to smoke in my house (or car, or office). It is bad for everyones health and leaves an odor that most non-smokers cannot smell.

Tell him (not your mother) ahead of time that, while you respect his right to smoke, you have a “no-smoking” policy in your home. Tell him you will be happy to meet him outdoors every ten or fifteen minutes, whatever his need might be, for conversation while he smokes only if he promises not to blow the smoke in your face. If you give him sufficient warning and are appropriately friendly, you will not be rejecting him.  Rather you will be protecting your family and home from behavior that is damaging to both.

In your house there is no requirement that you accommodate smoking even if it were royalty that dropped in for tea. In your house you make the rules.

February 16, 2007

My mother-in-law pulls my wife into her grief – even two years after her husband’s death…

by Rod Smith

Reader: My mother-in-law is still depressed after her husband’s death almost two years ago. They were married for over 50 years. I understand she lost the most important person in her life. The problem is that she pulls my wife into her grief which dampens so much joy in our family. My mother-in-law lives with us and I thought her sadness would subside. What can I do to help my wife from being almost immobilized with her mother’s grief? (Reconstructed with permission)

Rod Responds: I’d suggest you read the book A Group I Never Wanted to Join, a most helpful study in loss and grief by a grief and recovery expert Marty McNunn.

Then, in the kindest manner possible, tell your wife what you perceive is occurring.

Certainly grief can seem to have taken a relentless hold over your mother-in-law, and your wife may well be grieving in tandem with her. Emerging from her own grief may feel uncaring to your wife, or she might covertly feel she is abandoning her mother if she does not remain present with her in her deep struggle.

Apart from grief taking its toll in both women, you are most certainly aware that each woman has her own individual grief work to complete, quite independently of each other.

February 16, 2007

Wife makes a clear stand and defines herself … I will not be a victim……

by Rod Smith

“My husband told me two weeks ago he likes a new woman at work. Since then his emotional affair has gotten worse. I caught her text messaging with inappropriate statements. Despite all of the shock I will give him an ultimatum tonight. Either he completely cuts off this relationship and commits fully to our marriage or he can leave the house until he is ready to make that commitment.

“Although I have not known about the affair for very long, I refuse to be nice and understanding. Doing that is not true to who I am or what I deserve. I am petrified. I am young (26) and am finishing a graduate degree. My biggest fear is that he is not going to be the husband I deserve. That would hurt the most.

“I never saw this situation coming. However, I have finally accepted that I need to take care of myself. I have the right to demand my husband gives me a clear indication of where his commitment lies. It is not fair for me to be in limbo and give him power and control. I am going to shift the power back to me so that I can move on while he figures out his role in the marriage. I no longer willing to be a victim.”

(Edited to 200 words)

February 13, 2007

We want to help my single-mother-sister with a financial gift….

by Rod Smith

READER: My sister is going through a hard time with her job and her children (14 and 15). My husband and I were thinking of offering her some financial help. She is a single mother and has always prided herself on doing whatever it takes to get what she needs for her children. I do not want to offend her in any way but we would like to help. Not having any children of our own and having two incomes places us in a position where we can afford to help. Do you think our helping her will be a problem for our relationships in the future?

ROD’S RESPONSE: Pure generosity (no strings, hooks, secret agendas, or hidden motives) is enriching for both the she who gives, and she who receives. Go ahead. I’d suggest you arrange a private lunch with your sister and slip her a card in which you have placed your generous cheque or a bundle of cash. Write something like, “Please accept this gift. All you have to do in return is enjoy it!”

February 12, 2007

Teen suicide attempt. How can we know this will not happen again?

by Rod Smith

READER: Our daughter (16) attempted suicide. She wants more freedom, more trust, less supervision and less “intrusion” from us. My husband and I are devastated. How can we know this will not happen again?

ROD: Never take suicide threats lightly. Even the suggestion of suicide must be met head on with the full arm of whatever resources are available. Avoid “deal-making” with your daughter (“we will do this if you will do that”). Teen suicide, I believe is a family affair, be sure to see a therapist who will see the whole family together at least some of the time.

The act of writing to me for help indicates that you have it within you to find the professional assistance you need. Ask your doctor, friends, anyone who might know and find the best resources available in the greater Durban and KWA-Zulu area to help suicidal children.

If you, reading this, are a professional mental health worker dealing with adolescent suicide, kindly email me your contact details, and a brief sketch your work and training. I will forward this information to the parents of this young woman that they might choose a suitable therapist for the family.

February 11, 2007

I have been allowing this man to depend on me for his life….

by Rod Smith

READER: I read your column about “Women Who Lose Themselves In Relationships” and I do not agree with you. I am dating a man who is coming who is out of a marriage. He lacks any sense of who he is. Obviously his state is fluid and therefore I have been empathetic. I have been encouraging him to rebuild a life finding and developing new friendships, interests, hobbies, and just to take time alone. I have found myself being too empathetic, and losing myself in the drama of his impending divorce. I am a very independent person, however do have a nurturing side. My problem is not the lack of my own life, but it has been allowing this man to depend on me too much for ‘his life’. (Edited)

ROD RESPONDS: While each of you may feel you are being very helpful and empathetic – in the face of his many needs – you are still mothering a man who is not your child. Your “empathy” will short-circuit his necessary and solitary journey, toward or away from his wife. Men (and women) who are “coming out of a marriage” are not healthy material for deep relationships. Please don’t assume “nurturing” requires some degree of dependency. You are being sucked into a situation it is likely you will regret.

February 7, 2007

Who will speak up for broken-hearted, innocent young men?

by Rod Smith

Notes from a conversation…

“I read and hear a lot of warnings to young men about how to behave with and respect women. I see almost nothing about how young men can also be hurt by women who almost always seem to cast themselves as the victims,” says David (26)

“Tell me more,” I respond.

“More than once I have dated a woman and been very honest and very faithful – while the woman I am seeing is cheating on me behind my back. Then, when it comes out, she assumes a kind of ‘victim mode’ where the man was predatory and she did not know what to do. Then I find out it is not the first time.”

“Why do you think this is not addressed, David?”

“Because it is not cool or manly to admit you have been hurt by a woman. It is not manly to say you were a victim and innocent and felt a lot of pain from what your girlfriend did to you. I wish someone would write and speak about how young men feel after they have been hurt by a woman when they have been innocent and trying to do the right thing.”

(Reconstructed with permission).