March 29, 2007
My husband of 20 years is an alcoholic. He gets abusive when he is drunk and cannot have his way with me. I moved out 3 months ago. I asked him to give up drinking and seek help, which he says he will do. He blames me for the problem and accused me of making the children (12 and 18) uncomfortable due to them having to live between two homes. When he is sober I tend to feel sorry for him. He has never been abusive when sober. He claims if I come back he will give it up or control his drinking and cannot do it without us.
It is his drinking, and not your behavior
Kind, strong, pointed - daily
that has resulted in your deciding to move out. If your children are uncomfortable with having to live between two homes is it his drinking that has necessitated the move. (I will point out that most children are quite relieved to be out of homes where the abuse of alcohol and all it often entails must be endured).
Don’t fall for his blame game – you are not the drunk. If you want the marriage, reconsider moving back after he has had at least a full year of total sobriety through the consistent help of Alcoholics Anonymous.
March 27, 2007
Have you noticed the gods of possession, pride, and power, are at war within you? Possessions demand our committed allegiance. Pride calls on us to inflate our own importance. Power, and the desire to rule over others, or to be better, stronger, or louder, asserts itself within some hidden cave in our psyche repeating the mantra “more is better” or some other such nonsense.
Yet it is these very gods which, in claiming or desiring our focus, do not serve us well when offered the perverse allegiance they demand. It doesn’t take the accumulation of very much to know that possessions fall very short when expected to deliver happiness. Then pride, the swagger of self-importance, even displayed by one who might have accomplished much, makes the proud person into a fool.
As these gods try, with varying degrees of success, to assert their power within me, I try to remind myself that “less is more”, that our mothers were right when they said “pride comes before a fall.” I try to recall South African author Alan Paton’s immortal words, expressed through the pious Msimangu in Cry, The Beloved Country, that to love others is a most worthy pursuit, for when a man truly loves he seeks no power.
March 26, 2007
Reader writes: My daughter-in-law is estranged from my son but still lives in our attached flat with their young son. I have to continually have to remind her to keep the flat clean. She tells me, “You are not my mother stop telling me what to do.” She is not qualified to do anything and refuses get a driver’s license (even after being offered help to study the manual). She has to be driven everywhere. She does not have any friends so we have to baby sit. If she were friendly with some of the other mothers we would gladly take the child to his friends or have them to play at our house. At her child’s birthday party she did not communicate with any of them. I had to run the party and speak to the mothers. (Shortened from a much longer letter)
Rod’s response: You are much too involved with an issue not your own. Give her a date by which she must move out. Announce to your son it is time he stepped up and took responsibility for his son. You, the former mother-in-law, are not responsible for the future of your former daughter-in-law. Back off, or she will never stand on her own two feet.
March 26, 2007
“Whenever my girlfriend gets upset she throws tantrums – which I find to be an interesting tactic. I’ve started treating my girlfriend’s behavior with as if she is was a young toddler, so I ignore her tantrums and don’t let her get her own way. Most people give up tantrums by at least the age of 14! I’ve also started editing what I say because almost everything, and anything, I say can end with an emotional explosion. I didn’t even speak today because I was scared to be verbally attacked. I think she needs a psychiatrist urgently! Does this sound like bullying (or should she be) a mental patient? Her dad threatened to beat me up too. ALL the women in the family are divorced! Warning bells: RING-A-LING-A-LING! What is really irritating is that she spouts about being compassionate and talks of “unconditional love.” I think she has a slight distortion of reality!”
Warning bells RING-A-LING-A-LING
Call me... 317 694 8669 (USA)
: people are often attracted to persons who are at similar levels of emotional development. Are you a toddler too? Now that you have attempted to assess the mental health of your girlfriend, you might take some time to assess the status of your own mental health. Being so focused on her instabilities appears to blind you to your own.
March 22, 2007
My girlfriend has two girls who run right over her and she does nothing about it. The part that upsets me is that she will tell them that if they do something she is going to discipline them and they do it anyway and no action is taken. They get away with things time after time. I was raised totally differently and got what was coming to me. Another thing that angers me is their constant whining. They are used to getting whatever they want. I love my girlfriend but this is an issue that keeps us from growing. Her family and friends all think I am wrong with my beliefs and that she is right. Well society sees it my way when they are being brats in a public place. It gets to the point where I just want to knock their heads off and hers. (Letter edited)
Rod responds: Get help for your anger, Sir, before you find yourself in trouble. These children are not going away. The sooner you try to build a positive rapport with them the better. Trying to love, please, discipline, guide, and earn a living, for two little girls, is probably tough enough for your girlfriend. Adding an angry lover into mix must make it unbearable.
March 21, 2007
Reader writes: I have been married for about six months and have a daughter of four months. My husband and I argue all of the time, about everything. I am really depressed. I don’t think he loves me. I never wanted to get divorced, and I can’t imagine putting my child through a divorce, but I just can’t imagine staying in this marriage. We had only been dating a few months when I got pregnant, and so we got married. I’ve always thought he only married me because I was pregnant. There is a huge age difference between us. I am 24. He is 40.
Rod’s response: The arrival of a baby can place a lot of stress on the strongest of marriages. It is too soon to be talking of divorce. Get some help. Find a group of other new parents to talk, and you will probably find your thoughts are echoed among them. I’d suggest you shift your emphasis from wondering why he married, or how he is feeling, to getting about the beautiful business of co-nurturing your young child. If you embrace being a wife and mother he may find it in him to do his equal share as husband and dad.
March 20, 2007
QUESTION: My boyfriend goes to visit his ex-girlfriend’s family almost every week. He has meals with them. He drops in on them. He stays in touch with them like he is one of them. I am NOT jealous. He even invites me to join him and I have been with him on a few occasions. His ex-girlfriend is dating someone else and she seems quite comfortable having him around. Here’s the problem: while he likes my family, he LOVES her family. I want him to love my family. Do you think I am being overly sensitive?
Clearly your boyfriend has found community (a place, meaning, significance, a source of pleasure) within the context of his ex-girlfriend’s family. I’d suggest you do nothing at all to try and pry him from this.
The sooner you learn to “go with the flow” and enjoy his community, the sooner he might be as comfortable within your extended family. Here’s the axiom: don’t interfere with relationships that pre-date the relationship you want. Such meddling will almost always come back to haunt you.
March 19, 2007
QUESTION: While I was cleaning my son’s bedroom I found evidence that he (14) is smoking cigarettes. This was very disturbing. We are a family that has always emphasized the dangers of smoking. His father and I would like to handle this wisely. Do we tell his younger bothers?
ROD’S REPLY: It is always astounding to me that young men and women voluntarily begin behaviors that millions of older persons are trying to end!
Over a private dinner, take turns to address him about what you have found, and ask him if there is any information about the dangers of smoking he might be missing. A loving and united front, where mom and dad address him together regarding what you have found, will, in my opinion, be all your son needs at this time.
Make it clear, that with greater cunning, he is probably very capable of fooling his parents, and can continue to smoke. Make it doubly clear that you hope this is not the option he will choose. Tell him that while you will not police his behavior, you will expect him to do the wiser thing and refrain from smoking.
I can see no useful purpose in embarrassing your son by allowing news of his surreptitious behavior to reach his younger siblings.
March 17, 2007
We are fully adult when:
1. We can be authentic with all people and treat others as equals, despite rank, position or the apparent lack of it.
2. We respect mutuality and equality in all of our relationships.
3. We have acknowledged our hurts, grieved appropriately, and decided to live to the fullest.
4. We can delay gratification.
5. Confusion, ambiguity and uncertainty are allies, not enemies. We can hold seemingly conflicting thoughts and beliefs without becoming unsettled.
6. We can take full responsibility for our lives despite past trauma or neglect. We no longer think, speak, feel or behave like victims.
7. We do not victimize others.
8. We have a small group of people to whom we talk about almost everything, but feel no compulsion to tell everybody or anyone everything.
9. We stop apologizing for things for which we could never be held responsible in the first place.
10. We can stand up for ourselves without hurting others.
11. We can see that all things are related and know quick “solutions” to problems are likely to generate new, unexpected problems.
12. We appreciate each day as much as possible rather than seem to be waiting for a day when things will be better.
March 15, 2007
Please, pass this on...
To the woman who doesn’t understand her boyfriend’s need for “space”:
I’d suggest that when the relationship began it got too hot (too close, too intense, too everything) too soon. Once a little dust settled, what was intense and powerful feels just as powerfully suffocating.
When you want to know where he is, what he’s thinking, who he’s with and what he’s doing, all of the time, your best intentions of wanting to “be together even while we are apart” feel like suspicion, even if you are not the “suspicious type” and there is nothing to suspect.
Even if he is not phoning anyone you don’t know, or if he is not sending text messages to women he hardly knows, he still doesn’t want you to check his phone or phone bill. Some things are simply none of your business even if you are in a “committed” relationship.
Wanting, occasionally, to be with his friends and family without you is not a sign of his disrespecting you or of hiding anything, it is simply a natural desire people have to sometimes be in social and family settings where they can relax and not have to attempt to take care of the overwhelming needs of a high-maintenance girlfriend.