May 30, 2007
You are probably feeling enormous pain and, while this is not meant as a cheap pun, playing “space invaders” is seldom comfortable. Desiring “space” is normal and, not in itself, an indication of rejection.
The “space” people want at first is emotional space. If there’s no room to move (emotionally) they will want out (physically)!
Overcrowding each other is not helpful. We are each designed to know and experience our unique freedom. If it’s not respected, things get uncomfortable. The secret is creating “space” within the relationship rather than leaving (ending) the relationship. A person who cannot find the space they need within a marriage is unlikely to find it outside the marriage or with someone else.
When people enter each other’s private emotional environment too often or for too long, even if they are in love, somebody’s going to resist, retaliate, run or at the least, become very crabby. All people need and want space to move and be unencumbered even when very much in love (perhaps even more so!)
Begin all relationships with some distance “built in.” Don’t give 100% of your time to anyone (not even to a baby; even babies need space). If “emotionally overcrowding” each other were avoided, people would not need to “tussle” for breathing space, thinking space, or resting space.
May 29, 2007
1. Loving others when you are not loved in return
2. Working in your family’s business
3. Being a preacher or pastor’s son or daughter
4. Marrying someone with children (and doubly so when you have children too)
5. Completing (coming to terms with, finding peace after) a divorce
6. Accepting your children’s step-parent(s)
7. Forgiving unfaithfulness
8. Digging yourself out of debt
9. Surviving as alcoholic or mentally ill parent
10. Facing prolonged or severe illness in yourself or your family
11. Being deceived by someone you love
12. Teaching and training your memory and your imagination to serve you well
13 – 20 are from Nancy Axelrad http://www.nancyaxelrad.wordpress.com/
13. Laying down your life for others
14. Enduring trials and suffering without faith in Christ
15. Leaving the one you cannot bear to be away from
16. Marrying for the wrong reasons
17. Marrying for the right reasons but life happens
18. You see good marriages flourish while you still wait for Mr./Ms. Right
19. You cannot have the children you want
20. Living in a ghetto of unfulfilled dreams
21. Weight loss (Anthony Lombardo)
(add your own through “comments” and I will be happy to add them to the list)
Write to Rod@DifficultRelationships.com or visit www.DifficultRelationships.com
May 27, 2007
I got a visit from Jill today. She spent an hour telling me all the things wrong with her boyfriend, Jack. Word, words, words, details and more details filled the room. I decided there is no human, no matter how loving, kind and patient, who could fill the hole of dissatisfaction in Jill’s life. She is so convinced that if she can just “fix” Jack and make him the “right” kind of person, all her unhappiness will cease.
Jill demonstrated again that unhappy people have an uncontrollable urge to meddle in the lives of others. This is most evident with “loved” ones. To try to fix, coerce, push, and make others into what we think they should be, is not the fruit of love. Love doesn’t do any of these things. It offers support and encouragement when someone wants to change but it resists the temptation to try and change others.
Oh, dear Jill, get your eyes off all that is “wrong” with Jack, and see that your misery continues because you refuse to accept others as they are. Focus on what you can improve about who you are. Give Jack, and the imperfect world around you, a break!
May 23, 2007
READER: I am feeling very attracted to a co-worker. This attraction has not gone anywhere yet. I do not want to ruin my marriage. In the interests of honesty should I tell this man about my feelings to deflate the attraction?
ROD: Absolutely not – your feelings of attraction to this man are not about this man, in fact, (unless he is encouraging you) your feelings have nothing to do with him!
Here’s the axiom: You have the feeling – you have the problem.
If you are going to express this to anyone, in an attempt to “deflate the attraction,” it ought to be your husband. Such a conversation, were it to occur, must be handled with great care. Tread carefully. It takes great maturity for a couple to discuss matters that appear to be undermining their primary relationship.
May 23, 2007
READER: My talkative, pleasant, and loving child has become a surely teenager (15) who hardly says anything to anyone at home. We have made the home friendly and open so friends would feel welcome, but she chooses to not have friends over at all. I feel shut out of her life. I miss her. I do not want to control my daughter or monitor everything she does or pry into her private life. I just want to know her. She spends hours on the phone talking with her friends and yet can find nothing to say to her parents. What can I do?
ROD: Write her a letter about everything you feel and think regarding her relationship with you. Without judging or blaming her, tell her, simply, as you have told me, that you miss her, and want to be an active parent in her life. Your truth, lovingly and simply expressed, will be the most powerful and effective way of reaching her. There are no tricks or ploys that will have enduring results. Tell your daughter of your love and your desire to know her, then give her a lot of room to respond to you in her own time and manner. My talkative, pleasant, and loving child has become a surly teenager (15) who hardly says anything to anyone at home. We have made the home friendly and open so friends would feel welcome, but she chooses to not have friends over at all. I feel shut out of her life. I miss her. I do not want to control my daughter or monitor everything she does or pry into her private life. I just want to know her. She spends hours on the phone talking with her friends and yet can find nothing to say to her parents. What can I do?
Write her a letter about everything you feel and think regarding her relationship with you. Without judging or blaming her, tell her, simply, as you have told me, that you miss her, and want to be an active parent in her life. Your truth, lovingly and simply expressed, will be the most powerful and effective way of reaching her. There are no tricks or ploys that will have enduring results. Tell your daughter of your love and your desire to know her, then give her a lot of room to respond to you in her own time and manner.
May 23, 2007
1. It is frequently difficult to tell who, if anyone, is running the show.
2. There is a lot of noise and laughter.
3. The children sometimes form a healthy alliance against the parents, and the children often get their way.
4. There are frequent conflicts.
5. Differences are embraced, even encouraged.
6. Healthy families generate a degree of chaos almost everywhere they go. It takes a lot of energy to get the family to do anything together, as a group, because everyone is so busy with “outside-the-family” activities.
7. While such families intend differently, they are seldom on time for anything. They change their minds at the last moment and do something quite unexpected.
8. Roles and rules are not set in stone. Negotiation skills are highly valued.
9. Hurtful words and actions are avoided but quickly repaired when necessary.
10. The parents have a life together that frequently excludes the children.
May 20, 2007
I am getting married to a woman whose ex-husband treats me like dirt. He comes into her house unannounced (she unlocks the when she knows he is close to the house) to pick up their son (9) and totally ignores me. Now he’s told the child to phone him whenever the son thinks his mother and “her new boyfriend” argue. My girlfriend is afraid to take a stand because tension upsets the child. In the meantime I am left watching all this like a silent bystander. I can’t comment because that too will upset the son. I am not sure I can live like this. Something has to change. Please help. (Situation reconstructured)
Rod’s response: You are right. Something has to begin to change or you will find yourself in a horrible bind. I’d suggest you request a meeting with the ex-husband to discuss these matters. He must have some redeeming qualities since you have both loved the same woman.
Assuming he wants the very best for his son, one could hope he’d want a discussion with his son’s new step-dad. Call me naïve, but I think it is worth a try. You will be treated like dirt if you yourself refuse to talk up for yourself and allow people to walk all over you.
May 18, 2007
Chime in, please...
1. Set career, academic, and health goals for yourself, and then work hard to achieve them.
2. Develop a network of diverse and supportive friends both on your own and with your wife.
3. Challenge your wife to be a mutual, respectful, and equal partner in every aspect of your relationship. If you have an urge to be in charge and think being in charge makes you more of a man, seek professional help.
4. Resist any forms of intimacy you or your wife find uncomfortable.
5. Believe in your wife’s honesty and integrity by refusing to lie or cover for her no matter how seemingly justifiable the lie or a cover-up might be.
6. Applaud and support your wife’s desire and her attempts to be close to her extended family.
7. Talk to your wife about what you see, think, and feel regarding matters that are important to you, and offer her opportunities to do the same with you.
8. Resist “shutting down” or playing the silent game or the “hurt puppy” when you do not get what you want.
9. Take full responsibility for your children by spending large blocks of time (three-day weekends) with your children. Do not recruit any help from you wife or extended family to do this.
10. Be as interdependent as possible. Find fulfillment both within your marriage as a husband, and as an individual. Enjoy being husband and dad without losing your capacity to enjoy life outside of each of these wonderful roles.
May 16, 2007
career, academic, and health goals
for yourself, and then work hard to achieve them.
2. Develop a network of diverse and supportive friends
3. Challenge your husband
to be a mutual, respectful, and equal
partner in every aspect of your relationship.
t any forms of intimacy
you do not find pleasing or comfortable.
in your husband’s honesty and integrity
by refusing to lie or cover for him no matter how seemingly justifiable the lie or a cover-up might be.
6. Don’t work harder at his family relationships
(on his behalf) than he, himself does.
to him about what you see, think, and feel
regarding matters that are important to you, and offer him the opportunity to do the same with you in return.
making him appear to be a better father than he really is
. If you help him save face with the children he might never need to step up to the plate and be all the dad he could be.
9. Be interdependent
by finding fulfillment both within your marriage and as an individual. Enjoy being both a mother and wife without losing your capacity to enjoy life outside of each of these wonderful roles.
10. Maintain your voice under all circumstances
while realizing that not everything you think or see or feel needs to be expressed.
May 16, 2007
My daughter (20s) is “seeing” a man who employed her for years. He is my age. He just left his third wife and is public about his relationship with my daughter. I know she is old enough to date whomever she wants but this doesn’t seem right to her father or me. Please advise.
Rod’s Response: The man is a predator but neither party in this destructive dance is likely to see this until matters go awry. I’d suggest you call him to a meeting where both parents address your concerns. I’d suggest you place a tape recorder in the middle of the meeting.
1. You are fully aware that your daughter, an adult, can date whomever she pleases.
2. The power differences make it an unequal playing field for your daughter. He employed her, and he is old enough to be her dad. These two factors mean it can never be a mutual and respectful relationship.
3. He has a very poor track record with commitment and you are sadly observing your daughter become another of his victims.
4. You will love and support your daughter even if at this stage of her life she is blinded by his over-powering attention.