Archive for May, 2007

May 13, 2007

Woman is desperate after affair and fears ending her life…and that of her son…

by Rod Smith

My husband has been having an affair since October 2006. Things have become so difficult that he moved out but eventually came back. He said he came back for our son’s (4) sake. This woman has threatens me but he does nothing about it. He even went as far as telling her that our son is not his and that I am forcing him to have a second child. This is really affecting me to a point that it gets difficult to get out of bed every morning. I do not have a job and basically I am dependent on him. I want to leave him but do not want to take the first step. At the same time I can’t carry on like this. I have even had thoughts of killing myself and my son. We have a gun in the house and at times I just think of ending it all including killing him too. (Letter shortened)

I’d suggest your husband is not worth dying for. Ending your life, and that of a young child, makes no sense at all.

I appeal to readers to send me contact information of organizations (in the greater KwaZulu-Natal area of South Africa) geared to assist persons in such circumstances, that I might forward the information to this desperate wife and mother.

May 12, 2007

His daughter (15) is against me…

by Rod Smith

Reader writes: I am living with a man who has a teenage daughter (15) who is so against me I can hardly stand it. She does everything she can to undermine our relationship and she has a mouth like a sewer. The child was not living with us until she had problems with her mother and they decided she needed to live with her father. This has made my life quite uncomfortable and he will not tell her she should treat me with respect. Please help.

Rod’s Response: I’d suggest you never tolerate or embrace poor manners from anyone and so I’d suggest you move out. It is unlikely you will make much headway if you try to insist the father stand up to his daughter or if you make him choose between the two (or three if you count his ex-wife) women in his sad life. Finding alternative living circumstances on your part will allow the family issues, which precede you by many years, to play themselves out to their inevitable conclusion. This is not giving up, or giving in, it is simply the early realization that you are taking on a battle you will ultimately lose.

May 8, 2007

Fixing a broken relationship

by Rod Smith

Let me know...

Let me know...

“How do I fix a broken relationship?” is one of the most common theme of letters I receive. Here are a few generic principles to jump-start the journey of greater health whether the relationship in question survives or not:

1. Don’t focus in “the relationship” but on doing what is healthy and mature for your individual sake. This is not selfish. Getting your house in order will challenge everyone around you to greater health even if you lose your primary, but toxic, relationships in the process. If you do not have the energy to do this, a simple way to help you access the healthy thing to do is to ask yourself the question What do really well and emotionally healthy people do when faced with such a situation and then try, as tough as it might be, to live the answer.

2. Never participate in sexual behavior you do not want. Good sex, or sex at all, (or what one partner regards as good sex) will not salvage a toxic relationship, but only serve to perpetuate all that is already unhealthy about it. Keep in mind that sex frequently prevents love from growing within a relationship.

3. Talk to close friends about what is really happening to you within a deteriorating relationship. Secrecy escalates toxicity. Opening your life to a trusted friend will help you to see healthier options. While a toxic relationship might be “killing you” allow your community to help save you.

4. Do not go rushing back to anything or anyone simply because they say they are sorry. Being sorry (asking forgiveness) for unacceptable behavior is not, in itself, change. Forgive, yes, but do not forget. Look for the fruit of regret. The fruit of an apology and forgiveness is changed behavior.

May 6, 2007

Wife is controlling….. she shoplifts…. what am I doing wrong?

by Rod Smith

Reader writes: “I have been married for 7 years to a woman who is becoming more controlling, unhappy, demanding, disrespectful, and depressed. She fights over anything and has developed a shoplifting problem called ‘depression based shoplifting.’ We have gone to psychologists and therapists but nothing works. What am I doing or not doing right? We can be happy one day and then out of the blue all chaos breaks loose. Our five year old tends to prefer me to her and that gets her even more aggressive.”

Rod responds: Assuming your wife has already had a full medical checkup and is in regular dialogue with her physician, I would suggest you find a respected practitioner of “family of origin” therapy. Your brief description suggests your wife might be “out of sorts” (inappropriately disconnected or connected) with the most powerful people in her life – her family of origin.

Do not falsely assume blame for her illegal activity. This is her issue to solve. It is not the result of your behavior.

While it is sad your child prefers you to her, it does appear that your parenting is less confusing for your child.

Be firm. Love. Stay out of control. Resist the pressure to join her in her toxic cycle no matter what their cause.

May 5, 2007

He vents and his venting gets out of control…..

by Rod Smith

“After several years of living on my own I’ve been living with my partner for the past nine months. Things are going well most of the time but there seems to be a little problem that arises from time to time that I am getting concerned about. If a problem arises at work, he rehashes and he vents to me for longer than I think he should. He gets back to normal after a couple of hours of venting over something I did not cause. The anger and the long discussions are not a positive. I realize that venting is good if you have to but is it reasonable for me have to be the one who gets all this negative outpouring? Maybe he needs to talk to someone else about the issue. The tension isn’t good for us. Why do I have to take this when he really should be talking to whomever the issue is about. This is really bothering me.” (Letter required much editing)

Rod’s response: I gather that your partner sees you as a sounding board for his frustrations at work but cannot tell when his venting becomes hurtful. It would be quite reasonable were you to refuse to listen to him about his work-related issues. Tell him to talk directly with persons associated with his work-related problems.

May 1, 2007

My husband was seeing another woman even while I was pregnant…

by Rod Smith

Reader: I have discovered my husband has been phoning and seeing another woman and was even on the phone to her while I was giving birth to our second child. Now that I have asked him to leave and now that I have all the phone records, I see this has been going on for about six months. The strange thing is that his family now sees him as the victim and I am seen as the selfish one because he is not living with his children. Am I going crazy or I am right in standing my ground even after a new baby has come into our lives? I don’t want to be in second place to any woman even if he says that no physical stuff has happened between him and this other woman. Please help.

Rod’s Response: I’d encourage you to seek face-to-face professional help. This immediate situation (his attachment to another woman, your wanting him to leave, his family seeing him as the victim) has to have a context in which all these sad and hurtful events have occurred.

Before you file for divorce I’d suggest a series of strong encounters with a courageous therapist will help you both discover whether this marriage can survive this trauma or not.

May 1, 2007

My son died and I promised to be at his side……. Now I am filled with guilt…..

by Rod Smith

Reader: My adult son died 9 years ago. I had promised to stay at his side. The day he died, we had a lovely day, chatting, laughing at things on TV, and just being quiet. By evening I was so exhausted that I told him I was going home and would see him in the morning. The nurse phoned later and said things weren’t too good and that I should come. I raced to him to find that he had already passed away. I’ve been tormented with guilt ever since. I’ve tried to let go, reminding myself that we had a wonderful relationship and that he would forgive me, but I still feel I let him down badly. I feel that I was being selfish by choosing to go home instead of staying. (Letter edited)

Rod’s Reply: First: Write your son a letter updating him on all that has transpired over the past 9 years.

Second: Read the letter to a group of people who also loved him.

Third: I challenge you to allow your anguish to end. If 9 years are not enough, how many years do you need to beat yourself up about wanting rest?

The highest tribute you could pay his shortened life would be to live your own as fully as possible.

May 1, 2007

My husband told me last night that he did not love me anymore…

by Rod Smith

“My husband told me last night that he is not in love with me anymore. I am completely shattered. I knew we had problems and we had decided to seek therapy but the last thing I expected was the love bomb. He thinks it cannot be fixed. I had to convince him to try therapy. He is willing to try but I can see that he does not have much hope in it. I am so scared it is too late and that by going to therapy I am putting false hope into our marriage. I do not know what to do and feel like my whole world just collapsed on me.” (Edited to 200 words)



You are placing a lot of faith in the power of therapy! Couple’s therapy is most effective when both people are motivated. Before you rush off to a therapist, appreciate that this a very new development in your marriage. Take some time to let the news sink in before you act. While it is true that you are feeling devastated, it is your husband who has to soul search about what he wants.

Trying to impress your husband with your love for him will only serve to distort who you really are and probably serve to push him further away.