Archive for July, 2007

July 29, 2007

Next time you fall in love……

by Rod Smith

1. Take your time; take months, not days or a few weeks to fall in love. I can think of nothing that is worth having, or which is of great value, that occurs too quickly, that happens overnight, or is rushed. Too much too soon, when it comes to being in love, is a large and a bright red flag. Trouble is brewing when a relationship develops too quickly and when new relationships demand that you “give your all” at the expense of other established friendships.

2. If you are entering a second marriage (or third) and are creating a blended family, spend lot of time – months and months – talking and listening to all the adults who love the children – yes, “exes” included – about what the children might need as the families involved enter times of change and reorganization. If you cannot do this, it is unlikely the relationship will withstand the challenges that accompany the blending of families and the co-parenting of children. Planning ahead will not solve all the problems, but it will certainly offer you options and strategies that will be unavailable if you avoid talking about difficult subjects.

3. Discuss finances, careers, and the importance of hard work while you are also falling in love. While these topics may not constitute romantic talk, they ought not be avoided. It is these very issues that often derail couples from finding the very fulfillment they are seeking. If you detect laziness and a desire to live off the efforts of others in your would-be partner, move on. Real love is industrious, is creative. “Mooching” (a colloquialism of my youth that means willingly living off the efforts of others without personal contribution) is never an expression of love.

4.Keep in regular, healthy contact with your “old” circle of friends and family, even if your “new” person doesn’t know them or want to be with them. Maintain a life of your own even while you are falling in love. Something is amiss if would-be partner suggests you give up your family or friends, and, since no one relationship can be all-fulfilling, no single relationship ought to be all consuming.

5. If the relationship doesn’t bring out the best in each of you, give you feelings of being splendidly free and unconditionally loved, cut it off and run a mile!

6. It appears to seldom cross some people’s minds how frequently, and paradoxically, sexual involvement prevents the development of authentic love. Like it or not, when sex enters the picture, relationships change, and the change, although people seldom see it right off the bat, are often not for the good. Potential partners who use the old line, “we better see if we are sexually compatible” are not ready for the responsibilities of marriage. Few couples are immediately “sexually compatible” for sexual compatibility can take years to hone.

The next time you fall in love don’t link love and sex as if they are the same thing. Surprising for so many people, is the discovery that it is possible to love someone, and not engage in sex or sexual activity before there is a legal commitment (marriage).

While I am fully aware this is an “old fashioned” and unpopular idea, the process of building a relationship that is ready for sex is a helpful and mature process. It builds into the relationship the kind of integrity all relationships need for survival. Such waiting will certainly bypass much heartbreak, separating men and women who regard commitment with respect from those who do not.

July 25, 2007

Wedding plans derailed….

by Rod Smith

“My boyfriend (30) and I (26) are having problems. We met in 2004 and in 2006 he asked me to marry him in December 2007. We moved in together and made wedding plans and I went to buy my wedding dress. In May he put the wedding on hold for financial reasons. Then he lost his job and I have being supporting us and now he wants to move home to his mom. The problem there is that he is not used to battling. Now I feel when he asked his mom if he could come home she should have refused because he had moved out to start his life with me and he must try and make it work. Now he is not interested in finding a job. I just don’t know what to do anymore. He doesn’t seem interested in us anymore. Everyone says I must leave him because he is not treating me right and doesn’t seem interested in going through with the wedding.” (Letter edited)

“Everyone” is correct. If preparing for your wedding is not a somewhat fulfilling and exciting time, being married will certainly not be. Let him go home to his mother – it sounds like they deserve each other. Cut all ties. You are better of without him.

July 24, 2007

My daughter’s marriage has soured….

by Rod Smith

“My daughter’s marriage has not been smooth sailing but now it has really soured. Her husband wants a marriage without any intimacy. It appears has if has separated himself from the marriage. They have been to counselors did not help much. The problem started when he was convinced she was having an affair. He has had numerous affairs. He refuses to move forward. It is some months where there is no intimacy or physical contact. I don’t know what to make of this. Is it his way of wanting the marriage end? Please enlighten me as to what this could be. I have emailed you on my own without my daughter’s knowledge.” (Letter edited)

While I am aware your daughter is in a tough spot, it is apparent that you have gotten “the wires” of your love, care and concern “crossed” with your anxiety for your daughter. I’d suggest you know too much about a relationship you are not a part of – and one which “too close” to you for you to be able to have any helpful impact. This is your daughter’s concern. I’d suggest you reaffirm your love for your daughter, and love her enough to try and stay out of the details of her marriage.

July 23, 2007

Why are some dads so passive?

by Rod Smith

I’ve had a ‘significant other’ for 3 years. We bought a home together. He has his boys (12 and 14) half the time. I have a son (5). I am having problems with dad not taking responsibility for his boys. He has no boundaries and his children do what ever they want. When I discipline I’m ‘meddling.’ Dad does not discipline at all. I feel like I’m the guest. It’s a mess. Why are fathers so passive? It’s hard for a step-mom to do nothing. (Letter edited)

Rod’s response: The passive partner controls the relationship. While you over-function he’ll under-function!

I am willing to bet you spent more time choosing a house than discussing rearing children! You are NOT the stepmother without marriage – and will have no legitimate role with his children without a marriage to their father.

But, I’d suggest marriage is not the answer to this co-created mess. Your mess is not only a result of his passivity, but also a result of your apparent failure to open your eyes before making such a big move!

Bold, blind moves got you to this point. It will take bold, brave moves to get out! I hope this can be acheived without excessively hurting the children.

July 22, 2007

My wife feels smothered by me…..

by Rod Smith

“My marriage is in deep trouble. I am really at my wits end to save it. In addition to some communication problems, my wife also indicated that she gets attracted to stable and successful men, but when she is in the relationship that stable environment smothers her and she wants to run. I do not dominate her and I support her with what ever she requires.”

You wife is sufficiently insightful to see the source of her issue is not you, her husband, but the presence you represent. Your presence (and success) triggers her desire to take flight from what she initially find desirable. Your challenge is to remain steadfast in your love and your commitment while remaining sufficiently separate (giving her “space”) all at the same time. This is not easy.

Your wife’s feelings emerge from a cavern deep inside her history and the ultra-complex psychology each of us brings to every relationship. I’d suggest you trigger, by your nearness, the uncomfortable memory of times she felt emotionally cornered, trapped, and powerless. Your wife needs space, not abandonment. She is insightful, and I hope sufficiently motivated to get through this, but you will be of no help if you try to push or maneuver the process.

July 21, 2007

Wife did not want any details…. she forgave me and that was it….

by Rod Smith

Q: About six months ago I had a heart-to-heart talk with my wife and said exactly this, “I have done things during our marriage that if you knew about them, you would leave me.” She paused then said, “Whatever it is I forgive you.” This is the actual conversation that took place. She did not ask for specifics or details. What would you make of this?

A: Fall on your knees and express your gratitude to God for such a wife. She sounds remarkably healthy, a woman who is fully aware that your behavior is about you, and expresses everything about the kind of man you are. Be grateful too, that having found for yourself a greater degree of honesty, you probably have a more stable and a healthier marriage than you once had. Your wife apparently knows, from the little information that I have, that re-hashing the details of the things you have done would be hurtful to her and an unhealthy re-enactment for you, while not making one iota of helpful difference to the future you will share.

(Submitted from Melbourne, Australia)

July 19, 2007

Daughter wants to sleep at boyfriend’s house….

by Rod Smith

My daughter (16) wants to spend the night on some weekends at her boyfriend’s (16) house. My husband is dead set against it and this causes a mini cold war in our house. Her boyfriend’s parents are very kind people who are very capable of supervising our daughter and their son – but it still makes my husband very uncomfortable. My husband is not the kind of man to express his views but expects me to be the go-between. What should we do? (Edited)

Your letter offers no indication of your opinion regarding your daughter’s relationship with her boyfriend and his family. It is clear that you have become the appointed spokesperson. I’d suggest you remove yourself from the middle of this triangle and let your husband and daughter speak to each other about his concerns. Personally, I’d rather err on the side of trusting too much than err on the side of trusting too little.

Of paramount importance is that you keep lines of communication open between your daughter and you – and that will be next to impossible while you are an agent of your husband’s anxiety.

July 12, 2007

“Loving” children too much…

by Rod Smith

1. The children’s wants are habitually placed ahead of the needs of the parents.
2. Day-to-day family decisions revolve around the children and their delicate moods and mood swings.
3. There is an anxious cloud hovering over the parents as the reason for being together is no longer love and commitment, but the creation of a perfect environment for children.
4. Adult conversations are next to impossible because the children interrupt conversations at will, or, in the children’s absence, the children’s developments and “sweetness” are the focus of every conversation.
5. Self-esteem is considered so fragile that the children are overly protected from the truth about his or her skills, talents and abilities.
6. One of the adults feels married to a parent and not to a partner.
7. The parents have given up all former hobbies and interests and focused all their energy upon the children.
8. The home’s décor is dominated by the children’s art and photographs, which, of course, is not in itself negative, but something is amiss when parents appear to have lost all perspective regarding the adult’s and children’s place in the larger context of life and life’s demands. Celebrating children is one thing; worshipping children is harmful.

July 3, 2007

Reader writes of his own experience as a boy with a “new” family …

by Rod Smith

“I read your column about the boy who is ‘disrupting his mother’s new marriage.’ Having been a child from such a situation I can relate to him. Even though the father hasn’t been in the picture for some time. The boy still feels a connection to him. He will always come first in the back of the boy’s mind, even though the boy won’t understand why. The “new” husband feels like an impostor (to the boy) and therefore the child feels he doesn’t have to listen to anything he has to say. This will wear off in time and with maturity on the part of the boy.” (Minor edits applied to letter)

The reader reiterates an important human reality. Loyalties, visible or invisible, make themselves prevalent in behavior even if (and when) they appear underserved, irrational or impossible. It seems safe to say that when biological ties are disrupted – even for “good” reasons – conflicted emotions, to one degree or another, are the inevitable result.

July 2, 2007

It takes two to tangle……

by Rod Smith

“My fiancé – of 15 years – and I seem to be operating at a tangent with regard to a host of issues. She is a elementary teacher. I am an academic. Her behaviors abound with inconsistencies, lies, secrets, and manipulation. I am more consultative in my communication with her; she is highly defensive and irrational. She has serious temper tantrums, very often derailing the focus of our discussion. She cheated on me once; blatantly lied, but with time, I forgave her for her deception. I believe that by my being supportive and understanding, I am carrying her deep unresolved psychological baggage and subconsciously feeding into my own dependency needs by intellectualizing. I am going to stop forthwith. Please let me have your views. Regrettably because of space, I could not overwhelm you with all the relevant information.” (Letter shortened)

You are apparently a person with much insight. It seems you have decided to turn your insight into action. Well done. Insight alone (by itself) is usually quite useless. You are well aware that people are usually as emotionally well, or unwell, as those whom we tend to choose as partners. It takes two to really tangle!