October 31, 2007
“I met a guy and fell in love. I moved in with him and got pregnant and started planning the wedding but then he was physically abusive so I moved home. He moved back once the baby was born when he realized what he was missing. For 8 years, he continued to waiver back and forth between ‘Nice’ Mark and ‘Mean’ Mark. I finally kicked him out but we were still having sex. I really wanted him to get counseling and come home because I do love him. But he met someone else and is now seriously dating her. He sends texts to her with ‘XOXO,’ which makes me sick. He says he still loves me and is more attracted to me than her. What must I do?”
Attraction is strongest between people of similar emotional health (and un-health). You are at least as confused as he is. Until you take responsibility for your own life, and confront the fact that this man is not good for you, your treadmill of pain and disappointment will continue.
I continue, even as a therapist myself, to be awed by the overwhelming pervasive belief people place in the power of counseling. This man doesn’t need counseling. He needs women who refuse to play his cruel, hurtful games.
October 31, 2007
“My daughter in law is like my own daughter. We are very close. She says I am the mother she never had. For a few weeks, even months, she has been very sad about being unable to become pregnant. I have been giving her all the encouragement I can give her. I am finding it difficult to talk to my son about this and wanted to ask you if I should talk to him about it.”
Be encouraged that you and your daughter-in-law have found a relationship that you each find fulfilling. I’d suggest you continue offering her all the support you can while she is experiencing the stress of trying to become pregnant.
It might be wise to talk with your son about these matters only if he raises the topic with you. Short of him telling you he’d like to discuss it, I’d suggest you leave him to find an outlet that he finds comfortable.
October 29, 2007
I took on two stepchildren twelve years ago who have become wonderful adults who love all their parents. Here are some things I did to make life easier:
- I didn’t take the place of anyone. I took my place.
- I didn’t get in the way of their affections for their parents, but expected them to be well mannered and enjoyed their affection when offered.
- I got out of the way when there was conflict and let the people who had known the children the longest sort it out. If I was a source of the conflict I admitted it, stood my ground, or apologized.
- I found being rigid doesn’t work too well with any kind of family.
- I did not get caught up in trying to make everything fair. I realized this was a trap and I wasn’t going to spend my life measuring everything.
- I got out of the way when the children had conflict with each other and I encouraged their father to do the same.
- When I did not have full cooperation from my husband I let him know immediately.
- I was friendly with the children’s mother so we could cooperate regarding the children.
(Synthesized from a conversation)
October 25, 2007
“My wife spends a lot of time at home because of family commitments and I understand that she needs to circulate with other people. When she does go out she seems to go over the top and stays out late. She doesn’t want to talk to, stating that she knows everything about me. When she spends a lot of time with other men, I tend to get jealous. I have been married before and I am scared that my wife will leave me for another man which is what happened in my previous marriage. She says she loves me but I don’t know whether of not to believe her. I am really fighting with my self internally to give her the space she requires and to not stifle her. Is there some things I might read, or things I should do to try and releive my fear, or try and get to the bottom of how she feels.”
Getting to the bottom of how you feel is sufficiently difficult, let alone trying to get to the bottom of how she feels. Leave her feelings alone. Read David Schnarch’s Passionate Marriage. The book will help you see where you end and she begins – that is what is at the core of your troubles.
October 24, 2007
“My wife is having an ‘emotional affair’ with a best friend who spends more time with her than I do. He hears more about her life than I do, and is closer to her than I am. I watch this happening and over time it gets more and more intense and I am supposed to be calm because it is a close friendship. We have children, a house, and careers: a lot to give up for this ‘friendship’ that carries none of the responsibilities of the marriage. Am I supposed to stand by patiently or blow it all out of the water? Please help.” (Condensed, with permission, from a conversation)
Join your wife when she spends time with her friend.
AIr your views, please...
While it might be a tall order, I’d suggest you get to know him, offer also to be a friend to this apparently lonely man. Push the friendship to the limit. It will expose motives, and either re-unite you with your wife, or have you picking up after a divorce. To push, to question, and to join them (especially unexpectedly) when they are together (since she is your wife and they are “just friends” you do not need an invitation to or permission to join them), is your only way to escape the anguished limbo you are currently feeling – and it will offer you the potential to regain emotional intimacy with your wife.
October 23, 2007
“My husband and my parents just do not get along. They seem to be fighting about everything and anything. My husband says he’s not at fault and my parents say they are not at fault. But I feel trapped in the middle. How do I deal with both without hurting or betraying the other.”
Get out of the middle. Leave the room when their conflicts surface. Laugh uproariously at their childish ways. Find the humor in their absurd inability to co-exist as adults.
But, do not carry messages between the “warring” groups. Say things like, “He’s your son-in-law, talk to him yourself,” and, “My parents can hear this from you as much as they can from me. You talk to them.”
It is possible for you to love and honor both of these intense relationships without their divide severing you in two.
Remember, you are powerless over relationhips that do not involve you. These relationships impact you, yes, but they do not involve you.
October 22, 2007
“My daughter (26) constantly asks for money. She gets dead-end jobs and we have to pay her accounts (bills). We go without while she has everything. She has to have a car (to get to her job) and a cell phone (in case she gets the offer of a better job) and new clothes (to dress for an interview) and in the meantime her dad and I are forking out every month! Please help.” (Letter consolidated)
While you “fork out” your daughter has no motivation to change! Your niceness assists your mutual destruction. Stop. Today! Stop paying a cent toward anything for her. Turn off the source. I know I’ll be flooded with Emails suggesting I am hard, unkind, and don’t understand. I’ll be told it is clear that I am not a mother! Others will tell me things are different in South Africa and because I live in the USA I am out of touch with what it is like to be young in South Africa. Gosh, your daughter is 26! How much longer will you allow her to live like a dependent child. She is an adult.
Spoilt young adults (believe me America is full of them) are spoilt young adults no matter where they live. While you persist in bailing your daughter out, she will persist in giving you a hole into which you can throw your money. Stop. This is YOUR problem, not hers.
October 20, 2007
“I feel like punching someone. My co-workers don’t like me because I’m honest to them and they feel threatened that I will take their jobs. I’ve been working here for 5 months and it feels like a lifetime. I need an advice on how to handle gossiping and moody co-workers.”
While punching someone might bring you some relief and satisfaction, the rewards throwing a punch would be very short-lived. So, don’t. Most workplaces do not condone violence among employees.
Hold onto yourself even when the temptation is raging within you. Focus on your job (role, tasks, responsibilities) and offer your responsibilities your very best efforts.
Hard workers, focused employees, loyal men and women who refuse to gossip and join the usual office negative banter (bad-mouthing the job, boss, other co-workers) are often singled out by the lower function employees and become targets simply because they are diligent, and therefore show up their lower functioning counterparts.
But sometimes over-zealous employees are rejected by co-workers, not because they threaten other peoples’ jobs, but simply because their social skills are so undeveloped their behavior attracts mirthful attention.
Take some time to discern which camp you are in.
October 17, 2007
“I have been married for 25 years. When I met him he was drinking and I never thought much of it as we were socializing. On our wedding day he was drunk. When our first child was born he was in the car drinking whilst I was in labour and I needed him. It has not stopped there lately he does not stop drinking until he consumes almost a bottle of spirits. He admits he is an alcoholic but he is not interested in help or doing anything about it. He verbally abuses me when he is in this state, yet when he is sober at home, which is seldom, he tries to be so sweet. I find it difficult to submit sexually and show love to this man as he is destroying what is left of our relationship. He suffers from erectile dysfunction and blames me for his problems and accuses me of being cold and not interested in sex.”
Rod Replies: Look at your behavior! Get your focus off his actions and onto your own actions. Why would you put up with such nonsense for even a week, let alone 25 years? Ice cold is appropriate! Move on. You have but one life to live – why would you spend it engaging in such nonsense?