Archive for November, 2007

November 29, 2007

Questions re: What to ask a counselor or sex therapist…. and a digression about sex and Christians…

by Rod Smith

Reader asks: There’s a counselor who works out of my wife’s church counseling center who is a Christian sex therapist. If I decide to consult with him, what sort of questions should I ask him in an initial contact? What might I expect from a competent counselor in an initial visit?

Rod responds: I’d be more concerned about what the counselor asks you than I am about what you are planning to ask him.

Is he (the counselor) focused on CHALLENGE and GROWTH primarily of the individual and then of the couple – or is trapped in the idea of trying to be so empathic that it will take weeks or even months before you and your wife can really get to talk?

Has he studied David Schnarch? Avoid him if he has not.

Is he himself FREE, or is he anxious, and highly-strung?

What does his theology tell him about who women are? Are women COMPLETELY equal with men and if not, I’d avoid him. Fully mature sex is impossible with (perceived) un-equals. If a man perceives himself as above a woman or “in charge” of his wife his very mindset it robbing him of the very joy and sexual fulfillment he is seeking.

November 29, 2007

The power of human love…. is in you…

by Rod Smith

It is in us to love. It’s human. We have the capacity for it. Even hurt and rejected people can love. Once a person accepts that love has more than romantic connotations, as powerful and valid as these of course are, he or she will be able to see its broader power.

Love is unleashed through simple, but not easy, human acts of seeking the highest good both for oneself and for others. Acts of offering unearned forgiveness, of reaching out to the estranged, of welcoming a stranger, of letting go of all prejudice, of rejecting dishonesty – all begin within the individual human heart.

When a person intentionally facilitates others toward finding and enjoying and exercising the full range of their humanity, he or she will know and see and experience the powerhouse love is.

Even people with reason to reject others, having themselves been rejected or treated inhumanely, have it in them to love, if they dare to muster the courage for it. It comes quite naturally to the courageous person, and when it is unleashed, the purposes and the meaning of life surge into the heart of all who have the courage to hear and respond to its powerful call.

If you want a bound edition of all 400+ columns GO TO: and follow the directions on the right of the page…….

November 28, 2007

Women, and jealous men…

by Rod Smith

Jealousy serves no useful purpose. Jealous men (It’s men in my experience) try and tell me it comes with love. Nonsense.

Ugliness is never a symptom of love.

Placated? Appeased? Entertained? Jealousy won’t dissipate. It will grow. And grow. Become increasingly demanding.

The sympathetic, those allowing jealousy to do its ugly work, will discover the virus to be insatiable. It will only becomes more restrictive and ridiculous.

“I stopped talking to men at work, I stopped dressing in pink, I stopped calling my sister, I stopped smiling – these behaviors of mine made him jealous,” she says, “now he doesn’t want me talking anyone, or wearing clothes he didn’t pick out for me, or talking to anyone in my entire family!”

Rings of pure love, doesn’t it?

It is common for a woman to believe she causes a man’s jealousy.

“I make him jealous,” she says.

“No you do not. You are not that powerful,” I say, “his jealousy predates you, and now you are the unlucky victim of the virus.”

Don’t mess (negotiate) with it. Stand up to it. Or it will get you every time. It will contaminate your every move, your every thought. (This is the nature of a virus.)

Address him with: “This is your issue, not mine. I love my life too much to allow your jealousy to manipulate or dominate me. If you want me, you have to accept that I will not allow your issues to have any power over me. It’s sad enough that your issues control you, I am certainly not going to let them control me. I’m interested to see what YOU will decide to do with YOUR problem.”

November 27, 2007

This entire blog printed, bound…..

by Rod Smith

and delivered to your door for $35.00 (Postage included within the USA) Readers in other countries, kindly let me know you want the book and I will let you know the postage cost).

251 pages, 450 columns — all in your own bound edition.

GO TO: and follow the directions on the right of the page…….

I hope you do it,

Rod Smith

November 25, 2007

His ex doesn’t want to meet me and he wants to remain friends with her….

by Rod Smith

A few readers have asked what letters look like BEFORE I publish them. Here is a FULL and UNEDITED letter. My response is in BOLD. (Since newspapers limit columns to 220 words, this will not run in any paper “as is”…..

“I have recently started going out with a man (5 months ago). He has a female friend (K) who also happens to be a recent ex of his. They dated for approximately ten years with a break in between of about 3 years where he was with another woman (L). After breaking up with L he then returned to a sexual relationship with this ‘friend’ (K).

[Clearly this is a very deep connection between the man and K. Ten years, you will probably agree, is a long time to be together.]

“He had not been seeing K sexually for over a year when I started going out with him, but had continued to see her very regularly (3-4 times a week) on a friendship basis. This has continued even after I have started seeing him.

[So you knew this going into the relationship and this was something about him no one was hiding from you. Yet three of four times a week is a lot of time with a friend, even a “best” friend. Most people would suggest this is more than a friendship even if it is not a sexual connection. Be sure, if there was anyone in my life I was spending this amount of time with other than my immediate family others would expect it to have more meaning than simply a good friend.]

“Once I started going out with him I requested to meet K.

[This is a healthy and legitimate request and I commend you on making it.]

“She said that she did not see the need.

[She did not make the request. You saw the need and you made the request. You did not ask her because of what you thought she needed but based on what you need.]

“She says that as the ex she does not want to meet the present girlfriend.

[Correct. She is the ex and she doesn’t want to meet you, BUT you want to meet her and she is important to HIM and therefore meeting her is important to you. A good friend to HIM will also want to be a good friend to YOU if she knows YOU are important to HIM.]

“By chance we met her twice at two different restaurants but the meeting was very strained and uncomfortable.

[Of course it was. I trust you were friendly and gracious since they are only friends. If you see where the discomfort was coming from you will know where the issue is.]

“I do not have a problem with him continuing a friendship with her but I do not wish this to be exclusive of myself.

[So you DO have a problem if it excludes you but you do not if it somewhat includes you – this is perfectly reasonable.]

“I trust that he is not engaged in more than a friendship at the moment with K but would still like to understand more about the dynamics between them and to feel more secure in my position in his life.

[Your security in HIS – life – whatever this means, has nothing to do with their relationship. I am more interested in your security within YOUR life.]

“I feel that at the moment she has the benefits of both the anonymity of an ex and that of a friend who can see him at any time. She refuses to come to any functions when groups of our friends are going to be there. Rather she chooses to see him with her own friends or on her own. I feel excluded from a part of his life and this is creating conflict between us. We rarely fight about much else.

[You are correct. She is getting what she wants but is not concerned with its impact on her friend or on you – she says she is a friend of his but is not behaving as one.]

“To be fair to him, he has requested that she meet me and has explained that it upsets me to be excluded from their friendship. However, as she has categorically stated that she does not wish to meet me and sees no need, he feels that one should not force her to do so.

[Bingo! She sees no need! It is not her needs you are talking about or trying to fulfill. It is your need to meet her and this is the issue. If she were just a friend to him she’d willingly comply. I go out of my way to meet people my friends really like. This is normal friendship! You are trying “to be fair” to him and he is trying to be fair to HER and it seems to be at the expense of being fair to YOU.]

“He feels that his friendship with her pre-dates me by a long way and that he does should not have to sacrifice this friendship for my benefit.

[Well that is something each of you gets to decide for yourselves. You get to decide if you can be with a man who hangs onto past relationships and can’t seem to move on or include past people in his new life. He gets to decide which relationship he really wants. You get to decide if you can share him in this way. If he wants a long-term relationship with you – like marriage – believe me he is going to have to give up a lot more than friendship with a former girlfriend. When you have children the children will demand he give up a whole lot he perhaps thinks he can hold onto. Here’s the essential truth: love means making choices that help each other live more fully and he is helping an ex at the expense of helping you. You get to decide if you can live with this or nor.]

“He often reads the Natal Mercury (Independent Newspapers) South Africa, and has often commented that he thinks your advice is very sound. I wonder whether you could provide us with some of this wisdom in how to proceed with our relationship from here.”

[I am delighted he reads The Mercury and I am very grateful for all the readers in that part of the world. I trust you will share my thoughts with him and with her. I do not seek to be RIGHT – just helpful and I trust this helps you. You get to decide how you will be treated and therefore you get to decide where this relationship goes from here. It is up to you. Not him. Not her. It is up to you.]

Have a great day,

Rod Smith, MSMFT

November 21, 2007

Relationships suffer…

by Rod Smith

1. When being right (correct, moral, accurate) is so important, so insisted upon, that it is at the expense of being loving. A healthy person can sacrifice his or her need to be right in order to love.
2. When anxiety and love are confused. “I am anxious about you” is a far cry from “I love you” and are not the same thing. Anxious people often believe true love necessitates worry. “How will he know I love him if I don’t worry about him?” is the plea of the anxious partner or parent. A healthy person remains non-anxious.
3. When love and control are synonymous. “If you love me you will dress (speak, think, see, hear) according to my will,” says the controller, “or I will question your love for me.” Healthy love celebrates freedom.
4. When love means “melting” into each other, giving up individual identity in the name of love. “We’re so close we even think each other’s thoughts,” proclaims the unhealthy couple. Healthy love elevates separateness, space and individuality.

November 20, 2007

We’re engaged but she and her ex still lean on each other…

by Rod Smith

“I met a woman a year ago and we are engaged. She very good friends with her ex-husband because neither has other family. Although he is very good to his daughter, and because my fiancé and he are still close, I find it hard to feel appreciated. They are used to having each other to lean on and help each other. Why does that make me jealous? We love each other but the ex husband is used to helping her and making the decisions. Now that I am there, I feel he should only be involved when it something concerns his daughter. I feel like I have no say in the decision-making for my new family for everything is run by the ex husband so that he will not feel left out. She says they are friends and I do not fear any cheating.”

I’d suggest you place matters on hold until this woman defines herself to her ex and rids herself of her need to rescue him from loneliness. While your jealousy is your issue (something you perhaps might look into), playing second fiddle to an ex, while you are engaged, is cause for concern. I’d suggest you step out until he does, or until something shifts. While you cooperate and compromise yourself and your engagement, nothing will change.

November 20, 2007

Our brother (almost 60) has ADHD….

by Rod Smith

“Our brother (almost 60) is the youngest of four siblings has ADHD. He treats his family like dirt but his friends with respect. Even our mother (in her eighties) does not get his respect or attention. He confesses undying love for her then ignores her. He will lend money to all his friends but not his family. Hides behind the ADHD label and blames it all on this. He wants us to do right by him but never ever does the correct thing with us. If mother or a sister is in the hospital he does not visit. Family is always pushed aside to make way for wonderful friends. He will not see psychiatrist or get help. What can we do? We still love him but he is always right and we are wrong no matter what. His wife supports everything he does. How should we respond? We know he can never change. Please help us. My mom is devastated.” (Letter edited)

This is probably a character issue, and not a matter of your brother’s diagnosis. I hereby give you permission to relinquish your role as your brother’s change agent, and the family’s scum-half, or quaterback (depending on where you are reading this!). Give it up. Let your mother and siblings deal directly with him. Get out of the way! Playing “piggy in the middle” is never much fun for piggy.

November 17, 2007

Portrait of a successful or enriched woman…

by Rod Smith

The successful, or enriched woman …..

1. Knows she never has to participate in sexual activity that she does not want; and knows that her body is her own and private temple which she shares, even in marriage, only when it is by her own sacred, deliberate choice.
2. Does not lose herself in her marriage, or to motherhood, or in taking care of her family, but who is able to develop a strong, vibrant sense of self even while being a loving wife, mother, friend and professional in her career of choice.
3. Does not allow herself to be taken for granted, to be sworn at, to be victimized by anyone, not husband, children, in-laws, siblings, parents or co-workers.
4. Lives above manipulation, domination and intimidation, and has relationships that are therefore pure and open, mutual and respectful.
5. Is able to articulate her deepest dreams, desires, and fears to those whom she loves, without fearing a response of indifference or rejection.
6. Is a woman, who, in the midst of the pressures of work, motherhood and marriage, maintains her unique and powerful voice.
7. Is able to delay gratification for the greater good of her family and community.
8. Has a playful, open, adult relationship with her mother and/or woman in her mother’s age group, and is therefore free of feelings of jealousy and envy with her peers.

November 16, 2007

Portrait of a successful or enriched man…

by Rod Smith

Call me...

Call me...

1. Enriched is the man who treats others with kindness beyond their deserving. He is generous with family and strangers and he seeks the highest good for all, knowing that the wisdom he exercises in his daily life positively impacts people around him. He regards faithfulness with high regard. The very thought of betraying his family by committing some moral indiscretion deeply unsettles his peace.
2. Enriched is the man who does not play “one-up” games. He applauds the success of others. He takes no delight in the hardships, losses, or pain others endure. He is more committed to being patient, kind and hardworking, than he is committed to being rich or to displaying symbols of success.
3. Enriched is the man who would rather lose at a sporting event than he would cheat in order to appear to have won. While he can be fiercely competitive and loves to win, he watches his behavior, and treasures his reputation.
4. Enriched is the man who can drink without becoming drunk; enjoy good humor without resorting to the ridicule of others.
5. Enriched is the man who pauses momentarily, quite regularly, in order to acknowledge his joy at being a man. He treasures his role as one who carries love, truth and kindness to all within his circle of influence.
6. Enriched is the man who can delay gratification in all areas of his life. He does not crave gratification when is is at the cost of damaging his relationships, his finances or his integrity.