Archive for December, 2007

December 17, 2007

More sex will not “solve” matters in an already toxic relationship…

by Rod Smith

“My husband tries to keep me happy by buying me stuffed animals. If we had sex for every stuffed animal he’s given me then we’d never have gotten out of bed. I don’t have enough room for all these stupid things. It’s clear he’s not interested in me physically and he says I’m wrong. I feel a divorce would probably be better for me emotionally and physically at this stage since the stress is getting to be too much. My biggest anger with this is that we never had children because he’s the one who can’t, and I’ve missed out on a major part of life. I’m in my late 40’s and I want to run out and get pregnant before it’s too late. I want to have a family. I feel like he’s keeping me from that by not being honest with me.” (Edited from a much longer letter)

More sex will be as effective as getting more stuffed animals – if you want marital integrity. Then, to “run out and get pregnant” will bring added complications. Until each party is willing to address, and face your mutual and underlying alienation, you will think you need more sex, and he will think you need more stuffed animals. Sex, like gifts, will not solve an already toxic relationship.

December 17, 2007

Am I being “played”…?

by Rod Smith

“I have known a woman for 4 years. We have lived together but broke up and got back together twice in the last year.  She is deciding whether to be with me or another guy. I find this stressful and have asked her to make up her mind.  She says I am not as warm as he is, and (she) wants to see my warmth despite the situation. I told her I would not have proposed to her and asked her father if I did not mean to make a life with her. I also told her she is not loving and must give that which she desires. Am I being played?” (Edited)

You have suggested this woman give to you that which she desires from you. Good suggestion. You do the same and things might improve between you. I cannot determine if you are being “played” or not.

What I can discern is a lack of shared warmth, compassion, and understanding – which is apparently so from both sides

December 15, 2007

A Short Course in Good Manners for seventh grade students and all other humans….

by Rod Smith

manners-book.jpg

New book: $11.00 delivers it to your door.

December 15, 2007

I was just saying to Corrine Edwards

by Rod Smith

Dear Corrine:

You write about the crowded room of blogging and so I wanted to tell you how I got started. I never set out to blog. In fact I’d never read one until it was my own.

Here’s the brief story: I was writing a weekly editorial column for The Indianapolis Star but REALLY wanted to be in The Natal Mercury, the paper I read as a boy. It is a South African newspaper with a wonderful and long history. The Idler, a man named John Vigor, was really my first real reading and his very funny insights were always on the back page of the paper when I was a young boy.

On a visit home to South Africa (in 1999) I stopped in at the paper’s head-office (“The Idler ” at the time – the humor writer whose column now appears somewhere in the middle of the paper – had done some groundwork for me) and announced an American editorial writer would like to see the editor. Believe it or not I was ushered into his office and, during the course of our conversation, I told him my boyhood in Durban included the reading of his paper, and that my early desires to be in his paper had not left me. I informed him that I was in his office to ask for a weekly spot on the editorial page of his esteemed paper.

He asked, “Well, can you write?”

From my bag I pulled about 80 laminated 700-word editorials and plonked them on his desk.

Dennis Pather (now editor of The Daily News) told me to contact him in a few days.

About three days later he called me into his study at the paper and said he was very disturbed about some of my writing. I asked him what in particular had disturbed him and he said, “In this column here, you say, ‘if all you have is money, then you are truly poor’, Mr. Smith this is a very disturbing thing to say.”

I had him. I knew it.

Then he told me that in South Africa newspapers don’t make their columnists into celebrities as is done in the USA. So he informed me he had no place for me as a weekly columnist.

“But, how about daily?” he said. “We’ll call it ‘YOU AND ME’ and since you are a family therapist we’ll make it into a ‘help column’ where you can tell people to seek more than wealth!”

The man was animated. He’d been thinking.I put out my hand and asked, “When do we start?”

In no time at all he was on the phone and called a quick meeting of the editorial page staff and while a few men and women entered his office a photographer appeared and took about 10 head-shots of me – and the 200 word column began to run the next week.

Reader requests for back issues sparked the need for the blog and so that ……. (I have told you much more than I initially intended)…. is how I got into blogging.

For me, blogging has never been about money even though the book sales and the personal sessions that it has generated have have been helpful.

Have a wonderful day and I am inspired by your tenacity and desire to speak to a hurting world.

Your friend,

Rod E. Smith

December 12, 2007

Brief notes to improve your relational environment:

by Rod Smith
  1. Deliver your own news – good or bad. Don’t use others as carrier pigeons.
  2. Try not to keep people waiting. While it is sometimes unavoidable, effort on your part to be punctual will speak volumes about you.
  3. Find a way to remember people’s names. You’ll be surprised how much it will do for you.
  4. Spend less than you earn, and save some money every month. Nothing kills enduring happiness as efficiently as debt.
  5. Get out of the middle of other people’s relationships. Avoid being triangled. Remember Piggy in the Middle is not much fun for Piggy.
  6. Tell the truth as kindly and as efficiently as possible.
  7. Do something dangerous or scary every day.
  8. Say yes more than you say no.
  9. Write. There’s a novel within you awaiting an escape.
  10. Read.
  11. Err on the side of trusting too much than on the side of trusting too little.
  12. Say please and thank you as often as possible.
December 11, 2007

My sister never phones my parents…

by Rod Smith

“My sister is living in England and she hardly ever writes or Emails the family anymore. Is it appropriate that I let her know how much our parents miss her and wish she would write and phone sometimes? We have neighbors with a son living overseas and he phones almost once a week. It makes my parents heart-sore when they hear news of how he phones all the time. I have suggested my parents tell her (because I knew you’d suggest it) but they do not want to bother her. Please help.” (Letter shortened)

I love it when readers anticipate my answers – and readers are often correct! Informing your sister of your parents’ longings is absolutely appropriate (assuming you will be kind, honest and not use guilt to try and motivate your sister) but hearing directly from your parents will be better for all concerned.

While it is understandable that the phone calls your neighbors get from their son would remind your parents of your sister’s lack of contact, it is also true that the family next door have had their unique ways of communicating that were established long before anyone went to live abroad.

December 9, 2007

DEEP REGRETS

by Rod Smith

to all who are suffering, and for the lost and hurt, after the shooting on the YWAM campus this morning in Colorado.

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December 9, 2007

Woman seeks guidance from other women….

by Rod Smith

Here’s a letter from a woman seeking help from other women. Please Email me with your suggestions:

“Until yesterday I was having an affair with a married man with children. I never pursed him. He pursued me like a wild man. He called me over 20 times a day. I caved in. Throughout our affair he told me how his wife didn’t like to make love. He said the fire was out. He liked to make love a lot every day. A few weeks ago his black book fell out of his pocket and I found it after he was gone. I thumbed through it and discovered his wife is pregnant. When he came back and asked me if I had looked at it. I lied. He has clearly said he and his wife were done having children. He is selfish and was expecting me to continue the affair even after all this. Has he lost his mind! I am so sorry to have ever gotten involved. Should I contact his wife and come clean or should I keep my silence? What would a wife want to know? Please if there are any wives in this situation: tell me what you would want me to do.

December 8, 2007

Habits of Highly Annoying Adults (with respect, Mr. Covey)

by Rod Smith

Dedicated to Younger Readers (From my book: A SHORT COURSE IN GOOD MANNERS for Middle School and All other Humans)

I would love to speak at your event...

I would love to speak at your event…

I will not apologize for adults who treat you with less than good manners, but I will try to articulate a few things that I know annoy younger people about some adults. When dealing with annoying adults, be patient. It might be your opportunity to better equip the adult concerned to understand people who are younger. Keep in mind it is only a matter of time before you will find yourself committing many of the same atrocities toward young people who are, at this point of course, yet to be born.

1. I know you find it annoying when adults try to sound younger than they are. When adults employ your colloquialisms, they are frequently at least a generation or three off, and almost always get the meaning quite wrong. It jars, I know. If you’ve not met it already, you will meet it somewhere in the next handful of years. When I hear it I can hardly disguise my cringe, and so I can only imagine what it does to you. Please, be patient. When I visited Korea this past summer, even my bumbling attempts at “hello” in Korean were appreciated. In fact they were much appreciated. I’d suggest you do the “Korean thing” and accept that at least the adult is trying (no pun intended) to identify with you in some, albeit odd, manner. I’d suggest you mask your amusement and respond with openness and grace. When an adult says, and it is usually quite loudly I’ve noticed, “WAY KHOOL; NO WAY. YES WAY. Oh Grooooovy! Let’s sit around and hang-out and gas, HUH!” in an attempt to “relate” to you, a little bow and a smile from you will go a long way to bridge the gap, which is clearly wider than three or four football fields.

2. I know you find it annoying when adults change their voices – usually into a higher-pitch with an added singsong lilt – in order to talk to you. This is somewhat the equivalent of a waiter asking a sixteen year old if he or she wants a kid’s menu or “carding” your mother or father – although some parents might enjoy being carded. I do not know the reasons some adults do this but I’d suggest you resist all impulses to kick the offender in the shins and then run in the other direction. Talking to you as if you were a newborn puppy is certainly bad manners. Kicking the offender in the shins, while offering you a brief moment of joy, would not solve the problem. A simple, “It is difficult for me to understand you when you sing to me in a baby voice. Will you please assume your normal voice and vocabulary,” will probably assist both parties.

3. I know you find it annoying when adults don’t take your emotional (your feelings) life very seriously. I have heard adults say things like, “She thinks she’s in love at 14!” and similarly insensitive things. While your love at 14 might not be fully developed (as I hope it will be when you are 40) you are apparently feeling feelings that feel like love to you. These feelings are the feelings of love of which you are capable at this time of your life. Yes. I’d suggest that you are as much in love as you might ever be at 14. Enjoy it. It is sad that some adults do not take your love very seriously. My only hope is that you will not close down when it comes to talking about such matters simply because on occasion your feelings were discounted. Again, do the gracious thing. Teach the adults around you about just how authentic your emotional life really is. Be careful. All the adults closest to you will have little doubt about the volatility and the strength of your emotions. It is this very volatility that helps adults feel that all of your feelings cannot possibly always be completely valid or accurate. Learning to govern your behavior and your emotions is both possible and necessary if you are going to be a successful adult. Learn to do both now while you have a lot of “room” to get it right (and wrong).

4. I know you find it annoying when some adults treat you as if you are much younger than you are. Perhaps it is a direct result of wanting to be much younger than they really are. Be patient. Resist the urge to employ your best baby talk or to dribble or urinate on the spot. Being treated like a baby does not mean you get to act like one. A simple, “Please don’t pat my head or squeeze my cheeks or coo at me – I am not a hamster,” will usually do the trick.

5. I know you find it annoying when some adults talk about you as if you are invisible – or at least as if you cannot hear or understand what they are saying about you, and so every private matter of your life is paraded for all the known world to hear while you are standing right in the midst of the discussion feeling as if you are looking in on yourself. The flip side of this is the adult who is suddenly silent when you enter a room and so it is clear you were the topic of conversation or the conversation was about something you are considered too young or too sensitive to understand. Another strand of this virus is the adult who spells words or suddenly switches to Spanish phrases in the belief you will therefore be shielded from whatever it is you are not supposed to hear. Be polite. Little is ever gained by being as poorly mannered in your response to the ignorance of others.

6. I know you find it annoying when some adults turn everything into a race. “Is your grade the highest in the class, the school, the city, the universe?” asks your favorite uncle about your Math score. Before you hit reply he goes on with, “Did you know I have the fastest, and biggest, and most economical car on the block and I was a full partner with my company before your dad graduated from middle school and I own the fastest and most efficient coffee bean grinder in my apartment building which is by the way the largest and tallest one in the largest city in Texas which is by the way the biggest state in the world.” And when you mention that Alaska cut in half is bigger than Texas he tells you not to be a competitive smarty-pants. Be kind to adults who regard life as one big and endless egg-and-spoon race. You might be the first. Enough said.

7. I know you find it annoying when some adults habitually comment on how much you have grown (or changed) since the last time they saw you. First, it is probably true. You are, as you know, growing at a phenomenal rate and while the day to day changes are not quite so noticeable to you, when Aunt Betty drives in annually from Toledo for Thanksgiving, be patient when she sings the same “My how you have grown,” song because you have grown and it gives her a lot of joy to notice and to say she notices. Being patient with an aunt who loves to point out how you have grown or changed – the benefits will be more helpful to you than resisting her joy.

 

December 6, 2007

You advise women to stand up to jealous husbands, but The Bible says submit….

by Rod Smith

You advise women to stand up to their jealous or controlling husbands. Don’t you know the Bible says wives must submit to husbands?

Please write, I'm reading...

Please write, I'm reading...

I do. Paul says, “wives submit to your husbands,” and one can safely assume Paul is addressing all of his writings to both men and women. A husband who loves according to Paul’s descriptions of love is both safe and worthy of submission! Such a man will indeed not be going out of his way to secure the obedience of others. Beware of any man whose knowledge of Scripture begins, and ends, with “wives submit to your husbands.” Loving men (leaders, bosses, teachers) have no desire (or craving) for the submission (obedience) of others. “Love seeks no power, and therefore has it,” says Alan Paton.

Submitting (“giving in”) to jealousy or controlling or abusive behavior is certainly not very helpful to the marriage, the husband or wife. The Bible doesn’t require anyone to submit (accept, obey) anyone’s pathological behavior, whether it is from a spouse, pastor, or any leader. To resist (stand up to) pathological behavior, however (wherever, whenever) it rears its ugly head, is to do the perpetrator (spouse, pastor, leader) a loving service.

Submitting to damaging behavior can hardly result in helpful long-term outcomes.

Sadly, I have seen many a woman hang onto the hope that the husband will eventually change (stop drinking, beating, swearing, and go to church!) if she could just learn to really “submit.” I know women who believe their husband’s abuse is deserved – a “reward” for the failure to really submit. If abusive men (yes jealousy and control are forms of abuse) were as interested in Paul’s injunction to men: “love your wife as Christ loved the Church,” we’d be pleasantly engaged in a completely different discussion.

No. The monster (jealousy) will not go away if continually fed. It only gets more controlling, more demanding, and more viscous when it is not appeased.