Archive for February, 2008

February 29, 2008

A challenge to all who lead

by Rod Smith

1. What do you believe about leadership? Have you written about what you believe to the point that you could articulate it at a moment’s notice?

2. Do you stop and think (reconsider, reflect) about your leadership style, your philosophy of leadership, or are your caught in the treadmill of activity that offers you no time to reflect?

3. Do you take time to acknowledge that everything you do is related to all who have come before you? Do you acknowledge that your success is not yours alone – there are no “self-made” individuals – but it is achieved against a backdrop of what others have done both for you and before you?

5. Do you acknowledge that your service and pursuits today, when done with excellence, will become part of an essential backdrop to further empower those who follow you?

A true leader can do nothing of enduring value without his or her community, without taking time to learn from others, without allowing time to uncover the true strength found in a shared spirit of discovery, respect, and humility.

True leaders facilitate the building organizations like schools, synagogues, churches, and businesses, that enable all its members to glimpse the future, to aspire to the greatness continually being born and nurtured among them, and the potential residing uniquely within each.

February 26, 2008

Affair still niggles at me….

by Rod Smith

“I cannot seem to break free of the memories I have when my wife was unfaithful to me. We have talked about it constantly and I have forgiven her and she has forgiven me for my anger. Yet, although it was quite a few years ago, it still niggles at me. Please help.”

Sometimes you have to let things go.
I know someone’s going to send me an aggressive letter letting me I don’t understand and that it is not that easy to forget and so forth, but since you have both expressed sorrow, and each has offered forgiveness, and since much time has passed, and since the clock cannot be turned back – it is time to let it go!

It might be helpful to consider your wife’s unfaithfulness, not as something directed at you, but something she chose to do to herself. When a partner blames him or herself for the unfaithfulness of the spouse, this is not only harder to overcome, but grossly inaccurate thinking.

No matter what the circumstances, the one who chooses to be unfaithful is the one who must assume the responsibility for the unfaithfulness. No matter what the greater issues are in the marriage, cheating will not be a helpful option.

February 26, 2008

I am an expert in my behavior…

by Rod Smith

“You have written that I am blind to my own behavior but an expert in the behavior of my abusive boyfriend. Actually I am very aware of my own behavior to the point of being an expert in it, too. The problem is that I don’t know how to get away from him. When he loves he really loves. I need his approval. I already know I need to get out. I just do not know how. Please help.” (Synthesized)

While I am aware that my writing will appear to judge you for not moving on with your life (and for not moving out of his life), offering you understanding or empathy is unlikely to stimulate you to make necessary, bold moves.

To find your freedom there is no escaping necessary pain.

Gathering, becoming part of a supportive community, is essential in taking such a step.

Before you point it out, I am very aware that abusive men tend to isolate their victims so finding and developing a community feels impossible to the victim.

You must break out, become unpredictable and begin to forge a life without him. The alternative is too horrible to contemplate.

Remember love is NEVER abusive (not at all, ever) and even a little abuse is enough reason to move on.

February 24, 2008

Husband spends excessive time on facials, tummy-tucks, and the gym…

by Rod Smith

“My husband (of 6 months) was going through a divorce when we met. It concerns me that he spends so much time taking care of his skin (facials), going to the gym, and having tummy reduction treatments. I’m pleased that he looks after himself but I feel he is a bit excessive. He will go to the gym right before he goes overseas instead of choosing to spend the two hours with me. He says that he wants to look good because he’s married to a beautiful woman. I appreciate that, and I love him. I feel I am in competition with him. He also told me that he wanted to look good in his previous marriage because he wanted to meet someone to help him move out the marriage. Should I be concerned?” (Edited)

Be careful. Get between a man and his first love and you will pay the price! I’d suggest you develop a powerful interest in something worthwhile, while he, simultaneously continues to serve his apparent obsession. Focus on something other than your husband, who is doing enough of that already. At first this will drive him crazy (How dare you not join him in worship!) but it will save your sanity and might even keep you somewhat happily married.

February 21, 2008

He has a temper…

by Rod Smith

Our daughter is going through a rough time. She was married and widowed. She has a teenage child. She remarried and has a child from her second marriage. Her husband is unpredictable and throws tempers and clashes with the teenager. He tends to live a life as if he were a bachelor and barely helps as a father and husband. The children are here every day we get caught in the trauma as our daughter does confide in us. My husband and I are devout Christians and long to see God take control of their home, which is like a war zone! Can we, as grandparents help, or should we not try to help at all?

Is your daughter “confiding” in you, or is she saying things to you in order to help her to avoid saying what needs to be said to her husband? The difference is very subtle: the results will be very stark.

Throwing a temper suggests your son-in-law feels trapped or overwhelmed, which the couple will need to address, if the marriage is to survive. Helpful help (from you) will support and steer your daughter toward addressing her issues directly with her husband. Unhelpful help occurs when you are enrolled as a shield for one person or the other.

February 21, 2008

Son (6) sometimes comes to our bed at night…

by Rod Smith

A few times a week our son (6) comes to our bed in the night or very early in the morning. Sometimes I am so tired I have no resistance and let him sleep with us. Other times I get up and take him to his bed. I am more concerned about this than my husband is. He says it is no big deal and that he will grow out of it. It is the inconsistency that worries me. Please advise. (Edited)

Relax. Worrying too much can keep you up at night! Your son sleeps in his own bed some nights of the week, and comes to you regularly, but not always. Based on this, I’m going to go with your husband’s attitude.

Persist. Send the child back to his own bed as often as possible, and when you don’t, let him enjoy the warmth and the welcome a loving mother and father offer.

The less fuss you make, the less attention you draw to this matter, the quicker the boy will transition to waking up everyday in his own room.

February 19, 2008

What can a person do who is the victim of the behavior you wrote about two days ago…?

by Rod Smith

Many would agree with your suggestion that relationships fraught with the symptoms listed in your article (Feb 17) need of renewal. Could you advise what options for renewal are available to a “recipient” of the symptoms described?

When relationships suffer the source is seldom only one partner. It takes two to tangle! (No, I do not mean “tango.”)

The points read “both ways” – there are usually two “perpetrators,” two “victims” – both words are too strong in moderately problematic relationships – and so both persons have “renewal work” to do.

Here’s a start: Stand up. Speak up. Remove guesswork. Stop mind reading. Refuse participation in what you know is destructive. Behave in healthy, unexpected ways. Stay out of control!

If there are proverbial eggshells: dance on them. If something is niggling: find a time to address it. Remember the only things that disappear if you ignore them are you teeth: all the rest stays or goes into hiding and waits to attack you at a later date.

Full (complete, healthy, invigorated, vocal) people are easier to love than vacated shells! Work on yourself. Identify how you allowed yourself to be disrespected.

The fire that returns will either re-ignite your relationship, or destroy it. Both options, I believe, surpass the quiet, destructive virus of relational indifference.

February 18, 2008

He makes fun of me and minimizes our relationship…

by Rod Smith

“I’ve been with my partner for 8 years. When we’re fighting he phones old girlfriends, won’t answer his phone, is extremely verbally abusive, and minimizes our relationship (because we’re not married). He mocks and makes fun of me if I cry. He has destroyed my belongings and stays out all night. He calls a woman behind my back, and faults me for not trusting him. He stayed at her house on one of his ‘all-nighters’ (I found him there). He calls me controlling and says he won’t be told who he can speak to.” (Very minimal edits)

Here we go again! You are an expert in HIS behavior, yet seem blind to yours. Apparently after all this trauma, conflict, jealousy, snooping around, raised voices and humiliating behavior performed by each of you – YOU keep going back for more!

Let the man go on his immature, pathological way. Don’t hold him back. Oh, I know. I am going to get letters telling me I am blaming the victim, that moving out is not that easy, and love will prevail – but this “relationship” (actually it is nothing more than furious-fusion) will never survive. The sooner you pack your bags (or dump his out the door) the better.

February 17, 2008

Are you listening to what he / she is saying…..?

by Rod Smith

If you can hear the voice of a spouse of lover saying any of the following 10 points to you, I’d suggest your relationship could use some renewal.

Don’t say you love me and then…

  • Disregard (write off, refuse to consider) what I say, think, and feel.
  • Demand from me, or try to manipulate me into, sexual acts I do not want.
  • Offer me less times and energy than you give to your most casual acquaintances.
  • Refuse to initiate or participate in respectful and helpful conversations.
  • Avoid initiating mutual, regular physical, mutually desired, intimacy.
  • Hold grudges for years, bring up old issues time again, and hit me with things I thought were long forgiven and forgotten between us.
  • Abandon me (physically or emotionally) with the responsibility of rearing our children under the guise of supporting the family. I need you to support the family AND help with the children – this is what adults, who are parents, do.
  • Blind-side me with the unexpected: unpaid debts, hidden activities, unusual expenditures, and secret, inappropriate liaisons.
  • Avoid “alone” time with me.
  • Belittle me in any manner, let alone in front of our family and friends.
February 13, 2008

Administers insulin in public places and it embarrasses me…

by Rod Smith

“A diabetic family member injects himself with insulin several times a day. He exposes his belly and then administers his dose using a pen-like syringe. He often does this at the table and at family gatherings, which I don’t have an issue with. However, he also does it openly in public at restaurants and I get terribly embarrassed! I’m not quite sure what my issue is; I think it is the fact that he is doing something which I feel should be private (like clipping toenails or flossing teeth) in an inappropriate setting. Am I being silly and uncaring? It would be easier to broach this subject with him if I was confident of my stand, as I would hate to run the risk of hurting him if I am the one who needs help to correct a bad attitude! What do you think?”

I do not believe you are being silly or uncaring. He is, in my opinion, being crass and insensitive. If the man can find his way into a restaurant, he can make his way to the gents (men’s room, restroom, WC, loo, bathroom – depending on where you are reading this!) to administer his insulin. Addressing him directly, privately, firmly, and graciously, will probably have your whole family (even those who claim it doesn’t bother them) sighing with relief!

(4/25/09) I am sorry. You (the past two readers leaving helpful comments) are correct. My response as published above was indeed ignorant and insensitive. I regret the advice given now that I have had these responses and done some further thinking on the matter. I am pleased to say that this particular column had received very little traffic until now. I could delete it but I am not going to do that. I will leave it in this space, with your comments, so others may see my insensitivity and we (others who are also insensitive) may continue to learn about an issue abut which I clearly displayed much ignorance. Please accept my apologies, and let’s continue the dialogue.