April 28, 2008
“My husband is the best person I have ever known. But slowly over the course of a year and a half, he’s come to the realization that he is not in love with me anymore. He is trying to ‘do the right thing’ and hasn’t left the home but its just like we are friends now…no more lovers. I am so lonely and I feel horrible every time I think about it. I know I could have been better in our marriage. I admitted to my weaknesses and faults and genuinely saw things for the first time in a new light that made me want to change. But its been 8 months and maybe my efforts are too late. We met in high school. We grew up together and were each other’s best friends. But now in his eyes, I’m like an enemy. He needs to ‘find himself’ and he feels like he can’t do that with me. I never thought in a million years I’d be in this situation. But I still love him and still hope and still pray.”
Avoid blaming yourself. I hope your husband begins to see his marriage as his only legitimate crucible in which he may truly “find” himself.
April 26, 2008
I am going to:
1. be kind to others even when they might be unkind to me;
2. forgive others even if they do not ask for it or deserve it;
3. be generous to people who least expect it;
4. complete, when possible, the most difficult tasks first;
5. turn the other cheek;
6. seek ways to enhance the lives of those who speak ill of me;
7. buy a needy family groceries (anonymously);
8. leave larger tips than ever for servers in restaurants;
9. listen more than talk;
10. be unpredictable and out of control
April 24, 2008
I get an inordinate amount of mail from men and women about the difficulties of how to treat a former husband or wife. Here are some guidelines:
What do you owe your ex?
1. Common courtesy as offered to all other people – no more, no less.
2. Respectful interactions pertaining to the children.
3. Efficiency and reliability regarding the children and visits.
4. Absolute care and protection of the children whom you co-parent.
5. Respectful return of phone calls, emails, and messages regarding shared child concerns.
6. Efficient paying of accounts as prescribed by the terms of the divorce (school fees, medical bills, etc.).
7. Common courtesy expressed toward any new significant other.
What you do NOT owe your ex?
1. Intimacy or sex of any kind (conversational, physical, emotional).
2. Financial assistance other than specified by the terms of the divorce.
3. Time alone. In cases of severe mistreatment you may insist on the presence of a third party for all necessary interactions.
4. Explanations of how, where, or with whom you spend your time.
5. Anything “extra” in terms of birthdays or holidays because of your shared history.
6. Any form of so-called “closure.” The divorce IS the closure.
7. Any platform to hurt or abuse you.
April 23, 2008
My ex asks for money all the time and it upsets my husband when I give it to him. He (my ex) is always going to pay me back to me but he never does. I find this very hard because I don’t like to see him down and I feel responsible for him since he is the father of three of my children. What can I do?
This issue is rooted in misplaced, distorted loyalties. You are not responsible FOR your ex while you are responsible TO your husband.
When you and your husband share the details of your finances in an open and honest manner you are being responsible TO each other. When you are buying your ex out of his financial woes you are being inappropriately responsible FOR your ex, and irresponsible TO your husband.
Turn off the tap. Give your ex not a penny more. Write the debt off to poor judgment. Learn from the experience, then move on in an open, honest manner.
April 22, 2008
“My boyfriend and I are about to get married. I have a problem. He’s insecure that my daughter’s father is in her life. What do I do to assure him that nothing is going on between my ex and me other than taking care of our child? What do I do?” (Edited)
It is not you who has the problem. He is the one who is insecure and he is the one who has the issue.
If the man is troubled that his soon-to-be stepdaughter is co-parented by her biological father, the man is not ready for marriage, let alone is he ready to assume duties as a stepparent.
Do not try to reason with insecurity (or jealousy, or possessiveness) or to pacify it. Don’t modify your acceptable and normal responses to your daughter and to her father in an attempt to appease the spirit of insecurity living within him.
Your attempts to please and pacify him will not succeed in anything but in making you into far less the woman you have every potential to be.
Such living will grind you down until you feel like nothing.
I’d suggest you run very fast in the other direction. Once you have gotten over the breakup, find a man who does not behave like a spoiled, hurt child. Such men do exist.
April 21, 2008
“The thing I never understood about my husband, and perhaps men in general, is that work is very important. When he’d sometimes choose to work rather than be home I mistakenly saw it as rejection. He sees working on the weekend as a way of making sure we have a home. He doesn’t need as much ‘together time’ as I do. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t love me. I just wish I had seen this a lot earlier. It would have made things easier in the beginning when I still believed I could change him or that he’d change himself for me. This is a very good marriage and I just see his career as one important part of it.” (Paraphrased)
“It took me years to understand that he doesn’t see love or passion or commitment like I do. I always wanted to lend him my thoughts or tell what he was supposed to say. This would just drive him crazy. Learning to listen to what he did not say was as important as trying to understand what he did say.” (Paraphrased)
“My husband will do anything for the children. He’s irrational when it comes to loving and protecting his daughters.” (Direct quote)
April 20, 2008
“When I look back I realize it took about ten years for us to be truly married. Of course the ceremony happened in a day but that is not what I am talking about. It took about ten years for us to both feel really at home with each other, to relax with the problems we each saw in ourselves and in each other. The ‘crazy days’ of very young children did help us. It gave us a focus other than ourselves but we both knew that would not last. The real changes came when we backed off from trying to fix what we did not like about the other. What is remarkable is that our love is deep but something of the romantic quality has almost gone – yet, I love my wife more than ever.” (Paraphrased)
“My wife is the reason for everything in my life. I am a success because she is with me. I know she is my refuge and whenever I am frustrated she has a way of putting things into context and helping me see straight.” (Paraphrased)
“My wife and I have a dynamic I am sure you’d find interesting. Sometimes we fight like siblings and she is always the big sister. The secret to our great love is that we don’t take ourselves too seriously.” (Paraphrased)
April 16, 2008
“My husband has, in the past, been emotionally immature and unavailable – I survived for years where his priority was work. Things changed when he was retrenched. He seems to have matured, woken up to what is important in life, and these days makes a huge effort to be positive, outgoing, involved with the family and me and helpful around the home. Somewhere my love for him went away and just recently my physical attraction towards him has completely gone. I would rather not divorce. How do I revive love and sexual interest? I just can’t seem to forget the past, and the rejection, abandonment and hurt sits with me all the time. I have an innate distrust of anything he says or does. I have opened up to be badly hurt by him too many times. It seems a very empty way to live to just stick around for money and the kids – and soul-destroying. But I do not know how to move forward. Please help?”
ROD: Please read everything by Joan Anderson (A Year By The Sea, A Walk on The Beach, The Weekend of Your Life) and get busy reconstructing the woman within you. Your re-discovery of love and passion is not, primarily, about your husband.
A psychologist writes…
“I am a psychologist in Westville. I usually agree with your advice and often encourage my clients to read your column. This time, however, I do not agree with your advice to the -in the past- clearly neglected wife (You and Me, 15/4/08). From many years of experience and from my own over 40-year long marriage, I have learned that before you can move on, the wound needs to be acknowledged and attended to by the ‘guilty’ party. That does wonders, then both can read books on relationships, learn to constructively communicate negative feelings, and the relationship usually (if both parties are willing) flourishes!” Anky Willemsen, Westville.
ROD: While acknowledgment of inflicted wounds and attention to those wounds offered by the “guilty” party would be helpful to foster a relationship to recover and flourish, the wife’s determination to learn and to grow is likely to “kick-start” change (desired and undesired) all around. For the woman to consider her growth contingent on the participation of her husband is to make her a victim or hostage once more. The husband could assist hugely in his wife’s recovery of love and passion (of course!) but her growth remains her business.
April 15, 2008
“How do you handle older teenagers who swear at you and call you the ‘b’ word because you say clean your room or clean up your mess in the kitchen? They are verbally abusive even around our baby. I tell them not to curse in my home. They speak to their dad like this as well. I hate wanting nothing to do with them. I am the adult here. I should think that I have a say in my own home, but it feels like I am a guest. Who was here first is not the issue. They should refrain from such behavior when asked. They steal and break things. It seems to me ‘mom’ decided she was finished with dealing with this all the time and I do not think they even like their father. It’s hard because I do love them but I would not choose them as friends. My husband and I don’t fight unless it’s about them. I almost feel like I should just leave. I get stressed because I don’t know what is going to happen next. I feel like I’m taking the eggshell walk.” (Edited)
Clearly this is not simply a matter of respect. Everyone is suffering. Until dad takes a stand the children will rule!
April 10, 2008
It is within my power
I'm going to have a great Friday
to make this an extraordinary day, to be followed by an extraordinary weekend. I have the ability required to be a loving, kind, firm, and responsible member of my family, my neighborhood, and my city.
I know how to serve others – and I will do so with a thankful heart.
I know how to listen to others – and I will do so with an attentive ear.
I know how to live a generous life – and I will give and help relieve the suffering of others.
Today, and this weekend, all people in my circle of influence will be better off for knowing me.
Children will get my ear.
The elderly will get my time.
Persons within my most intimate circle will get both.
I will not complain about anything. I will not pick on people. I will not focus on what is wrong with the world, but will try to be part of the healing it so desperately needs. I will live this weekend with a deep sense of gratitude, paying careful attention to the beauty and the vibrancy of life everywhere I go.