Archive for August, 2008

August 31, 2008

Two letters, one post…

by Rod Smith

“My wife of 7 years left me and our 3 children 4 months ago for a man she met on the Internet. She now lives abroad in his country with him. To be honest, at the time I was devastated and vowed to get her back, but now I’m starting to feel like he’s welcome to her. Any woman who can do that doesn’t deserve me, to be honest. Our marriage was good – I just didn’t pay her enough attention, which is what the other guy did. They started out as friends but he took advantage of her at a vulnerable time. Anyway, I wish them good luck with whatever happens. A person reaps what is sown and if you do end up losing everything then you only have yourself to blame.”

It appears you have found some resolve – but it is the children for whom I have most concern. I trust your ex-wife has, or will, find some manner of remaining in touch with the children.

“My husband left for work last Wednesday morning and never returned. I found him at his parent’s house. After talking with him he told me he hasn’t loved me for the last 3-years. Everything he told me, everything we based our marriage on, he said, was a lie. He was just trying to do the right thing and now realizes he can’t. We have two little boys and it breaks my heart to know they will grow up without him as a regular part of their lives. I still have hope for us as I still love him but I just don’t know what will happen. People keep telling me he is just going through something and will realize what he had after a while but I am not so sure. For now we will be friends. I will try to keep my head up and stay strong for my boys and we will have to see what the future holds.”

I’d be suggesting your husband move toward you and his children rather than away from his family – in order to find who he is and what he wants. The crucible of learning and growth exists within his already-established choices, not outside of those choices.

August 27, 2008

Will the separation bring us together….?

by Rod Smith

“My husband told me two months ago that he was not in love with me anymore. I was shocked and didn’t see this coming at all. Well right now we’ve separated he is with his sister. We’ve never talked about divorce at all but he said is that it is over. He thinks the love for me will come back in time. Now I don’t know what to do. We have a 3-year-old child and I can see she knows something is wrong cause we are not living together. I love my husband. Will the separation bring us back together?”

Once the shock of his declaration and his move has eased and you are able to think clearly, the best course of action for you and for your daughter would be to shift your focus from his actions to yours. Together or apart, shifting into high-gear productivity on your part will be good for you and for your daughter. While you respond as a victim, you are giving him all the power and placing your destiny in his hands. Mourn for a few weeks or even for a month or two, then get to work at creating a great life with or without him.

August 23, 2008

Reader expresses opinion about helping a partner feel secure….

by Rod Smith

“Part of loving someone is actively taking steps to make him or her feel secure in you. I recall reaching a point in a relationship when my lady moved in that I told her to answer all of my phones. I wanted to empower her and bring her to the point where she felt secure in me. The home/cell would ring and I would tell her to answer it. She answered my phone for just a short while, then never bothered even asking again and has never asked about my calls since. That is one of the steps I took to make her secure. I invited her at any point in the day to show up or come with me regardless of where I was and she soon let that go too. I took active steps to make her feel secure. That’s what you do for someone you truly love. It’s called devotion and two people should expect that from each other. The stereotype, however, is that when a man is asking where a woman has been, he is being controlling, possessive, and even emotionally abusive. Both individuals in a committed relationship have the right to express those areas of insecurities in a civilized, cordial manner and to have the other person take it seriously.” (Edited)

[Inclusion does not mean agreement: Rod Smith]

August 21, 2008

Dad won’t correct his son’s manners…

by Rod Smith

“My step-son (12) knows that I have a pet peeve about manners at the dinner table and that includes no burping out aloud, other bodily noises, cracking his knuckles, placing his elbows on table. He will stare me down and do these things as if he is really trying to get a rise out of me. I have been trying to ignore him and I have been hoping that his father would do something about it but nothing is ever done. My fiancé says, ‘will the both of you knock it off, you are always nagging him.’” (Letter shortened)

The three of you have developed a dance routine that appears to work for everyone – but you. Stop dancing. The son knows the hierarchy, your fiancé knows all the moves, and you persist in playing into their hands.

Wise action on your part will have both males looking at each other in complete confusion. Make your moves playful, yet radical, at first, and then move onto actions resulting in greater gravity. You have played interference between and man and his son for too long and nothing will change until you stop.

August 19, 2008

He wanted sex all the time until we moved in together…..

by Rod Smith

“He wanted sex several times a week, sometimes everyday, until we moved in together. He says he loves me but now he hardly touches me. He’s distant and withdrawn and angry. I don’t understand. Please help.” (This is a theme of dozens of letters received every month).

Move on. Don’t mistake the desire for sex for love. Sometimes the two are poles apart. What you had before you moved in together was a very immature relationship. He wanted sexual relief, not you. He “loved” not you, but what you could do for him. He wanted the pleasures that come with being physically intimate but he did not want the ongoing responsibilities of sharing your life. What he apparently did not want was the ongoing emotional, physical, and psychological presence that accompanies authentic connection with another human being. Such men can “do” sex, it is the rest of life that overwhelms men who are sexually, or as I have called, “penis propelled.”

August 18, 2008

Charles Gordon

by Rod Smith

Charles Gordon, pastor, writer and visionary, died on Saturday night. I am one of hundreds of men and woman whom he influenced during his long career at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Durban North. Thank you Charles, many people will crowd the church you loved today to demonstrate their respect for you and to love and support your family. I am one of hundreds more who will do it from a distance.

August 18, 2008

Ten ways to become “more” spiritual….

by Rod Smith

Ten ways to enhance your spirituality…

1. Write about your life in short, honest, vignettes.
2. Get over any accumulated grievances you might be harboring.
3. Forgive everyone, everything.
4. Design, and execute (anonymously) very specific acts of kindness toward those who least expect it from you – especially your enemies*.
5. Create a blueprint for your greater generosity and radical hospitality (embracing those who reject you).
6. Make a list of the people who have most inspired you then find and thank them.
7. Return to your childhood neighborhood even if the memories are painful and everything has changed.
8. Take a “street person” to lunch at an upscale restaurant.
9. Tell your family you love them.
10. Listen more than you talk.

* I’d be very surprised if you are living a very spiritual life at all if you have no enemies!

August 17, 2008

Two in “one boat” or two in “two boats”…..that is the question?

by Rod Smith

“I always read your column and then the daily ‘tail-piece.’ One of the many things that caught my attention was that marriage is not two people in one boat but two people, each person in his or her own boat. I think my husband would like us to be joined together and have us share a brain (his brain of course). He asks my opinion and then always improves on what I say. When I’m on the phone he tells me what to say and corrects me, sometimes he even shouts at me and the person on the other end can hear. Because we work together I try to ignore it to avoid having a bad day but every now and then I explode. Then it gets nasty and he hurls verbal abuse at me, bringing up my family and poor upbringing.”

This is a fine example my repeated encouragement that readers “focus on your behavior, and not the behavior of others.” The reader tells in detail about the “other” but appears to miss that she has allowed his nastiness to thrive by putting up with it. It is a fool who curses his wife but a very foolish wife who remains a willing target.

August 16, 2008

A reader writes that her menopausal rage became a catalyst for understanding and growth…

by Rod Smith

“I have been very interested in the discussion around menopausal rage. Last week’s response from the doctor, wife, and mother, I believe, lacked understanding. It was like telling a depressed person to snap out of it.

“I have been through menopause and was also surprised by the rage that overwhelmed me. I have not ever been an angry person so this was very difficult for me to understand and manage. This was rage. If PMS is a ‘woman walking with a loaded weapon’ I ‘was walking with a loaded army!’ Therapy helped me identify the cause of all this rage. Once I started looking at when the rage occurred and the triggers for my outbursts I was able to be more objective and managed to be controlled. I’d pound the streets of the neighbourhood, muttering like a mad woman to use up the energy, calm down and reflect on the incident causing the outburst. I grew in self -awareness.

“With hindsight, I’m very glad I listened to my rage and used it to grow and reclaim my life. Thank you for the opportunity to share my experience of menopause. A useful book is by Dr Christina Northrup, ‘Woman’s Bodies; Women’s Wisdom.’”

August 13, 2008

Why I called his wife…..

by Rod Smith

Woman explains why she called her affair’s wife…

“I was in a relationship with an abusive man who would threaten to tell my children if I left him. He was married and when I received an abusive phone call from him saying he would lie and tell people where we go that I had AIDS when I refused to meet up with him I decided enough was enough. I knew the only way to stop him was to ring his wife and tell her he would not leave me alone. It worked. I knew deep down he was afraid of losing his home, and that he didn’t really love me. My point is that was the only way I could get him to leave me alone was to tell his wife, which I was loathsome to do. I am still trying to get my head around that he lied about loving me. Yes, I did wrong but I didn’t plan it. I now have a bad name because of him as he has lied about me to people where we used to go socially. I was totally taken in and used for his purposes. I wish I could turn the clock back.”