Archive for October, 2008

October 13, 2008

He refuses to acknowledge the pregnancy or me…..

by Rod Smith

“I am at my wits end. I would like to see my family work. I met my boyfriend six years ago. We have a son (2) together. I had an affair and, as a result, he moved out. When we reconciled earlier this year, he kept on seeing the girl he had begun dating after we broke up. I fell pregnant. I am now four months along and he refuses to acknowledge the pregnancy or me. He went to the extent of accusing me of trying to destroy him because I refused to terminate the pregnancy. He is adamant that I am trying to trap him with this pregnancy. Though a part of me wants to let him go, because he is manipulative and verbally abusive, I can’t seem to let go. How do I begin to move on?”

Each of you has been wounded, and in turn, has inflicted some wounding. I’d suggest you attempt to place significant energy upon caring first for your own physical and emotional well-being, and then upon caring for your unborn child and two-year-old son. Do this before you try to understand or unravel your conflicted adult relationships. Children need adult parents and it appears that neither of you, mother nor father, is taking that role very seriously.

October 12, 2008

I hate being a so-called stepparent…

by Rod Smith

“You never win when you are a stepparent because the child comes first and the child can never be wrong in the parents’ eyes. If any stepparent says anything negative about the child regardless how young or old, we will always be seen as the evil one. My ‘fiancé’ said we will not get married until his son and I get along which means he wants me to look the other way when his son orders me around and talks to me anyway he wants too because daddy isn’t going to do anything about it. But I will not put up with it either from anyone but my own parents. I am forty and no twelve-year-old has the right to tell me what to do. I hate being a so-called stepparent. It’s making my life a living hell and I am so miserable because I am always the one to blame for everything!”

I’d suggest both “daddy” and “stepmother” do a little growing up before walking down the aisle. When a forty-year-old writes like an angry twelve year old might write, I can only wonder what’s going on in the home! Stop fighting. Get some distance. You are not peers and yet is seems you are fighting like angry little siblings. Besides, if you hate it before you’re married you most certainly won’t find it too attractive once you are. What is in this for you? A man who treats you like a child and a boy with whom you seem to have issues of sibling rivalry. Then, and I must ask, why do you, an adult, allow your parents to treat you with any degree of disregard? Herein perhaps lies something of the root of the issue.

October 12, 2008

How to become better company…

by Rod Smith

1. Listen more than you talk.
2. Ask appropriate questions (some things really are none of your business!) and listen to the answers.
3. Look people in the eye.
4. Don’t answer your cell-phone, or read or send text messages, in the middle of a face-to-face conversation.
5. Don’t brag or play one-up-man-ship.
6. Don’t unload your life’s details on people you hardly know.
7. Don’t talk about past relationships or past illnesses.
8. Avoid unnecessary detail.
9. Don’t criticize others.
10. Avoid conversations about politics, sex, religion, or the state of the nation with people whom you have just met.

October 9, 2008

My wife and friend have had a five-year affair……

by Rod Smith

“My best friend moved next door to us while his wife was selling their home in another city. While waiting he enjoyed a five-year sexual relationship with my wife. I had evidence to substantiate the affair, which my wife denied. I have not confronted my best friend, nor have I told his wife. I am sure his wife would likely want to pay back both of our spouses by conducting an affair with me. Believe me, it is all I can do to not do exactly that. I am still married, though not convinced that it is entirely over between them. But it is not the way it should be. I should not have to circumvent their sexual activities by spying. I have not sat her down to tell her that I am more than suspicious that it happened. Should I talk with both?” (Letter shortened)

Five years! And you are living under the same roof as your wife? I’d suggest there is something more fundamentally amiss with your marriage that playing “pay back” with his wife most certainly will not fix. Of course you should talk about this. I’d suggest a paid professional to moderate your meetings so you can get the best out of a very toxic situation.

October 8, 2008

Getting married in eleven days…and…..!

by Rod Smith

“I am divorced with two children. In eleven days I will marry a man with two teenage daughters. My fiance, has a very good relationship with his ex-wife, so much so, that he goes over to her home and visits her and her daughters. He even goes over to her sister’s home to be with the family. This has caused some serious disagreements between us, because it appears like they are not really divorced. His reasoning is that he does this for the “girls” so that they are happy. I have an ex, but we have set boundaries on things of this nature. Do we hate each other? Absolutely not. We are very amicable. I’m have some serious doubts that I want to go any further. Please comment.” (Letter shortened)

I’d suggest your future is sufficiently valuable to postpone your wedding until these and other underlying matters are addressed. Your actions will be unpopular, but the response of your fiance and his family to your suggestion that you place the wedding on hold will tell you volumes about how you will be treated in the future. If it is a good match, you will be offered a world of understanding. If you are treated with contempt – well, then you know you’ve made the right choice.

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October 7, 2008

Please suggest some books on living well….

by Rod Smith

My family has constant struggles and I am always trying to define myself and things seem better for a while and then I slip back into old patterns. Are there books you’d suggest everyone read to get a handle on living well?

Regarding your observations within your family – my experience is exactly like yours. I too slip back into former patterns. Then, once I notice it is occurring, I re-group, and try again! Such is the nature of growth and change. Embrace it.

What to read? I’d suggest Harriet Lerner’s books for men and women, even though the books are specifically written for women. I call the books the “Dance” series for each book has the word “dance” in the title. For the more committed student of families and family process I’d highly recommend Rabbi Friedman’s Generation to Generation. Then, for persons challenged by the often-messy dynamics of intimate relationships, I’d suggest either The Sexual Crucible or Passionate Marriage, both are by David Schnarch. Perhaps the most challenging book I have read in the past few years, and it is particularly geared to leaders, is Rabbi Friedman’s Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of a Quick Fix.

October 6, 2008

Twelve-year-old seeks help with feeling obligated…

by Rod Smith

“I am 12. I have been a friend to a boy who is now getting on my nerves. He always sits next to me. He always begins the day with ‘Did you hear…’ and it’s about an embarrassing fact about someone. He usually asks me what we have next as if I am his personal assistant. I tell him that he should know his own timetable and then, like clockwork, he comes back to me at the end of the next period and asks me ‘What do we have?’ My teacher used me an example of good behavior. I know that being good is never something to be ashamed of, but I am honestly going to blow up soon. I feel very bad (obligated). I know that I am one of the only people who listens to him, but I am getting annoyed.” (Minimally edited)

Feeling overcrowded is seldom comfortable. Your response to this uncomfortable situation is appropriate. Address him directly. I’d suggest a third party facilitate this difficult conversation if he were older than you are. Tell him, as strongly as possible, that you will be choosing to establish some distance from him – while also remaining one of his friends. Both of you stand to learn important life lessons as you succeed in defining yourself to your friend. Learn it now, it will serve you well forever.

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October 3, 2008

Live your life well, every day…, a neighbor reminds us…

by Rod Smith

Yesterday my daughter and I left school at about 3:50pm to buy flowers for grandmother. We came home to our house at about 4:30 to see 5 police cars, lights flashing, and an ambulance, lights flashing, right outside our house. Crime scene tape was stretched all across our driveway. I parked the car at the neighbor’s house and went over to the many policemen. I asked what was going on, and one policeman replied, “Ma’am, we don’t know yet.” I then asked if everyone was all right, which received a stare in return.

“Ma’am, you will need to wait for the homicide detective to answer some questions.”

We are having a bathroom redone and it took several hours to uncover that the plumber had finished working at our house, locked the door, carried his tools to his truck and had a major heart attack and died — at 41.

Finally by 7:00 p.m. the coroner had determined death by heart failure and the body was taken away. We’re fine of course, but so sad. This man had two children and a baby on the way. He was a really kind man. We are stunned by the situation, and not a little shaken.

Know that it is so important to live life well, every single day.

October 1, 2008

I am too nice….. thanks for yesterday…..

by Rod Smith

I loved “Helpful starters to counter any negative conversations” (You and Me, 1/10/08). In tense situations, I let others get the better of me as I always think of an appropriate response after the moment has passed, which is so frustrating! My friends have told me that I’m too “nice” and I allow people to speak to me in the manner in which they do. I let people criticize me and can never think of a suitable timely response. But the column you published today will help me greatly. Please can you send me more stuff like this?

Some kinds of “nice” are not helpful. Helpful “nice” is when truth is directly and lovingly expressed, even if the content of your message is tough or uncomfortable. With this said, it is also helpful to know that not everything you see, think, or feel needs to be expressed in every encounter. Sometimes silence – in response to someone wishing to pick a fight – is perfectly “nice” and appropriate.

Know yourself before you assert yourself. Invest deeply in the people who are important to you and, because you hold them in high regard, take no nonsense from them.