Archive for November, 2008

November 27, 2008

I was about to give birth when he told me he didn’t love me anymore…

by Rod Smith

“My husband, after eight years of marriage, told me, when I was about to give birth to our second baby girl, that he was not in love with me anymore. She is now 18 months old. This has been the worst 18 months in my life. He stayed and I have done some very compromising things to make him love me, including getting breast implants. I know I cannot change his mind because I have done everything I can. In the meantime have missed the last year and a half of life with my beautiful girls. I think women think we can fix everything. I am slow to discover I cannot.” (Minimally edited and shortened)

dsc_0642Indeed, I hope you and your children will find the future you really want. While the pain of your immediate past could totally debilitate you, I hope it is clear that to be immobilized by your husband’s inconsideration will not bode well for your family’s future. Perhaps, one of the saddest aspects of your letter is your apparent naïve belief that modifying your breasts would be enough to keep your husband. Dare I say that a man who stays in a marriage for the shape and size of breasts is not worth keeping?

November 26, 2008

Good close, unhelpful “close” — it’s about HEALTHY distance…

by Rod Smith

Sometimes people are too close….

  1. Moods seem contagious. (“If you’re down I find myself being down too.”)
  2. Joys, pleasure, pains, ups and downs, resentments and rejections of others, are all “tandem” experiences. (“We do everything together. We even like the same things. We even DON’T like the same people!”)
  3. Looking out for each other (demonstrating care) is rather a form of keeping watch (checking up). (“I love you so much I can’t let you out of my sight. The truth is if you are out of my sight I get eaten up with feeling out of control.”)

Sometimes people have a healthy distance…

  1. Moods seldom “jump ship.” (“I monitor my own emotional life. It’s not helpful if we both feel down at the same time.”)
  2. Joys, pleasure, ups and downs, resentments and rejections of others, are all “individual” experiences. (“Of course we have individual interests. We are vastly different in so many ways. I really like some people he doesn’t really want to spend time with.”)
  3. Looking out for each other (demonstrating care and connection) is an expression of genuine interest. (“We ‘talk’ all day sometimes. Some days I have no idea where she is or who she’s with. That’s how it is when you are busy.”)

November 25, 2008

I felt like I was not a priority to him….

by Rod Smith

“I was engaged recently and have been with my partner for three years. We have had our troubles but have always worked through things. My partner was hurt by my confession that I had unresolved feelings for my ex-boyfriend. We had many conversations and decided to try again. He had since been hanging out with new friends and acting out of control. He started to lie about his whereabouts and we we’re always arguing. I felt as though a commitment to our relationship meant that he had to live accordingly and respect the dsc_0642boundaries of our relationship. I was happy for him to see his friends but not happy that it seemed devious and sly. I felt like I was not a priority and as though he felt like I was always whining and trying to control him.” (Considerably shortened and edited)

I’d suggest you remove yourselves from each other’s lives for a while. Do some “letting go” and get some perspective on what you want. You are both going to have to learn to stay out of each other’s emotional business. The issue is not that you are not close enough — you are too close! Everything he does affects you, and this is not a healthy platform for a lifetime of loving.

November 24, 2008

She blames me for everything…

by Rod Smith

“My girlfriend and I have been going out for a year and a half. I fell in love with her a long time before that, but now I just don’t feel the same way. It’s like I want to break up with her but than at the same time I don’t dsc_0642know what to do without her. She is the love of my life but I can’t stand the way she is always blaming me for things that have nothing to do with me. I don’t know what to do. Please help.” (Edited)

Deciding you can’t live with her or without her, hardly gives her a lot of room to move. She’s a player in this too. It’s time for you to have a good head-to-heart talk with yourself (find out what you really want) and follow that with a good heart-to-heart talk with her (to find out what you both want). Greater clarity will probably do each of you a lot of good. At some point in your life you might discover that loving a person must progress beyond intense feelings of love.

November 18, 2008

Good boundaries, make good people…

by Rod Smith

dsc_0642Literal boundaries, like fences, walls, and lines on the road, surround us. Others are unseen, like the acknowledgment that a couple is a couple. People give couples “room” to be a couple even though there is no line or visual demarcation declaring them to be a couple. An internal boundary is “the line I draw” that will not allow me to steal, shoplift, or randomly hit people who annoy me.

Boundaries acknowledge necessary separateness. They assist with space and definition. They provide clarity, – all necessary components of individual growth, development, and the provision of wellness for the whole.

Boundaries keep us apart, and together, by keeping us healthily apart.

A very simple illustration: every time a vehicle is on the road a driver must obey (honor, acknowledge) many rules, and respect many boundaries or, of course, accidents occur, build up occurs, people are injured, and things are damaged. The same is true with people and within families, churches, businesses, and communities.

Even trees — and I know the analogy is not perfect! — if planted too close together, cannot grow to full height. If they are too far apart, their unified capacity to provide shade is limited. People who are too close, and people who are too far apart, cannot express their full potential.

People are unique (distinct, separate) and when that uniqueness is honored and respected, relationships flourish, people’s skills and talents come alive. Everyone’s enriched. When personal boundaries are ignored or violated, people suffer. Ways that people ignore the boundaries of others are through disrespect, through having false or unrealistic expectations of each other, and through assuming upon each other, or taking each other for granted.

Respecting an emotional, psychological, or physical boundary is the recognition of the simple truth that people (even married couples) remain unique individuals. Healthy relationships do not rob a person of his or her uniqueness, no matter how much love or “closeness” there is. Every person has his or her own body, his or her thoughts, his or her feelings, his or her dreams, desires, and separateness. When these distinctions are honored and respected, then the choice to be in a relationship and the choice to love is that much more profound.

Boundaries empower people to love with freedom. Unhealthy boundaries make (force, coerce) people to “love” from force, intimidation, domination, and manipulation.

Good boundaries help people to love each other, respect each other, to be closer to each other in ways that are helpful to everyone.

November 15, 2008

How do you mend a broken heart after a failed romance?

by Rod Smith

Be sure to go “in order” and do not skip a step:

dsc_06421. Cry, wail, and let out as much raw emotion as humanly possible. Do it in private in several bouts spread over several weeks. Be sure to cry every available tear. Un-cried tears become toxic slime rendering the carrier bitter, angry, cynical, and sarcastic. This step will take several weeks to a month. Take your time.
2. Once crying has exhausted you, and once you’ve had sufficient rest, write as much detail as you possibly can about your role in the failed relationship. Get your mind off what he or she did, or what he or she did not do, and focus on the part you played in the failed entanglement. Allow three to six months. Again, take your time.
3. Value your integrity above saving or having any relationship. Tell the truth about who you are. Decide what you want. Remind yourself that it is you alone who makes decisions about who you will be with, what you will or will not do, and how you will spend your time and resources. Allow the rest of your life for completion of number three.

(As you “live out” number 3, remind yourself that sometimes hearts do not fully mend, but that you always have the opportunity to become wiser in how you handle your heart and the hearts of those whom you to love).

November 15, 2008

A reader writes to encourage stepparents…

by Rod Smith

“I’m currently living with my fiancé and his two daughters who are 11 and 13). Their mother moved a fair distance away right after the divorce. They would have had joint custody if she stayed, however, she chose to move away to her new boyfriend and have a new baby. Despite everything the girls have gone through, they have always treated me with respect. They are such sweet open hearted individuals that I really look up to. I wouldn’t have been able to handle it if my mother had moved away from me at that age. There are times when they act up and frustrate both their dad and me but it’s really just normal stuff all kids do.

“For all stepparents, the fact that you are even there willing to be part of the family and show love to the children is something very special on its own. That takes a special someone. But yet, ‘evil step mom or dad’ are under constant scrutiny from the ones who really made ‘the choice’ to be a parent yet not be around. Stepparents should get a medal for everything they have to endure.”

November 13, 2008

South Korea. It will be my joy to be there….

by Rod Smith

I will write this column from Seoul, South Korea, next week. I have the privilege of being the speaker at a conference about families, growth, healing, and recovery, at Onnurri Church in that great city. If you pray, please keep me in mind.

November 13, 2008

Face-to-face conversations…

by Rod Smith

Nothing, no DVD series, no expert on Dr. Phil, or guest on Oprah, nor anything you read on the Internet, nor anything I write in this daily column, will have as greater impact on your family, on your relationships, your emotional health as will a face-to-face, honest conversation with whomever you are in conflict.

The only occasion when this is justifiably avoided, and ought not occur, is when violence (physical, sexual, emotional) of any nature has already occurred within the relationship. In these sad instances, professional help, to assist in navigating a difficult future, is recommended.

November 12, 2008

She wants to go to university at age 55…

by Rod Smith

“My wife (55) wants to go back to university now that our children are all grown up. I have not been too kind about this as I think it is a waste of our time. We have been very successful even without degrees. I am worried about her safety going back and forth every day to the campus. This has become quite an issue for us as we have always been united on everything.” (Edited)

dsc_0642It doesn’t take too much “reading between the lines” to see you are probably somewhat threatened by your wife’s natural desire for knowledge, freedom, and adventure. The “we” sounds very strong. Viewing your wife’s attendance at university as “a waste of our time” is a rather strong clue to the lockstep nature of the relationship. I’d suggest you get out of your wife’s way as soon as possible and become her greatest fan as she strives after her goals.

You are correct. You, and many others are “very successful even without degrees.” Just imagine what you might have done with one!