Archive for March, 2009

March 24, 2009

The lonely road of Anger

by Rod Smith

Anger, like happiness, joy, and fulfillment, is an “individual pursuit.” Its hurtful expression ought not be laid at the door of the victim. People are angry – alone. The “you-make-me-so-angry” line is a cop-out, a fallacy, and ought to be challenged and resisted. “Buying it” helps the angry man or woman remain immature and maintain unhelpful control.

Certainly, my behavior could trigger your anger, but to do so, the anger has to be already resident, lurking, within you. I may be sufficiently powerful to light your fuse but it remains your fuse.

k-is-for-knee-jerkMany people “get” angry in traffic – but it is not the traffic that makes people angry – the traffic is the catalyst for the anger already resident in people. I know men and women who can sit for hours in horrendous traffic and enjoy books on tape or soothing music! Despite their demanding careers (interrupted by heavy traffic) these men and women have correctly recognized that ranting and raving over things over which they have no control is rather pointless and foolish.

The first step dealing with anger is the recognition that it is not someone else’s fault – but is indeed something that needs to be addressed by the person within whom the anger has found a home.

Alas, angry people abound. Some cover it effectively, making careers of it (watch some sports stars!). Others appear to turn it into something productive like very hard work or passionate involvement in causes (watch some politicians). Some, who have failed to deploy it down more helpful avenues, fight with everyone sooner or later.

Anger (in you or others) is beyond reasoning. “Reasoning” with anger or with an angry person, while he or she is feeling the anger, is pointless. Get out of the way. This is the only helpful thing to do. Refuse to be the victim. If you are the one feeling and expressing the anger, remove yourself from possible victims – have you episode alone!

Anger cannot be “dealt with” academically, through willfulness, or resolutions. Ironically, it can only be dealt with when felt. Stopping, answering the question, “What it really going on here?” will help you find a solution. The ability to see what’s going on trumps the importance of its origin. “I am feeling out of control,” or “This situation appears to want to rob me of something,” or “I am not being recognized for my true importance,” will help you to give your feelings a greater context – and possibly defuse the moment into something more productive.

March 24, 2009

High Maintenance people…

by Rod Smith

Several years ago you wrote about “high maintenance” people and described my then-girlfriend to a T. Please publish it again. It was hard to believe a person who had never met my girlfriend at the time was able to describe her with such accuracy.

High maintenance people require constant attention and approval. They crave to be the center of almost every conversation and will often become symptomatic (moody, resentful, loud, threatening) when they are not. They analyze every move, thought, word and action of their friends and then tend to read more meaning into everything than was ever intended. They are easily hurt, quickly offended, quick to rebuke when they do not get the kind of attention they think they deserve.

want-to-talkHigh maintenance people are difficult, sometimes impossible, even in the most relaxed of circumstances. They pick fights, find fault and personalize almost everything. They argue with people who are closest to them for no apparent reason. They often pick on strangers (waiters, helpers). They often live in a world of cut-off relationships where everyone else is an idiot.

What can you do if you are in a relationship with a high maintenance person? You can do very little that will not hurt, offend them, or get a reaction out of him or her – but you must make a stand. High maintenance people seldom benefit from pity or patience or empathy. They will only benefit from being constantly challenged to grow up.

March 24, 2009

My wife insists on doing our son’s homework with him…

by Rod Smith

“My wife insists on doing our son’s homework with him almost to the point that she is more involved in it that he is. This annoys me and I have to even leave the house when she over does it. ‘He is only ten,’ she says, ‘and he needs all the encouragement that he can get.’ I say he needs to learn to work on his own. Please help.”

Your reaction will become “glue” for your wife and son, and it will fuel your wife’s zeal. Air your views, offer your son your own form of help and support, and then back off. If you “get between” the mother and her son, both will use the alliance in a manner that is counter-productive to overall family health. Here’s the axiom: resist getting in the middle of relationships that you are not part of. Now before I am deluged with mail, let me explain: your wife and son’s relationship is separate from the relationships you enjoy with each of them. Stay out of it – but, at the same time, invest totally in what you enjoy with each.

March 22, 2009

I am married to an emotionally abusive man…

by Rod Smith

k-is-for-knee-jerk“I am in constant coming under emotional abuse. I wished I could get out of this 27-years of unhappy marriage. I stayed for the children. I feel I am living with a manipulative husband who has a negative effect on me. In front of other people he may look as an angel. I think only the a wife that stays with him all hours of a day can know the reality of such personality. Please help.”

dsc_0642Your husband’s success at manipulation and your continued cooperation go hand-in-hand. Once you change things, the marriage might not survive. Manipulative men usually run from real women!

You are crucial to initiating the change you desire.

1. Gather community: start secretly, if you must, to talk to a small group of trusted friends about what is really occurring.
2. Read widely: study books by men and women who have “been there” and learn from what they have done.
3. Make three “small” decisions, like, “I will never again lie for him, have sex I do not want, or make him look good if he is not.”

“Smaller” successes will empower you to stronger steps. He will become more manipulative as he sees he is losing control. You will become bolder and stronger until you are no longer cooperating with his unhealthy ways.

March 17, 2009

My husband doesn’t know I am involved with my boss….

by Rod Smith

“For the past almost four years I have been living a lie. My husband has no idea that I am involved with my boss. His wife is oblivious to our relationship. If I bring this all out in the open it will destroy two families. What can I do?”

e-is-for-enmeshmentThere are no easy answers to this difficult circumstance – but your secret liaison is distorting your view of everything. Understandably, you appear to want to fix something while also keeping it hidden – and I am not sure this is possible. A good place to begin would be with removing yourself from the predatory behavior (it is predatory BECAUSE he is the boss) of your boss. Resign. Look for another job. Do whatever it takes to come out from under his influence. Way will lead to way – and, while you are yet under his spell, you will not be able to see your way forward. Come clean first with yourself. Then we can start to talk about what needs to be done about the other victims in this sad scenario.

March 17, 2009

Separate rooms… one house….

by Rod Smith

“We have a spare room with a bathroom and my husband has moved into that part of the house at my request. He’s been living there since October. He told me he had ‘a’ love for me, but didn’t love me like he should. So I grieved and then told him I couldn’t share my bedroom anymore. He understood and agreed. Neither of us wants to get divorced. The situation, while sad, is working. Someone said to me, ‘How can you begin to heal when you are in the process of being hurt?’ I knew that I needed my own space and my own room where rejection was not constant. For now it’s a solution.”

d-is-for-differentiation1You are right – it is a temporary solution. How long can you both live like this? The bedroom is the crucible, and I’d suggest that after some meaningful discussion (including helpful conflict) both of you assess how love can realign (re-shape, change, modify) itself. You will not be the first married couple to live separate lives while sharing a house, but this does not make it less regretful. Talk. If you stop talking you could become so accustomed to living this way you will never grow beyond this point.

March 15, 2009

Spoiled children…

by Rod Smith

dsc_0642“Spoiling a child” is more than giving him whatever he wants and creating unreasonable expectation of how the rest of life works. Such children often grow up to be self-centered, demanding adults, but humans, even those who have not been “spoiled” seem endowed with a natural propensity toward this anyway.

The real terror of spoiling a child is that he grows up without having had to develop innate skills and abilities to cope with adversity, because one or both parents (or teachers and coaches) refuse to allow natural consequences following the child’s choices to occur. Such parents (and others) constantly interject themselves as buffers between the child and what the world will naturally deliver. “They (indulgent parents) spend huge amounts of time and energy trying to separate cause and effect, behavior and consequence,” a high school football coach told me recently.

Pain is a wonderful teacher and motivator. It develops character and promotes the development of crucial survival skills. While no loving parent wants his or her child to be deliberately subjected to pain, there are enough natural moments in any childhood where “clean” pain comes to teach, and the wise parent gets out of the way and allows it to do its necessary work.

March 11, 2009

Valuable lessons to teach your child…

by Rod Smith

1. To work hard in groups and to work hard alone.
2. To identify the correlation between work and achievement.
3. To freely and regularly express gratitude.
4. To connect behavior and choices with consequences.
5. To save.
6. To find his or her voice and to use it appropriately.
7. To use his or her imagination.
8. To respect elders, teachers, and persons in authority.
9. To be able to apologize and to forgive.
10. To take full responsibility for his or her own future.
11. To value the past as a springboard to the future.
12. To know that fulfillment is an “inside job.”

March 8, 2009

A woman reader writes to the frustrated husband regarding his wife’s loss of interest in sex…

by Rod Smith

Since you know what you are lacking, try working with her to find what she is lacking. Women often don’t have the same high sexual needs as men but that she will want to reach an accommodation with you to enable a happy marriage to continue. Suggest that you want to explore with her what she needs from the relationship and to do that you will take off the pressure of sexual demands for three months while you try to do what she needs since she is what matters to you. Women often feel that they are simply sex objects and that their husbands don’t really ‘see’ them but simply want a convenient and regular sex partner. So woo her and listen to her. Work from what you know she likes and hear what she says about things she enjoys. The fact that you are a good father and provider does not re-assure her that you love her and will go to whatever lengths are necessary to convince her – you have to walk the talk.

Try to create the space (with your wife) for easy discussions about your combined dreams, fears, enjoyments, so that in time she will be able to confide in you what she hasn’t been enjoying about sex. If she wants a back rub don’t regard it as a prelude to sex, if she suggests a weekend at the Berg don’t regard it as a second honeymoon: it is simply time for shared enjoyment. Certainly if you have been pressuring her and insisting on sex when she just wants it over with that is something you don’t want to repeat. Women tend to lose interest in sex as they age, they may still enjoy it but could live without it much more easily than could most men. Don’t expect her to initiate sex even when you get to the point of resumed sex and always honour the fact that circumstances (a quarrel, worry, tiredness) may make her unavailable. There may be a physical problem, quite easily resolved once she has the confidence that you love her, which she will talk about if your exchanges of confidences have been sufficient for her to be re-assured.

Certainly it is not your wife alone, who would need counseling, but both of you together. It is perfectly possible that you can work this out without the need of outside help since you appear to once have had a successful sexual relationship. But remember, even when things improve, constant harping on sex, excessive fondling beyond what she happily responds to, and nagging about not getting enough, will continue to be a ‘put-off’ for any woman. Please be clear that I’m not suggesting she gets to do whatever she wants in return for giving sex. I am suggesting is a ‘ceasefire’ during which good communication is re-established after which a consensual balance of relative needs is established with open communication.

March 4, 2009

Living a life with Grace….

by Rod Smith

dsc_0642Grace is easier to write and preach about than it is to exercise and embody. But it is essential for healthy living, for the building of strong families, for the well being of dynamic churches, places of worship, and even for prosperity of healthy businesses.

Grace helps me to overlook what I think is my due, my just desert, my right. It assists me to forgive, to turn the page, and to move on and let go. Grace Offer and receive Graceempowers me to live with an open hand rather than a clenched fist. When under the spell of divine grace I can forgive others, even when forgiveness is not requested. I can write off debts, even offering gifts in place of the repayment of the debt.

A man or woman of Grace seeks to enrich the lives of those who seek to hurt him or her. Grace is evidence of divine intervention, of growth, goodness, and spiritual maturity

Yes, it is easier to write about Grace and to preach about Grace than it is to extend it at every turn, – which is, of course, all the more reason to try.