August 31, 2010
“My boss is a married with grown-up children. He told me he is very bored with his marriage. He is interested in me. He told me he needs my help on a business trip next month. What do I tell my husband? I am nervous. I know he has had flings before with women in the office. One older woman told me how he operates. If I don’t cooperate I could lose my job. I’m new and I need the work. He’s the owner of the business.”
Your husband’s support
Define yourself early
is pivotal as you work at keeping your integrity, marriage, and job (in that order).
Tell your husband about every off-limit employer-employee interaction.
Keep good notes and track, with date, time, and details, every interaction where the conversation goes beyond the realm of work. Such a log will be helpful to show patterns of interactions and assist you to remain objective about what is going on.
When your boss tells you about his marriage counter with, “I don’t know how you will manage your boring marriage but that is really none of my business. I’d like to keep it that way.”
Abusive men usually retreat from strong women, especially if they stand up to them at the first smell of a rat.
August 30, 2010
There’s a wonderful day ahead
Bravely begin claiming back your life
for those who choose to enjoy it, to learn from it, to give the best shot at everything.
I’m going to.
I am going to because the alternative is vastly unattractive.
I’m going to put my talents to work, talent that God has placed within me (I believe we each have 7) as an expression of my gratitude.
Join me. Please. Begin by exercising grace (the desire I believe we all have to be an agents of goodwill) to all whom you encounter.
And as we do so may the writers write, the dancers dance, the artist paint and create, and the musicians sing and play at full volume until the world is gleaming with added beauty, joy, and goodness until the music can be widely heard.
Treat your friends and enemies with generosity and humor. Thank those who despise you for their power to transform you into something more beautiful than you already are, and lift your heart to neighbors and friends to express the joy and the thrill of what it means to be fully alive.
Please drop me a note about an act of LEADERSHIP you have witnessed that has demonstrated a leader’s knowledge of this fine art.
August 29, 2010
(I’ve used “he” simply for easier reading)
1. He has finely developed self-knowledge – he knows his talents and uses them well.
2. He has a high degree of self-awareness – he knows the power he has to impact the lives of others and governs that power with deep respect.
3. He can listen to others without needing to interject his insight, interrupt with his own stories, or follow up with something bigger, better, faster, or more dramatic.
4. He openly admits that he avoids getting involved in areas where he is unskilled and lacking in talent.
5. He makes way for others to get ahead in their careers and for others to be acknowledged.
6. He doesn’t use his insights as a weapon or as a means of manipulation, domination, or intimidation.
7. He is quick to forgive and often does so without needing to be asked.
8. He engages in radical hospitality and commits act of extreme generosity.
9. He focuses on his strengths and fully accepts his weaknesses.
August 26, 2010
See your dislikes as a challenge
Take time alone (yes, no phone, no computer, no other friends or distractions) so you may come to terms with your part of the failure. You will know you are beginning to be ready for restoration of the relationship when you have moved beyond blaming others and are no longer looking to excuse your behavior. You take full responsibility for your behavior.
While alone, your focus at all times will not be on what someone has done to you but on what you have done to others. You might write a journal, pray, read, and meditate – with each of these activities contributing to helping you find a healthy perspective on what you have done to damage trust in the relationship.
Preparing yourself for restoration, requesting forgiveness, owning up to your part in what failures have occurred, does not mean the person whom you hurt will be ready for forgiveness and reconciliation.
Relinquishing control of where he or she is in his or her journey is an essential part of your journey.
August 25, 2010
“My daughter (24) has started seeing a man no one in the family likes. Surely she should see this as a ‘red flag’? Do you think we should have a big meeting and all tell her what we see and then let her take it from there?”
I feel the urge
See your dislikes as a challenge
to announce that you (the members of your family) are all separate people. Each of you is probably perfectly capable of loving and embracing persons who are very different from the persons others of the family may choose. You can do this all without falling apart as a family.
Letting your daughter know what you see, think, and feel individually might prove helpful to those who feel the need to deliver this message, but I think I’d avoid the big meeting at this time.
I’d suggest you challenge yourselves to love whomever your daughter loves and use your differences as a source of growth.
August 24, 2010
I have met parents concerned
Open yourself to growth
about the degree of conflict experienced with their children, who then, during the conversation, will openly confess they have no time for a mother or father-in-law, their own parent, or are out of sorts with an adult sibling. When I gently point out that these conflicts are possibly connected, fueling each other, I am met with disbelief.
“You’re saying that my fights with my son over his homework (or irresponsibility, or drinking) are connected to the fact that my father-in-law is an impossible man to whom I have refused to talk for the past five years?”
“You’re saying that my ridiculously controlling mother who walks in here like a movie director telling us all where to stand and what to say is connected to my 12-year-old daughter mouthing off to me however she likes.”
When the adult takes the challenge of embracing the “impossible” father-in-law, or standing up to the “controlling” mother, the adult is taking personal responsibility for his or her pivotal relationships.
A parent who takes full responsibility for himself or herself when it comes to relating to members of their preceding generation, will see less anxious, less reactive, less rebellious behavior in the generation that follows.
Yes. It is all indeed connected.
August 22, 2010
“I left a bad marriage for someone who cares about me. Although I wish the circumstances on how I left my husband were different, I have learned from my mistakes. My marriage was abusive, difficult, yet the decision to leave was a difficult. When my husband found out about my affair he still wanted to stay married but our relationship had become so torturous that I didn’t want to work things out. He still blames the affair for the divorce. My husband never believed there was anything wrong with our relationship. He needed to realize that marriage takes mutual commitment and respect. No one person is responsible for the marriage ending even if someone cheats. If the marriage were strong, no one would have cheated. I don’t think cheating is right. I never ever thought I was capable of cheating. I can’t change the past I wish I never cheated, but I don’t regret leaving my husband. Honestly, I don’t know if I could have had the courage to leave if it wasn’t for the affair in the first place.”
No room to move....
While it takes two to tangle (not tango!) it only takes one of the partners to cheat. I trust you will experience greater love than you’ve ever known.
August 20, 2010
“In twenty years my husband has never told me he loves me. I know he does but he just can’t say the words. He makes up for this in so many ways but it would be nice to hear. Please help.”
Let him off the hook
For some people the words “I love you” get trapped where head, heart, and history intersect and the love can find no escape but through loving acts.
Enjoy his love, even if the words “I love you” are never said. Let him off the hook. Love him by relieving him of this expectation.
If your husband were the person writing to me I’d challenge him to learn to love you with both actions and words. I’d suggest he at least take a look at when and how these words lost their legs inside him.
Since you wrote I will suggest you use this circumstance to advance your own growth by resisting the understandable urge to meddle with his head and heart.
August 19, 2010
Bravely begin claiming back your life
can be as damaging as child neglect. While I am aware of this somewhat harsh generalization, I cannot help but call to mind the many over-focused parents I have met who, in the name of parenting, lost their lives to their children and in the process, all but consumed their children. Such parents are usually taken aback when the children fight back in a desperate search for room to breathe. If you identified yourself in yesterday’s column and would like to move toward a more healthy position, here are a few initial, or small step, suggestions:
1. Announce your insight about your propensity to over-parent to your spouse (or, in the absence of a spouse, to a few trusted close friends) and declare your desire to give everyone around you more room to move.
2. Do not be afraid – if this is at first even possible. Establishing space and healthy separation will not damage your child. Not doing so might. You are not rejecting your child. If you’ve been over-parenting it is likely your child desires some space even if he or she appears to resist your moves toward some independence. Children are as resistant to change as most people.
3. Forge personal interests unrelated to your child. Fake your enthusiasm if you have to, but get involved in something outside of the home. Come on! Think. You did have a life before you had a child. Reach out to it.
4. Reconnect with old friends to reestablish a community of support. Be careful, initially, to avoid other child-obsessed parents as you try to break your addiction to your child.
5. Make a priority to invest time in the relationship with your spouse. I believe that children are happier when they know that their parents do not depend on the children being happy, but rather that the parents’ relationship is strong. (Added by Vincent Randy)
August 18, 2010
Here are 7 signs you might be too close or over-parenting your child (or children):
Have surrendered your power to your child?
1. Your child is central to all your conversations. Every conversation, no matter how initially unrelated, ultimately includes or returns to the topic of your child.
2. You deeply desire to be your child’s friend and so you avoid difficult issues, necessary conflicts and confrontations.
3. You find yourself in the middle, trapped between your partner and your child, your ex and your child, teachers (coaches, mentors) and your child, your parents and your child. You are a self-appointed shield and therefore attempt to fend off essential opportunities for helpful pain and growth, necessary for all children to become healthy adults.
4. Your child is the stake in the ground to which you are tethered and around which you function. Everything is about your child, all of your social life (if you have one at all), your interests, activities; everything is focused around your child.
5. Your primary adult relationship (with your spouse or partner – you might have forgotten that this is in fact your primary relationship) sometimes gets in the way of your role with your child and almost all of the time you choose your child and feel guilty if you do not.
(Tomorrow: Steps to healthy parent-child separation)