Archive for May, 2011

May 31, 2011

Peacekeeper or peacemaker – you get to choose

by Rod Smith

There is a difference between keeping peace (peacekeeping) and making peace (peacemaking).

Peacekeeping takes a lot of work and saps energy. It’s a never-ending. Peacemaking lays groundwork for authentic peace to rule.

Peacekeepers work hard to keep the tensions from rising. They often pretend nothing is wrong. Peacemakers allow tensions to be aired and might even precipitate necessary conflict.

Peacekeepers avoid conflict at all cost. Their reward is the semblance of tranquility, and the slow demise of their integrity.

Peacemakers invite necessary conflict. They know there is no other pathway to greater understanding between warring people.

Peacekeepers may endure fake peace for decades – and feel “called” or anointed or special. Peacekeepers often have high levels of martyrdom. How else would they rationalize the stress of trying to hide the proverbial elephant in the room? Peacekeepers are often portrayed a deeply spiritual because they can endure so much without “saying anything.” They often see their suffering as persecution, rather than the product of being misguided.

Peacemakers value authentic peace.

The peace that exists between people with the courage to endure conflict, for the sake of lasting peace, is as gold when compared with its counterfeit cousin.

Assume your legitimate role as a peacemaker, and give up the other as nonsense.

May 30, 2011

Will our conflicts as husband and wife scar our children for life?

by Rod Smith

Attraction is only enduringly poss

Live fully now, while you can.

“My husband and I have had a highly conflicted relationship. We are now divorced. My concern is that all the fighting has forever scarred my children (14 and 15). Is there anything I can do to make up for the past that was unsettling for our children?” (Condensed)

Family trauma leaves unique hand prints. Some people appear to rise above the past and refuse to engage in the errors of their parents. Others perpetuate conflict for generations.

I believe an important component you can now offer is an honest, on-going conversation with your children with these interlaced themes:

1. I regret things were as they were.
2. I acknowledge you did not contribute to our conflicts in any manner (adults are responsible for adult conflict).
3. Our conflicts need not be part of your future.
4. Your future does not have to be marred by your difficult past.

The greater lesson you will be able to impart will come from your living fully. When you take up the fullness of your daily life you will teach your children that a healthy life can emerge from the pain of a difficult past.

May 29, 2011

A mother writes about the power of medication to help her ADHD son….

by Rod Smith

“My son at 7 seemed fine – he was articulate, self-assured, and mature beyond his years. In the classroom his frustration and anxiety would build. His preschool teacher had commented on his anxiety. His kind teacher wondered whether his hearing had been tested. By first grade he started hating himself for not being able to do what a bright boy should. When my son became more and more anxious, I knew there was an underlying cause. A developmental pediatrician congratulated me on being so astute. My son had a sub-type of ADHD. When he started medication the difference was astounding. At 3pm he’d jump into the car and actually had a spring in his step, instead of the exhausted slump. On medication, he’d jump into the car and ask how I was! Then he would animatedly chat about his day and share all the wonderful and interesting happenings of the day with me. It was astonishing. His reading rate increased by 2 years within 6 months, and then another 2 the next 6 months. My little boy was transformed from a sad, despondent, anxious little boy to a positive, enthusiastic, confident little man. Three psychologists and one GP said my son did not have ADHD but my gut feeling told me otherwise.”

May 26, 2011

Don’t miss your daily miracle…..

by Rod Smith

Attraction is only enduringly poss

Open your eyes to the miracles around you....

1. You woke up this morning.
2. You have the opportunity to love and to be generous to all whom you meet.
3. You have the ability to forgive those who have offended or hurt you.
4. You have the ability to spread goodwill and kindness through simple acts of friendliness.
5. You are uniquely gifted and talented and can end your day (or week, year, decade) having made your unique mark of blessing on the world.
6. You can plan for a spectacular future even if your past has been troublesome.
7. You can strategize and implement simple (or complex) acts of kindness towards those who least expect it from you – especially toward those with whom you have had conflict.
8. You can practice radical acts of hospitality by washing the feet of those who have rejected or despised you.
9. You can live without blaming anyone for anything and, in so doing, be a significant catalyst in your own unfolding freedom
10. You can show up, stand up, speak up, with grace and humility and, in so doing, become part of the solution to the problems in the world rather than remain a part of its many problems.

May 25, 2011

To the married woman in the affiar with a married man (yesterday’s letter)…..

by Rod Smith

Attraction is only enduringly poss

Affairs seduce you away from REAL love

Your thoughts about “your” married man (he’s no more yours than is the man in the moon) and your husband, expressed in yesterday’s column, are a fine illustration of three things:

1. Love, and the illusion of it, often makes a person blind. You appear unaware that every time you are together he, whom you claim has never lied to you or led you on, is lying to you. That he is lying to his wife (with whom he has a covenant and legally recorded relationship) means he can as readily lie to you (with whom he has no legal relationship at all). You are duping each other no matter how well you dress it up in your head.

2. It’s next to impossible to convince the already convinced. It is unlikely you will take any guidance very seriously while you believe this “love” has come “knocking” to teach you something worth learning. Improving your skills at ducking, diving, hiding, and lying never led anyone to deeper intimacy, more openness, greater warmth, and appropriate vulnerability.

3. The human mind is capable of gigantic twists to rationalize its dilemmas. It is a crock to think this “love” is teaching you to better love others while you are at the same time deceiving these very same people.

May 24, 2011

I am a married woman having an affair with a married man

by Rod Smith

Reader responses requested. Please keep it to 200 words…..

“I am a married woman having an affair with a married man. He has never said he will leave his marriage. I have not said I’d leave mine. I am constantly worried at the risks he takes. I know he loves his wife and family and I know it would absolutely destroy him to lose them. We do not talk about our partners. I feel talking about your other is more a breach of trust than having sex. Do I love him? Yes, insanely. Does it hurt me that I have to hide this, and make me feel that each of us are lessened and cheapened by what we do? Yes, also. So I will break it off. I can’t live with the guilt and fear anymore. It’s not the physical aspect; it’s the friendship and intimacy. Do I feel bad about his wife? Am I eaten up with guilt over my husband? Yes. I also feel that love comes knocking in the strangest ways. We all make mistakes. We are looking for something and the pain of forbidden love helps us become better people to those we love then it has been worth it. I trust my married man simply because he never lied to me or led me on.”

May 22, 2011

Jealousy is quick-sand….

by Rod Smith

This must be faced.....

Jealousy in an intimate relationship is quicksand. Don’t mess with it. Accommodate it and it will suck you both in. Try to reason with it, or teach, change, or appease it, and it will constantly outsmart you.

To the non-jealous partner…

Conduct an inventory. Is your “flirting” within the realm of how sane, kind people conduct themselves? If your actions are designed to test the metal of your relationship then you are being manipulative. Stop. If not, continue. If you are not, yourself, being manipulative (this is for you and not your partner to answer) then continue. This is time for your to stay out of control.

To the jealous partner…

Jealousy is your problem. In a more sane moment you will probably agree that it is your issue. Jealous people read volumes into the innocent actions of others and attribute motives to others that are so far from original intent.

To both of you…

Smiling is not flirting. Kindness is not flirting. The flirt knows when he or she is flirting – but the jealous person will read everything as flirting.

Once you engage it, give it a voice, try to prove it has no place or need to exist, try to reason with it, it will duck under your “let’s be reasonable” discussions and emerge later to drain you and your relationship of all vitality.

Given and audience, jealousy will remove all joy and spontaneity from your relationship and then, once its done its nasty work of destroying a good relationship, it will leave you burnt out, feeling guilty, and even looking haggard.

May 21, 2011

He says she’s jealous. Let’s help him out. Please comment…..

by Rod Smith

My wife thinks I flirt, and I think she is being jealous. Some examples:

* a female friend overseas emailed me, to pray for her mother who was very ill. I wrote back saying of course, and that I’d love to catch up on skype. I showed the email to my wife so she could pray for her mother, but instead she was furious that I wanted to “catch up” with a girl on skype. I explained that her mother was dying, and that we used to be good friends. Not good enough.

* Another girl who I used to be good friends with came in from overseas, and when I spoke to her on the phone and said “Sarah!! I miss you!” with a big friendly smile – I hadn’t spoken to Sarah for about 2 years and we were cool friends. My wife was furious I said “I miss you” to another girl. A huge fight.

* I helped a stranger – a mother – to carry a baby carriage down the stairs. I apparently made her laugh, (I’m pretty funny) and my wife was again furious at me that I made a married woman laugh.

* We went water rafting with the some friends, and a girl in another boat took my hat off (I love this hat), and I jumped at her to wrestle my hat back. My wife was furious and said that play fighting is flirting. I just wanted my hat…yes, we were laughing at the time, but I don’t feel I was flirting.

* When a girl is excited to see me, or says I’m really funny, or says they love a certain jacket of mine, my wife says that I let women feel comfortable to approach me and say these kinds of things. For example, we were walking down the street and a girl ran up to me and said, “hey!!! how are you Ronnie! This is your wife yeah! Your wedding was amazing” She acknowledged my wife in a nice way, and didn’t ignore her, but my wife’s problem was that she was so happy to see me. My wife wants me to be polite to women, but to exude a level of modesty, and act a little standoffish to show that they shouldn’t feel so comfortable to be all bubbly around me.

I could go on.

My wife says I’m being too flirtatious, or at the very least I need to work on becoming more modest. And I just want her to accept me for who I am, and not be so jealous.

It’s very painful for both of us. I now feel like I have to walk on egg shells around her in a social setting, and can’t just be my funny self. It’s caused me to be very depressed and I feel like I have to be someone else. Unfortunately it’s depressed me so much that I’m not feeling love for her, nor excitement, nor chemistry. I feel like I’ve made a mistake.

I know marriage is about compromise, and I want to grow in ALL ways. Perhaps I do need to grow in the ways of modesty. There is no end in ones growth.

For her, it’s so painful because she believe I’m putting other women before the marriage. “You are putting other women before the marriage” She would say. She feels I’m not respecting her.

But I feel, if only she would stop being so jealous and accept me for who I am.

My wife thinks I flirt. But I don’t think I flirt at all.

To me it just seems we have different Values. I’m not judging her for having more modest values than me. But I feel she is judging me for my values. Bare in mind, I don’t even touch women unless it’s my wife (no honestly, I don’t believe in it). So I do have certain boundaries. But I’m just not as modest as her, and it drives her crazy…which drives me crazy!

Please help! Any advice would be appreciated. We are really thinking of divorce, but we both don’t want it and would like to save the marriage.

May 20, 2011

“Death is easier than divorce – at least it’s final”…. a reader writes….

by Rod Smith

“How I agree with your column today – break-ups hurt. I have been divorced for four years, and it still hurts. The what ifs – what if I had been kinder, more understanding, what if he had treated me better so I could have been kinder. And so it goes on and on. If you got together again, you know, or think, it would all be different. If only. If only. If only. You drive yourself insane.

“I maintain death is easier than divorce. Death is final. Everyone rallies around to support you in your time of grief. They keep asking how you are, they include you in their lives, where possible, and check that you aren’t lonely. I know this doesn’t last forever – but I do know that it happens. Some groups make a roster and supply meals for a week or two. Then there’s the anniversary of the death – cards, phone calls, people letting you know they care. Maybe a notice in the Newspaper.

“Divorce, on the other hand, is never final. Friends are uncomfortable with you and most don’t support you in, yes, your time of grief. They don’t ask how you are coping and whether you are lonely. In fact, they almost pretend that nothing has happened and, due to embarrassment, some even avoid you. They don’t realise, unless they’ve been there, that what has happened is a huge emotional upheaval. There’s no anniversary – you remember the date of the final separation, but no one else does. No phone calls, no cards, no friends and relations letting you know they care.

“And, no one brings you a meal!”

May 19, 2011

Stand up – so the healing may begin…..

by Rod Smith

Attraction is only enduringly poss

Take UP your life as an act of self LOVE

Breakups hurt – even if we want them. Ending even a troublesome marriage, let alone one that was often good, is an emotional amputation. It can take years and years to recover if full recovery is even possible. Give yourself space. Give yourself time. But, stand up.

Add infidelity to the mix – and the confusion, the replays, the what ifs, amplify. Now recovery, if it is possible, includes second-guessing everything that might have appeared innocent, rethinking what appeared good. Infidelity as a cause for a breakup seems to prolong, to postpone, the journey toward possible wholeness. Infidelity attacks the foundation, not just of a marriage, but also of the victim’s being.

Give yourself time, space, and a heavy dose of patience. But, stand up.

There is healing. There is growth. There is a future without her, without him, without life as you have always known it. But that life will wait in the wings while there is self-blame, while there is self-pity.

I know this is a hard truth to swallow – but until there is a moment when a person says, “I am responsible for myself and for what happens to me despite the actions of others,” there is unlikely to be the beginnings of authentic healing.