Archive for June, 2011

June 30, 2011

We are respected in our church and now our daughter is pregnant…..

by Rod Smith

“My daughter (17) has come home from London (to South Africa) and told me she is pregnant. We are very upset and the young man has no interest in her anymore. We are a respected family in the church community and this is a shame for us. What do we do?” (Letter shortened)

You fall to your knees. Thank God for the fabulous joy and privilege of welcoming your daughter home. Thank God for the exceeding joy of adding another child to your extended family. Tell the world and any who will listen that you love your daughter and your love is greater than any need to hush things up or make her feel as if she has committed the unpardonable sin.

Pregnancies might be unplanned, inconvenient, or even embarrassing, but people are never “unplanned.”

If your church is anywhere close to understanding Biblical truth they will throw a party for your daughter. They will rally around her, support her in every manner. Then they will wait with loving anticipation to meet and greet and honor the newest member of their extended family.

I will remind you (and, sadly, you might have to remind your church) that some of the most esteemed figures in Biblical history were born under very difficult and “questionable” circumstances.

June 30, 2011

How to make the (your) world a better place

by Rod Smith

It is within my power (albeit limited) to make this an extraordinary day, to be followed by an extraordinary weekend.

I have the ability required (albeit limited) to be a loving, kind, firm, and responsible member of my family, my neighborhood, and my city.

I know how to serve others – and I will do so with a thankful heart.
I know how to listen to others – and I will do so with an attentive ear.
I know how to live a generous life – and I will give and help relieve the suffering of others.

Today, and this weekend, all people in my circle of influence will be better off for knowing me.

Children will get my ear.

The elderly will get my time.

Persons within my most intimate circle will get both.

I will not complain about anything. I will not pick on people. I will not focus on what is wrong with the world, but will try to be part of the healing it so desperately needs. I will live today, and this weekend, with a deep sense of gratitude, paying careful attention to the beauty and the vibrancy of life everywhere.

June 29, 2011

There is help for addicts but the first step is recognition….

by Rod Smith

Addictions and addicts are swamped in denial.

The use of any substance or participation in any behavior is a problem (an addiction) for you if one of the following is true for you.

As a result of the use of a substance or engagement in a behavior:

  1. You’ve lost, or come close to losing, a significant relationship or a job.
  2. You’ve had a run in with the law.
  3. Your children are unsettled by your activities.
  4. You have physical cravings when you have been without it for a few minutes or a few days.
  5. You violate your values, or appear to have no values, to sustain your activity.
  6. You build your life around something people who love you wish you wouldn’t consume or do.
  7. Your life – finances, faith, and relationships – has become progressively unmanageable.
  8. You hide or you lie about your whereabouts and/or behavior.
  9. People who love you are put “on duty” and you expect them to lie for you.
  10. People, especially those you love, are embarrassed by your behavior.
  11. You hate a list like this list and hope certain people won’t see it.
  12. When confronted with this list you argue about definitions, display anger or rage, or write the writer off as an idiot.

Please, get help, AA, AL-ANON, and similar organizations are able to assist you. You do not have to live like this!

June 28, 2011

My wife had an affair and I am finding it hard to trust her……

by Rod Smith

The following theme comes to my attention at least several times a month: My wife had an affair. I am finding it hard to trust. Please help.

I can't MAKE you trust me

Trusting a spouse has nothing to do with your spouse. It has everything to do with you.

Each person determines his or her levels of trust with all other people – spouse included. If you hadn’t noticed, you trust people in different ways all the time.

I am not suggesting a wayward partner be fully trusted. This is exactly the point. Trust according to your levels of ability to trust, given the history and the circumstances you face.

“Prove I can trust you,” is unfair. If you are one given to suspicion nothing anyone can do will meet your standards. It is likely you will find holes given the most innocent of scenarios. This is the very nature of suspicion. It eats into everything, nothing ultimately satisfies.

A couple shipwrecked by an affair can survive. I have seen it many times. But the couple will face many challenges while the offended partner constantly seeks assurance or repeatedly brings up the past or plays the hurt puppy.

It takes two to tangle – affairs occur in a context.

It takes ONE to be unfaithful – don’t blame your partner for your actions.

It takes two to find reconciliation.

Trust can be fully restored, little by little over an extended period of time.

June 27, 2011

I hope your “partner” reads this and sees it as her impetus to bail……

by Rod Smith

“Women put everything on the MAN! Talking about they need to be in the right mood. They need romance. Don’t get me wrong, I try to look at her point of view about sex but they never put US in the mood. We’ve been together for a year and engaged since February and I already feel like I’m 50 or 60 years old! These types of problems are supposed to happen around that age! I’m only 24 and she’s 29! I can’t win!” (Edited of hard language)

Clean up your language. It might (emphasis on the “might”) make you more attractive all round. If you swear (cuss) while you are writing about your most intimate relationship, one can only imagine what you must be like face-to-face.

How a person treats outsiders (those whom you do not know and who will read your writing) is a powerful indicator of how a person treats insiders (those close to you).

If you shifted your focus from what you want to what you can contribute you might see some change.

Diminish your desire to control. (“I can’t win” — healthy relationships were never about winning and losing).

Become less demanding, needy, and a lot more loving, and you may grow up a lot and be ready for the kind of sex a partner wants.

You are totally off in your understanding of men in their 50’s and 60’s. You, it is clear to me, don’t have enough behind your eyes (life experience) to have good sex – and if you keep on with your current manner of operating, which I call being “penis propelled”, you might never have it.

I hope your partner reads your post and identifies you (which you sent anonymously –another indication of your immaturity) and regards it as an impetus to bail. If she stays, and you continue to be as demanding as you clearly are, she is in for one sad, sad ride.

June 26, 2011

Four sure-fire ways to increase family emotional health and deal with overly-sensitive people

by Rod Smith

I have received several very welcome and lengthy letters from readers who find themselves in very complicated family relationships.

Here are four broad principles for all members of a family:

1. Get yourself out of “the middle” of other people’s relationships! Don’t carry messages for others, or think for others or feel for (on the behalf of) others. Allow other adults the joy or communicating their own messages, thinking their own thoughts and feeling their own feelings.

2. Regard all other adults as complete adults and your complete equals. If you’re “on eggshells” around anyone (a parent, boss, child, spouse or former spouse) this person has inappropriate power over you that I’d suggest you address. The “eggshells” means you are not seeing yourself as an equal.

3. Never allow yourself to be intimidated, dominated or manipulated. Persons who use intimidation, domination or manipulation (emotional bullies) to get their way must be confronted if you want any degree of healthy dialogue.

4. Despite age, rank or status, don’t “tread lightly” around other adults. While it is unnecessary to knowingly inflict hurt upon others, some people are so inappropriately sensitive that their oversensitivity can restrict others from normal behavior. If your actions are not in themselves hurtful, but are interpreted as such by some sensitive soul, I’d suggest you be yourself and challenge Mr. Mrs. or Ms. Oversensitive to grow up.

June 26, 2011

Essential topics for talks with children……

by Rod Smith

Thulani, Nathanael, Max, and me

Important conversations do not need to be “serious” conversations. Thulani and I talked about my death. I had the distinct impression that although it is a tough concept for him to embrace, he’s rather have had the conversation that not have had it. I told him that he’d bring me most honor and joy through going forward (from my death) to live his own life as powerfully and meaningfully as possible.

Here are the broad topics I believe to be essential

Grief and death

Handled gently, death and grief can become a part of any parent-child conversation. Talking about death and dying does not need to be scary or even sad – and talking about it does not cause it.

Sex and intimacy

Helpful conversations about sex and intimacy do not need to be a “big talk” but an ongoing dialogue. Let your child learn about the joys and beauty of sex from you, the parent, not from a school or “program.”

Space and boundaries

Teach your child where he or she begins and ends – what is and is not his or her responsibility. Teach him or her to responsible to others and not for others.

Money and debt

Showing children how investments grow can become a powerful incentive for a child to save. Pointing out the folly of the misuse of credit cards and how debt can radically accumulate is a lesson every child ought to learn.

Planning a great future

It’s a cliché, but if you aim at nothing it is likely you will get it every time. It is a gift to any child to teach him or her to plan a powerful future.

June 25, 2011

Women, and jealous men…

by Rod Smith

Jealousy serves no useful purpose. Jealous men (It’s men in my experience) try and tell me it comes with love. Nonsense.

Ugliness is never a symptom of love.

Placated? Appeased? Entertained? Jealousy won’t dissipate. It will grow. And grow. Become increasingly demanding.

The sympathetic, those allowing jealousy to do its ugly work, will discover the virus to be insatiable. It will only becomes more restrictive and ridiculous.

“I stopped talking to men at work, I stopped dressing in pink, I stopped calling my sister, I stopped smiling – these behaviors of mine made him jealous,” she says, “now he doesn’t want me talking anyone, or wearing clothes he didn’t pick out for me, or talking to anyone in my entire family!”

Rings of pure love, doesn’t it?

It is common for a woman to believe she causes a man’s jealousy.

“I make him jealous,” she says.

“No you do not. You are not that powerful,” I say, “his jealousy predates you, and now you are the unlucky victim of the virus.”

Don’t mess (negotiate) with it. Stand up to it. Or it will get you every time. It will contaminate your every move, your every thought. (This is the nature of a virus.)

Address him with: “This is your issue, not mine. I love my life too much to allow your jealousy to manipulate or dominate me. If you want me, you have to accept that I will not allow your issues to have any power over me. It’s sad enough that your issues control you, I am certainly not going to let them control me. I’m interested to see what YOU will decide to do with YOUR problem.”

June 23, 2011

Take back your future…….

by Rod Smith

“A friend brought your column to my notice this morning. I cannot believe it! It’s like you were reading my mind! I’m trapped in my marriage of 27 years. My husband and I hardly communicate as he disagrees with everything I say. I have now chosen to communicate as little as possible in order for us not to get into an argument. I too walk on eggshells of fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. Everything around the home has to be done his way. My suggestions just fall by the wayside. He has not been able to contribute financially for years so maybe this is his way of retaining his ‘head of the family’ role. I think I’ve written to you ten years ago and nothing has changed since. Maybe I need to change. I’ve been unhappy for so long that I may never have a normal relationship again.”

Ten years is a small price to pay to learn that you are the one who might need to do some changing – many people never discover this.  If your husband is unable to manage his own happiness, why on earth would you think he can take care of yours?

Gather trusted women.

Carefully (slowly) hatch a plan.

Implement it.

Take back your future.

[If you want something better in the future than you have had in the past it won’t just happen to you. You must engage in the planning, you have to do something different in the present, if you want the future to look different from the present and the past.]

June 22, 2011

Do you live in relationship or “intimacy” hell?

by Rod Smith

Mr. or Ms. Unpredictable

You walk on eggshells.

You fear a massive fallout – yet you also wish for it.

You say something honest – then, almost immediately you wish you hadn’t.

You know that no matter how innocent or insignificant or benign a conflict – it will get magnified out of all proportion.

Innocent statements, even vulnerable reflections on your part, will be misinterpreted, misquoted, and repeated incorrectly and used against you forever.

You feel trapped by what is supposed to be love but have second thoughts (actually a million thoughts!) about how love is supposed to feel.

You are usually wrong and you are told you are stupid.

When you admit fault, or even stupidity, you are at fault and stupid for admitting it.

When you are right you are wrong for saying so or you think you are perfect and trying to show others up.

If you are silent you are avoiding conflict and if you speak out you are “looking for trouble.”

In your intimate whirlpool (more like an emotional tornado) white is black, black is white and the water is very murky.

Innocence is guilt.

Pointing out obvious error is entrapment.

You are exhausted with the load of meeting the emotional needs of someone who cannot, or will not, take responsibility for his or her own needs.

You “share” (it’s better described as emotional wrestling) life with an emotional piranha and yet, for some unfathomable reason, you stay, feeling unable to escape.