Archive for ‘Difficult Relationships’

June 13, 2020


by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Wednesday

Take nothing not legitimately yours…..

Most of us do not need to be reminded not to steal. Such values are burned into us from very early childhood.

There are other ways to steal.

I see people (and I see it in me) assuming power, control, influence, and seeking information not intended for them.

Such “theft” – or over-functioning, is often applauded, even considered spiritual.

When people assume control, power, or seek information and influence that it not legitimately theirs, it results in others not having to take responsibility for themselves and burnout for he or she who thus over-functions.

Here are a few clues to such behavior:

· Doing someone else’s work just to be sure it gets done

· Following up – making sure something is done even if it’s someone else’s responsibility

· Asking questions about things that are none of your business

· Spreading half-truths or lies to steer things

· Backseat driving – in and out of a car – even if there’s no car

· Disciplining other people’s children (covertly or overtly) without the authority or role to do so

· “Running” things that are not yours to run.

Assume all legitimate power, control, and influence when it comes to you and your family and your work and your roles in every aspect of your life.

Leave all the rest alone.

June 12, 2020

A conversation with my son (22)

by Rod Smith
June 10, 2020

Surviving an affair

by Rod Smith

How much information a couple should discuss after an affair has been disclosed if and when the couple decides to stay married and work things through?

I would rather respond with several broad post-affair principles:

Infidelity is often a lethal blow to any marriage.

The couple who remains married post-affair deserves all support possible and no “outside judgement.” The couple will experience fragility, nervousness, expressions of lack of mutual trust, and moments of regression even after claiming to have forgiven.

One may want to “move on” and the other will want to examine and understand the past. Sometimes they will shift positions. 

Recovery is a process, a long process, not an event. 

The man or woman who wants to “remain friends” with the “other party” is not ready for the affair to end. In the past I have suggested the betrayed spouse confront the “other party” but I have come to see that this is not always wise. It can unnecessarily exacerbate hurt and often serve no useful purpose. 

I advise betrayed men and women not ask questions if the truth will be unbearable. It takes remarkable resilience to ”live with” and to forgive if too much detail and information has been shared. Too much information can send the betrayed person on extended and unhelpful wild goose chases.

Is it possible to survive an affair?

Yes, I have seen it many, many times.

June 10, 2020

Things I love to see happening for clients…..

by Rod Smith

• The growing awareness that it is the client, and only the client, who can change his or her behavior and therefore his or her life, with the understanding that even power over oneself is limited.

• The realization that no one needs or deserves to be a victim or to be treated as one no matter what has transpired in the past.

• The joy that follows “small” successes that have occurred and which resulted from choices that may have caused severe pain and nervousness in the making.

• The development of deeper trust in the therapist and in the therapeutic process while also appreciating and recognizing the limitations of both.

• The reports from the client that he or she is learning to understand and use his or her voice and God-given power with others who may have, in the past, tended to disrespect or ignore both.

• The developing ability to reduce dependence and reliance on what others think and on the affirmation and positive feedback of others.

• The capacity to begin to see a brighter future that is more fulfilling than a past or the circumstances that drew him or her into therapy in the first place.

June 8, 2020

It is possible*……

by Rod Smith

• To be kind and patient today no matter what. Being kind and patient is about who and what you are and not about external factors or pressures.

• To affirm the people who help and serve you today even if the help and the service is imperfect and even if things do not go your way. Affirmation and appreciation are expressions of the heart in perfect or imperfect circumstances.

• To mail something encouraging to an old friend or relative. The impact of a kind note arriving in the mail ought not be underestimated. Three to five minutes of your time can give another extended, memorable pleasure.

• To apologize if and when you are wrong. Put things right as efficiently as possible. Keeping short accounts helps for transparency in all relationships, not just the one where an apology may be necessary.

• To monitor your own behavior and so protect your integrity and the integrity of your family, your faith, and your profession. As unfair as it may seem, people do use a broad brush when it comes to judgement. Like it or not, your behavior represents your family, your faith, and your career.

*as always, this is a note to self as much as it may be to you.

June 1, 2020

When is a relationship not a relationship?

by Rod Smith

The Mercury – Tuesday

When is a relationship not a relationship?

When the relationship feels like a game of chess and you have to constantly think ahead to outsmart your opponent – or be outsmarted.

When it’s conditional and the conditions include a list of whom you may or may not phone, text, or meet.

When what you choose to wear (clothing or makeup) becomes a source of friction, even violence.

When it involves dominance or control and your natural resistance to being controlled or dominated results in conflict and your commitment and your love is therefore obsessively questioned.

When your whereabouts and your activities are monitored and you are expected to account for the use of your time, money, and mileage.

When you have to lie about visiting your family or your friends or have to deny that you crave spending time with others on the “outside” of the “relationship.”

When he or she just happens to show up wherever you are unexpectedly – and your degree of joy and surprise is evaluated, but what is actually happening is your ability to be trusted is being assessed.

When you have to anticipate your partner’s needs, read his or her mind, anticipate his or her moods, and respond in a manner that makes him or her happy or feel loved.

When no matter how much you try to love, forgive, have fun, be serious, be carefree, be intimate, be unconditional in your love – it is NEVER enough.

May 31, 2020

Out of the heart…..

by Rod Smith
May 28, 2020

How to love your backbone

by Rod Smith

To Whom It May Concern: How to Love Your Backbone 

A backbone is one of those “use it or lose it” things. In order to love it you have to find it. 

Some men and women, very sadly, have been filleted. Like fish.

This, the filleting process, can be done swiftly, or painstakingly slowly. It’s often done by life, “love,” family, or even by church.

It saddens me to know I have met several filleted men and women – men and women who stand for nothing – and there are many times I have felt spineless myself. 

If you lost your backbone some time ago its presence may be hard for you to locate. But, be assured, complete filleting is possible with fish. Not humans. 

It’s in there, really. Your backbone is in there. You just have to want to find it. And, to find it, you have to acknowledge its usefulness. Believe me you have a spine even if it has been ignored for years.

You have to see its purpose, its role in propelling you to face yourself and the world if you want it to be restored to full strength.   

You will start to find it when you believe you still have one and know you still need it.  When you practice using it, it will really start to grow in you. Everything will start to change for the good. Well, most things. The people who preferred you to be spineless, or, those who did the filleting, might resist who you become. But, you will be able to deal firmly with them as you discover the truth about your backbone and the power of using it.  You will see repeatedly how spinelessness got you nowhere worth going.  

Growth require practice. Practice involves showing up. Standing up. Speaking up. Even if it is at first in small ways and about seemingly insignificant matters.

If you start with non threatening situations, perhaps where you have been a pushover in the past, you’ll get used to the feel of your backbone.

You might even begin to enjoy it and feel it doing its amazing work within you.

Once you begin to trust its usefulness you will like it more and more. You will begin to use it in more important situations like in your intimate relationships, at work (with your boss), with your parents, and even with your children. If you use it consistently and without apology there will be people who will forget you ever stooped through life and stood up for little or nothing.

May 24, 2020

In the event you are interested……

by Rod Smith

This morning I invite you to begin our service with the first link for the call to worship, prayers, and readings.

Once you have completed the readings using that link, kindly click on the second for the sermon.

May 17, 2020

Evaluate your wellness in trying times

by Rod Smith

You are able to get some distance in order to gain perspective when things annoy you, be these annoyances consequential or inconsequential. You take a step back, you evaluate, you try to see the larger context of what is getting under your skin. This allows you to respond in creative, kind, and helpful ways and to minimize potential damage. 

You have recognized that immediate reactions, knee-jerk behaviors on your part are seldom helpful and quite often harmful to yourself and to others. Do not harm continues to be your mantra.

You have not lost your sense of humor even if it means an inner-chuckle that might be unwise to share with anyone. As serious as times are, you can still see the funny side of some events. That you can identify humor does not make you heartless to the suffering of others. You are careful with this because you are aware that some people are experiencing profound and enduring loss. 

You have private goals with which you are engaged and you are seeing some rewarding progress.

You know that emotional wellness does not mean wellness all the time. You know how to give yourself a break and even have a bad day on occasion.