Archive for ‘Living together’

February 15, 2018

Tribal code

by Rod Smith

Each of us brings to every relationships a backdrop of how we view the world, understand commitment, view, and value people, join groups, terminate friendships, love, and leave home, nurture babies, pack the dishwasher, engage in or avoid conflict, and many things too numerous to mention.

Everything about our relationships is influenced by who, where, and how we were reared – among countless other variables, including natural endowment, and deeply held dreams and desires.

From these countless sources, experiences, and codes, both known and unknown, each of us was handed a Tribal Code or our truth about how life ought to work. How life was done, how relationships were conducted, talked or not talked about, became the folklore, the “correct” or the “right” way to live.

Your formative years did what they were supposed to do: they formed (and informed) you.

They taught you what, and how, to see, think and feel. They showed you what “normal” is to your family, and your experience became your measure of how life is supposed to work.

Then, when entering relationships, be it in marriage or if you are talking with your child’s teacher – the person opposite you has his/her own, and different, tribal code. He/she has his/her own lenses through which to see the world.

No wonder we can have a tough time getting along!

October 9, 2017

What did you learn from your father?

by Rod Smith

Nine things I learned from my father – and some of them not too well:

  • “There, but for the Grace of God, go I.” This he said when seeing anyone in a tight spot, self imposed or not.
  • “What if it was us, Mavis?” This was his appeal to my mother who tended to want to watch expenses more than he did.
  • Radical hospitality. Stories of our father opening our home to strangers were legendary.
  • “Make your words soft and sweet in case you have to eat them.” He used this when I was judgmental or harsh.
  • “Don’t carry your fish in a violin case.” My father despised all pretension.
  • “Build bridges; don’t burn them.” My father feared cut-offs.
  • “A man who is going the wrong way down a one-way street already knows it – he needs help turning around.” Forever benevolent, my father championed the underdog.
  • “Rather be fooled because you trusted too much than because you trusted too little.” And, sadly, he was frequently duped.
  • “If the child needs milk the child needs milk – milk is more important to that child than the money is to me.” He’d open his grocery shop at all hours of the night and give milk to the mother of a hungry baby.

What did you learn from yours. Let me know.  

 

July 17, 2012

The joy of our humanity

by Rod Smith

Is found in our connection with others (a connection sufficiently powerful so that we are not alone) and can therefore give and receive strength to and from each other. It is yet separate enough so that we not drain each other of the adventure of being unique and distinct beings. This is one of the greatest blessings accompanying our humanity and, when it fails, it becomes the source of exceedingly powerful pain.

July 1, 2011

Achieving MUCH with YOUR life is a profound act of mothering

by Rod Smith

1. Enriched is the woman who does not lose herself to her marriage or motherhood. She has a strong spirit of independence while being a loving wife and mother.

2. Enriched is the woman who does not accommodate poor manners (being taken for granted or being victimized) from anyone (not husband, children, in-laws, siblings, or her parents).

3. Enriched is the woman who lives above manipulation, domination, and intimidation. Her relationships are pure and open; her boundaries are defined, secure, and strong.

4. Enriched is the woman who does not participate in unwanted sexual activity. She honors her body as her private temple and shares it, even in marriage, only by her own deliberate choice.

5. Enriched is the woman who has developed a strong, clear, identity. She regularly articulates who she is, what she wants, and what she will and will not do. She is unafraid of defining herself.

6. Enriched is the woman who knows that pursuing her dreams to be educated, to work, to accomplish much, to expect much from her life, are profound acts of partnership in marriage and profound acts of mothering. She knows that the woman who “takes up her life” does more for herself, her husband, and her children than the one who surrenders it.

June 19, 2011

Take my test, get my feedback……

by Rod Smith

I will assess your committed relationship and give it a grade: A+ through to a B-.

A “C” is for cut and run if it is at all possible.

You will receive a GRADE, my written response (NOTHING AUTOMATED), a list of challenges, and a list of suggestions (again, nothing automated).

All you need:

(1) To be is in a committed relationship that is in some turmoil

(2) Have an hour to spend WRITING about it in response to a set of questions I will send you

(3) Be willing to receive a GRADE with an assessment of strengths / weaknesses.

BE WARNED — the questions lead to much soul searching. You may be anonymous (of course) but you must be willing to write quite a lot in order to get the best out of the experience. I will not use anything you write in any column.

Privacy insured. Send me a message and we’ll take it from there.

There is a cost of $29.95 (USD) for this service. You will have my complete and undivided attention for 1 hour as I read and respond to all you have written. You will be billed via PAYPLAY via your email address.

I am you offering my opinion regarding the sustainability of your primary and committed relationship based on the information you send to me.

I’d suggest you consult with a face-to-face professional before you take any radical action based on the advice or guidance I give you in response to your submission.

I look forward to hearing from you.

June 17, 2011

Take my test, get my feedback……

by Rod Smith

I will assess your committed relationship and give it a grade: A+ through to a B-.

A “C” is for cut and run if it is at all possible.

You will receive a GRADE, my written response (NOTHING AUTOMATED), a list of challenges, and a list of suggestions (again, nothing automated).

All you need:

(1) To be is in a committed relationship that is in some turmoil

(2) Have an hour to spend WRITING about it in response to a set of questions I will send you

(3) Be willing to receive a GRADE with an assessment of strengths / weaknesses.

BE WARNED — the questions lead to much soul searching. You may be anonymous (of course) but you must be willing to write quite a lot in order to get the best out of the experience. I will not use anything you write in any column.

Privacy insured. Send me a message and we’ll take it from there.

There is a cost of $49.95 (USD) for this service. You will have my complete and undivided attention for 1 hour as I read and respond to all you have written. You will be billed via PAYPLAY and via your email address.

I am you offering my opinion regarding the sustainability of your primary and committed relationship based on the information you send to me.

I’d suggest you consult with a face-to-face professional before you take any radical action based on the advice or guidance I give you in response to your submission.

I look forward to hearing from you.

March 23, 2011

Achieving MUCH with YOUR life is a profound act of mothering

by Rod Smith

1. Enriched is the woman who does not lose herself to her marriage or motherhood. She has a strong spirit of independence while being a loving wife and mother.

2. Enriched is the woman who does not accommodate poor manners (being taken for granted or being victimized) from anyone (not husband, children, in-laws, siblings, or her parents).

3. Enriched is the woman who lives above manipulation, domination, and intimidation. Her relationships are pure and open; her boundaries are defined, secure, and strong.

4. Enriched is the woman who does not participate in unwanted sexual activity. She honors her body as her private temple and shares it, even in marriage, only by her own deliberate choice.

5. Enriched is the woman who has developed a strong, clear, identity. She regularly articulates who she is, what she wants, and what she will and will not do. She is unafraid of defining herself.

6. Enriched is the woman who knows that pursuing her dreams to be educated, to work, to accomplish much, to expect much from her life, are profound acts of partnership in marriage and profound acts of mothering. She knows that the woman who “takes up her life” does more for herself, her husband, and her children than the one who surrenders it.

January 1, 2011

He was once a toddler…..

by Rod Smith

I watch my two-year-old son bending at the hip, one foot raised and turning until he falls gloriously to the floor in convulsive laughter. A momentary pain lights somewhere so deep inside me I can hardly tell in which of my internal galaxies it sits. It is swift and pointed, like the touch of a darting and determined fly set loose in my emotional innards.

Then the pain is forgotten, swamped in the exceeding happiness of watching him attack life’s toddler challenges. He’s hungrily learning a language now, having conquered walking and running, and expressing his brand new heart sweetly in partial, ill-formed words and sentences which tumble, jumbled and joyed up all over the house.

Sometimes he runs, singing at the top of his voice like an emergency vehicle out of control. With siren blaring, he sprawls across the floor and careens into a heap of toddler chaos. Recovering, he mounts the coffee table against my flagging will and “hee haas” astride his horse, a precocious knowing smile flashing from his distant meadow.

In all of this activity and fun he eases his way further into my being, a steel pylon thrust securely into waiting, willing ground.

Rod’s road-post from DROID.

July 20, 2010

He’s (She’s) divorced! How can I know he’s (she’s) ready to date…..

by Rod Smith

How to know it’s “a go” when dating someone who is divorced…

1. His/her divorce has been finalized (that means completed) for more than a year.
2. He/she takes appropriate responsibility for his or her part in the breakdown of the former marriage.
3. He/she wants a healthy spiritual, emotional, and intellectual relationship with a diverse range of people before becoming intimately involved with any one person.

It MUST get rough to get better

It will be a rough ride if red flags are ignored.....

4. He/she is involved in his/her children’s lives and willingly, generously, and punctually pays child support.
5. He/she places a high priority on rearing his/her own children, while being respectful toward your children and your relationship with them.
6. He/she can conduct meaningful conversations with the former spouse about matters pertaining to the children. That the divorce is REAL is clear – so there are no intimate, or “throw-back” conversations.
7. He/she is very respectful of marriage, sex, the opposite sex, despite the previous breakdown.
8. He/she remains non-anxious by your occasional encounters with his/her former spouse or persons associated with the former marriage.
9. He/she remains non-anxious by your occasional encounters with your former spouse or persons associated with your former marriage.
10. He/she has deep regard for the time and patience required to establish new relationships and is willing allow necessary time for intimacy to properly develop.

November 9, 2009

How soon can a person have sex after the death of a spouse?

by Rod Smith

Your brief question leaves many unaddressed variables. That you desire sex might be considered a positive thing in the wake (no cheap pun intended) of your loss. Yet, if you have used sex in the past as an escape, rather than as a means to contributing to a mutual, respectful, and equal relationship, you will be furthering behavior that is ultimately destructive for you. Then, if you adhere to a faith tradition which precludes you from engaging in sex outside of marriage, you might find some short-term relief in sexual behavior, but you will ultimately self-inflict emotional and spiritual discord.

But I will assume you, an adult who has endured a significant loss, are understandably reaching out for love and affection.

Three things:

1. You are not betraying the deceased.
2. You and your faith tradition decide on when is acceptable to you to have sex (it is not up to anyone else).
3. You will take into account that sexual behavior is never purely recreational.

It is impossible to do something so profoundly intimate with your body that doesn’t also impact every other aspect of your emotional and spiritual life.