Archive for ‘Long distance relationships’

December 14, 2017

I am angry too, if I am honest….

by Rod Smith

Of course families all over the world deal with the pain of separation. Perhaps South Africans deal with it a little more than others.

This letter moved me very deeply:

“I have just read your column about family. My eldest daughter and her husband and two children emigrated on the weekend. This all happened very quickly, as a result of a good job offer. When we first heard about the possibility I was supportive on the outside but hurting terribly on the inside. On waving goodbye to them at the airport I was swamped by a sense of utter loss. It’s difficult to get a grip on it, and deal with it. My wife is also battling but she holds it all in. Perhaps its because where they have moved seems almost a parallel universe, but very far away. There is knowledge that its unlikely we will see them again for some years. The grandkids are very young and the thought of missing out on their growing years is hurting. I guess I am very saddened but thankful too that they will have an opportunity to grow up in a safe environment. I trust this hurt will subside. The feeling of emptiness will fade. I’m angry too, if I’m honest. Family is everything to me.” (Published with permission)

December 3, 2017

Ego rush

by Rod Smith

You’ve heard about an adrenalin rush. I’ve seen ego rush. I see it in in groups, teams, and in classrooms. I detect it rumbling in me. Perhaps it’s natural and part of survival.

Symptoms of an ego rush occurring:

  • Authentic conversation – the give and take and the sharing and building on ideas of others – seems impossible. It’s verbal arm-wrestling or nothing.
  • Perceived insults, rebuffs, refusals, or dismissals are stored. They lurk in awareness, crouched for attack when the timing is right.
  • What a person knows must be known and he or she will nudge and provoke until you share his or her belief in his or her superiority.
  • The ego will win by winning or it will win by losing but humility and backing down are not options.
  • Actual loss, perceived as humiliation, is temporary – a matter of perception. The “loser” will circle around and get even.
  • Everything spins around hierarchy and real engagement, the wrangling, is delayed until the hierarchy is figured out.
  • Conversations are calculated and are a means to advance an undisclosed agenda.
  • The presence of authentic humility escapes or confuses those caught up in the ego rush as much as witnessing or trying to engage in a conversation using a totally foreign language.
October 16, 2016

More about rebound relationships

by Rod Smith

“I read about rebound relationships – please explain.”

The term is used to describe a relationship that is in reaction to a breakup or a loss where one or both parties enters a relationship before finding “closure” on the immediate-past relationship:

  • Falling in love (or into a relationship) to fill a vacuum rather than because of who the new person is.
  • Falling in love (or into a relationship) because the grieving or abandoned person has apparently nowhere else to go.
  • Falling in love (or into a relationship) out of anger, revenge, or to prove a point, in the wake of a troubled breakup.
  • Falling in love (or into a relationship) out of a sense of novelty rather than because of who the new person is.
  • Experimenting with someone and dating as a sense of loss dissipates without being honest about intentions.
  • Entering a relationship because being alone is too frightening or shameful to contemplate.
  • Falling into a new relationship thoughtlessly and therefore showing little or no respect oneself or for the new person.
  • Entering a new relationship when the past relationship has not fully ended.
July 13, 2012

Love AND Control

by Rod Smith

Love and control cannot co-exist in the same relationship anymore than light and dark can exist together in the same space at the same time.

November 26, 2010

My sons in London and hardly ever make contact…

by Rod Smith

“My sons (22, 24) live in London and hardly ever make contact with us. This is very painful as we have always been a close family. What happens to young people when they go overseas? My friends tell me it is because sons and they are made to fly away. I am not sure who takes it worse, their father or me. If they do phone we feel we can’t say anything as it might stop the phone calls completely. Please help.” (Edited)

Attraction is only enduringly possible.....

Some routine might help.....

Suggest a routine – perhaps a phone call every two weeks on a Sunday evening, their time. If you know when to expect a call it is less likely that your anxiety will spike daily in the hopes that they will call.

Also, suggest each son establishes his own phoning routine.

The “made to fly” theory I do not think holds much water. When I have met young South Africans overseas I’ve met very busy men and women who are often working more than one job, sharing sparse accommodations, and who are busy trying to establish themselves while often longing to be at home in South Africa.

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.

September 13, 2009

She stays with her ex to care for her horses…..

by Rod Smith

“Every weekend my partner stays with her ex husband because that is where her horses are and it is also nearer where she works on Fridays and Mondays. I have had nearly enough. She says she loves me but we never have weekends together. I think the universe is saying something loudly to me but whenever I try to talk about this I get tears and anger and ‘we will talk next week’ and ‘I love you but I am busy and I am tired and I am looking after the horses.’ I don’t know what to do anymore. Please help.” (Edited)

Go with her....

Go with her....

Join her. Go to her. I am sure you can offer her help in caring for the horses. An ex-husband who is sufficiently hospitable to house your partner’s horses will surely also welcome you. This will give you time to be together as a couple, the horses will get more attention, and your partner will presumably get more rest given your assistance.

“Pushing the system” in such a manner will expose, not what the Universe is saying to you, but what kind of a relationship you have with your partner and what kind of relationship she has with her ex-husband.

July 3, 2009

(Mis)beliefs about love…

by Rod Smith

You can love and NOT worry...

You can love and NOT worry...

Easy-to-make fundamental (primordial) errors of belief humans often make in relationships can unsettle (challenge) the strongest of commitments. These “emotional fault-lines” can require intensive understanding on behalf of the one so inflicted, and, when not embraced and accepted by others (I do not mean appeased) these troubled foundations can result in consequential ramifications in day-to-day loving, living, and parenting:

1. Attention equals love and the amount of attention reflects the amount of love. To mistake attention with love and the lack of attention with the lack of love. “If you love me then I will be the focus of much (hopefully all) of your attention,” and,”If you give your attention to someone else it means you love them and not me or you love them more than you love me.”
2. Worry (anxiety) equals love. To think (or feel) that the presence of anxiety or worry or concern is a sign of love and commitment. “If I love you then I must worry about you,” or “If you love me then how can you be so seemingly worry-free about me?” or “When you love someone you think about that person and worry about what they are doing all day, or you don’t love them.”
3. Togetherness, unity, and being “on the same page” are signs of love and commitment. “How can we possibly love each other if we don’t think and feel and see things in as much the same way as possible? There, look at Jack and Jill across the street, they are so in love she even thinks for him, they dress the same, and he calls her 15 times a day at work to let her know he’s concerned about her safety. Now that – that is love.”

June 4, 2009

Prevailing love

by Rod Smith

Take up your life....

Take up your life....

Love prevails. I am not referring to the kind of love associated with romance, although such love is of course vastly important. I am referring to a love that is beyond romantic attraction, love that is usually beyond humans unless they know, first-hand, something about suffering, something about loss, hurt, about loneliness and abandonment.

The love that prevails is sometimes born in people who know how painful life can be. I say sometimes, because tough events can also produce bitterness, not love, in others. Prevailing love is not about good feelings, about an emotional high, nor is it about being known or rewarded for good deeds.

The kind of love is born or developed in the wake of suffering prevails because it has learned that there is goodness in others, that there is hope in the world, that there is reward in believing in the goodness of others.

Love people today. Do something counter-cultural to the spirit of self-seeking in your office, at the hospital where you work, or at the school where you teach. Offer a open hand of love and generosity to a struggling person. Turn your own reservoir of pain and suffering into an act of love.

Love prevails, and it wants to prevail in you.

June 3, 2009

Handling emotional affairs

by Rod Smith

Let's talk

Let's talk

An emotional affair (a non-sexual inordinate attachment with someone other than the spouse) will be very tough on a committed spouse. If this affair is full-blown you will probably feel as if you are living with someone who is absent in every manner but physically. He or she would really rather be elsewhere.

Calling attention to this hurtful inordinate attachment will probably result in flaring tempers and/or in further distancing which are designed to silence you. Consequently you will find yourself watching every word you say lest every encounter results in a flare up and/or in your spouse walking out the door.


1. “Steel” yourself. Remind yourself that you are strong, deserving of the very best in all your relationships, that you are unwilling to tolerate “sharing” your spouse. This is a reasonable position to hold.
2. Do not keep it a secret. Draw attention to the emotional affair even if it disrupts the peace in your home.
3. Be prepared to take radical stands. Be willing to ask your spouse to move out and do not cooperate with the affair any more than you would were it fully sexual in nature. That the affair is non-sexual does not make it acceptable.