Archive for ‘Past relationships’

October 5, 2017

Weekend superhero

by Rod Smith

The world is disturbed by threats of nuclear war. There have been horrific mass shootings, race riots, and re-emergences of violent extremes.

Entire regions of the world have been destroyed by hurricanes and earthquakes. Millions are homeless because of severe weather and millions more live as refugees fleeing oppressive political circumstances.

May we (you and I) deploy our most powerful individual forces. As limited as we each may be, the world needs a few superheroes and we can each in our own way be one:

  • Design and commit specific, routine acts of kindness and generosity. Make them pointed, uniquely tailored for someone in need. If possible, make your target an enemy and make your act anonymous. The “routine” will help us form healing habits. The “enemy” element will transform us into fine-tuned agents of grace

  • Extend your immediate community by embracing the stranger, the sojourner, the person on the fringe. Resist the urge to create him or her into your own image by expecting your guest to conform to your ways or to convert to your ways. Superhero hospitality accepts people exactly as they are.

  • In the spirit of St. Francis, indeed a superhero, may we seek to console and to serve rather than to be consoled and to be served. I know, I know – it wasn’t supposed to be a direct quotation.

July 14, 2012

Indications of becoming healthier in an intimate relationship

by Rod Smith

1. You experience greater OBJECTIVITY and can “see” your most important relationships as if looking at them through someone else’s eyes.
2. Despite any pain, any trauma, any uncertainty, you can see some HUMOUR in what you are experiencing even if it is short lived.
3. You are progressively gathering a small community of friends who know everything (or almost everything) about you and their SUPPORT is becoming easier to trust.
4. You are seeing with greater and greater CLARITY what are and what are not your responsibilities within your most important relationships.
5.”No” comes easier and it is not accompanied by guilt. “Yes” is your response when you really want what you agree to. You begin to BELIEVE the words you say. Your words reflect you, your desires, and are not said from guilt or the impulse to keep the peace or make others happy.

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.

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 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.

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.

June 14, 2011

Children in a tug-of-war

by Rod Smith

“My son and his wife are in a constant battle with his ex-wife and her family. They want the grandchildren ALL the time and seem to never think of their new family as really part of the children. I hardly know my new step-grandchildren but I’d rather that than step into the middle of the battle for time with the children. Should I be working harder to get to know these children so they will know me one day or should I just let things be as they are for now?”

It's a fine line......

If there are already tensions regarding who the children ought to know and visit then I’d suggest you follow your intuition which suggest you remain out of the tug-of-war.

Children will readily pick up on surrounding stresses and tensions and will ultimately use them to their benefit – and not necessarily to the benefit of the adults who use the children as bargaining chips.

Stay out of conflicts that do not directly involve you. Your daughter and her husband are presumably adult enough to represent themselves in their own battles.

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 1, 2011

Is it okay to hate my mother

by Rod Smith

Is it okay to hate my mother? She is loud, inappropriate, pushy, and demanding. I know I can’t change her but I must be able to change how guilty I feel about not being happy to see her. She barges into our house. She talks crudely to my children. She is mocking of any attempts to talk on any meaningful level. I am a single mother of two teenagers.

Attraction is only enduringly poss

Hate is an emotional toxic spill

As an adult you can do anything you want. You may break the law, set your house on fire, and even abandon your children.

As long as you are able and willing to face the consequences, you can do anything you want.

Of course, not everything you are able to do is helpful, wise, or accompanied by helpful outcomes. This is something we are repeatedly told as children and sometimes fail to learn even as adults.

So – yes, you are free to hate your mother. The consequences of doing so are unlikely to be helpful to you. Hating anyone is usually harmful to the one who does the hating, but hating a parent, is especially personally damaging.

Hating a parent erodes essential, vital, invisible connections that help us all to remain somewhat sane.

Hating anyone allows the hate to do a number on our insides. It distorts our responses, reactions, perceptions, and attitudes to ALL other people, and not only our relationship with the person whom we have chosen to hate.

The hate may be targeted; the results are generic. Hate is an emotional toxic spill. It ruins the host more than the victim.

While your mother’s repertoire is jam packed with unattractive themes, hating her will ultimately destroy you, burn your house down (figuratively, of course) and alienate you from your own adult children.

You will move toward greater, and real love for her if you increase your capacity to be rejected by her and stand up to her and refuse to be her victim. Do not give your mother free passage to pollute your family yet, at the same time, offer her some manner in which to remain connected with you on terms that are acceptable to you.

Yes, hate is an option, but it is not an option that will result in the kind of growth (not all “growth” is helpful) within you that will be helpful.

Walking powerfully toward her (initiating, defining, declaring, welcoming, clarifying) will empower you with ALL other people.

You are no longer a child. Use your adult voice and do not allow her to manipulate, dominate, or intimidate you. Strive for an equal, mutual, respectful relationship with your mother so that she will learn how to behave herself when she is with you and your family.

I know this is a tall order, but the results, of even failed attempts on your terms, will result in the kind of empowering and growth you want, rather than lead you ever deeper into the shame you are already feeling.

Rejecting her will diminish you. It will rob you of your voice. It will enlarge her power to dominate and control you.

If you hate your mother she won’t have to barge into your house to upset you, she’ll be living in your head, even if you never see her or have nothing to do with her.