Archive for ‘Past relationships’

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.

April 23, 2011

I was unfaithful and now he wants out

by Rod Smith

“I have been an unfaithful wife and my husband is tired of it. He has given me a fresh start on three or four occasions but this time he refuses. He says his trust well is empty and that he has to move on with his life. How do I convince him that one more chance is all I need? Please help.”

Attraction is only enduringly poss

Take responsibility for your actions

Your husband appears to be taking an option necessary for his well being. I’d suggest you move full force into recovery from serial infidelity.

Unfaithfulness can hardly leave you with good feelings about yourself and I’d suggest you get professional help to delve into its origins in your life.

While his actions are painful for you, I’d suggest he has not had a painless journey.

If your husband were consulting me I’d attempt to solicit from him the level of his desire to remain married. Given any suggestion that he’d prefer to stay married, I’d encourage him to embark on an extended separation to allow you to get your troubled house in order.

Unfaithfulness is an individual pursuit. There’s nothing anyone can do to make you unfaithful. It’s not your spouse or any of your multiple cohorts. It is you who needs the help – get it. Allow him, in the mean time, to do whatever it is he needs to do.

January 17, 2011

The most viewed column: When your husband says he doesn’t love you anymore…..

by Rod Smith

Attraction is only enduringly poss

80,000 online views

Of course you are going to fall apart, and mourn the loss of the future you thought you’d have.

You will feel like death itself and even welcome your own.

Then, when your mind somewhat clears, you’ll wonder what really occurred. You will question what you might have done to cause the marriage breakdown and wonder what you might have done to save it.

Then you will bargain with God, your husband, even your children, or with anyone who will listen as you urgently try to get things back to normal, and get yourself back into his heart, head, and bed.

And, when things somewhat settle, and you’ve gotten some rest, and you emerge from the initial impact of what has occurred, you will see that this is not about you, or what you did or did not do. You will see there that there is no real power in bargaining with him, or real value in your becoming whatever you think he’d prefer you to be.

You will see that, quite apart from whatever he decides to do, there is great power and value in picking up your life, one emotion at a time, and doing what is best for yourself and your children.

(November 2006)

Tell me your story. I am listening:

December 21, 2010

This is the suicide season…..

by Rod Smith

Attraction is only enduringly possible.....

I hope you choose life.....

Suicides spike at Christmas and New Year. Untimely death is regarded as a chosen alternative to getting help with financial, addiction, relational, or chemical issues a person might experience.

If this is you, here are some thoughts to consider. I hope you will consider less dramatic, final alternatives.

Suicide is self-destruction. While family members will naturally ask what they could have done to prevent you from taking such action, your death will remain your responsibility. I’d suggest you seek the medical help even if it appears that no one cares if you live or die. At this point it is more important that you care.

Suicide is an ultimate act of prayer and freedom. While no one will be able to stop you in the event that a premature death is what you really want, there are more productive ways to engage the divine and make a statement to your survivors. There are ways to address and almost solve any problem anyone faces.

While your family and friends will reflect, mourn, and grieve over your loss they will ultimately conclude (it might take years) that you exercised your unique, terrible, human power. They will come to understand that no one can cause you to kill yourself or make you do it.

Given your freedom to choose death, I must believe there exists within you the ability to choose life – and I hope you do.

October 21, 2010

Single mother writes: thank you for acknowledging our bravery and struggles…..

by Rod Smith

Lake Geneva, Switzerland

“Thank you on behalf all my many single mother friends for the article published yesterday. Thank you for acknowledging our bravery and struggles. Thank you understanding the many roles we play and the many difficulties we overcome because of our love for our children. Thank you for noting it is near impossible to have a romantic social life as solo parents. Thank you for listing and understanding what women do not need in a potential partner or in friendly advice. I am 50 and the mother of two sons whose fathers disappeared when the going got tough.

“I have been a single mom for 32 years, and despite the challenges, long hours, and little thanks associated with the job of single mom, I have been blessed to have my sons and love them dearly. I am also proud of having still managed to forge a career, own my home, a car, and travel the world. I have recently studied to become a Life Coach. I just sit with the thought that my children did not chose to be born and hence, are entitled to the best Mom and woman I can be. One thing I know is that my son’s will make wonderful Fathers.”

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.

December 23, 2009

Some things are simply overrated in their power to influence and form you….

by Rod Smith

Some things are overrated for their power to shape people. Before I am barraged with mail, kindly note I am not suggesting these things are not important. I am suggesting they are offered more power to heal or hurt than appropriate:

1. Parenting: While of course it is important parents do all they can to be good parents, do the right and loving thing, and be available to help and correct and love their young – multiple factors influence and shape children into adults. Thank God my children are infinitely more than, much more, than a product of my parenting.

2. Empathy: Counselors spend much time developing their ability to embrace the experience of the client – as if understanding the client, feeling what the client feels, is in itself the silver bullet of greater mental health. Empathy is not, in itself, a useful end. Thank God my professors offered me personal challenges, invited me to embrace change, while also attempting to understand and embrace my experience.

3. Childhood: I believe our self-help culture has managed to convince the masses that, pivotal to ensuring healthy adulthood, is a happy childhood. While no one in their right mind desires an unhappy childhood for any child, an unhappy childhood does not preclude a person from a full, purposeful, and prosperous adulthood. Look around you: many men and women with the most troubled of childhoods have risen above it all and changed the world – for good.