Archive for ‘Schnarch’

October 17, 2017

Will you be my friend?

by Rod Smith

I am very aware that people don’t analyze their connections in the manner I’ve described below. We’d have healthier communities and families if we did!

  • Will you search with me when I am searching, stand with me when I am standing, and drop to your knees with me in prayer if and when I need it? I will try to do the same for you.
  • Will you stand up to me with firmness and kindness when my many blind spots are blocking my thinking? I will try to do the same for you.
  • Will you join me and examine our connection (as casual acquaintances, colleagues, neighbors, partners, or spouses) so that we remain mutual and equal and respectful no matter the degree or significance of our connection?
  • Will you take time to listen to me? I will try to take time to listen to you?
  • Will you allow me my quirks and eccentricities and try to regard them as interesting rather than regard them as things you wish were different about me?
  • Will you seek my highest good as far as you are able given the knowledge we have about each other? I will try to do the same for you.
  • Will you try to be as unafraid of me as I try to be unafraid of you?
July 30, 2017

This week at Chatel…..

by Rod Smith

cropped-e-is-for-enmeshment1Five (very lofty) goals for the week

Teach, facilitate group so students and staff are empowered to find, enjoy, and use their backbones, most creative brains, and voices, each to maximum of his or her current level of helpful, “growthful” discomfort. (Yes, I occasionally make up my own words).

Facilitate each student’s possibility for growth (to get bigger or smaller) into his or her appropriate size (a) as a distinct individual, (b) as a distinct individual in within a variety of contexts (like current or immediate family, family of origin, a class of students, a sub-culture and a broad culture of national heritage), and (c) finally, as a member of the Church, immediate and universal. This means examining contexts, roles, boundaries, skills, talents, gifts, and resources.

Teach, model (if it possible) Differentiation of Self by “watching” it in Scripture. We will use three Gospel encounters to illustrate this delicious way of life.

cropped-ladderjpg.jpgGive practical insights into healthy or unhealthy TRIANGLES, GENERATIONAL TRANSMISSION, HERDING, and other usually INVISIBLE pressures that can undermine or sabotage healthy individual, family, and organizational functioning. We will use two, perhaps three, Gospel encounters in order to illustrate.

Give practical tools to minimize individual and group anxiety, to grow and support healthy invisible individual and group loyalties, and to develop the awareness of necessary sifts from REACTIVITY to RESPONSIVENESS, from STEMMING and EMOTING to THINKING, and from AMPLIFYING or IGNORING to EMBRACING and EMPOWERING.

Further reading: Bowen, Murray; Friedman, Edwin; Schnarch, David; Gilbert, Roberta; Satir, Virginia; Framo, James; Minuchen, Salvador

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.

June 19, 2012

Three requests

by Rod Smith

“You and Me” will be a little different today. You have three invitations:

1. Please send me the names of the 10 books you believe every English speaking child should read by the time he or she is 15. Please don’t refer me to website. I want your personal list of essential children’s and young adult literature. Kindly indicate “m” of “f” if necessary. Skip Potter, “Vampire” books, and anything with Chicken Soup in the title.

2. I received this yesterday from Kayise Maphalala, producer of Three Talk, SABC Television. If interested please contact Kayise at

“Three Talk is doing a show on forgiveness and one of the areas we would like to also look at is forgiveness in relationships. Would you be so kind as to recommend a couple who has gone through a difficult patch to come in and talk about the importance of forgiveness. This is for a show next to be aired on Tuesday, 26th June 2012.”

3. I have “pushed” Passionate Marriage (David Schnarch) and Failure of Nerve (Edwin Friedman) for years as the best books on (respectively) relationships and leadership. What books am a missing on these two topics? Please send me your suggestions. It is summer in the USA. I have vast amounts of time (I am on three months leave) for reading.


June 5, 2012

Affairs are seductive, they seduce you from what’s important

by Rod Smith

Extramarital affairs are very seductive. They appear to offer better, more intense passion than the marriage. Hide and seek will do this, spawning the kind of relationship we wished was possible with a spouse. It’s amazing how “attractive” someone can sound, look and feel when you add large amounts of adrenalin. The secrecy idealizes the other, not love or truth. Deception, the “ducking and diving” past family can give vitality to the stolen hour.

What is so ridiculously seductive (and hurts so badly when the truth comes out) is the belief that affair is about you. Actually, it is about who you are not. It about what you do not represent. You are not the wife or husband; the “routine.” Yours is not the other name on the mortgage, you are not one who owns the other car in the garage. You are not the one whom the children sound like when they are at their worst (and best). It’s not your beauty. It is not your charm (although you might be both beautiful and charming). It is the difference from, the contrast with, what your affair knows. In his or her boredom and selfishness, you become so very appealing in the heat of it all. It’s the contrast he or she “loves.” The secrecy, the chase, the conniving makes it all so surreal and convincing and such a turn on. It is not you. It is not he or she who has met you here in this rendezvous, but the secret itself, the fact that you will share this secret, that’s lighting your fire.

The seductive thing is that for a period of time one or both of you actually believe in the affair as if it is a real and enduring relationship, able to offer you each something you really want. For a time you will give so unreservedly, so wildly, and be sucked in by passion. Every meeting will feel like you were meant for each other and that it is a cruel world forcing you apart. The really sad thing is that even your children will feel, to you, as if they are in the way, obstacles to your freedom, hindrances to your finding true love. When you are with your lover the first hours will slip past feeling like heaven. The approaching absences and those times when you are apart, will begin to fill with suspicion, heaviness and demands that come with cheating. You will think your love is cheating on you (even when with his or her spouse) every time the cell-phone is off, a call is not returned or a weekend happens without you. The moment the clandestine activity began with you, the scene was set for it to occur around you and to you. He or she who cheats on a spouse will most certainly think nothing of doing the same to you.

The affair itself, born in secrecy and lies, itself begins to lie, making the participants believe they have been short-changed, deceived in marriage and that a fling can offer what’s really wanted. It is not so. Affairs seduce the participants from what is real, what is important, what is enduring and significant. If I cannot talk to my wife, talking with someone who is not my wife (or who is someone’s wife) doesn’t help anything one iota. Learning to talk with my wife is where the real action is, it is not in talking with some other lost person looking for a temporary shelter from her own storm.

Affairs are always a poor substitute for a relationship. No matter how intense, how willing each person is, inevitable pain and suffering lies ahead for each person in the seductive cycle. If this is your dilemma break it off today. Go cold turkey. See a professional. Change locks. Change phone numbers. Quit your job if you have to. Run home to your parents! Get out of it. No, you do not owe him or her an explanation or closure. Everyone you love, or thought you loved, will be better off for it.

Copyright 2002, Rod Smith, MSMFT

July 6, 2011

Our intimate life is boring……..

by Rod Smith

“My husband and I were happy until the birth of our son when our relationship changed. After our son was born he started cheating, lying, and drinking everyday. We spent less time together than we used to. I thought we were friends, but now it feels like we are distant cousins. Our sex life is boring.”

Your future must seem painfully endless!

While I am sad that you are victim to your husband’s cruel behavior, I am also sad for your child who is witnessing a marriage he could hardly want to emulate.

Please read David Schnarch’s book entitled Passionate Marriage. I will warn you that it is the very best book on sex and relationships I have ever read.

While the book is very explicit, it is never pornographic.

It is to be read as a whole, cover to cover, before judgments are issued on its worthiness.

The book outlines the journey of couples who have lives as miserable as you describe yours to be, and offers valuable keys for all marriages and all relationships.

I have gotten into hot water for recommending this book to couples.

Not only does it promote strong,  healthy sex lives, it challenges people to live full, complete, and adventurous lives.

May 12, 2011

Workplace emotional climate – helping it improve

by Rod Smith

Attraction is only enduringly poss

I'd love to speak at you Leadership Event

The Emotional Climate of anywhere people work, play, serve, or worship will be enhanced when….

1. Room (space, freedom) is offered for the expression of creativity.
2. Use of good humor (good humor has no victims) is encouraged and enjoyed.
3. Individuals remain focused upon their unique, specific roles without bleeding, leaking into the roles of others by over or under functioning.
4. People refuse to initiate or ferry gossip, participate in unhelpful innuendo, or promote any form of interpersonal sabotage be it subtle or gross.
5. Problems, or perceived problems, are addressed first at the apparent source, then with those who are empowered to act to alleviate or solve the problem.
6. Self-definition at all levels is encouraged. In other words everyone is encouraged to Show up, Stand up, Speak up for him or herself.
7. Rocking the boat is welcomed (by the leaders) when the boat needs rocking.
8. Leadership and leadership styles are open to legitimate assessment and challenge.
9. Dialogue, negotiation is authentic. It is not offered so people can “feel” as if they have a say or to promote so-called “buy in.” Dialogue, negotiation are either legitimate (can influence an organization) or they are a manipulative sham.
10. The leaders are unafraid to reprimand, to fire, and to cleanse the group of toxic elements in the organization – despite the tenacity of toxic personnel to invade, diminish and destroy the functioning of others. This is most difficult in volunteer organizations such as churches, clubs, and not-for-profits but it is no less necessary.

March 31, 2011

Couples who are too close…….

by Rod Smith

Edwin Friedman – a pioneer in family therapy, writer, teacher, and rabbi and who was trained by Murray Bowen who is considered the “father” of family therapy and “Bowen Theory” – wrote about helping couples to separate, establish space, maintain individuality and secure room to breathe and room to move in order to help the couple avoid radical separation (divorce) in their future. Friedman suggested sometimes couples were “too close” meaning that everything done one or both persons seemed to unsettle or rock the world of the other or both.

Identifying couples who are “fused” or who are too close:

1. Every thought, move, glance, blink of the eye, every gesture is interpreted to mean something by the other person and the meaning is usually negative.

2. Mind reading is at its most intense. What is damaging is that what is “read” or interpreted is believed as fact. “I know exactly what you are thinking when you look at me like that.”

3. There’s no room for change or growth because there’s no emotional “wiggle room.” If one person is convinced that he or she knows exactly what the other person will do and will think there is no room for anything new to occur.

I have named these writers to facilitate reading beyond this column.

February 28, 2011

For speakers, pastors… thing you cannot fake is authenticity

by Rod Smith

It's not about words, it's about creating a anxiety- free environment

Five, no six, things to remember when you have an important message to deliver

Your anxiety will speak louder than your words (written or spoken) – so do whatever it takes to reduce your anxiety. The message of your perfect speech or letter will be drowned by your anxious emotional presence. Anxiety is contagious – your audience will catch it from you. If your audience is already anxious, it is your task to be a “step-down” transformer and assist your audience to relax, to manage their anxiety, so that you may effectively deliver your message.

If an audience (of 1 or a million) is already closed down to you, your words (written or spoken) will only serve to push your audience further away from you – keep in mind that he or she who is doing the most work (over-functioning) is placing the “other” (of 1 or a million) in a position of power.

What you are heard to say (written or spoken) is much more important than what you intend to say or do say – when the stakes are high, people hear what they want to hear and anxiety makes people selectively deaf, blind, and mute. Filters, on both sides (speaker and the hearer) become erratic when there is much to gain or lose.

Resist saying to many people (the whole congregation, company, hospital staff, faculty) what you really want to say to one specific person.

Others (1 or a million) will resist listening to you if you are condescending, patronizing, or uninterested in their day-to-day lives and concerns. No matter who you are or how powerful is your platform or position, you cannot fake authenticity.

Who and what you are will be communicated to your audience whether you like it or not, if your message is well prepared or not, if your sentences are perfectly rehearsed or not. Your PRESENCE will be ultimately be the real content of your message.

January 30, 2011

Key terms for at least one approach to Family Therapy….

by Rod Smith

Who shows the most health and freedom?

Readers often express interest in the Science of Family Therapy. Here are a few key words to guide any reading to stimulate further interest in at least one of many approaches:

Murray Bowen – is considered one of the pioneers;
Genogram – a diagram of a family usually starting with immediate family or “family of origin”;
Space – the distance between and among people;
Under- and over-functioning – playing more than your own role or doing less than your role deserves or requires; Anxiety and chronic anxiety;
The human need for autonomy;
The human need for intimacy;
Differentiation of self;
Cut-offs, fusion;
Mutuality; respect;
Invisible loyalties – the often irrational and rational loyalty among family members;
Low- and high-functioning individuals; low- and high-functioning families.

Keys to change in a family (if change is indeed possible):

Change in a family often comes from first identifying the most self-differentiated person in the family. This person is challenged by the therapist to move his/her life toward greater levels of health and integrity, despite the cost and the sabotage that will naturally result. Family resistance to change is to be expected. When some seek greater health there will be “push back” from those who benefit from the status quo.