Posts tagged ‘Difficult Relationships’

October 22, 2015

What to do with pain……

by Rod Smith

If, in the midst of emotional pain, I tell myself that all people have pain or that it’s normal to have pain or that my pain is not as bad as the pain others have to endure I know I am not really dealing with it.

It’s not serving its useful, healing purpose.

This form of self-talk retains the experience in my head and blocks its necessary journey to my heart.

Of course, this can go on for years, running around my head forming a pathway like a deepening inescapable ditch.

If I admit that pain is a useful messenger and that some of it is a result of poor choices, the result of misguided self-importance, unique to me, and give myself some time, space to mourn the lack of connection I am experiencing with others, then the pain makes its transition to my heart.

I escape the ditch, the circular thinking and strongly experience my frailties and vulnerabilities.

Once the inner-journey is made, from head to heart, I find I am able to treasure the growth rather than endlessly trash myself for things I did when I knew better but lacked the wisdom to behave accordingly.

July 20, 2015

He watches like a hawk…..

by Rod Smith

“My husband insists on access to my phone, Facebook, emails, and watches my spending like a hawk. I understand some of this. His last wife was apparently unfaithful. His suspicious ways are driving me crazy and driving us apart even though I have NOTHING TO HIDE. How do I get him to trust me more and to give me a little freedom?”

You cannot get him to trust you more. That’s his load, his burden. He has to face his problem and his challenge.

His “suspicious ways” are his issue. The harder you try to appease him the more he will make you work to prove you are trustworthy.

People do not desire privacy because they have something to hide. People desire privacy because it is a deep, profound human need.

Love and control – these are desperate attempts to control you – cannot live side-by-side in the same relationship.

Submitting to his immature acts of control will be helpful to neither of you.

If possible, meet with his previous wife. I am sure you will discover that his controlling ways played a part in the demise of his past marriage.

Stay out of control – change your passwords, and refuse.

Love loves freedom and you will never know it while you attempt to appease a controlling man.

July 19, 2015

One year later our marriage is stressful

by Rod Smith

“My husband and I married young (19, 22) – exactly the age our parents married. They have been happy for many years. We’ve been married for just over a year and things are stressing us in ways we did not expect. He constantly talks about money and work when he was very carefree while we were dating. I constantly worry about security and safety and I can never relax. We used to do everything together and now it feels like he is longing a little for his single. Now we have to focus on having fun now. This worries me. No one warned us before we married about this and I am at a very low point right now.” (Edited)

Stay at it. Your evolution as a couple sounds very normal, even beautiful. Request that you and your husband have several meaningful and vulnerable conversations with your parents. You might find they endured similar struggles and addressing them cemented and undergirded their marriage for years they have enjoyed. No one warned you! Engaged couples seem quite unable to hear much of what they don’t want hear. Perhaps someone tried. Your marriage has terrific promise – work on your maturity, not on the marriage, and definitely not on him.

July 16, 2015

Talking or using your Voice?

by Rod Smith

Learning to use your Voice is no simple task and ought not be confused with talking.

Many people talk an awful lot, who’ve been talking almost non-stop for years, but seldom use their voices.

Some people, very sadly, for a variety of reasons, don’t even know they have one.

All talking does not mean the speaker is using his or her voice anymore than banging on a piano always produces music.

Talking without using your voice:

• Talking because silence is painful or even unbearable
• Talking without thinking
• Saying things you’ve said countless times because the tape (CD, record) runs whether you like it or not
• Talking about things that are safe and familiar – even intimate matters – to avoid and even bury material that is aching to come out.

Using your voice:

• Addressing necessary conflict and areas of disagreement with kindness and compassion even in the event it results in discomfort in relationships
• Allowing necessary silence to promote thought and the time to allow ideas to develop
• Expressing (even sometimes with necessary caution) the things that really matter even if the potential exists to upset those whom you love.

July 13, 2015

Autonomy – a powerful and natural urge within us all

by Rod Smith

I confess.

My urge for autonomy is screaming at me – it’s bouncing off the walls of my neo-cortex.

This time I am going to succumb.

Before I get hit the details let’s be sure that this is not a new thing nor is it peculiar to me. You probably have it too.
When my sons were much younger I’d take a shower to be alone. Or, I’d close myself in downstairs if the boys were napping upstairs and pretend I was in the house alone. This did it – it met my needs for autonomy. They settled down, at least until morning.

When I could legally leave my sons at home alone I’d go to a local coffee shop with a Time magazine and pretend I was on vacation, or, I’d go to Fresh Market and meander through the tropical fruit stands and pretend I was living back in Kona.
Once I was so desperate to think an uninterrupted thought I took the boys to church then lurked (unseen) through the building to the parking lot and headed for an early lunch at PF Changs where I pretended I was in Hong Kong.

It worked.

I picked up the boys an hour or so later and felt like I’d had a sabbatical.

Anything, yes; anything – I’d do about anything to satisfy my strong urge for autonomy.

Next week is going to be an unusual week.

Nate is going to “The Great Escape” in Wisconsin. Thulani is going on a mission trip to New Orleans.

I am going to take the VW Beetle and drive to my brother California – and, wait for it, I bought myself a floppy hat so I can do it with an open sun roof!

July 10, 2015

What we accommodate defines us…..

by Rod Smith

Allow others to speak down to you and you will begin to look down on yourself. You will begin to see yourself through their lens and even begin to agree with them.

Allow others to speak ill of you and you will begin to hide and avoid people and believe their disrespect is somehow deserved.
You will begin to carry a sense of shame that’s difficult to shed.

Allow others to lie to you (and then on top of that make excuses for them) and you will begin to fumble with what it true and what is not and soon you will be unable to tell the difference.

You will begin to question your judgment (and sanity) about the most insignificant of matters.

Firmly, kindly address those who choose to treat you poorly, knowing you will ruffle feathers (or more).

Use “I” statements. Define yourself; not others. Don’t go into detail.

People who treat others in the ways I have described – power-hungry people – love an argument. They will bully you into seeing just how wrong you are and how much you’ve misunderstood them.

Relationships are not about winning or losing and you know they that. They don’t.

Do not be afraid to walk away from ANY relationship that does not hold you in highest regard. Life is far too short and already far too difficult to have to bear the added burden of accommodating another person’s unresolved power-issues.

February 17, 2010

Do you need therapy?

by Rod Smith

Rod Smith, MSMFT

Given the absence of a glaring symptom or two, here is a brief test (answer at least one as a ‘yes”) to establish if you might benefit from some personal therapeutic work:
1. You experience some anxiety at the thought of being in a room for an hour or two with all members of your immediate family in order to discuss your life and your life-choices.
2. Spending time with one or both of your parents makes you anxious, annoyed, or leaves you exhausted.
3. You can find little or nothing positive to say about some members of your family and you do all you can to avoid spending time with them.
4. You are harboring unforgiveness or grudges from events that occurred in the past and you can’t bring yourself to directly address the related family members.
5. You have to modify the truth or run interference about any one family member (your husband, for instance) when talking with other family members (your sister or parents, for instance).
6. You find yourself being zealously competitive with your peers and see almost everything as a race or competition which you must win.
7. You have a short-fuse and are inordinately angry at the drop of a hat over matters that most people regard as insignificant.

December 18, 2007

Typos have a life of their own…. HELP!

by Rod Smith

I ordered the book containing the 450 columns and – to my dismay – found numerous typos. PLEASE, if while reading a column on this website, you trip over a typo, please drop me a comment so I can fix it!

In the meantime I have decided that typos are like ZITS:

Seven things to know about Zits (and typos):

  1. Zits appear in conspicuous places
  2. Zits emerge no matter how much you scrub
  3. Zits (on you) appear larger than they are
  4. Zits look worse if you try to fix them
  5. Zits go underground when you look for them
  6. Zits have a willful and perverse life of their own
  7. Zits collaborate – get one, and before you know it, three new ones appear

Typos are zits in print. Actually, typos are worse, they are like finding a fly in your soup, or a dead mouse in a box of cereal after you’ve just indulged in two bowls.

Don’t let my typos stop you from enjoying the Fourth Edition of A Short Course in Good Manners – see, I knew it was “Fourth” and not “Forth”. With the help of readers we’ll get the website cleaned up, too.

Oh for the day the copy editor could get her hands on the web just as she does before the column goes to print.

Thanks for your help,


December 17, 2007

More sex will not “solve” matters in an already toxic relationship…

by Rod Smith

“My husband tries to keep me happy by buying me stuffed animals. If we had sex for every stuffed animal he’s given me then we’d never have gotten out of bed. I don’t have enough room for all these stupid things. It’s clear he’s not interested in me physically and he says I’m wrong. I feel a divorce would probably be better for me emotionally and physically at this stage since the stress is getting to be too much. My biggest anger with this is that we never had children because he’s the one who can’t, and I’ve missed out on a major part of life. I’m in my late 40’s and I want to run out and get pregnant before it’s too late. I want to have a family. I feel like he’s keeping me from that by not being honest with me.” (Edited from a much longer letter)

More sex will be as effective as getting more stuffed animals – if you want marital integrity. Then, to “run out and get pregnant” will bring added complications. Until each party is willing to address, and face your mutual and underlying alienation, you will think you need more sex, and he will think you need more stuffed animals. Sex, like gifts, will not solve an already toxic relationship.

November 27, 2007

This entire blog printed, bound…..

by Rod Smith

and delivered to your door for $35.00 (Postage included within the USA) Readers in other countries, kindly let me know you want the book and I will let you know the postage cost).

251 pages, 450 columns — all in your own bound edition.

GO TO: and follow the directions on the right of the page…….

I hope you do it,

Rod Smith