Posts tagged ‘Relationships’

August 3, 2015

Packing for Switzerland

by Rod Smith

When I arrived in Geneva – Switzerland (there are others) yesterday, I stepped of the United flight from Dulles wearing Nate Smith’s school shoes. I wore Thulani Smith’s white Butler University bulldog shirt and my yellow hat.

In my DPHS (readers from Durban will know what DPHS is) carryon bag – a treasured gift from Richard Neave – I had Coates’ “Between The World and Me” which I have already read but still can’t put it down and “The Namesake” by Jhumpa Lahiri.

I also brought my (new) red sunglasses and my (new-to-me) red shoes.

Then, it thrilled me to peer out the porthole as we rolled to the gate to see it was raining quite steadily. This meant I could wear (not slung over my shoulder) one of my favorite gifts – my Swaziland jacket commissioned by Bernadette Fourie.

Some other things in my bag?

A pocket New Testament from the welcome desk at Kevin Driver’s church in Banff, the beautiful fountain pen my brother gave me for my birthday, and a plastic model of the human brain.

In my wallet there are two four-leaf clovers laminated beautifully. These are gifts from my friend Jim Cannull. No – I am not superstitious – but several years ago he found the clovers and went to FedEx and laminated them for ME.

Every piece of all this is intentional.

I could tell you exactly why I put it all together and how I put things together for each trip. I will not go into that detail now – although I will be glad to answer specific questions.

Essentially I do this it is because it is NEVER just another week of speaking.

On Monday morning I have the unique, singular joy and unmerited privilege to stand before a class of young men and women (in their 20s and 30s) from several nations (mostly Chinese) and representing very diverse cultures.

I need all these artifacts and symbols and playful pieces of clothing and equipment, not for them, but to enhance my courage to empower all the students to live great and robust and intentional and international lives of meaning and significance.

I need these things to remind me that I come from a community, an international community of men and women who love me. I come from sons who love me. I come from a brother and a sister and immediate and extended family who love me and would do anything for me. I carry a plastic brain to remind me to use the front parts of the real one in my head. I wear a Swazi jacket to be an outward symbol of the Enchanting Continent of my birth.

I wear my yellow hat because it’s Yellow Hat Month and I am going to wear it when a hat is necessary and as long as I can find it – I lose stuff.

I wear my son’s shoes so I can learn to walk in them.

And, beginning on Monday morning (in Lausanne) I am going to tell every last one of the students whom I will then teach for several hours each day that he or she is stunningly beautiful, uniquely talented, and absolutely loved by a Benevolent God and that not a single one of them should put up with a single minute of disregard or ill manners from any person ever (and I’ll add strongly and graphically that I don’t care who it is).

I’ll also teach them Family Therapy 101.

January 29, 2009

I want a divorce, she does not….

by Rod Smith

“I want to know how one can facilitate an amicable divorce when the other party opposes the prospect. We’ve had marital counseling for 6 months. Despite telling the psychologist the past 40 years of our marriage was torture, my wife refuses to accept that we have irreconcilable differences. Our life as a couple is a sham but appears good. She wants us to stay together to maintain an air of perfection. It is purgatory. I am miserable. She is attractive and intelligent so does not need ‘us’ to succeed. I am willing to provide for her and ensure she is secure and comfortable financially. When I broach the subject of divorce, she threatens to protract any divorce proceedings until I die and turn my (adult) children against me. She is more than capable of doing this. How can I be expected to stay with those vindictive threats? How do I leave this toxic relationship without hurting anyone and in particular without losing my children?” (Minimal edits for space)

dsc_0642“Amicable divorce” is possible when mutually desired. Even then, it is tough. You want war without casualties. Hurt is inevitable and inescapable. Your relationships with your adult children, if sound, will weather any storm. Speak your truth to your wife AND your adult children.

January 28, 2009

More on Brakes and Boundaries….

by Rod Smith

Order through link on the right

Order through link on the right

Yesterday I wrote about sound and healthy boundaries and the need to have a good sense of when to “apply the brakes” in a relationship. In an attempt to win a person, to find some sense of security in a relationship, many men and women abandon themselves and give their all, without clearly seeing the other person has little or even no desire to be reciprocal. It is NOT a relationship if ONE person is doing all the work. I’d suggest you need a brake alignment, or a complete new set of brakes, if….

1. You are giving your trust, forgiveness, and respect to a relationship and there’s little or nothing of the same coming back to you.
2. You buy gifts, send cards, and are always on the lookout for what a particular person needs or wants, and yet you get little or nothing back.
3. You will readily volunteer your services and time, reschedule your own plans, and try to move heaven and earth for someone, but you get little or nothing back.
4. You work hard to keep a particular relationship going and the other person appears not to work at it at all.
5. You are emotionally involved at a deep level with someone who may well be totally unaware of your growing obsession.

January 7, 2009

He left because I didn’t cook or clean…

by Rod Smith

“Everything was going well with a man I love. We had a child and were so happy. We were planning to move to another city because of the economy so I packed and went to live with my parents because he said we were going to save. After I left I tried phoning him but he did not want to talk. Finally he said he did not love me anymore. After two months I found there was another person. It was my friend’s sister who I had invited to my son’s birthday party. She was already living in the home I had left. I saw her picture in his wallet were my picture was once. I am hurting and I don’t know what is going to happen next. He tells me he left because I did not cook or clean much. I don’t know if he will ever come back because physically she is better than me. Do you have any comment?”

Order through link on the right

Order through link on the right

This is not about cooking or cleaning. You’ve loved a deceitful, irresponsible man who has moved on to his next victim. As tough as it is, I’d suggest you to take your future into your own hands and do what you can for you and your children.

January 5, 2009

The women always make the decisions in the end…

by Rod Smith

“I have been in a four-year relationship with a married man. I still believe in his love but also believe he needs a push to do the right thing. I told him he has to own up to the affair and tell the wife himself, or I will tell her. I am not walking away with nothing after giving four years of my life. Then the wife can either have the choice of working things out with him or getting a divorce. It’s the women always make the decisions in the end.”

dsc_0642You might believe in “his love” (for you) but it is hard to believe you have any love for him. You clearly ignored any “push” to do the “right thing” and regard married men as “off limits.” While you are apparently vengeful and determined, you will most certainly find only temporary and limited personal peace.

I hope you will have some dramatic moment of insight, some divine encounter, an event of sorts that transforms you from within, and makes you ready to learn and ready love in ways that are helpful to you and to all persons in your sphere of influence.

December 29, 2008

My new book…

by Rod Smith

A is for Autonomy — a brief, powerful reminder of 26 ways (A to Z) to be more healthy, more defined, more yourself, in your closest relationships

Order through link on the right

Order through link on the right

This book is a must read if you are trying to find and maintain your voice in your most intimate relationships.

Each letter will provoke you to greater personal power.
Each letter has a short description of the principle promoted.
Each letter will make you want to get up and live.

“I am going to read this every morning, just to keep me on track,” Jennifer (Durban, South Africa)


June 11, 2008

When is it more than just friends?

by Rod Smith

We are “just friends” is often the defense used by men and woman who are on the verge of an affair, or at least a liaison that will be hurtful to a spouse. We “just work together,” says the woman to her husband about a co-worker who gets all of her attention even on weekends. “She’s just work-friend,” says the man to his wife regarding the woman who sends him text messages every day.

You are not “just friends” if:

1. You spend more time and energy with this person than you do with other friends.
2. You share conversations at a more intimate level with this person than you do with your spouse.
3. You spend more time and energy thinking of this person and his or her problems than you do the issues you face with your own family,
4. You exclude other friends, or cannot invite your spouse to join you to also be “just friends” with this person.
5. Any part of being “just friends” requires secrecy or deception (like hiding sms messages, having secret cell phones or cell phone numbers, hiding letters, the need to delete emails, or needing to leave the room to talk).

March 2, 2008

Couple survives affair…

by Rod Smith

“An affair usually brings about massive hurt and pain to both spouses. I had an affair when my marriage was floundering. She switched my lights back on. I felt alive. Then the reality sunk in. We were both married. This was wrong. Whilst I was ready to leave my wife for this person, and a new, happier life, I remembered also that I’d made a vow. My wife told me that she loved me though she felt hurt and angry. This brought me misery and confusion. I knew that I had no option but to do something about my marriage. We struggled for a while, and then attended the Retrouvaille Marriage Program. I cut off all contact with my girlfriend because there was no choice if I was going to put my values above self-interest. I had done wrong and had to accept responsibility. I learnt that Love is a Decision and not a feeling. I decided to love. It meant having to help my wife deal with her pain by affirming her, letting her talk about her feelings. I learnt how to trust her with my feelings and accept hers without becoming defensive. Our love today shines brighter than it ever did, including when we were just married.” (Edited to 200 words)

January 4, 2008

For “new” teenagers….

by Rod Smith

The advocates for understanding and listening to young people are many. This is usually a good thing – but alas – it appears to have become somewhat of a preoccupation of areas of mental health. Far less is promoted regarding the reverse: the importance of young people listening to, and understanding adults, parents in particular.

In my opinion there’s a lot more to be gained when young people work at understanding and listening to adults, than is to be gained from the seemingly excessive focus on the reverse.

Of course, it is really helpful when both constituencies work at understanding each other.

Listening to, and understanding adults, will usually have a lot more to offer young people than young people have to offer through being understood or heard.

While you, a young teenager, may not have spent enormous amounts of time trying to understand your parents, some effort expended in this direction will pay you rich dividends. Your parents? lives did not begin with your birth. Yours did. Take time to discover what and who they were before you were born. This will do wonders for all.

December 18, 2007

First year of fourth marriage has been “down”…

by Rod Smith

“I have been married a year and it has been so down. My husband prefers drinking with his loser buddies than being around any positive people. I hardly see him. I feel like we are in a very early stage of a relationship. I have been married four times, and I think I am crazy! First, I was a teenage bride and my husband abused me, then the next had an affair. My new husband spends his days drinking after work and I get left out. He wants a mother. I am very intelligent except when it comes to love. I forgive and then I get shafted. I need some friends.” (Letter edited)

Intelligent is, as intelligent does. I’d suggest you get some individual, personalized, help about how to find out who you are and what you want. Clearly you are searching for something and are possibly looking for it in a few unwise places. While it is easy to place blame on all the “loser” men in your life, you are the one, common, factor.