Do Your Part No Matter What

sunset-kiss stk xchgIt is a lot easier to be a loving, responsive spouse when you feel confident your partner is doing her part. You’ll find it a relative breeze to work together, talk intimately and live life as equals when your perception is he’s doing what he ought to be doing.

But your husband doesn’t always do his part. Your wife doesn’t always talk or behave as she should. Because we all are imperfect, tired, hungry, lonely, put out or fed up, we don’t always do what we know would be the best thing (or even a good thing) to do.Continue reading

Rekindling the Romance in Your Relationship

white roses stkxchgYou meet. You date. You have a vivid sense that no other couple has ever experienced what the two of you have created together. You feel so alive, so on fire for each other. Fast-forward a year or two or five or fifteen and the situation seems so different. Something appears to be missing. Now it’s hard to imagine that you were once that couple who felt so in love.

Where is that sense of romance that once enveloped you?Continue reading

Pointing Fingers

finger pointing stkxchgAs a therapist I’m often waiting to hear the rest of the story from the people I meet in my office. Frequently what I’ve heard from a couple doesn’t fit with what I perceive when I’m with them in the session. I can see the part they’ve shown me and told me, but I may have a sense there is more hiding in the bushes, obscured from view but present nonetheless. I’m aware of the rustlings among the leaves, so I press on, looking for clarity.

It was on one such day that I met alone with a wife who had told her husband she wanted a divorce. She had moved out, but no lawyers had been involved in their saga, not yet anyway. I had met with the couple several times before suggesting this session alone with her. My main purpose was to find out what it was that made her question her desire to continue in the marriage. As we started, I purposely asked her a vague question about her disillusionment with her relationship so she would have the freedom to respond as she wished.Continue reading

A father’s stubborn love

romanaian-child1-300x200   She told me she had been stolen at the age of three.  I would have used the word “kidnapped.”

She grew up in Romania, where, she said, children often disappear to be sold to others. Some are adopted by rich parents in another country who have no children of their own. Many wind up as sexual slaves. Still others become the source of spare parts for people with more money than health or scruples. Such people might have used her liver or her kidneys or some other organ to save their own lives. In order to secure health for themselves, they were willing to take the life of a child.

But the story took a turn. When I met her, she was in her twenties, very much alive and well, making her own way in the world for one reason: her father’s love and determination. When she was taken, her dad pursued her to another country, tracked her down and brought her back. Her father’s affection and resolve changed the course of her existence, giving my friend her life back. She lives free and full of choice because of her father’s faithful love.

I have no doubt it’s a true story, although I doubt it’s a story a three-year-old would remember on her own. It was probably part of the family myth, a tale told and retold in family circles and, as in my case, to people outside as well. What an exhilarating account for a woman to relate: the love of a father who risked himself and his safety to find a missing daughter and bring her home.

It’s an exciting legend, to be sure, filled with danger and determination and dedication. It’s a story a child would never tire of telling, whether she was in her second, third or ninth decade of life. That she told me her story is proof of that. A child who is lost, helpless and alone is brought back home so she can have the life she was intended to have instead of the one some outside person or contingent tried to force upon her.

After she shared her story with me, I had two thoughts which jockeyed for preeminence in my thinking. First I thought about how fortunate she was to have such a father. Second, my heart went out to all the children who didn’t make it back home, either because their fathers didn’t care enough to search or because they were unsuccessful in their attempts to rescue their children.

Today my world has been broadened by meeting this young woman. I am thankful for her successful return to her home twenty-some years before. And I am mindful of the many who did not make it back. Both are worthy of our thoughts and deserving of our prayers.

The street where you live

joy drive  There are 2,7000,000 miles of paved roads in the United States. Variously called “avenue,” “court,” “road,” “parkway,” “lane,” “terrace,” “boulevard,” “street” and “highway,” these ribbons of concrete and asphalt traverse our country from North Dakota to Texas and California to Rhode Island.  Whether you’re traveling across town or across the county, these thoroughfares can help you get there.  You can arrive at the grocery store, the beach or a sporting event. You can take an avenue to your place of business, to pick up the kids from school, deliver the laundry and dry cleaning or purchase dinner.  And dessert.

We name streets after trees—pine, oak, walnut, cherry, maple and cypress—after birds—falcon, swan, eagle, duck, oriole or robin—and famous people—Adams, Jefferson, Washington, Polk, Fillmore, Martin Luther King, Pocahontas and Houston.

Sometimes roads get their names from points of interest, geology or geography. Like Natches Trace Parkway, Turkey Creek Road, Ocean Boulevard, High Point Ridge Road,  the Appalachian Trail and of course,  the many Dam Roads. Most towns have a Church Street and Main Street, and many have a University Avenue or College Lane.

In Clarksville, Tennessee there is a road named Joy Drive.  I happened upon it one Sunday morning while making my way to church. I was immediately intrigued by the name. Who was it that gave this street it’s appellation?   I wondered if the people who live on Joy are happier than other people in town.  Do they experience more pleasure or delight, two synonyms for “joy”? I wondered if you get chosen to live on Joy Drive by a vote of the current residents, or if you’re allowed to make the choice yourself.  I’ve also wondered if you have to be joyful to even be considered as a homeowner, or if you simply become happier once you live there.

Of course I might be making all this up and the physical street you live on has no connection with your emotional state.

While a few dozen people live on a literal drive named “Joy,” many other people choose to live joyfully no matter the name of the street upon which they reside. They make a choice each day to live with a sense of delight in their life, often a sense of pleasure that has nothing to do with their actual circumstances.

In the same way that some might choose to live on Joy Drive, but many others have decided to reside on Anxiety Avenue or at the corner of Bitterness and Heartache.  Others might camp out on the cul-de-sac of Disappointment, going in circles, never stopping, hanging on to their pain and hurt and woundedness.  Depression Lane, Avenue of Regret and Anger Terrace  are a common landing spots for many of us.

The point is, of course, that while we can’t all live on a street actually named “Joy,” we all chose the place where we reside. And because the choice is up to us, we can choose to make a change in our location by changing our emotional, physical or spiritual address.

Where do you live? Are you content to be there? Would you like to change your location? It’s up to you. Change is possible, often desirable. And the power to choose is within your grasp