Relationships

How to Maintain a Relationship – People Share Their Secrets

After getting divorced one may be more cautious when dating again – wanting to avoid potential pitfalls. Your marital union has ended and it can be puzzling how other folks stay together for half of a century. A variety of couples graciously revealed their secrets to what makes a relationship last.

Just let go

At the end of the day, let go of the trivial things which happened. Do not get worked up over the small stuff, but rather focus on what is important. When we carry all of these insignificant grudges around, they become a big load. No one is perfect – so give your partner some slack. Do not keep score. “I did this so you had better do that.” One acquaintance kept a tally of grievances and when she reached a high number, they got a divorce. A friend kept track of who did what chores. She expected them to be split 50/50 even though she worked fewer hours outside of the home. That ended in divorce. Your spouse’s actions are not motivated by malice, so just let go. We all have annoying quirks.

No one has the power to  “make” you happy

People have divorced or broken up with partners when that individual no longer “made them happy.” We choose our feelings and no one else has the power to make us feel a certain way. It is in our control to be happy or not. Long -term couples said that they required other relationships besides the marital one, such as being in clubs and with friends. The Dalai Lama states “True happiness does not depend on an external being or thing. It only depends upon us.” When becoming unhappy, that is a red flag to have a discussion with your partner. One woman informed her husband that she wanted a divorce because she was so unhappy. Talking this through, they discovered that she missed her old job and was miserable being a stay-at-home mom. Once back in the workforce, she was content with her life.

Follow your gut instinct

A priest said that he talks to both mothers when doing weddings. He tells these ladies not to interfere with their children’s relationship. Do not let your friends interfere with your relationship either. Friends can mean well, however give lousy advice that is detrimental. They may have their own agenda, which does not align with yours. Two co-workers were close and the friend played racquetball with the other’s husband. She pretended to support her married pal, but the end result was that the couple got divorced and the other two got married. Trust your gut instinct and do not rely on others to offer opinions on what to do. I knew it would be a mistake to get married to my now ex-husband. An older family friend kept insisting it was only “pre-wedding jitters” and to go through with it. Big mistake listening to her.

Be  careful about what you say

Be careful of what you confide to others -especially when going through a difficult time. Friends will side with you and may not like your partner after hearing your complaints about him or her. They often continue to loathe them after your problems are resolved. You may be told you are too good for your spouse, when personal details are overshared with family and friends. What you say in anger can have a negative effect on their viewpoint of your partner and of you remaining in the relationship.

Share

Couples stated that sharing was important, which includes sharing child care responsibilities. One father said that he is “the bottle washer” since his wife also works full time. Sharing household duties means looking around for what needs to be done and not waiting for a partner to ask for help.

Have fun and a sense of humor

Many said having a sense of humor keeps things running smoothly. Laughter connects people and having fun adds spice to the relationship. Couples have taken up Salsa dance lessons, golf, joined gourmet dining clubs or got into volunteering. They have become active in community issues or rediscovered a long-lost passion in life. These people are reinventing themselves together on the same path. Life events have kept some individuals from traveling in the past. I have met many couples in second marriages exploring the world and ticking off exotic places from their Bucket Lists. Others have gotten involved in projects together, such as renovating a house for retirement is a sunny locale.

At a fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration, the wife said that “commitment is love – you can’t have love without commitment.” When they went through rough patches, they each knew the other was committed to the marriage and was not going to bolt. Secrets to lasting love is to have kindness, be respectful of your partner and put them first in your life above others.

Originally published in Divorce Force   www.divorceforce.com/

Why Staying Together For The Sake Of The Children Is Not Always Best

Parents sometimes feel that they are doing their children a favour by staying together instead of getting a divorce. Are two parents in the house better than in two separate households? Not according to a study done in the UK. 82% of children stated it was better for their parents to separate than stay together because of them. Emotions are contagious which means kids pick up on the unhappiness and tension in the home. Parents may erroneously feel that their angry or hurt feelings are well hidden behind smiling masks. Youngsters are smart and figure out that something is not right between their parents. My sons asked me for several years why I waited so long to get a divorce. My parents screamed at each other behind a closed door when I was a toddler. They divorced when I was four and it seemed like Christmas every day afterwards.

Some couples claim that they are staying together for the sake of the kids when the real reason is fear of the unknown. Consider consulting a professional if this might be the case. If wondering if you would have enough money post-divorce, meet with a financial advisor or career coach. They can look at your assets and financial state to give an idea what to expect. A relationship therapist can help you sort out the pros and cons with staying or divorcing plus give support. One grandmother was afraid if she divorced that it would affect how much she could see her grandkids. A reality check helped her to follow what was really in her heart.

In the same study by the charity Resolution, 31% of the children were upset about their parents putting the other one down in their presence. This draws kids into one’s divorce drama. If they defend the absent parent, the one criticizing may get angry. If they are silent that may be perceived as agreement with the criticism. It puts the youngsters in an uncomfortable position. Nearly 90% of the children felt that their parents needed to stop making the divorce process seem as if they had to take sides. Even if a third party is involved in the divorce – do not talk about them to the youngsters.

Children know that they got half of their DNA from each of you. Trashing the other parent may be misconstrued that part of them is bad, mentally ill or whatever you said about the other parent. I told my sons that each of us made some mistakes and look at what did and did not work. Use that information to become fantastic parents themselves someday. It is okay not to mention the other parent at all. I still do not talk about their father, but will listen without commenting if they feel the need to speak about him. Some people can co-parent wonderfully together and others cannot for various reasons. I interviewed former spouses in the school setting regarding their secret to being able to co-parent so well. All stated “we put our egos aside.” Fabulous advice. Make “doing what is best for the children” be your motto.

When splitting up, keep in mind that you have needs too. It is easy to let friends fall to the wayside when struggling through the divorce process. This is when you need a support system the most. Make some time to be connected with others – even if for a quick latte. One accountant who was swamped with end of tax season work, went off to see a movie. She said when life is most stressful, that is the time for a short break to get one’s batteries recharged and get rejuvenated. Just as you require some fun built into your schedule, so do the kids. They need to blow off steam, get away from the divorce situation and just be kids. Think of some enjoyable activities – a carnival, bowling, ice cream, white water rafting etc.

Shake up the rituals that you did when married with a different twist post-divorce. Go to different restaurants and venues to replace old memories with new ones. I was trying to keep many of the same routines post-divorce with my sons. After they commented about the unpleasant times spent in places that we went while still married, it was my wake up call for a ritual overhaul. We stopped going to the old restaurants and replaced them with lively cafes and coffee houses. We found different travel destinations which were exciting. A way to get over the past is to have new adventures. If fear is holding you hostage, there are professionals who will hold your hand all through the divorce process and guide you every step of the way.

Originally  published in Splitsville    splitsville.com   which is a social utility where you’ll connect with others,
swap stories, get ideas, solutions and much more.

Early Warning Signs Of A Potential Abuser

There are early warning signs that you are in a relationship with a potential abuser. After divorce, one may have joined an online dating site and now has a string of first and second dates. While people put their best foot forward and hide their darker side – it is still possible to catch a glimpse of who that person really is. One may feel it is love at first sight, however if something does not quite seem right, put the brakes on. Trust your gut instinct. Your subconscious is screaming at you to back away when these signs of a potential abuser appear:

  • Are they disrespectful to anyone? While no one agrees completely with another, people can agree to disagree in a respectful way. When a date treats others callously so early in a relationship, this is bound to get worse. This may include name calling or derogatory labels. If women are called obscene terms, hit the road.
  • Are they controlling? They want to plan your social life and dictate whom you may see. They may tell one how to dress or where they can go. They want their dating partner to get their permission to do various activities.
  • Potential abusers excel at using sarcasm with little jabs at others. They may mock what you say. They make “jokes” at your expense and say you are “too sensitive” if you are hurt or object. They are critical and judgemental. There do put downs which may begin in private and progress to belittling you in front of family and friends.
  • They are possessive which may seem flattering at first. One can mistake this for affection, when really it means you are their property. For example, a person may keep their arm permanently attached to you in a group setting. Instead of love, it can be marking their territory. They may call multiple times of day to check up on you.
  • They are jealous of your relationships and may attempt to isolate you from others. In some cases, the person is jealous of their date’s children. They resent the time the parent spends with their kids and competes for attention. These potential abusers want to be the centre of the universe and get upset when forced to share their date.
  • They blame you for their bad mood or blame others for any misfortunes. They cannot handle feedback that points to any mistakes they have made.
  • The biggest sign is that they have violent behaviour which may not necessarily be directed at you. They start with a small action at first, such as throwing a book across the room in rage. It progressively increases in intensity, such as hitting the couch near you, or tossing your possession at something. It is only a matter of time before you become the target of physical abuse. It is so important to get out of this relationship immediately and not listen to any excuses. Leave after the first violent act and not wait until you become the punching bag.

This true case illustrates several points mentioned above. Violet dated a medical student from a fantastic family. Ken appeared to be loving and caring, yet a few things bothered her. He blamed others for his mistakes or said they were wrong when his discrepancies came to light. He belittled Violet in front of others and her mum begged her to leave him. She did not. Right before her trip abroad, Violet asked Ken to drive her to a store to get some cosmetics. He refused –saying he did not want her to look pretty for other men. Then he gave her a prominent hickey on her neck which was very visible.

When Violet returned, Ken put a fist through a door inside her flat. Shortly after that he threw her shoe at the wall, which resulted in a hole. The violence scared her and she realized what would be happening next. Violet realized she had given Ken too many chances and promptly broke up with him. A few years later an acquaintance revealed that Ken married and got divorced the next year. She knew why.

It is easy to fall into the trap of listening to excuses and giving extra chances as Violet did. When any act of violence occurs – no matter how small – end the relationship.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine    thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

 

Can Divorce Be Contagious?

Experts suggest that a Friend’s Divorce may encourage you to seek one too

Although a marriage is typically private and not influenced by anything outside of the close circle, it is now thought that a divorce between your friends or somebody else close to you may well have an influence upon you and your own relationship. With this in mind, we look at whether or not a divorce really can be considered as contagious.

Why are Divorces being considered as Contagious?

Expert researchers are finding that the concept of a divorce can make its way through friends, family and even work colleagues, should one couple within those groups start their own divorce process. In fact, those around somebody looking to obtain a divorce may be 75% more likely to get their own divorce. It is thought that the ending of relationships within groups can spark something in other people’s minds, leading them to begin questioning their own relationship and what they want their own future to hold.

It is also said that the divorce often fights against the stigma surrounding breakups and how it may affect children, proving to people that it can be done in a way that doesn’t have too much of a negative impact. However, as many can imagine, these findings also suggest that knowing a number of different people that have previously gone through a divorce can actually be bad for a marriage, putting it at a greater risk of ending in divorce.

Realising the Action that your Marriage Requires

When family, friends or other people close to you get a divorce, you usually look at your own marriage and realise its current state. You may think that the couple getting a divorce were happy, and that it could mean that there are underlying issues in your own relationship, as there may well have been in theirs. This often installs a fight or flight response, encouraging you to realise how lucky you and your partner are, or encouraging you to realise that your own marriage holds some issues.

Once this has happened, you either realise that you can continue as you are and live your happily married life or that you need to make some changes. If you find that you need to make changes, having somebody close by that is going through a divorce can be very beneficial to you. With a helping hand from a friend, a blueprint to follow or even women being empowered, their divorce can help to guide you through your own.

Although ill-feelings will almost certainly have been there before somebody else’s divorce, the fact that they take the plunge and try to change their life often gives others the strength to take action too. Divorce is often a word that people are afraid of, but it can also be something that brings a breath of fresh air to life, and can lead to bigger and better things.

Kerry Smith is the Head of Family Law at K J Smith Solicitors, specialist family law solicitors that deal with a wide range of issues, including divorce, domestic violence, civil partnerships, and prenuptial agreements. Kerry has over 15 years experience in family law and is recommended by the Legal 500 guide to law firms in the UK.

Cohabitation – Why The Law Needs Changing In Order To Protect Modern Families

While marriage is still popular, cohabitation outside marriage is indisputably on the rise. In fact, over the last twenty years, the number of people living together outside marriage has approximately doubled. The level of protection offered to unmarried couples in England and Wales in the event of a separation, however, has not. Scotland does have some recognition of unmarried partnerships, but even so it has nothing like the concept of “common law marriage” which many people believe does exist.

The rise and rise of cohabitation 

Back in 1996 there were about 1.5 million cohabiting couples in a UK population of about 58 million people. In 2017, there are about 3.3 million cohabiting couples in a UK population of about 66 million. It’s unclear what has fuelled this rise. Certainly living together no longer carries the social stigma it once did, but just because you can do something doesn’t mean you necessarily want to. Perhaps the (potential) expense of weddings or the prospect of having to go through a divorce is making people wait longer and think harder before they decide whether or not they want to “tie the knot” at all, let alone with whom. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that increasing numbers of couples are cohabiting rather than marrying or entering into civil partnerships and yet the law relating to such relationships is essentially conspicuous by its absence.

There is no such thing as “common-law marriage”

In legal terms, marriage is a contract between two parties, which creates duties and obligations between them. As part of the marriage contract, couples agree to pool their assets and hence when a marriage is ended through divorce, assets are divided between the separating halves of the couple on the basis of law and precedent. This is by no means a perfect system and in the real world, the nature of divorce may be that neither party feels completely satisfied that the deal was fair, but it does at least offer some level of protection for people in situations where there is clear financial disparity between the partners. Contrary to what about two thirds of people appear to believe (according to a recent ComRes poll), there is no such thing as common law marriage and hence there is, currently, practically no legal protection for those ending cohabiting partnerships in England and Wales and very little in Scotland.

Lack of legal protection exposes cohabiting partners to financial risk

When couples cohabit outside of marriage there is no automatic agreement to pool assets and there is no formal process to follow to disband the union. Hence, dividing assets can ultimately turn into a matter of proof of ownership plus practicalities of possession. This is probably most evident when it comes to property. If the house is in the name of one person, then there is a high degree of likelihood that, under current laws, they will keep full ownership of it, even if the other party has contributed to the mortgage. There are some circumstances in which a party could claim a “beneficial interest” in the property, but these are limited. Given the strength of the housing market and the rise in cohabitation, this in itself would seem a strong argument for the government to act on the urging of both members of the public and members of the legal profession, including Baroness Hale, the president of the UK’s supreme court and introduce much stronger legal protection for couples ending cohabiting relationships.

Author Bio Kerry Smith is the head of family law at K J Smith Solicitors, a specialist family law firm who deal with a wide range of issues including divorce, domestic violence, civil partnerships and prenuptial agreements.

Emotional Aspects of Searching for an Ex-Partner Online

The internet has made it easy to check up on former spouses and boy or girlfriends. In some cases, one may feel relief, “I dodged a bullet on that one.” In other instances, it can lead to the what ifs – “What if I had stayed with him/her.” When deciding whether or not to look up an ex-partner, first think about your motivation. Is it idle curiosity or pondering the question of getting divorced, if an ex may be available?

One acquaintance’s wife went on social media to discover the whereabouts of an old boyfriend. She contacted him and they started having long weekends together that she passed off as business trips. When her suspicious husband confronted her, she confessed about the affair. This couple soon divorced and she later married her former boyfriend. Be clear why you are seeking out information, especially when already in a committed relationship.

People may be delving back into the past to see if they have made good choices. This can get into the dangerous territory of regrets. There may be one person who slipped through their fingers and got away. Seeing that individual’s fabulous lifestyle online can have one questioning why they broke up with them, especially if currently going through a divorce. People may wonder if they were too hasty in letting a love interest go. Instead of saying “what if” think about the great children you now have or the life experiences you would have missed if you did not take the road that you did.

Social media and online searches hit the surface- the great professional accomplishments- but usually do not get at the character traits and values. What tore you apart before, can still do so today unless you both have changed or had some type of enlightenment.

After much prodding by a friend to look up people online, I recently decided to give it a go. I searched for a former fiancé and got quite a surprise. I had broken up with him because of a few character issues and I am sure I had my quirks too. He got married within a few years after our parting of ways, which ended in a divorce fairly quickly. What I discovered online is that he is one of the top surgeons in his field, won all kinds of awards, including “Best Doctor” and is employed at a prestigious institution.

What comes as a surprise is the intensity of emotions that arise as a result of searching for a person from your past. My fiancé and I had a clean break and two years later bumped into each other which ignited our passion. We decided to pursue getting back together again. It  seemed like miscommunication on both of our parts led to us each thinking that the other had changed their minds. When I realized our mistake over two decades later, I went through profound grief  which manifested itself physically, as if big waves were crashing against me. I mourned not having his loving parents, siblings and extended family in my life. I felt a sense of loss. Others may experience anger, sadness, or wanting a time machine to go back into the past. When deciding whether or not to do a search, be prepared for some strong reactions to what is discovered.

If having problems after doing an online search for an ex, consider a session with a life coach. They can give you a reality check and get you back on track.  Thinking over our last phone call, I thought maybe my communication was not clear.  The coach pointed out that my fiancé had the responsibility to clarify what he thought my message was, in case of misinterpretation.   He easily could have popped in where I worked to see me. This was before cell phones, so I did not have a way to contact him. My life coach suggested perhaps a marriage for us was not meant to be.

In some instances, former boyfriends and girlfriends have found each other again through social media and got married. The common thread is that they are both single and what broke them up is no longer a factor. These include having been too young, parental disapproval or a long-distance relationship, such as going to universities on different continents. It was not a character flaw.

There is a way to satisfy curiosity regarding old classmates and high school sweethearts. See if your class has a group on social media, such as on Facebook where you can catch up with these friends. You can find out what is new with your former flame in this group setting, without contacting them directly.

After a traumatic divorce, one can be lonely, especially when losing friends and some in-laws because of it. One can feel vulnerable and trying to get comfort from past relationships may not be the right path. Give yourself time to heal and gain self-understanding before attempting any social media searches for past partners. When feeling alone, consider networking, meeting new people and joining clubs. Take up old hobbies and follow your interests. Surrounding yourself with supportive people may be what you need most, rather than searching for former loves.

My article was originally printed in DivorceForce   www.divorceforce.com/   Affected by Divorce? Join DivorceForce, the online community committed to empowering those affected by divorce. Many helpful articles for those facing divorce.   @divorceforce (Twitter)

 

New Trend for Second Marriages

There is a new trend after divorce when getting remarried, which is each person keeps their own home. Some divorced folks whose subsequent marriages are in their second decade or so, claim living apart is their secret to marital satisfaction. Keep in mind, these are people who do not have a child together who would be shuttled back and forth between two places. These couples are childless or have offspring who have flown the nest. Why is this occurring?

In one case, a couple could not decide which location to live in. Although neither had nine-to-five jobs, they had work commitments tied to their residences. He free-lanced in London and she was an artist near Cornwall who painted exquisite landscapes. They felt that they had loads of time to decide where to live which turned out to be the key to making this work. He spends long weekends enjoying the bucolic countryside around her cottage and she likes the excitement of a few days in London. They use their time apart for some solitude or getting together with local friends. What surprised these two was that they had already hit upon the solution – to continue their current lifestyle permanently . When together, they are very focused on each other. How does living in separate households work?

  • Are you both independent types who crave alone time or do not want someone around 24/7, no matter how much you are in love? One couple who each have been divorced, are both in education. He is on the faculty of a college and she is a therapist in a primary school. They live nearby in their own houses and have been together for nine years. She states that they would “Drive each other crazy” if they ever lived under the same roof.
  • Logistically is it better to have your separate places? This may be due to having to be near elderly parents or a family member with a terminal condition. Another example is when job commitments are in different places and each wants to keep their house.
  • It may be temporary, such as when someone has a job contract that will be finished in several months. A divorced woman with a beloved elderly cat married a divorced man who has a severe allergy to them. The cat was not going to be around much longer. She was at her condo every day to feed and be with the cat, sometimes spending the night, particularly at the end. Her husband told me that he has such respect for his wife. They knew this was a temporary set-up and the cat died six months after their marriage. This woman has no regrets since her eighteen-year-old companion lived out his final days in a familiar place.
  • Maybe one is a big city person and the other loves farm life or living in the countryside. This does not have to be an either-or situation. Living separately part-time and commuting to be with each is doable. It helps when the couple’s places are an easy drive or linked by good public transportation.
  • Two opposites may attract, yet not be able to live day-to-day with each other. A divorced woman wed a military man who was a widower. He had been married for fifty years and was used to things being done in a certain way, plus has quirks from his time in the military (extreme neatness). She is a creative artist who is oblivious to a mess and is attached to her tiny home. He bought a condo a block away and so far, this situation is working out for them.

Families may not mix well. I asked my divorced friend what was the happiness secret for her subsequent marriage which lasted twenty years. She replied “Because we each had our separate houses.” Please read more   www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/new-trend-in-life-after-divorce/

Civil Partnerships for Opposite-Sex Couples Denied by the Court of Appeal

A couple from London have lost a Court of Appeal battle to have a civil partnership instead of a marriage. However, the ruling which said they did not meet the legal expectations of being the same sex still stood following the challenge.

There is a possibility that this was a breach of their human rights but the couple were still going to fight the ruling with an appeal being submitted to the Supreme Court.

Why would a civil partnership be chosen instead of marriage?

The government have a wait and see policy when it comes to looking at the numbers of the same sex civil partnerships but this was deemed to be unacceptable when it came to looking at the discrimination that heterosexual couples may face. However, judges are willing to give the government additional time and that is what caused the case to be lost.

Many believe that the institution of marriage is not completely equal as it depends on your religion but many felt that a civil partnership gave people a choice while some just want to have their relationship recognised.

At this moment in time, the government has decided that civil partnerships should not be extended to opposite sex couples but it has decided to see how extending marriage to same sex couples could affect civil partnerships.

The ruling could be a sign that love and equality have been defeated because it cannot be right that gay couples have the option of a civil partnership or civil marriage when same-sex couples only have one option which is to get married.

As a result of this decision, many people are now waiting for the government to shut the civil partnership loophole by making it accessible to everyone. A debate is due to take place where MP’s will discuss changing the law so that mixed-sex couples have access to a civil partnership with many MP’s believing that the government has no-excuse for making people wait.

This could be seen as an element of mistreatment towards same-sex couples and the support for civil partnerships to be available to all is growing as an online petition already has more than 70,000 signatures.

In England and Wales in 2014, The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act was extended so that it included gay couples, making it possible for them to have a choice between a civil partnership and marriage. This resulted in the number of civil partnerships dropping by 85% from 2013 to 2015 as many chose to have a civil marriage instead.

Currently, the only place in the UK were gay and straight couples can access civil partnerships is the Isle of Man, although choosing this option will make the partnership unrecognised throughout the rest of the UK.

Author Bio K J Smith Solicitors are specialists in family law, with an expert team of family law professionals who are experienced in all aspects of family and divorce law.

Divorce Changes Relationships – Both Family and Friends

Divorce brings all sorts of surprises which includes how much it changes relationships. Ones you took for granted may collapse or end up being the foundation of your support. Keep in mind that those close to you are processing their own feelings and may not be able to be an immediate pillar of support. Your parents may genuinely be fond of your spouse and are sorting through their mixed emotions. Family does not have to go into mourning when they realize that their ties are not being severed, but can see your former spouse at holiday get-togethers.

IN-LAWS

The relationship with in-laws will be different. One woman decided to have a business-like one with her former mother-in law which focused only on the children. She contacts this grandmother about their school and sporting events and takes the youngsters over to her house. They are civil, but not warm to each other, which is okay.

MUTUAL FRIENDS

Mutual friends can be trickier and may choose sides. If having an amicable divorce where you plan to stay in touch afterwards, get the word out to others. Their inclination may be to drop one of you, so inform them that both of you can attend the same gatherings. When couples mainly socialize together as a unit, divorce usually puts an end to that. See if it is feasible to have individual friendships post-divorce. The women meet for lattes and the fellows at another time for a sporting event. Unfortunately most of the couples we socialized with, wanted to do so only in a group. That happens and I have made some great new friends post-divorce.

NON-SUPPORTIVE FAMILY MEMBERS

What hurts is when a few relatives or step-ones are firmly in your ex’s camp. Look at family dynamics and history to understand if there is something else to it, such as revenge. One woman who could not have children resented her sister-in-law’s daughter. The aunt had confided that this child should have been hers and was not close to the girl. When her niece later got a divorce, the aunt cut ties and stayed in touch with the ex. Luckily the niece’s sons understood the situation and felt it was the aunt’s loss only. When interviewing people, I heard more similar stories to this case. When a relative pulls away, see if in the long run it really is better. Are you putting a lot of time and energy into a relationship that is more on the toxic side, just because you are both branches on the same family tree?

Please read more:  www.divorcemag.com/blog/friends-after-divorce-how-to-deal-with-changes-to-social-circle

Signs You are Dating a Narcissist

Narcissists can be charming people who are the centre of attention. The spotlight shines on them and it can be enticing to be their date. They crave admiration for their overinflated egos. Something may seem a bit off, but then one thinks,” must be my imagination” since they are the focus of an adoring crowd. Here are some signs your new partner is a Narcissist:

  • Lack of empathy. These individuals do not get how others feel and are unable to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. They do not comprehend another’s viewpoint. They may appear callous and could care less about the plight of people or animals. While they may volunteer or work at a charity, it is because they garnish attention and are in the limelight. It is not because of a desire to make the world a better place. If you are upset or want to discuss a problem, they show no support.
  • Narcissists have an unrealistic sense of importance. The topic of conversation will be about them and their perceived achievements. Some of this is embellished or outright lies whether on a CV or about awards which were never really received. When caught in lies about false accomplishments, they have a plausible cover story or attack the accuser. Narcissists put others down who are perceived competitors, especially when others win awards. They are not team players and can view co-workers as obstacles to their success. See if you can talk about yourself, or if the conversation bounces right back to them.
  • They are social climbers who exploit others to help them move up to more elite social circles. They are rude and dismissive to those who cannot advance their careers or social standing, such as wait staff, sales clerks and so forth. See how staff is treated to get a true picture of someone. They will turn the charm on like a faucet when they desire a perk – airline seat upgrade, discount, prominent table in a restaurant, for example. They may make “jokes” (really insults) about those who seem worthless. They tear others down in order to build themselves up.
  • Their lives are about being seen. Yes it is fun to go to the latest clubs, restaurants and high profile events, however your role is to be arm candy. That gets old. Narcissists can exhibit hostility to those who do not give them the praise and adulation which they think they deserve. When not given the red carpet treatment, they can get nasty and belittle others.

Narcissists may not be that interested in meeting your family and friends. They make a charming first impression and then feel that they did their part. They are not going to be going to your mums for weekly Sunday roasts or chilling out with your gran watching Coronation Street. They will not be helping your parents with DIY projects or doing deeds that do not directly benefit them. They may seem bored or distant when out with your friends.

When dating, there is give and take in relationships.  With a Narcissist as a partner, there is an imbalance with them doing the taking. They may be using you, such as asking for money right away.  If you have a crisis or illness, is your partner a source of compassion and support? If having a problem, can you talk it through with your partner? Are you with someone who can just listen? If no, get some feedback from friends and family.

Cannot tell you how many folks I interviewed who chose not to listen to their friends’ warnings and said they could have avoided getting divorced if they had. If feeling confused, consider talking with a dating or life coach to ensure you are on the right track.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/

Podcast on narcissists       soundcloud.com/divorcesux/divorcing-a-narcissist-ep009

Ways to Make New Friends after Divorce

It is a blow to lose friendships that you thought would last forever. Some close ones may have initially been your girlfriends and then you went out as couples with spouses. To have these pals align with your former spouse is a surprise. Look at it this way, divorce lets you know who your true friends are. How do you fill these vacant positions?

  1. MeetUp.com is global and has many groups for varied interests. I am in the local girlfriend’s one, ages 40s to 60s. We go to restaurants for lunch or tea, happy hour, lattes or whatever. These women are well-travelled, intelligent and a lot of laughs. My divorced buddy is in the hiking group. Some larger cities have divorced and single parent groups in MeetUp.com
  2. Join special interest groups to encounter like-minded people. You may develop a friendship which deepens into love and then marriage which has happened to a few divorced people that I know. These groups may be political, civic, for a particular cause such as animal rescue, or in many other areas. Some churches have singles’ groups which do a lot of fun activities. I joined an international organization, Toastmasters, which has the added bonus of enhancing my career and boosting personal confidence.
  3. Ask your friends to invite their other friends and you do the same. Meet for Happy Hour, get together at someone’s house or at some event. This is a way to get to know others who may have similar interests since you have friends in common.

4. Your workplace may have a potential pool of new friends. See if some co-workers would like to go out to lunch or after work. You may work in IT with not much partying. The sales team for example, may be very social and have plenty of get-togethers that you could attend.   Please read more   divorcedmoms.com/articles/7-smart-ways-to-make-new-friends-after-divorce

Why People Stay in an Unhappy Marriage

Sometimes we miss the first signs that our marriage is over. It is not because we are dense, but rather that we choose not to notice these clues. Are we so wrapped up in our lives that we cannot recognize when a marriage is dead and is on life support? Avoidance is a way of not dealing with a situation. By wearing blinders – one can pretend all is fine. Admitting that there are problems is a given, that effort will be required to address them. It takes a lot of energy surviving in an unhappy marriage, and some do not want to exert more energy in fixing it or getting a divorce. This is taking the path of least resistance and keeping the status quo.

  1. Fear. One may be in a dead marriage, but fear of change can keep someone trapped. Some women enjoy their lifestyle of being a soccer mom and household manager. When not needing to bring in a second income, they can volunteer, be active in their children’s school and have more time to get together with friends. Getting a divorce is unknown territory that potentially affects their social standing, where they live and finances. Now days, alimony is usually given for a few years or so after a marriage has ended and this can be a motivator to stick out a loveless marriage. Divorce often involves moving, which is especially traumatic when liking the neighbors and house location. Divorce may feel like a gamble – so some choose to stay put in their current marital situation where they know what to expect.
  2. For the sake of the kids. People may stay in a bitter marriage because they think that is best for the children. Some dads are very hands on and active in their kids’ lives, such as being their sports’ coach. Mothers may feel guilty if the kids would not have both parents in the home. While it is a noble thought to be with both parents round the clock – in actuality that may not be in the youngsters’ best interest. Living in a tense atmosphere or with angry adults is not healthy and spending time with happy parents, albeit separately, is. When caught up in the turmoil of a miserable marriage, it can be difficult to envision that there will be quality time spent with each parent. Kids will adjust to divorce especially when being with calm, less stressed and happier parents.

3. Some people stay in a marriage because they feel that they can fix their spouse.  Please read more divorcedmoms.com/articles/4-reasons-women-dont-leave-an-unhappy-marriage

Fun with Friends Post-Divorce

One can have fun out with friends and not break the bank. Years ago, an acquaintance of mine was going broke in NYC because her pals only met up for dinner at pricey restaurants. They split the bill evenly so Mandy was funding filet mignon for others when she was ordering salad. This got me thinking about how to have an active social life while having plenty of cash left over for my passion in life, travel.

  1. Ditch the expensive restaurants or go there occasionally for lunch. Tally up your share and add 25% which includes tax and tip when presented with one bill for the group. I just put my money in and do not participate when someone tries to make all pay the same price. It is not advanced math to do this simple calculation which is fairer. Some upscale grocery stores have a nice buffet with plenty of tables both inside and out. I occasionally meet friends there.
  2. Meet your friends at a coffee shop for lattes instead of lunch. One orders at the counter and pays individually which is simpler. Those that want delectable food can get it. Another alternative is to meet pals in a Starbucks that seem to pop up in many grocery and discount stores and do your shopping together.
  3. Go to a reasonable nail salon for pedicures. The Asian owners can accommodate around six people for pedicures and charge a great price. We like the coffee shop a few doors down and sometimes combine these two indulgences.
  4. There are some free lectures in town and great plays at a nearby college. Nice that the student center has a coffee shop which serves lattes. Check with the chamber of commerce for free community events from concerts, craft fairs to the annual tree lighting on the green. I’ve gone to a few high school plays that have been outstanding.
  5. Watch DVDs and have a potluck at someone’s house. One friend has a small art studio which is perfect for these movie nights. This group of friends was so nurturing to my sons during my divorce and beyond. Sometimes we do quick meditations before the movie which gets me back on track.

Go to a class together. My Zumba one only charges $5.00 and my Qigong one is close in price.   Please read more divorcedmoms.com/articles/girls-night-out-10-ideas-for-fun-that-wont-break-the-bank

 

 

Friendships May Surprise You Post-Divorce

Divorce is a transition which means a change in many aspects of life. One of these areas is relationships, particularly with friendships. Divorce is a time to reevaluate these friendships to see if they are still beneficial or have run their course. Pals that have stuck by you through thick and thin may no longer be as supportive and it is better to not be taken by surprise. If someone is really your friend they will stick around. If they do not, is that a person you really want in your life? Divorce gets rid of these dead branches and allows new growth (friendships) to appear.

Friendship is a two way street. If you feel drained or that you are tip toeing around, then something is not right. Beware of energy vampires who seem to suck the life right out of you. I had a longtime friend who was also godmother to my youngest son. She was divorced and became fixated upon mine, wanting a lot of details. My sons would ask her to talk about something else. During my divorce, I had trouble getting a house mortgage and was under extreme stress. This friend disappeared for a few months until I ran into her and asked what had happened. She said that I had snapped at her on the phone (right before moving day) and no one had done that to her before. It was just about her and nothing about my anxiety. I most likely snapped at anyone who crossed my path, but everyone else gave me some leeway. A year later she dropped out of our lives permanently for no apparent reason. When these friends disappear it can be hard on your children.

A person who has been a mere acquaintance may surprise you and become a good friend.  A divorced acquaintance is now a pal and we sometimes compare notes about our former husbands’ antics. I feel the understanding and validation from her that I do not receive from my marvelous married chums. I became closer to some mothers at my child’s school who were recently divorced and gave me stellar advice. We called ourselves members of The First Wives’ Club.

Friendships are not static and change regardless of situations. Value the ones that stay in your life and you will meet others in serendipitous ways.   www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/friendships-change-after-divorce/

On the Fence About Getting Divorced?

The beginning of a new year is when people take stock of their lives and see what is not working out well so that resolutions can be made. Relationships are one aspect that comes under scrutiny. New Year’s resolutions may be to exercise more, cut down on booze or make a decision about the future of an unhappy marriage. It is time to resuscitate a dying marital partnership or end it. When on the fence about divorce, consider marital counselling, even if your spouse refuses to participate. This will help you recognize if the marriage is salvable or if you have been missing these clues that have led others to file for divorce.

  • You are repulsed by your spouse and do not want to be alone with them. Being in different postal codes would be even better. Sex is a distant memory. Doing things together is just not your cup of tea. You do not even like them and feel trapped being in the relationship. This is not the same as couples losing the spark that initially attracted them to each other. That often can be relit by a holiday in an exotic local or discovering a new passion that draws them back together.
  • Are your beliefs and ethics opposite? When a spouse continues to have affairs and states that you are overreacting, then consider making a permanent exit. It is being callous with complete disregard for your feelings to say you are the one with the problem, since you cannot accept it. This repeated bad behaviour with no remorse, is showing a lack of respect for you.
  • Your partner has an addiction and no amount of rehab has stopped it. There are repeated promises and tears, yet the problem remains. It could be gambling away your joint finances or being impaired. You have been patient but enough is enough. It is not healthy for you to watch someone you love self-destruct with this slow suicide. Stop playing a part in their destructive drama and walk away to protect your well-being.

One or both of you are completely indifferent. You may lead separate lives but still share the same address.

  • Having a spouse turn into a roommate keeps you trapped in a rut. Consider breaking free to have a fulfilling life and the opportunity to meet someone else. Getting a divorce takes money and energy and this may not be the path you choose at this moment in time.

Is there some type of abuse, even if not physical? Emotional and financial abuse erodes a spouse’s self-worth.

Please read more   www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/when-to-get-a-divorce/

Signs Your Relationship is Over

There are little hints that a relationship may be teetering towards divorce, but we often overlook these signs. It is easier to make excuses or to keep the relationship status quo, rather than analyse what may be going wrong. Some people felt if they pretended everything was okay, then it really was okay. Change can be hard and some may not be willing to put forth the effort. These red flags are indicators that help may be needed.

  • The big sign that I consistently observed in husbands before a divorce, was that they were jittery and nervous. They could be in a zen situation and still exhibited behaviour as if going before a firing squad. They seemed to be on red alert and looking for a quick exit. A few were even shaking.
  • Lack of sex. Are they not initiating sex or has it become more mechanical and less loving? This in itself does not point to divorce – but rather in conjunction with others on the list, it may. Avoiding intimacy and seeming more like a flatmate instead of a lover, deserves a discussion.
  • Secrecy. Your wife repeatedly whispering on the phone in another room and hanging up when you enter is suspicious. Your husband keeping you in the dark regarding his whereabouts and time he will be home is worrisome. Not being open with schedules and evasive answers is a clue that something is off.
  • Not wanting to socialize as a couple anymore is a red flag. One woman decided not to continue going to her husband’s speeches and told him she wanted more time with the kids. She felt uneasy around her husband and was not going to pretend to be the happy wife in public. They got a divorce.
  • Check on the money. Is her grocery bills, and other necessities much higher now? She may be getting cash back with a debit card when making purchases, and socking it away. Are there some discrepancies or recent large withdrawals? A spouse may be planning a getaway from the marriage.
  • Are you being treated condescendingly or belittled? Being taken for granted can happen even in the happiest of relationships, however a lack of respect does not acceptable.    Please read more… www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/relationship-on-the-rocks/

Choosing Friends After Divorce

Guilt by association. Your friends reflect back upon you – so be selective whom you choose. Be with people in this post-divorce time who share your ethics. We do not always agree upon political candidates, religion or sports teams, but our basic values ought to be similar. If someone is skating on the edge of the law, then distance yourself from them. We are starting life anew after divorce and do not need questionable people. If pals are doing activities which conflict with your morals, then consider dropping them. Or at least take a break so you can step back and evaluate these relationships.

We are vulnerable after divorce, so listen to alarm bells going off when you are uncomfortable around someone. We may keep a friendship because it is a habit. Being in the company of unethical folks chips away at our psyche or as one woman said it is a “soul ache.” I felt sorry for a divorced dad in the construction business who needed work. I trusted him and the accuracy of his fees. When I started receiving astonomical bills for some big projects, we parted ways. This was after another guy in the same business informed me that I paid more than double the going rate. We were on friendly terms, yet he still needlessly took a chunk of my divorce settlement for some renovations and repairs. I learned that people have to earn my trust.

If you are in relationships that you normally would shun, determine if it is because you are lonely. Strengthen the connections that you already have, such as with family, workmates and supportive pals. Do not start new friendships on the basis that you feel needy, but rather that you both have something to offer. Please read more:  blogsondivorce.com/friendships-post-divorce/

 

Getting Back into Dating Post-Divorce

It can be scary getting back into the dating scene after a long hiatus. Work on your own issues first before getting into a new relationship. One’s self-esteem may be close to non-existent after a toxic marriage. One woman I know dated right after the ink was dry on her divorce decree. She equated sleeping around with a slew of men as being popular and these relationships were short-lived. She got a reality check during therapy and now opts for quality over quantity regarding men.

Before You Date Again:

Write down what you are looking for in a future partner:

Ethics, values, kindness, interests and so forth are important in any relationship they are especially important in men you want to date. What is a deal breaker for you? Do an intake of what you have to offer someone else and see if these qualities are similar to what you are seeking in someone else.

Ask trusted friends for an honest assessment of your behavior to see if you have anything which is annoying or off-putting. One of my friends laughs like a hyena, I suggested she tone it down. And I had to suggest to another that she close her mouth when she chews. These are little things but may influence a guy not to want a second date.

Be specific about the kind of man you want to meet in your profile:

Have an accurate profile and be very specific what you are looking for in a partner. Use your intuition to weed out the nutjobs. It may be worth the extra money to go to a professional matchmaking service who does extensive personality testing and background checks. They do personal interviews to ensure compatibility right from the start. This saves time and effort when zeroing in on just the right guy. Please read more…. divorcedmoms.com/articles/4-suggestions-for-those-dating-again-after-divorce

Discovering Infidelity and How to Deal with It

A  spouse’s reaction to suspected infidelity can leave one wondering if they are imagining things after being informed they are misinterpreting a casual friendship. People may overlook tell-tale signs to keep the status quo, avoid acknowledging adultery and divorce or because they have been put down so many times, making it difficult to differentiate fact from fiction. In Serena’s case, her philandering spouse put the blame on her, saying she was not trusting him.  Serena had a baby and a toddler and felt as if something was not quite right in her marriage. Her husband John, was between jobs and Serena thought getting him some paid handyman work would be beneficial.

Her friend was opening a bookshop and required assistance in painting, putting up shelves and so forth. John later told his wife that her friend yelled at him and helping her was not a good experience. He became more distant and pursued activities late into the night, such as “skiing under a full moon” (five nights in a row). She asked if he was seeing someone and he accused her of being too controlling.  Then John asked for a short trip as his birthday present – by himself. He also wanted to take it a month before his birthday over Valentine’s Day weekend. Being sleep deprived contributed to her not getting to the bottom of this bizarre behaviour.

Two months later John asked “How would you feel if I was interested in someone else? Could we still be married if I slept with her?” Serena answered “No, that doesn’t work for me.” John said “okay.” Serena said she wondered why she did not take those questions as a clue.

The holy woman from India, Amma G, had been Serena’s spiritual guide for over a decade. Amma G did a blessing for the family and her husband felt badly and came clean. He had watched Serena going down a dark tunnel before this and told her about having an affair with her friend. A shocked Serena thanked her husband for revealing this and said “now I know what I have to do.”  She called this friend at her shop and said that she would be there soon. Her friend was giggly, nervous and refused to make eye contact. Serena told her that she knew about their affair and stated “I need you to leave my family alone. Don’t you ruin our lives.” Serena learned through this experience to stand up for herself. She also took the high road and did not report the affair to the other woman’s husband.

Serena said that she felt betrayed by them both with this double whammy. The rug was pulled out from under her and she hit rock bottom. She realized that she could lose her job if she did not get help. She went into survival mode and was not capable of doing all of the necessary daily tasks. Serena did not cook for months and took the kids to Whole Foods five days a week. Her therapist said not to feel bad because Serena was providing nutritious food. Serena said that she “feared so much” and did not want to show that mummy was struggling.

Having a therapist who gave unconditional support was critical for getting through her divorce. There was a period during the divorce when Serena was clinically depressed, but refused pharmaceuticals. After barely being above water, Serena gave anti-depressants a go and was amazed at the difference in her life. She was so grateful for this major positive change. This was for short-term and she needed that boost to feel better. At a retreat, Serena went off the medication and still felt great. On her return, Serena called her doctor, who agreed to taper her off these pills.

Serena felt that exercise helped her to feel so much better, including stabilizing her emotional state. She felt much depleted, so having good nutrition helped her get back on track. She eventually started cooking again, especially comfort foods like chicken noodle soup. Having a close circle of friends was supportive, but they did not know what to do or say. Serena learned to make the first move and makes a meal now for friends who are in a trauma.

Serena was getting validation from others who told her that she was looking so much better. The outer world was seeing a composed Serena when internally she thought she was a mess. This enabled her to realize that she really was getting better. Serena said it is like building muscle – you do not notice it at first and then you feel it. People reflected back to her that she seemed better, which was like building that muscle and she felt the positive change. Meditation was invaluable during this turbulent time even if for only ten minutes. She learned to honour herself and built treats into her schedule.

Two years after Serena confronted her former friend regarding the affair, she had a strong feeling to return. Serena told this woman that she forgave her. She also stated that she is a much stronger woman and her life is better now. Serena felt it was time to get this episode over completely and closed this chapter of her life. Serena went from being withdrawn and sad to vivacious, and enjoying life.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

 

 

Dating Your Opposite Post-Divorce

Sometimes dating one’s opposite adds spice to a relationship or in other cases, tears it apart. The trick is knowing when someone is quirky vs. not the right match at all. Lust or the heady feeling of being in love can blind some to potential problem spots. Having one’s head in the sand like an ostrich does not make problems go away, but rather delays dealing with them. Whether it is being of different religions, ideology or life philosophies, issues need to be addressed before rushing to the alter.

An example of opposites working out differences and being happily married for fifty years is Violet and Terrence. She is city girl who loathes camping out, doing long treks, or white water rafting. Her outdoorsy husband releases his inner mountain man by long hikes and sleeping rough in the wild. They cherish each other and learned to compromise. They bought a luxurious camper van with all mod cons including a cosy kitchen. This couple takes short hikes together and she happily reads while Terrence does the arduous ones solo. I have joined his camping trips staying in tents for white water rafting adventures. Violet keeps busy with extended family while Terrance is away on these short jaunts. They both taught me to cross country ski. Violet is happy for the gentle nudge to enjoy being out in nature.

There are some fundamental issues that sometimes cannot be resolved. A former co-worker of mine is an in-your-face vegetarian who had married a carnivore. She ended up getting a divorce and it had not helped their relationship by having hunters on his family tree. Sometimes opposite temperaments and interests are the death knoll for relationships. My former fiancé was an introvert and I am an extrovert. I love to dance and he would rather stick a pin in his hand than get up on the dance floor. His idea of a perfect evening was staying in and mine was socializing. Although this is not what broke us up, I realized that our opposite preferences would not have worked out well in the long run.

No one is going to tick all of the boxes on our wish list. However, being in alignment with ethics, values, interests helps. If you sense that your dating partner may not want to be a vagabond and you are not a homebody, then a frank discussion is in order. Pre-marital counselling is highly recommended for the second time around to ensure you understand each other’s positions. In the earlier phase of dating, if there is a sticky issue it can be helpful to discuss it with a neutral third party, whether a family friend, clergy or life coach. If the issue is a deal breaker for each of you, it is better to discover that before putting in more time or energy into the relationship. Talking with friends can help give insight to your dating situation.

If something does not feel right when dating, then step back and analyse what is trying to grab your attention. Still your mind through meditation, a walk through the woods or whatever grounds you. Maybe take a break and go away for a short holiday to things over. People in long-term marriages tend to have a sense of humour, compromise and respect the person even if they have an opposite viewpoint. Dating a person who is your opposite can expose you to exciting new adventures, however it is crucial to maintain good communication.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

 

 

 

Perks of Single Parenting Post-Divorce

Being in a toxic marriage sucks the energy right out of you – so there is less available for the children. Youngsters are smart, so may act up to get your limited attention when you are still wed.

After my divorce was finalized, I truly could then focus on my sons. Even my cats seem to appreciate the extra time we spend together post-divorce. I did not realize that being in survival mode meant trying to avoid conflict rather than being spontaneous. Now my sons and I can be vagabonds traipsing around the planet – budget and time permitting.

Single parenting brings a flexibility which allows going to the cinema on the spur of the moment or indulging in an impromptu picnic. I do not have to check with the other parent or plan events far in advance. Instead of viewing life as an obstacle course, it is an adventure with serendipitous moments post-divorce.

My sons give this feedback about single parenthood. They claim I listen to them intently now which in turn enables them to feel more valued. We discuss our lives in depth instead of merely skimming the surface as was done pre-divorce. As a stressed out married mum, I was more of a dictator echoing my German grandfather’s “and that’s that,” instead of hearing what the boys had to say. Although I set boundaries and make the rules – I am more willing to get the lads’ points of view in this new chapter of our lives.

Single parents told me that they became more patient in the post-divorce period and do not get angry over every little thing. Being in a toxic marriage was like having road rage. One is angry in general and perceived infractions can put one over the edge leading to explosions. Anger builds walls around people and understanding with compassion tears them down.

Please read more… www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/single-parenting/

Get Rid of Guilt in Divorce and Life

We may live in guilt for what we did or did not do while still married. We might think we could have tried harder to salvage the marriage or feel guilt over not putting it out of its misery earlier. Let the feeling of guilt be a wakeup call that something needs to be changed and use it as an indicator to embark on another course of action. One cannot go back into the past like Dr Who, so being stuck in guilt is a blockade to having a fulfilling life now.

One young man is an example of this and feels guilty that he did not try harder and undergo marital counselling before calling it quits. Guilt is holding him back from committing to his new partner. On a positive note, guilt is pushing him into having a strong relationship with his former spouse as a co-parent. His two children are reaping the benefits of having two parents on the same team.

Sometimes guilt is dumped upon someone although it is their choice whether or not to accept it. Several women said their husbands married them mainly for their looks. After a baby or two, they gained weight and a few wrinkles. At first they felt guilty when spouses insinuated that they were breaking a deal (to look good). After their divorces, they are comfortable with their bodies and increased their self-esteem.

During my hypnotherapy training, our New Age instructor said that the Catholics got it right regarding guilt. They make mistakes (sins), report them (confess) and do reparations (say a Hail Mary or two). They wipe the slate clean and go on their way. He challenged us to come up with our own rituals to banish guilt. First acknowledge its presence and determine what it is telling us. Perhaps we are chronically snapping at the kids or have been ignoring elderly family members. Make amends. Apologize to the youngsters and explain that you are feeling overwhelmed. Then add some fun activities into your schedule with them. Visit or at least call relatives who may be feeling left out of your busy life.

Whatever is troubling you, face it, deal with it and move on. The secret is not to wallow in guilt but view it as a messenger to approach life or people in a different way. Someone may be punishing themselves over guilt when other people did not feel that they were mistreated at all. We can be hard on ourselves and our worst enemy. One friend felt guilty that she did not spend more time with her mother before her death from breast cancer. She was caught up in her wedding plans which her mother understood, and was fine with the situation. My friend was able to let go of this guilt by becoming a mostly stay-at-home mum, cherishing family togetherness.

If you have chronic guilt, consider discussing this with someone. When I am on a guilt trip, my friends set me straight and I readjust my outlook. Guilt keeps one partly living in the past, so apologize, make extra donations to charity, anything to release guilt and move on.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

 

 

 

 

A Parent’s Guide to Step-Parents

Parents often do not realize what a step-parent’s role is and cast them into other unwanted ones. Two step-parents resented their assigned positions of negotiator and grief counsellor. Some step-parents said that they are a family friend to the children and not a go-between for the parents.

Trevor married a woman with children, who had gone through a contentious divorce. Dealing with her ex was challenging and she admitted to being impatient and losing her cool. Her mild-mannered second husband was drafted to be the intermediary between these two warring parents. Trevor was the unofficial negotiator trying to find a middle ground for co-parenting. When I saw him, Trevor was suffering from low back pain as a result of this stressful circumstance. He had heard that emotional issues could also affect the back, with not feeling supported correlating with low back pain. Using that as a wakeup call, we devised strategies on how Trevor would inform his wife and her ex that he was vacating the position of negotiator. His role was husband – to be supportive of his wife and to enjoy his step-kids without managing their co-parents. Trevor convinced the former couple to work with a mediator and this was an effective solution to an unhappy situation. No matter how well your new spouse gets along with your former one – allow them to be friends and not enlist your new partner as a messenger. Find a professional for the negotiator role.

Angus and Katharine, both divorced, met at a conference and the attraction was powerful. They got married and both had children who did well in this blended family, although only Katharine’s daughter Kim lived with them. Katharine tried to be on good terms with her ex and he was invited over on holidays and family events. Angus and Edward became good friends and had similar interests. Kim would say how lucky she was to have two such great dads. Later when Kim turned twenty-three, she was killed in an auto accident. Understandably, Katharine and Edward had breakdowns and kept thanking Angus for his support and called him a rock. Angus was crying when he asked me why they do not get that he had a ball of hurt inside and is grieving too. We discussed having Angus explain his grief to the parents and suggest that they meet with a grief counsellor since he could not continue this role. Parents, please understand that a step-parent loves a child and is broken up by her catastrophic illness or death. They have to deal with their own grief and cannot be forced to take on other people’s as well.

Step-parents are great for lowering tension when an angry teen is annoyed at both parents. At times mine seemed like aliens and my step-mum shared stories from her youth. Seems like her mum and dad did crazy things like mine did. A step-parent is a loving, but more neutral party for receiving confidences. Step-parents may love their new children with an intensity that surprises even them. In several cases both dads walked the young women down the aisle in their marriage ceremonies. If things are spiralling out of control, a life or divorce coach can help people get their lives back on track.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

 

 

How To Pick Right Marriage Partner

Sometimes we pick the wrong partner due to inexperience and youth, or because someone’s true colours show up later. Alice admits to being the personification of the cliché “Love is blind.” When Alice was quite young she married a Vietnam veteran who had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and he self-medicated with marijuana. In the era of anti-war protests, this couple’s friends were other veterans and their wives. Her husband’s war buddies also were stoners. Alice said that she was too young and meek to make a stand that this was unacceptable to her. When the group gift at their sons’ first birthday party was a bag of pot, that was a wakeup call for Alice that this situation was out of control. They divorced after three years of marriage. She now warns others not to think you can change or fix someone after marriage.

Alice and her young son moved across country where she got a job at a university. She developed an acute medical condition which required surgery. Then her mother and close friend died while she was recovering which added to her misery. Alice’s child support was minimal and she struggled financially as a single parent. Henry, a professor in her department, reached out to Alice in her vulnerable state. Henry helped her financially and emotionally as she was trying to cope. Henry became Alice’s mentor, lifeline and then husband. He excelled in the caretaker role – helping Alice get through her medical crisis and mourning.

When Alice felt better, this couple adopted a toddler. Alice metamorphosed from a victim into a strong person and an equal partner in the marriage. She voiced her opinions. Henry did not want to step out of his role as caretaker and advisor. He did not like sharing his power and became a “bully” to Alice and the children. He was emotionally and physically abusive. She got another divorce.

Alice felt that she was a good judge of character and had learned quite a few life lessons from her two marriages.

A charming, caring man who oozed charisma entered into Alice’s life. She fell in love (or lust) and allowed him to move in with them. When Alice and her sons were away visiting family, her boyfriend stole all that was of value in her home. He disappeared before their return. Her suspicion that this charmer may be a sociopath was confirmed when the police contacted her. The con man had a string of crimes and there was a warrant for his arrest. His police record showed past convictions for theft and assaults.

Alice moved house and changed her phone number as a precaution. Alice suggests doing a police check on a new beau to make sure they do not have a criminal record.

Alice finally learned to take it slowly when dating and not to rush into marriage. She met a kind man and took her time getting to know him. They have been wed over a decade and are very happy. Once Alice made it past the five year mark, she started to relax and knew this relationship would last.

Alice shared these bits of wisdom.

  • Do not marry so young and do not go along with someone’s vices.
  • When one is going through a trauma – do not get married in the middle of it. Wait until you are back on your feet and can properly assess your feelings. Marrying your rescuer or caretaker can backfire once you have recovered.
  • When someone comes on too strongly or quickly – this is a red flag.  When one’s self-worth has taken a beating during an abusive marriage this contributes to being extra susceptible to flattery and being taken in by a sociopath.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

 

 

Reviving Marriage Before Heading for Divorce

  1. IMG_1834Does your marriage feel like a prison sentence? Boredom and being in a rut can make a marriage seem dull and lifeless. Before ending it, see if it can be revived. Several couples took up golf together with the added bonus of improving their game in foreign locales. See if you can build upon a common interest – plus it gives you both something to talk about. Some couples have bought a holiday home and renovating it reignited the spark in their marriages.
  2. Go out to a neutral place, such as a café and have a respectful conversation about your feelings. Use “I” statements, “I feel…” without blame or accusations. Intently listen to his responses and what he feels could be changed in your marriage.
  3. Sometimes people rely too much on their spouse for companionship and to meet their social needs. The happiest couples I know each have some individual pursuits and interests outside of their relationships. Consider widening your social network through such groups as MeetUp.com to enrich your life and to see if this improves your marriage.
  4. Take a vacation together to provide time to talk in a pleasant atmosphere. It may be easier to have structured group time, such as being on a tour or cruise. Then there is a balance between interacting with others and having alone time. Getting away from your routines and environment, plus having a lot to talk about can realign a relationship.
  5. Please read more   www.splitsville.com/love/10-steps-take-significant-choosing-divorce/?utm_content=buffercaf6f&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Men’s Divorce

Several men stated that post-divorce is the opportunity for change and be can be the catalyst for trying something new. They said when their divorced friends clung to the past they did not fare as well in the post-divorce period. The past cannot be altered, but knowledge gained can be invaluable for moving on. Terry was adamant that men have to do work on themselves after a bad break up before getting into a new relationship. His buddies that got divorce number two did not pause to reflect upon their part which ended the marriage and what could be done differently the next time around. He advises men not to rush into a new partnership too quickly and make sure they understand how to communicate more effectively. He had a session with a therapist and has been blissfully wedded to his second wife for fifteen years.

One man feels that he got a divorce too quickly and could have worked out differences with his wife. He tells other men not to be in a rush for a divorce when hitting a bad patch during marriage. They did not have marital counselling which may have gotten their relationship back on track. He has a job which involves frequent travel and he misses his two young daughters. He jumped into a new relationship right away and has doubts about being with this new girlfriend. This “what if” situation is keeping him in a holding pattern and he is not moving on. Be clear that a relationship is truly over before getting into another one.

Some men commented that some of their divorced peers were living on junk food. Dr Kawachi of the Harvard School of Public Health’s study of 30,000 men indicated this result. Take good care of yourself and prioritise your health and needs. Recently divorced men tended to have a decrease in a healthy lifestyle, partly due to eating less vegetables and consuming more fried food. Although this is changing, in many households, women were the main chefs during marriage. In the States, there is a trend for single men to take some basic cooking classes which then negates this issue of divorce.

The New England Research Institute’s research indicates that 62% of men relied on their wives as their principle social support. Studies by various universities correlate having friends and a good social network positively impacts the immune system in reducing the frequency of colds and the flu.  Others show the healthy effect of a wide social circle on longevity. For example, a study done at Flinders’ University in Australia found that 22% of 1500 older subjects who had many friends, outlived those who only had a few. Men that get out and meet new people or strengthen the bond already made with others, tend to have an easier time post-divorce, than their less connected peers.

Men that have routines felt that they had more control in their lives or knew what to expect in the turbulent divorce period. Some have specific routines with their children, such as a Saturday morning breakfast out or Sunday afternoon engaging in physical activities or sports. Some take the kids or go solo to their parents’ place for a weekly get-together. Others set up weekly meets at the pub with mates for darts. Building weekly fun or interactions into the schedule got some guys through the craziness of divorce.

Consider watching the hilarious film “The Odd Couple” with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. These two fellows navigate the post-divorce period with a lot of laughs and some mistakes. Great fun.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/

When and If to Get a Divorce

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Women and DivorceSome people have said that they waited too long before divorcing, but I have yet to hear someone say they jumped the gun and initiated one too soon. There are many factors involved in determining if and when a divorce ought to commence.  A main one seems to be regarding children and their ages. One man felt that he stayed seven years too long in his marriage, choosing to wait until the last child went off to uni. He stated that the love was gone and the marriage was dead – however he stayed because he wanted to see his kids every day. In hindsight, he thinks it harmed his sons witnessing coldness and disinterest between a married couple. Another stayed in an unhappy marriage since her husband was their sons’ Boy Scout troop leader. She thought the boys would feel more secure with both parents in the home. Eight years post-divorce her sons are still asking what took her so long to file for divorce.

When to Divorce

For those on the fence about whether to stay or go, The Divorce Magazine UK has a link to various resources that are invaluable in the pre-divorce period too. Maypole Women has resources as well for women and children in a potential divorce situation. Relate and Retrouvaille do marital counselling to see if the relationship can be repaired. The admission of an affair brings on the death of a marriage. The betrayed spouse may not want to bestow another chance on the guilty party, so proceeds with filing for a divorce.

When there is abuse – get yourself, the youngsters and pets out of the house. That does not automatically mean a divorce is imminent – just that safety is the top priority. Sometimes with therapy and anger management classes, the abuser can be rehabilitated and the marriage is salvageable.   One criteria for deciding upon divorce is how much inappropriate behaviour is witnessed or directed at the children. When one parent is knocking around the other one – that is detrimental for the kids to see.

It is hard to watch a spouse self-destruct via alcohol or drugs. One may be supportive, but wonder when enough is enough. Consider getting therapy or joining Al-Anon. “Al-Anon Family Groups provide support to anyone whose life is, or has been, affected by someone else’s drinking, regardless of whether that person is still drinking or not. For some of our members, the wounds still run deep, even if their loved one may no longer be a part of their lives or have died.”  Some people have included in the parenting plan that the impaired parent is not allowed to drive the children anywhere. Visitation can be at a relative’s or at a Children’s Contact Centre.

A couple can drift along in different directions and find themselves without much in common. This can happen when facing an Empty Nest. What some couples have done was to take up a new project, such as buying a fixer-upper cottage in the UK or abroad. This injected a new vitality, passion and focus to their lives and relationship, plus gave them something to talk about. Several couples took up a sport or hobby, such as golf. They hit the links at home as well as in exotic locales. Others discovered a shared interest and became certified in scuba diving or volunteered with EarthWatch.

When boundaries are violated or a spouse is disrespectful and belittling, that is I when have seen couples getting divorced. Relationships may limp along until one or both decide to put it out of its misery with a divorce. The opposite of love is not hate, but rather it is indifference.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

 

 

 

Grandparents’ Role Post-Divorce

The grandparent’s role post-divorce can be tricky – a balancing act between supporting their own offspring and not showing frustration towards the other parent. Having contact with their former daughter/son-in-law can be viewed as an act of treason by their own adult child. Yet continuing a relationship with this former family member is a logical way to ensure contact with grandkids. Keeping feelings, advice, and opinions to themselves is difficult, however it is a wise way to maintain the equilibrium when grandchildren are in the picture.

Grandparents’ most important function is providing a haven where youngsters receive unconditional love. When kids are caught in the middle of warring parents, spending time with grandparents helps to offset this stress. They feel safe and can share their unsettling feelings. The Grandparents’ role is to listen and validate this frustration without appearing to take parental sides. My former mother-in-law badmouthed me within hearing distance of my sons and her passive husband refused to come to their aid. This behavior backfired and my sons limited their time being in their company.

Grandparents are many times the ones who hand down family traditions, whether it is baking holiday cookies or the secret recipe for a signature meal. They teach skills such as gardening or nurture family talents as in woodworking or playing the piano. They tell family stories and talk about emigrating from a distant land.

When there are blended families, it is often grandparents who welcome the new additions. My step-grandparents treated me as one of the gang and asked about my mother. My paternal grandparents on a farm enjoyed getting two new step-grandkids. They taught them skills, such as milking a cow and harvesting potatoes. My step-siblings and I were welcomed with open arms by both of our families.

Please read more… divorcedmoms.com/articles/the-importance-of-grandparents-after-divorce

 

Reconnecting with Former Love

It is so easy nowadays to reconnect with a long ago love. There are various online sites from social media to searching for classmates, which facilitate getting in touch again. What starts out as curiosity regarding the one who got away can end up as an affair that rips families apart. It may be innocence or nativity that views exchanging a few updates as no big deal. If rekindling a relationship with a former flame cannot be discussed with a spouse, then it falls into the danger zone. In the majority of these cases, at least one spouse is married.

When the old sweethearts meet up again, it has been described as being like a vacation in Disneyland. There are no mundane tasks or bills, just fun activities. The reunion may have already budgeted expenses, so the day to day juggling of finances is not present. This situation is similar to episodes of bachelor/bachelorette television shows filmed in an exotic locale. The people stay in a five star hotel, with great meals and amenities. There are exciting diversions without the stresses of daily life. When former lovers reunite, this new relationship is built upon the quicksand of fantasy without a firm foundation. No wonder these relationships have a higher rate of divorce or not making it to the alter.

This true story echoes so many of the other ones they were shared with me. Jerry’s wife decided to go online and discover whatever happened to her college boyfriend. He was single and just seeing his photo brought back happy memories. They decided to get together for a weekend. Soon after this initial meeting, Carol decided on a divorce and left Jerry. Carol and this college flame got married, but this relationship did not work out, so she got divorced again. Having a whirlwind courtship while getting a divorce, did not give a realistic picture for this new relationship. It is not just picking up where both parties left off over a decade ago.

People searching for old flames do so for different reasons, such as being bored in their marriages. They may want to relive their youth or now have that middle age itch. There may be something lacking in their lives now, so they feel if they had married their former fling, they would have been fulfilled. They are not taking responsibility for a void and think a past love could fill it. They want excitement, or say they are hooking up just as friends.

If you are married – do not look up former boy/girlfriends. If you are single and do –please respect the other person’s marital status by not contacting them if they are married. If you both are unattached, then consider giving this a go. The relationships that seem to be most successful are the ones that broke up due to parents’ interference or because they were too young. There have been reunions which led to successful marriages, but both were single and did not leave marriages to reunite. If one’s marriage is unhappy, go for counselling to fix it or end it, before pursuing a former partner.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

 

 

Divorce Changes Friendships

Divorce shakes up friendships and you may be surprised at who leaves and who remains. Tips on what to expect and how to deal with relationships through this transition. Divorce is a transition which means a change in many aspects of life.  One of these areas is relationships, particularly with friendships. Divorce is a time to reevaluate these friendships to see if they are still beneficial or have run their course. Pals that have stuck by you through thick and thin may no longer be as supportive and it is better to not be taken by surprise. If someone is really your friend they will stick around. If they do not, is that a person you really want in your life? Divorce gets rid of these dead branches and allows new growth (friendships) to appear.

Miranda met someone in her women’s group and they clicked right away. They became close friends and had frequent lunches together. Carolyn was right there when Miranda had two miscarriages and they later got to know each other’s children. Once in a while their husbands attended birthday and holiday parties. Miranda confided about her stressful marriage and eventual divorce proceedings. Miranda also shared with Carolyn, recently revealed abuse that prevented overnight visitation.  She was shocked and her sons upset when Carolyn stated several times that she loved both Miranda and her ex and would support them both. In abuse situations, this is not a helpful thing to say to children in therapy or to a longtime friend. Carolyn refused to take sides and that friendship withered away.

People whom you assumed were close, may choose to side with your former partner. Grieve for this loss in your life and the heartache.   As you move on, you may see how shallow these people really are.

Friendships Change after Divorce

Divorcing and Co-parenting with a Passive-Aggressive Person

Divorce with a passive-aggressive partner can be particularly aggravating. They seeming are going along with the whole process, yet are sabotaging it. They agree to check on their pension plan or to bring paperwork to the divorce sessions, but “forget.” The use of the word “forget” may be frequent as a way of avoiding responsibilities or tasks that they do not wish to perform. Passive-aggressive people can prolong divorce hearings by purposely not following through with something as a way to get back at you. This retaliation bumps up legal costs.

They avoid confrontations and do not directly express intense emotions. They have a calm demeanour which hides the hostility lurking beneath the surface. Actions are ruled by anger since they do not voice it out loud. They may refuse to sign the divorce papers or at the last minute disagree with how assets are divided, instead of stating objections earlier. It is difficult to know what they are thinking and if they are amenable to negotiations, since the silent treatment is their specialty. Ask what is wrong and a curt “nothing” may be the reply. They do not communicate well, so give and take is difficult. They are not expressing opinions which complicates divorce arrangements.

Co-parenting with a passive-aggressive ex is challenging. They play the blame game and may hold you as the villain, who ruined their life. The divorce was caused 100% by you and now you will be punished, indirectly of course. You might receive maintenance on time, but in the wrong amount. It is wise to have maintenance and child support sent directly from his bank account to yours, to leave him out of the loop. Then one does not have GFY (Go F*** Yourself) written in the check memos as one woman did.

He may “forget” about a visitation, or pick up the kids late when you have a date. Having the pickup and drop off at a neutral location is prudent. One former couple has theirs at the paternal grandparents’ house, so his being late or forgetting is not an issue. The children have fun and the mother is not stressed.

Have a detailed Parenting Plan to lessen complications post-divorce when the passive-aggressive parent may try to get back at you through the children. Have shared time clearly stated and clarify holiday arrangements. The passive-aggressive person sees themselves as the victim in life and you want to avoid this drama. There are various online calendar sites where parents can mark activities and events so the kids’ schedules are available to both parents. This reduces accusations that the other parent was not informed of happenings in their youngsters’ lives.

When communicating with the passive-aggressive parent avoid emotions, particularly anger. Ignore their subtle putdowns and just state the facts. Keep e-mails business like and to the point. Passive-aggressive people often have low self-esteem and may attempt to build themselves up by tearing you down. Have someone available for the kids to talk with, because the other parent may be making mean “jokes” or offhand comments about you. The least interactions that you can have with this difficult ex-spouse, the better.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dos and Don’ts of Friendship Post-Divorce

Divorce clarifies who is friend and who is foe. Someone who stuck by you through thick and thin may not necessarily do so post-divorce. Other people may pleasantly surprise you. My husband had a friend who knew him from their teenage years and was in my women’s club. I am shocked how friendly she and her husband remain after our acrimonious divorce. I get hugs and they genuinely want to know how my sons and I are doing. I still do not reveal any very personal tidbits about our lives, but appreciate this unanticipated source of support. Right after my divorce was finalized, I ran into her with her daughter when buying myself spa products. They enthusiastically said I deserved to be pampered. How nice.

Friendships are give and take, so reassess if you seem to be always be on the giving end. If you have friends who suck the life out of you, then perhaps it is time to move on without these vampire energy drainers. Do you have a drama queen friend who flits from crisis to crisis? During one’s divorce – it is our turn to be on the receiving end of attention and concern, not doling it out to others. If this person refuses to listen to your woes, or be there for you, then consider pulling away. One way is to say, “I am dealing with my own situation right now and am no longer available.”

The tricky part is deciding how to end or wind down a friendship that is no longer working. When a friendship has become toxic, one way of dealing with this is to be direct, but polite.  Consider saying something along this vein, “Our friendship seems to have run its course. Thanks for the good times and I wish you the best of luck in life.” Then do not answer any calls, texts or e-mails.

Friendships Change After Divorce

Getting Along with In-laws

Your spouse may be under their parents’ control and this becomes more apparent after the wedding. Instead of putting you first- his/her parents may retain their position of being in charge of their life. There are ways to loosen those ties without severing them completely.

1. Get some clear boundaries. Robert Frost was correct when he stated “Good fences make good neighbors.” Set up your fences (boundaries) with your in-laws to make sure that you are all on the same page. They may be used to just popping in whenever they please with family and friends. Let know that your policy is for everyone to call first. If you have a health issue, that can be your excuse. One woman with lupus explained that she required naps and down time and even had a locked gate to keep out unwanted visitors.

2. Do not give your in-laws your house key for emergencies. Instead, give it to a neighbour or friend. Even if you are out of town, that can be an opportunity to snoop. One woman was stark naked when her in-laws walked into her house unannounced. If they have keys, have the locks changed, stating that too many people have access to your house keys.

3. Set up guidelines with your spouse regarding what personal information can be shared with others, whether it is financial or intimate subjects. If in-laws are nosey, be vague or say that is between Jerry and me.

4. In-laws may give unsolicited advice, no matter how loving they are. Have some stock answers ready for this barrage of suggestions. Some are: “I’ll check on that”, “I will get the pediatrician’s input” or “that is interesting.” Some savvy women pre-empted unwanted advice by asking specifically what to do in a situation. Some answers were actually helpful and it cut down on the amount of unwelcomed advice.

divorcedmoms.com/articles/the-dreaded-inlaw

Dealing with Your Ex-Spouse’s Remarriage

Your ex-spouse’s remarriage can stir up a myriad of emotions, from jealousy to feelings of abandonment. You may have thought that you were getting over your divorce, only to be pulled back into experiencing the loss of your marriage again.  It is hard when one spouse has moved on and one still feels stuck.  Here are some ways to deal with this episode in your life and get through the day.

Distraction is the secret to getting through the day of your ex’s remarriage. Plan on doing something special for that day – to keep you occupied. Sitting around with nothing to do gives more time to brood. Have friends go on a day outing to a nearby city or get pampered at a spa. Hiking or skiing will keep you busy and help take your mind off your woes. If feasible, this is the time to explore the streets of Rome or get lost in a labyrinth of alleyways in some exotic locale. Getting away and having your own adventure is an antidote to this situation.

Examine your feelings to determine if it is the wedding itself that bothers you, or something deeper within yourself. The remarriage could be triggering feelings of inadequacy, or not feeling settled in your life or job. Although you may not want to reconcile with your former spouse, a remarriage can shine a spot light on your lack of dates and relationships. You may feel that she does not have the right to happiness when you are still so miserable. Consider talking to a divorce coach if your former spouse’s marriage seems to create a new road block to moving on. Getting a reality check and strategies from a professional can work wonders in illuminating a new path for healing after divorce.

Please read more…  blogsondivorce.com/facing-your-ex-spouses-remarriage/

Girlfriends Got Me Through My Divorce

Girlfriends helped me keep my sanity during the crazy time of divorce. When I was falling apart, they put me back together again. They were my cheerleaders and reality check. When teetering on the brink of a breakdown or meltdown, they knew just what to say. I would not have been able to move on this well without them.

What is the difference between girlfriends and friends? I have an eighty-seven year old friend that I have known since the 1980’s. I can confide in her and we are close. There are boundaries that I do not cross, such talking about sex, or telling her what I really think about some of her family members. My girlfriends are more chatty and catty. They bluntly express when I am acting stupid, spending too much money, or need to step back from a college-age kid, to let him make his own mistakes. Friends may be more diplomatic, but girlfriends keep me right on track. Both friends and girlfriends are invaluable for reducing stress and getting on with life.

One girlfriend bought me a relaxation CD at the onset of my divorce. Putting it on before bedtime, or to chill out in the afternoon, reduced the tightness in my muscles and induced sleep. Another gave me some spa items which were bliss. Going out for lattes helped me to feel connected to the outside world when my life centered around collaborative divorce meetings and the numerous e-mails in between. My girlfriends listened to my rants over and over again, while my friends were more impatient. My friends discussed many interesting topics which took the focus off me and I appreciated this diversion.

Tell people what you want and need, since they most likely are not telepathic. Let others know that even going out for a coffee will boost your spirits. Divorce can be a lonely experience paired with loss. Being receptive to others’ gestures will go along way in helping one to feel a sense of connection, when the marital one is being severed. Girlfriends told me of their pals’ divorce horror stories which made my situation seem tame by comparison.
Allow girlfriends to be there, help you and be an important part of your life in this topsy-turvy time.

You Can’t Change Someone Else, Only Yourself

Often we think that we can change someone else after marrying them. We can only change ourselves or our own reactions to people’s behavoir. We have excuses for partners’ actions, rather than accepting that maybe this is their true nature. Intrinsic values and ethics are part of a person’s core and not something that is easily shed after matrimony.

Nina started dating a guy in her large company who worked in a different section. She knew that he had dated many others and had the reputation of being a ladies’ man. Her older cousin had been a player and settled down into domestic bliss. Nina remembered the old cliché that it takes the love of the right woman to get a man to settle down. The actor Warren Beatty left his wild ways behind when he married Annette Benning. Nina’s friends had their doubts about this union, but did not want to voice them and hurt her feelings. It is difficult whether or not to give your opinion to a friend, that their boy/girlfriend may have a darker side. If many pals give the same feedback to you, then keep an open mind about your date. You may be missing a major character flaw that is not going to change at a later point.

Sometimes a person goes into marriage thinking a party person will change their ways. Divorced friends have expressed this wisdom, to marry someone as they are –not what they could be. Small foibles and quirks are okay, however lapses of ethics are not. If there is any hint of disrespect, then move on. Expect to be treated with courtesy and consideration by a potential partner..

You Can’t Change Other People, Only Yourself

Losing Friends with Divorce

Divorce weeds out the superficial people and reveals true friends. People whom you considered your exclusive pals – may latch onto your spouse if he/she is the more valuable commodity. I had two friends whom I met up with regularly. One completely dropped me when my divorce commenced because my husband was helping her with a small business problem. The other one contacted my husband in the midst of our divorce to write a letter of recommendation, but did it in a sneaky way. It was safer to cut ties with her since she had a tendency not to respect confidences. Divorce forces one to take stock of friendships and if one does not seem right, then to disengage from it.

Midway through Tess’s acrimonious divorce, her long-time friend, Rhonda stopped taking calls and initiating contact. This was quite puzzling to Tess until her sons later found out during visitation, that their father and Rhonda had become a couple. Rhonda had decided to go after the vacant position of doctor’s wife and they got married a bit after the divorce was finalized. Tess claimed she felt grateful that she was not going to be spending more time and energy on someone who did not deserve it.

Have you been hanging onto friends out of habit? We often take relationships for granted and divorce has a way of shaking them up. Evaluate whom you want to have in your life and who is draining your energy. The diva and drama queen may not be worth your limited time and attention. If they are not giving you support in this traumatic transition, consider distancing yourself. Gently say you are currently unavailable in this divorce situation.

When you have shared details of abuse in your marriage, and these friends still voice “I love you both”, cut ties – or at least let the friendship peter out on its own. This is hurtful and disrespectful to what you endured. When people have links to your soon-to-be ex or his family, personal information could reach their ears. You do not want this to throw a spanner in the works when deep in divorce negotiations.

The friends that were supportive during my divorce have become more important. Our relationships have grown closer either due to their kindness or by having more time after letting go of the energy vampires in my life. I have joined MeetUp.com and met new acquaintances who bring laughter and joy post-divorce.

Expect to mourn friends that you have lost or have distanced themselves from you as a result of divorce. It is disconcerting to discover that people whom you thought were permanent fixtures in your life – are not anymore. Realize that grief has various stages including anger, which eventually leads to acceptance.

Sometimes friends hover on the side lines not knowing what to do or say. This may come across as uncaring, when in reality is just being clueless about how to be supportive. It is okay to ask for help and give these people something specific, such as let’s get together bi-weekly for lattes. On the flip side, if friends are too intrusive or judgemental, explain that you are not up to discussing that issue. You do not owe anyone an explanation and feel free to walk away and remove yourself from that situation. I found that there is balance in life. I lost some friends, but gained closer relationships with the ones that remained.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Losing Your Family Members with Divorce

One would think family members would be supportive during divorce, but that is not always the case. There are a myriad of reasons for this with one being not wanting to take sides. My mother would often hang up on me when I called during my divorce. She had a summer place, so this necessitated having a girlfriend drive over to her house and tape a note to her door. My husband and I jointly owned a house with her, so financial discussions were imperative during these proceedings. She wanted to pretend this event was not happening.  Fortunately she gave unconditional love and support to her grandsons. Be forewarned that this could happen to you.

Some relatives may have anger towards you. While they are unsupportive, it does not mean that they are on your spouse’s side. It could be that your divorce elicits painful memories of theirs and they do not want to relive them. Do you have a relative who is just a bitter, mean person? Your divorce is another thing to hold against you. Remember that this nonsupport and unkindness is their issue. It is something that they are dealing with, even though it can be hurtful for you. In one case there was paternal abuse and the sons had very limited visitation. The grandfather told a crying grandson over the phone, that they were severing ties unless those boys resumed a relationship with their dad.

How do you deal with unsupportive relatives? One solution is to limit visits to an hour or so once a month, never on a holiday. You might consider meeting in a public place for these. If something rude is said, leave immediately. Decide what you will and will not tolerate and go from there.   It may be best to limit contact to holiday cards in more extreme cases.

I informed my step-mother that in abuse situations it was not therapeutic for children to have close family members stay in contact with the abusive parent. My sons even told her specific details. I acknowledged that this was her choice either way, however if she stayed in contact with my ex, we would only be able to share superficial aspects of our lives, nothing personal. When she continued to mention that their father was feeling hurt, then we had to pull away and only exchange cards. One woman’s step-sister resented her intrusion into the family from day one. After this woman’s divorce, the toxic step-sister made a big point of staying in touch with that ex online. Reducing or eliminating contact may be the only option for protecting you and your children.

In a few divorces, family members want to stay in contact, but have obstacles. After a man divorced his wife, she fell apart and her health condition worsened, requiring intermittent hospital stays. Her pre-teen daughter was at the stage where they start distancing themselves from their parents. Anne became enamoured with her new glamorous step-mother. This narcissistic woman swept Anne away   as if she were a trophy prize. Meanwhile Anne’s maternal grandparents tried desperately to maintain a relationship with her, but were thwarted by the step-mother and father. I urged them to get a solicitor to help sort out this situation and apparently they chose not to. They gave up when their daughter died and moved far away. On a happier note, nieces by marriage told their aunt that she was to “get custody” of them in her divorce. That was a sweet way of letting Dana know that they were continuing their relationship with her post-divorce.

You may have a close, loving relationship with your in-laws. In divorce this can change if they feel it is disloyal to their offspring to remain in contact with you. Or the relationship may change to a more casual one. You can certainly contact your in-laws and let them know you would be happy to bring their grandchildren around from time to time. If your best buddy is your former wife’s brother, then there will be a sense of loss if you are dropped. Acknowledge your grief. In the vast majority of times, family sticks by the divorcing person. If this is not your case, be reassured that you are not alone and it is not your fault.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

Family Dynamics Changing Post-divorce

Some family relationships may take a nose dive post-divorce and you may go through the grieving process for what is lost and will never be again. Take Naomi for example, she had written her step-mother regularly and sent cards for every occasion. She felt that they had a good long distance relationship. Her sons had told their step-grandmother about some abuse that they had suffered during the marriage and subsequent therapy post-divorce. The step-grandmother kept in contact with the ex, despite the boys’ wishes. Naomi wrote her step-mother saying that she and the boys would be in town for a short visit and gave two possible dates to get together. Imagine her shock when her step-sister wrote a scathing note back stating that her mother did not want to see them because the ex had a different story regarding his sons. The step-sister and Naomi only exchanged Christmas cards, so she was surprised at the intensity of the venom. The step-sister also was a friend of the ex on Facebook, although she had not seen him in over 15 years.

Sometimes you just have to let people go and realize that this is in your own and children’s best interest. If someone has an idea so entrenched in their brain, it may be better just not to respond. Or keep them at a distance and only exchange holiday cards, without a personal message.

Another issue in a situation like this, is how to gently explain something to your children. Part of the vitriol of that letter was specifically directed at her younger son. She told both boys that Grandma was unable to meet up with them for that visit. Naomi is going to show her other son (in his early 20s) that letter a bit later. You don’t want to harbor family secrets, but rather to discuss family issues in a therapeutic way. We can’t change toxic family members’ behavior, only our response (or lack of) to it. Talk this over with friends and if it still bothers you, possibly to a therapist or clergy.