10 Ways To Keep Your (Re) Marriage Alive And Well!

By Vicki L. Shemin, JD, LICSW, ACSW

As a divorce attorney and therapist who has been in the field for over 35 years (not to mention a Mom who was divorced after 19 years of marriage and who is now remarried), I would love to offer the following tried, true and proven techniques for rekindling the love, energy, and caring in your relationship.

Remember what attracted you to the person in the first place

In one of life’s interesting paradoxes, I have noticed that what attracted you to your spouse in the first place can become a maddening characteristic as well. For example, if one of the traits you fell in love with was his or her work ethic, that might be the very thing that keeps him/her working late into the night, thereby taking time away from you and the family. If you loved how organized he or she was while courting (making dinner reservations, organizing your social life), he/she may later be perceived as controlling and perfectionistic. Perspective is everything. Try to remember first dates, the feelings that were stirred, and rekindle them. You are still married to the same person that sparked that romance!

Engage in an activity you both enjoy

Remember what it was like to have fun together as a couple? Do what you used to do and consciously speak about the fun or romantic memories; do something you are both not very good at where you can each be a bit silly and carefree (try bowling or miniature golf!); and/or try something for the first time that you both think would be amusing (a cooking or couple’s yoga class – where teamwork is an essential part of the activity).

Engage in an activity you do not enjoy

Inevitably, your spouse will have interests, skills and hobbies that differ from yours. Since the last thing you may feel like doing when you are exhausted and resentful is to be more giving, I often see that folks can rapidly find themselves at a stalemate. By breaking the détente, taking the high road and demonstrating to your spouse your willingness to recognize and participate in something you recognize is important to him/her (be it from emptying the dishwasher to going to the ballet or baseball game), you will greatly enhance the good will in your relationship.

Getting Third Party Assistance

Sometimes, the assistance of a third party professional can make all the difference. That said, it can be difficult to persuade your partner to attend. Words matter. Instead of arguing about whether or not to take this step, try putting the onus on yourself so your spouse will not feel blamed. For example, “I would like to gain a better perspective on what it is I do that leads to not fighting fair and square. It would help me a lot to have you at least try a session or two with me so that I can get your perspective on this as well.” You might be interested to know that there are some specialized practitioners out there (like me!) who offer “mediation to stay married.”

Be realistic about the white knight rescue fantasy

Excuse the cliché, but so many women going through marital turmoil fall victim to what I call the “Cinderella syndrome” – thinking their Prince Charming is waiting out there for them (apologies for the sexist remark as the same remark applies to opposite/same-sex gender relationships). As my Mom used to say, “Would you rather take the devil you know or the devil you don’t?” because everyone has baggage.

Date Night Scheduling

I cannot emphasize sufficiently how important it is to schedule this into your calendars on a weekly basis and hold the date sacrosanct. You need to reconnect as a couple. Consider taking turns as to who will plan the date. Even taking time to go for a walk and a sandwich qualifies as time together – it doesn’t have to be expensive to be fun!

Take a break/moratorium from the issues that cause you the most trouble

When you find yourself in an ongoing loop arguing about the same issues (money, sex, children, in-laws, etc.), mindfully decide to take a moratorium. For example, decide “for the month of September, we agree not to bring up the hot-button issues.”

Would a postnup help?

As a lawyer and therapist, I have been party to situations where resolution of a deeply dividing issue in a marriage can best be resolved in a more formal and legal way. For example, if a partner just inherited some money and it’s become a sore subject as to the disposition of that inheritance, then working on a postnuptial agreement – and putting the matter to bed once and for all – can really assist in dissipating the tension. As to how to get to that solution, like everything else, it’s all in the presentation.

Ask for what you need in a realistic and kind way

Rather than going from zero to 60 because she/he has yet again left the dishes in the sink, try something like this: “Honey, I know that you’re not intentionally trying to upset me, but I would greatly appreciate it if you would try your best to make a conscious effort to remember to load and empty the dishwasher. It would be a great help to me and you would also be a great role model for teaching the kids a sense of responsibility.”

Would you rather be happy or right?

Recently, I asked a woman celebrating her 50th year wedding anniversary the secret to maintaining a happy marriage. She summed it up as follows: “Would you rather be happy or right?” Enough said….

I am writing a research book on divorce entitled, LETTERS TO EX-SPOUSES:…AND I JUST WANTED YOU TO KNOW. The purpose of the book is to help judges/lawyers/therapists/clergy understand the divorce process from the perspective of those who have experienced it. The research is based on a very brief survey, coupled with a letter that divorced individuals are asked to write now – for the first time, to their ex-spouses, saying anything that is in their hearts. So many people who have participated in the research thus far have written to me and said – – “I got the closure I never even knew I needed, even after 20 years of being divorced.” If you are divorced, or know someone who is, please participate (or pass along the information) in connection with this confidential undertaking by going to www.surveymonkey.com/s/XC89FQ9 The survey takes about 2 minutes; the letter a bit longer; the results last a lifetime.

Gratefully, Vicki L. Shemin, J.D., LICSW, ACSW



Five Ways To Keep Connected With Your Kids After Divorce

By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT

After divorce children need to know they are still loved, valued and cared about. Show them, tell them and keep in close communication with them. If divorce has been tough on you – remember it’s even tougher on them – whether they confide that to you or not.

Read this article (link below) to learn five important ways to reinforce your connection with the children you love.

Rosalind Sedacca, CCT
The Voice of Child-Centered Divorce

Author: How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce?

www.childcentereddivorce.com

www.howdoitellthekids.com

Founder, Child-Centered Divorce Network

Board of Directors: Online Parenting Programs, Inc.

Expert Blogger: Huffington Post

Expert Blogger: Jennings Wire

Expert Contributor: Kids Come First Coalition

Expert Columnist: Divorce360.com

Expert Contributor: KidzEdge Magazine

Featured Blogger: Mamapedia

Expert Contributor: ParentalWisdom.com

Panel of Experts: Natl Assoc. of Divorce for Women & Children (NADWC)

National Judge: Mom’s Choice Awards

No. 1 Blog: Best Resources for Divorced Parents and Separated Families List

National 1st Place Winner: Victorious Woman Award!

Follow me on Facebook: facebook.com/ChildCenteredDivorce & facebook.com/RosalindSedacca

Follow me on Twitter: @RosalindSedacca

Join my LinkedIn Child-Centered Divorce Group

 

 

 



5 Ways to Protect Your Children During Your Divorce

By Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW

Children soak up everything they see, feel, and hear. Parents may believe they are giving their children all the love they need, but they send a conflicting message when they fail to reconcile their own relationships with their former partners.

There are plenty of things parents can do to protect their children from the damaging impact of long-term conflict during and after divorce.

When parents argue excessively and for too long, it can leave children feeling insecure and fearful. Even if it’s not the parents’ intention to cause harm, ongoing conflict can threaten a child’s sense of safety.

Truth be told, parents forget that children are vulnerable to feeling in the middle between their parents’ arguments. High parental conflict can send them into high alert.

As a result, children may have difficulty sleeping, concentrating on school or social activities; or be plagued with fear and anxiety about their future.

Here are 5 tips for resolving disagreements with your ex-spouse constructively:

  1. Use Self-Control And Only Let Out Some Of Your Anger

If you’re frustrated or angry at your ex you don’t have to say everything you’re thinking. Your children won’t benefit from you showing your anger openly to their other parent so be careful what you say in front of them. Kids don’t want to hear negative things about either one of their parents.

  1. Avoid Name-Calling And Blameful Comments

“You never pick up Kylie on time!”  Instead say what you want and state it in a positive way such as: “I would appreciate it if you’d be on time picking up Kylie since she worries you’re not coming and gets upset when you’re late.”

  1. Resolve Conflicts In A Positive Way

Learn the art of compromise and apologize when you do something wrong. Being cordial and businesslike is a good place to start. Take a short break if you feel flooded.

  1. Keep Your Children Out Of The Middle

Keep your children out of the middle and don’t make them a go-between to avoid loyalty conflicts. Communicate clearly and directly to your former spouse—not through your child.

  1. Develop A Parenting Plan

Develop a parenting plan that’s geared to the level of conflict between you and your ex-spouse. For instance, the higher the conflict, the less flexible the plan.

Discuss hot-button issues such as holidays, finances and problems that may arise with your children’s school work or with friends. Seek professional help if needed such as mediation or counseling if you believe you won’t be successful doing this on your own.

Many studies show that being raised in a high-conflict divorce family can cause children to have low self-esteem and feelings of unworthiness. It can leave him or her with the ultimate feeling of rejection. Many kids internalize the breakup of their families and feel it’s their fault.

Logically, many kids understand their parents’ failed marriage didn’t have to do with them. Often, parents take great pains to make sure their children understand they aren’t to blame for the breakup. But kids often experience a disconnect between logic and emotions, leaving them with low self-esteem.

Growing up, a child may see his or her parents fight constantly, but sleep in the same bed every night. They might have complained about one another, but acted upset when the other went away.

Sometimes parents don’t fight openly in front of children, but tension and anger seethe beneath the surface. These contradictions play a powerful game with a child’s head.

When a child is left with unexplained contradictions, he or she will try to explain them to themselves, often coming up with incomplete or incorrect conclusions. Thus when kids can’t understand the turmoil around them, they tend to internalize this pain and blame themselves.

This is true for children exposed to high conflict in both divorced and intact homes.

Let’s face it, marital conflict can have negative consequences for children whether they have married or divorced parents. In a longitudinal study spanning over many years, renowned divorce researcher Paul Amato found that conflict in intact families was associated with emotional problems in children.

Amato points out that many of the problems children of divorce face begin during the pre-divorce period since it is a time of increased conflict for most parents. Thus, an increase in emotional problems experienced by children after divorce may well be due not only to dealing with their parents’ divorce but marital conflict that led up to it.

Learning new skills to protect children from the harmful effects of parental conflict during and after divorce is worth the effort. According to divorce expert and therapist Gary Direnfeld, “Not all separations are alike and not all parental separations spell disaster for their children.

“The social science research advises that the most salient factor determining risk for poor developmental outcomes for children of divorce is the level of conflict between their parents.”

Feeling safe and loved is what all children want and deserve—despite the family dynamic. In some cases, a child’s self-esteem can improve after his or her parents’ divorce if there’s a reduction in conflict and they feel loved and protected.

Parents need to avoid exposing their child to high-conflict that involves the child, physically violent situations or threatening and abusive content.

As children try to make sense of the world around them, it’s important that they are able to predict the behaviors and responses of important people in their lives. If kids experience a great deal of upheaval and unpredictability, they’ll be wary of the world around them.

They won’t know what to expect, and they’ll be unsure of their own actions. Further, parents must continually validate their children’s abilities in order for them to feel self-confident and sure or themselves and their place in the world.

If this reinforcement is absent or inconsistent from parents, children won’t develop healthy self-esteem.

While it’s impossible to avoid conflict completely, parents who learn to control their emotions bestow their children with the gifts of security and self-esteem they’ll need to thrive and become resilient adults.

Follow Terry Gaspard on Twitter, Facebook, and movingpastdivorce.com. Her book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website.

Terry’s new book, The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around, will be published by Sounds True in February of 2020.

This article was originally published at HuffingtonPostDivorce and YourTango.com

 



5 Ways to Strengthen Your Bond with Your Teen After Divorce

By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC

Unlike younger children, teens are more likely to take sides during and after a divorce. It’s not difficult to understand why this happens.

Teenaged children have been around the family dynamic longer than their younger siblings. They have more “history” with both parents and may have been favoring one over the other for quite some time. When a divorce comes into play, it may be quite natural for teens to align themselves with the parent who seems easiest to “get on with,” so to speak.

Their decision is impacted by many factors and questions. Does this parent grant me favors? Are they more tolerant of my behavior? Have they been the “good” parent in the marriage? Will they give me a better home life in the future? Do they have more money to spend on my desires? Do they have more power in the divorce equation? Will they assure I get to stay in the same neighborhood with my friends? Will they get me a car or other things I want? Will they be more lenient than my other parent?

The combination of attaining material needs along with ego gratification needs often propels teens to align with one parent over the other. This is especially true when one parent has more power or affluence than the other. Sometimes abusive parents “win” the favor of teens as a survival strategy, even when the abused parent is more loving and nurturing to them.

Here are 5 strategies to strengthen your bond with your teen:

  • Unfortunately we often find teens expressing anger and resentment about the divorce. The unknown future brings up deep insecurities in us all. While it is hurtful to hear painful retorts like “I hate you!” keep in mind that over-dramatizing life is part of the teenage dynamic. Your child needs to be consoled and heard, acknowledging their right to express their frustration. Let go of your self-righteousness and put your attention instead on trying to see the world from your teen’s point of view.
  • Sadly, during a contentious divorce, teens can easily be influenced by their other parent not to respect, trust or love you. This can be due to your spouse trying to win them over to his or her side. Often that involves turning your teen into a confidant and trying to develop more of a friend relationship than a parenting relationship with them.
  • These types of behaviors create distance and distrust for you that can seriously impair your parent-child bond. It’s a form of parental alienation, which is always hard to counter.
  • The more you understand what your adolescent is experiencing, the more compassion you can have for them. That makes it easier for you to step up to being the parent they need. Remember, you are always a role model to your kids. They need to feel your unconditional love, especially during and after a divorce. They may be testing you or may genuinely feel you have hurt their other parent. Your teen may also be torn with guilt regarding supporting either parent through the divorce.
  • How you handle today’s challenges will affect your long-term relationship with your teen. So don’t stand on your soapbox. Show your empathy, compassion and the ability to turn the other cheek. That’s the parent they need to see — and the one they will gravitate towards over time if you are sincere and can be patient.

If you’re overwhelmed or confused, I highly recommend seeking out a support system — a therapist, divorce group or coach – to help you unravel your challenges. A professional will help you step up to taking the “high road” on an issue, even when it’s not always fair to you. Keep in mind the choices you make today will affect your relationship with your teenager for decades to come.

So think before you act. Focus on your deep love for your child. And remember, he or she didn’t create this tremendous life-altering experience. You and your spouse did. The kids are always innocent. An adolescent is not emotionally prepared for handling this drama, so give your teen some flack and also step up to being the mature, reasonable adult.

Whenever possible, I suggest talking to your soon-to-be ex about this. Discuss your feelings and concerns as well as the consequences for your teen to be alienated from you. Identify the advantages when both of you take the high road together on what’s best for your child.

At the same time, be aware that you can’t count on your ex to help you initiate  the changes you desire. Don’t wait for your spouse to do the right thing. Your future relationship with your teen is up to you. Be alert to alienating behavior. Be there for your child and also be patient and loving. Assertive confidence is more likely to earn your teen’s respect and they will come to thank you down the line!

***     ***     ***

Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is the founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network, a Divorce & Co-Parenting Coach and author of numerous books, e-courses and programs on divorcing with children and co-parenting successfully. For instant download of her FREE EBOOK on Doing Co-Parenting Right: Success Strategies For Avoiding Painful Mistakes! go to: childcentereddivorce.com/book



A Lawyer’s Tips for Keeping Your Divorce Records Private

Unless your last name ends in the word “Kardashian” you’re probably not a big fan of making a public scandal out of your private life. Like it or not, though, your divorce records will be public. Because of that, it’s worth investing some time and energy into making sure that those rA Lawyer’s Tips for Keeping Your Divorce Records Private

Unless your last name ends in the word “Kardashian” you’re probably not a big fan of making a public scandal out of your private life. Like it or not, though, your divorce records will be public. Because of that, it’s worth investing some time and energy into making sure that those records aren’t scandalous.

Why Your Divorce Records Matter

Thinking about “the public record” when you’re in the middle of a divorce isn’t easy. Your head is already spinning, your heart is shredded, and your entire world is falling apart. Keeping your private life out of public divorce records is just not your #1 priority at that point.

Yet, it matters – and not just if you ever plan on running for public office.

Employers today routinely run background checks on job applicants. While you may think that a potential employer clearly won’t care about your past marital history, if that history includes allegations of domestic abuse, adultery, alcoholism, or addiction, you better think again.

Even if you are a model citizen, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about anything in your divorce. Contested divorces can get ugly very fast. People (especially spouses embroiled in a divorce war) often say things in court documents that are less than 100% true.

Lawyers are paid to spin facts into arguments that support their case. They can take true facts and weave them into a presentation that paints a very different picture of reality than the one you remember.

The problem is that once something is in writing in a court record, it usually stays there forever.

But My Spouse Lied!

Hopefully, if your spouse lies about you in a court document, you will be able to prove your innocence. But many times you never get the chance.

In divorce, what often happens is that one party files a petition claiming that his/her spouse did all kinds of horrible things. Before the judge rules on the petition, the case is settled. So the only thing in the court file is the petition with all of the horrible allegations in it. No one ever knows whether the allegations were true or not.

Other times, the judge may actually hold a hearing on the petition. Assuming the judge finds in your favor, s/he will enter an order that says, “Petition denied.” Often, that is ALL it says. There is no detail about WHY the petition was denied.

Was the petition denied because it wasn’t true? Was it denied on a technicality? No one knows.

Now the truth is that you are supposed to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Just because your ex filed court papers claiming that you were the devil incarnate, that doesn’t mean it’s true.

But human beings make a lot of assumptions. And many human beings assume (wrongly) that if anything is in a public document, it MUST be true. (Just like it must be true if you read it on the internet!)

Are All Divorce Records Public Information?

Courts in the United States are open to the public. Divorce records are public information. Anyone can look at any court file they want, usually whenever they want to look at it.

In the past, that may not have mattered much. Like the Ark of the Covenant that Indiana Jones buried in a government warehouse, finding court documents (especially old court documents) used to be a chore.

Today, though, everything has changed.

In today’s digital, hyper-connected world, it is relatively simple for anyone to access someone’s divorce court records. If you’re not technologically savvy enough to do it yourself, for under $100 you can hire an agency to do a background check on whoever you want.

Employers routinely do background checks on their employees.

If you value your privacy at all (or if you just prefer not to air your dirty laundry in public) what are you supposed to do? How can you keep your private life, private?

2 ways to Keep Your Private Life Out of Public Divorce Records

The problem with divorce is that the only one who can divorce you is a judge. That means that, if you want to end your marriage, at some point you (or your lawyer) has to go to court to do it. You have no other choice.

Since every document you file in court automatically becomes a public record, it might seem that there is no way you can keep your divorce private. To a certain extent, that’s true. No matter who you are, or what you do, if you get divorced, there will be a record of your divorce in court.

But, there is a big difference between filing standard documents with simple “boilerplate” language, and filing motion after motion full of allegations about how your spouse is an alcoholic, and abusive, and has done a whole host of horrible things.
People will always be able to discover that you got divorced. But, if you’re smart, they may not be able to discover much more than that.
Here are two ways you can control your public divorce records:

1. Ask the Court to put your documents under seal.

Filing documents “under seal” is a procedure for keeping sensitive or confidential information out of the public record. While this may sound like the perfect way for you to keep your divorce information private, the truth is that before you can do this, you have to get permission from a judge.

Unless you happen to be wealthy, well-known or well-connected, persuading a judge to seal your divorce court records is not likely to be easy. Judges are responsible for maintaining “the public record.” Most judges take that responsibility very seriously. So, for most average folks, getting their divorce put under seal is just not going to happen.

2. Stay out of court.

If you settle your divorce issues with your spouse outside of court, then the documents you file in court can be fairly “vanilla.” They will contain the information that they absolutely need to contain for legal purposes, and nothing more.
If you and your spouse agree, you can also ask a judge to remove truly sensitive and personal information (especially financial account information, or information that could negatively affect your children) from the court file. Even if you are not rich or famous, a judge is usually willing to grant this kind of limited request to keep certain information private.

(You can also try to remove your personal information from the court file in a contested case. But you will have a much harder time convincing a judge to do that for you, especially if your spouse objects.)

It’s All About What You Know

No matter who you are, you have the power to keep most of your divorce information private. But, like so many other things in divorce, doing so is a choice. The only one who can make that choice is you.
If you want to keep your private life out of the public record, you have to take the steps you need to take to do so. For most people, that means staying out of court.

What’s more, you need to stay out of court from the very beginning of your divorce. Once you have filed reams of paperwork in court, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to get permission to take those documents out of the court file.
Do you care whether your divorce records become public information? Maybe you do. Maybe you don’t. What’s important is that you take the time to answer that question before you get divorced.
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Karen Covy is a divorce advisor, attorney, consultant, and coach who is committed to helping couples resolve their disputes as amicably and efficiently as possible. She is the author of When Happily Ever After Ends: How to Survive Your Divorce Emotionally, Financially and Legally and the creator of the Divorce Road Map online program. You can find more of Karen’s articles on marriage and divorce at karencovy.com.

The original version of this article was published at this site: https://karencovy.com/keep-private-life-public-divorce-records/



7 Ways Women Can Build Trust in Relationships

Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW

Recently, there has been a gush of articles in the media about a common problem in romantic relationships: mistrust between partners that erodes positive feelings and love. While it’s not uncommon for people to worry that their partner has the potential to rove, women are more likely to experience trust issues than men in relationships.

For instance, in The Normal Bar study, the authors collected groundbreaking data from 70,000 participants internationally and found that only 39% of women in their sample (compared to 53% of men) completely trust their partners. The authors ask: What’s wrong with this picture?

Why are women more mistrustful than men? The answer may lie in what can be labeled insecurity or a lack of self-trust. One of the hardest things about trusting someone is learning to have confidence in your own judgment. Trust is about much more than catching your partner in a truth or lie. It’s about believing that he or she has your best interests at heart.

An inability to trust someone may take many forms – ranging from feeling they’re being unfaithful, dishonest, or secretive to doubting they are going to keep their promises or be dependable.

Every person is born with the ability to trust others but through life experiences, we become less trusting as a form of self-protection. The breakup of a long-term relationship or marriage can set the stage for feelings of mistrust. This may be especially true for women who are socialized to place more value on intimacy and mutuality than men are.

Enduring your parents’ divorce can also leave you with lingering feelings of mistrust because their relationship was your first teacher about love and commitment. Makayla, age thirty, is a daughter of divorce who often reacts with fear and suspicion when her husband Erik returns home late from work or there’s the slightest imperfection in his story. It’s no wonder since her father betrayed her mother several times and ultimately left the family and moved in with a family friend.

However, Erik hasn’t given Makayla any reason to mistrust him. He’s a loving, faithful husband who honors his vows and has never cheated on her. Makayla has a tendency to blow things out of proportion when she says “You’re always late and inconsiderate of my needs.” Even when Erik returns home a little late from running an errand or going to the gym, Makayla is often filled with suspicion and sends him multiple text messages. These actions show a lack of confidence in herself and fuel Erik’s feelings of frustration and anger toward Makayla.

But since they’ve been attending counseling together, Erik is working on showing Makayla through consistency in his words and actions that he’s there for her. He’s focusing his energies on being empathetic and listening to her feelings rather than getting defensive or shutting down. Meanwhile, Makayla must learn to examine her thought processes. Is her self-doubt and mistrust grounded in reality or a fragment of her past? She must be willing to let go of self-defeating thoughts – to free herself from the blueprints of her childhood.

In the past, Erik’s defensiveness about Makayla’s accusations caused her to become even more mistrustful. It was entirely the wrong approach but neither one of them were aware of it. Recently, Erik has learned to reassure Makayla and now calls her if he’s going to be more than fifteen minutes late.

However, in order for her to build trust with Erik over the long run, Makayla must be vulnerable and expose her true feelings. If she shuts Erik out or doesn’t express her fears and insecurities, she’ll begin to imagine the worst. They’ve both discovered that open and honest communication is the key to restoring love, trust, and intimacy in their relationship.

7 wise ways to build trust in relationships:

  1. Challenge mistrustful thoughts. Ask yourself: is your lack of trust due to your partner’s actions or your own issues, or both?
  2. Gain confidence in your own perceptions by paying attention to your doubts and instincts. Ask yourself: is there congruence between my partner’s words and actions? Does he keep important promises and agreements?
  3. Gain awareness about how your reactions may be having a destructive impact on your relationship and take responsibility for them.
  4. Don’t always assume that your partner’s behavior is intentional – sometimes people simply make a mistake.
  5. Be open to your partner’s perspective. Make sure your words and tone of voice are consistent with your goal of building trust.
  6. Practice attunement with your partner. In his book What Makes Love Last? relationship expert, Dr. John Gottman defines attunement as the desire and the ability to understand and respect your intimate partner’s inner world. He writes: “Attunement offers a blueprint for building and reviving trust in a long-term committed relationship.”
  7. Keep in mind that learning to trust is a skill that can be nurtured over time. It can be a slow process. With courage and persistence, you can turn hurts from past betrayals into lessons.

In his book, The Science of Trust, Dr. John Gottman challenges the way most of us define trust. He says that trust is an action rather than an idea or belief – more about what our partner does than what you or I do.

You may enter a relationship with fractured trust for a variety of reasons. A recent breakup or divorce is not always the root cause. But as you become more aware of your tendency to mistrust your partner, you can stop yourself and ask: Is my mistrust coming from something that is actually happening in the present, or is it related to my past?

Trust is more of an acquired ability than a feeling. When you sustain the loss of a relationship due to broken trust, it makes you smarter and more keenly able to extend trust to those who are deserving of it. You can learn to trust your instincts and your judgment when you honestly deal with your fears. If you are able to come to a place of self-awareness and understand the decisions that were made that led up to trust being severed, you can start to approach others with faith and optimism.

While learning to trust can be one of our biggest challenges as women, it’s important to realize that doubts are common in relationships. Practicing being vulnerable in small steps will encourage open and honest communication – a crucial step to restoring faith in love. Trust is essential to helping both partners feel secure and building a happy relationship that endures the test of time.

Please share this article and check out my other blogs on  movingpastdivorce.com. Thanks! Terry

Be sure to order my new book “Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship and to follow me on Twitter!

My forthcoming book, The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around, will be published by Sounds True in February of 2020.

This blog appeared previously on YourTango.com



6 Ways to Set Yourself Free from People Pleasing

By Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW

While it’s admirable to be a caring person, learning to accept and respect myself has helped me to set healthy boundaries and to say “no” without feeling guilty. For instance, I used to take on too much responsibility at work because I thought that others would “like” me and I’d feel better about myself. As it turns out, it was a quick way to burn out and I ended up feeling resentful and depleted.

The term “People Pleaser” is often used to describe people who go out of their way to make sure someone else is happy to the detriment of their own happiness. They seek approval from others due to unresolved issues with their parents or a need to be accepted. Becoming a people pleaser is a way in which many individuals neglect to set boundaries and convey to others that they’re not good enough.

If you’re not sure if this description fits you, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

-Do you have a hard time saying “no” when you are asked to do something for others?

-Do you worry a lot about disappointing others or worry they’ll leave you?

-Do you bend over backwards for other people, often at your own expense?

-Do you do some things because of a feeling of obligation, and then feel resentful afterwards?

-Are you afraid that if you don’t take care of others, they’ll think you’re not “nice?”

-Do you avoid speaking up for yourself or voicing your opinion because you’re afraid of conflict?

-Do you let your other people “take advantage” of you?”

If you find yourself recognizing yourself in a lot of these, then you probably can benefit from being more assertive. After all, although pleasing others at your own expense might gain you some recognition, it won’t be good for your self-esteem in the long run.

Letting Go of Being a Victim

Studies show that while some men may experience “People Pleasing” it appears more often in women. Over time, a lack of setting boundaries in relationships can damage a person’s sense of self-worth. The good news is that this damage is reversible with self-awareness and support from others.

Before you can begin to  build healthy relationships you must have healthy self-esteem – which means evaluating yourself in positive ways and believing in yourself. Honestly take stock of your patterns of relating to others. One of the first things to ask yourself is: how do I treat ymyself? No one is going to treat you with respect if you beat yourself up. Get rid of all those self-defeating thoughts in your head – such as calling yourself “stupid” that won’t help you get back on your feet.

The first step to addressing people pleasing behavior is to examine your attitudes and beliefs. Often people get stuck in the role of “People Pleasing” because they lack self-awareness.  The following 6 ways will allow you to gain control of your life.

  • Embrace the idea that you can’t be liked by everyone. There will always be those who don’t agree or approve of your words or actions. Accept that you can’t control what others think of you. All you can really control is yourself.
  • Ask yourself: do I give too much in relationships? Do you ignore your own needs due to seeking other’s approval? Therapy, reading, and keeping a journal can aid you in this process.
  • Challenge your beliefs and self-defeating thoughts about your self-worth. You don’t need to prove anything to another person about your self-worth. You are just as deserving of attention and caring as other people are.
  • Put an end to playing the role of a victim. Make new decisions to change your life – such as taking time to do the things that you enjoy rather than deferring to the needs of others.
  • Practice compassion and self-approval by learning to set personal boundaries and saying “no”to unreasonable requests from others.  You will feel better when you give yourself time to replenish yourself rather than focusing too much on others.
  • Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean you are selfish. As you begin to care less about seeking the approval of others, you’ll find you have more energy – people pleasing can drain us of time and make us feel tired. Strive to achieve balance between your physical, mental, and emotional heath.

Take a moment to ask yourself: Am I able to freeing express my thoughts, wishes, and desires without worrying about my partner or friends reaction? If the answer is no, it may be time to consider working on freeing yourself from being a people pleaser. By learning to be more assertive, you will no longer feel like a victim. Making yourself a priority isn’t the same as being selfish. You are worth the effort and deserve a freer, happier life.

I would love to hear from you if you have any questions or comments at movingpastdivorce.com. To find out more about my research, order my book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy Long-Lasting Relationship.

My forthcoming book “The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around” will be published by Sounds True in the February of 2020.



6 Ways to Stop Being Defensive with Your Partner

By Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW

During tough conversations, it’s helpful to choose battles wisely and to distinguish between petty issues and important ones. Many experts agree that bickering can lead to the demise of a relationship. It’s like chronic warfare that erodes the quality of a relationship and makes it tough to discuss difficult topics. When dealing with differences with your partner, the key is to listen attentively, understand each other’s perspective, reign in defensiveness, and stop criticizing and blaming each other.

For instance, Jackson has become resentful of Becca over the last few years because she spends money without informing him. From his perspective, Becca has been increasingly detached and secretive about her spending habits. During our session, they had an argument that left them both feeling defeated and bitter. I encouraged them to listen to each other and not focus on who was to blame for their problem.

Jackson glanced at Becca and put it like this: “My anger and resentment started to mount when you told me two months after you put a trip with your girlfriend on a credit card without telling me. You were literally charging large amounts for clothes and air fare without telling me – even when I asked you why our balances were going up. I can’t trust you anymore since you kept this secret. If you hadn’t lied to me, I might feel differently.”

Becca explains, “I understand how bad this sounds but I needed to get some new clothes to go on a trip with Caitlyn which we planned a year ago. I didn’t tell you because I knew you’d object and we’d argue. You often criticize me because I don’t earn enough money. I’m starting my own business and it will take time.”

Jackson and Becca need a way to stop blaming each other and to stop their pattern of trying to prove a point. The first step toward changing this negative pattern of relating is awareness. They can benefit from embracing the mindset that working together is more important than being right.

While it’s tempting to launch into expressing anger and to get into the attack mode when you feel hurt or frustrated, it can alienate your partner and drive a wedge between you. That said, you’ll accomplish more and improve your communication if you tell your partner what you need in a positive way.

For instance, if Jackson says to Becca “I would appreciate it if you’d do a budget for your trip with me,” this “I” statement would be more effective than saying, “You never worry about money. In most cases, a“You” statement that sparks her defensiveness.

In marriage, one of the biggest hurdles couples face is how to approach difficult conversations without getting defensive. This leads to an unfortunate pattern of attack and defensiveness where both partners believe they must prove they’re right and must defend their positions.

In After the Fight, psychologist Dr. Daniel B. Wile, explains that if this defensive pattern continues over time, it can diminish love and respect between you and your partner The following are ways to stop being defensive with your partner before it becomes a bigger issue.

6 Ways to Stop Being Defensive With Your Partner:

1. Keep a calm composure and state needs clearly: While it is natural to raise your voice and get agitated when you feel attacked, lower your voice and adopt a friendlier tone. If you feel yourself taking things personally, press the pause button and suggest a 10 to 15-minute break to your partner before continuing a conflictual conversation. You might say “I’m trying to listen but I can feel myself getting defensive. Can we start this conversation again in 15 minutes?

2. Listen to your partner’s side of the story and validate him or her. Instead of focusing on your own agenda and the points you want to get across, ask your partner what is bothering them and really listen before responding. When you respond, validate their perspective and use a soft start-up such as “I value your input and I’d love to hear more from you.” Be sure to use good eye contact and reassuring touch to comfort your mate such as holding their hand.

3. Focus on the issues at hand. When you focus on the past, you miss the opportunity to work together to come up with a solution. You are no longer on the same team. Instead, focus on the issues at hand or in the present to meet both of your needs. Resist the urge to bring up baggage or touch on your partner’s raw spots or issues you know might trigger his or her defensiveness.

4. Use “I” statements to express yourself in a positive way. State what you want such as “I would like you to share more information about your spending with me. Avoid using “You” statements such as “You never talk to me about money.” Remember to focus on expressing your feelings in a way that invites your partner to communicate, rather than pushing them away.

5. Take responsibility. If you focus more on your part of the problem, you will be less likely to point your finger at your partner or take things personally. Reflect on how your words and actions might make your partner feel and let him or her know that you own your part in a disagreement. Try to focus on changing your approach to communication, rather than trying to change your partner’s perspective or personality.

6. Apologize if you have done something to hurt your mate – even if it was not intentional – after they’ve had a chance to describe how you hurt them. This will ensure it’s a sincere apology. Be brief and to the point without making excuses. For instance, Becca might simply say, “I am sorry for keeping a secret from you. I love you and won’t do it again.” By taking responsibility for her part in the dispute, even just a small piece, this will validate Jackon’s feelings, promote forgiveness, and allow them both to move on.

Becca put it like this: “When we disagree, I try to apologize to Jackson when I overreact to something he says and not take it so personally. I know that when I blow things out of proportion, it’s often my own baggage. When he apologizes to me after he’s said something hurtful, it really helps me move on and feel better. I’m working on accepting his apology, letting go, and I’m trying to be a bigger person.”

When you are having an argument with your partner, stop and try to remember the positive qualities that drew you to him or her in the first place. It’s a good idea to give your partner the benefit of the doubt rather than attacking them or getting defensive. Being defensive or negative will only push your partner away. The next time you feel upset at your partner, examine your own thoughts and responses — before you point out his or her faults—if you want your relationship to endure the test of time.

Follow Terry Gaspard MSW, LICSW on Twitter, Facebook, and movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website.

Terry’s new book, The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around, will be published by Sounds True in February of 2020 and can be pre-ordered here.



5 Ways Dating is Different for a Divorced Parent

By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC

When you’re a divorced parent, dating again takes on new challenges. Here are five areas that should be of major concern to you when making any decisions about finding a new love partner. Keeping this advice in mind will steer you in the direction of a healthier, more fulfilling relationship ahead.

  1. You have children: mention them early on.

As a divorced parent, you come into dating as a package with your children. Never lie about or keep that a secret. And don’t be apologetic about that fact either. It’s part of who you are and what you offer to your new relationship. You want a partner who will like and hopefully come to love your kids. So don’t start a dating relationship by pretending they don’t exist. The first few dates are not the time to talk excessively about your children. But always be forthright about them and their ages so there are no surprises in your budding new relationship. Never look at your kids as baggage; they’re an instant family for the right lucky person!

      2. Be authentic about your needs and expectations.

Don’t pretend to be who you’re not. It’s tempting when you start dating to pretend to be someone different – to act more “polished” and sophisticated or interested in sports or other topics when you really aren’t. That’s a form of “bait and switch” — teasing your partner into thinking they are with someone who isn’t you. Instead be real, share your authentic self and be proud of who you are — warts and all. They’re going to show up anyway, so why pretend to be different? You’d resent your partner if they did the same thing to you. Dating is a form of qualifying prospects for a future romance. If you don’t reveal the true you, you can’t attract a good fit for a meaningful relationship. Don’t waste your time or theirs. Be REAL!

  1. Be aware of unresolved baggage from your past – and theirs.

Divorce can take its toll on you. And unresolved issues from your past can easily sabotage a new relationship from both perspectives. So identify when you’re experiencing feelings of anger, hurt, pain, guilt, or disillusionment and accept these feelings as lessons learned. It then becomes easier to move on. Work on forgiveness issues, both with your ex and with yourself for having come from a “failed” marriage. Don’t stay stuck in the past. You can never move forward successfully if you’re looking or thinking backward. And you don’t want to choose a partner who isn’t fully focused on you, either!

  1. Trust your intuition and red-flag warning signs.

Intuition is that part of you with knowledge vital to your well-being. This internal antenna continually sends you messages and if anything or anyone makes you feel uneasy don’t ignore it. In the past, you may have dismissed those inner warnings, but now you need to learn from your life experiences and not repeat old mistakes. So being cautious is okay. Just don’t be so hyper-fearful that you avoid good partner material and become afraid of commitment. At the same time, notice any uncomfortable behaviors that would be a sign of impending abuse.  Jealously, too quick attachment, mood swings, anger issues, verbal threats or distorted accusations are the “red flags” that spell caution.

  1. Be sure your expectations are realistic.

Are your demands about weight, age, height, financial success and other factors limiting your ability to find the right partner who will love and appreciate you?  Now that you have true “life” experience, consider the importance of being flexible, objective and fair in your expectations. That way you won’t set yourself up for pain and disappointment next time around. You also won’t overlook great potential partners by putting more superficial qualities (looks, height, weight) ahead of the much more important ones (shared values, integrity, honesty, compassion, wisdom, mutual respect). Don’t look for Mr. or Miss Perfect. He or she doesn’t exist. Seek your Mr. or Miss Right and give him a chance to show you why he’s “the one!”

Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is a Dating & Relationship Coach, Divorce & Co-Parenting Coach and Founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network for parents. She is also the author of several books on divorce and parenting and dating after divorce. In addition, Rosalind is co-creator of the DatingRescue eCourse and Create Your Ideal Relationship Kit for women. Her free ebook on dating for single women is available at www.womendatingafter40.com. Author: How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce?

www.childcentereddivorce.com

www.childcentereddivorce.com/kids

Host: Divorce, Dating & Empowered Living Radio Show & Podcast

 

 



10 Ways to Steer Clear of Partners Who Are Wrong for You

By Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW

Many people who are in unhealthy relationships ask themselves “Why do I attract partners who are all wrong for me?” Or, “How can I be sure to recognize destructive patterns in relationships and take steps to change them?”

Claire, a client who sought help with making better choices in romantic partners put it this way: “I have an instinct to “fix” every guy I date. My sister says I’m co-dependent and I say I tend to rescue troubled men. But when I try to turn their lives around it usually backfires — they break up with me. How can I change this dynamic?”

When I met with Claire for our second session I asked her: Ask yourself this question: Is there something about the way your partner treats you that makes you a bigger and better person? If the answer is no, ask yourself: Am I settling for less than I deserve in the relationship?

Too many of us settle for less than we deserve because we are afraid of being alone. If this is your tendency, gently remind yourself that you are a worthwhile person regardless of whether or not you are in a romantic relationship.

In my Huffington Post blog “7 Reasons Why It May Be a Good Idea To Stay Single” I write: “Very few people know how to be alone and do it well. They aren’t happy to be alone. They fear it and seek love wherever they go. Growing up, most of us weren’t given good examples of how to be alone. Everything we see in the media promotes how to find the right partner and make it work. But being alone can propel us to grow and learn about ourselves.”

The question of what’s more important in a healthy, long-lasting relationship — chemistry or compatibility — is a critical one when selecting a partner. Perhaps the first step in evaluating your past and present choices in partners is examining the difference between compatibility and chemistry.

1. Chemistry: This usually refers to physical attraction but can include intellectual attraction as well. It is about how interesting and stimulating you find the person. Do you enjoy each other’s touch and is their sexual chemistry? It’s essential because without it, you are little more than friends. Author Mira Kirshenbaum writes: “But you can’t say you have good chemistry unless you can say “I feel there’s real affection here.”

2. Compatibility: Is about sharing common values and goals, having fun together, and liking each other: it helps to sustain a couple through tough times. However, both chemistry and compatibility are essential to a long-lasting healthy intimate relationship.

If you find yourself attracted to partners that you don’t have chemistry and compatibility with, you may be inclined to have one-sided, unhealthy relationships. Perhaps you grew up in a family where you were a caretaker or focused more on making others happy. Maybe you even felt that you had to be in a good mood regardless of your true feelings.

According to relationship coach Lindsey Ellison, we are attracted to romantic partners who fill a void from our childhood. Perhaps repeating patterns from the past is our way of gaining mastering over unfinished business or looking for closure with the parent who wounded us.

Truth be told, women are especially prone to become involved in one-sided relationships because we were raised to be “good girls” — people pleasers who consistently put others needs before our own. Girls are often raised to tune out their inner voice and this can set the stage for one-sided relationships because they look for their partner to validate them.

10 ways to avoid relationships that are wrong for you:

1. Work on your fear of being alone. Many people settle for relationships that are wrong for them because they fear being single. Women are especially likely to feel stigma when they are not part of a couple.

2. Give thought to your deal breakers. According to Huffington Post Divorce editor, Brittany Wong, it’s important to ask yourself “What are your deal breakers – the laundry list of things you simply won’t tolerate in someone you’re thinking of getting serious with?” Try making a list of at least ten characteristics that are essential to you in a partner such as being active or affectionate.

3. Don’t settle for less than you deserve. When you compromise too many of the values that are important to you, these relationships usually fail. Focus on your deal breakers and pick a partner who is someone who you can share a life with and deepen your love with over time.

4. Seek a partner who you feel comfortable with and is easy to be vulnerable with. In other words, you can be yourself and don’t have to walk on eggshells. You feel safe in the relationship and free to express your thoughts, feelings, and desires openly without fear of rejection.

5. Set an expectation of mutual respect. You can accept, admire, and respect each other for who you are. If you don’t have respect for your partner, it will eat away at chemistry until you have nothing left. A partner who truly cares about you is a boost to your self-esteem. He or she values you, gives you compliments, and encourages you to do things that are in your best interest.

6. Notice if your partner keeps his/her agreements. Are they someone who you can trust because they demonstrate consistency between their words and actions? When someone is interested in you, they’ll keep their agreements.

7. Make sure your love interest carves out time for you on a regular basis – that he/she makes you a priority because they value your relationship. This includes regular text messages or phone calls to show that they’re thinking of you.

8. Pick a partner who makes plans to do things with you and includes you in his/her inner circle. If something special is going on in his/her life, they invite you and encourage you to come.

9. Seek a partner who you have both chemistry and compatibility with. Even if you meet someone who is not a heart-throb, be patient and see if your attraction grows over time. Look for qualities such as compassion, generosity, and consideration because these are characteristics that describe someone who is a dynamite long-term partner.

10. Select a partner who talks about your future together. If he or she says “I’m not ready for a commitment,” take him or her seriously — they’re just not that into you. Don’t waste your time on a relationship that doesn’t have a future.

The best partner will compliment you and bring out your very best. When you are with him or her, you will begin to see untapped possibilities within yourself and in the world. Author Jill P. Weber writes: “The more you view others’ mistreatment of you as something you have the ability to fix, tweak, or amend, the harder it is to develop a positive sense of yourself. Seeing yourself exclusively from the eyes of others disconnects you from the day-to-day, moment to moment experience of your life.”

Follow Terry Gaspard on Twitter, Facebook, and movingpastdivorce.com

I’d love to read your comments on and be sure to order our new book “Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship.”

Terry’s new book, “The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better The Second Time Around,” will be published by Sounds True in February of 2020 and you can pre-order here.

This blog originally appeared on HuffingtonPost.com