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!

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6 Ways to Stop Being Defensive with Your Partner

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.



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 this page. Be sure to order our new book “Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship.”

This blog originally appeared on HuffingtonPost.com

 



5 Ways to Know Your Kids Are Adapting Well to Your Divorce

By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC

As a divorced parent you owe it to your children to diligently watch their behavior, listen to their conversations and be aware of any changes that may be due to challenges related to the divorce. Children can adapt well to life after divorce. But it’s up to you to catch signs they may be confused, anxious, insecure or in other ways having problems in their new reality.

Here are 5 ways to know your children are doing well, despite your divorce:

  1. They continue to thrive at school

When school grades fall or aggressive behavior develops, parents need to be proactive and not wait on the sidelines. Conversations with teachers and school counselors can give you a better perspective on your child’s needs. Don’t hesitate to talk to your children as well to learn more about what’s going on and how they feel about the changes and new challenges in their lives. It’s imperative that you listen and not lecture. Allow them to vent so they feel heard. Only then can you be helpful in finding useful solutions.

  1. They’re making and keeping friends

If your children drop close friendships following your divorce they may be feeling shame, anger, embarrassment, guilt or other negative emotions. Some kids feel helpless at home and express these frustrations with classmates and friends. They may be misunderstood or rejected by these friends at a time when support is most needed. Giving them access to a compassionate child therapist can be helpful for them – and for you.

  1. They can talk about the divorce without high emotions

If your children are not intimidated or afraid to talk to you about the divorce, their other parent and time spent with them, that’s a good sign. It usually shows a healthy level of adjustment. Usually it also means both parents understand the importance of keeping lines of communication open. Mature parents don’t compete for their children’s approval or attention and they’re aware of the dangers of making kids feel guilty or shameful for loving their other parent.

  1. Their activity level hasn’t changed

Well-adjusted children have energy for after-school clubs, sports and other programs. If your child opts out of activities they used to enjoy, be aware. Usually that’s a sign that they are having coping issues with changes in family life. It’s wise to talk with a counselor and get involved with a support group for help before things progress in more negative directions.

  1. There are no new signs of depression, aggression or acting out

Kids who handle divorce well are comfortable with themselves and others. They behave with compassion and sensitivity to other children who may be hurting. Children coping with emotional issues and low self-esteem often show signs of depression, lethargy or age-regression such as bed-wetting. Others may act out aggressively with siblings, friends – even their pets. They lose their capacity for empathy and caring for others. This is a red flag warning that they may be in emotional distress and need a strong support system. Bring in school guidance counselors, co-parenting coaches and other mental health professionals to help you provide this safety net.

Parents who demonstrate a healthy attitude about their divorce usually have children who cope better. Never take for granted that the divorce is not affecting your child. Be diligent in watching for signs of problems. If issues arise, seek professional help immediately. That can make the difference between temporary setbacks and real long-term issues that create emotional and psychological problems with life-long consequences.

***     ***     ***

Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is a Divorce & Parenting Coach, Founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network and author of How Do I Tell the Kids About the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — With Love!  Her innovative approach guides parents in creating a personal family storybook, using fill-in-the-blank templates, family history and photos, as an effective way to break the news with optimum results. To get Rosalind’s free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting, advice, tips, Coaching services and other valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues, visit http://www.childcentereddivorce.com.

 



Sharing Custody: How to Keep Kids Comfortable

By Amanda Lin

Having two places to call home can cause confusion and be a major adjustment to children. This is especially true when a family is going through a separation or divorce. Sharing custody and moving into a new household can severely change a child’s routine, causing them to feel disrupted and in most cases, upset or disoriented. Coupling these two changes together will often result in a challenging time for everyone. Luckily, there a few things that you can do to help smooth this transition.

Here are 4 ways to keep your kids comfortable in two homes when sharing custody.

4 Tips to Help Your Kids Adjust to Two Households

Before we dive into the tips, it’s important to mention this key information and advice. While you and your former spouse may be experiencing an array of arguments and custody agreements, it’s important to stay united around and in front of your children. Kids pick up on things rather quickly and will know when there is tension or anger in the air. This can cause them to act out in anger as well.

You should always show respect to the other parent when you are doing a drop off at their household. Try not to belittle their activities, living circumstances, or decisions. Your child will pick up on the disrespect and could react in an unfavorable way.

Lastly, never use your child as a medium for communication. Try to avoid using them to relay messages or using them as a way to find out information on your ex. Speak directly to the other parent to mediate any issues or concerns.

Tip 1: Get Your Child Involved

Transform the idea of moving from fear to fun by letting your child have a say in their new bedroom if you are the parent who has moved out. Allow them to pick out the colors of their walls, decor, and bed sheets. This will help build their excitement about visiting their new room. Doing this will also allow your child to feel as if they have more control in the situation. This is important since everything else around them is changing without their consent.

Tip 2: Give the Room Some Familiarity

Too much newness can be a bit daunting and overwhelming for a child. Help them adjust to their new surroundings by bringing or repurchasing a few of their favorite toys or decor pieces from home. This will help them feel more comfortable and more at home. If possible, talk to your ex about items that could easily be transported between homes. Packing a few of their favorite toys is often a good solution to this problem.

Tip 3: Establish a Consistent Calendar

Since your child’s routine has been disrupted, the first thing to do is try to give them a new one. Establish a clear and consistent calendar with the other parent and work hard not to switch off any days. Your child should have an exact idea of when they will see you next so that they can get excited and ready to change households. Help your child feel more secure by having a dependable schedule.

Tip 4: Don’t Compete With One Another

If you’re the parent who remains at the original home, it may be hard to hear your child talk about their new room, home, or neighborhood. Don’t use this as an opportunity to compete with your ex. Which means you shouldn’t give your child’s room a makeover or buy them new toys. Your child doesn’t need anymore change right now.

Alternatively, you should try to offer words of support and excitement to your child when they tell you about their new room at their other parent’s home. This is part of putting your child first and showing them that you and your ex will always be united when it comes to them.

Remember, during tough times like these, reassurance is key. Constantly remind your child of your love and support for them. Transitioning into a sharing custody routine will not be easy on either of you, but following these tips will make the process easier.

“Amanda Lin is a content writer, currently writing for Steven D. Miller, P.A. She has written about personal relationships, technology, and music for a variety of verticals. In her free time, she loves to travel, go hiking, and try new restaurants.”



5 Great Ways to Boost Your Self-Esteem After Divorce

By Amanda Wilks

Nothing can be quite as devastating to one’s self-esteem as a divorce. No matter how amicable a parting is or the conditions under which it happens, moving past such a monumental part of one’s life comes with a bevy of lifestyle changes to adapt to and emotional toils to overcome.

The urge to remain sedentary and wallow in a separation might seem overpowering. At the same time, freeing oneself up from another person is a golden opportunity to spend time bettering oneself rather than working on a relationship.

The first step to moving past such a big life change is approaching the coming days with a healthy attitude. Yes, chances are you don’t feel your best. No, the pain won’t pass immediately. The lessons taught by separation are hard to ignore yet taking the right frame of mind forward will only help you in the days to come.

If you’re not sure how to keep yourself feeling chipper and occupied during strange stretches of free time, boosting your self-esteem can be as simple as any of these self-improving tips.

1.Exercise!

The urge to stay on the couch and feel sorry for yourself is probably going to be a strong motivating factor in the early days after your divorce. This is perfectly natural, but starting a healthy routine instead of settling for less-than-healthy urges can be vital in ensuring you stay active over the long term.

The physical benefits of exercise speak for themselves. The mental benefits, on the other hand, are wide and varied but may not seem obvious to outside viewers. Exercise is proven to help those suffering from depression and anxiety through the release of endorphins paired with changes of scenery and other small touches. You’ll likely manage to sleep better after a day full of exercise, too, which is a benefit in a league all of its own.

2.Take Up a Hobby

Relationships take time. There are very real situations that require a lot of care and attention that draw us away from things we hold near and dear to ourselves, making a period of separation a perfect time to get back into something we once enjoyed or simply explore new hobbies and interests as they come along.

Building social links and promoting healthy time management are but a few upsides to taking on a hobby. If your hobby is one that leads to something tangible through art, gardening, cooking or other creative outlets you just might find that the creation process can help boost your self-worth through reaffirming your ability to create and impact the world around you.

3. Spend Time with Friends and Family

The inertia that comes with becoming your own person can be taken in healthy or unhealthy ways. To make the most of coming to terms with your reclaimed independence, make sure you take time to socialize with those you love in a less romantic context.

Family and friend ties can help keep your stress levels low and having a network of support during a troubling time can be absolutely vital. Try not to let recent events shape your conversations and activities at all times, though: Everyone needs time to just unwind and forget about the world be it through sharing hobbies or going out for a spa day. Let the world take a back seat so your mind can rest whenever possible.

4. Keep Your Diet in Check

If romantic comedies are to be believed, every romantic split ends in someone eating gallons of ice cream without any negative repercussions. To some degree, you’ll probably feel a lessened sense of fulfillment from cooking for yourself and your snacking habits may start to get out of control. Stress eating is often a symptom of emotional toil and a fluctuation in weight can really throw your self-image out of whack.

Like with most diets, try to stay away from eating the cheapest, fastest options you can find. Take time out of your day to prepare proper meals and seek out snacks that aren’t stuffed with fat and excess sugar. Fruits and vegetables are sorely lacking in many a diet, yet their inclusion can ensure you don’t lose out on vital nutrients you need to stay happy and healthy. If you need to eat some comfort food here and there to stay on track as a whole, go for it! Just keep your health goals in mind.

5. Stay Positive

Even if you diet well and keep a healthy attitude you’re probably not going to be the happiest person around. Negative thoughts will come and go yet keeping a positive attitude is one of the strongest ways to ensure your self-confidence stays high. It may sound silly, but thinking negatively often leads to acting in a way that makes those negative perceptions come true.

Conclusion

Divorce isn’t the end of the world. As long as you work towards taking care of yourself and try to keep a positive outlook on life you’ll bounce back from it just as you would any other hardship.

Stay active, keep in touch with friends and try to remind yourself that it’s just another unfortunate part of life. Nothing can stop you unless you stop yourself!

Author Bio: Amanda Wilks is a motivational writer, cooking enthusiast and contributing author for http://thekitchenadvisor.com/. She discovered her passion for gastronomy when she was going through a rough breakup. Back then, cooking was the only thing she would relax her and as the time passed, she grew fond of this new and exciting hobby. Amanda is now taking cooking classes and hopes to become a renowned chef. Learn more about her on Twitter.



Five Ways to Encourage Emotional Intimacy in Your Married Life

By Sylvia Smith

When married couples think of intimacy, their first thought is often sexual intimacy.  Being physically intimate is one of the great benefits of marriage, but there is another vital type of intimacy that couples need to pay attention to: emotional intimacy.  Emotional intimacy is the glue that holds a marriage together.  Without it, over time the relationship takes on an empty feeling and the couple becomes distant from each other. This can happen in marriages that haven’t understood that sex and love are not enough to keep things on track.  If this is your situation, know that it doesn’t have to stay this way. Couples who share a commitment to making their shared life richer have a better chance of developing emotional intimacy.

Constructing emotional intimacy in your married life is not easy, but it is worth the effort. Here are five techniques that you and your partner can use to help increase the emotional intimacy factor in your married life.

  1. Know yourself and present your true self to your partner at all times.  It is impossible to be emotionally intimate with your spouse if you are constantly presenting a false version of who you are to them. How can your partner know you if you are not transparent with your feelings, needs and desires?

Make knowing yourself a priority so that this is the person that shows up in the marriage at all times. If you pretend to be someone you are not, you cannot expect your spouse to give you, the authentic you, what you need to thrive emotionally.  An example of this might be the wife who is sad or depressed, but does not want to add to her husband’s worries so she pretends that everything is fine.  But because she has not revealed to her spouse that she is suffering, this deprives him of the chance to help support her.  She has now lost an opportunity for building emotional intimacy with her husband, all because she feels the need to portray someone she is not.  Her husband has also lost an opportunity to deepen his emotional intimacy with his wife, because he has no idea what she is experiencing since she has covered up her depression with a happy persona.

  1. Start from a baseline of accepting (and loving) who your spouse is. Be each other’s compassionate space.  

Two people who truly love and accept each other, can foster emotional intimacy in their relationship. Make sure that you communicate this message of acceptance to your partner. Practice a lifestyle of empathy and protection towards each other so that both of you feel like you have each others back, no matter what.  Show your partner that they can be themselves completely in your presence and you will always accept and love them.   When they come to you expressing a need, listen attentively to what they are saying, and ask how you can best help them.

  1. Identify  your own emotional needs so that you may communicate these to your partner. This exercise may be more difficult  for a male partner, as many men were raised to ignore or repress any strong emotion they may be feeling.  However, working with a couples counselor can help a man accept there is nothing unmanly about being in touch with his emotions.

A good way to share your emotional needs with you partner is by using “I” messages.  “I feel validated when I know you are” followed by an action verb such as :

  • Seeing me
  • Listening to me
  • Encouraging me
  • Taking care of me
  • Understanding me
  • Accepting me
  • Desiring me
  • Touching me
  • Solving problems with me

Avoid “You” messages as they can really hinder the communication process. Sentences like “you always or you never” always gets the other person in a defensive mode. Refrain from using:

You never-

  • Support me
  • Encourage me
  • Help me
  • Understand me

Or  you always-

  • Disappoint me
  • Demoralize me
  • Dishearten me

Married couples can do an emotional-intimacy building exercise by writing out their own lists and sharing them with each other, based on the above.

  1. Practice acceptance, but also practice disagreements.  In point two we talked about the relationship between fully accepting someone and emotional intimacy.  But acceptance doesn’t mean we forfeit the right to disagree with our spouse.  To the contrary, how you manage a disagreement can be a wonderful opportunity for working on your emotional intimacy.

When non-emotionally-intimate couples have disagreements, they either turn and walk away or fight until someone gives up or is too tired to argue any longer.

But emotionally intimate couples, when they have different point of views, they share them with each other openly without hesitation. They also have disagreements but they handle them differently, in healthy way. They accept and appreciate each other’s opinions rather than seeing them as a threat.

Disagreements can deepen emotional intimacy because opposing viewpoints mean we are being honest about who we are and what we think. And remember point one: to cultivate emotional intimacy, you need to be the authentic you.

  1. Recognize that building emotional intimacy requires energy and time.  Emotionally intimate marriages are not built in a day, nor do they happen without some effort on the part of the couple. Bonding requires time spent together.  Couples that lead separate lives will find they know little about what the other is feeling and grow distant from each other.  Many of these marriages will fail.

Set aside time each day to show your spouse your appreciation for who they are and what they bring to your married life.  It doesn’t need to be more than a few minutes, but it is part of the time and energy investment necessary to continually weave the bond of emotional intimacy.

Author Bio: Sylvia Smith is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy, happy marriages. Follow her on FacebookTwitterStumbleUpon, Google+ and Pinterest.

 



8 Ways to Build a Positive Relationship with Your Stepkids

By Terry Gaspard MSW, LICSW

Most of the stepparents who contact me for support tell me they had no idea what they were getting into. One stepdad, Steve, put it this way, “I was never a father before, and at the ripe “young” age of 42, I was thinking that I was somehow going to “get by” and become accepted by my stepchildren, primarily because I had married their mother. I was getting by trying to be “nice” to my new stepkids but comments like “You’re not my father” made me feel disrespected.

Different from a biological parent, a major thrust of being a stepparent is to be a friend to your stepchildren on some level. Not like a school friend, but an adult friend more akin to being a guidance counselor or mentor who is also a parental figure.

There are many ways you can develop a positive relationship with your stepchildren if you invite them to participate in activities that interest them and expose them to some of your hobbies. For instance, inviting your stepchildren to share your love of hiking while on a summer vacation can help you form a friendship.

However, it may be more challenging to form a bond with a stepchild of the opposite gender, especially if your personalities clash and you do not share interests. There is no such thing as instant love between a new stepparent and a stepchild. One of the most crucial things to learn about a stepfamily is that most children give love and trust to their parent, but feel that their stepparent must earn their love and trust over time.

Attending some of your stepchildren’s school events, showing interest in their hobbies, and supporting their need for one-on-one time with your spouse can promote a caring relationship. This takes time, years really.

8 ways to bond with your stepchild:

  • Stepparents had best proceed slowly: Take your time in getting to know your stepchild. Rushing it may satisfy your own unmet needs to be liked but backfire. After all, you will be most likely be seen as an outsider since your stepkids spent some time alone with their biological parent before you came on the scene.
  • Respect your spouse’s relationship with your stepkids and don’t feel threatened by their close connection. He or she will want to spend special time with their children so try not to feel neglected by him/her. Make plans with your friends and graciously step out of their way.
  • Have realistic expectations: Just because things went well when you were dating his or her biological parent, does not ensure things will go smoothly once you’re a committed couple. A marriage effectively ends any hope of their mother and father reunifying and can reignite those feelings of loss for your stepchildren. Remember that your stepkids will be there for the duration whether a positive relationship unfolds with you, so step to the higher ground and be the adult role model they deserve.
  • Develop a relationship with your stepchildren through hobbies and interests. Sharing interests from sports to the arts can only help you develop a bond. Be persistent if he or she fails to invite you to an event or activity. Keep in mind, you are the adult and need to be the mature one. Say something like: “I’d love to go to your basketball game, how do I get tickets?”
  • Understand your stepchild’s view. First, it’s a given that your stepchildren had a relationship with your spouse that existed before you came on the scene. Stepfamilies are complicated and even if your stepchildren seem to like you well enough, they’ll sometimes want time alone with their parent and prefer you weren’t in the picture.
  • Stay out of interactions between biological parents working out holiday or vacation schedules. Try to be courteous and respectful of the “other parent”, keeping in mind that it’s likely neither parent would have chosen having their children live with them part-time.
  • Realize that love often comes later. Even if you do not hit it off with your stepchild, you can still develop a working relationship built on respect. If your stepchild does not warm up to you right away that does not mean you have failed. Adopting realistic expectations can help you get through some rough spots.
  • Cooperate with the biological parent living with you, and talk talk talk. Most of the talking will take place away from your stepkids but be sure to have cordial conversations and informal discussions about family rules, roles, chores, and routines with the kids.

Presenting a united front with your spouse is very helpful to the formation of a healthy stepfamily. This action requires respect, caring and lots of love because it may not be easy to do if you do not agree with your spouse. Caring and respect are especially important, cannot be rushed, and are “earned” or granted over time among all family members.

Always do your best to support your partner’s decisions about his or her biological children.  This will help build trust between you and your stepchildren. Remember you are a “competitor” for their parents’ attention, especially when a remarriage takes place within a few years after the breakup of your stepchild’s family. Try not to feel threatened by the time your stepchild spends with your spouse.

Be sure to encourage and listen to your stepchildren’s input so they’ll feel validated. Ultimately you and your spouse are the adults who have the last say on household decisions but showing your stepkids you respect their input will help cement a good relationship in the years to come.

Should stepparents discipline their stepchildren? This is controversial and needs to be negotiated by parents. Experts agree that your role as a stepparent includes helping your stepchildren abide by family rules. In any case, thread lightly on being a disciplinarian – especially if you are a new stepparent.

Keep in mind that the relationship between your spouse and their children existed before you arrived and your relationship with your stepchildren isn’t built on solid ground. It is essential that you know this and honor it. Therefore, if you feel like you are walking on eggshells, you are not alone – most stepparents feel tenuous at times in their new role.

One stepmom put it this way: “At times I felt like a stranger around my stepson when we were first married and I didn’t know exactly how to relate to him. But over time, by showing interest and attending his soccer games, things got better and I no longer feel like the fifth wheel.”

Let’s end on the wise words of author Suzen J. Ziegahn, P.h.D.: “As a stepparent, it’s to your advantage to develop a tolerable, hopefully positive relationship with your stepchild as soon as possible. It will encourage the survival of your stepfamily – and your marriage because the relationship you have with your stepchild may redefine the relationship you have with your partner.”

Follow Terry Gaspard on Twitter and Facebook.  She is pleased to announce the publication of Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-lasting Relationship (Sourcebooks).

This article first appeared on HuffingtonPostDivorce.com