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?



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




6 Ways to Make Small Gestures Count in Your Marriage

By Terry Gaspard, LICSW

If you think you need grand gestures to show your spouse love you may be mistaken. In fact, many studies speak to the fact that the secret to long-lasting love are small gestures such as cooking your partner a meal or cleaning up afterwards without him or her asking you to do so.

One of the things that Alana values about Tim is his ability to show love through his actions.

Alana puts it like this: “It’s the everyday moments that matter. When I forget to bring in the mail (even when I am the first-person home) and Tim says he’s glad to go fetch it and water all of the outdoor plants before dinner, he makes my day. These little things make a difference.”

Tim responds: “Just because Alana works at home, it doesn’t mean she’s responsible for all things home related or all of our kid’s activities. There are never enough hours in the day but I am grateful that Alana works at home and can take care of sick kids, laundry, and start dinner most days.

 Alana speaks: “Tim honors my time and values me. This is a remarriage for both of us and we want to do it right the second time around. Since we have three kids, we make sure we go out for a quiet dinner or long walk alone at least once a week. I also go out with my friends at least once a month.”

 6 Ways to make small gestures count in your marriage:

  •  Look for ways to lower each other’s stress: Problems at work, financial pressures, or family drama can all push a couple apart. Couples who can respond to each other’s stress in a way that is soothing rather than in a way that exacerbates it tend to be able to weather the tenser times. Offer to give your partner a back rub or make them a cup of tea. Dr. John Gottman suggests that you have a 20 minutes stress-relieving conversation in the evening when you don’t try to solve problems but take turns listening and offering support.
  • Spend 5-10 minutes doing things to show love and kindness to your partner. Examine the schedules of family members and determine whether there is a reliable time that you can spend time alone with your partner. It may require altering work schedules to the extent that it is possible. Focus on each other, offer physical affection and really listen to each other. Often even devoting five to ten minutes to each other can strengthen your bond.
  • Carve out time for daily rituals to do with your partner. For instance, 15 minutes to debrief your day when you first arrive home, waking early to cuddle, and showering or bathing together. Consider eating one meal a day without screen time to enhance communication.
  • Develop strategies for intentional communication and repair of ruptures or conflicts. Strive to have a loving dialogue about perpetual conflicts and agree to compromise on those that aren’t easily resolved. Look for win-win solutions when possible so you can both get some (but not all) of your needs met.
  • Help one another out: This can include helping your significant other make plans, complete tasks, achieve goals or manage their time. These positive actions can lead to interdependence, as partners begin to coordinate their behavior to try to bring their long-term bigger goals to fruition.
  • Dream and plan together – look into your future and envision your dreams while staying focused on the present and your time together.

In The Relationship Cure, Dr. John Gottman suggests that you have a 20 minutes stress-relieving conversation in the evening when you don’t try to solve problems but take turns listening and offering support.

Alana reflects: “I never realized the importance of spending time alone with Tim until he went on a business trip last year. We really missed our time together and found out that absence really does make the heart grow fonder.”

It would be easy for Alana and Tim to neglect time alone together – without their children. Alana’s three children (all under age twelve) live with them and Tim’s two college age daughters are often home on weekends and during winter and summer breaks. However, Alana and Tim embrace the notion that in order for their second marriage to thrive they need to pay attention to each other on a regular basis.

Alana shares: “It’s kind of like tending to my garden, if I don’t pay attention to it, my plants with wither and die. I don’t want this marriage to fail like my first one did due to lack of nourishment because Tim and I have the potential for an amazing long-lasting love.”

Alana leans her head on her palm and reflects: “Before I met my life partner, I had almost given up on finding one. I convinced myself that different people in my life combined would fill the void: one man as my lover, one as my friend, one being the father of my children, and so on. Thankfully, I always had loving friends, community and my family. But, with the people in my life filling different needs, I began to believe that there could be more. I was missing a different type of love than the one I have for my children and family, and it was the type of love I had yet to feel.”

Most of all, never underestimate the power of intentional time with your partner. Doing fun things together like going for walks or riding a bike can bring joy and laughter. Telling jokes, watching funny movies, or anything else that brings you both pleasure can ignite passion and keep you connected. In order to feel alive in your marriage or remarriage, you need to put effort into spending quality time together – with and without your children.

Find Terry on Twitter, Facebook, and, movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s award-winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship was published by Sourcebook is 2016. Her new book The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around was published by Sounds True in 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,” a “You” statement that sparks her defensiveness.

In intimate relationships, 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:

  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 gentler 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.”

Since we all have flaws, give your partner the benefit of the doubt rather than attacking him or her 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.

Find Terry on Twitter, Facebook, and, movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s award-winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website. Her new book The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around was published by Sounds True on February 18, 2020.


3 Ways to Destress When Going Through a Divorce

Divorce is, perhaps, one of the most difficult things you can go through in life. It’s a harbinger of enormous change for you and your family. For many, it’s also fraught with hurt, anger, and sadness.

As such, divorce can be an extremely stressful experience. Studies show that 10-15% of people struggle substantially with the process, and that this struggle may lead to adverse health risks and even a higher mortality rate.

If you’re looking to lower your stress levels while going through a divorce, read on for our 3 favorite ways to destress.

1. Try to Sleep

One of the most common reactions to stress is sleeplessness. Racing thoughts and overwhelming feelings take control of the brain, keeping people up at all hours of the night.

One of the most challenging things about sleeplessness is that it can quickly turn into a cycle. Exhausted people resort to extra caffeine to stay alert throughout the day, or throw off their sleep schedule with naps. As such, the sleeplessness continues. In fact, over time people who are sleep deprived can develop a sleep debt and this makes it harder and harder for them to catch up on their sleep.

Unfortunately, the effects of lack of sleep can be dire. In the short term, sleeplessness can lead to memory loss, slower cognitive abilities, and slow reaction time. In the long term, sleeplessness can lead to high blood pressure and subsequent health issues.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, there are many steps you can take to improve your sleep hygiene. Turn all electronics off at least 30 minutes before bed. Consider incorporating a sleep supplement into your bedtime routine. A nighttime CBD supplement like CBD vape juice to help you sleep can be a lifesaver.

2. Practice Meditation

Meditation is an ancient practice that dates back at least 7,000 years. While it originated as a part of religious life for many Eastern religions, it’s now a common practice in Western society.

In meditation, practitioners practice deep breathing while sitting in a relaxed position. Some choose to utter a single word, such as “Om”, while others opt for a guide to talk them to the process. During meditation, people learn to acknowledge their thoughts without getting carried away with them. Through this, they learn to let stress go and feel more relaxed while breathing deeply.

It’s no wonder that meditation has become such a critical part of so many people’s daily life. Meditation trains people to acknowledge stressful situations without getting consumed by them. In addition, the deep breathing techniques used trigger the body’s relaxation response, imparting a sense of calm.

Meditation seems intimidating, but it’s actually quite simple. All you need is a quiet space and a comfortable place to sit. Set a 5-minute timer and focus on your breath. If you’d prefer a guided meditation, you can find free guided meditations online or in the app store.

3. Find a Therapist

There are some things in life that you shouldn’t go through alone; divorce is one of those. Divorce can be a traumatic and emotional experience. If you’re feeling a high degree of stress from your divorce, it’s a sign that you could use help processing your divorce and learning coping skills such as developing a new support network.

There are a few different types of therapy that you may want to seek during divorce. For one, you can attend individual therapy to help with your stress, anxiety, and sadness. A therapist can also help you with goal setting and more.

If you have children, you may also want to seek family therapy. Divorce can cause emotional strain on the entire family. Children and teenagers may feel sadness, abandonment, confusion, and guilt. Family therapy can allow for an open forum in which children can share their feelings and alleviate the some of the pain associated with their parents’ split.

Lastly, couples therapy can be a huge help for a divorcing couple. It can be a safe place where you can set guidelines and learn how this new life will work. It can also lead to an easier and more amicable divorce.

If you’d like to find a therapist, there are a number of different ways to do so. You can ask your primary care physician for a referral to a therapist, or you can ask your child’s primary care physician for a referral if you’re seeking family therapy. You can also use online directories to find a reputable and reviewed therapist. If you’re seeking virtual therapy, you can also do so online or through a number of different apps in the app store.

While divorce is an experience that affects all aspects of your life,  it does not have to define you as a person in a negative way. In fact, you can recover more quickly if you use strategies such as seeking the help of a skilled therapist, practicing better sleep hygiene, and using methods such as meditation to relax and reduce stress.

By Alycia Coloma

4 Ways You Can Be The Parent Your Kids Need Post-Divorce

By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC

Divorce can be devastating when you’re a parent. You can’t just crawl into a hole and grieve, rant or rage. You must still care for the well-being of your children. And sometimes this is a challenge that overwhelms, resulting in parents who can’t cope with the responsibilities of parenting. When this happens, your children pay a high price. And too often, the parents aren’t totally aware of how their kids are being affected.

It’s not always easy to remember that your children may be grieving as deeply as you are during and after divorce. Consider this: It may be even more frightening for them because they were not responsible for the decision. Nor do they understand the complex dynamics that led up to the split. Children’s fears are compounded by apprehension about whether either of their parents will ever divorce them. They also worry about what will happen to them and their family in the future.

As dramatically as your life has been altered, remember, so too has theirs.

Don’t let your kids confuse sadness for rejection!

In their innocence children often mistake their parent’s grief as rejection. They see changes in Mom and Dad’s behavior, attention and state of mind. But they don’t always understand the depth of pain their parents are experiencing and how it can affect their day-to-day parenting. Most kids can pick up on when you are sad. But they may not always comprehend that your emotional pain is keeping you from being with them in the warm ways you were in the past. When you’re not in the mood to play with them, prepare dinner or help with homework, they may simply feel rejected. Or they may believe you don’t love them anymore.

Due to their lack of sophistication, children often fail to understand that your being upset about the divorce may be affecting your parenting behavior. They may question why you’re not as attentive. Or wonder whether your sadness is their fault. Or worry that you’re angry with them for loving their other parent. This can create emotional instability and deep anxiety for some children who don’t have words to express their feelings.

Be the parent your kids know and need!

Here are some suggestions for helping children adjust to the complex emotional changes in family life due to the divorce.

  1. Be generous with your affection: Even if you can’t be “yourself” regarding activities you used to do with the kids, always offer a hug and a smile. A few minutes of cuddle time or kind words of affection will remind them that they’re still loved and important to you.
  2. Be discreet when you need to emote: There’s a time for raging, hitting pillows and venting to your friends. But it’s not when the kids are within earshot. When you need to express your grief, find a place away from the children. Remember, you don’t want to deprive them of their childhood nor make them your confidant or therapist!
  3. Be sincere about your feelings: When you’re overwhelmed with sadness around the kids, be honest. But also be clear that it’s not their fault. Say something like “I’m feeling sad and don’t feel like playing right now. It’s nothing you’ve done. I hope to be feeling better a little later, okay?”
  4. Be receptive to professional help: Having a trusted support system can make all the difference in helping you cope with your divorce. Find a therapist, divorce coach or support group specializing in coping skills for parents. Their insights will help you move through the transitions ahead while being there for your children. Also consider professional resources for your kids. Ask at their schools about programs and professionals who specialize in divorce recovery.

Free Divorce Resources for Parents in January!

January is International Child-Centered Divorce Month. Download free ebooks, coaching services and other free gifts for divorcing and divorced parents all month long. Learn more at https://www.childcentereddivorce.com/international-child-centered-divorce-month-2021/

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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


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© All rights reserved. Rosalind Sedacca




5 Reasons Why It’s Not a Good Idea to Keep Secrets

By Terry Gaspard, LICSW

When people keep secrets from their partner they often rationalize their behavior to themselves and others.  Usually, they lack confidence in their ability to confront unpleasant topics – such as money troubles, or issues related to past or present errors in judgment or mistakes. They simply don’t trust their partner enough to believe that he or she will be there for them if they’re vulnerable and tell the truth. In reality, keeping secrets from your partner is a form of betrayal and signifies a toxic relationship.

I used to believe that a breach of trust was something that couples could bounce back from quickly but I’ve gained insight about the ways this isn’t usually the case. For instance, most marriages don’t survive big betrayals or even a series of smaller ones. My current view is that finding healthy ways to be vulnerable, express your thoughts and feelings, and be honest with your partner, is the best way to build a trusting relationship. Vulnerability is the glue that holds a relationship together over the long run.

But is lying by omission or keeping a secret the same as lying? First, you want to consider how your partner would view your secret if he or she found out and you failed to tell them about it. Also, if you feel guilty or uneasy about not disclosing information to him or her, it’s a red flag you need to be honest or forthcoming about something you’ve kept a secret.

For instance, Claire neglected to inform her husband Jake that she had an emotional affair with Ryan, a male co-worker, and that it lasted a few years.  At times, she would confide in Ryan and fantasize about having sex with him daily. She explains: “I didn’t really see a reason to tell Jake because we just had lunch together but looking back it was bad for my marriage. I see now that I was becoming more emotionally detached from Jake and we stopped having sex and being intimate. But I just didn’t want him to judge me harshly or leave because he is very jealous and possessive.”

When I attempted to explore with Claire the reasons why honesty is essential to a trusting relationship, she put it this way: “I guess I never saw myself as being dishonest but I do feel guilty.” At this point, I asked her to consider that mistrust erodes the quality of any relationship and that keeping crucial information secret from Jake isn’t a way to build trust and intimacy with him. During our sessions, Claire realized that keeping secrets is a form of self-sabotage because she loves Jake and wants to build a future with him and keeping secrets was driving a wedge between them.

Like Claire, many of my clients tell me they keep secrets from their partner because they believe telling the truth will make things worse. Or they’ve convinced themselves that their significant other simply can’t handle the truth and might abandon them. While it is true that some partners will feel angry, hurt, and betrayed when they learn their love interest has done something unacceptable to them, honestly confronting issues is the best way to foster trust and intimacy with a partner.

In fact, recent research shows that one in five people are keeping a major secret, such as infidelity or money troubles, from their spouse in Brittan. Surprisingly, a quarter of respondents in this study said they kept this secret for more than twenty-five years. Further, one in four of those people who kept a secret in this study said that it was so big; they worried that it would destroy their marriage. Common secrets reported include money troubles, viewing pornography, and various forms of betrayal such as infidelity.

When your partner withholds important information from you regardless of their reasons, it’s normal to feel betrayed. Experts agree that trust can be easily broken and hard to repair.  For many people any form of deceit can be a deal breaker.  For example, Karen, a thirty-nine year old teacher explains: “Trust is a huge issue for me. It takes a lot to rebuild my trust and if it’s broken, there’s a chance it may not be earned back.”  Karen is a daughter of divorce who watched both her father and step-father betray her mother – leaving her without crucial financial supports.

According to author Kristen Houghton, relationships are made up of many components and people will put up with many quirks to keep a relationship going. How much will you put up with before throwing in the towel when you feel betrayed?  Houghton writes: “But if you are consistently made to feel uncomfortable or uneasy because you feel as if you cannot trust your partner, then making the decision not to take him or her back is the logical one for you. Life needs quality and a sense of security.” In other words, by keeping secrets or lying to your partner, you run the risk that you will lose their trust and put your relationship in jeopardy.

5 reasons why it’s a not a good idea to keep secrets:

  1. Keeping secrets is the same thing as being dishonest. Honesty is always the best policy and most of us have a moral code which tells us that keeping secrets is akin to lying. For most of us, being dishonest is only acceptable when we are in dire straits – like trying to save someone’s life. Yet some people rationalize that they need to keep secrets or their relationship will end.
  2. Often keeping secrets creates more problems in a relationship. The more time that passes, the harder it is to fess up. When people keep secrets or tell lies, they often have to tell other lies to cover up the first lie. They dig deeper and deeper into a hole of dishonesty.
  3. Keeping major secrets is a form of deceit and it breeds mistrust. Further, once a person loses trust, it is hard to regain it – especially for those who have been betrayed by a parent or former romantic partner or spouse.
  4. Keeping secrets is a hotbed for betrayal. Leaving out important facts can lead to further deception or betrayal, according to author Lisa Firestone. Whereas being open with your partner will promote trust and honest communication.
  5. People are hurt by secrets and lies and this can destroy a relationship. It’s hard to feel emotionally connected to someone when you catch them in a lie or find out that they’ve kept a secret from you.

Mistrust is a lingering feeling in the back of your mind that your partner does not truly love you, or may abandon you. So much about trust is walking the talk. Your partner may tell you he/she loves you, but do his/her actions support that? All too often, when people aren’t feeling safe enough in a relationship to be honest and open with their partner, it’s because they don’t believe that their partner truly loves them or they are overly protective of their own interests.

Let’s end on the words of Dr. John Gottman: “Despite how dangerous and widespread betrayal is, I can offer couples hope. By analyzing the anatomy of this poison, I have figured out how to defeat it. I now know that there is a fundamental principle for making relationships work that serves as an antidote to unfaithfulness. That principle is trust.”

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 and can be pre-ordered here.
  • This blog was posted previously on this website.

7 Ways to Cultivate Love in Your Life

Most of us seek someone to love or to love us. We don’t think about cultivating self-love or realize that love originates within. You may be seeking a relationship, but research suggests that singles are actually happier than married people, with the exception of happily married people. But even that dwindles over time. A new study shows that on average, after the first year, spouses return to their baseline state of happiness prior to the marriage. Thus, similar to the conclusions reached in the studies done on lottery winners, after marriage and after winning, we eventually return to how happy we are as individuals.

Thus, our self-esteem matters. Research has well-established that it’s a big factor in the health and happiness in marriage. In fact the level of our self-esteem before the relationship can predict its longevity. Low self-esteem can prevent us from reaping the rewards of love in a relationship.

We think about ourselves based on things we were told, incorrect inferences, and false beliefs informed by trauma and the parenting we received. These learned beliefs, defenses, and habits are not who we are, not our natural, true self. How can we reclaim it?

Cultivating Love

Cultivating self-love is a worthwhile endeavor for ourselves and to have happier relationships. Science has shown these remarkable benefits associated with love:
• Better stress management
• Better sleep
• Better heart health
• Longer lives
• Improved self-esteem
• Greater happiness
• Lowered risk of depression

We are all born innocent and worthy of love. Our flaws, mistakes, and things that happened to us affect us, but are not who we are inherently. Once we understand this, we can begin changing our self-concept and nurturing our real self.

Your mind is a garden, your thoughts are the seeds.
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.

Love is like a garden we need to fertilize and cultivate. To fully give and receive love, we must first pull the weeds that sabotage it. We ward off invading pests in the form of toxic relationships, and welcome animals that protect and help our garden grow.


What we resist persists. When we don’t accept ourselves, we strengthen a negative self-concept. Low self-esteem is self-reinforcing, making change and self-acceptance difficult. Paradoxically, when we accept our shortcomings, it’s easier to let them go.
Self-acceptance is greater than self-esteem, and self-acceptance paves the way for self-love. It means honoring and accepting all of ourselves, including our shortcomings, appearance, our mistakes, and feelings. Learn to stop self-criticism and Raise Your Self-Esteem.


What we did is not who we are. Staying in self-blame and self-condemnation is harmful. On the other hand, guilt can motivate us to change and reach out to others. Great healing is possible with confession, self-forgiveness, and amends. Overcoming guilt releases us from the past and the person we once were. It paves the way for transformation, wholeness, self-respect, and self-love

Love is indivisible. It’s difficult to love ourselves when we harbor hatred toward someone else. Moreover, resentment toward ourselves or others keeps us stuck. When we forgive others, we feel freer and better about ourselves. Similarly, as we develop self-compassion and forgive ourselves, we’re more accepting and compassionate toward others. There are specific steps and stages in forgiveness. Follow them in Freedom from Guilt and Blame: Finding Self-Forgiveness.


After pulling the weeds, we must nourish our garden with self-appreciation. Our mind does not distinguish between praise coming from others or our own words and thoughts. Do you focus on your shortcomings and deny or take for granted your positive attributes? Inventory your strengths, accomplishments, loving qualities, acts of courage, and your desire to give, love, and grow. Practice appreciating yourself and others. Each day write three things you did well and qualities about yourself that you or other people appreciate. Focus on the positive, rather than the negative. It takes time and consistency to replace bad habits with life-affirming ones.


Whether due to growing up in a dysfunctional family system or trauma later in life, when we deny painful emotions, we actually block positive ones as well. When we block pain, we can’t feel joy. We close our hearts and numb ourselves. Repressing feelings is a form of rejecting ourselves that can lead to depression and can cause poor health and disease. We grow self-love when we express our feelings, needs, and wants. Negative feelings dissolve, and positive ones multiply. We’re liberated and have more energy to move forward.

Loving actions

When we ignore, hide, or discount our needs and wants, we become irritable, resentful, and unhappy. But fulfilling our needs and wants is an act of self-love that lifts our spirits. It’s a key to happiness that calms and revitalizes us. Conversely, when we act in ways contrary to our values, such as lying or stealing, we undermine our self-worth. Doing esteemable acts raises our self-esteem. We’re able to hold our head up and feel deserving of respect and love. Do random acts of kindness you can add to your “did well” list.

Practice gratitude

Gratitude is a high vibration that opens our hearts. It’s been scientifically proven to be healing. Practice gratitude by looking for things in your life and in the world to be grateful for – even when you don’t feel it. Write a daily grateful list, and read it to someone.

Self-love visualizations

You can enhance love with visualization. Breathe in and out of the center of your chest. Imagine it opening like a door or flower. Picture pink or green light flowing in and out as you breathe. Focus on beauty and things you’re grateful for. Say loving affirmations. (Listen to my Self-Love Mediation.) Send this love to those you care about, to yourself, to those in need, and to the planet.

The above steps open your heart. Practice expressing love and compassion in all aspects of your life to experience greater peace and joy. Learn more self-nurturing tips.

© 2020 Darlene Lancer All Rights Reserved

Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT

Author of Codependency for Dummies and Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You


10 Steps to Self-Esteem

Dealing with a Narcissist: 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People

How To Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits and webinar How to Be Assertive

Breakup Recovery

“I’m Not Perfect – I’m Only Human” – How to Beat Perfectionism

Spiritual Transformation in the Twelve Steps

Freedom from Guilt and Blame – Finding Self-Forgiveness

Codependency’s Recovery Daily Reflections

How to Raise Your Self-Esteem

Self-Love Meditation

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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!

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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