Monday, 31 July 2017

24 Ridiculous Divorce Lies You Should Never EVER Believe!

The biggest lies you've heard about divorce recovery... debunked!

Maybe "lies" is a bit strong; maybe the words "myths" or "stories" work better. Regardless, there is a lot of pervasive misinformation (and bad advice) about divorce out there. So I'm here to help debunk it—because divorce is hard enough without accidently making it even harder.

I've seen so many people suffer needlessly when trying to recover from their divorce as a result of believing these untruths; if you're starting over again, don't let these lies influence you.

I also suffered from divorce recovery lies when I divorced. I believed the notion that all divorces are basically the same AND that I'd get over my divorce more quickly if I didn't think about it or allow myself to feel much anger about it.

I believed that if I started dating, it meant I must be over my divorce. I didn't understand that those were such false misconceptions. But I learned—the hard way. I don't want that to happen to you. There is no one way divorce "should" go. So here are the most false ideas about divorce out there. Don't let these "lies" limit you, your healing, or your truth:

1. All divorces are basically the same. Divorces are all different. Laws vary depending on where you live. Your marriage was not like anyone else's marriage because you and your ex-spouse are two unique individuals. Your divorce will be just as unique as you are.

There might be similarities between your divorce and someone else's that you can use to help with your divorce recovery, but it won't be the same.

2. It takes one year for every four years of marriage to get over your divorce. False.
From my experience as a divorce coach, everyone is different and requires a different amount of time to recover from their divorce. Some people who stayed married for years find it fairly easy to get through their divorce recovery, and others never do.

What I believe is that it depends on how much effort you're willing to invest in yourself and moving on with your life, as to how quickly you'll start to feel better again.

3. Everyone going through divorce has the same emotions in the same order. This is just so wrong. There are similarities to the emotions that people experience when dealing with divorce recovery, but everyone experiences them in a different order, in different intensities, and for different durations.

4. The pain of divorce decreases linearly over time. For most people, the pain of divorce is more cyclical than linear. At first the emotions of divorce are intense and change rapidly, but over time they tend to decrease in intensity and variety. Flare-ups occur at any time after they've decreased.

5. Once you think you're over your divorce, it never comes up again.As I mentioned in the discussion about the previous lie, the painful emotions of divorce can flare up after you think the worst is over. The times when people might see a flare up are at the holidays, anniversaries, or other special occasions, but not everyone does.

6. Your family members will always help you as you go through divorce. As much as I wish this wasn't a lie, it is. It's not so much a lie because you can't count on your family, but because most families don't know how to help you get through divorce ... unless you're getting through it exactly as they expect you to.

So, although most people can count on their families for help, they won't always provide the exact help you need and want, when you need and want it.

7. It's not OK to feel sorry for yourself. Now, I'm not advocating becoming a puddle of self-pity, but it's OK to feel bad for yourself when you're going through a divorce. The hopes, dreams, and expectations you had when you got married won't come true.

Most people experience grief when that happens. It's OK for you to feel some sadness for yourself; however, if that's the only thing you're feeling, you might want to reach out to someone and get more support to heal.

8. You'll get over your divorce quicker if you just avoid thinking about it. Stuffing your thoughts and feelings about your divorce is not the best answer. When I did this, I wound up with health problems, including anorexia and anxiety attacks. So, at least in my case, trying to ignore what was going on actually made things worse.

9. You should feel really angry at your ex. Most people feel anger at their ex at some point during their divorce, but it's not a requirement. There are examples of people who get divorced and actually gain the ability to communicate with each other.

I have some neighbors who are recently divorced; they went through a period of intense anger, but now communicate better than in the marriage.

10. Everyone gets depressed when they go through divorce. Most people experience sadness (sometimes intense sadness) when they get divorced, but sadness is not synonymous with depression.

11. If you haven't been married for very long, you should get over it quicker than someone who remained married for many years. There really are no rules about how long it takes you to get over divorce. I know of one woman whose husband asked for a divorce after nine months of marriage. Devastated, it took her about a year to get over the grief.

I know of another woman married for about a year and got divorced, but she was over it within a couple of months. I also know of people married for 10+ years who were over their divorce before the decree finalized.

12. There's a reason there's no divorce ritual/celebration or marriage funeral—they aren't needed. Despite the fact that for every two marriages in the US this year there will be approximately one divorce, divorce is still looked at as a process that isn't something to celebrate or recognize. Maybe we consider it too personal.

For many people, having public recognition of the fact that the marriage is over is extremely helpful in putting an end to the marriage and a beginning to a newly single life.

13. The intensity and length of your anger, depression, and loneliness are directly proportional to how invested you were in your marriage.Bull. The intensity and length of your emotions is directly proportional to your ability to accept and work through them.

14. There is something wrong with you if you feel like part of you died when your marriage ended. It's pretty common to feel like part of you died when your marriage ends. The part of you that was the spouse in your marriage is no more, and it's OK to grieve the loss of that role.

15. Every divorce attorney only has their client's best interests at heart.How I wish this wasn't a lie. Unfortunately, it is. Just like in any profession, there are good ones and not so good ones. Having an attorney who truly does have your best interests at heart can make your divorce recovery that much easier, as you're not as stressed about the legalities of your divorce.

16. You attorney is also going to help you recover from your divorce.As caring and supportive as your attorney might be, they probably aren't the best-equipped to help you recover from your divorce. However, they probably have a great referral or two for you to get the help you deserve.

17. Everyone takes anti-depressants when they get divorced. This is like when we were teenagers and told our parents that everyone else was doing it, so we needed to do it, too. 
It's just not true that everyone needs anti-depressants when they get divorced.
In my opinion, we've normalized depression and are ready to take a pill for a "quick fix," instead of really exploring what's going on.

18. Your ex is the reason your marriage failed. Even if your ex behaved in a way that necessitated your divorce, you still played some small role in the failure of the marriage. Even if that role was only agreeing to the marriage, the faster you come to terms with your part in the end of the marriage, the faster you'll be able to recover from your divorce.

19. You should feel really sad when you get divorced. You might feel sad, you might feel relieved, you might feel angry, OR you might feel some other emotion. There's no rule that says the only emotion you should feel during divorce is sadness.

20. You don't need any time to adjust to your newly single life; you should continue doing everything you were doing before just fine. The truth is that for most people, getting divorced is stressful. Any added stress makes doing what you've always done much more difficult. So please, be gentle with yourself when you're going through divorce and allow extra time to take care of YOU.

21. You should start dating right away. Not everyone feels ready to date when they get divorced. There's no reason that you must start dating right away. Take your time and you'll know when you're ready to date.

22. The sooner you get into another relationship, the faster you'll get over your divorce. This works for a few people, but most people need to have a little bit of time to get to know themselves again before jumping into a new relationship.

23. Getting divorced means you are a failure. Getting divorced only means that your marriage didn't work out. It doesn't necessarily mean anything about you as a person.

24. Your friends will always support you. This is another one I wish wasn't on this list of lies. Your friends will support you to the best of their ability. Unfortunately, for some, they might not have any ability to support you. The thing to remember is that they're behaving in ways that make the most sense to them, not necessarily in ways that make the most sense to you.

Be honest, how many of lies on this list do you believe? If you're like most people I work with, you probably believe most of them. Heck, I believed most of them when I got divorced.
So, here's your functional divorce assignment:

Which of the lies were you surprised to see on the list? Most of us don't realize that what we, and those around us, believe about divorce isn't true.

What beliefs do you have about divorce that you now wonder are lies?It's common for lists like the one above to trigger other thoughts about what other lies it should include. Here's your chance to explore some of your beliefs about divorce and decide if you still want to believe them or not.

How has reading this article changed your thoughts about your divorce recovery? When I share these fallacies about divorce with my clients, their first response is denial that they believe any of the lies. Then, when we dig a bit deeper, they recognize they might have bought into one or two of them. Once they make that discovery, we're able to directly address some of the obstacles they've had, and they're able to get through the remainder of their divorce recovery much quicker.


Sunday, 30 July 2017

Toxic Relationships

Sometimes you can see a toxic relationship heading your way like a bullet train and at other times they creep up on you so slowly you are unaware you are in one until it’s nearly impossible to get out. Most of us have experienced – or are currently in – one or more toxic relationships. We question how they can be avoided and maybe even if we are the toxic person. We may also ponder why, after experiencing past negative toxic relationships before, we continue to draw them into our lives, or why we are continually vulnerable to their lure by Mr. or Ms. Toxic Agent.

The many faces of toxic relationships

Toxic relationships have many faces; they pop up in both our personal (parent-child, siblings, friendships) and occupational (supervisor-employee, coworkers) lives. You know the type – you lend a family member money, or a co-worker your car; or you care for their children while they go on vacation hoping they will one day return the favor. Unfortunately the toxic person doesn’t pay you back, returns your car damaged with no offer to repair it and asks you to watch their children again next vacation without ever offering to watch yours. It doesn’t happen once, it happens repeatedly in different forms. You feel hurt, taken advantage of and angry – at the offender and yourself. Bottom line is: you are consistently being brought down. You feel “used.”

Past negative time perspective and the toxic relationship
The tendency to unconsciously seek out toxic relationships frequently starts with past negative experiences when we are children and might carry on throughout our lives. They can become so deeply ingrained in the way we think and feel that we don’t realize we are steeped in toxicity until—or hopefully when- someone else points it out. The toxic person in our lives (and maybe it’s us), is generally concerned about themselves and their needs; the relationship is classic codependent. The worse form is when that other is your partner or mate, supposedly there forever!

How so?

Generally in a toxic relationship you don’t bring up how you feel; maybe you don’t want the person to be angry because they hold some sort of power over you, or you are holding on to the dream that one day they will wake up, realize their transgressions and make good. And if you do mention their offense, it’s likely to be a backhanded use of passive-aggressive behavior that only you recognize—so it is ineffectual in changing anything for the better. In a follow up column we’ll delve into passive aggressive behavior and time perspectives. But for purposes of this column, we’ll use the following examples of weenie retaliation in toxic relationships:

What you say: “Wish I had the money to fill in the blank, but I don’t.” (present-centered)

What you meant: “Because you never paid me back that money I lent you!” (past negative)

What you say: “Know of a good auto insurance company because my insurance premium just went up.” (present-centered)

What you meant: “Because you crashed my car and wouldn’t own up to it!” (past negative)

What you say: “We can’t go on that couples retreat because we can’t find a babysitter.” (future negative)

What you meant: “We watched your kids for two weeks but you won’t even offer to watch ours for two days!” (past negative/future negative)

Again, unfortunately, you wish they would pick up on the faux pas but they act like they don’t know what you are talking about. Here are examples of what you might have said to help correct the situation:

“Hey, I think it’s a good idea for us to set up a plan for you to pay back that money I lent you; unless you have it now.”

“How are you planning on paying for the damage to my car?”

“We are wondering if you could watch our kids for a couple of days so we can go on a couples’ retreat. We’d really appreciate it.”

You will open a dialogue to a possible resolution. And if not, you’ll know for sure where you stand in the relationship and make future positive plans to move on.

Five signs you’re in a toxic relationship

In our research for this column, we discovered that author Yvette Bowlin  distilled the myriad indicators of toxic relationships into the following five signs:

1. It seems like you can’t do anything right– The other person constantly puts you down as not good enough. They mock your personality, and you feel ashamed most of the time. You only feel pardoned when you take on the traits of the person doing the condemning or judging.

2. Everything is about them and never about you – You have feelings too, but the other person won’t hear them. You’re unable to have a two-sided conversation where your opinion is heard, considered, and respected. Instead of acknowledging your feelings, they battle with you until they get the last word.

3. You find yourself unable to enjoy good moments with this person – Every day brings another challenge. It seems as though they are always raising gripes about you. Their attempt to control your behavior is an attempt to control your happiness.
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4. You’re uncomfortable being yourself around that person – You don’t feel free to speak your mind. You have to put on a different face just to be accepted by that person. You realize you don’t even recognize yourself anymore.

5. You’re not allowed to grow and change – Whenever you aim to grow and improve yourself, the other person responds with mockery and disbelief. There is no encouragement or support for your efforts. Instead, they keep you stuck in old judgments insisting that you will never be any different than you are now.

If you’re experiencing even just one of these signs, check in with yourself to see if the relationship is doing more damage than good.

Five steps to end a toxic relationship

So how do we get out of toxic relationships? We’ve pared down Borchard’s steps to ending toxic relationships and put our time perspective spin on them:

1. Step out of denial (review past negative behaviors) - Are you energized or drained after spending time with X? Do you want to spend time with X or do you feel like you have to? Do you feel sorry for X? Do you go to X looking for a response that you never get? Do you come away consistently disappointed by X’s comments and behavior? Are you giving way more to the relationship than X? Do you even like X?

2. Identify the perks (discover how you feel in the present) - All relationships, even toxic ones, have hidden benefits. Or why would you stay in them? So identify the perks. Determine what, specifically, you are getting from this relationship. Does X make you feel attractive and sexy? Does helping X with her kids even though it exhausts you relieve your guilt in some twisted way because you feel like your life is easier than hers? Even though X doesn’t treat you well, does she remind you of your verbally abusive mom, and therefore bring you a (toxic) comfort level?

3. Fill the hole (practice selected present hedonism) - Find alternative sources of peace and wholeness - nourish yourself. In other words, do things that make you feel better and in ways so that you don’t have to rely on others. For instance, revisit that project you put on the back burner, learn meditation or yoga, call friends, and remind yourself that you won’t feel this way (sad, angry, upset) forever.

4. Surround yourself with positive people (be pro-social) – Hopefully these folks are working on their boundaries as hard as you are; they aren’t enmeshed in their fair share of toxic relationships and therefore become somewhat toxic themselves. The stuff is contagious. Be smart with whom you choose to hang out.

5. Heal the shame (replace past negative with a bright future positive) – Work toward healing the part of yourself that may be attracting toxic relationships. This may mean exploring past toxic relationships, forgiving yourself for the part you played and realizing that you deserve the right kind of love and attention in order to create a brighter future for yourself.

Let go of the negative past and give love permission to enter your life

Let go of toxic relationships – the past negative people - and experiences and focus on the good things – the past positive experiences; makes plans for a brighter future, and live a fulfilling and more meaningful present.

We leave you with one of our favorite quotes:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you make them feel.”
by Maya Angelou.


Saturday, 29 July 2017

Isolation: Why Everyone Who Goes Through a Divorce Experiences it

Personal isolation is common because people need time to heal, reflect, and rediscover who they are.

Isolation is being or remaining alone, detached, or apart from others. Unfortunately, isolation is not detached or apart from divorce, the two are very much connected. There are many reasons for this that I would like to explore. First, let’s talk about the four different types of isolation.

Personal: This is not being around people in body, mind, or spirit. People in personal isolation purposefully keep themselves at arms length from others.

Social: This is being around people in body but not in mind or spirit. People in social isolation find themselves in social situations but do not have the energy or strength to embrace it. Our friend in the picture above is suffering from social isolation.

Conflicted: This is being around people in mind or spirit, but not in body. People in conflicted isolation want to be around others but just can’t find the energy or strength to do it.

Forced: This is being isolated by others. People in forced isolation want to interact but are intentionally ignored by others.

Personal isolation is common because people need time to heal, reflect, and rediscover who they are. Meg was married to Joseph for 22 years and was blindsided by the divorce. She really thought she knew her husband, her marriage, and for that matter, herself. All of that ‘knowledge’ went down the drain when he told her that he has not really loved her for that last ten years. This is devastating news and justifiably requires self induced isolation to get her head right before she can get into the social mix in any meaningful way.

Social isolation is common because people cannot stop working. They must go grocery shopping and make the monthly Target run to get the necessities. Sometimes, they are strong armed to be social. None of this means that they are ready to be social and their lack of readiness can be painfully obvious to them and those for whom they come in contact with.

Conflicted isolation is common because people have been away from the social scene in any meaningful way for so long that they want to insert themselves but cannot find the strength or energy to do so. Mandy has been divorced for a little over a year and has done the personal isolation thing. She wants to get out there and reconnect with friends but she psyches herself out every time. To her, there is always a viable reason to just stay in. Of course, in hindsight she continuously kicks herself for missed opportunities. This is a vicious cycle, difficult to stop.

Forced isolation is common because people are judgmental. Was that a blunt enough reason? Good, because it’s true. If a divorcee had mutual friends, some of those friends may very well put them in forced isolation out of spite. If the divorcee is not being strong enough for some peoples taste, some of those people will intentionally ignore them. “God, Erin’s been divorced for 2 years. She needs to get over it!”, says Marla while subsequently refusing to invite Erin over. On a personal note, I once had a friend that was disinvited to a game night because he was “too somber”. She had only been divorced for two months. I just so happened to have become sick (cough cough) and decided to miss the function myself.

There you have it! Three understandable and one egregious reason that isolation is prevalent after a divorce. We are humans and thus we grieve. We emote. We cannot simply pull up our bootstraps two months after a divorce and healthily reattach ourselves to society. It would not end well.

And for those of you that have experienced forced isolation, do yourselves a favor. Lose those ‘friends’ please!


Friday, 28 July 2017

Blaming social media for divorce is shortsighted

Social media has been increasingly blamed for marital disputes and divorce, not only in the UAE but around the world.

A recent US study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, found a link between social media use and decreased marriage satisfaction. Researchers found that the use of social network sites is negatively correlated with marriage quality and happiness and positively correlated with experiencing a troubled relationship and contemplating divorce.

In the UK, reports also say that social networks have become a significant threat to many marriages and a major factor in an increasing number of divorce cases. The law firm Slater and Gordon reported a rise in the number of clients who said that Facebook, Skype, Snapchat, Twitter, Whatsapp or other social media networks had played a part in their divorce.

In China, local lawyers say that popular social networks, such as Alibaba-backed Weibo and Tencent’s WeChat, have been fuelling the rise in the country’s divorce rates, which rose by 3.9 per cent to 3.6 million cases in 2014.

In this country, experts say that the situation is no different. A Dubai psychotherapist, Jared Alden, said in an interview with The National that social media has been one of the major reasons behind relationship problems, with "easily 85 per cent" of the couples who visit him suffering problems that could be related to social networks.

Local statistics across the Emirates show that divorce rates seem to be steadily increasing. The current generation seems to be more willing to file for a divorce than the generations before them. Current divorce rates, experts say, are comparable to Europe but growing faster.

Now the question is: are social networks really a "major reason" in marriage break-ups? Can such a relatively small factor alone lead to such a serious issue like divorce? Or does it only play a part in intensifying existing problems?

Divorce is one of the most complicated social issues. There are both general and specific local causes for high divorce rates.

UAE society is changing as the country develops. It’s true that social media is playing a role in altering young people’s perceptions of marriage, but so is popular culture, education, social interaction, globalisation and many other factors.

There are reasons to believe that social media plays a negative role in relationships. For example, social networks’ addictive qualities can create (or widen an existing) emotional distance between couples. It can also create an environment for misunderstanding or jealousy. It can open doors for comparisons that can lead to marriage dissatisfaction.
But doesn’t all this point to a deeper issue? If the relationship was strong and solid enough, would it be so affected by external factors? All those apparent causes of conflict linked to social media can actually occur offline. Social networks have only made it easier and faster for people to engage in them.

A married person can spend hours on social media websites talking to other people. The same person can also spend hours socialising offline or doing something else, if they are not keen enough to spend the time with their spouse.

Online social networks may help facilitate extramarital affairs by allowing people to connect with other people, including past lovers or people with similar interests, which may cause emotional and physical cheating that lead to divorce. But, again, doesn’t this mean there is already an issue of infidelity or lack of commitment?

What social media sites basically do is provide an environment for individuals in an already fragile or unstable relationships to escape their issues and find an alternative environment or a support system online. This doesn’t necessarily make them a major cause of marital problems.

There are deeper drivers of human and social behaviours that lead to conflict. And because conflict is inevitable in any human relationship, communication is always critical in resolving issues and protecting relationships from reaching a breaking point.

When it comes to Emirati society, it’s important to discuss the effect that arranged marriages have on the sustainability and success of marriage. One can argue that in such marriages, intellectual compatibility, and therefore good communication, between married couples is a matter of luck.

If a marriage is not based on understanding, on the harmonious sharing of thoughts, ideas and opinions and on compromise, the chances that it survives are very slim.

It’s easy to blame social networks for our problems, but it’s hard to dig deeper and try to understand the root causes. The truth is that online social media networks could only be a symptom if the relationship is already ill.


Thursday, 27 July 2017

Conscious uncoupling is more than a celebrity catchphrase: Modern Family

Author and coiner of the “unconscious coupling” catchphrase Katherine Woodward Thomas talks about how to handle divorce with grace and kindness.

I like to refer to my unusual living arrangement as “conscious uncoupling before it was cool.”
Of course that’s a reference to the phrase catapulted into popular lexicon when Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin announced their well-publicized split in 2014.

But I’ve been living next door to the father of my children for six years now, long before the actress and rocker announced their split on Paltrow’s lifestyle website, Goop. It’s a situation that allows our two boys to have plenty of access to both their parents, and it’s how we attempt to have the next-best thing to a happily married life for the sake of the kids — even now that he’s remarried.

The woman who really coined the phrase has been helping people find a peaceful way forward through a popular online course of the same name since 2011.

Bestselling author and marriage and family therapist Katherine Woodward Thomas has just released a book detailing that approach. It’s called Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Even After.

Given my own belief that it’s possible to end a marriage without the kind of harmony-destroying animosity that poisoned earlier generations of divorcees against each other and left their children to bear the weight of that hostility for years to come, I was keen to read the book and speak with Woodward Thomas.
Here’s some of what she had to say.

How did you come up with the term conscious uncoupling?

It actually emerged in a conversation I was having with a friend who had also had a very mindful divorce. He was trying to be very responsible in how he was talking about the end of his marriage. It popped for me. I said to him at that moment, “That’s a book that I need to write.”

It was very heartwarming to me when Gwyneth and Chris used the term and people caught it. The thing that I love about the phrase is that it kind of opens up a whole new paradigm for people. It really names the experience that people like you and I are having in how we’re looking to (divorce), which is very different than maybe our parents’ generation.

What did that look like?

Nobody knew how to divorce then — all that fight-or-flight biology and all that history of the antagonistic legal system was kind of in our DNA and they did it so badly. And you and I have spent so many years on the couch trying to sort through the shrapnel of that. We’re the ones saying, “OK, we’re going to find a better way to do this.”

What do you say to somebody who just can’t see past that blame in order to find a way to be OK for their kids?

You can’t deny those feelings. They’re like tidal waves and they’re big and they’re scary and nothing any of us ever want to feel. But I liken it to planting seeds in your garden. If you indulge the knee-jerk negativity of anger and rage and you lash out and hurt the person you feel hurt by, those are like planting bitter fruits right in your backyard. Those are going to turn into a garden and you’re going to be going to be eating the fruits of whatever garden you plant for many years to come.

So what should you do instead?

Rather than lash out when the impulse strikes, try pressing the pause button instead. Take a deep breath and ask yourself the question, “What am I feeling right now?” See if you can name each feeling one at a time: “I’m sad. I’m humiliated. . . ” Once you put a name to your feelings, they begin to diminish in intensity so that they no longer overwhelm you. This practice will help put you in the driver’s seat so you can choose to respond to whatever is happening in a way that is reflective of the wise, mature adult that you are — with graciousness, goodness and fairness.

In the book you mentioned that it can be a good idea to arrange to meet to clear the air. How does that work?

Each partner offers a sincere apology for behaviour, even if you did not intend it to be hurtful, an open-hearted acknowledgment of the negative impact and a sincere offer to make amends. While it might be challenging to drop your insistent efforts to be understood, taking responsibility in this way can disappear years of resentments in one conversation, and leave everyone free to move forward.

Tips for conscious uncoupling:

Do no harm. “Don’t pick up the phone, don’t send the angry email,” says Woodward Thomas. “There are things that we can do in those moments that we can actually never take back.”

Clear the air. If possible, arrange to chat, not to win an argument or to change anyone’s mind, but to listen to each other state the hurts you’re each still struggling with and to make amends for those.

Speak kindly of one another. It’s tempting to play the victim when relaying your breakup story to others, but doing so diminishes both of you.

Expand instead of divide your family. Give your children a sense that you’re one recalibrated family instead of two separate units they have to switch between. It’s up to the parents to “accomplish the necessary growth and emotional maturation” required.


Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Fighting parents might be more harmful to child development than divorce, study suggests

The damage caused to a child's development during a family breakdown is done before the parents separate, a study suggests.

Researchers at the University of York say children of divorcees are around 30 per cent more likely to have behaviour or emotional issues because of the arguing at home they have witnessed.

The research was based on data from 19,000 children born in the UK in 2000 and looked at 'non-cognitive' skills such as behaviour, emotional issues and interaction with peers.

The findings were presented at the Royal Economic Society's annual conference in Bristol.
The study also found that children of divorce perform about 20 per cent lower for cognitive skills. This gap is largely down to parents' education and finances, the study suggested.

Divorced parents

Gloria Moroni, from the Department of Economics and Related Studies, said: "The main result of my research is that the fact that children of divorced parents have on average lower cognitive and non-cognitive skills compared with children of intact families is not necessarily due to divorce itself.

"Most of the damage is given by pre-divorce circumstances and characteristics of the family.
"For example, parents who decide to divorce may also be lower-educated, may also be poorer, or they may have more conflictual relationships.

Cognitive gaps

She added: "The most interesting thing is that when comparing cognitive and non-cognitive skills, what we find is that cognitive gaps are mainly driven by the fact that parents who decide to divorce are also for example, less educated and have lower financial resources.

"But on the other hand, the non-cognitive gaps are mostly driven by the fact that parents who divorce have more conflictual relationships."

Dr Moroni said that the results suggest that interventions that encourage parents to co-operate, or that make them aware of the negative impact of conflicts on children, could help to close these non-cognitive gaps.


Tuesday, 25 July 2017

The Importance of Persistence and Keeping Going

"It's not that I'm smart, it's that I stay with problems for longer"
- Albert Einstein

Persistence is one trait that can make all the difference to what you achieve and how you work through divorce and yet it can be really hard to harness. When times get tough, keep pushing, keep taking action and believe in the power of your efforts to get the results you deserve.

"Keep the faith. The most amazing things in life tend to happen right at the moment you're about to give up"

Can a Temporary Separation Make a Relationship Stronger?

Living apart for a while could ultimately keep you together for longer.

There are three main reasons why couples separate—as a step in the divorce process; to gain perspective on the marriage; and the one I will focus on in this post, to enhance the marriage.

I am a big believer in the therapeutic value of a separation to strengthen the marriage if it's done in the right way for the right reasons, and if there are clear agreements from the start.
This separation can be done at any time and, indeed, is being done by more and more couples. Yet we still think something is "wrong" if couples live apart, and we usually see separation as something used mostly by couples that have reached the breaking point. 
They have usually tried various other interventions and tactics to get the marriage back on track and are now at a place where there's nothing left to do but split up, physically separate, and, ultimately, divorce.

Rather than a means to an end, however, separation can be a helpful tool to stay together. This seems counterintuitive when a marriage is in trouble and relations are fragile. Most of us believe that when we feel our spouse slipping away from us, we should merge more, get as close as we can, and do more 'to make the marriage work."

The thought of creating distance at such a time instills a great deal of fear of losing control of your spouse and your relationship. This option is especially challenging if the bond between the two of you has been weakened by a betrayed trust. But employed carefully and skillfully (and usually with some type of professional support), this tool can be quite effective in bringing two people closer together.

Guidelines for an Enhancement Separation

Here are some thoughts on how to go about creating your own Enhancement Separation.

Get Third-Party Support. While some couples can do this on their own, I highly recommend seeking out some type of neutral third party to help facilitate this process. It can get tricky, especially if this is being done while there is currently some tension or problems between spouses. This can be a therapist, clergy, mediator, or lawyer.

Set Clear and Reasonable Expectations. Ground rules are a must to maintain a sense of trust between the parties. If one person expects to communicate every day but the other doesn't, this could cause hurt feelings. Knowing what to expect avoids this type of situation.
Know Your Goal. Don't assume that you both have the same goal. You both really need to agree that your intention in living apart is to enhance your marriage. Again, if one spouse thinks the separation is a step in the divorce process but the other thinks it's a temporary "time-out," this can cause a major rift in the trust between the two. Having the same goal in this exercise is particularly important in making it a successful exercise.

Maintain Regular Communication. Having no contact at all for an extended period of time may actually begin to hurt the marital connection. Instead of an "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" mentality, it may end up being, "Out of sight, out of mind."

The average length of an Enhancement Separation is about six months, but some couples have enjoyed it so much, they continue it indefinitely.

Who Should NOT embark on an Enhancement Separation

There are some people for whom this tool will not work. It is crucial that each spouse is honest with themselves and honest with each other about why they are doing this exercise: If you or your spouse is trying to make the splitting up process gentler and easier, this is NOT the tool to use. If you don't intend to stay with your partner, the worst thing you can do is pretend to be interested in working things out.

If you are confused about whether or not you want to stay in the marriage, it's important to state that up front. It's far harder on your spouse's heart if you've led him or her to believe that you will be coming back fully committed to the marriage once the separation is over, only to find out later that you wanted to leave the whole time.

Those who have had repeated breaches in trust, or those who have a hard time trusting, should not try an Enhancement Separation. This exercise requires a great deal of maturity and it can raise more anxiety than it's worth for those who are dishonest or insecure.

An Enhancement Separation can be tapered specifically to your needs and your situation and can be implemented or rescinded at any time.


4 Proven Ways to Overcome Adversity

Does it seem like every challenge that you experience becomes a big headache in your life?

No matter what adverse events you are currently experiencing, there is a purpose behind each one. For most of us, it’s difficult to imagine that losing a child or finding out that you have cancer is a blessing. I know from personal experience.

I was sexually molested and exploited at the age of 18. It took me a while to view it as a learning experience. The way in which you view adversity will either allow you to be set free from the heartache, confusion, guilt, and fear or allow you to be negatively affected in every aspect of your life.

After experiencing an adverse event, you will be at a crossroads. You can either view it as a blessing or allow your past to control the rest of your life.

Here are four proven ways to overcome adversity:

1. Surround yourself with positive people. Be selective with the people you surround yourself with. Indirectly they will affect your mood and your outlook. When you are in an emotional state of mind, it’s important to surround yourself with people who are supportive and encouraging.Human beings conform to those around them. Conformity is the change of behavior caused by another person or group of people. When experiencing adversity, it’s crucial in your development to surround yourself with people who are accepting of your flaws, mistakes, and imperfections. Overcoming adversity can be a challenge; when you have a supportive team helping you move forward, it’s much easier to accept yourself.

2. Write. There is something so peaceful in writing down your thoughts. However short or long your journal entries are, the process of writing down your emotions allows you to reflect.There are many benefits to writing:
  • Allows for self-expression
  • Helps give feedback about your life
  • Allows you to better understand your current situation
  • Allows you to think outside the box
  • Makes you a better philosopher
Writing in a journal once a day can help in you overcome adversity. Whatever emotions, feelings or thoughts come to mind, jot it down. Years from now you’ll be able to reflect and see just how much you have developed.

3. Be in nature. Nature is very therapeutic. Living in a society where we are constantly moving around, we are disconnected from the beauty of nature. Whether it be walking in the park or gardening at home, taking the time to connect yourself with nature is a very healing process.There have been more than 100 research studies that have shown that outdoor activities reduce the level of stress. With adversity comes stress and frustration. Taking the time to be outside is a way for you to nurture your being and allow yourself to take a deep breath and relax. The sun and the air give you a sense of calmness during the face of adversity. Take about 10-20 minutes outside each day and find your stress level decreasing.

4. Start investing in yourself. There is no greater investment than the investment within your own personal development.Experiencing adversity is a great excuse for people not to take charge of their lives. We all face adversity in some way. What makes one individual succeed and another not is how they handle their adversity. Many of us allow challenges to defeat us. What we need to focus on is developing into a stronger and wiser individual because of the challenges. There is no better way to do so than developing your internal world.

Get yourself a library card and start reading self-help books. Take a look at the audio section and find yourself a few audio programs that you would like to listen to in the car. It’s about starting that momentum moving forward rather than backward.

Your adversity is a blessing in disguise. You may not think so at the moment, but it will eventually make you stronger and wiser.

Monday, 24 July 2017

9 Rules to Make Joint Child Custody Work

We asked our experts for their best rules for making shared child custody work for you, your ex, and your kids.

Coordinating schedules. Divvying up holidays. Shuffling kids between houses. Sharing child custody isn't always easy, especially when you're trying to agree with someone you couldn't stand being married to. The good news: "Studies show that shared-custody situations work best when both parents are cooperative, respectful, agree on shared custody, and manage their emotions," says JoAnne Pedro-Carroll, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and author of Putting Children First: Proven Parenting Strategies to Help Children Thrive Through Divorce. "These qualities make it more likely that parents will help their children adjust to family changes." We asked our experts for their best rules for making shared child custody work for you, your ex, and your kids.

Rule #1: Speak no evil.

Expert after expert (most of whom were divorced themselves) repeated this: Don't speak poorly about your ex. "Badmouthing the ex will be internalized by the child because they are made up of both you and your ex," says David Pisarra, fathers' rights attorney at and author of A Man's Guide To Child Custody. "What you say about the ex is what the child will react to, and also think about themselves." Even though you may be pissed at your ex, your child still loves him or her as a parent. Regardless of your feelings about your ex - justified or not - keep them to yourself.

Rule #2: It's not about you.

The divorce was about you, but custody is about the kids. "Divorce causes emotional tunnel vision and people get so focused on their own hurts and needs that they lose sight of the goal of creating a good childhood," Pisarra says. Custody is not about getting exactly what you want, or even demanding equity at any cost. "The hardest part for co-parents is remembering that time with the child is not a prize to be won, but a gift to be cherished," Pisarra says. Shared custody works best when both parents set aside their ego and realize that what is best for the child is not always what feels good for you as a parent."

Rule #3: Be realistic about your own schedule and commitments.

"Often during a separation or divorce, parents make unrealistic custody grabs based on fear or insecurity," says Laura Wasser, a celebrity divorce attorney in Los Angeles and author of the new book It Doesn't Have to Be That Way. Instead, look at custody as a business arrangement. Remove your emotions from the situation and look at the facts.

Rule #4: Choose a custody arrangement that accommodates your children's ages, activities, and needs.

When deciding on a custody arrangement, you'll want to take the following into consideration.
  1. Your children's ages and personalities
  2. Your family schedule
  3. The career and social commitments of each parent
  4. The academic and extracurricular activities to which your children are committed
  5. Your child-care arrangements and the distance between the parents' homes.
Here are three of the most common joint custody arrangements:

  • 2-2-3 plan Monday and Tuesday with Mom, Wednesday and Thursday with Dad, Friday through Sunday with Mom. Then the schedule flips: Monday and Tuesday with Dad, etc.
  • 2-2-5 plan Monday and Tuesday with Mom, Wednesday and Thursday with Dad, and then alternating Friday through Sunday between the parents (one week with Mom, the next with Dad). This schedule often works better when kids are older and have their own schedule of practices, playdates, and obligations.
  • Alternate week plan week 1 with Mom, week 2 with Dad, and so on.
  • Infants usually remain in primary care of the mothers, but toddlers and preschool-age children actually benefit from switching back and forth between households. "Generally, mental health practitioners who specialize in development recommend that for younger children, more frequent transitions actually are beneficial," Wasser says. A 2-2-3 plan allows the child to see both parents regularly. As they get older, kids can graduate to a 2-2-5 arrangement. Then, if it's easier, parents can switch to an alternate week plan."

Rule #5: A bad spouse doesn't equal a bad parent.

Your ex may have dropped the ball and driven you crazy, but Wasser reminds her clients that "even though he or she may not have been a good spouse, it is still possible for him or her to be a good parent." In most case, Wasser says, "it is unquestionably best for children to have frequent and continuous contact with both parents." Your marriage may not have worked, but your parenting can still succeed. "For good or bad, the child wants and needs to feel the love of both of parents," Pisarra says. How to do that? Put the needs and well-being of your children first. "Remember that when the children are with your ex, they are with the one person in the world who loves and cares about them as much as you," Wasser says.

Rule #6: Find an agreeable way to communicate

For joint child custody to work, communication is key. For the sake of your children (and your sanity), you need to find a method of communication that works for you and your ex. "These days we have so many tools with which to organize custody," Wasser says. "There are Google calendars, icalendars, cell phones, texting, and emailing - all which provide parents with the ability to communicate with each other quickly." Pisarra directs his clients to the website, which offers joint calendars, expense logs, common document storage for things like a child's immunization record or school calendar, and a message board that keeps an accurate and non-modifiable record of your communications that can be admitted in court, if disagreements arise.

Rule #7: Pick your battles.

Let's be frank. Parenting is hard enough on its own, and co-parenting adds another layer of complexity. Prevent as many as conflicts as possible with your ex by open communication, but when disagreements do arise, consider if the conflict is truly worth fighting over. "Try to be as rational about your positions as possible and remember that if a judge has to decide it, no one will like the decision most likely" Pisarra advises. "Fight only for the things that are worth fighting for. School choices, vacations, and parenting time are worth the fight. Things like food choices, unless there's a known medical issue like diabetes or food allergies, are not worth the fight." Save your energy and good will with your ex and the courts for those things that do matter.

Rule #8: Let your child feel heard.

A child experiences lots of change during a divorce. Allowing the child to express feelings and confusions about the divorce and custody arrangement can help him feel a sense of control in the midst of all that change. "Children need to have input in the process, and depending on how old they are," Pisarra says. "That can be a simple matter with preteens, or hard to discern with toddlers." Involving your 5-year-old might mean letting him choose which Lego sets he wants to bring to his dad's house. Involving preteens and teenagers in creating a custody schedule can help ensure the schedule meshes with the teen's extracurricular activities. Plus, a child who feels that his input was received is more likely to be agreeable to the schedule. But, says Wasser, "While it is important to listen to your children and hear their feelings, impressions and preferences, the child's opinion is only one factor that goes into making child-custody decisions." Let your children feel heard, but also make the best decision for their well being.

Rule #9: From time to time, review the arrangement and adjust as needed.

Just as your kids will grow and change over time, so should your custody arrangement. "Many parents find it helpful to review a custody agreement from time to time to assess how it is working for their children and to make adjustments, particularly as children grow and circumstances change," says Dr. Pedro-Carroll. You and your ex may change too. Says Wasser: "If you are hoping to eventually get to an equal time share arrangement but have not historically spent as much time parenting, gradual increases are recommended."


Sunday, 23 July 2017

21 Ways to Create and Maintain a Positive Attitude

Your attitude determines how you live your life.

Even if –at any given time–your choices of action are limited, your choices regarding your attitude are not. Always choose a positive attitude.

A positive attitude makes you happier and more resilient, it improves your relationships, and it even increases your chances of success in any endeavor. In addition, having a positive attitude makes you more creative and it can help you to make better decisions. To top it all off, there are studies that show that people with a positive attitude live longer than their sourpuss counterparts. Below you’ll discover 21 ways to create and maintain a positive attitude.

1. Have a Morning Routine. How you start your morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. Make sure that you have an attitude-boosting morning routine that puts you in a good mood so that you can start the day off right.

2. Carry An Attitude of Happiness With You. Instead of waiting for external things to make you happy, be happy and then watch how that influences the things that go on around you. That is, instead of telling yourself that first something good has to happen, and then you’ll be happy, be happy first. Happiness is an attitude, not a situation.

3. Relish Small Pleasures. Big pleasures—graduation, getting married, being promoted, having your book published—come too infrequently. Life is made up of tiny victories and simple pleasures. With the right mental attitude, watching the sunset, eating an ice cream cone, and walking barefoot on the grass are all you need to be filled with joy.

4. Smile. Smiling will give you an instantaneous attitude boost. Try smiling for a minute while you think of a happy memory or the last thing that made you smile. Smiling releases endorphins and serotonin, also known as the feel good hormones. It’s a lot easier to adopt a positive attitude when the chemicals being released by your body are conducive to well-being.

5. Upload Positivity to Your Brain. Read books with a positive message, listen to music with uplifting lyrics, and watch movies in which the protagonist’s optimism helps him/her to overcome obstacles and win, despite the odds. Change your attitude for the better by uploading as much positivity into your brain as you possibly can.

6. Take Responsibility. At any moment your attitude can be that of a victim or of a creator. The first step you need to take to shift from victim-mode to creator-mode is to take responsibility. Here’s the attitude of a creator:

I create my life.
I am responsible for me.
I’m in charge of my destiny.

7. Have a Zen Attitude. Think of life not as something that’s happening to you, but as something that’s happening for you. Look at any challenging situation, person, or event as a teacher that’s been brought into your life to teach you something.

The next time you find yourself thinking, “Why is this happening to me?” choose to have a Zen attitude, instead. Ask yourself, “What am I supposed to learn or gain from this”? or “How will this help me grow and become a better, more enlightened being?”

8. Be Proactive. A reactive person allows others and external events to determine how they will feel. A proactive person decides how they will feel regardless of what may be going on around them. Be proactive by choosing your attitude and maintaining it throughout the day, regardless of what the day may bring.

9. Change Your Thoughts. Positive thoughts lead to a positive attitude, while negative thoughts lead to a negative attitude. Changing your attitude is as easy as hitting the “pause” button on what you’re thinking and choosing to think different thoughts.

10. Have a Purpose. Having a purpose in life gives you a fixed point in the horizon to focus on, so that you can remain steady amid life’s vicissitudes and challenges. Bringing meaning and purpose into your life—knowing why you are here—will do wonders for your attitude.

11. Focus On the Good. In order to have a positive attitude, focus on the good. Focus on the good in yourself, the good in your life, and the good in others.

12. Stop Expecting Life to Be Easy. The truth is, life gets tough at times. For all of us. It can even be painful. But you’re brave and resourceful, and you can take it. Know that sometimes things won’t be easy, and adopt the attitude that you have what it takes to deal with anything that life throws at you.

13. Keep Up Your Enthusiasm. Enthusiastic people have a great attitude toward life. Have a list of ways to lift your enthusiasm ready for those times when you feel your zest for life draining away. Being enthusiastic will help you maintain the attitude that life is good and that you’re lucky to be alive.

14. Give Up On Having An Attitude of Entitlement. Think of the parable “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson. Two little mice and two miniature people are put in a maze. Here’s what happens:

When the mice discover that the cheese isn’t where it’s supposed to be, they immediately get to work on finding another piece of cheese.

The two miniature people, instead, get angry that the cheese has been moved. They waste time expressing outrage and blaming each other.

Stop demanding that things be handed to you. Your attitude at all times should be the following:

  • It’s up to me to get what I want.
  • Good things come to those who work hard.
  • I adapt to change easily and quickly.
  • I keep going even when things get tough.

15. Visualize. When things aren’t going your way, keep a positive attitude by visualizing yourself succeeding and achieving your goals. When Nelson Mandela was incarcerated—in a tiny cell that was just 6 feet wide–he kept his hopes up by visualizing himself being set free.

Mandela once said, “I thought of the day when I would walk free. Over and over again, I fantasized about what I would like to do.” By visualizing his release he was able to maintain a positive attitude, even when he found himself under extraordinarily difficult circumstances.

16. Limit Your Complaints. Whining about anything and everything is not conducive to a positive attitude. When you complain you’re saying negative things about a person, place, or event, without offering a solution to fix the situation. Instead of complaining, do the following:

  • Remove yourself from the situation.
  • Shift your perspective about the situation.
  • Offer a possible solution.
Accept that there’s nothing you can do to change the situation and that complaining about it just fosters negativity.

Constantly complaining leads to a bad attitude. So stop complaining. Instead, start looking for solutions or accept what cannot be changed.

17. Watch Your Words. Use positive words when you talk to yourself.Studies have found that positive self-talk can boost your willpower and help you psych yourself up when you need to get through a difficult task. In addition, it can calm you down when you’re worried or anxious.

If you want to change your attitude from “I can’t do this” or “I’m going to fail”, to “I’ve got this” or “I’m going to do great”, change your self -talk.

18. Use The Power of Humor. People who know how to laugh at themselves and at life’s absurdities have a great attitude. Your sense of humor is a power tool, and you can use it to lift your mood and enhance your emotional state at any time.

When something goes wrong, ask yourself, “What’s funny about this?” A humorous perspective will have a positive effect on your attitude.

19. Use Gratitude to Improve Your Attitude. When you find yourself focusing on what’s wrong in your life, what you don’t have, or what you’re missing out on, adjust your attitude by feeling gratitude.

Studies show that having an attitude of gratitude is beneficial for every aspect of your life: being grateful improves your health, your mood, your relationships, your career satisfaction, and on, and on. If you need an attitude lift simply think of all the things that you have to be grateful for.

20. Develop an Attitude of Curiosity. The best way to approach any situation is to be open to what you can learn from it. That is, be curious.

Curiosity gives you a present-moment orientation which is similar to mindfulness. Being curious about a situation allows you to experience it more fully. In addition, curiosity will help you to approach uncertainty in your daily life with a positive attitude.

21. Seek Out Others With a Positive Attitude. A positive attitude is contagious. When you feel that you need an attitude boost, find someone with a great attitude and look for an excuse to hang out with them. Their attitude can’t help but rub itself off on you and you’ll be able to face the world with renewed optimism.


John Mitchell once said the following: “Our attitude toward life determines life’s attitude toward us.” The 21 tips above will help you to keep a positive attitude at all times. Live your best life by having a great attitude.