Friday, 30 November 2018

5 Tips for Getting Through the First Holidays Post-Divorce

The first holidays after a divorce are often the hardest, especially for your kids. The memories of holidays gone by can make this time of year feel more stressful, creating a feeling of needing to live up to years past. Despite the stress and sadness that will undoubtedly accompany the holidays, you and your children can still have a good time and make great memories. Here are five tips to increase the fun and decrease the stress.

1. Make a plan

Your custody schedule will probably be pre-planned, which makes planning for the holidays a bit simpler. Figure out ahead of time which days you have your kids, and what you are doing. Make sure that everyone is clear on what the plan is, including your children. Keep a calendar with you so that you can tell your hosts whether or not your children will be with you when you accept an invitation. Try to avoid last-minute modifications as much as possible, as they will only add stress.

2. Make your own traditions

The holidays are often a very sentimental time, but that nostalgia can work against you when familiar traditions just make you and your kids think, “We used to do this all together.” Some traditions will inevitably have to be let go or changed. Though saying goodbye to some traditions that you have had for long will likely be very sad, it also opens up the opportunity to make new traditions. Explain to your kids why you aren’t going to be doing some things this year, and ask them for ideas about what you should do instead. This can help turn a challenging time into a fun one.

If your kids seem low, talk to them about their feelings towards this time of year. Listen to their concerns, and let them know how it is making you feel as well. It will comfort them to know that you haven’t just forgotten and that letting go is a challenge that they don’t face alone. While you make new traditions with your kids, encourage them to do the same with their other parent as well.

3. Don’t worry about perfection

No matter how hard you work to make things go smoothly, there will always be little problems that come along. There will be times where both you and your kids feel the sadness of what no longer is. This is okay and is a healthy part of grieving. Know that the next set of holidays will probably be easier, and make your best with what you have. You don’t have to make things perfect; making good memories is what is most important.

4. Keep healthy

Staying healthy during the holiday season is difficult for nearly everyone, but when added the stress of your first holidays with a new family structure, it becomes even harder. Make sure that you sleep enough, and do your best to eat right, particularly during the times that you aren’t at holiday parties. Try to slip some extra exercise into your schedule, even if it’s just 20-30 minutes a day. Also, taking extra time to relax can also be a big help. Even just a few moments of peace between the various events of your day can help ease stress.

As you keep yourself healthy, don’t forget to make the same effort with you children, too. Keep up as much of a normal schedule as you can, particularly when it comes to sleep. Take breaks from your hectic schedule to let them play with their friends or do fun things at home as a family. Remember: your emotional health is just as important as physical health.

5. Avoid being alone

If you share custody with your ex, then you won’t get to be with your kids over every holiday.
 This can be very hard on your emotional health, but even more so if you are spending the holiday alone. Being alone during the holidays can be depressing, especially after the emotionally exhausting process of a divorce. If it does look like you might be spending some days alone, talk with your family members and friends about their holiday plans. If they are hosting a party, they will probably invite you. If they aren’t hosting something, you could decide to host a get-together. Make sure you are enjoying yourself and don’t give yourself the chance to wallow in negative emotions.


Thursday, 29 November 2018

Men More Likely Thank Women to Divorce Due to Infidelity, Research Claims

Men are seemingly far less forgiving than wives when it comes to infidelity

With one in five British adults admitting to cheating on their partners, monogamy is clearly not as straightforward a concept for some as it is for others.

While studies have revealed that men may have a greater tendency than women to go ahead with or contemplate committing adultery in heterosexual relationships, recent research has shown that they can be less forgiving than their female counterparts when considering divorce on account of infidelity.

Hall Brown Family Law has conducted research into behavioural patterns that can lead to divorce, coming to illuminating conclusions about the impact of adulterous conduct on marital bliss.

According to the findings, almost a third of divorces occur when men and women have forgiven past wrongdoings but have finally “run out of patience.”

This bad behaviour refers to a number of issues, including adultery, financial problems and substance abuse.

Ellen Walker, a solicitor at Hall Brown Family Law, stated that women are more likely than men to try to salvage a broken marriage, despite their partner’s unfaithfulness.

“We are surprised time and again by the ability of some men and women to almost turn a blind eye to their partner’s misbehaviour,” she said.

“However, the cases which we deal with illustrate how many people in such a situation find their patience ultimately exhausted, usually when the misconduct becomes too difficult for themselves and others to ignore.

“In some cases, that means being told by friends and relatives about extra-marital affairs which they were already aware of or discovering the true extent of a spouse’s financial difficulties and learning that they impact on a business as well as at home.”

On the other hand, the odds of men tolerating their wives’ dishonesty are far lower than the other way around.

In October last year, the Office for National Statistics stated that the number of women petitioning for divorce against their husbands as a consequence of their spouses’ misconduct had decreased by 43 per cent since 1996.

Meanwhile the number of men divorcing their wives for the same reason had increased by approximately by a third.

According to Ms Walker, the main reason why men and women are willing to give their marriages another go is due to the negative effect separating will have on their children.

“Arguably the principal factor in staying together is a desire to remain married for the sake of their children,” she explained.

“Once those children have left home, a number of unhappy parents decide to take advantage of what they regard as an opportunity to leave a troubled marriage."


Wednesday, 28 November 2018

The Effect (or Lack Thereof) of Infidelity on Divorce

Infidelity is obviously one of the most difficult breaches of trust to forgive in any relationship. While statistics are conflicting when it comes to how many divorces occur because of cheating (some list the number as high as 50 percent and others as low as 15 percent), the fact remains that adultery puts an extreme strain on marriages that can be very difficult to overcome.

When adultery does occur in a marriage, it innately creates a highly emotional and tension filled situation for both parties involved. The spouse who remained faithful will understandably feel anger, betrayal, grief and often the need to get some sort of revenge, while the spouse who cheated usually feels a pressing guilt and anger, either at themselves or misplacing the blame on their spouse for “causing” them to cheat.

Although courts generally do not put much weight into fault when it comes to divorce, this hostile emotional stew can make negotiating a divorce settlement much more difficult.

Women are closing the cheating gap

It has widely been accepted that men cheat more often than women largely due to the ability to separate emotion from sex. Meanwhile, women were seen to be less likely to stray because they required a more emotional connection, and therefore weren’t as susceptible to making an irrational decision based on mere opportunity.

However, new research has found that isn’t necessarily the case. Over the last 20 years, the number of cheating wives has increased by around 40 percent to a mark of 14.7 percent. Men have remained consistent at 21 percent over that time. While you must take any number that relies on self-reporting with a grain of salt, the fact that the number is increasing seems clear enough — and the reasoning makes a lot of sense.

The closing gap can be seen following a changing cultural and economic landscape. Now, women are much more financially independent than in the past, which means they are able to independently support the potential consequences of an affair. Additionally, a larger presence in the work force and advances in communication technology have created more opportunities for hookups.

Though men still have a higher chance of cheating in general, women are increasingly becoming the culprits of extramarital affairs.

Effect of infidelity on no-fault divorce

With the number of marriages ending due to infidelity somewhere between 15-50 percent, it creates many questions as to how this will affect the divorce proceedings. Unfortunately for all of the faithful who are splitting due to a cheating spouse, infidelity rarely has much of an impact on the divorce.

With the prominence of no-fault divorce, blame rarely has much of a bearing on any aspect of the dissolution. There will be no preferential treatment when it comes to the distribution of assets unless you can definitively prove that marital assets were spent on the paramour. Similarly, infidelity will have no influence on custody determinations so long as the affair was not paraded in front of the children.

Alimony has the chance to be affected, but that depends on your states laws and the discretion of your judge. A cheating spouse may lose their right to alimony if infidelity can be conclusively proven, even with a no-fault divorce.

Effect of infidelity on fault divorce

Some states still offer fault divorce, and adultery is often one of the grounds for this method. However, while seeking a fault divorce does come with potential benefits, it also comes with certain risks.

Through a fault-based divorce, one spouse essentially lays the blame for the deterioration of the marriage at the feet of the other. They must then back up this claim with hard evidence, which the “defendant” spouse will get a chance to disprove. If successful, the petitioner in a fault divorce can receive a larger portion of the marital property, a larger (or reduced) spousal support requirement and the ability to avoid the lengthy waiting periods of no-fault divorce.

Still, you must weigh whether or not the chance for a better settlement are worth risking the expense of extensive litigation. Most divorces are settled out of court to avoid the pricey process of additional court hearings and lawyer fees. Additionally, gathering hard evidence of your spouse’s infidelity can be costly. If you fail to prove your claim and your spouse is found innocent, the separation will be treated as a no-fault divorce and you will have wasted a lot of time and resources for nothing.

The level of trust breached by infidelity makes it very difficult to move past, meaning that any marriage where one of the spouses cheats risks divorce. It will be a highly emotional time, and while you probably feel that your spouse deserves nothing, do not expect the courts to feel the same.

As difficult as it will be, your best option is to put all those negative feelings aside and simply negotiate a settlement. You may feel that it’s unfair, but you aren’t going to get any more sympathy from dragging things out in court. Your best bet for moving past such a betrayal is to get things over with as quickly as possible, and move on with your life.


Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Do You Love Your Children More Than You Hate Your Ex?

Children need both parents after a divorce. Loving your children enough to foster a strong relationship with their other parent can be hard; here are 7 tips to prevent your children from becoming casualties of your bitter custody battle.

How could loving your children more than you hate your ex affect your custody process?

“Love your children more than you hate your ex,” I tell every potential divorce and child custody client when I meet with them. While that phrase seems like a no-brainer on the surface, children can often become an afterthought during a contentious divorce. You and your ex-spouse are expending all your energy fighting over money, alimony, child support, who gets which assets, and who get which debts.

The issues that lead to divorce – money issues, infidelity, communication breakdown, or basic incompatibility are commonly cited as factors – often bleed over into the divorce itself and to the actual child-custody decision-making and proceedings. Unfortunately, the pain and anger that one spouse may have experienced because of the acts of the other can warp how the two soon-to-be-ex spouses view each other as co-parents.

Bad Parenting is Almost Never the Reason for Divorce

I frequently ask prospective clients to list the reasons why they (or their spouse) is seeking a divorce, and I rarely hear issues associated with the other spouse’s parenting style or involvement with the children as the cause of divorce. Obviously, there are situations where the child has been abused by one parent; in those situations, the fight to protect the child is entirely appropriate. However, the vast majority of child-custody cases during or after divorce are fought over one spouse saying that the other wasn’t involved enough.

Ironically, when divorcing spouses reach the phase of dealing with child custody, many of them “suddenly remember” that the other spouse is the worst parent in the world. Assuming, for argument’s sake, that the other parent is a “terrible parent,” I almost always ask how important the other parent’s involvement would be in the child’s life, and the “good parent” admits that ongoing involvement is important. Despite this admission, many of them still do everything possible to limit the other parent’s involvement with their children.

Past Conflict gets Dragged into the Child Custody Process

Emotional wounds the spouses inflicted upon each other during the marriage cause the pain, anger, and disdain to flare right back up during a custody case, and the children are pawns in this rehashing – or escalation – of old marital fights. Each party argues that they are “only trying to protect their children” from the other spouse, or that the other spouse’s “lack of involvement” with the children during the marriage should limit their interaction with the kids today. Invariably, all the sacrifices, hard-work, and hours spent with the children are instantly forgotten by the other spouse.

Bitter custody battles are often fought when pain and anger from the failed marriage bleed over into the decision-making process associated with custody. But, if the spouses are able to step back and look at the other spouse as a parent who loves their children – not the fire-breathing dragon that has taken over their memory – they remember that the other parent wasn’t around as much because they were busy working to support the family. They may also remember that the other spouse rushed from work each day to pick the kids up and help them with homework, or that one spouse may have given up their professional dreams and goals to be a parent.

Loving Your Children Means Ensuring a Strong Relationship With Their Other Parent

Love your children more than you hate your ex. Most parents know that the other parent should be involved in their children’s life. Having a strong, stable and loving environment between both parents is immensely important and is integral to the emotional and mental wellbeing of the child. When spouses take the position to view the other spouse as their child’s parent, it can change their perspective on what custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child. Loving your children enough to ensure that their relationship with their other parent is the focus is a hard thing to do. Letting some of the anger and pain unrelated to the child custody issues go is daunting. But your children should not be a casualty of the war of divorce.

7 Tips to Stop Your Children from Becoming Casualties of Your Custody Battle

Here are seven suggestions for learning to see your ex-spouse as the loving co-parent of your children rather than the former romantic partner who let you down so badly. To do this, you must love your children more than you hate your ex.

  1. Make a realistic and honest list of who has primarily taken care of the children since birth. List it by year. With that list, also note what the other parent was doing at that time.
  2. List the pros and cons regarding your children having equal time between both parents. Although hard, separate the obvious emotional strain you will experience from not being around your child while they are with the other parent.
  3. Consider how your children view the other parent. Most children love both parents; your kids may need reassurance that it’s OK to continue to love their other parent after divorce.
  4. Consider what impact not having a relationship with their other parent would have on your children. What effect would the lack of a meaningful relationship have on the child when the other parent is prevented from showing up to Daddy-Daughter Dance or Mother-Son brunch? How would your children feel about not being able to celebrate Mother’s Day or Father’s Day with their other parent?
  5. How would you view your actions if you were the other parent? Are you being reasonable?
  6. How would your children view your actions 10 to 20 years from now? Would they resent you? Would they believe that you damaged or destroyed their relationship with the other parent?]
  7. Consider seeing a family therapist to help you work through custody issues amicably – or at least respectfully – with the other parent. The focus in this therapy setting is not to rehash the issues of the marriage or divorce, but to focus on co-parenting and creating a happy, healthy future for your children.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Conscious Uncoupling and Amicable Divorce: Is It Possible to Stay Friends?

Leave it to Gwyneth Paltrow to coin a phrase that became the new standard for “healthy divorce.” The term is not an oxymoron, because while challenging, the ability to be able to part ways financially and emotionally without significantly damaging each other should be an ideal that all families hold as a possibility. All divorces do not have to turn into a full-out “Battle Royale” that leaves each partner, and potentially the children and extended family, traumatized and stressed.

What does it take to end a marriage and still stay friends? For each partner, it is a different approach; rarely do both partners want to end the relationship. There are misconceptions about the partner who wants to leave – the one who initiates the divorce – and understandable anger and resentment from the partner who wishes to stay within the marriage. We will explain why an amicable divorce is more than creating an “easy way out” of a marriage; and, why it is essential to help partners move on, and reestablish themselves after the transition in a healthy way.

Divorces That Start Off Friendly Can Turn Vindictive Quickly

The best possible case scenario for a divorce is when both partners agree wholeheartedly that the marriage has “run its course” and that separation is in the best interest for the family. How often does that happen, though? We know that, on average, there is one spouse who wants to leave, and one who wishes the marriage to remain intact; that’s where the emotional “tug-of-war” begins.

Often, spouses who do not wish to be divorced may present themselves as thoughtful, peaceful, and cooperative. This feels like resignation or acceptance to the divorcing spouse, and is frequently misinterpreted as an intention to conduct the divorce in a peaceful manner. When the non-divorcing spouse realizes that the action is moving forward (despite best efforts to be amicable), that is when the sniping and defensive behavior sets in. They have nothing to lose at that point, and no longer feel compelled to “play nice.”
Other aspects that can turn an amicable divorce into a war include:

  • Proof of infidelity.
  • Irresponsible financial transactions prior to the legal separation. Some spouses may increase debt or make purchases immediately before announcing their intention to divorce, knowing that the debt will be equally shared pending financial settlement.
  • One or more spouses begin dating before the divorce has been finalized.
  • Subjecting children to unnecessary stress, or asking children to choose sides.
  • Dishonesty regarding earnings, investments, and other assets of the marriage.
  • Emotional, physical, or verbal abuse during the separation or divorce.

It is very difficult to navigate a divorce on amicable terms, because for many people, the experience signifies the end of financial and emotional support and stability, the dissolution of family life, the potential sale of the family home, and a frequently hurtful dialogue between both partners. Creating an amicable divorce is harder than declaring war on your partner, but psychologists agree that the effort is worth the reward, as couples exiting as friends through a divorce recover more quickly and are more successful after the transition.

A Code of Conduct for Playing Fair in Divorce Proceedings

Long before partners consult with a divorce attorney, they can (and should) try to establish a code of conduct that will govern the long process of getting a legal divorce. Many couples decide to put in writing an agreement that can help them stick to the rules, without the emotional sniping that typically accompanies a hostile divorce.

The truth is that being vindictive, abusive, or difficult during a divorce is counterproductive. It can be difficult to think about the dissolution of a marriage as a business matter, but it is a contract. With the drafting of a written and legal separation agreement, couples can privately draft their own code of divorce conduct, and agree to exit the relationship as healthy, well-balanced adults, ready to transition into a new chapter in life.

Why an Amicable Divorce Will Save You Money

Have you ever heard the saying that “the only person who wins in a divorce is the lawyer?” The truth is that infighting, disputes, and resistance to the divorce by one spouse can result in unnecessary and excessive litigation, court dates, multiple signed agreements, and other services that can chalk up a very large legal bill quickly.

Some divorcing couples agree to use the same lawyer to save on legal administrative costs. This works, if the couple intends to be mutually cooperative to expedite the divorce with as little conflict as possible. The second that there is significant push-back from one spouse, the need for two lawyers (one for each partner) becomes a necessity. The consequence? Double the legal bills, which come out of the division of the estate and assets.

Positive Co-Parenting and Navigating Children Through the Process

Kids are the silent victims of divorce. In the maelstrom of emotional, financial, and legal wrangling, children can be left behind and fail to receive the nurturing and support they desperately need to process the changes in their family life in a healthy way. There is literally so much going on that parents who are overwhelmed in divorce proceedings can fail to recognize signs of stress in children.

Depending on the age of the child, temper outbursts, low school grades, weight gain, and depression are all indicators of a child in crisis. Abnormal behaviors including violence, bullying, or destruction of property can also be outward signs and a plea for support from a child. Parents must put the needs of the children first by refusing to argue or fight in front of kids, and remember to remove them from the home environment even temporarily, if hostility ensues.

Love her or hate her, Gwyneth Paltrow is generally on trend, and we think her example may inspire a new concept of a mutually beneficial, friendly divorce. And that’s a good thing.


Friday, 23 November 2018

How Children Cope with High Conflict Divorce: How are they harmed and what can parents do to help them?

A high conflict divorce is where marriage ends and war begins. Children are frequently unwittingly used as pawns in this high stakes, emotionally bloody demolition. Kids find different ways to cope in a system that includes children and two parents who absolutely despise each other. This is a hatred that doesn’t ease up over the passing of time; no these bitter feelings tend to increase and escalate as the years go by.

I talked about the adults in these situations in a previous article titled “High Conflict Divorce: Understanding the Parent’s Emotional Wounds” This article will focus on how children cope with this phenomenon. Children who live in these settings use some or all the coping mechanisms I describe below.

Children are faced with a barrage of words, events and thoughts that they are not prepared to deal with in any healthy way. They want to please each parent, but find it impossible to do so for any extended period of time, so they settle for short-term expediency. In other words, they learn to tell the adults what they think the parents want to hear. Those statements may differ entirely from what the child believes, but in order to avoid extended conflict, the child goes out of her way to avoid it.

Children are trained erroneously through this process that all conflict is a must to avoid.

They don’t learn that some conflict is a normal facet of life that we must all learn to deal with. The danger in this mindset is that the kids come to believe that the only good relationship is one that is conflict free-which is impossible unless you learn to ignore or avoid the conflicts when they arise.

The children in telling parents what they think the adults want to hear develop the ability to lie quickly and convincingly. They have learned that fabricating what is going on in the other parents house or purposely not telling dad he saw an R rated movie with mom because he knows it will get mom into trouble are a couple examples of this tactic.

They learn to strategize as a way to get their needs met. For instance a child is aware that his mother does not want him to take any martial arts classes because she fears they will cause him to be violent. The child knows that the mom is worried that dad will try to enroll him in violent activities. The child then convinces dad to enroll him in a class that teaches how to be safe without using violence. The child then goes back to mom telling her of this development and then saying “dad is not so bad after all, is he mom?”

Around this same time he will ask his dad to enroll him in a martial arts class because the child feels the coast is clear because mom will be less vigilant of dad because of his signing him up for the non violent class.

Parents who are in the middle of a high conflict divorce are poor communicators at best. When they do talk, their discussion tends to be nasty and filled with disdain. Often times they don’t communicate at all. This lack of connection between the parents teaches the children that adults cannot successfully talk to each other and make plans for the kids. Therefore the children feel that they have to take this planning for their activities into their own hands. For example, the girl who wants to be in the community play will inform both his parents that they need to attend a special meeting in order for her to try out for the play.

In normal situations, the parents make all these preparations for the kids, but in high conflict situations, some kids somehow find a way to get their extra-curricular needs met.

These children also tend to have impaired relationships with peers. The poor role modeling demonstrated by their parents leads these kids to have no idea what it means to have real friendships. Their expectations of friends can become quite distorted. These children tend to have no sense that true relationships are based on kindness, cooperation, sharing and compromising. While longing for the safety and love of a close connection, they don’t really believe they are loveable and lack the skills of how to obtain and maintain friendships.

You will see some of these children at recess time playing all alone or staring endlessly at a computer screen because they lack the outreach skills and confidence that their peers will like them. Others are so desperate to feel accepted that they will say or do anything to be part of the popular group. Other children may become possessive of their friends and feel jealous and threatened if their friend pays attention to other kids.

Some children from high conflict divorces want to bring attention to how horrible they feel, but like most kids lack the skills and the ability to truly stand up for themselves. So they may bring attention to their situation by getting poor grades, using drugs, becoming defiant, withdrawing from the world, acting out in class and stop doing activities that normally bring them pleasure.

Then there are the kids that strive for perfection in an effort to be loved and approved by their parents. These children also believe if they are perfect, they can somehow be above the fray of the warring adults. They tend to be very hard on themselves and are rarely compassionate towards themselves or others.

The skills of organizing, strategizing and overall planning are superb attributes for kids to have, but in this situation these skills are being used to manipulate adults like chess pieces on a board. They then learn to use these skills in other inappropriate ways with other adults and peers.

These kids often present as being mature, but in truth they are emotionally and often socially immature. They are frequently more emotionally needy then they come across and they are behind their peers developmentally. They have spent a large portion of the lives learning how to please others without really learning how to master fulfilling themselves. This mask leads adults to misread the kid’s sense of self worth; thinking they are doing fine when in actuality, they are hurting inside.

Some children align themselves with one parent and this leads to being in opposition to the other parent. These children get subtle and overt rewards from the parent they are aligning with. The parents may directly feed them information about their evil perception of the other parent or their feelings about their ex may be experienced by their severe body language or facial expressions whenever the other parent’s name comes up. These kids feel that they must take a stand for the parent they are close with and let the out of the loop parent know that they don’t like her. This occurs because the child is fearful of losing the aligned parents support if he shows any connection with the other parent. It is difficult in these cases to really know how the child actually feels about anything.

What Parents can do to help Children from High Conflict Divorce Families

  • Instead of doing the usual blaming the other parent for what is going wrong with the kids, ASK YOURSELF WHAT YOU ARE DOING TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE DIFFICULTIES YOUR CHILD IS EXPERIENCING.
  • Are you giving your child the message that you are all good and the other parent is all bad? Are you giving your child the message that if she doesn’t favor you over your ex, that he is in trouble with you? Do you chastise your child when she is merely following the other parent’s instructions? Do you understand that children are naturally hard wired to try to get what they want and if they can manipulate two warring parents into getting their wishes fulfilled, they will do so? This is not a character flaw on their part. This is happening due to your lack of communication with the other parent. IF YOU ARE DOING ANY OF THESE, PLEASE STOP AT ONCE.
  • When you meet with your ex, instead of trying to spend your energy trying to win all arguments with her; agree to meet in a spirit of cooperation and admit your shortcomings. Be honest what it will take to co-parent peacefully with your ex and try to keep your ego aside and think about what is best for your kids.
  • Stop litigating! Adults who are in litigation cannot possibly co-parent. There is a complete lack of trust and trust is essential in successful co-parenting.
  • Stop fighting about when children can communicate with the other parent. Let this be as open as possible because it will lower the anxiety level of your child.
  • Does your child tell you that you don’t listen to him? Please take his words to heart because if you don’t, his feelings about this will become buried deep inside him only to eventually emerge in a tirade at you or himself. He will feel that you have ignored his feelings and are not concerned about his view point on important issues. If you don’t heed his words, your relationship with him may be impaired for a long period of time.
  • Punishing your child because she doesn’t want to engage or shows other signs that she doesn’t like you will not cause her to embrace this parent/child relationship. Instead, try to talk with her calmly, stating that you feel that your relationship with her is not good and you want to repair it. Ask her to describe her feelings for you and tell her that you will not be angry at her honesty.
  • If you can afford to do so, co-parenting counseling as well as individual therapy for your children may be helpful.

Children who live with the hostile divorce model have symptoms similar to children who are abused and neglected. Some professionals would say these kids are being abused and neglected. It is my feeling that this phenomena is not getting the attention it deserves. Furthermore it is tragic that only those who can afford an army of therapists can get the help they need and deserve. Let’s hope and work for change here.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Your First Thanksgiving After Divorce: 6 Things to Do to Get Through the Holidays

Navigating your first (or second, or third) Thanksgiving after divorce will require some extra effort, but that extra effort will be worth it. These six tips will help you get through – and maybe even enjoy – the holiday.
During the first year after your divorce, every holiday and event will require some flexibility as you navigate sharing parenting time and creating new traditions. The Thanksgiving holiday is bound to have some challenges for both you and your kids; however, there are some things you can do to help everyone get through – and maybe even enjoy – Thanksgiving after divorce.

6 Tips for Navigating Your First Thanksgiving After Divorce

1. Acknowledge Your Kids’ Feelings

Your kids may feel sad or angry about the divorce, and the holidays may increase those feelings. Instead of trying to spin things positively (“You get two Thanksgiving feasts!”), acknowledge their feelings even if it’s difficult (“You are really sad that we aren’t all together this year” or “You are angry that you won’t see your mom on Thanksgiving”). This will help your kids feel understood – which is the first step for beginning the process of healing and moving forward.

2. Model Gratitude

Thanksgiving is a holiday about being grateful. It might sound impossible to feel grateful for a divorce or the stress of navigating a holiday when you feel sad, angry, hurt or lonely. I’m not asking you to pretend to be grateful for those things or to fake your feelings. Rather, I’m encouraging you to identify the things in your life that you are grateful to have. It could be close relationships with your kids, your health, or supportive friends and family. Highlighting real gratitude for your children will model positive coping and will remind you that nothing is black and white – there are still good things in your life.

3. Maintain Meaningful Traditions

Continuing traditions that are meaningful to you and your kids will provide a sense of continuity during this time of change. When kids see that their favorite Thanksgiving ritual of sharing what they are thankful for continues even though Mom isn’t there on that night, it is reassuring that they will continue to enjoy making memories.

4. Create New Traditions

In addition to keeping some favorite rituals, this is an ideal time to create new traditions that will give you and your kids an opportunity to make the holiday more meaningful. If you have always wished that you had more connection or relaxation at the holidays, build that into your time with your kids. Divorce can feel out of control to a kid, so including them in creating new traditions for Thanksgiving after divorce is a way to give them license to create their new family life.

5. Co-Parent the Holidays as a Team

This is a great way to model for your children that you are working together to parent them. Encourage your child to have fun when he or she is with the other parent. Ask about their extended family celebrations so that the children know you want them to have fun and stay connected to grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Being open and flexible with your co-parent builds goodwill and sets a good foundation for working together.

6. Take Care of Yourself

You will likely have times over the holidays when you do not have your children. Plan ahead for how you would like to spend that time. To some, it is ideal to be alone and relaxing, while that might feel lonely to another. There isn’t a right or wrong way; it’s about what is meaningful and enjoyable to you. Reach out to family and friends to stay connected and feel supported.

The holidays are an opportunity for connection and making memories. It can also be a stressful time because of unrealistic expectations. Recognizing that everyone will have reactions to the changes will allow you to support your kids and be gentle with yourself during your first (or second, or third) Thanksgiving after divorce.


Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

5 Suggestions for Navigating a Contentious Divorce

Any divorce is difficult, even when the split is amicable. After all, divorce is a major transition, and change is tough. When your divorce is contentious, not surprisingly, things are harder. A lot harder.

“People are often caught off guard by the enormity of the divorce experience,” said Krysta Dancy, MA, MFT, a therapist who specializes in working with couples and families in Roseville, Calif.

If your marriage was contentious, you probably see your divorce as a relief, so you might feel blindsided when your stress skyrockets. You might feel utterly exhausted, anxious, depressed and unfocused, Dancy said.

You might start second guessing yourself. You might question your ability to make good decisions for you and your family, said Amy Broz, a marriage and family therapist intern who works with high-conflict couples. This may stem from being in an abusive marriage. “Often, the reason my clients are going through a contentious divorce to begin with is because they have been [physically, verbally or emotionally] abused in some form or another.”

You might not even feel like yourself, Dancy said. You might feel out of control, Broz said. 
You might be “worried and afraid, uncertain of what the future holds.”

How do you stay sane when it feels like you’re swept up in a tornado? Below, Dancy and Broz shared five suggestions.

Create a “divorce-free zone.”

You might feel like you need to be available around the clock to deal with your divorce. Or you might feel like you need to be perpetually prepared for the latest battle. “Often, people are afraid to leave arguments unanswered because they fear their ex will score some big moral victory,” Dancy said.

Plus, thanks to technology, you’re probably bombarded with texts and emails throughout the day (and night). Many of Dancy’s clients get emails or texts first thing in the morning, during their work day and when they’re out with friends.

Constant communication means you’re constantly on high alert. Which “allows the divorce to consume your life,” Dancy said. No wonder you’re stressed out and anxious.

This is where good boundaries come in. Because as Dancy said, “You are getting divorced to have less of this person’s influence in your life, remember? [T]he more involved you are in the conflict, the more you are still in a relationship with your ex.”

She shared these examples: A “divorce-free zone” might mean setting specific hours for dealing with your divorce—a time when you’re mentally and emotionally ready to tackle the necessary tasks. It also might mean turning off your phone and muting notifications.

Identify your goals—and use them to guide your actions.

What are your goals for your divorce? What are your desired outcomes? Dancy suggested creating a list of goals and priorities—and disregarding any irrelevant drama. For instance, your priorities or desired outcomes might be: “a workable pickup/drop-off schedule for a child, a desire to see the divorce end quickly and inexpensively, or [her favorite] an emphasis on restoring peace and boundaries in your life.”

The next time a conflict arises, ask yourself: Does it “increase or decrease my chances of achieving my ultimate goal?” This way, you: a) don’t get dragged into a trivial fight (and surround yourself with more chaos); and b) save your energy for what’s really important.

Asking the above question helps you “see outside of the anger or contention of the immediate, and make sure you are still heading in the direction you most want.”

Find moments of calm.

Find practices that help you calm down and unwind anytime, anywhere. For instance, Broz’s clients like the progressive muscle relaxation exercises from the Calm app for reducing anxiety and depression. You might search for meditation videos on YouTube, which you can watch before bed. You might listen to these self-compassionate guided meditations. Or you might start attending a weekly yoga class.

Figure out which type of communication you prefer.

How you communicate is another vital boundary you can set. For instance, you might “move communication to email so that you can be mentally prepared before approaching it, and…have the chance to proofread before sending,” Dancy said.

You also might stop texting with your ex. “It is often a source of conflict and contentious communication, running through late nights and ruining beautiful moments.”

Treat your ex like a challenging colleague.

With a challenging colleague, “you have to work together, but you don’t have to get personal,” Dancy said. Which means you respond to requests and concerns in a clear, professional manner, and disregard the rest, she said.

What does this look like? For instance, along with their text about picking up the kids, your ex includes a dig or two. Instead of getting sucked into yet another argument, you only respond to the part about pick-up arrangements, Dancy said.

And remember that it’s OK to seek support, which all of us need from time to time, whatever we’re going through. Especially a difficult divorce. “It can be highly beneficial for individuals to seek out a qualified therapist to help them navigate the murky, uncharted territory of a contentious divorce,” Broz said. Because your well-being is important. And whether you believe it or not right now, you deserve to prioritize your health.


Monday, 19 November 2018

How to Stay Healthy During a Divorce

Cope with the pain through diet, exercise and friendship.

NATALIE GREGGS, A family law attorney who practices in Allen, Texas, likens divorce to a death. The accompanying stress and grief is comparable to a physical loss, she says, and affects you both physically and emotionally.

“I tell my clients, ‘Imagine how you’re going to react to this death, and how it’s going to impact every part of your body – your mind, your stomach, even your ability to walk,” Greggs says. “Self-care is the number one thing that gets you through the day.”

Not only does self-care help get you through the day during a divorce, it’s also important for your future well-being. Research suggests divorced individuals face a heightened risk for certain long-term chronic health problems – a scary prospect, considering that experts estimate the lifelong probability of a marriage ending in divorce to be 40 to 50 percent.

Going through a divorce? Here are some tips on how to stay sane, healthy and hopeful during the painful process.

Get some exercise. This is one of the first pieces of advice Greggs gives her clients. “If you’re not on a regular exercise routine, get on one,” Greggs says. “You don’t have to belong to a gym. You don’t have to do anything fancy. Just take a walk every day.”

Exercise helps your body produce feel-good brain chemicals called endorphins. It also increases self-confidence, improves sleep and reduces symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression, says Lindsay Hunt, a certified integrative nutrition coach and personal trainer based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Any type of physical movement counts as exercise: dancing, walking, yoga, swimming. The most important part, though, is finding something you enjoy. That way, you’ll be likely to repeat it on a regular basis.

Hunt recommends finding a friend or workout buddy to hold you accountable. That person will make sure you have no excuse to stay on the couch.

Overhaul your diet. When we're sad, we tend to gain or lose weight. During a divorce, these ups and downs can quickly veer out of control.

“I had a slender client who, over the course of a year, proceeded to lose probably 50 pounds,” Greggs recalls. “By the end of her case, she was skeletal.” In contrast, Mikki Meyer, a licensed marriage and family therapist who practices in New York City, describes a patient who gained nearly 100 pounds.

If you’re binging on unhealthy foods, Hunt recommends taking a pre-emptive approach. Eat three square meals a day, and make sure to combine protein, fat and carbohydrates. Doing so keeps your blood sugar stable, preventing dips that lead to cravings. And make sure to avoid sugar, artificial ingredients, salty foods, excessive caffeine intake and alcohol.

More motivation to consider your diet: It also affects your mood. “Eating the right foods may ease depression and calm anxiety” during a divorce, Hunt says. She recommends drinking plenty of water, as studies indicate that dehydration can increase cortisol levels, or stress hormones. Also, a diet high in antioxidants might ward off depression – so make sure to fill your plate with fruits and veggies.

Additional research suggests omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fatty wild fish and nuts, support brain function and elevate mood. Steel-cut oatmeal is a soothing comfort food that provides serotonin-boosting complex carbohydrates. And bone broth is full of minerals, like magnesium, that the body can easily absorb. It’s simple to make into soup and promotes healthy digestion when your stomach is upset.

Can’t eat? Drink protein shakes or green vegetable juices, or add gelatin and quality whey proteins to your smoothies. And consider increasing your intake of protein and healthy fats, such as eggs, avocados and nuts. This way, you won’t drop too many pounds.

“It is important to feed your body even if you are not hungry, as our immune systems become extremely vulnerable and weak during times of sadness and stress," Hunt says. "Finding foods that are comforting and easy to get down is important for your health."

Stick to a normal schedule. “Consistency is important” for your emotional health, Greggs says. “Show up to work on time. Have your routine. Make [yourself] and your children go to bed when you usually go to bed. Don’t act like the divorce is ending your life.”

Get sunshine. “Aim for sunlight every day,” Hunt advises. Sunlight boosts the brain’s serotonin supply. It also provides your body with vitamin D.

Take preventive health measures. Mark Hayward, a sociology professor and director of the Population Research Center at the University of Texas--Austin, researches the long-term health impacts of divorce. His findings indicate that the stress of divorce can accelerate the biological processes that lead to cardiovascular disease. Divorced, middle-aged women, he says, are more likely to develop heart disease than non-divorced, middle-aged married women.

And a recent study by sociologists at the University of Chicago showed that divorced or widowed individuals are 20 percent more likely than married people to have chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer.

Bottom line? After a divorce, don’t wait for years to see whether it affected your long-term health, Hayward advises. Instead, take steps to try to ensure your health isn’t harmed in the first place. Seek preventive health education and medical care, and proactively engage in heart-healthy habits.

Locate a support network. “When people split up, they often lose their friendship bases,” Meyer says. “Their friends usually pick one or the other; it’s too difficult to have [both couple members] in their lives.” During a divorce, this kind of social isolation can worsen depression and anxiety.

If you can’t rely on your old social networks, Meyer says to find new ones – just as long as they’re free of your ex-spouse. Join a support group; attend outings; go to church.

“I don’t care if it’s a knitting class,” Meyer says. “As long as it’s yours.”

Relax. Divorce-induced stress can induce all kinds of physical maladies. When it comes to her clients, Greggs says she’s seen it all: gastrointestinal issues, hair loss, high blood pressure, crashing immune systems and more.

To keep stress at bay, Greggs tells her clients to get regular massages. Meanwhile, Meyer recommends her patients join a yoga group. “It helps them get grounded. They can breathe, calm themselves down and feel their body again,” she says.

For those who can’t afford these activities, Meyer suggests joining community centers, which offer low-cost yoga classes and programs. And for birthday and Christmas presents, she tells them to ask for gift certificates to see a massage therapist.

Stay mindful. Mindfulness is an Eastern philosophy that teaches individuals to be continuously aware of the present instead of worrying about the past or future. Greggs tries to teach it to her clients.

“Enjoy your children when you’re with them. Or go outside in the morning, and just look at the sun rising. It’s simple things like this that keep you grounded in reality – not catastrophic thinking,” Greggs says.

Consider seeing a therapist or another mental health professional. During a divorce, if you’re genetically predisposed to clinical depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions, you might want to consider visiting a psychiatrist or psychologist. For clients who aren’t open to the idea, Greggs encourages them to visit a general medical practitioner for an overall wellness checkup – including a depression screening.

Don’t rush into another relationship. In the wake of a divorce, Meyer says her clients often engage in impulsive behavior. “This can lead them in a direction that is self-destructive,” she says. “They get involved in bad relationships and repeat old patterns. They’re trying to repair something from their past with this new person. And it’s not something they’re conscious of [at the time].”

Both Gregg and Meyer advise divorcees to stay single – at least for a little bit. Instead of seeking comfort in a new partner, focus on yourself.

“My clients sometimes start crying, and they say, ‘I’m never going to find anyone again,” Greggs says. “And sometimes I’ll just say, ‘You don’t need anybody. You just need you to be happy.’”


Friday, 16 November 2018

How to Handle a Toxic Divorce

When an ex puts your emotional, physical, or financial wellbeing at risk.

Most divorces begin with hurt. Both parties may point the finger at the other person for the demise of the marriage. Accusations of infidelity, mismanagement of money or intrusion of in-laws are relatively common. As the divorce process begins, there may be animosity and heated discussions as decisions regarding the division of property, bank accounts, child visitation and custody arrangements are being made. Over time, people typically adjust to their new situation and the animosity diminishes. Even if one or both parties claim they don’t like each other, attempts are made to establish a civil way to communicate with one another, especially if there are children involved. Sometimes, divorced couples establish a “new” relationship and a friendship develops.

A toxic divorce, however, is a completely different scenario. Many courts define it as a “high conflict divorce” where each party escalates the contention. The toxic divorce, as I define it, is when one party wants to dissolve the marriage in a more equitable way while the other person not only refuses to cooperate, but they create a consistent string of chaos and ill will. 
Toxic behaviors may include stalking, harassment, threats made to one’s physical safety and health, hiding marital assets, sullying a person’s reputation, damaging property, and alienating children from the targeted parent.

Toxic divorces tend to last longer than a typical divorce; some as long as eight to ten years as one person continues to block the divorce progress at every turn. As the targeted partner tries to develop a new life, the former partner will often escalate the contention and extend the toxicity to the target’s new friends, a love interest, family members or employers.

The first line of defense in navigating around a toxic divorce is finding an attorney whose definition of a toxic divorce includes predicting the possible extreme behavior that can be exhibited by the warring partner. These behaviors may include refusing to pay child support, violating child custody or visitation, attempts to destroy the reputation of the targeted spouse with their friends, family, and employers and to alienate the children. It’s critical that the targeted partner’s attorney has the skill-set to mitigate much of these behaviors by defining a very specific settlement written into the divorce decree. The items in the decree such as child custody/visitation, division of property, and child support/alimony must be defined with great detail. For example, a visitation schedule that reads, “The children are to visit with the father (or mother) every other Friday for the weekend” may work for most of the divorced population whose efforts are to protect the health and well-being of the children. However, a statement like this will be a nightmare for the targeted parent. A person whose mission is to be contentious will likely bring the children home at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday nights. Although bringing the children home at this time may fall within the guidelines of the agreement, the action to bring children home late on a school night makes it evident that the intentions are to upset the targeted parent.

To avoid these potential situations, a more specific statement such as, “The father (or mother) is to pick up the children every other Friday, beginning on (the first date) at 4:30 p.m. at (named location). The father (or mother) is to return the children to the mother (or father) (named location) the Sunday of each of his/her weekend no later than 6:00 p.m. (EST).

Additionally, I strongly suggest that someone going through a toxic divorce secure a court appointed judge for their case. Since toxic divorces typically spend a great deal of time in court, a judge who is familiar with the case can make better decisions regarding the case and impose sanctions/punishments, if necessary. If a judge determines that one of the parties is creating a long-term unrelenting toxic situation, the judge has the power to take drastic measures to diffuse the contention. For example, if a spouse refuses to pay child support or reduces it without court approval, a judge can take action by writing a court order to have the monies taken out of the person’s salary to be paid directly to the recipient.

Another important step to mitigate a toxic divorce is the use of trustees. Trustees are attorneys that help you dissolve marital assets such as cash, real estate, cars, boats, art, vacation homes, pensions, retirement accounts or jewelry. Expecting the contentious spouse to be “fair,” while selling or re-appointing marital assets, is unrealistic so all property must be handled by a third party. Trustees will itemize everything and decide how they are to be divided, where and when.

A contentious unrelenting divorce will wreak havoc on one’s physical and emotional health so it is imperative to assure that self-care is a priority. It is common for people to place their children’s needs, their jobs and household responsibilities above their own health. I believe it is essential to carve out specific time each day to refresh and nourish oneself. This may be achieved through physical activity or quiet meditation. Whatever the preferred modality for rejuvenation, it must be consistent so that one has the emotional and physical strength to effectively circumvent the constant and escalated conflicts.

It is essential to have a strong support system, even if that is only two or three people. These should be people who are trusted and empathetic to what is going on. It’s a good idea to have a “check-in” system with one or two people where a text, email or phone call is made every day to assure that the targeted spouse is safe. This is especially necessary if there has been physical violence in the past. If there have been threats of or actual physical violence, a report should be made to the police and a protective order may be put into effect. Protective orders set boundaries that keep the offender a specified distance from their target. Protective orders are very serious and violations of them may result in jail time.

A toxic divorce is very challenging and will push the targeted individual to exhaustion. A targeted person needs to remember that they cannot change the behavior of the person who has made it their main objective to create chaos for the target. The only way to effectively diminish the impact of the toxic divorce is to limit one’s response to their antics and maintain as much emotional composure as possible. Toxic divorces are overwhelming so it is better to take each day one at a time, each step one at a time.


Thursday, 15 November 2018

Helping Kids Cope with Your Amicable Divorce

When divorce is an obvious solution to a disastrous marriage, it’s easier for kids to understand. If either parent is abusive to partner and kids, an addict whose habit has thrown the family into poverty, or a criminal in the world and a tyrant at home, it makes sense to children that the more balanced parent would want to take them away from all that. When home is a place filled with tension, where everyone has to walk on eggshells to avoid a blowup, where the primary contact between the grownups is fighting and violence or seething hostility, kids often want out as much as one of their parents.

But what can the kids make of it when the reasons for the divorce aren’t so obvious? Adult reasons aren’t always appropriate to share with kids. The reasons you can share may seem lame to them. You’re not happy. You and your partner don’t share the same interests, activities, or goals. You or your partner is attracted to someone else. Sex isn’t what you think it should be. Daily life is boring at best; clouded by low-grade hostility at worst. Little decisions get left to one or the other. Big decisions seem impossible. Maybe there is a hidden addiction (gambling, shopping, Internet porn) that is eroding the marriage but isn’t visible to the children. You and your partner aren’t a team. You aren’t in love. You think life has to be better than this. But you’ve been wise enough to shield the children from your growing unhappiness.

Adding to the kids’ confusion is that you and the other parent have managed to work out a way to be responsible parents in spite of growing apart from each other. Maybe you’ve divided the turf, with each of you taking on different tasks — one becoming the caregiver; the other doing specific routines. Maybe you can’t talk to each other but you can both talk to the kids. Most important, the kids know you both love them. Kids, being kids, think the way you are together is the way all parents live. They think your family is no different from anyone else’s. They think everything is fine.

Although an amicable divorce is what most adults would want and what is ultimately better for the kids, it only adds to their bewilderment. If you guys can get along so well, they think, why couldn’t you just stay married and keep our family together?

Make no mistake. For the children in such a situation, your divorce is their catastrophe. They can’t believe it. From where they sit, you’ve got a good family. They love you both and don’t believe that you don’t love each other. Their usual reaction is panic and protest. They don’t want it to happen. They worry it’s their fault. They fantasize they can do something to stop it or fix it. They worry their parents will divorce them, just as they are divorcing each other. They hate it. They may even hate you for disrupting their life, for making the other parent leave, for changing things that seemed just fine to them.

Helping your kids through your amicable divorce is a long-term proposition. Since there was no obvious blowup and blowout, the kids will return to questioning the decision at each stage of their development. If you expect it, if you respond with age-appropriate answers, if you can avoid being defensive, the issue will quiet down again until the next developmental milestone. It often takes until they are adults and have had experience with adult relationships for them to really understand.

There are some common and predictable issues at every “why did you have to go and get a divorce?” conversation along the way:

  • The kids will wonder if somehow the divorce is their fault. Since they don’t understand adult reasons for separating, since they are by definition narcissistic little beings, they will assume that it is something they did or didn’t do that drove one parent away or made the other one unwilling to stay a couple. Little kids will think it’s because they did something “bad.” Older kids will think they didn’t do well enough in school or didn’t obey enough of the rules or weren’t the right kind of kid. Teens are especially vulnerable to thinking it’s all their fault. You and their other parent will need to reassure them many, many times that the divorce is not about them.
  • The flip side is that they will fantasize that they can get you two back together. They may even try to engineer it. They will try hard to be extra, extra “good” so that you will want to be a family again. They will try to manipulate situations so that you and the other parent have to get together and talk. They may try to sabotage a new relationship. You and their other parent will need to relieve them of their imagined responsibility for recreating the family. You’ll need to explain many, many times that the divorce is permanent.
  • The kids will worry you will “divorce” them too. Their reasoning is that since you once loved your partner but left, you could leave them too. You and their other parent will need to explain to them frequently that partner love is different from parent love and that there is nothing they can do that will make either of you stop loving them or being their parents.
  • In their efforts to make sense of the situation, kids will sometimes decide that one or the other parent is really the bad guy. Sometimes in a moment of temper, they will say terrible things: “You’re such a ____, it’s no wonder my father/mother left you!” “My dad/mom must have an awful secret or you wouldn’t have left!” Whatever your own feelings about your former spouse, kids need to feel that they have two good parents. You both will need to explain many, many times that the other parent is a perfectly good person but wasn’t a good partner for you.
  • Often kids will make threats in attempts to get their parents to stay together or reunite. “I’ll run away.” “I’ll hate you forever.” “I won’t cooperate with your arrangements for where I should live or who I should be with.” You and their other parent need to repeat many, many times that you understand why they are so upset but that threats don’t solve the problems. You’ll need to have many, many serious talks about what might make things work better for them.

There’s no such thing as an easy divorce when there are children. Divorcing amicably doesn’t guarantee that the children will go along with the new arrangement without turmoil. They need empathy. They need your support. They need you to acknowledge that you are disrupting their lives. They need to be validated that you are making the choice that, yes, you are really so unhappy that at this point your happiness comes before theirs.

When parents are honest about how hard the divorce is on their children, the kids usually eventually accept it. It’s unfair to expect them to like it. It’s unreasonable to look to them to support the decision. But when children and teens feel heard, they are more likely to join in constructing a new idea of their family. The parents’ job is to work very hard to be cooperative co-parents and to do as much as possible to accommodate the kids’ needs for predictability and stability in the midst of the major disruption that even the most amicable divorce creates for them.


Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Choose what you focus on, choose how you feel, choose what you get

"Where your attention goes, energy flows and results show"
- T Harv Eker
The Reticular Activating System is the part of the brain that filters out what we detect via our senses. We filter out based on what we've trained our minds to notice and if we constantly see the negative, then that's what we'll see more of, and this will ensure that ours is a life of struggle. If we instead focus on gratitude, positivity and energy then that will be how we view the life and this will in turn yield results in terms of how we feel about life.
This video helps to explain how the many ways of observing the same scenarios can indicate where our focus is and can indicate where we'd be better served to train ourselves to respond more appropriately.
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Thanks and have a great day!

Divorce after 50: What I wish I had known beforehand

Advice for navigating a late-in-life split

Divorce is never easy, but couples over 50 who end their marriages face particular hurdles. Below, people who went through a late-in-life divorce share six things they would tell their younger selves, offering ways others can learn from their experiences:

“I wish I had known how the divorce would impact my oldest children even more than my youngest still at home.”
Gail Konop, a 57-year-old yoga studio owner whose 2011 divorce ended a 25-year marriage, said her son who lived at home slowly got used to her new reality, which wasn’t as easy for her adult daughters. “He got to see us as individuals living in his life. He saw how there was less stress, and he got used to it. But my daughters are coming home periodically and they couldn’t keep up with the changes.” At one point, Konop says her daughter announced, “I don’t want to come home anymore — it’s so weird.” If you’re considering a divorce and kids are involved, don’t assume you are sparing your children by holding on, only to divorce once they’re out of the house.

“I wish I’d explored the job market before I separated; I think I would have worked harder to try to keep the marriage together if I’d realized just how bleak things are out here.” For older adults, especially women who have been out of the workforce, re-entering it can be more even more challenging than they expect. Look into getting advice from financial and career counselors to consider your options for long- and short-term planning post-divorce. Beth Hodges, a family law attorney at Horack Talley in Charlotte, N.C ., says the input of those experts can be helpful when negotiating the amount of alimony and property settlement.

“Sometimes when we’re negotiating, I have a client who wants to get her degree to increase her earning capacity. We’ll find out what the cost would be to go back to school and get statistics on what type of income my client can expect to receive once she finishes,” which then gets figured into the settlement package, so the main breadwinner will pay for her education instead of alimony.

“I wish I had known how painful it would be.” Kelly James, a ghostwriter who was 50 when she divorced after 19 years of marriage, was surprised by how long it took her to adjust to the loneliness of living alone.

“Even if you don’t have the happiest of marriages, there’s something comforting about having someone in your home, your bed. I’m lonely sometimes and miss being part of a twosome,” says James. “It’s also difficult to not have my kids with me all the time — their dad and I do a good job of co-parenting, but I miss them when they’re at his house.”

In addition to suggesting the pursuit of new hobbies and volunteer opportunities, Hodges recommends therapists to her clients as a way of helping them adjust to their new life. “[Divorce] is a very traumatic, life-rattling experience, especially if you’ve been married for 25 to 35 years,” says Hodges. She reassures her clients that in time, they’ll not only recover, but emerge stronger. “[Divorce] can be transformative,” says Hodges. She tells her clients, “‘You’re going to survive and feel better about yourself and about your future.’ Almost to a person they’ll come back to me and say, ‘You were absolutely right.’”

“I didn’t think my friends would actually bail on me, but I was wrong.” Lynn Cohen, a Chicago-area divorce attorney who serves on the board of the women’s divorce support nonprofit The Lilac Tree, sees it all the time with her older female clients: “A lot of their friends cut them off — even their best friends. You might keep one or two close friends, but that whole crowd is not going to be there. They’ll help you while you’re going through [the divorce] but not after it’s done.”

She advises her clients to get ahead of this social shift and be proactive about expanding their networks by joining groups that set up travel opportunities for single people, and by volunteering. “If you’re not active in your community and giving back, you’re kind of by yourself,” Cohen notes. She also cautions against relying too heavily on divorced friends. “Every divorce is a different set of facts and circumstances and must be viewed individually. They’ll say, ‘When I was divorced, I was able to get everything in the house.’ That’s unnerving and usually bad advice. I tell people that they’re going to have to make their own life,” says Cohen.

“I wish I had known how expensive it would be.” James was shocked that her uncontested, relatively conflict-free collaborative divorce still cost nearly $35,000.

“In retrospect, a ‘traditional’ would have probably been a lot less expensive,” she says. Collaborative divorce eschews adversarial strategies and litigation. Cohen advises consulting a divorce attorney as soon as a client suspects she or he may need one to get a jump on figuring out how to pay for the divorce and life after. Alimony may be sparse if a couple already living on retirement savings splits, so would-be divorcĂ©es may need time for their exit strategy.

Hodges has a simple tip when it comes to saving divorce attorney fees: stay off the phone. “Sometimes clients run up their bills because they’re constantly calling us and engaging us in half-hour consultations. We’re there to counsel and provide guidance to a client, but there is a cost,” says Hodges.

The first thing you should do when hiring an attorney, she says, is “Ask questions about the attorney’s billing practices, how the lawyer charges. If there are things you can do for the attorneys, like gathering financial information, you can save money by doing that yourself.”

“I wish I had known how liberating it would be — and how that can be a little scary.” Says Konop: “Being only responsible for myself (and my kids) has let me make decisions based on what I want. From little decisions like what to hang on the wall of my house to bigger ones like where to travel and what kinds of projects to do on the house, is all up to me. That feels good but can also be overwhelming. It was like I had a second adolescence. I had so much fun, I knew myself so much better. At first, it was really nerve-racking and the dating world had changed. It was energizing (until it got exhausting.)”


Tuesday, 13 November 2018

The Six Signals of Divorce

Divorce should not be a surprise. Here are signals to watch.

On many occasions I have written about the issue of mutuality in divorce. In few cases do both partners reach the decision to divorce at the same time. Invariably, one of the partners, perhaps the one with a lower pain threshold, decides that she just can't live with the marriage any longer, and notwithstanding all the loss and dislocation of divorce, decides that it would be better than continuing the marriage. Although the initiator can be and frequently is the husband, it is the wife in about seventy five percent of divorces who initiates the ending of the marriage. The non-initiating spouse may be close behind and may quickly agree that divorce is the best option. Or, he may be resistant, arguing that the marriage can be salvaged if only they try one more time and a little harder. In some cases the non-initiator is completely thunderstruck arguing that they have an acceptable marriage and is she out of her mind to want to put the family through a divorce?

The issue of mutuality is very important because the way it is managed generally determines whether the divorce will be amicable or bitter. As I have explored the reasons for this elsewhere I won't go into depth here.

All I want to do is to set the stage for a discussion of how one tells if a divorce is imminent. My goal is to educate the otherwise oblivious spouse who is surprised by the divorce even though the warning signs have been evident for a long time. It is not my mission here to explore why marriages fail. My goal is limited to helping people recognize the warning signals as early as possible.

Marriages don't break; they erode over time. Each time a sarcastic or hurtful remark goes without repair or apology some of the bond that holds a couple together washes away. Each time a spouse fails to identify an emotional need of the other and attend to it, a little more glue disappears. Each time a conflict is avoided because the couple despairs of constructive discussion and resolution there is more erosion. And each time sex is refused or avoided because one of the partners feels emotionally disconnected the process accelerates.

There are numerous other sources of erosion including the displacement of time and attention to the marriage by obsessive concerns with career or children. And even though there may be some explosive precipitating event such as an affair revealed, most of the time there is severe erosion by the time of the discovery. So how does one tell that the erosion has brought the marriage to the point of divorce?

The next time you are in a restaurant look for the sad couple eating dinner in silence. They make little or no eye contact and have little or no conversation. They are completely disengaged and are simply enduring the meal until they can finish and leave. That's a couple on the verge of divorce. It may not happen soon and may not happen at all because there are couples who are held together by nothing but inertia and fear. But at least one or both of these unfortunates are thinking about divorce.

There are six signals of impending divorce. There are probably many more but these are the big ones.

1. No Conflict Resolution

The noted researcher John Gotman has argues that it is not lack of communication that sinks a marriage but, rather, lack of effective conflict resolution. Couples who have not evolved a way to resolve differences without injury to the relationship end up avoiding disagreement and conflict. One or both has arrived at a point of despair that it is pointless to try to resolve a difference with his/her mate. It may be that one or both are simply conflict avoidant. Or one or both may regard every conflict as a fight to be won by bullying the other into submission. What matters is that someone has given up. Differences are submerged resulting in a loss of respect, increasing distance and gradual withdrawal.

2. Emotional Disengagement

Emotional engagement is a minimum requirement for the development and maintenance of intimacy. Willing discussion of feelings, one's own feelings and the other's feelings are a part. Interest in the emotional life of the other and empathic engagement of each other's emotional life all constitute the required elements for an intimate relationship.

3. Disaffection

Emotional engagement is generally accompanied by the withdrawal of affection. If your wife has disengaged emotionally from you she probably doesn't feel much love for you. Divorcing people commonly say that "they have fallen out of love." And depending on how sour the relationship has become one or both probably don't like each other very much.

4. Lack of Sex

Sex both expresses and reinforces emotional connectedness. When a couple has not had sex in a long time it is usually a reliable indicator that emotional disengagement is advancing steadily. It is yet another indicator that the partners take no pleasure in each other and that the bonds are rapidly eroding if not already in a terminal state.

5. Increased Focus outside the Marriage

Empty marriages are very boring. Some couples compensate by pouring themselves into their children so that child centered activity becomes the sole content of family life. Others pour themselves further into careers working late every night so the time with the other is minimized. And as emotional satisfaction is sought exclusively outside the marriage the probability of an affair soars. The majority of affairs I see in my practice have started with a coworker who takes an interest and is fun to be with.

6. Preparation for a Single Life
I recall a couple I worked with many years ago in which the husband, as part of his planning for the coming divorce, took a second mortgage on he house to pay for a hair transplant to improve his dating prospects. Although this was a bit extreme it is typical for the initiating spouse to begin preparing herself or himself by getting in shape, losing weight, attending to hair and wardrobe and other things to enhance appearance. And particularly with women who have stayed home we often see a new interest in refreshing or acquiring a career to be less dependent on the earnings of the husband. We also will often see the initiator taking up an activity such as tennis or golf without involving the other spouse and generally beginning to build a social network as a single rather than as a couple.

What to Do?

If you see yourself in this scenario it would be understatement to say that your marriage is in serious trouble. I would not try to prognosticate about the precise tipping point beyond which a marriage is absolutely doomed. But I can say that these signals, or at least most of them, are present in almost every divorcĂ© I mediate. At a minimum it is time for a long and honest talk with your spouse. If you can't have that talk without it deteriorating into blaming and recrimination, suggest an urgent session with a marriage counselor or family therapist. 
Because if you are heading for divorce, the sooner the two of you face the issue and plan for an amicable separation, the better your chances of achieving a good and non destructive divorce.