it is better to wait to get married

5 Reasons It Is Better To Wait To Get Married

it is better to wait to get married

 

As wedding season approaches, it strikes me that considering the reasons why not to rush into marriage is timely.  I distinctly remember being a college student in the 1970s and feeling pressured to tie the knot while many of my friends were racing to the altar with record speed. I didn’t feel that I had much of a choice.  Hopefully, we are free of the stigma attached to being single in the 21st century and can openly refute the notion that marriage is the solution to personal unhappiness or loneliness.

It appears that ambiguity in romantic relationships is on the increase in the past decade and options range from friends with benefits to indecision about permanent commitment.  According to Scott Stanley, co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver, “Ambiguity is now the norm as opposed to clarity.” Author Jessica Massa, who interviewed hundreds of singles and couples for her book, “The Gaggle: How to Find Love in the Post-Dating World” informs us that many couples claim exclusivity but won’t call it a relationship.

Multiple factors have merged together to create a generation of ambiguity. However, one of the most compelling reasons is cultural since the first generation of children to grow up witnessing mass divorce are now young adults making their own decisions about love and commitment. It makes sense that people in their 20’s and 30’s might hedge their bets and see relationships as risky if they watched their parents’ marriage fail or even relatives and friends’ parents’ marriage collapse.

It Is Better To Wait To Get Married

Richard Settersten, Ph.D. and Barbara E. Ray, authors of Not Quite Adults  speculate that many people harbor misconceptions about a recent trend to delay marriage, believing that young adults are afraid of commitment and are abandoning marriage.  They write, “Marriage is on hold for this generation, but it is delayed, not abandoned. The majority of young people eventually marry. They are just getting their ducks in a row before they do.”

For instance, Kayla is an attractive, athletic, twenty-seven-year-old that is attending graduate school to become a nurse practitioner. She’s happily single and has made a decision to stay unmarried amidst the pressure to be part of a couple. She puts it like this: “I just haven’t met the right guy yet and won’t settle until I do.” She pauses and says, “I’m fine being alone and don’t need a partner to feel good about who I am.”

A groundbreaking study by Stephanie S. Spielman demonstrates that fear of being single is a meaningful predictor of settling for less in relationships and staying with a partner who is wrong for you. The first step in facing your fear of being alone is shrugging off any stigma attached to being single. In her Huffington Post article How to Be Alone (And Not Be Unhappy) Poorna Bell writes, “There is a problem, a serious cultural problem, about solitude. Being alone in our present society raises an important question about identity and well-being.” Bell posits that there is a contradiction in US culture since we value individualism and autonomy, yet we both fear and dread being alone.

Growing up, you probably weren’t given good examples of how to be alone.

Everything you see in the media promotes how to find the right partner, and make it work. There’s nothing wrong with seeking love because it’s beautiful and can bring about some of the most treasured moments in our lives. But very few people know how to be alone and do it well. They aren’t happy to be alone. They fear it and seek love wherever they go. Too often the pleasure they find with falling in love is the sweet release of no longer being by themselves in the world.

Often single women may be especially reluctant to acknowledge the challenges of being alone for fear of being seen as desperate or needy. According to author Sara Eckel, many of the stereotypes we have about single women are misleading. She writes, “The single life isn’t a prison sentence nor is it a cocktail party. It is simply a life – a life with responsibilities and rewards, good days and bad ones, successes, and failures. In her article “Stop Telling Women They Are Fabulous,” she reminds us that we need new norms for understanding single women in our culture because in times past they were seen as lonely spinsters, quietly languishing in their studio apartments.

Maria Shriver, author of The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink, is attempting to educate young women about the value of being independent while seeking equal partnerships. She says, “I’m trying to teach my daughters that they have to think of themselves as providers and not being provided for. I want to talk to them about being smart about relationships and about money and their futures. I’m trying to teach them not to look at boys as the enemy but to look at them as somebody who will be a partner in whatever they do.”

According to author Whitney Caudill, “Feeling loneliness or fear from time to time as a single person is normal. In fact, it is normal for everyone.” The key is to recognize this and realize that these are just feelings. Staying in a relationship that is going nowhere to avoid loneliness rarely produces good results.

Here are 5 reasons why it is better to wait to get married:

  • You are in a relationship that brings you down or you are often dissatisfied with it.  Ask yourself: Does your significant other inspire you to do your best? Perhaps he or she is overly critical or too focused on his or her needs to be supportive of you.
  • You feel you have to change yourself – your values, goals, or dreams for your partner to accept you. Since your partner is unwilling to compromise – you morph into someone else to accommodate their needs and subsequently lose vital parts of your identity.
  • You want to take your time to pick a partner who shares similar values and interests – this will enhance your chances of staying together.
  • You have a healthy respect for commitment and just haven’t met someone you want to make a permanent commitment with. Avoiding marriage before your late 20’s and dating a partner for at least two years will reduce your risk of divorce.
  • You’re content being single and don’t have a compelling reason to tie the knot.

In closing, there are real pressures and judgments in our culture associated with being single that can weigh heavily on people. Congratulate yourself on your decision to withstand the social pressures and expectations to be part of a couple or race down the altar. Embrace some of the pleasures of being single. When you remind yourself about what you like about yourself and what you are good at, your need for other’s approval will fade away and you’ll feel more self-confident in your lifestyle choice.

Follow Terry on Facebook, Twitter, and movingpastdivorce.com

More From Terry

5 Ways To Stop Settling For Less Than You Deserve In A Relationship

Should I Take A Chance On Marriage?

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people choose to get even

Why Do People Choose To Get Even Instead Of Get Over It?

people choose to get even

 

My ex is going through a second divorce. When it comes to creating a high conflict divorce situation my ex is quite talented. From what I’ve heard this new divorce is chock full of conflict, anger, and dismissal of other people’s feelings.

His soon to be ex can’t fight the divorce; she can’t keep the marriage together, so she has decided to get even with him. She is doing so via her Facebook page with snide comments and threats to shoot the “SOB.”

I’m not surprised at how either one is behaving throughout this process. Heck, I’m not surprised there is a divorce. I saw that coming from a mile away. You would think that people who have experienced divorce would learn to divorce without shredding each other emotionally and financially.

I hear from people weekly who are hell-bent on getting even with a spouse who has hurt them. They think getting over it and getting on with their life is dependent upon whether or not they are able to get even.

For instance, I heard from a woman who had been married for 27 years to an alcoholic. He, the alcoholic had filed for a divorce and was attempting to “clean her out” legally. She was appalled that a man who had been such a terrible, abusive husband could not take time to consider and honor their 27-year long marriage during the divorce process.

In retaliation to his lack of honor toward the marriage, she was asking the courts for lifetime alimony, the marital home and most of his retirement pension. Plus, she was sharing with anyone who would listen what a horrid husband he had been.

And she was STUCK!

These two people were in the middle of a divorce and playing the same game with each other they had for 27 years. He was disrespecting her; she was playing the martyr and expecting something from him that he had never been able to give her. They might as well have stayed married!

Why Do People Choose to Get Even?

Because habitual behavior is hard to break. Folks who spend a lot of time thinking they should get even with someone who has hurt them are a special breed. They have high expectations of how others should treat them. They view an affront by someone else as a personal injustice and due to that, it is their right to exact justice.

Instead of focusing on what they should do to productively deal with the problem, they focus on evening the score.

It is normal to feel resentment toward someone who hurts us, it isn’t normal to hold on to that resentment and allow it to rule your life. Most of us work through our resentment and in time move on with our lives.

Some though, never get over a divorce due to their inability to let go of the need to exact revenge. And in the long-run, their need to get even hurts them, not the other person. It takes over their life and has negative consequences to their health, spirituality and emotional growth. And, if they use the family court system to exact their revenge it costs them financially.

Letting Go of The Need to “Get Even:”

Some say that letting go of hurt and pain begins with forgiveness. I don’t believe that forgiveness is always the answer. In my opinion, forgetting by focusing on setting goals and moving forward can be more valuable than forgiving.

Let’s face it, if someone leaves you financially destitute or causes your children emotional harm, forgiving can be a lot to ask. Plus, you can’t forgive someone who has not asked for forgiveness so, instead of worrying over forgiving someone it is in your best interest to spend time thinking about moving forward in life instead of focusing on getting even.

Tips For Getting Over The Desire to “Get Even:”

  • Set goals and focus on doing what you need to do to attain those goals.
  • Replace thoughts of revenge with positive affirmations.
  • Create a life that is satisfying and rewarding. It really is the best revenge!
  • Take responsibility for your role in the relationship problems that led to divorce.
  • Focus on who and what you love, not on things that interfere with giving and receiving love.

Bottom line, folks who are intent on getting even are hard to love or, even like. Why rob yourself of the joy others can bring to your life by focusing all your attention on the pain caused by someone incapable of giving you what you deserve…friendship, support, and love.

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woman war narcissist

Divorcing a Narcissist Is Like Going To War: Here Is Your Battle Strategy

woman war narcissist

 

What fresh hell is this?

This was a recurring question I asked myself after filing for divorce from the man I had loved, devoted my life to, had children with, and who was also a diagnosed narcissist.

Looking back on my own experience, which was a brutal process that left me emotionally and financially battered, there were certain mistakes I made that could easily have been prevented had I known better. To be clear, divorcing a Narcissist is like going to war, and there are certain aspects to it that if you are aware of and wise to can make all the difference as to how you’ll come out on the other side.

Here is the advice that I wish I had had when going through it. Trust me when I say it could save yourself a lot of heartache, headaches, and potentially tens of thousands of dollars since narcissists aren’t just out to win the war, they’re out to annihilate to whatever degree they can.

For all of you preparing for that battle, or in the trenches of it, here are some tips that I would have given myself all those years ago and which would have made all the difference:

Divorcing a Narcissist Is Like Going To War: Here Is Your Battle Strategy

Find a fan-fucking-tastic attorney who is knowledgeable about abusers and personality disorders (warning: many lawyers are narcissists themselves).

Many attorneys are in this for the money and if you don’t have a good one, they will have no problem charging you for their services while the narcissist purposely creates situations that cost you money.

Make sure you and your attorney are both on the same page and never underestimate how a narcissist will lie, cheat, and steal in order to “win” the divorce. The more an attorney understands the below-the-belt tactics of a narcissist, the better she/he can protect you during the process.

Get rid of any and all illusions that your soon-to-be-ex is going to play nice or care about your well-being and best interests during the divorce or after.

This is where women can get into deep trouble while divorcing a narcissist. We want so badly to believe that our ex would never do anything on purpose to hurt us (especially if we are the mother of their children).

Unfortunately, this illusion will cost untold thousands of dollars in attorney fees because narcissists will mask their cruelty within the paperwork and hide their true intentions behind their lawyer (making it seem as if the lawyer was the one at fault).

Narcissists will do absolutely anything necessary to “win,” especially if you are the one who left them. They are punishers, and you can be sure that you’ll be the target of their punishment.

Stop being nice.

Another mistake that women often make in the divorce process is trying to be nice and playing fair. The problem is that while you are a good person and just trying to be considerate for the sake of everyone involved, a narcissist has no emotional attachment to your well-being and thus will have zero problem in taking everything he can from you (they are known to be particularly brutal during a divorce and step up their efforts to smear your name and drag you through the mud).

Though it may be difficult to step outside of your comfort zone and enter the icky world of a narcissist’s playbook, it’s imperative that you take your emotions out of the divorce process itself (the paperwork, the compromising, the wheeling and dealing) and look at it like a business deal, one that your future relies on. What’s “fair” in your eyes is not going to be even close to what a narcissist thinks is fair, because you’re relying on what’s fair to both of you, while a narcissist is only thinking what’s fair to him.

Navigate the divorce process as though your life depends on it…because it does.

One of the (many) mistakes I made when I divorced my ex was not demanding what I deserved regarding our finances. I had been a stay-at-home-and-work mom during much of our marriage (meaning that while raising our three children, I also helped manage our businesses, took care of our personal finances, went back to school for a Master’s degree, taught dance fitness classes, and built my practice as a board-certified holistic health coach) and was at my husband’s beck and call at all times.

The fact was, he could not have achieved any of our success (and likewise my success was dependent on our mutual participation in our joint ventures) without my valuable contribution. But at the time of the divorce, since I was emotionally and physically depleted after years of abuse, I neglected to stand up for my role in our financial success and therefore came out on the losing end (since I also had an attorney who neglected to stand up for my rights as co-contributor in marriage).

This is why it’s crucial to demand to receive what you’re worth and recognize that worth (such as raising your kids or helping build a business) even if you don’t have paycheck stubs to show for all your work. Again, if you concentrate on being fair and nice, you’ll end up with far less than what’s actually fair since a narcissist is anything but nice. This will require you to step up, make demands, and not be run over by the other party, which may be contrary to your very nature, but your future – especially your financial future – depends on every single decision you make during the divorce process. So give yourself one decision less to regret later on.

Don’t let the narcissist wear you down.

This is a tough one because by nature we victims of narcissistic abuse are empaths to our core. We are sensitive and caring beings. We are thoughtful, compassionate, and believe in the essential goodness of others. Add to that our fragile emotional state and vulnerability, and we are no better off than the target of an opportunistic wolf that is successful only through a tactic of relentlessly pursuing and wearing down their prey of choice.

A narcissist will doggedly harass, annoy, bother, and frustrate you in the hope that you’ll throw your hands up in the air and give them what they want. Don’t let them be successful because you will regret it later once you’ve recovered. Stick to your guns and go with your gut. And see it through to the end without sacrificing your integrity and without having to face a world of regret later on.

Never lose sight of your future (and your children’s future if you have them).

The most expensive mistake I made in my divorce, and the mistake that cost me not only tens of thousands of dollars but left me in enormous debt afterward was that I didn’t look into my future and prepare for it.

Honestly, my brain at the time felt like scrambled eggs, plus every time I saw my lawyer’s name pop up in my email or on my phone I got a stomachache that laid me up for the rest of the day, so I was not only easy prey for the wolf to devour, but afterward didn’t have the backup plan to put myself back together.

Especially if you are financially well-off (as I was) in the marriage, plan your future during the divorce as though you were planning your retirement, meaning that it’s crucial to figure out exactly what you’ll come away with after it’s final, where that will put you financially, and what your financial life will look like in the following several years (Will you be buying a new house? Will you move? Will you be able to support yourself? Are you changing jobs? Are you getting back into the workforce after a significant period of time? Are your kids’ education/savings/etc. taken care of? Will you be going to school?)

If you don’t have this foresight for yourself, you’re taking a huge gamble that everything will work out for the best. And if you’re divorcing a narcissist, that’s a gamble you don’t want to take.

I realize this list seems cynical and depressing. But trust me, you don’t want to learn the hard way like I did and which I’m still dealing with the fallout from nearly five years later.

Before I filed for divorce, my then-husband promised over and over again that he would always take care of me and our children for the rest of our lives. He swore that I would always be his family and he would make sure I was set up financially so I’d never had to worry about money again.

These promises of his only set me up for failure because I believed him, so when the shit hit the fan I could do nothing but stand there open-mouthed and dumbfounded when he launched his full-scale attack.

Believing him disarmed me, which was his intent. Had I known the destruction and lies a narcissist was capable of, I am certain I would have fared so much better because I would have at least been prepared.

Instead, this is how I actually fared: Once I filed for divorce, the letters from his attorney started, as did the lies and the cheating and the deliberate attempt to strip me of everything we had worked so hard together to create.

Flash forward to the present and my ex continues to live with his young and imported Russian girlfriend in our 10,000 square foot house that we built together. He continues to profit from the businesses we started as a couple and is reaping the rewards of an income that only increased once he got me out of the picture.

I’m not a religious person, but I’ve seen the devil and what he’s capable of.

There is no line a narcissist won’t cross.

There is no boundary a narcissist won’t breach.

There is nothing so low or unspeakable that a narcissist won’t attempt if it means casting you as the terrible one and him as the victim.

They will use their own children as collateral to get to you. And/or they will discard and/or punish their own children to get to you.

Because of this, it’s imperative that you prepare yourself for this war. You can do this with the right attorney, with the right mindset (no illusions, remember?), and with the understanding that you are facing a brutal enemy who will sweet talk you to your face while smearing your name and cheating you out of what’s yours behind your back.

And a narcissist will sleep well at night having no conscience to keep him awake.

The attorney I made the mistake of using during my divorce once said to me, “There are no winners in a divorce, Suzanna.” This is total bullshit. The divorce process is a game to a narcissist. And in my case, my ex won bigtime because he succeeded in his attempt to lie, cheat, and steal his way out of his obligations and responsibilities to me and our children.

This is why you have to stop playing nice and instead play as if your life depended on it. This doesn’t make you a terrible person. This doesn’t make you the narcissist. What it does is make you stronger, wiser, and better off at the end when you can look back on your divorce experience and know that you handled it like a boss, like the person that the narcissist always knew you were but tried to convince you otherwise.

You will come out of this experience with more than a few bumps and bruises, but at least you won’t be saddled with regret or put into a position of powerlessness that prevents you from diving into that great future waiting for you.

You’ve got this, baby. It will be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do in life, but one of the best because you are owning your power and taking back control of your life from the one who controlled it for so long. This war, this game, isn’t pretty. It isn’t easy. And it certainly isn’t something I’d wish on my worst enemy. But if you are prepared and go into it with your eyes wide open and your armor on, you’ll have a much better chance of coming out of it with your spirit and soul intact.

And the best part of all? You’ll be finally free to leave the narcissist in your dust as you drive forward into your fantastic future. And that, my love, is the biggest win of all.

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6 Things I’d Like My Ex To Know About Love

6 Things I’d Like My Ex To Know About Love

Broken Heart Couple.jpg

 

Growing up, I always pictured my adult life as finding my Prince Charming and being “in love” with bluebirds singing, rainbows, and happily ever after. Yeah right! What my adult life looked like in my marriage, was more of a nightmare instead of that happily ever after.

I knew what love was, I had felt it all my life growing up in a stable home with parents that showed love in their own marriage and showed love towards me. I knew what it was like to love someone. Unfortunately, I married someone that didn’t have a clue what love was or how to truly give it.

There are 6 things that I’d like my Ex to know about love that he didn’t seem to get while we were married:

1. Love is not a solo venture. To have a loving marriage requires TWO people, not just one that provides love to the other without anything in return. It seemed the more I gave, the less he gave in return. This wasn’t just in love but in everything.

2. Love does not inflict constant pain. When you love someone, you don’t constantly put them down, degrade them, make them feel less of a person than you. You support them, you help them when they need it, you encourage.

3. Love isn’t always 50/50: As in most things in life, relationships can be off balance where love flows stronger from one person to the other and as time goes, that shift occurs more naturally and provides for each other’s needs. The scales tip and at times they are even but sometimes they are off. That is OK. It isn’t always 50/50 and life isn’t always fair.

4. Love means doing everything you can to nurture it, protect it, and keep it from dying. Whether that be a date night, a surprise gesture of kindness, communication, compromise, or seeking professional help. It also means forgiveness. When you are in a loving relationship with someone, forgiveness is crucial. Holding grudges, feeling cheated, reminding the other how they ruined your life, are not things that foster love but destroy it.

5. The love of a child is priceless! This one I can’t stress enough. The love of a child is a gift that should be cherished. To not acknowledge that love and treat it as a nuisance, is just horrible in my opinion. My Narcissistic Ex didn’t want children and even now spends very little time with his children. What he fails to realize is that the attention he craves would come from his children if he just gave a damn.

6. Love and Sex aren’t the same! They are in a completely different league. Ideally, love leads to sex and makes it that much more meaningful. I’m not negating the importance of a healthy sexual relationship, but when sex is used as the only display of love and when it’s not provided, the relationship gets more abusive, then that is not love.

Love to me meant that I would try my hardest to help my partner, support him, encourage him, even when it was a nightmare. I would have been there for him through the process of getting help and working on himself, our marriage, and being a Father. I can’t say for sure that I would have stayed, as it would have taken a lot of rebuilding of trust in our relationship and a lot of healing, but I would have tried.

Most of all, I would like my Ex to really comprehend to the following quote and take it to heart if there is a heart in there at all. If he had followed this instead of using manipulation, violence, neglect, and all the other things he tended to display in our marriage, then who knows what type of life we would have had and our children might have had.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13

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anatomy of infidelity

The Anatomy Of Infidelity: What Is The Heart Of The Matter?

anatomy of infidelity

 

How many days or nights have I sat and thought about that word; “infidelity” over the past 20 years since my divorce?

Webster’s Dictionary defines it as the action or state of being unfaithful to a spouse. You never think that word will ever be introduced into your life.

But when it is, it hits you like a ton of bricks.

The Anatomy Of Infidelity

My husband was unfaithful throughout most of my marriage to him. Though I didn’t know until after I finally caught him at year 10 upon which we sought counselling and reconciled and then again at year 13 and by then I had been through quite enough, thank you.

I had just had our second child and 4 weeks into being a mother to our baby girl, I found out that he had been having an affair with a woman for a long time.

Actually, all throughout my pregnancy apparently and earlier. But really, he was having affairs and flings throughout our entire relationship. Even when I was in college.

He drove down to San Diego to tell me that he had been unfaithful. I had been dating him for about a month, so I really didn’t care. I didn’t even really know him. I remember telling my roommates how weird I thought it was that he drove all the way down from LA to tell me this when I didn’t even know him that well.

They thought it was sweet and a sign that he really did care and respected me. I still contended that I thought it was weird, but I pretended that it mattered to me just so he wouldn’t feel completely stupid for driving all the way down on a weeknight to tell me this.

I had met him the summer before I was starting college in San Diego. San Diego State University, a mere smorgasbord of good-looking guys.

I had no intention of focusing solely on him anyway. But he was a triathlete and I was intrigued by him and his self-discipline as he fine-tuned and calibrated his body to perform in competitions throughout the year.

Over time, I did fall in love and I looked forward to our weekends when he would ride his bike down from LA to San Diego. I would pick him up in La Jolla and he would literally fall onto the couch and sleep until he felt recovered enough to go out on a date.

I stopped noticing the amazing looking guys at school and fell hard for him and I transferred back to a school in L.A. so we could see each other more. God, I look back at that and see mistake number one. I should have gone with my gut and not listened to my roommates.

Sometimes your heart needs more time to accept what your mind already knows.

Unknown

By the time I had graduated from college, we had been dating for over 4 years. My parents gave me a trip to England for graduation and when I came home, I was restless. My three best friends were all getting married, so I put a gun to his head and said that the world was at my fingertips and it was now or never if we were to ever get married.

He looked at me and said with very little energy in his voice, “okay”. That was mistake number two.

The proposal was not initiated from his heart. It was initiated by the imaginary gun I had pointed to his temple. In his obligatory way, he surrendered. I look back at that now and think I was robbed of the proposal I should have gotten from a man who really did love me.

Probably one of the good-looking guys at SDSU! After we were married for about two years, he wanted to go to Croatia with his friend to see where his father was born and meet some of his long-lost relatives.

We couldn’t afford both of us to go and I supported his visit because it was his heritage. Little did I know the trip would be the real beginning of a marriage filled with infidelity right under my nose but because we were married and I had the model of my parents’ marriage in my head, I had no idea what things he was getting into.

Or what I was getting into. The friend he was traveling with was cheating on his wife and so he, being the Yoda to my husband’s Luke Skywalker, had to introduce him to his class of “How to have your cake and eat it too all while seeing Europe in 20 days”.

It wasn’t until after my divorce that I found out that they had been cheating with random women throughout their travels. I also found out that he had a fling with this friend’s sister in law a week before my wedding. And she was an attendee of our wedding! Oh, and that friend?

Well, how ironic that he ended up being the Godfather to our son; our firstborn.

Man, you can’t make this stuff up and some people really can live with themselves after committing crimes of the heart and aiding his Godson’s father to keep on cheating. He was his biggest cheerleader and the two friends had much in common.

I’m sure this noble Godfather looked at himself as a good man through his own lens. Thank God all these years later, he has made no impression whatsoever on my son who is a better man then that guy will ever be. Oh, and his wife? Well, they are still married.

She just still looks the other way as he travels around with other women. I don’t want to make a judgment on her. She has the right to do what she feels is right for her.

I am not of her culture or thinking. When I discovered that my husband had been having a long-term affair at year 13, you could bet that his pal was front and center right there with him. Cheering him on as he conspired to help him deceive his wife and two children. One of which was his Godson.

We’d forgive most things if we knew the facts.”
Graham Greene

As you can see infidelity became a way of life for my husband. And slowly but surely it became a way of life for me as well. Only for me, it was by way of ignorance and naivete.

I always hoped to convince myself that he would be faithful to his family. I always hoped that no woman would ever steal him from me; from us. But on both counts, I was dead wrong.

So, what is at the heart of the matter with infidelity?

Why do people cheat on their spouses?

Their children?

Why are these people filled with such discontent and dis-ease and insecurities?

And who on earth are “the other” people who accept these frauds into their lives and sometimes, their families?

I have spent time thinking about this because I am wired to want to know the answers. I am wired to seek to know what is behind this.

I want to know the real heart of this issue.

What is at the heart of infidelity?

Does it start in childhood? Does it start at adolescence?

Is it at the beginning of a bad relationship that just had no chance but kept on going all in the name of, “oh well”?

In my ex-husband’s case I think the heart of his matter had been an overbearing mother that developed into disrespect for women. A disdain that was manifested in infidelity.

His mother was a good woman in her own way. The culture my ex-husband was raised in was one that men are exalted, and women are an annoyance. But when he left his family which included his 4-week-old daughter, another telltale sign of disrespect for women, it was his mother that welcomed him home with open arms.

It was almost as if she was celebrating his arrival back to her womb. He returned to the woman who had no expectations on him. She didn’t expect him to be a man and deal with being a grown-up.

She was just happy to have her little boy home again.

So, did this feeling of dis-ease start with the mother? If so, did she know of her aiding and abetting? I know she never meant to hurt me.

I believed she always loved me, but her obligations to her son outweighed her sense of decency and compassion towards me. Thus, infidelity was introduced as an unwelcome word in her life too.

Maybe the genesis of a person committing infidelity is just due to living a life of want. Always wanting what someone else has. Maybe he saw freedom outside the picket fence of our home and that was a pull far stronger than any 4-week-old baby and 4-year-old boy inside the fence.

Or maybe his hatred for me was what drove him to this.

Maybe he didn’t like that I was a woman with a career that demanded periodic travel throughout the year. I was seeing the world as he was going to the same job every day that didn’t offer him any variety. The lure of a woman who didn’t work and who was a homemaker is what he knew. His mother never worked. My mother was dedicated to her career, a career my father supported totally, so my model was much different than his.

So maybe one, all, or none of these reasons is at the nucleus of the offense. It is fascinating to be outside of the eye of the hurricane 20 years later and breathe through the possible reasons why this word was so prominent in my life and remains prominent in our society with such a high divorce rate.

The national divorce rate is 40%. The divorce rate in California is 60%, so basically, as residents of California, we are a roll of the dice here in these parts!

Grace means that all of your mistakes now serve a purpose instead of serving shame.

Brene Brown

Since my divorce 20 years ago, I have wondered if the cheaters who introduce infidelity into our lives live with any shame? Or do the victims of the infidelity take it and carry it on only to now fully reside into their lives.

Those of us who have been a victim to spousal cheating find ourselves living with an intensely painful feeling that we are now unworthy of love and commitment from someone and we are left to contend with the deeper meanings of it all. The result is the shame you feel by being unlovable and your husband being “steal-able”.

I think it’s funny that the people who are unfaithful by committing the acts of infidelity on their spouses and children are proficient in living their daily lives with a huge secret. But on the day that the secret finally sees the light the day, they are emancipated in their openness only for the secret to now be quietly handed to the victims of the infidelity to carry.

The remaining family members are now consumed with shame and embarrassment that our husband and father betrayed us. As the wronged wife, you don’t want anyone to know this has happened, so they don’t judge you by thinking you were blind or ignorant.

I had many people say to me. “How did you not know!?” My response was, “It happens when you’re a full-time working mother who just had a baby. I was a little busy.”

But the saddest thing is that our children are also asked to carry their secret too. Because the last thing they want to face is that their dad left their mom and thus, left them too and they do not want their friends to know this truth about him.

So, they just don’t talk about it. And when someone asks them, they play it down as much as possible. My children are now 20 and 24 and I notice they still do this.

Compulsive Desire + Excuses and Rationalization + Willingness to Deceive + Opportunity = AFFAIR!

You may have noticed that I didn’t title this article, “Anatomy of an Adulterer”. I hate that word. It is a cop-out me. It also is an oxymoron in my opinion.

“Adult”- ery. Think about it. A real adult person who can decipher between right and wrong, good and bad, faithful and unfaithful is not given a permission slip to be an adulterer.

And the usual suspect is someone who can’t grow up, face responsibly and wants to run away from home! And the usual co-conspirator in the equation is a woman who wants to save him and be the mother they always wanted.

Good grief! They are meant for each other! But they are far from acting like adults! Enough said on that.

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.

Maya Angelou

So, what is the last lesson in all of this for me?

What do I know now that I didn’t know while I was in the storm, married to a man capable of deep infidelities?

Did I subconsciously deny what was happening all along?

Did I miss a million clues that presented themselves to me in the 14 years I was married to him and the 19 years I knew him?

Probably.

After all, he did show me who he was when he showed up at my apartment door in college to tell me he had cheated on me well before we had even started our relationship.

How long had I been sleeping?

And as I asked earlier, what kind of woman accepts a man who leaves an infant?

Well, here is what I have concluded. The last lesson is that it was never about me. It was always him and his demons. And I would assume it was about her and her demons as well. I look at them now as two lost souls who came together under the shroud of secrecy and at the expense of three people that did love him unconditionally.

But I am not burdened with that task any longer. Our children are his most valuable parting gift from me because they do continue to love him unconditionally. I don’t know if that kind of love is inside of the second marriage, he now finds himself in.

He married the woman and they have been together longer than he was with me now. Maybe he grew or just grew up. Maybe he sees the value of family and the sacredness of a wife now.

Or maybe he has never rehabilitated himself and she is his new easy target. I somewhat doubt it because she went into that relationship with a lot of information. I only hope that he has indeed improved his situation of “dis-ease” or “discontent” because we three were a high price to pay and he still has two young adults watching him and his actions still make impressions on them.

So, I suppose the closing arguments for the case of infidelity is that two people who had differing ways of approaching commitment had two very different relationships with each other. And he will never know what I loved in him and I will never know what he loved in me. And that will have to be the last piece on the definition of Infidelity as far as I am concerned.

The post The Anatomy Of Infidelity: What Is The Heart Of The Matter? appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Let’s Talk Divorce: Toxic Men: Are You a Narcissist Magnet?

Let’s Talk Divorce: Toxic Men: Are You a Narcissist Magnet?

 

Do you seem to go from one toxic relationship to another?

Have you ever asked yourself, “Is there something wrong with me that makes me a target for narcissistic, toxic men?”

The answer is maybe and no!

There is NOTHING wrong with you but, you may have qualities and traits that make you attractive to narcissistic and toxic men. Like moths to a flame, these men flutter around you waiting for an opening.

These qualities and traits give the narcissist a foot in the door and leave you wide open for their manipulations.

5 Traits that Attract Narcissistic, Toxic Men

You’re trusting

You’re trusting with everyone from the get-go. People don’t have to earn your trust, you readily give it until proven it hasn’t been earned. Narcissists use this to their advantage.

You treat others with respect and expect the same in return

It is in your nature to treat others the way you wish to be treated. The narcissist returns this treatment during the love-bombing phase. They use it to reel you in and get you so emotionally invested that once the disrespect begins, you’re in too deep to extract yourself from the relationship.

You love unconditionally

You love unconditionally

In fact, you love to a fault! You may be in love with the idea of love.

Narcissists use this against you after the love bombing period. They know that no matter what they deprive you of in the relationship, you’re going to continue to love them.

You’re empathetic and compassionate

These traits make it easy for you to make excuses for the narc’s bad behavior. You make excuses for the narc based on his “victim” stories. He was molested by a priest, he was emotionally abandoned by his mother. And on and on. Being empathetic, instead of holding him accountable for bad behavior, you hold his mother or that priest accountable. You believe that love, your love, will heal those old wounds and he’ll become the person he was during the love-bombing phase again.

You have trouble setting boundaries

You fear setting boundaries because you fear abandonment. With family, friends, coworkers and romantic relationships, you allow people to take advantage of you. Due to this, you are easily manipulated by the narcissist, toxic man.

You know how you should be treated, you just fear vocalizing it.

The post Let’s Talk Divorce: Toxic Men: Are You a Narcissist Magnet? appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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wife cope with infidelity and divorce

How Does a Wife Cope With Infidelity And Divorce? Here’s How I Did

wife cope with infidelity and divorce

 

The morning after our divorce negotiations began one of the horses on our farm became trapped in wire. The mare was starting to panic and the more she moved, the harder the wire cut into her flesh.

Fence fixing, indeed most tasks mechanical, had been my husband’s job.  But he was gone.  Broken boards swung from rusty nails and wobbly fence posts surrendered to buffeting winds.

The small section of high tensile wire in the back pasture had collapsed under the weight of a fallen tree where our herd of horses grazed. The mare had stumbled onto it and her hind legs were ensnared.  I called my husband’s cell once, twice, three times.

No answer.

I asked my teenaged daughter, Isabelle, to get wire cutters.  More than 20 agonizing minutes later she brought back three wrenches. We’re on our own, I thought. Then I stopped thinking and let my hands move.  I lifted each trapped hoof, talking quietly to the horse in what I hoped were soothing tones.  When the last loop of wire came off and she was freed the mare ran back to the barn.

Living on my own on a farm in rural Maryland wasn’t in the cards.  But that is what happened after my husband fell in love with another woman and moved away with her. My daughter and I remain in the marital home as tenants with an absent landlord, fixing what we can, living with what we can’t.

When our courtship began 25 years ago, my husband drove me to the farm for the first time.  I surveyed the herd of horses grazing in paddocks of billowing orchard grass, the green scape of wooded foothills cresting the Appalachian Trail.  My decision was not how I would live there, but when. With him.

I ignored the red flags that should have stopped me at the wedding altar; bounced checks, a quick temper, alcoholism.  He eventually chose sobriety, which fixed many problems, but not all.

Our marital history was writ large with financial lapses – unpaid bills, debts, and secrecy. We always managed to soldier on after each expensive hiccup.  Then I found out about the tax bill.  We had amassed $40,000 in debt because he didn’t file our tax returns for several years and never told anyone.

When the notification from the Internal Revenue Service arrived via certified mail my response was to unleash a fury of rage and hateful words.   After a few days of silence I attempted to repair the damage.  I said what I hoped were the right words – that I was sorry for what I said; we’d dig ourselves out, come up with a plan somehow.

He said, “This marriage is no longer a priority for me.”

He spoke as if he had practiced each word in front of a mirror to achieve a certain tonal quality of indifference.  My initial response was confusion:  why he was addressing me as if I was a house guest who overstayed her welcome?

This was the same husband with the sunlit hair who reached for me and spoke in a singsong voice when he was happy; who painted clouds on our ceiling and built a giant bug out of plaster for our daughter to take to school for “Show and Tell.”

I reasoned that with work and patience we would find our cadence as a couple again.   I was wrong.

His affair partner was an acquaintance I had invited to Thanksgiving dinner in a charitable impulse.  I first noted her as a middle-aged jovial divorcee who stood in the sunlight at an equestrian event talking to my husband.

I thought to myself how unfortunate it was that the sun’s glare revealed pocks in her pale skin.  I remember walking over and interrupting their conversation to tell my husband it was time to go home.

She inspired nothing in me beyond a sense of sympathy as a matronly woman trying to look young, someone who seemed alone and in need of friends.  The ensuing months she sat at our family dinner table numerous times, stayed in our home during a snowstorm and rode our ponies across our hill in the spring.

I sensed her envy, that grinding emotion of being on the sidelines of something joyful.  I enjoyed her company because my husband was happy when she was there.  When he was happy, our family was happy.

In looking back I feel a tug of empathy for the person I was – a wife so comfortable in the bonds of marriage that betrayal was unthinkable.

I laughed it off when neighbors and friends suggested there seemed to be more to her friendship with our family.  I even jokingly called her “the other wife.”   Then I found the emails, the texts and gift receipts.

Chronology became important. 

When was the exact moment they became a secret?

When did she decide to become both my friend and lover to my husband?

Friends later observed they saw it all along – the stolen glances exchanged, the smoldering conversations on the sidelines of social events.

Where had I been while my marriage unraveled?

My sleuthing, a typical response to infidelity trauma, turned up a trove of besotted emails, photos and dinner dates.  A cell phone bill revealed the repeated calls to the same number – hers.

There were on average 20 calls a day to each other, sometimes even after the other woman and I had lunch or tea together.  Even on Christmas Day, at 8:05 in the morning before we got up to open our presents, he sneaked away to call her.

After the divorce papers were filed, anger became my drug of choice.

I specialized in rage texting at 2 am, morphing into a high octane Dorothy Parker, hurling insults and unflattering remarks about the other woman, picking apart her choice of haircut, her unfortunate hips, and tight-fitting dresses.

My response to the abandonment of love was to become unlovable. 

My husband, on the other hand, was audaciously remade as if he had been through an episode of “Queer Eye.”

The man who never shaved and wore only muck boots suddenly shifted into metrosexual country squire —   skinny jeans, a vast collection of Fedora hats, Italian leather shoes, and enough tweed jackets to attire an entire tea party at Downton Abbey.

“His soul is hijacked,” I observed to my friend, Melissa.  “Maybe what you had in those early years was the best of him, and now it’s all spent,” she said.   That was some consolation; that I was loved by a man who tried to be good until his resources ran out.

Or perhaps he saw an opportunity to rewrite himself, sanitize the mistakes of the past.  The other woman was not me, the one who bore witness to his flaws, mistakes, the private vanities, habits, and quirks that reveal themselves over time.

The unwitting matchmaker, I laid before him the opportunity to turn away from the wife who held all his broken pieces and tried to love him anyway.

How does a wife cope with infidelity and divorce?

I searched for a manual, then devised my own plan.

First, find your people. Some friends and family may not possess the emotional skillset to provide ample emotional support during a divorce. No one knocked on my door with a casserole or offered to mow my lawn as one might a widow who lost their spouse to a heart attack or car accident.

My divorce was an awkward circumstance for friends and colleagues to navigate.  Most condemned my ex privately and one friend, whom I will never forget, banned my ex’s affair partner from attending an event he hosted.

This was the hardest habit for me to kick post-infidelity; that is, the craving to foster outrage by reciting my increasingly tiresome narrative of loss and betrayal until a therapist suggested my anger was becoming toxic.

My arc of healing also ascended from unlikely sources:  online forums with strangers; the seduction of an old boyfriend; a trip to Seattle where I found a quiet Airbnb to read and think; from my sister who was recovering from the betrayal of her partner.

Second, keep moving and eventually, the weird stuff feels manageable. I developed a playlist. Music, in my case hard rock from the 1990s, helped rewire my anxiety during divorce negotiations. Raucous electric guitars, percussive anthems all helped focus my brain beyond the spiral of emotions that were overwhelming at times.  I also joined a gym and lost 30 pounds.

Third, get out of your comfort zone.  I tried a new hairstyle and started online dating.  Initially, it was an awkward phase, dwelling between marital death and single life. I treated it as an adventure, commuting from my rural valley to the evening cacophony of the city where I met a date for drinks or dinner, sometimes more.

I watched the dawn fold over the rooftops of the urban landscape, thinking that just 45 miles away my horses were waiting for breakfast, the dogs needed to be let out for a pee, the barn cats waited for their kibble.  Yet here I lay next to a man with nothing in his refrigerator but Red Bull and mayonnaise.

Look for context. It helps to know infidelity is not about you. The data and information about who cheats and why bear this out.  My ex’s decision to have an affair and abandon the marriage was about him, not me.

Yet most articles about infidelity typically dwell on the question of repair and reconciliation within the marriage.

Sometimes there is no fix.

One can wake up and find themselves married to a stranger who starts dating and there’s no reasonable explanation for it.  My ex never admitted to any affair, not in divorce court papers, or even as people tagged him and the affair partner in Facebook photos.

Perhaps his silence came from a place of shame. My ex hated cheaters until he became one.

Eventually, the affair partner doesn’t matter. Trust me on this. I came to realize my anger throughout divorce fueled their love triangle.  A therapist observed that my ex and the other woman loved the noise of my fury.

The vengeful ex-wife specter offered a convenient “victim status” to claim and provided a distraction as they transitioned from an illicit affair to a committed relationship in which realities such as finances, family, friends come into play.

In the initial phase of my grief, it was hard to follow the often expressed advice that the best revenge is living a good life.

And then I came to realize I was enjoying life without my spouse around; that I could travel unencumbered, parent my daughter the way I wanted and own my financial future.

Use free legal resources that may be available at your local courthouse. 

I saved myself thousands of dollars filing for my own divorce after getting a marital settlement agreement which took the better part of a year to negotiate.  Use the money you save to spend on self-care, which is also essential to healing.

Time and patience are your warriors. 

Healing from betrayal also forces one to acknowledge that grief is a process and one never reaches the end of it.

It also requires a mindful commitment to dismantle the broken self and make room for the new one that emerges, cracked open and yet not quite whole.  I am no longer that woman who sat down in the grass and decided to marry a man for all the wrong reasons.  I am someone else, someone still becoming.

Love again. 

I worry about choosing a wrong partner again, someone who will bring about another circumstance of abandonment.  Yet being vulnerable to the possibility of love is our reckoning as humans.  Rarely are we wired to accept any other choice but to love and be loved again at our own peril.

I write as if divorce and infidelity are in the rearview mirror.  It is not.

My ex-husband and I pass each other in the paddocks or the barn during the course of any day on the farm, courteous as old enemies after the peace treaty is signed.

We meet for co-parenting counseling. We exchange texts about farm chores and our daughter’s schedule. The anger ebbed, I am at the place where I thought I’d never arrive – acceptance.

Sometimes the entrenched intimacies of our old marriage seem as if they could be summoned forth if only the right words or opportunity presented itself.

I often pass my hand over a scar on my thigh where several years before a mare kicked me backwards into the dirt, tearing open the muscle. The skin is now puckered and drawn, shaped like the mouth of an old warrior.  I am proud flesh closing over a healed wound.

I am looking for a new place to live.  My task is to turn from all that has been familiar — the fiery red maples that light up in autumn now jeweled with leaf buds.

My soul is scattered on the farm where I spent my married life. It is caught in the sudden flight of sparrows, swooping from the ground in a motion like silvery fish snared in the net; among wild ducks that argue among themselves as they float in aimless patterns on the pond.

The ancient bank barn braced against mountain.  Another broken board strays from the paddock fence line and horses within it forage for grass.

Everything constantly changes and yet remains fixed in place as the seasons pass.  My former father in law died over the summer and we spread his ashes on the farm.  We said goodbye to the past and each other.

I do not consider the future beyond what is in front of me — our child, a dead love, a divorce.

I cannot outrun this fate, nor abandon it.  I can only retreat to the barn at dusk, where I find my favorite pony and throw a saddle on his back.

We hack toward a band of distant horizon, a cloud cluster the color of fire.  So long as we are moving the destination no longer matters.

When the sky gets dark, I turn my gelding back to the farm, that hollow place where something was and no longer is.

The post How Does a Wife Cope With Infidelity And Divorce? Here’s How I Did appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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What You Need To Know In Order To Hire An Attorney And Survive The Ordeal

What You Need To Know In Order To Hire An Attorney And Survive The Ordeal

 

I wonder how long people who go through a divorce remain shell shocked?

I have struggled for so long trying to figure out why my life turned out like this. Why was I the chosen one to carry so much and what was my role in this?

Did I sign on to this in another life?

Did I agree to this before I was born?

Why did I allow so much emotional abuse after the divorce?

Why didn’t our divorce end on some note, if any of goodness?

I mean, he went through three attorneys. I had two. The first one was our mediator. But suddenly as it often happens, my then husband abandoned the notion that mediation was a good way to go. He allowed himself to be counseled by the woman he left me for and by a myriad of others presumably.

So, I was left to have the mediator act on my behalf. But sadly, I found out shortly into it that she was rather disinterested and was planning on retiring. She did. Hence the reason for me to hire someone new.

How does one hire an attorney anyway?

How does one hire someone who is serving you like a real estate agent and a Hollywood agent at the same time? Only the buying and selling is your personal marriage and your children are the amenities in the deal. How do you find an attorney that apparently has to look and feel the opposite of the person who served as the priest or minister who married you?

The dis-marriage is equal in emotional intensity as the marriage. On your wedding day, all is perfect in your world. You are enchanted with life and cannot wait to start this new journey into the unknown. On the day of your divorce, you are emotionally exhausted and terrified of the journey that lay in front of you. What I clearly see now as I reflect on that time 20 years ago, was that it all could have been so much better, and it all looks so silly to me now.

So, what do you need to know in order to hire an attorney and survive the ordeal?

How can you avoid being emotionally bankrupt along with financially bankrupt? What I am about to share has nothing to do with strategy or cunning. It is only my advice on how you can keep your heart and soul intact and keep your sanity as well. So, as I said to my attorney after every phone call, fax, email and paperclip he billed me for, I told him that I wanted to send my kids to college one day; not his. Keep that on the forefront of your brain as you wade through the troubled waters of divorce and seek a divorce attorney.

Please state your intentions.

This should be the first question you ask a prospective divorce attorney. You cannot control what your spouse is going to do or say as it relates to his finding the right representation. But you have all the say as it relates to your hiring your own representation because you are not only representing you. That is the easy part. You are representing your children as well.

You most likely have never been through this before and are terrified as you lay vulnerable to a process that you have never imagined before. Go with your gut, even at the first handshake. You do not want to be his prey too. Ask him what his methods are? Do they match your motives and mantras? There are so many questions in dismantling a marriage and none of them seem natural.

A good attorney will advise you of what is not possible, just as much as what is possible. Because my husband changed attorneys three times, it felt like the goal post kept getting moved farther away. His attorneys all seemed to have convinced him that I was a bad person who never held an ounce of importance to him. They did this, of course, to keep him angry and to keep cutting them the checks. They also convinced him that our children who were 4 years old and 4 weeks old, were literally collateral that he could leverage. That was the hardest thing I had ever faced, and it almost completely undid me.

The dehumanizing nature of child custody and support and the fact that your children’s wellbeing is relegated to a decimeter calculation was more than I could bear. In one of the child custody hearings, I remember my actual hearing started to fade away. I could see people talking but I could no longer hear words. My ex husband never once raised his head as they went on and sliced up our children before my eyes.

I drifted back to a moment less than a year earlier when I was being wheeled out of the hospital after delivering my baby girl and the volunteers all telling us what a perfect baby she was. My life felt as complete as I could possibly imagine. I loved my husband; I loved my 4-year-old little boy and we were all going home together. The moment I was currently in came slamming back at me and I couldn’t believe that I was sitting in a strange courtroom next to a mere stranger and my family was being dismantled by a Judge I had never seen before.

I quietly asked my attorney if I could be excused? I got up and walked to the women’s restroom and vomited. It was a physical reaction to the utter disbelief of where my life had been taken. Nothing could have been farther from that moment in the hospital and no one should ever experience that. Especially a new mother.

Don’t forget that you both once cared.

I say this because there was a time that you both were on the same page and your ex-husband was present when the order for the babies was placed. When I look back at the chaotic times during our divorce, I see that much of it came from the attorneys. Oh, don’t get me wrong, the other woman in our life had much to say as well.  Her motivations were to take care of herself and her children. She didn’t need his money. She just needed the man beside her and to heck, with the wife, baby, and toddler he was also responsible for.

I could only see her as a woman capable of cheating with a man with a pregnant wife so there was no need for me to hold her to any high standards. But the attorneys had more knowledge than anyone on how to play the game and, played it they did.

Before them stood two people who were well out of their comfort zones and were complete sponges for anything to be absorbed into. This included creating the utter strangers we became to each other overnight. My husband may have been a mixed-up man who didn’t know how to be happy in my opinion. But he wasn’t a bad man. I never could have dated, let alone marry a bad man. That isn’t to make excuses for him. This realization has come over time so that I could better understand his decisions based on what I now believe to be his fears and insecurities.

We did have isolated moments during the divorce process when we were standing on the same team sideline. But those moments became fewer and fewer as the attorneys played us against each other as if we were in a prizefighting match. We soon lost track of what we were doing and why. The why was always, or at least should have been… our children.

I did not qualify for spousal support, so it was all about the child support. And soon that became a game. The percentage of time for him was all about the money it equated to. I never really understood that. He wanted to flee us and live with his girlfriend who lived 50 miles away. I was fine with that. Go. I never wanted to see them in my town anyway. But when you have children, and in my case very small children that matters.

I had a baby who was now being taken 50 miles away from me. And it no longer became about my discomfort… and believe me I died every other weekend that my children were taken to some women’s house that I had never even met. But it became about the wellbeing of my children. My parents who were from the greatest generation were horrified to see what was happening with their grandchildren. It just wasn’t in their realm of thinking that a father could do this to the mother of his children. I spent many hours consoling them as much as myself.

The attorneys and the Judge no longer looked at us as people. We were just a negotiation. Take the time needed to come together for your children outside of the attorneys. If we could have had a civil conversation centered solely around our children, I really don’t think we would have had to endure what amounted as cruelty to each other. He wasn’t a bad man. But his lawyer and girlfriend had agendas that outweighed his sense of decency which preyed on his weakness and the people who suffered the most were our children.

So, I share this so you all get a hold of the divorce process before it gets a hold of you and before you get as far away from the sacred moments of bringing your babies into the world together as you could possibly imagine. Don’t let that happen. Find a sliver of the reason you came together in the first place and do the right thing for your children. You are responsible for raising them and you owe your children this. The attorneys and Judges are not their parents and they will fade away as soon as all the dust has settled.

We all have regrets.

I can’t think of anything in my life that I regret more than having to go through a divorce and be a single parent. There isn’t anything in my upbringing that prepared me for that. But what I know for sure 20 years later, is that if he and I had first calmly sat down and outlined our own ground rules and reminded each other that there was a day not that long ago, that we did love each other and that we were friends then maybe, just maybe we could have taken the reigns to that horrible experience away from the attorneys, judges and even girlfriends and navigated the choppy waters with the north star of our children in mind.

Maybe then we all would have suffered less. I don’t know for sure, but I want to remember that my ex-husband was my Best Friend at one time and trusted him with my life and the lives of our children.

Choose wisely so that one of the regrets you have in divorce, isn’t the attorney that represented you. And your children, though tough as divorce is on them, are spared the taffy pull that can last a lifetime for them and which can become fully ensconced into their blueprints. Give them a chance to be as whole as possible by just choosing wisely your words, your actions and your attorney at the start. And remember you had a childhood. Let them have one too.

The post What You Need To Know In Order To Hire An Attorney And Survive The Ordeal appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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risks of cohabitation

What Are The Risks of Cohabitation For You And Your Kids?

risks of cohabitation

 

Over the last fifty years, there has been a quiet shift in the landscape of family life in America. Approximately two-thirds of couples live together before marriage; this number is compared to one-half of couples 20 years ago, according to The Pew Research Center.

Recently, Rand sociologists who study family demographics, surveyed 2,600 couples who lived together without marriage. One of the most important findings of this study is that young adults who cohabitated had lower levels of commitment than those who marry. Further, couples who cohabitate report lower levels of certainty about the future of their relationships, especially if they are males.

This “commitment gap” has been studied by sociologists Michael Pollard and Kathleen Mullan Harris who found that cohabitating males have a lower level of commitment to their relationship than their female partners. This “commitment gap” was also researched by psychologists Scott Stanley and Galena Rhodes who discovered that women who live with their future husband prior to becoming engaged are 40% more likely to divorce than those who are engaged before moving in together.

Interestingly, many couples in America today believe that living together prior to tying the knot will decrease their chances of getting a divorce. However, researchers Stanley and Rhodes have demonstrated the “cohabitation effect” – showing that couples who cohabit before marriage are less satisfied with their marriages and more likely to divorce.

According to Meg Jay, author of The Defining Decade, studies have shown that not all of the effect can be explained by demographics such as politics, education, or religion. Jay writes, “Research suggests that at least some of the effect may lie in cohabitation itself.” She posits that one of the main factors that put cohabitating couples at risk for breakup is “sliding not deciding.” This means that a couple gradually decides to move in together mostly out of convenience rather than discussing their expectations and plans for the future.

One thing is for certain, researchers have found that before you decide to live with someone, it is incredibly important that you and your partner are on the same page. Dr. John Curtis, author of Happily Unmarried highlights the “expectation gap” as a critical consideration before moving in with your partner. He states that the fundamental difference between men and women according to a recent Rand Study is that many women view living together as a step towards marriage while many men see it as a test drive.

It’s no secret that marriage rates are on the decline. In 1960, 72% of Americans were married. Today approximately 50% are. Understandably, there’s a lot of fear about marriage. Since the divorce rate has hovered around 50% for decades, the question for many is: Why marry when there is one in two chances it won’t work out? However, what many people forget is that just because a couple isn’t married when they breakup it doesn’t mean they don’t have issues to resolve such as financial claims (related to property or combined assets); as well as the custody of children.

As the rate of couples who live together without being married are rising dramatically, children in America are more likely to experience cohabitation than divorce, according to W. Brad Wilcox, Director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. Many experts, including Wilcox conclude that cohabitation puts children at risk for psychological and academic problems as well as child abuse. Wilcox notes that cohabitation also creates more instability for children.

He writes, “A recent study from Drs. Sheela Kennedy and Larry Bumpass found that 65% of children born to cohabitating parents saw their parents break up by age 12, compared to 24% born to married families.” Since 40% of children in the US will experience the divorce of their parents prior to the age of 16, this is an important topic to explore.

If you’re a single parent who is considering cohabitation what are the risks to your children? In my opinion, you need to consider that your children may see your partner as an intruder – as a complication they don’t want in their lives – who is a rival with their father.

In addition, if the relationship doesn’t last, they may see it as yet another loss (in addition to your divorce) if they’ve established a bond. In What About the Kids, the late Judith Wallerstein writes, “If they genuinely grow to like or even love the person you’ve invited into your lives and that person disappears one night, it’s another loss. It’s frightening when people disappear and it’s awful to feel rejected.”

Let’s take a look at some statistics that shed light on this topic:

  • Over 50% of couples who cohabitate before marriage are broken up within five years (Cherlin, 2009)
  • Over 75% of children born to couples who are not married no longer live with both parents by the age of fifteen (Cherlin, 2009)
  • 47% of American women who give birth in their twenties are unmarried at the time (Cherlin, New York Times, 4/27/2013)

Considering the research, if you’re a divorced parent contemplating cohabiting, proceed with caution. Ask yourself: What are your motivations for living together? If you want to develop a deeper bond, and most significantly, you see cohabitation as a step toward marriage, having differing expectations from your partner may be a problem.

If you decide to cohabitate these are steps to minimize damage to your children:

  • Sit down with your partner and clarify your expectations about the future. This can enhance your chances of remaining in a committed relationship.
  • Be careful not to bypass these discussions and fall into “sliding not deciding,” according to author Meg Jay.
  • Don’t ask your children’s permission to cohabitate – this is too much responsibility for them and will be harder for them to recover from if you breakup.
  • Discuss parenting strategies such as how you are going to handle conflicts that will arise with children and between them – especially if you are blending families.
  • Prepare your children carefully. Make sure they’ve met the person many times and feel comfortable with them. Reassure your children that they are still a priority and that your partner will not replace their biological parent.
  • Set household routines that accommodate your partner and your children. Have regular discussions and share meals together so you can check in about how household issues are going.

Before you make the decision about whether or not to cohabitate, consider the risks to your children if it doesn’t work out. Ask yourself: Am I selling myself short by moving in with my partner? Would cohabitation put my children at risk for instability, psychological, or academic problems?

Weigh the advantages of tying the knot before having children or delaying cohabiting until your children launch if you’re a parent. In the end, consider that your children may grow to genuinely like or love this person and if the relationship ends, it’s yet another loss. However, if you decide to cohabitate, approach your new lifestyle with optimism and confidence – because you’ve taken all the steps to enhance your chances of success.

More From Terry:

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She Can’t Be Erased; She’s Their Mother

She Can’t Be Erased; She’s Their Mother

 

One of the worst memories I have about my divorce was the day my children found a family photo that had black tape over my face.  It was found in an album at my ex’s mom’s house. What was even more devastating is that my children didn’t have the heart to tell me themselves.

Days later I received a phone call from my mom telling me that my kids told her what they had seen, as they held back tears to explain to her that it was a family member who had done it.  Every emotion imaginable hit me all at the same time as I tried to swallow the rage.

My first thought was how do I begin to explain the unexplainable to my children.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what message was this sending them?

That their mother was someone that was no longer part of this family?

That divorcing their father meant I no longer existed in their world?

Or was it that I no longer mattered because of my choices?

I wasn’t ready to have a conversation about something that I was still trying to process.

I had no idea why this family member lashed out at me in this way.  I was raised to be respectful and kind to others and also to mind my own business.  I could never imagine doing that to anyone.

Why did he do it?

She Can’t Be Erased; She’s Their Mother

Was it because I am an Italian woman who chose to stand in her truth? You have to understand the Italian culture to make sense of this insanity.  In the Italian culture, you do not leave your marriage, no matter what the situation is. At least this is what I was shown.

I thought about my great grandmother who lived in Italy, and how much pain she must have carried in her soul.  It wasn’t until I was much older that I found out my great grandfather had a whole other family we knew nothing about.  I wondered what that betrayal did to her.

What wounds had she been made to carry?

My heart ached for her silence. How many other women before her stayed silent in marriages that no longer served them?

Was it my strength in leaving my marriage that offended this family member? Was it the fact that I was no longer going to be controlled by anyone or anything? Or was it just another man willing to throw a woman out like garbage because she was no longer submissive to her husband?

My truth and my courage sent an aftershock that rattled everybody.

Once the rage wore off I was left with a deep sense of sadness.  I understood why my great grandmother stayed. What was she going to do, leave my great grandfather and raise the children on her own? He financially supported the family.

Back then there were no options for mothers that wanted out of their unfulfilling marriages. Did men take advantage of this position of power because they knew women had no way out? I wondered what it would have looked like if she left him.

I realized that my divorce was so much bigger than just wanting out of a marriage.  I was breaking cultural norms that had never been done before. It was my truth that offended people. “How dare she break her family apart. What kind of mother is she?

She left a good man that gave her everything she could have ever wanted.  She doesn’t deserve to be part of this family”… this was the message I received loud and clear from the black tape over my face, and this is what landed on my children’s eyes.

I couldn’t make them unsee what they had seen, and I also didn’t want them to have hatred in their hearts for the ignorant behavior that was displayed upon them. I wasn’t going to let this person do what so many others before him had done…keep women from standing in their power by crippling their spirit.

No, I choose to rise instead.  Not only for myself but for the many women before me that didn’t have the power to do it.  I chose to rise for my children because I wasn’t going to show them that I needed to defend myself or prove myself worthy by giving this any more of my energy.  I chose to show them that the power of forgiveness is stronger than any stones thrown at me. That’s the legacy they will remember, a mom that stands in love can’t ever be erased.

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