time to trust again

When Is It Time To Trust Again?

time to trust again

 

Have you ever gone to the animal shelter and felt a connection with the animals waiting to get adopted?

My daughter wanted a dog so bad and had literally been asking me for years. My usual answer was, “I can barely feed two children, what makes you think I can afford feeding a dog too?”

But after many years of pleading, the time had come, and I was ready to say yes. As we walked through the little concrete cubicles that housed dogs of all shapes and sizes, each one looked up at us with a longing in their eyes that said, “Hey pick me, I’ll be loyal!” Or, “Hey pick me, I will love you forever! I promise!”

What were their stories and why were they there?

Were they too old? Too fat?

Too crazy or too sick?

Or just too much?

Why would a family, give them away as if they never mattered? And how was it okay that they are relegated to leave their safe beds at home only to now sit in a cold concrete cubicle?  How would they ever trust again?

I soon realized as I walked throughout the complex that I was filled with emotions. Perhaps, I had felt a kind of kinship to them. I knew what it felt like to expire your usage to someone you once trusted your life with. I too was discarded by a husband who no longer needed me. He literally said that to me.

So now the impetus of getting a dog had changed. Their plights resonated with me and I wanted to save them all. How would they ever trust again? I understood the looks in their eyes. I too asked, “How will I ever trust again?”

Whether you have experienced a tough divorce or an amicable one, it doesn’t really matter. Your trust has been shaken to its core and it can be tough to find your way back.

When Is It Time To Trust Again?

Starting the journey on the road to trust

How do I trust myself .and my choices? That is the first thing I said to myself when I started to think about dating again. I had obviously chosen very badly to have spent so many years with a man that never really wanted what I wanted. It wasn’t until we were all in and married for a few years that I started to see this.

He said all the right things and outwardly did all the right things. But inside I doubt that he wanted any part of it and I don’t think he ever wanted to be married to me. I honestly do not understand why he did. My gosh, I was young, cute and a new college graduate and I had plenty of options out there.

But for some reason, he couldn’t tell me. All along he just fooled himself and made me believe his lie. He had no intention of giving up his dating life and who better to marry than a stable, sweet girl who comes from a solid family and has a good soul. Oh, and did I mention, was kind of naive too?

The best way to cheat on your spouse is to marry someone who is naive. When he cheated on me the first time and my son was 2 years old, I forgave him and felt virtuous in saving my family. When he cheated on me the second time when our second child was only 4 weeks old, I felt like the Village Idiot. So onward I go to find the road back to trust.

The first man I dated was wonderful. He was tall and handsome and was a family man. He had four kids of his own and I saw every day what an amazing father he was. But he too was broken. He didn’t want his divorce either and so two broken people were attracted to each other with a common denominator that wasn’t solid. So, as the relationship started and stopped and started again over a period of 5 years, we both realized that as much as we cared for each other we were not, “the one”.

It was nice to be treated well in the start periods, but it didn’t feel so good in the stop periods. We were both veiled in insecurities that were planted and cultivated by our ex-spouses. When the day came that we finally parted our ways, we both had grown up in our divorced status and in that growth, we grew apart as well. He ended up marrying someone quite different than me, so I guess that confirmed my belief that we were not a good fit. He was a man for that time that it took me to a new knowing of myself. And I am grateful for that experience.

So, how do I trust another man?

The second man I dated, was also tall and handsome. He was fun too. But he too had stuff that needed to get worked out. We are all such broken toys after divorce, but this one had been through divorce twice already. I don’t know how anyone does it more than once.

For me, once was quite enough. He was sweet but had loads of insecurities that manifested itself in always needing to be validated by women. For example, he took me to a Christmas party. As soon as I walked in with him, he made a hasty left and next thing I know he is in the middle of a harem of women. He loved their adulation and it was a turn off to me  I tend to be more intellectual, so I sought out the people who wanted to talk to me.

That was the ebb and flow of our relationship for a while. I kept stepping away and he kept drawing me back in. The reason I got drawn back in was because outside of his womanizing insecurities, he really was fun, he was romantic, and we would get into these deep conversations about life and it sort of fed my need for intellectual stimulation too. The experience brought me to the next step on my path and still a deeper connection to what I was looking for. But alas, he was not. “the one” either.

Third time is the charm?

The next man I dated was far more mature than both men put together. He was a smart C Suite Executive who had reached a place in his life that he wanted to feel joy which he said he hadn’t felt in forever. He was married for about 20 years and his sons were both finishing college. He was a class act. He knew he needed to step away from his marriage because he was not happy, but he didn’t do it with cruelty.

He supported his wife and sons and never made them move out of their home. He never asked her to pay for their tuition. He never treated her with disrespect and have his sons watch that from afar only to have that be part of their blueprints. No, he was a man of dignity, intelligence, and integrity. But he too was not, “the one”. It wasn’t that I thought we couldn’t make a go of it. I think we could have at some point. But he was too new into his separation and was not even officially divorced.

I had time to test the waters. He hadn’t, and I knew he needed to do this for himself. If we were going to ever be together it would have to be after he had the chance to sew his wild oats. But he wasn’t going to do it on my watch!

So, now I venture on to my quest to meet someone who I feel I can trust. I realize that the first person I need to trust though, is myself. I know that I am not willing to give up my integrity and self-worth to any man again. I also know that it’s time to let go of the fear and take a chance on someone.

He may be a bit broken too by virtue of the journey he has experienced and that’s okay. I have become reacquainted with my former self before marriage. I was cheerful and confident. I didn’t rage on worries year after year. I looked at life from a positive…anything is possible set of eyes. All of which were lost in my marriage. I see it now.

I may not be the new college graduate any longer, but the woman I am today has been shaped by the sum of all the experiences of the past. I am still the woman who deserves to trust and to be trusted.

I am still the woman who wants to have joy in her life and longs to share it with someone that is easy to be with and who can also challenge me.

And I am still the woman; naive as I still may be, accepts herself, flaws and all and deserves to be loved 100%! There are no rules for timing. It must happen when your own stars align. For me, it has taken many years to be ready. I may have dated, but in that time, I never really invited anyone into my life and into my family. I was too exhausted raising a family alone to really give it all of me.

And these men I dated didn’t jump up and down with their hands raised, telling me they were committed to me and ultimately to my children too. Because if you date me, you date the whole package. Maybe by not letting them all the way in, it precluded them from fully committing. I am okay with my decisions though. I was not ready. I am now.  As the Nora Ephron line goes in, “When Harry Met Sally”…..”Somewhere out there is the man you are supposed to marry. And if you don’t get him first, somebody else will. And you’ll have to spend the rest of your life knowing that somebody else is married to your husband.”

So when the time is right, take the leap of faith and flex your trust muscles again and go for it!

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letting go of the mom I used to be

Letting Go Of The Mom I Used To Be

letting go of the mom I used to be

 

One of the hardest parts of divorce is separating one family into two households. What’s difficult is digesting the fact that you’re not going to be able to see your children all the time. I don’t think couples can ever really imagine what that is like until it becomes their reality.

I was the mom that ran the show.

I handled the day to day caretaking while dad was running a family business full-time. But during my separation that all ended abruptly. Instantly, I was mom only 50% of the time. I never really processed what that was going to be like— having to let go of the mom I used to be.

Letting Go Of The Mom I Used To Be

I’ll never forget the painful transitionary period, from the date of separation to the time my eyes finally filled with life again. I call this time divorce purgatory. It’s a place of limbo. So much confusion was swirling around inside of me. My body had no idea which way was up and which way was down. It felt as if I was waiting, wondering, trying to figure out who I was without the label of being someone’s wife. The awkward feeling of trying to define who I am without him, and letting go of being the kind of mom I once was accustomed to being.

During this transitional phase of divorce purgatory, I could honestly say it was not my finest moment in time.

How could it have been?

It was a time of great suffering, mourning the death of a family unit that was my everything. In the eyes of those closest to us, we were the picture of perfection. Because I was the one that wanted out of the marriage, I was left with having to defend and prove myself worthy, as a woman and as a mother.

When you are unsupported by those around you, something inside you awakens. A moment of clarity washed over me in a fleeting instant. At the time I didn’t realize that it was an opportunity to grow into the powerful woman I was created to be. I wasn’t ready to see that just yet. At that moment what I felt at the depths of my soul was an aloneness in a world that didn’t feel safe anymore.

How could I feel safe when those closest to me whispered… “Nobody knows you anymore, Marisa?”

How could they know who I was? I didn’t even know who I was.

I was raised to believe I needed to be what everyone else needed me to be. I was told that my husband and children come first, which meant my needs had to be last on the list. I was never allowed to discover who that was because I was conditioned to believe the world was only safe when I met the expectations of those around me.  So, I shrunk myself and silenced my spirit in order to be the good girl.

I severed generational chains, broke the mold, and left the “good girl” behind.

But those whispers were haunting. They are words that to this day I have never forgotten, “Nobody knows who you are anymore, Marisa.” I owed it to myself and my children to find out. I was done believing that I had to “sacrifice” who I was in order to be the perfect mother. It occurred to me that this is what generations of women had to do in my family, sacrifice and go without in order to keep their family together.

This was not the legacy that I want to leave my children, that they had to go without—without their own passions, without their own voice, without their own dreams and desires, in order to be loved and accepted. I knew that breaking generational chains were going to require courage, strength, and trust.

It was not going to be easy, to do what many women before me didn’t have the courage to do, but this is the kind of mother I wanted to be. The kind of mom that stands in her truth, without fear of being judged or criticized.

Growth can be scary, and it’s uncomfortable, which is why most people choose to stay silent. I couldn’t do it anymore. I was drowning in my own silence, fearful that there would be nothing left of me to give my children. My children now have a mother who has let go of the mom she used to be in order to become a mom who stands in her truth. There’s nothing more powerful than that.

Whether you are contemplating divorce or you are wanting help to heal through your divorce, I would love to be there for you.  My own divorce was messy and there were days I didn’t think I would ever be able to get through it, but I did, and so can you.

Click on the link to get a complimentary 45-min session with me! I would love to know your story  mailchi.mp/34385f68f47f/wk73dswc3s

And if you want to know more about my journey please visit my website marisalupocoaching.com/

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8 Tips to Bond with Your Stepchild and Create Positive Memories as a Stepfamily

8 Tips to Bond with Your Stepchild and Create Positive Memories as a Stepfamily

remarriage manualUNDERSTANDING YOUR STEPCHILD

Victoria was about 10 years old when her father, Ryan, married Lisa. In her view, she had little control over the events unfolding in her life, including her mother remarrying and starting a new family quickly.

Even though Lisa seemed nice enough and obviously really loved her dad, it still didn’t seem fair to Victoria that her life had to change so radically. When she met me for an interview, she was eager to share her perspectives as a stepchild.

In her mind, nothing would ever be the same after her parents’ split and she believes that parents ought to be more understanding about the stepchild’s plight.

Victoria reflects, “I wrote on my closet door, ‘January 18 was the worst day of my life’ — the day of my parents’ divorce. For me, divorce meant changes in where I lived, changes at school and with friends and having to spend time with new adults I didn’t particularly want to spend time with.

No one asked me if I wanted any of those things to happen, but they did, without my consent, and sometimes without warning.”

During our in-depth interview, Victoria speaks with anguish about both of her parents getting remarried around the same time. She explains, “I had a teacher tell me that if I loved my parents, I would accept their significant others because I’d want them to be happy. Inside I was screaming, ‘What about my happiness?’”

These are hard issues, and there are no easy fixes, but following these tips can help you weather the rough times and be a supportive stepparent.

8Tips to Bond with Your Stepchild and Create Positive Memories as a Stepfamily

  1. Proceed slowly. Take your time getting to know your stepchild. If you rush the relationship, it may satisfy your own unmet needs to be liked, but your approach could backfire. It’s important to realize that you’re not replacing your stepchild’s other parent; your role is more of a mentor. Never make your stepchild feel as if they have to choose between their biological parent and you. Over time, everyone in the recoupled family can create a positive culture together.
  2. Respect your spouse’s relationship with your stepchild. And don’t feel threatened by their close connection. Your partner will want to spend special time with their child, so try not to feel neglected by them. Make plans with your friends or with your own kids and graciously step out of their way.
  3. Develop a relationship with your stepchild through daily activities, hobbies, and shared interests to create positive memories. Strive to engage in activities as a family unit as much as possible so everyone has an opportunity to make a connection. Sharing interests in sports or the arts can help you develop a bond. Spending time together, even if it’s eating a meal or watching a movie, can help weave the fabric of stronger stepfamily relationships.
  4. Understand your stepchild’s view and have realistic expectations. First, it’s a given that your stepchild had a relationship with your spouse that existed before you came on the scene. They’re likely to see you as a rival to both of their parents. Even if your stepchild seems to like you well enough, they will sometimes prefer you weren’t in the picture and may express this by ignoring you or being indifferent or rude. Your remarriage effectively ends any hope of their mother and father reunifying and can reignite feelings of loss for your stepchild.
  5. Be sure to discuss roles and feelings about parenting with your spouse. Sometimes a biological parent may not understand a stepparent’s feelings of rejection. They may need you to tell them what they can do to support you. On the other hand, a biological parent may feel criticized and get defensive when their spouse offers unsolicited advice about parenting. Blending your sometimes-opposing styles of parenting and focusing on what you have in common will benefit all family members.
  6. Be courteous and respectful of your child’s and stepchild’s “other parent.” Keep in mind that it is likely that they would not have chosen to have their children live with them part-time. Stepparents need to stay out of interactions between biological parents working out holiday or vacation schedules, and biological parents need to be collaborative when planning family events.
  7. Realize that love often comes later. Even if you don’t hit it off with your stepchild, you can still develop a working relationship built on respect. If your stepchild does not warm up to you right away, that does not mean you have failed. Adopting realistic expectations can help you get through some rough spots. Be patient and try not to react with anger if your stepchild gives you the cold shoulder or is a little impolite sometimes.
  8. Cooperate with your partner, and talk, talk, talk. Most of the talking will take place away from your children or stepchildren, but be sure to have cordial conversations and informal discussions about family rules, roles, chores, and routines with the kids.

TERRY GASPARDMSW, LICSW is a licensed therapist and author. She is a contributor to the Huffington Post, TheGoodMenProject, The Gottman Institute Blog, and Marriage.com. Her new book, out now, is THE REMARRIAGE MANUAL: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around.

Follow Terry on Twitter, Facebook, and movingpastdivorce.com.

Excerpted from THE REMARRIAGE MANUAL by Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW. Credit Terry Gaspard. Reprinted with permission of Sounds True. All rights reserved.

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Lessons From “Marriage Story” That Can Save Your Marriage

5 Lessons From “Marriage Story” That Can Save Your Marriage And Your Sanity

Lessons From “Marriage Story” That Can Save Your Marriage

 

Everybody is talking about the movie “Marriage Story.”

The media has been weighing in on the quality of the film, the performances, the awards, what is realistic and what is not. Is it a story about marriage or about divorce? Forums and social media exploded with discussions taking sides about who is right and who is wrong.

The most valuable lesson of this film, however, has remained unexplored: “Marriage Story” is a cautionary tale about a marriage that could have been saved and the unnecessary ugliness of divorce.

If you are contemplating divorce, take some cues from “Marriage Story” as a starting point to explore the state of your union and deepen the communication with your partner before heading to court.

While the brilliance of the film is getting most of the attention, perhaps the greatest value of “Marriage Story” is that it provides a framework for couples in trouble to witness the traps that lead to a toxic divorce, so they can avoid them.

Even though Charlie and Nicole’s marriage didn’t have a happy ending, you can learn from their mistakes.

Here are five takeaways from “Marriage Story” that can spare you from a painful divorce:

Lessons From “Marriage Story” That Can Save Your Marriage

Before calling it quits, evaluate whether your marriage can be saved

Charlie and Nicole’s marriage could have been saved.  Maybe yours can be saved, too.

While the movie begins with the couple already in divorce mediation, as we glimpse into their relationship, we realize that Charlie and Nicole had enough going for them to make their marriage worth fighting for. They deeply loved each other, enjoyed parenting together and shared a passion for the performing arts.

If you still love your spouse, do not rush to a lawyer’s office. Do emotional inventory first and determine if you and your partner should give your marriage one last chance.

Tackle marital problems early on

Once you get to the point of no return, there is no way back! Do not let your marital problems fester until you can’t take it anymore. Nicole’s grievances could have been resolved if she had spoken up sooner and made clear to her husband that these problems endangered their marriage. Talk to your partner about the issues that trouble you and give him or her a chance to do the same.

Support your partner but not at the expense of your identity

Supporting your spouse is key to any marriage, but it should never be done at the expense of your fondest dreams. A promising actress, Nicole sacrificed her aspirations to become the supportive wife of an up-and-coming theater director. Over time, this “lesser” role led to resentment until she felt too stifled to go on.

We all deserve self-fulfillment. Strive for balance in your relationship and rebalance when things are becoming one-sided. Continue to pursue your passions and make it clear to your partner that they are necessary for your happiness.

Control your divorce process: do not let the divorce process control you

Even if your marriage can’t be saved, you still have control over the divorce process. Do not allow reactivity and clinging to unreasonable positions to blind you from reaching a fair result. In “Marriage Story,” Charlie’s insistence on being a “New York family” unleashed a series of events that fueled reactivity from both partners until what begun as an amicable divorce turned toxic.

Divorce is an emotional rollercoaster and there will be times when you lose your cool. In volatile situations, step back instead of firing back. Do not be afraid to walk away when things are getting out of control to avoid saying and doing things you will regret later. When negotiating a settlement, seek solutions that make sense and lead to the highest good instead of stubbornly insisting on having your way.

Choose your lawyers with care

Contrary to popular belief, there are no winners in a divorce. Charlie and Nicole may have saved themselves money and grief if they had worked with different lawyers. Before you file for divorce, investigate the reputation of your local lawyers and select one whose values align with yours and your priorities.

Even with the best of intentions, not all marriages can be repaired. But practicing the above tips will increase the odds of living happily ever after—with your current spouse, in a new relationship or alone.

 

This article was originally published on www.soniafrontera.com and reprinted with permission from the author.

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