Do You Know The Difference Between a Codependent & Interdependent Relationship?

Do You Know The Difference Between a Codependent & Interdependent Relationship?

I was surprised to learn that this grove of Aspen trees is actually one organism, sharing one root system. Each of us also is an interconnected community of 70 trillion cells.

Biologist Bruce Lipton believes that together we’re “one collaborative superorganism.” I love that Facebook allows us to connect one-to-one all over the planet. For the movie: click here.

Society is highly specialized and interdependent so that few of us would know how to survive without running water, electricity, and a supermarket. We’re also dependent upon our personal relationships. Human brains aren’t fully developed for 18 years, and psychological and financial independence from our parents takes even longer.

Moreover, as adults, we depend upon others to fill sexual, social, and emotional needs, such as friendship, communication, nurturing, appreciation, learning, love, and touch. The closer a relationship, the more we’re interconnected.

The Debate

Many claim that because we’re wired for dependency and that “codependency” is normal and shouldn’t be considered a problem to correct. They claim it’s not only natural but healthy and beneficial to be dependent upon an intimate relationship. They blame the codependency movement for breaking up marriages and people’s loneliness. I agree that we all have dependency needs and that healthy relationships can meet those needs and greatly benefit us.

However, codependency’s detractors don’t understand – probably from lack of personal experience – that codependents don’t reap those relationship benefits. Often they’re in unhealthy relationships, and they relate to others in unhealthy ways with patterns of obsession, self-sacrifice, dysfunctional communication, and control, which are both self-destructive and hurtful to others. They’re often abusive or allow themselves to be abused.

Codependent & Interdependent Relationships

Codependent Couples

Codependent couples are usually out-of-balance. Frequently, there are struggles for power and control. There may be an imbalance of power or one partner has taken on responsibilities for the other. They’re anxious, resentful, and feel guilty and responsible for their partner’s needs, feelings and moods, and even at times, behavior. Then they try to control one another to feel okay and get their own needs met. Rather than respect each other’s separateness and individuality, they can’t tolerate disagreement and appease or blame one another without taking responsibility for themselves. Often, what they dislike in their partner is the very thing they can’t accept in themselves.

Despite their pain, they can feel trapped in the relationship because they fear that they can’t function on their own. Some codependent marriages are cooperative and not abusive. Generally, one or both spouses are tip-toeing around the other. There’s no drama, but no passion either, because real intimacy is sacrificed. Their mutual codependency and insecurity make intimacy threatening, since being honest and known risks rejection or dissolution of their fragile self.

Like the Aspen trees, on the surface each may appear to be physically and even mentally and emotionally independent, yet, at an unconscious level, they’re two insecure adults dependent upon each other to express a whole. For instance, a woman who has trouble expressing anger marries an angry man who expresses it for her. Or a man who is extremely closed and shy marries a woman who’s emotionally open and gregarious.

They need each other to express their full humanity. In other cases, it’s more obvious that one partner needs the other for emotional stability, as in the case of alcoholic relationships. Financial dependence doesn’t necessarily create codependence, where the dependent partner has good self-esteem and emotional support outside the marriage.  Even spouses who appear more capable and stronger may be equally dependent on the relationship. They need someone to care for in order to feel needed, worthwhile, and not alone, while their other partner feels valued by receiving. Successful narcissists can be very dependent. They need someone to adore and look up to them.

Interdependent Couples

What makes interconnections healthy is interdependency – not codependency.  Paradoxically, interdependency requires two people capable of autonomy – the ability to function independently. When couples love each other, it’s normal to feel attached, desire closeness, be concerned for one another, and to depend upon each other. Their lives are intertwined, and they’re affected by and need each other. However, they share power equally and take responsibility for their own feelings and actions and contribution to the relationship.

Because they have self-esteem, they can manage their thoughts and feelings on their own and don’t have to control someone else to feel okay. They can allow for each others’ differences and honor one another’s separateness. Thus, they’re not afraid to be honest and can listen to their partner’s feelings and needs without feeling guilty or becoming defensive.  Since their self-esteem doesn’t depend upon their partner, they don’t fear intimacy, and independence doesn’t threaten the relationship. In fact, the relationship gives them each more freedom. There’s mutual respect and support for one another’s personal goals, but both are committed to the relationship.

The post Do You Know The Difference Between a Codependent & Interdependent Relationship? appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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happiness in marriage if you

3 Ways To Find Happiness In Marriage If You’re a Woman

happiness in marriage if you're a woman

 

I don’t have studies to back up what I’m about to say but, I’m going to say it anyway. I do a lot of reading and research about divorce and why people divorce. The number one complaint I hear from women about why they chose divorce is, inevitably, “I was no longer happy.” Their marriage wasn’t making them happy, their husband wasn’t making them happy, the way they viewed that moment in time in their lives didn’t make them feel happy.

The running theme is, for some reason, women expect their happiness to come from without, not within. When they settle into marriage and the daily humdrum of raising children, making a living and holding a marriage together women become disenchanted because it turns out, marriage isn’t a fairytale and no one will live “happily” ever after.

According to Martin Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology, “Happiness is at least 50% genetic. Positive psychologists tend to acknowledge a much weaker version of the happiness set-point view and often point out that even if genetics determines about half of our happiness, the rest is caused by factors that we can control to some extent; our circumstances (about 10%) and our intentional activities, such as the way we choose to think about things (about 40%).”

Let’s break that down, genetics is 50% responsible for how happy a person feels. Circumstance is 10% responsible and how one chooses to think about their circumstance is 40% responsible. It isn’t my intent to diminish anyone’s feelings BUT unless you are married to an abuser, alcoholic or slacker it is possible that these women aren’t happy because of genetics or the way they choose to think about their circumstance and, not as a result of a bad marriage.

As my grandmother used to say, women who divorce because they are no longer happy could be “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.” Getting rid of the thing that could bring them the most happiness by divorcing, in pursuit of some skewed idea of what it means to be happy or, what happiness actually is.

How to Find Happiness in Marriage If You’re a Woman

Happiness is a state of mind, not of circumstance. If you want a happy marriage, you have to make it a happy marriage. Happiness doesn’t magically occur when he stops working 50 hours a week and spends more time with you and the children. It won’t magically occur when the children are grown or there is enough money to cover all the bills. It won’t be found in regular date nights or, snuggling on the couch every night watching romantic comedies.

Your life, inside your marriage, is now, today, dealing with what comes your way and how you choose to think about what it takes to get you through the day. Happiness comes from determining to feel good about whatever life dishes out on any given day. It’s about attitude.

If a woman is blessed with a loving husband who works hard to provide and children who work hard at driving her crazy she is going to find happiness in those blessings because she chooses to view them as such. To be happy one has to allow that 40% positive attitude to hold more authority than the 10% negative attitude about her situation.

Get over thinking someone owes you happiness. Or, that some outside force can “make” you happy. Husbands and children can impact how happy you feel but, ultimately you are responsible for your own happiness. If the drudgery of working, being a wife and mothering is sapping your energy and ability to feel happy it is your job to introduce activities into your life that balance those obligations with activities you enjoy.

Most women become unhappy in marriage because they lose their identity to the marriage and they put their needs second to the needs of their husband and children. That is a rule book written by women and it is full of rules that need to be broken. One way to do that, to stir the pot and not fall victim to the antiquated idea that your needs aren’t important is to simply, get out and do things you like to do.

Your children, marriage, husband, and home will not fall apart if you spend a few hours at an art class or, go to the gym daily to work out and keep your body and mind in shape. Women who are happily married have a life outside the marriage, husband, and children.

I have a friend who takes a yearly, weeklong vacation away from her role as wife and Mom. She also maintains a popular blog about women’s issues and writes daily. That is her life and passion, something she does for herself that in no way is related to her role as someone’s wife and mother. Do something, on a daily basis that brings you a sense of joy, is an escape from the whining children and constantly working husband. If you do, you will have a deeper appreciation for your own sense of autonomy AND the daily drudgery that is marriage and raising a family.

Be your authentic self. Did you go into marriage with a set of rules about the kind of wife and mother you want to be? Are the rules realistic? Can you eat off the floors, are the beds made daily, your children dressed and spat shined? Do you have a routine you follow from the moment your feet hit the floor in the morning until your head hits the pillow at night?

That image you have in your mind about the perfect wife and mother may play a role in unhappiness you feel. Why not give yourself a break and be yourself, not who you think you should be for your children and husband but, yourself. If that means not making the beds daily, so be it. If it means sitting your children in front of cartoons in the morning while you journal or meditate, go for it.

Let go of the need to keep up with your own false image of who a good wife and mother is and allow your own personality to drive the kind of wife and mother you are. Your husband and your children will benefit by getting to know the real you. You will benefit by being able to relax and let go of some silly preconceived notion and living your own reality.

Adjusting your attitude, taking responsibility for your own happiness and living authentically may lead to things like, a husband who comes home early from work because he enjoys the company of a wife who is upbeat and happy.

A lot of research has been done on attraction and it all points to the fact that people are attracted to others who are friendly, happy and self-confident. If you have a full life, interests of your own and don’t need anyone or any institution to “make” you happy, guess what, you will be happy. You don’t need to leave your marriage to find happiness, you only need to make a few adjustments.

And, those adjustments will promote and change in the way your husband and children react to and engage with you. It’s a simple way of taking away the need to divorce because you are, “no longer happy.”

Disclaimer: This article does not apply to women living in abusive marriages where they are in danger of physical harm or death.

The post 3 Ways To Find Happiness In Marriage If You’re a Woman appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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reason your marriage fizzled out

Why Thrill Is Gone: 10 Reason Your Marriage Fizzled Out

reason your marriage fizzled out

 

Marriages fizzle and die a slow death for the most innocuous reasons. Most marriages don’t succumb to an affair or midlife crisis. Most go the way of divorce because spouses fail to pay attention to the simple things that keep a marriage humming along and both spouse’s happy.

Below are 10 Reasons Your Marriage Fizzled Out:

1. Lack of Enjoyment in The Relationship

If the marriage and relationship become dull and predictable both spouses will lose interest. When both spouses work at keeping things exciting and fun the marriage has a better chance of lasting. When it turns into Football every Sunday and shopping with the girlfriends instead of spending time with each other engaging in new experiences the marriage will slowly die.

2. A Lack of Boundaries in The Relationship

Setting boundaries is an important part of any healthy relationship. If you aren’t willing to tell your spouse what you will and will not tolerate in the marriage, how will your spouse know what lines can and can’t be crossed?

Most feel that boundaries are about settling limits on the other person’s behaviors. In reality, boundaries are YOU setting YOUR limits and then not hanging around when YOUR boundaries are crossed. For example:

“I feel belittled when you tease me in front of friends. Next time this happens I will tell you, in front of our friends that I feel belittled and I will remove myself from the conversation.” Then, next time you are belittled or, whatever behavior it is your spouse does that upsets you, live up to the boundary you set.

3. Taking The Relationship For Granted

I heard a bride say, “Now that we are married, he can never leave me.” Think again! The moment your spouse becomes your sure thing, your marriage begins to die. It is human nature to pay less attention to things we are sure of. Not paying attention to whether or not the marriage is in good shape and your spouse is happy is a great way to end up with a bad marriage and unhappy spouse.

4. A Failure to Communicate…Properly

My ex and I used to take great pride in our ability to communicate. What we were doing was talking circles around each other and not solving problems in the marriage. When having crucial conversations about the relationship, keep in mind that men and woman have different styles of communication. Women are emotional communicators, men are logical communicators. Learn how to decipher what your spouse is saying and where they are coming from.

5. Financial Difficulties or, Not Being on The Same Page, Financially

If both spouses aren’t involved in and aware of the financial realities of the marriage this is an invitation for trouble. In most marriages, one or the other spouse takes charge of paying the bills and keeping tabs on the money. That is all good and well but, both spouses should be aware of where they, as a couple, stand financially. And, there should be an understanding of who spends what and what it is spent on. If not, one spouse can spend a marriage into divorce court.

6. Engaging in Power Struggles as a Couple

Marriage is give and take. At times one spouse will give more than the other, but for the health of the marriage, the pendulum should swing back and forth. Couples get into trouble when one wants to have power over the other and there is a constant battle with that spouse trying to exert dominance. In successful marriages, spouses are willing to share the power, not fight over it.

7. Lack of Sex

Physical intimacy is what bonds a couple together. Without it, spouses become roommates instead of husband and wife. It is true that sexuality or the desire for intimacy increases and decreases based on many things. Women age and hormones are decline, men work too much and come home too tired for sex.

It is beneficial for your marriage and relationship bond to make time for sex unless you are feeling abused or neglected by your spouse. In those situations, I encourage communication in the case of neglect and, leaving the marriage in the case of abuse.

8. Losing Your Sense of Self

It is easy, especially for women who do not work outside the home to lose themselves in the marriage and family. I would venture to say that this is probably the number one reason for gray divorces. Women raise their children, support their husband and his work and hit middle age with no idea who they are and what to do with their empty nest.

Each spouse needs to take time away from the other and the children to engage in activities they find fulfilling and help them maintain a sense of who they are outside the marriage and role of spouse and parent.

9. Becoming the Nagging Wife

Sorry ladies but, you are married to an adult, not a child. Yes, you may feel it is his job to mow the lawn but if he fails to do so nagging him won’t get him behind a mower. It will cause him to resent you and resentment in a marriage is a sure-fire killer.

If your husband doesn’t fix the leaking faucet, pay a plumber. If the deck needs to be stained and he ignores your request to do so, hire someone to get the job done. When he takes a look at the finances and sees that it will cost him less to get out and get those jobs done he will get busy. And, he won’t be able to accuse you of being a “nagging wife.”

10. Smothering Your Spouse

I have a friend who would cut her husband’s meat if he would allow her. Every shirt is starched to perfection, every lunch packed with nutritious meals and she is aware of every move he makes throughout his day.

Yes, you love your spouse but, that is no reason to treat them as if they can’t care for themselves or to feel you should be joined at the hips. Give your spouse space don’t keep them on a short leash and you will both be happier. In turn, you will have a better marriage.

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marital compatability

Marital Compatibility: What Couples Get Wrong About Marriage

marital compatability

 

Emily Cowen, a musical artist I enjoy sings, “Even though we just met, these feelings are so beautiful, you and me were meant to be together.” And that is where “love” songs get love wrong. You’ve just met, the feelings are beautiful so, goodness gracious, you must be meant to be together.

Wrong!

Long-lasting marriages and relationships aren’t based on beautiful feelings. They strive because of compatibility and the unique differences both genders bring to the relationship and how well each can resolve a conflict.

A bit about marital compatibility

Let’s look at the role compatibility plays in lasting marriages.

Initial compatibility, the butterflies and raging hormonal attraction is not a good indicator of how successful a marriage will be. That immediate chemical attraction felt with someone new isn’t concerned with the other person’s value system, personality characteristics or those other beliefs and personality traits that bond a couple together for the long-term.

Attraction and butterflies are important if a marriage is going to stand the test of time, but what is more important is a couple’s common plan for what direction the marriage will take and what role each will play in the marriage.

What does marital compatibility look like?

Friendship: Are you friends with your spouse?  Is there a sincere likeness and level of comfort? Successful couples enjoy spending time with each other. It is this friendship that can be the foundation for solving problems as they arise in the marriage.

Role expectations in the marriage: This isn’t only about how household responsibilities will be handled. It’s also about how spouses treat each other. Very few conversations about role expectations come up when in the throws a brand new relationship. Roles will form naturally as time goes on or the couple will define what role they will play in the relationship. If you aren’t happy with the role you play, there isn’t much hope for the marriage.

My son’s new wife isn’t a domestic goddess. She teaches nursing at a local university and is working on her Ph.D. She is more interested in cerebral pursuits than what art is hung on the walls or, cleaning the kitchen. My son, on the other hand, loves his career but also loves to cook and keep the house tidy. I tease my new daughter-in-law and tell her she has a “fine wife.”

Before marrying they discussed who would do what and they now not only enjoy each other intimately, they are both quite comfortable with how the household is run and the role each plays in the decision making process. It’s an equation for success!

Emotional honesty: Successful spouses trust each other, they feel safe being vulnerable and when discussing their feelings. There is an emotional give and take. When one spouse is in need, the other is there for them and vice versa.

Sexual expectations: Setting these expectations is not only about how frequently a couple will be intimate. It is important, very important that they both be on the same page about sexual frequency but there are other aspects of a sexual relationship that need to be defined. Not everyone is on board with experiencing every sexual act known to man. Defining what you are and aren’t comfortable with sexually is imperative, right out of the gate. Couples who have similar sexual expectations experience more bonding with each other which sets them up for long-term success as a couple.

Shared goals: Mutually committing to and following a path you both agree on is something successful couples do. Do you want children, how will they be raised if you do? What is more important, spending money on furthering education or saving money for a down-payment on a house? Common shared goals and values are things that are the foundation for a strong marriage.

Most successful marriages come about because both partners came into the relationship with similar belief systems and values that match. This makes it easier for two people to reach agreements on issues such as sexual intimacy, gender roles and to be easily emotionally open with each other.

This isn’t to say that a solid marriage is made up of only couples with good qualities. Two people who avoid conflict, have hot-blooded temperaments and prefer to go with the flow can also make marriage work, as long as they are both on the same page.

The post Marital Compatibility: What Couples Get Wrong About Marriage appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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the key to success in second marriages

Positive Ways Of Relating: The Key To Success in Second Marriages

the key to success in second marriages

 

Most likely, when you remarry you’ll feel excited about having a second chance at happiness. However, both partners might hold unrealistic expectations that things will run on automatic and love will conquer all problems. Being aware of potential communication differences and barriers to positive ways of relating can help you stay strong and resilient as you navigate the challenges of remarried life.

For instance, we all have a unique style of communicating based on our upbringing, culture, personality, gender, and past relationships. Maybe one of you is extroverted and the other is more reserved. These differences in personalities can cause significant misunderstandings and become potent filters or lenses for how you see and interpret your partner’s behavior.

It’s also true that in a second marriage, couples bring styles of communicating based on their first (or second marriage), and their way of relating to their ex-spouse, that may become deeply ingrained and thus more difficult to alter. Over time, the challenges of living in a remarried or blended family may accentuate conversational differences – especially if one or both partners have unresolved trust issues.

The Key To Success in Second Marriages

For instance, Pam and Dave, both in their late fifties, remarried for fifteen years, and living in a stepfamily, grew up in vastly different cultures. Pam describes her family as loud and expressive, while Dave’s family is reserved and stoic. During our in-depth interview, Pam said she found these differences interesting in the early stages of their marriage, but they began to irritate her after several years of living together.

Pam explains: “Because I was raised in an Italian family that had poor boundaries, my tendency is to say what’s on my mind. Dave, on the other hand, usually weighs out what he is going to say and has a good internal filter. It’s also hard to know what he’s thinking because he shuts down a lot. The problem is that we can both be judgmental and we have misunderstandings and disagreements because we don’t trust each other.”

During our interview, Pam and Dave both acknowledged they had trust issues from their first marriages that were filters for how they interpreted each other’s comments and behavior. For instance, Pam’s ex-husband left suddenly to move in with a co-worker. After Dave’s divorce, he discovered that his ex-wife cleaned out their savings and had been hiding credit card debt that he was unaware of.

Dave: “Honestly, Pam can be a bit harsh and blunt at times. I grew up in New England and my family is private – we believe that it’s best not to disclose much about yourself. But I learned from my first marriage that communication is important so I’m trying to open up. I have some trouble with Pam’s intrusive communication style but I love her and I think loving someone is what matters in a marriage.”

Pam responds: “We have similar interests and taste in entertainment, movies, and music. We also have similar occupations and love to travel.  I’m learning to deal with unrealistic expectations and accepting Dave for who he is. When Dave shuts me out, it sounds like an echo from my first marriage (when my ex pushed me away) but Dave is not him.

Common Misunderstandings

Many remarried couples have established an unfortunate pattern of disagreeing over trivial matters because of the high level of stress in their lives. Seasoned remarried couples will tell you that even the happiest partners will have problems. In remarried families, there are many issues that first time married couples don’t face, such as adding children to the mix – yours, mine and ours. Couples also argue about finances, housework, in-laws, and disciplining children.

Take for example this conversation between Pam and Dave after a long workday. Their dialogue illustrates the inconsequential nature of most arguments between remarried couples. Couples often fight about nothing. Most of their disagreements arise out of differences of opinion about unimportant matters such as making dinner or chores. They both admit that their raw spots from their first marriage set the stage for feelings of vulnerability, defensiveness, and fear of rejection.

Dave: “What kind of pasta should I make tonight?”

Pam: “Tortellini, what else?”

Dave: “What do you mean, “What else”?”

Pam: “Well, we usually have tortellini but I guess I could make something else.”

Dave: “Does that mean you don’t like the way I make it?”

Pam: “No. I like it but go ahead and make something else.”

Dave: “Not if you want tortellini to go with the red sauce.”

Pam: “I don’t. Make ravioli tonight.”

By this dialogue, you can see how Pam and Dave’s difficulty being clear and misreading each other’s intentions set the stage for a disagreement. When Pam added the tag onto her response “What else?” the meta-message (or underlying meaning) was “You’re a jerk for asking, you should have known.” Understandably, Dave could interpret Pam’s comment as critical and demanding (she wanted him to read her mind) and lacking in directness and clarity.

In That’s Not What I Meant! author, Deborah Tannen, Ph.D. explains, “Things seem to get worse in close relationships that continue over time because we don’t realize that communication is inherently ambiguous and that conversational styles differ, so we expect to be understood if there is love. When misunderstandings inevitably arise, we attribute difficulties to failure: our own, or the others, or a failure of love.”

The story of Pam and Dave illustrates how unresolved differences can drive a wedge between remarried couples if they’re not repaired.

The following are three tips to use to improve your communication.

  • Decide together to make a face-to-face twenty to thirty-minute stress-reducing conversation happen daily. In The Seven Principles that Make Marriage Work, Dr. John Gottman explains that this conversation can help you feel more attuned with each other.
  • During this conversation (and at other times) acknowledge and show affection and appreciation for each other. A three-second kiss, holding hands, or cuddling on the couch will help you stay physically and emotionally connected. Be sure to show appreciation by pointing out something your partner does that you love. For example: “I love it when you make me a fresh cup of coffee every morning!”
  • Practice active listening and validation. Put your own agenda aside and suspend your worries and concerns about your own life while you focus on what your partner has to say. Giving your partner feedback will validate that you’re listening and that you understand and want to be close. For instance, you might say “It sounds like you had a tough conversation with your boss, that must have been disappointing since you worked so hard on that project.”

Keep in mind that active listening isn’t the same as advice and that it may take you a while to get used to this way of communicating. Most people rush in to offering solutions and solving problems and skip over listening and validation. You can strengthen your remarriage by improving your communication and making a commitment to learning more about each other every day!

 

Follow Terry Gaspard on TwitterFacebook, and movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-lasting Relationship was published by Sourcebooks in 2016.
More from Terry

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Spouse Is Suffering a Midlife Crisis

7 Signs Your Spouse Is Suffering a Midlife Crisis

Spouse Is Suffering a Midlife Crisis

 

Midlife crisis is an emotionally uncomfortable period that some men and women go through between the age of 35 and 65. For most, it is a time of question priorities and adjusting their lifestyle to fit better with their emotional needs.

For others, midlife can bring about a true “crisis,” one that causes them to stray outside the marriage for the affections and attention of a member of the opposite sex. They can question every choice they’ve made during the first half of their life. It is these folks who usually destroy their families and seem to completely change their character and belief system.

Signs Your Spouse Is Suffering a Midlife Crisis

Feeling a Need for Adventure and Change

He goes out and buys a new sports car or Harley. She becomes a bar-fly who comes in at 3:00 am every morning. It’s all about having fun and re-capturing their youth. If your spouse is neglecting things that were once important to him/her in favor of skydiving…something they have never expressed an interest in, they are probably experiencing a midlife crisis.

You have choices in such a situation. Skydiving and hanging out in biker bars is better than sitting home alone wondering what your spouse is up to. Participating a bit in their new found need for adventure can bring you closer together instead of creating the distance that can cause the midlife crisis spouse to start questioning whether or not to stay in the marriage.

Feelings of Depression

Some who go through a midlife crisis will experience depression that affects their mood and to the point that activities and relationships are negatively affected. Friends, family, and work may all be neglected. If you think your spouse is suffering from depression watch for the following symptoms:

  • Sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, pessimism
  • Loss of interest in once enjoyable activities
  • Lack of energy
  • Inability to focus or make decisions
  • Unusual sleep patterns
  • Unusual appetite, weight loss or gain

A Loss of Interest in Things That Used to be Important

I received a letter from Jason who was concerned about changes he was seeing in his wife. After 23 years in a career as a nurse, she quit her job. According to Jason, she wanted to go back to school full-time and major in philosophy. His wife had gone for a “straight-laced   Christian” to a woman who questioned whether or not there was a God.

Jason said he no longer knew the woman he had been married to for 18 years and was concerned she might be going through a midlife crisis. One thing is sure, she is questioning her values and beliefs and no one knows where these questions will lead her.

Anger and Blame of The Spouse

You are the problem! If it weren’t for you, life would be grand for the midlife crisis spouse. If he trips on a banana peel at work, you will get blamed. The spouse who is in a midlife crisis never looks internally and examines why he/she is feeling discontent.

They look outward and blame others and since you are the main relationship in their life it makes sense that you will bare most of the blame for their bad feelings. Expect your spouse to be short tempered and angry. Do not respond when your buttons are pushed. A response is what they want and you don’t want to play into their need for conflict.

Unable to Make Decisions About Their Future

Joan’s husband found a new woman and wanted a divorce. He refused to file for divorce, though. He left Joan telling her that he had never been in love with her, that marrying her had been a mistake. Joan was devastated!

Over a period of eighteen months, Joan’s husband changed his mind about his feelings for Joan on a regular basis. He would pack his bags and leave out the door spewing verbal abuse. A month later he would call in tears wanting to come home. Before long he was out the door again and moving back in with the other woman.

Joan eventually filed for a divorce and helped him make the decision he seemed unable to make. They are both now living with the painful consequences of his indecision.

Doubt Over The Choice to Marry

You may have just celebrated your 29th anniversary. You may have lived with a spouse who, from all outward appearances, seemed to have been happy in the marriage. It isn’t uncommon for a husband or wife who has never complained about being married to suddenly tell you that they have “lived in hell” from the very beginning.

The spouse in midlife crisis will question whether the marriage was ever legitimate. They will demonize you, accuse you of forcing them into marriage all in an attempt to make the marriage illegitimate. You will be painted as the evil spouse who never met their emotional or physical needs so the midlife crisis spouse can justify their feelings of discomfort with the marriage. If this is the case in your situation you should believe nothing you are told and very little of what you see.

A Desire For a New and More Passionate Intimate Relationship

The husband/wife who is going through a midlife crisis may become tired of the “same old, same old” in the bedroom. It isn’t uncommon for someone married to a spouse who is going through a midlife crisis to suffer the negative consequences of their infidelity.

If your spouse is spending more time in chat lines on the computer, working strange hours or on his/her cell phone more than usual you are seeing signs of a cheating spouse. These are only signs but coupled with the other symptoms of midlife crisis you should consider the possibility that your spouse has found someone to fulfill the need for a more passionate, intimate relationship.

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more likely to divorce

8 Things That Make You More Likely To Divorce

more likely to divorce

 

Can we, without a doubt, say that a couple will divorce before they walk down the aisle? In most cases no, although in some cases you can see a train wreck as it’s coming. How do you know if your marriage will last?

There isn’t an easy answer to that question but there are a few signs that predict if a couple is more likely to get a divorce. If you have any of these issues in your relationship perhaps you can head off future problems before walking down the aisle.

Are you more likely to divorce?

Based on these 8 things you are.

1. Money, Money, Money:

When money troubles abound, do the two of you clash horns, or do you sit together and find solutions rather than pointing fingers? How the two of you handle money separately and together is important.

If you’re battling each other instead of working together on how to manage finances more appropriately, this could propel you two towards divorce. Also, if one of you is bringing the other further into debt or, has a history of not paying their debt perhaps it’s time to sit down with a financial advisor and therapist if your partner is financially irresponsible.

2. The Woman is More Financially Accomplished:

The University of Chicago School of Business conducted research in 2013 that said if a woman earned more money than her husband, divorce rates increased. Perhaps this is based on a socio-cultural belief that men are to be the breadwinners and so when this doesn’t happen, perhaps a man feels weaker or less important.

If you are a well-accomplished woman, your partner may become threatened by your success.

What can you do about this?

Nothing. If a man is that threatened, he’s not the right one for you. And men, if your partner is more financially successful don’t you also reap the benefit of her success? Don’t get tied down into old ideologies and cultural stereotypes.

3. Your Parents Are Divorced:

Study after study says if your parents divorced, you are more likely to divorce as well. Perhaps that is true, so if your parents did divorce and you’re looking to keep your marriage happy, why not take some lessons learned from watching your parents’ marriage end, and use those lessons to give you perspective on how to handle conflict in your marriage or how to pick a good prospective partner.

I think if you get too “married” no pun intended, to the idea that if your parents divorced you will as well, it’s too fatalistic. Learn from their mistakes. That in itself may be a gift.

4. No Sex:

If you and your partner are slowly cutting down on your sexual activities, you’re heading into the danger zone. Sex is vital to a marriage. You don’t need to be in bed with each other every night getting randy, but if the two of you start to put a kibosh on marital sexual activities and intimacy it is a very bad sign of big problems in the relationship.

5. Different Values or Backgrounds

A colleague of mine came from a liberal background and her ex came from a conservative background. Despite the fact that there were mutual opinions of one another’s that they respected, ultimately their values and belief systems were incredibly different.

It wasn’t surprising when they started to argue more as they had a child. Their belief systems were clashing over how to raise their children which is common if two people don’t share similar backgrounds and values.  If you and your partner have inherently different life views this can (but not always) make for a difficult marriage.

6. Young Love

Marrying young? You may find that your interests and lives change so much as you grow older that you may grow older apart and not as a couple. We are different people at 40 than we were at 20.

That isn’t to say becoming a couple at a young age can’t work. I have friends who married at 15 and 16-years-old. They’ve just celebrated their 40th anniversary! Being young does make marriage more difficult and it takes more of a commitment so you have to be willing to stick it out when the going gets rough.

7. Fighting Ugly, Not Fighting Smart:

If you and your partner fight to hurt, expect one of those fights to sever your marriage. When you truly love and cherish someone, you’re not out for blood even if you are angry and hurt.

Being cruel or on the attack is not the sign of healthy love. Fighting smartly is most important in a marriage. Pick your battles wisely and avoid accusatory statements. Be careful with your words. There’s no way to truly take them back—they’ve already been said once they leave your lips!

8. Holding a Grudge:

If you find either one of you is supposedly forgiving but never forgetting this is a toxic habit for your relationship and future marriage. If you truly forgive you must also let go! Holding onto old resentments will eat you up inside and tear away at your partnership until there’s nothing left but ashes.

If you see any of these behaviors in your relationship, don’t get muddled down in negativity or despair. Instead, if it’s something you can change, do it! If the relationship requires more than a few tweaks, counseling may be in the cards for you. If you’re not married yet but see these potential issues, perhaps some pre-marital counseling is inline. It’s better to not say I do than to say I do and later on say, “I should have said I don’t!”

The post 8 Things That Make You More Likely To Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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ways to tell if his affair is over

10 Ways To Tell If His Affair Is Over

ways to tell if his affair is over

 

Your husband had an affair. He says it is over and the two of you have decided, together, to put the marriage back together and work at rebuilding trust. For this to happen he will need to break off all contact with the other woman. He will need to prove to you that his affair is over

Since you’ve lost total trust in him, the last thing you trust him to do is, anything. For that reason below is a list of things you can request he do to prove that he has broken off contact with the other woman and doesn’t intend to see her again.

5 things to do to ensure he isn’t having contact with the other woman and the affair is over.

  1. Tell him you want access to his phone, email accounts, and social media accounts. That would mean him sharing his passwords with you and you being able to check those accounts at your will.
  2. Ask him to email her, in your presence, and tell her that the relationship is over. He needs to be specific about the fact that there will be no further contact via text, phone, and email or in person. Once that is done monitor his email account for any response from her. If she responds it is within your right to reply and let her know that she can no longer interfere in your marriage.
  3. Watch him as he deletes her number from his phone and her address from his email account. You will also want him to remove her from any social media connections. When possible on email and social media insist that he block her from being able to contact him.
  4. For added protection, you can insist he change his email address and his phone number. Make sure that his old email account is deleted and that you have access to his new account. Once he has a new phone number check your account with your cellphone provider for her number to make sure she doesn’t have access to the new number and communication is continuing.
  5. If he and the other woman work together tell him that you want proof that they have limited contact at work. If that entails him exposing the affair to his boss, so be it. If he was concerned about his reputation at work he wouldn’t have started an affair.

Some experts advise women to not put too much pressure on their husband. I’m not sure how trust can be rebuilt until you are 100% sure the affair has ended and, in some situations that may mean him doing things that he finds uncomfortable.

If your marriage is going to survive his infidelity the goal has to be to heal the wound to the marriage. You can’t begin to heal that wound until the other woman is totally out of the picture. Don’t be surprised if he finds it hard to cut her off completely. It may take a few stops and starts for him to be able to break away cleanly.

How to tell he is no longer in contact with the other woman:

  1. When he is willingly engaging in honest discourse about the affair and what needs to be done to restore the marriage and your trust in him.
  2. He isn’t dismissing your feelings about the affair and your need to talk about those feelings. By being willing to listen and validate your feelings he is taking responsibility for his hurtful behavior.
  3. The two of you have identified issues in your marriage that need to be fixed and are actively working, together, to make those changes.
  4. You are both focusing on what makes the other happy.

Rebuilding trust after an affair takes time. It comes one step at a time. Be patient with yourself and him. You will be able to tell in your gut whether or not you are both on the same page when it comes to saving the marriage.

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do you express or suppress your feelings

Relationships: Do You Express Or, Suppress Your Feelings?

do you express or suppress your feelings

 

Do you express or, suppress your feelings? How one feels about their feelings and what they do with them can have either a positive or negative effect on their marriage.

I had a conversation over the weekend with a friend and this subject came up. We talked about how our exes were convinced we were, “crazy.” Both husbands had been taught, as children, to suppress their feelings whereas she and I had been taught to express our feelings reasonably. I can clearly see how someone who suppresses feelings would view someone who expresses them as looney tunes. I can see it but, I can’t condone it.

Do You Express or Suppress Your Feelings?

It is far healthier to express feelings that to suppress feelings. When you marry someone who was taught, as a child, those bad feelings are a sign of weakness, that anger is scary and expressing feelings is harmful and can lead to them losing control of their feelings, it’s easy to understand them labeling someone who deals with feelings differently as “crazy.”

Below are ways people who have learned to suppress their feelings protect themselves.

  1. They don’t put a lot of thought into their own emotional state. They go through life on autopilot!
  2. They view people who express feelings as being “out of control.” This could be the reason so many men label an ex as “Borderline Personality Disordered.”
  3. They ignore negative feelings and “move on.” In other words, they don’t deal with or attempt to solve the issue that is causing negative feelings.
  4. They view people who express their feelings as “acting out.” People who are trying to get their way and not people who are simply talking about their feelings and trying to solve a problem.
  5. They ignore or pay little attention to people who are sad or angry. Doing so can cause a spouse to feel rejected, dismissed or disliked.
  6. They do whatever they have to do to keep from feeling negative feelings. This can be giving in to a spouse or, completely ignoring their emotional needs to keep from having to deal with an upset or angry spouse.

Suppressing Feelings Affect Marriage?

Suppressing feelings can cause a spouse to feel rejected and their feelings dismissed. Suppressing feelings interferes in a couple working through daily life stresses and even worse, major issues and problems that come up in a marriage.

If you are married to someone who suppresses their feelings and ignores your feelings it only makes sense that you won’t feel like your spouse is an ally that is as invested in the marriage as you are. This leaves the spouse who is open and honest about their feelings, feeling alone and lonely.

I’ll give you an example from my own marriage. There was an aspect of the marriage that caused me tremendous pain. My ex spent years ignoring me when I expressed the pain his actions caused. I eventually told him we needed to seek therapy. We made an appointment, he showed up and lasted about 10 minutes in the therapy session before walking out.

The moment the therapist said, “Can you try to listen to her and see the problem from her perspective” my ex walked out of the session. Marital therapy would have only worked in our situation if the experience had been similar to a fun day at the beach or, a trip to Disney World. Since it wasn’t there was eventually a divorce because my emotions suppressing ex didn’t feel that saving the marriage was worth him facing and working through his fear of negative emotions.

How Do Expressing Feelings Affect Marriage?

Expressing negative feelings, within reason, is good for a marriage. Getting feelings out on the table gives both spouses the opportunity to address the issues and find solutions. It goes without saying that those who feel comfortable expressing their feelings are more likely to succeed in marriage.

But, when is it a bad thing to express negative feelings?

  1. If nothing makes a person happy, they are a chronic complainer who constantly whines they will soon find their spouse withdrawing out of self-preservation.
  2. Finding something wrong with EVERYTHING a spouse does, being hyper-vigilant and defensive is an unattractive trait. That isn’t “expressing feelings” in an attempt to be heard, this is being downright mean. Mean destroys marriages!
  3. Expressing your feelings by using offensive language or in a loud voice is verbal abuse. You may have a negative feeling about an issue in the marriage, you also have a responsibility to voice that feeling in a respectful manner.

Suppressing feelings may cause a spouse to feel detached emotionally, dismissed and unimportant in the marriage. Expressing feelings can cause a spouse to feel flooded or overwhelmed by negativity if their spouse expresses their feelings inappropriately. Yes, suppression is more detrimental to marriage but, obsessive expression of negative feelings can be just as damaging.

The trick is to find a healthy balance, one in which both spouses are heard and all feelings are validated.

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Is Your Marriage Making You Unhappy?

Is Your Marriage Making You Unhappy?

 

Friends and family notice a difference in your behavior and moods. You notice a difference in your moods. You’re not feeling as content. Perhaps you’re even depressed, agitated and moody.

Whatever the foul emotions are about, the cause may be your marriage. We all have down periods or tumultuous times in our marriages, but when these down periods seem to stick and we’re not feeling happy but can’t figure out how to solve the problem, most likely the problem is the marriage.

9 Questions to Help You Decide if Your Marriage is Making You Unhappy

Do You Spend Most Of Your Time Apart?

Do you and your spouse do anything together? If you and your partner never do anything together, it’s a good sign your marriage isn’t making you happy if you don’t want to spend time with your partner or you find yourself wanting to go out with and be around others instead of your spouse.

Would You Rather Be Elsewhere When You Are Together?

If you do things together as a couple, you’re reluctant or don’t enjoy yourself.  Either one of you is half-heartedly into game night or rock climbing and you or your partner can sense that one of you is not having a good time so someone’s “good time out” becomes no one’s good time out.

Are You Less Than Happy With The Sex?

If you’re not physical or intimate, your marriage is not making you happy. Sex and intimacy are the two things that set your marriage apart from other relationships in your life. If this part of your marriage is non-existent or minimal, your unhappiness likely stems from the lack of an intimate bond in your marriage.

Or, when you two are physical or intimate, it’s strained and you find yourself unable to tell your spouse that you’re feeling disconnected and that perhaps you would like to “change up” in your sexual routine. Not feeling safe expressing your sexuality in marriage leads to unhappiness in marriage.

Do You Avoid Important Discussions?

Are you avoiding conversations and confrontations with your partner because you’re afraid of a fight? You’re not happy or secure in your marriage. Avoiding conflict means conflicts are never resolved. That doesn’t lead to happiness in a marriage.

Have You Turned To Someone Instead Of Your Spouse?

Are you sharing your innermost feelings with someone else and not your spouse? If you’re starting to turn to someone else for comfort not only are you in danger of having an emotional affair, but you are also not happy in your marriage. You should be sharing these things or most things with your spouse.

Worse, are you spending significant time with someone else and there’s a flirtatious and not just friendly aspect to the relationship? This is an emotional affair, period, and not the way to solve your marital problems and promote healthy marriage.

Are You Detached And Prefer Time Alone?

Have you found yourself requesting more space from your partner? You may not be happy with your marital state if time alone with yourself is more attractive than time with your spouse. We all need time to ourselves but when the thought of spending time with your spouse makes you want to escape your marriage has problems.

Do You Make Comparisons With Others?

Are you constantly comparing your marriage to others? Do you find yourself seeing the green grass in other marriages, and then bringing those views back to yours and wondering why your marriage falls short?

What looks good from the outside may not be pretty on the inside. All marriages have problems. When you start comparing your marriage to that of others your focus isn’t where it should be…on your marriage.

Do You Chronically Complain About Your Spouse?

Are your friends and loved ones getting used to you complaining about your spouse? Do you find yourself stuck in a negative rut when it comes to your spouse, feeling like they can do no right? You’re either unhappy in your marriage or, you’re focusing too much on your spouse’s negative traits and not enough on the positive.

Do You Sleep In Separate Rooms?

Separate rooms equal separate lives. Yes, some couples sleep separately due to comfort or health reasons, but if you two shared a bed and now suddenly you’re on the couch more often than not, you two are not in a happy and stable marriage. Things can get better of course if both of you are willing and able to put forth effort, but separate rooms are the doorway to separate lives forever.

If you answered yes to all of these questions, here are some suggested next steps to finding satisfaction in your marriage:

  • Individual counseling to determine if you’re struggling with your own personal issues outside of your marriage.
  • Marriage counseling if your partner is open to it.
  • Confide in a trusted family member or spiritual advisor you are comfortable with. One who can steer you in a positive direction. Maybe talking will help make next steps clearer.

Marriage isn’t easy, divorce is definitely not easy! Marriages have highs and lows and if the love is there you can make it through the rough patches together

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