divorced dad

Why Don’t Divorced Dads Turn To Each Other For Support Like Divorced Moms Do?

divorced dad

 

My Facebook feed is filled with divorced or almost divorced women turning to each other for support and there is one thing you won’t find on there:

Men.

Single dads and divorced dads are not gathering in tribes on social media boards or in person to chat about their plight and experience with divorce even if they want to.

Why not?

Why Divorced Dads Don’t Turn to Each Other for Support

A study published in 2000 in the Psychological Review, showed that stressed women “tend and befriend” while men go for the “fight or flight” option. Researchers suggest that this is due to the fact that when stressed, men’s brains omit less oxytocin, that feel-good love hormone than women. And according to statistics produced by the American Psychological association in 2011, women (70%) are more apt to do something to reduce their stress than men (50%) are.

No matter which way we slice it, research shows that men tend to go the solo route when it comes to working through stress while women look for company along the way.

Men don’t want to raise their hands and say, “Hey everyone, my life sucks,” or “I miss my ex-wife,” or “It’s really hard raising kids in a single-parent home.”

Doing that would mean admitting pain and hardship, something that isn’t considered a masculine trait and let’s face it, while women have been the oppressed gender from the start, men also suffer from unfair stereotypes and expectations. Men aren’t oppressed, they are REPRESSED emotionally!

It’s not OK for a man to cry.

Be a man, suck it up.

You’ve heard those phrases tossed around and so have I.

We tell men to be brave and strong and to keep a straight face. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for grief and sadness.

So it isn’t surprising then that single dads and divorced men are not looking for a support group, but to me, this limits divorced men and single dads from moving past divorce in a healthy way.

If men could form groups or did form groups, it could help them grieve divorce and learn new parenting strategies from other dads. If a man did reach out to another man to say, “Hey, how did you find a good custody schedule,” or “Is mediation the better route?” it would be beneficial for that divorcing dad.

Going solo on such a huge adventure like becoming a divorced, single dad seems risky, from my female-wired brain. It could also be the reason men seem to jump into new relationships, faster.

A new partner might just be the divorced man’s support group, but that is problematic too. Someone you’re romantically interested in shouldn’t be a springboard for grief and renewal.

So for all the divorced dads out there, why not see befriending or growing your support network of other divorced and single dads in a different light, rather than seeing it as a “b*tch fest” or gathering like a group of old ladies?

See reaching out for support as a:

  • Chance to network: Maybe your new friends will have good business contacts or even better, cute single female friends.
  • Chance to mentor: If you’re a single dad mentoring a man who’s going through the divorce process, you can be a father figure to someone going through the experience—an adoptive son or little brother, as it were.
  • Chance to learn from others: Use your man brain and be logical: someone who has been there or done that will know certain pitfalls to avoid as you go through the divorce process that you wouldn’t have known without asking someone in the “know.”

To all the divorced dads or “going through a divorce” dads, why not do things a little differently in your life this time around? Making contacts and building a support network isn’t just for women. It’s for smart people who want to make a huge life adjustment a bit easier or in other words, it’s for you!

The post Why Don’t Divorced Dads Turn To Each Other For Support Like Divorced Moms Do? appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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divorcing a control freak

6 Strategies To Use When Divorcing A Control Freak

divorcing a control freak

 

I had never considered my husband a control freak. But as we were ending our marriage, I saw his need to control blossom into something ugly.

At that point, I reflected back over our marriage (for the millionth time?) and realized it had been there all along. I think I had largely overlooked it because I just wanted to get along.

Plus there were other hurtful behaviors that actually trumped this one.

Our divorce kicked off with some controlling behavior. What I had hoped would be a dissolution upgraded to a divorce when my husband sent the Sheriff to our home to serve me with divorce papers.

In those papers were restraining orders. He was trying to prevent me from accepting a job in my hometown. It was the best job opportunity that I could’ve received at that time. Many years ago, we had jointly decided that he would financially support our family while I basically stayed home with our four children.

But when the divorce started, he shut down all of my access to our finances. Then he tried to block my ability to provide for myself and the children. I was in an impossible spot, and needed solutions. Eventually, I came up with six strategies to handle divorcing a control freak.

6 Strategies To Use When Divorcing A Control Freak

1. Limit his opportunities to control. I created an email account just for him and refused to communicate with him in any other way. I informed him that I would no longer speak with him in person, nor would I answer his texts. If he needed to give me information quickly (maybe running late to pick up the kids), he could text someone in my support system and they would immediately let me know. The email account was actually my attorney’s idea. It limited my ex’s ability to control me and made a permanent record out of everything he said.

Along that same vein…

2. Create witnesses. After I made an email account just for him, I realized I could improve upon the idea even further. I made sure he knew that I would not be reading his emails. The people who supported me took turns reading emails from my ex. They only passed along the information that I actually needed to know, usually details about the kids.

I was never made aware of the drama, threats or speeches. My ex was intensely upset about this, but I stuck with it. I cannot even express how much stress this lifted from me. And yes, I realize how incredibly lucky I am to have such a wonderful support system!

3. Move, if you can. This was a tricky situation because my attorney and I decided that I would drop all of the kids off at their father’s new place, and then I’d move to my hometown. Their father had never wanted to be involved in parenting, and I knew that among other issues, the children would get really upset by his parenting and personality.

Within two weeks, all four of the children had found a way to move out of their dad’s home. Thankfully, the courts later interviewed all of them and allowed the children to move so they could live with me. The kids had been so understanding, but this calculated risk frightened me and filled me with guilt. The move was for a job opportunity and creating a better life for the kids and me. But it also ended up playing a significant role in my healing and creating boundaries. I believe it saved me.

4. Document. It felt like I would be stooping so low to record or videotape my ex, even though he was consistently doing that to me. But one day he called the police on me because our son rode the school bus to where his Pappaw was instead of where his father lived.

Once the officer understood how upset the children were, he explained that it could really help the kids and me if I were to record them being forced to visit their dad. Once my ex understood that I would be openly recording, he backed off on forcing visits. (Disclaimer: If children can be/feel healthy in their relationships with BOTH parents, I believe this is best. I don’t want to sound anti-dad. I’ve met some men that are amazing dads!)

5. Neutral territory. Two of our children visit with their father, and whenever we exchanged the children I insisted that we do so in a very public location. I had noticed that my ex’s controlling behavior was always bolder when we were at our homes or another private place. I’m very lucky because my father usually offers to do pick-ups/drop-offs. Pappaw has clocked in some major hours driving the 90-minute trek to my ex’s house with some very precious cargo.

6. My life is no longer his business. I stopped posting on social media for a few years. When I returned, I thinned down my friend count to remove anyone who was also a friend of my ex’s. As far as I know, the children feel pretty protective of me and never mention me or details of my life to their dad. He has tried to come into my home to use the bathroom, but I’m not comfortable with this (there is a nice Subway and gas station just two blocks away). In the past, he has gone through my belongings, and he’s been known to take pictures. I believe the less he knows about me, the less opportunity he has to control me.

There are almost always better ways to handle relationship issues than with control and force. Where’s the finesse, patience, compromise, and understanding? We have the right to be treated with respect. Plus, when we do stand up for ourselves, the other person has an opportunity to self-correct – if they are able. If they are allowed to treat us unfairly, they aren’t going to have an impetus to change. But if this best-case scenario doesn’t work out, and they still remain control-freaks, at least you’ve established some healthy boundaries for yourself.

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Symptoms of Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome

Symptoms of Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome: Could This Be You?

Symptoms of Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome

 

Narcissists are masters of disguise and narcissistic abuse is a form of thought control, it’s emotional manipulation of another person into handing over their mind and will, and thus their thoughts, desires for the narcissist’s personal gain.

A woman suffering from narcissistic abuse syndrome is often disconnected from her own emotional pain. She tends to obsess over her own failures after years of buying into the flaws her narcissistic partner identified in her.

Her mind is often spinning, preoccupied with trying to sort the confusion — the effects of the use of tactics such as gaslighting and word salad on her mind, with intent to distort her reality and impose his own — seeking an explanation for why the narcissist is so miserable, why he treats her the way he does, why he’s so insecure, why they cannot communicate, why he still doesn’t “get” what she’s trying to tell him, and so on.

In other words, what the victim of narcissistic abuse syndrome feels and thinks about herself, life and the narcissist, in most areas, mirrors to some or greater extent what the narcissist wants her to think, believe, feel.

Not every woman involved with a narcissist will suffer from narcissistic abuse syndrome. Those who are in long-term marriages or relationships are more apt to suffer the repercussions of the narcissist’s attempts at controlling, gaslighting and manipulation.

The result of being on the end of narcissistic abuse is the development of PTSD like symptoms. Some of the symptoms of narcissistic abuse syndrome are as follows.

Symptoms of Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome

Cognitive

  • confusion
  • nightmares
  • uncertainty
  • hypervigilance
  • suspiciousness
  • intrusive images
  • poor problem solving
  • poor abstract thinking
  • poor attention/ decisions
  • poor concentration memory
  • disorientation of time, place or person
  • heightened or lowered alertness
  • increased or decreased awareness of surroundings

Behavioral

  • withdrawal
  • antisocial acts
  • inability to rest
  • intensified pacing
  • change in social interactions
  • loss or increase of appetite
  • hyperalert to environment
  • increased alcohol consumption
  • change in usual communications

Emotional

  • fear
  • guilt
  • grief
  • panic
  • denial
  • anxiety
  • agitation
  • irritability
  • depression
  • intense anger
  • apprehension
  • emotional shock
  • emotional outbursts
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • loss of emotional control
  • inappropriate emotional response

The end result of a relationship with a narcissist is a slow, insidious, breaking down of the self-esteem of his victims until there’s next to nothing left, at which point, the narcissist will frequently throw his partner out in order to look for someone new and full of life to make his next target. Leaving his victim an emotional wreck wondering what she did to destroy their once “perfect” relationship.

Victims are not only spouses. They can be coworkers, employees, children, or friends of narcissists. When the narcissist is the victim’s mother or father, it’s a difficult spot to be in, as most children (even grown children) find it almost impossible to leave the relationship. And the abuse continues for years.

If you think that you or someone that you love is struggling with narcissistic abuse syndrome, it’s important that you seek help. Not only should you make a conscious effort to put the narcissist out of the picture, but you should seek some treatment from a certified professional trained in treating PTSD.

4 Ways to Deal with Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome

Educate Yourself

Learn all you can about narcissistic abuse. Don’t learn all you can about the narcissist. Knowing what makes him tick, won’t undo the damage he has done. Focus on the symptoms you’re experiencing and the tools you need to utilize to help you heal.

Respect Your Boundaries

The key to setting boundaries with a narcissist is to stick to them. You will want to communicate clearly and directly each time. If you make a mistake and find that you “lose it” or say something wrong, just keep practicing and be accountable for your behavior.

Assert Yourself

Know what you want and fight for what you want. Don’t engage in power struggles with your narcissist. In fact, don’t engage with your narcissist at all. The best way to be assertive with a narcissist is to go completely no contact.

Get Help

Get support, seek therapy, and figure out how to move forward with your life without the narcissist partner involved. You don’t need to stick it out with him; it’s your life, and they don’t own it.

Prioritize your own happiness and sanity. In many cases, you might not have a choice, so when you do – get out, now.

The post Symptoms of Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome: Could This Be You? appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Personality Traits That Attract a Narcissist

What Personality Traits are Narcissists Attracted To?

Personality Traits That Attract a Narcissist

 

I’m going to say that narcissists are attracted to everything they aren’t. If you want to feel wealthy you dress well, act superior and surround yourself with wealthy people. You may not have money in the bank, but your lifestyle says WEALTHY.

We all know there are certain traits missing in the narcissist’s makeup. The narcissist knows this also so, he is going to be attracted to those who, as he needs, make him look good. The narcissist is an empty shell but, they are intelligent enough to know that if they are going to appear likable and become socially accepted, they must attach themselves to someone whose skirt tails they can ride.

Personality Traits That Attract a Narcissist:

  • Intelligence.
  • Being empathetic and compassionate.
  • Having humanitarian interests.
  • Showing heart.
  • Able to express empathy and compassion.
  • High moral compass.
  • Sincerity, warm-heartedness and inner beauty.
  • Being genuinely concerned about the wellbeing of others.
  • Emotional maturity.
  • Friendliness and a love for life. Positive mental attitude.
  • Spirit- an open and happy spirit.
  • Success and achievements.
  • Hierarchy or societal place on the ‘social ladder.’
  • Resources- materialistic blessings or achievements.
  • Unique talents, gifts, and abilities.
  • A genuine care for others, animals and the world.
  • Shyness and insecurities.
  • Someone easily shapeable.
  • Inner beauty.
  • External beauty and someone they can ‘show off.’

You’ll notice, grouped in with those traits is, shyness, insecurities and easily shapeable. That’s the key, they want someone who appears to have it all together on the surface but struggles with self-esteem issues, codependency issues and will to change to please the narcissist. They want a woman to reflect well upon them, but they also want one they can manipulate.

I remember being constantly complimented by my ex because of my volunteer work, my looks, my chosen career, and my love of animals. On the other hand, he was very interested in family of origin issues I dealt with and how those had impacted me.

I made the mistake of confusing his interest with caring and concern. I know now that what he was doing was arming himself with ammunition to use when we got to the manipulation phase of our relationship. Feigning interest in issues you find difficult to deal with is all part of the manipulation game they play.

How Does a Woman Keep from Being the Victim of a Narcissist?

Below are some questions you need to ask yourself. Protecting yourself from a narcissist has a lot to do with how secure your boundaries are and how much bad behavior you’ll accept in a relationship.

Have you ever ended a relationship because the other person was too selfish? 

Or, do you make excuses and blame yourself for not giving enough in the relationship?

Do you have clear boundaries that you enforce about what types of behaviors you will or will not tolerate from a romantic partner?

If a relationship began wonderfully, but quickly goes downhill, do you stay in it hoping that it will improve?

Does being “in love” trump being treated well?

Do you put up with being devalued?

Do you make excuses for the other person’s bad behavior? They don’t really mean it. They had a hard day.

If the person’s behavior turns abusive do you leave immediately?

If you answered yes to any of these questions or, you’re unsure how you would respond in the situation, you’re exactly the type of woman a narcissist is attracted to. You’re the woman who will hold on when she should have let go. You’re the woman who’ll find herself trying to recover from narcissistic abuse and wondering what the hell happened to that wonderful man she fell in love with.

Don’t be that woman!

Bottom Line:

If you find yourself in a relationship with a man who makes you feel uncomfortable or regularly manipulates you into doing things you don’t want to do, he is probably not right for you. Whether he is a narcissist or not, it’s imperative to learn to trust your gut and not accept bad behavior regardless of how you feel about a man. That is what will keep you from ever becoming the victim of a narcissist.

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5 Reasons a Passive Aggressive Man’s Love Comes With a Big Price Tag

5 Reasons a Passive Aggressive Man’s Love Comes With a Big Price Tag

Passive Aggressive Man Mask.jpg

If you were married to him, you know what I’m talking about. If you have divorced a passive aggressive you SURELY know what I’m talking about. If you weren’t, be on the look-out because chances are you will cross paths with a passive aggressive man.

Who is the passive aggressive man? He is that guy who avoids responsibility and conflict through passivity and withdrawal. He is the “Nice Guy” who reels you in with his adoration and once you are in the game he turns the tables so quickly your head will swim until you decide to take a hike.

But what is passive aggressive behavior and how do you recognize passive aggressive men?

5 Reasons the Passive Aggressive Man’s Love Comes With a Big Price Tag

He…

Withholds to Punish: He says one thing but means another. Sure, he wants to go to a movie. He even appears to enjoy himself until later that night when he rejects you sexually. You see, he didn’t want to go to a movie but, his passivity would not allow him to own it. His fear of conflict means punishing you in covert ways for something you “made” him do. What better way to punish than withholding something he knows you want?

Fears Conflict: He will do anything to keep from arguing with you. He has been taught that anger is unacceptable. Well, expressing anger in an open, honest way is unacceptable and is not something you will get from this guy. What you will get is a relationship with a man who avoids solving relationship problems, avoids taking responsibility for problems in the relationship and most importantly avoids making an intimate connection with you.

Why? A passive aggressive man will always choose to avoid conflict because he has come to experience conflict or disagreement as terrifying. He may have a great desire to connect with you emotionally but they don’t have the tools required for them to do so. For this reason, the retreat from those they love because of their fear that something will go wrong or they will be rejected.

In other words, they forfeit a relationship they long for, out of fear and, basically cause their worst fear to come true. Not only do they break your heart, they break their own heart by constantly giving up on relationships. When your passive aggressive husband starts avoiding conflict, it’s the beginning of the end of his emotional attachment to you and the relationship.

Plays The Victim: This poor guy can’t win for losing; not in his mind anyway. He will not show for a dinner date but find it unreasonable that you are upset. It is, after all, his bosses fault for making him work late. He could have picked his cell phone up and called but calling isn’t nearly as pleasurable as letting you sit and wait. You waiting on him gets his angries out at you.

He gets to punish you and blame his boss…he is off the hook, a “good guy” who is the victim of an unreasonable woman AND boss who both expect too much from him.

How does the passive aggressive benefit by playing the victim? When they play the “poor me” card it elicits other’s sympathy and offers of help. He enjoys being noticed and validated in such a way. Being a victim is also a great excuse for not confronting difficult life issues…avoiding conflict, again.

If he is viewing himself as a victim he can remain passive and not be held responsible for his bad behavior. This enables him to shift responsibility for his own misery off onto you.

As long as he is holding onto the victim role he puts himself in a low-risk, take no chances position. It’s all your fault since it’s your fault you should be the one to fix the problem! He is off the hook.

Is Forgetful: He forgets birthdays, anniversaries, anything important to you will be forgotten by him. My ex used to forget he needed something from me until the last minute.  If there was a social event related to his work, I would get notice the day before. I spent a lot of time running around trying to prepare for something in a few hours that would normally take days.

Is Afraid of You: They want you but they don’t want to become attached to you. He is in a constant battle with himself to pursue you then distance himself from you.  According to Scott Wetlzer, author of Living with the Passive-Aggressive Man: Coping with Hidden Aggression – From the Bedroom to the Boardroom.

The passive aggressive man is “unsure of his autonomy and afraid of being alone, he fights his dependency needs, usually by trying to control you. He wants you to think he doesn’t depend on you, but he binds himself closer than he cares to admit. Relationships can become battlegrounds, where he can only claim victory if he denies his need for your support.”

You have a lot of anger toward the passive aggressive man you are involved with. You just can’t figure out exactly what you are angry about. He is sweet, kind and loving. He never argues, does exactly what you wish. There must be something wrong with you or such a good man would want to have sex with you, remember your birthday, put effort into solving the problems in the relationship or just show up on time every once in a while.

And that is the trap women who are involved with passive aggressive men fall into, they become responsible for all that is wrong in the relationship. He keeps you hanging in by doing for you when he doesn’t want to, by never arguing, by being such a nice guy. All those puzzling behaviors that send the opposite message that the other negative behaviors send.

That is why they call it “crazy-making” behavior. The passive aggressive man is very good at appearing to be calm, cool and collected while you are going off the deep end. It isn’t his intent to frustrate, offend or cause you to feel guilty. He truly does only want to help.

The only issue, the kind of help he has to offer comes with a price. He has expectations he is unable to openly express and when you don’t meet those expectations you get resentment and covert punishment. And, you should never expect your expectations to be met, not even when you’ve expressed them in a clear, easy to understand fashion.

Want a relationship with a passive aggressive man to last? Become a mind reader and keep your expectations low.

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cheated on

Cheated On? Why No One Really Cares

cheated on

 

There she is…or he for that matter…seated in front of my desk with tears in his/her eyes and a mountain of papers.  Barely able to compose herself, she tells me, “He’s been cheating on me, and here is all the proof.”  Sure enough, there is the proof! And it is ugly. There are email exchanges, text exchanges, graphic photos, credit card receipts, phone records, PI reports, and sometimes even “DNA” evidence…oh boy. I take a deep breath.

How do I explain that in the context of divorce, here comes the truth, NO ONE CARES IF YOU WERE CHEATED ON?

I get it.  It’s awful, it’s painful, and it may indeed say a lot about the cheating spouse, but as a legal matter (in New York), it won’t make a difference in what you get in terms of divorce entitlements. After gently empathizing with my client, I next deliver the news, “that all being said, as far as the divorce, your spouse can be swinging from chandeliers with his/her paramour, but as long as the children aren’t there, no one cares.”

There it is, the stunned look of disbelief…WHAT? No matter how many times I deliver the news, it’s heartbreaking.  Here is my client, totally distressed. She has inevitably lost at least ten pounds from the stress, hasn’t slept for days, and probably spent at least $5,000.00 on a private investigator. What’s even worse is that she has probably, and unbeknownst to her, illegally obtained “evidence” which she couldn’t use in court anyway.

So what now? Well, first off, stop the investigation immediately. It has no use or purpose other than to upset you. You have plenty of evidence and there is no need to go any further. All this will do is upset you even more and interfere with your ability to make good choices for yourself.

I know that it is hard to do.

It becomes almost an obsession. However, for your own sake, I urge you to stop because it really does not make a difference, and it keeps you stuck. About 15 years ago I had a client whose husband was cheating on her.  She found out in the most awful of ways…in person.

Yes, she came home to a stranger in the marital bed. It can’t get worse than that.  Did you see the movie Silver Linings Playbook? If you haven’t, I suggest you do. It’s a great movie and it’s about a husband who discovers his wife is cheating on him; how he becomes obsessed with it, and it almost ruins his life.

Why No One Cares If You Were Cheated On

Anyway, back to my poor client. She was young, smart, highly educated and beautiful. She was also very trusting and naïve. She literally suffered a nervous breakdown and could not go to work. It was a very short marriage, just under two years. There were no children and no assets.

Other than get her divorced from this cheater, what else did she want? More importantly, what else could I fight for?

I was so moved by her plight and believed that having lost her job because of her husband’s cheating, that he should provide some spousal support while she got her life back in order.

The Husband’s attorney thought I was out of my mind, inexperienced, and all but laughed at my proposal that his client pay my client’s rent for a year.  We went to court.  We had a conference with the Judge. Guess what? The Judge agreed with the Husband’s attorney, told me my demand was ridiculous and that my client had to “get over it.” I was crushed.

I went back to my client to tell her that our demand was too high (translation, as in 100% too high). I will never forget the look of disbelief and disappointment in her eyes.  Persistent young rebel that I was, I went back with a slight modification of my proposal. The attorney basically laughed at me, and we went back to see the Judge.

At that point, the Judge growing annoyed with my persistence and my client’s “hysteria” made a suggestion for a proposal.

When my client would not agree, the Judge told me that my client was “an @# idiot.”  Uh oh.  Now that was just way out of line. With my heart banging out of my chest, and my hands shaking, I said to the Judge, “I think that perhaps we should go into the courtroom and I will ask that your honor recuse himself.” He shot me a look. I added, “respectfully.” The Judge then made a “final” proposal and told opposing counsel that he was to make sure that his client took the deal.

We accepted. It was a moment of vindication for my client, and for me, one that I still haven’t forgotten.

That Judge, by the way, is no longer a judge or lawyer.

Other than that, and maybe one other which would make this blog just way too long (the Husband was cheating on his wife with her sister), cheating is NOT a factor in divorce, and people spend way too much time, energy and money obsessing over it. You are just too good for that type of life waster!

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he makes irrational threats

Lawyers & Exes & Threats: What To Do When He Makes Irrational Threats

he makes irrational threats

 

On a daily basis without fail, I get a panicked phone call or email about a “threat” one of my clients just received.  “Is it true? Can he really do that?” Inevitably the threat, just like a fever, comes in the middle of the night when you can’t reach anyone for help.

Scared and stressed, you suffer all night waiting until morning to call your lawyer for an answer.  The threats, no matter how scary are usually nothing to worry about.

Keep in mind that I am NOT talking about threats of bodily harm or injury.  Those are different, and none of the below applies to THAT kind of threat.  Any threat of harm to you, your home, or children is one that needs to be reported and acted upon immediately.

These are but just a few common “threats” that are made all too often, and reality is, they seldom come to fruition if ever, and as you get wiser you will know exactly how to respond.

“By the time I’m finished with you, you’ll have nothing”

“You’ll never see your kids again”

“I’m getting sole custody”

“The kids are going to have to testify”

“The house is getting sold and you will be on the street”

“I’m moving out of state”

“I’m quitting my job”

“I’m calling your boss”

“Wait until the Judge finds out that you…”

Sound familiar?

What To Do When He Makes Irrational Threats

Write it down. Yes, like my “lists” this too should be written down. Hearing the threat is very different than seeing it. When your spouse calls, emails or texts you in a rant, all kinds of emotions and buttons are triggered. Under this state, it is very difficult to keep calm and impossible to think straight.

Let the threat come and go. Do not respond to the threat. Do not make a “counter-threat.” Write the threat down. Now read it and think about it. Chances are that within a few minutes of calming down, breathing and reading, you can see that the threat is often unrealistic, unlikely and the product of some other trigger.

A good friend, excellent therapist, and colleague who practices in the field of family therapy once told me, “the dynamics of the marriage are the dynamics of the divorce.” Simply stated, if he was a bully in the marriage he will be a bully in the divorce. If she was controlling in the marriage she will be controlling in the divorce. Do not expect your spouse’s personality or style to change during the divorce, if anything, you will see it reach peak extremes.

Tell your lawyer. Do not believe your spouse’s claims unless your lawyer tells you it is true. In a contested divorce your spouse has two basic goals, first to make your life as difficult as possible, and second, to “win.” If you keep that in mind, you will begin to train yourself not to react to his/her threat. If you react to the threat in a way that your spouse hopes you will, i.e. by caving into unreasonable demands and/or giving him or her anything he/she wants just to “end things” then your spouse’s tactics have worked and the threats will keep coming!

A word about “lawyer letters.” Lawyers write a lot of letters. Some letters are necessary, some not so much, and others to appease their angry and upset clients or make them feel better at your expense. These letters can be very upsetting. I know it is probably easy for me to say it, but truly, do not take them personally. Believe me, your spouse’s attorney isn’t (and your spouse is paying A LOT of money for these letters).

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why does the narcissist emotionally and psychologically abuse others

Why Does The Narcissist Emotionally And Psychologically Abuse Others?

why does the narcissist emotionally and psychologically abuse others

 

I’ve researched narcissism for years. Have worked with narcissistic clients and those who’ve been harmed by a narcissist. There is one thing they all want to know, “why am I this way, or, why is he that way?”

Why does the narcissist emotionally and psychologically abuse others?

If you’ve ever suffered narcissistic abuse, you’ll spend a lot of time trying to understand what makes a narcissist tick. Why they behave the way they do, why did you fall prey to your narcissist?

If we’ve been hurt by someone we love it’s only natural to want to find understanding in what happened. We believe that if we can only understand our pain will lessen.

So, whether you’re a therapist, researcher or victim, there is an interest in knowing why the narcissist emotionally and psychologically abuses.

There are many theories. Probably as many theories about why the narcissist is narcissistic as there are people wondering why.

Some of the possible reasons’ the narcissist emotionally and psychologically abuses others:

  • They were abused as a child.
  • They were emotionally abandoned by their mothers as a child.
  • They were abandoned by their fathers as a child.
  • They suffer from a form of attachment disorder.
  • Their needs weren’t met as a child.
  • They weren’t shown love as a child, as a result, never learned how to love.
  • They weren’t taught how to love themselves as a child.
  • They were raised to believe that they are better than others.

Here is what I’ve determined: It doesn’t matter why the narcissist emotionally and psychologically abuses others.

The why, I’m definitely sure has to do with family of origin issues and the reasons may be as varied as the damage done in a particular narcissist’s family.

If you’re ever going to understand why your narcissist abused you, the answer more than likely lies in his family history. You’ll get a better understanding of what happened to you by understanding what happened to him as a child.

But, again, why does it matter?

Why spend the time and energy on trying to figure him out when your time it is better spent on healing and moving forward with your life?

I can tell you from experience that no amount of understanding is going to lessen your pain. Once I fully understood my ex’s behaviors and actions, my pain was still there. Nothing was going to take care of the emotional pain I felt after years of abuse and losing someone I loved except TIME.

I also exhausted myself and put more focus into trying to figure him out than I did taking care of myself. The deeper I dug into information online and his family history the more I became entangled with him and we were divorced!

When I thought about the stories I’d heard about his mother and his absent father the more empathy I felt for a man who was trying to destroy me via the family court system. That isn’t when you want to feel empathy for someone!

Narcissistic men attach themselves to empathetic, kind, and caring women. We’re an easy target during the dating period, marriage and even during the divorce process. Our tender hearts can hold us back from doing what needs to be done when divorcing a narcissist…fight fire with fire!

I remember my neighbor telling me about seeing my ex in the grocery store shortly after he’d left home. Her words, “he looks like the walking wounded,” wounded me. I instantly wanted to bring him home, take care of him and fix him.

I wanted to excuse his behavior, just as I’d done during the marriage and make excuses for him instead of setting boundaries WITH him instead of taking care of myself.

If you’re like me and have dealt with or, you’re now dealing with understanding why the narcissist emotionally and psychologically abuses, I’m sure you’ve made excuses for them also.

  • “He had a rough childhood.”
  • “He had a terrible mom who never loved him.”
  • “He had an absent father and craves love and attention that he didn’t get in childhood.”
  • “He is wounded, so he is lashing out at me from a place of pain.”
  • “He is afraid to be vulnerable with me because he is afraid of abandonment.”
  • “The stress of years of damage has caused him to snap.”
  • “If I had a second chance, I could love all that damage out of him.”

After he left, I made the same excuses for his deplorable treatment of me that I had made during the marriage. Such excuses on my part not only kept me emotionally tied to him but also kept me from moving toward healing from what he had done to me.

Not all people who were abused grow into abusers. I was in bed one night, ruminating on him and his behavior when it hit me…I didn’t have a perfect childhood, but I CHOOSE not to abuse others.

My father was an alcoholic. My mother enabled his alcoholism. I was sexually abused as a child by a family friend. I experienced a tremendous amount of trauma as a child. You know what I did about it, I got therapy! I learned to deal with my childhood to keep it from impacting others negatively.

I lay there and thought to myself, “Hell compared to my childhood he led a pretty cushy life.” That’s when I realized exactly why narcissists abuse emotionally and psychologically others.

Because they can!

They have free will. No one is holding a gun to their heads and making them abuse those closest to them. They know right from wrong. I had witnessed my ex doing the right thing many, many, many times during our marriage.

With certainty, I finally knew he was mistreating our children and me because he was making the choice to mistreat us. It was within his power to treat us civilly and respectfully; he was choosing not to.

I talked with my therapist about my thoughts and his response was, “emotional problems are no excuse for bad behavior.” And he was right. I didn’t have to make excuses for my ex, I no longer felt the desire to understand why he did the things he did. I was ready to focus on myself and recovering from the abuse.

Narcissists emotionally and psychologically abuse because they are bullies. They destroy women, families, and children and cause grave harm because they are bullies. Bullies with bad childhoods but it isn’t my job or your job to fix a bully who doesn’t want to be fixed or feel he needs to be fixed.

You are not responsible for their actions. You are not responsible for their feelings. You are not responsible for their actions. You are not here to take abuse from them or anyone else and that’s what your quest to “understand” is causing…more abuse for you.

When we let go of the need to understand and figure out “why,” we let go of the narcissist and begin to heal. Are you ready to let go? Are you ready to heal?

The post Why Does The Narcissist Emotionally And Psychologically Abuse Others? appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Divorced Moms: A Few Father’s Day Do’s and Don’ts

father's day

 

As a single mother on Father’s Day, sometimes it can be a little lonely when the children are not by your side, but it is essential to recognize the importance, in your children’s eyes, of spending time with their father – particularly on Father’s Day.

Just as on Mother’s Day, when, as it should be, the mother is properly recognized for all of her contributions to the family, it is equally as important that the children are able to spend time with and recognize their father on their special day.

A Few Father’s Day Do’s and Don’ts

In order to help prepare for not spending time with your children on Father’s Day, here’s a helpful guide of “Do’s and Don’ts” that I have found to be useful in my consultations with clients on the topic of Father’s Day and visitation when the parents are separated.

It should go without saying these suggestions apply equally to Mother’s Day when the children are spending time with their mother, but since Father’s Day is rapidly approaching, we will start from there. So without further ado, here is my helpful list of do’s and don’ts for a single mother on Father’s Day:

Do’s for a Single Mother on Father’s Day

  1. Do encourage your children to spend time with their father on Father’s Day. Keep any negative feelings to yourself until after the children have left so that they can enjoy a guilt-free day with their dad.
  2. Do step aside for the day and allow the father to shine, even if only for one day.
  3. Do make sure your children – if they do not reside in the same geographical area as their father, or if Dad is deployed or working overseas – contact and speak with their father. If possible, connect them through some video conferencing, Skype, Facetime, or a similar application that allows the children and their father to see each other while they’re talking.
  4. Do have the children create a Father’s Day card and/or encourage your children to make a homemade gift for their father.
  5. Do take time for yourself and enjoy some quality time with your family or friends. Make plans that don’t involve the children, such as brunch, a movie, or a spa day with friends.

Don’ts for a Single Mother on Father’s Day

  1. Don’t make plans or schedule other activities on Father’s Day that would deprive the father of the opportunity to spend time with the children on Father’s Day.
  2. Don’t disparage or otherwise denigrate Father to or around the children. This tip should apply year-round – not just on Father’s Day
  3. Don’t prohibit the children from spending time with or contacting Father on Father’s Day.
  4. Don’t allow the children to dictate the terms of their timesharing with Father over Father’s Day.
  5. Don’t despair: Mother’s Day occurs in May, so make sure these same do’s and don’ts apply for your special day when it comes around each year!

While certainly not an exhaustive list, I hope these do’s and don’ts will help to provide some guidelines on how best to handle – and ensure a smooth timesharing experience for your child – Father’s Day after divorce.

The post Divorced Moms: A Few Father’s Day Do’s and Don’ts appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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The Value of Divorced Dads: On Father’s Day And Every Day

divorced dads

Lessons of love always begin in childhood with the parent/child relationship. If children feel authentically loved by a father they will grow up knowing how to love others.

 

Father’s Day is just another day around my house. My father passed away13 years ago and my ex-husband has no relationship with our two sons. I was blessed with a loving father who earned celebrations every day of the year.

My boys, bless their hearts, ended up with the kind of father that perpetuates the old stereotypes about deadbeat dads. I’ve been divorced from their father for 19 years, during that time I’d venture to say that 90% of the time he has been a no-show when it comes to fathering.

When I began this article I was stumped, what can I, a mother whose sons don’t have a father say to divorced dads on Father’s Day? I then realized that the absence of their father has taught me quite a bit about the importance of fathers in a child’s life. Not just on Father’s Day but every day.

Whether you have full custody, 50/50 custody or you are an every other weekend Dad, when your little ones give you a gift and card this Father’s Day it isn’t because you are special to them on one day but, because you add value to their lives every day.

A Divorced Dads Value on Father’s Day and Every Day:

Showing up:

Showing up in spite of a difficult visitation schedule or conflict with your ex teaches your children persistence. If you continue to be involved in your children’s live after divorce, engage in quality time with them regardless of how little quantity, you are teaching your child that when something is important to them, it is worth pursuing with persistence. What a wonderful lesson to teach!

They learn they matter:

You not only teach your children that they matter but, by example, you teach them that what they do matters. You showing them that they matter teaches them to care about others. You teach them that actions, words, and deeds are the true measure of a person when you show up and you show them they can trust your actions, words and deeds.

You give them someone to go to:

If they are hurting or confused over a problem they know you are available. You make a difference when they are down and out. By being there for them, you teach them to be there for others. You have a direct impact on how empathetic and compassionate they become.

You impact their ability to learn:

Children with involved, caring fathers have better educational outcomes. Fathers who are involved and nurturing with their children impact their IQ scores as well as cognitive abilities, verbal skills, and intellectual functioning. So, show up as often as possible because you are raising geniuses!

You impact their mental health:

Children with good relationships with their fathers are less likely to experience depression or exhibit disruptive behavior. Boys with involved fathers had fewer school behavior problems and girls have higher self-esteem. In other words, by showing up you teach your boys the importance of proper behavior and your girls to never settle for that ne’er-do-well boy that every father fears.

You teach your sons how to be good fathers:

Fathering involves commitment, self-sacrifice, integrity, and unconditional love. Responsible fathers are concerned with the well-being of their children, and their desire is to see their children succeed in all areas of life.

Nurturing your relationship with your sons trains them “up right,” as my grandmother used to say, it educates them and fosters healthy development. Do this for your sons and your grandchildren will be rewarded with loving, attentive fathers.

You teach them how to love:

Lessons of love always begin in childhood with the parent/child relationship. If children feel authentically loved by a father they will grow up knowing how to love others. The ability to give love is directly related to the love we receive, especially during childhood. Showing up and filling your children with love will play a huge role in the kind of romantic relationships they involve themselves in as adults.

And that is just the short list! Raising two boys on my own has taught me a lot about the value of a father. Working through the years with clients and hearing from fathers via email, I know that my ex-husband is not representative of the vast majority of divorced dads.

We hear a lot about single and divorced moms but very little about divorced dads. We place value on the mother/child relationship and at times dismiss the father/child relationship. It is my wish on this Father’s Day that divorced dads know that, although others may not be paying attention, their children are.

They are waiting for your phone call, watching out the window, looking for your car, counting the days until your next visitation. They are eager to see you, share their lives with you and love you. And every time you show up your value to them increases tenfold.

If you are a divorced dad who shows up, every day spent with your children feels like Father’s Day to them.

So, Happy “Father’s Day” today and every day.

The post The Value of Divorced Dads: On Father’s Day And Every Day appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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