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opposites attract

Opposites Attract But Do They Stay Together?

opposites attract

 

I’ve spent a lot of time wondering why opposites attract and whether or not my experiences are unique. Even in grade school, I remember being attracted to Daniel, a quiet blonde who sat near me in my 5th grade science class (I’m an extroverted brunette) and pondering why I was irresistibly drawn to him.

Truthfully, most of my partners have had differences that run deeper than physical appearance. At times, the magnetism ends up feeling more like a tension. For instance, both my first and second husbands love gardening, while I’m happiest at a social gathering. Needless to say, these differences have presented challenges in both of my marriages.

In the Huffington Post article ‘Opposites Attract’ Or Birds Of A Feather,’ Karl A. Pillemer, Ph.D. posits that while opposites often have an intense attraction, these matches don’t always last. Since Pillemer’s landmark study is comprised of over 500 people married over 40 years, his findings are worthy of note.

He writes, “The research findings are quite clear: marriages that are homogenous in terms of economic background, religion, and closeness in age are the most stable and tend to be happier. Sharing core values has also been found to promote marital stability and happiness.”

In my opinion, the take away from Pillemer’s research is that you don’t necessarily have to avoid dating someone who appears to be your opposite.  But you need to recognize that if you marry someone with drastically different values, you will face complex issues that could put you more at risk for divorce.

Author Sandy Weiner explains that chemistry is essential for a relationship to last because, without it, you have a nice friendship. However, Weiner concludes that it’s important to have both chemistry and compatibility. She writes, “This is about common values and life goals, whether you feel comfortable with each other, have fun together, share common experiences, and pretty much “get” each other.  Compatibility is essential for a relationship to last.”

What I’ve come to realize is that while popular opinion tells us that opposites attract, few authors describe how polar opposites play themselves out in terms of personalities and emotional needs. One exception is Ross Rosenberg, a codependency expert.

He writes, “It’s not uncommon for people with codependent traits to be attracted to narcissists. Codependents – who are giving and consumed with the needs and desires of others – do not know how to emotionally disconnect from romantic relationships with individuals who are narcissistic—individuals who are self-centered, controlling, and harmful to them.” Rosenberg notes, “The inherently dysfunctional “codependency dance” requires two opposite but distinctly balanced partners: the pleaser/fixer (codependent) and the taker/controller (narcissist).”

Rosenberg describes opposites as “human magnets” who are irresistibly pulled toward each other, not so much by their conscious decisions or intentions, but rather by their opposite “magnetic field.” He writes, “Such partners with complementary magnetic roles are irresistibly drawn together and locked into a relationship that is nearly impossible to resist or break free of.”

He posits that couples who are opposites are immune to breakups due to the amorous nature of their relationship magnetism – unless one partner moves in a healthier direction, and the other one doesn’t follow.

For instance, Sarah came to my office stating that her live-in boyfriend Tony had been complaining about her being too busy with classes and social activities. When I asked her view of things, she said “I guess I’ve just really changed over the past year. It’s not that I don’t love Tony, but I want to pursue other interests that require that I be out at night, like graduate school, and he doesn’t seem happy for me. I’m not ready to get married and be a mom yet and Tony wants to settle down.”

When Sarah called to ask if I would meet with her and Tony together, I agreed to one session, in order to hear Tony’s view of their situation and to assess whether or not their relationship was in jeopardy. It seemed clear from the moment they sat down that Sarah’s and Tony’s values and goals were very much at odds with one another. Tony’s desire to start a family wasn’t in sync with Sarah’s desire to pursue an advanced degree and to be a social butterfly.

Unsurprisingly, when couples have vastly different core values and life goals this can make for a lot of friction in a relationship. When I pointed this out to Sarah and Tony they agreed that Sarah’s adventuresome, extroverted nature and need for freedom conflicted with Tony’s introverted and conservative nature – plus his eagerness to get married. While Tony was ready for a permanent, long-term commitment, Sarah simply wasn’t there yet. In my opinion, tying the knot and having children under these circumstances could only increase the likelihood of this couple facing divorce.

But what about couples that share core values and life goals but simply have polar opposite personalities and interests? My advice is to weather the storms and use your differences to add spark to the relationship. In other words, if you’re outgoing and a spender, marry someone who understands that even if they are quiet and more conservative with money. Dr Pillemer notes that some differences can spice up a relationship. In other words, differences don’t necessarily have to tear you apart as long as you accept them, share core values, and maintain mutual respect.

The key is taking responsibility for your own behavior and honest communication with your partner. Renowned relationship expert Dr. John Gottman reminds us that friendship is the glue that can hold a marriage together: “Couples who “know each other intimately [and] are well versed in each other’s likes, dislikes, personality quirks, hopes, and dreams” are couples who make it.”

Here are tips that can help you deal with differences between you and your partner:

  • Don’t give up the things you love to do such as hobbies or interests. This will only breed resentment.
  • Support one another’s passions. Accept that you won’t always share the same interests. Respect your partner’s need for space if they want to go on a vacation without you, etc.
  • Don’t put aside resentments that can destroy a relationship. Learn to resolve conflicts skillfully. Experiencing conflict is inevitable and couples who strive to avoid it are at the risk of developing stagnant relationships, according to author Kate McNulty.
  • Improve communication with couples counseling if both partners are motivated.
  • Avoid the “blame game.” The next time you feel upset at your partner, check out what’s going on inside yourself and pause and reflect before you place the blame on them.

In closing, be sure to pay close attention the next time you are in a challenging situation with your partner and examine the part you play. Keep in mind Dr. John Gottman’s guiding principle of adding more positive interactions – a five-to-one ratio. In other words, for every negative interaction with your partner, add five positive ones. Don’t take love for granted and adopt a mindset that differences can spark passion and interest. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own happiness.

More from Terry:

 6 Tips To Bring Back Love And Passion To Your Marriage

Marriage Counseling: Can It Save A Marriage On The Brink?

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

The post Opposites Attract But Do They Stay Together? appeared first on Divorced Moms.



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sexless marriage

Sexless Marriage: Should She Stay or, Should She Go?

sexless marriage

 

Relationships are hard. Divorce can be harder. And one of the HARDEST decisions you may ever be forced to make is Should I Stay or Should I Leave?

This was not a choice I’ve personally had to make – in my marriage, the choice to leave was very much my husband’s, and it took me very much by surprise. I don’t know if my ex ever asked himself the ‘stay or leave’ question. I hope he did. I like to think that there was at least some thought put into his life-changing decision.

Somebody I know is currently dealing – battling – with this situation. She and her husband have been married for more than twenty years; the last few at least have been challenging. He is not one to talk about problems, about what’s really going on in their marriage; they haven’t been physically intimate in years; they are almost living as flatmates. Conversations center on what the kids are doing, where the money’s going and who’s buying what for dinner.

Sexless Marriage: Should She Stay or, Should She Go?

This woman is miserable and spends a lot of time thinking about what her life – her marriage – will be like once both her children leave home. Of course, a lot of married couples go through something similar to this. A lot of people wonder and worry about what they’ll do to fill their time once the nest is empty.

Some people prepare for this by having the occasional date night with their partner, by taking the occasional holiday without the kids, or by generally trying to work on their relationship so they are not at a complete loss when there are no kids around to act as a buffer to the relationship and its problems.

This is a good thing, a great thing, for those couples that still feel at least a little spark, a little hope, a little love. But then there are those that struggle to feel any of these things. Those, like my friend, who is comfortable enough in the house and comfortable enough financially, but who are otherwise completely miserable, and have been so for many years.

Marriage counseling is the obvious option – but both parties need to agree to this. My friend’s husband isn’t interested, and the fact that he’s not speaks volumes to her.

Her predicament is not an enviable one.

Not wanting to stay; not knowing how to leave. Her head is a whirlwind of thoughts, emotions, and contradictions:

She doesn’t want to ‘throw away’ the last two decades of her life. She doesn’t know how she’ll cope financially on her own. She has some good memories that are hard to let go of. She knows she is not being authentic to herself by staying in a marriage out of convenience – convenience to everyone and everything but her. More than anything, she can’t shake the almost gut-wrenching feeling that life is slipping her by.

Here’s the thing:

Finding the courage to become your true self is never an easy thing, and it’s harder still if you’ve made a life habit of pleasing others and giving your power away. But eventually, more than likely, something will give. One day it will dawn on you that you don’t need to live life this way. That in fact, you were never meant to live life in a fearful and half-hearted manner. That being authentic to YOU is actually the most loving thing you can do – for you and for those you love.

Why? Because regret is not an easy thing to let go of. Regret breeds resentment. And resentment is even harder to shake than regret. Resentment, left unattended, permeates the very fibers of our being, and the beings of those we love.

Staying in a marriage or situation that has long since died, a relationship where both parties have given up, or a relationship where only one party is making any effort is simply not a requirement of life. Staying in a toxic environment ‘for the kids’ is not always the honourable thing to do. Teaching kids that it is OK (or worse – a requirement) to stay in an unhealthy environment is surely not something that any of us want to do.

I don’t know what decision my friend will make.

Would I think she was being terribly selfish if she decided to call it quits on her marriage? No. Would I be happy for her and her husband if they somehow, against all odds, found a way to make the marriage work for each of them? Yes.

I held a lot of resentment towards my husband when he left our marriage – I still believe he could have handled the situation, and how he went about it leaving the marriage, a whole lot better than he did. Yet once I began healing, the resentment eased. Once I was able to let go of my anger towards him I began to see things a little clearer.

My marriage wasn’t perfect – there were cracks. We were evolving and growing at different rates and sadly, in different directions. My husband made the decision to leave, and I eventually accepted his decision. I am now doing my best to live a life that’s best for me, and I sincerely hope that he is doing the same – I no longer wish him any ill. He was a pivotal part of my life for many years, and I am glad that we didn’t end up in an unhealthy situation full of resentment and regret.

And really, that is what this thing is all about. Should I stay or leave is never going to be an easy or comfortable question for anybody who finds themselves in the predicament of having to ask it. What I know is this – life is too short to be lived full of regret.  Some regrets are unavoidable. Some are best dealt with before they morph into full-blown resentments. And we all have the power of freedom and choice.

The post Sexless Marriage: Should She Stay or, Should She Go? appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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why we can love someone abusive

Why We Can Love Someone Abusive And Why We Stay

why we can love someone abusive

 

Falling in love happens to us; usually, before we really know our partner; It happens to us because we’re at the mercy of unconscious forces, commonly referred to as “chemistry.”

Don’t judge yourself for loving someone who doesn’t treat you with care and respect, because by the time the relationship turns abusive, you’re attached and want to maintain your connection and love. There may have been hints of abuse at the beginning that were overlooked because abusers are good at seduction and wait until they know we’re hooked before showing their true colors.

By then, our love is cemented and doesn’t die easily. It’s possible and even probable to know we’re unsafe and still love an abuser. Research shows that even victims of violence on average experience seven incidents before permanently leaving their abusive partner.

It can feel humiliating to stay in an abusive relationship. Those who don’t understand ask why we love someone abusive and why we stay. We don’t have good answers. But there are valid reasons. Our motivations are outside our awareness and control because we’re wired to attach for survival. These instincts control our feelings and behavior.

Why We Love Someone Abusive

Denial of Abuse to Survive

If we weren’t treated with respect in our family and have low self-esteem, we will tend to deny the abuse. We won’t expect to be treated better than how were controlled, demeaned, or punished by a parent. Denial doesn’t mean we don’t know what’s happening. Instead, we minimize or rationalize it and/or its impact.

We may not realize it’s actually abuse. Research shows we deny for survival to stay attached and procreate for survival of the species. Facts and feelings that would normally undermine love are minimized or twisted so that we overlook them or blame ourselves in order to keep loving. By appeasing our partner and connecting to love, we stop hurting. Love is rekindled and we feel safe again.

Projection, Idealization, and Repetition Compulsion

When we fall in love, if we haven’t worked through trauma from our childhood, we’re more susceptible to idealizing our partner when dating. It’s likely that we will seek out someone who reminds us of a parent with whom we have unfinished business, not necessary of our opposite-sex parent.

We might be attracted to someone who has aspects of both parents. Our unconscious is trying to mend our past by reliving it in the hopes that we’ll master the situation and receive the love we didn’t get as a child. This helps us overlook signs that would be predictive of trouble.

The Cycle of Abuse

After an abusive episode, often there’s a honeymoon period. This is part of the Cycle of Abuse. The abuser may seek connection and act romantic, apologetic, or remorseful. Regardless, we’re relieved that there’s peace for now. We believe promises that it will never happen again, because we want to and because we’re wired to attach. The breach of the emotional bond feels worse than the abuse. We yearn to feel connected again.

Often the abuser professes to love us. We want to believe it and feel reassured about the relationship, hopeful, and lovable. Our denial provides an illusion of safety. This is called the “Merry-Go-Round” of denial that happens in alcoholic relationships after a bout of drinking followed by promises of sobriety.

Low Self-Esteem

Due to low self-esteem, we believe the abuser’s belittling, blame, and criticisms, which further lessen our self-esteem and confidence in our own perceptions. They intentionally do this for power and control. We’re brainwashed into thinking we have to change in order to make the relationship work.

We blame ourselves and try harder to meet the abuser’s demands. We may interpret sexual overtures, crumbs of kindness, or just absence of abuse as signs of love or hope that the relationship will improve. Thus, as trust in ourselves declines, our idealization and love for an abuser remain intact. We may even doubt that we could find anything better.

Empathy for the Abuser

Many of us have empathy for the abuser, but not for ourselves. We are unaware of our needs and would feel ashamed asking for them. This makes us susceptible to manipulation if an abuser plays the victim, exaggerates guilt, shows remorse, blames us, or talks about a troubled past (they usually have one). Our empathy feeds our denial system by supplying justification, rationalization, and minimization of the pain we endure.

Most victims hide the abuse from friends and relatives to protect the abuser, both out of empathy and shame about being abused. Secrecy is a mistake and gives the abuser more power.

Positive Aspects

Undoubtedly the abuser and the relationship have positive aspects that we enjoy or miss, especially the early romance and good times. We recall or look forward to their recurrence if we stay. We imagine if only he or she would control his or her anger, or agree to get help, or just change one thing, everything would be better. This is our denial.

Often abusers are also good providers, offer a social life, or have special talents. Narcissists can be exceedingly interesting and charming.  Many spouses claim that they enjoy the narcissist’s company and lifestyle despite the abuse. People with a borderline personality can light up your life with excitement . . . when they’re in a good mood. Sociopaths can pretend to be whatever you want . . . for their own purposes. You won’t realize what they’re up to for some time.

Intermittent Reinforcement and Trauma Bonding

When we receive occasional and unpredictable positive and negative intermittent reinforcement, we keep looking for the positive. It keeps us addictively hooked. Partners may be emotionally unavailable or have an avoidant attachment style. They may periodically want closeness. After a wonderful, intimate evening, they pull away, shut down, or are abusive. When we don’t hear from the person, we become anxious and keep seeking closeness. We mislabel our pain and longing as love.

Especially people with a personality disorder might intentionally do this to manipulate and control us with rejection or withholding. Then they randomly fulfill our needs. We become addicted to seeking a positive response.

Over time, periods of withdrawal are longer, but we’re trained to stay, walk on eggshells, and wait and hope for connection. This is called “trauma bonding” due to repeated cycles of abuse in which the intermittent reinforcement of reward and punishment creates emotional bonds that resist change.

It explains why abusive relationships are the most difficult to leave, and we become codependent on the abuser. We may completely lose ourselves trying to please and not displease the abuser. Bits of kindness or closeness feel all the more poignant (like make-up sex) because we’re been starved and are relieved to feel loved. This feeds the Cycle of Abuse.

Abusers will turn on the charm if you threaten to leave, but it’s just another temporary ploy to reassert control. Expect to go through withdrawal after you leave. You may still miss and love the abuser.

When we feel completely under the control of the abuser and can’t escape from physical injury, we can develop “Stockholm Syndrome,” a term applied to captives. Any act of kindness or even absence of violence feels like a sign of friendship and being cared for. The abuser seems less threatening. We imagine we’re friends and can love the abuser, believing we’re in this together.

This occurs in intimate relationships that are less perilous due to the power of chemistry, physical attraction, and sexual bonding. We’re loyal to a fault. We want to protect the abuser whom we’re attached to rather than ourselves. We feel guilty talking to outsiders, leaving the relationship, or calling the police. Outsiders who try to help feel threatening.

For example, counselors and Twelve-Step Programs may be viewed as interlopers who “want to brainwash and separate us.” This reinforces the toxic bond and isolates us from help . . . what the abuser wants!

Steps You Can Take

If you feel trapped in a relationship or can’t get over your ex:

  • Seek support and professional help. Attend CoDA meetings.
  • Get information and challenge your denial.
  • Report violence and take steps to protect yourself from violence and emotional abuse.
  • When you miss the abuser or are longing for attention, in your mind substitute the parent whom you’re projecting on your partner. Write about and grieve that relationship.
  • Be more loving to yourself. Meet your needs.
  • Learn to set boundaries.

©Darlene Lancer 2019

The post Why We Can Love Someone Abusive And Why We Stay appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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physically fit on a single mom

How to Stay Physically Fit On a Single Mom’s Budget

physically fit on a single mom's budget

 

Staying in shape is not easy when you are a single Mom. Either you cannot go out because you need to look after your kids, and when you actually can those fancy fitness classes are just too expensive. However, even if you cannot afford a gym membership it is time to dust off your sneakers.

There are so many free ways to work out and burn those calories, so just pick the one you like and work those muscles!

Staying Physically Fit on a Single Mom’s Budget

Download an app

Instead of listening to your trainer telling you what to do, you can listen to an app. Although some apps you will need to purchase, there are fitness apps that won’t cost you anything. Whether you prefer running or full-body workouts, you will definitely find an app that meets your needs.

Join a club

Not like a fitness club, those can be pricey. These days a lot of people are searching for like-minded individuals online and forming fitness groups anybody can join. There are all kinds of clubs, from marathon training teams to yoga clubs. The best thing about working out in a group like this is that you will receive support and encouragement that can positively influence your exercise habits. Peer pressure is not always a bad thing, you know!

Go hiking

Were you going to the gym just so you could spend some time on a treadmill? Well, forget about paying for a membership and explore the great outdoors for free. There are so many trails just waiting for you to discover them, so pack your backpack and hit the road.

Use your bodyweight

Did you know that short, high-intensity bodyweight workouts are more efficient than never-ending cardio routines? Training with a resistance band is a cheap yet really effective way to get in shape. With just a band (that can easily fit in your bag) and your body, you will be able to exercise anywhere – at home, work or in the park.

Exercise on your way to work

Even if you are a single Mom who spends all of her time with her precious babies, you still have to put the food on the table, right? Since you have to work anyway, you might as well exercise on your way to the office.  By walking, jogging or biking to work, not only will you get in shape, but you will save money on gas or public transportation while doing our planet a favor.

 Search for free fitness events in your town

If you live in a city, there is a good chance you will be able to find at least a dozen free fitness events in your area every month. You can track them down on Facebook’s events page and since plenty of them are indoors, you will be able to sweat your worries away even during those cold or rainy days.

YouTube to the rescue

Every day we use YouTube to learn all kinds of things, from how to make a fishtail braid, do our makeup to how to make the best chocolate chip cookies for the kids. Therefore, why not use YouTube to get fit? Nowadays so many personal trainers have their own channels and are regularly posting videos to YouTube. This is a great option for all you single Moms who need to keep an eye on your children during the day. So, skip the expensive fees and go straight to sweating.

Hit the road, Jack

The best thing about running is that it is completely free and you can do it almost anywhere. Whether you live in a village, small town or a huge city, you can find an interesting route through your neighborhood, or do a quick Google search and see whether your local high school or college track is open to the public.

Do Yoga at home

What do you need in order to do yoga? Just a mat, right? So why should you pay for a yoga membership when you can easily find thousands of free yoga resources online, and get fit from the comfort of your living room.

Getting fit and burning those calories doesn’t have to break the bank. Whether you cannot afford the gym membership or leaving your home for more than 15 minutes is not an option, with these tips you will be able to easily get in shape.

The post How to Stay Physically Fit On a Single Mom’s Budget appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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getting divorced is hard

Getting Divorced is Hard: Here’s How Women Can Stay Healthy

getting divorced is hard

 

There is no denying that divorce is an incredibly painful experience. The range of emotions you might feel, from anger to depression, can be similar to the kind of grief that accompanies a physical loss. Fortunately, there are ways to find, and maintain, your emotional balance during this difficult time.

According to US News & World Report, self-care can have both immediate and long-term benefits. It can reduce your risk of chronic health problems and keep you mentally sharp. Here are four tips for staying healthy during a divorce.

Getting Divorced is Hard: 4 Ways to Stay Healthy

Get Exercise

Staying fit doesn’t need to involve anything fancy. According to the Mayo Clinic, any amount of physical exercise can have immediate benefits. You can improve your mood, maintain your weight, and help you get better sleep. All of these are important during a divorce, when things may feel really out of whack. Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator at the office or walking around the block during your lunch break. Exercise can also be a social experience.

Get your friends together to power walk at the mall or commit to a regular spin class. Getting out and staying social can help you avoid falling into a mental rut in the midst of your divorce.

Eat Healthily

Maintaining an exercise routine and eating healthy go hand-in-hand. We all respond to stress in different ways. Some of us might stress eat or avoid food entirely, which can cause our weight to fluctuate.

Take control of your diet by eliminating unhealthy foods like chips and soda. Try your best to eat three square meals per day that balance carbs, protein, and healthy fats. You might feel like eating is the last thing you want to do. Something simple like a smoothie or comforting like a grilled cheese sandwich can give you the nourishment you need when you’re hungry without the effort of making a full meal.

Stick to a Routine

Mental Health America advises against going through a divorce completely on your own. A smart smoke detector can send you alerts on your phone so you can focus on your daily routine knowing your home is protected.

Make sure to get up and go to work at the same time every day and do your best to maintain connections with the friends and family that care about you. It’s also okay to give yourself permission to grieve and be angry or frustrated. Emotional healing takes time. It’s perfectly normal to not rebound immediately.

Explore your interests away from the activities you enjoyed with your partner. Invest in yourself and the things you’ve always wanted to do. Sign up for a painting class or volunteer at a local charity. Things might not feel the same anymore but broadening your horizons can help you focus on the future as you begin to build a new life for yourself.

If you have children, take time to listen to their worries. Reassure them that the divorce is not their fault. Keep their daily and weekly routines as stable as possible. If there were activities that you all did together as a family, you can either adjust them or create new ones.

Create a Mind-Body Balance

Self-care isn’t just about tending to the physical body; our emotional bodies need love and support, too. Work either on your own or with a counselor to build a mind-body practice that makes sense for you. It might involve meditating, yoga, prayer, or deep breathing.

Most importantly, remember to value yourself. You are important and worthwhile, and nothing can change that. These tips can help guide you towards finding your equilibrium in the chaos.

The post Getting Divorced is Hard: Here’s How Women Can Stay Healthy appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Should You Stay Together for the Children’s Sake

Should You Stay Together for the Children’s Sake

Basically, when it comes to divorce and children a parent should do what they know to be in their child’s best interest.

The post Should You Stay Together for the Children’s Sake appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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How to Stay Motivated at Work While Going Through Divorce

How to Stay Motivated at Work While Going Through Divorce

When your divorce is finally over, you can remain rooted in your career and find fulfillment in how you were able to stick with it even through one of the most difficult times of your life.

The post How to Stay Motivated at Work While Going Through Divorce appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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