Warning Signs on the Road to Divorce

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Warning Signs on the Road to Divorce

A marriage is like a car. If you invest time and effort into it, show it the proper affection, listen to it when you hear a problem and honestly try to fix it, you’ll have a great one that will last. But if you ignore the warning signs you’ll be sitting in the passenger seat of a tow truck on the road to couple’s therapy, separation or even divorce before you know it.

Most people get married without the slightest notion of what it takes to sustain a marriage and what the indicators of divorce are. Here are some warning signs. Do some soul searching and see if you or your relationship is suffering from one of these. Have you ever dreamt of life without your spouse? Once in a while is one thing. But if you find yourself doing it more often than not, it’s time to seek out couple’s counseling or marriage therapy. Talk to your spouse about it. It won’t be a nice conversation. But if you love them you owe it to them, and yourself to let them know how you feel. Ask if they’ve been feeling the same way. What issues or problems are you two not addressing that is contributing to this phenomenon? What solutions can be posited to solve them?

Our next warning sign is when bad things about a marriage overwhelm the good things. When couples have issues that go unaddressed, they don’t just go away. They fester under the surface until they become an enormous problem. Or they may surface as a conveyor belt of problems until you are both exhausted. Instead, find ways to nip problems in the bud, or counteract them before they occur. Don’t let them fester too long or perhaps it will be too late to fix them. Remember that communication is not only a way to make a connection. It helps soothe us when we’re stressed and bonds us to our partner. If you hold back on sharing your thoughts or feelings, for fear of retaliation or physical or verbal abuse, you are not in a good relationship. You need to extricate yourself.

Does one of you get overly defensive when a certain subject or issue is brought up? If your spouse does this, it may be the very issue you need to address. It may also mean the problem might have reached a fever pitch. If you or your spouse clams up, dismisses needs of the other or criticizes one another’s values these are signs that the relationship is in serious trouble. Do you feel all alone in solving the marriages problems? Seek counseling because this is the canary in the coal mine for your marriage. For more advice read, Marriage Help: How I Fixed My Marriage and Fell in Love All over Again by Corine Channell.

What to Do if You Find Yourself in a Toxic Relationship

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What to Do if You Find Yourself in a Toxic Relationship

Are you in a toxic relationship? Sometimes it dawns on you all-of-a-sudden. At other times, you slowly come to realize that something is very wrong. If you aren’t sure, here are some signs. Is there a lack of respect in your relationship? Do you avoid one another and loathe the time you spend together? Does the atmosphere fill with negative energy whenever you are in the same room? Does the idea of spending time with your spouse or partner fill you with dread? Is there a lot of contempt and insults flying like knives whenever you are in a room together? If any of these sound familiar, then the relationship is toxic. Sometimes things get way off track, or something happened that the relationship is having difficulty recovering from, the death of a child perhaps or infidelity on the part of one or both partners. At other times, it’s the buildup of many unresolved problems that start to drive a wedge between the two. The more differences the further apart they are.

In a toxic relationship you can feel emotionally abused, neglected, manipulated, taken for granted, or deprived of a sex life. Your spouse or partner could have cleared out the joint account, disappeared for days on end or buffeted you with one juvenile remark after another. Whatever the situation, when you find yourself in a toxic relationship, where there is no way of resuscitating it and bringing it back to life, you have to find a way to extricate yourself as painlessly as possible, and that can be tricky. Though many relationships can be saved, in the case of one or both parties hurting each other repeatedly, a clean break is best. There are three easy steps that you can use to get out with as little discomfort as possible. First, have a clear understanding of why you want to leave. A charming lover can muddy the waters, confuse you, woo you back and make you forget, for a time, why exactly it was you were leaving. You need to have concrete examples you can hang onto when things get confusing. You can even make yourself a little slogan or mantra to remind yourself of why.

Make a clean break. Decide when you are moving out or when you are breaking up with them, do it and then close off all avenues of contact. You don’t want to get sucked back in again. Many feel vulnerable after a breakup. That means you may be more likely to be receptive to their charms. Also, seeing and hearing from them will keep those wounds fresh. You want to be given the chance to heal and move on. Unfriend them from your social media pages and erase them from your phone. It may seem drastic but it will also be effective. If you work with this person or see them regularly, keep distance. Be professional if not slightly cold and don’t slow down to chat when you see them in the hallway. Give them a polite nod, say hello and keep moving. Sooner or later they’ll get the message and will stop trying to get your attention. Feel your self-worth. It is when we feel bad about ourselves that we are the most vulnerable. When we feel good about ourselves, we usually won’t put up with foolishness. Don’t get sentimental about the relationship. Remember what they put you through and that you deserve better. For more advice read, Psychopath Free: Recovering from Emotionally Abusive Relationships with Narcissists, Sociopaths, & Other Toxic People by Peace.

How Long Does It Really Take to Get Over Your Ex?

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How Long Does It Really Take to Get Over Your Ex?

When you are in the midst of a breakup or a painful divorce, usually people are there for you. It’s the one good thing about it. What they say though is sometimes another matter. For instance, people will give you all kinds of wild and contradictory advice, including how long it takes to get over someone. For a long relationship, say lasting five years, some say it takes twice as long to get over. But does that mean you’ll be stuck in a rut for the next decade? Others say it doesn’t take double the time. Instead, take the duration of your relationship and cut it in half. How long does it really take to get over your ex? The problem is way more complex than a simple formula. Plus not everyone is the same. In fact, there’s a lot of deviation when it comes to dealing with the emotional pain that follows a breakup. Some people have a tryst with a new lover and feel rejuvenated. Others pine away, spending months on the couch in sweats watching romantic comedies and wondering why they aren’t feeling any better.

There are a lot of reasons a breakup is not easy. One is biological. Researchers at the University of Berkeley found that dopamine, the reward chemical, is released when you are in love, the same kind of feeling you get from a drug high. You are, in a way, literally addicted to that person and must go through withdrawal. But everyone withdraws in their own way. According to British psychotherapist Elly Prior there are seven factors that influence how long it will take for you to move on after a breakup. These are: how long the relationship was, whether or not the breakup was recent, how obsessive or intense it was, whether or not it was meaningful to you, how things ended, if domestic violence entered the picture and whether or not one or both of you had an affair. Other important factors include if this is your first breakup, if you have a support network in your life, what other stressors surround you, if property or possessions still have to be split up, if you suffer from depression, how you interacted with one another and whether or not you are surrounded by reminders, say a photo on a shelf or your ex constantly springing up on your newsfeed.

One simple formula isn’t enough to solve such a menagerie. You may feel like you are being swallowed up in a pit of hopelessness and despair. But realize that emotions such as these don’t stick around for long. Pretty soon it will start to subside. There of course will be moments when you are reminded of the person. But those also pass. It’s important to tend to yourself at this time. Vent, have a good cry, spend time with friends and reconnect with people you lost touch with. Think about your future and what dreams you want to fulfill now that you don’t have any dead weight pulling you down. Reflect also on what you loved about the person. If things feel incomplete, make your own ritual and find an appropriate way to say goodbye. You don’t need their permission. They don’t even need to be there. Do it on your own. Try to turn around a breakup or divorce and make it a positive experience, one that you learn from and makes you a better person. For more on breakup recovery read, How to Survive the Loss of a Love by Peter McWilliams and Harold H. Bloomfield.

Can we save our Marriage?

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Can we save our Marriage?

This is the number one question couples in marriage counseling ask the therapist. People never know when a relationship is salvageable and when to go their separate ways. There are many people who focus more on getting out of a bad relationship, than on making the one they have worthwhile. Focusing so much on getting out can make you ignore the positive qualities the marriage has. When the focus for one person is a breakup, their preoccupation may inadvertently be the thing driving the couple toward divorce. On the other hand, one should be cognizant that every marriage has its ups and downs. Every relationship has the potential to end. There are of course certain steps you can take to bring a relationship down from the ledge. But a better strategy is to form a deep emotional connection to one another. This will motivate you to work your problems out and build a stronger, happier marriage.  Practicing generosity, kindness, compassion, respect and honesty, mutually, will make the marriage far more fulfilling. When each person is fulfilled, divorce becomes the furthest thing from their minds. Sometimes though, there are significant forces working on a couple, making happy reunification unlikely.

Certainly not all marriages can be saved, or should be. There are lots of unhealthy behaviors that can inhabit a marriage; addiction with no willingness to seek treatment, chronic lying, serial infidelity, neglect, abusive behavior, whether physical or psychological, and much more. These are violations to the commitment you both share within the bond of matrimony. Doing these things violates the sanctimonious vow you gave to one another on your wedding day. The most important thing is whether or not both parties have a willingness to admit what has gone wrong, and work toward solving the issues that they have. Mere acknowledgment of the problem is not enough. If there is no willingness on the part of both parties to change behavior, there may be no reason to move forward with the relationship at all. Destructive patterns played out over and over again, without any hope of relief, is a recipe for divorce. Recognizing these patterns and the role each party plays in them is the first step. But trying different strategies when the problems arise, and varying those strategies depending upon the situation are also key. It’s important to remember not to get discouraged if things don’t work out just the way you planned. It may need some tweaking. If you love your spouse and are committed to the marriage, and they feel the same way, then everything you need is there to make it happen, and make things work.

There is no easy answer for knowing when to stay together and when to move apart. Each situation is dependent upon the individuals, what has happened between them, what they value and how they look at things. Perception is invariably important. Circumstances for one couple that would be deal breakers to another merely have to be negotiated. There are a few simple guidelines you can follow to have the best possible outcome. One of the things to keep in mind is that working through the problems of a shaky marriage can be painful, sometimes even excruciating. For those who don’t have the ability to tolerate this sort of pain, the impulse to end the relationship, or manipulate their spouse into filing for divorce, can be strong. Marriages that are in trouble are often helped through counseling. There are lots of situations in marriage that are difficult to maneuver. It is good to know when you and your spouse are in over your heads.  Each person should develop the inner qualities on their own that will help make this marriage work. You can be your own psychologist and develop your own inner workings in order to be more honest, compassionate, engaged and loving. When you give something your best, there is always the risk that it might not work. Evaluate the emotional level you are both at. Have a long, calm discussion. Give it a shot. If it doesn’t work, at least you tried. But you two may just come out stronger, and more loving in the end due to this time when you struggled together. For more help finding marital bliss pick up a copy of, Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truths from Real Couples About Lasting Love by Linda Bloom, L.C.S.W. and Charlie Bloom, M.S.W.

Convincing a Relative to Leave an Abusive Spouse

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Convincing a Relative to Leave an Abusive Spouse

It’s horrible when you find out a relative of yours is in an abusive marriage or relationship. You can feel so helpless. On the one hand, you want to say something so badly. On the other, you are afraid that they will resent you for trying to break them up, or merely swear nothing is wrong and distance themselves from you. This is a delicate matter which must be approached correctly, and with finesse. One way to handle it is to get them alone. Talk to them about your own relationship. If you are single, talk about your parents, a sibling, anyone else’s relationship. Talk about positive things that their spouse or significant other did for that person, or how they handle fights by communicating so well.

Get them to open up about their relationship. With enough details they should start to compare and come to the conclusion that something isn’t right. Don’t push and don’t expect that they will come to this conclusion the first time. Instead, keep trying to drop subtle hints without coming right out and saying it. If this doesn’t work, you may have to have an intervention. The problem with this kind of relationship is that the spouse is so manipulative they make them think that the spouse needs them and eventually that they cannot live without the spouse.

Be careful as his or her behavior may not be counted on. They may lash out at you at times, get depressed, even miss the spouse who is abusing them. Be patient with your relative. Remind them why this is happening. Get them away from it all to a place where they can relax and have fun. Give them chances to show what they know and help them to build self-esteem. In many abusive relationships, one spouse beats down the other for so long, that they can feel worthless. Give them little goals and celebrate it when they reach them. Give them space if they need it. But let them know that you will be there for them, no matter what.

In terms of safety, get your relative to a safe place like a battered woman’s shelter, or to live with you or another relative without contact with the abusive spouse. If need be, have them contact the authorities. Make sure that they get the help that they need. Your relative should start therapy if and when they are ready. The town or city can direct you to free services in your area.  Take heart, your relative will get through this. They will thank you and will be so grateful that they had you and other good people to get them through this difficult time. And someday they will meet someone who treats them right. If you’re trapped in an abusive relationship read, The Emotionally Abusive Relationship: How to Stop Being Abused and How to Stop Abusing by Beverly Engel.