Things Divorce Teaches You about Marriage

divorce

Things Divorce Teaches You about Marriage

A divorce can be devastating. It’s one of those pains that you don’t really understand unless you’ve been through it. Not only does it cause tremendous upheaval in your life, it alters how you view yourself and romantic relationships. Some people swear off marriage wholeheartedly, while others jump into the next one as if their last had nothing to teach them. But most of us reflect on the state of marriage and relationships at this time. If a split is anything it’s a great teacher. Here are some things divorce teaches you about marriage. First, marriages are always different for those living them than how they are viewed from the outside. Sometimes when someone gets divorced, others are shocked, thinking they had the perfect marriage. Issues that seem reconcilable to some are end games to others. But some people somehow find a way to make it work. Everyone’s marriage is a bit messy, much like human life, though they may seem picture perfect from where you stand. If we could just break down the walls and talk about what marriage is really like, instead of putting on airs, perhaps we could make everyone’s better.

Another problem leading to divorce is a sexless marriage. Make time to be physical together. Statistics show that 20% of marriages today are sexless. But becoming physically intimate is a way for both people to bond. Being in a sexless marriage itself may be a big warning sign that things aren’t going well for one or both parties. Of course men tend to compartmentalize. With women, if things aren’t going well in the relationship, goings-on in the bedroom suffer. That’s because to a woman the emotional intimacy in the relationship is what’s most important. Though this may be important for a man, most men are more driven by libido. A failed marriage makes us look at other marriages in a new way. What are others really struggling with and how do they make it work? Communication is always crucial. But so is negotiation, not holding grudges, clearing the air and coming to a deep understanding of one another. We also need to accept the flaws in ourselves and our spouse for what they are. Recognition is one thing, acceptance another. One of the common causes of divorce is infidelity. Some people are shocked when they find that their husband or wife was cheating. A person may be an incredible breadwinner, an expert parent, a phenomenal homemaker and still have a spouse who cheats. The reason people go astray is they are trying to heal something wrong inside the relationship through outside means.

One of the problems with modern marriage that experts often point out is that we expect our spouse to take up all of the roles that traditionally an entire village provided. We want them to be our mentor, coach, partner, lover, confidante, best friend, co-parent and more. Find some of these needs outside your relationship if you can, and take some pressure off of your spouse. Spending some time with friends or close family members and becoming more well-rounded people by spending time at one’s favorite pursuits can help replenish each person and the marriage as well. But tenaciously clinging to one’s partner can bring the whole thing down. It’s best when both people are totally fulfilled, realized people who choose to go through life together. Marriage isn’t easy. But for most Americans, they see little alternative. We’ve been called serial monogamists and perhaps it still fits, at least if you are of a certain generation. Statistically, second marriages are less likely to last. Some say the third one is a charm. Be that as it may, don’t wallow in a failed marriage, learn from it and make your next relationship the romance of a lifetime. For more pick up a copy of, Learning From Divorce: How to Take Responsibility, Stop the Blame, and Move On by Robert LaCrosse and Christine A. Coates.

See a Couple’s Counselor Sooner Rather than Later

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See a Couple’s Counselor Sooner Rather than Later

A lot of couples get defensive when confronted with the idea of seeing a therapist. They say they are fine. There is nothing wrong with them. They don’t think their problems are all that bad. Seeing a counselor is thought of as a defeat, or that the couple or relationship is defective. Though not as strong as it was in the past, people still have a negative association with therapy. The truth is people see a therapist for all different kinds of reasons. There is absolutely no shame in it. In fact, admitting you could use professional guidance is a show of great inner strength. Just as we all have our own physical health problems, so too do we have our own mental health aberrations. No one is perfect. We are all human and so intrinsically flawed. But that doesn’t make us any less brilliant, capable, mesmerizing or worthwhile. No one can fault you for seeing a doctor, even if the health condition is minor. You don’t want it to get worse. A small injury if left untreated can get infected, even become life threatening. The same is true with your mental health, and the health of your relationship. Seeing a couple’s counselor doesn’t mean that the relationship is on its last leg.  It could just mean you need some direction on certain issues that you haven’t been able to make headway on, some professional guidance.

Divorce counselor and post-divorce advisor, Ian Oliver says he sees one couple even though they have a seemingly perfect marriage. “She says she always learns something that nurtures their relationship,” he wrote in the Huffington Post. “She considers it maintenance.” So couple’s counseling is not only for fixing problems. We can learn how we love and how our partner loves. This will allow us to see ways to develop the relationship we hadn’t seen before, and make it more fulfilling. All it takes is a little insight. It may also help you to notice when things are right versus when they aren’t. Sometimes one or both members of a relationship live in denial of a problem that gets bigger and bigger, until it tears the relationship apart. But understanding what your dynamic looks like when it’s humming along, and when things started to go wrong, can help diagnose problems quickly and work in a more effective strategy to deal with them. Most of the time however, the couple seeks out a counselor when there are major issues. They have tried but are at an impasse. Seeking out a therapist when things first go bad can help stave off the further complications that come from a problem that has grown beyond control.

There are times when we grow accustomed to unwanted behavior, live in denial or fail to see it for what it actually is, damaging to us and our relationship. You may not know why they act like this, or why you do. It can be hard to trace back certain behaviors, reactions or emotions to their origins. A good counselor or couple’s therapist can help you see these patterns and trace them back to their origins. Once you see where things stem from, you can develop strategies to deal with them. Sometimes couples seek out therapy after lots of things have been said that can’t be taken back. The counselor, in addition to being a professional, is also impartial. They are trained to pick up on unhealthy habits and behaviors. They won’t get caught on one person’s side. You can trust their impartiality and their professional training to help guide you. We all need to see the things from a new angle on occasion to get some perspective. The most important thing is to keep communicating with your partner. Be honest with one another. Try to work through your problems yourselves. But if you can’t, see a couple’s therapist before things start spinning out of control. Don’t wait until things have gotten way out of hand. For more help, read the book, Counseling and Therapy for Couples by Lynn L. Long and Mark E. Young.

Good Relationships Lead to Personal Growth

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Good Relationships Lead to Personal Growth

Positive relationships are good for our health. That’s no surprise. We’ve been hearing that for a long time. Happily married people live longer, are healthier and wealthier. In fact, a person’s relationship is the single most important factor in determining mortality. Two researchers, Brooke C. Feeney of Carnegie Mellon University and Nancy L. Collins of the University of California, have discovered some ways that good relationships can also lead to personal growth. The two most important factors are helping use to cope with adversity and helping us to pursue our goals, and other opportunities that cause growth. Good, healthy, strong relationships help those that inhabit them reach their objectives and pursue their dreams. The first person we usually turn to for comfort, and perhaps seek advice from would be our spouse, or significant other. Feeney and Collins liken this process to a home knocked over by a violent storm. The next house erected in its place should be far sturdier. If one person is having a problem establishing themselves for instance their partner may help them to feel more confident. This confidence will help them interact with others, their social networks will become more vibrant and more opportunities will arrive.

Our partner can help us to see what our strengths are. They can help us relieve stress and put things in perspective. Our partner can also help us learn new skills that can help you survive and even thrive at work, school or one’s life passion. Those who are supportive can become a “launching function.” They help their partner pursue their goals. They show them the positive aspects, help them to see opportunities, prepare them to face new challenges, and help them to celebrate victory or to cope with defeat. Feeney and Collins found eight specific ways in which a supportive relationship helps.  Our emotional state improves. Acceptance of one’s self increases and resilience expands. We are better able to perceive and interpret events. Our supportive partners help motivate us toward goals, help us to cope, adapt to new situations and improve our psychological and immune functioning. Positive relationships steer us away from unhealthy lifestyles that may sap our strength, hurt our bodies or minds, not to mention our reputation and mood. Lastly, supportive relationships help people to learn how to trust, feel close to someone and feel loved, positive vibes that carry over in other types of relationships.

So how can you make your relationship more supportive? The best way to do that is to become more supportive yourself. Learn how to listen carefully, be able to accept and understand your partner’s perspective, control your emotions and provide the type of support that will help your partner, and make them feel good. Use your resources. These can be tangible resources like money to say buy your lover a new outfit for an interview. Or they can be intangible ones like compassion, patience and understanding, providing emotional support. Being able to understand your lover’s needs and meet them will motivate them to do the same for you. At the same time, you will want to make sure that you will be able to make your own needs known. Clear communication is pivotal. Reciprocate to show you support them and appreciate the support they give. Then a virtuous cycle can commence, where you both constantly initiate and receive support. Don’t overtax your lover however. If they have many demands at this time, you could be a catalyst in them spreading themselves too thin. You need someone you can rely on. But a strong social network to draw from is important too. To build a supportive relationship, you must first know how to effectively communicate. This is in many cases the hardest skill for couples to develop. If you and your partner need to work on this, pick up a copy of the book, Communication in a Relationship: Top tips on how to improve your communication skills to build a long lasting, loving relationship by Lyn Hunt.

Why all Relationships are Valuable

BREAKUP-STRESS

Why all Relationships are Valuable

Sometimes a relationship ends and we can’t help but feel that it was all just a huge waste of time. We invested so much in the person and the relationship and now we decry the loss of all that time and energy. It’s only natural to feel this way. But if you can take a step back and look at your love life as a continuum and a progression, you’ll see that all relationships teach us something valuable. There are lots of lessons to be learned that you can apply to your new relationships. Not only can it teach us about love, but even greater than that, a breakup is one of the most useful tools for teaching us about ourselves. Any relationship, if reflected upon in the right manner, can show you areas where you need improvement. Here are some things to think about after a relationship has ended. First, reflect on what didn’t work here. What was the crux of the issue that tore you two apart? You can use it as material for reflection so that next time you will have a better shot at making things work. Now we can see more clearly what love actually is and what it should be.

You can so easily perceive now what traits you don’t want inhabiting your relationship, things that previously you were more apt to put up with. Anger, jealousy, substance abuse, neglect, an inability to communicate and more may have been at issue. If you have one or some of these issues you can work on them. Or you can work to avoid a mate who has one or many of these. Then move to refine your search and what qualities you require in a mate. You can understand more clearly what type of behavior doesn’t work well with your personality, and what you will and will not put up with. If we look closely we notice that each new relationship entered into has certain elements that are the same. Your patterns of behavior are the same or similar or you are attracted to the same type of person. We can learn from these patterns. Nothing promotes growth better than examining our behavior in a relationship and how that behavior contributed to its end. Of course it may be ultimately the other person’s fault. But it takes two to tango. It is truly a rare breakup indeed where one person is completely at fault for everything. If you cannot isolate your own negative behaviors you are doomed to repeat them.

After a relationship ends there tends to be a change in one’s self-respect. It can be shored up or degraded depending upon the outcome and what has occurred. A relationship can show you where and how to apply your self-respect. If we allow ourselves to be taken advantage of, our relationship will inevitably show us that this is a poor choice, for all involved, and the relationship in total. If you allow yourself to be taken advantage of, your self-esteem degrades, the other person’s respect falls and the balance of power is knocked off kilter. It’s important that we assert ourselves. Our relationship is one place where we establish ourselves, where we negotiate, where we speak up for ourselves, show our value and learn to discuss things and talk about our needs, hopes, dreams and desires and how to fulfill them. It you are shut up and your needs and desires are not allowed to be communicated then this relationship is not for you.

Grief is never fun. But it is one of the biggest catalysts to personal growth. Throughout our lives we continually confront the cycles of beginning and ending. With love it seems particularly painful when it ends. But this cycle is no different than the others that occur in life. Loss is to be expected at the end of any relationship, whether you were sad to see it go, or relieved. We feel deeply connected with and identify with those whom we love deeply. Some people try to pull away from grief. It’s important to let yourself grieve and not paper over your feelings or pretend like everything is okay. Instead, allow yourself to grieve in a healthy way. Find someone you are close with to talk to. Do some soul searching. Make plans. Use this experience to fuel a personal transformation.  Each loss, though painful, teaches us to love ourselves more. We become more confident, mature, knowledgeable and self-aware. Remember that a relationship is a mirror. Nothing will reflect back on you or help you to see yourself more clearly like one. When we come up with a way to overcome our obstacles, we will find ourselves in the right relationship, one that is healthy and satisfying. For more help on getting back on your feet after a breakup read, Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person by Sherrie Campbell, Ph.D.

Avoid these Bad Mental Habits after a Breakup

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Avoid these Bad Mental Habits after a Breakup

There are those relationships that you are relieved are over, even if it took a year to finally get rid of them. Then there are those that rip a hole in your chest and mash your heart into guacamole. Nothing is more painful. A recent study using brain imaging had participants who had recently broken up with someone look at a picture of their ex while hooked up to an FMRI. They found that the parts of the brain that lit up fit the pattern of enduring physical pain. So a breakup literally hurts. Trouble is, when we endure physical pain it goes away relatively quickly. Depending upon the relationship, you and the circumstances, you could endure the pain of heartbreak for weeks, even months. One reason that heartache lingers so is that people fall into certain psychological habits that inhibit healing rather than lessening the pain. Unfortunately, feelings of anger, sadness, rejection and loneliness can be compounded by impulses that feel perfectly natural to indulge. We often consider negative habits we have in our diet, when we exercise, sleep and other physical aspects. But we avoid or disregard poor mental habits that can shackle us to anguish rather than liberating our hearts from pain. Here are some bad mental habits to avoid after a breakup.

A lot of us sub-vocalize negative thoughts or feelings. Inside our head we repeat to ourselves our inadequacies, play over and over mistakes we made, hurtful names or phrases we or our former lover uttered and more. This constant rerunning of negative thoughts may be particularly poignant after feeling rejected or if the relationship ended through some fault of our own. When the ego is bruised and one’s self-esteem has taken a blow, such self-talk will make things worse. Instead, catch yourself when you get into this pattern and replace negative phrases for positive ones. Show yourself some compassion. Think of yourself as a friend trying to get someone through this. What would you do? What would you say? How can you put things in perspective? Brooding over mistakes you’ve made can lead to the same result. Contemplating them and learning from them in an emotionally unattached manner is one thing. But dwelling and obsessing over them is like tearing out your stitches after heart surgery. Isolate those instances where you blundered, learn from them and move on, or else you will be hindering instead of facilitating your own emotional recovery.

Don’t throw yourself into dating if your heart is still aching and you are pining away for your former love. But if you just feel too vulnerable or just scared, you may be missing an opportunity to move healing along, and a way to repair your ego and boost your self-esteem. A couple of months without dating is okay. Six months to a year is a little obsessive. Some people even benefit from a rebound relationship, while others don’t. Find what’s right for you but don’t be too cautious with your heart or you may lose out on a chance at finding love or rebuilding your self-image. Some people cut off everyone, stop taking part in activities they enjoy and wallow in self-pity. Instead, connect and reconnect with hobbies, friends, family members and more. Sure, the first few days you may want to sit on the couch and watch comedies, polish off a crate of sinful snacks and curse the happy couples of the world. But afterward, isolation and keeping yourself from the things you love will only make it worse. Lastly, remember the point is to get over the person and move on with your life. Don’t keep them in your newsfeed on your social media pages. Get rid of all the mementos or put them in a box in the closet or the trash. The fewer reminders you have around the quicker your recovery will be. For more on embracing positive mental habits and avoiding negative ones after heartache read, Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts by Guy Winch, Ph.D.