Which is better, Adultery or Divorce?

annoyed

Which is better, Adultery or Divorce?

When in a dysfunctional marriage where you both feel a real relationship is out of the question, but you decide to stay together for financial reasons, for the sake of the children or because it’s too painful or burdensome to get divorced, in this situation it’s difficult to know how to proceed. Is adultery then the only way forward? Or should they just go ahead and get divorced? In the long run, which is better, adultery or divorce? Each person and couple in this unfortunate predicament must evaluate carefully how they each feel, using their values, judgment and beliefs in order to decide what is best for them. So then since everyone is different, we can’t ask which is better in a large blanket statement, since everyone must evaluate for themselves. But in general, which of the two alternatives is morally a better choice, adultery or divorce? This is not in terms of a bilateral divorce where both parties decide to get divorced. Nor is it unilateral where one person wants a divorce but the other does not. This is when one person is interested in taking part in a romantic and physical relationship with another outside the marriage.

From an ethical standpoint divorce is a far better choice as it does not involve deception. If you are in a loveless marriage but decide to stay together for financial reasons but are childless talk to your spouse about having an open marriage. At least if there is a way to communicate honestly about things, perhaps there is a chance not of reconciling the relationship but the mutual respect that both people shared. If the couple has children, it’s a much thornier issue. They will find out sooner or later that mommy or daddy has someone else. So how do you counteract this? Divorce would be the better option there. Or perhaps separation if the financial burden is too much. If this is a high conflict relationship get out. High conflict homes are the worst environments to raise children in. It would be much better to have two divorced but happier, well-adjusted homes than one miserable one together. The deception part of adultery, especially if it’s long term or serial adultery is the worst part. It shows a grave disrespect for the other person. Like it or not when we marry we attach ourselves to a legal and social union. It may not be easy when marriage falls apart. If you are in this situation, learn to talk to one another and solve things so you can find mutual happiness in some way. See what can be worked out. Give respect and expect it in return. Sooner or later all the tumblers will fall into place. To learn more about adultery in marriage read, Parents Who Cheat: How Children and Adults are Affected When Their Parents are Unfaithful by Ana Nogales, Ph.D.

Why Staying Together for the Kids is a Bad Idea

200226883-001

Why Staying Together for the Kids is a Bad Idea

Trying to stick together for the children, even after you’ve done everything possible to resurrect your marriage, usually just makes things worse. Even when the children are shielded from the arguments, they can sense the hostility like a tense fog over the house. Some kids even report feeling relieved when hearing of their parent’s divorce, the opposite of what we picture would happen, begging them to stay together. But having things appear to be working and having them actually working are two different things. You can’t hide the truth from them. They live there, too. And they know, already. Kids have an incredible beat on what’s happening with their parents. It’s some sort of natural inclination. But to deny it is to insult their intelligence. Children also model their romantic relationships after their parents. If you stay together without any longer feeling love, commitment or any tender feelings at all towards one another, what kind of message are you sending them? Will they do the same in their future marriages or relationships? Don’t you want them to be happy and follow that happiness, wherever it may lead? If you stick together, your sacrifice is wasted. In fact, it is doing more harm than good.

There are lots of considerations when getting a divorce. There is the financial burden, which everyone will endure, including the children. It can be hard in a variety of ways. There is telling them, the possibility of moving and putting them in a new school, custody battles, and fights over asset allocation, child support and alimony. The average divorce lasts somewhere in the vicinity of six months. The most hotly debated and contentious can take years. For those in no financial condition to divorce, a separation until the means for a simple divorce can be arranged may be the best answer.  Some worry about the stigma. But today, divorce is so common the stigma has virtually evaporated. What generally happens when it is all over, or at least when a new pattern settles in, is things get better. Without living in a contentious household, the kids feel more secure. They will relax and be themselves. More focus will now be placed on them instead of on the elephant in the room. Parents can also feel that they are being upfront with their children, and the kids won’t feel lied to. There are also lots of life lessons being portrayed that can carry over into their love lives, once they grow up. Children learn to have realistic expectations for relationships, love and marriage. Too many people today have some sort of Disneyesque vision, skewing their expectations. They just are not realistic when it comes to love and relationships in the real world. But children of divorce see past all that. They are also less likely to jump into a committed relationship without thinking about it, and who with.

A divorce helps children see their parents as people. They see their parents in many different roles; sometimes as a worker, of course as a parent, a friend, child, and a sibling and when they start dating again, as a partner to someone else. In other words, the kids don’t take their vision of their parents for granted. They also recognize more closely that their parents are flawed, or to put it a better way, human. But children who see their parent’s marriage as an ideal to be lived up to, suddenly cannot choose what their heart wants. They keep chasing an ideal that they will never catch instead of the reality of love that is before them. Everyone has to find someone right for them. And those two people have to develop a relationship that works for their particular personalities. But when we try to bend a relationship to match some unrealistic ideal, things are bound to run in to trouble.

Children can see their parents more as people who have hopes, dreams, flaws and regrets. They also gather insight into how bad relationships operate and how good relationships work. Usually, parents get into other long-term relationships after divorce, or get remarried. So instead of focusing on having children coming from a “broken home,” realize that if your house is full of contention, either explicit or implicit, it is affecting the children far more negatively than you think. It’s best instead to have the courage to move on with your life, embrace who you are and after you heal, allow yourself to love again. These are great lessons to pass onto your children. They will learn to be brave, and go forth in the world to find the love that they deserve, the kind that is right for them. To learn how to operate and move forward when you have kids and a separation is looming read, The Truth About Children and Divorce: Dealing with the Emotions So You and Your Children Can Thrive by Robert Emery.

What Content should Online Co-parenting Classes Have?

Custody

What Content should Online Co-parenting Classes Have?

Some states now require divorcing couples with children to take classes online in co-parenting. Experts believe that these classes are beneficial as they teach parents how to position themselves in order to take care of the child’s needs given the new family dynamic. The trouble is that each divorce and family situation is unique. Since divorces aren’t uniform, what content should these classes have? Experts say it should have many different tracks. One section should be for parents to mitigate their own emotions. A parent’s emotional state will inevitably affect the children and the divorce process, which affects them as well. The better a parent can cope, the better the child will do as well. University of Illinois researcher Jill Bowers who specializes in human and community development says there should also be sections for specific problems such as alcoholism and violence.  “There is no cookie-cutter divorcing couple, and with online programming, educators are able to supply content that applies to diverse family situations,” said Bowers. She began evaluating online courses in divorce education in 2011. Bowers continued saying, “Program developers could create a two-hour core component that would apply to many divorcing or separating couples with children; then parents could have the option of choosing other topics based on their interests, or results of a pre-test could direct parents to further hours of programming based on their unique needs.”

Bowers authored a recent study evaluating such a program. 1,543 participants took part in these online courses. The creator of the program asked the researcher to provide feedback. 46 states now require parents to take online co-parenting classes when divorcing. The length of time varies depending upon the state. From two to six hours of programming is generally required before a divorce can be granted. Bowers said, “Divorcing parents must pay for these classes, which used to involve classroom instruction. In the past decade, however, course selection has expanded to include many online offerings, and that’s created a market for online program developers and educators.” Bowers checks to see whether or not programs are based on actual research. She says, “An online search for parenting after divorce generates millions of results, but that doesn’t mean the answers you’ll find are from credible or reliable sources. I believe it’s important for online educators to cite their courses and explicitly talk about their conceptual foundations so audiences can distinguish credible sources from self-proclaimed experts. Then judges and parents should look for programs that are scientifically grounded in divorce, child development, relationships, and communication literature.”

Most programs focus on child-parent communication and interaction. Bowers says they do a good job in helping parents communicate what is happening in the divorce to children at different ages and stages. There are lots of strategies to help children deal with their new family dynamic and for handling a situation where one parent is bad-mouthing the other. “But adult-focused content could be enhanced. For example, research shows that parents who have not had time to grieve the loss of the relationship may experience emotional issues, and because of their grief or anger, they may be unable to help their children cope. Programs could be improved by adding content that helps parents address their emotional needs so they would be better equipped to help their children through the transition period. We’d also like to see strategies that parents can use when conflict is escalating,” Bowers said. Some adult lessons would include topics such as sex, cohabitation, introducing a child to a new partner and blended families. What’s more, the legal system parents enter into is complex and confusing according to Bower. Online programs could enlighten parents on items including mediation, legal terms and processes, financial obligations—including child support and more. Bowers said, “The companies that have developed these programs appear to be very committed to helping families. The ones we have worked with have been especially responsive to our evaluations. We know that divorce is a really tough time for families, and we hope that these suggestions for adapting course content and design of mandated co-parenting classes can not only make a difficult and often traumatic experience easier but that it can also optimize outcomes for parents and children going through this process.” To learn more about divorce as a process and how to come out of it in a good position read, The Divorce Survival Guide: The Roadmap for Everything from Divorce Finance to Child Custody by Calistoga Press.

Experts Agree on how to Co-Parent

COPARENTING

Experts Agree on how to Co-Parent

The International Council on Shared Parenting (ICSP) just concluded a conference they held called the First International Conference on Shared Parenting. Divorce scholars along with professionals with mental health, legal and medical backgrounds came together to learn more about co-parenting after divorce. The Council’s aim is to share research-backed approaches to address the needs of children whose parents no longer cohabitate. It also wished to protect and preserve these children’s rights as well. It looks at ways parenting can work effectively in different family contexts. The conference’s theme was “Bridging the Gap between Empirical Evidence and Socio-Legal Practice.” Though the conference took place in Bonn, Germany attendees from more than 20 countries took part. Lots of topics and perspectives were brought up, elaborated on and debated. What was surprising however was that even though you had so many attendees from so many different backgrounds, countries, cultures, specializations and more, most of these experts agreed on many of the aspects on how to effectively co-parent. These are the leading researchers, policymakers, practitioners and lawmakers from around the globe. Yet the experience of co-parenting and divorce in a sense are shared. Here are the things these experts agreed upon in the realm of co-parenting.

Neither primary residence orders nor sole custody is thought to be good for the child. Shared parenting instead is best for their well-being and optimal development. This includes high conflict situations. However it does not include instances where child abuse and family violence have occurred.  Experts believe that one third of a child’s time should be shared with each parent. Ideally 50-50 parenting should take place both during the week and during leisure time like on the weekends. The conference defined shared parenting as “the assumption of shared responsibilities and presumption of shared rights in regard to the parenting of children by fathers and mothers who are living together and apart.” Thus shared parenting can be seen as shared decision making, authority, and responsibility for the welfare and raising of the child. Experts believe the law should reflect this phenomenon and include shared parenting orders. This should be the case even if one of the parents is against it. This is in line with human and constitutional rights. There should be less judicial discretion according to conference attendees. Conference goers said that more research should be devoted to how child custody affects family violence, including parental alienation and child mistreatment. What’s more, attendees believed that divorced couples with children should have more access to family centers for support, family mediation and other support services which are crucial for success.

These findings were arrived at by divorce researchers from all around the world. Internationally, 30 major studies have been conducted over the past ten years. These studies compared family and child outcomes in single and shared parenting households. The results of the conference findings have been published in the American Psychological Association (APA)’s journal Psychology, Public Policy and Law. There are several things you can do if you are getting divorced and want to establish a co-parenting strategy. Start talking about it as soon as you can with your ex. Establish the same rules for both households, with the same consequences for transgressions. Stay in communication about the children. Decide things together. Be flexible with your ex if they want to switch days or with scheduling. You may need the same sometime. Have an understanding that parenting is different from what you two are going through, and the children need to come first before anything. Never use the children as a weapon against your ex and don’t let them do so. Don’t talk badly about your ex to your children or anyone they happen to be dating. Vent to friends and family when the children aren’t around, instead. Encourage your child to have a relationship with their other parent. Put your personal feelings aside when it comes to parenting. Compartmentalize parenting and the divorce as best you can. Establish ground rules between one another and an understanding. Always be civil and expect your ex to do the same. Children can be just as happy, healthy and well-adjusted in a co-parenting situation as in a dual parent household. It takes a lot of work, a lot of working through emotions and a lot of self-control. But when patterns and rituals are set up, ground rules are in place and everyone knows their role, the rules and the routine, things generally become normal and although little flare ups may take place time and again, everything usually falls into line. For more on co-parenting pick up a copy of, The CoParenting Toolkit: The Essential Supplement for Mom’s House, Dad’s House by Isolina Ricci, Ph.D.

Why Catches Stay in Bad Relationships

handshoulder

Why Catches Stay in Bad Relationships

Have you ever seen someone who was a real catch and then see their partner and wonder what in the world they were doing with that person? Most people have experienced this. There are those in bad relationships who don’t feel they can leave. Others seem to go on and on while the couple tries for the umpteenth time to make it work. The truth is there are a lot of catches who stay in bad relationships and just become complacent, but why? Turns out there are many reasons. Sometimes one partner makes more than the other. You get used to a luxurious lifestyle. The relationship or marriage is on the rocks. But you can’t leave. How can you ever live like you used to, after getting used to being a jet-setter? The truth is human beings have an emotional need for intimacy. If you love champagne and caviar more than the person who’s feeding it to you, this will always be an unhealthy relationship that if you let it, will consume you. These are silk handcuffs, a prison made of dollar bills, and even though it sounds fun for a while, sooner or later one realizes that true happiness is making a connection with one’s lover, not making a connecting flight to Barbados to try and fill an emptiness in their heart.

Some people stay together because they don’t want to hurt the children psychologically. Studies have shown however that children growing up in single parent homes grow up just as well-adjusted as those that grow up in dual parent homes. What’s more, relationship static affects children. So staying together but fighting, arguing or other strife can negatively impact children’s mental health. Children know whether their parents get along or not. So any amount of pretending isn’t good. What’s more, you model how your children will interact in terms of love. If you settle for something less and don’t pursue your happiness you are teaching them to do the same. Then there’s codependency, a problem for many couples. Having a partner there reassures lots of people. In fact, there are plenty of people who are scared of being alone. For more severe cases a spouse or partner’s inappropriate behavior gives them attention and sympathy from outsiders which would not be available without the significant other and their bad behavior.  Whether you are with someone just to be with someone, or there is something more involved you must realize that this isn’t a good reason to be in a relationship. In fact, it only perpetuates a negative cycle. You have to truly love yourself to be happy. Focus on yourself and that happiness will resonate. Find ways to overcome the problems and self-esteem issues you suffer, and ways to feel good about yourself. Remember that you deserve a healthy, happy relationship. Don’t settle for less than you deserve. For more on this topic, read Why Good People Can’t Leave Bad Relationships by Cindi Sansone-Braff.