Drifting Apart

drifting

Drifting Apart

It stuns you when you first realize that you and your sweetie, you seemed like the perfect couple, are drifting apart. Sometimes just as perfectly as you fell for each other, as if it were only natural an event like a natural disaster, an earth shattering union over which the two of you had no control. But just as powerfully so too can each party find forces pushing them apart, and these can occur just as naturally and as inexplicably.

Sometimes we end up in a comfortable relationship that has no future. This kind of relationship has dueling emotions inside you. On the one hand you have your life goals. On the other you love this person and perhaps fear being single again and facing a big, black who-knows-what. Sometimes the fear of the unknown makes us stay in an uncomfortable situation. But the problem with that is we die a little inside for we are born to seek out our dreams. Scientists have proven that parts of the brain showing good, sound judgment shutdown when we fall in love. As the relationship progresses more and more we get to learn about our partner and deal with their shortcomings, and our own.

Once you have that down, you think you’ve got it all figured out. And you’ll live happily ever after. Or not. More likely it will be like a series of hurtles you’ll have to jump over. You’ll dodge them and do okay. Once in a while you’ll have a victory to celebrate. At other times a defeat to mourn. But when people have different priorities or if their values change, as are natural to do over time you can find the couple naturally drifting apart. The question is how far is this drift going to go? Can you relate to one another anymore? Is there trust and respect? Can you build a deep bond of connection and intimacy despite these differences? Each couple has to decide for themselves. It takes a big conversation.

Some long term couples and married couples decide to live together despite their differences. They share what they can but each also enjoy their separate lives. Others seek out a partner who fulfills all of their needs. Then there are those who try to change their lover, or spurn them for not being the person they fell in love with to begin with. Instead, talk about it. Discuss the drift. See when it occurred and why it occurred. Figure out if it makes sense to stay together and share your life together or perhaps you’ve grown too different after all. For more advice read, Help! My Spouse and I Are Drifting Apart by Dr. Bill Maier and Mitch Temple.

Why many are Scared of Love

fear of love

Why many are Scared of Love

Did you know that most divorces and breakups happen at the beginning of the year? January seeks the most separations of couples. Why is that? Speculations abound but no real reason has been pegged. It could be that people want to have a new life in the New Year. Or perhaps they see Valentine’s Day down the road and run off before it gets there. But this begs the question, why do so many breakups and divorces happen at all? One reason, lots of people are scared of an emotion that should instead empower them, love.

These fears don’t always surface at the beginning of a relationship. They may lay dormant waiting for the right trigger to bring them forth. They all come down to one thing, a fear of intimacy. And even though initially this fear is seen as a protective quality, it ultimately keeps us from the intimacy and closeness we desire most. There are lots of ways to be scared of love. See if any of these describe you or someone you know. First is fear of vulnerability. This usually happens at the beginning of a relationship. Love means letting someone else in. You are suddenly dependent upon someone else for your happiness, not just you. And this fear of vulnerability can often affect or even end a relationship, the fearful partner driving the other away.

Falling in love also brings up old scars from the past. Childhood traumas are often brought forth. Anger, resentment, neglect, rejection and fear can all resurface in conjunction of finding love in one’s life. Love can oppose our old perceptions of ourselves. We may think we’re unlovable or undeserving of love. There are those who sometimes mistake their inner critic for how they actually feel about themselves. They let those negative voices become their opinion of themselves. The inner critic is an amalgam. It is nothing but a collection of negative messages we were exposed to when we were young by our parents and others, or those which our parents felt about themselves which we internalized and made about ourselves. Other negative messages from bullies and other peers may become part of this amalgam. Eventually it gets ingrained in the individual. Falling in love, and being validated by someone who loves you, throws a wrench in that perception. And since our biggest fear is that of the unknown, the person who is loved but doesn’t feel that they deserve it doesn’t know what to do.

Some people fear inevitable pain from the elation of love. That the breakup will hurt just as bad as the love now feels. But how do you know that it won’t work out? Lastly, some people fear that the other person loves them more than they love that person. They’re afraid that this dynamic will never change. Love changes over time and moment to moment. Do not fear love. Let it be a transformative force in your life, not a blast that forces you to crouch but an updraft that makes you soar. For more advice read, Love Me, Don’t Leave Me: Overcoming Fear of Abandonment & Building Lasting, Loving Relationships by Michelle Skeen, PsyD.

The Seven Phases of Getting Over a Divorce

divorce denial

The Seven Phases of Getting Over a Divorce

Lots of people have a hard time letting go and accepting when their spouse utters those four little words, “I want a divorce.” It’s hard to accept when it’s really over, especially if you are blind-sided by the statement, what some experts are calling “sudden divorce syndrome.” It may seem hard to believe your marriage is coming to an end. It may have been so painful at times you wondered if you would explode. Yet, living without the marriage can almost seem unbearable. It’s obvious now however that the marriage is over. A hard, dull pain can inhabit your body. It’s like some kind of withdrawal. You become buffeted with memories of good times and search for where things went wrong and what you could have done to turn things around. Still, perhaps if you had searched your feelings and looked for the right signs and behaviors from your ex-spouse you could have seen the divorce coming. Some people feel overwhelmed by loss, fear for the future, anxiety on how they’ll pick up the pieces and move on, and more. There are stages that you can count on going through as you progress naturally, from grieving and loss to acceptance and moving on with your life. If you know and can anticipate these stages you’ll be better prepared to cope with them and your healing process will proceed much more smoothly. Here are the seven phases of getting over a divorce.

The first phase is when you need answers. You have an all-consuming drive for answers. This may sound like a logical pursuit but at this time logic takes a back seat to this insatiable need. Some people when they know everything search through their memories later on and recall things that their ex said and did that contradicted their actions now. You could oscillate between moments of clarity and absolute disbelief. The feeling of great loss, at times overwhelming, may come and go in waves. A divorce can be so painful it can consume all of your thoughts, even your whole life. Some discuss the matter with everyone and anyone they can in order to gain some perspective. Others keep it to themselves or perhaps invite in one or two close confidants to help gain an alternative viewpoint. The next phase is denial. You cannot believe this is happening to you. Some people have a difficult time accepting that it’s over, especially when they feel that they invested a lot into the relationship whether emotionally or as a good provider or in some other way. Instead of grieving, which seems overwhelmingly painful, you may cling to the hope that you can salvage the marriage.

The third phase is the bargaining phase. You may say to your ex that you’ll do anything to save the marriage. But for them, by now it’s already too late. They’ve made up their mind. You may dream about some angelic reconciliation, but your partner has had enough and isn’t going back there again. They can’t. You can’t bargain forever. Sooner or later you’ll have to face the fact that the marriage is over. You also come to the realization in this phase that you alone are not responsible for the breakup of this marriage. The fourth stage is relapse. You may try and convince your ex-spouse that perhaps the two of you should try again. Is this the first time that you’ve been separated or that they’ve threatened divorce? Whether you do convince them to try again or not is another matter depending on the problems. If you really want them back you have to show that you’ve changed. Have you? That can take time.

Otherwise it’s on to the fifth phase, anger and perhaps fear of an unknown future. You could have this anger directed at yourself, your partner or just the situation at hand.  Don’t let your anger paralyze you. If you feel it, use it to find a new direction, energy and purpose for your life. Find positive ways to deal with anger. It is part of the healing process so don’t beat yourself up about being angry. But use it toward positive purposes. The sixth phase is acceptance. This is where, for good or ill, you come to the realization that this divorce is happening, like it or not. This feeling weak in the beginning becomes stronger as time goes on. The seventh and final stage is new hope for your life. Don’t put any timeframes on your healing process. Let the emotions come. But let your conscious mind understand what stage you are on. Just find healthy, positive ways to deal with your emotions. Don’t put some artificial timeframe on the healing process. It will happen naturally of its own accord in the aftermath of this life changing event, divorce. But remember every ending is a new beginning and a second chance at happiness in your life. For more, read The Journey from Abandonment to Healing: Turn the End of a Relationship into the Beginning of a New Life by Susan Anderson.

How to Cope After a Divorce

Woman Doing Yoga

Divorce can be one of the most painful experiences of your life. It can dredge up all kinds of negative emotions. Whether you wanted it to happen or not, whether you saw it coming or were completely shocked by what has been dubbed “sudden divorce syndrome” coping after a divorce is something everyone who goes through it deals with on some level. But the good news is there are things you can do to help safeguard you through this trying time, help you to heal and make a much more resilient, capable and wiser person once you’ve moved on. Here’s how to cope after a divorce. Your first move should be to change your focus. Most people perceive divorce in the wrong light. They focus on how bad they are feeling or how much they hate their ex. But actually you should focus on it as if it were a loss. We grieve for the future that might have been. Now our lives have been disrupted and we find ourselves in uncharted waters. One of the scariest things to human beings is the unknown. It may be one reason why so many people suffer in unhappy relationships rather than leaving. But most people once they’ve moved on and healed found it was a good decision. Just allow yourself to go through the steps of grief, recognizing them and giving yourself chances to let those feelings out in order to heal. Soon you will be in a state of remission and feeling good and positive again.

Don’t wallow in misery though. Some people don’t know when to let go. Allow yourself to feel different feelings. Sometimes we compound our problems by fighting against how we actually feel instead of merely recognizing it and being okay with it. Your feelings may be strong but they will surely decrease over time. Give yourself some slack. Some people take great pains to engineer a composed façade. But no one is really superman or superwoman. Allow yourself time to grieve and heal. You can keep it together at work. But don’t be afraid to let it all out with family and friends. Journaling often helps. Some people like to write lists of their new dreams, their bucket list if you will and what they will now do with their life. Reach out to the important people in your life. You’re not alone so you don’t have to go it alone. Given the chance they would love to be there for you. You’ve always been there for them. So why not give them that chance? If you feel you need help outside of your normal circle, go and get it. There are support groups in every city and town across the country. Just search online. Understand what you need and give it to yourself. If that need is a day at the spa or just a few minutes alone to yourself, find a way to make it happen.

Nurture yourself. You’ve been through a lot. Give yourself a little calming or soothing practice each day to make all of that anxiety and stress just melt away. It could be a yoga class, transcendental meditation, reading a good book, listening to music, a massage or a warm bath. Whatever makes you really relax and re-centers you. Give yourself a new routine and stick to it. We don’t like to admit it but we are creatures of habit after all and routines make us feel safe. Give yourself a little break and some time to recalibrate. If you can take a day at the beach, a night on the town or a Sunday afternoon movie, go and do it. Don’t use food, alcohol or drugs to cope with divorce stress. That will put you in an even bigger mess. Instead, seek out the help of a licensed mental health professional. There are lots in your area. Make sure it’s someone who has experience helping people cope with issues related to divorce. Look into interests that you’ve always wanted to explore but never have before, or couldn’t because your ex wasn’t interested or didn’t want to. This time is for you and your reemergence. You are flowering, going through a personal Renaissance and this trying out and finding out about yourself and pursuing new interests is all about reclaiming the new you. For more advice on coping with divorce, read Rebuilding: When Your Relationship Ends by Dr. Bruce Fisher and Dr. Robert Alberti.

Quit Sabotaging your Relationships

sabotaging

Some people get into a great relationship, only to subconsciously do everything they can to undercut it. In the beginning when someone with this problem first starts dating, there is usually an excuse for why the relationships don’t work. But as time goes on they and others start to realize that they are distancing or ruining their romantic potentialities themselves. There are many reasons for this. For a chance at everlasting love you need to quit sabotaging your relationships. And the first step to this is to figure out what is going on underneath the surface. One phenomenon that often occurs with people in this situation is a feeling of comfort that comes from failure. Failure is familiar. But success isn’t. So the idea is that the problems that are known aren’t as scary as romantic success, vis-à-vis the unknown. The second possibility is the idea that if it feels so good, there must be something wrong. This is a subconscious need to control every aspect in one’s life, often a need built out of a past that was unstable. If it’s too good to be true, this line of thinking goes, better to distance one’s self and keep in control rather than let one’s guard down and be hurt. Low self-esteem could be another issue, feeling unworthy of such love. Displaced anger could be at fault. Finally, some people just need conflict in their lives. They crave excitement.

So what do you do to stop sabotaging your romantic relationships? First, you need to observe how you interact in a relationship. Reflect on your previous relationships too and notice the patterns. Think about the relationship patterns of your parents or primary caregivers as a child. How did they interact? Most people take on the patterns they saw as a child. If the problem is self-esteem issues, what aspects of your life have contributed to your low self-image? And if you crave excitement, what in your life has led to this need? Once you have some self-insight, start to make conscious efforts to break these bad relationship habits. Picture what a relationship should be like in your life. Of course they don’t work all the time. There will always be problems or issues. But your job is to find out what specific patterns you get stuck in and how best to break them. When you feel yourself pushing your lover away, instead stop, take a deep breath and try to figure out a better way to approach the issue. Sometimes people sabotage their relationships because they are perfectionists. Every single aspect of their relationship or their partner must be perfect. They have a checklist and their partner must match it. This is also a way of pushing others away without realizing that you are at fault. Really it is a personal journey, tailored to someone’s unique experience. Looking at your past, talking it out with friends, reading self-help guides, seeing a counselor, and discussing each point along the way with your significant other are the best ways to form a relationship that is healthy, and that will last. To explore this topic further, pick up a copy of When the Past Is Present: Healing the Emotional Wounds that Sabotage our Relationships by David Richo.