The question as to stay or not stay in a marriage has no doubt haunted married people since the beginning of time. Although before the 1900s very few women had the ability to leave without leaving everything behind, even their children.
The very question as “to stay or not to stay” can gnaw at your very core, until you are left with no other option, but to do something about it. It isn’t gender specific, nor is it a case of the have or have nots. However, research has shown that more women make the first move toward divorce and file motions more often than men do to get out of their marriages, and those in the lower income brackets tend to stay more out of necessity. Most have realized by now that happily ever after is a myth of what fairy tales are made from, but should we have to give up on being happy?
Are you too haunted by the question: To Stay or Not?
The question whether to stay or not looms large for so many of us. It haunted me for many years before I took decisive action. But the one thing I know more than anything is: it’s not an easy step to take nor is it an easy decision to make. Why? Because there are so many factors and emotions at play simultaneously.
While I was contemplating leaving my marriage in 2010, I googled and searched the internet for a “tell-all, how-to-know” guide. I scoured self-help books for signs, for some kind of a list to HELP me decide whether I was doing the right thing or not. Not just for me, but for my children too. And, that is what prompted me to write a book on the subject to help others in a similar situation.
You might be thinking that there are so many great books out there right now and you’re right, there are. I had found several great self-help books, by authors such as Beverly Engel, Patricia Evans, Robin Norwood, and many others, sharing information on emotional and verbal abuse, addictions, guides on how to divorce, how to save a broken marriage and on and on it went.
Though these books gave me valuable information, some of which were very helpful to me for my situation, I never truly found that answer I was searching for. After much soul-searching, and staying in the marriage way longer than I should have, I eventually found my answer from within and so can you.
By writing this book, it is my intention to guide you in your quest to find that answer from within, that only you can know. To assist you in deciding if your marriage is salvageable, or sadly, if it is time to leave.
This book is non-clinical in content since I am not a clinician, though having been through the process with an extremely difficult ex, I know exactly how you feel. I am on the path to becoming a relationship coach and have helped countless women, referred to me by friends and family, on the “ins and outs” of divorce and I can help you too.
I maintain a blog titled www.afterdivorce.net, and I am a contributing writer for www.divorcedmoms.com and www.divorceforce.com. I have had articles in HuffPost Divorce, Ravishly, and The Good Men’s Project.
But most importantly, I know how you feel. I’ve been there, stuck in the mud feeling like there is no way to get out.
In my book, you will read about:
This book is for you if you are anything like me, and need to weigh all the good and the bad ad nauseam before deciding ANYTHING, especially REALLY BIG THINGS!!
If you have spent time scouring the Internet for a “how-to-know” guide to know if leaving your marriage is the right thing to do, or a list of TELL TALE signs, or whether your thought process is valid, then you are looking in the RIGHT place.
The sole purpose of this book is to help you see if your marriage is salvageable or if it is time to leave. By no means is this an anti-marriage book. I believe in marriage and have faith that it can be, and is for many, a fully satisfying coupling of two people who love each other.
I would like to add however, that if you are contemplating leaving your marriage for another person, then you are not giving your marriage a fair shake. Being emotionally involved with someone else muddies the waters and certainly the emotions. If you have children, then you owe it to them to make a decision whereby you can ultimately be able to look yourself in the mirror and know you did everything in your power to save your marriage and your children from undue hurt.
Believe me, I am not judging, I am just trying to save you regret. Many people I have known and talked with, usually have remorse after the fact that they left their marriage for someone else. Especially since the relationship they left their marriage for rarely works out and their relationship with their families and their children tend to have negative consequences attached for the long haul.
P.S. Do you need further help?
I offer a mentoring service for the separated or divorced woman who needs to move forward in some area of her life. Since we are all different, there is not a one size fits all in most marriages and divorces, therefore we can all use individualized assistance to gain a different perspective.
How I can be of help?
Perhaps you need to talk with someone confidentially, outside of family and friends.
We can set up a convenient time to talk for 30 minutes. I will then follow-up with a detailed email with personalized recommendations for your next steps.
Currently I have a 50% off offer, making it $25. If you read the book and are interested in talking further check it out here.
Whatever you decide, I wish you peace and love on your journey. xoxo
Recently I had a reader write to me about Parental Alienation, and how difficult it has been for him to deal with. Parental Alienation, in simple terms, is defined when one, or both, of the divorced parents are behaving in such a way that they are contributing to alienating the other parent from their children.
According to Wikipedia, parental alienation is the process, and the result, of the psychological manipulation of a child into showing unwarranted fear, disrespect or hostility towards a parent and/or other family members. It is a distinctive form of psychological abuse, and family violence, towards both the child and the rejected family members that occurs almost exclusively in association with family separation or divorce, particularly where legal action is involved.
The literature suggests that alienating behaviors by both parents are common in high-conflict divorces and the main symptom is that the child or children, lack attachment to the alienated parent.
I went through a high conflict divorce, and I tried my best to keep my children out of it. Not because I liked him or even respected him, but because I didn’t want to harm my children. Unfortunately, what the alienating parent fails to understand is that they are harming their child by verbally attacking their father or mother.
Regardless as to how we feel about our exes, they are half of our children and when we put them down in front of our child it hurts them in many ways. It creates anxiety, insecurity, and affects their self-esteem. It makes them question if they can trust you or trust themselves. It makes them out of balance since they are learning to not believe in their own instincts and believe in what their parents are telling them. And, most importantly it adds a degree of unhappiness into their lives that they do not deserve.
When you are having a difficult situation with your ex, be the adult and take it directly to them, do not rehash it to the children or have them be your messenger. I know it’s not easy to do, especially when your anger is mounting, but take it outside or talk to a trusted friend instead. However, if your ex is, or has been abusive to you or your children, then just be truthful without drama.
I have created the Ten Commandments for Divorcing Parents. Not one of us is perfect, so let’s all try to do our best for our children and heed this.
A Divorcing Parent’s Ten Commandments:
1. Thou shalt not put another before the underage child. When we have underage children, they should be our primary focus, not the guy or gal we start dating.
2. Thou shalt not show the children the divorce papers. Yes, I know you will be tempted to show your children all the horrible things he/she has done, but what will you gain by doing that?
3. Thou shalt not curse the exes name in front of the children. Walk outside, write in a journal, curse him or her to your friends, but not to the children. This is probably the hardest thing to do, but it is really important. Remember your child is half of that other parent
4. Remember to hold dear, above all else, the schedule, but be flexible when need be. Be responsible and show your children you care enough to be there for them, but be flexible when you can be if the other parent is having a conflict. Having a routine or schedule allows the children some level of normalcy.
5. Teach them to honor both mother and father. Yes, this is a toughie when you despise the other parent, but it will be worth it. Remember, at times when we have nothing nice to say, say nothing.
6. Thou shalt not kill the child’s image of their parent. Our children love us unconditionally, at least until they are young adults and know everything. Let their image of the other parent stay as they see it, in time the truth will come out without you having to say a word.
7. Though shalt not commit to other children, before their own. Oftentimes parents remarry and start new families. It’s important to remember ALL your children. Let your children know that you love them and will always be there for them. Assure them and reassure them continually that even though their lives are changing, you will always be a constant in their life, then stick to it.
8. Thou shalt let the children know it is not their fault. It’s is imperative to let your children know the divorce was not their fault. Children believe they are the center of the universe and internalize. Their inner thoughts can become – if I tried harder in school … didn’t fight as much with my brother … if I didn’t answer my parents back … and the list goes on. Children need to hear that the decision to divorce had nothing to do with them.
9. Thou shalt not lie to their children. Just as we shouldn’t tell our children everything about the divorce, we shouldn’t lie to them about facts either. If your child asks you specific questions do your best to answer truthfully without emotion. If their other parent has skipped town and you have no idea where they are, be honest. Don’t lie on their behalf.
10. Thou shalt not harm the child’s relationship with the other parent. Do not try to undermine your child’s relationship with their other parent. Do not play games with the other parent’s visitation because you are angry with your ex. If you do, you are being a parental alienator and that is not being the best parent you can be.
If you need to talk with a mentor, someone who can help you move forward and gain individualized assistance, please check out my store page. Please always remember where there is life, there is HOPE!
After divorce, so much of your life has changed. Your old life is no longer and your new life is, well, uncharted. For some that can be exciting, but for others it can be scary as hell.
Since women file for divorce nearly 70% of the time, I was surprised to learn that after divorce, women often feel a greater loss and tend to get more depressed than men. According to healthcommunities.com, women’s brains produce less serotonin and more cortisol than men which contributes to depression. Then of course mood swings strike when women are in menopause which intensify the incidence for depression.
I suppose since women put so much effort into being wives and mothers that when it ends it is crushing even if they wanted it. Relationships are a woman’s priority, as are their children, and attachment and loss preoccupies their brains much more so than in men.
I know I initiated my divorce and though I didn’t experience depression, I did feel the loss of the family unit. After divorce, we are left with so many “what ifs” and “should haves”, in particular when we have children. The guilt can be paralyzing and immobilize you with doubt and fear. Without realizing it the guilt parlays into negative self-talk that can then lead to depression.
There are signs of depression to be on the lookout for, which include: sadness, unexplained exhaustion, irritability, guilt, feeling insignificant, feelings of emptiness, difficulty concentrating and remembering details, insomnia or excessive sleeping, overeating or loss of appetite, and a general feeling of malaise or suicidal thoughts. If you have been suffering from any of these symptoms please visit your doctor and discuss with him or her. This is not something to ignore or be ashamed of, it is something to get taken care of. It is okay to ask for help!
Until you get professional help, depression from divorce will color everything and everyone in your life. The vibrancy of life will appear dull and the load will feel heavier every day.
Getting a thorough check-up from your doctor is essential, but there are other ways to start the healing process that you can begin right away:
1. Be thankful for what you do have. Sometimes a good way to get back on track and start to feel better is to identify things to be grateful for. No matter how horrible we may feel we can always find something we appreciate in our life.
2. Change your focus. Whenever you catch yourself dwelling or putting yourself down, turn it round. Happiness is a result of a decision to be happy and your emotions and feelings are created by your thoughts. It’s good to remember that unhappiness cannot exist on its own. It occurs because of thoughts, which can be changed. In fact, a simple smile can actually help change your mood and relieve stress.
3. Accept your new reality. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I know of women who do not accept the divorce and believe that their husbands are going to wake up and realize that they mistakenly threw them away for the younger, sexier version of themselves. That is very likely not going to happen and if it did, would you really want the SOB back after he dumped you for someone else? Aside from that, acceptance is the key to moving on with your own life. If you are constantly looking in the rear view mirror it’s hard to see and appreciate what is right in front of you.
4. Create a network of support. Its time start relying on those who love you, such as friends and family. They want to help and you need to keep yourself from isolating. Isolating only increases the chance of getting depressed.
5. Meditate and/or do yoga. I cannot stress enough how much mediation and yoga help the mind and body in healing. It takes the focus away from your thoughts and brings your attention to the breath. Plus, it helps clear away the toxins –ahem, thoughts of the ex—in your life.
6. Find your passion. This cannot be emphasized enough. If you find something, anything that makes you feel excited, then you MUST do it! Anything that can take you out of yourself and your mindset, will do wonders for your heart and soul. And isn’t it about time?
Feeling better after divorce and moving on from the pain is a choice, but first you have to make sure you see a doctor if you find yourself delving into the deep. Though it is painful to go through, you can and will find happiness again.
This article was originally written for and published in Divorce Force.
If you have ever been in a relationship, then you know that relationships are complicated. There are moments of pure joy, and then there are times when you question everything and wonder if this is a red flag. Through the highs and lows, it’s hard to be certain whether or not you and your significant other are meant to be, or not. Sure, in every relationship, you need to be able to work through the “bad” together. But, when do you say enough is enough? At what point do you draw the line between rough times and simply just settling?
After every toxic relationship ends, many people say they wish they could have seen the warning signs. As a divorced person, I can promise you there are always signs. The problem is our “love can conquer all” glasses won’t let us see them until they are so blatantly obvious they create an avalanche.
So before you say “I do” and wish you didn’t, here is a list of signs that might be pointing you toward ending the relationship rather than taking the next step and walking down the aisle.
1. You called me what?
Words hurt, and they hurt relationships. Name calling and hurtful words sting, leaving an indelible print on the relationship that no apology can truly wash away. It is hard to go back and respect that person you love after they called you horrible names. Plus, you will always wonder if they meant what they said in anger. If it becomes a pattern where he/she is overly critical, doesn’t value your opinion, or makes you feel stupid, then you have to seriously walk away. This is a prerequisite to abusive behavior that becomes more insidious as time goes on. You deserve better!
2. Where’s the sex?
Sex is crucial in a happy and healthy relationship. And when sex isn’t on the table anymore (literally or not), it’s a sign something bigger is happening. If you are both too “busy” for sex before marriage, it will be non-existent once you are married. It may be that you have both grown distant, emotionally and physically. Or, it could be a sign that you have different sexual needs. If one of you feels like there isn’t enough sex and the other feels that it’s perfect as it is, then you have different sexual make-ups and it will very likely be a prevailing issue throughout your marriage.
3. Where’s the trust?
You need to be able to trust your partner. It is the building block for every solid relationship and you cannot have a solid, loving relationship without it. Do you read through his emails? Do you not trust her when she goes out with her friends? Checking each other’s phones, social media accounts, and emails is not the foundation of a healthy, trusting relationship. If your relationship is starting to look less like a romance novel and more like mystery book, then you might want to make a run for it.
4. When is bad not good?
Sometimes being bad can be a good thing, especially in the bedroom, but when the bad in relationships seems to outweigh the good in all things, there is a big problem. For instance, if you can’t even remember the last time you were happy with your partner, then that would be bad. It may be that you are simply not compatible, have different communication styles, or fight and bicker often. It’s best to figure that out before you say “I do.” The most important warning sign of love gone awry is your instincts. If you are thinking that the relationship isn’t working, then it probably isn’t.
5. Spend time together much?
When you’d rather spend a night out with friends every weekend instead of your partner, it’s apparent that there is an issue. If you are happy in your relationship, you will want to spend most of your time together — not the opposite. If you’re making excuses to not see your partner, then perhaps you need to re-examine why you haven’t ended things yet. If you aren’t spending time together, and do not seem to miss it or want to change it, this cannot lead to a happy place.
6. How much fighting is too much?
Arguing in a relationship comes with the territory. Each couple is bound to have everything from insignificant fights to explosive, can’t sleep for two-day fights. It’s a part of relationship growing pains. However, if you’re amazed that you lasted a week without fighting, then you might need to take a look in the relationship mirror. Or, if you even have trouble staying civil on vacations when you are in a beautiful hotel with room service, beautiful scenery, white sand beaches and tropical daiquiris, then it might be time to say goodbye.
7. Focusing on changing him/her?
This is not a good sign if either he/she wants to change the other person. It will surely make you question whether or not they love you. If you are not loved or accepted for whom you are, then you should not be with that person. Surely no one is perfect and we could all stand to improve ourselves in some way, but not because our partner says we should. There are times that one partner would like to enhance the relationship by having better communication, spark up the sex life, or think of fun ways to spend more time together, all these things are positive changes that couples can do together to improve the relationship. However, if the focus is on changing the other person to fit a mold or an image, then muster up your self-esteem and get out of that situation.
8. Fantasizing of others?
It’s all fun and games until you can’t stop thinking about someone else. In a happy and strong relationship, you should be thinking about your partner. When unhappiness starts to creep in, so do thoughts and fantasies about other people. This may be the point where attention from other men or women fills an emptiness you’re feeling from the relationship. Flirting on social media or drunkenly texting your ex, are clear signs that something is missing in your current relationship.
If any of these signs hits home with you, then I’m afraid you have some serious thinking to do. If you come to the realization that ending the relationship is the best move for you, try to remember that as hard as it is to break up a relationship or an engagement, ending a marriage is much more difficult. And, just as the glass is half full, the heart-breaking end of something can be the beginning to a fresh start and a possible new love in the future.