Recently I was asked by a friend, “Why do you still write about divorce? It’s been years for you.”
After a long pause I said, “Because I am a writer and it needs to be written for others going through it.”
She shrugged, not really understanding. But, how could she understand? She was never divorced and her kids never had to go through a divorce. Her children’s live fortunately were not irrevocably changed by events they had no control over. Events, that unfortunately happen in hundreds of thousands American households yearly.
As I often joke around with other divorcees ‘divorce is the gift that keeps on giving.” Only someone who has lived through divorce can truly understand this. And, after living and surviving heartbreak and pain writers tend to write about what they know and are passionate about. It is my small way to give back and help others going through the process behind me.
Writing about divorce is my civic duty.
At first, I wrote about divorce to let go of my long-held anger. Writing eased the pain, and eventually it connected me to others in similar circumstances, who also needed to hear my words, and the many others who express themselves, that exemplified their own private hell. Being divorced is certainly more accepted than 25 years ago, but a stigma is still attached and as a group we need a voice so we feel less guilt and less alone.
Writing brought me acceptance from others - to a degree. Writing brought us - those of us sharing our worries and our joys - perspective, understanding, information, and hope. We all need to feel understood and that we belong, and by sharing thoughts and ideas with others fulfills a kind of civic, moral duty of helping others while helping myself.
Many divorcees find it difficult to juggle all the balls in the air now that they are alone or alone with children. Being overwhelmed is often the feeling of the day and when divorcees participate in the sharing of ideas in financial planning, dating again, managing the work/home life balance, and so much more, they grasp a better handle on their new life. Even support from virtual strangers who have lived through their current experiences can be quite helpful in moving on.
Writing about divorce is helpful for successful parenting.
Reading about what others have gone through is essential in this area. That is why there are so many books out there on divorce with children. In fact, Putting Children First is a great book to read. It is well-written and discusses the impact on children from the breakup of their family, but it gives real strategies that can be implemented to promote your children’s emotional health and resiliency.
It is also extremely important to understand that even though you may despise the person you are no longer married to, that person is your children’s father or mother. Many divorcees have to hear this over and over again so they get the importance of not knocking down the other parent, for in putting them down they are harming their children.
Writing about divorce is necessary because it never ends.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but as I said before, divorce is the gift that keeps on giving.” Yes, the craziness slows down, but like the tide it has its ebbs and flows.
For instance, after bopping along for six years post-divorce, with the usual vacation issues, week-end swapping nightmares, and other legalities that cause old feelings to resurface time and time again, I was hit with a huge financial blow from my ex that has serious consequences to me and my daughter. Though they are not currently ironed out yet, I know they will be. The end result may not be what I want or what I believe I am entitled to, but it will be something I will be able to live with.
How do I know this?
Because, if nothing else, divorcees have had to learn through sharing with others that though life is not what we envisioned our lives to be when we said, “I do,” we have learned the complicated art of compromise. We have had to compromise our time with our children, our money, our homes, our furnishings, our time, and our feelings on such a regular basis that our next spouse (if there is a next) will definitely reap the benefits of our learned behavior.
And, even when your children are grown and living on their own, you are still entwined with that person you divorced. You may have to share important life events, or an occasional holiday, and most definitely grandchildren. The navigating of this, while keeping feelings and emotions in check will definitely require a delicate balance of annoyance and acceptance for the rest of our lives.
Though I am divorced, I am not a big believer that married couples just grow apart. I think what really happens is that they stop paying attention. I’m not referencing couples that have any kind of abuse, be it verbal, emotional or physical, or addictions. I am referring to the so-called “normal” marital partners that choose wisely, but just stop doing all the “little” and “big” things that keep partners grounded and loving. Interestingly, most people who get divorced within the first five years of marriage later realize that the split was totally avoidable and unnecessary.
So, how can you keep your marriage happy and intact? Here are six tips from Dr. Laura:
1. Marriage is about giving, not keeping score. There are going to be times when you are making the compromises, and there are going to be times when your spouse is making the compromises. It all evens out eventually. Don’t make your marriage a competition of who does more.
2. There is no marriage without annoyances. Not one. No two people are 100 percent, completely compatible. When you ask older couples what’s the secret to staying together for so many years, one of the things they’ll say is you have to let a lot of things go and ignore what isn’t going to change. You have to stop nitpicking and learn to live with things.
3. Learn which issues can be remedied and which cannot. Not every conflict in a marriage gets resolved. There are always going to be issues with in-laws, children, money, etc. Many people who go into marriage counseling are dissatisfied with the outcome because they think all the problems will be gone forever. Not a chance. The reality is that the small, nitpicky ones are never going to change, and you’re only wasting your breath by getting angry about them. Besides, you knew what you were getting when you were dating this person (That’s why you should date for two years before getting engaged!). If you said, “I do”, you embraced those quirks, so leave your spouse alone.
4. If you are going to fight or argue, make it about the big issues, not the small stuff like socks being left on the floor. Is it really beneath your dignity to pick them up yourself? Jesus was on his hands and knees washing people’s feet. Keep that image in mind when you think you’re above picking up a pair of socks.
5. For every negative thought, word or action on your part, you need at least FIVE positive ones. Make small gestures and make them often. Always think about repairing the relationship even when it’s not damaged. After all, that’s what our bodies do. Even when we’re not sick or injured our bodies are constantly replacing dead cells. You’ve got to do the same thing in your marriage except the balance must be even more heavily stacked in repair mode. How do you do that? With humor, affection, and kindness.
6. See your spouse’s point of view. When you are aggravated with your spouse, take on the role of your spouse’s defense attorney. Maybe they’re exhausted from sitting in traffic after being hounded at work all day. Maybe they’ve had a particularly stressful day with the kids. If you take each other’s side instead of instantly attacking, there’s going to be a lot more peace.
You made vows to love, honor, and cherish your spouse, so do it! Not just when it’s convenient. Don’t nitpick, blame or constantly criticize. Happily married couples don’t live to fight another day. By spending most of your time being positive, you’ll feel better, your spouse will feel better, the marriage will be healthier, and the kids will be happier too.
A Re-Post from Dr. Laura's Blog
How to Keep the Intimacy Alive in Your Marriage
Sex is not what keeps people happily married, it’s the intimacy. The amount of sex can wane over the years, but if the intimacy level stays healthy, that’s a happy marriage. Here’s how to keep the intimacy alive in your marriage:
Wouldn’t it be nice when trying to determine if someone really loves you if it were as simple as plucking petals off of a flower declaring he loves me… he loves me not? Ahhh, yes, but life is not that simple.
Many of us have strong beliefs about what love is or what and how it should be. Oftentimes these are preconceived notions from our past relationships and our parents’ relationship. Also we get our beliefs from outside influences such as movies, books and television. Because of these beliefs, some of us may not realize the real thing when it comes our way. Or, we may not see it because we have been hurt too many times and have built up walls to protect ourselves.
When you are involved with a man (or woman) there is usually one question that often pops into your mind and that is: What does he really feel about me?
So how do you know if he (or she) is in love with you? If they show these 10 signs, then it is a safe bet. (Though I use the term man, most of these signs can also be used for women).
1. You are treated with respect. When a man loves you, he cares about the details of your life. He will value your opinions, celebrate your accomplishments and encourage you when you fall.
2. He wants to be with you, a lot. If your man wants to spend time with you, he will move mountains to see you. Also, if he often texts, calls or emails you throughout the day, he’s got you on his mind. This is clearly a sign that his feelings are strong.
3. He compromises. Love can soften the most stubborn of hearts. When your guy starts to meet you in the middle on topics he usually doesn’t budge on, it shows he’s leading more with his heart than his head. Signs of selflessness are huge indicators of love.
4. He touches you in public. This may seem like no big thing to women, but public displays of affection mean something to men. When he puts his arm around you in public or holds your hand, he is proudly announcing to the world that you are together.
5. He wants to take care of you. When a man wants to make things better for a woman, it’s a sign he cares deeply for you. It can be by pampering you, buying you nice gifts, making sure you have eaten dinner, this shows his concern for your well-being. In essence, he wants to see you happy and comfortable and by doing that he is saying I love you.
6. If he is excited for you to meet the people closest to him that is a good sign. If he wants you to meet his best friend, or his family, his kids, take that as a step in the right direction. Men typically don't just bring any girl home with them to meet the family.
7. He’s not afraid to fight or apologize. Most guys do not like to fight or talk things through when they are upset, but when the person is truly important to them, he will listen, fight fair, and want to resolve things well. Love is dropping the pride, and admitting when you’re wrong and apologizing.
8. Making love is more than sex. When you become intimate with each other there is a deep connection that you can feel in your soul. No words are necessary.
9. He talks about the future. If he talks about where he sees himself next year and includes you, or invites you to his friend’s wedding six months from now, or he “jokes” about having children together someday, these are clear-cut signs he’s very much into you and sees you in his future.
10. He tells you so. When he tells you he loves you, believe him. A man in love cannot keep it to himself.
Do you think I missed anything? Would love to hear from you?
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