Beliefnet
How Great Thou Part

Divorce! Everyone has an opinion, a judgment or advice on how to navigate it. 

Well, at least those who haven’t experienced it.

Those of us who have survived the rigors of matrimonial extrication offer more empathy than advice.

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Think of it this way. A child is frightened to get an immunization. You assure them it will be fine. You promise them a treat once the immediate pain is over. This is how divorcing individuals communicate. We are well aware of the agony and the unavoidable pain so we sit with you, empathize, and then offer you a ‘wordy treat.’

We understand though some tools do help us survive divorce it’s ultimately an evolution of grief.

An inescapable heartache.

Then come the holidays. The ‘heart’ filled holidays! Where people talk about love and who they love and what they bought the one they love and where they will be spending time with the one they love.

You get the picture.

The holidays are one huge LOVE filled gift. Only that particular present isn’t under the Christmas tree for us this year. 

To the world, during the holidays we appear to be just like them. It’s only a divorce after all. No big deal! Santa will most assuredly drop LOVE under your tree next year. You’re better off! You are going to meet someone wonderful! You deserved better anyway! We never believed you married the right person anyway. New doors are about to open for you – we can feel it! And then the all inclusive…This time next year you will be a new person and this will all be behind you.

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So a few items a girl might want to tuck into her purse to survive the holidays:

1. Kleenex: 

Tissues naturally for the annoyingly random love songs the radio spits out. And for the holiday tunes that evoke teary-eyed perfect family Christmas visions.

Grab more of the soft stuff to stifle the sniffles while you view the gorgeous family holiday cards spewing from your mailbox.

Save a few for the well-intentioned holiday wishes that certainly, you will lose the extra weight once the divorce is finalized. And of course, even at your age there are still plenty of fish in the sea.

2. A New Address Book:

Now you kinda saw this coming, didn’t you? You can’t keep all your people in a divorce. So tidy up that address book. Nah, much better to actually invest in a new one.

The holidays are a logical time to do this. After all, you no longer have to send your mother-in-law a gift. You don’t even have to send her a card this year.

Wow! One of the few items on the divorce menu where Kleenex isn’t a side dish. 

3. A Good Therapist’s Business Card:

Admit it! As divorcing peeps we may wear out our friends and family. Not a lot. Just a wee bit!

No one wants to be a Donner (sorry couldn’t help the wordplay) I mean a downer during the holidays.

Actually, go ahead and talk about Santa’s reindeer but bend your counselor’s ear about everything else.

4. Your Santa’s List:

Look, someone has to buy you a present this year and well, you’re kinda out of options. So make your list and check it twice and be nice to yourself.

Call it crazy, but spoiling yourself will be empowering and minimize the sense of loss.

You are taking care of yourself. You aren’t looking for someone to do it for you. Let’s rephrase that. You are loving yourself and not looking for someone to do that loving for you.

5. Gift Cards to Mingle Through the Jingle:

You might not have to look far for the gift cards. Friends and family seem to take pity on the divorcing and sheepishly buy them gift cards since money quickly becomes a commodity. You know I speak the truth. Birthdays and other holidays deliver coveted moolah loaded cards to ease your burdens.

If you have some great. If not, go buy a Starbucks, Whole Foods or other ‘mingle through the jingle’ type location gift cards.

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Spend some time in these places that are filled with singles and not just couples and families. Have a hot chocolate while you fill out your cards. Stop to eat before or after you go grocery shopping.

So here you have it. A start to help you survive divorce during this holiday season.

There is one thing I left off the list…

A wine glass…

Just kidding you don’t want to carry that around in your purse all season!

Tuck that puppy into your evening bag.

 (Photos courtesy of Pexels)

Follow me on Facebook @Colleen Orme National Columnist
on Twitter @colleenorme
on Pinterest @colleensheehyorme
E-mail: Colleen.Sheehy.Orme@gmail.com
www.colleensheehyorme.com

It’s natural to have regrets in life. Few of us escape them.

Often, they sleep within us and remain silently dormant.

And then an uncomfortable life experience pokes the bear and wakes them from their slumber. It could be reaching a milestone birthday, the loss of a parent, the loss of a job, divorce, empty-nesting and more.

An arrival at a place which makes us assess our lives.

What if we had traveled more and not settled down? What if we had taken that exciting job transfer? What if we had gone to a different college? Married a different spouse? Left our marriage sooner? Not gotten divorced?

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We can let these regrets or questions thwart us or we can attack them spiritually.

If we are devout in our faith we believe that everything, the good, the bad and the ugly, happens in our lives for a reason. All of this re-arranges us and restores us and leaves us better people. It leads us towards our God-given purpose in life. Yes, everything. Even the choices we made with our own free will. Mistakes and all. God knows us well and His Hand was there despite our own at times, misguided hands.

But then, what about the whispers within us? If we are spiritual supermodels why then would we have any regrets? 

If we are to age spiritually we are to accept the path our lives have followed. If we wish to promote spiritual anti-aging it is to continue with this belief and fight harsh internal and external damaging forces.

Don’t succumb to the unhappiness or bitterness of regrets. Instead, listen to them as a spiritual preventative aging tool.

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Don’t fight and bury them. Accept them and listen to the spiritual prompts they may be.

The Different Types of Spiritually Aging Regrets and Their Anti-Aging Properties:

1. The ‘what if ‘regrets:

What if I had traveled more or never quit school or switched careers? God places a restlessness in our hearts for a reason. He is urging a change in our lives. He is quietly influencing our free will to further our purpose and

God places a restlessness in our hearts for a reason.

He is urging a change in our lives. He is quietly influencing our free will to further our purpose and put us in place to learn more and therefore help more.

If you have ‘what if’ regrets make a list of them.

Prioritize them and decide what gnaws at you the most. Then make a calendar in terms of urgency with accompanying goal completion dates. Whatever you do, do not think ‘all or nothing.’ God seldom lines everything up instantaneously because there would be no journey to cultivate us. Therefore, travel doesn’t have to mean quitting your job and a year-long sabbatical or a sudden move. It could mean planning several far-flung two-week adventures. Switching careers could start with a few classes which renew your hope. Start small or more than likely it will not happen anyway.

2. The ‘I wish my path had been different’ regrets:

No one wants to lose those they love, get divorced, lose a job, or lose relationships. Sadly, they are facts of life we must endure.

And then, we have to decide if they are to change us or if they are to shape us.

God places these feelings of sadness, despair, and failure in our hearts to create empathy, help others and meet our purpose.

These types of intense regrets can make us feel uncomfortable in our own skin. They can make us feel a need to escape, yet a need to fight for things to remain the same.

If you have ‘I wish my path had been different’ regrets make a list of them.

What is truly making you the saddest and the most uncomfortable? Do you need to move away from an old life to start over? Do you need to find purpose in your loss and help others? Do you need to seek counseling to help you understand what got you here?

These types of regrets can cause substantial unhappiness when ignored. They are also easy to fight because they were unwanted destinations and unwanted experiences. You have to accept that a whole part of your life is over or perhaps years of work erased.

3. The ‘I beat myself up’ regrets:

These are the unfounded whispers in your heart. You can’t continually beat yourself up for choices which you have made.

You can only choose to learn from them and not repeat the same mistakes.

The I shouldn’t have married him, shouldn’t have moved for this job and should have saved more money regrets.

Well, you did and you did and you didn’t. It happened. It’s over. 

They remain inside you and tug at your heart because you are too hard on yourself and it keeps you from moving forward. If the friendship ended and you feel terrible then apologize and steer clear of certain types of people and / or friendships. If the marriage has ended take the years that were beautiful and the lessons to find someone even more beautiful in your life.

These types of regrets are urging you to make highly internal changes to your personality traits and habits. It would be advisable to find a great counselor and learn how to personally grow and alleviate these areas as future regrets.

4. The ‘how did I get here?’ regrets:

If you are suffering this type of regret you may need help gaining clarity.

No one wants to take a bad life experience and extend it and make it worse or get stuck but we are human and we do. 

The pulling sense of regret is signaling you wish for change. You just may not be emotionally strong enough to achieve it on your own. No, this doesn’t mean staying in bed, missing work type of weakness, it simply means your extended pain is pre-occupying you.

You should enlist the help of a family member or friend to help you sift through the remorse of this type of regret. You could also seek out the help of clergy or counselors to help gain awareness to the choices which led you here and how to make better choices to navigate out of the situation.

 

If we believe regrets are spiritual prompts we can move forward as ageless spiritual supermodels.

If we let them engulf us which is so easy to do as we are human, they will spiritually age us. 

We can consider ignored regrets no different than sun and sugar and cigarettes. They will slowly eat away at our spiritual beauty.

Instead, if we choose the regret anti-aging alternatives we can spiritually age gracefully.

(Photo courtesy of Pexels and second photo authors)
Follow me on Facebook @Colleen Orme National Columnist
on Twitter @colleenorme
on Pinterest @colleensheehyorme
E-mail: Colleen.Sheehy.Orme@gmail.com
www.colleensheehyorme.com

In the shoes flying, door slamming war of the roses phase, divorce seems to have little to offer. 

You vacillate between “How will I get through this?” to “Why on earth did I do this?”

You cry, you yell, you whimper, and then you cry a bit more. And it’s not a normal kind of crying. The type that bleeds enough tears to make you feel all better. Nope. This is ‘a leak in your heart’ sort of emotional plumbing insurance disaster.

You no longer want to be you and it’s pretty clear in between wiping your tears, your friends fear being you.

But as someone I know once said, there are great gifts that come wrapped in really ugly packages.

Even scary, distorted, ugly divorce. 

The Big 3 Best Outcomes of the Worst Divorce:

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Emotional Healing:

The days of being controlled, lied to, disrespected, or whatever emotionally harmful tattoos which once seemed alarmingly permanent are over. The ink is fading and color in your cheeks is returning. The face in the mirror looks beautifully familiar and the darkness has turned to light.

A puppet no more to co-dependency or enabling or general unhappiness.

You are free to reclaim yourself. Free to learn about yourself. Free to be educated about healthier and better relationships.

You are free to heal from an extended emotional illness.

Emotional Self-Worth:

Wow! You deserve better and now you remember that or have discovered it for the very first time. This is one of the greatest gifts wrapped in an ugly divorce package.

You almost spent a lifetime with a person who didn’t know how to love you or who loved you as much as they were capable of loving anyone. But it wasn’t a healthy love.

A healthy love means two people thrive and secretly or overtly proclaim they have won the spousal lottery.

Chances are you didn’t feel loved for longer than you care to remember. To perpetually walk without love may be one of life’s greatest and at the same time most avoidable tragedies. 

Now with the right counseling and self-education, you can attract yourself just as easily to one who can love you well as you did to one who could not.

Emotional Freedom:

The world is your oyster again. It is limitless and full of possibilities. It is no longer weighted down by anger, pain, sadness and fear. You get to discard all of these negative loads and release your hot air balloon towards new heights.

Emotional freedom is both liberating and empowering.

It restores you. You have hope and belief that new dreams and new experiences are not only possible but attainable.

Emotional freedom releases your past while it restores your future.

 

Who knew even a shoe throwing, door slamming war of the roses ugly divorce could unwrap such beautiful presents?

Those who have had the courage to rummage through the worst to discover the best.

(Photos courtesy of Pexels)
Follow me on Facebook @Colleen Orme National Columnist
on Twitter @colleenorme
on Pinterest @colleensheehyorme
E-mail: Colleen.Sheehy.Orme@gmail.com
www.colleensheehyorme.com

Let’s face the real truth about ‘spousal alienation.’ It is a glorified phrase for basic bullying.

The act of one parent turning a child or children against the other parent may be one of the most egregious divorce atrocities.

‘Spousal Alienation’ is the sad behavior of a parent who lacks the ability to put their own children first. Instead, they use them to further their individual agenda during the dissolution of a marriage. They will ‘use and confuse’ a child and make them an emotional, and psychological weapon against their spouse.

This parental bully demonstrates no conscience while manipulating a beautiful child and turning them into a bullying mini-me.

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The children of divorce are smart. Deep down they know the truth about what parent has done what because they have lived it. However, the pain, loss, instability and chaos of divorce can make even the strongest child extremely vulnerable.

Thus, providing a ripe environment for the misbehaving parent because as all bullies realize, the most vulnerable people are the easiest targets.

Making it worse? Deep down every child is trusting and they are especially trusting of their parents. Even a parent they know may have behaved badly in the past. Children are intrinsically good and they see the best in their mother and father despite the difficulties in the home.

Furthermore, every child wants and needs to love and feel loved by both of their parents. It is their right and they deserve it.

The manipulation of a child to ‘use and confuse’ their innocence and love is immature, insecure and selfish.

Children need their parents to behave like an adult, who will protect them. And not a child who will sacrifice them to win the divorce tantrum.

 

(Photos courtesy of Pexels)
Follow me on Facebook @Colleen Orme National Columnist
on Twitter @colleenorme
on Pinterest @colleensheehyorme
E-mail: Colleen.Sheehy.Orme@gmail.com
www.colleensheehyorme.com

Tonight my youngest son was extremely tired and fell asleep at 6:30 p.m.

I stayed up later than usual working on my computer. At around midnight he woke up and I urged him to go right back to bed while I finished watching a show.

I suddenly saw headlights coming up my driveway. I anxiously made my way downstairs. It was obviously far too late for social calls. I grabbed my chocolate lab, Hazel thinking she somehow made me braver as I walked down my driveway approaching a strange man past midnight.

I finally got a look at the truck he was driving. A tow truck. I now realized exactly why he was making a contraband late night visit.

This would be the second time in recent years this has happened. Coincidentally, it occurred as soon as I retained an attorney three years ago and now just before finalizing my divorce I was witnessing it yet again.

The man walked towards me. Hazel’s incessant tail wagging showed she would be no true protector.

I asked why he was here even though moments before I had realized it myself. I told him he would no longer find my husband’s car in this driveway. I then urged him to move on and mentioned I was grateful my youngest son had gone back to sleep.

As soon as these words left my mouth, my son exited the garage and walked towards us. I would now have to live with the fact that two of my children have been traumatized by watching an otherwise successful father and normally ordinary, bill paying man (at least pre-divorce) witness a repo man try and take their father’s car.

Of course, my husband’s car was not here this evening. He no longer lives here though he makes certain we remember his presence in our lives. 

I watched the truck pull out of my driveway.

I yelled to my son as I tried to catch up with him but his pain made his steps rapid. I walked into the house and asked if he was okay. He calmly and unapologetically told me he wanted out of our house. He said he wanted to get as far away from here as possible because then his father couldn’t impact us with this sort of upset and unpredictability.

More than three years later I realize it is time to leave. Whether we find a wonderful place to live or simply leave with the clothes on our back. This was never a situation which could be resolved. It was one person’s anger being exercised. 

I have written about this before. And herein lies the problem…

The attorneys and courts can’t always help you because they aren’t equipped to deal with emotionally and financially punishing spouses. The type of people who demonstrate this behavior do not surround themselves with the type of friends and family who intervene and ask them to do the right thing. Hence, there is zero accountability.

A person who cares a great deal about money and winning rather than doing what is right for their children runs rampant on the divorce playground. They laugh and play. They emotionally exercise their demons and they relish it. Divorce is a game to them. It is their money and no one else shall have it. Even if the money is simply in place for rehabilitative alimony until their spouse can provide well enough for themselves and their children on their own.

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The days I spent being a stay at home mother were by far the grandest years of my life. 

And I hold onto them. I remember the luxury of being sick alongside my three kids as we all hunkered down on the couch with movies. I relish sitting in the car at the bus stop while the water poured down and singing every rainy day song in my repertoire. I treasure the young moments they saw me walk into their school where they believed my mere presence made them somehow more special.

I remember. 

I took none of it for granted. Our life experiences define us. Though unbelievably proud of my working mother, losing her at a young age made me crave the opposite maternal experience. So very afraid I would miss even a minute as I had with my own mother.

Sadly, what a price I paid. Or should I say, what a price my children have paid?

Though my husband and I made a thoroughly joint decision for me to stay home. Despite the fact, that I quit my job before I had children and dedicated ten full years to helping my husband build his own business.

It is no matter. Not in divorce.

The financially dominate spouse rules the roost. They rule the divorce. Your bills are centered around an accumulated lifestyle which you have lived for many years and often, separately is not affordable. 

This would never have happened if I had not made a decision to be a stay at home mother. It hurts me to think, let alone say or type these words. 

Every single woman should be able to decide what is best for her and her children. Be it staying at home or working full-time.

However, the reality is women who never walked away from their careers are not completely relationship powerless.

They took no time off and never gave up financial independence at any time in their relationship. The stay at home mother’s decision to walk away professionally full-time or limit to just part-time makes them vulnerable.

This is the price I paid for being a stay at home mother.

Another person now controls me. In fact, he controls me more in divorce than he ever did while we were together.

I understand why my children have struggled. I understand why we have uncharacteristically fought throughout my divorce and just before. I understand why they have acted out. I understand why I have yelled and said terrible things.

My children can’t figure it out…because even I haven’t been able to figure it all out.

In essence? We can’t FIND A WAY OUT. That’s not fair to say we because I am their mother. I should be able to figure this out for them.

However, sadly, it has turned into ‘we’ because I can’t protect them from a repo man and the other divorce boogeymen their father has sent to haunt me.

Because many years ago, I trusted a man I loved when I sacrificed my professional career to further  his business and then made a joint decision for me to stay home with our children.

I check on my youngest son to see if he is now asleep.

I wonder if he will one day believe the years I chose to stay at home with him were worth the years he paid a price for it.

How I pray he remembers his mother singing “It Never Rains in California” and “Raindrops Keep Fallin on my Head” and joyfully laughing on an otherwise gloomy day…

OVER…

Believing that ultimately, his mother failed to protect him from the reality of a truly rainy day called divorce.

And how she would repo her own life to make it right.

 

(Photos Courtesy of Pexels)

Follow me on Facebook @Colleen Orme National Columnist
on Twitter @colleenorme
on Pinterest @colleensheehyorme
E-mail: Colleen.Sheehy.Orme@gmail.com
www.colleensheehyorme.com

I just found out a friend whose daughter is an actress is giving back to the community in a big way.

Hometown girl does well and doesn’t lose sight of where she came from. It’s a great story.

It got me thinking…

I have friends in broadcast media and despite the glamorous aspects of the job, one would be surprised just how labor intensive a profession it is. The camera time is the least amount of their work. They are continually called upon to give speeches, visit schools, attend fundraisers and more. It’s actually a fulfilling yet exhaustive career.

People tend to believe because individuals are celebrities they should be held to a higher degree of philanthropy. I disagree. At the end of the day, they have work, families, commitments, ailments, and problems just like the rest of the world.

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What I subscribe to is we all be held to that higher level of generous accountability.

I know what you’re thinking. You are thinking they are famous and they are rich. They owe it to the world. When you realize just how inundated they are with requests, you grasp that by nature constant charitable involvement is a part of their daily life. They can make a difference because of their profession and the majority do.

If we call upon them to be charitably generous because we believe it’s easier for them to make a difference, should we not consider calling upon ourselves?

And if so, how do we incorporate a philanthropic checklist into our lives and give back like a celebrity this holiday season?

1. Enlist a Personal Assistant:

Celebrities have PR people, publicists, and managers who field their philanthropic requests. Imagine a week in their lives, sitting with their staff and going over the vast list of charitable demands.

It is not possible to fulfill the volume which they receive; therefore, they widdle the list down to a manageable load and often choose the charities which speak to them. Perhaps a hometown school, a cause which has touched their family or a personal passion.

Most of us give to the people we know the best and the standard holiday causes.

Take a moment to truly comprehend rifling through requests from strangers, acquaintances, friends of family, friends of friends, and colleagues all over the country and the world.

How would you choose?

Hold yourself to this type of charitable accountability. Enlist the help of a family member or friend and together compile a list of possible charitable giving or actions. Think about everyone you know. Does a sick neighbor need help purchasing and putting up a tree? Does an elderly person need a ride to church? Does a financially struggling friend need a few gift cards to get through the holiday? Does a friend of a friend need help caring for their parent?

Think large and outside of the box in terms of who and what to include on the list not necessarily in dollars or time, but in the comprehensive scale of the needy. How diverse is your list? Are there many types of people? Family, friends, neighbors, strangers, community members? Are there a some which may take a few hours and dollars or a whole day and a few dollars more to get done? Then decide individually and/or as a family what things you will do this holiday season.

2. Think About Your Own Personal Charitable Value:

The reason society expects so much from celebrities is because their mere presence can increase event attendance, raise more money and/or more awareness.

What is your shelf value?

What do you do professionally which can add value to someone’s life over the holidays? What hobby or past-time could permit you to easily give to another human being in the month of December? Then be personally generous in that manner.

A nurse can be health generous and a teacher education generous and a chef food generous. They can use these talents easily to impact others. A nurse can sit with a family member and help with home care. A teacher can tutor a child to save a family money to go towards Christmas. A chef can prepare food for someone short on cash.

A person who loves to sew could make new stockings for a family. An artist could help a child create a piece of art for their parents. A photographer could take family pictures for cards. A computer techie could help a struggling community business elevate their presence via a website or social media.

We should all give prolifically what is easiest for us to give. Our talents become effortless in our individual worlds and can provide great relief to those who find those same areas challenging.

3. Become the Face of a Charity:

When a celebrity agrees to become the face of a charity it is no small commitment.

Choose a cause and make a personal pledge to be the face of that charity for the next year. 

This will require your charitable devotion. Not a one-time single donation, not a one-time event, but thoughtful dedication dispersed throughout the year until the following December.

It will become a higher attention advocacy in your own world. 

Once you choose what is most important to you, then determine within that organization how you can help throughout the calendar year. For instance, if it is a rescue league you might donate dog food one month, help at an adoption event the next month, promote adoptable dogs via social media the next, help at a fundraiser the next, and so on.

If you decide senior care is your passion, you may select an assisted living facility and eat lunch with residents one day and the next month volunteer to lead a craft and the next month ask who has the least visitors and spend time with that person.

4. Give Back in Your Own Backyard:

Many celebrities feel a strong attachment to their hometown and to the causes therein.

This is a great model of giving for every person.

The truth? It is difficult to keep up with our well-intentioned philanthropy so implementing it in your own backyard improves the likelihood you will stick with it.

We all have philanthropic delusions of grandeur, handing out blankets to the homeless, and helping in the soup kitchens of large cities. If you live in the city these are great ideas. If not, find the people who need blankets and food in your community. Believe me, they are there. You just have to find them through the churches, women’s centers and other organizations.

Even better? Add in the neighbors you know who are needy. Who are sick or in some type of life transition, who are caring for an elderly parent while working full-time and bring them a meal. Buy them something to help care for themselves.

The needs in our own backyard are easiest to fulfill and can be the most fulfilling.

5. Give Away Your Good Stuff:

Celebrities receive many valuable perks in the form of merchandise and often, give it away to friends and family or donate it.

What ‘good stuff’ do you have to pass along to another?

No, not the typical donating of raggedy old clothes or household items. The ones you clean out your closet to rid yourself of more than authentically give just to give.

Of course, when you select the good stuff it is important to make sure it ends up with the intended recipient. When donating to larger organizations some things may get picked through by people other than the recipients first. So find a women’s shelter or other organization which allows you to give directly to those there or ask your church who in the community could use items which may revamp their house or wardrobe.

The types of things which will perk them up rather than remind them they are receiving other people’s hand me downs while they are down on their luck.

If you own a small business, take this time to donate excess stock or other items. Take children’s books and read at a local library or hospital before donating them.

 

These are just a few suggestions to give in a more intensive, continual and diverse way this December.

It isn’t as easy as it seems to give back like a celebrity…

but famous, infamous or not…

It’s a charitable challenge we should all welcome.

#GiveBackLikeACelebrity #GiveBackLikeACelebritySelfieChallenge

 

(Photos Courtesy of Pexels)

Follow me on Facebook @Colleen Orme National Columnist
on Twitter @colleenorme
on Pinterest @colleensheehyorme
E-mail: Colleen.Sheehy.Orme@gmail.com
www.colleensheehyorme.com

One day my marriage counselor said, “Colleen, you have the ability to see your own faults and this is unusual. The average person, not even a difficult personality, does not necessarily have the ability to see their own faults.”

I realized why he was telling me this. I couldn’t reach my husband no matter how hard I tried. I was getting increasingly frustrated and disheartened.

My counselor also told me, “Colleen you are a worrier and no one is harder on Colleen than Colleen.”

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Thus, more than likely, the reason I could see my own faults. I tend to beat myself up if I believe I have done the wrong thing.

We have zero control over other people’s behavior. Of course, compounding this is the fact they do not always recognize their own bad behavior.

The couples counseling odds are stacked against us unless couples choose the proper mindset.

5 Secrets to Successful Marriage Counseling:

1. Both people choose to be there:

This doesn’t mean you have talked your spouse into attending the sessions. Additionally, it is not the spouse who passive-aggressively shows up who doesn’t truly want to be there.

It is two consenting adults who make a conscious decision to choose one another and the marriage.

The old adage, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink” rings true. You can’t force someone to make you a priority no matter how painful this realization may be.

And truthfully, why would you want them if you have to force their thirst for you?

Sadly, if you haven’t married a person who values you enough to protect your happiness as well as their own, you haven’t chosen well. A person who absolutely adores you should value you enough to fear losing you.

2. Both people are open to learning about themselves and not just complaining about their spouse:

Despite the reality that most individuals arrive at counseling believing the other is wrong, they must be open to learning about themselves. Even the worst relationships involve fault on both sides even if one is a caring enabler.

An individual must accept raising awareness to one’s faults as a mandatory aspect of counseling.

We all possess less than favorable traits, we are human after all. We also carry our family of origin forward. We choose the people we love for a reason. There is something familiar about them.

We also carry our family of origin forward. We choose the people we love for a reason. There is something familiar about them. In addition, we make the choices which land us in our predicaments. A person must have accountability, a self-responsibility to acknowledge their decisions and faults.

A person must have accountability for themselves. A self-responsibility to acknowledge their decisions and faults.

3. Both people have to be committed to the ugly side of counseling:

Once in counseling, the commitment to the marriage must remain.

Counseling gets harder before it gets easier. It gets uglier before it gets prettier. It is both humbling and difficult to accept we are less than perfect and how our personal deficiencies impact our relationships.

Even for a person who has the ability to see their own faults.

What can make it even more difficult is how typically reduced we are before we arrive at counseling, to begin with. Most individuals let their problems go unattended far too long. It is akin to ignoring a cold which turns into bronchitis. The relationship gets sicker and along the way so does each person. Confidence and happiness dissipate, thus, making it even harder to be strong enough to endure self-realization and conflict resolution.

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4. Both people choose not to be sissies:

Otherwise, dogged and determined individuals give up on counseling too easily. The same people who run marathons, fight for promotions, tackle higher education, fight fears, and parenting issues, cowardly turn away from the emotional demands of their relationships.

Walking away from a marriage before the issues are confronted is for sissies. 

A person should not choose to end a relationship before they have fought for it. 

If we can gravitate towards other forms of self-improvement such as career enrichment, degrees, instructional hobbies, etc. we should embrace counseling.

Individuals should be tenacious enough to view marital counseling as the invaluable self and relationship improvement venue which it is.

5. Both people stay in counseling long enough to truly learn what you need to learn:

Too many people spend a few months in marriage counseling and declare themselves relationship cured.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

Marriage counseling is a long-term commitment and should be viewed as such.

You are attempting to resolve and/or improve years worth of relationship problems and patterns of individual behavior. You can’t do this in a few months and often not even within one year. It’s attractive to quit early because you walk away before it gets too ugly and you have to learn too much about yourself and not just your partner.

A word of caution, leaving counseling prematurely is a relationship BandAid. The couple ‘Boo Boo’s’ will not heal. They will scab over and peel off and come back even angrier.

 

What do all of these five things have in common?

All begin with ‘Both People.’

You can’t make your partner thirsty for you.

You can’t force them. They have to want to get to the water without you leading them.

 

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I hear from a lot of people in the throws of divorce angst. Undoubtedly one of the hardest things seems to be the overall sense of loss. The holidays just intensify the lack of true belonging many divorcing people feel. The good news? They will one day feel it again but that is of little comfort throughout the divorce transition.

I recently heard from a friend who is troubled by the change in her friendships. Or should I say ‘hurt’ by the realization some no longer seem to exist?

I have written about this, worried about this, cried about this, and healed from this.

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I have moved into the acceptance phase.

I wish someone had told me, one day I would not miss those who I would not carry forward with me. 

For it seemed impossible while suffering loss after loss of my husband, roles, emotion, finances, security, and more. How could I possibly alter even one friendship and survive?

But I did.

Truth be told? Some of our friendships simply mimic similar characteristics to our bruised marriages. If our spouse was disrespectful chances are we may have a few disrespectful friends. If our spouse was controlling we may have some controlling compadres. If our spouse was judgemental…well, you get the point.

Divorce crystalizes what I call the “Two Friendship Zones.”

Your Zone-LESS friends:

These are your forever people.

Consider them your healthier friendships. The people who do not carry the signature traits of your spouse and cause the not so great yin to your yang.

These forever people somehow never lose sight of who you truly are. Divorce and a bit of hardship is going to be seen for the accurately difficult life changing experience which it is. It will not become a life label.

These friends are Zone-LESS meaning they do not put conditions on who they expect you to be or what will make them walk out on you.

Your CAUTION Zone Friends:

These are your temporary people.

Though they may have seemed like your whole world, they were a moment in time and times have changed.

These are your not so healthy friendships. Chances are you didn’t realize it when life was good or you ignored the signs.

These are the people who ironically may have many characteristics similar to your spouse. It’s important to remember you can’t blame them or your spouse. Family of origin is a powerful pull and you have attracted yourself to certain people for a reason. Thus, a controlling spouse and a controlling friend potentially exemplifies control is familiar to you. A judgemental spouse and a judgemental friend more than likely demonstrates your own family has some of these characteristics.

Of course, the world is not black and white.

You may have some old friends who temporarily judge you during difficulty because they have become more like family. Though not ideal, these relationships will more than likely stand the test of time.

The acceptance phase of divorce friendship healing should usher in a bit less loss and more logic.

In other words, losing these particular friendships makes sense.

If you feel they are not there for you, aren’t listening to you, judging you, don’t feel your pain or don’t seem to miss you…

Ask yourself…

Did my spouse make me feel like they weren’t there for me?

Did my spouse make me feel like they weren’t listening to me?

Did my spouse make me feel like they were judging me?

Did my spouse not feel my pain?

Did my spouse make me have to repeat and explain myself?

Did my spouse not see me for who I truly was?

Chances are the friends you ‘think’ you miss make you feel as badly as your spouse once did. 

No real loss at all.

Just some great memories and even greater lessons.

(Photos Courtesy of Pexels)

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Albeit an unfortunate outcome, the intent of divorce is to promote healing. It allows two people who can’t make a relationship work, the opportunity to begin a new and renewed journey.

It is meant to dissolve the problems in the marriage. It is not meant to become a new format in which to exercise them. 

Each person deserves to get out of a bad or unhealthy situation and be happy.

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Sadly, many spouses do not want to see the other person move forward in happiness. They may become bitter, refuse to interact with the divorced spouse or a variety of other symptoms. The divorce may be a reality and they may lead separate lives but some emotional wounds never completely heal.

A narcissist; however, has no intention of ‘freeing’ their spouse. 

A narcissist has no desire to move forward.

A narcissist has zero interest in resolution.

A narcissist has no ability to see anyone but themselves.

It’s their world and you are simply inhabiting it. If they perceive you as having messed with their world it can be nearly impossible to free yourselves from them. Divorce sounds like the logical avenue. It coaxes you into mistakenly believing you will be ‘free’ of the narcissist. On the contrary, divorce can not only magnify the narcissist’s behavior, it can exaggerate their spousal abuse.

While the rest of society is achieving the end of their relationships via divorce, the spouse of a narcissist may continue to live the same marital nightmare.

Worse? Even once the divorce is ultimately finalized, they may be controlled by lack of alimony payment, spousal alienation, custody issues and be continually dragged back into court for many years.

A Narcissist Has Only 5 Primary Objectives:

Non-Reality: 

A narcissist believes their ‘own’ perception of reality and to them, it is intensely real. 

Regardless of whether they drank, had affairs, or any other type of bad behavior, they will say their spouse drove them to it. Ultimately, assigning blame to the non-narcissistic enabling spouse. The narcissist can’t be wrong so they will stop at nothing to support their ‘version’ of reality. They will manipulate situations and create chaos to confuse the truth.

Unfortunately, the longer a person stays with a narcissist who is controlling, cruel, and unpredictable, the more the other individual’s behavior worsens. They may go from being the kind and caring and tolerant enabler to yelling and saying terrible things and this just intensifies the narcissists bullying. The narcissist is getting their desired result. They are successfully

The narcissist is getting their desired result. They are successfully supporting ‘their version of reality.’

Control:

The narcissist is used to being in control. A divorce even one they may initiate and want means they aren’t entirely in control. 

Suddenly, the narcissist spouse who has controlled the marriage has to work with other people to achieve a resolution.

It is critical to realize the narcissist DOES NOT play well with others.

They will not take a liking to their spouse, lawyers and judges telling them what to do. The narcissist will be infuriated by this.

These are my children. This is my house. This is my money. This is my world. How dare anyone tell me what to do in my world.

Punishment:

A narcissist zeros in on the individual they believe ‘wronged’ them.

Their fragile ego won’t tolerate anyone upsetting them without proper retaliation.

While the narcissist lacks empathy and has zero ability to feel the pain of others, it is important to understand they feel their own pain quite intensely.

And they will take it out on the spouse they believe deserves it. They will be unrelenting. One issue will be resolved and they will create another. One bullying tactic will fail and they will successfully determine another. They will use control, their own children, money, anything to punish their spouse.

They are incapable of forgiveness. They are unable to move forward believing their spouse is not being punished and held accountable to them.

Winning:

Winning is perhaps the number one reason it is impossible to completely ‘free’ yourself of the narcissist.

The narcissist is OBSESSED with winning.

Therefore, they see custody issues, alimony payments, etc. as the other spouse winning. They do not see it rationally. Narcissists are not rational. They do not see it as the logical evolution of a marriage that has ended. They do not see it as doing the right thing and taking care of their children. They do not believe in rehabilitative alimony which helps their spouse start over.

The narcissist believes wholeheartedly they are being wronged.

They believe this to a frightening degree. They will continue this destructive pursuit of their spouse for many years because of it.

Irrational:

There is nothing rational about a narcissist.

They are irrational because they lack empathy.

Their perception of the world is skewed. They do not feel the pain of others.

For this reason, they will have no problem with their children being hurt for years by their bad behavior. They will convince themselves their spouses are the ones benefiting from divorce settlements so much so they may not care if their children have enough money for food, clothing and other necessary things.

They will not fear normal, rational societal boundaries. A judge ordering them to pay, finding them in contempt, not paying at all, not providing health insurance for their children, etc. The narcissist does not believe they are accountable to anyone except themselves. They will challenge their spouse to go ahead and throw them in jail, try and get the money, whatever. They will bizarrely ignore the rules of the common world.

The irrational narcissist believes they are better than others despite their fragile ego and they do not have to play by the rules.

 

Divorce can be a long and emotionally draining process.

Divorcing a narcissist can be a never-ending and emotionally abusive process.

The legal system, society and the friends and family that support the narcissist’s reality do not properly comprehend what an individual living with a true narcissist endures.

This person does not play well with others or play by the rules – yet fools the outside world with their attractiveness, charm, and success.

There are few support systems in place to help those divorcing a narcissist except those who have experienced it first-hand.

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