HOW DO I PUT MYSELF FIRST AND FEEL GOOD ABOUT IT?

When someone asks a question like this, or makes a statement along the lines of “I can’t because” there are a whole lot of beliefs about what they must do, what they should do, how they supposed to act and how much or how little they value themselves.

It becomes a very real problem when other people expect us to always be there for them, to jump when they say jump or allow them to speak to us in ways that are unacceptable. If we don’t value ourselves, our time, our goals and our dreams how can we ever expect other people to value us? We end up becoming people pleasers and as a result lose our sense of who we are and our self-respect.

We teach people how to treat to us and if we want things to be different we have to retrain ourselves first. When we change it creates a ripple effect on the dynamics of our relationships with our loved ones, our friends and in the workplace.

For those of you reading this who think you might be a people pleaser check in and ask yourself how many times you do something out of a sense of ‘duty’ or because of what someone might think about you and then notice how that makes you feel.

Now ask yourself how you feel when you decide that you really want to do something for someone, regardless of the inconvenience and take particular notice of how that makes you feel.

Deciding to do something for someone when it is coming from a place of giving is a very different experience from those times when we agree to do something that we really don’t want to do, or we alter our plans to do something to fit in with someone else and there is resentment, anger or we experience a general feeling of being pissed off.

There is nothing wrong with putting ourselves first, in fact if we don’t know how to say NO then we are giving people the green light to walk all over us. We have let them know that their life, their goals, their wants and their desires are far more important than our own.

I remember when I first started work after being at home raising my kids for many years and one of the managers asked me to prepare a report. ‘It must be completed by the end of the day as I need it first thing the next morning” he said. To do this I had to stay back later after work and arrange for the kids to stay with a neighbour for a few hours until I got home. I placed the report on his desk as I left the office.

About 4 or 5 days later I was in his office and I noticed the report still on his desk where I had left it. When I asked about the deadline he had put on having it finished he said ‘the meeting isn’t until next week, I just wanted to get it done straight away.’ A big lesson for me, it never happened again simply because I asked better questions about deadlines and timeframes.

We all want to be liked and loved it makes us feel good right? Friendships and relationships are the perfect training ground for us to learn how and when to draw a line in the sand and when it’s OK to go along with what other’s want even if we aren’t all that keen. It’s about finding that balance between what’s important and what isn’t and when it comes to friendships and relationships it’s about being willing to walk away from the ones that are no longer aligned with who we are.

I would like to share something I read many years ago from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey that had an impact on me at the time and still resonates deeply with me.

“A personal mission statement based on correct principles becomes a standard for an individual, the basis for making major, life-directing decisions, the basis for making daily decisions in the midst of the circumstances and emotions that affect our lives.

Once you have that sense of mission you have the essence of your own proactivity. You have the vision and the values that direct your life. You have the basic direction from which you set your long and short-term goals. You have the power of a written constitution based on correct principles, against which every decision concerning the most effective use of your time, your talents and your energies can be effectively measured.

Many of us, me included, allow other people and circumstances to have an influence on our day to day lives that takes us away from doing the things that are most important to us. Writing this blog has been a wonderful reminder for me to go back and reassess where I find myself in relation to my personal mission statement.

Which brings me to ‘self-love’ or lack thereof.

Many people give too much and love too much and then wonder why they are left feeling unappreciated, unloved and dissatisfied with life.

If you identify as someone who gives too much and you are frustrated that your goals and dreams are sitting out in some far distant future this is the perfect time to write your personal mission statement and enforce boundaries around how you use your time and your energy.

To share your thoughts or your story please email me: jenny@divorcedwomensclub.com.au
With love and gratitude
Jenny xx

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WHAT DO YOU NEED FOR EFFECTIVE SELF LEADERSHIP?

As I began to think about writing this blog I went to my bookshelves and was astounded at how many books I have that are related in some way to ‘leadership’.   Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In – Women, Work and the Will to Lead, Stephen Covey The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Ken Robinson The Element, Malcolm Gladwell Outliers to name a few and I’ll throw in The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz slightly off topic and yet fits beautifully and is one of my favourites.

What is self-leadership? What exactly does it mean?

Andrew Bryant in his book Self Leadership defines it as having a developed sense of who you are, what you can do and where you are going coupled with the ability to influence your communication, emotions and behaviour on the way to getting there.   All of this can be summed up as self-awareness and the maturity to take responsibility for your personal development, goals and outcomes.

Women come to me for help. The end of a relationship is a highly emotive time and there is not a great deal of difference in the emotional and physical responses from the stay at home mum with children, the women who have been married for 20+ years and professional women in those first 3 to 6 months. Divorce wipes people out, they can’t think straight, and many lose every inch of their self worth and confidence. Their lives have been turned upside down and they struggle to come to terms with the reality of a situation they never signed up for.

There is no way I could address all the different situations and circumstances that women come from and through because of the end of a relationship. Relationships do not fall into a common category simply because no two people involved in a relationship have the same personalities, beliefs, values or lifestyle choices as any other couple on the planet.

What role does self-leadership play in the lives of women going through divorce and conversely for those who are ready to step into a new relationship?

What’s the difference between the women who are able to get their lives back on track more quickly and those who stay stuck for years hanging onto their story?

In very simple terms the difference is this: the women who get on with their lives choose to create a different story.

This is where self-leadership falls nicely into this conversation.

Here are the three important components of effective self-leadership inspired by some brilliant writers and thinkers.

Self-leadership requires self-awareness

Women who move on with their lives more quickly after separation and divorce have a clear perception of their strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions.

They are willing to ask for help and they are coachable. By that I mean they use the tools and resources I teach them to take control of their emotional state on a daily basis. They want someone who will be honest with them and allow them to uncover their own answers to questions and solutions to their problems.

They are willing to let go of the things they cannot control, how other people act is always a trigger in separation and divorce situations. They are willing to accept that they have no control over what the other party might do or say knowing that they do have total control over themselves and how they respond.

Self awareness is many things including:

Listening to our internal dialogue and recognising when we are making judgements about other people, circumstances or situations based on the story we are telling ourselves, essentially making up shit!

It’s about knowing what questions to ask yourself to gain insight into the what, the why and the how of a situation.

It’s about being in control of your own mind, where you focus your attention, your emotions, your responses to situations and ultimately your behaviour.

When it comes to creating change in your life being in control of your thoughts comes first, the emotions, the language you use to describe a situation and the actions you take all follow on from your thoughts and will have a massive influence on how you view the world around you.

When it comes to facing those curved balls that life tends to throw our way from time to time self awareness is critical when it comes to managing yourself and your situation.

When it comes to wanting your life to be better or different in some way, knowing what it is you want and being absolutely clear about why you want it is essential for moving forward.

Self-leadership requires living according to your values and priorities.

Living according to your values and priorities will show up in your life on a daily basis.

Being fit and healthy is both a value and a priority and it will be evident in the choices you make about what you eat and as a priority it will influence how you plan your day.

Stephen Covey discusses our independent will as human beings that make self-leadership possible: “It is the ability to make decisions and choices and to act in accordance with these.” Successful self-leaders are those who live according to their values. They know what to say “yes” to and have clarity on what to say “no” to.

Self-leadership requires taking personal responsibility for your development.

Self-leadership requires a willingness to learn from the people around us. If creating amazing relationships is something we desire then we spend time finding out more about how we can do this, speaking to people, researching and getting very clear on what an amazing relationship looks like and feels like for us.

You can substitute any other quality or trait for the word relationship, wealth, freedom, contribution, independence, creativity, community, honesty, self-expression and so on.

We all have the ability to continually improve ourselves, our lives and in turn the lives of others. It is a journey and once to take that first step you soon discover that there is no end to this journey. As we grow into being more of who we really are without all the bullshit beliefs and lies that we have told ourselves, our dreams, goals and desires also expand.

Accept that there will be times when we fail, we fall in a heap, we struggle to continue, and yet we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and continue on the journey knowing that we have just taken one giant leap forward.

There is no taking away the heartache and pain we experience when it comes because of the challenges we face with separation and divorce, that’s a fact.

My clients know that once they have moved through the worst of the situation and out the other side, there is a whole world of new possibilities and opportunities waiting for them to discover. And that’s when we begin to create magic together.

To share your thoughts or your story please email me: jenny@divorcedwomensclub.com.au

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

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MANAGING FALSE ACCUSATIONS

When I made the decision to specialise as a divorce coach to fully utilise my skills and experience and implement access to the resources that were missing when I went through my divorce, I became exposed to many aspects of human behaviour that defy belief.

When two people are involved in conflict, one or both parties driven by a desire for revenge and control with the sole intend being to destroy their ex partners life, their careers and/or their relationship with their children.

The way they go about doing this is calculated and specifically targeted where it will cause the most damage to the individual, hit them hard where it hurts the most, that means using the children and making life extremely difficult by completely stopping all access to financial support.

How they go about this is often starts by setting the stage very early in the separation phase or prior to this in some cases. Changing bank account access, moving money out of accounts and making false accusations about how they treat their children or their mental state to family, friends, day-care staff or teachers often sighting abuse against the children or that they are emotionally unstable.

A word like abuse is open to interpretation by the listener. This of course triggers all sorts of alarm bells in the listener who has their own meaning of what this word suggests. Children are the sharpest weapon with which the high-conflict parent can cut their target to the core, hit them where it hurts the most and this is why it happens far too often.

If you are in a situation where you are seeing signs that you are being ‘setup’ by your partner or ex-partner, or if false accusations about you have already began then it’s time to start taking steps now to be fully prepared for what may eventuate.

  1. You have a voice recorder on your mobile phone, ensure that you use it for all conversations you have with your ex, or other relevant parties, save them with the date and time
  2. Written daily documentation of interactions with your ex, your activities, little comments that someone has said to you that has caught you by surprise, notice if day-care workers/teachers/in-laws are saying or doing things that seem out of the ordinary
  3. At the end of each day document your daily activities, where you were, the times you where there, who you were with or who you saw, why you were there, what time you were there and what time you left Steps 2 & 3 must be done every single day
  4. Prepare yourself mentally and physically for might be a long and arduous battle ahead and this means engaging professionals to help you. Nutritional needs, a personal trainer, attending the gym regularly, yoga classes, long walks along the beach or wherever you feel most at one with the nature, a divorce coach who is more than a counsellor, someone who will provide you with the tools to ensure that you can control your emotional state at will so that you can engage in those difficult conversations without reacting to comments designed to get a highly charged emotional response from you
  5. When it comes to false allegations the stakes are very high and you will need a lawyer who is experienced in this area
  6. The Divorced Women’s Club a private/secure online support group for women and access to these women, many who have been in a similar situation, will ensure that you don’t feel isolated and alone

If you find yourself in this situation or feeling uncomfortable about some things that are being said or done then it’s time to pick up the phone and speak to someone who is experienced in this area to express your fears and concerns and start making details notes in your diary today.

To share your thoughts or your story please email me: jenny@divorcedwomensclub.com.au

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

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HOW TO STOP FEELING INVISIBLE

What does feeling invisible look like and in what situations might we find ourselves feeling invisible?

From a physical perspective there are both men and women who exude that air of natural confidence and charisma and is what instinctively draws people to them. Even these people will have times when they need to withdraw from the world to recharge, maybe this is what you could also refer to as needing to feel invisible, the difference here though is that for them it’s a considered choice which is very different from those people who feel that it something out of their control.

Feeling invisible can often it can be a sign that we no longer have anything in common with the people we used to spend time with, including family. If we have very different interests and other people are not interested in engaging with us, maybe that might make us feel invisible.

At some social occasions you may choose to be invisible because the conversation is heading into discussing something that you feel strongly about and it’s just not worth stirring the pot or you are simply bored to tears. We do outgrow some of our family and friends and I view this as a good thing. It means that we are expanding our view of the world and making choices based on what we think and feel and how we want to be treated.

In a divorce situation many women I work with or meet find the adjustment into life as a single woman very difficult and feel uncomfortable in social occasions where they may be the only single women and feel left out of the conversation. Or in relationships many women they feel that their needs are unheard or that ‘you never listen to me’. I could discuss the difference between men and women when it comes to ‘listening skills,’ however that is probably best left for another time.

How to stop feeling invisible raises many questions for me – let’s start with these two.

What am I doing or not doing to make myself feel invisible around people?
What is the meaning I have given to the fact that I feel invisible?

Feeling invisible in any situation is a choice, whether it’s in the workplace, with your family and friends or in social occasions and it’s never about other people. It is always about us. Often lying behind this will be a fear and lack of self-worth. Fear of not being heard, fear of not being liked, fear of speaking up and asking for what you want, fear of disagreeing with someone else’s opinion, fear of not being enough …………….. (fill in the gap!)

More questions for you to contemplate that will help bring more awareness into what might be going on for you. If this is a significant problem for you choose just one thing on the list and work towards turning that around before you move to the next one.

When you feel invisible or unseen or not heard by others do you remain silent?
Do you take on responsibility for attending to other peoples needs before your own?
Do you take on responsibility for other people’s lives in an attempt to ‘fix’ them?
Do you pretend that everything in your world is rosy when you are really feeling sad and lonely?
If you strongly disagree with someone do you speak up or do you prefer to avoid conflict?
How often do you end up feeling unappreciated, unseen or not valued?
How much of this is a reflection of how you treat yourself?

Having the awareness that you feel invisible is the first step. The next step is to take responsibility for your own feelings, for what you want and how you choose to be treated. It all has to start with you loving and caring about yourself more than you care about anyone else.   It’s a work in progress however the rewards that come along with every little step will encourage you to keep going.

Sometimes we need a little push to get started and to help you take that first step imagine in 10 years time what your life looks like, how you feel and what you are saying to yourself if you choose to do nothing.

Now imagine in 10 years time what your life looks like, how you feel and what you are saying to yourself when your whole world has changed because you had the courage to take that very first step.

To share your thoughts or your story please email me: jenny@divorcedwomensclub.com.au

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

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WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOUR PARTNER IS NAMED ON ASHLEY MADISON

Before I address the question, what do you do if your partner is named on Ashley Madison, or any other website hack for that matter, I have to say that once again the media has shown it’s very ugly side. Completely disrespecting peoples privacy with little or absolutely no regard for the hundreds if not thousands of men, women and children who will have their lives turned upside down because of the way this whole situation has been managed.

As part of my research for writing this blog I did listen to the radio interview of the woman who volunteered to find out if her husband was on the list as he was acting ‘funny’ about the news of the hack. My guess is that her own intuition had been alerting her to ‘something’ beforehand as well and she willingly volunteered her husbands’ details to these radio jocks. They searched for his name and told her ‘yes’ he was on this site. She left herself wide open to hear the worst thing that any women would ever want to hear, let alone so publicly. Private information that was stolen by criminals used to contribute to destroying the lives and relationships of so many people by thoughtless, ignorant pieces of shit! And yes, people willing gave their personal information to an obviously risqué site with obviously no thought of the possible consequences.

I’m not going to be all ‘fluffly’ about how you might be able to work through this, or everyone makes mistakes and deserves another chance and some such crap because as I try to imagine myself in this situation I see it as a very different experience from someone’s husband who becomes infatuated with a younger woman in the office or at the gym or number of other reasons that infidelity results in the end of a relationship.

If anyone reading this blog has found themselves caught up in this whole nightmare, or knows someone who has, here are a few of my thoughts on how to handle this as best you can.

  • Only speak to the people closest to you who you know you can trust.
  • Don’t take any calls from other family and friends for several weeks and never from the media. The gossipmongers will be out in force and happily feed you more and more drama.
  • Call a ‘timeout’ with your partner, perhaps a week or two, for you to recover from the shock and anger that will be raging through your veins.
  • You will be asking yourself all sorts of questions that start with ‘Why,’ and you will be feeling ashamed and embarrassed to seen in public by your friends and family.
  • Then it comes time to sit down with your partner and get the facts on exactly what has and has not taken place, leaving no room for further lies or deceit from them. The game is up anyway so they have nothing to lose and potentially everything to gain by being honest and forthcoming by providing you with as much information as you need.

Your particular situation and what happens next will of course be decided by one or both or you and no-one else, only you can ever know what is right for you and for your family.

This is going to be one hell of a journey so please ensure that you have only the very best people around you. People who will help you maintain your equilibrium and will always have your best interests a heart.

Share your comments or personal story I would love to hear from you.

The best way to reach me is via email: jenny@divorcedwomensclub.com.au

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

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WHEN DO YOU DATE AGAIN AFTER SEPARATION & DIVORCE?

First, let’s get clear about what dating is!

There seems to be a whole new meaning given to this word these days and I think it’s important that women really get what this word means because unrealistic expectations may lead to feelings of inadequacy and battered and bruised feelings around their self-worth.

Here is one definition of ‘dating.’

Dating is a form of human courtship consisting of social activities done by two persons with the aim of each assessing the other’s suitability as a partner in an intimate relationship or as a spouse.

However, not everyone will agree with this definition and there are many variations of what dating means to each individual, online dating has added another level of complexity to the whole dating scene and ‘how to do dating.’

Back to the question, when do you date again after separation and divorce?

Certainly never within in first three to six months even up to a year after separation! Many women feel the need to seek validation that they are attractive, desirable and lovable to other men particularly if they have the view that their previous partner rejected them. They wanted out of the relationship without being able to explain why or perhaps they left for someone younger, older, smarter, more interesting, more attractive or even less attractive.

I strongly believe that if you head straight into another relationship before you spend time learning to be by yourself, exploring who you really are and what you want outside of a relationship how can you ever expect to confidently get to know someone else in just a few months of dating when your emotions will be overriding logic and common sense.

Some men can pick a desperate woman a mile off and see them as easy prey and this can include the husbands of your best friends. Just saying! That’s not meant to be a slur at all men, it’s the way they are wired! One of the biggest drivers for many of them will be SEX, for others it is companionship that does not include living together or marriage and for some it is about finding someone they would want to spend the rest of their lives with.

Before venturing into the world of dating be very clear about where you stand on this and assess the importance you place on being in a relationship. Only you can truly know yourself.

When you feel ready don’t look at every date as, is this the one? Relax and enjoy it for what it is, an opportunity to meet someone who you will click with or never want to see again.

If it works it works, if not then move on.

“It’s a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy.” – Lucille Ball

Rather then focus on some dating tips in this article here instead are some powerful questions I share with my clients to help them begin to answer the question ‘who am I?’ Answer these over a few days or a few weeks. The important thing is that you spend time delving a little deeper with each question.

Buy yourself a journal and call it My Best Life!

Write each question on a piece of paper and hang it on the wall in front of you. Relax, breathe deeply and allow extended exhalations.   Sit with your question and when your mind starts to wander, bring it back by reading the question again, out loud.

Start writing quickly, don’t worry about grammar, spelling or censoring what you have written.  Just go with the flow!

  • When am most naturally myself?
  • What people, places and activities allow me to feel most fully myself?
  • What is one thing I could stop doing, or start doing, or do differently, starting today that would most improve my quality of life?
  • What is the #1 biggest change I could make, or goal I could achieve or problem I could solve that would have the biggest positive influence in my life. (As you think about the answer to this question, is this where you should be putting most of your energy, focus and intention?)
  • What have been my greatest moments of joy and fulfillment in life?
  • What are the greatest sources of joy in my career?
  • What activities do I absolutely love in my personal life?
  • Who are my most inspiring role models?
  • How can I best be of service to others?
  • What is my hearts deepest desire?
  • How am I perceived, by my closest friend, my worst enemy, my children, or my ex?
  • What are the blessings of my life?
  • What are my greatest talents and natural abilities?
  • What’s the single most important thing I would like to accomplish in my career?
  • What’s the ONE most important thing I’d like to achieve in my life?
  • What legacy would I like to leave?
  • What is the relationship between all of the answers to these questions?

Keep these questions and your answers in your journal and come back to review them over the next few months. You might feel inclined to update some of your answers as you begin to gain deeper awareness about who you are!

Share your comments or personal story I would love to hear from you.

The best way to reach me is to via email: jenny@divorcedwomensclub.com.au

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

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BETRAYAL

Cheating, betrayal of a relationship and the betrayal of the promise of love. It was a promise made in the past that was a commitment to the future. A commitment that was made to another person, whether it be standing at the altar in a church, on the beach with family and friends or completely in private, from my perspective it makes no difference.

It is also a personal betrayal. Of values, self worth and self-respect. Many people who cheat on their wives, husbands or partners will find themselves doing things and acting in ways they would never have believed possible.

The word ‘cheating,’ will also mean different things to different people and much of this is where conflict in relationships arise. For some women, their husbands or boyfriends even admiring a beautiful woman will bring up feelings of insecurity and self-worth issues, however they often forget about what goes on when they are out with the girlfriends and eyeing off the good looking guys.

For some women, their partners having a special friend who they were previously in a relationship with and now reassure you that they are just friends, only to find out that they meet up occasionally, text each other regularly and it’s all done covertly. Finding out will ring some alarm bells, even if it’s not a sexual relationship it’s a violation of trust, respect and not being completely honest with themselves or their partner, some people would call this cheating.

I regularly see women who have been cheated on. It has come as a complete shock with no immediate signs that there was ever any indication that the relationship was in trouble and these are the women who hurt the most. A happy marriage, happy family and in an instant their lives and the lives of their families are torn apart.

“I was steeped in denial, but my body knew” Suzanne Finnamore

Some people can’t live up to the commitment they made. Some people betray themselves, they have affairs, things start to get out of control, it is all too easy to underestimate the forces of attraction, be it lust or love, until it’s too late. It is also too easy to take what we have for granted or let ourselves be taken for granted and then to lose what we treasured the most in our lives.

The thing that is rarely considered when a relationship ends because of infidelity is the price that must be paid. Hurting deeply the very people in their lives that often mean the most to them and the damage these actions do to their souls.

Many people continue to live with regret for their indiscretions, when we betray ourselves, our values, our beliefs about who we as a person, we become like lost souls searching for something externally to fill the empty space within us that can only be healed by asking for forgiveness from those we have hurt and forgiving ourselves.

For those who have been cheated on it is an incredibly painful experience that will often take people to the depths of despair.

I wanted to share with you a very personal story by Elli Boland and how she helped herself heal the damage betrayal caused to her soul. This betrayal had transpired, unknown to her, over a period of 10 years, with a number of different women, including one of her dearest friends. I can only imagine how it would feel to be betrayed by two people you loved.

Elli

I spent most of my time alone. The pain was so intense that occasionally I felt as though I had left my body and my legs would give out. All I could do was surrender, to get really vulnerable, and to let spirit guide me through.

Then, suddenly, I got present once again. I found an aliveness and ocean of joy and peace. Clarity and freedom coexisted with sorrow, terror, panic, and deep sadness. But I was not afraid of feeling the pain anymore. I no longer cared about the good opinion of other people. I had to make choices.

  • How can I handle this in a way that is in alignment with what I believe to be true?
  • What would make me proud?
  • How do I want this story to end?
  • How can I show up for myself fully?
  • What good is coming from this?
  • What is my lesson?

I am falling out of love with my husband. I forgive him. I forgive myself. I know there is nothing wrong with me and that his choices had nothing to do with me. I know this happened for me, so I could let my soul dangle. It broke me open. I feel more alive and connected than ever.

You will find Elli’s story in more detail here:

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-14021/how-i-found-peace-after-being-cheated-on-ending-my-marriage.html

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

Jenny Smith is a highly skilled coach and facilitator with a passion for helping women gain control of all aspects of the separation and divorce journey. She has created a bespoke program for her clients and works closely with them each step of the way, including providing 24/7 access to her phone to address issues in the moment rather than allowing them to build into something bigger than they need to be.

This ensures her clients feel positive and remain focused on achieving the best possible outcomes so they can begin to create their new future in the shortest period of time. It is key to every decision and every choice her clients make that they are aligned mind, body and spirit, resolving any emotional issues that may be affecting them, alleviate stress, ensuring they know how to feel calm and resourceful in all situations.  Change can be easy, if you know how.

After four years of extensive training in Australia with some of the most highly acclaimed trainers in the field of NLP, including James Tsakalos, 5 years online training with Michael Breen, Britain’s foremost business and NLP Trainer, Jenny has earned certification as an NLP Master Practitioner a powerful and versatile set of tools both for communicating effectively and for facilitating behavioural and psychological change.

www.divorcedwomensclub.com.au

THE TOP TEN PARENTING CONSIDERATIONS FOR A LESS STRESSFUL DIVORCE

Most separating parents are very concerned about how divorce affects their kids whoever far too many underestimate the real impact of divorce on children, teenagers and adult children as well.

In Australia nearly half of divorces involve children under the age of 18 years of age and these are the ones who suffer the most into adulthood.

Anyone who believes that their children will be unaffected by their divorce may be surprised to know that ALL children of divorce suffer emotional wounds. The question is never whether they will be hurt the question is how badly will they be hurt?

The responsibility for how badly they will be hurt comes back to the people who love and care for them the most – their parents! Are they prepared to put their differences to one side, avoid having heated discussions within earshot of their kids, talk openly about the divorce giving their kids reassurances that they haven’t done anything wrong, that it’s not their fault and speaking respectfully about the other parent in front of the children.

In an ideal world separating parents would finalise the divorce quickly and amicably to avoid dragging their children through an emotional battleground and have plans in place to keep any major upheavals, like living arrangements, school routines and social activities to a minimum. Of course we don’t live in an ideal world and the reality is that many kids are involved, not just in the separation and divorce phase but the ongoing disputes, arguments and conflicts that many parents engage in as co-parents giving very little thought to how this is impacting on their children. They get blinded by anger, resentment, hatred and revenge and are hell bent on hurting, harming or demeaning their former spouse.

When couples are really struggling with their own issues and concerns about the future, how they will divide property, possessions and finances it becomes all consuming and emotionally charged.

As the adults in this situation you do have the power to put your differences to one side and focus on giving your children the reassurances they need so desperately need. They are loved, this is not their fault and that they will still be a family but doing it differently from how it used to be.

Before I share my tips to help parents make the separation and divorce process less stressful please don’t assume that your kids will OK with the whole thing because they just want you to be happy! I have heard that said so many times and if thinking that makes you feel better and that your kids won’t have any problems with the family splitting then think again. Yes our kids want us to be happy, but what they really what is for their parents to be happy together and the family unit to stay the same. I’m not suggesting for one minute that couples stay together just for the kids, what I am saying is look at this massive change in their lives through the eyes of a child, teenager or adult it doesn’t matter how old they are.

Here are my top ten parenting considerations for a less stressful divorce

    1. At least one parent, preferably both, is prepared to put aside personal issues and focus on discussing and agreeing on the wellbeing of their children in the short and long term
    2. Seek help from professionals to get advice and guidance when there is conflict around decisions or arrangements that will affect your children. An independent third party will provide a different perspective and allow you to find solutions you hadn’t previously considered
    3. Sit down with your children together on a regular basis to reassure them that although there are going to be changes in their lives you will always be there for them. They will want details of what is happening and how it will affect them
    4. Be honest with them about any changes as they arise so they have time to talk about them with you both and express any fears and concerns they might have
    5. Accept that you will not always agree with how your ex parents ‘your’ kids or like the fact that a new partner now has a role in parenting you kids. This is one of the most difficult challenges for many separated parents
    6. If possible both parents attend special events like birthdays, school and social activities, and other events together. Your kids will love that you are both there ‘for them.’ There will come a time when they will be getting married and having children themselves and it is what you do now that will ensure it’s a very special part of their lives that you can both share
    7. Just because you and your partner are divorcing from each other does not mean that your children are too. They have a right to love and spend time equally with both parents, their grandparents and extended families as well
    8. Be careful how you speak about your former partner in front of your children. Take some time to think about how you would like your ex to speak about you in front of your kids and even if that is not happening, then remember that you are role models for your kids, and your behaviour and actions will always speak louder than anything else you will ever do
    9. Never use your kids as a means to get revenge for hurts inflicted on you by your former partner. All too often kids are used as bargaining tools in situations where there is absolutely no winner
    10. Life is constantly changing, often challenging and rarely goes according to plan but when we remember the good times we shared as a family and cherish these memories it might just make a difference in how we write the next chapter in our lives

Share your comments or personal story I would love to hear from you.

The best way to reach me is to via email: jenny@divorcedwomensclub.com.au

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

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HOW MEN AND WOMEN MISUNDERSTAND SEX

Here’s the scenario!

It’s early morning, the guy rolls over, kisses his partner. She gets the message and starts to cuddle into him. Next thing he is on top of her and 3-5 minutes later it’s all over. As he gets up and starts walking out of the bedroom she says, ‘Where are you going?” He replies, “To make a cup of tea!”

Which leads me to ask the question. Is there a link between many couples separating and what I would call the basic human needs of sex and intimacy, either through ignorance, selfishness or lack of interest not being met in a relationship or does it go much deeper than this?

What part does ‘sex,’ and the difference between how men and women view and feel about sex, play out in the number of couples who started out together in loving and caring relationships and end up becoming yet another statistic in the divorce courts? Or is this just another piece of the relationship puzzle that was left unattended and pushed away rather than being dealt with head on.

We all know that there are significant differences between the male and female brains which I think is just another part of ‘the grand design’ – when you put the two together it really should make for a very powerful combination from my perspective.

In most cases, men and women do not behave, feel, think, or respond in the same ways, either on the inside or on the outside.

What if a major difference with men, unlike women, was their inability to express their emotions, worries, sexual issues, and problems to their friends, family or colleagues and never to their partners?

What if some men stopped seeking sex from their partners because they felt furious, criticised and insignificant in their marriage but would not or could not talk about it with their partners?

M. Gary Neuman found that 48% of the men he interviewed reported emotional dissatisfaction as the primary reason for cheating. They reported feeling unappreciated and wished that their partners could recognise when they were trying. They did not talk to their partners about this.

  • They fear talking will only cause more anger and rejection
  • They anticipate that if they start talking about issues in the marriage, their wives won’t stop talking–a reality that may simply reflect the clash of gender differences in handling stress
  • They fear hurting their partner with their honest feelings.
  • They feel self-conscious about performance issues and unwittingly send a message of avoidance, disinterest or rejection.
  • They silently blame their partner for boring sex but don’t consider verbalizing ways of enlivening the love life.
  • They don’t read the non-verbal cues or consider the cues they are sending.
  • They see the defensive posture their partner takes—not as a cover for her feelings of rejection; but as anger and accusation.
  • Paradoxically, they see themselves as protecting themselves, their partner, and their marriage with silence.

As such, many married men are emotionally alone. Unlike women who turn to other women to vent, garner support, and hear other perspectives and feelings— men too often “ suck it up”, remain locked in their perspective and can’t find a way to speak about what they need. This leaves them vulnerable to the attention, affirmation and complication of an affair.

Based on interviews with 200 cheating and non-cheating husbands, M. Gary Neuman, author of The Truth About Cheating, reports that only 8% identify sexual dissatisfaction as the reason for their infidelity.

A Rutgers study reports 56% of men who have affairs claim to be happy in their marriages, are largely satisfied and are not looking for a way out.

  • Sometimes affairs result in divorce. Statistics from 2004 suggest that 27% of divorces are due to extramarital affairs.
  • If both partners want their marriage, however, a marriage can survive an affair. Many partners have journeyed through the guilt and pain to mutually repair and renew their marriage.

If a man can find the feelings and words to engage with his partner in a process of apology and forgiveness, if he can speak and listen, reconsider the mutual rejection and anger, clarify the sexual needs and trust the love —he may well have a marriage he can speak about.

I have often been asked if I have a Divorced Men’s Club – and I see that like the Members Lounge I have for women, something like this for men would also be an incredibly valuable resource.

RECOMMENDED READING:  Married Men Don’t Talk by Tony Hawkins

RESOURCE:  An Unrecognized Reason That Married Men Have Affairs By Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D.ABPP
To share your comments or personal story – send me an email: jenny@divorcedwomensclub.com.au

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

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WOULD YOU STAY IN A SEXLESS MARRIAGE?

I posted this question on the Divorced Women’s Club page a couple of weeks ago and it sure opened up some interesting discussion and comments.

It’s difficult or near impossible to establish just how many relationships are in serious ‘trouble’ due to the issues or conflict in the areas of sex and intimacy however I would have to say that from my experience working with a number of women it is right up at the top of the list of contributing factors, either directly or indirectly, of failed marriages and relationships.

Judith Steinhart, a clinical sexologist in New York City, says, “Problems in a marriage [like] lack of trust, anxiety, financial issues, misunderstandings, pressure from children, all can impact a couple’s sexual patterns.”  The question, of course, is whether refraining from sex causes other problems, or if the other problems stop the sex in the first place?

Yes, there are a zillion different reasons why some couples are not having sex, some still intimate, many of these are legitimate and it takes two committed people to manage this as best they can. What I’m talking about here are marriages that are more like sharing your life with a room-mate.

Many people are embarrassed or ashamed to admit that when it comes to all things sex and intimacy things are not that great and decide that it’s easier to just ignore the situation, cross their fingers and hope everything gets better all by itself!

We all know how that plays out!

If you find yourself as the one feeling sexually unsatisfied, or craving physical touch and caressing which is, certainly from my perspective, a very basic human need, what do you do?

Most unattended situations that arise become problems and then big problems due to lack of clear and honest communication between the people involved.  One or both parties holding back on saying the things that need to be said, expressing their concerns or desires for something to be different and asking for help from the other person to work through the problem together.  It takes two people together to want things to be different and if you find yourself being the only one who is prepared to do something about it then from my perspective you have two choices.

You suck it up and accept that this is the way it’s going to be for the rest of you life together or you decide that you want and deserve something better than this and would prefer to go it alone and get on with your life.

Some of the ladies who commented on my question “Would You Stay In A Sexless Marriage’ on our Facebook page had this to say!

  • Definitely sex and intimacy are two different things. Some people are “sex only” types and don’t understand how important other types of intimacy are to a relationship. But a life without intimacy is definitely roommate status. Intimacy can be anything from hugs – happy to see you hugs, shoulder to cry on hugs – or just snuggles to watch a movie and much more. But I don’t know many successful relationships with no intimacy and certainly couldn’t be in one.
  • I did for 8 years too long!! Until I found the strength to move on xxx
  • I did it for 10yrs, wishing & hoping it would magically get better – it never did – in fact got worse.
  • Leaving a loveless and sexless relationship was best decision I ever made!
  • Umm let me think…. No way!!

And just to keep things on an even keel from a male perspective my friend Bob Paff had this to say:-It’s a sad irony that sometimes it takes leaving the marriage to find the best sex! The reasons people withhold physical intimacy are complex and multilayered. Control, fear, embarrassment, prior abuse, depression, anxiety, etc. Unless they are dealt with, talked about and resolved, no one who seeks intimacy should have to live with a partner like this. It’s time to put sexual intimacy on the table for discussion, for both men and women.
It’s the most beautiful gift two committed people can give one another. For me, lack of this is a deal breaker.

I sometimes observe couples when I am in a coffee shop.  It’s easy to pick the ones who are in the early stages of a new relationship where they are hanging onto each others words and completely engrossed in each other and then there are the ones who have obviously been together for a number of years, have very little to say to each other and just seem to be completely disconnected. And of course there are the ones that fit somewhere within that spectrum that just seem to have ‘something special’ – they way they smile at each other or a look that speaks a thousand words and just watching them warms my heart.

Maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic but why wouldn’t everyone want to be in a relationship where what you share with the other person is a very deep and special connection unlike any other in your life?

To share your comments or personal story – send me an email: jenny@divorcedwomensclub.com.au

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

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