JOY, LAUGHTER, FAMILY & FRIENDS

Christmas, a time of joy, laughter, good times, family and friends.

Or it it?

This time of year can also the catalyst for endings.

Many people spend this time reassessing their lives. Whether it be a job or career they are no longer finding satisfying,

the realisation that continuing to ignore their health and fitness is no longer an option,

being in debt, ending conflict with family and friends or living yet another year being unhappy or unfulfilled in a relationship.

For many people who spend time reassessing their relationships either consciously or sub-consciously, it can and does lead to many couples heading to the divorce courts in the New Year.

It’s not that someone suddenly wakes up one morning and says “OK, it’s all over, I want out of this relationship.”

For many there has been an emotional and physical disconnect for some time before the actual decision is made to call it quits and sometimes it can be just one more little thing that happens that proves to be the catalyst for this decision.

When I started to write this blog the words ‘Emotional Bank Account’ popped into my mind and as I usually take notice of these ‘little things that pop into my mind’ I went to my book shelf to find the book that this came from. It’s just a little ‘off topic’ but worth sharing.

If you haven’t read Stephen R Covey’s ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ there are many, many takeaways from this book and I highly recommend, it is a great read.

Here are just a few of the profound words from Mr Covey on relationships.

An Emotional Bank Account is a metaphor that describes the amount of trust that’s been built up in a relationship.
If I make deposits into an Emotional Bank Account with you through courtesy, kindness, honesty and keeping my commitments to you I build up a reserve.

When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant and effective. If a large reserve of trust is not sustained by continuing deposits, a marriage will deteriorate.

Instead of rich, spontaneous understanding and communication, the situation becomes one of accommodation, where two people simply attempt to live independent life-styles in a fairly respectful and tolerant way and may further deteriorate to one of hostility and defensiveness.

For many women who have been through divorce this is yet another time of emotional turmoil as they struggle with memories of good times past. Happy family gatherings at Christmas and seeing children’s faces light up with delight on Christmas morning. For those women now on their own, particularly if they are newly separated, it is a time of sadness for the loss of those special family times. It may also be a time of financial stress as they simply do not have the resources to buy their kids the gifts they would like to, particularly if they see the father lavishing all sorts of presents on them. The facts are that there simply doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of joy in the world for them.

If you are reading this blog and this is how you are feeling about Christmas there are some things you can do to make this a more enjoyable time.
The very best way, as with most things, is to take the focus of ourselves and think about what we can do to make the day more fun and enjoyable for someone else.

Easier said than done, I know.

But the truth is that when we get out of our heads and turn our thinking around there are many ways we can really make a difference in the lives of someone else and the reward is that we get to “feel great” about ourselves and grateful for the people and things what we do have in our lives.

Here are just a few ideas.

  • Have an open house for your friends who might be spending the day on their own. Here in Australia we call it an ‘Orphan’s Christmas’.
  • Perhaps volunteering at a homeless people’s shelter or a women’s refuge.
  • Or visiting the local hospital or an aged care facility.

Begin by asking yourself this question.

“What could I do today to make someones day a little brighter?” Notice what ideas come to mind. Then go do that!

Your thoughts, comments, personal story or suggestions are important to me.

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

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SHARING THE JOY THAT IS CHRISTMAS MORNING

Todays’ blog is written by Lorrie Brook, a friend and colleague and the creator of Our Children Australia. With a background in Family Law Lorries’ passion and her reason for creating Our Children Australia is to provide a resource that protects children from the conflict that can arise between separated parents.  Our Children Australia is Australia’s first website offering software which helps parents manage shared custody peacefully and protects their kids from being used as messengers.  You can find out more about Our Children Australia by visiting the website www.ourchildren.com.au.

It is that time of year for separated parents to remind themselves to act with empathy and sharpen their compromise skills to protect their children during the lead-up to the Christmas break.

It goes without saying that the Christmas season is often the most stressful time of year for separated parents navigating through shared custody. It can be an emotional holiday break, as each parent does their best to make the most of arrangements that are usually not their ideal preference.

Making the transition to being respectful co-parents who are no longer a couple can be extremely challenging.  The impact these changes can have on family dynamics at Christmas can be significant.  As hard as it may be, parents should consider the flow on effect conflict can have on their children, and to remember that their kids look to them as their role model.

With this in mind, what are the common issues of conflict arising at this time of year?

  1. Sharing the joy that is Christmas morning

Waking up on Christmas morning and seeing the joy on your children’s faces is so precious that each and everyone of us want to be there to experience this.   This is normal.  Unfortunately though, the obstacles of life mean that when you separate chances are this can’t occur.  So in these scenarios parents need to be flexible when planning the schedule for Christmas.  For most of us it is unrealistic to expect that you will be able to do this every year.  Chances are that this will occur every other year. It is the children that suffer the most when parents kick their heels in over schedules. It is always best to take a longer-term view on what will be best for both family units.

  1. What gifts are you giving your children?

Sadly, it isn’t uncommon for their to be a silent competition between you and your ex when it comes to buying Christmas gifts for the kids. This can be easily avoided – all you need to do is ask.  Make an effort to speak about your plans in advance; showing sensitivity where there is a difference in income levels.

  1. What plans do you have for the day?

Complicated schedules and long drives between locations can result in grumpy parents and grumpy children. It is best to keep arrangements as simple as possible and avoid late night drop offs which can be particularly exhausting.   Always think of your children when you are planning your day.  Don’t forget that they will want to be able to play with their presents!

  1. Have they eaten anything but sugar?

It is best to establish dietary and household ground rules for the Christmas season with your co-parent early to avoid any conflict over the holidays. Complaints around excessive sugar consumption and late bedtimes are common, which can result in exhausted, grumpy and cranky children. Acting with common sense and sensitivity towards your co-parent as well as honouring the agreements made should help prevent any of these issues arising.

  1. Have you left on time?

Christmas day is such a special day for everyone.  People are celebrating this wonderful time of year and our children are usually the main focus.  The joy they bring to us at this time of year is priceless.  Time has a way of moving too fast when we are having fun but it can be very distressing for the other parent if time gets away and you are late for changeover.

Always remember that you would be upset if you were missing out as well. Keeping to agreed timelines where possible should be a priority to nurture goodwill between co-parents.

Lorrie HighResColour_038

 

Share your thoughts, comments or personal story via email jenny@divorcedwomensclub.com.au

With love and gratitude
Jenny xx

Sign up for our 6 Steps to Getting Your Life Back on Track and you also receive all the latest news and events from the Divorced Women’s Club.

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