WILL I STAY OR WILL I GO?

According to ‘statistics’ about 1/5th of all people in relationships can’t decide whether to stay or leave.  That’s 2 people in every 10 in a relationship are not sure whether they want to stay with their partner.  Now every relationship has it’s moments when things are pretty rocky, life, work, kids and unexpected events deal some challenging blows from time to time and many couples manage to work through these times together.  However, living every day with the internal struggle going on is not a great place to be and many people, (myself included) spend a few years sorting the why’s, the what if’s, the if only’s as well as the conflict of violating their values around family.

Let’s explore this ‘will I stay or will I leave’ dilemma in more detail.

For me it really was a case of weighing up the pros and cons at the time and attempting to make the decision based on how these balanced out for me – using logic clearly was not the right approach and never one that I would recommend anyone to use, the scales will tip from one to the other on any given day and living in a constant state of ambivalence is mentally and emotionally draining.

Ambivalence in your heart is another matter entirely and goes hand and hand with the distance you will be feeling in your relationship. From my personal experience when you get to this point you no longer want to spend much time with your partner, you talk less and less about important things, both parties end up emotionally detached and the distance between you gets wider and wider.

Here’s the thing!

Your relationship is either too good to leave or too bad to stay, it can never be both and the problem for most people in this situation is not knowing how to really figure out what to do.

Here are some questions to help you get to the heart of the matter, questions for you to ponder that may help you get more clarity and in turn help you reach a decision one way or the other. I would suggest that you write down your answers to each question and come back to them a few days later and see if there is anything you would change or add to your responses.

    1. Take yourself back to when things were at there best between you. Would you now say that things were really, really good?
    2. Has there been more than one incidence of physical violence in your relationship?
    3. Have you already thought about what a course of action that excludes your partner? (In other words have you been mentally preparing to leave?)
    4. If God or some omniscient being said it was okay to leave, would you feel tremendously relieved and have a strong sense that finally you would end your relationship?
    5. In spite of your problems do you and your partner have at least one pleasurable activity or interest (besides children) you currently share and look forward to sharing in the future, that you both like and gives a feeling of closeness?
    6. Are you in a relationship with a power person? If so, then any and all of your needs are a threat to his power. If ever you do get what you want is it such an ordeal that you don’t even feel it was worth all the effort?
    7. Do you have a basic, recurring feeling of humiliation or invisibility in your relationship?
    8. Have you gotten to the point when your partner says something that you usually feel it’s more likely that he’s lying than that he’s telling the truth?
    9. Do you feel willing to give your partner more than you’re giving already, and are you willing to do this the way things are between you now without any expectation of being paid back?
    10. Do both you and your partner want to touch each other and look forward to touching each other? Things like kissing, hugging, holding hands, cuddling. Taking into consideration that some people are just not the touchy feelie type have you or your partner moved to the point where there is no physical affection?

Ideally for couples going through a difficult time in their relationship couple therapy can be very helpful, however this will only ever be productive if both parties are fully committed to the process and in many cases one of the people involved has already made the decision internally and hasn’t been clearly articulated verbally.  Any signs of resistance to this process or other suggestions to work through problems together I would see as red flags.

If you have been struggling to come to terms with an inner discontent for some time and you have reached the threshold and ready now to step over it, if you know there is no going back, then you have reached the tipping point, when you know you are done.

Connect with me by clicking the link below to find out the next steps you need to take before you speak to a lawyer.

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Jenny is an advocate and champion for women rediscovering themselves through the process of divorce.

Got Kids? Getting Divorced? – Guest Author Amy Bell Shares Some Insights

Our special guest Author Amy Bell shares some words of wisdom.

So, for whatever reasons, you and your partner have decided you don’t want to be together anymore and you want to know the best course of action for your kids.

Do you want to avoid having kids who are stressed, anxious, upset and conflicted?

Would you like your kids to feel as secure, supported and happy as possible during this time of transition?

Do you want to experience less stressful days, move on and settle into your new circumstances faster?

Divorce is an incredible opportunity to powerfully demonstrate particular beliefs about the world, how things work and what is possible to your children. What is it that you would like to demonstrate to your children? Do you want children who believe that when a marriage ends it is a painful experience, ? Do you want children who know that when life doesn’t go to plan you can adapt and move on to the next wonderful thing?

That human beings hurt each other and are controlled by their emotions or that human beings are supportive, flexible, adaptable, resilient and resourceful. How are you going about demonstrating that through your current behaviour and interactions with your ex, your children and your other family members and friends?

Find a way to continue to love your ex as the father of your children. This is the best thing you can do for your kids right now. He is their father and they love him. His relationship with them is just as important as yours is with them. Show respect for the bond between them. Show respect for your children and their feelings. If you diss their father it hurts them. You can go to a girlfriends place who you know you can trust to keep it between you and vent all you like. Make sure her kids are not there. You think you can get away with a few bad words about their father on the phone because your kids are watching tv? To one of the mums or teachers at school? You can’t. Kids pick up on everything. They see you. They hear you. And if it’s not your own kids it’ll be someone else’s that heard it from somewhere and when it gets back to your kids it hurts them. Besides, it won’t do you any favours either. Remember what you want to demonstrate to your children. Are you operating from this space?

Here’s an quick little exercise to play with: Replay either an interaction between you and someone else where you have talked about your ex or an interaction between you and your ex. Step back and see yourself there. See the interaction playing out between these two people. Notice what you are communicating both verbally and non verbally. Notice the tone in your voice, your physiology, muscle tension etc. What are you demonstrating to your kids and the world in your behaviour during these interactions?

During your initial conversations with your children set some frames for what they can expect during the days and weeks to come. Explain that there may be days when you are upset, stressed, etc and that’s ok. They’re all perfectly reasonable emotions and that even when you’re upset, you’re ok. This is temporary and it will pass. Explain that it’s ok for them to feel whatever they’re feeling too. Have some discussion around what is expected of everyone and how you can best go about supporting each other during this time.

And look, you will have your moments. It’s perfectly ok to let your kids know that you’re having a tough day, in fact I would encourage you to communicate this to your children when you do. Meaning makers that we are, the more open we can be about how we’re feeling leaves less room for other people to make up their own meanings about that. If we notice that someone is upset or angry, it is very easy to make that mean that we are to blame. Kids can make all kinds of assumptions, that it is something that they did to make you upset, or something their father did. When you explain that you are upset, they don’t need to know the details. Keep it chunked up, don’t burden them with your worries or make it about their father. “I’m adjusting to our new circumstances” , “I’m problem solving” “there are a lot of details to work out when people get divorced and I’m feeling overwhelmed” whatever it may be. And remind them that this is temporary. It won’t hurt to remind yourself of this either.

And here’s the good news, human beings ARE incredibly resilient and adaptable and each of us possess a wealth of internal resources that assist us in challenging times. How you approach this time of transition as a family is up to you.

This is some very general advice and I recognise and appreciate that every set of circumstances, every parent and every child are unique. I don’t believe in a one size fits all and my approach in my coaching work is very much tailored and customised to suit each individual client. If you would like some personalised advice or if there’s ever anything I can help you with, please feel free to get in touch with me any time.

If you would like to chat to Jenny about anything at all, even your favourite wine click here to schedule a time https://calendly.com/jenny-smith-1/what-s-going-on-in-your-world

DAMNED IF YOU DO AND DAMNED IF YOU DON’T

My clients are so open and forthcoming about the very private details of their lives, they allow themselves to be raw and vulnerable, to express their thoughts and feelings honestly.  For many of them the decision to end the relationship was not theirs to make, it had already been done and they were left to deal with the fallout, facing an uncertain and unknown future.

For the ones who are unhappy and dissatisfied with their relationship, struggling with a feeling of unrest and discontent it’s like being caught between a rock and a hard place.

Reaching that point where there are one of two choices to be made, the day you realise the pain of staying will be greater than the pain of leaving and choosing to step off the edge into an uncertain and unknown future.

Like many women who find themselves in this situation, I had unconsciously distanced myself emotionally and physically for a number of years until one day I crossed that threshold, that point of no return, I had reached my ‘tipping point.’  That one more thing when in an instant I knew I was done and I also knew it was a case of damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

The fallout of this decision spread far and wide as very close family and life long friends distanced themselves, as I watched my children hurting so much that it broke my heart, as rumors spread and as my husband did everything he could to salvage our marriage knowing that I had reached the point of no return.

If you find yourself caught between a rock and a hard place, in a position where you are struggling to make a choice between two possible alternatives, before you do anything else it is important for you to get very clear about your decision, once you choose to walk a different path there is no turning back.

Knowing what I know now and having someone in my corner to support me, someone to walk the path with me, to help me navigate through this time would have made an incredible difference to me and to my life.

To help you with whatever is going on in your life right now, some area of your life where you may be feeling some internal conflict, this exercise will help you gain more clarity and help you redirect your focus towards what you want to be different.

CLARITY THROUGH CONTRAST

  • Take a sheet of paper, draw a line down the middle and on the left hand side write the word CONTRAST, on the right hand side write the word CLARITY
  • Fold the paper in half and only work on the Contrast Column. Make a list of all the things you feel are ‘wrong’ with your partner and your relationship, the longer the list the better.  Spend the time to work through this, come back to it over a few days and keep adding more things as they come to mind.
  • Once you have run out of things to write, open the paper and as you read each item on the Contrast list one at a time, write what it is you do want and how you would like things to be different.
  • Having completed both columns, fold the paper again and now only look at the list in the Clarity column and read through each one of them, make any changes as they come up for you.
  • There are several benefits to using a simple and easy exercise like this, it will assist your decision making, it may even open up the opportunity to begin a different conversation with your partner.

Example: “I feel taken for granted,” in the Clarity column “I want to feel appreciated.”

Remember: You cannot unring a bell!   Once something has been said or done and the wheels are in motion it cannot be undone.

 

Jenny is an absolute advocate and champion for women rediscovering themselves through the process of divorce.

If you’d love a quick chat with Jenny about anything, even your favourite wine, click here.  Jenny will be in touch as soon as she’s finished.

FAMILY PHOTOS ESSENTIAL FOR CHILDREN OF DIVORCE

My parents separated when I was 19, Dad moved on with his new lady, I saw him twice over the next 20 years.  He passed away unexpectedly and when we asked his ‘wife’ if we could have his photos she declined.  I have two photos of my dad, no family photos including photos of my childhood.

Divorced or divorcing parents take a moment to read this.

Guest post by Rosalind Sedacca 
I read a poignant comment on a blog recently written by a married mother of three. She was a child of divorce whose father moved out of the home when she was four. She talks about having very few pictures of herself as a child and only one of her mother and father together. Her grandfather found and gave her the photo just a few years ago. She framed it and has proudly displayed it in her home for her own children to see.

She explains how special that one photo of her with Mom and Dad is to her. It shows a little girl sitting happily on a lawn with her “real” family – before the divorce.

This woman grieves that she has no other photographs of her father and so few pictures of her childhood. She assumes that her mother hid or destroyed all other photos, “possibly to protect my stepparents’ feelings” as she moved on into other chapters in her life.

She goes on to send a message to all divorced parents who are transitioning into blended families. She stresses the importance of keeping previous family photographs to give to your children at the appropriate time – and not throwing them away. She implores people who are marrying men or women with children to “be the grownup” and acknowledge that children of divorce have other relationships that are meaningful and important to them.

Having pictures, gifts and other reminders of the non-custodial parent is very important to your children. We must never forget the connection and allegiance children innately feel toward both of their parents. When one parent is dismissed, put down or disrespected by the other parent, a part of your child is hurt as a result. They also feel that a part of themselves is flawed which creates much internal confusion.

Allow your children to keep their connection with their other parent – and with their past, unless they choose otherwise. If you’re a step-parent, don’t try to replace the birth Mom or Dad. There is room in a child’s heart to embrace and love you, as well, if you earn their trust and respect. You can’t demand or force it.

The woman’s blog post ends by asking us to imagine how we would feel if someone came into our family and discarded all the photos of Mom and Dad together. If we could just put ourselves into our children’s shoes on a regular basis we would avoid so many errors in parenting, and so many psychological scars.

This woman speaks for millions of children of divorce and her message needs to be heard. It’s also another validation for the concept of creating a family storybook when telling your children about the divorce. Showing the kids photos of the family together, during happier times in the past, reminds them that life moves in cycles and there will be good times ahead. It also shows them that they came from love and that love still exists for them – even if Mom and Dad are no longer living together.

Even if you’re long past the actual divorce, looking through family photo albums can spark conversation and sincere communication between you and your children.

Yes, it might bring up some tears and sadness, but talking about those feelings can be healing for everyone. You can also start new photo albums sharing happy times in the present so you can look back upon this chapter in your lives with smiles in the months and years to come. Isn’t this what you want for your family?

Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a Divorce & Parenting Coach and founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network for parents. For Rosalind’s free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting and other valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues, visit http://www.childcentereddivorce.com
© Rosalind Sedacca  All Rights Reserved

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SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?

Sitting in no man’s land – woman’s land in this instance!

It’s the mental and emotional struggle when one partner in a relationship will spend countless hours, months and sometimes years going over and over in their minds, talking to friends trying to answer the question ‘Should I stay or should I go?’

I know for sure that I am not the only person to ask myself that very question.  And I’m pretty certain that many happy couples do as well.

I played this very same question in my mind over and over again and one day I heard Mira Kirshenbaum, the author of “Too Good To Leave, Too Bad to Stay,” being interviewed on the radio and it was as if she was speaking directly to me.

I had a good husband, a beautiful family, a great lifestyle and on the surface everything looked perfect.  When you have worked hard at keeping a relationship together over a number of years, life is pretty good, family and friends are important then why would a question like this keep bubbling to the surface.

If you are feeling like this then perhaps your partner is also feeling the same way. We all go through periods of doubt and frustration with different aspects of our relationships whether it is with a significant partner, family or friends. Relationships need to be nurtured through open, honest and clear communication and unfortunately so many of us are sadly lacking in the ability to do this.

My partner and I talked more when we were separating than we had done in years.  If we had done that through our married life things may have turned out very differently.

Over the past several years and a couple of other relationships I began to recognise a pattern.  I was the Queen of Assumptions.  I assumed that my boundaries were obvious.  That what I said was understood. That I understood the meaning behind what my partner said. That my expectations were very clear.  That my deal breakers, well clearly deal breakers they should just know what these are, right.

There are some things you can do to help yourself and a good place to start is by asking yourself some better questions.

  • What do I want?
  • What am I looking for that I don’t have now?
  • What is missing in this relationship for me?
  • What is it about me that is bringing up these feelings and thoughts?
  • What have I been avoiding?
  • When did I stop asking for what I want?
  • When did I stop listening?
  • Is it possible for me to have what I want in this relationship?
  • Where have I placed responsibility for my happiness on someone else?
  • Is there a pattern that seems to be consistently showing up in other areas of my life?
  • If I am really honest with myself what other things have I just accepted in my life?
  • What things have I taken for granted?
  • What am I prepared to do to create the relationship I want?

In many cases the decision has already been made to leave and the struggle is more about taking that next step.

Finding an independent professional coach or counsellor who you feel safe and comfortable with will also help you get clear about what is really going on.

Should I leave or should I stay, a really tough question, whatever you decide.

It’s also a great question when it highlights the things that need to change and allows you to do something about taking control of what’s not working for you and ultimately create the life you want.

If it is a situation where there is physical or emotional abuse or any other indiscretions that violate your values and trust then you already have your answer.

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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FIRST THINGS FIRST!

A break up can become a real crisis for most people, the pain is very intense and when I think about myself at that time I knew I was ‘out of control.’

I have heard it described as a death and I think that can be how it feels for many of us, whether you had the rug pulled out from under you or you were the one who decided you wanted out, it is the end of life as you once knew it.

Everyone has different coping strategies, some useful ones and some bordering on self-destruction, depending on how you feel about yourself. The tough part of this phase is that there are so many things being forced upon us. Decisions that have to be made – some really big decisions that have a very strong emotional charge and we are often not in the best state to be making these decisions.

Things like selling the family home, trying to put on a brave face for our kids and immediate families who are feeling their own sense of loss, realizing that from here on in we are financially on our own, and often seeing your partner moving on happily to create a new life with ‘someone’ else.

It is very important to spend time with people who will support you and be there for you.  If you feel like having a good cry, let it come, this is all part of the grieving process and the sooner you accept your feelings, the anger, the hatred, the fear, the regret, the sadness, the guilt and the loss, the sooner you go through this,the faster you will be able to move on.

  • Find help from a professional, a counselor or a coach is a good place to start, someone you feel totally at ease with and comfortable to talk to about everything that is going on for you.
  • This is your journey – there will be lots of people giving you ‘good’ advice on what you SHOULD do.  From your mother and girlfriends to everyone else you come into contact with – they may mean well but they are not you, they are not feeling what you are feeling or thinking what you are thinking.  Trust yourself to do what is right for you.
  • Conversely spend as much time as possible with the people who are fun to hang out with, positive confident people who will encourage you to try new activities, take good care of yourself, getting out walking or running, going to yoga or whatever feels right for you.  Moving the body is one of the best things you can do to clear your thinking and reduce the stress levels.
  • Be mindful of the internal dialogue – that gremlin that can take over our thoughts and lead us down the rabbit hole – notice it happening as quickly as you can before it takes over …  and STOP IT!

In time you will see the end of your relationship as an opportunity to learn so much about yourself, begin to think about what sort of future you want to create and most importantly getting back in touch with who you are and remembering those dreams you once had that got buried under all the day to day living on automatic pilot.  You will also discover just how strong you really are, and with the right mindset you really can be, do and have whatever you want.

For now, take one day at a time.  Each day may bring up new and different emotions, questions and decisions, just taking one step forward at a time doing the best you can.

For every tough experience life sends our way there are always good times to follow.  I will always remember this little phrase that I used, sometimes every single day, whenever life was really testing me.  “This too will pass,” and it always did.

When the dust has settled, life will return to some sort of ‘new normal’ and you may find yourself starting to think about your new life. Wondering what it will be like and perhaps, ready to do things you have only ever dreamed about in your previous life. If it’s time for you to put all your dreams on the table then reach out to some you connect with and trust who will share your journey and support you in bringing your dreams to life.

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

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

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