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.

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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HAVE YOU SHARED YOUR SECRETS?

Am I way off the mark thinking that we all have our own little secrets? I know I’ve got a few that I have never shared with anyone and nor do I ever intend to.

Doesn’t everyone have some little secret that they have either never shared with anyone or only ever shared with a very close trusted friend?

Then there are those secrets I would describe as the ‘deep and dark’ ones which can take things to a whole new level.

Let’s keep on track here with secrets in relationships because they can and often destroy many long and short term relationships when something from our past comes to light, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.

In any fairly new relationship I would really question if it is necessary to bare your soul about decisions and actions that were made in the past? If a guy started asking me some really personal things about me and my life within the first few weeks of seeing each other, for example, how many people I have slept with, I would seriously have to question 1. why they would want to know for a start and 2. what does it matter?  These sort of questions very early on would be sending me some warning signals.  If however, it begins to look like developing into something much more then this is not just a good time but the very best time to clear the air.  If you aren’t starting off a relationship feeling safe to share your biggest fears, your biggest mistakes, your deep dark secrets you are not only setting yourself up for living in fear of being caught out but this is not just about you, it is being disrespectful of the other person and giving them the opportunity to make a decision that is the right decision for them and how they feel about moving forward with the relationship with this new information.

We are all human, sometimes we make a really bad error of judgement that might well have a detrimental impact on a relationship and we are just plain scared that we might lose someone we really love and care for.

As I thought about more about this topic I started to question what might be some of the key reasons that a relationship could be severely damaged as a result of one or perhaps both parties withholding certain information.

In so many situations guilt, shame and fear are the reasons most of us would keep quiet about some aspects of our past and at the time it’s all seems perfectly understandable when we look at what is at risk if we disclose all.

Here are just a few of the things that might just come back and bite us some time down the track if we don’t deal with them right up front and at the most appropriate time.

  • If we are carrying a whole lot of guilt and regret about a particularly difficult decision we made when we were younger.
  • If we have a criminal record or have served time in jail
  • If we have either a current or previous drug, alcohol or gambling addiction
  • If we have a pretty substantial debt
  • If we have been married before
  • If we have placed a child up for adoption
  • If we have suffered emotional trauma of any kind

These type of issues are far too heavy for most people to carry around with them on their own and the price you pay living in fear of one day being found out will take it’s toll physically, mentally and emotionally.

Way up there on the list is of course ‘infidelity’. Can you tell this is a really big thing with me?  I have been on the receiving end of it and I see so much of it each and every day with the work I do as one of the most common reasons for the breakdown of a relationship. From my perspective there is a very fine line between sexual and emotional infidelity. Emotional infidelity is when one partner fosters emotional intimacy with someone else and maintains a secret or semi-secret friendship when there is a clear mutual interest or attraction.

Or, as someone I have been in contact with recently, finding out that the person you have been living with for the past 10 years has been living a double life with his legal wife at the same time.

If you are living with a secret that might have a serious or even slightly negative impact on your relationship I believe it’s time for you to have ‘that’ conversation.

Difficult conversations are never easy and these are the ones we must have, regardless of the outcome, which brings me to the question, ‘is there ever a right time to reveal a secret?’

If your relationship is at risk of your partner finding out from some other source then you must have the difficult conversation as early as you can. The person on the receiving end of the news may need some time alone to process the information so they can come to terms with what it means for them and you have to be prepared to accept the worst and pray for the best.

Yes, it’s scary and yes it’s risky, but so is living with the fear of being found out sitting at the back of your mind all the time and more importantly hurting the people you love the most even more.

People can and do constantly amaze us when we put aside our guilt and shame and share our secrets. It can open up a much deeper level of conversation and trust and give your partner the space to share more about themselves too. Knowing that it’s safe to be totally honest and truthful, not just about your past is what strengthens and deepens a relationship.

Whatever you decide to do involves taking a risk and being vulnerable and sometimes being prepared to risk everything brings with it the biggest rewards.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” Brene’ Brown

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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