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

SIGN UP TO RECEIVE MY COMPLIMENTARY EBOOK – 6 STEPS TO GETTING YOUR LIFE BACK ON TRACK

EXPERT AS SEEN ON SOUL.TV

Soul TV expert badge

View the Soul.TV episodes subscribe here: http://www.soultv.com.au/?ref=19

STUCK IN A MONEY RUT?

Let’s talk about money!

It’s up there with topics like politics, religion and sex when it comes to having discussions about it with a partner, a colleague or a friend or your ‘friendly’ bank manager.

Far too many women really struggle financially as an outcome of separation and divorce. And yes, I know a lot of guys do too, unfortunately it’s true for both parties. When you have spent years working towards some financial goals and things fall apart, by the time credit card debt, mortgage, leases on cars and all the other many expenses that are part of everyday life are taken out of what little might be left over after the divorce often what is left is little or next to nothing. Then it’s a matter of starting all over again to create some financial security and wealth, never an easy thing particularly for those who divorce later in life.

Have you found yourself in a financial rut and have no idea how to get your self out?

Here’s the thing!
WE ALL HAVE THE ABILITY TO CHANGE THE DIRECTION OF OUR LIVES!
Including where we are headed financially.

And just like creating any change, the first place to start is by taking a good hard look at where we are. Much like going on a diet, you have to know where you are now and where you want to be and then get focused on the end goal. Make it a project you are working on, a well formed plan that includes knowing exactly what you want to achieve both short and long term.

Start doing the numbers. It can be really scary and most of us like to just bury our heads in the sand rather than deal with what makes us feel uncomfortable. Spend the time to go through all your credit cards, your bills and regular expenses so you know your outgoings. If you have kids there are always things that crop up that we haven’t budgeted for and it really does put a great deal of pressure on parents.

If you have been putting more value of the thrill of going on a shopping spree, having nice clothes and shoes or going a holiday or whatever it might be then I would suggest you spend some time really thinking about your values around money.

When my marriage ended and I became totally responsible for all the bills and other expenses I used a Collins 18 Money Column book. I divided it up into months of the year with my income for each month at the bottom, then all the regular bills in whatever column they were due. I knew at the end of every month whether I was going to be under or over. This system really helped me decide how I spent my money. There are plenty of other great tools available online these days to make it even easier.

If your outgoings are higher than your income it’s time to look at how you can pull back in some area, purchase different brands that are cheaper or take on some extra work. If we are consistently spending more than we earn, there is only ever going to an unhappy ending.

If you are finding it still too difficult to do on your own and can’t afford to speak to a professional advisor, get an accountability partner. Someone you trust to help keep you on track. Make it as much fun as you can and give yourself some little rewards for your little wins along the way.

Many of us turn a blind eye or simply justify our spending habits. Time to take your head out of the sand, look around you and decide what you really want in your life and then do whatever you have to do to make it happen.

A money map so you can see exactly where you are going and what you need to do

  • Persistance
  • Consistency
  • A burning desire to create a happier, more financially secure future
  • And an accountability buddy to make the journey more fun

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

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

EXPERT AS SEEN ON SOUL.TV

Soul TV expert badge

View the Soul.TV episodes subscribe here: http://www.soultv.com.au/?ref=19

Lauren’s Story of Divorce and Lost Childhood

I had the pleasure of meeting Lauren on the weekend – this is her story!

I attend a prestigious private girls school, and my brothers attend the all boys’ school. We live in an impressive private, gated estate, in a mansion, complete with housekeepers, dog groomers, an ironing lady, gardeners, window cleaner and as many hired help as you could imagine. Life really couldn’t get much better. My parents entertain wealthy business people, are extremely influential and as I am told repeatedly, successful.
My father is always busy though, either at the races, lunches, on boating excursions or on our horse stud. My mother is always trying to make sure everything is perfect, too perfect. She is either sewing designer clothes for us, cooking or making sure our every need was catered for. We were like a normal family and my parents had a normal marriage.

That was until cracks started to appear. It was like an earthquake, first there was nothing and then everything changed forever. As my parents prepared to go out got a social event, the specialist called with my medical report, although I didn’t know it at the time, this was about to change all of our lives. It wasn’t the cause; it was the catalyst to a whole other world of endless problems. The next morning, I saw my father with his bad walking out the door. My mother was unusually calm. I was chasing my father repeating, “Why are you leaving?” He mumbled something that just didn’t make sense. In my confusion, I turned to my older brother, who hugged me and reassured me that everything was okay.

I didn’t understand what had happened, I didn’t understand why; I did see all the happiness that followed though. My mother started dancing with us, playing and it was surreal, it was fun, we were so happy at the time and the obsession with everything being perfect was no longer. I had no idea how life was about to change again. With no money to provide for us, leaving my school and all my childhood friends behind, devastated me. The promises of still staying in touch with my dad were never a reality. Life had changed in more ways than anyone could imagine.

My father continued to visit for a time, thinking that my mother would be forced to return to the marriage. The sight of my father pulling up in the driveway was like Christmas, time and time again. My mother became more and more withdrawn; I went from having two parents living together and a stable life to feeling that nothing would ever be the same. I felt so insecure. I looked on bewildered as my mother frantically tried to earn money. I felt so guilty whenever I needed anything.

At one time I overheard my mother saying she accidentally left a birthday present at home. Knowing we couldn’t afford one, I was so deeply distressed, I started making up stories as to why I couldn’t accept birthday invitations from that day on, further distancing myself from my old school friends to avoid embarrassment and the stress my mother would have to go to-to try and provide for my needs.

My father still seemed to have plenty of money so this taught my brothers and I to become manipulative and arrange visits when we needed things. It’s just what we had to do to survive. Knowing how desperately my mother needed money I felt ashamed to say I took to searching his car for coins to help my mother manage financially. At this time every dollar was important.

Even the smallest of things changed, like every meal. Instead of a cooked breakfast and freshly packed gourmet lunches that used to be prepared for us, along with our uniforms all laid out perfectly, mornings consisted of fending for ourselves, and wasting time searching for socks, shoes and uniform pieces, along with leaving out mother to sleep considering she would work all through the night. Previously we all enjoyed family dinners around the table prepared so precisely that restaurants would be envious, and changed to us preparing toasted sandwiches, boiled eggs or omelets and being left at home whilst she worked. It rapidly reached the point where I started cleaning up when I knew guests or friends were coming, and taking the responsibility of organizing the boys for school. Our mother was now working seven days and nights and constantly stressed about debt collectors and bills. She was totally unavailable and if she was awake she was on the phone arranging appointments. This required me to step up even more, giving up what little leisure time I had left, to help keep the house running in some kind of less than perfect order. It bothered me so much. I felt as if my childhood was being missed and I was required to mature to an age I was not, just to keep on surviving and pushing through to tomorrow.

Visits to my fathers turned into more of an inquisition than family fun. The stress on us children was massive, even the smallest comment could be involved in an impending court battle. He kept diaries and asked questions constantly. Even innocent comments were diarized. At this point I found it impossible to feel at home and have fun anywhere. Where was my childhood? Christmas and Birthdays brought out the magnitude of our family tragedy as I wanted to spend time with both parents, like it used to be, with laughter, excitement and fun. These special days that are meant for children to enjoy had become days that posed greater problems for me than any other.

Both parents insisted that they wanted the best for us children, and despite every effort, life as a child ended on that one fateful day. The day my parents separated was the day my childhood ended, and my adult life began, far too early.

The fallout of divorce spreads far and deep.

To share your comments or personal story – send me an 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.

EXPERT AS SEEN ON SOUL.TV

COPING WITH LOSS

The dictionary describes grief as sadness, anguish, heartache, regret, remorse, sorrow and suffering.

Grief is everyone single one of these words and I think it needs all of these words to illustrate the extend of what it is to experience.

Grief is one of the key emotions that women going through divorce and loss experience and takes a considerable amount of time to move through.

It may seem strange that the function of grief is to heal.

Sorrow can make you feel as though you are being torn apart, cell from little tiny cell.

People who follow grief through its whole course emerge stronger and healthier, more able to cope with the inevitable losses that affect every human life.

In the end they become sources of wisdom and compassion for themselves and everyone around them.

Sorrow is heavy, hard work.
It stalls all your systems in order to force you toward a very, very painful task, coping with loss.  And loss always lies at the root of grief.  Every time you lose something you hold dear, you must grieve, and every time you feel grief-stricken you can be sure you have lost something dear.  We are stunned and devastated by things like separation, aging and death as though these aren’t the very constants sure to affect every single one of us.

Whatever the reason, loss is hard for us and healing from it takes a lot of energy.  Grief pushes us into ‘deep rest’ weighing down our muscles, wringing tears from our eyes and sobs from our bellies.  It isn’t pretty but it is natures way.

Our deepest grief is reserved for things that have no acceptable substitutes: loved ones, relationships, health, hopes and dreams.  Trying to replace someone special to you, or something you once were is actually useless. There is nothing to do but mourn and the pain will disappear a whole lot faster if you lean into it.

1. Find Or Make a Safe Place to Grieve
At a bare minimum you have to have a safe place for mourning, privacy and quiet.  Maybe wrapping yourself in a blanket, have a pen and paper at hand to express your feelings in writing.  Some good old sad songs are also useful.  Any song that helps you cry will access your grief, move it through you and help you release it.

2. Reserve Time to Grieve
Sadness slows you down, give yourself more time than you think to finish tasks like cleaning your house or finishing projects.  The more love and support you give yourself, and get from others, the more energy you will have for the tasks of everyday life.

3. Maximise Comforting Activities
This means doing things that gladden your heart. Walking along the beach or in nature, listening to music, enjoying your children or your pets, whatever works best for you.

One of the Four Noble Truths taught by the Buddha was that any permanence we perceive, in ourselves or the world around us, is an illusion.
Clinging to that illusion, trying to force things to stay as they are, leads inevitably to suffering.  Accepting impermanence means embracing the world as it is, complete with loss.  Refusing to accept change doesn’t mean that the pain of losing something you love will never start, it only means that the pain will never stop.  As they say in coaching, the only way out is through.

    • Losing the illusion of permanence means that you will accept your losses.
    • It means that you will become well acquainted with sorrow.
    • It also means that you will realise the infinite sources of healing and joy that are available to an open heart.
    • People who don’t resist grief, who let if flow through them, come out more resilient on the other side.
    • They are less afraid of loss, more able to soften the pain of those around them and quicker to appreciate whatever happiness life brings.
    • Ironically, it is those who have accepted the most terrible grief who are capable of the greatest joy.

Thank you to ‘Martha Beck’ for permission to use some content from her book ‘Finding Your Own North Star’.

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

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.

EXPERT AS SEEN ON SOUL.TV

Soul TV expert badge

View the Soul.TV episodes subscribe here: http://www.soultv.com.au/?ref=19

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 divorce coach is a very 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 you like 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 your internal dialogue – the gremlin that can take over our thoughts, send us into a spin and lead us down the rabbit hole – as soon as you notice it taking control of you and your thinking, put the tip of your tongue behind the back of the top of your teeth and this will instantly quieten everything down for you.

Over time you will notice that the end of your relationship has opened up the opportunity to learn so much about yourself, you will be stronger and more resourceful.  You will have the opportunity to really think about your future, what you want to create and get back in touch with who you are, and remember those dreams you once had about how you wanted your life to be.  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.

With love,

Jenny xx

Join our private Members Lounge  https://www.facebook.com/groups/DWCMembersLounge/

Click here to schedule a time to chat   https://Divorcedwomensclub.as.me/

https://www.instagram.com/jennysmith.dwc/