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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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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TIPS FROM STEPHEN COVEY

Following on from the previous post Stephen Covey today we are talking all about the Six Major Deposits.

Understanding the Individual
Really seeking to understand another person is probably one of the most important deposits you can make, and it is the key to every other deposit.  What might be a deposit for you – going for a walk to talk things over might not be perceived by someone else as a deposit at all.   U
nderstand them deeply as individuals, the way you would want to be understood and then to treat them in terms of that understanding.

Attending to the Little Things
The little kindnesses and courtesies are so important.  Small discourtesies, little unkindnesses, little forms of disrespect make large withdrawals.  In relationships, the big things are the little things.

Keeping Commitments
Keeping commitments or a promise is a major deposit; breaking one is a major withdrawal.  In fact, there’s probably not a more massive withdrawal than to make a promise that’s important to someone and then not to come through.

Clarifying Expectations
Unclear expectations in the area of goals also undermine communication and trust.  The cause of almost all relationship difficulties is rooted in conflicting or ambiguous expectations around roles and goals.  Clarifying expectations sometimes takes a great deal of courage.  It seems easier to act as though differences don’t exist and to hope things work out than it is to face the differences and work together to arrive at a mutually agreeable set of expectations.

Showing Personal Integrity
Integrity includes but goes beyond honesty.
Honesty is telling the truth – in other words, conforming our words to reality.  Integrity is conforming reality to our words – in other words, keeping promises and fulfilling expectations.  This requires an integrated character, a oneness, primarily with self but also with life.  If you treat everyone by the same set of principles people will come to trust you.  However they may not at first appreciate the honest confrontational experiences such integrity might generate.  It is said that to be trusted is greater than to be loved.  In the long run, I am convinced, to be trusted will be also to be loved.

Apologising Sincerely When You Make A Withdrawal
It takes a great deal of character strength to apologise quickly out of one’s heart rather than out of pity.
A person must possess himself and have a deep sense of security in fundamental principles and values in order to genuinely apologise.

Leo Roskin taught, “It is the weak who are cruel. Softness can only be expected from the strong.”

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

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

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THE EMOTIONAL BANK ACCOUNT

I have previously mentioned the passing of Stephen Covey and one of his books ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’

This book had a big impact on me the first time I read it and still continues to teach me something new every time I read it.

Many of you have indicated that you would love to have the man of your dreams in your life and rightly so, this is in my opinion what we all deserve so I would like to share with you what he has written on what he calls ‘The Emotional Bank Account’.

Particularly for those of you who are spending time thinking deeply about the qualities and traits you would love to have in a man. What he writes is applicable to all our relationships, with our children, our family, our friends and our work colleagues.

It begins like this..

As we look back and survey the terrain to determine where we’ve been and where we are in relationship to where we are going we clearly see that we could not have gotten where we are without coming the way we came.  The landscape is covered with the fragments of broken relationships of people who have tried.  They have tried to jump into effective relationships without the maturity, the strength of character, to maintain them.  But you just can’t ‘do it’, you simply have to travel the road.  You can’t be successful with other people if you haven’t paid the price of success with yourself.

He shares a conversation with a man who was at one of his seminars, “You know Stephen I really don’t enjoy coming to these seminars.”  “Look at this beautiful coastline and the sea out there and all I can do is sit and worry about the grilling I’m going to get from my wife tonight on the phone.  She gives me the third degree every time I’m away.  “Was I in meeting all morning? What did I do in the evening?  Who was I with? and so on..  Then he said rather timidly,  “I guess she knows all the questions to ask, it was at a seminar like this that I met her…when I was married to someone else.”

Stephen said, “My friend, you can’t talk your way out of problems you behave yourself into.”
” You can’t have the fruits without the roots.”
“It’s the principle of sequencing, Private Victory precedes Public Victory.”
“Self-mastery and self-discipline are the foundation of good relationships with others.”
“If you don’t know yourself you can’t control yourself, it’s very hard to like yourself except in some short-term, psych-up, superficial way.”

The most important ingredient we put into any relationship is not what we say or what we do, but who we are.

If our words and our actions come from superficial human relations techniques rather than from our own inner core others will sense the duplicity.

The place to begin building any relationship is inside ourselves, inside our own circle of influence, our own character.

He then uses ‘The Emotional Bank Account’ as a metaphor that describes the amount of trust that’s been built up in a relationship.  It’s the feeling of safeness you have with another human being.  If I make deposits into an Emotional Bank Account  through courtesy, kindness, honesty and keeping my commitments to you I build up a reserve.  Your trust towards me becomes higher and others can call upon that trust many times if they need to.  When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant and effective.

However if I have a habit of showing disrespect, cutting you off, overreacting, ignoring you, threatening you or playing little tin god in your life, eventually my Emotional Bank Account is overdrawn.  Now it’s tension city.  It’s protecting my backside.

Many organisations are filled with it.
Many families are filled with it and
Many marriages are filled with it.

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.  The relationship may further deteriorate to one of hostility, fight or flight, verbal battles in a cold war at home sustained only by children, sex, social pressure or image protection. Or it may end up in open warfare in the courts where bitter legal battles can be carried on for years .

We are talking here about the most intimate, the most potentially rich, joyful and satisfying and productive relationship possible between two people on this earth.  Our most constant relationships, like marriage, require our most constant deposits.

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

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

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ADDICTED TO PORN

There are of course many forms of addiction that impact on relationships, this blog is about addiction to internet porn.

Over the past month or so I have had conversations with three different women about a serious problem they were experiencing in their relationships.

Their partners were addicted to internet porn, could no longer be intimate with them or get an erection.  It’s a serious problem, it’s not going to go away and I have serious concerns for the young men of today who are growing up with access to internet porn who may never be able to engage in a loving, intimate relationship.

I did some research on the subject and found this information on manupproject.com.au which describes the circumstances from a man’s perspective much better than I ever could.

In this post I wanted to take a closer look at a particular type of addiction that is gripping men and having devastating effects on their relationship and their own health.

At the click of a button men can have access to thousands and thousands of images of a pornographic nature. John Mayer, who is quite open about his porn addiction, once said that it’s not unusual for him to be able to see 300 vagina’s before he gets out of bed in the morning. Was that possible prior to high speed internet? Of course not but it is now.

So let’s paint the scene for you. A man has been using sex, masturbation and porn for most of his adult life to help himself deal with the low grade depression/anxiety that he has been feeling. He works from home which is adding to the feelings of anxiety. He begins to watch more and more porn looking for the perfect video flicking from one to another trying to get his fantasy fulfilled.

He is partial to young women so his search is usually for this. After a period of time the videos he used to watch no longer get him aroused so he searches for harder hits to try and get himself off. His partner, who isn’t 18 years old, begins to notice a downward turn in their sex life with her partner making excuses to avoid intimacy as he is no longer turned on by her and struggles to get and keep and erection during intercourse with her. Before long the relationship is in ruins with both parties blaming the other and there is a tremendous amount of pain and blame.

This is a snapshot of a very real problem that’s facing many couples. In my last blog we looked at the brain chemicals that are released during pleasurable activities and how that can end up becoming quite literally a survival response in the downward spiral to addiction. We might think of addiction as being substance abuse like alcohol and drugs but porn fits this substance list perfectly.

Once you start to flood the system with enough dopamine to take down a baby rhino your body begins to reduce the amount of receptors so you have to search for harder and harder forms of pornographic material to find it pleasurable. Only problem being that your partner isn’t likely going to want to enact what you’re viewing on the computer. The jack hammering, dominating and often violent scenes that men watch, and literally rewire their brains, are a far cry from what women want in bed leaving them feeling unmet and unloved.

The other scary part of porn addiction is the rewiring of the brain. If you expose yourself to a stimulus enough times (think 18 year old porn stars. Barely legal) then your brain starts to make these new connections permanent pathways and before long you can only get turned on by young women. I’ve seen this happen to middle aged men with porn addiction and they are no longer turned on by women of their age. The only problem is that they can’t connect emotionally to young women so they have this split and struggle to find love and lust in the same person.

This is not just a very serious problem for young boys and men, it can also impact on young women in a very negative way as they struggle with their own sexuality issues and wanting to please a man.

So what’s the answer?

Education?  Is that enough or is there more that can be done? I sure don’t have the answers!

I would however, love to hear what you have to say on this subject, open discussion brings more awareness to the seriousness of this problem.

To see more on this topic go to manupproject.com.au

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

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

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