Tall Enough to Ride The Divorce Roller Coaster Divorce is a Roller Coaster Ride

Tall Enough to Ride The Divorce Roller Coaster Divorce is a Roller Coaster Ride

We’ve all heard the expression that divorce is a roller coaster and we need to enjoy the ride, right?  Being told to enjoy the divorce roller coaster ride is akin to wishing someone a peaceful day at the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Luckily, divorce doesn’t last a lifetime and the parallels that can be drawn will help us deal when it feels otherwise.

The initial phase of divorce I liken to queuing up for the ride. Your adrenaline is starting to ramp up and the energy is electric. You may have a partial view of the tracks ahead but the full view of the ride is beyond your line of sight. Returning cars are unloading passengers in various states of disarray. Faces reflect looks of bewilderment, exhaustion and relief as people are released from their seats. Some run directly into the arms of waiting loved ones, while others wander off alone, reaching for handrails as they adjust to being on solid land again. Your palms start to sweat as you understand that they made it, but wonder exactly what is in store. As you ponder this thought, the line shuffles forward and it’s go time.

The Front Car. At first you may feel as though you are in control of this situation. You have immense confidence in your own abilities to handle what’s in store. Some may call you a thrill seeker. Some may call you a control freak. Others would call you crazy. In any case, you’ve chosen your lot and have secured yourself a front row seat to what’s coming. Nothing lies between you and this adventure but open track when the safety bar comes down with a resounding clank across your lap. Safety measures are tested. You hear the release of compressed air as the cars pull out of the bay with a sudden start. You’ve got this right?

The Middle Car. Then there are those of you who are more the middle car variety. It’s likely the divorce wasn’t your choice. You were standing in line thinking it was just another day at the park when she handed you the papers and you realized not only were you tall enough to ride, the only exit was on the other side. The only way out was to go through it. You deemed the middle car the safest option with the small amount of notice given.  The middle car to minimizes your exposure and your risk.  Or so you would like to think.

The Caboose. Which brings us to those who ride in the end cars. This experience has the makings of a cattle call when the majority of your day was spent innocently chewing daisies. A muffled voice over the crackling loudspeaker tells you to step forward and into the caboose you go.  You are mortified of heights, fear change and have heart palpitations in any vehicle that has a velocity greater than that which you could outrun. And you don’t run unless you’re being chased. You’re in the caboose because it is the only seat left.

Disclaimer. So here’s the deal. Before you print this article and bring it to your therapist for further discussion, understand two things. One, no matter where you sit, the ride is essentially the same. Two, the ride is finite.  This means you will come out living and breathing at the other end. You may feel lighter, for a number of reasons. You may need a moment to collect yourself, restore personal order and get that queasiness in the pit of your stomach to settle. But you will.

The Initial Ascent. Regardless of your seat selection or whether your divorce is by choice or by force, your initial ascent will be a combination of adrenaline mixed with pointed questions of self-doubt. These questions may take the form of someone screaming and crying as you approach the first summit. This someone may be you. There will be a brief pause at the apex. There may be a silence, a pause. You may feel suspended in time. You may have delusions that you will be able to disembark.  After all, you see stairs.  If they hold the technician, they’ll hold you right?  Never mind that you are buckled in and the train has left the station. There truly is no going back now. Between white knuckles and the sound of your heartbeat in your ears, you have time to admire the view.  You find yourself momentarily taken aback by the beauty from this altitude, that is until the earth falls away beneath you.

The Blur. Your ride may vary. Twists. Turns. Inverted suspension. You may scream. You may enjoy it. You may lose items you thought were safely secured. Fellow passengers may resemble a horror movie on mute. Negotiations, offers and pleas that would never otherwise be offered are chanted in varying volumes. You may even have your photo taken, by surprise, and the darkest time, and the most inopportune, compromising and unsuspected moment. Those that took those photos may try and sell them back to you. They will only hold emotional importance for a short period of time.

The Return to the Station. You can feel the ride has peaked. You have a moment to catch your breath. Wipe the tears from your eyes and catch your breath. And while you may never have the urge to clap your hands with glee, hop up and down and yell “Let’s go again!” Know that you could if you had to. And you would know what to expect this time. You would know how to pack. You would know to secure your items. And you would know which to lock away.

You’re divorced. For a suspended period of time, it felt like your world was ending. For a suspended period of time, it felt like you had been turned on your head as things came crashing down around you. For a suspended period of time, it felt like you wouldn’t get your feet firmly back on the ground. Well. Congrats.  Why? Because you made it. You’re stronger, wiser and despite (or because) of everything that happened, you’re still a great guy.

 

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Three Tips to Saving Your Marriage, Part Three Rebooting Your Marriage, a Do-Over

Three Tips to Saving Your Marriage, Part Three Rebooting Your Marriage, a Do-Over

[Check out parts one and two of this mini-series on saving your marriage!]

You’ve gone so far as to replace your inner DJ and have given yourself, the only person you can control, a thorough, consistent workout in positivity. You feel a marked improvement…but something is still off. Old patterns are still being repeated. You’re still receiving error messages and can’t understand why. And, saving your marriage is a high priority.

If you’re in a bad place right now, and have been for quite some time, consider that you are running your relationship on an old operating system, like running your computer on Windows XP. You may have slipped into patterns you didn’t know existed. This old system is a perfect environment in which to keep making the same mistakes. The good news is, performing an update is a fairly enjoyable process when the proper steps are taken.

Let’s pretend you’re on the phone with marriage tech support. You already know what they’re going to say. It’s the first thing they always say prior to an update.  Did you backup your data?  Consider this: what is the first thing people are concerned about when a personal system crashes? Simple. The loss of their photos. Why? Because photos are memories, irreplaceable moments. Photos store images that may otherwise be forgotten and the details within them trigger an emotional response.

This emotional response is just what we’re after. As you prepare to update your system, find old photos of the two of you. Go back and far as you can. Go as far back as you can. Go in the basement. Dig through the attic. Call your Mom. Call her Mom. Just find the photos as though your life depended on it. Find the photos with the same sense of urgency and conviction that you would if your house was on fire and this was your only chance. It’s that serious.

Now that you’ve found them, go as deep as you can. Sit with them. Study them. Feel how they make you feel. Are you happy? Joyful? Thrilled? Recognize those feelings. Identify them as specifically as you can. They each have a very unique name and you’ll want to be able to address them properly when they come visit you again. And they will. Take those pictures and throw them in the air if you like, run through the joy they give you like a little kid runs through the sprinkler.  Spin around in it. Feel alive in it. Know that you can feel that way again, now that you have identified what is missing.

Now that you’ve identified what’s missing, you can find new ways to achieve those emotions together.  We all know going back is impossible.  The good news is, that’s not what we’re after.  Put “going back” in the same category as scorekeeping and take them both out to the trash.  They serve no constructive purpose.

Now that you’re hopped up on visuals, let’s step it up another notch. Let’s ensure we’ve saved the data stored in your sense of smell. What perfume did she used to wear? Go to a department store. Find it. Smell it. It will trigger memories you didn’t know you still had. Do you have a favorite dish you used to cook? Maybe you were broke when you first met and the smell of chicken flavored ramen noodles will remind you of your first apartment together. Take a moment and make something that you haven’t in years. Celebrate how far you’ve come if you’ve moved on up from Spam a bed of white rice. Or laugh about the time you were such a horrible cook that you burnt the meatloaf. Pay attention to the memories that return. Remind yourselves how much the other BS didn’t bother the two of you in the beginning, because you loved each other. Remind yourselves of how you felt staring at each other over dinner in the beginning. While there is no going back, you can feel that way again.

Lastly, let’s look at the data stored in your music. Do you remember what song was playing when you met? What was popular when you were dating? What song did you dance to at your wedding? If you’re drawing a blank, do a search on popular songs from the year you met. Go on a treasure hunt for long lost memories and search for one hit wonders. Pay attention to what happens next. It’s very important. And telling.

If, up to this point, you thought these exercises were a waste of time, and would have no effect on your or outcome on your marriage, I issue the following challenge: pull up a one-hit wonder from the year you met her and press play. I bet you the dog’s balls you will effortlessly sing along. And this is fantastic news. Your capacity to remember and draw from the past can be recalled and applied to the present.

Now, take the list of all the emotions you want to feel in and about your marriage and add them to your list of positivity that you read every morning. This is how you will test your new operating system to ensure it’s working properly. You’re going to run a test to see if those feelings are present, in whole or in part. You’re going to take strides to adjust your inner DJ, your own actions and your own system to adjust, on a daily basis, until those emotions are a part of your present day.

Remember, there is no going back to the way things were, but there is every reason you can feel every positive emotion in your marriage that you wish.  The latest version of your marriage has every reason to be the latest, greatest and best release ever.

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Convince Your Spouse To Save Your Marriage How to Stop Focusing on the Problems and Focus on Solutions

Convince Your Spouse To Save Your Marriage How to Stop Focusing on the Problems and Focus on Solutions

Convince Your Spouse To Save Your Marriage

How to Stop Focusing on the Problems and Focus on Solutions

Love is a two-way street and you won’t go very far traveling solo. But when it comes to convincing your spouse and yourself to save your marriage, there are ways you can get things going in the right direction. To begin making strides toward reconciliation start with transforming yourself and leading by example.

Odds are you’ve talked about the problems in the marriage until you’re bluer in the face than Grouchy Smurf—at this point words have lost their power to help and heal.

Action is how you will communicate your commitment to make this relationship rock solid again. Words can be said in the heat of the moment or in a state of wishful thinking, but actions speak truth. If you take the initiative then your partner will see your resolve, your faith that things can get better and your ability to make lasting changes.

Taking these three steps can lay down the foundation for regained trust in the union you share.

1. Focus on the Solution and Not the Problem 

You’ve been unhappy for a while now and you’ve been expressing your unhappiness with complaining, sulking, and withdrawing.  Instead of making things better, it has only widened the crevice separating you and your spouse into a Grand Canyon sized fissure.

In order to reverse the trend, set a new rule:

No complaining without offering a solution.

This will turn hopeless problems into manageable challenges. Once you switch the focus from how the problem is ruining your relationship to how to improve the situation you are empowering yourself to be back in control of getting closer instead of watching helplessly as you drift farther apart.

2. Reignite the spark with spontaneity.

Save your marriage by remembering why you got married in the first place. You got married because, at one time, you made one another feel safe and loved. But if you think back to when you were dating, there was lots of uncertainty, and that was exciting.

You didn’t know if she liked you back, and if so, how much. You wondered how long you should wait to call her back when she didn’t pick up so you wouldn’t seem too eager. You worried how to strike the perfect balance between seeming interested but not too needy.

While it was comforting when you could let down the pretense and just be yourself with your spouse, long-term predictability and reliability can erode spontaneity, excitement, and sexual energy.

To keep your marriage alive you have to maintain the effort to surprise your spouse sometimes, to still be that man that can set butterflies aflutter in her stomach.

Surprise her with a gift certificate to a massage, dinner at her favorite spot or a night away where you two can let the day to day stress of life dissolve and focus only on one another. Show her there’s still plenty of magic worth saving.

3. Work on your own happiness. 

A healthy, confident, upbeat man is irresistible.

You don’t need to be Justin Timberlake to have the swag that makes the ladies swoon, but a man who is comfortable with himself and seems like he has a lot going on in his life is attractive and intriguing.

The flip side of the coin is that a depressed, angry, self-doubting and self-pitying man is strong woman repellent. There’s no doubt that a failing marriage can make you neglect your health and embroil you in negativity and frustration, but fight the urge to indulge these tendencies.

Climb out of this trap of mental and physical toxicity by shifting focus from your disappointment about your life to the things that make you feel fulfilled, bring you joy and satisfaction.

If your kids are the part of the marriage that puts a fat smile on your face every day then take them on a weekend trip to the beach or head to the mountains for a day hiking trip. You’ll return in a great mood from the fresh air, some heart-healthy activity and bonding time with the offspring.

Maybe you’ve stopped hitting the gym or meeting up with the guys to shoot some hoops— get back in the game. It could be you traded your weekly run for getting bombed drinking beer on the couch to drown your miser; put down the brew and get back outside.

When your spouse starts to notice the healthier, happier you that is fun to be around because instead of being quick to yell or contradict you’re fast on the draw with a smile or laugh, you will transform into that sexy man who swept her off her heels.

Final Thoughts

A disintegrating marriage leads so many men into a spiral of hopelessness. But the best way to regain a sense of empowerment over your life, and save your marriage, is to be pro-active in making yourself a more desirable partner and a happier person.

In the worst case scenario, you are healthier and more content with yourself —that alone is worth the effort. And if everything works out the way you intend, you are back on track, making strides toward an improved relationship. 

Want more advice for saving your marriage? Click here for some unexpected ways to hang on to your relationship. 

Was your marriage headed for divorce and you turned it around? Tell us how in the comments section!

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Tips For Saving Your Marriage How to Start the Process of Saving Your Marriage

Tips For Saving Your Marriage How to Start the Process of Saving Your Marriage

When is your marriage too far gone to save? Only you know for sure. But if there’s still some fight left in you, and you’re willing to put in the energy, there are ways to reestablish a connection with your partner. It’s not an easy undertaking, not by a long shot! But if you’re committed to the idea of regaining and saving your marriage, it can be done!

Your marriage, like so many things that often feel beyond your control, really are a matter of simple choice. Every second you spend with your spouse is the result of a decision you made to do so. If you really believed your marriage was damaged beyond repair, you’d leave, right? By staying, you’re sending a message.

Saving Your Marriage With These 6 Top Tips

If you’re ready to put in the work, these following tips will get you that, the revitalized, connected partnership you’re after — towards saving your marriage.

 

1. The first step involves you being brutally honest with yourself.

Forget your good intentions, the promises and hurts of the past. Look at your partner and try to see her as she once was, the person you fell head over heels for. Remember that you once found her irresistible. Then, remember why you did.

Now, see her for who she is today. She’s changed. No doubt,  so have you. Can you dedicate you affections to her today, right now, to the woman she is? Are her characteristics and personality quirks something you enjoy about her?

Small things are just that, insignificant. But if your spouse, for example, has developed a nightly drinking habit, and you don’t feel she’s holding up her end of the bargain, it may be time to decide that your paths are no longer compatible.

Then again, you might just decide that such behavior patterns are likely a passing phase, and with some concrete communication, the trajectory of your marriage could sustain real and meaningful change.

Only you can decide for certain, but do so with your eyes wide open. Don’t sugar coat the answers to these key questions. Use them to design a plan of action.

  • Are you still in love with her?
  • If the answer is yes, what can you do to rekindle the passion between you two?
  • If it’s no, is there anything you can do to reignite old feelings?

2. Step Two is all about letting go of whatever drove you apart in the first place.

Picking at old scars and bringing up the past serves nobody. Consider it poison. It’ll kill your relationship if you let it. Forgive, instead. The age old adage of “forgive but won’t forget” cannot apply here. You don’t have to be blind to bad behavior, but agree to start over. Wipe the slate clean.

3. You’ll learn to interpret your partner’s communication signals as part of Step Three.

If you can tell from the beginning of a conversation that your parter is closed off to resolutions, engage her at a different time. Or, perhaps you’ll want to change up your approach.

4. Watch your expectations in Step Four.

You can’t will a wound to heal. And you can’t want it more than she does. Learn to let go. Try not to take things personally and realize that people very seldom act out of motivations having anything to do with you.

That’s true ever with your significant other. Embrace this journey as a learning experience where you will grow and thrive no matter the ultimate outcome of your parter’s attitude.

5. Number Five? Deal with your own emotional baggage.

Do you have mommy issues? Daddy issues?

Dealing with a sense of abandonment (especially if it sabotaged your relationship) is a must. Do what you have to do to heal. If that means individual weekly counseling sessions for a year, so be it. Commit to it. It’ll be worth it in the end.

6. And finally, make your self a priority!

It’s hard to try and reconnect with someone when you aren’t even certain of who you are. It’s almost impossible! So, be good to yourself.

Take care of your mental, physical and spiritual health. You can only move into a healthier stage of your relationship if you’re not allowing a lack of self-esteem, addition to stress, or a martyr complex to sabotage your health.

Do things that make you feel good and free your soul. Do them without guilt.

Taking care of your self puts you on the steady track to healing your marriage.

Did your marriage survive a near-end? Tell us how you fixed it and put your life back on track in the comments!

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5 Unconventional Ways to Save your Marriage Be the spouse you know you can be to save your marriage

5 Unconventional Ways to Save your Marriage Be the spouse you know you can be to save your marriage

No doubt you’ve heard countless advice about how to avoid divorce and save your struggling marriage. Your parents, the in-laws, friends, church members, everybody has an opinion—and most of the well-meaning nuggets of unsolicited wisdom contradict one another. You are left more confused than ever on how to find a detour on the road to divorce court.  Maybe you’ve tried all the advice you’ve been given and still—your relationship is as wobbly as ever. It’s time for a Hail Mary. At this point you know one thing for sure, the clichéd, tired advice isn’t working. It’s time to go against the grain of conventional wisdom and try some advice to save your marriage that you likely haven’t heard.

1. Disorient her with praise. Just when she’s expecting you to let her know how much it ties your stomach in knots when she (fill in the blank), complement something she did that was positive within the behavior, even if it’s something small. For example, if you regularly argue that she’s too hard on the kids about their schoolwork then wait until you see her helping them with their homework in a patient manner and mention to her: “The kids are lucky to have a mother that takes the time to get involved with their education. So many parents don’t show enough interest in what their kids are doing or make an effort to help.” The unexpected positive spin on what has become an on-going sore spot will throw her off balance and encourage new behavior to replace the knee jerk, defensive reactions that have become ingrained—from both of you.

2. Stop correcting unrelated factual errors. This only gets you off the topic at hand and throws the both of you into a no-win contest of pettiness. If it was a Tuesday and not a Saturday, or if it was at your brother-in-laws’ house and not at Aunt Frannie’s, is not the point. Stick to the core of what you are trying to resolve instead of fixating on exacting some satisfaction from being right about a useless detail—and losing the opportunity to connect and communicate on a deeper level.

3. Be Specific in your Praise and Affection. Of course it’s not bad to offer generalized affirmations of your love like “You’re the best thing that ever happened to me, and I love you.” It’s just not that moving or powerful. There are probably things she does that make your heart feel like it skips a beat or that make you feel safe or that takes a weight off your shoulders and brings you relief: the way she makes your lunch the night before so you don’t have to worry about it in the morning when you’re rushed, or the way she rubs your head when you have a headache, or her witty sense of humor. Maybe you used to tell her how these things made you feel, but haven’t in a long time, or maybe you never mentioned it at all. If you think about your criticisms, they’re mostly specific: “Why don’t you make the bed in the morning” or “Why do you wait until the same day to ask me to handle dinner or pick up the kids, can ya give a man a heads up?” Be that specific with your praise too. Your words will have more meaning and show her you really see who she is.

4. Ignore the experts. While marriage counseling helps some couples, more than half come away feeling that while they understand their partner’s viewpoints and feelings more, they don’t know how to actually improve the way they relate to one another. Talking will only get you so far. You need practical, applicable steps you can take to reduce the tension and regain the intimacy. You intuitively know three things you can do to make your partner happier: fill the gas tank up when you use the car, start the coffee maker in the morning, and throw the boxers and socks into the hamper. Identify your three—and do them, right now. With marriage counseling the focus is on listening rather than doing, and while honest communication is key, you can’t stop there. You have to go a step further to actually make changes that will improve your relationship. Marriages are saved because of what people do, not just because of how well partners listen to one another.

5. Stop focusing your energy on the wrong question. Don’t fall into the obsessive “Did I marry the right person?” trap.  Put your energy into loving the person you committed to share your life with. A happy marriage is not about finding some magical person that completes you, it’s not that mystical—it’s much more practical. Your behavior toward your spouse, your level of trust and intimacy, your willingness to see that person, and your relationship, through tough times and hard decisions, that’s what dictates the outcome of a marriage. Love is not some magical meeting of soul mates, it’s a mutual decision to see the best in one another, and to accept the worst.

You know your wife better than anyone else. So stop listening to so much of what everyone else has to say, even the so-called experts, and start being that spouse that you know you can be— the one that once had a deep connection to the woman he loves and that loves him.

 

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