Counseling Can Save Your Marriage

Counseling Can Save Your Marriage

When marriages are in trouble, often couples refuse to go to marriage counseling to save their marriage. Many factors affect this decision, including privacy, anger, contempt, distrust, confrontation, and a plethora of others. But, in all seriousness, counseling is a very valuable tool  that can help to save a marriage.

As with any relationship, clear, concise and effective communications is essential to a good working relationship. But, even though we often feel as if we are communicating effectively, little do we realize that may not be the case. Whenever we communicate, those listening are subconsciously filtering the information based on their life experiences. And some of those filters are baggage from previous relationships, good or bad. Those filters skew our thinking and our understanding of what is being said and the meanings behind them.

By using an objective third party, a marriage counselor, they may be able to help understand and correct hot button issues that are damaging the relationship.

The decision to seek counseling is a very intimate one, whether it be marriage or personal. Choosing the right counselor is key. It’s also important for both partners to understand that counseling is not an immediate solution. Marriage problems don’t appear suddenly, and they won’t be resolved without hard work in the emotional trenches. Results take time.

If your partner refuses to go to therapy, don’t make it another point of contention. Seek personal counseling for yourself, alone. Taking time to work on you and your baggage will have a positive effect in your own life, which may transfer to your marriage.

However, statistics do show that couples counseling is more effective than individual therapy.

According to statistics provided by the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, 93 percent of patients surveyed said they had more effective tools for dealing with their problems after counseling.

I’ve seen the difference marriage counseling can make in the lives of close friends. I would recommend it to any couples who are struggling. It can be hard to delve into topics like money and sex in front of a third party, but the results are well-worth the discomfort.

My friends Sue and Johnny were convinced they were meant to be. They met after a series of failed relationships. Both had sworn off love completely. But when a mutual friend introduced them at a baseball game, they swore it was love at first site.

After hours of flirting and endless pints of Guinness, the pair decided to meet the next evening for their first official date. They spent the night hopping from dive bars to coffee shops, talking about past hurts and hopes for the future. The chemistry was undeniable. Sue went home with Johnny that night and never left.

Both of them will tell you that they felt like their proverbial soul mate ships had finally arrived.

“I was beginning to think there was nobody out there for me,” Johnny told me one night over sushi. “I met Sue and everything changed.” After only five months of dating, the pair eloped to Las Vegas, marrying in a drive-through service performed by an aging, gold-lamé clad Elvis-impersonator.

But after a whirlwind romance that the both described as nothing short of magical, things began to cool down, as they often do.

“In the beginning, we couldn’t get enough of each other,” Sue said. “We were having sex every day, multiple times a day. I have a high sex drive, which has caused problems in past relationships. When a man can’t get on your level, it causes resentment and frustration. John was stimulating in every way: emotionally, mentally and sexually. I was convinced I’d found my match. We got married, and things changed.”

Johnny said that marrying Sue kicked off what turned out to be the best year of his life both personally and professionally. Then things started to go down hill. He lost his job unexpectedly. He and Sue were fighting more and more over little things that seemed not to matter in the months prior. They weren’t having sex nearly as often, and eventually not at all.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Sue said. “I was starting to think I’d made a mistake. He just wasn’t the same person.”

Sue said she would try to express her feelings of loneliness and desire to Johnny, but that he didn’t seem to hear her. “I was missing my best friend, missing the intimacy of our sex life, of feeling connected and desired. But John didn’t seem to hear me. I thought maybe he just didn’t care.”

According to Johnny, the stress of losing his job had screwed up his libido. He didn’t feel like having sex or even getting up in the morning. Sue didn’t seem to understand, and the constant pressure she placed on him to perform made him feel more like a piece of meat than a husband.

After only a year of marriage, the couple decided to seek counseling.

Today, the pair have been together for more than 20 years.

“Counseling helped us to understand the struggles that the other was dealing with,” Johnny said. “We are all inherently selfish. It makes it hard to step outside our own needs and look at what our partner is going through. It was tough to talk about our sex life at first. But I’m glad that we did.”

Sue said counseling helped Johnny to see that she wasn’t feeling connected or valued as a woman, and her to see that he was feeling depressed and overly pressured.

Counseling may not be the solution for every couple. There are issues that run deep, and sometimes, just can’t be worked through. But the only way to know if counseling is right for your marriage is to discuss it. It could be just the life raft you’ve been searching for.

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The 5 Stages of Grieving a Relationship after Divorce

The 5 Stages of Grieving a Relationship after Divorce

Well, now you have it. The relationship is dead. And, trust me, it’s not easy. Surviving the death of a relationship is like surviving the death of a loved one. There’s a grieving process we go through, we all do, when something dies. This time, it just happened to be your marriage. That one-time partner for life is nevermore. And, it hurts. It’s painful. Very painful. But we must endure and move on.

But, to do so, we need to understand the 5 stages of grieving involved and what we must conquer in the process.

The 5 Stages of Grieving

  1. Denial. In this first stage you are still listening to your broken heart’s ballad played on repeat rather than your logical mind. Said mind makes it clear that the relationship is done for. But you don’t hear it over the beating, entrancing unchained melody blaring from within.

As you’re trying to adjust to your new reality, one free of the struggles of your relationship and old routines, you’ll notice a tightening in your abdomen and a brief loss of breath caused by anxiety. You’re in a constant state of disbelief. And even send out the occasional (albeit unanswered) drunk text from time to time.

Still believing you can fix the broken-ness in the marriage, you entertain a level of hope for a future with her despite evidence to the contrary.

2. Anger. Anger is sneaky and can manifest in surprising ways during the 5 stages of grieving a relationship. It may be hard at first to know exactly where to aim your rage. You’re clearly angry at your ex, but you’re also conflicted by deeply rooted feelings of love and fondness for her.

You begin to think about all the ways she did you wrong. This, of course, leads to you to more self-loathing where you question your very place in the universe, and wax poetic about the fact that you will probably die alone.

After all, everyone but you is in a relationship that will last forever. How could your

How could she do this? What about all the plans you made? Did your promises mean nothing? You begin looking for someone to blame for your poor fortune. The ex is a given, but you really need a bigger target. God? The Universe? The producers of The Bachelor? Sure! They’ll do.

Everything reminds you of her.

A song on the radio.

A billboard for a local restaurant.

You associate situations and people with your breakup, and you find that you’re angry with people who really had no bearing on your relationship at all. When people try to avoid your wrath by talking some sense into you, it’s easier to respond with pure, fist-shaking, vein-popping rage than listen to reason.

You may also feel an increasingly powerful urge to tell her off. Resist that urge. Be the bigger person.

3. Bargaining. Bargaining and denial are best friends. They go on dates where they watch home movies of your defunct relationship wearing rose-colored glasses. They eat those disgusting salads with fruit and spinach mixed together in an unholy combination.

And they’ll have you believing that right amount of begging and some clever bargaining could bring that relationship roaring back to life.

Now you’re looking for any way to make this work: threats, negotiation, a deal with the devil for your soul for eternity…

Hollow promises (about changing things about you really don’t think are a problem but you lie anyway) leave you faster than you can write them down. Counseling, a second job, fewer hours at the office–they’re all declarations declared in a vain attempt to revive what’s already laying flat in a fridge wearing a toe tag.

If that doesn’t work, opt for a side of guilt with your corpse. Throw in the kids. Tell her about all the therapy they’ll need just to function like normal adults. Blame her.

Keep it up long enough, and she’ll see she was right to leave your crazy ass.

4. Depression.

This may manifest in different ways. Symptoms include (but aren’t limited to):

  • A lack of energy
  • A desire to sleep more often than normal
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of desire to do anything you had previously taken pleasure in.

Drug and alcohol abuse are common in people going through this stage. A permeating lack of hope may push you to miss days of work or duck out on pre-planned outings. Friends and family will grow noticeably concerned about your welfare, but you can’t muster the will to care.

You feel like you’re going to explode into a weeping puddle of emotion at any second. And you long for the sweet reprieve of death. Believing everyone would be better off without you around, you’re tired of burdening those around you with your problems.

If at any time you experience any of these symptoms, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline immediately at:

1-800-273-8255

24 hours a day, 7 days a week including holidays. The service is free to everyone, and your call is kept confidential.

Visit the National Institute of Mental Health’s site dedicated to suicide prevention for more information about depression and steps you can take to treat it. 

5. Acceptance. The last of the 5 stages of grieving a relationship takes the longest to reach. But once you get here, you start to feel like yourself again.

Here, in the land of “Wouldn’t trade nothing for my journey, now,” you are finally able to accept the relationship is over. You’re better off for it.

If you don’t agree you are, it’s at this stage that you are finally able to recognize that the only course of action is to move on. Let go of the past.

Your interests begin to return little by little. Friends may comment that you look better than you have in years. You find a renewed sense of purpose and may even take up new hobbies.

Final Thoughts

In the midst of the churning tide that is the five phases of this process, it may seem impossible that you will ever arrive at this sunlit place, but you will. A lingering sadness may occasionally pop up, but those days become few and far between.

In the end, you are focused on your own well-being and your bright future ahead.

Understanding how the break-up process affects us can help you overcome some of the more challenging parts of this experience by making them easier to navigate. Just remember, you can’t rush through any level of the grieving process. The best thing you can do for yourself is to allow yourself the right to pass through each stage all the while feeling your feelings. Processing them is the only way to keep the breakup from haunting you for years to come.

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Deciding Who Gets Primary Custody

Deciding Who Gets Primary Custody

There was a time when family court judges automatically ruled in favor of the mother. While vestiges of this default primary custody bias may still be felt in some areas of the country, the tide is turning. More and more, courts of law no longer presume that mothers are more fit parents than fathers. In fact, the odds of a dad being able to prove that the child’s best bet for a full, safe and healthy life is for him to be the custodial parent is higher than ever. There are even states that have passed laws indicating that mothers will not be given preferential treatment in custodial disputes. 

While times are changing, the reality is still that mothers are more likely to get custody of minor children. As a divorcing dad, your best bet in a custody hearing is to know some of the factors that judges commonly consider in making decisions. There are also steps you can take to outline why you are the better parent.

Factors in Awarding Custody 

The first factor the courts look at is which parent is the primary caregiver. The term “primary caregiver” essentially refers to the parent who is best able to meet the child’s needs, who accepts the most parental responsibility and who has a history of primarily cared for the child. Which parent meets the child’s most basic needs? Who handles the feeding, doctor appointments, bedtime stories and bath time fun. Historically, women, even when they work full-time, are much more likely to take on the primary caregiver roles. So start taking on as many of these tasks as you’re able. The court will take into account your history of performing such tasks.

The second factor is the parent-child bond. What is your relationship with your child? Does your child miss you when you’re away? Have you spent time building a relationship with him or her.

They younger the child is the more strong the mother-child bond may be. This does not negate your effectiveness as a father, but it’s a result of more traditional parenting roles. Because mothers are conventionally the parent that primarily cares for the child from infancy to preschool, the closeness that develops is a different sort of bond than the one that is created between father and child. The more involved you have been in the rearing of a young child, the closer your overall bond will be.

In a lot of jurisdictions, many courts presume that kids will be kept emotionally whole and healthy by having a meaningful relationship with both parents. One of the primary factors taken under consideration is which parent is more likely to foster a healthy relationship between the children and the other parent. Any parent who has attempted to commit parental alienation — such as poisoning the child against the other parent, or refusing access to the child — will not fare well in any family court. And there are other extenuating circumstances, such as allegations of child abuse and instances of domestic violence, of course.

Try To Get Along With Your Ex 

If there is any way that you can maintain a civil or even amiable relationship with your ex, it can only help your custody and visitation chances. Maintaining this type of relationship, especially in front of your children, will only help them in the long run. It’s a well-documented fact that kids who come from divorced homes fare much better if they are not used as weapons of manipulation. Allow your kids to maintain a positive, healthy relationship with both parents. Speak only positively of your ex. Not only will it help you in court, but it really is what’s best for your children.

Consider a Fathers Rights Attorney 

If you’re hoping to be the custodial parent of your child, the best course of action is to first consult a family law attorney with experience in Fathers Rights. Because laws differ from state to state and family courts can be as unpredictable as the judges who preside over them, your attorney’s insight can become the most valuable tool you have at your disposal. He or she will have some insight into how certain judges will react in any given situation, and how they may lean in custody disputes. They can help you to build the strongest case possible.

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Are You Eligible for a Quickie Divorce?

Are You Eligible for a Quickie Divorce?

The decision to divorce is never an easy one. But when divorce is the only option, spending thousands on lawyers and spending months or years in a court battle isn’t necessary. If you and your spouse can work together, you might be able to get a quickie divorce

No Fault Divorce is Faster 

The waiting period for divorce differ from state to state. There are states that have practically no waiting period at all. Some have waiting periods of up to two years. Use our Divorce Law Summaries by State to get an idea of your local divorce requirements.

No fault divorces, where you and your spouse have reached an agreement on child custody and debt/property division are the most painless way to get divorced (if there is such a thing).

The following is a more detailed list of the topics you’ll need to discuss with your future ex before deciding if a do-it-yourself quickie divorce is right for your situation:

Property Distribution

Decide who gets what. This includes all personal and joint property you accumulated as a couple, and even before. Everything is on the table here. The items you should inventory include: household furnishings, bank and investment accounts, cars/recreation vehicles and real estate.

Debt Division

Debt should be divided according to ability to pay, who actually took on the debt, and the division of the property.

Alimony/Spousal Support 

If either you or your soon-to-be ex opted to leave the workforce in order to raise children, take care of a family member, or because of an illness or disability, alimony may be warranted. However, be very cautious when entering into an agreement to pay alimony or spousal support. Modifying such agreements can be tough.

Child Custody/Visitation/Holiday Schedule Arrangement

Decisions about who will be the custodial parent (the parent children live with for at least 51 percent of the time) how often the non-custodial parent will have access to the kids should be decided in advance. An outline of holidays and which parent will have the children on what day should also be outlined in advance.

Child Support

Non-custodial parents are obligated, by law, to pay child support to the custodial parents. To determine how much child support should be paid in your situation, check your state’s website for a child support worksheet or calculator.

Do the Paperwork 

In a quickie divorce, you and your spouse will have to work together to complete all the required forms and documents. The next step is to find state approved forms for uncontested divorces. To locate the proper forms, follow the steps below:

  • Simply Google  “[my state] divorce forms.” For example, if you live in Nevada, you would search “Nevada divorce forms.”
  • Contact your county clerk’s office. County representatives can guide you to the proper web sites to download the needed forms or inform you that you need to come to the office to obtain certain forms.

After you’ve completed all the necessary forms, go over the documents to make sure that you’ve followed all of the instructions, that each answer is as complete as possible. Be sue to print and use only black ink. If you have questions or issues in filling out the forms, you can contact your county clerk or contact the Bar Association to get contact information for low cost or pro-bono attorneys.

The next step is to file the forms with your family court. The forms should be filed in the county you reside in. You’ll need multiple copies of the forms. There will also be a filing fee which is different in each county.

Finalizing Your Quickie Divorce 

Uncontested divorces don’t usually require court appearances, but some counties may hold a brief hearing. Now it’s time to file your proposed final decree, along with any other documents your state requires. Once the judge signs it, a copy will be mailed to you. In most states, the time between filing and receiving the final decree is only a matter of weeks. The final decree indicates that you are officially divorced.

The process is rich in detail, and even the smallest mistake on a form or oversight in filing the correct form can lead to a delay. Be sure to look over the paperwork several times before filing, and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out to an attorney. Most are willing to give limited advice in filing, but don’t expect too much.

Divorce is painful enough. There are options out there for consenting adults to dissolve their union when they collectively decide to not make the process even more painful.

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Stop Child Support and Go Directly To Jail

Stop Child Support and Go Directly To Jail

Why A lot of dads don’t understand the importance of paying child support consistently. More often than not, in fact, it’s hard to do so without harboring resentment towards the other parent.

Court Ordered Child Support Is Frustrating 

It can be a frustrating experience to be court ordered to fork over 18 percent of your annual pay to an ex. It’s harder still to do so without wondering if your hard earned money is actually being spent to better the life of your child.

Nevertheless, the overall well being of your child rests upon your willingness to contribute monetarily to their upbringing. Even if you view your ex as the enemy, try to remember that the money you pay towards child support is, in fact, given to provide for the child.

I may be a woman, but I’ve been fortunate enough to view this topic from both sides of the fence.

Is The Ex Blowing Your Money on Herself? 

I have plenty of male friends who have voiced their concerns on this topic. My dear friend Jesse, for example, was ordered to pay nearly $700 per month after a less than  harmonious split from his wife of nearly 15 years. “How do I know she’s not using my money to buy new boobs?” he once asked me. “I have no proof she’s using my money to better the life of my kid, and I have no way of holding her accountable.”

That’s a real and legitimate concern. I understand his frustration. “Let me put your mind at ease,” I told him. “The majority of moms aren’t using child support money to support their lifestyles.” I mean, let’s be honest here: the typical y monthly support payment, even saved over a number of years, isn’t going to fund a lavish yacht or car.

Raising Kids is Expensive 

Raising a kid is expensive. When you add up all of the basics, a parent is fundamentally required to provide for a child–food, shelter, warm clothing–the typical child support payment barely makes  a dent. Add in piano lessons, ballet, math tutoring, the occasional trip to a movie theater or a birthday party for eight kids, and you can see how assuming that your ex is using your money for anything other than meeting your child’s needs can get a little ridiculous. I’m not saying that abuse never occurs. I’m just saying that it’s rare. I speak from experience.

I’m the mother of a beautiful eight-year-old girl. Her father and I divorced when she was only 16 months old. He was ordered to pay $450 per month. Until recently, he rarely, if ever, paid anything. How did he avoid being fined or jailed? Simple. He took jobs that paid him under the table and he moved around a lot, from state to state.

As a young single mother, that money would have gone really far for me and my daughter. She missed out on things that would have made her life more enjoyable because I couldn’t afford the extras. I was keeping a roof over our heads. Tumbling lessons were out of the questions. That trip to the theater wasn’t going to happen. Fortunately, things haven’t been so tight over the past several years. But I’ve watched my daughter suffer because her father, the man who helped bring her into existence, was being selfish and saw paying his child support as a choice and not a priority.

Don’t do that to your kids. They really are the ones who suffer.

You Could End Up In Jail 

But if you need additional motivation, one of the primary reasons that you should never stop paying your child support is really for your own well-being. Negligent fathers are thrown in jail for failure to meet their obligation every single day. That’s a very real thing. Your ex could drag you back to family court where you will be forced to stand before a judge and explain your unwillingness to contribute to the monetary rearing of your child. You may get one or two chances to prove that you can pay regularly and on time, but beyond that, expect to serve some time.

If the reason for not making your support payments is a financial inability to meet your obligation, communicate that to both your ex and your court designated case worker.

If you live so far from your kids that you’re unable to interact with them on a regular basis, you should still pay your monthly obligation. If you can’t be there for them physically or emotionally, be there for them monetarily.

Do It For Your Child 

There are a million scenarios that can play out between parents and in your own life that might make meeting this obligation a struggle, but remember, court ordered child support payments are enforceable by many unpleasant means. But it shouldn’t take the threat of being jailed to motivate you. Love for your child should do that.

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