Is Successful Divorce Possible?

How do you cope with a divorce when you are the one wanting the divorce? Initially  you may feel relief when you think about getting away from your spouse. You may have convinced yourself that he or she is the one making you miserable.

At some point, those negative emotions about your spouse will resurface in the divorce process, in co-parenting or future relationships. Getting a divorce is a complicated and intense process. Most people work more on cutting off from their ex, then working on their own reactions and interactions with their ex. 

Negative interactions are inevitable, but how do you do your best to manage the emotions that divorce (and relationships in general) brings up? If you take on the growth challenge, you will need to work on the same things whether you are staying together or divorcing.

That means taking responsibility for your part in the problem and managing your own reactions. It’s in managing your emotions to the other that you can be open to hearing them without criticizing or withdrawing. Then you are better prepared to make co-parenting decisions and to know what to work on in future relationships.

Dr Daniel Papero, international speaker, author, and family therapist, shares his ideas on how to have a calm divorce in this video:

In doing so, Dr. Papero also dispels myths about what does and does not lead to divorce. I am interested to hear my readers and clients thoughts after you watch this video.

What do you think contributes to a successful divorce? And is it the same as what contributes to a successful marriage?

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Subscribe to Family Matters on You Tube to hear more videos. The mission of the Bowen Center is “to assist families in solving major life problems through understanding and improving human relationships.”

 

Enhance Your Child’s Problem Solving By Helping Less

butterfly wing

A butterfly takes flight for the first time, showing it’s beautiful colors. What would happen if it feared the transformation? Or if a fellow butterfly hindered it’s flight? The butterfly’s wings would freeze or get stuck in it’s cocoon.

As parents, it is hard to see our kids get stuck. We want to see them grow and reach their dreams. And, we would do almost anything to help them reach their goals. So when does helping kids assist their growth and when does it block growth?

Absorb Fear And Block Growth

When my daughter learned to ride her bike. It was a much longer process than I anticipated. Her fear got in the way. She would start peddling, get scared, and stop. For months, I held on to her seat, her arm, or her back until we were both tired of trying.

I almost lost hope. Then, I realized that I needed to let go. I was holding on too tight and hindering her flight. By holding on to her, I was agreeing with her fear, that bike riding is scary.

When I let go, she just did it. She couldn’t believe that she was riding all by herself. To see her do it all by herself was gratifying to both of us. It was a day to celebrate.

Let Go and Allow Growth

What about you? Are there areas you might be holding your child back from growing?

I wasn’t intentionally holding her back. I was trying to be patient, yet was treating her fragile. I had tried talking to her about facing her fears, but it didn’t help. My actions didn’t match my words.

I had to get out of the way, and show her I wasn’t afraid. By letting go, I invited both her triumphs and her falls. I was no longer treating her fragile and hindering her wings from growing.

As parents, we don’t intentionally get in the way of our child’s growth. In fact, it can be really hard to see how we could be interfering with our child’s mastery of a task or conquering a fear.

Markers of Over-Helping

How do you know when your helping is getting in the way of your child’s growth? In theory, the more one thinks they have all the answers, the more the other one has none.

Here are some markers of over-helping:

  • You think you have all the solutions, while your child doesn’t seem to have any solutions.
  • You spend great time and energy trying to solve their problem.
  • You want them to reach the goal more than they want it.
  • You treat your child fragile as if they are broken, lost, or sick.
  • Worry about your child is guiding you more than the facts or your parenting philosophy.

I wanted my daughter to master this new task more than she wanted to. I expected her to master it as fast as I did. I was worried that she would be the only  one on the block her age that couldn’t ride a bike. And, I eventually let her worry convince me that she needed a lot of help.

Manage Your Worry About Child’s Ability to Problem Solve

Once my daughter faced her fear without my interference or over-helping, she smiled so big. She told me, “Now, I believe what is in my heart, instead of what my worry says in my head.” My heart melted as she so eloquently got it.

Not all challenges that kids face are this easy to overcome. As you know, once you learn to ride a bike, you never forget. Yet, most challenges are faced again and again. We have many opportunities to let our child grow and learn.

Whether your child or teen is facing social, academic, financial, or emotional problems, how you manage your own anxiety about their problem solving ability is very important. The more you worry about them failing, the more you will probably try to help them solve it. The more you help, the more they typically won’t help themselves or may withdrawal from you.

So you can’t prevent your child’s failure or struggle, but you can prevent your resentment and withdrawal from them when you can’t fix their problems. Many times the way to enhance your child’s problem solving ability is to help less.

Ways to be there without having all the answers:

  • Ask them what they think will help.
  • Let them try their own solutions without rubbing their nose in it when they don’t succeed.
  • Be emotionally available when they stumble and struggle without having all the answers or fixing the problem for them.
  • Put your worry in a container, so they can find their own way.
  • Share when you observe them mastering a new skill even if it’s sporadic.
  • Believe in their ability to solve their own problems.

Just like our children, we may stumble and slip. But we can re-learn how to let our children face their fears and solve their problems without getting in the way. In doing so, we allow our children’s wings to get stronger and more colorful.

How do you think about your parenting when it comes to your child or teen’s problem? Where do you need to let go and allow growth?

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Marci offers face-to-face counseling services and parent consultation in the Kansas City, MO area. Schedule an appointment today to promote instead of blocking growth in yourself and others. 

Photo Credit: “Broken Butterfly Wing” by Claudio Gennari

 

How to Get On Less Emotionally Distant Train

“The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters most to you.” ~ Unknown

Like this quote says, openness isn’t just about being talkative. You don’t have to spend all your time together, pool your money, or tell each other everything to be close. But, on occasion, you may want to think positively about your spouse, so you can enjoy each other’s company. Without openness, it will be hard to smile in their presence.

Openness is a playful. light and easy going feeling that helps you be yourself and be emotionally present with your spouse. We are open when we are calm and not reacting as if there is a threat. This openness comes and goes, and it can be hard to see our part in the times we feel less open.

Instead of blaming your spouse, observe your own distance. What makes you switch from playful and open to closed off and distant? How do you switch it back on? It’s hard isn’t it. I know you are tempted to say but he or she does or doesn’t do enough of…

Assumptions Fuel Emotional Distance

While you may not believe me, your happiness is separate from your relationship. We can all make ourselves more negative or more carefree with a different train of thinking. Your spouse may be distant at times, but I imagine you are too.

The only way to be more smiley, open, and playful with your spouse is to see your spouse as separate from you. That is, your happiness and emotions can be less regulated by what your spouse does or doesn’t do when you see it as a less of  a reflection of how they feel about you.

Kathleen Cauley, licensed marriage and family therapist, shares her thoughts on emotional separation in her video Myths about Communication. She stresses that communication is less about getting your point heard, and more about calming down to hear. In this way, openness is “staying interested in your spouse without assuming: 1) it has something to do with you, 2) it hurts your feelings, or 3) it will get in your way.”

For example, if your spouse is emotionally unavailable to you on occasion, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be happy without his/her response. Nor does it mean that your spouse don’t care about you or you aren’t important to him/her. But when you make these assumptions, you probably start pulling away to protect yourself.

Our assumptions fuel our distance, and emotional separateness creates intimacy and openness. If you don’t take your spouse’s busyness, tension, or unavailability as a threat to your own emotional well being then you are free to be available. You don’t have to distance too. So when your spouse is available, you will be too.

“Emotional separateness is the key to emotional intimacy.” ~ Margaret Otto, LCSW

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Marci offers face-to-face counseling services in the Kansas City, MO area. Schedule an appointment today to help you move forward.

Or if you are looking for a counselor in your area? There are therapists who are trained to work with individuals on marriage and family issues: Bowen Family Systems or American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy