The Best Revenge on an Ex-Updated

Image courtesy of Photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This article was originally posted on May 18, 2011.  Due to its popularity, I thought I’d re-post it.

When hit with divorce some people decide that their life is over. They think that in order to be a good parent, they must make sacrifices. They decide that dating has to wait until the children are grown, or they decide that they must be alone FOREVER.

There are always those people who decide that “all men are scum!” or that “all women are man haters!” While it certainly feels that way as you try to heal the wounds of divorce, those statements are blatantly false. Just because one person hurt you, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a loving man or woman out there who has been hurt just as badly, and would love to find someone like you. Many people are looking for a decent, loving individual, with whom they can build a new life, but instead, they do not allow themselves to seek out a potential mate.

It is called fear, people. Fear holds them back from true happiness. Those who live in fear never get to live life to the fullest. They miss out on the joy life can bring. They miss out on sharing a life with someone wonderful.

We can take our past experiences and let them continue to hurt us, or we could chalk it up to experience and hop right back on that bicycle and try it again. What I think people find through dating, especially when they are a little older and have been through divorce, is that they matter, and that they are more beautiful and desirable than they think they are.

The period following divorce can be a chance to learn about yourself. It can be a time to figure out who you are and what your interests are. You can try people on for size and it will help you find the right one for you. Just because the last one turned out to be the wrong one, that is no reason to give up and hide under the covers. I truly believe that there is someone out there for everyone. Just make sure that you have examined your part in the failed relationship and that you are emotionally healthy and ready for a new relationship before you get deeply involved with a new mate. It will save many headaches later if you get your act together!

I have another take on that whole “sacrificing for the children” belief. I think that when you swear off dating, you are robbing your children of a good example. Here’s why: Since you ended up divorced, that was probably not the best example of a healthy relationship. Did you fight? Was there chemical dependency involved? Was your ex physically and verbally abusive? Children learn by modeling. They observe the relationships they see and it leaves an impression on them. The kind of relationship they witness will be the relationship they seek out in their own lives and they will do so without even knowing they are doing it.

One day, they will choose a significant other and have a relationship just like their parents had. Why? Because this is what a relationship looks like to them. Do you want that? Would it be better to show your children how to date selectively and then hopefully find that special person with whom you can have a healthy, lasting relationship with? What a great model to give them, especially if all of the relationships around them haven’t always been the healthiest! Do this for you, but also for your children, and for that new person you have yet to meet, the one who is just as lonely as you are. You just might surprise yourself and find the right one. I know I have.

Keep in mind that there is another reason to open your heart and mind to love, and all of the possibilities in life. Your ex. While I would never recommend dating just to get back at your ex, I do think the best revenge on an ex is for them to see you blissfully happy and successful in life! Go ahead. Have the last laugh.

 

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New Relationships Based on Shared Divorce Experiences

Adorable Young Couple Kissing by stockimages

As a relationship coach, I often encourage those who have divorced to start dating again.  I think it is important to give your children an example of a healthy relationship, and it is important for you to heal and move on.  I’m not saying that you cannot survive on your own.  I am only saying that life is more enjoyable when it is shared.  We need other people to support us, emotionally, and we need to have someone who is always there for us when we need them.  We can have supportive friends in our lives, but that is not the same thing as having someone who has committed themselves to walking your journey with you, no matter what.  Because I advocate for dating after divorce, I hate to be a wet blanket on those who think they have found someone, but I always stress healthy relationships, not just having any relationship.  This means that you need to be healthy first, and find someone else who is healthy, too.  In this day and age, that in itself is a tall order.

Be careful to find someone with whom you have a lot in common.  Yes, opposites can attract, and you should have some separate interests, but be careful about the foundation of your relationship.  I have seen numerous times where a couple gets together based on their hatred of their exes, and the common experience of a high conflict divorce.  The experience is not something that many people understand so when you find someone who gets it, you feel like you have struck gold.  However, when the only thing you have in common is what is hopefully only a temporary experience, you may be setting yourself up for failure.  What happens when the kids are grown and this experience becomes a distant memory?  It may seem like this will be your life forever, but the truth is, it won’t be.

Sometimes one person is able to move beyond that conflict and the other person is not.  What happens to your relationship then?  If you have grown beyond it, but your new partner stays stuck in resentment, will that make you feel differently about them?  Married couples who stay together only because of their children also find out that there is nothing there once the children move out.  Those couples can learn to rebuild a relationship, but that is pretty rare.  There is a better chance of staying together when you have many building blocks in your relationship foundation.

When you search for a new relationship, try to think in overall terms of your life and what you hope to accomplish in the future.  Look at the events of your life to see what is going to be temporary and what will be more permanent.  While divorce is permanent, divorce difficulties are temporary.  Believe that both of you will move past this one day.  Having children to raise is also permanent, but temporary in the fact that those children will become adults with lives of their own, and they will not need you as much.  Find a partner that your want to live with through good times and bad, with small children at home or grown children out of the home.  Before getting too involved with anyone, think about what life is like now, and in the future, and in the other person’s life now and in their future, and discuss how you see that future together.

When a relationship has its roots in a temporary situation, the relationship may be doomed to be only temporary.  If you want something to last long term, you will have to choose a mate who loves so much about you that they will ride all temporary and permanent life events with you.  What is it that attracts you to the other person?  What attracts the other person to you?  If you are afraid to ask them that question then you are not in a healthy relationship.  If you are together because you were able to talk for hours about the similarities in your divorce experiences, realize that those experiences have a basis in the involvement of two other people, too.  What else do you have to talk about?

I have seen a few times where a relationship is based on both people being involved in high conflict divorce and nothing else.  Each time, these relationships have failed.  There is nothing wrong with failed relationships because we do learn from them, but when children are involved, I urge you to be cautious.  Conflicts always involve two people.  Think about that.  Examine how each of you handles conflict because you just may repeat the cycle.  That would be more damaging to your kids than staying alone.  As always, don’t rush into anything before you are ready.  Divorce is a period of time when a person will go through great change.  Hopefully you and your new partner will come out as better people, the unfortunate truth is that not everyone does.  Make sure that you have healed enough to be in a relationship with someone because if you have not done the work you need to do on yourself, these issues will creep into this relationship, too.

That 3 Letter Word S-E-X

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Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

*The following is a report from 11-5-2011

How important is sex? Sex should not be the entire basis of a relationship, but it is important for the survival of a relationship. A healthy sex life helps couples feel connected.

Not only is sex a key ingredient to a lasting relationship, according to this article from Web MD, there are many health benefits from a healthy sex life, also.

Web MD lists among the health benefits: stress relief, an immunity boost, burning off calories, improved heart health, greater self-esteem, increased intimacy, less pain, reduced risk of prostate cancer, stronger pelvic floor muscles, and better sleep. Read the article for more details, but you cannot argue with those great benefits to your health.

Why is sex important for men?  Men need a physical release, especially when they are feeling stressed.  Sex is a wonderful physical activity that they can share with their partner.  Men can participate in sports or other physical activity, but sex is a lot more fun.  They don’t often get to share those other activities with their partner so sex is a way for men to spend time with the women they love.   Men use sex to show the woman in their life that they love them.   Sometimes men cannot communicate feelings with words.   Since being  close physically  is one of the ways men signal to a woman they love her, they can feel rejected if their partner loses interest in sex.   Ladies, if you have lost interest in sex, talk to your man about why.   He needs to know if you are not having your needs met or if there is another reason that sex no longer interests you.   If you tell a man what he can do to make sex enjoyable for you, he will want to do it.   Men want to know what makes you feel good.   They don’t always know what that is.   Never criticize, but tell them honestly what drives you wild.   You’ll be surprised at how great sex can be when a man no longer has to guess.

Why do women lose interest in sex?   Women need to have their emotional needs met in order to feel good about having sex.  If a woman doesn’t feel respected, she will lose desire.  If she is really stressed out or just plain too tired from chasing kids around all day, she  won’t have the energy.  Women sometimes feel self-conscious about sex.   As their bodies change from pregnancy and childbirth to menopause, they may feel unattractive.  Men, you can help by reassuring her that you love her body.  Tell her she is sexy and the only woman you want to be with.   Also, if you have young children and she feels run ragged, try to plan a day off for her.   Allow her time to work out, get a massage,  or have a night out with friends.   If you can take care of the kids, by all means, do that.   If that is not the best option, get a babysitter.   Schedule certain days whenever possible that are Mom’s days off.   Even if it can only be once a month, it helps.

Ladies, you don’t have to be a size 6 to be desirable.  Great sex is about confidence.  If you love your body, so will your man!  Relax and enjoy the physical time together.  Immerse yourself completely into the moment. Try not to think about the kids or work or anything else.   A woman who is distracted will not get the most pleasure out of sex that she could.

If you have become stuck in a rut and sex has become non-existent, you can change that.   Ask your partner if they are willing to talk about it.   Tell them that you would like to rekindle your sex life.  If it’s been a while since you’ve shared that physical closeness, spend some time reconnecting as a couple.   Spend time together relaxing and having fun.   Touch each other, not just as foreplay.   Touch each other throughout the day.   A simple kiss or hug, maybe just lightly touching a shoulder or back can restart that physical connection needed to bring back desire.   If necessary, see a therapist or a physician. There could be a medical reason why desire has been lost.   You can always see a relationship coach, too.  If your partner wants to talk about your sex life, take it to heart.   If sex is important to your partner, they are not going to wait around forever.  Don’t help them decide to look for someone else, help them love and desire you.

Friday Funny 5/16/2014

All of Mark Gungor’s Videos are worth the watch. Today I am sharing a few of my favorites with you. Very funny, but points worth taking! This one is for the ladies.

Video number 2 is also very funny and points worth taking for the guys!

Video number 3 is for the men and the ladies!

The Great PAS Debate

Image courtesy of / jesadaphorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of / jesadaphorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Recently, a parent that I know, but have never worked with professionally, sent me a rant about how PAS is very real.  She knows that my position is that it is not real, except in  VERY extreme circumstances.  The only time I will agree that PAS has been used against a parent is when they are not allowed to see their children at all, and the other parent tells the children that their mom/dad can see them anytime they want to, but choose not to.  The other parent will often tell the children it is  because mom/dad doesn’t love them.  In that kind of case, the parent has zero time with the children to demonstrate that what the custodial parent says is not true.  In a case like that, I do think alienation occurs.  Otherwise, it is used as a court strategy to punish an ex.

Now one might wonder how does a parent have ZERO time with their children?  Sadly, it does happen.  A Family Court judge can find a parent is “endangering” the children and take away all parenting time.  I, personally think that this violates the law.  Judges have the option to grant supervised visitation, but sometimes, all parenting time is taken away.  Sometimes, a judge will take it away without giving any conditions through which, the parent can get their time restored.

It can also happen when a parent is allowed parenting time per a court order, and the other parent just withholds the children.  One might also think, how can that happen?  Can’t they just go to court?  Well, sometimes court helps, but sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes, a case has been so badly managed from a legal standpoint, whether it be acting pro se  (representing yourself), or due to a really lazy or misguided attorney, that the judge has told you both to stay out of their court room.

Anyway, back on topic.

I have known parents with minimal parenting time who experience the horror of having an ex that tells lies about them or badmouth them in front of the children.  They are not alienated from their children, no matter how hard the other parent tries to make it happen.

I also know parents who have 50-50 parenting time with their children, and scream alienation when their children start to express any desire to not spend time at their home.

What is the difference?  How can one parent, with minimal time not be alienated, while the other parent claims to be alienated?  The difference is that the one parent focuses on their children when the children are in their care, and the other parent chooses to focus on the battle during their parent time.  The parents I have known, who claim parental alienation, cannot accept responsibility for their situations.  They have latched onto blaming the other parent for every single parent-child clash they experience.  It wears on the children after a while.

I have worked with many parents over the years, even before I ever thought of doing it professionally.  Once my ordeal started in 1998, I reached out to other parents and they also somehow found me., and  we would share our experiences of the evils of  doing battle in the court setting.  I can tell you that no matter how minimal the parenting time allowed to a parent,  if they show the children love and a commitment to solid parenting when the children are in their presence, they do not lose their children’s affection.  No matter what.  Words can never beat deeds.  Period.  The other parent can bad mouth you until the cows come home.  As long as you prove your love with actions, your children will see the truth.  The children may be confused as to why their other parent says such crazy things about you, but they will eventually figure it out.

What I have seen across the board from parents who feel “alienated” is that they:

1. Have a drug or alcohol addiction that interferes with their ability to be fully present during parenting time, and they are very disengaged from their children.

2. They discount their children’s feelings about life events.  for example, when it comes to a new significant other, they will just spring that relationship on the children, without having any discussion or without preparing the children for this change.  I have seen parents move their new boyfriend or girlfriend in and be shocked when their kids come for parenting time and are upset to learn that mom/dad has a stranger living there.

3. They continue to engage in unhealthy relationships in their life and not protect the children from those unhealthy relationships.  Some parents are so lonely, with such low self esteem, that they will become involved with the first member of the opposite sex who gives them any attention whatsoever.  Many of these partners who are willing to jump into a relationship with someone they barely know have low self esteem, too.  They are abusive, often chemically dependent, and will not take long to demonstrate how abusive they are to you, and to your children.  Exposing children to that is cruel and will interfere with how your children regard you, ad how willing they will be to spend time at your home.

4. Rather than spend time on new traditions and making their house a home, they spend all of their parenting time complaining or bad mouthing their ex,and the children feel ignored and hurt.

So my point is that the parents who are “alienated” have often done it to themselves.

I know that many people will strongly disagree with my opinion, but it is my opinion.  With almost 20 years of seeing these patterns, I have more evidence than there is evidence that there is such a thing as PAS.

As always, I will add the American Psychological Associations stance on PAS.  Read about that here.

On the Move


Image courtesy of Ambro/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have an announcement to make!  Life’s doors Mediation will be moving to a new location as of March 1, 2014.  As you may know, in March of 2013, I joined the Circle of Healing Arts Cooperative, and moved to Coon Rapids.  There were many great things about this move, but some were not the best for my clients or my plans to bring the High Conflict Diversion Program to Minnesota. 

This winter has absolutely stunk, to put it mildly, and crossing the river can be especially challenging any day, but this winter?  Almost hopeless.  You had to be extremely motivated to drive anywhere this year!  Thank you to those willing to make the journey to Coon Rapids for class.

There have also been expansion plans for me and others in the co-op, but the building we are in was starting to fill up.  It has left me without very good options for my classroom.

I love the people at the Circle of Healing Arts so this has been a difficult decision.  Still, what I want to offer to my clients and students made me decide it was time to change, sooner, rather than later.  I am a go getter and will do what I need to do to keep things moving forward for me and my clients.  You need help and I will bring you options.  I hope that Life’s doors Mediation becomes known for not only mediation and coaching, but also as a great place for education for families.  I have a lot of information to share with you!

As of March 1st, I will be back in Brooklyn Center.  Not in my old building.  This one is just down the road a couple of blocks from there.  This will be an exciting move.  I cannot wait to show you all the new classrooms there!  This place used to be a college so it is all setup for what I need and better able to accommodate my students more comfortably.

I may even be moved in earlier than the first.  Keep an eye out.  Once I get settled in, I will be making changes to the website and this blog.

I hope you will join me when you need mediation, coaching or classes that help you move forward toward your goals.  I do not have anything listed yet, but working on a class for Adult Children of Alcoholics, which is another area of my expertise.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to call 763-566-2282 or email me at susan@lifesdoorsmediation.com