Here is a video from Henry Winkler offering the secret to a long marriage. There is a lot if truth in what he says and it doesn’t matter if you are married, divorced people trying to co-parent, a parent and child relationship in conflict or even experiencing issues between friends. It is not about how you meant it, but how it lands! See what Henry Winkler says…
Many people do not know that Life’s Doors Mediation offers much more than divorce services. We also offer Marital Mediation and relationship coaching services. Our goals is to improve relationships. No matter where two people are in their relationship, they can move beyond conflict and reach a peaceful coexistence. We’ve had married couples and unmarried couples come in to learn communication and conflict management skills without any mediation at all, but we have also helped parents with teenage children and couples who are struggling to stay together negotiate their way to a workable relationship through non legal mediation processes. Agreements do not have to be written. It gives people a chance to discuss their needs in the relationship and try to get to a place of understanding from the other side. Many couples want to discuss their needs and desires and agree to a way forward. Couples who use marital mediation can avoid divorce, but it has nothing to do with any court process. It is simply an agreement between two people. The agreement can be written or simply be a verbal agreement. It is a matter between the two people involved whether they wish an agreement be written or not. Because these types of agreements are usually not very involved, the fees are much lower than it would be for a court involved case.
If you would like more information on informal marital or relationship mediation, please contact Susan Carpenter at Life’s Doors Mediation via phone, 763-566-2282 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also want to check out High Conflict U for our relationship, communication and conflict skill building classes and programs. There are times when you may be able to save your marriage or restore a relationship. As Henry Winkler said, both people have to willing. If that is where you are at, despite any problems you are having, reach out and see if Life’s Doors Mediation or High Conflict U may be able to help.
When I started my journey to help parents, the goal was to save them from the confusion I knew they felt and to make their journey shorter and less painful than the one I had walked. I felt called to be a guide, a teacher and provide comfort when I could. I never promised to have all the answers. We are all human, after all. We need that higher power. We need to believe in something greater than ourselves. We need hope that there is much more to the journey than our current situation. We need hope.
I spent the time of my story all alone. I was alone because I could not find anyone else who really understood. I started out scared and alone, just me and my two boys, but I did ask God for help. I did not think he was helping so I quickly dismissed God and searched for someone or something else. When I did that, there was nothing but me and the prison I was building for myself.
When I was finally tired of my lonely misery and found no one else who understood or had real knowledge I turned back to God and found he was always there. He had never left me. I was simply refusing to see him, to hear him and to trust him. When I gave in to what he was doing, my life changed. I was freed from a prison that really only existed in my own mind. The door had always been open for me to walk through.
I was blessed and I wanted to share that blessing, that peace, that freedom with others who were held captive in their imaginary prisons. I wanted them to see what I finally saw. The door to your prison is already open. You simply have to walk through it!
I went on to walk a new journey of helping parents escape the pain of divorce and high conflict custody battles. Those who are open to change receive great rewards. I share with them the secret to conquering Family Court and painful relationships.
While I am a mediator, parenting consultant, and parenting time expeditor in Minnesota, and I enjoy that work to a degree, those roles offer limited success. Results depend on the good faith of the individuals involved. The success or failure comes from the skills and abilities of the parents themselves and their desire to escape their own prison.
What I really enjoy is teaching. It is in the one on one work that I do where I see dramatic results for parents. It even works for high conflict families. How wonderful it is to see fear and anxiety replaced with peace and confidence and to see that spill over for children. Parents living peace and confidence are able to offer so much more to their children than are parents who struggle with pain and trauma. Pain and trauma will not help you find your way out of a paper bag! Pain, trauma and the stress of a journey through the darkness of family court, leaves you stuck. Fumbling and stumbling because you aren’t aware of your true power makes you rely on professionals to light the way. What you do not realize is most of the professionals don’t know the way either. Even if they do, the professionals will not light your path for you. They are trying to show you where the light is. You have to take it. It is not the lawyer’s job to teach you. It is not the mediator’s job to teach you. It isn’t the parenting coordinator’s job to teach you. In some cases, I have made it my job to teach, but I can only do that in the one-on-one services I provide. I’ve decided that will be my main focus in this coming year and beyond.
I will show you the way and offer guidance, but the work is up to you and you alone. It is not easy, but you can free yourself and your children from the pain and trauma of Family Court and High Conflict divorce. Even when your co-parent keeps inflicting more and more control, financial hardship and fear on you, there are ways to expose their attacks for what they are and find peace for your own house.
The goal of our the programs offered at Life’s Doors Mediation is to clue you in to what you do not understand so that you can free yourself from a narcissistic ex, a bipolar co-parent, toxic co-parenting and really understand why it is you feel so trapped. We also share with you the truth about Family Court professionals. Why don’t they seem to know what they are doing? Why don’t lawyers help you? Why don’t parenting consultants seem to care about domestic abuse? We have programs that are specifically created to help victims of domestic violence. Check out our program, Victim in the System.
You have nothing to lose! If you have tried everything else and found no help, why not try something new in this New Year? Pick our brains as to why your situation seems so backwards and upside down.
While Life’s Doors Mediation can only provide mediation, parenting consulting and parenting time expeditor services to parents in Minnesota, our coaching and educational programs are without limits. We can assist anyone in the United States, or even the world, to move beyond the prison of Family Court. You owe it to yourself and your children to try something new! It is always a free consult. What have you got to lose?
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.
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.
If I were to pass legislation to improve the Family Courts, I would not want to pass a joint custody assumption or a 50-50 shared parenting time assumption or anything of the sort. I’d put forth a “Make No Assumptions” Family Law bill. I would prefer that the courts not be involved in families at all. If you are the two parents whose relationship resulted in bringing a new life into this world, you already share a child. Why look to the court to give you something you already have? The only time a court should be concerned about the relationships in your family is if someone or something is denying with or interfering with your right to participate in that relationship. Other than that, it should be up to you to determine how parenting should be split, based on numerous different factors, and if you have to look to a court for a decision, they should have to look at those numerous different factors, too. A split down the middle might be the right way to go, but it might not be. We should also keep in mind that parenting is not just about time with the children. It is about much more. Raising a child is not an equal proposition. It’s not a perfect science, and it is definitely not fair. 50-50 is something we invented to seem fair, but is it fair? Is it fair to the child? What about the parent who works evenings, whose kids are in school all day? Should we still give evening time, to be fair, even though the parent cannot be there? If that parent has every weekend with the child, is that fair and equal to the parent who gets zero weekends? Kids do not always feel close to both parents equally, at all times. That is just the nature of life, love and the intricacies of a relationship, and it isn’t always fair. If parents come to court to settle parenting time disputes, shouldn’t the court have to look at all of the factors of the case and then decide what makes sense for that family over what is fair?
Let me explain why I believe that courts should not make assumptions about custody, or even parenting time.
In Minnesota, the courts use the Best Interests of the Children Standards when there is a Custody dispute. That standard is often applied in parenting time disputes as well. Many legal experts admit that these standards are out of date. Personally, I feel that the Best Interest standards are a myth, just like much of what Family Court tries to do to “Case Manage” families, is a myth. Families cannot and should not be case managed, and who is qualified to determine anyone’s best interest?
The interesting thing about the best Interest of the Child Standard is that the courts have gone to a shared parenting assumption throughout the nation. It may not be law in every state, but it is the line of thinking behind the scenes. Research shows that children do better in life when they have involvement and on-going contact with both of their parents, whether in the marital home, or after the marriage has ended. Shared parenting, one could say, is in the “Best Interests of the Child”. I am not arguing that fact. Whenever possible, both mom and dad should continue to be involved parents for their children. What I am going to argue here is whether or not the courts are actually concerning themselves with the best interest of the child, or more with the best interest of the parent. Is giving a parent 50% of a child’s time/life about the child, or about the parents perceived “right” of fairness?
There is research out there that shows children of married parents do better than children of unmarried parents. Should a court force a couple to stay married because of that research? How can you force a relationship between two people? Still, Family Courts do try to force their idea of shared parenting on families and it has been a disaster. They instill parental “rights”, and when parents fight over those shared rights, there is no one actually looking at the “rights” or needs of the child. The child becomes lost in the battle. The battles are almost always a dispute about what dad wants or what mom wants, and judges decide which parent “wins”. Children are an unseen entity that everyone loses sight of. They are usually not in the court and rarely given a voice. Of course age has to do with that somewhat, but even older children are excluded from the process.
I do agree that a child has 2 parents with equal rights, and those parents share the rights to that child. I really hesitated writing that last sentence because to say a child belongs to both parents, or anyone has the “rights” to each other seems highly adversarial and enslaving. It creates a misconception that a person could be the property of someone. We do not own our children. We have been blessed with being given a relationship with them and a responsibility to care for them. We have to recognize that both people are the parents of the child, and the child was born to those two individuals who produced the child. I do not want to use words that imply “ownership”. None of us have a “right” to another person. Maybe we need to call it “relationship with”, and rather than protecting “parental rights”, we should protect the “parental relationship”. When you think in terms of a relationship with someone, you can then realize that a relationship cannot be proclaimed. If you want to have a relationship with another human being, you have to cultivate and cherish that relationship. You have to honor and respect the other person if you want to keep them in relationship with you. This applies to a co-parent and it applies to your child. It applies to every person with whom you intend to have an ongoing relationship, and asking a court to proclaim it for you will never create the relationship you hope to have with your child, former spouse that you parent with, or anyone else.
If we want to look at best interest of a child, we need to look at best interest according to whom? I certainly would not want anyone deciding what was in my best interest because they would have to know my history and what things have happened in my life that forged the person I am today. They would have to know my heart, and what makes me tick. They would have to know what my passions are, what I am interested in and what I am not interested in. They would have to know what family means to me, because it means different things to different people. Some people could care less about blood relationships and more about caring relationships in their lives, than they care who shares DNA. They would have to know my life experience from birth, and there is just no way that they could. So who is the best authority on what is in anyone best interests? As you ponder that question, you can see, that is a tough one to answer.
Maybe it should be the best interest of the family. What do little Mary and Johnny need? What do mom and dad need? What does the family need to make this transition easier for all? What has happened in their past? What are their dreams for the future? Can a family find that kind of help in the legal system? No, they cannot. You can ask for court orders, but try to get enforcement when another individual is truly opposed to something. Asking for court orders also creates a bad pattern for your life because the only authority courts have over your family exists now, because of a minor child. If you have to force children to be in relationship with you, what happens when they turn 18? A parent had better hope to cultivate, honor and respect that relationship so that it still exists when a child becomes an adult. Court can only ever be a temporary fix. You will need to figure it out at some point, or you just might lose it all in the end.
The reason that no one should make assumptions about families is because families are complex. Is it fair when one parent wants the relationship with their children, but not the responsibility for them? Families are made up of individuals and relationships. They have different passions. They have different personalities. They have different schedules. There may be good reason why the parents do not interact. There may be good reasons why a parent should not have 50% of their children’s time. Parents have to look at time, not as a reflection of their value as a parent, but rather as the value of their child’s life and activities and interests. Life cannot be scheduled on weekends and mom’s time/dad’s time, and be fair to everyone. Life happens on its own schedule and in its own time frame. Events and milestones happen when they happen. Parents and children have different time frames of healing from trauma, and let me tell you that there are very few things in life as traumatic as divorce, especially divorce with children.
In a perfect world, we would stop talking in terms of “Parental Rights” and the “best interest of the children” and start honoring and respecting the family relationships and dynamics. These things cannot be legislated or court ordered. We can and do have laws to protect parental relationships so that parents are never denied time with their children, or restricted in building a relationship with their children. Denying and restricting time is something that not only warring parents try to do, but courts do as well, and there are laws that are supposed to prevent that, if only those would be enforced. Naysayers will always remind me about safety and abuse, but if the Family Court would get out of relationships, the criminal courts could and should deal with abuse and neglect issues where they exist.
Children are not property and society needs to stop treating them as such. We are destroying beautiful children as we carve up their lives into the ownership of percentages of time, and we are setting them up for failure. They are also being given a horrible example of how to build and cultivate healthy relationships and work through relationship conflict. We have to do better as a society with honoring and respecting each other as the beautiful, wondrous people that we are.
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.