Disputes or High Crimes and Misdemeanors?

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When parents enter the Family Court System it is very confusing.  First, they want you to part ways, but at the same time keep forcing you together to “co-parent”.  They use confusing lingo and it seems like the parents do all the work, while the professionals take a lot of money for putting the hard work on you.  It is true.  They do.  A common quote from my clients is, ” I had to do all the work for my lawyer.”  Well, there is a reason for that.  The professionals do not know your children, your schedules, what matters most to you and what doesn’t,  and in particular, once you have entered post decree land, there isn’t a whole lotta law that goes on.  The law becomes the law you (or the courts if you weren’t able to agree) created for your family.  There is no law that dictates what your parenting time schedule has to be.  There really isn’t.  The time can be distributed evenly between parents or it may not be distributed evenly for any number of reasons.  Some states do a default parenting time schedule for when parents cannot create one on their own, but it is all very complicated.  Parents can choose to deviate from a schedule if they want and they are encouraged to be flexible as life evolves. Why be flexible?  Because life can change quite a bit over the span of a childhood, but the court will enforce the schedule that is in an order.

Sometimes, this confusion and lack of structure creates fear and anxiety for parents.  Some parents do not understand that the law has pretty much completed their case and they keep waiting for “it to be done”.  In other words, they want this person who hurt them so terribly to go away and never bother them again.  Unfortunately, though, that is not the way it works when you have children together.  Like it or not, you do have to talk to each other and coordinate schedules, school or medical needs, etc.  The way most parents learn to do this is to emotionally process the divorce and hurt feelings from the relationship so they can move into a new type of relationship, but some people are unable to do this.  They don’t like what has happened.  They don’t like the arrangement.  They don’t like that they have a co-parent because life would certainly be easier if you didn’t, and they don’t like that their ex never got punished for the hurtful things they said or did throughout the marriage and/or divorce process.  Is that what Family Court is there for?  Are they there to punish?

Many people who continue to push for some kind of “conviction” of their co-parent do not seem to understand that Family Court is not criminal court.  It is not a crime to get a divorce.  It can be very hurtful, but it is not a crime.  It is not a crime to want some of the stuff that was accumulated during the marriage or to want to continue to be a parent to your child after the divorce.  The fact that someone seeks a divorce, even though one parent does not think that will be good for the child, doesn’t make it a crime.  These things are the nature of relationship breakdowns and unavoidable in some marriages.  If the marriage is going to end, it is going to be end and hopefully, each spouse will learn to come to terms with that and create the life they dream about on their own or with someone new.  On top of that, when you share a child, you have to process these separate lives, while still coming in contact with the other person.  That makes it much harder to go through all of the emotions and accept the loss.  That is why your success in court depends greatly on you more than professionals.  It depends on how resilient you are.  We don’t know what you need to get to the point of acceptance.  Some professionals believe that you need time, but courts have deadlines.  They cannot just sit and wait for everyone to process their loss.  If they did, many people would continue to not process the loss and hope that their spouse will change their mind by forcing the marriage to continue forever, but there are two people in this thing.  Often, two people with very different desires for outcome.  What do you call that difference of opinion or differing needs?  It is called a dispute.

What do you do when working with two people in a dispute?  For example, let’s say that two of your friends have a dispute over some words that were said.  Suppose that the friends are Janet and Martha.  Janet told Martha something in confidence and without realizing it, Martha shared the information with another friend named James.  Her breaking confidence was not very nice, but it was not a crime.  Now, in this dispute, the words have been spoken and the action cannot be undone.  Hopefully, Martha is sorry for saying something she should not have said, but she cannot do anything other than to apologize and ask for forgiveness.  Janet can either accept her apology and work to repair the relationship or she can decide that it is time to let the friendship go.  For the two of them, that may work, but maybe since you want to remain friends with the two of them, even though their friendship has ended, and no one is upset with you about anything, each one will be able to stay friends with you individually.  The relationships are all going to change, even though you were not part of the dispute, it does affect you.  You may try t it and see how it goes and find out that there needs to be some ground rules set.  Especially if your friends are going to put you in the middle or try to win you over on one side or the other, it is going to become very uncomfortable for you and you are going to feel the ramifications of their quarrel.  As an adult person, you can walk away and say good-bye to both of them, but a child of divorce cannot do that when the dispute is between their parents.

Another thing that would not happen between the friends is this, no one would try getting the police involved or ask a court to prevent you from having a relationship with either Janet or Martha.  There was no crime committed and you have the right to have a relationship with anyone you wish.  There wouldn’t be any authority figure to come yell at Martha or order her to not be allowed to have friends again.  It was a dispute between people and no matter what anyone else thinks of it, no crime occurred, so there is nothing to be done about it.  Martha and Janet will feel the way they feel about it.  A relationship ended.  There is really no “right” outcome from what has happened.  People who care about them may want them to apologize, make up and go back to being friends, but Janet and Martha will be the ones who decide that and the way they each treat you afterward will determine how you feel about each one of them going forward.  Hopefully, they will understand that you have separate feelings and needs from them and that your desire is to remain friends with both of them separately and they will create conditions where you can do that.

For a child of divorce, they need their parents to sort this out for them.  They don’t want anyone to punish mommy or daddy because they hurt each other’s feelings or made each other sad.  If mommy and daddy can deal with their hurt feelings and put them aside to understand their child’s needs and figure out how to separately manage the child’s activities, health and wellness, that is the best thing that can happen, but when the parents refuse or keep trying to make the child choose sides or stop seeing a parent, that is when a third party neutral has to come in and try to help.  By this time, the hurts of the past are way behind the parents and they are usually already divorced.  The situation is what it is and the court orders/agreements are what they are.  Court appointed third parties are there to help everyone make it work, but if they do see a child in the middle, they will help to free the child.  There really isn’t a lot that third parties can do to help you improve the situation.  You will have to do this for yourself.  They will try to get you focused on the child to make the child’s life easier for them because children do suffer enormous consequences when they have to live through parent hostility.

Many times parents do not understand this.  They complain and complain and complain about what it is they do not like about the other parent or what the other parent has done.  They expect that if they demonstrate just how bad a person the other parent is, someone will punish that parent in some way.  That is not the nature of dispute resolution, which is what Family Court is about.  Family Court looks for solutions and moving families forward.  They want you to take your family out of court and start making decisions for yourselves.  They don’t want to parent your children for you.  They want to give you the tools to do it.

If your approach to Family Court is to try to prove fault in a no-fault system, you will lose sight of the needs of your child.  If you need help understanding dispute resolution or gaining some coping skills so that you can focus on your children more than the battle, especially if you have an ex spouse who cannot seem to grasp the nature of custody and parenting time, give us a call at 763-566-2282 or at High Conflict U, 1-800-516-2446.  We’ll do our best to help you.

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Marital Advice and Marital Mediation

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: susan@lifesdoorsmediation.com.  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.

Leavers vs. the Left from lessonsfromtheendofamarriage

This piece, about what happens to the people that leave relationships abruptly and/or with deception, caused quite a stir on Facebook recently. The comments fell into two camps: “Thank you for validating my experience” and “I’m the one who left my marriage and I’m tired of being painted as the bad guy.” The reaction got me […]

via The End of a Relationship: The Leavers and The Left — Lessons From the End of a Marriage

Living Rent Free in Your Head

Image courtesy of nattavut at freedigitalphotos.net
Image courtesy of nattavut at freedigitalphotos.net

When you devote much of your day in fear of your ex, or thinking about what your ex is doing, you are allowing them to live rent free in your head.  It is completely understandable that if you have had many negative experiences with your ex and experienced a prolonged, bitter custody battle, you would become afraid of having to deal with them in the future.  Still, the best thing to do is to get them out of your head and out of your life as much as possible.

I do not want to make light of the situation.  I hope to help people move forward and stop giving their ex more attention than they deserve.  If you have become overwhelmed with thoughts and fears about your ex, you have to work on changing your thinking.  It is not going to happen over night, but it can be done.  You will have to work hard at it and things may get worse before they get better.  What I mean by that is the controlling, abusive, meddling ex will do their best to make you fail in your quest for freedom.  That is reason enough why you must do it.  When you start paying less and less attention to them and no longer cower in fear of them, they are going to get in your face a little more before they slither away and the fact remains, they may never slither away completely.  You see, the problem is not with you.  It is with them.

Your ex has been masterful at turning the tables on you and keeping you off balance.  Because their behavior is not normal, you may be confused about why they are behaving the way they are.  Worse, you may also be confused that in the real world, people view your ex as very nice, smart, thoughtful, etc.  They may have a new relationship that seems just peachy and you may be questioning if you really are the problem.  Trust me, you are not the problem.

Keep in mind that most people in the real world only get a glimpse of who your ex really is and when your ex wants to, he or she can really turn on the charm.  The same goes for the new relationship.  They must make their new partner see you as a crazy person.  It helps them ensure that you will never go near their new partner and that they will steer clear of you as well.  No one can talk to each other that way.  The angry ex’s secrets do not get divulged.  This keeps their new love in the dark about who they really are and it helps keep you wondering what the heck is going on…and they LOVE that.  Remember how they treated you early on and how wonderful you thought they were.  The new partner will also be charmed.

They LOVE having you fear them.  They LOVE living in your head rent free.  They do not even have to do anything because you fear them so much and try to anticipate what they will do next.  It feeds their ego to know that they are always on your mind.

So how do you go about changing things?

First things first, you have to put your fear behind you.  You may even need to get angry.  You also need to retrain your brain to stop any and all thoughts of your ex whenever they crop up.

Second, have a diversion.  If you are overwhelmed thinking about what your ex may or may not do about any given issue, have a friend or a hobby or even look for a new love interest and whenever you just cannot shake the evil ex thoughts, call on that person or take some time to work on it.  If you choose a hobby, make sure that it is something that will keep you busy.  Reading sometimes will not work because if your mind keeps wandering, you will not really be reading.  Try exercise, too, and some stress reduction techniques, such as deep breathing, mediation or swinging your arms back and forth for 10 minutes.  Trust me, it works.

Third, carve out “ex free” time.  When you have the luxury of your child spending time at the other parent’s house or with grandma and grandpa or their friends, carve it out.  Announce to yourself that you will not give your ex anymore time than they have already taken from you.

This can be done, trust me, I have done it.  It takes some time and some practice, but once you master retraining your brain, the less you will think about your ex or care about your ex.  It will become habit to you and you will be well on your way to a new and happier life.  One last thing, it is natural to want to put your life on hold for fear that your ex will ruin anything that makes you happy, but that is just giving them more control over your life.  You do NOT want to do that.  Write down on a piece of paper in big letters the following:

NOT ONE MORE DAY.  MY EX WILL NOT GET ONE MORE DAY OF MY LIFE.  MY EX HAS BEEN LIVING RENT FREE IN MY HEAD FOR YEARS AND TODAY IS HIS EVICTION NOTICE.  HE/SHE NEEDS TO GET OUT OF MY HEAD AND OUT OF MY THOUGHTS AND OUT OF MY LIFE STARTING RIGHT NOW.  I DO NOT DESERVE TO BE TREATED THE WAY I AM BEING TREATED.  I DESERVE TO BE HAPPY.

And then go live it.  If you want to find a new love, seek them out.  Your ex may try to meddle and he/she may try to make things difficult for you in unimaginable ways, but you are stronger than he or she is.  Much stronger.  They have a sickness that they probably cannot escape, but you will choose to get healthier.  You will take steps to ensure that you never choose the same kind of psychopath as a partner again, and you won’t.  Your new love will love you and because they love you so much, they will see what your ex is doing and they will stand by you no matter what.

When you see it, you will believe it and achieve it!

Image courtesy of Nattavut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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.

Now or Later

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net"
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Relationship problems suck.  They really do.  When you are married, relationship problems suck even more.  When you have children, the stakes are extremely high.

As a coach, I talk to people who are looking for help.  They may want to try communication coaching.  Sometimes, one or both partners have anger issues, and they might want to look into Anger Management.  They may even be contemplating divorce.

Divorce will scare the crap out of you.  Sometimes, it is sprung on you.  Your spouse has determined, without talking to you about it, that they want a divorce.  They have thought it over for a long time, and come to the decision.  You can’t change their mind.  It is done.

Other times, you talk together about how the relationship is not working.  This is a great time to act.  Even if you think this is not a great time because you are on the brink of divorce, it really is an opportunity.  There is something positive in the fact that you have been able to talk about this together.  That shows promise!

For parents of small children, you really need to see the opportunity in this situation.  While some couples will choose to divorce, others may find that they don’t have to.  If no one has come to the divorce decision yet, there is still time, and there is certainly a lot of wisdom in waiting to make that decision while you spend time working on your issues.

Relationship problems are a two-way street.  It is rarely about the actions of just one person in a couple.  The relationship didn’t start out sour.  If it had, why would you have gotten married?  Why would you have had a child together?  There was potential there and most likely still is.

The question you have to ask yourself is this: If I need to make some changes to improve my relationship, should I do it now, in an effort to save my marriage, or should I do it later, to work on the co-parenting relationship?  If you and your spouse have a child together, you are going to have to continue to build that relationship, aren’t you?  If you have trust or anger issues in your marriage, won’t you still have them in the co-parenting relationship, too?

When a relationship has problems, most people seem to know where their own personal weakness lies.  They often know, or are willing to learn about their faults.  If the two people are willing to make changes to improve their lives, it would be better to do it now, before more damage is done, than to have to do it later.  Just something to consider.

Divorce was a good thing for me.  I am not sure my children would agree that it was a good thing for them.  Divorce might be a good thing for you but it might be worth really making sure that you cannot salvage that relationship, especially if you have children who end up being part of that relationship forever, no matter what it becomes.