When a Girl Dreams Navigating Separation and Divorce in the Best Interest of the Child
When a Girl Dreams
Navigating Separation and Divorce in the Best Interest of the Child
by Tracy Lamperti, LMHC, BCETS
Before we can address the issue of separation and divorce in the lives of children, we need to validate the experience of the adults. I distinctly remember sitting with a woman in my office who was hiring me to work with her children on issues
surrounding her divorce from their father. As we talked over the nuts and bolts of the legal agreements, the history of the marriage, the fall and the readjustment, she had this weight that seemed so heavy to me. There were no tears, no significant anger, just the facts and the weight. I paused and said, “I’m sure this isn’t the fairy tale that you dreamed of as a young girl.” The flood of tears began. Without regard to who’s fault the marriage failure was, she had never acknowledged the sadness over the broken dreams until then.
The media may like to have us think that marriage to the same person for a lifetime is a thing of the past. They would have us think that a girl no longer dreams of getting married, for we are now in the “better to never marry than to have to go through a divorce” generation, as if somehow the pain from broken relationships is avoided if the woman never wears the dress and the man never wears the tux and the two never say the vows. “For what do vows mean anyway? They can be broken.”
Are you buying this new wave of thinking?
I don’t deny that there are young girls who do not dream of getting married one day and having a family. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. They have other dreams.
However, a great many girls will simply naturally dream of a man one day going down on a bent knee, taking her hand and asking her to marry him.
So in this supposed new way of thinking, at what point does the girl change her mind? Has the supposed cultural wave impacted them so early as to alter the theme of their doll or Barbie play? Or is it in middle school, when, in my day, the girls were beginning to get excited about boys asking them to go to a movie, or walk down the hall together? Or maybe high school, when some girls are dressing up for prom? Or do the dreams remain intact until then and fall apart when the young woman goes to college or enters the work
world? Yeah, I suppose. At any of these times, girls just really don’t care.
Well, let me say, many of the young women I work with in my practice are of the opinion that they want to have a decent and even wonderful man, and they want to have a strong marriage and family and avoid the mistakes that they grew up with.
In fact, a good many of the young women out there desired a relationship, a partner, a “rock”, someone to love them, so desperately that they jumped the gun. They became intimate too quickly, maybe more than a few times, they became pregnant before the relationship could support a family, or they got married and did not have the mindset or the support to weather the storms that are naturally a part of most marriages…and THEN…they changed their mind about marriage, certainly not all women, hence the number of second marriage, but many.
One of my favorite movies is Pretty Woman, with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. I can’t give a link to the two scenes I want to illustrate, one because of profanity (one word) and the other because it is the final segment and some of you may want to see it if you haven’t. But I love this scene. Setting the wealth aside, how many girls DON’T want this??
Who believes that children are BETTER OFF with one full and one part-time parent, two part-time parents, or one full-time and one absent parent. Despite whoever and whatever groups are steering the culture, all
credible research, shows that children are better off in a HEALTHY, intact family.
But, as is the topic of this series of posts, that is not the case in the lives of a good many children.
First, I want to say, don’t blame “marriage.” A healthy marriage is an excellent relationship, for men, woman, children and our culture. If your relationship or marriage failed, there may be a time in the future when you wish to seek a new relationship, and to assume that marriage is bad, gives you nothing more than out-of-court pain (unless there is a new child). As with any major, life-long endeavor, you need to be smart about
it. Get help to not repeat the issues from the first relationship/marriage failure. Second marriages fail at a HIGHER rate than first marriages and you will want to crush the statistic, not reinforce it.
Second, I am adult child of divorce. My parents did some things right and some things wrong. I suffered. I also developed useful skills and gifts to use in my life with others as a result of my experiences. My story was not one of going back and forth from one house to the other, but for example, children who can successfully master this have skills than even many older children do not have.
Third, you love your children deeply, or for one, you wouldn’t be reading this. Parents like you are going to do everything possible to support their children, protect their children, love their children and ensure that their children’s needs are met. As you sort out all of your new roles, the new schedules, differentiate between the need for discipline and the need to cut your little one a break because of “all they have been through”, etc., you’ll be onto a new road. You can begin to look at your own pain from the broken relationship and begin to set new goals and direction for yourself. You’ll be able to size up your supports and see where there are some gaps that need to be filled, or even some “bad habits” or negative thinking that needs to be adjusted.
Forth, generally speaking, people choose someone to be in a relationship that is not more than one developmental level above or below their own level. There are exceptions to this, but by and large, one level up or down. This gives hardly any room for taking the “high road.” Yes, I know. This statement will have
many people angry at my and many people claiming they are the exception. I’m sorry, but not in my
experience. The issues are different but comparable. An attitude of humility is very important in navigating divorce AND in considering a new relationship. To go into a new relationship feeling confident, because “my X was the one with the issues” is a slippery slope.
Fifth, be aware of the messages that you are sending your children about this issue. Be sure that the messages that are coming across are the ones you really want to send.
Please consider getting support if you are going through a major separation, married or not married, especially if you have children. Family and friends can be very helpful, but even just a few sessions with a specialist can make a big difference.
Tracy Lamperti, LMHC, BCETS
By: Gary M. DellaPosta, CPA
Summer is wedding season. After you say, "I do" you'll have two filing status options to choose from when filing your 2013 tax returns: married filing jointly, or married filing separately.
Married Filing Jointly
You can choose married filing jointly as your filing status if you are married and both you and your spouse agree to file a joint return. On a joint return, you report your combined income and deduct your combined allowable expenses. You can file a joint return even if one of you had no income or deductions.
If you and your spouse decide to file a joint return, your tax may be lower than your combined tax for the other filing statuses. Also, your standard deduction (if you do not itemize) may be higher, and you may qualify for tax benefits that do not apply to other filing statuses.
Joint Responsibility. Both of you may be held responsible, jointly and individually, for the tax and any interest or penalty due on your joint return. One spouse may be held responsible for all the tax due even if all the income was earned by the other spouse.
Married Filing Separately
If you are married, you can also choose married filing separately as your filing status. This filing status may benefit you if you want to be responsible only for your own tax or if it results in less tax than filing a joint return.
*reprinted with full permission from http://www.dellapostacpa.com/
Gary DellaPosta is a CPA and founder of the firm: Gary M DellaPosta, CPA's & Business Advisors. A graduate of Bryant
By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of Kid Cooperation, Perfect Parenting and Hidden Messages
Is your marriage everything you ever hoped it could be? Or has it been pushed down your list of priorities since having children? Let’s face it, parenthood is a full-time job, and it dramatically changes your marriage relationship. But marriage is the foundation upon which your entire family is structured. If your marriage is strong, your whole family will be strong; your life will be more peaceful, you’ll be a better parent, and you’ll, quite simply, have more fun in your life.
Make a commitment
To create or maintain a strong marriage you will have to take the first critical step: You must be willing to put time, effort and thought into nurturing your marriage. The ideas that follow will help you follow through on this commitment and
will put new life and meaning into your marriage. A wonderful thing may happen. You may fall in love with your spouse all over again. In addition, your children will greatly benefit from your stronger relationship. Children feel secure when
they know that Mom and Dad love each other—particularly in today’s world, where 50 percent of marriages end in divorce; half of your children’s friends have gone, or are going through a divorce; or maybe it’s your kids who have survived a divorce and are now living in a new family arrangement. Your children need daily proof that their family life is stable and predictable. When you make a commitment to your marriage, your children will feel the difference. No, they won’t suffer from neglect! They’ll blossom when your marriage—and their homelife—is thriving.
The surprising secret is that this doesn’t have to take any extra time in your already busy schedule. Just a change in attitude plus a committed focus can yield a stronger, happier marriage.
So here’s my challenge to you. Read the following suggestions and apply them in your marriage for the next 30 days. Then evaluate your marriage. I guarantee you’ll both be happier.
Look for the good, overlook the bad
You married this person for many good reasons. Your partner has many wonderful qualities. Your first step in adding sizzle to your marriage is to look for the good and overlook the bad.
Make it a habit to ignore the little annoying things — dirty socks on the floor, a day-old coffee cup on the counter, worn out flannel pajamas, an inelegant burp at the dinner table — and choose instead to search for those things that make you smile: the way he rolls on the floor with the baby; the fact that she made your favorite cookies, the peace in knowing someone so well that you can wear your worn out flannels or burp at the table.
Give two compliments every day
Now that you’ve committed to seeing the good in your partner, it’s time to say it! This is a golden key to your mate’s heart. Our world is so full of negative input, and we so rarely get compliments from other people. When we do get a compliment, it not only makes us feel great about ourselves, it actually makes us feel great about the person giving the compliment! Think about it! When your honey says, “You’re the best. I’m so glad I married you.” It not only makes you feel loved, it makes you feel more loving.
Compliments are easy to give, take such a little bit of time, and they’re free. Compliments are powerful; you just have to make the effort to say them. Anything works: “Dinner was great, you make my favorite sauce.” “Thanks for picking up the cleaning. It was very thoughtful, you saved me a trip.” “That sweater looks great on you.”
That may sound funny to you, but think about it. How many times do you see -- or experience -- partners treating each other in impolite, harsh ways that they’d never even treat a friend? Sometimes we take our partners for granted and unintentionally display rudeness. As the saying goes, if you have a choice between being right and being nice, just choose to be nice. Or to put this in the wise words of Bambi’s friend Thumper, the bunny rabbit – “If you can’t say somethin’ nice don’t say nothin’ at all.”
Pick your battles
How often have you heard this advice about parenting? This is great advice for child-rearing—and it’s great advice to follow in your marriage as well. In any human relationship there will be disagreement and conflict. The key here is to decide which issues are worth pursuing and which are better off ignored. By doing this, you’ll find much less negative energy between you.
From now on, anytime you feel annoyed, take a minute to examine the issue at hand, and ask yourself a few questions. “How important is this?” “Is this worth picking a fight over?” “What would be the benefit of choosing this battle versus letting it go?”
The 60 second cuddle
You can often identify a newly married couple just by how much they touch each other — holding hands, sitting close, touching arms, kissing — just as you can spot an “oldly-married” couple by how little they touch. Mothers, in particular, often have less need for physical contact with their partners because their babies and young children provide so much opportunity for touch and cuddling that day’s end finds them “touched fulfilled”.
So here’s a simple reminder: make the effort to touch your spouse more often. A pat, a hug, a kiss, a shoulder massage – the good feeling it produces for both of you far outweighs the effort.
Here’s the deal: Whenever you’ve been apart make it a rule that you will take just 60 seconds to cuddle, touch and connect. This can be addictive! If you follow this advice soon you’ll find yourselves touching each other more often, and increasing the romantic aspect of your relationship.
Spend more time talking to and listening to your partner.
I don’t mean, “Remember to pick up Jimmy’s soccer uniform.” Or “I have a PTA meeting tonight.” Rather, get into the habit of sharing your thoughts about what you read in the paper, what you watch on TV, your hopes, your dreams, your concerns. Take a special interest in those things that your spouse is interested in and ask questions. And then listen to the answers.
Spend time with your spouse
It can be very difficult for your marriage to thrive if you spend all your time being “Mommy” and “Daddy”. You need to spend regular time as“Husband” and “Wife”. This doesn’t mean you have to take a two-week vacation in
Hawaii. (Although that might be nice, too!) Just take small daily snippets of time when you can enjoy uninterrupted conversation, or even just quiet companionship, without a baby on your hip, a child tugging your shirtsleeve or a teenager begging for the car keys. A daily morning walk around the block or a shared cup of tea after all the children are in bed might work wonders to re-connect you to each other. And yes, it’s quite fine to talk about your children when you’re spending your time together, because, after all, your children are one of the most important connections you have in your relationship.
When you and your spouse regularly connect in a way that nurtures your relationship, you may find a renewed love between you, as well as a refreshed vigor that will allow you to be a better, more loving parent. You owe it to yourself — and to your kids — to nurture your relationship.
So take my challenge and use these ideas for the next 30 days. And watch your marriage take on a whole new glow.
Parts of this article are excerpted with permission from books by Elizabeth Pantley:
Kid Cooperation: How to Stop Yelling, Nagging and Pleading Hidden Messages: What Our Words and Actions are Really Telling Our Children, New Harbinger Publications, Inc. and by McGraw-Hill/Contemporary
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