couples

From Maesk Counseling in Fort Lauderdale - How to Handle Divorce...Ten Tips

1. Protect the children. Children have a deep psychological need to think well of BOTH parents. Avoid letting them hear you put down or say bad things about the other parent, regardless of how justified you feel in saying these things.

2. Depend on the experts. Well- meaning friends and family will give you legal and psychological advice; that’s not a good source. Thank them for their concern and move on.

3. Avoid other drastic life changes. Make your life as stable as possible right now. Try to keep sleeping and eating on a schedule. See your doctor and/or counselor immediately if these are disrupted for more than a week or so-depression and anxiety may take hold if basic needs are ignored.            

4. Take a Divorce Parenting class as soon as possible. When I taught this class, the comment I heard most often was, “why didn’t someone tell me to take this sooner?” You will find help and support there. Ask your attorney for more information. 

5.  Maintain professionalism at work. It is natural for your focus to be disrupted, but strictly limit the amount of time you spend on email or conversation about your divorce.

6. Lay it down sometimes. Take a break and play with your kids. Go see a funny movie. Let your mind rest. If the worries persist, promise yourself you will go back to worrying about the issues later that day, then return to the fun.

7.  Limit contact with your ex-spouse. You are not obligated to endure any conversations that your attorney does not require of you. Make your contact brief and limited only to necessary details of custody issues.

8. Observe your breathing. Under stress, our breathing often becomes shallow. This leads our muscles to tense up and puts the whole body on constant alert. Put a sticker or an object around your workplace and use it as a reminder to breathe deeply.

9.  Stand up for yourself.  It’s time to say “I need, I feel” or “no, I can’t do that.” Maybe this is new behavior for you.  A counselor who has been specifically trained in divorce (not marital) counseling can teach you how to detach and communicate in a civil manner that protects the dignity and rights of both parties.

10. Finally, remember: this WILL pass. You are currently experiencing one of the hardest life experiences there is. Keep your focus firmly on the hope of a peaceful outcome and take care of yourself in the meantime.

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From Maesk Counseling in Fort Lauderdale - Couples Communication

Communication Differences between Men and Women

“He should just know what I want if he loves me,” she exclaims.  “I try to solve her problems, but she gets mad when she’s upset and I give her advice,” he declares.  Both of them think they are right.  And both of them have a right to see it that way.  Both of them would be wise to learn to see it from another point of view.

Individuality notwithstanding, the stereotypes are somewhat borne out by research:  men are generally problem solvers and women generally want intuitive, compassionate responses.  To put it another way, when we approach our partner with a problem, we expect them to react the way our best (same sex) friends do. Or to put it another way: Men “fix” and women “feel.”

"And here's what you SHOULD do, wife..."

Men most often communicate in order to solve a problem, and they feel a sense of responsibility and love when their partner is upsetWhat he doesn’t realize is that she is not generally asking for advice, unless she comes out and says so.  Instead, she would like to be listened to and valued while she processes her problem verbally.  It tends to go something like this:

She: “I got so mad at my boss today.”

He: “Well, you should just quit that job and look for another.  Here’s the employment listings.”

When he jumps directly to his solution for her life, she feels belittled, as if he feels she is not capable of adult decisions.  She really just wanted him to listen, not solve!  Let’s look at a better way:

She: “I got so mad at my boss today.”

He: “You seem really upset. Tell me more.”

“If you LOVED me you would just KNOW, husband…”

A mistake that women often make when communicating with the opposite sex is called “mind reading,” that is, expecting to just hint, sigh, glare, or otherwise get him to pick up on what she wants.  This conversation might go:

She:  (sarcastically) “That trash really smells, doesn’t it?”

He: “Sure does.”

Of course, she wanted him to take the trash out, not agree with her!  She winds up frustrated and furious that he didn’t bow to the control, hint, guilt and manipulation barely hidden in that remark.  A better way would be:

She: “Would you please take the trash out sometime in the next hour?”

He: “Sure, it’s my turn anyway.”

Women are socialized to be tactful, accommodating, and indirect, but this does not serve them well in the real world.  Instead, women (and indeed, men as well) should be DIRECT, BRIEF, and SPECIFIC when asking for what they need.  This could save a lot of resentment; we all appreciate honest, courteous, and upfront communication. 

So it goes like this: men, you get in a lot of trouble when you offer solutions instead of focused, eye-to-eye, undivided attention and a listening ear when she is sharing her problems with you.  And women, you shut down any hope of getting what you need when you hint, sigh, use sarcasm, or otherwise expect him to read your mind.  Instead, be direct (“the trash”), specific (“within the next hour”) and courteous (“please”).

Communication is a skill that must be learned, but the basic principles listed here can go a long way toward each person getting what they want - a “win-win” for all parties.