Homebound as many of us still are, depending on how you look at it, we are given an opportunity to spend more time with loved ones, or are forced to deal with the relationships in our lives. We can connect or disconnect. We draw closer to those important to us, or we maintain distance, protective of ourselves and possibly fearful and defensive at the thought of being closer to another. Those in the disconnect latter group have a greater tendency to go through the days with a certain impatience for things to return to what they were before, for routines to resume, for distractions to permeate our lives once more so that there will seem to be more urgent matters to attend to than our relationships. [Read more…]
“If I end my marriage, it will hurt so many people.”
“If I stay in my marriage, I will be so lonely and miserable.”
When you are unhappy in your marriage or common-law relationship, it’s hard to see things clearly. Troubling thoughts like these might be swirling around in your head non-stop. How do you decide whether to stay or go?
Any decision can be hard, but a major decision like this can be one of the most challenging. I sometimes hear people judge others for ending a marriage or relationship too easily. In my experience this is not true. I see people agonize over this decision for years, and even when they do decide, I have yet to meet anyone who is 100% certain that their choice was the right thing to do. [Read more…]
You and your partner are no longer together but you still need to communicate, either to figure out the details of your separation, to handle co-parenting duties, or for some other reason. Unfortunately, many people who split still feel anger or hatred towards each other. These intense emotions can even come through in emails.
For example, people will use capital letters to show they are YELLING, to call their ex names, or to set their ex straight with the facts. It is a natural human reaction to want to state things like, “THIS is how it happened,” “You got it WRONG” or “You did THIS.”
Another harmful tactic with email is when people forward an email from their ex to their family or friends to rally support for their own point of view. [Read more…]
I read a quote on Facebook and it said something like, “I would rather be lonely than with someone who makes me feel alone.” This rang true for me, since at Family TLC many married clients tell us that they feel lonely and they never thought that it would be that way. In order to protect the privacy of our clients I cannot tell you about one in particular, so I will create a fictitious client named Martha who is a composite of many clients.
The shock of unhappiness
Martha remembers the day she realized how unhappy she was in her marriage. It was late at night and she was just sitting down to browse her Facebook account. She had done her usual night time routine of kids, laundry, lunches, dog, dishes. She felt tired but wanted a few minutes of “me” time.
She had been connecting with high school friends through Facebook and it was good to remember the happy times. She had a new message from Mark, who she dated in high school. She felt butterflies in her stomach as she started reading his message. He was showing an interest in her, and asking lots of questions about her.
Martha stopped for a second, and realized it seemed like it had been forever since she had felt this kind of connection. It made her feel excited, sexy and young. Was it just a minute ago she felt tired, worn out and angry?
Losing yourself when you settle
Martha’s husband John was home somewhere but she did not know where. They rarely occupied the same part of the house these days. Come to think of it, they had not talked, well, really talked, since who knows when.
They were both good parents and did everything for the kids. With their combined incomes, they could afford a nice house in a good neighbourhood, and their kids had more than either of them had growing up. But, and this was a big but, they didn’t have a good time together anymore. John did not excite her; he was boring and disappointing.
Even worse, she was losing herself. She did not like this angry, unhappy, lonely woman she had become. She deserved more, but she feared that more for her will mean less for the kids.
Is this marriage worth saving?
Martha realized the marriage was not working. What she didn’t know is whether it could be fixed. Was it salvageable, or should they separate, and what would that be like? How would a separation affect the kids? Even though she deserved more, does that mean the kids deserved less?
Yet how could she keep living like this? Is their marriage giving the kids the best model of a good relationship, or is it teaching them to settle? This was too much to think about. However she knew she could not carry one like this for much longer.
Can you relate to Martha’s story? Do you feel like you just can’t carry on in your marriage? At Family TLC we offer marriage counselling, help for those going through separation and divorce, and individual counselling for those who, like Martha, aren’t sure of the right path to take.
Resilience is the ability to feel good about yourself in this very changing and chaotic world. Each person is like a rope bridge, and as the bridge swings back and forth, it rubs against rocks and gets worn down – life wears it down. It’s important to have a strong rope with a good coating on it, so that bridge doesn’t break. Resilience provides that coating.
Resilience can help every child be a star – in their own mind and out in the world. A resilient child will be less likely to choose to take drugs, choose to be a bully, or feel anxiety. Resilience creates a strong sense of self and enjoyment of self.
Resilient children are free to experience new things, and venture out and enjoy life. Resilience protects the child from damage, without isolating them from the world. [Read more…]
Anger doesn’t always look like anger. It comes in many different forms, including crying, silence, yelling, keeping score, stubbornness, sarcasm, pouting, guilt tripping, being overly sweet, physical violence, biting your tongue, leaving, avoiding, blowing up, nagging and criticizing. Luckily, almost all angry expressions are preceded by some kind of physical signal, making them easier to recognize in yourself and others.
Some physical signals of anger are: clenching, rapid breathing, looking/feeling flushed or warm, muscle tightening, increased heart rate, rolling eyes, sighing, wringing hands, rubbing head, desire to leave, interrupting and more. Think about your own anger signals. Once you learn to spot these you can choose to interrupt yourself and stop the anger from escalating before it causes damage to you, your partner or your relationship. [Read more…]
“How can I be so calm one minute, and then the next minute my spouse does or says something and I’m storming off or yelling or shutting down?”
Great question! With our spouse we always want things to be synchronized. We believe we need to be in harmony in order for us to stay together. We subconsciously expect our dreams, visions and thoughts to be in line, happily ever after. So we get scared when things are not synchronized. It hurts us when our spouse does not like something we do or thinks differently about us than we do about ourselves. [Read more…]
Many couples who come to Family TLC say they either avoid talking about things so they don’t get angry or somebody blows up and then the conversation gets heated. This is typical for couples who have never learned how to express anger in a healthy way.
If you think “healthy anger” sounds like a contradiction, you’re not alone. Yet it is possible to calmly talk about the things that you are angry about, resolve those conflicts and then get back to enjoying each other’s company. [Read more…]
Many people want to bring their families together for Thanksgiving but not all family members are willing participants. In a blended family, the reality may be that the children do not want to be there at all or if they do they may feel uncomfortable. So how do you make the Thanksgiving gathering work for everyone? Remember the acronym THRIVE:
Expectations [Read more…]
Parenting through divorce can be challenging. Use these two lists to keep your family healthy.
- Always think about what is in your child’s best interests.
- Go out of your way to ensure that your ex is included in your child’s life.
- Be flexible.
- Reassure your child that they are loved, the divorce is not their fault, and neither parent is going to abandon them.
- Remember that children going through a divorce worry about themselves as well as each of their parents – speak openly about these worries so you can reassure them.
- Give the child permission to express their feelings freely. Be a model by sharing your own feelings appropriately.
- Take care of yourself so your child can be a child and not your caregiver.
- Follow through on commitments and promises.
- Discuss any proposed schedule changes directly with the other parent.
- Respect the other parent’s scheduled time with children and do not schedule plans that will conflict.
- Be willing to support and encourage extended family relationships.
- Create a calendar for the children so they always know their schedule.