There are significant parental, financial, legal, practical and emotional challenges of divorce that require time, energy, and the taking on of additional responsibilities. In addition, it can take people YEARS to regain a sense of balance, peace, and order in their lives. While divorce may not be the right solution for everyone, it is something most of us have considered and it is something that nowadays many of us have experienced.
According to University of Nebraska sociologist Paul Amato, Ph.D., who has followed 2,000 families for nearly two decades, “If there has been lots of conflict in the marriage, the children actually do better if there is a divorce”.
According to Dr. Amato, those hardest hit by divorce are the children of marriages in which high levels of conflict and hostility did not manifest.
“The dissolution of a home that they thought was stable is an unwelcome and disturbing event in the lives of these offspring”.
Dr. Amato reports in A Generation at Risk (Harvard), “low-conflict divorce undermines kids’ sense of trust and causes them great psychological distress as they grow older”. These are the kids that had no idea mom and dad didn’t get along.
Check in with your child regularly about what and how they are feeling. Help them to identify their feelings and put words to them if they do not yet know how.
Always accept and validate your child’s feelings, even if you do not agree with them. Feelings are feelings, not conscious thoughts.
Help your child prepare for upcoming changes by creating a calendar so your child always knows what to expect and when they will get to see the other parent. Not doing so makes a child feel trapped.
Tell your child about the decision to divorce soon after the decision is made. Have the conversation together as a FAMILY.
Throughout the process, keep reminding your kids how much you love them and that you will never stop because they really need to hear that even if they don’t say it.
GASLIGHTING and CODEPENDENCY will be present in relationships characterized by significant and frequent conflict. There is calculated psychological warfare at play in the interpersonal dynamics in the setting of a high conflict divorce.
Codependency is defining your own self worth based on how much you can do or provide for others. Codepency is the addiction to the need to be needed. According to Psychology Today, "people who struggle with codependency are said to have been raised amidst dysfunctional family dynamics." However, it's important to remember that anyone can fall into an unhealthy relationship pattern.
Gaslighting is a technique of psychological manipulation in which the gaslighter uses various methods of conscious and subtle manipulation to intentionally alter the victim's perception of reality. Gaslighters will try to convince the victim and those around the victim that the victim is crazy, among other things in order to achieve an ulterior motive. According to Psychology Today: "The act of gaslighting, which could simply be explained as extremely convincing lying in the service of manipulation and control is an ongoing issue in some marriages or divorces in which one spouse might be diagnosed as a narcissist or other mental health disorders."
When a distinct set of pathological behaviors arise due to an external source, that is when something is considered an addiction by societal standards. All addictions activate the reward pathway in the brain. According to Harvard Health Publications, Addictive drugs and behaviors create a shortcut to reward by sending a flood of dopamine to the nucleus accumbens. This flood of dopamine causes a burst of euphoria, or the high that occurs when the brain is entrenched in addictive behaviors.
When a child grows up in a home where the parents are in a dysfunctional relationship behind closed doors, and parents refuse to divorce, or engage in a long drawn-out high conflict divorce…Then often, a child grows up in a home where their emotions are ignored, punished, and manipulated. Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is when parents actively exploit their own children to engage in psychological warfare with their partner.
That is child abuse and it is a form of domestic violence. Domestic violence does not require the presence of any physical or sexual abuse-only emotional. As a result of the toxic relationship between them, alienating parents develop deficits in emotional resilience, and lack the ability to recover after feeling frustrated or disappointed in a healthy way.
When unable to cope with the stress of a failing relationship, parents going through a high conflict divorce or time in their marriage become high risk for developing victim mentality and they start blaming everyone else for their problems: “I’m a victim; therefore, I have a right to make your life hell.”
When going through a bitter divorce, parents GASLIGHT. They begin to twist reality and make exaggerated accusations against the other parent. Most often, these accusations are actually projections of their own negative qualities. For example, often times when going through a high conflict divorce, one parent will call the other “selfish”, when it is themself that actually demonstrates more selfish behavior.
Some alienating parents engage in a behavior that therapists call “splitting”. Splitting is when an alienating parent tries to convince other family members that another member is “evil”, thus splitting the family into “us against them”.
A high conflict divorce may bring out borderline personality features in some. For example, a parent may become mad when someone important to them won’t give them what they want. This could be a daughter who chooses to spend her time with friends or a spouse who has decided to leave the marriage. Often these situations occur because the alienating partner was not capable of forming a healthy, loving, and collaborative partnership.
The goal of the angry parent then becomes to destroy of the other parent’s relationship with the children. They often encourage their children to choose sides and they do all they can to deprive the other parent, who they now see as their enemy, of the ability to continue spending time with the children.
Parents who engage in severe alienation also lie a lot, and they are good at it. They also carry out actions that harm others, including their child, without feeling guilt. These alienating parents have developed traits and habits similar to those present in antisocial personality disorder. Parent alienation behaviors are driven primarily by 1 of 4 reasons:1)Jealousy: If their spouse finds someone new2)The Need for Revenge: If a divorce occurred, then this parent now feels abandoned and is unable to cope in a healthy way and acts out in anger instead. This parent is unable to realize that it was their own inability to form a healthy, loving, and collaborative partnership that drove away their partner in the first place. 3)Money: If the child lives primarily with them, they may try to extort their ex for additional child support.4)Those who start alienating the child early on during the marriage, may want to have the child for themselves alone It may be time to get help if you are:
Self-care is defined as any activity that we do consciously and deliberately with the intention of taking care of our mental, emotional, and physical well being. Although it seems like a simple concept in theory, it was something that was hard for me to master. During my 10 years of practice as a physician, juggling 4 jobs and working 60-70 hour weeks, it was something I had always overlooked.
It took a lot of trial and error before it finally dawned on me that self-care is different for different people, and just because I worked out at the gym, it didn’t necessarily mean that I was engaging in self-care. In order to determine what constituted adequate self-care for me, I first had to define what was not self-care. Self care is not something that we force ourselves to do, or something we don’t enjoy doing. Self-care is something that refuels us, rather than takes from us.
When discussing the concept of self-care with friends and family, I often encounter the question, “Isn’t self-care sometimes selfish?” When I initially approached my mom about integrating more self-care into her life, her response was that she didn’t have time. Someone needed to pay the bills and support the family-that is the typical asian immigrant mentality that is pervasive of her generation.
It is also understandable because like most H1-visa immigrants that came to the United States in the 1970’s, my parents came with nothing and had to work really hard to put themselves through school and work long hours to build a life for themselves and their family. “I don’t have the luxury to take time to have fun” is how she put it. For a long time my mother lacked balance in her life and this resulted in her often being in a bad mood and experiencing mood swings as a result of the constant stress.
I have learned through my experiences and from those of others that taking time to engage in self-care isn’t selfish because it is not only about considering our personal needs. Rather, it is about knowing what is needed to maintain ourselves, such that we are then in a place to be able to take care of others as well; physically, financially and emotionally.
Healing from an experience as traumatic as divorce requires patience, willpower, and the right guidance. It takes time to process grief, and the death of a marriage and the process of divorce is akin to enduring labor only to give birth to a stillborn child.
Grief never ends, but it changes as time passes and we are able to let go of old perceptions. Grief over the loss of our hopes and dreams and expectations is not a sign of weakness or a lack of faith in God's plan. Grief is a perfectly natural human emotion.
Grief is the price of love.
Elizabeth Cohen, Ph.D., is the CEO and founder of the online divorce course and membership Afterglow: The Light at the Other Side of Divorce. She teaches women how to heal, grow and thrive after divorce.
Powerful Words of Inspiration. The message here is to live the life you envisioned as your true authentic self. A way I conceptualize this is by imagining myself at age 5 and remembering the dreams and aspirations I had as a kid-a time when my partner did not yet define me.
When someone has angered us or abused us in some way, we tend to have feelings of hostility and resentment against them. Sometimes we make the decision to forgive them and let it go. However, it’s difficult when we are in the throws of such situations to know when to hold the wrong-doer responsible for their actions, when to forgive this perceived offense, and when to let it go and move on.
My realization about this is that it is not about the other person. To move forward, we must recognize that like everything in life, this is an individual choice for each of us. If we were to remove ourselves momentarily from the situation, such as via meditation, and imagined a scenario in which we are given the choice to live joyfully or miserably with a life full of anger and stress, our natural inclination would be to live happily and peacefully. As human beings, it is our natural inclination to look for the highest level of pleasantness for ourselves. Peace, love, light, beauty, happiness, and joy are all manifestations of a single mindset - one that has the desire for pleasantness within the mind and body, as well as within one’s external environment.
Sadhguru states in one of his dialogues, “If our body becomes pleasant, we call this health. If our bodily sensations become very pleasant, we call this pleasure. If our mind becomes pleasant we call this peace, and if our mind becomes very pleasant we call this joy. If our emotions become pleasant we call this love. If our emotions become very pleasant we call this compassion. If our life energies become pleasant, we call this bliss. If they become very pleasant, we call it ecstasy. If our surroundings become pleasant we call this success”.
Success is the only type of pleasantness that is an external type of desire and requires the cooperation of others in our environment. Because in order to make our surroundings pleasant, we need the cooperation of other people in our external environment and sometimes nature as well. This is because in creating an external situation, there are many forces involved - more than we can often perceive. Despite not knowing all the forces at play to achieve a desired outcome, if we can harness the few forces we can recognize, and if they cooperate, events will occur that are in line with the successful outcome we have envisioned for ourselves. If these external forces or other people do not cooperate with our wants and desires, then our vision doesn’t become a reality. It’s that simple.
In contrast, Sadhguru states that pleasantness of the body, pleasantness of the mind, pleasantness of our emotions, and pleasantness of our energy is one hundred percent in our power to achieve. We do not require the cooperation of any external forces to achieve pleasantness in these areas. Only for success is cooperation from others required. To keep ourselves pleasant is entirely up to us, and entirely a matter of personal choice.
So applying this logic to the situation in which someone in our environment is angering us or abusing us in someway, and in response we feel resentment and hostility towards this other entity, perhaps we should examine why this person is behaving in such a manner towards us and understand their limitations. Perhaps the reason they are diminishing our quality of life is because that is all they know - perhaps their attitudes and behaviors are the only way they know how to live and to interact with others. I do not feel there are good and bad people. I feel that some people just have a severe obstruction to their thinking.When we respond to a perceived injustice to ourselves with resentment, anger, and hatred, sometimes we feel inside that the angrier we are, the more the Universe will punish them or that something just as bad if not worse will happen to them. In actuality, we are just poisoning ourselves. These negative emotions : fear, worry, hate, anger, disgust, and resentment are in effect poisoning our own mind and body. Just like ricin or snake venom or any type of poisons known to kill a man, if we ourselves drink the poison of negativity, we ourselves die or deteriorate in health, wealth, peace, and abundance because that’s the way the Universe works. As Sadhguru states, “Life is very fair here on earth”.
Although we like to forget our not so finest moments in life, we are all toxic. Always remember that every single human has the capacity for toxicity. The difference is that some of us have the desire to educate ourselves and learn how to do it better next time. Others of us choose to ignore accountability and refuse to assume responsibility for our part in an unpleasant life experience.
This latter group cannot bear the insult to the ego and continues to act the same way that brought about negativity. By engaging in the same thought patterns and holding onto the same beliefs, these people manifest similar unpleasant life experiences time and time again in different scenarios and with different people. The constant for these people is that the experience will always be similarly unpleasant. When facing a negative life experience, try to ask yourself if your problems are happening TO YOU or are your problems happening BECAUSE OF your past actions?
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