Before I meet with a new couple, I remind myself that for them, life as they know it is over. Everything that has been routine, understood and tacitly agreed to up until this point – - the good, the bad and the ugly – - will now change in significant and unknown ways. All that has been familiar is now being turned upside down and inside out. It’s difficult enough to acknowledge that the marriage is over. It’s quite another to experience the tectonic shifts that occur once you step into the reality of it.
Knowing something intellectually is one thing. Knowing it in real time, in real ways, physically, emotionally and spiritually, is a whole other thing. When a couple comes in and are somewhat on the same page, the mediations go rather smoothly. If one wants out and the other does not, the mediation can take a little longer to allow the reluctant spouse time to adjust. Sometimes, that spouse cannot, for whatever reasons, accept this new reality. How they behave during the divorce process, once the divorce is over, and the ramifications of this behavior are the subjects of this article.
A Must Read for Every Parent
My sister is a high school English teacher. While reading The Grapes of Wrath, a story about a family who is evicted from their farm by the bank during the Dust Bowl and forced to journey to California in search of work, her students were asked to write a Travel Journal of their own. They were asked to write about a journey that they have taken, that either physically or emotionally changed them.
For every parent who wonders how their separation or divorce will affect their children, this 14-year-old’s essay summed it up in the most eloquent way.
(Permission was granted by the student to post her essay. The names have been changed.)
I can remember the memories of my childhood and early days of life so well. These moments of existence run through my brain at the strangest times. While I am lying in my bed, waiting for sleep to capture me, a recollection flows through my mind like a film reel playing a movie.
One of the things I most look forward to is walking at the beach. I have my favorite place on the north shore of Long Island which not only has a spectacular beach with a view of the Connecticut coastline, but also boasts soaring bluffs, a nature preserve, a quiet inlet and a beautiful boardwalk.
A few years ago, I was walking with my sister when I spotted a man sitting on one of the stone benches, facing away from the water, talking on his cell phone. He was dressed in typical beach attire for a summer day: cut offs, a sleeveless t-shirt and flip flops. As we approached him, I noticed a large tattoo on his left arm – the one he was holding to his ear as he spoke on the phone. What I saw imprinted on his arm, stunned me for a moment.
The tattoo read (with the expletive deleted): “F— Y—- MaryAnn.”
My first reaction was, “Talk about wearing your heart on their sleeve!” My sister’s first reaction was: “She must have really broken his heart!”
Buddies or Partners – The Anatomy of Post-Separation Relationship
In Buddies or Partners – The Anatomy of a Marriage, I explored the nuanced differences between what it is to be a buddy and/or a partner in a marriage. Now I’d like to address how this concept holds for a post-separation relationship as well.
I have many couples who come to my mediation table and express a strong desire to continue the on-going “buddy” relationship they have had with each other prior to stepping into my office. So often I’ve heard some version of the following: “We don’t hate each other, we want to do this amicably – not only for ourselves but for our kids.” The buddy relationship appears to be intact and probably will be so into the future.
For others, that warm and fuzzy feeling doesn’t necessarily exist, but for the sake of the kids, what DOES need to be present is, at the very least, a cordial partnership with each other. And let’s not forget the extended family and friends who really don’t want to take sides nor get involved in all the sordid details of a marriage on the rocks. I don’t think enough can be stated about this.
Your Children Will Thank You
How many times has this happened to you? Suddenly you are hit with something unexpected that seems to come out of left field or you experience a series of events that push and challenge you beyond what you think you have the capacity to endure. It could involve:
A serious health issue
An altercation with a close friend or family member
The loss of a job
The death of a loved one
The end of your marriage
The situation puts into question your very notions of who you are, where you’re at, and where you’re going. Your entire world seems upside down and inside out – and it is! I’m talking about big stuff here.
Pre-Cana – Epilogue Part 2
In Part 1 of the Pre-Cana – Epilogue, I covered the first 5 points of the “Top 10” that I delivered to the class that I spoke to on January 12th. This blog discusses the remaining 5 points from that event. As with the first 5, these points consist of the collected wisdom of people with good marriages, people who had bad marriages, and my perspective as a divorce mediator:
6. Buddy vs. Partnership:
I explored this in one of my articles and I think it bears repeating here. If you start off as friends first, you have a better chance of weathering the storms of life together. Lust, sex, and excitement ebb and flow over time, but if you truly care about each other as true friends, then the intimacy will be there to see you through the tough times. And there will be tough times! Read the rest of this entry »
Pre-Cana – Epilogue Part 1
As I mentioned in my previous articles on Pre-Cana, I was invited to speak at a Pre-Cana class in January and I finally had that privilege on January 12th. There were five couples attending the class, plus a married couple, my friend (who invited me) and the priest, all of whom conducted the course.
Originally, I thought I was going to have the whole morning to make my presentation, but I found out the week before, that I would only have one hour. With this condensed amount of time, I re-worked my presentation to consolidate what I wanted to share and offered it in a sort of “Top 10” that I hoped would be helpful. For blogging purposes, I’ve divided the list in two, so the following “Top 5” consists of the collected wisdom of people with good marriages, people who had bad marriages, and my perspective as a divorce mediator: Read the rest of this entry »
I know this title may seem like an oxymoron of the first order, but really – it’s not. In my last article (Buddies or Partners – An Anatomy of a Marriage), I shared my musings about the distinction between being partners vs buddies in a marriage. While you can be partners in any relationship, not just a marriage, without being buddies, it’s almost impossible to be buddies without being partners.
So what happens in a post-separation world? If you have children together, your relationship will continue for many, many, many years into the future. That relationship will be a partnership by dint of the collaboration you will automatically be engaged in as co-parents to your children.
Partners don’t necessarily have to like each other, although it helps. Read the rest of this entry »
Buddies or Partners – An Anatomy of a Marriage
In the almost ten years that I have been mediating families and couples, my thoughts often go to the nature of marriage – what makes it tick, what makes it tock, what makes it work… or not. Relationships are complex – marriage even more so. Every time I think I’ve come up with a possible answer to this query, another couple walks into my office with their set of issues, problems, complaints and disappointments and I’m back to the drawing board. Then again, I’m not sure there is a singular answer but rather a series of possible answers as to why some marriages prevail and others don’t.
In my continuing fascination and exploration on this topic, life has become my classroom and people are my teachers. Recently, I was on the receiving end of an observation that someone made on the successful marriage of someone close to me.
Thoughts on Pre-Cana and How it Relates to Mediation – Part 3
Over the past few months as my articles have been posted, many people have shared with me their own experiences and the advice they would pass along to a newly engaged couple. Some of the comments have come from marriage and family therapists who have a front row seat to marriages in crisis. One such colleague wrote that she advises the following to her dating clients: “Look at the person you’re dating. If they are are not living a lifestyle or working toward living a lifestyle you want to live, STOP dating them.” Seems simple and common-sensible enough, yes?
I would add something to this as well. Do you like the person? Read the rest of this entry »
- Marilyn McKnight on A Must Read for Every Parent
- Judy Giuffrida on A Must Read for Every Parent
- Rev. Judith Laxer on Expletives Deleted
- Rev. Judith Laxer on A Must Read for Every Parent
- Bob Ranieri on A Must Read for Every Parent
- Daniel Burns on A Must Read for Every Parent
- Steven Ciantro on A Must Read for Every Parent
- Don Sinkov on Expletives Deleted
- Ronald B Cohen, MD on Buddies or Partners – The Anatomy of Post-Separation Relationship
- Ron Cohen on Your Children Will Thank You
- Jennifer Safian on Your Children Will Thank You
- Bob Ranieri on Pre-Cana – Epilogue Part 2
- Steven Ciantro on Pre-Cana – Epilogue Part 1
- Heidi Bernstein-Krantz on Pre-Cana – Epilogue Part 2
- Jim Miccio on Pre-Cana – Epilogue Part 1
- Ethel on First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage, Then Comes Baby in the Baby Carriage
- Daniel Burns on Buddies or Partners – An Anatomy of a Marriage
- san on Thoughts on Pre-Cana and How it Relates to Mediation – Part 3
- Don Sinkov on Thoughts on Pre-Cana and How it Relates to Mediation – Part 3
- Janice on Academy of Professional Family Mediators Launch
- Zynub on Thoughts on Pre-Cana and How it Relates to Mediation
- Halee Burg on Thoughts on Pre-Cana and How it Relates to Mediation
- Sig Cohen on Thoughts on Pre-Cana and How it Relates to Mediation
- Ken Maynard on Staying Connected With Your Kids Post-Separation
- Gail Ferraioli on Separation/Divorce: In A Client’s Own Words: Why Mediation?
- Barbara B on Academy of Professional Family Mediators Launch
- Heidi Bernstein-Krantz on Academy of Professional Family Mediators Launch
- Daniel Burns on Separation/Divorce: Do You Always Have to Have it Your Way?
- Margaret Williams, Esq. on Separation/Divorce: No Texting Please!
- Bob Ranieri on Separation/Divorce: In A Client’s Own Words: Why Mediation?
- Kate Bar-tur on Separation/Divorce: In A Client’s Own Words: Why Mediation?
- Don Sinkov on Separation/Divorce: In A Client’s Own Words: Why Mediation?
- Jennifer Safian on Separation/Divorce: In A Client’s Own Words: Why Mediation?
- Lili Vasileff on Separation/Divorce: What Does My Cell Phone Have To Do With Your Mediation?
- Bob Ranieri on Separation/Divorce: What Does My Cell Phone Have To Do With Your Mediation?
- Kathy Jaffe on Separation/Divorce: What Does My Cell Phone Have To Do With Your Mediation?
- Joanne Okolo on Separation/Divorce: What Does My Cell Phone Have To Do With Your Mediation?
- Susan Schur on Separation/Divorce: What Does My Cell Phone Have To Do With Your Mediation?
- James Ryan on Separation/Divorce: Perspective
- Heidi Bernstein-Krantz on Separation/Divorce: Hoist With Your Own Petard