Tag Archives: divorce

Jittery January

separation photo

Jittery January

January is a tough month for many people. After Christmas and at the beginning of a new year, many couples decide to cal it quits. It is well known, especially by counsellors and lawyers that January is one of the busiest months for separations and the beginning of divorce proceedings.

Clients who have commenced divorce proceedings have often told me that they had decided they wanted to leave many months before but often wait until Christmas is out of the way, especially if there are children involved. The festive period also means that couples tend to spend more time together and this can exacerbate pre-existing problems in the relationship.

I  see more clients trying to deal with divorce and separation in January than any other time of the year. It also highlights how we are all far more similar and following the same patterns of life than we realise. We often feel alone in our experiences but the reality is that there is normally a plethora of people in the world going through a similar experience to you.

Dealing with divorce and separation is tough – is is a life changing event and one the most stressful experiences a person can go through.

The best way to get through a divorce/separation is to try look at it philosophically. Remind yourself of the things you didn’t like about the other person/the relationship and use this to fuel your motivation to move forward. Healing takes time and some of the hurt will dissipate over time. Keep busy and don’t obsess about the other person. Don’t blame yourself and watch the thinking that tells you that the divorce occurred because you aren’t good enough. This is normal thinking but it is very likely that it is incorrect thinking.

Pamper yourself, repeatedly think about your strengths and achievements and try to see the new chapter that has emerged in your life in a positive way.

Mandy X

Signs your wife is going to divorce you

 

unhappy relationship photo

Signs your wife is going to divorce you

I have noticed that the lead up to many divorces takes a specific pattern. I am focusing on the emotional and mental journey that the female goes on in the lead up to divorce. There can be many signs of an impending divorce.

Not enough quality time together

One of the most common reasons for divorce seems to happen when a husband and wife spend less quality time together. Often the husband will work long hours and the wife will feel neglected.

At first the wife will express her dissatisfaction at the situation. Men seem to hear but do not listen. They look for outward signs of unhappiness and do not make the effort to really investigate how their wives feel emotionally. I have seen many husbands bury their heads in the sand and hope the situation will correct itself without any effort.

No more nagging/requests

After a while the wife gets sick and tired of nagging. She does not want to make and dislikes the fact that her repeated attempts have not led to any changes. This is where internal changes begin to occur. A wife will pull back from the marriage and will begin to distance herself emotionally from her husband. Outward appearances will remain the same but there will be a change in her emotional responses. It is almost as if she goes through a grieving process-a realisation that her husband will never change and become the attentive person she had hoped he would be.  The nagging will stop and most men will breathe a sigh of relief when in fact this is the time to really worry. Men place so much emphasis on providing for their families and many think that this is enough to secure a happy marriage. Many husbands mistakenly believe that the external provisions of money and status will satisfy his wife.

Lack of in depth conversations

The truth is that many wives miss the emotional connection with their husbands, it’s all about balance. After months or possibly years of emotional grieving, the wife has ‘checked out’of the relationship. She will go through the motions and do what is expected of her as a wife (and/or mother) but she will no longer be invested in the relationship and will be looking for a way out.

Lack of sex and more time spent apart

For some women, a way out involves divorce. For others it involves an affair.

This is a warning to all the men out there: if you love your girlfriend/spouse make an effort to connect with her on a mental, emotional and physical level. The more you connect on a mental and emotional level the more inclined she will be to want to have sex with you. Woman needs all three levels in order to feel connected to the man in their life. She enjoys talking about her feelings and she wants you to open up too. Don’t become a stranger.

Mandy X

Photo by symphony of love

Trapped in an unhappy relationship?

 

couple fighting photo

Trapped in an unhappy relationship?

It seems illogical to stay in a relationship that leaves you miserable more often that not yet many of us do just that. There are so many complicated reasons behind why we stay in situations that bring us down. They range from financial loss to preferring the familiar to the unknown. The common denominator though is fear. Fear of being lonely, fear that we won’t find anyone else, fear of regret and fear of loss.

It is common to catatstrophise (think of the worst possible outcomes) as well as try to predict the future when thinking about leaving an unhappy relationship. By default, we tend to focus on all that could go wrong instead of all that could go right. We use a negative filter when envisioning our future life alone.

It’s important to stay as balanced as possible when thinking about your current situation and your possible future. Ask yourself questions such as, “What will the cost be to me if I give up on a future that might be happier and decide to stay in this unhappy relationship?”.

Life involves risk. Do a risk assessment. Decide how unhappy you are in your relationship from 0 to 10. If you are completely miserable give yourself ‘0’. If you are ecstatically happy, give yourself a ’10’. Then decide how often you feel miserable. If you score below 5 on both then you should seriously consider your options.

Life is not a dress rehearsal. One of the main regrets people have when looking back over their lives is that they didn’t try more things or take more risks. Life doesn’t have to be that black and white either as there are many ways to get our needs met. It doesn’t always have to be between two choices of ‘stay’ or ‘leave’. Perhaps you can identify what needs are not being met in your relationship and find other ways to get these needs met?

Of course, the first port of call is your partner. Tell them why you are unhappy and see whether you can work through your issues – perhaps try couple counselling. If that doesn’t work, branch out a little. Take up hobbies, make new friends. This might breathe new life into your relationship. If this doesn’t work you owe it to yourself to seriously consider a different future – one where you can spread your wings and become what you were meant to be. I see so many clients who have stayed too long and are trapped in an unhappy relationship. They have become ‘shells’ of their former selves. They are cynical and don’t trust the world. They believe there is no protection outside the relationship.

The more we love ourselves the less likely we are to accept misery and bad treatment from others. Unfortunately there is no such thing as guaranteed security anyhow. Your partner whom does not bring out the best in you may leave you one day or may develop an illness leaving you alone later in life. I don’t mean to scare you but I do want to get you to think from a different perspective. Self reliance is a wonderful thing – you can do anything you put your mind to. Watch the self limiting beliefs (and these will be huge if you have lived in an unhappy relationship where you are criticised or have lost self confidence) as they are beliefs that can be changed – they are not facts.

See life as an adventure and tell yourself regularly that you have come this far and that you will find a way to handle whatever comes your way. This is far more empowering. Focus on how strong you have been in the past, you are more resilient than you give yourself credit for!

Mandy X

For more information on couple counselling (Skype sessions also available) email Mandy: mandyjkloppers@live.co.uk

 

 

Photo by Instant Vantage

Staying in an unhappy relationship

 

unhappy relationship photo

Staying in an unhappy relationship

Why is it that so many of us stay in an unhappy relationship? I am guilty of this and I have met numerous people, personally and professionally, who stay in a relationship that leaves them feeling miserable most of the time. Why do we do it to ourselves and is there a way to break this unhealthy attachment to someone who isn’t good for us?

 Common reasons for staying in an unhappy relationship

During my many sessions with clients, here are the main reasons that have surfaced for staying in an unhappy relationship:

1) Fear of the unknown

It seems that many of us fear what might happen if we abandon the safety of our current relationship. Even if the relationship doesn’t meet our expectations, at least we know what we’re getting. Fear of the unknown is a huge motivating factor for staying in an unhappy relationship.

2) Fear of being alone

We often mistakenly believe that we will end up alone and have no one to support and comfort us. However, looking at the statistics, it would appear that this is rarely the case. Most people go on to find someone else, or realise that being on their own isn’t half as scary as they thought it would be. For those that have braved it and gone it alone, they have reported that they began to blossom again and make the most of themselves, whereas when they were staying in an unhappy relationship, that part of themselves was stifled and under nourished. I was in a similar situation, fearing that I could not make it alone. When I did make the break, I had to push myself to learn new skills – household finances, driving to new places I wouldn’t have done in the past, learning DIY and other skills that I never really practised in a relationship. I realised how capable I actually was – it was a real eye opener and helped me flourish in many more ways than I would’ve done had I stayed in my unhappy relationship.

3) Denial

Denial is an effective defense mechanism because if you do not acknowledge that there is a problem, there is no need to confront it and deal with it. This is another common reason for staying in an unhappy relationship. I see clients who put up with regular emotional and psychological abuse yet they have managed to find ways to ‘normalise’ what they are experiencing. They find ways to justify the state of the relationship and often blame themselves for the awful behaviour of their partners. This situation is one that I find incredibly sad – the great lengths that people will go to in order to live with their horrendous situations. Unfortunately, therapy is not usually very effective until a person accepts what they are experiencing is unacceptable and stops denying the reality.

4) Staying for the sake of the children

This is a misguided reason for staying in a relationship and it is a very convenient excuse to avoid having to take responsibility for an unhappy relationship. It puts the onus of responsibility into a sphere of martyrdom, one that I do not believe is healthy. Children are incredibly perceptive and they will undoubtedly pick up on the negative atmosphere at home. They might grow up thinking it is normal to stay in an unhappy relationship and might settle for second best when they are adults because that it was Mum and Dad did. They will grow up in an environment where there is little love, support and affection shown between their parents and this affects children negatively. It is far better to have two separate homes where the environment is happy and light-hearted than an environment where both parents struggle to keep it together and put on a show for the children.

5) Fear of financial deprivation

On a practical level, no one wants to give up their cushy life that they are accustomed to. I have met many spouses who are aware that their other half is having an affair yet they turn a blind eye to it as they do not want to lose their comfortable home, nice car and jet-set lifestyle. Fear of having to start over and struggle financially makes many people staying in an unhappy relationship think twice about leaving. As a result, many couples live a lie in effect, doing their own thing, connecting less and less whilst still enjoying the combined ‘material fruits’ of their union.

6) Fear of what others may think

Some see separation as a sign of failure. Their thinking is so rigid on this that they would rather end up staying in an unhappy relationship than experience the pity and the gossip surrounding a split. Really? In my opinion, failure means staying in a relationship that crushes your spirit and erodes your self esteem and confidence.

There are so many reasons why people end up staying in an unhappy relationship – most of them are fear based. Fear based decision making is usually a mistake yet relationships can be complicated each one needs to be assessed individually. If you think that you are staying in an unhappy relationship out of fear, try to work out whether these fears are actually founded or whether you have allowed irrational thinking to take over. We can’t tell the future but don’t you own it to yourself to live a life that is the best possible experience? Life isn’t a dress rehearsal and every day that you remain unhappy leads to a loss of time when you could potentially have been happier than you are. See a counsellor if necessary to discuss your options and your reasoning. You may just find that leaving allows you to bring out your potential and live a life that involves living, not just surviving.

Mandy X

 

 

Photo by mikecogh

end of relationship

The end of a relationship

end of a

The end of a relationship

The end of a relationship can be one of the hardest things to go through. In a way it is like a bereavement-a loss that entails readjusting our ideas about the future. It is so easy to be plagued by fearful thoughts that we will be alone forever or that no one else will ever love us.

Just because a relationship is ended it doesn’t mean that something better isn’t around the corner. The void that now exists has been created for something new to fill it. I am amazed at how many people feel shame and guilt when a relationship ends. It is important to examine the beliefs around being in a substandard relationship. I think it is better to be single than to be in a relationship that isn’t working.

Something that I find works really well is to buy a notebook and make notes in it about why the relationship was not working for you. It is so easy to romanticise a relationship that has ended and remember the good things instead of the bad. Writing down the reasons why you were unhappy is a good way to reinforce why you are no longer in that relationship.

A sane way of looking at a relationship that has failed is to tell yourself that you now have the opportunity to meet someone who is suited to you. You may long for your ex-partner but if they do not want to continue the relationship, it is important to accept that they are not the right one for you. When I was younger and a relationship did not work out, I would immediately blame myself. I’m not pretty enough or attentive enough etc. The truth is that it has less to do with each individual and much more to do with the dynamic or interaction between two people. Both partners can be wonderful people that they just do not get on as a couple. Be careful never to personalise a failed relationship. It can happen to the best of us.

Allowing fear to keep you in a relationship is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. A relationship that does not bring out the best in you will suffocate your potential and lead you to live a life below what you are really capable of. See the transition as a life lesson. Use the time alone to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. When I have been single I have found that I learn the most about myself.

Most importantly, remember that no matter how bad you feel right now it will pass. The only way is up.

Mandy X

Photo by robertvitulano

unhealthy relationships

Unhealthy Relationships

bad relationships photo

Unhealthy relationships

A worrying trend that I have witnessed is how many people stay in unsatisfactory relationships. They do this because they would rather be in a sub-par relationship than be alone. In this day and age where people are a lot more open minded and being single is less frowned upon than in was 50 years ago, the stigma of being single still seems to be going strong.

It would seem that many people prefer to live miserably with someone rather than to face the fear of being alone or being judged by others. Why is it that we favour coupled to single them even when the relationship brings out the worst in us? Relationships offer a false sense of security. No one can save you but yourself and I believe it is important to maintain independence. Happy relationships are great when they offer support, companionship and a solid foundation. People in unhappy and unhealthy relationships often find that they are becoming a shell of their former selves. They begin to doubt themselves, their confidence deteriorates and they begin to lose a sense of independence.

Are you an unhealthy relationship?

1) Do you miss your partner when you’re not with them? if your relationship is one that is “out of sight, out of mind” it may indicate that you are not as emotionally connected as you could be. If you relish time apart this could also be a sign of trouble.

2) Does your partner constantly criticise and belittle you? Are you for ever being questioned about why you have done something in a certain way? This line of questioning suggests that you are not measuring up according to your partner, and it is a negative way of communicating towards you. Over time this kind of communication will wear you down and erode your confidence.

3) Are you still connected as a couple? can you still have interesting and lively conversations about things? If you find that you are leading separate lives and functioning well on the surface whilst feeling that you’re not really has a couple, it might be time to find ways to reconnect. This is one of the most common scenarios that I come across in my work. Couples who are great at functioning well together-sorting out the kids, maintaining the house, socialising etc but when it comes down to how well these two people know each other, the gap has widened and there is very little empathy and love left.

4) Who is the first person that you want to talk to when you have good news or bad news? If it is your partner it indicates that you are doing well with regard to friendship, companionship and closeness. If you never feel that you can talk to your partner as you used to and prefer to discuss things in your life with others it could suggest that you are growing apart.

5) Physical intimacy: sex can wane but if sex has become non-existent this is another indication of possible issues. If both your happy with the status quo that of course it is not a problem.

There is no such thing as normal in relationships and each relationship is as unique as a fingerprint. If both partners are happy then there is no problem. If one partner is unhappy, the situation needs to be reassessed. Relationships take work and constant compromise.

Compromise… Communication… Consideration: three key elements to a happy healthy relationship.

What constitutes a healthy relationship?

There five major elements that contribute to a healthy relationship. The two most important foundation elements are:

1) Shared commitment

Do you both want the same things? If one of you once marriage whilst the other one prefers a casual relationship this will fundamentally cause issues. You both have to want to be in the relationship equally and for the same reasons.

2) Shared values

Do you share similar values? Culturally, religiously, general life views… How you raise your children, your attitude to life. All of these need to be considered and if you are poles apart it will create future issues.

The next three elements are important and build upon the first two:

3) Intellectual compatibility

Are you similar in education levels? If you aren’t it can be worked around but it is worth considering whether the relationship can last long-term.

4) Emotional compatibility

Are you able to empathise with each other and connect on an emotional level? Couples who are able to see each other’s points of view easily tend to fare better in the long run. Do you understand your partner well?

5) Physical compatibility

Is there chemistry between the two of you? Settling for someone that you do not fancy is never a good idea. The end result is often infidelity and resentment on some level.

Having the above five elements is similar to owning the keys to a car. You can start up the engine and begin driving but how well you drive depends upon how good your negotiation skills are as a couple. Driving well means good communication, trust, a sense of fun, tolerance, compromise and a good friendship. Who said it was easy?

Unhealthy relationships can colour the rest of your life and make everything seem sub standard. If you are in relationship that does not bring out the best in you and leaves you feeling sad, lonely or disconnected it might be worth considering couple counselling before it gets worse. Many of the couples that come to see me choose couple counselling as a last resort. By the time I see them, so much resentment has built up and has been buried under years of pent-up anger and annoyance.n-Nip it in the bud before it gets worse and you may be able to save the relationship and restored to its former glory.

Mandy X

 

 

Photo by PoYang_博仰

couple talking

Relationship Breaks – Do They Work?

couple talking

couple talking

 

Sometimes the ones we love are the same people who drive us up the wall. When the tension and resentment builds up, it can begin to take a toll on our enjoyment of the relationship. If it becomes unbearable, some couples opt for a temporary relationship break. The question is, do they work?

The answer is – yes and no.

Is there still love?

If you both still love each other and miss each other then there’s a good chance that a temporary break can work. At times, when we are with someone too much and can’t resolve issues, we can become overwhelmed by negative emotions associated with out partner. Seemingly innocent behaviour can be seen in a negative light and time apart brings a fresh perspective.

Having time apart allows those negative feelings to dissipate  and gives us a chance to miss our partners. It also helps us to settle into a neutral emotional place. This encourages balanced thinking and a renewed way of looking at the issues.

The cause of the relationship break

If the relationship break has been initiated due to differences in values and on something that you just cannot seem to find middle ground on – such as having children or getting married, these issues will not go away after a relationship break. This type of disagreement needs to be talked about and resolved rather than delaying the inevitable communication by having a relationship break. Of course, many differences can be resolved if you both want the relationship to work but when there is a vast gap between where you both want the relationship to go, this can be harder to overcome. Someone will have to give in and the resentment may never go away.

If the cause of the relationship break is to have a breather but remain faithful to each other during the break, this can be a positive way to shift the stagnant status quo.

 Fundamental Relationship Issues

There are some problems that a relationship break will never be able to repair. These include:

Infidelity

Once the trust is broken, there will always be a fundamental change. The relationship can continue but it will never be the same again.

Sexuality

Differences in attraction to others, wanting multiple partners or being more experimental than your partner won;t go away by having a relationship break.

Insecurity

A relationship break will foster further insecurity in the relationship. If there are jealousy issues then a relationship break is not the best way to resolve the issue.

Intellectual differences

When you don’t see eye to eye are not on the same wavelength in terms of general intelligence and how you view the world, a relationship break would not be the ideal way to try repair the relationship problems.

Emotional engagement

If you just don’t ‘get’ each other and are unable to emotionally support each other, a relationship break will cause more harm than good. Communication and compromise is key for this issue.

It is important that both people in the relationship want the break to help their relationship rather than to escape from the relationship to follow their own selfish desires. If this is the case, it would be worth checking whether the relationship is right for you of whether you feel stifled in some way.

A temporary relationship break can be a life saver for many but it depends upon the issues that are affecting the couple. Using the time to evaluate what your priorities are, spending some time focusing on yourself and doing things to improve your outlook are all useful. Relationship breaks help to add perspective, allow us to engage our brains more than our hearts and give us time to see if we miss our partners. Relationship breaks cannot fix underlying issues though – those can only be addressed by communicating, compromising and consideration. These can, however, be more abundant and more accessible after a short relationship break thereby helping you to resolve existing issues with more compassion and tolerance.

Mandy X

When To Let Go Of A Relationship

 

Difficult employee ... You never answer the ph...

Difficult employee … You never answer the phone — Moktar Belmoktar (29 May 2013) …item 2.. Journalist or Arab Propagandist? — Abdul Bari Atwan (Published: June 8, 2013) … (Photo credit: marsmet548)

When to let go

How do you know when to let go of a relationship? It can be hard to say good bye to something you have invested a lot of emotional energy (and possibly financial resources)into. The longer we stay the harder it can be to let go of a relationship. So what do you need to consider when thinking of letting go?

1) Time

How long have you felt unhappy? If it has been less than a month, it might just be a low patch in the relationship. If you have felt unhappy for longer than a few weeks it might be an issue that will continue to persist. Consider couples counselling to see if you can iron out underlying issues.

2) Communication

When you talk are you able to resolve issues? Sometimes when two people come from completely different perspectives they can find it impossible to understand each other’s perspective. The wider the differences in how you see things the more difficult it will be to sustain a relationship. When a couple comes to see me for counselling, I can tell pretty quickly how in tune they are. When they describe the same event as if it is two completely different events, the less hope there is that they will be able to resolve their issues.

3) Love

Sometimes, even when there are differences, if a couple still feel attracted to each other and there is still goodwill remaining, many difficult factors can be overcome when there is motivation to work at the relationship.

4) Teamwork

Do you function as a team or do you feel that you may as well be single when it comes to receiving support in life? Support comes in many forms – financial, emotional and physical support. Does your partner care for you? Do they try to make your life easier – whether it is through acts of service (such as doing your ironing or fixing your broken washing machine), giving useful information to help you, or listening to you with a cup of tea and a cuddle at the ready? Selfish partners who put themselves first tend not to do well in relationships where they have to consider someone else.

5)Physical Intimacy

Do you still want to be intimate with your partner? When things start to go wrong, this can be the first part to suffer. When there is resentment it can hinder physical closeness, more often for women than men.

Most of all – trust your instincts. You will know if your needs are being met and if you respect and love your partner enough to want to stay. Often we stay out of familiarity and fear of the unknown. You are doing yourself a disservice by staying in something that no longer works. Be strong – get through the initial sadness to enjoy the fulfilment and love that is waiting for you on the other side.

Mandy X