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Conscious Dating: Finding the Love of Your Life in Today's World
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Welcome! This newsletter is designed especially for YOU if:
- You have met someone and are wondering if s/he is the "Love of Your Life"
- You are about to get married and want to co-create a fulfilling life partnership
- You have a good relationship and want to make it great
Ask Our Coaches:
I'm Divorced … well, sort of …
"How can we move on with our lives when
we're both still very much in each other's lives?"
This column answers questions submitted by our readers. Submit your questions to Tara@relationshipcoachinginstitute.com who will forward them to our coaches all over the world. Each issue, we'll publish a few answers from our RCI coaches.
My husband and I divorced 6 months ago. But we're still living together because neither of us can afford to move out from our home. It's the one marital asset that we're hanging on to since we can't sell it and make enough to pay off our sizable mortgage.
We've had many financial setbacks this year. I'm currently looking for work having been downsized from a previous position in the financial services industry, and his job is on shaky ground at best. Due to finances, we're still together, yet we want to be apart. We have 2 kids – pre-teens. Things are tense, we still argue and now I think we even have more resentment of each other because of being with each other and feeling trapped.
We want to move on with our lives. I want to go out and start dating again. We were "separated" for a year before the official divorce—but still living together then as well.
How can we move on with our lives when we're both still very much in each other's lives? I know he wants to date as much as I do, but it really isn't possible since we're still in the same home. Try explaining that to someone you might want to date.
How can we create a better atmosphere between us and our kids when we're all still in this together? And what do you think about dating? I need to move on—I want to be in a relationship. I don't know how to do that given these circumstances. Any thoughts?
Rachel from Reston
Bill responds ...
While reading about your situation I was struck with one thing -- your language! No, you didn't use any swear words, but perhaps there were some toxic words in your description. Changing your language may not necessarily alter any physical elements of your life immediately; however, it may make you feel more powerful and in charge of your life and begin to align you with what you say you want for yourself and your children.
Consider these examples:
Phrase: "We're still living together because neither of us can afford to move out."
Rephrased: "I have this great house to live in with the kids while I am reorganizing and creating my future!"
Phrase: "We've had many financial setbacks this year; I'm currently looking for work."
Rephrased: "I am actively creating the career of my dreams and money just comes to me effortlessly!"
Phrase: "We want to move on with our lives. I want to go out and start dating again."
Rephrased: "I am constantly moving toward my dreams and feel free to create and engage in a lifestyle that is best for me right now!"
If you could consider that your words follow your thoughts, and your actions follow your words, it may make sense to self monitor. Pay close attention and alter your thoughts and words toward your clearest and highest chosen purpose, and then take on the joy of speaking, designing and taking actions that only support what you are truly seeking.
Bill Paglia-Scheff | www.extraordinaryrelationship.blogspot.com | 860.209.9254
Candace responds …
It seems to me that The Universe is making a statement here -- that your present assignment is to learn to be with your ex-husband in spite of your history with him -- at least for the time being. Besides having no choice at the moment, the reasons for your Karma seem clear – to learn to find peace of mind in difficult situations, certainly for your children's sake, and to develop skills that you'll have in your next relationship.
You've probably heard that what we resist, in fact, persists. So the struggle you're experiencing continues and expands. The most powerful tool I know of to help you is Byron Katie's, The Work, which is described in detail in her book Loving What Is. Ideally you would also find a coach who knows this tool to support you as you start to use it.
If you are able to adopt the belief that everyone is doing the best that they can to get their own needs met, you may feel less critical and more forgiving toward them and yourself. And when you adopt a learning orientation to life, instead of feeling defeated by difficult circumstances, you will start to ask the galvanizing question, "What's the best thing I can do now?" What a great role model you'll be for your kids when you show that you can manage difficult times!
Candace Brindley | www.Rich-Relationships.com | 203.247.4613
Ann responds …
Since you were "separated" a year prior to being "divorced" six months ago, if I understand you correctly, it's been a year and a half since you officially decided to end your marriage. And I would have to assume, there were months of "knowing" leading up to the official "separation."
Thus, you've had plenty of time to plan and execute at least one of you moving into a small apartment while you're selling your home. You did mention your mortgage is sizable and can't be paid off with the sale, but these days, banks will work with you on a "short sale." There are ways to get out from under. If you have not done so already, consult a Realtor or other professional who can accurately assess your situation and help you figure out next steps.
The bigger issue, however, is your living situation. It is not realistic to expect that either one of you can date while you're still living together. As a matchmaker and relationship coach, one of the things I always look at is a client's ability to successfully engage in a relationship. This includes living arrangements. By the way, you did not mention whether or not you're sharing the same bedroom. I have to assume you're not, however, if you are, couples coaching is in order.
You need to set some goals for moving on with your lives. Remember, all goals must be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic (Reasonable), and Time Constrained. If you can amicably do this together, that would be ideal.
Before embarking on a new relationship, you're going to have to be happy and successful being single. I'd recommend working with a coach to help you set relationship goals, ensure relationship readiness, and to help transition you and your children into the new reality.
Ann Robbins | www.lifeworksmatchmaking.com | 954.561.4498
Lori responds ...
Honestly, you are not in a position to date. You are right, it would be too confusing for all family members involved, and your primary goal right now is to find a job.
I'm hearing you are looking to date to help you move on. Moving on is an inside job. This is a great opportunity for you to make sure you are ready to date. That is, have you taken responsibility for your part in the break up of the marriage, have you forgiven both him and yourself, are you the best person you can possibly be given the situation? Are you clear about what you want and what you have to offer a future partner?
Do you believe everything happens for a reason? Looking at the big picture, you are in this tough financial situation, having to stay dependent on your ex-husband. Why do you think that is? Can you ask on a spiritual level what it is you need to know or learn from this situation? How can you be even more loving on a regular basis? How can you be an even better mom?
Many of us spend way to much time on the external, looking for answers outside of ourselves. I would recommend focusing on one of these areas each week, journaling, taking 3 action steps to address each area you are unhappy with. I am sure with positive intention and focused actions on these things, that everything else, including dating and moving out on your own, will fall into place.
Lori Rubenstein | www.LoveAdviceCoach.com | 928.634.0252
Divorced with Children? How to Avoid Parental Alienation
by Frankie Doiron, President, Relationship Coaching Institute
One of the saddest outcomes of divorce is when one parent intentionally alienates the children from the other parent. Richard Gardner, M.D. coined the term 'Parental Alienation Syndrome' (PAS) in the 1980's and since then there has been increased awareness about this phenomenon in which one parent (usually the custodial parent) pressures the child to align with him or her against the other parent. The alienating parent uses tactics such as lies, manipulation, coercion, bribery, etc., so that it ultimately disrupts the child's previously loving and close relationship with the other parent. These behaviors occur on a continuum from mild to severe, correlating to the degree and type of alienation the child is exposed to.
There are 3 levels of alienators (note that alienating behavior can come from parents, step-parents, grandparents and other relatives and friends):
This parent understands the importance of their child having a good relationship with the other parent. They are flexible and inclusive, are willing to work with the other parent to the benefit and best interest of their children. If they let slip a derogatory or judgemental comment about the other parent they typically feel guilty and often try to mitigate the negative comments. They accept that their children will have a different view of the other parent than they might have, and they support the bond between them. They have a healthy parenting attitude.
The Active Alienator
While this parent usually means well and understands the importance of their children having a good relationship with the other parent, they have difficulty separating or controlling their anger or hurt. They tend to lash out and express negative thoughts about the other parent in front of the children in a way that triggers or reinforces alienation. They usually regret their outbursts and seek to soothe the damages when they calm down, but they continue to repeat this pattern of behavior. This may cause the child to become conflicted and feel they have to choose between the parents, which is highly stressful.
The Obsessed Alienator
This parent's sole focus is on aligning the children to their side and destroying the child's relationship with the other parent. The obsessed parent feels anger and hurt and is unable to heal or move on. Their feelings intensify and they need their children to share and validate their feelings and beliefs about the other parent. Often these beliefs are irrational and even delusional. They indoctrinate the children, brainwashing them into sharing their beliefs. They truly believe they are justified in severing the tie between the children and the other parent, and will try any tactic to accomplish their goal. They are unhealthy, unwell parents who force their children to choose between the parents - at a significant emotional and psychological cost to the child.
In summary, what is often not understood by the alienating parent is the lifelong consequences to the child, which can adversely affect their level of self-esteem and future relationships. They do not understand that they are abusing their children!
As a divorced parent with children, it is necessary to be vigilant and aware of what and how you are projecting onto your children about your feelings and beliefs about your ex-partner. By being conscious of your words and actions you can prevent a dynamic that will harm your children - possibly forever.
- Keep the well-being of your children a top priority, recognizing that having a close and loving relationship with both parents is a healthy outcome
- Work to encourage your children's relationship with the other parent and their family (obviously certain circumstances like a history of abuse, may not make contact possible or desirable)
- Become informed about how to recognize parental alienation and its affect on your children;
- Assess whether you (or your family and friends) fit into one of the alienator levels and work on correcting alienating behavior. Express beliefs and behaviors that are in alignment with your highest goal of producing healthy, happy, well-balanced children
If you are the alienated parent, don't give up. Keep sending birthday and holiday cards, and always express how much you love your children in those cards. Take the high road and don't stoop to the alienator's behavior. NEVER give up hope! A high percentage of alienated children seek contact with their parents when they are adults and away from the influence of the alienating parent. Just make certain they know you want to see them and love them. Make sure they know how to contact you.
Copyright ©2010 by Frankie Doiron. All Rights Reserved for all media.
To stay or leave? That is the question
By Randy Hurlburt
Many of my coaching clients are couples on the edge of a breakup. How do you know if you are? And what should you do?
Here are some indicators to help you know if you are on the edge of a breakup:
1. You are asking yourself if this relationship is right for you.
2. Your partner has said maybe it's not right for him or her.
3. Sex has become infrequent or unfulfilling.
4. There has been infidelity in the relationship.
5. You have already broken up but are thinking of going back.
An Example: Tanya and Victor have been dating for almost two years. They decided to live together last year, but recently they broke up and Tanya moved out on her own. She is not happy about this, yet Victor continues to want to date her.
When they are together he is very attentive, but long periods elapse with no contact. He says he loves her but doesn't have time for a relationship right now. He says he can't give her what she wants (a commitment). She loves him but isn't sure what to do.
Here is a general recipe for solving this type of problem.
1. Gain perspective. The first step is to gain new perspectives about the nature and causes of the relationship problems. Are they caused by lack of attraction? Or are they caused by lack of emotional maturity? What is your own part in this?
In our case example of Tanya and Victor, it appears that they are both attracted to each other. But both have immaturities, Victor more than Tanya. Victor can't handle the various demands on his life, doesn't know his priorities, and is afraid of commitment. Tanya is insecure, wants more than he can give, and gets upset when he is withdrawn.
2. Learn new attitudes and behaviors. Tanya is more mature than Victor, and thus is more likely to be able to learn and grow. Victor, being immature, feels that he does nothing wrong and has no need to change.
If Tanya wants to have any chance with Victor, she will need to learn why he is like he is (Victor probably doesn't know), learn to deal with him without taking his immaturities personally, and thus be "up" when they are together (much like she was when they first dated).
3. Demonstrate new attitudes and behaviors. If Tanya learns to love Victor in a new way (expecting no commitments, at least for now), it will do her no good unless Victor sees the change and believes it. So she needs to figure out how to convey this in a way that he will recognize and believe.
4. Accept his terms. Victor wants his own way (he's immature) and thus will not likely continue the relationship unless he can have it his way. Tanya will need to play on his terms for a while until she regains "leverage" in the relationship. She regains leverage by behaving in ways that please Victor, which allows the natural chemistry to surface again, which is itself a strong source of leverage if it can be unleashed. This is a temporary solution, but a necessary one.
5. Ask for some of her terms. The relationship cannot go on forever as a one-way deal. Tanya needs to get some of her needs met also. Once she regains leverage in the relationship, she can use that leverage to bring about more equality. Of course, she needs to do it in constructive ways so as not to destroy the new base of understanding which she is building.
6. Decide whether to stay or leave. By going through the process described above, Tanya will come to a place where she is either happy with the way the relationship is progressing, or feels she has done all she can and is therefore comfortable with moving on. Thus the decision to "stay or leave" is a process not an event. If it is a conscious and constructive process, then Tanya will be happy about it whichever way it goes.
7. Find support. Throughout this process it is important for Tanya to have support. Victor will no doubt treat her badly on repeated occasions. She will no doubt frequently respond incorrectly out of fear and insecurity. However, if she has a strong support network, it can help her work through this process in a good way. She can talk to friends instead of taking her fears out on Victor. She can talk with a coach or counselor to learn new insights and behaviors. Knowledgeable support is of course better than friendly, but uninformed, advice.
There is no guarantee that going through this process will result in Tanya and Victor getting back together. He may be unable to outgrow his immaturities. She may be unable to learn new attitudes and behaviors. When all is said and done the attraction level may be insufficient. But what can be guaranteed is that this process will result in Tanya's feeling whole again after making a conscious, informed, and emotional decision.
Copyright ©2010by Randy Hurlburt. All rights reserved in all media. Used with permission.
Randy Hurlburt is an internationally acclaimed relationship coach, speaker, and author. In his worldwide relationship coaching practice, Randy is dedicated to helping singles and couples find extraordinary love by breaking the rules of cultural conditioning. He has two books, "Love Is Not A Game" and "Partners in Love and Crime." www.PartnersinLoveandCrime.com 858.455.0799
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