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January 2011

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In this issue:

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Conscious Relationship Resources

Conscious Relationship Podcast

Frankie Doiron
President & CEO
Relationship Coaching Institute

David Steele
David Steele
Relationship Coaching Institute

Tara Kachaturoff - Photo
Tara Kachaturoff
Editor | Partners in Life Couples News

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Ask Our Coaches:
How to Move Forward
Towards an Uncertain Future

"How can I empower myself and build inner strength and confidence to move on from a marriage...."

This column answers questions submitted by our readers. Submit your questions to who will forward them to our coaches all over the world. Each issue, we'll publish a few answers from our RCI coaches.

Dear Coaches,

I've been married for 17 years and have two pre-teen daughters. My husband has been battling alcoholism for years. I've decided it's time to move on for me and the children – first with a separation and then, most likely, a divorce. This situation is difficult for me to deal with because I'm scared and don't know what I don't know about moving forward to create a new life.

I need to break free and re-empower myself so that I can make these big life changes and, at the same time, I need to make sure that I don't alienate my children from their father. How can I empower myself and build inner strength and confidence to move on from a marriage towards an uncertain future?

Marie from Minneapolis

Bill responds …

Your questions are very powerful and revealing. It's apparent that you have been delving deeply into your view of how you want life to be. It's good to remember that you are not stuck anywhere and that your choices are just that, choices, malleable in nature. Choices are made from where you currently are, and thus, best made through clear definition as to what you are seeking in this moment.

Follow your heart while uncovering keen awareness of what you want to accomplish. And, if you stay in that practice, it will deliver you to your desired destinations. Doing this alone can appear confusing, so find someone committed to listening and assisting you in getting and remaining clear.  A relationship coach can help.

Secondly, if you and your children are safe, know that you can make all of your choices and steps at your own pace. It may seem like you need to move faster as you acquire greater clarity, but if you create a plan, your actions will be well thought out instead of reactive. This will help you remain confident, empowered and successful in this process of moving forward.

Bill Paglia-Scheff | | 860.209.9254

Doris responds …

Congratulations on your clarity that it's time for a change. Our partners rarely change when we stay stuck. We unintentionally support their dysfunctions.

Even though your future feels uncertain, studies of women in your situation show that those who ask for professional assistance gain the confidence and stability you're seeking for yourself and your children. In fact, a "good divorce" is preferable to an unhealthy relationship, not just for the parent. Children's self-esteem rises significantly when adults face their fears and courageously face life's challenges.

A qualified relationship coach can help you gain the clarity you crave and move forward with confidence and inner peace. You'll replace fear with certainty once you discover that separation and divorce have very predictable phases.

Even though many turbulent emotions arise during major life transitions, you can make choices that minimize negative effects on your children. You can avoid the destructive "blame and victim games" that alienate kids from their parents.

Discover when to compromise and when to hold your ground. Once you have a clear vision regarding the ideal ways for your children to remain connected with their father, you can change conflict into collaboration and rebuild your life with high self-esteem.

Doris Helge, Ph.D. | | 360.748.4365

Randy responds …

Relationships are difficult, worse when alcoholism is involved. With 17 years away from the dating game, uncertainty is to be expected!

First, do NOT see this as a "big life change," but as a "series of little changes." Take one small step, then wait to see what the next one should be. One secret to empowerment is accepting that you can't see into the unknown more than a few inches.

Leave the possibility of reconciliation open. This will ease the relationship with your husband, and help to not alienate your daughters. Tell your kids that you are unsure. This is the truth, and this is a good time to teach them life skills.

The skills for dealing with uncertainty are patience, living in the moment, slow-motion small decisions, not being attached to any particular outcome, and finding plenty of other distractions to keep your life full. "One step at a time, enjoy the journey."

You should also use this time to understand WHY people behave as they do, and share this with your kids so they will have a head start when they are looking for love. Get a copy and listen to the song "The Show" by Lenka.

Randy Hurlburt |

Ann responds …

Look at this as a project. If you approach this logically and with a plan, you will fare much better – and so will your girls.

The key is to break the "project" (the divorce) into manageable steps so you see progress and know what is ahead.

Begin with the end in mind. What do you envision your new life will entail? Where will you live? How will you manage your day to day? Think of these things, write them down, and then create goals, milestones, and manageable steps to help you achieve them.

Set goals, write out your steps, and take on this project one piece at a time. You will ultimately achieve the positive change you're seeking.

Your girls will pick up their cues from both of you. If possible, agree with your husband how you will handle the separation, visitation, and how this will affect the girls. Jointly communicate with them at a level they can understand. Agree, no matter what, not to throw each other under the bus. If your girls struggle through this, even though you both give them full support, counseling may be in order.

Ann Robbins | | 954.561.4498

Lori responds …

You seem very clear that you are sick and tired of battling an enemy over whom you have no control and after 17 years you've probably tried everything you could try. Yet, because you have children, you will always be family with your husband, and you have good reason to be concerned about the children's relationship with their alcoholic father.

There are two main issues I see here. One is to forgive your husband for not being who you wanted him to be. Take one step at the time, before worrying about the future, clear out the past. Forgiveness allows you to release anger and resentment and will allow you to be a great mom to the girls.

Second, to empower yourself and the girls, learning how to role-model good boundaries is imperative. By leaving, you are actually doing that. You want them to be safe when with him yet at the same time, not to say things that will alienate them from him. Al-Anon is a fabulous support group for family members of alcoholics, and since you are in Minneapolis, I'm sure you can find a teen Al-Anon group for the girls, too.

Lori Rubenstein | | 928.634.0252

Feature Article:
Divorce is Contagious

by Barb Elgin, MSW, LCSW

Every day, exciting new research comes out on saving your relationship, improving your marriage or finding a life partner. I want to share with you the darker side of love and relationships: divorce.

In July 2010, a study broke in the media on the "divorce virus." Divorce virus, you say? Divorce is "catching"? Yes, it appears to be true in some cases.

The study, led by James Fowler, is a retrospective longitudinal one, meaning they looked at data from other studies such as the Framingham Heart Study. The study found that relationship breakups can be as contagious as the flu.

I'm not surprised; I've been suspecting this phenomenon for a long time now. For example, there are other well known studies that show those whose parents divorced are at a higher risk of divorcing, too.

Fowler's study found the same effect may be true in friendship circles, meaning friends do highly influence us. I think this effect is even more heightened because of social networking sites like Facebook.

One of the more intriguing results of the study concerned the universal nature of this phenomenon: the spreading of this kind of "flu" is psychological, meaning, it's not dependent on you being geographically close to be infected by it.

For example, if Aunt Flo in Detroit (whom you love very much), is feeling much better after leaving her husband, if your relationship is troubled, you may be more tempted to leave your partner (yes, it's true!) than you would have been if Aunt Flo hadn't left dear old Uncle Claude (or if she'd left but found her situation worse since she divorced him).

So why am I mentioning this somewhat sobering information? Because you need to know the truth. There are negative consequences to divorce, breakups and "serial monogamy." You need to know what the risk factors are, just like you now know about smoking and eating patterns.

What can you do to protect yourself from the divorce virus? If you are single, choose partners more wisely. Balance your head and heart in choosing a partner. If he or she has a history (or pattern) of divorce or relationship breakups, find out why.
If you are in a relationship, learn all you can about preserving your relationship.

Surround yourself as much as you can with couples who STAY together. Deepen your friendships with them. Ultimately, the strength of your relationship is dependent on BOTH of you taking care to prevent the "illness." You, as an individual, should include in "inoculating" yourself doing all you can to become and remain resilient.

On a larger level, health care and public health professionals and policy makers need to build into our communities ways for us to become more supportive of relationships. It makes good sense. Every time a relationship doesn't endure, we all suffer. What affects one family affects all families, all communities and the world.

Study: Breaking Up is Hard to Do, Unless Everyone Else is Doing it Too: Social Network Effects on Divorce in a Longitudinal Sample Followed for 32 Years by Rose McDermott, James H. Fowler, Nicholas A. Christakis

Copyright ©2011 by Barb Eligin. All rights reserved in all media. Used with permission.

Barb Elgin is passionate about passion! Barb provides discreet, upscale dating coaching, relationship coaching and matchmaking services for attractive, successful, commitment-minded lesbians. 1.866.396.BARB (2272)

Bonus Article:
The State of Marriage and the Impact of Divorce

by Frankie Doiron

In today's world, people struggle to create and maintain successful love relationships that will last. Most are unsuccessful, with divorce rates hovering around the 55% mark. With less than a 50/50 chance of success, it is not surprising that the marriage rate is declining and more couples are co-habiting.

Unfortunately, close to 85% of common-law relationships fail. Most of these couples hope to "test" the relationship and play it "safe" by living together first before getting married. Based on the statistics, this strategy obviously doesn't work. In fact, being in a common-law relationship is a good predictor of relationship failure! And the real casualties are the children of these unions.

Why does all this matter? Because the impact of divorce and relationship breakup has detrimental and long-term consequences on society, on the children who are impacted, and on the health, well-being, and financial resources of the adults and families involved.

Workplaces are impacted with lower productivity and greater absenteeism whenever a marriage is undergoing turmoil. Drug addiction and depression are also often by-products of family breakdown.

The cost of divorce is staggering and adversely impacts all areas of a family's life: children have more behavioral problems, more likelihood of living in poverty; health problems (both physical and mental) increase for the adults; the financial burdens are often unmanageable...on and on.

What is very revealing is what is happening with newlyweds. On average, most couples divorce in year 3 of their marriage, indicating that couples' expectations of romance and marriage are unrealistic. They also lack the skills and self-awareness needed to maneuver the changing phases of marriage. They focus on "me" and not "we."

Without real information about relationships (versus what the media portrays) couples don't have an effective framework to guide them. When a new marriage starts to lose its "glow" and the next natural stage of relationship sets in, many couples think something has gone terribly wrong, when it hasn't! They would rather bail (because relationships are disposable - just like their old model of cell phone) than try to work to create a successful union. Is it any surprise that most continue to repeat the same patterns and mistakes in subsequent relationships (75-80% of second and third marriages end in divorce)?

The grass really is NOT greener on the other side of the fence!

Until people are educated about relationships, develop realistic expectations of what marriage and commitment mean, and understand the effort required to make it work, they will continue to have unsuccessful relationships.

The bottom line is that marriage requires work - but surprisingly, it is the work on "self" that is really what is required.

All of our relationships have one thing in common and that is what we bring to them, in the form of our behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, level of awareness - both of self and of others, and our level of emotional and spiritual intelligence. Yet most people do not recognize the role they play in the success or failure of their relationships. A litmus test is to ask yourself why your last relationship failed. If any part of your answer has to do with what your partner did or didn't do, that is a pretty good indication that you are not taking accountability for "your part."

We are facing a growing crisis of the self-absorbed, where many people lack self-awareness, emotional maturity, and a spiritual connection.

Ultimately we are responsible and accountable for the success of all our relationships, beginning with our choices in a partner and our choices about how we show up in the relationship.

No matter what your current status - in or out of relationship - if you truly want happiness and fulfillment in THE most important love relationship of your life - you need to get back to basics. You need to develop your relationship with self; learn how to be a better partner through your own personal self-growth and through your own example of how you live your life.

Happiness is your right. Love is your right. You deserve it. Both are also totally within your control - if you want it.

A professional Relationship Coach can help you get started on this most important journey of your life.

Copyright ©2011 by Frankie Doiron, President and CEO of the Relationship Coaching Institute. All Rights Reserved for all media.

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Tara Kachaturoff | Editor, Couples News

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