Divorce and Graphotherapy

graphotherapy divorce recoveryDivorce and Graphotherapy

Guest blog post by Sheila Lowe, MS www.sheilalowe.com

Divorce sucks. No point denying it. Whether you’ve grown to hate the person you once loved or the parting is amicable, when it comes to ending it all, you still have to grieve for the hopes and dreams you once shared. It’s stressful, it’s painful, and there are plenty of difficult feelings to deal with. But there is a way to make some of it just a little bit easier.

In my work as a handwriting analyst, I’ve found that people in stressful situations such as divorce have been helped by doing a few simple exercises called graphotherapy. Some exercises help difficult emotions come to the surface for release. Others help the brain to focus and attend better, so that when you’re filling out all that paperwork and figuring out who gets what, you won’t miss any important details.

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Graphotherapy works because everything you’ve ever done or thought or said remains in your brain, and when you pick up a pen and write, the way you’ve responded to all your life experiences and integrated them into your personality is translated into the trail of ink you leave on the paper.

Your handwriting is unique to you

Causes of Divorce

What Causes Divorce?     

   You hear a lot about the reasons marriages end. Usually, fingers point to affairs or money. But marriages don’t end because of events. In 23 years of practice, we have found that divorce occurs when a couple has turned from one another and looked for satisfaction outside of the marriage. We call this turning. Turning is the cause of divorce.

            If you are the one who asked for your divorce, it may be clear to you why your marriage is ending. If you are the still-loving partner and didn’t want the divorce, looking back for the signs that led up to your spouse wanting the divorce will become clearer to you as you reflect. Marriages fall apart like erosion. The breakdown started slowly with one tiny misstep after another, until the sum of these became so large that the relationship collapsed.

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            Looking back at the deterioration of your marriage is takes courage. But understanding what happens to typical couples, and what happened to you, can help normalize the situation for you, and this will allow you to move on  If you initiated the divorce, you’ll have a more clear understanding of why. And if you didn’t, the process will help you appreciate that this isn’t a sudden, single event which could have been prevented. Turning happened before either of you saw the signs or understood their gravity.

            Though the particulars vary from couple to couple, there is a predictable sequence of events that occur as a marriage breaks down.  While you’re in it, it’s difficult or even impossible to see. As outsiders, we can identify the turns

Tips for Co-Parenting After Divorce

Tips for Co-Parenting after Divorce

This is a guest blog by Scott Morgan, a board certified Austin Divorce Lawyer.

Co-parenting after divorce can seem daunting, but it is entirely possible to establish a healthy co-parenting relationship with your ex-spouse. The most important thing to remember is to put your children’s well-being ahead of your own feelings towards your ex. Your ex will always be your kids’ mom/dad; despite the fact that you are no longer together, your ex will still be a part of your life, and you can build a healthy relationship based on co-parenting your children.

Tips for a healthy co-parenting relationship after divorce include:

Focus on the Positive

Always speak positively of the other parent in front of or to your kids. You and your ex-spouse may have stopped loving each other but your kids need to know that you still respect each other as parents. Do not undermine your child’s respect for the other parent by saying hurtful things to each other in the child’s presence.

Communication

Communication is essential for maintaining a civil relationship with your ex. You don’t have to like each other, but maintaining open communication about matters related to your children will make it easier on everyone. If you and your ex find it difficult to be civil, or to remain calm during discussions or handovers, it might be worth enlisting the help of a professional. A counselor or therapist may be able to help you to address your feelings about your ex, and help you to focus on your ex as your children’s other parent, as opposed to someone who hurt you, or whom you dislike.

Blended Families

If more than one child or set of children in the family is dealing with divorce, you will need to try to create a positive relationship between all members of the family. Communication will be especially important within a blended family, and it can be even more important to remain positive about, and civil towards, your stepchildren’s absent parent. Again, you do not have to like each other to be civil. It is ok for your kids to know that you do not love, or even like, your ex very much, but it is also important to children in a blended family that all of the parents involved behave respectfully towards each other, and towards each other’s children.

Create a Co-Parenting Plan

Agreeing on parenting techniques can be hard enough for married couples, but it can be even more difficult for divorced couples. You may not feel like talking to your ex, or your ex may refuse to talk to you, but drawing up a co-parenting plan as a guideline is a good idea. Your divorce lawyer or a court mediator can give you advice on how to draw up a co-parenting plan, and there are even co-parenting classes available for couples going through a divorce.

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Stay on the Same Page

If at all possible, try to make life easier on your child by having a similar schedule, and similar rules, in both mom’s and dad’s house. This is easier said than done, especially if different parenting styles were a factor in the divorce, but children are likely to feel more settled, and be less likely to try to play one divorced parent off against the other, if mom and dad are on the same page for important issues.

About the Author

Scott Morgan is a board certified Austin divorce lawyer who regularly blogs on the subject of divorce and family law. You can read his blog at Austin Divorce Specialist.

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Setting Clear Boundaries in Divorce

Setting Clear Boundaries

Often, your marital or domestic situation does not meet the level of serious violence where you have to flee, but you are subject to consistent intimidation or abuse.

These actions are also a form of violence or battering, and also an indication of the deterioration in your relationship. Understand that when you are being victimized or attacked in some way, your children risk being hurt, too. Furthermore, you are showing them a dangerous model for their own future relationships, a type of behavior they may carry with them throughout their life and repeat as adults when they become involved in intimate relationships.

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Establish standards now for how you allow yourself and your children to be treated. Click here for an informative article on boundary setting.

Some indications that your spouse, partner, husband or wife has gone too far include: getting angry at you when you disagree; punching holes in walls; throwing objects (aimed at nothing or at you); destroying belongings; threatening to hurt you or leave you for the purpose of intimidating you; physically preventing you from leaving home; putting pressure on you not to work when you want to; insulting or ridiculing you; becoming jealous of your friends, activities, or hobbies; making you account for your whereabouts at all times; using promises and lies to manipulate you or to get you to forgive their angry or threatening behavior; isolating you from friends or family; making you ask permission to go out or make a career move; and threatening to harm your possessions, pets, or children.

Do not allow behaviors that feel uncomfortable, frightening, or intimidating to become acceptable to you or your children in your home or anywhere. These behaviors are forms of abuse even if you do not fear for your safety.

Make it clear to your spouse that s/he can no longer try to control your life or your actions. If you do fear for your safety, you will need to take additional steps to guarantee your safety. Click here for information regarding protection orders and the protection order process, and here to familiarize yourself with Peace-Talks’ mediation services. Finally, click here to download the PDF version of Peace-Talks brochure that provides a quick visual means to our family law and mediation services.

When Your Children Are Involved and Affected Children can be affected by parental violence in several ways. They can be physically injured during an incident between their parents; they can be traumatized by fear for their mother and their own sense of helplessness in protecting her; they can blame themselves for not preventing the violence or see themselves as causing it; they can be directly abused; and they can be neglected by parents who aren’t caring for their kids properly due to the violence present in the parental relationship.

Studies show that parents fail to understand how often and to what extent children who witnesses parental violence or abuse are affected by it. Both mothers and fathers report that children are aware of abusive behavior less than the children report themselves when given the opportunity to respond.

You can also take advantage of a book I wrote in 2001 that offers a comprehensive outline of the divorce process, Your Divorce Advisor: A Lawyer and a Psychologist Guide You Through the Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce (Simon & Schuster/Fireside 2001).

There are free browsing and top 10 tips sections to help you at : http://www.yourdivorceadvisor.com . If you’re seeking divorce or other marital information in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, or the South Bay, visit https://www.peace-talks.com or call 310-301-2100.

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If you’re not near Los Angeles or Orange County, you can find a mediator near you at http://mediate.com.

For more information, visit http://www.makingdivorcework.com. Diana Mercer is an Attorney-Mediator, and the founder of Peace Talks Mediation Services, https://www.peace-talks.com. She is the co-author of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life (Penguin/Perigee 2010) http://www.makingdivorcework.com and Your Divorce Advisor: A Lawyer and a Psychologist Guide You Through the Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce (Simon & Schuster/Fireside 2001) http://www.yourdivorceadvisor.com and writes for the Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/diana-mercer as well as her own blog Making Divorce Work http://makingdivorceworkblog.com .

Creating a Good Divorce

I know it’s an oxymoron: nobody wants a divorce, so how could one be good? But when you’re faced with divorce, you have lots of opportunties to make it less bad (if not actually good, at least in the long run, in hindsight).

I’ve been a divorce lawyer for 24 years, and expert on what works best for both parties when you’re getting divorced. As a divorcee myself, I perfected a personal “what works” that helps people navigate the often rough waters of divorce.

When you’re faced with a divorce or other family law case (custody, support, domestic partnership, cohabitation), you have the maximum opportunity for success in resolving everything to the best benefits through mediation.

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This might sound somewhat self-interested, since I’m a full time family law mediator….but I became a mediator after giving up a very high paying divorce lawyer job because I felt it was more important to be part of the solution, and not encourage the fighting that often characterizes divorce. I traded my fancy car for a 2002 Honda Accord, and 11 years later it’s still fulfilling helping families through this difficult life transition of divorce.

Diana Mercer, Mediator

You can work through a lot of the issues you’ll face with our free tools:

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Here’s how it works:

In mediation, you and your spouse or partner work with a neutral, unbiased professional or team of mediators. This is more often a lawyer, a therapist trained in mediation, or someone with both legal and counseling expertise. The job of the mediator in your family law case is to help you settle your differences, from cars and furniture to parenting plans for children, financial support and sharing of retirement accounts.

When considering a family law or divorce mediator, look around. Mediator styles vary. Ask your prospective mediator if a free orientation or initial consultation is available. Take time to decide what type of mediator might work best for your personal circumstances. This is an intensely personal process, so you should seek a personal connection with your chosen mediator.

A mediator’s style might include:

* Making suggestions

* Informing you about legal provisions

* Relating what others have done in your situation

* Defining your options

* Helping you consider alternative ways to resolve your problem

* Facilitating communication

* Ensuring the divorce discussion is balanced, productive, and respectful

* Writing down agreements in a cogent, easy-to-follow way

* Guiding you through court paperwork (or doing it for you)

* Mentoring your staying on task and finishing discussions, because when discussions grow difficult, it’s tempting to just change the subject.

Not all mediators do all these things, so use this list as your own list of questions when considering a mediator in a divorce proceeding.

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Resolving Divorce Conflict – Be Hard on the Problem, Not the People

A Closer Look at Resolving Divorce Conflict

Key 1: Be hard on the problem, not the people.

We made this the first conflict resolution skill because it’s likely the first one you’ll put to use.  Right now, it may be hard not to see your spouse as the problem, as the reason for your divorce.  Or the other way around. That’s why we think it’s such an important skill to learn. 

Change the nature of the fight and you’ll change the dynamic. Stop throwing stones in arguments.  Using blame, shame, or guilt to get your spouse to do something will become less effective as your relationship ends, because each of you will stop making the little concessions you once made for one another in the relationship. Instead, address the problem rather than laying blame on your spouse.  For example, “Whether or not to sell our house is a tough decision.  We both have a lot of work to do. I would like to work together to figure this out”, works much better than, “If you’d only earned more money while we were married, we wouldn’t have to think about selling our house.”couple

If you don’t keep the problem separate from your relationship, you risk having the conflict overtake your life (especially after your divorce).When two people who are stakeholders in a relationship are at odds, they sometimes say and do all sorts of irrational things, project, deny and shift blame.

All this drama has nothing to do with solving your problem. But there are things you can do to focus hard on the problem, not the person. The goal is to work with your spouse, rather than being adversarial.

  • Bite your tongue. Think before you respond. Those few seconds of tongue biting can save you a lot of trouble in the long run.

  • Remember that your problem is mutual. You need your spouse in order to solve this problem — and to reach an agreement. You will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

  • It takes two to have an argument. If you refuse to take the bait for a fight, the fight can’t happen. 

  • Reframe your problem as a mutual problem and use “we” language.  “We need to decide what to do with the credit card debt” gets a different reception than “You need to deal with your credit card debt or we’ll never have an agreement.”

  • Think about the situation from your spouse’s point of view, even if you think he or she is wrong. Remember, you need this person to sign your agreement.  By only thinking of your own perspective, you’ll never get resolution.

  • Don’t interpret what is going on based only on your fears. Resist the urge to turn everything into a catastrophe.  You will get through this.

  • Don’t blame.  Blame doesn’t get you anywhere, especially not now.

  • Let your spouse blow off steam and don’t take it personally.  Not everything is an invitation to fight, and even if it is, you’re not coming to that party.

  • Listen. Acknowledge your spouse’s feelings without being patronizing.

  • Be direct; don’t play games.  Have your own priorities straight.

Though many of these points are common sense, when the relationship gets tangled up in the problem, things can get volatile fast

Divorce Wisdom: A Thank You Note to my Former Husband

Divorce Wisdom:

A Thank You Note to my Former Husband

 

While it’s tempting to just remember the bad parts of your marriage, especially when you’re in the middle of your divorce, it’s also important to remember what you learned from each other, and what you gave to each other when the marriage was good.

I’ve started reading the Modern Love column in the New York Times Style section. and it got me thinking about my former husband.

While things ended badly, as they so often do in the demise of a relationship, there’s also plenty to be thankful for.

I met Bill through a personal ad back when personal ads appeared in print.  He, recently divorced, went to a Learning Annex class on how to meet new people, and the class homework was to do something you’d never think of doing to meet someone. So he answered a personal ad.  Mine.

We were married 5 weeks later.

We spent the next 4 years having the time of our lives, renovating our broken down 1730 farmhouse, and growing up together.  Our professional day jobs gave way to creativity with a good dose of mischief when the quitting bell rang.

So thank you, describe the imageBill, for teaching me how to use power tools.  I never would’ve imagined installing electrical wiring, cedar shingling a roof, or stripping 200 years of shellac off of woodwork.

Thanks, too for teaching me it’s possible to cook without a cookbook. Your hot dog burritos were excellent, as was your ravioli pizza. And the night you wanted dessert and wowed our housemates with chocolate mousse from scratch was pretty amazing.  We never had much money, but we always ate well, even if the ingredients were organ meats, freezer burned piecrust, instant mashed potatoes and leftover dip.

 

I’ll always be grateful that our lack of money never ruined anything.   When the refrigerator bit the dust and we had to keep our food in the snow outside the backdoor, it seemed like an adventure, not a hardship.  When our first Christmas gift to each other was $1500 in bounced check fees, we laughed and booked a wallpapering job to pay it back.

You taught me that no matter what other people are doing, you can be happy.  Remember fastidious Donald, our moonlighting home decorating business’s biggest client?  He could pick out a pinpoint of missed paint behind his armoire at 40 paces. “What happened to Donald’s plant? It looks dead,” I asked. “It probably smothered in Liquid Gold,” you responded as Donald asked us to re-do something else that didn’t need to be redone.

You taught me that everything is fixable, and everything has a solution. I learned that when you installed a new sink without turning off the water first.  Measure once, cut twice, but it still works out, even if the bathroom turns into Dunns River Falls in the process.

So there were plenty of good times.  I have a lot to be thankful for during those years. 

Bill and I got divorced before I even knew what mediation was, but thanks to a sensible friend (thanks, Cliff) we resolved everything in a way that made sense to everyone.  And things have worked out fine.describe the image

The fight where Bill said, “You’re never going to finish that book!” was exactly what it took to make me finish that book. Your Divorce Advisor was published by Simon & Schuster in 2001.  And I followed that up with Making Divorce Work in 2010.

You taught me not to let anything stand in my way.  Bill never let something small like not knowing how to play guitar stand in the way of him starting a band, and ultimately being invited to play in a Captain Beefheart festival in Europe.  He now runs an annual art festival in New Haven.   When he ran for mayor, and crashed the debates, the hostile incumbent complimented Bill on his speech, simultaneously appalled and mystified at his eloquence, Bill responded, “I’m crazy, not stupid.”

And when the newspaper called me for comment, while it was at first tempting to let fly with everything that had gone wrong between us (which is what the paper was after, I’m sure), I realized that the reason Bill was running for mayor is that he believed in local government as a voice for the people, and that the current administration wasn’t listening to its constituents, and that his campaign was meant to bring attention to that.

So even our post divorce has been pretty good. And Bill’s leaving the marriage allowed me to go on to have the marriage I was meant to have, and which has now lasted 14 years, over twice the length of my marriage to Bill.   So even getting ditched was, in the end, a blessing.

Now it’s your turn to write your own thank you note.

 

Diana Mercer is an Attorney-Mediator and the founder of Peace Talks Mediation Services, peace-talks.com. She is the co-author of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life (Penguin/Perigee 2010), Your Divorce Advisor: A Lawyer and a Psychologist Guide You Through the Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce (Simon & Schuster/Fireside 2001) and 8 Simple Keys to Building and Growing Your Mediation or Arbitration Practice (Peace Talks Press 2011). Diana also writes for the Huffington Post as well as her own blog Making Divorce Work.

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