9 Ways A Man Can Make A Decision About Divorcing The Mother Of His Children

Use these tips to determine if breaking up your family is the right answer.

Wondering if you need to leave your marriage is torturous.

Questions swirl in your mind and intrude in your day as you wrestle with the decision. Would I be better off without her? Can we afford to get divorced? Could I find happiness (or at least satisfaction) with another woman? And then the one that haunts you the most is How will divorce affect the kids?

Divorcing your wife is one thing. She’s an adult. She has the ability to take care of herself and move on with her life.

But divorcing the mother of your children is another thing entirely. Because you know ending your marriage to their mother will impact your children for the rest of their lives AND you know it will change your relationship with them forever.

You’ve done some research and virtually every reputable source you can find says that divorce negatively impacts children. So maybe you should stick it out until they’re grown. Give them the gift of being a man and toughing it out so they’ll have the solid foundation of an intact family.

But what if the example you set for them by staying is one of being miserably married? Is that really showing them what it means to be a man? Absolutely not.

I know you want your kids to grow into strong, healthy, happy, contributing men and women. You want each of them to have loving and long-lasting relationships or marriages with a partner who adores them and both challenges and supports them to be their best.

Staying in a horrible situation where you feel imprisoned isn’t going to help your children become those people. You want more for them and you deserve more too.

So how do you decide if you should stay or go? The way I see it, you have 3 options. You could give in and just suffer through with the status quo at least until the kids are grown. You could give up and choose to divorce today. You could also give your marriage everything you’ve got so you’ll know beyond a shadow of a doubt what your decision must be.

If you choose the third option, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get serious about doing the work necessary to make this decision in a way you can live with for the rest of your life.

Here are the 9 ways to work on your marriage so you can feel confident you’ll make the right decision for both you and your family.

  1. Talk with a man (or, even better, several men) who’s made his marriage work for the long-haul.

    Be curious and interview him about how he did it. Why did he stay with his wife? How does he make it through the bad times? Once you start talking with him, you’ll probably come up with more questions based on what he’s telling you.

    How you can use this information to make your marriage better? As soon as you know the answer(s) to this question, start doing what you need to do.

    But, you might also discover that you’ve already done everything recommended. If that’s the case for you, it’s time for the next tactic.

  2. Talk with a woman (or several) who’s made her marriage work for the long-haul.

    Be curious and ask her about the challenges she’s had over the years being married to her husband. Why did she stay with him? What does he give or share with her that makes their marriage work for her?

    You can use this information in a couple of different ways. First, you can open up a frank discussion with your wife about what you’ve learned and get her take on it. Second, it might give you some ideas of how you can make adjustments so your marriage can improve.

  3. Go to counseling together.

    Going to counseling is rarely at the top of a couple’s list of fun things to do, but it can have tremendous benefits especially if you go before all hope is lost. Counseling works best when each spouse still has hope and is willing to work on the relationship. It’s not easy, but it is worth it.

  4. Read books and articles (basically anything you can find) on making marriage work.

    Getting as much help as you can from experts will give you another perspective on what might help your union. But you can’t just read the information, you have to implement it. And, no, it won’t be easy, but your family deserves the effort. (You’ll definitely want to check out the work of John Gottman.)

  5. Read books and articles (again, basically anything you can find) on understanding women.

    A lot of the time, marriages struggle because of poor communication patterns that develop over time. We all start assuming we know our spouse and that they know us so we shouldn’t have to tell them what’s going on. We also assume that our spouse thinks like we do because they did when our love was new.

    The problem is these assumptions destroy marriages and the friendships on which they’re based.

    Men and women are different. So get curious about how women in general think and then about how your wife thinks and experiences the world. When you’re genuinely curious you’ll bring much less old baggage with you into your conversations with her and you might just find that your conversations are better. (You may want to start with the classic Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.)

  6. Talk with a single dad (or several).

    Get his perspective on divorce and what life as a single dad is really like. You might be surprised by what he has to say.

  7. Talk with a single mom (or several) whose husband left her.

    Her perspective may give you insight into what your wife will go through should you ultimately decide divorce is the best course.

  8. Get individual counseling.

    Talking with a helping professional (therapist, coach, religious leader, etc.) takes courage. You’re choosing vulnerability with the goal of exploring every option possible so you can feel confident in making the best decision. A helping professional will assist you in organizing all of the thoughts you’re wrestling with as well as process the additional information you’re gathering through your conversations and reading.

  9. Spend quality time with your kids.

    Regardless of whether you decide to divorce their mother, you and your kids deserve to have a wonderful relationship. Spend time with each of them individually – not just doing fun things, but building the connection between the two of you through every day activities too. Spend time with all of your children together. And spend quality time together as a family. By investing the time in your children, you’ll be building memories and strengthening your relationships.

    And if you should ultimately decide that divorce is the best answer for you and your family, you’ll have already established the habit of spending time with your kids and it will be easier to continue those relationships when you’re not living together all the time.

Without question, these nine tactics outline the minimum amount of effort required to make the best decision you can about divorcing the mother of your children. But the truth is you might not have the energy or desire to go through all of this work – not even for your kids.

If this is true for you, then you need to get comfortable with the fact that you’ve already made your decision to divorce. Your task is to start preparing your family for what’s coming and then divorce your kids’ mother in as respectful a manner as possible while strengthening the relationship you have with each of your children.

No matter how you look at it, the labor involved in deciding whether or not to divorce is immense. There are so many unknowns about what the future holds regardless of which way you choose to go.

The absolute best thing you can do to help yourself make this decision is to make sure you’ve gone all in to make your marriage work. That way if you do decide that divorce is the best option you’ll be able to look yourself (and your kids) in the eyes and know you’ve given your all to being the best dad possible even if you did divorce your children’s mother.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are wondering if staying married is the right answer for them. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.

Looking for more help with your marriage? Read more advice in Unhappy Marriage?

 

This article was originally published at The Good Men Project.

Some People Aren’t Good For You (No Matter How Much You Love Them)

Including your spouse?

Love is a funny thing. We’ve heard all our lives that it’s “patient and kind, not envious, boastful or proud. Love doesn’t dishonor. It isn’t self-seeking, easily angered or resentful. It always protects, trusts, hopes perseveres and never fails.” Oh, and that love rejoices in truth. (Yes, this is a paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13.)

And then there’s our marriage vows that say, “For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.”

But do you notice? … In those definitions, we only cover how we should demonstrate love to another. No one’s teaching us how to receive love from our spouse(or anyone else for that matter).

Why does this matter? Because, when you don’t know how to receive love, you end up settling. You settle for meh — for ‘fine.’ And you might even settle for poisonous, violent, and horrible.

You do so because you convince yourself that the problem is you — that somehow you don’t act loving enough. So you try even harder and harder to love the other person, hoping that if you get good enough at it, that person will love you back. 

But here’s a harsh but loving truth:Some people are just not good for you (and never will be) and you need to let them go.

How do you know if your spouse isn’t good for you? Outside of the obvious — abuse, untreated addictions, or setting an abysmal example for your children —  here are some tell-tale signs that your marriage isn’t providing you with the love you deserve (and need):

1. You don’t share the same core values or want the same things anymore.

Yes, of course, we all change over time. And, ideally, a couple will grow together through those evolutions, but that doesn’t always happen. Living with the constant stress of conflicting values or goals isn’t good for either of you.

2. You don’t really want to keep trying to make it work.

Marriage is about two people choosing togetherness each and every day. If you’re forcing yourself to make the relationship work, then you might want to think long and hard about what you’re really getting out of your relationship. Feeling like you ‘should’ be happy isn’t the same thing as actual happiness.

3. Your spouse doesn’t get along with your family and friends.

It’s one thing if he or she has friction with one or two friends or family members, but if your spouse has a problem with all of them, that’s not OK.

4. You hide your thoughts and feelings from your partner.

Sure, sometimes touchy subjects come up that you broach with care. But if you’re consistently hiding your thoughts and feelings from your mate, then you’re denying who you are. Choosing to hide the real you just to keep the peace is not a good plan for the long-term.

5. Your spouse continues to complain, but won’t do anything to make your relationship better.

Seriously?! Your husband or wife sounds like a spoiled child and not an adult capable of being a real partner in a marriage. A relationship will never work if you’re carrying the entire load. 

6. Your instincts are screaming at you to get out.

Why aren’t you listening to them? And no, you can’t use either the definition of love above or your marriage vows as the reason you’re ignoring the clear message your instincts scream at you each day.

7. Your partner clearly has no respect for you.

No spouse likes us every single minute, but treating each other with respect is a basic requirement for a healthy marriage (or any other relationship, for that matter).

8. You’re starting to hate being around your partner.

If you’re manufacturing reasons to avoid spending time alone with your spouse, you need to ask why. And once you know that answer, you’ve can either work on things or know, once and for all, that you need to move on.

Feeling irritated with your spouse is normal in even the best marriages. But, if you consistently can’t stand your husband or avoid your wife at all costs, it’s time to consider getting out.

9. You don’t like who you are when your spouse is around.

Do you hold your tongue, agree with things he or she says that you don’t really believe, or otherwise go along with behaviors outside of your true self? Pretending that you’re different — especially someone you don’t like — just to appease your partner is no way to live.

10. You feel manipulated and controlled.

If your spouse consistently maneuvers you into doing what he or she wants, then your marriage lacks the give and take needed to make a marriage successful.

11. You don’t trust the one you “love.”

You can rebuild trust, but it takes commitment and effort by both parties to restore it. You can’t do it on your own. And if you don’t trust him or her, there’s probably a good reason.

12. Your relationship lacks any sense of real connection.

Healthy marriages ideally nurture and support both spouses over many, many years. But if you two can’t connect on a deep level — at least occasionally — then you have to question your marriage’s viability.

Just because you identify with one or two of the items on this list doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve misplaced your love. It could just mean there’s some more work to do to see if, together, you can repair your marriage.

But if you’re saying “yes” to all 13 items on this list, it’s time to get out.

Marriage is a two-way relationship. Accept that your spouse isn’t the one for you, no matter how much you love him. This will likely feel painful and difficult, but ending a relationship with someone who isn’t good for you is the most loving thing you can do … for him, for your kids, and for yourself.

If you don’t express,receive and model healthy love, you don’t have a solid relationship. (Yes, that’s another paraphrase of 1 Corinthians.) And nothing is what you have if you continue to live in a marriage where you aren’t loved.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are wondering if staying married is the right answer for them. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.

If you’re looking for more help with your marriage. You’ll find it in Unhappy Marriage?

This article originally appeared on YourTango

Do This One Thing To Have A Happy Marriage

Could it really be this simple? AB-SO-LUTE-LY!

I get it. You’re incredibly busy.

You have a demanding job that requires your complete attention. Your team, your customers – not to mention your boss are all counting on you to perform at your best. After all, that’s who you are – a real achiever who loves what they do despite the long stressful days.

Then there’s home. The kids are involved in tons of activities and you’re their chauffer. You’ve got home maintenance chores (and cleaning) to do. Your pets need to be cared for. You’ve got clothes to wash and put away. Oh yeah, and then there’s the grocery shopping and meal preparation.

Every second of your day is accounted for and all you want from your spouse is for them to be your helpmate and lover without making more demands on your time. Yet for some reason that’s not happening. And when you think about it, it hasn’t happened for a long time.

Your relationship is strained. And the strain is making it harder for you to get through the rest of your life.

What if there was a simple answer that would make your relationship blossom again?

What if your relationship became the solid base that you could rely on as you tackle the rest of your life?

Well, according to a couple of surveys done by the Dating Divas, the answer could be amazingly simple and require very little effort on your part.

The first survey the Dating Divas conducted was to ask husbands what they wished their wives knew. The divas had hundreds of responses. After culling through all of the data, they narrowed it down to the top 10 things men wished their wives knew.

  1. I love you.
  2. You are beautiful and amazing.
  3. I am trying, so please be patient.
  4. Hints don’t work, so be direct.
  5. I want to be #1 in your life.
  6. I want to be appreciated.
  7. Positivity is attractive.
  8. Your words matter.
  9. Sex matters.
  10. Sometimes I just like to be left alone.

Do these 10 sound familiar? I’ll bet they do!

The second survey the Dating Divas conducted was to ask wives what they wished their husbands knew. And again the divas had hundreds of responses. They sifted through all of them and came up with the top 10 things women wished their husbands knew.

  1. I love you.
  2. I’m proud of you.
  3. Listening is more than hearing.
  4. I need (and want) to be told I’m beautiful.
  5. I want to act like we are dating again.
  6. You are important.
  7. Little things are actually big things to me.
  8. I want to be romanced.
  9. What you say affects me deeply.
  10. I appreciate YOU!

These probably sound familiar too.

But what’s important here isn’t how familiar these wishes are. What’s important here is that the number 1 thing on both lists is that husbands and wives both wish their spouse knew that they loved them.

Husbands and wives both wish their spouse knew they are loved for two reasons. First, we all know that if our spouse feels loved that our relationship is better which in turn makes our lives better. Second, we are all too lazy to do what it takes to let our spouse know they’re loved.

Somewhere along the way, we’ve put maintaining our relationship into the chore bucket. And that’s horrible!

Seriously, how hard is it to tell your partner you love them? Not very – unless you’ve gotten into the habit of being hurt and don’t want to be the first to say it. And even if that’s true, I know you have more backbone than that. Heck, you could even start out with a text saying “<3 u.” It doesn’t have to be some big dramatic gesture, but it does have to happen.

Taking 10 seconds three times a day to let your spouse know you love them will make a HUGE difference in your marriage. And can’t you find just 30 seconds in each day to make your marriage happier?

Looking for more help making your marriage better? Read more advice in Unhappy Marriage?

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are wondering if staying married is the right answer for them. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly adviceAnd, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.

Originally published at Marriage.com.

5 Daily Habits To Jump-Start Success In Your Life After Divorce

Woman smiling because her life after divorce is great!

Yes, even with a failed marriage your life after divorce can be successful (and happy).

I can hear you now. “Success? Who the crap can think about success or happiness when their marriage just ended in divorce?”

Although you might not initially believe me, you should think about both happiness and success right now – not from the standpoint of how you don’t have either, but from the standpoint of how you can achieve both.

Look, your life is happening right now and the only way to make sure your life after divorce works for you is if you make the effort to start getting some things in order as quickly as you’re able.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not being flip about the pain you’re feeling.

Your divorce is probably one of the lowest points of your life. (It was for me.) Not only is your old life stripped away, but you’re faced with really hard questions about how to make your way through life on your own (maybe even as a single parent).

You’re going to have to continue the hard work you’ve already been doing to set yourself (and your kids) up for a successful post-divorce life. Transitioning from married to single isn’t easy. And believing that your life after divorce could ever feel good seems almost impossible right now.

But I know you can do it. How? Because you (and your kids) are worth it. You’ve got too much life ahead of you to call it quits now and settle for miserable.

So what do you do? You start small by developing some habits that will form the foundation on which you can build a happy and successful life after divorce.

Below are the 5 habits you need to develop to build your life after divorce into one that feels successful and that you love.

  1. Make your health a priority. I’m talking a holistic health here. Take care of yourself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. You have to take care of you first so you can have the energy to take care of those who depend on you.
  2. Don’t get distracted by what your ex is (or isn’t) doing. Unless your ex is doing something egregiously wrong, you need to let them live their own life so you can live your own. I know it’s not easy to let go after all the years you’ve spent together, but letting go is exactly what you need to do so you can move on with your life after divorce.
  3. Stay inspired by reading, taking classes, having new experiences. Getting and staying involved in things that make you feel good and even challenge you will keep you motivated. And when you feel motivated to have more fun experiences and think new empowering thoughts you’ll be easily able to make the next habit happen.
  4. Live each day to the fullest. Yes, squeeze every last ounce of wonderful out of every day that you can. I know that things may not seem all that wonderful right now, but start looking for what’s good about each day. I actually keep a journal and write down everything that I’ve really enjoyed each day. It might be the sound of the birds singing early in the morning or playing with my dogs. Wonderful isn’t always something big. It is just something you’ve noticed and appreciated.
  5. Plan the next day the night before. This tip is last because it comes easiest after you’ve started working on the other habits. Taking the time to lay out your clothes, plan the next day’s tasks, and layout the things you need to take to work (or the kids need to take to school) the night before will make your morning go much more smoothly. And we both know that if your morning goes well it’s easier for the rest of the day to go that way too.

I’ve listed these habits in this order for a reason – to give you the most critical one first. Taking care of you has to come first. If you’re not taking care of you, you can’t do much else for long.

So don’t worry if these 5 foundational habits seem like too much right now. Just work on the first one.

And when you’re ready, start picking up the others so you can build your life after divorce on a solid foundation that will easily allow you to have the happiness and success you both want and deserve.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who want to survive and thrive after divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re ready to take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

Looking for more support as you re-create your post-divorce life? You’ll find the help you want in Life After Divorce.

 

Are You Doomed To A Marriage Of Unhappily Ever After?

Man with slumped shoulders hanging his head in sadness about his unhappy marriage.

If you continue doing these 19 things, you are guaranteeing yourself an unhappy marriage (and life).

Most couples enter marriage seeing the world and especially each other through rose-colored glasses. They believe their love is enough to carry them through to living their dreams of happily ever after with each other.

Unfortunately, as time goes by the rosiness of the world (and each other) fades. Their marriage isn’t as happy or fun as they imagined on their wedding day. And they’re left worrying that maybe they’re doomed to an unhappy marriage or, even worse, become one of the 50% of couples who divorce.

If any of this sounds painfully familiar to you, don’t worry. You’re not condemned to a life of misery or even divorce.

You can bring the joy back to your marriage, but it will take work. So roll up your sleeves and get ready to make you and your marriage better.

Here are the 19 things you must stop doing right now if you’re committed to bringing the joy back to your marriage:

  1. Communicating with your spouse over social media. A marriage is between the two of you. It’s not between the two of you and all your friends, family, casual acquaintances or that random person who friended you last week.
  2. Just expecting that things will work out. One of the biggest mistakes couples make is that a good marriage just happens. A good marriage takes effort not passivity.
  3. Doing emotionally draining activities. No one can survive doing things that wear them out and their marriage certainly won’t survive either. If an activity that’s crucial to your marriage and family drains you, find a way to change the way you think about it or the way you get it done.
  4. Worrying about things you can’t control. Look the only thing in your life you’ve got any shot at controlling is you. Worrying about what your spouse is (or isn’t) doing will never change a thing. So stop worrying. Instead say what needs saying or do what needs doing.
  5. Dwelling on past mistakes. Living in the past and dwelling on the mistakes that you or your spouse made isn’t going to change a thing. Your life and your marriage are in the present. Learn from the past, but focus on now.
  6. Focusing on what other couples are (or aren’t) doing. Looking to what successful couples do to create their happy marriage as inspiration for yours is great! But, if all you wind up doing is comparing your marriage to theirs, that’s not great. All that will get you is more misery.
  7. Putting yourself, your spouse or your marriage last on your priority list. What you pay attention to grows. If you don’t nurture yourself, your spouse and your marriage, there’s no way things will work out well.
  8. Keeping secrets from your spouse. Trust is a necessary ingredient of all successful marriages. If you believe you need to keep parts of your life hidden from your mate (besides the fabulous surprise birthday party you’re throwing for them) then you need to ask yourself why. Chances are the reason is not helpful to having a healthy marriage.
  9. Neglecting to show gratitude for your spouse. Your life partner needs to know that you appreciate them being in your life. Letting them know you’re thankful for them is another way of expressing your love for them.
  10. Being controlling. Trying to coerce your spouse into behaving the way you believe they should behave will never work. You married a person who is separate from you – not your puppet (or worse, slave).
  11. Expecting that what hasn’t worked in the past will work in the future. To steer your partnership back to happiness you need to try different ways to make things better. Remember, Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
  12. Pretending you’re someone you’re not. Too many people believe that if they simply meet their spouse’s expectations of who they should be then their marriage will work out. If you’re doing this, your marriage may work out for your mate, but it will never work out for you. Being unashamedly you is your top priority.
  13. Trying to change your mate. We’ve all heard stories of how people (especially women) marry intending to change their beloved. Well, your honey will never change unless they choose to change, so accept them as them.
  14. Believing you can please everyone. No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be all things to all people. So give up trying to please your spouse, your in-laws, your parents and your friends all of the time.
  15. Taking your eyes off of the goal. When you married your sweetie, you married them with the goal of living together happily forever. Yet somehow you forgot to keep that in mind and that’s how you wound up where you are today. (But since you’re reading this I know you’re resetting your sights.)
  16. Failing to ask how your marriage got to where it is today. Yes, you need to understand how your union got to where it is today so you can avoid making the same mistakes going forward.
  17. Neglecting to do your part. Whether or not your marriage works requires the efforts of both of you. It’s not just their job to make things better. You have to do your job of being the best spouse you can be too.
  18. Choosing short-term comfort over long-term benefit. Sure it might be easier right now to ignore the problem than to address it, but ignoring too many things just builds resentment. And resentment spells doom for a marriage.
  19. Forgetting that how you think determines how you experience your marriage (and the world). If you’re always expecting your mate to do something annoying, they’re going to do something annoying. If you expect your mate to have the best of intentions with what they you, you’ll be more forgiving and less defensive when they aren’t perfect at everything.

Look, your marriage didn’t go from the honeymoon phase to where you are today in the blink of an eye. It took time for the bad habits to take hold.

So don’t expect that you’re going to immediately and completely eliminate all 19 of these behaviors immediately, You’ll need to put some work into this.

Also, you can’t expect your spouse to immediately recognize your efforts as good for them. (See #19 above.) At first they’ll probably be a bit confused about the changes you’re making. Heck, they may even feel threatened or angry.

But persevere. Bringing your marriage back to the rosier path toward happily ever after will take both time and effort. If you break the bad habits that aren’t working for the benefit of your marriage, the results will definitely be worth it.

Looking for more help with your marriage? Read more tips about how to fix things in Unhappy Marriage?

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are wondering whether or not they fix their unhappy marriage. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly adviceAnd, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.

This article originally appeared on Marriage.com.