“Is choosing to separate the best option for me?” Choosing to separate in a marriage is never an easy decision to make. ?It is my hope that by reading this article you can gain some perspective on the topic of separation. ?A separation is different from a divorce in that you and your spouse will still legally share all parental and financial responsibilities. ?Also separations tend to have many different flavors. Here are the 3 most common types.?
The Working Separation
In a working separation the couple separates in order to spend time improving themselves. ?Maybe a spouse has a mental health issue they are working on, or perhaps one spouse has an addiction they need to focus on. ?Working separations are best when there is an informal agreement between the two partners. This agreement will ideally have an explanation as to what issue needs to be worked on, who will take care of the kids and other responsibilities, what limits or boundaries are placed on communication (we?ll only communicate through text or email, or no communication for 2 months, etc.) and on what grounds will reconciliation take place. Working separations have the highest chance of resulting in reconciliation. If you think this is the type of separation you are looking for please contact a therapist or counselor–like myself--and draw up this contract with their input and guidance.
The Trial Separation
A trial separation is when one or more persons in the marriage express a desire to try what being single feels like. ?The idea is that the person is given time to ?clear their head.? Afterwards they will then decide on whether or not to pursue reconciliation. One person generally will move out, either to another part of the house or to another place all together. ?Trial separations most commonly occur in families without young children.
These separations have a high rate of ending in divorce because most people leave a marriage when the pain and frustration are so high that staying seems impossible. ?Then,when they leave they find that being single has less pain and frustration then being married and make the jump to divorce.
The Legal Separation
This option is pursued most often when a marriage has become stale and anemic; there is little good in the marriage but also little frustration also. ?The couple may stay together for the sake of the children or because they both feel that becoming single is not attractive.
Whatever type of separation you are considering please understand that separation is a matter of last resort. ?Typically, divorce is the result of separation far, far more often than reconciliation. That being said if you separate when your pain and frustration haven?t yet caused you to give up there is a better chance of reconciliation afterward compared to waiting until you have one foot out the door.
If you or someone you know are going through a situation and you are contemplating separation or divorce, contact me today. I can help you work through your issues and come up with a plan that is best for your unique situation and relationship.
I get asked this question a lot in my counseling sessions. So, I thought I would take some time to address it here.? Most of the time I am asked by one member of a marriage or relationship if their partner is narcissistic.? Usually this is a question that they ask because they are genuinely confused as to why their spouse always seems to control the conversation, belittle or dismiss their opinions, or seem to have a sense of entitlement.
The first thing I check is if anyone else outside of the relationship sees this pattern?? Do other family members, friends, or co-workers see these behaviors or is it just around you that he or she acts this way?? If your spouse is treating other people this way and/or they have a history of doing this in their past, then it?s more likely that are narcissistic.?However, what if you are the only one that they seem to act this way around.? Does that make them a narcissist?? Honestly, it makes it less likely.? If a certain behavior only shows up in one setting, then there is something about that setting that is causing the behavior.? In other words, if you are the only one who thinks your spouse is a narcissist then you might what to consider other possibilities.? One possibility is that your marriage has reached gridlock.
A marriage that is in gridlock tends to look like this:
- There has been a long period of mutual pain, frustration or disappointment.
- It has been a long time since you each genuinely enjoyed being in each other company.
- When you fight neither you nor your spouse view it as productive.
- When you fight neither you nor your spouse feel ?heard?.
Marriages in gridlock get that way because one or both spouses feel hurt.? Because they have been hurt repeatedly by their partner they stop seeking the other partners well-being.? Instead the hurt spouse begins to focus on ?damage control?.? Their goal becomes just getting through each day with their head down and hoping that they don?t piss of the other spouse.
This type of mentality causes a person to mimic many of the signs of narcissism. The person starts to control the conversation instead of listening because they are trying to prevent you from hurting them with your words or tone of voice.? They begin to focus predominantly on their own opinion and will often stop trying to convince you they are right and will just tell you they are right.? This happens because they haven?t felt ?heard? in a long time. And when you don?t feel heard you shout your opinion even louder.
Furthermore, a gridlocked marriage can lead to a spouse developing a sense a sense of entitlement.? This happens because both partners feel as though they have already given up a lot for this marriage and now their partner is asking for more.
Maybe they feel like they already do spend enough time with the kids, but you want more.
Or maybe they feel that they are already having sex more often they want, but you want more.
Often times their spouse doesn?t seem to appreciate how much they have given up to make this marriage work, so why give more up?
Finally, narcissism and gridlock both look very similar because pain causes all of us to be self-focused and narcissistic.? Have you ever known someone who is sick or in pain to not be narcissistic?? So, if you think your spouse is a narcist get a second opinion.
Maybe you’re right and you are married to an unhealthy individual but what if is just a symptom that your marriage is near the point of no return?? Are you willing to end a marriage without trying everything you could to save it?? Seek a second opinion either from a trusted therapist or read a book on the subject.
For more information about being married to a narcissist I would recommend Shannon Thomas? book ?Healing from Hidden Abuse?.? She outlines what narcissistic personality disorder looks like and how those people tend to behave.
If you are having troubles or unresolved issues in your marriage or relationship, I can help you. Reach out to me today and schedule your initial appointment.
In my life I have had the great privilege to walk alongside people who are going through hell. Be it suicidal thoughts, abuse, neglect, gender dysphoria, divorce, or addiction. I have seen people who have gone through difficult things and often they ask where was God when this was happening? Or ?how could God allow this to happen?? Often these are asked with tears in their eyes rather than with an upraised fist; they genuinely want to know.
When I was in college I had my world rocked by two couple with whom I was good friends with first divorcing and then the two wives marrying. Soon after, one began transitioning to male. It was at this point for me a theoretical issue became a concrete one. I asked God, ?what do I do with this?? The same is true of many Christians who seek counseling.
It is hard?so hard, to hold true to what you have been taught about a certain subject and then to walk through it yourself. It?s hard when you have always believed divorce is wrong yet you find yourself contemplating it. Or when your child says they have gender dysphoria, are cutting, or suicidal.
Christ told us ?In this world you will have trouble?
This world is not a Christian?s home. It is in this life that your faith grows. Once you get to heaven your faith stops growing as God is there and can be seen. It is in the brief time upon the earth that God will grow and strengthen the faith of his children. Yet how does our faith grow? Peter had the right of it when he said in 2 Peter 3:18 that we ought to ?grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.? But how does one do this?
To grow in grace is accomplished first and foremost by failure.
Failure will teach you far more than success ever will. Proverb 24 :16 says that a righteous person falls down 7 times yet gets back up. The most gracious people I have ever met are those who have failed in life. When I was going through my divorce I found far more sympathy and grace from others who had gone through divorce then those who had not. This doesn?t mean that those who had never divorced were in the wrong it just means they haven?t grown in grace in this area.
Many Christians that I have counseled hate coming to a counselor. In fact, many times I have debated even advertising that I am a Christian counselor because of the pre-conceived notion people have about Christian Counselors. They feel that I will try to make them feel bad in order to motivate change. When the opposite is true. People are much more motivated to change when the guilt and shame is lightened instead of increasing it. The same is true of our walk as Christians! Christ once told a woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more. However, He told her only after letting her know that He did not condemn her behavior.
That is what it means to grow in your faith! It means truly understanding that God does not condemn you! Yes, even if you are having an affair! Yes, even if you are contemplating suicide! Yes, even if you are transitioning to another gender!
If you don?t believe me that?s okay, not everyone does. That?s why growing in faith is a journey. If you are reading this today and honestly don?t believe that God doesn?t condemn your actions then your God is too small and you need to grow in grace.
To grow in knowledge means to take in as much as you can about Jesus.
Growing in knowledge first and foremost one must read His word. I encourage my clients to download the YouVersion app on their phones and find a devotional plan to read each day.
It also means finding out what godly men and women have to say about Christ. This can be a pastor, an online blog or a wiser man or woman you know.
It?s also trying new things as a Christian. Donate your time to a cause, go on a mission trip, take risks!
Finally, growing in knowledge includes talking to God and seeking His input on the decisions of your life. James told us that if you lack knowledge of God then ask Him!
**WARNING** The content in this topic could trigger you. Domestic violence can be a highly emotionally charged issue.
This information is meant to educate those who have experienced this type of abuse and for those who have witnessed loved ones go through this type of toxic relationship?or may still be in the throes of a relationship involving domestic violence. It is not my intention to add my voice the countless others who disparage domestic violence. There is a time and place for that but that is not here.
If you?re in a relationship where domestic violence has or is occurring or if you have watched or are still watching a loved one in a bad relationship and don?t know why they stay, this if for you.
First, it is essential to identify where the abused person is mentally
Here are the 5 different stages people experience with domestic violence:
Stage 1 Stage of Confusion
Stage 2 Stage of Grace
Stage 3 Stage of Acceptance
Stage 4 Stage of Unacceptance
Stage 5 Stage of Action
First is the stage of confusion which is typically the shortest stage. Depending on one?s unique set of circumstances, this stage could last an hour to several weeks. Typically, the confusion occurs after the first incident of domestic abuse. In this stage, you typically ask ?why??; Why did they hit me? What did I do? Or other questions to that effect.
Next comes the stage of grace. In this stage, one has typically asked the ?why? question. They may not actually know why they are being abused and generally, they still believe that their abuser is a good person. They are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
?He was probably tired? or ?I really pissed her off so of course she took a swing at me?.
In this stage, one honestly believes that the abuse was a one-time event or that the violence will dissipate on its own. Typically, people in this stage do not share that they are being hurt. If they truly believe it will end soon why make trouble?
Eventually they stop believing it will ever change.
At this point, the abused enters stage 3: acceptance. People in this stage may have some understanding that they don?t like what is happening but the abuse makes sense to them. They have been manipulated to believe that their abuse is logical. Typically, people in this stage want to talk to friends or family about the abuse but, when they do bring it up, no one accepts their reasoning as to why the abuse is acceptable. The most common advice they receive from those in whom they have confided is to leave.
However, they generally find this advice unhelpful. Because even at this stage they want to stay in the relationship. They don?t want the abuse, but at the same time, they don?t want to get rid of the abuser. This is a double-edged sword. This lack of understanding causes them to stop talking about it to anyone. People in stage 3 typically do not want someone else to interfere which can be incredibly frustrating if you are a friend or loved one of the abused, because this stage can last for a very long time.
Once the victim finds a supportive yet challenging voice to help them see that they are in fact being abuse and that it won?t change, they will eventually move into stage 4: unacceptance. In this stage they know that at some point the relationship must end.
?But what if there is a kid involved??
?Or they couldn?t financially support themselves at the income level they want??
People in this stage will stay with the abuser until it just becomes so unpleasant that its no longer worth the benefits of staying with the abuser. To help someone in this stage is to give them opportunities to leave. Help them learn about safe houses, resources, support groups (online or in person). Help them to physically get out of the situation. People in this stage are usually willing to rely on people who have earned their trust.
Then comes the last stage: action. A person at this stage recognizes that nothing is going to change unless they leave. They also have decided that the relationship it is no longer worth the price they are paying. This is the final stage.
It?s important that you are aware of these different stages, because if you or someone you know is in a domestic violence situation you need to understand that it is a process to get help. People don?t typically leave domestic violence in one go.
If you need help, please contact someone you trust or seek the counsel of a professional. We are here for you.
Many times,?I have sat with couples?who have told me that they?ve lost their romantic spark. They say that attraction that drew them together is gone. When I ask them to describe their marriage as it currently is, I often find that one of them?or both?lacks personal friends and hobbies.
Having a life outside of your marriage is vital to the health and attractiveness of your marriage. Don?t believe me? Think about this, when you were first dating your spouse, they had a life without you. They had fun, made friends, and spent their time and money without consulting you, yet despite all of that, you still were attracted to them.
How often did you love to hear them talking about one of their cherished memories? Or cheering with them as you watched their favorite sports team together? Remember when they took you to their favorite?and quite personal?spot?
It?s interesting how those same couples who found the other?s strength and independence SO attractive have lost the fire in their relationship. Now the individuals see themselves married to a partner with whom they have shared almost all the same experiences together. They live in the same house, they go to the same shows and restaurants, they attend the same church and hang out with the same people, and then they wonder why the other person seems so dull: familiarity breeds contempt!
Breathing by yourself is okay! Having a life outside your marriage allows you to grow as a person. Spending time with yourself is good for your health. You then take that healthy individual back and share it with your spouse. Then, you get to share new memories and experiences with them that they don?t know about?that makes you attractive. They get to see your skill-sets grow in hobbies from an amateur level to an expert. They get to share your highs and lows; this too makes you more interesting.
Here?s the million-dollar question: what if your spouse doesn?t like your hobby? This can be tricky, but it?s essential to learn to communicate with each other about your interests and the things you don?t like.
What if he doesn?t like to dance?
What if she doesn?t like to play video games?
What if he doesn?t like to drink?
What if she doesn?t like to go to sports games?
It may be beneficial to?seek a counselor?s assistance?to help with communicating with each other.
When it comes to recreation, it is the person who is left out?or at home by choice?that can develop resentment or a poor attitude about ?the hobby.? However, this can often be rectified with improved communication.
Ask yourself, ?why is it an issue that your spouse has a friend/ or a hobby that you can?t participate in?? The answer may involve jealousy?? I don?t get ?me? time, why should you???or it might involve fear/worry??You aren?t spending enough time with the kids or me.? These are valid concerns that are not problems but are opportunities to grow the marriage even stronger.
A couple needs to come in for counseling to help work through their issues when either individual feels frustrated. Frustration is the most common emotion that I have seen expressed in my sessions with couples. Frustration is what you feel after getting angry didn?t fix the problem.
Fixing problems in marriages is like trying to open a jar with a stuck lid. At first, you might assume it?s no big deal that your spouse said or did something hurtful. Then, when you try to resolve the issue, it doesn?t go away. Then you start putting to put in more effort?you talk to friends, read counseling blogs, buy marriage books. When your effort fails to produce change, you start getting angry.
Finally, when anger and tears and yelling don?t work,?you collapse in exhaustion?having not achieved your goal.? That feeling you experience in that moment is frustration (what many couples come into my office feeling).? They?ve tried being nice, they?ve tried compromising, they?ve tried not letting it bother them, they?ve shouted and cried and?nothing changed.
Couples in a healthy marriage feel that?they can influence one another?and they can.? Maybe you can?t change their behavior, but if only you could, at the very least, help them to understand your perspective,?that would bring satisfaction to your soul.
A couple?s frustration often stems from fights that continuously go around and around in circles. Each fight looks and sounds like the previous one and nothing is accomplished?NOTHING CHANGES.? Counselors are trained to help couples not only improve their communication but also?help each person identify why?they are fighting.? Having an expert in the room who understands the dynamics of communication can offer both sides a new perspective and keep emotions from getting out of control.
So, if you have reached a point in your marriage where you don?t feel like you can get the other person to change, you don?t feel understood, or if you are close to giving up,?schedule an appointment with a therapist, you?ll be glad you did.
Depression is tough.?Having a depressed spouse is also hard and can prove to be a difficult and arduous road to travel. That journey can become a balancing act like walking on a tightrope (except it?s your marriage, not a circus act).
Depression can create communication barriers?in that the depressed person may become extremely self-critical and more depressed when their spouse tries to talk about what is frustrating them. On the surface, the depressed person may appear to agree with their partner?s irritation, but rather than channeling their energy towards finding a solution;?they often direct the power of frustration?negative energy?towards themselves which causes even more depression!
I have treated many couples?that have struggled with one of the two being depressed. These couples have become?emotionally drained! Depression in a marriage?or relationship?presents unique problems that the average couple will not experience nor understand.
For instance, a spouse with a history of suicide may have depressive episodes that are scary and, at times, keep their partner in a state of fear and anxiety. It seems unlikely that a person would want to share this type intimate issue with anyone. This type of concern can be a?massive weight to carry.
If you or your spouse is currently battling depression,?seek professional help immediately!?Contact an expert depression therapist or?licensed professional counselor in your area who has a proven track record of treating mental afflictions and solving marital issues.
Here are four tips for those suffering or those who have a partner suffering from depression:
- Ask for help.?You cannot (and should not) healthily carry this on your own. Without the proper approach, you may end up wasting a lot of time and energy trying to ?cure? it in the wrong way. A person who struggles with depression will only fight their depression so many times before they give up and lose hope.
- Acknowledge that depression is there.?Don?t call it something else, don?t say, ?It?s just who (s)he is.? No one wins by pretending.
- Understand who/what the real culprit is?beliefs in your (or your partner?s) mind.?It?s not something you did, or they did. Depression is a combination of many things. Don?t feel guilty and don?t make your partner feel guilty; it?s not your fault, and it?s not their fault.
- If your spouse does not go to counseling, then you should seek help for yourself.**Original article was written on October 27th, 2017