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relationships | The Naked Divorce
How to Behave After a Divorce

How to Behave After a Divorce

So much of the advice we are given is well meaning but is frankly hollow and trite…

Designed to minimise our emotional pain as if it’s invalid emotion, it’s not. This attempt to repress our emotions will actually increase the overall pain experienced and extend the recovery period, sometimes indefinitely.

Get over it.

Be strong.

Look on the bright side.

There are plenty more fish in the sea.

These classic statements do not help. And then there’s the other end of the scale: the friend that tells you to go out, get wasted, make all the mistakes you want because, hey, you’ve been through a lot. You’re single now. You get a free pass to be as self-destructive as you want, because look at what you’ve just been through. 

Or the friend that loves to come over for a good bitch about your ex. The friend that just ‘drops in’ information about some shitty thing they did, without you asking. The friend that acts like they’re on your side, but clearly revels in the drama – and wants you to go on feeling this angry, miserable and victimized, to squeeze as much entertainment out of the situation as they can.

They sound different, but these approaches all have the same effect. None of them encourage you to focus on how to recover. You aren’t looking for ways to work through the feelings. You’re simply told whether or not they should be allowed to exist in the first place – and then whether it’s better to mask them by pretending they aren’t there, to distract yourself from them as much as possible, or to keep feeding them because you’re within your rights to do so.

The most damaging thing is that all these forms of advice make you feel powerless. 

When you come through an emotional trauma like divorce, you need to give yourself permission to cry and scream and just – feel. But you also need to know that you are the keeper of these emotions. You don’t have to let them control you and your future.

Why do I feel so lost?

The pain of divorce isn’t just sadness that you fell out of love, that someone you trusted betrayed you, or whatever the cause of the breakup was. You aren’t just grieving for your relationship, you’re grieving for an entire life that you had, with all the familiar structures, habits and assumptions that made you feel safe.

You may have lost your home. You may have lost friends. You may have had to dramatically change your daily routine to facilitate extra childcare or overtime to do to make ends meet. At the same time, your default partner for everything from going to the cinema to your plus one at weddings has disappeared. The shock of the change can be bewildering and traumatic.

It’s not enough to try and get by with these old pieces of your life missing: you have to actively make a plan to restructure your life (and your mindset) completely to deal with this new reality.

What happens if I don’t?

You know the old saying that time heals all wounds? Well, It’s nonsense.

Time does not heal all wounds. Without proper care and intervention, physical wounds fester, or scar horribly, leaving permanent damage.

… Emotional wounds are exactly the same.

If you don’t take proactive steps to plan and organize your life post-divorce, you will stay stuck in the same state you were in when the trauma hit. You will continue to feel lost and hurt, and you will make no progress either on repairing the emotional damage or addressing any underlying problems and dysfunctions that fuelled the breakdown of the relationship in the first place.

That means you’re dooming yourself to keep repeating the same destructive mistakes.

Why structure is good

Enough with the doom and gloom: let’s look at the positives.

There are “best practices” for everything in life, and that includes divorce. Having a clear idea of what to do and how to behave in order to protect yourself and your kids from further emotional harm, and to create the conditions for healing, is genuinely empowering. You can take charge of your situation and your feelings, and start to rebuild.

The basics

There are 10 essential ways to make sure you’re on your best behaviour after a divorce:

Handle friends and family with good grace

Your mum’s anxious, tone-deaf advice might be about as much use as a chocolate teapot, but try not to get annoyed or frustrated. Recognise that most people in your life genuinely want to help or support you – they just don’t know how. Be thankful to them for caring enough to try, even if you’re secretly disregarding everything they say… and if you get the feeling that some people are stirring things up deliberately, politely refuse to engage.

Minimise contact with your ex

You might not be able to cut them off completely – especially if you have kids – but you do need to create distance. For as long as they’re hanging around, part of you will try to cling on to the role you played in each other’s lives before your divorce, and you won’t truly start restructuring your life without them.

Perhaps you can be friends later, but not now… and don’t kid yourself that you can’t keep sleeping together and walk away unscathed.

If you can, take a complete break for a few weeks right after the split, and then continue to keep contact to a polite minimum.

Keep your kids in the loop – but out of the fights

Your children are savvier than you think. They know you’re breaking up, they know their lives are changing, so don’t lie to them or give them false hope that things could go back to how they were before. Focus on showing them how much you love them and making it clear this is between you and your ex.

At the same time, never, ever drag them into your feuds. Try not to talk about your ex in negative terms in front of them, and don’t give in to any urge to use their feelings (or custody) as a weapon against your ex. If you do, you will sour their relationship with one or both of you, and make the experience even more traumatic for them in the process.

Take a step back from work (and then dive back in)

You need time to catch your breath, and stepping up your workload to distract yourself will only delay the start of your healing process. If you can, take some holiday, or at least postpone / manage certain projects to the ease the burden. When you’ve figured out your new structure you can jump back in and seize your career with both hands, but you need the next few weeks to focus on healing.

Don’t avoid your emotions

Your pain is going anywhere because you ignore it and numbing yourself just postpones the inevitable: at some point, you will have to deal with these emotions and start to focus on getting better. But, while you can’t – and shouldn’t – banish them completely, there are strategies you can use that will help you to listen to these feelings, negotiate with them, and lessen their hold over your behaviour and your state of mind.

Don’t look for someone to rescue you

Rebound relationships are almost always a disaster. The impulse to let someone else jump in and save you from your shitty situation, or make you feel better about your damaged confidence, is understandable, but all you’re doing is dragging your baggage into a new situation and putting tremendous pressure on the other person to make it work. Focus on getting yourself in a good place before bringing someone new into the mix.

Take care of yourself

It sounds minor, but you must look after yourself physically, as well as emotionally, after a trauma. That means trying to eat nourishing food, getting some sleep, avoiding too much caffeine or sugar, and not relying on alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs to get you through. These things wreak havoc on your mood and energy levels and will make you feel even more out of control.

Beware “false healing”

Teaching yourself to bear the pain is not the same as getting better. If you squash all that trauma down deep inside you, you will get sick. You will be miserable. You will lash out. You will repeat the same mistakes. The goal is to find functional, productive ways to deal with your problems and your relationships that make you happier, not to get through the day without crying.

Be honest

When you’re hurting or you’ve been wronged, it’s natural to want to rally people to your side. The trouble is, like that friend that loves the drama and wants you to keep on serving it up, being emotionally rewarded for victimhood can get addictive.

Reach out for whatever help you need, but if part of you is wallowing in this because it gives you a free pass to do, or demand, whatever you want, or you’re secretly enjoying the sense of righteous anger… admit that to yourself. You’ll need that self-awareness when you come to structuring a plan to heal.

Be proactive

Don’t sink into a stupor and wait for it to pass. It won’t. You have to decide to start healing. You have to be willing to take those steps. You have to be prepared to make a plan.

What do I do now?

Now it’s time to regain control of your life. Start with the practical things: how are you going to organise your finances? Your workload? Your social life? Childcare? Build new structures that work for your independent life.

Next, ask yourself: what sets me off? What factors send me into a downward spiral? When do my emotions start spinning out of control? When do I feel powerless or vulnerable?

As you identify the stuff that really scares you, you can start to plan out a daily routine that strips out some of the ways you torture yourself – the self-destructive behaviours, obsessions and thought processes that impact on your ability to heal.

 

Restructuring your life after a divorce is a BIG task. If you feel you’d benefit from expert guidance, click to learn more about the Naked Divorce 21 Day Programme, and how it can help you put all this advice into action to get over your divorce in just 3 weeks.

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Fight Right!

Do you know how to fight right in your relationship?

Learn how to fight the right way and avoid conflict with a new partner

Guess what? International Pillow Fight Day takes place this month (yes, there really is a day for everything, folks!).

And, while it might sound daft, there’s nothing like a light hearted playfight with your other half to let off steam, behave like big kids and descend into giggles together, whether that’s fighting with pillows, chasing each other with dishcloths or racing each other down the street.

In fact, in the early stages of a relationship, when the physical stuff is just getting going and you’re giddy and nervous around each other’s bodies, something as silly and harmless as a pillow fight often helps channel sexual tension and build intimacy.

Testing each other…

But while teasing each other and laughing about it will bring you closer together, not all fighting is good for your budding relationship. In fact, if you don’t figure out how to fight right early on, things can turn toxic.

That’s partly because, as research by psychoanalyst Otto Kernberg suggests, the neurobiological and psychological processes we go through when we experience love are worryingly close to those that spur on aggression.

To have a healthy relationship, you must learn to navigate between the two – to work out when your combative impulses are valid, and when they’re caused by fear or the strain of becoming emotionally vulnerable around someone new.

Because it’s okay to feel flushes of attraction, neediness, jealousy, possessiveness or the fear that someone could wound us – all of which very often come with falling in love.

But if you don’t handle these feelings properly, interrogating them fully and recognising when you’re repeating self-destructive behaviour from past relationship battles, you could wind up hurting your new love and yourself.

How not to fight

Ever found yourself in this situation? You’re on a date, things are going well, when you start talking about something a little more serious, or personal, maybe even political. Your date says something you don’t agree with and you question it, or express a different opinion. Immediately the atmosphere sours. They get angry or sink into a sulk. You struggle to pull the conversation back. Everything seems ruined.

Or maybe you’ve been chatting away quite comfortably – perhaps about something you’re a little raw about – and they say something insensitive or challenge you, out of the blue. You feel hurt, under attack, or insulted. Perhaps YOU get angry or upset. Perhaps YOU sulk.

The other person is bewildered. They don’t know what they’ve done. But you’re seething. Clearly, this wasn’t meant to be, right?

Take a deep breath

In either these situations, can you be sure either of you really did or said anything wrong?

Or did one of you just express yourself the wrong way?

Equally likely, is one of you still hurting, still stuck in the rut of your old relationship – ready to fly off the handle at a perceived slight because you can’t help but hear their words in your ex’s voice?

No one ever leaves a relationship unscathed. It takes work to heal and, until you have, you carry the scars. Perhaps you’ve ignored them so long you can’t even see or feel them anymore, but as soon as someone else says something that reminds you of the wound – even by accident – you can’t help picking at the scabs.

And suddenly, there you are, bleeding all over again. And you blame them for making the pain rush to the surface, even if they have no idea what they’ve done

Listen to your feelings –

But listen to where they’re coming from, too

Okay, you feel stung. Perhaps the other person really did step out of line, but perhaps they touched a nerve without meaning to.

Step away for a breather. Say you need to pop to the bathroom. Take a moment to pinpoint exactly what they said that hurt you. Ask yourself, reasonably, whether they could have known that it would have this effect.

Then, if you still feel unsettled, go back and calmly explain, rationally and without blame, what upset you and why.

Be gentle with each other

Its fine to explain things from your point of view, or to use personal anecdotes, to explain why you think the way you do. But don’t launch a personal attack on the other person’s character, personality, anxieties or perceived weaknesses to score a few points.

When you’re having a conversation about something like, say, politics, it’s essential to clarify that you aren’t criticizing the other person, you’re discussing something separate to both of you and that you care about understanding their point of view, even if you don’t agree with it.

Challenging someone’s behaviour

Even if you ARE challenging someone’s behaviour, stay on track. Emphasize that you are uncomfortable with a certain thing they did or said, and explain why. Don’t exaggerate or emotionally blackmail them, just calmly state your point of view. If they respect you, they should hear you and be willing to talk it through.

And if you can see someone getting upset and emotional, ask yourself whether you need to win this battle, right now, and whether you really want to injure them and potentially destroy your relationship in the process. What do you gain by tearing them to shreds?

Yes, this could be an issue that’s so important to you that you need to come back to the conversation another time. If so, wait until you’re both calm.

But perhaps you don’t need to push them so hard. Perhaps there’s a reason this subject has such a profound effect on them – one that you need to tease out in time, as trust develops.

Avoid escalation – and stay-on-track

As relationship counsellor Zach Brittle says:

Conflict discussion can go one of two directions. Generally when the discussion escalates, it ends badly and neither partner has gained any ground. When the conversation de-escalates, it creates room for dialogue. In order to prevent escalation, don’t find fault, don’t bring up the past and don’t keep going once the conversation is off the rails. Master couples have an ability to repair a conflict discussion early and often in order to keep it from escalating and becoming unproductive.

In other words, when an argument starts to get nasty, don’t fuel the fire. Recognise that, when thing get heated, it no longer matters who is wrong or right, because once you’re both angry, all you’ll care about is standing your ground.

Instead, take steps to diffuse it. Try to find the parts of what they’re saying that you DO agree with, and build from there, explaining where you feel slightly differently, and why.

And whatever you do, don’t let the argument shift into being about something else. If they try to move to goalposts, say something like: “Ok, I’m happy to talk about that too, but right now can we just stay on this one topic,” or even: “I’m not sure what we’re arguing about anymore. Shall we come back to this another time when we’re less het up?”

Be prepared to say sorry

Never underestimate the power of an apology.

If you know you said things that were harsh and cruel, you became aggressive, the other person was visibly upset, or there was anything about the way you behaved that now, in the cold light of day, seems unnecessary: SAY SORRY.

You don’t have to tell them they were right. You don’t have to back down from your stance or opinion. But DO apologise for the way you made them feel.

Be kind when you’re not fighting

Usually when disagreements explode into full-blown war, it’s because one or both of you already resentments or relationship anxieties bubbling away.

Going out of your way to show your partner that you see them, hear them, and support them during “peacetime” helps make them feel safer emotionally.

That means listening – really listening – to each other, celebrating each other’s successes, remembering to drop them a note or give them a call to check in when you know they’re worried, in need of a pep talk or outlet (for instance, before and after an interview, exam, presentation or dreaded doctor’s appointment). It also means simple, thoughtful things, like bringing them a cup of tea in the morning or running them a bath when they’re exhausted.

The point is, the more “cared for” someone feels, the less likely they are to let the claws ping out the second they feel threatened by a disagreement.

Oh, and when you start to annoy each other… maybe just have a pillow fight to ease the tension instead.

 

Did you find this article helpful?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share in the comments section below.

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Divorced – and shit at it

“Divorced – and shit at it”

I launched my Naked Divorce business on the back of my first book ‘Naked Divorce for women’ written over five years ago

Since then the business has grown and grown, and I’m delighted, and blessed to have been able to touch so many people’s lives as they wrestle with the chaos, despair and trauma of divorce. The transformations that take place in our programmes are truly stunning.

Sometimes I feel like I have been put on this planet to help people through their life traumas. I really do have the best job in the world – For example just earlier today one of my Relationship Counselling couples told me that not only was their relationship saved (they were on the brink of divorce just a few months ago), but they have just discovered to their delight that they are pregnant!

There were lot’s of tears of joy. And when I was told that would never have happened had it not been for me helping them – well let’s just say I was in lot’s of tears too.

Like I say, I really do have the best job. Honestly though, it’s not me, it’s the process. It just works. Sometimes my clients need me, or our Angels to assist them through the process – but ultimately it’s the process – what can I tell you, it’s the bomb-digidy!

OriginalBookLaunch
Adele’s original book launch at the largest Waterstone’s in London

 

Book Announcement

So I’m delighted to announce today for the first time, the launch of my new book for women (men you’re gonna have to wait a little longer – but it is coming). This revisedenhancedupdated book builds on the first book I wrote which was an Amazon Best Seller. Over the years the process has been tweaked, and refined to deliver ever more powerful results – so it was great to get that fine-tuning into this new book, and give it a make-over at the same time. The new book is called ‘DIVORCED – and shit at it‘. Because we are. We’re taught to ‘get on with things‘, to ‘feel happy‘, to ‘get on with our lives‘, to just ‘get over him‘, that ‘time will heal‘ – well it’s all BS. Quite frankly most of the advice out there is not only unhelpful – it actually makes things worse. So no wonder we are ‘Shit’ at getting over divorce – we’re being fed bad info. Friends and family may mean well – but they really don’t have a clue how to help. Ok – rant over.

Launch Offer

We have cunningly decided to launch the book officially on March 8 – International Womens Day! With the help of my team we’ve put a whole bunch of Bonuses together to help celebrate both International Womens Day – and the launch of ‘DIVORCED’. I should point-out this launch is for the digital version only – the printed version will be a little later. For more info on the book, the Special Bonuses that will be made availalbe only on MARCH 8 – click here >>> http://nakedrecoveryonline.com/product-book-divorced-women-2017-comingsoon/

Extract

You can download an Extract of the book for Free now >>>     Many thanks Adele

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NakedDivorce Adele Theron blog broken

Valentines Day Downer?

Is Valentine’s getting you down?

Well stop it. It’s just a game, and here’s how to remember how to enjoy it.

Around this time of year being lonely drives some people into total anxiety about finding the one. The thing is, finding a life partner isn’t about being all anxious and desperate. It’s about being chilled, and playing the game flat out with no attachment to the outcome.

But people who hate being lonely and hating the process don’t approach the dating game as a game. Especially around silly days of organized public affection like the 14th – when everyone else seems to be madly in love.

Lonely and anxious

Feeling lonely and anxious starts a downward spiral unless you stop it. For those who hate feeling lonely, each rejection becomes a failure that they are single and they become driven anxiously to eliminate the issue.

The important thing to realize about anxiety is that we feel anxious when we make connections between unrelated events – that’s the real driver to this spreading feeling.

We had a bad date, someone didn’t call back, our boss shouted at work, our daughter is failing school, traffic was bad, the next date cancelled, you reached out to someone on Facebook and they didn’t answer you back and the TV blew up.

Interrelated

They all start to seem interrelated. People suffering from anxiety link these random events together and feel the weight of all of these issues all at once. It’s like when you throw a stone in a pool of water and the ripples go out across the whole pool – anxious people allow the stones of life to disrupt their entire pool of equilibrium.

Stop making shite up

Wake up, and stop linking things up. The root of solving anxiety is being aware that you are needlessly, illogically linking all of these events together, and seeing them as part of a massive, interconnected task that seem impossible to overcome.

The key is not to merge and bring things together and see everything as one big problem.

Things are not connected.

The stone has nothing to do with the pool of equilibrium. Your daughter failing school or your date cancelling is not personal.

It just happened.

So here’s your challenge – a powerful route to breaking this pattern and getting peace of mind once more;

The 6 steps to release your anxiety:

  1. Write down everything that makes you anxious in circles on a piece of paper.
  2. Draw links between the circles to illustrate how you have linked these events together in your mind.
  3. Now imagine an alien from another planet is sitting next to you. Explain to the alien how these events are interlinked and how all these connected events make your life a disaster.
  4. Now answer these questions:
    1. Does the alien understand what on earth you are talking about?
    2. Does the alien agree that these events are linked?
    3. What is the alien saying to you?
  5. NOW in the drawing break the links between these events by drawing the break.
  6. Now explain to the alien that these events are not linked:
    1. Does the alien understand what on earth you are talking about?
    2. Does the alien agree that these events are not linked?
    3. What is the alien saying to you?
  7. Write down what you observed in this exercise.

 

Go ahead, do it now!

It’s a very effective exercise, and it might even just make you smile this Valentine’s Day…

And the last step, tell us what you think!

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Cling On – or let go? Pt3

Cling On – or let go? Pt3

Okay, we’ve now talked about how your relationship dynamic affects your basic needs to feel safe and secure Part One and your psychological need to feel loved and valued Part Two. But what about the top of the pyramid: self-fulfilment?

 

Self-fulfilment

In the grand scheme of things, at least for people from most walks of life, the chance to feel ‘fulfilled’ is a pretty new idea. In the past, a lot of couples would largely have settled for security, fidelity and companionship.

But in the last 50 years or so, all that has gone out of the window. It’s just not enough anymore. We all want and expect to feel fulfilled: in our jobs, in our relationships, in our lives as a whole. We want to reach our full potential and to feel as if we’re achieving something genuinely meaningful.

 

Self-actualisation

Here’s the thing, though. Self-actualisation is hard.

It takes a lot of work to be the best you can be. A hell of a lot of work. Work that only you can do, by yourself.

It takes a lot of work to be the best you can be. A hell of a lot of work. Work that only you can do by yourself. And while it’s totally reasonable that you’d want your partner to be supportive, encouraging and willing to help you along the way, expecting too much from them can destroy a relationship.

Eli Finkel, the American psychologist, puts it pretty well when he says that modern couples increasingly expect each other to guide them their journey and “grow as individuals.”

“People are looking to their spouses to help them discover who they are, and to achieve the best version of themselves,” he says. “You are really hoping that your partner can help you on a voyage of discovery and personal growth, but your partner cannot do that unless he or she really knows who you are, and really understands your core essence. That requires much greater investment of time and psychological resources.”

Being someone’s on-call Jiminy Cricket is a full-time job, and no one has the boundless time, energy and insight to guide their partner through every step of the way.

In other words, being someone’s on-call Jiminy Cricket is a full-time job, and no one has the boundless time, energy and insight to guide their partner through every step of the way. Besides, that level of emotional investment would mean neglecting your own goals, dreams and journey towards being the best you can be.

 

Ruthlessly pursue your own path

Does that mean that you should ruthlessly pursue your own path and leave your partner to their own devices? Of course not.

Really loving someone often means being willing to drop everything when they genuinely need your help, or sacrificing some of your own pleasures/temporarily overlooking your own needs if it means they’ll achieve something that’s really important to them.

But that doesn’t mean that they have the right to demand that they take priority all the time. Nor should you feel that your purpose is to elevate their needs above your own – that your role is to make sure they succeed at the expense of your own ambitions.

Your partner can help you stay on the right path, but they can’t carve it out or walk it for you.

Only you are in a position to do the things that will fulfil your potential. Before you ask anyone else to give you an extra push, you need to have the self-motivation, self-belief and the right attitude to push yourself – and you need an idea of what it is you want and how you’re going to achieve it. Your partner can help you stay on the right path, but they can’t carve it out or walk it for you.

 

Ask and expect

Trying to put all of that onto your other half is suffocating, and it’s unfair. By all means, ask and expect them to be in your corner, and don’t accept someone deliberately blocking the way of things that really matter to you. But don’t expect them to be your life coach – or your doormat.

Really listening to each other, giving encouragement, pep talks and constructive criticism, bouncing ideas around and suggesting solutions to problems, reassuring each other when you’re having a crisis of confidence, making sure you’re sharing the burden of day-to-day finances, household chores, childcare… all of these things help to create an environment that will facilitate fulfilling your potential.

Equally, giving each other space to pursue the things they want to succeed in, and trying not to become jealous or resentful when they (genuinely) need to put in the extra hours to make it a success, is vital.

 

How does your partner respond

One of the biggest indicators of whether a relationship will succeed, after all, is how they respond to each other’s positive news.

As UCLA researchers found in 2006: “When close relationship partners, specifically romantic partners, regularly respond to positive event disclosures in a supportive manner, disclosers report feeling closer, more intimate, and generally more satisfied with their relationships than those whose partners typically respond in a nonsupportive manner”

Being enthusiastic and excited about their achievement, promotion, great feedback from the boss etc. is absolutely essential – failure to be emotive in your response will undercut their good mood and make them feel hurt and rejected.

Even if do you have reservations, don’t make it all about you by leading with these. Save them until the initial buzz has worn off and you can talk them through together.

 

Congratulate first, talk second

If your spouse tells you they’ve just been given more responsibility at work, for example, don’t respond with “But you already work such long hours! When am I going to see you?” Congratulate them first – and mean it. After that, you can start to delve into the details of what the role involves and how you’re going to make sure you still spend quality time together. Otherwise, they will simply think you are shooting them down because you don’t really care about them reaching their potential – and they’re probably right.

Clinging on too hard too tightly to your other half makes it impossible for them to meet their needs on their own, or to be the best they can be, but being dismissive or indifferent to their efforts will kill your relationship, too.

Clinging on too hard too tightly to your other half makes it impossible for them to meet their needs on their own, or to be the best they can be, but being dismissive or indifferent to their efforts will kill your relationship, too.

 

The key

The key is to make sure that you are not demanding that the other ‘fixes’ you, making them choose between prioritising you and their goals, or turning your relationship into a competition – and that you are showing them that you believe in what they are doing and their ability to achieve it. It’s about both of you giving each other the support that will allow you to grow, and sharing in each other’s successes to bring you closer together.

 

Click Here for More Great Info  Part One | Part Two  

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The perfect relationship

The perfect relationship

Brad, Angelina and the Death of the “Perfect” Relationship

Ever been told “Oh my god, you guys are just SO GOOD together?” even as the doubts are starting to set in?

Or had friends roll their eyes when you mention issues that are starting to bother you because hey, your relationship is great – what are you whining about?

Or worse: broken up with your partner after much painful soul-searching, only to have your parents say: “Are you crazy? They were perfect for you!”

Brad&Ang
The perfect couple, or so many thought

Perfect

The problem with being the “perfect couple” is that you’re never allowed to break the illusion. The daily problems and struggles that every marriage experiences are glossed over, ignored, denied.

Sanitised for other people.

This puts insane, unrealistic pressure on your relationship. It makes you feel like every imperfection or tension is a personal failure. It prevents you approaching problems head on and working through them rationally. It speeds up the demise of your marriage when the cracks start to form.

And eventually, it deprives you of the support you desperately need right when you need it most: after your divorce.

Brangelina

Let’s take a look at the Brangelina breakup for a moment. These are two of the most beautiful, successful people in the world.

Two people that, on the face of it, seem to have the most picture perfect marriage.

They’re wealthy. They’re both top of their profession. They’ve worked together on a ton of successful projects, as well as pursuing independent goals. They’ve raised a beautiful family. They travel all over the world and own houses in far flung, exotic locations.

“It doesn’t matter how rich or beautiful you are, presenting a sanitised version of your relationship is exhausting.”

Performing

But you know what else?

They’re two people who spent their entire ten-year relationship in the public eye. Who have had to perform being happy in love for a press mob that picks apart every word and gesture for a decade.

They’ve had to put a flawless face forward even as they’ve negotiated some of the most stressful and emotionally exhausting events a couple can possibly experience together: the serious health problems and multiple, invasive surgeries, the death of parents, the high profile criticism of professional and personal choices, adopting and raising children, running their own businesses and managing their own creative projects.

Who had to cultivate a façade even for those people they see and speak to and confide in every day, in case their words are sold to a newspaper by a “source close to them”.

brad-pitt-angelina-jolie-happierdays
Brad and Angelina in happier times

Exhausting

It doesn’t matter how rich or beautiful you are, presenting a sanitised version of your relationship is exhausting. There’s only so long you can pretend that difficult, hurtful, stressful things aren’t taking their toll on your relationship. And when it falls apart, you absolutely need people who love you to step in, give you a hug, listen to you talk about what you’re going through and really listen.

Now, hopefully no one reading this will ever be in a position where the dirty laundry of their divorce is publicly strung up in the tabloid press, but I’m sure many can relate to the feeling that you’ve been horribly misrepresented by your partner, by your friends and family, by your social circle, or even (if, for example, you’re battling for custody) in a court of law.

If you’ve gone out of your way to present the happiest, shiniest, most perfect version of your marriage until now, it can be particularly hard to counter or handle this. Especially if everyone adores your ex and you’ve never attempted to disabuse them of the notion that this person is just as perfect as you’d always let them believe.

How do you backtrack?

How do you persuade them, after all this time, that actually things weren’t as wonderful as they seemed, behind the scenes? How do you trust someone to really listen and be supportive when you feel that they’re judging you harshly for “throwing it all away”?

Here’s the thing: you’re not going to be able to change a bunch of people’s minds when they’re dead set on siding with your ex. And do you really need to, anyway? What will you gain by it? Is it going to help you to move on?

Of course, if you’ve spent years putting on a show of being the perfect couple, it will most likely cut you deep that you’ve lost control of your “public image” now. You might panic that people no longer see in in the positive way they’ve always seen you in – or even as the cause of your relationship’s breakdown. At this point, it’s tempting to go on the offensive, painting yourself as the victim and telling everyone who will listen about your ex’s every fault.

Won’t help

But this will not help you heal and move on. In fact, it will do exactly the opposite.

Firstly, you will probably end up fighting a proxy war of he-did-this-she-did-this with your ex via your friendship group. That’s bound to get ugly, souring your relationship with your ex even more and leading to stuff coming out about you that you really didn’t want shared.

Secondly, you’ll find yourself becoming a person that you just don’t like. After all these years of fierce loyalty to your partner, striving to show both of you in your best light, here you are bad mouthing or exaggerating their faults to score points. That has to feel a bit grubby. It has to detract from whatever was actually beautiful about the time you shared together.

BradAngelina_divorce_battle_NakedRecoveryOnline
Will Brad and Angelina go into battle against each other?

Betray

If you go as far as betraying the trust of that person, unnecessarily disclosing intimate secrets or things that will really hurt or embarrass them, that’s even worse. Mutual friends will most likely think less of you for being so vindictive, your ex will (rightly) be appalled and you will have lost the moral high ground forever. From there, you can only keep clinging your ex’s wrongdoings and your victimhood in an attempt to justify yourself, admit guilt and grovel to your ex / your social circle for forgiveness, or continue along a path of petty revenge. None of these is exactly going to make you feel great about yourself.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should lie, cover up your feelings or sugar coat anything your ex has done that led to this breakup. You’ve done enough of that already, and it probably contributed to your marriage’s demise.

“It’s tempting to go on the offensive, painting yourself as the victim and telling everyone who will listen about your ex’s every fault. But this will not help you to heal and move on. In fact, it will do exactly the opposite.”

Honest

Instead, it’s a case of being honest with a small circle of people you really trust, and being painfully diplomatic with everyone else.

Again, let’s go back to Brangelina. If, like them, you’re splitting up under the media glare, you have to be incredibly careful about what you say and who you tell. After all, they have six kids to protect as well as each other’s feelings, and they certainly don’t want to go feeding the sharks.

Instead, they decline to comment, or release carefully worded statements like this one, from Brad Pitt:

“I am very saddened by this, but what matters most now is the wellbeing of our kids… I kindly ask the press to give them the space they deserve during this challenging time.”

“I am very saddened by this, but what matters most now is the wellbeing of our kids… I kindly ask the press to give them the space they deserve during this challenging time.” 

Okay, you might not have to worry about hacks quoting you out of context, but you can take a valuable lesson from this. People are people and they will gossip and twist your words. This is even more the case if your relationship always looked perfect from the outside and your breakup came as a shock.

Open and honest

Make sure you sit down the people closest to you and tell them, frankly, that while things weren’t as rosy as you perhaps made them out to be, you are trying hard to keep things civil. Be strong: don’t minimise the things that hurt you or allow them to make you feel these were nothing, but don’t exaggerate them either. Emphasise that you’ve already made your decision and now you need their support, not their judgement.

Ask them to keep what you tell them to yourself. Be open about what you need from them in terms of emotional support. Tell them you’re hurting. Tell them you’re scared.

“If you want to heal, you’ll have to focus on dealing with your own pain and the proactive steps you’re going to take to move on and get your life on track – on your own.”

BradAngelina_PressDivorce
Outside pressure is the last thing you need when going through a divorce

Trash talk…

But apart from the specific concerns and frustrations you need to get off your chest, don’t make it all about trash talking your ex. This will become exhausting very, very fast and will prevent you from moving on.

The same goes for people who will inevitably pry or try to goad you into saying things about your ex you wish you hadn’t. Be gracious about this. Say that you don’t want to speak ill of them or go into detail about what went wrong, but ultimately it didn’t work out and you wish them well. Then change the subject and don’t get drawn in: you will feel better about it, and you will come out looking like the better person.

You have to let them go

Ultimately, the important thing is that you don’t fixate on your ex. After all, you’ve broken up now. They should absolutely not be the central focus of your life. You have to let them go.

If you want to heal, you’ll have to focus on dealing with your own pain and the proactive steps you’re going to move on and get your life on track – on your own. You need to work on treating the wound, not keeping it visibly open to win the support of your friends.

If you’re lucky enough to avoid a divorce as public as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s, embrace the privacy that this gives you to heal. Don’t turn it into a min media circus of your own creation. At the end of the day, it’s you that will get hurt.

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Cling On – or let go? Pt2

Cling On – or let go? Pt2

In the first part of this series, I talked about how all humans have a basic need to feel safe and secure, and how to make sure that you offer that to your partner in ways that are healthy and not controlling or counterproductive.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Or, in Maslovian terms, the base of the pyramid.

To recap, this is Maslov’s Hierarchy of Needs:

heirarchyofneeds-e1412171967833

 

Okay, now let’s move on…

 

Psychological needs.

The moment we’re confident that we’re not going to starve and we’re safe from immediate harm, we start fixating on belonging and love. We need to feel part of something, that we’re understood and cared about, that we have mutual trust, affection and intimacy in our lives. And for that, we seek out companionship, friendship and romance.

But often, this is where the cracks start to form.

Especially when:

  1. One of you believes this need should must be met solely by your partner
  2. One of you underestimates how much the other is looking to you to fulfil this need

Let’s start with the first one: fighting too hard to make yourself the only person who meets this need.

At its core, this is jealousy and self-doubt. It’s the fear that if someone else can give your partner any part of the love or belonging that they need, you will become redundant. 

Maybe your other half is excited about a big night out with their friends. Maybe they’re up all night chatting to a sibling after you’ve gone to bed. Maybe they never miss training, no matter what, even though you’d much rather spend Saturday morning together. Whatever it is, it’s something that makes them happy – but that doesn’t include you. And it feels like a threat.

Okay: getting this bit right is a delicate balancing act. It’s the hardest part of any relationship.

Everyone has that friend who disappears the minute they strike up a new romance, never to be seen again until it all goes tits up and they need a shoulder to cry on. Everyone’s had that awful sinking feeling when the first flush of love starts to die down and they realise they’ve let their friendships slide for months, even years.

 

That feeling of loss

Everyone’s had that feeling of loss when they realise an important bond has slipped through their fingers.

The thing is, being with our partner meets our need to belong in different ways to those of our friends/family/teammates/others we care about.

These bonds aren’t mutually exclusive. They complement one another.

And while couples generally look to each other for love and affection, trying to isolate your partner from the friendships they had before they knew you is hugely destructive. Eventually, they will resent you for it.

Trying to isolate your partner from the friendships they had before they knew you is hugely destructive. Eventually, they will resent you for it.

Hopefully you’ll get on well enough with your partner’s friends and family that you’re a big part of each other’s lives and extended groups. Belonging to each other also means belonging to each other’s worlds. But at the same time, you need to appreciate that their closest friendships and family relationships exist without you – and respect that, when they want to spend time with these people alone, this is a legitimate need and does not threaten your bond.

 

Don’t try and replace

The important thing is not to try and replace or limit your partner’s access to other sources of intimacy. It’s making sure that you both strive to assure the person that you love them, so that you are comfortable enough in your relationship to loosen your grip.

That’s where the second part of the equation comes in: underestimating how much the other person needs you to feel loved, and that they belong.

If your partner tells you they feel lonely and neglected when you’re out all the time without them, hear them out. You might not agree, but don’t get defensive or impatient. or try to invalidate their emotions.

Are you taking them for granted? Are they kind of low on your list of priorities? Do you treat them as a fall-back option when other plans fall through? Do you readily cancel on them, or switch work shifts to accommodate other people when you never seem to be able to do the same for them?

Because if, deep down, the answer is “yes”, you need to get real with yourself about why.

Perhaps you had become a bit wrapped up in yourself, in which case, strike compromises that mean you spend more quality time together. But if you no longer enjoy their company and are not willing to work through your problems, it may be time to re-evaluate your relationship. Either way, don’t act as if they are being unreasonable, because they have a right to expect love and companionship from their partner.

Even if the answer to these questions is “no”, berating your partner won’t make them feel more loved and less needy. You’ll wind up having the same fights, straining your relationship and exacerbating the problem.

Reassure them that you love them and love spending time with them. Make plans together and be enthusiastic about it. Look for ways to show them they’re on your mind when you’re apart, even if it’s just a text to see how they are. If they rely on you too much because they’ve let other relationships take a backseat, nudge them to spend time with the friends and family they’ve been neglecting.

And lastly, introduce them to your friends.

This isn’t just about making them feel included. It’s also about addressing psychological needs at the next level of the pyramid: Esteem.

Our esteem needs – the need to feel important, capable and valuable, to have a sense of accomplishment – are obviously met by many sources other than our partners; this comes from our careers, academic achievements, hobbies, passions and meeting important goals. But the dynamic we have with our partner can strengthen or undermine all that.

No matter how confident you are, no matter how talented or capable or good at your job, if your partner keeps you at arm’s length from their friends, family or colleagues, this hurts. You begin to think they’re ashamed of you in some way.

 

We all want to feel that our partner is proud of us

We all want to feel that our partner is proud of us, proud to be with us, proud to be seen with us.

It feels good to hear that they speak highly of us when we’re not there. It feels good when they want to show us off to other people in their lives.

The smallest gestures can communicate this. Making sure you let them know you’re impressed or proud of them for hitting that milestone they’ve been agonising about. Telling them they look hot when they’ve made an effort. Thanking them – sincerely – for something they’ve done for you. Complimenting them or bringing up something they’re proud of in front of other people.

 

You need to give each other space to breathe

You can’t do any of this when you’re consumed by jealousy and possessiveness. You need to give each other space to breathe and do your own thing so that you both have things you’re proud of, so that you can take pleasure in each other’s successes. It’s all about letting go, without pushing away.

 

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That takes us up to Part 3, where I’ll talk about making the tough climb to the top of the pyramid together – and how to give each other the chance to feel happy in your own skin. Click here to read it once released.

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Cling On – or let go? Pt1

Cling On – or let go? Pt1

They take no notice of me. They don’t support me or show any interest in my job, or my passions, or my interests. They don’t listen. They seem bored when we’re together. I don’t feel they’re proud to be with me. They don’t call or text to see how I’m doing. They’re always too busy to talk. I feel I’m last on their list of priorities. It’s like we’re not even a couple.

I feel suffocated. They won’t let me breathe

I feel suffocated. They won’t let me breathe. They’re jealous. They want to know where I am all the time. They hate me doing anything that doesn’t involve them. They call constantly while I’m out with friends. They want to know exactly when I’m going to be home. If I have to work late, they sulk about it. They want to do everything together, all the time.

On the face of it, these two sets of problems sound like polar opposites, right?

You might have even heard the same person say these things about two different relationships. Or about the same relationship at different times.

At the deepest level, all of us need to feel both free and autonomous, and safe, needed and claimed.

Perhaps you thought they were being fickle – that they don’t know what they want. Perhaps you heard yourself saying something like:
“What are you complaining about? I wish my girlfriend was that laidback!”
Or:
“Count yourself lucky. At least he cares enough to get jealous!”

But the thing is, at the deepest level, all of us need to feel both free and autonomous, and safe, needed and claimed.

These things are hard to reconcile. But if you don’t strike the right balance, or understand how these needs fit together you will drive the other person away.

A great way of understanding this is through Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

heirarchyofneeds-e1412171967833

Maslow pictured our physical and psychological needs building on each other like a pyramid. You need each type of need to be met before you can worry about the ones at the next level:

 

Let’s start with the basics.

At the bottom of the pyramid you have the survival stuff. You can’t focus on anything else when you’re scare about going hungry, just as you can’t function properly if you’re sleep deprived. If you’re reading this, you’re probably fortunate enough to have access to resources to tackle these fundamental needs. But to get by, even at the most basic level, we also need to feel safe and secure.

 

Safety and security are complicated

Safety and security are more complicated than they seem at first glance.

You might not be living in a warzone, but if you’re afraid of or intimidated by your partner, you will obviously not feel safe. You might not be in a physically abusive relationship, but if your partner cuts off your financial access, or makes it clear that they will kick you out / threaten your home life if they don’t get your own way, you can’t possibly feel secure.

What’s more, people often try to persuade their partners, outsiders and even ourselves that what we are doing is for their benefit, even when our motivations are actually selfish. When it comes to safety and security, these are easily translated for emotional blackmail.

 

Fine line

This means that there can be a very fine line between one person’s idea of being made to feel “safe and secure” and one person’s idea of feeling precisely the opposite.

These distinctions can be subtle. Sometimes only you and your partner really understand each other’s motivations. Sometimes only you know if you’re really doing something to make the other person feel safe, or to make sure they know you’re in control.

Take my friends Tia and Rob (not their real names).

From the outside, they’re adorable. Tia had a rough time growing up, she’s teeny-tiny, and she’s spent much of her life feeling vulnerable. She desperately needed to be in a relationship that would make her feel safe.

When you see her with Rob, he always has a protective arm around her. He boasts on Facebook about running across town in a thunderstorm to pick her up when she was in a crisis. Her friends joke that they wish their boyfriends sent so many messages saying “I love you” throughout the day. Rob is always looking after Tia, doing little things make her feel safe.

Or so I thought.

What matters is that both of you have your basic needs met. Not that one of you gets to take the high ground. Not that you feel obliged to thank someone for getting to play the hero. That you actually feel safe and secure.

Until I found her crying in the bathroom of a bar and she admitted she was exhausted and wanted to get a cab home, but Rob controls the money and wouldn’t let her leave alone because it was ‘unsafe’ – and he wanted to stay out all night. Until she told me that, when they fight, Rob reminds her he’s the only thing keeping her from the streets. That she feels trapped and depressed, but she can’t really complain, because he’s just like this because he loves her, right? That she should be grateful that he wants her to feel safe and secure, even if it’s having the opposite effect.

Uh-uh. Nope.

 

What matters

What matters is that both of you have your basic needs met.

Not that one of you gets to take the high ground. Not that you feel obliged to thank someone for getting to play the hero. That you actually feel safe and secure.

 

The key

The key is honest communication. It’s listening to each other.

Different people need different things in order to feel safe. If you want your relationship to work, you must be willing to provide those things, not the things that suit you.

Different people need different things in order to feel safe. If you want your relationship to work, you must be willing to provide those things, not the things that suit you.

If your partner’s actions seem possessive rather than protective, explain this to them. If you feel harassed because they keep messaging you while you’re out, set boundaries. If you feel their aggression is targeted at you instead of whatever might hurt you, or that their “concern” makes you worried, stressed or dreading the next fight, you need to make this clear.

And If your partner says this to you, don’t flip out and tell them they’re ungrateful. That you only care about their safety. That you don’t know what you’re supposed to do. After all, if you claim you’re doing something for their benefit and it turns out not to, why keep foisting it on them? Listen to what they actually need from you – and what they don’t.

 

Out of reach

Equally, if you feel your partner is always out of reach when you need them, or you genuinely feel unsafe and unsecure because of their behaviour, tell them. It’s fair to expect someone whose reckless, dangerous or destructive behaviour undermines your peace of mind to tone it down.

Just make sure you’re being honest about which needs are actually being unfulfilled. Don’t claim, for example, that being alone in the house makes you feel unsafe if really you just feel bored or neglected. These are valid feelings too, but it’s a different type of problem, as we’ll discuss in Part 2.

Our basic needs for safety and security are fundamental to everything else in our lives. No matter what else is great between you, if your partner’s behaviour consistently makes you feel less safe and secure, or if they refuse to do simple things that that would help you fulfil this need, your relationship will turn toxic fast.

 

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Part 2 is coming soon, once released you’ll be able to access it here.

 

We’ll look at the psychological needs behind clinging on and letting go.

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Time heals. Really?

Do people keep telling you to give yourself time to heal? That you just need to put some distance between yourself and your trauma? Simply wait for long enough and you’ll feel much better, get over it, and move on.

Well… tell them to get stuffed.

Time is not a healer

Time doesn’t do anything, in fact. It’s passive. It just passes by. Everyone’s seen the elderly person that’s still bitter and angry about something that happened decades ago – clearly time didn’t heal for them. I’m sure you know yourself that old rejections and cruelties and breakups still smart years on, whereas the fights you strive to make peace over straight away are barely remembered a week later.

That’s because healing is an active decision, not a passive one.

Be proactive about tackling the problem head-on

If you want to get over an injury, you have to be proactive about tackling the problem head-on. You clean it, dress it, fix it and make sure it heals properly, so that it doesn’t keep giving you trouble for the rest of your life. We know this about physical ailments. Why pretend it’s any different for psychological ones?

Do you have emotional scare tissue?

If you don’t come to terms with your trauma, it just sits there, like a festering wound. Eventually scar tissue might grow over the top, covering over the cut, but it’s still the same old untreated wound.

Worse, this emotional scar tissue is incredibly damaging, because it acts as a kind of “false healing” that prevents you from ever getting to the root of the problem. If you keep telling yourself that you’re fine when you aren’t, if you keep waiting in hope that the anger or pain or dysfunction you’re experiencing will simply diminish over time, you not only deny yourself the healing you so desperately need – you will also keep repeating the same self-destructive behaviours and mistakes that caused the trauma in the first place.

The chances of divorce increases each time they get married

Did you know that the chances of divorce increases each time they get married? As in, you were to marry a second, third or fourth time, there’s less hope of it working out every time you do? You might think that someone whose first two marriages had gone tits-up, who had lived through the awful trauma of divorce twice already, would learn from their mistakes, get better at choosing the right partner and become more adept at navigating the issues that damage or weaken a relationship. But statistically speaking, they don’t.

Why? Because they trample from relationship to relationship with the same baggage, the same hang-ups, the same issues in tow. The more you repeat an action or way of responding to something, the deeper it becomes ingrained as a habit. The more instinctive that behaviour feels to you. Ironically, it makes you feel safer to repeat a behaviour or a decision you’ve made in the past, purely because you recognise it – and even though it hurts you.

Feels safer to repeat a behaviour or a decision you’ve made in the past – even though it hurts you

False healing doesn’t address these problems. Waiting around until the ache isn’t as sharp as it used to be won’t stop you doing the things that caused the ache in the first place. It doesn’t help you to walk into your new life or your next relationship with the skills, self-awareness and confidence to do things better. It might give you a brief feeling of reassurance that your past misery is behind you, but it doesn’t place happiness firmly on the horizon.

Brighter future

If you want your future to be brighter than your traumatic past, false healing just won’t cut it. Don’t wait for “time” to fix things. Take control. Decide it’s your time to heal, right now. And commit yourself to doing the proactive, practical things you have to do to make it true.

 

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Second marriage mistakes…

Second marriage mistakes…

Starting a Second Marriage? Don’t Assume You’ve Learned from Your Mistakes.

No doubt you already know these depressing statistics: nearly half of all marriages in the US and the UK end in divorce.

What you might not realise is that this number doesn’t decrease as we get older and wiser and (theoretically) better at figuring out what we want in a life partner. In fact, it goes up and up every time people try again.

In America, divorce rates for second and third marriages stand at 67% and 73% respectively.

How can this be?

Let’s just think about that for a moment. It’s scary enough to imagine that, statistically speaking, your first attempt at lifelong commitment is equally as likely to fail as it is to succeed. But for your third attempt to be three times more likely to screw up than to work out…? That people actually get dramatically worse at keeping a marriage together the more chances they have to get it right?

It’s a common and entirely natural compulsion to leave a relationship swearing to yourself that you will never, ever, fall for someone like that again. That, next time, you’ll go for someone utterly different.

And then, in your rush to prove to yourself that you won’t fall into the trap, you find yourself charging headlong into a relationship with someone that, on paper, is the polar opposite of your ex.

Becomes a purely superficial exercise

Now, I’ve talked before about how the main problem with this way of thinking is that, far too often, this becomes a purely superficial exercise.

That’s because the thought process tends to go something like this:

“My previous partner was a total workaholic who never had time for me and it made me miserable – so now I’m going to go for this super-carefree-seeming person who is mostly interested in having fun, and I’ll be so much happier!”

Root of the problem

But this doesn’t get to the root of the problem. It doesn’t address the communication issues or the self-defeating psychological habits and kneejerk reactions to problems and conflict that, in all likelihood, dominated the decline of your relationships.

It doesn’t help you to recognise the destructive cycles of behaviour that you and your ex were exhibiting. It doesn’t help you to heal and change.

Instead, it externalises the issue in a way that almost dooms you to fall into the same traps, time and again.

Let me explain.

Take the example I gave above. No one really divorces someone because they work long hours and are deeply involved in or passionate about their job.

You might divorce them because you feel feel hurt, neglected or even jealous that your emotional needs seem always to be secondary to something else in your partner’s life.

Or perhaps because you hate feeling shut down or belittled when you try to make demands on your partner’s time.

Or maybe because your partner is actually pretty miserable and resentful about having to work so hard to pay the bills – and that’s translating into aggressive or unpleasant behaviour at home.

Or even the real reason your partner is pouring so much energy into their work is because there’s been a breakdown in communication between you, or there’s a fundamental lack of connection in your relationship, that neither of you have been willing to address.

In which of these cases would it help to avoid a career-focussed partner and opt for a carefree hedonist instead?

Zero, is the answer to that. Zilch.

Just because the hot party animal bartender you’ve hooked up with on the rebound bears no obvious resemblance to your investment banker ex doesn’t mean that your problems and hang-ups will magically disappear. That they’ll treat you or relate to you any differently. Or that either of you will be better equipped to handle conflicts when they inevitably arise.

You aren’t going to feel less hurt and neglected because they’ve ditched you to go on a 5am bender than you did when your ex called to say they had to stay in the office until 10pm.

You aren’t going to be any less upset when they tell you you’re being clingy, dismiss your feelings out of hand or start taking out stress and frustration on you, whatever the cause.

And you aren’t going to be any better at expressing your emotions in ways that are healthy and productive. Or preventing either one of you becoming domineering or bullying in the way you communicate.

Change or expect the same outcome

In short, unless you do the hard work of interrogating your own feelings and behaviours, figuring out where and how to draw boundaries and facing up to the ways that you, too, might have contributed to your breakup, you will not begin to heal. And until you heal, you are dooming yourself to repeat (and to accept) the self-destructive behaviour or coping mechanisms that killed your first marriage, again and again.

And each time you do, you’ll wind up feeling even more helpless. Even more confused. Even more fearful, on some level, that you are unlovable

And each time you do, you’ll wind up feeling even more helpless. Even more confused. Even more fearful, on some level, that you are unlovable.

And even more likely to start pre-emptively sabotaging your next marriage before it has even had a chance to succeed.

This is a seriously important issue. These days, nearly a quarter of people in the US who are currently married have been married before. That’s a quarter of married people potentially carrying around the baggage of a previous marriage. A quarter of married people who, based on divorce statistics, aren’t learning from their mistakes.

A quarter of married people who, if they don’t get their act together and start taking control of the situations, are 67% likely to end up going through the pain of another divorce.

Divorce is traumatic

Divorce is a truly traumatic event. It is psychologically devastating. It harms your physical health and wellbeing. It’s financially catastrophic. And while, when divorce is necessary, you have to find the strength to survive it, you never, ever want to put yourself through that pain for reasons that you can absolutely avoid.

No matter how left of field you think you’re being in your dating choices, there is only one person in your new relationship that you can ever be sure will behave differently this time around – and that’s you.

Focus on how you will do things differently

So focus on how you will do things differently. Instead of shifting all responsibility for making the relationship work onto your next spouse, focus on how you yourself will grow, change and adapt your behaviour.

Be honest with yourself

Work on pinpointing the specific ways you react to problems that might escalate and exacerbate them, or on the other hand, that allow them to fester unchecked. Work on recalibrating the instinctive behaviours that are hurting you and the people you love.

Focus on figuring out what you really need from someone and how you will communicate that to them.

Think about how you’ll really figure out if the next person you fall for really meets the criteria you need – and how, if they don’t, you’ll spot the danger signs and change course long before you find yourself walking down the aisle.

And then, listen to yourself. Learn from the past. Break the cycle. Give yourself a chance, this time, to really be happy.
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