It’s all his Fault!

It was the middle of the night, and I found myself crouched down next to the stove in my tiny kitchen, sobbing. My heart was aching like somebody was stomping on it with all their might. “He isn’t making me happy!” “I need to get out of this marriage, right now!” Incessant thoughts played on a loop running through my head. “It’s his fault I’m sad, he works too much!” “It’s his fault I’m angry, he doesn’t make enough money!” “It’s his fault our marriage isn’t working; he doesn’t tell me he loves me enough!” “I don’t want to face another minute of this pain he is causing me!” “How could he do this to me?”

“I wonder what would happen if I ran away and never looked back.” Except I was seven months pregnant, and running away wasn’t an option

Fast forward two months.

Wobbling my way into the hospital room, I was excited to finally meet my beautiful baby girl, Sydnee! I hopped up onto the bed (okay, maybe I didn’t hop), the on-call doctor placed the heart monitor on my belly, and with zero compassion, she told me my baby didn’t have a heartbeat. My world stopped. Everything I was so angry about that night faded away. Nothing else mattered.

So there I sat, healing from one of the most devastating experiences of my life and I couldn’t find anybody to blame. I was in uncharted territory. I couldn’t blame myself, I was a first time mom who had no idea what to expect before giving birth. I couldn’t blame Eric, what could he have possibly done to cause the umbilical cord to accidentally restrict Sydnee’s breathing. I couldn’t blame my doctor, I was in his office weekly and everything checked out when I was there. I couldn’t even blame God because, at that point in my life, I didn’t believe in God. For the first time in my life I was forced to consider that placing the blaming on others was just a series of stories I told myself to justify my bad behavior.

With nobody to blame, I had no other option but to look in the mirror. For instance, when I thought about how Eric didn’t make me happy, it finally dawned on me that maybe my mother was right when she told me that nobody had the power to make me happy or unhappy; that was my job. When I blamed him for not making enough money, and I looked in the mirror, I realized that we didn’t have enough money because I wasn’t working and I was over spending. When I blamed him for working too much, I realized he was doing so because I put so much pressure on him to make money. When I blamed him for not telling me he loves me enough, it became clear that it was me who wasn’t loving me enough; I was not taking very good care of myself.

As I started to turn all of these thoughts around, I began to see how everything I put on Eric was just him lovingly holding up a mirror for my benefit so I could see all of the things that were getting in the way of living my life to the fullest. Instead of berating Eric, I should have been thanking him, because the truth is, Eric was a loving, caring man, who only wanted to make me happy. And yet, I made it impossible for him to do the very thing I demanded from him. I didn’t love myself, and as a result, it was impossible for me to recognize love coming from him.

Once I made it my job to love myself, I no longer felt the need to blame Eric. Taking responsibility for my own shtick, rather than blaming, is the very thing that brings me peace. I know that every single thing that comes into my life is for my benefit to help me grow, not something that happens to me. It is within each of these experiences, that the universe is actually conspiring to help me grow to my fullest potential, whether I like it or not.

Tragedy isn’t the only road to peace, however, one does need to be willing to look in the mirror to get to the truth in order to find peace. Ironically, for me it wasn’t until after I lost my daughter, a heartbreaking experience, that I could see that I was responsible for everything in my life. Losing Sydnee brought me to my knees, and then to peace – one of the many gifts she left behind.

These days when I find myself starting to blame somebody else, I take a few deep breaths, look in the mirror and think to myself “Why is this situation/person in my life?” “What are they here to teach me?” Once I turn it around in my mind, I no longer feel the need to blame, and I place my attention on learning and growing. I can’t say it’s always easy, but with each experience the next one becomes easier.

k soulspring pic

Love your Children More Than you Hate your Ex

smallest just breathe logoGolda Meir, former Prime Minister of Israel, once said “Peace will come to the Middle East when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us.” As quoted in Media Bias and the Middle East (2003) by Paul Carlson, p. 10.

The same is true for two people getting divorced when children are involved.  In order for everybody to win in a divorce, we as parents have to love our children more than we hate our ex, and more than we love our assets!  There is nothing worth fighting over and no material possession worth damaging the well-being of our innocent children.

Every time you make a decision regarding your divorce, you need to step out of your drama and into reality; you may be harming your kids with reckless decisions that are made out of spite for your ex.  Take time to think long and hard before you make any decisions.  It’s easy to get worked up in an adversarial situation such as divorce, but this is no time to lose your sense of doing the right thing.

Let’s say for example, you are talking to a friend or family member, telling them how you plan to get back at your ex in court.  Your child is listening to every word you say, even if you think they aren’t.  If they aren’t listening, they sense what you are up to, don’t be fooled into thinking they don’t.

Kids are far more tuned into what we do than what we say.

What are they learning from you?  To start, they are learning to be greedy adults.  They are learning hate.  They are learning to fight dirty.  They are learning that marriage is a bad thing and ends in horror.  They are learning not to trust the opposite sex, and chances are they will end up in the same type of relationship as you did.  Most of all, they are realizing that their best interest is the last thing on your mind.  Is this really what you want your kids to walk away with from this experience?  Don’t do this to them or to the relationship you previously worked so hard to build with them.

When I filed for divorce, my ex was understandably pretty angry with me.  Our kids were 2 and 4 and I told him up front that he could go as low as he needed to, but that I would not go down with him.  Thankfully, he agreed that there was nothing worth fighting over, and that our childrens’ welfare was all that mattered.  Just because we wanted a divorce that didn’t mean the kids had to suffer.  In fact, it is our job to be sure that our children don’t suffer as a result of our divorce.  It wasn’t their choice to get married, divorced or to be born for that matter.  We brought them into this world; it is our job to protect them!

We also agreed never to say anything negative about each other in front of our kids and definitely not to our kids.  The more kids know they are loved by both parents, that both parents respect each other and that they are going to be okay, the faster they will adjust.  We respect each other and remain friends, which makes life easier for everyone.  Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.

Parents who fight in front of their kids, who trash the other parent and who use their kids as bait to get what they want in a divorce are simply being selfish.  Do right by your kids!  Quit being narcissistic – you brought the kids into this world; you owe them responsible, loving parents. It’s the least your could do.

In the end, the only thing that matters is that you and your ex come out of the divorce learning from your mistakes, and showing your children how to resolve unpleasant matters with respect and dignity for yourself and for others.  You don’t have to go down that dark road just because you are getting divorced.

You have a choice, it’s YOUR divorce.  Do the right thing!  Love your children more than you hate your ex, and more than you love your material possessions.  It’s really a no-brainer, isn’t it?

Should a Couple Stay Together for the Sake of the Children

Should people stay married for the sake of their children? I asked myself that very question when I was considering leaving my ex, Eric. Deciding to get divorced is never an easy decision to make. I agonized over it for 2 years before making a final decision as did many of my friends in their relationships. It is such a hard decision to make especially when you have children. There is so much more at stake when kids are involved.

So, being the logical person that I tend to be, I sat down and thought about what made sense to me. I looked at our relationship which went from good friends and lovers to two angry, depressed people running a household together as if it were a business. I thought about the atmosphere in my house and I noticed that the air was quite thick, there was very little civil conversation going on and my ex and I spent a whole lot of time clenching our jaws when we were there together. We argued a lot over the little things and we screamed at each often. After careful consideration and contemplation, I decided that I needed to get my kids out of that toxic environment.

Not every couple that gets divorced has built up enough resentment to create this toxic atmosphere, but many have. I have had the unfortunate occasion to have been approached by at least 25 or 30 married men (no kidding) looking to have an affair. I’m quite interested in how people think and behave, as well as relationships and how they work, so I always asked “Why?” The story was always the same! We got married, had kids, the wife got tired because she was caring for small children, handling the household details and often working. The husband was exhausted because he was working long hours providing for the family. The sex life decreased significantly and the resentment built on both sides. The more resentment, the less the husband would help around the house, the more tired the wife grew and the less frequent the sex would become. The friendship they built went out the window. Eventually, the men in my scenario found other people to meet their sexual needs and didn’t even consider trying to “fix” things with their wives as an option. It is uncanny how similar their stories were.

I also asked why they didn’t leave the relationships if they were so unhappy. Every single one of them said that they wanted to stay together “for the sake of the children.” It really got me to thinking, is this truly the best thing for these kids?

I am no psychologist, but I have done my own informal “research” and I have come to the conclusion that it is not necessarily the best thing for the kids. I know you are fuming right now, but hear me out.

What are we teaching our children when we stay in a loveless, sexless marriage where there is minimal communication? From what I can tell, we are teaching them to settle for less than what makes them truly happy, and folks LIFE IS SHORT! We are teaching them that a hostile environment is the norm for a marriage and that is what they should expect. We are teaching them to expect very little from marriage and relationships. It is very likely that our children will one day have relationships just like ours despite doing everything in their power not to. We followed in our parent’s footsteps even when we tried not to, didn’t we? We are modeling the behavior of two hostile adults that chose ignoring a problem, suffering through it and pretending to be happy versus talking and working it out, or splitting up and being two happy separate people. Our kids don’t have a chance for a successful relationship; they haven’t learned how to communicate with the opposite sex successfully.

Our kids know everything! Don’t think your kids don’t know how unhappy you are because you will only be fooling yourself and doing them a disservice. I know several couples that have chosen to stay together for the sake of their children and they continue to scream as their main source of communication. Kids follow our actions, NOT our words. The adults scream, their kids scream, the kids even scream at their parents. It’s a horrible environment to visit; I can only imagine what it is like to live there.

I can’t say for sure what is right for every situation, but I do know that most of my friends and I all have all had civil divorces after not so civil marriages and we have what appear to be happy, well-adjusted children. At the very least, it’s worth your reconsideration, isn’t it? It beats the alternative.

Ten Strategies for Keeping your Cool During Divorce

1. Eat Healthy: This a stressful time and it is easy to reach for unhealthy, comfort foods. I’m living proof that this isn’t a good idea. This is a time that you need to maximize your good days. If you are eating large amounts of sugar and fried foods or drinking a lot of caffeine, there is a good chance your moods will swing like a chandelier. This will guarantee less good days. One day you’ll want to date again, and you will want to look your best when that day comes!

2. Exercise Regularly: You will likely have more free time to yourself as a result of your separation. Use this time to get into an exercise program. Exercise promotes endorphins which tend to lift our spirits naturally. I prefer yoga. It works my entire body and calms my mind. No matter how stressed I may feel going in, I always leave feeling relaxed.

3. Meditate: You have a lot to consider right now and your mind may feel like it’s racing even more than normal. Meditation is a great way to quiet your mind and, as a result, you’ll make better decisions and feel more relaxed. If you are unsure how to meditate there are websites such as www.tm.org that can direct you. Anybody can do it and it’s well worth your time.

4. Avoid Excessive Alcohol: I have no idea how much alcohol is excessive for you, but you do if you are honest with yourself. If you are drinking more than you know you should then stop it! Alcohol is a natural depressant. The last thing you need at a time like this is to feel more down than you do. And by all means, DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE WITH YOUR KIDS IN THE CAR! I know this sounds ridiculous to bring this up, but I know of many people who do this on a regular basis.

5. Avoid Excessive Drugs: You know what you are taking and whether it is good for you or not, it’s not my job to tell you what to take. Just keep this in mind: drugs cause mood fluctuations which result in irrational decisions that you will have to live with for the rest of your life. And don’t forget, your kids know everything you’re doing-really!

6. Breathe: Before you make any decisions or answer any questions posed by either your lawyer or your ex, TAKE 10 LONG, SLOW DEEP BREATHS IN AND OUT. Think about what the best thing is for all involved and if there is a compromise you might suggest if you don’t agree with something.

7. Take the High Road: Nothing is EVER gained by revenge! You never win with vengeance as your motive. Keep in mind that we are all human beings that continually make mistakes and learn from them; nobody gets to skip being human, not even you. Don’t forget, forgiving isn’t about the other person, it’s about you and getting the negativity out of you.

8. Volunteer Your Time: When we are helping somebody else, we get out of our heads where our problems live. You automatically feel better once you start helping others. It’s a win-win.

9. Interview Several Lawyers: Find a lawyer that shares your values. If you hire someone who wants to “bury your ex” and you want a quick, amicable divorce, this could be a very long road for you. It’s best to be on the same page as your attorney. Keep in mind, anybody that thinks “burying your ex” is a good idea probably has your bank account as their motivator.

10. Respect yourself, your kids and your ex-spouse: Don’t play games! Get in and get out quickly. Be amicable and fair and don’t be afraid to compromise. Nobody wins when you and your spouse spend time in court fighting, except for your lawyers and they are typically quite happy. Replace any anger you get from your ex with love. You’d be surprised how quickly people can turn around when you aren’t fighting back. Mama always said “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

LET’S GET REAL ABOUT MARRIAGE! Free Test!!

Are you ready to get real about marriage?

Do you really know the person you’re dating? Do you want to know them better before you get married?

Click below for a test that will help you get to know them much better! Don’t be shy, ask the tough questions. Know that everybody has a past so don’t expect perfection.

Answer the questions honestly.  There will be no benefit to you if you aren’t honest with yourself.  Your partner will not see the answers unless you show them.  It is my belief though that many marriages don’t work because we don’t know enough about the person we are marrying and we are afraid to ask the tough questions. It’s better to know the truth up front and decide to love your partner unconditionally with all that they bring to the relationship, than to find things out slowly all the while building resentments.

Make a game out of it, pick a number then answer that question. Whatever you do, get to know that person you are considering marrying. Let’s lower the divorce rate! Thank you and may you have a long, healthy, honest relationship ahead!

Best of luck!

Karen Schultz Tarnopol

ARE YOU READY TO GET REAL??? GETTING REAL ABOUT MARRIAGE

Detox After Divorce Part 1

I was talking with a friend of mine today that had more or less a mirror image of my married life. We were talking about how after you get a divorce, you have a chance to look back on things and figure out what went right, what went wrong and how to do it better the next time around. While this takes some time and patience, it’s really a great process to go through before you do take a leap into another relationship. It’s worth the time and effort, like any good detox.

We all know that we need to find ways to detox our bodies if we want them to work well; eating right, exercising, getting a good night sleep, etc. We also need to detox our minds. A few ways to achieve this is through therapy, journaling, meditating, yoga, etc. The key to all of these methods and other modalities though is to be relentless in your search for the truth. Be open and willing to find out the truth about your role in the dissolution of your marriage; the good, the bad and the ugly. It won’t hurt nearly as much as your brain would like you to believe it will.

It’s easy to think that the other person is solely at fault for the ending of your relationship, but I’m here to tell ya, that is never the case. It takes two people to make a marriage go wrong. Those of us in the thick of it right now are nodding their heads in disbelief thinking that they are different. They are thinking thoughts like “You should see how he/she treats me.” The fact is nobody treats us anyway unless we let them. I know that is harsh and I am not defending anybody or anything, but we are responsible for our happiness and fulfillment, 100% of the time!

As I mentioned in prior blogs, I thought my ex was at least 80% at fault in our marriage ending. During my detox, which coincidentally is still taking place 6 years after we split up, I realized just how responsible I was for my own misery, and I mean misery.

A great example in my case is that I felt caged in when I was married. I felt as if my ex didn’t want me to go out with friends, take classes and do exercise, for example. Looking back, he would have been fine with me doing all of those things. He almost couldn’t help himself but to support me in doing these activities because he would see the obvious benefits. I would have been a happier person and a better wife, a win-win. It was all in my head; I was just being lazy and using him as an excuse!

This thought of feeling caged in has even kept me from being open to finding a new person to date because I was afraid of being in that position again. It’s amazing what a simple belief can do to our lives, especially those that are not true, like most of them.

The idea of the detox is to be honest with yourself. Really look at what happened and what your part was in the situation. The things you uncover are gifts that will teach you what not to do in your next relationship and what makes you happy. They will set you free from the blame, shame and guilt you are holding onto which are all completely useless emotions; they serve no useful purpose except to cause disease in your body. Be brave and seek them out and think of them as gifts, not as failures. It’s easy to think of them as failures, but on this road we walk along in life there is no such thing as a failure. We are always exactly where we are supposed to be. We are always doing the best we know how with the information that we have in that moment. In the next moment we may know more, so the next time we can do it better. In the meantime, no guilt, no shame, no blame-get it out of your life!

It is truly liberating! Don’t be afraid, these feelings will not hurt physically, they may sting for a moment and you may cry a lot but that is simply the feelings coming up to say goodbye. Don’t stuff them down, get them out and set them free! The sting will be gone quickly and you will feel lighter and freer. When you are done, be thankful for the treasures you found and keep digging, there’s more. Don’t stop until you get it all. Enjoy your detox!

What is True Love?

Is it blindly giving of yourself and your time to the people who you love? Nope, it’s fearlessly giving unconditional love, big difference!

Blindly giving of yourself will take you down a road paved with resentment and being taken advantage of. We all have done this at one time or another, doing everything our partner or child wants us to do until we end up exhausted and angry. We feel used, waiting for the other person to “return the favor” which never happens. This is a recipe for disaster.

Fearlessly giving unconditional love, however, is pure love. It’s loving somebody enough to let them live their life exactly as they see fit, and exactly as you would hope to be loved by them in return.

True loving is wanting the person you love to be exactly where they want to be at all times, with love in your heart. When I first heard this concept I completely disagreed with it, which is why I kept reconsidering and revisiting it. When I am this opposed to something I always know it’s a lesson I have to learn. Eventually, I realized that it really makes sense. I know it sounds crazy and unrealistic, I thought so too. But think about it. Would you want anybody to put limits on you? Would you want somebody to tell you where you could work, who you could be friends with, who you could love, etc. If they did would you believe that they really loved you? Why would somebody who loves you want to keep you from living the life you truly desire?

Love relationships

Think about this statement “I want ‘my loved one’ to be with whomever they want, with love in my heart.” That sounds weird, doesn’t it; like an open marriage kind of thing? This is not what I am referring to (no judgment, just clarification). If you love somebody in the truest sense of the word, you want them to be themselves, just as you want them to allow you to be you. Let’s just say that I am dating somebody and they want to date somebody else. If I really love them completely then I want them to have that. This is not to say that I wouldn’t reevaluate my relationship and make a decision to leave it, because there is a good chance that I would if this happened to me. At least in this scenario, though, it is honest. You know where they are coming from. Nobody is cheating. Everybody is making decisions to the best of their ability with all of the information on the table. Like you, they should have the option to do whatever it is that they choose to do; whatever is best for them. I’m also not saying I would be happy about it necessarily. Ultimately though, if they have a desire to be with somebody else, they really don’t want to be with me in the way that I want them to be, i.e. fully committed and completely in love with me. So I love them enough to let them go and live their life. This is a huge pill to swallow I realize, but do you really want to be with somebody who wants to be with others anyways?? Be honest!! For most of us that would be considered settling and none of us should spend a minute of our lives settling for less than what we desiring. Nothing good comes from that, just resentment.

Another example is the spouse that decides they want a boys/girls night out every Thursday night. Why wouldn’t their spouse encourage that? Each individual in a relationship needs personal time and space. It is imperative to continue to be the individual that you are while you are in relationship. People so easily lose track of who they really are deep down when they are involved in a relationship. I know I did. Once I got divorced I didn’t even recognize myself anymore. Why did I change so much? It wasn’t because he asked me to for sure, I just did. And it was very gradual too. It sneaks up on you until one day you look in the mirror and you don’t recognize yourself. And worst of all, you often blame your spouse for all of it. Yep, I did that too! Fortunately, we are responsible for our own actions and the junk we get as a result of them. So give your spouse some space and be happy that they have things they like to do without you because you also get to do the things you like to do too! When you give freedom, you get freedom. If you give them your blessing, they will often come home earlier and happier. Isn’t that what you want anyways?

Kids

There comes a time when our kids start to make their own decisions. This can be hard for a parent. We get so used to handling everything for them and then all of a sudden they start making their own decisions. It’s a big adjustment. Obviously we still need to keep them safe and help them to understand the consequences of their actions, but there are some BIG decisions they will need to make on their own. College, for example; isn’t it best for the person who is actually attending college to decide where they should go? They are the ones who are going to have to be motivated enough to get up and go to classes, to do homework, etc. As parents we often think we know best, but really do we? How could we ever know what path is best for another person? We can’t. Imagine if we never went through any rough spots in life or made any hard decisions. We would be so wishy-washy. Decision making takes practice, we don’t get to skip this lesson and neither do our kids.

How about when you child decides to travel or move out-of-state. Ouch! This is a tough one too. I do not ever want my kids to move away from me. I want them to stay close to me forever. However, I love to travel and I love to try new things. So…how could I, in good conscience, stop my kids from wanting to see the world? How could I stop my kids from following their life’s path? It’s not up to me to run my child’s life, I’m just here to help them manage it until they are ready to fly on their own. It’s so great when we give them the freedom to live their lives exactly how they wish to live it. It may not be easy, but you may find that you feel closer to your children when they are 1,000 miles away than you do when they live around the block. It’s because you gave them the gift of freedom to be their authentic self. That is a wonderful, selfless gift!

Friends

There are times when you have plans with a friend and they frankly blow you off for another opportunity. While this stings a bit when it happens, you’ll often notice it is for the greater good anyways. Maybe you didn’t really feel like going. Maybe they finally got a date with somebody and were so excited they couldn’t say no. Most of the time it’s not personal, it just appears that way. In any case, if you truly love your friend, you want them to be happy. So unless they are in the habit of using you for one reason or another, maybe it’s okay to let them off the hook once in a while. You may find that you have an even better time doing whatever you end up doing instead!

This rule applies to all of your relationships. We are best served when we stay in our business and let others handle theirs. When you find yourself wanting to control another person’s life turn it around and ask yourself how you would feel if somebody was controlling yours. And remember, letting somebody live their life doesn’t mean you have to live with their decisions. You are always free to adjust your position in the relationship, as are they.