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Updated: 39 weeks 2 days ago

To The Tired Single Mama, Here's What Your Child Sees

Wed, 07/06/2016 - 17:49
June 2016 was one disaster after another for me. I was happy to say "Bye, Felicia" and usher in July. You see, in the course of a month, my HVAC unit needed replaced, the hot water heater went out, and my car broke down (on the way to my son's birthday party). I wish I were making this up -- my life felt like a comedy of errors, except I wasn't finding any of it funny.

I was stressed.

About money.

About getting to t-ball games and kindergarten meetings.

About doing it all alone.

My hair was going gray at a faster rate than normal, and I was without the money or car to remedy it. My usually bright and cheerful disposition turned solemn and sour. I was snapping at my kids more often. Did they listen to anything I said? I felt tired and weary and slightly crazy.

And I felt like I was failing as a parent.

July 4th rolled around, and the kids went to their dad's for the day. I had walked into standing water in the kitchen the night before (water heater again?), so I knew I wouldn't be much fun to be around anyway. I kissed them goodbye and took myself back upstairs to bed wondering if July 2016 was going to be just as bad.

I slept for a few hours, cleaned, did a couple of loads of laundry, watched some grown up TV. Then I waited. When would they be home?

I texted their dad, "Are the kids coming home soon? Too quiet here."

As tired as I get and as often as I wonder if I'm failing and as flustered as they make me sometimes, those babies are my world. And everything feels off when they aren't with me.

They finally returned home. I had their pajamas ready, and we turned on a movie and snuggled on the couch. My son asked if he could have a snack (all day, every day). I told him if he got something out of the pantry I would open it for him.



On his way to the kitchen, he stopped and said, "Mommy, you're the best mommy." He was so sweet and sincere. Tears welled up in my eyes.

I hadn't been my best self or parent the past month. I was weary. I was in survival mode. But that's not what my son saw. And tired single mama, that's not what your baby sees.

She doesn't see the gray hair and worry lines.

He doesn't see the home improvements you think need done or the bills from the ones you've checked off.

She doesn't see the tears you cry after bedtime while you pray you're a better parent tomorrow.

He doesn't see the twenty pounds you would like to lose.

She doesn't see the floors that you need to sweep or the kitchen table with crafts all over or the dishes in the sink.

Instead, they see a home where they can play and learn and be themselves. They see a place that they are safe and well cared for. More importantly, they see a person who is beautiful because she has made it her life work to give them the best life possible. While they cannot comprehend the dedication and sacrifice (can anyone really until she is a parent herself?), they know who is always there for them -- from tucking them in to getting them ready for their first year of school. Not just the fun stuff, not just what is convenient or fits into a tidy box. But they see a strong person who is there for all the messy and wonderful parts of parenthood.

Chin up, tired mama. They see the love. Most importantly, they feel it.

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Categories: Divorce Stuff

How To Fight If Your Marriage Matters

Wed, 07/06/2016 - 17:43

Love can be a battleground of mistakes, misunderstandings and conflicts. Oftentimes when we want to discuss a specific conflict with our partners, we also want the floor to discuss EVERY conflict with our partner; every one of their 617 boneheaded mistakes. After all, we are an "expert" analyst of our partner's behavior and personality disorders.


Meet Jasmine. Jasmine is a full-time employed mother of two. She's married to Brian, a hard working business owner with 64 employees. Jasmine and Brian strive to be a super couple; the kind of couple that exhausts themselves trying to do it all.



Their childhood upbringing has taught both of them to be overachieving perfectionists who put a lot of pressure on themselves to be "happily married."



Most of this pressure comes from Jasmine. She wants the best orgasms, a passionate sex life, millions in the bank account, and two adorable and successful kids. All this weight causes a lot of problems with Brian.



In her mind, Brian doesn't help out with the children or house nearly enough. He doesn't dedicate enough time to their relationship and he isn't making enough money.

Needless to say, Jasmine's Love Laws puts Brian in Relationship Jail pretty frequently. As a result, she shames him. She makes him feel inadequate. She treats him this way so much that he has started to spend more time working than he does at home.



For Brian, work is a safe haven from the war at home. As Jasmine starts to realize their relationship is in trouble, she devours books on healthy relationships like a fat kid at a cupcake store. She heard about John Gottman's famous State of the Union meeting that was created to resolve relationship conflicts. So she schedules a meeting to "talk" with Brian about their current conflicts.



Because she's so eager to start the meeting, Jasmine takes the lead as the speaker. She tells Brian the role of the listener according to what she can remember: "just listen to me and don't get defensive."



Unfortunately Jasmine hits Brian so hard with criticism that his helmet in the football game of love pops right off. This leaves him vulnerable to a siege of attacks from his lover, who brings up every issue under the sun. His lack of help with the children. His lack of effort in keeping the house clean. His routine sexual performance that feels more like clockwork and less like lovemaking.



Hearing all this makes Brian feel inadequate. Something back in his childhood made him sensitive about that feeling. His body floods with negative emotions. Despite trying to do his best to "listen," he emotionally shuts down to calm his anxiety.



Jasmine notices this and hits him even harder.


"You never listen to me."


"What is wrong with you?"



By now, this relationship is on the road to the Hell, whether it be divorce or infidelity. But there are many lessons we can learn from this.


Pick One Issue and Be Specific

Instead of bringing up every issue under the sun, focus on one particular issue and stay on topic. Be detailed. Instead of saying, "you never help out around the house," say, "It makes me feel abandoned when I feel like it is my responsibility to vacuum the house every week. On top of that, I have other chores I feel like I have to do to keep this house running. Would you be able to vacuum every other week for me?"



Telling someone they make you feel insecure gives them no feedback to change their behavior. However, telling your partner that you feel insecure when they make fun of you in front of your friends will allow them to fix that specific situation.



By focusing on one issue and the specific emotions it causes you (not your partner's flaws), both of you can come together to fix that specific situation by changing both the meaning of the situation and each other's behavior.


Avoid Your Partner's Triggers

Lastly, be aware of your partner's triggers. No one grows up without emotional scars. These lasting flaws can escalate conflict quickly. Tom Bradbury, a UCLA psychologist, calls these enduring vulnerabilities.



Imagine your partner's weaknesses are tattooed on their forehead. What might your partner's weaknesses and insecurities be? When they get blamed, do they immediately become defensive? Do they hate being lectured because it makes them feel inadequate?



Brian's vulnerabilities of not providing enough make him feel inadequate. It causes him to close off from his relationship and the things he cares about. When his trigger is hit, it's easier to become numb than to feel the pain of all his past traumas rising in the present.



Your partner's childhood baggage may be a source of problems in your relationship, but it is unrealistic to expect that he or she will fix them immediately. Prodding or insisting them to "change" will only worsen the situation.



What you can do is prevent a particular vulnerability from causing friction by acknowledging it and working around it with compassion. If you know your boyfriend is sensitive about feeling left out, be kind when suggesting that he should stay at home so you can go out with your friends for a girl's night. You could say something like "I love going out with my friends and you because we always have a good time. But would it be okay if I just went out with them tonight? I'd like to catch up with them on a more intimate level."



Or maybe your girlfriend is a tad messy, and resents her childhood upbringing of rigid house rules. She may even appreciate a break when it comes to her messy clothes on the chair in the bedroom.



During my own relationship conflicts, I've found it helpful to remind myself that my partner is learning to work with my insecurities, just like I am with hers. Love isn't always a comfortable ride. But having a partner who will drive around your potholes, while still addressing the underlying issues, is a partner you should keep.



This was originally published on KyleBenson.net.



For more ideas on how to fight better, take my free couples communication course at KyleBenson.net.

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Categories: Divorce Stuff

Are You A Married Queer Person? Divorced? Hate Marriage? This Film Wants To Know

Wed, 07/06/2016 - 16:24



A new film is exploring what same-sex marriage means in 2016 to queer people all across the spectrum of identity -- and producers want to include your stories.


"The Ring Thing" is currently in production and intends to interweave personal, documentary-style interviews into the larger narrative of the film. No matter what your thoughts are on marriage as a queer person, producers want your story to be indluded.


"We hope the film will show how personal marriage and commitment are -- they mean something different for everyone," producer and actress Sarah Wharton told The Huffington Post. "And that's amazing. For a long time, marriage looked like one thing -- a man in a suit and a woman in a white dress. How small that world was. Marriage means something different now, and it's up to each individual to decide what that is. We hope that by sharing all these different stories about marriage -- its successes and shortcomings, its benefits and injuries, we can spread the message that love and commitment are whatever you want them to be."


Want your story to be part of "The Ring Thing"? Head here for more information.

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Categories: Divorce Stuff

Gwen Stefani Says Finding Out About Gavin Rossdale's Cheating Was 'The Beginning Of Hell'

Wed, 07/06/2016 - 13:45

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Gwen Stefani has had her fair share of "Misery" over the past couple years, but she's ready to move on. 


In the new issue of Harper's Bazaar, the singer opened up about her split from Gavin Rossdale, to whom she was married for nearly 13 years. She explained that when she found out about Rossdale's infidelities ("February 9. I obviously know the date") "it was the beginning of hell." 


"Like six, seven, eight months of torture, trying to figure out this big secret," she added." 


The singer tried to keep her crumbling personal life to herself for as long as possible for the sake of her kids. Stefani said she turned to prayer to help her through the tough time.


"It was so insane because not only did my family break up, but then my kids are taken away like half the time, so that was really like, 'What?! What did I do?'"


"My dreams were shattered," the No Doubt frontwoman added. "All I wanted my whole life was to have babies, be married, like what my parents have. Then I remember thinking,'There's gotta be a reason for this.' Of course you go through the 'Why me?' and feel sorry for yourself. But then I was like, 'No, this happened to me already and I made something good out of it,' and that was [No Doubt's album] 'Tragic Kingdom.'"



Of course, the world knows that Stefani also found solace in Blake Shelton, her fellow judge on "The Voice" who went through his own public divorce (from Miranda Lambert) around the same time as her. After a blossoming friendship, the two began dating in 2015


Stefani also started writing songs again, and as a result, recorded her latest album, "This Is What the Truth Feels Like" -- her first No. 1 solo hit. 


These days, the singer is focusing on the positive. 


"Every day is art, you know?" she told the magazine. "Some days are really bad, and some days are so good."


To read the full interview, head over to Harper's Bazaar.  

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Categories: Divorce Stuff

GRAY IN L.A.: EAT, PRAY, SPLIT? Do Marriage And Success Ever Work?

Wed, 07/06/2016 - 13:05
GRAY IN L.A.

Elizabeth Gilbert (46), the brilliant and immensely successful writer who turned domestic desperation into gold by making her inspiring self-help road-trip into a worldwide phenomenon has split up with her dreamboat of a husband after 12 years!

This must be shocking news to her millions of fans that devoured Eat Pray Love and the fairy-tale ending where once heart-broken Liz fell in love with a sexy and wonderful Brazilian named "Felipe" (really Jose). She, who had her strong reservations about marriage -- she wrote an entire book called Commitment about that topic -- even married Jose.

It was such a great, romantic, enviable story we all could have used in our own pedestrian lives: Rich, intelligent, funny, super-successful woman finds happiness. "See, it's possible, you can have it all!" The women cheered.

I bet a lot of Gilbert's many fans feel a tiny bit betrayed now, too. I'm not one of them. I'm actually not surprised. Saw it coming. Sorry to say but female artists -- and real writers are artists, too -- and marriage aren't a match made in heaven. Successful artists (even worse) combined with marriage just doesn't work in the long run. Too many restrictions, too many boring duties. Too much playing "the other half."

I know something about being a writer -- someone who is a creative creature driven by curiosity, the hunger for adventure, self-expression, truth and the never-ending search for the Self. Women, having been the suppressed sex for too long, have always been yearning for just a snippet of their own creative authenticity in a man's world that wouldn't let them roam freely. No wonder that given half a chance to choose between doing what you love to do and doing what you're supposed to do -- the choice is a no-brainer.

What's usually in the way of unleashing your creative forces and doesn't mix well with success -- I think you know that already -- is motherhood, men and marriage. It sounds selfish, and it probably is, but for ambitious women the more interesting commitment isn't to the institution of matrimony but to yourself because you are your very own artwork in progress. Look at certain very strong and very successful artists of a different kind -- and see if they have a hubby tagging along, God knows, some of them tried that in vain.

The fantastic Cindy Sherman? Single. Gloria Steinem, divorced, single. Joni Mitchell, twice divorced, single. Madonna, twice divorced, single. All seem lost to the world of domesticity and husbands, most are not looking for new ones. Regardless of their individual personality -- from charming to bossy and bitchy -- what they all have in common is that they didn't want to give up on their vision, their journeys and therefore their careers. The men in their lives couldn't take not being the center of attention and felt like an appendix.

The artistic personality likes the word "compromise" as much as Dracula likes seeing the sunrise. But without compromise no marriage, any union, can survive. Falling in love, being in love and staying in love are the hardest things to maintain in romance and partnership, even if you don't have a big career but just a meager job. So think hard before you jump in.

Here are some pointers from a pro:

1. If you are an artistic and creative woman, are successful and have your very own agenda and see yourself as the captain of your ship, forget about marriage!

2. Being an artist is not just a special life -- it's a certain road, a destiny, and a very risky endeavor if you want predictability and permanent peace at home. It's not going to happen!

3. Equality between the sexes hasn't arrived yet. So someone or something's got to give (up). We all know who that is. Not him. Never him. So think twice before you tie the knot.

Bold Elizabeth Gilbert, I think, is breaking the mold, and I'm excited.

Traditionally, it's always about men on the road and their all too tall tales, exploring all there is waiting for them: the rock musicians, explorers, innovators, cowboys, adventurers, and especially male writers. The image of the tortured Hemingway-like lone wolf behind the typewriter, drowning in whiskey and consumed by some bitter thoughts about a treacherous bad girl is old and strong. He's still the rumpled hero. Female counterpart? None. Someone like poor Dorothy Parker -- seen as just a brilliant drunk, living and dying alone in a New York hotel. Sad, not glorious.

The great thing about the lucid, sane, savvy, optimistic almost chirpy Liz is that she is perfectly equipped for the proud and happy life of the Road Warrior, all by herself. I don't see her fall by the roadside or hanging out in some dingy bar ranting about worthless men. That's so retro.

I'm with you Liz! You're going to keep having a rich, authentic, fabulous, independent life with or without a new marriage (which I doubt you will have), or maybe even a new significant man. So, on to new shores, Liz! Many women are waiting for your new tales of freedom. Good, to have that kind of a role model, too. A Woman -- By Herself.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:



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Categories: Divorce Stuff
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