Tag Archives: divorce

What Lane is Your Relationship in?

Relationships are comprised of a series of destinations, pit-stops..with a dash of road rage and a hint of irony. Life can move so fast that we are susceptible to potholes in the name of love. We unknowingly hurt one another with our words, our individual decisions, and half-hearted “I love you’s.” Relationships are not easy and sometimes they warrant a check under the hood. A look at the coordinates on the GPS device.

One might wonder…”Why?” The answer is quite simple…which is that before you know it both of you will be racing down the highway of life without a clue where to go or how to get there. And, that doesn’t take into account our individual comfort levels. Some of us might like the Sunday afternoon drive while others enjoy the bumpy NASCAR ride while others still yet like the ole’ cruise control approach.

So I will ask you this…do you know what speed your relationship travels at…where your relationship is going and whether or not your co-pilot in life agrees? These questions sound mundane, but they can really be quite scary.

What if your partner disagrees? What if they really don’t like the direction and/or speed? What then? Fixable? Worth it? What about other couples….how do they deal with all of these questions?

I know people who sputter down the road so cautiously that their family and friends are nauseated. You know the ones…the couple that never wants to officially commit yet they have lived together for years. They never want to go further than two steps and one checking account withdrawal from gettin outta dodge.

Then there are other couples that are traveling so fast down the road that you wonder how they can honestly enjoy the journey. These folks met, got engaged, married, had 2.5 kids, got the house, moved up in their careers, AND got their 2.5 kids on the waiting list of grade-A preschool everybody wants in at…and all within a 3 year time period! Whew! Exhausting to even think about it…

Now of course these couples represent the outer edges of society…which leaves the rest of us. Many Normal couples go through ebbs and flows often changing directions and itineraries at a moments notice. There are couples who change seats, drive for a little while until their partner is ready and then re-assume previous roles and directives. Flexible you might say.

The challenge for all of these couples remains the same…can you honestly and with great humility check the particulars of your relationship? Can you evaluate what is and is not working well while traversing through life? You can, but many of you won’t. Harsh? No. Honest? Yes! Status quo and even contentment can be descriptors for a well-oiled machine or they can be indicators of apathy…a relationship that is on life support with no end in site because neither person believes it is worth it to change it up.

Am I describing you? Go ahead…check and see if you are alone in the room…no one is looking over your shoulder….so be honest. Are you apathetic to the current state of your relationship and its growth in the future? Are you emotionally hurtful? Are you limiting the potential of the relationship though manipulative means?

These are important questions even if you are not sabotaging your relationship. Never forget that relationships veer off course not because of the big potholes, but more often from the little ones. Those day-to-day interactions that point to confusion not coherence. Remember the days when doing the little things for our partner was fun? When we actually thought about what they wanted…even needed to thrive.

Tempted to Veer Off Course?

We did all of those things because we wanted our partner to feel loved…to feel special and unique and cared for even when we weren’t around. But, sometimes we forget our collective purpose and even direction. We forget why we chose each other and worse yet we forget that love takes effort…conscious effort.

If we don’t make a point of planning our collective road-trip we run the risk of glancing over into other more desirable lanes. Chevy Chase might have discovered Christie Brinkley in the movie “Vacation” while driving with his family cross country, but we all know who he ended up with in the end.

Images Appearing More Realistic in Your Mirror?

Don’t set a trap for your relationship out of pure fear. Ask the tough questions that will yield growth over time. I, personally, have had great results when I queried my partner on the mutual direction and satisfaction of our relationship and you can too.

If you scoff at this then maybe you already know the destination your relationship is headed for. A wise business man once told me that you never go into a deal unless you are prepared to lose or leave the deal.

Your relationship and its success depend on continued calibration and assessment. No successful relationship ever endured with an approach that celebrated ignorance.

We are all human and it IS Normal to have a change of heart, a change of direction and/or purpose. That doesn’t mean that our relationships have to suffer or end. Don’t be the couple that holds each other down out of fear.

Give each other a chance to drive the relationship and who knows…you might actually find your relationship accelerating in new and exciting ways.

Afraid to Ask for Directions?

All the Best!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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Avoiding the Pink Elephant in Your Marriage?

Come on…you know you want to read on, but you are a bit afraid that your spouse will see you and ask, “What do you think is wrong with us?” So with that in mind I will “allow” you to channel your inner 8 year old, grab a flashlight and sneak under the sheets to read today’s post. Or, I guess you could be like Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle when she goes into the closet to hear Jonas talk about his lonely and grieving father played by Tom Hanks.

Either way…you do what you need to do because the Pink Elephant in your marriage is sniffing you and your issues out like a hot bag of peanuts on Opening Day. And, if I might ask, what is your interest in today’s post? Have you recently gone to sleep wondering why it is that you and your spouse can’t talk about the things that really matter in your marriage? Is it that you have been avoiding a topic for so long that you fear the dire consequences if it ever saw the light of day?

Has your love changed for better or worse? Have you gone in circles with your spouse without really bringing up the topic? Avoidance behaviors are learned early on in life and honed throughout to provide us with sample-sized packets of oxygen in a world full of smog. A quick breath and back to real life. Right? Does it have to be that way? Didn’t you and your spouse share everything with each other during the dating phase? Maybe you did and maybe you didn’t—what matters is that the Pink Elephant rarely lies dormant for too long. As human beings we are bred to speak out, act out, live out, and shout out our thoughts and feelings. Now, many of us struggle to communicate the elephant in the room and as a result we play silly games with ourselves and our spouses.

We bring up issues that other couples are having in hopes that our spouse will then examine our relationship under the same lens. We get books, read books, and place books in strategic places hoping that SOMEONE in the family will see our silent cries for help. For years I wondered what the heck was going on with cherries! My mother had Erma Bombeck’s best-selling book, “If Life is a Bowl of Cherries What am I Doing in the Pits?” I knew my parents struggled to communicate…I just didn’t know what cherries had to do with it and why it sat on our bookshelf. My mother is not alone by any stretch of the imagination. Human beings love to lay a crumb trail to be saved or to lay a trap for their relationships. I will leave it up to you to decide whether or not you have been laying traps or maps for you marriage.

Elephants Like Cherries Too

For so many couples the issues are real and devastatingly personal. For many individuals the issues we avoid are often found in the following areas:

  1. Sexual Intimacy
  2. Family Finances
  3. Children
  4. Individual Health for Vanity and Longevity (Weight Gain/Drinking etc.)
  5. In-Laws

Whether we avoid talking about our mother-in-law, how many children we really want to have, how to spend our incomes, or how many times a week we expect to be intimate is ultimately irrelevant to the larger issue in the relationship…which is..Why do we feel slighted or ignored by our loved ones?

Why is it that she can’t notice how hard I am working for the family? Why is it that he always assumes that we are going to be intimate when I just want a hug? Why can’t she protect me from her mother’s meddling? Am I not important? Do you not love me? Are you picking them over me?

We have all been there during moments of vulnerability. We both want to feel as if our spouse can read our minds and act accordingly, and do so in terms of love and mutual growth and not spiteful retribution. We want to go to bed each night feeling thought of and cared for by our partners. And, for men out there that say otherwise they are just fooling themselves and their spouses. Men and women do not want to feel judged or ridiculed for their attempts to navigate life—they want a partner that catches them when they stumble and alerts them when they are about to.What we do not want is to approach life in fear. We should not approach our marriages with an, “I told you so” attitude. We should not our marriages assuming we know or can predict the manner in which our partner will respond. It may be funny for Dilbert, but not for our day-to-day interactions…especially with our loved one.

Avoiding Something?

So…what to do…when to do it….and what can you expect when you try to communicate? The answers to these questions are fundamental and yet require a healthy dose of originality from you. Talking about the pink elephant in the room will not be easy, but it sure will be fruitful for decisions made down the road. Remember this…when you can come to a point in your life and marriage where you can let the chips fall where they may…well, you will feel a sense of personal empowerment. So…without further adieu here are the basic steps to communicating those issues that gnaw at you more than you care to acknowledge…

  1. Choose a time that both parties are at their most relaxed and non-defensive state. Do not attempt to discuss sensitive and possibly shaming issues when emotions are running high.
  2. Begin with a statement about all of the things you love about your spouse, your continued commitment to loving them and the marriage and YOUR desire for continued growth for yourself first…the relationship second.
  3. Provide an acknowledgment of your role in the issue and any back-story as to why you believe your sensitivity levels are possibly higher than expected.
  4. Talk about how you think your behavior or avoidance has impacted the marriage and your partner and ask them if they have been feeling or suspecting the same issues.
  5. And finally…share with them your ultimate fear. Tell them the root fear you have if they reject your feelings (example: When we aren’t intimate I think that you don’t find me appealing and will ultimately look elsewhere).

These are but a few strategies with which to approach your partner. If your partner scoffs at your attempt…let it be on them. Maybe they need time just as you did to muster up the courage to speak in the first place. Don’t take an initial “No” as a long-term deterrent. If, after repeated attempts you get the same song-and-dance then you have the information to make decisions accordingly. Let’s be realistic here…the pink elephant may be very large and significant to the success or failure of your marriage—all you can do is be honest about your role, your commitment to the relationship and partner, and hope for a shared renewal of the values that brought you both together. If your partner continues to tease you with attempts and/or changes before resorting back to the original…then you can at least feel confident in the effort you gave the relationship. Some succeed and others choose to move on. Here’s hoping that you allow yourself and your partner the time to know the household pet you have been avoiding for so long.

All the Best!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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Were YOU Bathed in Ignorance? Taking Relationship Advice from Family…

Where did you learn about love?

You can probably admit that you are either in a relationship currently or that you have been in one at some point in your lifetime. You and I have selected mates out of spite, for something “different”, in the name of love, as a rebound, in secret, in public, to satisfy your family, and/or to prove something to yourself.

You have followed in someone’s footsteps, made the same mistakes your mother and/or father made or find that any mate you choose appears better than the choices of your messed up sibling. You and I have paraded certain “someone’s” to holiday gatherings, graduations, and Super Bowl parties. Some of our “better-halves” have embarrassed us, scorned us, and even left us when we least expected it.

Have any of us ever sat down to explore the reasons for our decisions and the origins of our approach? I have and cannot believe how some of my decisions were made and how they were based on people that have struggled to know the secret(s) to successful relationships themselves.

I would imagine that I am not alone. So many of us Normal folk make the most important decisions based on faulty information and examples. This is not to say that our friends and family intend to sway us in dead-end directions, but for some reason picking a mate purely based on the fundamentals of love can be fleeting—at best.  We can become so obsessed with proving people wrong that choosing the right mate is…well…sadly inconsequential.

When we examined the beginning of what men and women want in a relationship last week we did not include the root of our desires and those most influential in our decision making process. And, doesn’t it make sense to have a better understanding of our histories and those of our “cabinet” if we are going to search out the correct suitors?

Who has played Cupid for YOU?

Shouldn’t we utilize our critical thinking skills when evaluating whether or not a friend who has been divorced twice should influence our thought process? If our mother has been divorced three times should we listen to her opinion of our choice? How should you respond when your colleague gives a thumbs up or down on your new partner when they haven’t had an online nibble from Match.com?

It reminds me of a Jerry Seinfeld bit, years ago, where he talked about scouring the grocery store to find healthy looking people to ascertain their daily diet. “You look healthy…what do you eat.” Makes some sense doesn’t it? Whether or not genetics play a role is irrelevant to our basic understanding…we see someone fit and trim and we can assume that they aren’t on a name-by-name basis at the local burger purveyor.

Why can’t we take the same approach in love? Why can’t we avoid our train wreck family and seek out those amongst us with happy and healthy relationships? Because for many of us…at least during one phase of our life…we really want to prove our family wrong or right the wrongs of the past with one fateful trip to the Justice of the Peace. Some of you reading this will think that I have lost my marbles…and others will be honest with themselves even if only in the corners of your mind.

10 Questions to ask yourself in the privacy of your own mind and preferably not at the family picnic:

  1. Who have you gone to for relationship advice in the past and Why?
  2. How much of the advice given do you actually put into practice?
  3. How do you evaluate the quality of advice given to you?
  4. Has it been easier to receive advice from outsiders or your spouse?
  5. Do you pick confidants based on the expected advice…to support you when you need it even if you know that you need more honesty?
  6. Looking back, can you determine a pattern of advice givers and outcomes?
  7. Why is it that I can ask for references for local plumbers, but not for relationship advisors?
  8. What am I ultimately afraid I will hear if I seek out advice from those individuals successful in love?
  9. Am I one of those that likes to give advice on love and not receive it myself?
  10. Who is the best example of a loving partner and what has been their mantra and approach?

We have all been exposed to various relationships and taken away a number of lessons. The challenge before all of us is to accurately evaluate the sources of information, their motivations, and our reactions to their influence. When two individuals join in union they bring their collective assumptions and experiences, all of which can fit nicely together in the beginning…often faltering in the end.

What Should I Do Jerry?

The ability to balance our needs from those well intentioned and the partner we have chosen takes a level of deftness most of us have yet to perfect. The nuclear family has found a slippery slope in our country and role models for love and affection have become collateral damage. We are quickly becoming a nation that finds love advice from self-help isles, BRAVO TV, Governor Sanford, and The Enquirer. And…when we don’t find suitable answers, we seek out friends and family that either support our neuroses or challenge our better judgment.

If we have a shot at correctly predicting what the other sex wants and how we can successfully integrate our needs and wants we HAVE to take a realistic look at who we seek out for answers and examples. Nothing against friends and family, but the minute I find one of them relishing in my success because it rectifies their past…I need to question the advice given. Taking stock tips from your mailman might make them happy, but won’t do anything to your pocketbook. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions of yourself and those giving advice…your “right” partner will thank you.

Continuing to wish you the best!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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The Final Stage in the Divorce Life-Cycle-Emancipation

Divorce is Painful

Collectively, we are skidding to a stop…a place of wishful exultation for we have reached a muddy and slick patch of earth that may have left us a bit dirty, but Emancipated from the thralls of relationship peril.

We have gone through the rinse or should I say Divorce Life-Cycle and experienced just about every emotion known to our species. We have shared our dirty laundry with everyone from our hair stylist to our dear ole’ deaf Aunt Betty and probably even to our furry friends who just want a clean litter box or a walk around the block.

The Divorce Life-Cycle has not been easy and you are ready to be free of any political, social, or legal constraints and you want to be free…NOW!

The Divorce Life-Cycle:

1. Irritation
2. Contemplation
3. Irrigation

4. Condemnation

5. Reconciliation
6. Emancipation

The problem? Well…feeling free of the worry and pain isn’t as relieving as we might have thought. Just because we have come to a decision does not mean that we are not susceptible to getting back on the merry-go-round and going for another spin. Marriage is complicated and deciding where to go when a fork appears…well daunting.

Has Your Marriage Got You Up In-Arms?

We all enter and exit the Divorce Life-Cycle at different times. Sometimes we feel like we have control of when and how we get on the merry-go-round and other times we feel pushed like a Hallmark holiday that begrudgingly forces us to celebrate another p.c. holiday when we really want to stomp off and AWAY from our spouses.

Normal people experience the cycle on a basis more regular than Metamucil users at after a local carnival. If you feel regular and have gained wisdom through the treachery of a struggling marriage then you have come to a conclusion that Emancipation lies within. It may appear to come in the form of a divorce decree or spending sprees on jeans no one should pay for or ice cream stops and infomercials on the couch at 2:00 a.m. Any way you slice it, an adjustment period will be Normal and is imperative to a safe landing in the future. If Emancipation means divorce to you then it should not encompass bitterness or parental positioning because you really do not want to see your children make the same ill-fated choices you and your partner did.

For others, Emancipation means that they have chosen to re-commit to their marriage without the chains that had previously restrained purposeful communication, love, and affection. And to those of you who have been successful in freeing past transgressions…I applaud you. By re-committing to your partner you have obviously come to the conclusion that there remains substantive qualities about your partner and your union that can and will prosper with fair amounts of water and sunlight. The scorecard has been settled and signed off like a golfer pledging honest scoring practices to the gallery and you are certain that when challenges resurface you have the elements in place to succeed.

Too often, though, individuals and couples re-confirm their commitment levels through public statements. They go back to those who unwittingly collected their dirty laundry and spin the outcome like a great political come-back win. We can’t all be Truman in 1948, but our renewed sense of excitement begs to differ as we surprise the masses with fodder drenched with tones of reconciliation, and presidential pardons.

All well and good…BUT…if we are to be successful in personally emancipating our fears and remaining with our spouse then we need not be afraid to regularly check for relationship blood-sugar levels. You have to determine if you can, honestly, approach your relationship with a proactive attitude and level of understanding for yourself and yourself in marriage and more importantly what you need in the relationship to be healthy.

You may find your honest answer to these questions hard to come by and even harder to put into practice. Remember…you now have a legion of friends and supporters who have seen the light and also believe your spouse is bad medicine. And, you may find that these friends, if divorced, will not take too kindly to your back-and-forth approach.

Honoré Daumier [Marseille, 1808 - Valmondois, 1879]

Women have Celebrated Divorce From Men for a Long Time

Be prepared that those around you, in the wake of your sharing, will think you need therapy and they may not be quite so supportive as in the past. This is Normal and sadly a significant part of the process. Just as when you were struggling, your friends opinions serve to challenge your assumptions, shake off temporary improvements, and assist you in determining the next chapter in your relationship. My warning would be this…just because you may think your friends are down-playing your new pain-free life doesn’t mean you should become a recluse with your spouse to maintain this new-found pleasure. Hiding away from your community only further supports the notion that your on-again stage will be off-again faster than you think.

Take control of your life and work diligently to build back your confidence in yourself first…then you can make the determination as to what freedom truly means. Your children are looking to you for guidance and what they need is a parent and adult that fully understands the layers of marriage and divorce. You will come out in the end a happier person and one who can fully commit to either your spouse or your next relationship. Be good to yourself—you deserve it!

My hope is that by going through the Divorce Life-Cycle you have found the human qualities of marriage needed to be successful and the actions and decisions for long-lasting love and companionship.

All The Best!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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Has Your Marriage Been Condemned…by You?

You have done it. It has been said. What else can be said? Have you seen enough? If you have been following this week’s series on the Divorce Life-Cycle then you know that we have reached our 4th stage of Condemnation. You and I have looked at Irritation, Contemplation, and Irrigation all the while feeling the roller-coaster of emotions that accompany love in the E.R.

And…if you are going through this cycle or have in the past, you know the ebb and flow of emotions that sways in the wind like a springtime thunder storm rolling over the plains. You are desperate to get “it” through their “head.” You want reciprocity! You want to see them “prove” they love you and you want it now. Where do you turn?

Well if we take history or folklore into account…we might feel a bit like Paul Revere as he took his midnight ride through Boston in 1775 yelling, “The Redcoats are coming!! The Redcoats are coming!!” We are dying for anybody and everybody to take up our cause. We want their support of our campaign against our spouse and we do not want to hear of salvation or commitment or promises. We feel that we have exhausted all options and we have begun to lay the foundation for an exit plan even though many of us won’t readily admit it during this stage.

We want to feel Normal! We want to cease feelings of craziness and disillusionment. So what we do is we test the waters. We dip our toes in…share a little at a time…and see if any of our family, friends, or colleagues take the bait. We crave ears like a Texan craves brisket. We want it all and we want the unbiased and supportive ears of anyone in our path. o

And…if we don’t get the response that we want we begin to act like first-year lawyers staking out our claims and passion for “justice.” We get big picture. We talk about dreams and what we thought we wanted and we condemn the inaction of our spouse like a building unfit for human occupation. NOW we want others to see the cracks in our marriage.

We tried Irrigation tactics…in our hearts we tried to “work” at getting the marriage back, but if you are like me and the millions of other divorcee’s…you probably found yourself setting a trap for your spouse. It becomes so easy, when your trust is waning, to “provide” your spouse with opportunities to reform their usual and irritating ways. What happens, though, is that what you really are doing is setting a “trap” where both parties are going to lose out. You want dramatic and swift change and you wouldn’t mind if they threw in a little humility and honesty. And…when you get anything less than a miracle…you want to explode.

You run to your friends and anyone who will hear and you spill your guts just praying that someone will utter the most damning words to a marriage in trouble…

“You deserve better…You deserve someone who loves you for you.”

Once those words have been released into the atmosphere there comes the crossroads you never thought you would find yourself at. The intersection of life that takes you back to childhood wondering which path to take in this big, scary, and often lonely world. To feel these emotions…to feel this level of pain can be heartbreaking. You never wanted to get to this place and yet some part of you desperately did. You wanted the mental and emotional freedom to explore life the way it was “intended” to be…not shackled to the skeletons of your spouse and not restrained by your personal fear of abandonment.

To be a Normal Male and Female means experiencing all facets of a relationship…the good, the bad, and the ugly. And, whether we are Paul Revere galloping through our life in desperate need for outside support…we all want to know that what we are feeling, fearing, and hoping for is NORMAL.

Let me tell you this…it is Normal and not going through these emotional cycles would make you abnormal. Life is often a great mythical tragedy filled with love, passion, romance, defeat, and rebirth…the question is whether you can weather this stage of your marriage to make a decision that will truly point you in a direction of emotional prosperity…with or without your spouse.

I leave the answer to you because some will emerge with a new appreciation for the quirks and idiosyncrasies of their partner and others will determine that Reconciliation (Stage 5 coming Monday) means forgiveness for the difficult decision ahead and all of the challenges that await the dissolution of a marriage once thought indestructible.
Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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Will Watering Your Marriage Bring it Back to Life?

I am sure you never thought we would or could get to Stage 3 in the Divorce Life-Cycle. You must have thought that after the Irritation and Contemplation stages we would never be able to think about resuscitating a relationship that has caused great distress in recent weeks, months, and years.

It takes a lot of work and if you can, honestly, say that you are at this stage then you have put some work in. You have had to deal with the mortality of your marriage, your role, your fears, and the unknown and often maddening wonderment about your spouses thoughts and feelings.

Not an easy voyage, but possibly the very thing you and your marriage needed. A Spring cleaning if you may. But….and this is a big one…if you are like most of us–and gauging from the fact you are reading this I will go out on a limb and say you are human–then you quite possibly side-stepped the first two stages in the name of Uncle Denial and are artificially entering the Irrigation stage thinking that if you ignore the problems they will just go away.

The result? You run the risk of playing house in a world thirsting for reality if growth is at all possible. As a colleague of mine says, “A band-aid is a band-aid is a band-aid…it ain’t gonna fix the deeper problem.”

And that can be a problem if you are any ole’ man or a Normal Male because we have been raised to fixers of problems. Men of all backgrounds have been taught that to have value we need to be able to fix things. Guys, the problem–fixing a marriage takes a lot more than a socket wrench to stop a leak.It is going to take hard work, open communication, sharing in safe environments, and personal ownership of your part.

So why is it so difficult to properly Irrigate your marriage? Why is it so hard to sit down and evaluate without judgment? Because we are all afraid that if we truly examine or autopsy our marriage we will find residue from our family of origin, past relationships, and a mirror that seems to be coming closer and closer to showing you…you.

Who on earth wants to open the proverbial Pandora’s Box? Who wants to think about why they treat their spouse poorly and its connections to other events and people? Who wants to think about how badly they have emotionally hurt the one the professed love to not so long ago? No one does! Nobody with a sensible approach to life wants to think about all of these horrible possibilities. What we want is to think about tomorrow in terms of yesterday. We want to act and react as if the endorphins are skyrocketing towards our spouse in a way that will cure all past ills and propel happiness into the cosmos for eternity. Irrigation can and should be tempered. It should be approached with a feedback loop that demonstrates to your spouse that you think of them when making decisions about the relationship. And, it should be understood by BOTH parties that nourishing your marriage is what you are attempting and planning to do. Too many, desperate, adults commence Irrigation plans without asking or gauging the interest of the other party.

Your marriage arrived at this place for a reason and traveling at the same speed to the same locales in life probably hasn’t been common place so why would fixing it be any different. Patience can be fleeting during lean times and marriage is no different. If you rush the “fixing” of your marriage without having your partner on board will only perpetuate your tangled communication patterns. Sit down. Breathe. Realize that if you are going to read a self-help book together you should both WANT to.

Bringing back your marriage will be the hardest thing you will ever do in this lifetime. You have to prepare yourself for the journey with the knowledge that if you’re a successful Sailor, you will cross the horizon to find a new land and relationship different and more palatable to the present you…not on the hopes and dreams of the past you.

Sometimes the odds are with us and sometimes they are against us, but what we do know is that if we make an honest effort to Irrigate our marriage we can rest our head at night in peace…whether we remain with our spouse or move on to new adventures. Check back tomorrow to continue on the Divorce Life-Cycle.

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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The Divorce Life-Cycle Part 2

Well then. Here we are. And, if you have been with me from the first leg of this journey then you know that either you are in a “rough patch” or you are looking for direction with regards to your relationship.

You have entered Stage 2….Contemplation A scary place to be…yes! You are beginning to think about your life in rewind while trying to fast-forward at the same time.

This process is akin to putting your foot on the gas and the break at the same time….result?

You become exhausted with worry and discourse;
You wonder what will be;
You wonder if you can make it;
You worry no one will support you;
You worry your kids will hate you;
You worry about holidays and birthdays and all the little things that WILL be different if you leave;
You wonder who you are and what you have become……

Contemplation is the delicate assessment that one goes through…weighing the checks and balances of love in a very fiscally and condemning world. Both genders can worry and stake claim to the very same ideals and items all the while puffing ourselves up to state our case and “leave” with what is “ours.”

And…as we contemplate our life after divorce or after reconciliation we begin to experience feelings and imagery looking a lot like a set of flashbacks.

Flashbacks from our youth to the present day about previous relationships and the manner with which we handled that conversation can be an eerie trip down memory lane. I remember I broke up with my girlfriend, if you can call it that in Elementary school, because I didn’t like the Roo’s tennis shoes she wore…ridiculous I know. Am I proud of myself? No. Have I broken up in ways and for reasons that are foolish looking back or did I make decisions that helped to light my path to my mate?

We have a memory that suits us well in so many instances that we are able to prevent redundancy and befuddlement. This memory, though, brings to the surface every little nook and cranny that spurned us, excited us, and challenged us.

Exploring our memory for the good times in our marriage when it is going through a cold-snap can be difficult and unforgiving. We can feel like beating ourselves up…questioning our actions and intentions and those of our spouse.

We can find ourselves in a place reminiscent of a kindergarten playground where mine and don’t take on fiery tones for we are staking our claim, our land, our litter box of the world…and we autopsy our marriage. We grade each others contributions, estimate damages, and always come up with an equation that has our best interests finishing first.

Marriage isn’t easy. Contemplating the end of your union even harder. Being honest with yourself about your contributions, successes, and missteps will allow Normal Males and Normal Females to accurately evaluate the role they played to determine whether or not they want to continue with their original commitment. Then and only then can you sit down and think about the contributions, both negative and positive, your spouse has provided the relationship.

Being real with ourselves goes along way in communicating needs, fears, wants, and decisions in a humane and thoughtful manner. If your relationship even has a shot to get to the Irrigation stage, you have to tread with soft gloves as you sift through your memories, past actions and decisions, reasons for break-ups and hook-ups…because not doing so keeps you in an emotionally high gear with your feet firmly planted on the gas and the brake of your marriage.

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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