11 Marriage Truths from Divorce Attorneys

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11 Marriage Truths from Divorce Attorneys

By Brittany Wong

The best source for marriage advice? Divorce attorneys. Before you protest, just think about it: Every day at work they see the types of marital problems that lead otherwise happy couples to split up.

With that in mind, we recently asked 11 family law attorneys to volunteer their best love and relationship advice. See what they had to say below.

1. A sustainable marriage is not about love, it’s about tolerance.

“Can you tolerate all your partner’s quirks? Even the ones that you don’t like, are they tolerable? Don’t marry your partner thinking that any of his or her quirks are going to change, improve or wane. As we get older, your partner’s quirks will only magnify. So if you can’t tolerate it now, you for sure are not going to be able to tolerate it in the future. Tolerance may not be romantic, but it is the key to a long lasting marriage.” — Melissa B. Buchman, an attorney in Beverly Hills, California 

2. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. 

“Unfortunately, many couples I see going through a divorce ascribe bad — or sometimes terrible — motives to everything their spouses do. What is the harm in assuming or presuming the best? Even if you’re wrong, it hurts no one. And it may be the start of a better relationship.”  — Randall M. Kessler, an attorney based in Atlanta, Georgia

3. Don’t be afraid to feed your spouse’s ego now and then.

“Silly as it may sound, your spouse wants to feel strong, sexy and attractive. I have seen spouses cheat because someone else showed them attention and made them feel good.” — Christian Denmon, an attorney in Florida 

4. Put your spouse before your kids. 

“This may not be the most popular piece of advice, especially for parents, but after watching countless people get divorced because they allowed themselves to slowly drift apart over the years, I honestly believe it’s true. We are all busy these days. It’s far too easy to put your job, your house, your activities and your kids before your spouse. Don’t do it! While many people believe that their kids have to come first, if they don’t put their spouse first and their marriage eventually sours, it’s not going to be doing the kids any favors. If you value your marriage, choose to put it first.” —Karen Covy, an attorney and divorce coach based in Chicago, Illinois 

5. Don’t wait until it’s too late to work on your marriage.

“Work on your marriage while it’s still a good marriage, don’t wait until there’s a problem. ‘Work’ does not have to mean counseling, it can simply be having a set date night once a month.” — Carla Schiff Donnelly, an attorney based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

6. When you need to discuss something important, timing iseverything.

“When making a request, decision, criticism or apology, it’s crucial to do it when and where your spouse is at their best: after working out, perhaps, or on Friday night, or after a glass of wine or early in the morning before the kids are up. Ask yourself: Is this really the most constructive setting for my partner to hear what I need to bring up? I marvel at stories from clients about how they tried accomplishing something regardless of their spouse’s readiness to receive it and how shocked and dismayed they were when they got rebuffed or ignored. Bringing stuff up on a Sunday night, for instance, when you know he or she gets the back-to-work blues — or right after work, when you’re both exhausted? Bad idea.”  — James Sexton, an attorney based in New York City

7. Know that you can’t change your partner.

“My piece of advice mirrors a quote from Maya Angelou: ‘When people show you who they are, believe them.’ In other words, many of us have this deep-seated desire to change our partners, especially women. This can manifest itself in actions like trying to get them to wear neutral colors instead of bold plaid shirts or attempting to change them from boring in bed to hot in the sheets. The bottom line is, we are who we are and either we accept it or go back on Match.com.” — Lisa Helfend Meyer, an attorney in Los Angeles, California

8. Love is about the little things.

“Marriage is work but worth the effort. Go on dates, speak one another’s love language and cherish the little things. Remember that love looks and feels very different as your relationship changes and evolves.” — Natalie Gregg, an attorney in Allen, Texas  

9. Communication really is the cornerstone of every solid relationship. 

“When people come to my office wanting a divorce, the stated reasons often have to do with money, sex or ‘growing apart.’ The truth is that in almost every case these complaints are the symptoms that have led them to my office, not the cause. The cause is a lack of regular communication. If couples would make a point of setting aside time to talk about what is going on with each of them, to communicate their real feelings, I think that far fewer of them would end up in a divorce lawyer’s office.” — Fred Silberberg, an attorney based in Beverly Hills, California 

10. Be an active listener.

“Listen to each other when you fight. I mean, really listen. Try to understand your partner’s point of view and even if you don’t agree. Acknowledge how they feel, validate their opinion and show them that you care.” — Jason Levoy, an attorney and divorce coach in New York City

11. Marriage doesn’t get easier the second or third time around.

“When a client says, ‘I am so tired of him or her and their sloppiness, overspending, drinking, their kids or their stinginess,’ I tell them, ‘don’t think that it gets any easier with the next person.’ Marriage is hard work and if you can’t do the work, don’t get married. The second (or third) time is not any easier than the first, in fact, it’s usually harder.” — Georgialee Lang, an attorney based in Vancouver, Canada 

Funday Friday: Truck Humor

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Here’s a little trucker humor for your Funday Friday pleasure:

truck humor

A Way to Have Conversations That Will Lead to Deeper Relationships

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A Way to Have Conversations That Will Lead to Deeper Relationships

By Glennon Doyle Melton

When I was a mama of three very tiny, very messy, very beautiful rug rats, we had DAYS THAT WENT ON FOR LIFETIMES.

Craig left at 6:00 am every morning and as I watched his showered, ironed self leave the house I felt incredibly blessed and thrilled to have so much time alone with my babies and incredibly terrified and bitter to have so much time alone with my babies.

If you don’t believe that all of those feelings can exist at once—well, you’ve never been a parent to many tiny, messy, beautiful rug rats.

When Craig returned each day at 6:00 pm (he actually returned at 5:50 but took a STUNNINGLY LONG TIME TO GET THE MAIL) he’d walk through the door, smile, and say—

“So! How was your day?”

This question was like a spotlight pointed directly at the chasm between his experience of a “DAY” and my experience of a “DAY.” How was my day?

The question would linger in the air for a moment while I stared at Craig and the baby shoved her hand in my mouth like they do—while the oldest screamed MOMMY I NEED HELP POOING from the bathroom and the middle one cried in the corner because I NEVER EVER EVER let her drink the dishwasher detergent. NOT EVER EVEN ONCE, MOMMY!!!

And I’d look down at my spaghetti stained pajama top, unwashed hair, and gorgeous baby on my hip—and my eyes would wander around the room, pausing to notice the toys peppering the floor and the kids’ stunning new art on the fridge . . .

And I’d want to say: How was my day?

Today has been a lifetime.

It was the best of times and the worst of times. There were moments when my heart was so full I thought I might explode, and there were other moments when my senses were under such intense assault that I was CERTAIN I’d explode.

I was both lonely and absolutely desperate to be alone.

I was saturated—just BOMBARDED with touch and then the second I put down this baby I yearned to smell her sweet skin again.

I was simultaneously bored out of my skull and completely overwhelmed with so much to do.

Today was too much and not enough. It was loud and silent. It was brutal and beautiful. I was at my very best today and then, just a moment later, at my very worst.

At 3:30 today I decided that we should adopt four more children, and then at 3:35 I decided that we should give up the kids we already have for adoption.

Husband—when your day is completely and totally dependent upon the moods and needs and schedules of tiny, messy, beautiful rug rats your day is ALL OF THE THINGS and NONE OF THE THINGS, sometimes within the same three minute period.

But I’m not complaining.

This is not a complaint, so don’t try to FIX IT.

I wouldn’t have my day Any.Other.Way. I’m just saying—it’s a hell of a hard thing to explain—an entire day with lots of babies.

But I’d be too tired to say all of that. So I’d just cry, or yell, or smile and say “fine,” and then hand the baby over and run to Target to wander aisles aimlessly, because that’s all I ever really wanted.

But I’d be a little sad because love is about really being seen and known and I wasn’t being seen or known then. Everything was really hard to explain. It made me lonely.

So we went to therapy, like we do.

Through therapy, we learned to ask each other better questions. We learned that if we really want to know our people, if we really care to know them—we need to ask them better questions and then really listen to their answers.

We need to ask questions that carry along with them this message: “I’m not just checking the box here. I really care what you have to say and how you feel. I really want to know you.”

If we don’t want throw away answers, we can’t ask throw away questions. A caring question is a key that will unlock a room inside the person you love.

So Craig and I don’t ask “how was your day?” anymore.

After a few years of practicing increasingly intimate question asking, now we find ourselves asking each other questions like these:

  • When did you feel loved today?
  • When did you feel lonely?
  • What did I do today that made you feel appreciated?
  • What did I say that made you feel unnoticed?
  • What can I do to help you right now?

I know. WEEEEEIRRD at first. But not after a while. Not any weirder than asking the same damn empty questions you’ve always asked that elicit the same damn empty answers you’ve always gotten.

And so now when our kids get home from school, we don’t  say: “How was your day?” Because they don’t know. Their day was lots of things.

Instead we ask our kids:

  • How did you feel during your spelling test?
  • What did you say to the new girl when you all went out to recess?
  • Did you feel lonely at all today?
  • Were there any times you felt proud of yourself today?

And I never ask my friends: How are you?

Because they don’t know either.

Instead I ask:

  • How is your mom’s chemo going?
  • How’d that conference with Ben’s teacher turn out?
  • What’s going really well with work right now?

Questions are like gifts.

It’s the thought behind them that the receiver really FEELS. We have to know the receiver to give the right gift and to ask the right question.

Generic gifts and questions are all right, but personal gifts and questions feel better. Love is specific, I think. It’s an art. The more attention and time you give to your questions, the more beautiful the answers become.

Life is a conversation. Make it a good one.

*****
If you would like help with your communication, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with a counselor or coach.

Basic Principles of Effective Communication

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Basic Principles of Effective Communication

By Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

John is a student writing a paper on male and female communication. He emailed me saying, “I would be honored if you would please take a few, brief moments and answer three questions for me.”

Question #1: In your opinion, what communication breakdowns occur between males and females?

We often say communication is the key to a successful marriage; however, I prefer to say that mutual understanding is the key.

If I speak perfect Spanish and you speak perfect German, we can communicate in prose that touches on poetic, but if the other does not know our mother-tongue, they will not understand us.

I take the position that women lean toward Love-Talk and men toward Respect-Talk, which I show in my books, Love & Respect and The Language of Love & Respect. The principles explained in both books are based on Ephesians 5:33, the discoveries at the University of Washington, as well as my own research.

When a husband does not understand what his wife means by what she says (“You aren’t loving me”) and a wife does not understand what he means by what he says (“You aren’t respecting me), they will not understand each other and thus will not communicate very well.

This is a simple explanation that I write about elsewhere in greater depth.

Question #2: What important skills are necessary for effective communication between males and females?

She needs to learn to communicate her need for love in respectful ways, and he needs to communicate his need for respect in loving ways.

Let me insert something important here: women need respect and men need love, too. However, we asked 7,000 people this question, “When you are in conflict with your spouse, do you feel unloved or disrespected?” 83% of the men said they felt disrespected and 72% of the women said they felt unloved.

We all need love and respect equally, but the felt need differs during conflict.

To effectively communicate, a wife must learn how to communicate her feelings of being unloved in a way that sounds respectful to her husband, and a husband must learn how to communicate his feelings of being disrespected in a way that sounds loving to his wife.

Question #3: What can be done by both males and females of all ages to increase effective communication in relationships?

Understand that God designed the genders differently. Neither are wrong, just different.  Though we are equal, we are not the same.

We have shown that the differences exceed simple biology–they spill over onto how we think and feel. A man and a woman can encounter the same conflict, but one’s gender drives how that conflict will be interpreted and handled.

For example, 85% of those who stonewall and withdraw in conflict are male. Why? Many wives say it is because he is being unloving, but I believe he does so to calm down–he knows it is not honorable to allow a conflict among friends to escalate out of control.

Why would a man need to calm down? At moments of marital conflict the heartbeats of many males, according to the University of Washington, can reach 99 beats per minute. He is in warrior mode. His wife, however, remains relatively calm with regard to BPM.

Interestingly, she appears out of control while he appears stoic, but internally both respond differently.

She does not interpret the conflict as a provocation, but as an opportunity to resolve the matter. On the other hand he feels provoked and senses a need to calm down, lest things get out of hand.

Why would a husband do this? I see it as honorable. He does not want to fight, so he withdraws to protect the relationship. But when wives were asked by researchers what they felt at such moments, the wives said, “It feels like an act of hostility.”

Who is right? Is it an act of honor or act of hostility? Yes. It just depends if one filters it throughblue or pink.

In our study, how did the wives approach their husbands in conflict? Research reveals that women tend to move toward the husbands to connect; they do not withdraw. However, the researchers found that when wives move toward their husbands, they do so with criticism and complaint.

I believe it is because they care. However, when the husbands were asked how they feel about the wife’s approach, many of the men interpret the ongoing criticism as contempt for who they are as men.

Who is right? Is it an act of care or an act of contempt? Yes. It just depends on the pink and blueview.

Neither are wrong, just different. When we learn these differences, harmony can be presentbetween men and women.

We will not attack the other as hostile and contemptuous, but rather as good-willed and desiring to do what is caring and honorable.

Hope this helps.

-Dr. E

**********

If you would like help in communication, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with a counselor or coach.

 

Loneliness and Social Isolation Linked to Early Mortality

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Loneliness and social isolation linked to early mortality

By James McIntosh (from Medical News Today)

There are a number of health and lifestyle factors – obesity, smoking, air pollution – that are known to be risk factors for early mortality and receive considerable attention. New research has suggested that social connections should be added to this list, with a study finding loneliness and social isolation to be risk factors for all ages.

Psychologists from Brigham Young University in Provo, UT, discovered in a meta-analysis that loneliness and social isolation better predicted premature death among populations aged less than 65 years, despite older people being more likely to be lonely and having a higher mortality risk overall.

“The effect of this is comparable to obesity, something that public health takes very seriously,” says lead author Julianne Holt-Lunstad. “We need to start taking our social relationships more seriously.”

Previous research has demonstrated that social connections can have a positive influence on physical well-being as well as psychological and emotional well-being. Until now, no meta-analysis had been conducted where the effect of social isolation and loneliness on mortality has been the focus.

Although the two terms sound similar, loneliness and social isolation can be very different in appearance. An individual who is surrounded by lots of other people can still feel lonely while some people prefer to be alone and foster isolation from others.

Despite these differences, however, the study found that the effects on premature mortality were the same for both loneliness and social isolation.

Researchers predict a ‘loneliness epidemic’ in the future

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from 70 studies conducted between 1980 and 2014, featuring a total of over 3 million participants. The data included information regarding loneliness, social isolation and living alone.

After controlling for variables such as age, gender, socioeconomic status and pre-existing health conditions, the researchers found that social isolation was linked to an increased risk of premature mortality. Conversely, the presence of social relationships was found to have a positive influence on health.

The study did, however, utilize data from a narrow range of ages, with the majority of the data coming from older adults. The authors acknowledge that less than a quarter of the studies analyzed involved people with an average age of 59 or younger, and only 9% of studies involved participants younger than 50 at intake.

The researchers state that the effects on physical health caused by loneliness and social isolation are comparable to those caused by obesity, with current evidence indicating “that heightened risk for mortality from a lack of social relationships is greater than that from obesity.” They write:

“The current status of research on the risks of loneliness and social isolation is similar to that of research on obesity 3 decades ago – although further research on causal pathways is needed, researchers now know both the level of risk and the social trends suggestive of even greater risk in the future.”

Due to advances in technology and the evolution of the Internet, it may seem as though people are closer together than ever before. However, the number of people feeling lonely appears to be on the rise.

“Not only are we at the highest recorded rate of living alone across the entire century, but we’re at the highest recorded rates ever on the planet,” says co-author Tim Smith. “With loneliness on the rise, we are predicting a possible loneliness epidemic in the future.”

Despite the limitations of the study, the authors believe that their findings justify raising a warning about increasing rates of social isolation.

Last year, Medical News Today reported on a study that found extreme loneliness can increase an older person’s risk of premature death by 14%.

How Our Phones Disconnect Us

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cracked broken phone disconnectFeeling disconnected from friends, family, and people in general? Feeling like your relationships skim the surface but never go deep?

Try turning off your phone and stowing it out of site.

MIT professor and researcher Sherry Turkle provides this insight from her book Reclaiming the Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age:

What phones do to in person conversation is a problem. Studies show that the mere presence of a phone on the table (even a phone turned off) changes what people talk about. If we think we might be interrupted, we keep conversations light, on topics of little controversy or consequence. And conversations with phones on the landscape block empathic connection. If two people are speaking and there is a phone on a nearby desk, each feels less connected to the other than when there is no phone present. Even a silent phone disconnects us.

 

So it is not surprising that in the past twenty years we have seen a 40 percent decline in the markers for empathy among college students, most of it within the past ten years. It is a trend that researchers link to the new presence of digital communications (p 21).

For more on the topic, listen to one of her podcasts on the book: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2015/11/13/podcast-155-reclaiming-conversation/

If you are feeling an interpersonal disconnect and would like to take steps to connecting in healthy ways, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a coach or counselor.

Funday Friday: Cheese Pun

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Here is a very cheesy pun for your Funday Friday humor. We just hope the humor doesn’t grate you too much.

cheese pun

If you would like help adding some more humor and joy into your life, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 61-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Dealing With a Destructive Ex-Spouse

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Dealing With a Destructive Ex-Spouse

One of the most menacing dynamics attacking the health of a stepfamily is a destructive parent in the other home.

Conflict in coupleBy Ron L. Deal

Sarah called my office with a question I have heard a thousand times. “My husband’s ex-wife is a very unhealthy person. She attacks us frequently in front of the kids and manipulates them constantly. How do we deal with this?”

Without question, one of the most menacing dynamics in a stepfamily is a destructive parent in the other home. A parent, for example, with a personality disorder or drug or porn addiction is exceedingly difficult to deal with. So, too, is someone who is just plain unreasonable, irresponsible, and selfish. The temptation, of course, is to get drawn into the emotional game-playing and try to out-fox the fox. But God’s Word suggests a better way.

In His infinite wisdom, God gives us specific instructions in the latter section of Romans 12 on how to love a difficult person. His prescription for overcoming evil is direct: overcome evil with good (verse 21). The goal, then, in spite of the hurt we experience at the hands of others, is to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice and repay evil with good.

But what about revenge? Isn’t that justified?

***For the following helpful insights – “Being Aggressive with Good,”  “Trusting God,” & “Taking Action” – go to the original page.***

For help with your particular situation, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a coach or counselor.

 

An Honest Look at the Past Couple Years

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depression couch

An Honest Look at the Past Couple Years

By Sighsharmonize (post adapted from the original)

The first week of being 25 was great with a few minor hiccups. It’s been weird. Things have gone wrong but it leads to me being thankful for other things. Maybe I’m just an optimist but I don’t regret anything, even things that caused the bad events.

Example: On Saturday night, my car was towed. It was 100% my fault because I didn’t check the time that the lot was going to close but Saturday was so fun! It was awesome hanging out with people and such a wonderful day overall that nothing was going to drag me down. When I found out and didn’t have a car, no one so much as hesitated to help me out. Everyone I am surrounded by is always willing to be there for me in every capacity.

I feel as though it’s unfair for me to be anything but happy. With people who are always there for me, it doesn’t matter what happens. I am surrounded by great people. The Lord has provided such an amazing support system for me.

Looking at this post, it’s so strange to type this. I’m really happy that I’m able to type this but these past two years have been rough. Back at that point of my life, It was almost like I was too tired to have this attitude. I was tired, unmotivated, and pretty consistently down in the dumps. I’m so happy I can be back to my old temperament; my carefree, sing in the car, laughing at nearly anything, constantly smiling, finding the silver lining attitude.

Although looking back, I can’t believe it took so much to get me to see a therapist. Even after I lost my a little bit of my uppity attitude, I had to sink so low to the point where I didn’t even have motivation to hang out with my friends (and I’m 90% extroverted) or work on anything that would lead to future goals. I don’t even know if I had goals at that point. I felt like everything was hopeless and at one point, I was so sure I would rather be in a coma than have to deal with life. It started becoming so bad that I would literally pray to get into a car crash (I didn’t explicitly try to though, I was too scared for that). At one point, I was I was skipping so many meals a day that sometimes I would go to bed light headed and wondering if I would even wake up in the morning. Other days, I would just drink until I didn’t feel guilty about my actions or laziness.

I don’t think people knew how bad it was because whenever people would ask about how I was doing, there was the automatic response of “fine”. I was perfectly okay with putting on a front when I was with people for a long time. But at one point it was just too tiring. It made me dread going out with people and I would actually choose laying on the floor rather than being with friends. Now I finally have found a counselor and something to help my depression and anxiety but why did it take me so long? I was scared because I couldn’t find the positives anymore. I didn’t know what was wrong with me.

I don’t think I should’ve tried to hide it for so long. I know I can confide in my friends, there’s something about weakness though. It’s scary to show people your weakness and I guess that’s why I’m finally typing this out. A lot of times, people try to come off as if they have the perfect life but no one’s life is perfect. You can be optimistic but you shouldn’t live in denial. People should be honest and feel like they can turn to one another with their problems, especially their family (church included). That’s one thing that stressed me out, no one went through things like this. I couldn’t tell people how I felt because who would understand? But I’m starting to see that I have so many friends who I know will stand behind me. Everyone has weaknesses. It’s just about using your surrounding to overcome them and for me that was feeling comfortable to talk to my friends about things weighing me down.

Wowzers this is scary to post. It’s so scary to even think about being at that low of a point.  I’m just so thankful that the Lord kept me, was faithful, and that I’m back to me.

Well, here it is, a real look into my weakest point.

******************
If you or someone you know is struggling like the author of this article, we encourage you to take the same courageous step to seek out the help of a professional counselor to help walk with you as you take an honest look at life and to rediscover hope and joy. Please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment.

6 Ways to Say Thanks for His Love and Her Respect

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6 Ways to Say Thanks for His Love and Her Respect

By Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

6 Ways to Appreciate Love and Respect

If you would like help or enrichment in your marriage in the areas of love and respect, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with a counselor or coach.