How to Avoid Getting a Divorce

The best way to avoid getting a divorce is not waiting to seek help when things are not going well.  In my profession a lot of couples decide to come in for counseling as a last resort.  It should be the first.  It is difficult to help a marriage if there is so much anger that neither spouse is willing to listen to the other.  There needs to be positive interaction before each can feel safe to share how they are feeling.  If blaming is predominant it is impossible to share because neither spouse is listening.  They are shut down.

Learning to communicate, listen and validate the other person is essential in building safety.  Doing those things are tough if you have not been taught the skills to do them.  I always tell couples you can leave the relationship, but you still take you with you.  You will just take your baggage with you to the next relationship.  Better to stay and try and work it out.

The DNA of Relationships, by Gary Smalley, is a great book that identifies ways to build a strong marriage. We all have core fears and we react to those fears when we are triggered by events or people.  If we grew up in an unsafe environment then we will view our relationship with others as unsafe.  It is a subconscious belief that we usually are not even aware that we have. It is destructive and it effects the way we see our world.

Drs. John and Julie Gottman identify the 4 predictors of divorce and calls them “The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse”.  They are criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling.  These are all signs of dysfunctional interaction in relationships. If you are experiencing any of these then it is a sign that your marriage is in trouble.  Get some professional help.

If you want to avoid divorce, treat your spouse with love and respect.  Don’t have unrealistic expectations and don’t expect them to make you happy.  They make mistakes and we can’t fall apart every time they let us down.

Good relationships don’t just happen. It takes work to build solid, lasting, secure, and loving marriages. Use the resources available to empower you and your spouse and do the things you need to do to heal your relationship.  It will be worth it.

Vickie Parker, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

To read more of my blogs or make an online counseling appointment visit my web site @ vickiemft.com

Number Seven

Today, my husband and I celebrated 7 years of marriage.  We both think back to how much we’ve both become better people.  It is a blessing because we both have friends  who have been through or are in the process of getting a divorce.  Some of them  were only married for 4 years while others were married for 20 or more years. The thing is that infidelity or abuse are justifiable reasons for divorce, but that is not the case with many couples.  Some couples “grow apart” or each person wants something different.  Sometimes, it’s the “little things” that cause huge problems.  Problems that weren’t addressed because of a lack of communication.  You’re walking around angry and giving each other the “silent treatment” and you don’t even know what you’re mad about in the first place.

When we got married, it was with the intent of having children and growing old together.  We’re not perfect people, but we know that communication is important. We work as a team to care for our son, who needs and loves us both.  We take time to have fun, whether it’s dinner, a movie, or planning a vacation.  We love each other.  Most importantly, we put God first.  The enemy does not want your marriage to succeed.  I always look at ways that I can be a better person; I try to find ways to spice things up.  Any relationship takes work, which pays off in the long run. Be content with all that you have because like I’ve said before, the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side.

When A Lifelong Friendship Ends

There are many reasons that friendships end. It’s often painful when you lose a lifelong friend. You’ve known them since grade school, or you grew up in the same neighborhood.  You think that with everything that you been through that your friendship wouldn’t end over someone of the opposite sex.

Here’s the scenario:  Your best friend has been dating the same person for many years.  During that time, you become friends with her as well.  Your best friend dumps his current girlfriend for what he thinks is a better catch.  Then, he deserts you and everyone else in his circle for her.  During this time, his ex feels betrayed and confides in you.  He hears about it and becomes jealous, even though there’s nothing sexual involved. All you’re doing is listening and advising.  As time passes, this new love of his life betrays him by marrying another guy right under his nose.  The ultimate betrayal, right?

He tries to apologize to his ex, you, his family, and everyone else that he’s hurt in the process.  He drops the bomb….he gives you an ultimatum…..him or his ex. You can only be friends with one of them.  Very immature indeed.  You should not be forced to choose sides.

You don’t want to end a lifelong friendship over something petty as this, but sometimes it has to be that way. When you think about your friendship over the years, there were times that he stole from you.  You forgave him every time.  He took advantage of you time and time again, and you forgave him.  When do you reach your breaking point?  Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired?  You need to get toxic people out of your life.  Here are some signs that it’s time to keep it moving.

1. They damage your self-esteem.  Just like in any relationship, you wouldn’t want to be around a verbally or mentally abusive person.  If this person “stabs you in the back” , he was not a real friend from the start. A true friend is always brutally honest, even if it hurts a little sometimes.

2. They encourage negative behaviors.  If you  find yourself engaged in negative behaviors (i.e. stealing, drugs, violence) now because of this “friend”, it’s time to move on.

3. You only see them when they want something. You have those friends that only come around or call you when they need money or a favor.  There has to be a point where enough is enough.  Do not let them continue abusing your friendship.

4. You’ve grown and they haven’t matured.  I’ve experienced this a lot over recent years.  I have grown apart from some of my friends because of either petty differences or I’ve outgrown them.  They still act like high school kids. I’m an elitist….I like being in the company of intelligent people.

5. You don’t trust them.  Obviously, if you don’t have the trust factor, there isn’t a friendship.

Every once in a while, you need to do an inventory.  Some of us manage to get away from hurtful people only to go back to them because they are familiar.  Think about your current situation.  Do you have an awesome circle of friends?  Or are they toxic?  It’s not the quantity of friends, but the quality.  I’d rather have 5 great friends than 20 fake friends.  Detox if you need to.  You’ll feel better.

Can Married Women Be Friends With Single Women?

Lately, I have been thinking about my friends.  Every now and again, you may have to cut somebody out of your life.  Once you get married, some people change, and oftentimes, it is not for the better.  I can honestly say that the single friends that I have are true friends.  They were happy for me and didn’t “hate” when I got married.  We celebrate each other’s achievements, and they  don’t get pleasure out of my misfortune.  Life happens to all of us.

Then there are those women that I was friends with at one time that have drifted away.  Not because they are “haters” necessarily, but because we no longer share the same goals or interests.  That’s typical.  All of us change in some way as we get older. Most of my friends are married, but I can be friends with a single woman as long as she has good intentions.  The enemy is always trying to ruin marriages, and he will sometimes use people to do it.  I’m very careful about who I call a “friend”,  but once you have my trust, that’s all I need.    Some women just need some good advice or an encouraging word.  I can give you that.

Is the Grass Really Greener on the Other Side?

People often look at their situations and wonder if the grass is really greener on the other side….  It may seem like the grass is greener, but it’s really not.  The enemy makes the grass appear greener on the other side.  For instance, even once we get married, there is still that threat of sexual temptation.  Some women may look at their situations and think that they’re missing out on something.  Does he make more money?  Is he smarter?  Is he better in bed? You don’t know what he might be working with.  I always keep that in mind.  Just don’t even go there.  I don’t care how fine he is.  Especially if you have a wonderful man to go home to everyday.

Marriages can start out rough because you’re trying to get used to being married. However, with time, it gets better. We all go through “seasons”. One couple may be going through spring while another is going through winter.

I appreciate the simple activities, like going shopping with my husband because everybody does not have a husband to go shopping with.  So before you think about wanting to be single again, think about how it was when you were single……you wanted a husband.  In spite of the difficulties that will arise (because that’s life), be content with what you have.  If you disrupt that in any way, you’re going to get more drama than you need.

Finding A Mate

A lot of single women ask me my opinion about finding a mate.  There are a lot of single women, whether divorced, separated, or never been married, that would like to have a great guy in their life.  The first thing that I tell them is to know what you want.  I made a list as a matter of fact when I was single.  I remember a godly man with intelligence and a sense of humor topped the list.  I must say that he exceeded my expectations.  Sure, no man is perfect, but neither are we. If you’re divorced, don’t blame yourself.  Learn and grow from the experience.

We can sometimes overlook a good man because we are so wrapped up in the physical.  No, I’m not saying that you should date a troll, but  give a guy a chance if he’s a little chubby or a little shorter than you.  Especially if you have a lot in common.  I’ve met many men that are sexy, but they are very flawed in other areas.  Sexy doesn’t pay the bills.  Sexy won’t matter if he’s cheating on you or taking his frustrations out on your face.  I tell women as long as you find him attractive, it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks.

It’s wonderful to have a man that is also your friend.  You can talk for hours when you’re together, no matter how deep the conversation.  You should have similar religious views, values, and the same attitude about family. If you want to have kids, you don’t want to be with someone that doesn’t want them.  Also, if your man wants you to be a stay-at-home mother, but you want to have a career, those are vast differences.  If you’re having major issues before you get married, they’re only going to get worse.  Also, you want a man to be supportive.  He shouldn’t bad-mouth you behind your back or embarrass you in public. You should be respectful of him as well.  Marriage is a team effort.

Lastly, when you finally meet that special man, make the marriage work.  Remember that you take vows before God.  When problems arise, communication is very important.  Don’t be selfish and beware of the many temptations that are out there.  (That’s another discussion).