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Oct 11

This is the last of a 3-part series from author Ginger Emas about The Men We Date, and how to open up to new possibilities. If you missed them, click to read Part I and Part II.


Have you been thinking about all the people you’ve dated and whether or not you have a certain “type,” and if so, what that type is? I heard from many of you who seemed to be slapping your forehead exclaiming, “Oh, wow! I’m a saver, too!” and wanted to break the habit. Some of you wrote to say you are tired of dating guys who won’t commit, but that you are still in a relationship that’s been going on for years.  One of you wrote to tell me that you’re finding a certain religious-based dating site a drag, and realized it was always your mother who wanted you to marry a nice (insert religion here) boy! 

 

Congratulations on all of your self-discovery!  


In my previous post, I mentioned that one of the best ways to break out of your dating rut is to make a Manfile. First, list all of the qualities you will no longer put up with in a partner. I call these your non-negotiables. Many women include things such as “dishonesty” or “self-destructive;” “emotionally unavailable,” “irresponsible,” “abusive.” 


Then, make a list of your must-haves: sense of humor, financially stable, kind, sincere. Some people list “must have kids.” Others list “must not want kids.” Whatever it is you must have – write it down! Your Manfile will evolve over the years, but the important thing is to start it.  


The final piece of the Manfile is all about you: describe who you are today and what you want for your life. Many of us don’t take the time to check in with ourselves; instead we operate on auto-pilot, choosing the same guys, friends, jobs, meals that we’ve been choosing for years. But who you are after you’ve been married and divorced, or after a long-term relationship, is not the same person you were before. Maybe what you thought you wanted all these years isn’t your dream, but what you thought society expected … or what your mother wanted for you. Now is the time to ask yourself: What brings me joy? What am I willing to explore? Who am I trying to please? Hopefully, you’ll begin to see more choices – even if that is the choice not to date. (We should all know by now that having a boyfriend, a husband, or a partner does not guarantee happiness. That has to come from you.)


One of the most fun ways to test out new types is speed-dating (my favorite in Atlanta is www.hurrydate.com -- talk with ten men in an hour!) Another great way to mix it up is at a Lock and Key Party – believe me, you will find all “types!” (Janice runs them in Atlanta – are you bold enough to be the only white woman at the Black Singles party? Or the only one over 50 at the 40 and under group? Why not?) Try a different dating website, join a kickball league, or check out a personal matchmaker!


I left off my last column by sharing “What I Know Now”:  “Finding someone outside my “type” was only half of the process; learning how to love him – not enable him, not save him, not live co-dependently -- was another process altogether.


Nearly three years after my divorce, but just a few months after I finally created my Manfile, I met Sean.  He is a self-sufficient man who loves his work, his life, and has a great attitude despite some tough times in his life. He can cook, dance, and have a great time in any social situation – even with my crazy friends and family! But when we first started dating, I honestly did not know how to be with him. How do I date someone who doesn’t need me to pick up the pieces? What would my life be like without the rollercoaster ride of highs and lows? I wanted to try it – I enjoyed being with someone who was so giving, so secure, and so much fun.  But in the beginning, I had no idea how to receive his love. I didn’t know how to care for someone, instead of taking care of him. After all my years of being in the savior spot (my own bit of baggage, by the way), this healthy relationship didn’t feel normal. Isn’t that crazy? But I knew, deep down, that this was an incredible opportunity to learn to love another way. So I tiptoed into it and took the relationship very slowly. And while I often felt as if Sean was waiting for me to catch up, he never rushed me.  He allowed me my time, my growth, my unfolding.


It’s been over three years now, and I know I have never had a love like this. If I hadn’t taken a chance on dating someone entirely different from the ghosts of relationships past, I would never be here, loving a man who is passionate without the drama; who has created with me a relationship filled with laughter, honesty and communication (yes, this man will talk about stuff!)  He has embraced my son as well as the friendship my ex and I share, and I am grateful that his self-assuredness allows him to be accepting of it all. We are happy just being together … and that feels like enough.


So the next time you hear yourself saying about a guy, “He’s just not my type,” why not give that type a try? Because maybe, after all these years, you’re ready for a break-out role.


This is the last in a 3-part series from Ginger Emas about Why We Choose The Men We Do. Are you ready for a change? Share your break-out dating stories on Sharewik.com!

Ginger Emas is a freelance business writer, the mother of a 14-year-old son, and the author of the hilarious and helpful book, “Back On Top: Fearless Dating After Divorce.” She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist, and has written for Skirt! magazine, More.com, Glamour.com, LovingYou.com and several other women-centric media.


For more Ginger Emas columns, click here 

 

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Have you ever tried to reframe a problem?  Taken a bad situation and decided to think of it as an opportunity instead?  You may have done this with a situation at work. Perhaps you did not receive the promotion you wanted but rather than become upset, you decide instead to be grateful for the work you have and how your work load allows you to be home when your children are finished with school.

 

We do this a lot with children, too. When your son or daughter is not chosen for the school sports team or theatrical performance, you probably console them - and also point out all the other opportunities available such as local city sports teams, community theatre, and dance and vocal classes. But did you know that these same reframing techniques can be applied quite successfully to a divorce?  

 

Before you call me crazy, keep reading. For many, a divorce is the most stressful situation ever. It affects careers, friends, family, children – and even your health and well-being. It’s easy to see why. When you get married, you usually assume it's forever. And often it is.  But not always. In the U.S., approximately 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, which makes it a very real possibility for many of us. If you’re ever faced with a divorce, it's important to make sure that you continue to take care of yourself and implement lifestyle modification skills that can keep your stress level in check.

 

Even though you may feel as if your world is falling apart, do your best to continue to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, get enough rest, and attempt to reach those 10,000 steps a day.  These things may seem unimportant at the time, but they are all integral in keeping yourself healthy – physically, emotionally, and psychologically.

 

Lifestyle modification also includes stress management. If there was ever a time for stress management, it's during a divorce! This can take many forms – yoga, meditation, deep breathing, mind/body coaching or seeing a mental health professional. Talk with your physician about what technique is best for you.

 

Stress management can also include keeping the divorce amicable. Every divorce situation is different and, if an amicable divorce is an option, I recommend it. Amicable divorces can be easier on your health and well-being, which is important for you and, if you have children, for them and their health as well.

 

Dr. Elizabeth Ricanati is the mother of three children and founding medical director of The Cleveland Clinic's LifeStyle 180 program.  She is a regular columnist for ShareWIK.com

 

More Dr. Elizabeth Ricanati articles, click here.

 

 ©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010

Oct 19
So, despite the slightly faltering start to my relationship with my future wife, I thought my marriage was going to last forever. After all, we were from similar backgrounds and we both viewed matrimony as a sacred institution that you did not enter into lightly, nor did you leave it without good reason.
 
In fact, for many years it seemed we were going to live out my vision of marriage and family life in much the way I had grown up to believe and expect, only it was happening in London. We lived pretty harmoniously, enjoyed doing things together, shared similar values and had a congenial circle of friends. We happily invested time and energy in our three children because their welfare was our primary concern. Overall the atmosphere in our home was convivial and relaxed.
 
This familial bliss continued for about 15 years before cracks began to appear. For numerous reasons my relationship with my wife gradually deteriorated until we reached a stage where we were hardly touching each other and resentments began to build up. It was a dark period for me generally.
 
My solution to my mid-life crisis was to seek therapy for myself. By contrast, my wife's response to our predicament was to get into bed with a work colleague. When I found out, about two months later, it hit me like a thunderbolt. I felt like I had been slit down my middle with a knife; opened like a tin can. The pain just seared through me. What I felt was an agonizing mix of betrayal, abandonment, hopelessness and impotence. It was as if my world had collapsed.

My life partner, my wife of nearly 20 years, mother of my three children was saying, "It's over. You are not good enough. I want a new man." In the early stages I was completely swamped by a sense of my own inadequacy, as a man, and as a husband. Later these feeling turned into anger and rage.
 
Fortunately I had already started therapy. It did not take long for the therapist to point out the connection between what I was feeling then, aged 46, and what I had experienced but didn't allow myself to feel at the age of ten, when my mother died - abandonment. My wife's betrayal had opened up an old wound, touching a very deep vein in my makeup.
 
Betrayal in the form of adultery is always painful. In my case, its exceptional power lay in the fact that it reawakened my deepest emotions: my wife was rejecting me in much the same way I felt my mother had "rejected" me by dying. In effect the situation that resulted was similar, only now it touched the core of my being.
 
My therapy helped me enormously to deal with what I was experiencing. Firstly, to cope with the crisis and, secondly, to begin to understand the dynamic I had established in relation to my mother. It also helped me go through the mourning I had not gone through at the time of my mother's death, playing the tough boy instead. For the next five years I was in weekly therapy, at first in a one-to-one format and then as part of a group.
 
Over time I came to realize that what initially felt like a double blow – my wife's betrayal coupled with my memory of my mother's abandonment – eventually became a transformative experience for me. The insight I gained into my emotional patterns allowed me to turn the saga into an opportunity. Somehow I managed to lay most of my demons to rest and virtually begin life afresh. I emerged a new man, in charge of my own life, able to be my own good father and mother, and lover if necessary. I got the whiff of freedom in my nostrils and became aware of myself as a sexually attractive man. Inadvertently, my breakup launched me into my present, and best, phase of my life.
 
Leo Averbach was born and raised in South Africa, lived on a kibbutz in Israel for 5 years before moving to London.  He was married for 24 years, fathered 3 children and then divorced.  After he remarried, he returned to Israel and now lives in Jerusalem Hills, where he writes and runs a pottery studio.  A few years ago, he decided to resurrect the journal chronicling the breakup of his marriage and recovery that became the basis for his book "Break Up: Enduring Divorce."  

For more information about Leo, visit his website: http://BreakupTheBook.com

©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC


Oct 24

Nearly two years after I began post-divorce dating, I understood this new world well enough to realize just how clueless I was. Right out of the box the first man I met turned out to be married. Another man had posted an online photo that was so outdated when I went to meet him for our date – looking for a tall, slim man with curly brown hair and a nice smile – I literally didn’t recognize the half-centurion who called out my name. Gone was the slim and the hair, and his smile was obscured by the smoke curling out from his cigarette. I even met a man who nearly knocked over our cocktails with his laptop to impress me with dozens of photos of women he had dated previously.  (I actually was pretty impressed.)

After so many false starts, I learned to be more discerning. I could spot a “player” within three lines of an IM; I could mark a stalker after the first post-date text; I even learned the red flags of an already-committed man. But I was still completely unprepared when, several months into my first real relationship as a divorcee, it looked as if I might actually have sex again before I died. It had been years since I had been naked in front of anything but my bathroom mirror, and I was terrified. Worse, I had no single girlfriends to consult. But I did have my friend Graham – young, single, part-time therapist/full-time stylist to some of the hippest women in the suburbs (no, that is not an oxymoron).  He told me about a party one of his clients was having – all single women.  He said I should go to learn more about dating. To get some answers and maybe take a few pictures. He made it clear that Girls Gone Wild was PG compared with this group.

Even now, it’s hard for me to believe I had the courage to go. I must have walked up to the door of the party’s mini-mansion half a dozen times and back down to my car, overcome with uncertainty and nausea. Finally, the door opened and the party’s hostess, Pamelia, smiled at me and said, “Are you ever going to come?” and I remember thinking, this is going to be a night of double entendres.

Giving me a warm hug, Pamelia said, “You must be Ginger, Graham’s friend.  Come on in, we’ve been waiting for you.”

I followed her through an obscenely large foyer and down the marble steps to the “party room,” where the festivities had obviously started some time ago, based on the noise level and half-empty bottles. True to Graham’s word there were only women here, but they didn’t look anything like my neighborhood Garden Club. There were women with tattoos, thigh-high boots, biker gear, and pierced tongues. There were women in short skirts, lingerie, and one in a metallic bikini. And they were in the middle of playing a game where everyone had written down a question on a slip of paper and put it in a jar; whoever pulled out a question had to answer it. As I walked in, the women suspended their game mid-pull, and everyone came over to hug me and make sure I had at least one tequila shooter. They asked me to write down a question right then and there, just as a woman named Mollie announced she had a new piercing in a very private place. There was a group “ooooooh” as Mollie stepped out of her jeans to show us what looked like the most painful thing I could ever imagine (and I had natural childbirth). I tried not to wince.

That’s when someone grabbed my question out of my hand. It said, “What is the current style of bikini waxing?”

I have never seen so many pants go down at once in my whole life, and I used to potty-train preschoolers. Every girl there wanted to show me the very latest in trendy trimming. Note to self: This is not your mother’s bikini wax.

First up, Ellie insisted that bare is beautiful. She was nearly finished with 30 laser treatments to achieve this level of nothingness.

“Does it hurt?” I asked, definitely wincing.

“Like a mother#$%^r,” she said proudly.

Lucinda agreed with bare-is-best, but she preferred waxing. Several other girls declared that a “landing strip” was today’s look. Of course, they had to explain to me that a landing strip is when you remove all of your pubic hair except for a narrow strip in the very center. Oh, and nobody at the party said pubic hair, okay? And I can tell you that no one had the natural look that every Playboy centerfold from the 1950s to the 1980s sported; that’s what I get for divorcing at the turn of the century.

As bizarre as this girl-party was, it was great to have so much new knowledge. Who else could I have asked about trimming and tweezing and Trojans? Now, I thought, if I ever do get naked again, at least I won’t look like a born-again virgin.

Ginger Emas is a freelance business writer, the mother of a 14-year-old son, and the author of the hilarious and helpful book, “Back On Top: Fearless Dating After Divorce.” She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist, and has written for Skirt! magazine, More.com, Glamour.com, LovingYou.com and several other women-centric media.

 

For more Ginger Emas columns, click here 

 

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Dec 05

I live in a pretty incredible neighborhood. It’s not the houses, although they’re nice. It’s the families who live inside the houses … the ones that make this place feel like home.  

 

When I moved here nearly 20 years ago, I was a newlywed, just 11 months into a life-changing first year of marriage.  Of course, I was completely unaware of the transformation that would take place over the next decade. Back then I was just trying not to hyperventilate every time I realized that I now lived OTP (Outside the Perimeter, otherwise known by my in-town friends as “geographically undesirable”) in a brick house with a grassy backyard and four bedrooms that we hoped to fill with children.


[Cue Christmas music from It’s A Wonderful Life. After 15 seconds, scrape needle across record as audio foreshadowing.]


Well, things didn’t go exactly as we planned.  But when is it really ever “our” plan?


Years one through three were a blur of building a life together and hanging on desperately as time after time the foundation threatened to crumble. Instead of the traditional yearly anniversary milestones marked with paper, cotton and leather, ours were marked by heavy baggage, drug use (my ex) and crippling anxiety (me).


In between the valleys, however, we had amazing peaks. We were learning so much about life and love … dreams and reality … honesty and vulnerability, it was like going to grad school for relationships. Year four  was a period of sustenance that we thought we could sustain, and we decided to have a child. The first, we hoped, of many.


We had a slight blip in this plan, but as I said before, it wasn’t ever really our plan. Within the month, I was pregnant.  Within days, we already loved this child. That was an amazing thing: before we ever met him, we loved the little tiny organism growing inside my body.  It’s a feeling I am honored to have experienced.


Fast-forward nine months and our son was born. The year of my pregnancy was one of the calmest and healthiest in our marriage, for both of us. The next two years, not so much. But as any married couple who wants to raise children knows, after a couple of years, you begin to seriously plan for your second child.


There’s that word “plan” again.


Have you ever heard of “second child syndrome?” It is a term fertility doctors use to explain, when there is no explanation, why a couple cannot have a second child. There’s no physical or biological reason … but over the next year, trying organically and with the help of modern medicine, we could not conceive.


Oh, how I wanted that second child! Being the youngest of a family of four, I wanted my son to experience what the love of siblings.


But I fought against projecting these feelings onto my son – after all, he didn’t know what he didn’t know, right? He was experiencing a different kind of childhood, one in which he could not only mix the cake batter, but lick the spoon AND the bowl, without having to call dibs.


I was the one who had to get over it. I had to come to the realization that I would not have the family of four I always dreamed of.  After many long conversations with God (where He did most of the talking) I truly felt at peace when my husband and I decided to “stop trying.”  I marked this day on my calendar with a note: “After what the doctors have said, I feel so blessed to even have Jacob, kind of a miracle child. God knows so much more than I do, and I trust His vision.”


My husband and I briefly considered adoption. Many families in my warm neighborhood had adopted children from all over the world, and I admired and adored them. When my son was in kindergarten, he met the daughter of one such neighbor and asked me what “adopted” means.


“It’s when a child has one mommy and daddy who love her so much they want her to have the best life possible. And there’s another mommy and daddy out there who also love that child so much they adopt her to be in their family.”

My son’s reply was a barely audible, “cool.” Then he said, with hope apparent in every word, “Mom, am I adopted?”


He was visibly disappointed when I said no, and pointed out the dimple he shared with his dad; the freckles he shared with me.


Well into his adolescence now, I’m sure there are still times he wishes he was adopted and could claim no genetic connection to his parents!  And still, there are times when I wonder what kind of big brother he would have been … how it would have felt for him to have the adoration of a younger sibling… and for me to have another child to love, to guide, play Candyland with.


But that wasn’t in God’s plan.  And six years ago, when my son’s father and I divorced, I was overwhelmed once again with the certainty of my faith in His vision. For disrupting the life of one child was difficult enough -- managing our new family dynamics with just one child’s weekends and ballgames and school projects and holidays. Even though my ex and I began this next part of our journey as good friends and supportive co-parents, we both know in our hearts that if we had had more children, our path might never have taken this turn. And for our family, this path – divorce – was the healthiest thing that ever happened. 


We just didn’t plan it that way.


Ginger Emas is a freelance business writer, the mother of a 14-year-old son, and the author of the hilarious and helpful book, “Back On Top: Fearless Dating After Divorce.” She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist, and has written for Skirt! magazine, More.com, Glamour.com, LovingYou.com and several other women-centric media.

 

For more Ginger Emas columns, click here 

 

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Jan 02
Twas the night before Christmas, and I felt kinda blue-ish;
It was the first time I wished that I wasn’t so Jewish.
My boyfriend, a 7th Day Adventist he,
Was bouncing off walls filled with merry and glee.
 
He was wrapping up gifts and caroling carols,
Making hot cider and eggnog by the barrels.
“Could we have Christmas at your house?” last week he had asked;
“My mom called to say she’s not up to the task.”
 
“Of course,” I’d said sweetly, but inside I was balking.
All I know of Christmas would not fill a stocking.
Me with my latkes, menorahs, Oy Vey!
To me Christmas Eve’s just a late shopping day.
 
It’s okay, I thought, I’ve got one week to cram, 
 As Sean called from the kitchen, “We’ll just order a ham.” 
“I’m Kosher,” I cried, “You can’t serve pig here!” 
“It’s tofu,” he said, “they’re all vegans, my dear.”
 
Oh, yes, I’d forgotten what Adventists eat. 
So, an all-dairy Christmas, with mystery meat. 
He added, “No dreidel – that’s a gambling game. 
My whole family will die of original shame.”
 
“We’ll just keep it simple, straightforward, low-key, 
They won’t even notice there isn’t a tree.” 
“We’ll sit around talking, sharing Christmases past. 
We’ll sing, we’ll play cards – honey, you’ll have a blast.”
 
“What? No dancing? No drinking? No family feuds? 
What this party needs is a few boisterous Jews.” 
As if right on cue, there arose such a clatter, 
I set down the blintzes to see what was the matter.
 
Outside it was snowing, but sloshing right through 
Was my whole friggin’ family – surprise! The Jew Crew. 
My brother Avromi and his second ex-wife, 
Who can’t tell a clean story to save her own life. 
 
Behind her I saw Uncle Ben and Aunt Sable, 
Soon they’d be drinking us under the table.
There’s Moisha and Sasha and Bubby and Zada, 
All with their doggy bags to take some “fuh laytah.” 
 
My mom and my dad with a car full of toys -- 
I prayed that they wouldn’t call anyone “goys.”
 
My stomach was churning, Oh! What a disaster! 
Could Christmas Eve please just this once go by faster? 
Before I could faint, Sean’s own family arrived, 
Spiritual and sober -- I just prayed they’d survive.
 
My sister Shoshana slaps them all on the back, 
And tells them she’s no longer addicted to crack. 
My gay nephew Aaron hits on Sean’s younger brother; 
My father – who’s 80 – tries to French kiss Sean’s mother.
 
As Sean’s folks milled around I heard one of them say, 
“How the hell do they do this each year for eight days?” 
But Sean’s family’s not shaken, they’re still very formal. 
They gotta be thinking: This makes our family seem normal.
 
My boyfriend just hugs me and kisses my head. 
“See honey?” he says, “So far no one’s dead.” 
“We’re all here together, there was nothing to fear. 
“Hey, all!” he yells suddenly, “same place next year!”
 
You have to be kidding, my thoughts nearly burst, 
No Christmas here next year, I’ll kill myself first. 
But at the end of the night as the little ones yawn, 
And I take back my jewelry they’d stolen to pawn,
I have to admit my eyes feel a slight mist-ness, 
When my son cries, “I’m Jewish, but I’m glad you’re all Christmas!"

 

 

Ginger Emas is a freelance business writer, the mother of a 15-year-old son, and the author of the hilarious and helpful book, “Back On Top: Fearless Dating After Divorce.” She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist, and has written for Skirt! magazine, More.com, Glamour.com, LovingYou.com and several other women-centric media.

 

For more Ginger Emas columns, click here 

 

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Jan 02
Elizabeth Edwards was an inspiration to us all.  She was graceful while facing adversity and suffered in silence.  She endured the death of a child, cancer and the breakup of her marriage.  Each of these, by itself, is unbearable.  Together, they trump the worst of personal tragedies.


I am inspired by Elizabeth, not because she was stoic, but because she lived her values.  She was a mother, wife and political partner.  She was so much more than we know, but we know that we lost a beautiful woman who stood for the best she found in her life.  And that inspires me. 


I regard Elizabeth as a friend I never knew.


Some friends have said the private battle of Elizabeth Edwards have made them look inward to compare what she went through to the catastrophes in their own lives.  I can’t judge whose raw deal was worse or who’s in the most pain, but I have become more aware of the coping skills I use to face and navigate through the unbearable times in my own life: 

 

Go numb and wait for it to be over

·      Detach yourself from the issue at hand.  The goal here is to determine how long it will last and to just get through it.   Today will soon be over and, as Scarlett said, “Tomorrow is another day.” 

 

Give up and give in

·      Determine your course of action and put your best plan in place.  If you are in good and capable hands, then support your mutual success.  Sometimes it is the best course of action to stand back and do nothing. 

·       

Have a panic attack and be honest about it

·      It is normal to be scared and want to run from that feeling of fear.  Try instead to confront it and to share it with someone you trust.  Talk about the situation.

 

Let personal values guide future decisions and priorities

·      Determine your values and priorities and let them guide your course of action.  When your ship seems to be sinking, rescue what is dear to you.  The challenge is to take the best action at the time. 

 

I once found myself in, what I thought then, was an end of life situation.  My coping skills seemed to be irrelevant at the time.  I thought my life would end that night.   I saw the proverbial “life flashing before my eyes” and an epiphany…the awe of true peace and acceptance. 

 

Recent studies show that terminal patients will often choose quality of life rather than extend their life for more days that are less meaningful.  It is my hope that our dear Elizabeth chose her own path and felt a peaceful acceptance. 

 

Susanne Katz is the author of “A Woman’s Guide to Managing a Mid-Life Divorce,” the host of the radio program, “What Women Want Now” and a columnist for Atlanta Jewish News.  She is also a regular on ShareWIK.com

 

More Susanne Katz articles, click here.

 

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC. 

 

Jan 16

I don’t know much about this week’s ShareWIK topic, osteoporosis, other than it’s one of the many things I now lose sleep over now that I'm over 50. That’s assuming I actually fall sleep in between hot flashes and pre-menopausal insomnia. 


I also know I must eat right, stay active and see my physician for the seemingly endless series of tests that must be scheduled as a result of having lived five decades. As if receiving my invitation to join AARP exactly on my birthday was not reminder enough that I am officially entering my “senior” years, I am supposed to voluntarily sign up to be poked, prodded and pressed in places I don’t think were meant to be exposed to someone I’m not in a relationship with. And only some of these tests allow for the evasion of embarrassment with a sidecar of anesthesia.


But I will get tested yearly, dark spaces be damned! because my goal is to be a strong, healthy, flexible old lady. Oh, I’m sorry – my 15-year-old son has just corrected me: to continue to be a strong, healthy, flexible old lady. 


Nice, huh?


So while I don’t know much about bone disease (yet), I do know a bit about the unrelated but similarly-named affliction commonly referred to as “bad to the bone.”


You see, as a divorce blogger and author of the book, Back On Top, I have the opportunity to speak to other divorced men and women all the time -- in workshops, in online communities, through emails they write and interviews I conduct … even just standing in line at the grocery store or waiting to get my car serviced. Everyone wants to talk about love -- especially love gone wrong.


I am often amazed at the stories of hurt, revenge, disrespect and betrayal; stories about people who, at one time in their lives, loved each other enough to make promises of “death do us part;” who wanted to be together to make babies and plans for retirement, but who engaged in thoughtless, cruel and often outrageous activities.


But what I’m even more amazed about is human resiliency; the ability of scorned men and women to pick themselves up, move on and trust and love again.


For the people whose stories sound more like a Lifetime movie than real life, I don’t know how they get past the ghosts of relationships past; how they get over loving someone who turned out to be bad to the bone.


But they do.


There are the larger-than-life stories of husbands who had affairs with their wife’s best friend, their wife’s mother, and in one case, their wife’s sister-in-law. (Yes, that is confusing. But after you figure it out it may make you queasy.)


There are the spouses who led an entire second life – another family, another circle of friends, another house payment – in another state.


I know of one husband who found his wife in the arms of another man at the Caribbean resort he had taken her to for a romantic getaway.  Perhaps the husband had not made it clear to his now ex-wife that he expected the romance on this vacation to be between the two of them.


I know of dozens of less dramatic, but no less heartbreaking, stories. The woman whose husband came home one night after 25 years of marriage and told her "I just didn’t love you that way anymore.” The woman who left her husband and child with no explanation – not even a text message. The woman who, the day her husband was killed in a car accident, found a diary in his desk drawer, detailing his secret liaisons over the past several years.


These are heartbreaking stories, all right. But the people who tell them to me are proof that with the proper care, a positive attitude, and often professional therapy, a broken heart can mend and even become stronger.


It’s true that I typically talk to divorced men and women months or even years after the initial pain. They’ve had time to think, learn, grow … and forgive. Forgive their spouses, and most importantly, forgive themselves. For we often blame ourselves for not being smarter; for not seeing sooner; for not being everything our spouses desired.


I encourage forgiveness in my book, in my workshops, in my conversations at the grocery store and car dealership. I believe that carrying around anger, resentment and bitterness only hurts us more. I know that if we can’t let go, we can’t move on.


Of course, sometimes we still feel the pangs of our broken hearts. Sometimes the painful memories come rushing in, stinging our eyes and knocking the wind out of us … again. Sometimes thoughts of what might have been overpower the reality of what we are rebuilding.


But the people I know who have survived these “bad to the bone” stories are moving on. They laugh and date, make new friends and work new jobs, as if they didn’t live through their own personalTitanic. Sure, like me, they worry about financial stability, the effects of divorce on their children, who they will grow old with. But they refuse to let the hurt continue to hurt them. Instead, they use humor, faith and friendship to get them through the rough patches on their new roads.


I am grateful to be part of their lives, to learn and laugh right along with them.  Because from them I have learned “What I Know Now”: that the best medicine for surviving someone who is bad-to-the-bone is to live a happy, healthy life.


Ginger Emas is a freelance business writer, the mother of a 15-year-old son, and the author of the hilarious and helpful book, “Back On Top: Fearless Dating After Divorce.” She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist, Huffington Post divorce blogger, and has written for Skirt! magazine, More.com, Glamour.com, LovingYou.com and several other women-centric media. She has appeared on Good Day Atlanta, Great Day St. Louis, South Florida Today, and dozens of local and national radio shows, including as host of Book Talk with Ginger in Atlanta, Georgia.




For more Ginger Emas columns, click here 




©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

 


Jan 24

I have so much respect for Elizabeth Edwards – or at least the Elizabeth Edwards that I think I know from the media accounts.  She was smart, funny, dedicated to public service, a devoted mother who suffered the horrendous loss of a son and then faced her husband’s public infidelities with dignity, love and strength.

 

Part of what intrigues me about Elizabeth Edwards – and I’m sure many other women – is to wonder how we would have behaved if the whole world were to find out that our husbands had a long-time affair and illegitimate child.

 

Elizabeth handled the news with such dignity, such forgiveness, such poise.  So, I must admit I was a little taken back when I read that 61-year-old Elizabeth, who died on Dec. 7, 2010 after a long battle with cancer, left all of her assets to her three living children.  There is nothing unusual about that.  But she left nothing to her husband of 32 years.  Even though Elizabeth finally drew the line – said “enough” – and filed for divorce, it was not finalized.  According to reports, they had not gotten around to formalizing a division of their marital assets.

 

I can certainly understand Elizabeth, who famously bought Christmas gifts for her husband’s “love child,” would not want any of her assets to go to John’s mistress or anyone related to his clandestine second life. 

But what bothered me was how the media suggested that she cut him out of her will as a final act of revenge.  It implies she was not the saintly, forgiving person I had come to know and respect.  No, the media hinted about a darker Elizabeth.  This Elizabeth wanted to punish him or inflict harm for his actions.  This was a vindictive Elizabeth who wanted to publicly humiliate him the way he did her.  By leaving him nothing, did she feel she was getting her justice? Was this her final act of comeuppance to John?

 

I decided to look at it from a legal instead of an emotional view. The divorce process is a legal act where the marriage is terminated and the assets divided.  Emotionally, it can be heart wrenching, as it certainly was for Elizabeth. Handing out one’s physical properties, regardless of monetary worth, is a highly personal and emotional act as well.  Even after the loved one has died, the heirs – or those who thought they should have been heirs – fight over the will’s true meaning and interpretation.

 

When writing a will many still play out emotional hurts and slights they endured during their life and often punish people in death.  To me, that seems so childish, so revengeful, so hateful.  Elizabeth Edwards, who had maintained dignity, self-respect and forgiveness in life, certainly wouldn’t turn her back on those virtues in death, would she?

 

The media seems to think so.  I prefer to believe that after 32 years of marriage, Elizabeth Edwards had given all that she could to John Edwards and had nothing more to give him.

That is my Elizabeth Edwards.


Susanne Katz is the author of “A Woman’s Guide to Managing a Mid-Life Divorce,” the host of the radio program, “What Women Want Now” and a columnist for Atlanta Jewish News.  She is also a regular on ShareWIK.com

 

More Susanne Katz articles, click here.

 

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC. 

 

Jan 30

Last night I went to the movies with my boyfriend, wearing something I’ve never worn on a date.

My eyeglasses.

You may be thinking, “What’s the big deal?” Well, I am legally blind without corrective lenses. I’ve been wearing contacts since I was 10 years old, when my mom let me trade in my Coke-bottle glasses – the first of many mini-makeovers.

I have not voluntarily worn my glasses outside the house since 1970.

But last night, I did.

To be honest, I’m not even sure my boyfriend would have noticed if I hadn’t told him.  We’ve been dating for four years, and he’s one of those boyfriends who absolutely thinks his girlfriend is beautiful.

It’s me that makes me feel ugly.

And I’ve been doing it since I was seven years old, when I decided that since I wasn’t pretty, I better develop a good personality.

It’s one of the reasons I write and tell stories; in fact, when we left a party last week where I had been sharing what I call my “stupid Ginger stories” (click here to read one), my boyfriend hugged me and said, “You sure are funny.”

Without pause, I said, “That’s because I grew up ugly.

“From the time I was in first grade, I wore blue plastic cat-eye glasses with lenses so thick they could start a fire; I had a space between my teeth in which you could slide a nickel and a quarter, plus my teeth were gray from some combination of fever and antibiotics when I was little. And on top of all that, I was a skinny, freckled redhead.

“In fact,” I said, “I should have just started there: I was born a redhead with freckles.”

My boyfriend, who must be trying to block out the horrifying image of me as a carrot-topped, gap-toothed, undernourished child, says, “Well, you’re beautiful now.”

“Compared to then, maybe,” I say, though I would never use the term beautiful to describe myself. “But don’t go all magnanimous on me,” I add jokingly, “just because it’s not that hard to date me now.”

And while I am mostly kidding, there is absolute truth in what I’m saying.

Little girls know which other little girls are the pretty ones. They are the ones who receive Valentines and Secret Santa’s. They have boyfriends when they are five years old. They get kisses on the playground.

Suffice it to say, with my cat-eye glasses and curly red hair, I was not getting a bunch of love notes.

But if someone needed help with homework or a friend to lift their spirits, they sat with me at lunch. They hung out by my locker. They came over after school where we stole Hydrox cookies and made up stories and laughed until our stomachs hurt.

And then, at some point – much earlier than I knew at the time – a butterfly started to emerge. I got contact lenses. My teeth grew together and my mother showed me how to use peroxide to make them brighter. There were products to tame my mass of red curls. And freckles didn’t look so bad above a perky 34C.

I did not see the metamorphosis right away; I spent the next 15 years thinking I was still an ugly duckling – not thin enough, not pretty enough, not graceful enough, not worthy enough -- not, well, blonde enough;  never really seeing the girl in the mirror.

When I turned 40, my friend Betty showed me a picture of my 19-year-old self. I simply could not believe it. In the picture I still have red curly hair and freckles. But I am wearing a coral bikini and walking out of the ocean and I am, in a word, hot. I look at this picture in disbelief. I cannot believe my thighs are that thin, my stomach is that flat, my breasts are that … perfect. I cannot believe that mischievous smile is so bright, the teeth so even, the eyes so sparkly. I never, ever, ever felt as adorable as this picture shows that I was – not some Barbie-doll definition, but beautiful as in healthy, happy, alluring. Betty told me to remember this moment, because when I turn 60, she said I’ll look at a picture of myself on this day – at age 40 -- and be just as amazed … and wonder why I wasted so many years believing I never looked good enough.

It hurts me to think of that little girl that was me… how blind she was to her own beauty and how hard she tried to please people to make up for it. And yet, would I be the person I am today if I hadn’t sized myself up and found myself lacking?  Would I have lived the life I have -- using my brain and following my dreams and choosing kindness and love over cynicism and exclusion?

A few years ago, I got my hair straightened. It was the first time I could put my hair in a ponytail. It was the first time I could flip my hair with a flirty toss of my head. It was the first time I didn’t wake up in the morning looking like a cross between Ronald McDonald and that comedian, Carrot Top. I felt prettier than I had in my whole life. 

I smiled at myself in the mirror; I looked good, I felt good, I am, blessedly, good. I started to walk away, then turned back to the mirror and said, "Girl, you may have straight hair, but inside you are still that gap-toothed, frizzy-haired, freckled little goofy girl.

"And don’t you ever forget it."  




Ginger Emas is a freelance business writer, the mother of a 15-year-old son, and the author of the hilarious and helpful book, “Back On Top: Fearless Dating After Divorce.” She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist, Huffington Post divorce blogger, and has written for Skirt! magazine, More.com, Glamour.com, LovingYou.com and several other women-centric media. She has appeared on Good Day Atlanta, Great Day St. Louis, South Florida Today, and dozens of local and national radio shows, including as host of Book Talk with Ginger in Atlanta, Georgia.


For more Ginger Emas columns, click here 


©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Jan 30

Often an affair or dishonest handling of family finances is credited with throwing a couple into the divorce courts.  While society is more aware of the devastation caused by bullying in schools and business, I believe we do not have a true awareness of the devastation that bullying causes in a divorce.


The legal process of divorce involves the termination of a marriage and the equitable division of assets.  Sounds like a sensible process…unless one of the partners is a bully.  The divorce then becomes an arena for the bully to intentionally inflict discomfort and control the balance of (or imbalance of) power.  While a reasonable person may choose amicable negotiations, a bully is determined to win.  Sometimes the bullying is blatant.  Other times it is a subtle but manipulative way to instill fear. 


A victim of bullying in a marriage is likely to be a victim of bullying in the divorce.  The bully may deny any wrong doing while attacking their spouse and then professing to be the true victim after all.  The practiced liar is convincingly sweet on the outside while endlessly vindictive on the inside.  Many spouses have kept silent because they believed that no one would have believed them.


These are some things bullies do during a divorce:

Lie under oath or claim to just not remember key facts and dates or motives

Hide or disguise assets in an effort to prevent an equitable division of property

Threaten the spouse to instill distrust for their team of professionals


Things bullies don’t do:

Apologize with sincerity

Accept responsibility for inflicting harm

Give back or compensate their spouse

Feel remorse


Things you can do when divorcing a bully:

Report bullying to your professionals.

Maintain your own personal space and remove yourself from contact with the      bully.

Determine your best outcome…plan your work and work your plan.


The important question isn’t what happened to destroy the marriage.  Only you will know what happened during the divorce.  And there is no justice for all.  There is only a life ahead where you are in control of your own future. 


So, ask yourself each day…how am I now?


Susanne Katz is the author of “A Woman’s Guide to Managing a Mid-Life Divorce,” the host of the radio program, “What Women Want Now” and a columnist for Atlanta Jewish News.  She is also a regular on ShareWIK.com

 

More Susanne Katz articles, click here.

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC. 

"God hates divorce." This Scripture, taken from the book of Malachi, is commonly used by friends, family, and pastoral counselors. I struggled for years with this decree, as I know others have in situations similar to my own. Although I was an abuse victim, my love for the Lord and my desire to please Him fueled my unrealistic belief that, between my faith and the Lord's intervention, my abuser would change. In truth, my former husband did not want to change, and my desire to keep my marriage whole - at the expense of our family - was both foolish and destructive.


In truth, God hates divorce, not because it occurs, but because it is necessary. And Jesus made that clear when the Pharisees tried to corner Him on the issue (Matthew 19). Jesus emphatically asserted that God despises men's practice of "putting away" their wives, abandoning them emotionally, and putting them in limbo rather than providing them with a written divorce as commanded in Deuteronomy. The Pharisees again asked why God then allowed divorce, and Jesus pointed the finger back at them: "Because of the hardness of your hearts." Yes, God hates divorce - it should be unnecessary to protect some because of the hardened hearts of others. What He would certainly prefer is the fulfillment of the biblical model of Christ and His love for His bride, the church.


By extension, God does not hate divorced people. For those of us who have been compelled - even by the Holy Spirit - to pursue divorce, our inclination is to question whether, in seeking or accepting divorce, we therefore risk forfeiting the blessing and protection of God.

This dreadful, lesser-of-two-evils scenario makes us feel trapped. We feel we must choose whether to be abandoned emotionally or be abandoned spiritually! Thankfully, that is not God's intent. This terrible assumption is diametrically opposed to the nature and character of our loving, protective Father-God. Believing women who contact me consistently express these same fears.


In spite of the judgments of the church, I have held to what I know about God's priorities based upon my encounters with Him and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Yet, I have struggled to fully understand how I might account for such grace in my own life, recognizing that the Lord certainly did not merely make an exception for me. Either I was in denial, or God's grace and affirmation was similarly extended to others in like circumstances. I just couldn't pin down how or why the church and well-meaning believers have been misguided in issues affecting divorce.

With this in mind, I am so pleased to have found a book that biblically confirms what I have known in my spirit to be true.


Pastor Walter Callison has written a book called, "Divorce: A Gift of God's Love," that carefully and biblically articulates God's consistent view of marriage and divorce.

His thorough analysis of the original meaning of the word sometimes interpreted "divorce," both in Malachi and Matthew sheds much-needed light on the intent and the heart of God. There is much truth that emanates from his worthy analysis, and I am confident that Pastor Callison's work will bring the light of truth and peace to many God-fearing believers who, in addition to the stress of a volatile or ungodly relationship, are saddled with a misplaced burden of guilt and fear.


Certainly, divorce is not to be taken lightly. Each of us must be wise to pray and respond according to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. In doing so, we will bring honor to God and enjoy His blessing on our lives.


It is my pleasure to encourage others in like circumstances to consider Pastor Callison's book, "Divorce: A Gift of God's Love."

Cindy Burrell, a writer, wife, mother and a survivor of emotional abuse is here to tell you that there is hope...


After twenty years in an abusive relationship Cindy was left feeling lost, lonely and exhausted. She had learned to compromise her happiness in an unsuccessful attempt to stave off the onslaught of abuse. Her story is one of neglect, fear, lies, and addictions. Finally forced to leave their home with her four children, they escaped the emotional prison in which they had all lived. Although scars remain, Cindy and her children have found healing and restoration.


Currently, Cindy works as a professional writer/researcher for a California State Senator. She has served in similar capacities in the Legislature for many years while doing her own writing on the side. "I am an emotional/verbal abuse survivor, and I am - at long last - no longer afraid to share what the Lord has done for me."

See her web site at http://www.hurtbylove.com

Feb 09

Every woman needs to see the new Justin Bieber movie, Never Say Never.

 

Why?

 

In the words of two young Bieberettes who momentarily pause in their Bieber-shrieking to talk to the cameras during the movie's opening, “He’s such an inspiration … he gives us hope.”

 

And perhaps no one needs the Bieber-brand of hope more than the single woman on the weekend of Valentine's Day. That’s because Justin Bieber reminds us what it’s like to love, be loved and feel love. And from the moment he appears onscreen until the moment he fades from the 3D spotlight, you’re feeling it.

 

Now, before the Atlanta screening of Never Say Never, I wouldn’t have recognized a Justin Bieber song if it kissed me on the lips. No, not even Baby.

 

Today I can’t get those addictive beats out of my head.  I’m tapping along singing “U smile, I smile” while I’m making dinner, folding laundry and driving around with my 15-year-old son, much to his embarrassment.

 

 I don’t care. Like those BFFs in the movie, I got a shot of hope.

 

You say you didn’t realize Justin Bieber is all about love? Heck, even the bling on his iconic hoodie is a sparkling heart. And he wears it on his sleeve, ladies. Seriously, Justin Bieber and his fans even have their own sign-language -- it's their version of the knuckle-bump: form the letter “C” with your right hand. Now form the letter “C” with your left hand. Put your fingertips together and drop your thumbs slightly… it makes a heart, right? Now imagine that heart as a massive, crystal-covered metal chair -- the size of a small batting cage – flying over an audience at Madison Square Garden, filmed in 3D, girls screaming at the singing sensation who is sitting inside. That’s how Justin Bieber kicks off his Never Say Never concert: singing about love from the hugest heart you’ve ever seen.

 

And when he yells to the crowd, “There are always going to be people who say it will never happen … but don’t stop believing!” you think he’s talking directly to you, telling you to keep believing in yourself… keep believing in love.

 

The Justin Bieber movie understands the way love makes us feel. Take the moment Justin picks a young, hysterical girl from the audience to be “the one.” He pulls her up on stage and sits her down in a high-top stool so he can sing to her, One Less Lonely Girl, and the girl is shakin’ in her flip-flops. She is absolutely FREAKING OUT and I am crying and laughing and hyperventilating right along with her. I feel my heartbeat hammering, and then he shoots her a smile that will make you remember the first time your first crush smiled at you…

 

And suddenly I have become the oldest Bieberette in the world.

 

You may wonder why I, who was previously immune to Bieber Fever, was at the movie screening in the first place. My friend, Jan Smith, invited me. You may have heard of Jan – she’s the acclaimed national vocal coach who works with hundreds of recording artists such as Usher, Rob Thomas, India.Arie, and Justin Bieber. They call her Mama J and for good reason. Jan's the movie’s voice of reason, protecting Justin's voice and displaying a tough-love that you’d want your child to have on the road if your child was the biggest teen sensation since Michael fronted the Jackson 5. (In an ironic side note, Jan introduced me to my ex-husband 20 years ago, and that relationship and its dissolution taught me more about love than I’d ever known.)

 

So there I am, my heart coming alive in a theater seat amidst the fervor of Bieber Fever. I know it sounds crazy and corny, but that’s when it hit me: Never Say Never can help us reach for our own dreams, if we’re just willing to believe. Because stripped down to its essentials -- without the music and dance moves and lights and costumes -- this is a story that reminds you to never give up on yourself. Never give up on hope. And never give up on love.

 

This could be your life, set to a killer hip-pop soundtrack.

 

And for all of us parents raising children in this age of you-can-be-a-reality-TV-star-even-if-you-have-no-talent, this is a movie about a rising star’s unbelievably hard work, long hours and determination, blended with optimism, support and faith.  Kind of like life itself.   My son left the theater pumped, ready to take on his dreams, and more importantly, believing that he could. And trust me, if you know my son, you know he is not the type to buy the hype. What other movie could touch both a 50-year-old divorced woman and her MTV-loving teenage son? Give those producers a Swarovski-studded star.  And speaking of divorced women, this is the perfect Heart Day Girls Night Out, because the Bieber movie reminds us that, post-divorce, we are learning to hope again; to define the life we want and shed the people and the thinking that would hold us back. Like Justin's amazing round-up of roadie-family, we, too, are beginning to trust others and respect ourselves. If you don't leave feeling pumped, you really should get your pulse checked.

 

So no matter who you are, or where you are in your own journey, as you watch the Bieber movie, let yourself feel that unrestrained, youthful exuberance … the feeling of loving love and believing that yes, it could happen to you.

 

Never Say Never.



Ginger Emas is a freelance business writer, the mother of a 15-year-old son, and the author of the hilarious and helpful book, “Back On Top: Fearless Dating After Divorce.” She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist, Huffington Post divorce blogger, and has written for Skirt! magazine, More.com, Glamour.com, LovingYou.com and several other women-centric media. She has appeared on Good Day Atlanta, Great Day St. Louis, South Florida Today, and dozens of local and national radio shows, including as host of Book Talk with Ginger in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

For more Ginger Emas columns, click here 

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Can the abuser change? The short answer: Yes.

Anyone can change. It's a matter of desire, will and motive. Healthy people are generally desirous of change when they genuinely care about how their actions affect others and will accept an opportunity to contribute to their relationships in a meaningful way.

Does the abuser really want to change? The short answer: No.

Abusers don't care if you're happy; they care if they're happy. Their control is far more important than your happiness. Therefore, on the occasion where his enabler-victim identifies an area of dissatisfaction or conflict in the relationship, the abuser will quickly attempt to squelch any discontent through verbal jeopardizing, diminishment or yelling.

However, there are times when a victim is committed to requiring that the abuser face and address an issue. It may reflect a legitimate need for additional help around the house, an increased measure of financial responsibility, or more freedom for a family member to pursue a favorite hobby, pastime or academic objective. When the abuser feels truly cornered, he may agree to accommodate his enabler's request.

But, is he committed to change? Or is what he offers merely compliance? There is a cavernous difference between them. As enablers, we are often quick to accept the abuser's smallest measure of movement toward meeting our needs as evidence of sincere change. But, what is he offering: compliance or change?

Remember, an abuser doesn't want what is best for the relationship; he wants what is best for him. With this in mind, when you confront him, often he will initially deny there is any problem at all. The problem is yours. You are wrong.

Then, he may become resentful that you are asking him to alter his behavior at all or contribute to a greater degree to the relationship. You are being selfish.

Under pressure, he may concede. You are willing to accept this concession as a sign of his deep-down love for you. You tell him how much you appreciate his willingness to help. You think he will see that such a small gesture makes you happy - and that will make him happy. In truth, he believes that you are demanding. You are asking something of him that he does not want to give. He simply wants to get you off his back.

What happens over time will begin to tell the story. Here are some clues to tell you if he is intent on changing or if he is merely complying.

  • Real Change is Voluntary; Compliance is Obligatory
  • Real Change is Sincere; Compliance is Half-Hearted
  • Real Change is Lasting; Compliance is Temporary

These stark differences reflect attitude, motive and commitment.

Attitude In a healthy relationship, a mature and genuinely caring husband wants his wife to feel supported, fulfilled and encouraged. He wants her to know she is appreciated at home, and he is willing to help her (as she is similarly willing to help him) with the management of the household, children, finances, and the balanced fulfillment of her life's goals.

When it is understood that there is an imbalance, he will willingly commit to additional responsibility, even acknowledging some inconvenience and flexibility as he adapts to change. If the change is genuine, you will see a positive attitude. If it is merely compliance, his attitude will be one of benign or perhaps even resentful accommodation.

Motive

In the days that come, you may see a little extra effort. You embrace it with gratitude and believe that he will see that his contribution makes a positive difference that benefits the household. You are almost gleeful that he is willing to contribute to the relationship in a more meaningful way. Don't get too excited yet.

An abuser often rejects boundaries or limitations on his life, and views them as unacceptably confining or rigid. Although he may initially conform, his tendency will be to sabotage the change using any number of subtle or not-so-subtle strategies.

He will forget.

He will perform his duties poorly.

He will become frustrated.

He will make excuses.

He will complain.

He will make himself unavailable.

He will fall ill.

He will claim he is too tired.

He will claim he is incapable.

He will decide the duty is "not for him."

The abuser is determined to find a way to get you to let him off the hook, or conjure up evidence that you're nit-picky or demanding. This is not change.

Commitment Sometimes the signs of compliance may not be so overt. The abuser may initially accommodate your request. It may just be that the "change" is temporary, fading into nothingness over time. You feel obligated to pick up the slack as a means of trying to show that you can be flexible and to set an example of the give and take that is evident in a healthy relationship. You once again assume his share of responsibility, and he readily absolves himself and allows you to carry on. In fact, he seems so much happier when you relieve him of his obligation that you feel guilty asking him to share the burden when other needs surface. The gradual fading away of your original understanding could give way to frustration and anger, yet should you confront him, he will likely assert that:

You're impossible to please.

You need to accept him as he is.

He did what you asked.

It's your job, anyway.

You're a nag.

You have learned that it is simply easier to do things yourself to shield yourself from the anxiety and disappointment, even while recognizing that the imbalance remains. Best of all (for him), the abuser got what he wanted, which is not to have to do what he doesn't want to do.

My former husband was habitually late to virtually every commitment and appointment. I once asked him why he never made an effort to arrive on time, and he responded quite matter-of-factly, "Because no one is ever going to tell me when I have to be anywhere." From what I have been able to tell, that attitude is pretty indicative of an abuser's mindset. It makes no difference to him whether what he is being asked to do is helpful, cooperative, considerate, beneficial or necessary.

Unfortunately, the abuse victim may have difficulty grasping that the abuser doesn't want to contribute anything unless he is assured of a direct and immediate benefit as a result. Even though an abuse victim has witnessed - perhaps time and time again - the deterioration of what she had optimistically embraced as evidence of change, the abuser's initial effort is enough to keep her hopeful. True, the abuser didn't meet her expectations in this particular instance - or did so only temporarily. But, surely his fleeting consideration must be a sign that - somewhere deep down - he is genuinely receptive to her needs and desires, right? Or perhaps it is too much trouble to even beg for his attention. Instead, she may do her best to accommodate her abuser's every whim and live in his shadow, ever hopeful that one day he might want to change while history cautions that compliance may be all she ever gets.

Clearly, compliance and change are not synonymous. Do not confuse the two.

Copyright 2010 All Rights Reserved

Mar 13

She planned a visit to a marriage counselor.  When they arrived, the therapist asked why the couple was there. 

“We are having marital problems,” she confessed.  “He would rather watch porn on the Internet than have sex with me.  He says he loves me and his interest in porn is normal.  I am feeling very unattractive and don’t know what to do about this.”

The therapist asked the husband about his private sexual activities.

“I do watch Internet porn, visit strip clubs and read girlie magazines.  I don’t see the problem,” he said.  “Men like to look at naked ladies.  And I look but don’t touch.”

When a couple stops having mutually satisfying sex, there can be many reasons, including health issues, hormone depletion, physical discomfort and stress.  It is wise to talk about these issues with a healthcare professional.  It is often the elephant in the room that stops a couple from facing their sexual problems and lack of communication in the marriage. 

When co-authoring the book A Women’s Guide to Managing a Mid-Life Divorce,  I interviewed many women about the breakup of their marriage.  Sexual problems and lack of intimacy were often discussed.  Many women reported that they had a sense that there were more than two people in the marriage.  Their husbands, they reported, were obsessed with sexualizing other people and situations, with visiting strip shows and x-rated book stores.

Often, the women reported, their husband denied that a problem existed and refused to admit the affect on the marriage.  Some women chose to leave the marriage when the husband refused to change his behavior.  Others were willing to accept their husband’s behavior and constantly worked to fix the relationship.  When that failed, wives often expressed feelings of anger and resentment.  They were then left with a dilemma; either give in to the situation or try to look the other way, hoping they did not have to witness their husbands participating in voyeuristic activities.

In some cases, as the marriage disintegrated, the husband participated in flirting and one night stands, in search of new thrills and ways of acting out.  The wives testified that they no longer trusted their husbands and lived with the knowledge that these behaviors could reoccur at any time.

I asked Atlanta therapist Susan Blank to give me some insight.  If she did not want to end the marriage, how could a woman live with this dilemma?  Here is her response:

Women need to weigh the pros and cons when they are deciding if they can live with conflict in their marriage.  The dilemma is choosing what to do when one or both partners refuse to change.  They can choose to live with a lower level of intimacy and accept less joy in the relationship.

There are no easy answers; some situations can be dealt with while others are deal-breakers.  The question you must ask yourself is “What can I tolerate and still remain emotionally healthy myself?”  Accept that you can’t change your spouse’s behavior; you can only change your own.  

Get to know yourself.  Identify your own needs, emotions, expectations, etc.  Ask yourself how long you can stay in the marriage if things don’t change.  Seek individual counseling to help you understand yourself better, clarify your needs and plan for your future…which may be with or without your spouse.

Sexual problems in a marriage, whether because of addiction, obsession, or personal choice, can cause enormous strain on the marriage and on the individuals.  Left unsolved, sexual issues can destroy it altogether. 

 Many spouses have asked themselves…should I stay or should I go?


SusanSusanne Katz is the author of “A Woman’s Guide to Managing a Mid-Life Divorce,” the host oof the radio program, “What Women Want Now” and a columnist for Atlanta JewisJewish News.  She is also a regular on ShareWIK.com

 

More Susanne Katz here

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

 

Jul 31

I ran into an old friend who was unhappy she couldn’t have a relationship with her former sister-in-law who was no longer included in family celebrations. 

  

“That’s not fair,” my friend said. “This woman was my sister-in-law for 20 years and now I am supposed to have nothing to do with her.  That’s hurtful.” 


This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this story.  Another friend related that she is very friendly with her former sister-in-law; closer to her than to her brother and her new sister-in-law.  “I am not going to kick my former sister-in-law out of my life,” she explained.  “Just because they are no longer married.”


When couples get divorced they often find themselves losing long-time relationships.  It reminds me of musical chairs.  When the music stops everyone has to find an available seat and the loser has to sit out.  When there is no seat for a former family member, they have to find a chair in another family or stand-alone.  It’s often tough to decide who does and who doesn’t belong. 


There can be more to this decision than meets the eye.  If you have planned table seating for a wedding, you have made decisions based on how many seats you have available, who wants to sit with whom, who doesn’t get along with whom, who needs special attention and who you have to leave off the list because there is no more room. 


In girl scouts we sang, “Make new friends and keep the old.  One is silver and the other is gold.”  Great.  Now who gets priority if the seating is limited?  Is a past relationship as important, or more important, than the present one? 


What if the guest list used to but no longer includes me?  Then where do I belong?  Who do I want to be with and who wants to be with me?  Those are questions I asked myself during and after my divorce.  For some of us, we thought we would have our name on a seat forever.  It was like going to synagogue or church and finding our name on the pew.  It was like going to a concert series and always sitting in row 112, seat 14.  But when the music stops, in the divorce game of musical chairs, someone is always left without a seat. 


Years later, I am grateful for family and friends of my ex who still talk to me and include me in family functions. 


Along the way, I have won and lost the game of musical chairs many times and still find myself sitting down with pride whenever I see a chair with my name on it.


Susanne Katz is the author of “A Woman’s Guide to Managing a Mid-Life Divorce,” the host of the radio program, “What Women Want Now” and a columnist for Atlanta Jewish News.  She is also a regular on ShareWIK.com

 

More Susanne Katz articles, click here


©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC.

Jul 31

Any of you who have teenaged sons or daughters at home must know what it's like to feel as if you are in your own reality TV show that's a cross between Malcolm in the Middle (remember the voice-raising, hair-pulling, certifiable Mom?) and That 70s Show (where the self-absorbed kids are hilarious and awful at the same time.) 


Seriously, if I had a dollar for every time my son's sarcasm nearly punctured my heart I would be so wealthy that I'd gather up all of you -- my sister-moms -- for a week-long vacay at some tropical island where the pool boys and bartenders all have to be over 25 and sweet – without a single surly bone in their bodies.


Now, if YOU met my son you’d say I was crazy. You’d tell me he’s polite, thoughtful, adorable and mature beyond his years. You might have even glimpsed the rare appearance of his dimple. And I know you would be right.   He is a good kid and has some amazing qualities, it’s just that I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like. He’s too busy mulling over the fact that I’ve ruined his life by making him do all sorts of horrible things, like go to school (yes, every day) and call his grandparents and show up for swim team practice (a team he chose to be on BTW; listen, the practices are at 5 a.m. – you know I did not choose this sport.).


It just would be nice if I could play the part of one of his friend’s moms, just for a day. Or his band teacher … or even his dad … none of whom seems to receive my son’s mood-swinging, eye-rolling, one-word grunts on a daily basis. It would do my soul good if I could more often see the sweet and kind person that lived inside this man-boy for the first 12 years of his life. Okay, 10. 

 

But the appearance of that joyfulness is starting to make a comeback, along with the amazing fact that my son wants to talk again. To me, I mean. He’s asking questions. He wants me to listen. And he’s incredibly open – he’d rather know stuff than be embarrassed. Of course, I’m not getting carried away – it’s still a once-in-awhile occurrence, but I’m blown away by what’s going on in my teenaged son’s mind every time we communicate. Recently, after we’d stopped to get some Starbucks frozen drinks on our way home, my son walked into the house and said, “Hey, Mom, come sit on the couch with me and hang out.”


I wanted to run a comb through my hair and put some gloss on my lips, certain I was on some form of Moms Get Punk’d. But when I walked into our family room, my son was nearly bouncing up and down, sitting cross-legged on the couch. He patted it for me to sit down. Yes, next to him. As the mother of a 14-year-old, 5-foot-10, 130-pound wrestler-wannabe, I was naturally wary. But I sat.


And I didn’t move for nearly 25 minutes.


My son became animated as he talked about the things that fill his heart and his thoughts; how he sees himself in the world; what he believes about things like reality, faith, dating, pressure, friendships. He spoke in full sentences. He had a good grasp on three-syllable words. He was open, honest, excited to share.


I know I had a silly grin on my face the whole time I watched him, listened to him, and most of all, enjoyed him.


And I think he basked in my silent acceptance; in my nods and smiles that told him I respected his views, I was proud (and maybe a little surprised) that he had spent so much time thinking about things; that I was not in any way judging him.  


I didn’t ask too many questions, didn’t venture too many opinions, didn’t stop to tell him his drink was melting all over the coffee table. I basically wrapped myself in this communicative connection. When was the last time we talked like this? At his invitation? It was enough to make me stop dead in my snarky tracks, for how I do go on about the walk-through-fire that is raising a teenager. 


Maybe it was just the Starbucks Java Chip Frappacino talkin’, but whatever it was, I’m grateful that it showed up in our world last week.


And it was so nice to see the rare appearance of that dimple.


Ginger Emas is the mother of a 14-year-old son and the author of “Back On Top: Fearless Dating After Divorce.” She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.

More articles by Ginger Emas, click here.

©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2011

Aug 14

After a divorce, when we finally decide to step back out into the dating world, we often don't feel pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough ... it's a shame that we are so hard on ourselves, because I interviewed more than 50 single men - all ages, incomes, sizes, backgrounds -- and they told me they are not nearly as critical of us as we are of ourselves! Most of the time, they are just glad we showed up for the date! And what got the number-one vote for sexiest quality? Confidence. Number two? A killer smile. Number three: Kindness. Okay, with a hefty dose of "nice breasts" thrown in from just about everybody. But hey, a good bra takes care of that, and I've researched it for you. Email me, I'll tell you my best bets for best breasts. :) 

Many women don't take time for themselves after a divorce, and it can be a crazy schedule. Kids, job, housework, homework -- who has time to shop, much less date? But date you will, trust me, and I am a big believer in having one fantastic "first date outfit" that you feel great in, so you can exude that confidence right at "hello."  That's why I hosted a Makeover Event, with proceeds going to Atlanta Women's Foundation to support women and teen girls. And the tally is in: we raised nearly $800 in less than two hours! See the "big reveal" of our deserving post-divorced dating woman at http://www.sharewik.com/videos/837631. Thanks to everyone who made this event such a success!

When I say I am rooting for you, I mean it from my heart. The grace with which so many women face the challenges of divorce is inspiring to me, and if I can give my time and help in any way, I'm here. Because, after all, I believe we are all in this together. We've all been in and out of love and relationships; we've all be scared and lonely or giddy and excited -- sometimes all at the same time.

I hope to see you out there. Say hi, I’ll wingman you to the cute guy at the bar!

Love,

Ginger


Ginger Emas is the mother of a 14-year-old son and the author of “Back On Top: Fearless Dating After Divorce.”  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.


More Ginger Emas articles, click here.


©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Oct 16

It was 7:30 in the morning and the house was silent.  It was as if someone had turned off the noise in my head.  The kids had moved away; the dog had died.  I had requested that my ex move all his possessions out of the house in 24 hours.  That was yesterday.


I went to bed exhausted and woke up to face my new reality.  I had no schedule, no plan and no expectations.  One of the closets in the master bedroom was now totally empty.  The cabinets and the sink top on one side of the bathroom were totally bare.  One side of the garage was empty.  There was no one to talk to; nothing to say.


When your world goes silent, because of a death or a divorce, it seems as if your life is over.  The loss of who you are in the relationship and the loss of a daily schedule can be devastating.  And while you are getting through this valley, you are hit with the daunting task of making sense of the legal and financial issues that are very much alive and require your attention. 


The load seems unbearable.  There is too much to do and the clock is running.  The best path, on some days, is just to go back to bed and keep your head under the covers.  But each day brings new dilemmas and new decisions to be made.  How, you wonder, can you make these decisions now that will determine your future, when you don’t have the faintest idea how that future will look?


I was not prone previously to depression, but I was suddenly experiencing new emotions.  I was crying every day.  I was sad and frightened.  I had no appetite and began to lose weight.  I couldn’t sleep and drank a glass of wine each night before bed.  Short-term, I found it difficult to cope with and adjust to this major life change.  This is when many people benefit from talking with a mental health professional.


It took almost two years, but I was determined to find new coping skills to help me adapt to this new situation.  Since my life had changed, I would need to change my lifestyle accordingly.  I woke up early in the morning and ran to the gym to avoid facing myself in those early hours.  I joined some friends on a group trip to escape my daily life.  I said yes to any and all social engagements, appreciating anyone who wanted my company.  I didn’t want my company.


When facing situational depression, it is often too difficult to get your arms around all that you are facing.  Here is how I took my life back:


I bought a calendar.  When there is no schedule and no plan, there is no forward movement.  I made myself fill each day with activities that would include social events, exercise and the business of divorce.  I planned my days and stuck to my plans. 


I wrote in a journal each day.  With my life in turmoil, I was experiencing emotional highs and lows while forgetting facts and figures.  Too much was happening at once.  I needed to write down thoughts and notes to myself.


I took some time to reflect and to think about what was happening to me.  Every morning I would revisit the day before while I planned the day ahead.  It was my time to think about the advice and feedback I was receiving and decide which of that was healthy and helpful.


I made the decision to be open to new opportunities and directions in my life.  The hard part was to make the decision.  The easy part was enjoying the new experiences.  If I was to build a new life, under my control, I first needed to accept that my life was presently out of control.


I said thank you a lot.  It is as if a piece of my heart started to beat only because of the kindness of others.  Their thoughtfulness touched me and awakened a new appreciation for those who cared about me.  I am now more aware of the people around me and I want to keep them by my side.


I can still remember feeling sad and scared.  I sometimes wonder if I have fully recovered.  I learned that progress comes one step at a time.  If you ask me how I am today, I am likely to respond that I am better this minute just because you asked how I am.  


Thank you for asking.


Susanne Katz is a divorce coach with Mt Vernon Counseling, coauthor of A Woman's Guide to Managing a Mid-Life Divorce, an arts and living columnist for Atlanta Jewish News.com.  She is also a regular on ShareWIK.com.

More Susanne Katz here

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

 

 

 

 

 

Nov 19

“Can two walk together, unless they have agreed?”  Such was the trenchant challenge about relationships put out by the Biblical prophet Amos—it’s as old as the Bible and as new as this morning, when several billion couples rose from the bed in one manner, mood, or another.


Audrey and I are as likely to have met as two falling stars from different galaxies.  But when the fates organized a plan, we found each other several years ago, long after the closing trajectories of two drooping marriages, and began a friendship, a kindred spirit, a mutually supportive discourse of relief and insight that restored a sense of hope and promise and even structure to days of frenzy, confusion, and not a little anguish.  We actually talked endlessly about what divorce will do to children, about what disappointment in love can do to the human spirit and to the body itself, and how mighty a matter is one’s guilt about leaving a partner who is the other parent of your children.


There was nothing frivolous in these conversations and they were distinguished and unforgettable.  We didn’t even know that they would become the inviolate foundation of a love so embedded in our blood that it survives both of our high-powered personalities, our family neuroses, the initial ambivalence and intermittent resentments of our shared four children (now a genuinely happy blended lot), and, above all, the complete career makeovers that came with our decision to formalize the love into marriage.


Audrey, frankly a brilliant woman with multi-task capacities who could have created the world in just four days (no offense, God), resumed a professional career in finance while faithfully raising two still-young children into healthy adolescence, embracing my now-adult daughters as a convivial and cool step-mom, all the while putting up with my sputtering transition from a full-time pulpit rabbi of many years to a fully realized journalist and author, interfaith activist, and part-time rabbi of an ideal and tender congregation of elders that entails only the purest aspects of ministry—teaching and leading folks in prayer!


After a couple of years of not “getting it” about how lucky I was (I do now), being stuck in my “transition,” while languishing in the magnificent study Audrey had built for me, and at first bemoaning her many business travels because I was lonely (and she was trying to raise her kids), we have come to a place that honors those initial life-conferences of years ago, when our hearts were beating with fear, uncertainty, and a flung sense of trust.


I have learned so much about the real world from her – a world where bills do need to be paid, seeds planted in the yard, carpets cleaned, tasks shared, rational decisions made and not co-opted by doldrums or drama.  She has taken in the nuances of pastoral tension, the measure of a lingering moment of extra words and spontaneous mischief, and we have found immeasurable wisdom to blend in each other’s work and experience.  I have taught her how to walk, and she has taught me how to run. 


We have agreed.


 

Ben Kamin is one of America's best known rabbis, a multicultural spiritualist, NYT Op-ed contributor and author of seven books, including his latest, "NOTHING LIKE SUNSHINE: A Story in the Aftermath of the MLK Assassination."  He is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. 

More Ben Kamin articles, click here  

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

 

 

Feb 26

One of the reasons I wrote Back on Top was due to my own foibles as I began dating after divorce. I quickly realized I was completely clueless about 21st century dating rules. It had been 15 years since I was single and looking. And to be honest, after my divorce, I didn’t know what I was looking for – or if I was really interested in looking at all.


But that’s no excuse for any of us to go out there with our eyes wide shut.


Yet, that’s just what I was doing, blindly dating as if the world was the same as it was when I was a teenager in the 70s, when the worst mistake you could make was getting caught making out in the back of your boyfriend’s car.

I was trying everything – dating online, speed-dating, going out with friends of friends, dancing in Midtown clubs – without a handbook or compass or first-aid kit. And for someone like me, who had not felt desired in years, I was an open target. 

It’s no surprise, then, that the first man I had a longish-term relationship with after my divorce turned out to be married. Of course, I didn’t know he was married when I met him. And I didn’t find out until after we had dated for nearly six months. How can that be, you ask? I hear you; it’s hard for me to believe now – years later – that I was so unaware, so uneducated … so willing. 

Today, I think – I hope – I would know.  In fact, if I had had a little more experience at dating-after-divorce, I might have known in just a few hours. 

But I was a newbie in a land filled with man-mines. And I was blown away.   


Discovering this lie rocked my world in a way that even my divorce had not. Because I didn’t see it coming. Because his lies were so categorical and complete. And because prior to being involved with a married man, I had thought this situation was pretty black-and-white: He’s married. I’m outta here.


Over the years, prior to my own experience, I remember coaching more than one friend involved with a married man. Looking back, I’m embarrassed by my trite advice of, “you deserve more than this."


In my own case, when I discovered the truth I called him on it. He admitted it, and I broke it off.  Done. Through. Over. But "over" took a longer than I ever thought it would. 


I was in deeper than I had realized. Not necessarily deep into him, I understand now. I fell for the way he made me feel – feelings that had been dormant for years. It fed my ego. It fed my broken heart. It made me feel as if I existed, when years of a platonic and often disconnected marriage had made me feel invisible. And it was hard for me to let that feeling go; much harder than my blithe, previously uninitiated self ever thought it could be.


It was one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had in my adult life.  


After I discovered the truth, it took every bit of my willpower NOT to answer his dozens of texts a day. NOT to call him the dozens of times that I was tempted to “talk this out.” NOT to make up excuses for him… or for me. I didn't always succeed.  That first f-you goodbye turned into several goodbyes ... I was not as strong or hardened against him as I would have imagined. I had to constantly focus to block out the memory of the words he had whispered to me, the feelings he had professed, the friendship he had offered.  It is humbling to realize that you’re not all that … you’re just something on the side.


That thing about time being the great healer? I found it to be true, although in the midst of it time ticked by at an excruciatingly slow pace. A week after I found out, I could still barely eat; I felt sick with myself and what I now knew.  A month after, I was furious – a much healthier step on the path to my own healing. Two months later, I was writing about it. Six months later, I was practically doing stand-up comedy about it. 


I’ll tell you one of the most dangerous things I realized from my own personal experience, and from interviewing hundreds of women: no one can make a dead girl feel alive like a married man can. But it’s deadly just the same.


I made it part of my book’s mission to help others learn the red flags and warning signs, and to remind others like me to take ownership of our naïveté, to take responsibility for our actions, and to open our eyes and stop the tendency to be the “Queen of Denial.”  


In Back On Top, I included a chapter called Love, Lies and Loans, in which I highlight all sorts of dating dangers.  The bullet points seem so obvious now; but believe me, if you’re just stepping back out into the dating world, you won’t be thinking like a detective -- yet. 


Here are just some of the clues that the guy you’re dating might be married:


· If you meet through an online dating site and he doesn’t have his picture posted. Everyone can find a way to post a photo. My friend Nancy says if he doesn’t, it means “he’s either married or ugly.” Hey, she said it. 


· He says he lives out of town but visits your town on business all the time.


· He’s rarely in town on the weekends.


· You’ve never met even one of his friends.


· He never invites you over to his house. (Even if he lives out of town, he could invite you to whatever city he does live in, after, say, four months, right?)


· He attends big events and doesn’t ask you to go with him (weddings, birthday parties, etc.) This actually happened to me. He went to a nephew’s wedding; he had a pretty big birthday; he won a sales trip. Nada. But I’m not bitter. 


·He has more than one cell phone, but only calls you from one of them. (It used to be if a guy only called from a cell phone and not a landline that this was a red flag; not anymore. Nearly half of all cell phone users in the U.S. have given up their home extensions. But it’s still something to pay attention to.)


·He says he loves you after just a few dates. (This is a red flag for all sorts of things, don’t get me started.)


Years later, I’ve heard many stories similar to mine, and I’ve had many more experiences that have opened my eyes to how very human we all are. I’ll keep writing and warning—as much for myself, as for all the women I know and love, and for all of those I don’t know but with whom I share a sisterhood.


Friends don’t let friends date married men.


Ginger Emas is a 20-year veteran corporate writer in Atlanta, and most recently, the former national web editor at skirt!, www.skirt.com. She is a contributing blogger for The Balancing Act, Huffington Post’s divorce vertical (www.huffingtonpost.com/divorce) and skirt.com, the mother of a 16-year-old son, and the author of the hilarious and helpful book, “Back On Top: Fearless Dating After Divorce.” She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist, and has been featured in More.com, Glamour.com, LovingYou.com and several other women-centric media. She has appeared dozens of local and national TV and radio shows, including as host of Book Talk with Ginger in Atlanta, Georgia.   

 

For more Ginger Emas columns, click here 

 

©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC  

Mar 03

The news of an impending divorce is often met with disbelief.  Friends and family declare their surprise, their outrage..."They were the last couple I thought would ever get divorced.  They seemed so happy."


There are many grounds for divorce that are based on "fault" or "no fault".  No wonder then, that a common question friends ask is "whose fault was it?". 


Both high- and low-conflict divorces involve disputes or disagreements that can be resolved in mediation, a less costly and less adversarial process than a courtroom trial.


Divorcing couples with children are often faced with preparing a parenting plan and child support worksheet.  Determining alimony and equitable division of marital assets may also be involved.  


The goal of mediation with a qualified neutral is to draft an agreement that is acceptable to all parties and, after attorney review, may be included in the court order.


Here are some suggestions for being there for a friend as they navigate the divorce maze:


Don't ask what happened.  Instead, ask how things are now.  This is a day-by-day process.  Expect that there will be good days and bad days.


Don't tell your friend to get on with her life.  Right now, this is your friend's life.  Remind her that a new life is ahead of her and you will be there with and for her.


Divorce involves legal, financial and emotional issues.  No matter what advice friends or family may offer, the best advice is given by a qualified professional. Call to give your friend support, but try not to give advice.


The truth may be different for each party.  Don't challenge your friend's viewpoint or undermine her ability to see reality.  Mediation involves reality checks. 

And that may influence the outcome.


Friends lose friends in divorces and afterwards as life situations change.  Be a supportive friend, but also realize and accept that things can change.


If you are going through a divorce, it us likely that many of your friends are or have tried to be there for you.  Excuse yourself for not always being at your best and not always being nice.  Whenever you can, say "thank you" and be quick to say "I'm sorry".  At the end of it all, let your friends know you are back in the friendship and grateful that they never left.


Susanne Katz is a registered mediator with Mt Vernon Counseling, coauthor of A Woman's Guide to Managing a Mid-Life Divorce, and an arts and living columnist for Atlanta Jewish News.  She is also a regular on ShareWIK.com.


For more Susanne Katz, click here.

  

 ©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Mar 05

If going through a divorce is, for adults, like surviving a heart attack, I think for children it must be like surviving a heart attack every month for the next ten years or so, with intermittent pains – and the expectation of them – for the duration.

 

So my girlfriend-helping-a-girlfriend-going-through-divorce advice is this: take care of yourself, for sure. Surround yourself with sane, functional people who love you. But if you are a mom, your biggest job is guiding your children through this heartache so you do not add to THEIR pain. This means being an adult when you most want to act like a child and lash out, go back to sleep, forget about soccer practice, hit the drive through, hit the bottle.

 

As the mom, you are an adult with some understanding of what’s going on. The children involved, depending on their ages, just know that there is change, their parents are angry, and it seems as though things will never be as good as they used to be.  

 

And then there is this universal truth: No matter which parent the children are with, they’re always going to be missing the other parent.

 

So girlfriends, if you want to really be a help for the long-haul, help your girlfriend who is going through a divorce by helping with her children. That’s where there is a world of hurt that is sometimes overlooked, bought-off, or hushed up. Help your friend with her children, and you’ll actually help the whole world. For real. By reaching out to a child who is feeling lonely, scared, confused, and resentful, you may help him or her keep that pain from becoming acting out in class, or the start of using food or alcohol or sex to ease the pain, or the start of using the divorce as an excuse to fail.

 

Say your best friend has a five-year-old son. I’ve been told this the worst time for a little boy to experience divorce because it is when little boys want to see daddy go away so they can have mom for themselves. If this really does happen, that little boy is going to be extremely confused, and believe he has a whole lot more power than he really has. When he doesn’t have the power to make it all okay again, the anger will be pretty epic.

 

So to help your friend, offer to enroll her son – or daughter – in soccer or t-ball, or to sponsor him or her in scouts. Whatever the child's age, find out what other kids that age are doing that is healthy and enjoyable, and ask the child what sounds the best. Together you'll figure out some kind of age-appropriate, character-building distraction. The key is figuring it out, taking the action, and following through. Kids going through a divorce need follow-through, consistency, healthy attention.


This is your opportunity to be the ideal “aunt.” Your support in this way gives your friend some time to herself, and gives the child some time to be a child and relieve some stress and aggression.

 

If you’re married and have a family of your own, include your friend’s child – or children – in your family activities. When I went through my divorce 17 years ago, the parents of my children’s friends were such a great support group because they loved my children, and included them on family vacations and all manner of family activities that I just flat did not have the capacity to deliver.

 

You see, it does take a village to raise a child. Especially a child of divorce. And especially if this child of divorce has one parent who is far away, and a “custodial” parent juggling to provide, parent, heal from the divorce, and play good cop and bad cop all on his or her own.

 

When you step up for the mom by stepping up for her children, you help your friend have some space to be a disappointed, sad, angry, and frustrated little girl herself, and some time out to become more the adult and mom her children need. And that, girlfriend, is something any woman going through a divorce will appreciate. 


Carey Sipp's first book, The TurnAround Mom – How an Abuse and Addiction Survivor Stopped the Toxic Cycle for Her Family, and How You Can, Too, guides fellow “children of chaos” to create the kind of sane and loving home life that helps prevent next-generation addiction and abuse. Her book is available here.  


Read more articles by Carey Sipp here.


©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

“What should I do?” my friend asked as we stood together, the sky darkening to that place where it is neither dark nor light, that unsettling in-between feeling creeping up on all of us.


Despite clearly articulated expectations, the kids’ mom was MIA, not answering her cell phone and two hours late returning the children to their primary home. Forget about the now-missed appointment. Agitation was turning to fear. There was nothing to do but wait.


Nearly two-and-a-half hours late, my former friend drove up, mildly apologetic and mostly excited about the great street festival they’d been attending. Irked that her exuberance was met with anything less than a shared enthusiasm for the great life adventure she’d just shared with her kids, she became defensive and dismissive. We can imagine it didn’t go well from there.


This was early in their divorce, but continues to define their dynamic 10 years later. The biggest difference between then and now is my friend’s ability to accept what he cannot change, and trust that his kids will be okay.


Over the years I’ve accompanied many friends and clients through divorce. Encouraging, supporting, listening. I’ve helped people re-discover themselves in enviable ways, re-connecting to their own passions and re-directing their lives. Sometimes, there has been inspiration amidst the disappointments. That is the positive side of divorce.


At other times, though, I’ve supported people through a different kind of personal growth. You know, the kind we commonly refer to as “learning experiences,” which we all know is a euphemism for “hard knocks.” In those cases, the life lesson always seems to be about learning to Let Go.


When divorcing with children, the relationships don’t end, they change. Sometimes couples do a great job of co-parenting and keeping the children’s best interest at the forefront of their relationship. But when the responsibility load was already lopsided in the marriage, or when one of the adults has a fractious relationship with mature behavior, attention on what is best for the children can be a struggle.


When a divorce results, ultimately, from a severely dysfunctional parent, the other parent’s focus often turns to damage control. 


You may recognize this dynamic: one parent is “the responsible one,” and the other gets to play. One parent sets guidelines and limits, and the other makes exceptions and pushes boundaries. The responsible parent often struggles for years in this cycle before finally bringing the marriage to an end, only to discover that the divorce does nothing to eliminate the pattern.


So how does the “responsible” parent survive the constant struggle? 


Well, sometimes she just has to learn to deal with it. Over time, she learns to:


recognize what’s not in her control

believe in the resilience of children

trust that the solid foundation she sets is enough to stabilize her children


When she does it well, she tries not to vilify the ex-spouse in front of the children, and she is there to support them when they are (inevitably) disappointed by their other parent.


At other times, the complications are compounded when there is an ineffectively managed and/or severe mental illness at play -- Borderline Personality Disorder, Depression, or Bi-Polar. In this case, he:


fights for primary custody to maximize the safety of his children

doles out visitation/supervision as necessary, depending on the health of the ex-spouse

tries desperately to help his children maintain a relationship with their other parent


This, as you might imagine, has been a painful process to witness, albeit humbling and character-building. 


In either scenario – with an ex-spouse who is irresponsible because of selfishness or illness -- the “surviving” spouse goes through a process similar to the Kubler –Ross stages of Death: 


denial (usually while they are still in the marriage); 

anger (early stages of divorce); 

bargaining (this part happens again and again, and again); 

depression (when the reality and the finality sink in); 

acceptance (a sort of peace and letting go)


Ultimately, this final place of letting go is a gift, despite the pain that brought it present. It provides a different perspective on viewing the world that is free from the need to control. It has at its core a universal trust.


I was laughing with my friend, lately, about his reactions to his children’s mother. Now, he is able to laugh at some of the more absurd situations. He has learned to select his battles carefully, and to let go of things that once would have posed monstrous obstacles in his life. 


The good news? This tendency has translated to all aspects of his life. And while he wouldn’t choose for his children to go through it all again, he is grateful for the gifts that letting go have brought into his life. 


Elaine Taylor-Klaus is the co-founder of ImpactADHD.com a virtual coaching community for parents of kids with ADHD. She is a regular columnist on ShareWIK.com and MySpecialNeedsNetwork.com, and writes for “Living Without” magazine. Elaine coaches women and parents from around the country, on the telephone, to live full and empowering lives. She works together with her husband, David Taylor-Klaus, in their company, Touchstone Coaching.


Read other Elaine Taylor-Klaus columns here.


©ShareWIK Media Group 2012

Mar 11

While a divorce is one very final-sounding word, it is not just one moment in time. The decision to divorce often involves years of contemplation, counseling, trial separations, and sometimes abuse, adultery, abandonment and heartache. It all adds up to a divorce journey, one that has ups and downs that frequently take the form of trial separations and reunions.  While the path appears to end in a day in court, sometimes “divorce” and “post-divorce” lasts for years – particularly when children are involved.   




The reason I point this out is that if you are a friend to someone going through considering divorce, you may be in a difficult situation. You are the shoulder your friend cries on month after month. You may offer her a room when she’s decided to separate. You may be the one to listen to all the horrible things her husband has done over the years. And you may be the one who hugs her time after time, when she decides to split (again), go back (again) or stay in the marriage (again).


So there you are – knowing that your dear friend has been lied to or cheated on or treated with disrespect for years, and you have to grin and bear it for your monthly Saturday night couples’ date. 


See where this is going?


In light of this path, my top suggestion for how to be a girlfriend to a friend going through a divorce is:

Say as little as possible.  And listen, listen, listen. 


No matter what she says about her (possibly) soon-to-be-ex, stay neutral. My only caveat to this, and it’s an important one, is if your friend or her children are in danger. If that’s the case, you must seek help for her and/or her family or even notify the authorities if you believe she is in physical danger. Your friend may get mad at you, but at least she’ll live, and you’ll be able to live with yourself. 


If your friend goes back and forth in the relationship with him, don't judge her. It is her choice, and you know what they say about walking a mile in someone else’s wedding band.  


You can hug. Nod. Mumble a non-committal agreement. I like the phrases, “Damn, damn, damn” and “That sucks.”


There will be times when you want to shout: YOU NEED TO LEAVE THE BASTARD. Or, I KNEW HE WAS AN ASSHOLE THE FIRST TIME I MET HIM. Or, I HATE THE WAY HE TALKS TO YOU.  Or, I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU SEE IN HIM. Do not say these things. Because as much as your girlfriend complains, resents, cries and yells, you can't leave her husband behind until she does. (Again, please see the caveat above.) I have heard many a story about when a friend goes back to her guy -- the guy that she has told you for months/years does nothing but belittle her, to lie disrespect her -- that the supportive girlfriend is often shunned and left wondering why.


Certainly embarrassment plays a part – your girlfriend might feel ashamed of her decision. She might think you judge her. (Please don’t). And she knows how you feel about her husband. (See “Asshole” above.) 


Even if you assure her that you are there to support her, that you understand the things she told you were in the heat of the moment, or that you respect her for trying – she still may feel some shame.


There’s nothing you can do about this, right now.  Just as her divorce journey didn’t happen in a day, neither will the fallout from the reconciliation.  


It’s sad to (temporarily) lose your girlfriend to this phantom sense of shame. Your relationship may indeed change, shift, cool off.  I’ve had it happen to me. But time has a way of helping us forget and forge new relationships. After 20 years of friendship with one of my favorite girlfriends – and about seven years of distance – we are just finding our way back. And I couldn’t be happier. 




The Post-Divorce Girlfriend Do's and Don’ts


Once your friend is actually in the midst of a divorce or just following the judgment day, try my suggestions:

Support her decision. Whether you personally would choose divorce or not, it is, after all, her life. Hopefully it is a healthy decision for her.

When the divorce is final, celebrate. Depending on the circumstances, go wild or plan something subdued. For one of my friends, we all got together at a restaurant and had a surprise cake at the end. We bought one of those snarky cake toppers and lit sparkler candles in a public place where all these other women came up to her all night long to say, “Oh, yeah, I use to be married to an asshole, too. You go, girl.”

Provide help where she needs it. If you know a great attorney, give her a name and number. If you know a great financial advisor, provide an email introduction and nag her to use him/her. 

Offer a place to sleep if she needs to get out of the house for a night or two. Stay up and talk late into the night, or give her some space. Let her take the lead.

If she needs to get a job and doesn’t know where to turn, help her find a great career and life coach. 

Tell her it will be okay. Tell her it will be okay. It WILL be okay.

When she starts dating, do not allow her to respond to booty calls in front of you. (Look up booty call if you are confused. Good for you.)

Buy her my book as a gift when she is ready to start dating. She’ll laugh, she’ll gasp, she’ll know how to dress for a first date. 

Take her to buy her first pair of great jeans.  Get her a personal shopper if you're not good at this. 

Do not ask her if she is dating, unless you have the perfect, available, stable, financially secure, straight man for her. 

Never ask her why she isn’t dating. If she’s free, say, “Great! Now I have someone to go see chick flicks with.”


The best girlfriend I had when I got divorced was my mother. She knew that my ex and I were determined to remain friends. She supported anything and everything I did to create a healthy ex-relationship, both for myself and my son. To this day my mother is sweet and supportive of my ex-husband (and not just because he still helps her with her computer problems). My mother aligned with me in this unusual friendship, and I swear I think she still considers him her son-in-law. By the way, she also treats my boyfriend of five years with love and support. 


That may make my mom a little kooky, but to me it makes her the best post-divorce girlfriend of all.


Ginger is a 20-year veteran corporate writer in Atlanta, and most recently, the former national web editor at skirt!, www.skirt.com. She is a regular blogger for Huffington Post’s "divorce vertical,"  the mother of a 16-year-old son, and the author of the hilarious and helpful book, "Back On Top: Fearless Dating After Divorce.” She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist, and has been featured on More.com, Glamour.com, LovingYou.com and several other women-centric media. She has appeared dozens of local and national TV and radio shows, including as host of Book Talk with Ginger in Atlanta, Georgia. 


 For more Ginger Emas columns, click here. 


©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC




When my editor said that this week’s topic was divorce, I started researching immediately. There was important TMZ celebrity divorce news to analyze, I figured! ( Did you know that Arnold and Maria were spotted buying furniture together? You know what that means, girlfriend.)


 Yet Hollywood marriages spill no secrets why people become, er, terminators. It’s what you find in the rest of America—or at least Beverly Hills: infidelity, addictions, hot tub abuse, “irreconcilable differences” after being together 55 hours, and of course the ever- present complaint “Honey, after they did my make-up and hair, they called 'action' and I had to be in a bed with this gorgeous naked actress. Don’t worry, there was a sheet, and she wasn’t nearly as hot as you!"  Or other grievances:  “Ever since that party at Heff’s, you’ve been acting strange…”


But the online gawking world of celeb divorce offered only futile research, so I switched over to data on the real folks, and spotted the headline “Jobs That Cause Divorce” on divorce.com. And surprisingly, “Hollywood A-list actor with $50 million who goes to awards ceremonies” was not tops.


A paper published in the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology showed people working in stressful jobs have a higher rate of divorce. (Really?) But when they controlled demographics, race, gender, age and income for each occupation, here’s what they found:


Dancers leap into the divorced pack at 43 percent (it did not specify whether this was pole dancers, teaching a ballroom dance class at the Y, or the going-on-tour-with-Lady-Gaga-type-dancer). Bartenders and massage therapists come in second at 38 percent (baffling:  a spouse resisting a free back rub?), and nursing, psychiatric and home health aides, as well as entertainers and sports people, concierges, and telemarketers (do they fight with their spouse when the phone interrupts dinner?) tie at 28 percent. Scroll through more occupations -- everything from judges to maids to executives -- and there at the bottom is the lowest divorce rate.


Agricultural engineers:  2 percent.


There’s our answer, people.  Did you marry an agricultural engineer, someone who can invent machinery, solve complex problems, and figure out how to conserve soil and water while growing better food? It should’ve been on your “marriage-material” checklist. Your divorce rate would be down to 2 percent! And, imagine, if an agricultural engineer marries another agricultural engineer, it is probably 0 percent!


I suddenly realize that this must be correct because I do not know any divorced agricultural engineers!  (For that matter, I don’t know any agricultural engineers. I suffer from allergies, so I base myself around cities of concrete and steel instead of fields of wheat and corn, preventing a violent sneezing death.)


True, my collective knowledge includes passing through corn fields on a highway and seeing engineers drinking coffee at Cracker Barrel, but they seem incredibly nice. I imagine these people come home from long days and not complain that it’s your night to go to book club and they’ve got to watch the seedlings, two of which have strep and the third has algebra homework. See? They LIKE to solve problems! “Sweetie, go. Have a great time with your friends. I’ll feed the kids and animals and install a sprinkler system in the sloping backyard while you’re gone.”


 I imagine the agricultural conventions to be happy places, where spouses are invited.  I envision the colleges of agricultural engineering to be full of nice students who binge drink milk and grow up to be people who can solve complex riddles, like how do you get child 1 over to baseball field B while child 2 must be at field C at the other end of the county from where child 3 is.


 These engineers are probably so courteous that there would be little anarchy 10 years later over who gets the remote.


If you want the secret for sustainability in marriage, become an agricultural engineer, or marry one. Be fruitful and multiply.


It just may be your field of dreams.


Who needs to know that Kevin Costner’s divorce cost him $80 mil, anyways? 


 

Kristine Meldrum Denholm is an award-winning freelance writer published in books, magazines, newspapers and e-pubs.  Visit with her at www.KristineMeldrumDenholm.com or on Facebook www.facebook.com/KristineMeldrumDenholm or on Twitter @writerandmom.

 

For more Kristine Meldrum Denholm  columns, click here 


©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC


Apr 17


Divorce has become a major force in American life. Today, 50 to 60 percent of all new marriages are likely to end in divorce. As far back as 1991, 15.8 million Americans (8.1 percent) were divorced, and those Americans who divorce usually do not stay divorced for long. They usually remarry within three to four years.


Scholars suggest that divorce does not represent a devaluation of marriage but, oddly enough, an idealization of it. We would not divorce if we did not have so much hope for and about marriage’s ability to fulfill various needs.


I remember when I was teaching college students in China and they questioned me about American social and cultural behavior. They queried, with (a slightly righteous attitude…) “Hey Professor Judie…look at how many Americans get divorced. That doesn’t happen here. Our relationships must be better.” And my response was…Now, let’s see. I would then say, “When American couples are not happy with the decision (contract) they made at 20 they are free to discuss it…admit then there was a mistake… and go on to have a better relationship with someone else. What do Chinese couples do who are unhappy with their marriage? What would you prefer?” They would nod their heads and look at each other… pondering that question.  I would then say, “Our high divorce rate further tells us that we remain married only as long as we are in love… or we think there is a potentially better partner that could or does come along. Divorce is a choice or decision."


After that… what?


Dating, again.


Separated or divorced men and women who are beginning to date again may be ( oops… will be ) excited, nervous, worry about how they look and wonder whether or not it is okay to hold hands, kiss, or have sex.


Let’s cut to the chase: all divorced adults have had sex and most still want sex. The problem is that we may not want the 'strings’ of a full-on relationship; we may have concerns about our bodies, our behavior, what others think.  We just aren’t ready and, as much as masturbation (if we don’t have hang-ups with that normal behavior) gives our bodies something to ‘snack on,’ we know what we really want is the full-meal deal.


The question of whether sex without strings is “bad” or “good” ultimately comes down to you -- the  person deciding. You’re the one who has to live inside your head and body; you’re the one who holds the gavel.


---------------------------------------------------


After a divorce… what about sex?


(Fill in the blanks)


What are your old thoughts about sex?


What are your concerns about dating?


Where do you find a date... if you want one?


What do you do if you don’t want one?


How was it with your husband or wife? How was it before? How are YOU about sex?


How are you about your body?


Remember...The first concern and star is YOU.


Give yourself time to read and talk.


Dr. Judie is a Clinical Sexologist and educator who has appeared on numerous television programs and hosted an award-winning cable television program called "Sex Talk."  A contributor to Lifestyles magazine, she also authored a sexuality column for "Senior Life," an award-winning publication of Mature Media.  She has been an interviewer for the "Better Sex" video series and serves as a talking head in the video, "Sex After 50."  


To read other blogs by Dr. Judie, click here.  

 

©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 

 

Apr 23

Nearly two years after I began post-divorce dating, I understood this new world well enough to realize just how clueless I was. Right out of the box the first man I met turned out to be married. Another man had posted an online photo that was so outdated when I went to meet him for our date – looking for a tall, slim man with curly brown hair and a nice smile – I literally didn’t recognize the half-centurion who called out my name. Gone was the slim and the hair, and his smile was obscured by the smoke curling out from his cigarette. I even met a man who nearly knocked over our cocktails with his laptop to impress me with dozens of photos of women he had dated previously.  (I actually was pretty impressed.)


After so many false starts, I learned to be more discerning. I could spot a “player” within three lines of an IM; I could mark a stalker after the first post-date text; I even learned the red flags of an already-committed man. But I was still completely unprepared when, several months into my first real relationship as a divorcee, it looked as if I might actually have sex again before I died. It had been years since I had been naked in front of anything but my bathroom mirror, and I was terrified. Worse, I had no single girlfriends to consult. But I did have my friend Graham – young, single, part-time therapist/full-time stylist to some of the hippest women in the suburbs (no, that is not an oxymoron).  He told me about a party one of his clients was having – all single women.  He said I should go to learn more about dating. To get some answers and maybe take a few pictures. He made it clear that Girls Gone Wild was PG compared with this group.

Even now, it’s hard for me to believe I had the courage to go. I must have walked up to the door of the party’s mini-mansion half a dozen times and back down to my car, overcome with uncertainty and nausea. Finally, the door opened and the party’s hostess, Pamelia, smiled at me and said, “Are you ever going to come?” and I remember thinking, this is going to be a night of double entendres.

Giving me a warm hug, Pamelia said, “You must be Ginger, Graham’s friend.  Come on in, we’ve been waiting for you.”

I followed her through an obscenely large foyer and down the marble steps to the “party room,” where the festivities had obviously started some time ago, based on the noise level and half-empty bottles. True to Graham’s word there were only women here, but they didn’t look anything like my neighborhood Garden Club. There were women with tattoos, thigh-high boots, biker gear, and pierced tongues. There were women in short skirts, lingerie, and one in a metallic bikini. And they were in the middle of playing a game where everyone had written down a question on a slip of paper and put it in a jar; whoever pulled out a question had to answer it. As I walked in, the women suspended their game mid-pull, and everyone came over to hug me and make sure I had at least one tequila shooter. They asked me to write down a question right then and there, just as a woman named Mollie announced she had a new piercing in a very private place. There was a group “ooooooh” as Mollie stepped out of her jeans to show us what looked like the most painful thing I could ever imagine (and I had natural childbirth). I tried not to wince.

That’s when someone grabbed my question out of my hand. It said, “What is the current style of bikini waxing?”

I have never seen so many pants go down at once in my whole life, and I used to potty-train preschoolers. Every girl there wanted to show me the very latest in trendy trimming. Note to self: This is not your mother’s bikini wax.

First up, Ellie insisted that bare is beautiful. She was nearly finished with 30 laser treatments to achieve this level of nothingness.

“Does it hurt?” I asked, definitely wincing.

“Like a mother#$%^r,” she said proudly.

Lucinda agreed with bare-is-best, but she preferred waxing. Several other girls declared that a “landing strip” was today’s look. Of course, they had to explain to me that a landing strip is when you remove all of your pubic hair except for a narrow strip in the very center. Oh, and nobody at the party said pubic hair, okay? And I can tell you that no one had the natural look that every Playboy centerfold from the 1950s to the 1980s sported; that’s what I get for divorcing at the turn of the century.

As bizarre as this girl-party was, it was great to have so much new knowledge. Who else could I have asked about trimming and tweezing and Trojans? Now, I thought, if I ever do get naked again, at least I won’t look like a born-again virgin.


Ginger Emas is a freelance business writer, the mother of a 16-year-old son, and the author of the hilarious and helpful book, “Back On Top: Fearless Dating After Divorce.” She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist, and has written for Skirt! magazine, More.com, Glamour.com, LovingYou.com and several other women-centric media.

 

For more Ginger Emas columns, click here.

 

©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Apr 29


After writing  the article about the relationship between sex and divorce in my last blog, I decided to get some specifics from women and men about their personal concerns, anxieties and expectations when newly entering into a single status. I was wide-eyed when the responses often were blurted out... effortlessly and spontaneously. The first quote here was a trigger for me to find out more.

 

While it may be a sad or uncomfortable time in a person's life, the post-divorce period can also be a time of new sexual discoveries.  And these sexual experiences “can be absolutely fabulous—and very different from what one was used to, especially as your original relationship  deteriorated,” said one woman. I discovered this from every person with whom I spoke.

 

Now surprisingly enough, I spoke with several women for real comments and not the usual therapist stories. The first woman was so interesting I continued questioning (no names) and it was eye opening! Her comment about the thought of sex after her divorce was:

“I hope it will be: more exciting and fun! But… I do dread getting naked."

The next woman who had been married for 15 years said: "Hurrah! I am free!  Now what is in store for me?"

Then a woman who is a nurse said: "I was pregnant when I got divorced and was not interested in sex.  Two months after the baby was born I met a guy I used to date, someone I knew, and we had sex, easy and comfortable."

Another successful career woman stated: "Both times I got divorced I was already having sex with another man."

A teacher whose husband had not been monogamous said: "Would I be valued? I didn’t know if I could have someone touch me."

Beautiful successful MBA grad said:  "Is my body ok? Perhaps I will forget how to do it."

Female : " Not thinking too much but wishing it would be different."

Female : " When I was divorced I was always needy for sex and also afraid to become vulnerable to a man again. I did not want a relationship for a very long time so  didn't mind just using men for sex. Younger men asked me out so I felt safe that I  would never marry them because of the age difference."

 

Male: "Widowed.. second relationship on sex is different.  First wife was aggressive. Second relationship. I'm more aggressive than partner."

 

Another person (sex unknown): "After divorce sex was going to be with many partners of my choice and lots of fun. It was."

 

Female: " I couldn't wait. "

 

Male (I think) Still married: " After 40 years of infrequent passive vanilla, missionary sex, I would wish  a partner  was  a more active, eager and inventive."

 

Female: "Sex, Money, Education, travel. Then more sex and money ( they are connected)."

 

Male: "Need to find a partner comfortable and supportive of alternative lifestyle."


I would like to hear from anyone  about their personal thoughts, experiences, and comments. Funny how we think we know about people.  Not only do we not know.. but we don't know what we don't know. 



Dr. Judie is a Clinical Sexologist and educator who has appeared on numerous television programs and hosted an award-winning cable television program called "Sex Talk."  A contributor to Lifestyles magazine, she also authored a sexuality column for "Senior Life," an award-winning publication of Mature Media.  She has been an interviewer for the "Better Sex" video series and serves as a talking head in the video, "Sex After 50."  


To read other blogs by Dr.Judie, click here.  


©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 

 


Aug 06

One of life’s greatest transitions is the journey from being single to being a couple.  Becoming a couple involves two people agreeing to a mutually exclusive relationship.  We call this monogamy.  Polygamy is not legal -- that usually refers to one man with multiple wives, but it can also refer to a woman with multiple husbands.


According to Wikipedia, polygyny refers to a man with more than one wife.  Polyandry refers to a woman with more than one husband.  When there are multiple partners of both sexes, that is known as a group marriage.  In countries where polygamy is illegal, the practice is called bigamy.  The question has been asked…should the government be able to regulate marriage?


A logical question, as well, is… how might the government regulate divorce amongst multiple partners?  Let’s suppose a man is married to three wives and chooses to divorce wife two.  How are the assets to be divided?  And how will child custody and support be determined?  


With three wives, does a husband give each wife a third of the assets if they divorce?  It would be a forensic accountant’s dream to be hired to determine what were premarital assets and which assets where co-mingled during the marriage…or marriages.


Phang and I have discussed this.  “Why,” he jokes, “would you want to have three wives, when you have enough problems with one wife?”  


“Would you be more willing to stay with three wives at one time,” I ask, “versus being married to and divorced from one wife at a time?”


TV programs "Big Wives" and "Sister Wives" explored the issues addressed by polygamous families in Utah.  I am wondering how these folks could afford all their homes and all their children.  In the post recession era, I wonder if economics, rather than morals or legislation, will determine how many partners and how many marriages a person is willing to have.


Susanne Katz is a GODR registered mediator and partner in Atlanta Elder Decisions, LLC.  She is co-author of the book A  Women's Guide to Managing a Mid-Life Divorce and writes about divorce and care giving in her Second Life columns on ShareWIK.com.  She co-mediates elder issues with Atlanta Elder Decisions and divorce mediation with Mt. Vernon Counseling in Atlanta.  A former museum director and curator, Susanne's arts and living columns have appeared in many Atlanta publications.


 ©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC. All rights reserved. ShareWIK does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. For more information, please read our Additional Information, Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

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Steve is an experienced facilitator, practitioner, communicator and proven leader with over 25-years in experience in human factors education and teamwork training.
Living On Purpose
Elaine Taylor-Klaus, teaches how to make life extraordinary.
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Dale Kuehne explores developing a world where relationships come first, and recognizes that individual health and fulfillment is connected to the quality of our relationships.
Teacher Feature
School teacher Margaret Anderson will provide insight into what really happens with your child in the classroom.
The Power of Grief
Diane Snyder Cowan specializes in grief therapy to help those in need deal with loss.
Jan Jaben-Eilon Cancer is Not Me and I Am Not My Cancer
My name is Jan Jaben-Eilon and I am an ovarian cancer survivor. I don’t like the expression, battling with cancer. I am living my life as fully and passionately as possible, despite the cancer. Cancer is NOT my identity.

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posted a new blog entry Are You Up for the Job of Caregiver?.
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posted a new blog entry When does Sex End?.
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posted a new blog entry Obesity brings on a variety of health issues.
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posted a new blog entry Getting the marriage license.
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posted a new blog entry Praying for Theo.
4 years ago