Were your parents divorced growing up? Or did you experience your parents getting divorced as an adult? Has this changed or affected you in any particular way?
Everyone has a divorce experience. Whether you have gone through one yourself or know someone who has gone through one. And when there are children involved, it can easily complicate things. It’s hard to figure out if doing what is right for a marriage, is also right for the family. The most important thing is to realize how this will affect everyone in the family, instead of just the couple in the marriage.
Divorcing can have long term impact on children as they grow up. Sometimes children can suffer academically, socially, or can start to suffer individually and not know how to speak up about what they are feeling. There are ways to make sure that you are going through your divorce with the right steps, ensuring that you and your spouse are communicating effectively and cordially.
There is an excellent article on Psychology Today called ‘Quality Parenting Needed Most During Divorce’. It starts with list of questions to ask yourself about your decision to divorce as it relates to your children. It goes on to give great advice on how to navigate the sometimes difficult road of divorce. If you’re going through divorce, thinking about it, or know someone who is, take a look at this article today!
Marriage is a big step in a couple’s lives. The best way to set yourselves up for a successful partnership, is to tackle the difficult subjects before getting married. This can be uncomfortable. But it truly is the best way to see the compatibility and goals of both as individuals and as a couple.
Statistically speaking there are a few topics that are generally important for two people to discuss during their pre-marital phase.
- How to solve conflict
- Long Term Goals
Disagreements around finances is one of the leading causes of divorce. If you’ve ever spoken to your partner about money, you can probably understand why. Each person has grown up with different values, habits, and goals attached to their finances.
It’s important to come together, and lay everything on the table. Do either of you have debt currently or in the past? What is the plan to pay off that debt? What are your individual spending habits? How much will you save? Do you have the same long term goal for retirement? Will you have joint accounts or separate accounts? Who will be the primary person responsible for the finances?
Do you want children? Does your partner want children? If yes, how many? When? Be honest about what you see your future looking like, and what you want or don’t want. Fundamentally people usually know their stance on children, and often do not change their mind. If one partner has hopes that the other will change their mind in the future, it can set you both up for a lot of heartbreak and hurt.
Having in-laws can be a blessing or an added stress to a relationship. How close are you with your family? Do you expect your family to be a big part of your lives as a couple? How will you spend the holidays? How important is it that your spouse and your family get along?
How to solve conflict
Every couple fights. But learning how to solve your disagreements and communicate effectively is key. Ask each other: How do we handle conflict? Do we both want to learn how to solve the conflict or do we choose to ignore it? Are we willing to listen to the others point of view? Are we hoping our partner will change? Is it easy for us to forgive our partner when they have hurt us?
Each partner probably has individual expectations for themselves. Now it’s time to discuss the expectations of the other, and the expectations as a couple. Learning how to solve small things like: who does the laundry? Who does the grocery shopping and cooks? How clean do we expect each other to be?
And then there can also be bigger expectations: do we expect our partner to work less and spend more time at home? Do we expect a certain salary of each other? How do we add value and fulfillment to each others lives?
Long Term Goals
Having the same long term goals can be a really important factor for a couple. Where do we see ourselves in 10 years? Do we have a savings goal? Do we want to buy a house? Do we want to make time for travel? What age do we hope to retire?
If the communication lines are healthy and effective in your relationship early on, it can be really helpful when difficult times arise throughout your marriage. Every couple will go through difficult times, it is how you both recover from those difficult times that sets the tone for a great life together.
Does your family go around the table at Thanksgiving and have everyone say what they’re thankful for? This seems to be a common tradition at the beginning of the holiday season, but as the season progresses, we see more and more of us lose sight of this gratitude.
The holiday season is bombarding us weeks before it even begins; with commercials, ads, a full calendar, cooking stress and much more. Our society has turned the holidays from a warm and welcoming family gathering, into a greedy, commercialized, stress filled, over expectation suffering holiday. It is no news that holiday stress is becoming an all time high over the last few years. All you have to do is google, ‘Holiday Stress’ and hundreds of links come up about coping with the holiday stress, how to avoid it, or how to skip it all together. Northeastern Psychology Professor David DeSteno says that we can actually alleviate some of the holiday stress by practicing active thankfulness and gratitude. The general idea is the more you can focus on what you are thankful for, the more your emphasis on what is important during the holiday season shifts. From gifts, schedules, and trying to please everyone, to gratitude for what you already have, the family you can spend time with, and the traditions you participate in.
He says the best way to accomplish this is to add it to your daily routine. If you start your day with a cup of coffee, take a moment at your kitchen table and tell yourself a few things you are thankful for that day. If you read a book before you get into bed a night, tell your partner or write down in a journal some of the small things through out the day that you are grateful for.
David DeSteno goes further to say, by doing this we have better impulse control, we’re easier to talk to, we have more empathy for those around us and actually choose to be active in our short and long term relationships.
This can be a great way to reconnect with yourself around the holidays. We so often put self care last when we’re so busy worrying about pleasing everyone else. There are so many people in the world that have much less than us. Being grateful for what we do have can help us refocus on what really matters as the New Year starts.
When we think about the holiday season, we often think about all the delicious food that will be floating around our homes, our offices, our kids schools, our churches. It seems the more the food, the more the merrier. But it can come at a cost if we aren’t careful. There are many reasons why we over indulge during the holidays. Our families might place significant importance on certain meals. Or we might have clients, friends, coworkers bring goodies to celebrate the season. Whatever the reason, holiday food and over consumption go hand in hand.
However, scientists actually have a term for why we continue to eat even though our stomachs are full and we know we should stop. Ingestion analgesia is the brains’ way to ‘defend eating from ending’. We actually block out the negative physical feelings of our stomachs as they are being pushed passed the uncomfortable. Ingestion analgesia takes it ones step further by blocking our negative emotional responses to over eating as well. The more we eat, the more our bodies feel like we want to eat more. So physically our bodies aren’t sending the correct messages that our stomachs are full. And emotionally our brain isn’t telling us that we’re full, and that we should stop and digest. If it seems like we don’t have any control physically or emotionally, what can we do?
Taking a moment around a meal is important in the way we process and enjoy food. Eating mindfully, taking breaks, and really tasting your food can help our bodies adjust to the holiday feasts. Chewing slowly to allow your digestive system to adapt to the food your consuming. A suggestion might be to remove yourself from the area or room the food is in, so you’re less likely to be near it and constantly going back for more.
There is no doubt that the season brings delicious, nostalgic, and euphoric symptoms for us and our families. But trying to focus on other traditions that don’t involve food can be a good way to take a break from all the temptations. Also making new traditions, like taking a family hike before the big dinner, or a bike ride after dinner can be a fun way to add physical activity. Enjoy everything about the holidays, even the food, but trying to be mindful and healthy can help ensure the start of a great New Year. If you’d like to read more about why we over eat during the holidays, take a look at Gary L Wenk’s article on Psychology Today!
A simple definition of a blended family, is a family unit where one or both parents have children from a previous relationship, but they have combined to form a new family.
A blended family can cause tension as both parties are trying to navigate a new life together. However, many families that are blended can emerge as a successful family unit by embracing their differences, accepting new role models into their loves, and creating new habits while working together.