Tag Archives: divorce and children

Negotiating with Power

The Key to Negotiating with Power About Money

I recently had the great privilege of interviewing Maggie Baker, Ph.D., psychologist and author of Crazy About Money.  Our call, entitled Negotiating with Power (part of a series on Preparing for Divorce), dove in deep to explore how our personal money stories affect our negotiating power and our lives. Whether you are creating a divorce settlement agreement, negotiating a salary increase, bargaining for a new house, or navigating money conversations with your spouse, understanding your money script is critical to gaining strength and confidence.

What is a ‘Money Script?’

Simply put, your ‘Money Script’ is your money story – what your mind tells you at the subconscious level about what money symbolizes for you. These stories begin developing early in life at home. Regardless of how much money you had growing up, your script was informed Negotiating with Powerby the ways in which people around you interacted with and related to money. If you lived in the ‘land of lack,’ where people always perceived there was not enough, this affected the story you created around money. If you lived in an environment where money was a means of control, then this affected your story around money. For a quick example:  If you grew up in an environment of ‘lack,’ while you may want to have more money, your fear around not having enough may cause you to make choices around money that perpetuate powerlessness rather than strength. No matter how much money someone has, everyone has a money script because everyone interacts with money. Understanding what story your mind tells you about money is critical to developing a relationship with money that is aligned with what you most want and with your ability to negotiate with power.

Negotiating with power is all about knowing your ‘Money Script’

Whether you are negotiating a divorce settlement agreement, a raise at work, or with your child who is requesting spending, money, your money script is going to kick in and impact how you negotiate. If you related to money as a source of power, then you will assume that the person in the negotiation that has more money is more powerful. If you associate money with love or approval, you may feel personally disregarded or slighted in a negotiation for money. If you believe that money is correlated to hard work, you may feel that you need to prove yourself as having worked long hours in order to negotiate. I think you get the idea. The fascinating thing is that we always assume that the person on the other side of the negotiating table thinks about money in the same way as we do when most of the time, this is not true! People often lose power in negotiation because they are so stuck in their own money story that they don’t attend to the money story of the person on the other side of the negotiation – and this is the point of view that really matters!

4 Steps to figuring out your ‘Money Script’

So if you want to negotiate from a place of power, you need to figure out your own money script. Here is a step by step process:

– Study your money habits

Get a journal or use your phone and begin keeping track of how you spend your money for 30 days. There are great apps for your phone to help you do this. Mint.com offers one. You must write everything down since our mind will trick us if we rely on memory alone.

Use the same journal and keep track of what you consciously chose not to spend your money on. What did you forego because “it felt like too much money” or “not the right time?”

Finally, listen to the language you use when you talk about money. Do you talk about ‘not enough?’ Do you talk about ‘needing to be careful?’ Do you ‘not care’ about money? Do you ‘not know how to manage it?’ Do you ‘feel overwhelmed by it?’

– Analyze your money habits

Once you have the data collected above, sit down alone or preferably with a friend, family member, counselor or coach and review. What patterns do you notice? What seems curious to you? To the other person? Seek to understand the reasons behind your expenditures and your non-expenditures.

– Link your habits to your upbringing

Now think about where these patterns and habits may have come from. How do they relate to your family of origin? How do they connect to any significant life events that have occurred? How have they been supported by the language people in your family used around money?

– Name your story

Once you have completed steps #1-3, you are ready to write your money story. It can be one paragraph to one page. It describes what you believe about money, the choices you make around money, and how those choices have served you and not served you over time. And I do realize that this can be difficult, so for additional support, I highly recommend Maggie Baker, Ph.D.’s book, Crazy About Money for language that will help you understand and interpret your money script.

Negotiating with Power

By now, it is probably clear that in order to negotiate with power, you need to (a) know how you think about money and (b) understand the basics of how the person you are negotiating with thinks about money.  People leave evidence all over the place if we choose to pay attention so it is not always as difficult as it may seem. And if you are negotiating with your spouse or child, you likely already have all the information you need to understand their money story. Once you do, then negotiating with power is all about languaging your position to help the other see how there is a win-win available in which both sides can obtain a good deal of what is most important to them.

Conclusion

The biggest reason why we lose power in negotiations is that we operate from inside our own heads which are filled with fear, anxiety and anger and don’t pay enough attention as to how the person on the other side is thinking. Get out of your own head or get the support of someone who will not get wrapped up in the fear, anxiety or anger who can help you find your place of strength and clarity.

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Adina Laver is the founder of Divorce Essentials™ and author of the Divorce Companion™ a multi-media step-by-step guide to navigating divorce.  The Divorce Companion™ is the only resource of its kind that provides guidance and decision making tools for every aspect of the divorce process, including determining whether divorce is the next step.

Adina also provides limited one-on-one coaching support for those who recognize that divorce is a sign that life has gotten off track and are aching to finding happiness again – or perhaps for the first time ever.

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I am afraid

I Can’t Because I Am Afraid That…

Fear is the most paralyzing emotion we possess. Every day I receive calls from people who are afraid… and if I am truly honest… every day I feel a bit of fear as well. Which of us doesn’t?

I am afraid

Which of these resonates with you? (and if you don’t find one, just fill in the blank and add your own!)

 

I am afraid that I will not be able to support myself

I am afraid that my children will be angry with me

I am afraid that I will not achieve my dreams

I am afraid that I will never be happy

I am afraid that I will not be successful

I am afraid that I will not get everything I deserve

I am afraid that I will be alone

I am afraid of intimacy

I am afraid of losing my job

I am afraid that someone will be angry with me

I am afraid that I will not be liked or loved

I am afraid ______________________________________

 

Fear is so much a part of our daily experience that we often become unconscious to how tightly it grips hold on us and keeps us from moving forward in all matters of life.

 

This is one of the reasons I love this classic book that a client just introduced to me, Feel the Fear… and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers, PhD.

 

Very early on, Jeffers breaks down all of our fears into one single fear –

The fear that we cannot handle what might happen.

I will repeat the point for emphasis, as Jeffers does…

 

All of our fears come down to a single fear that we do not have the capacity or confidence to handle what a situation may present.

In short, our fear is based in our own lack of confidence and belief in ourselves.

 

While this alone may not feel comforting (!!!), consider this…

 

What if you had more trust and confidence in yourself that you could handle whatever came your way?

What if you had trust and confidence that you would

  • know how to respond,
  • know how to get the support you needed, and
  • had the capacity to navigate whatever circumstances arose?

 

What if you knew that (and these are Jeffer’s words)…

Whatever happens to me, given any situation, I can handle it!

The simple answer is,

You would never be paralyzed or manipulated by fear again!

 

You might still feel the fear. This does not go away. But you would no longer be paralyzed by it and unable to move forward in any number of circumstances.

 

Simple, right? On one level it seems so and it is. On another, what makes it so complicated is the fact that most of us have grown up with messages that we cannot handle things. We are not good enough, smart enough, capable enough, likeable enough and so on. And as long as our minds keeping repeating these stories, it is impossible to truly believe that we can handle anything.

 

So, how do you gain this confidence? Experiment with this 5-step process as a place to start.

 

Five-step process to handle whatever comes your way:

 

  1. Make a list of at three times when you faced a difficult situation in your life and found your way through. Write about all three examples. What made the situation difficult or uncomfortable and what did you do? We all have them. There is none among us who has gotten to this stage in life and has not navigated a difficult or uncomfortable situation.
  2. Review the examples you just described and make a list of at least 5 qualities or attributes of yourself that you leveraged to navigate these three situations.
  3. Identify one thing right now that is causing you to feel afraid. Write about: (a) What are you really afraid of here? (hint: It is what you feel you cannot handle), and (b) What is the worst thing that could actually happen?
  4. Now that you have named the worst that can happen, identify three qualities that you posses and have already demonstrated in the examples described in step #1 that you can leverage to “handle” this situation.
  5. Create a plan for what you would do in this “worst case scenario.”

 

Learning to Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway is a process. It takes time and commitment to retrain the brain to stop giving the fear so much power. Use this exercise, and if you are committed to breaking free from fear-based paralysis, explore Jeffers book and call me!

 

It is time for you to:

  • Feel more powerful
  • Take action to move forward
  • Live from a place of love

____________________________________________________________

Adina Laver is the author of the Divorce Companion™ and founder of Divorce Essentials™, a specialized divorce coaching and support service for those who are considering, in the midst of, or post-divorce and are committed to a healthy path for reclaiming their lives.

 

If you are contemplating a divorce but are stuck or if you are in the throes of making key decisions for your future but need guidance, reach out to Adina. Whether you coach together for one Ala Carte Session or coach for a full Personal Empowerment Breakthrough, Adina is ready to help you navigate through uncertainty so you can create a happier and healthier future!

 

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Mrs Doubtfire

Divorce Wisdom from Mrs Doubtfire

As the world pays tribute to one of Hollywood’s greatest legends, I took the opportunity to re-watch one of Robbin Williams’ most famous films, Mrs Doubtfire.  In addition to all the comedic brilliance that is built into this film, it also contains great wisdom for both divorce and life.

6 Lessons on Divorce from Mrs Doubtfire   Mrs Doubtfire

In the 1993 classic, Mrs Doubtfire, Robbin Williams plays the role of Daniel, an unemployed voice over artist who is viewed by his successful corporate wife, Miranda (played by Sally Field) as irresponsible and incapable of disciplining the kids or keeping order in the house. After a birthday party for their son gets wildly out of hand, she tells Daniel she wants a divorce. They have grown apart and she doesn’t like who she has become while married to him. (Click here for a full synopsis).

 

Both funny and poignant, Mrs Doubtfilre offers six lessons on divorce for couples, friends and family members:

#1 – Divorce is not the end. One of the things the divorced couple is faced with is the realty that divorce is not the end. Just because they don’t live in the same house anymore, doesn’t mean that all the things that drove each one crazy disappeared. Ultimately it is the words and the pain of their children living between two parents who are angry and intolerant that becomes the impetus to begin to do things differently. Especially if there are children, the relationship does not end after divorce.

#2 – Everything transforms in time. I think one of the most important lessons of divorce (and life) is that everything transforms in time. At the first judge’s meeting, Miranda is so angry that she says nothing when the court temporarily awards her full custody with Saturday visitations only because Daniel does not yet have a job or place to live. She stays silent again 3 months later when the court makes the decision to permanently award her sole custody because Daniel, in his desperation impersonated a woman so he could apply for the job as Miranda’s housekeeper and see his kids everyday.  By the end of the movie, however, the couple’s relationship has so transformed that Miranda herself has the court order removed. Things do not stay the same forever. Time and intention have the capacity to transform any situation.

#3 – What kids need most is love. The children in Mrs Doubtfire, like the children of many divorcing or divorced couples, are stuck between two parents who are so angry and fed up with each other that they cannot help but speak ill of one another. The parents are suspicious and each feels so bullied by the other that they begin to pull at the kids like two teams yanking either side of a tug-o-war rope. Having no idea how to keep everyone happy, the kids’ anxiety levels rise. Divorce is grown up stuff. As with Daniel and Miranda, two people can get to a point where they have grown apart and are no longer making each other happy, but the only thing that the kids care about is feeling loved by both parents. Taking the high road when you feel you have been mistreated or manipulated is one of the greatest challenges a divorcing or divorced parent faces. However, for parents who love their children, there really is no other acceptable alternative.

#4 – People are capable of change. One of the most fascinating aspects of the movie from a divorce standpoint is the way in which Daniel, impersonating a housekeeper named Mrs Doubtfire, uses all his knowledge of who Miranda is and what she likes to adopt the very habits, patterns and ways of being that she always wished Daniel would have demonstrated while they were married. What changed? How come Daniel was suddenly willing to do what he was never willing to do while they were married? Over time, couples can get into the habit of bringing out the worst rather than the best in each other. Sometimes couples have to separate in order to find their best selves and sometimes they need the need a fresh new start with each partner dropping their shield and sword so they can develop new patterns together.

#5 – The courts and attorneys do not always know what is best. The movie was a powerful reminder of what can happen in the legal process when couples get so swept up in their own anger that they lose site and control over what is best for their children.  Miranda knows that Daniel is a loving and devoted father, but because she has felt so slighted and disrespected, she allows a judge to award Daniel limited, court supervised visits only. While the courtroom scene is not realistic in many respects, the truth remains the same that judges and attorneys, who have only a snapshot view of a family at best, are not in the best position to make decisions about what is best for the family or the children. The health and wellbeing of the children is most critically dependent upon parents who can show up to make choices from a place of love rather than anger.

#6 – Things usually get more chaotic before they get better. As if things are not tumultuous enough leading to the decision to get a divorce, the truth is that things often get more chaotic before they get better. In the movie, both Miranda’s and Daniel’s lives become even more chaotic and frustrating immediately after the divorce. The pattern before the divorce was at least familiar, if not healthy. The new routine after Daniel moves out is so disorienting that everyone is initially thrown into a state of chaos and disequilibrium. It isn’t until Daniel’s impersonation is finally revealed and everyone realizes just how chaotic things had become, that they find their way to a state of equilibrium. The chaos is normal. The chaos stems from the sudden reconfiguring that is necessary to move things from a past state to a new state.

 

Divorce challenges people in ways never imagined. It is often a painful and demanding process. However, navigated with intention and care, there is great potential for healing, stability and even miracles on the other side. These are the rewards of being willing to follow the road less traveled.

 

If you know anyone struggling with challenges in their relationship or navigating divorce who can benefit from support in getting from chaos and pain to stability and hope, please refer to them to Divorce Essentials. They do not need to wait until divorce is inevitable to get some help.

__________________________________

Adina Laver is the author of the Divorce Companion™ and founder of Divorce Essentials™, a specialized divorce coaching and support service for those who are considering, in the midst of, or post-divorce and are committed to a healthy path for reclaiming their lives.

 

If you are contemplating a divorce but are stuck or if you are in the throes of making key decisions for your future but need guidance, reach out to Adina. Whether you coach together for one Ala Carte Session or coach for a full Personal Empowerment Breakthrough, Adina is ready to help you navigate through uncertainty so you can create a happier and healthier future!

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Last week, I was held hostage by my brain.Analysis Paralysis

 

I was afraid – as all of us are from time to time – about aspects of my future and success. Does this sound familiar?

 

And my brain, doing what brains do, not only began conjuring up every fear-based story it could muster, but then really paralyzed me with its insistence upon trying to “think” my way out of my hole. I thought and thought about what to do, and the more I thought, the more elaborate and convincing the stories became, and the more afraid I became until — I was stuck in a state of complete analysis paralysis. No matter which direction my brain pursued, the future looked risky and gloomy and I was stuck.

 

Ever been there? Somehow I am sure I am not the only one.

How reliable is the brain?

 

Left unchecked, the brain can take on a life of its own – and the biggest problem with this is that we are absolutely convinced that our brain knows exactly what it is talking about ALL of the time. We are convinced that it is accurate and that it can think its way out of any problem.

 

The funny thing is that we have no problem doubting other people’s brains. We question doctors when it comes to medical decisions, despite their years of training (and our complete lack of training). We question our government officials when they make strategic international decisions, despite the fact that they have teams of analysts and we have only a very rudimentary understanding of the complex issues. And, of course, we question our children’s teachers’ methods of educating our kids, despite their years of formal training and experience and our lack of either. Yes, we have no problem questioning anyone else’s brains, but someone we trust our own implicitly to provide us with an accurate assessment of everything all the time!

 

Some common musings of the brain:

  • No one will want to hire me because I do not have the right degrees.
  • I have to stay in my unhealthy and unhappy marriage because I have no other way to support myself and I will be homeless or destitute if I leave.
  • I am a bad person if I do something that hurts someone else’s feelings or makes them sad, so I have to do what makes other people happy.
  • If my kids are struggling, then I must be an unsuccessful and incapable parent and I need to figure out how to make life better for them.

 

This list could go on and on. Our brains are very creative and quite dramatic in their musings, and they know just how to reel us in to believing them. Once we are there, we analyze our seemingly hopeless situation for days, weeks, months and sometimes years, never taking action because our brain has convinced us that there is absolutely no positive way out of where we are. We are paralyzed; we are stuck.

Give your brain a reality check

 

So, in this rational moment of reading this article, ask yourself these questions:

  • How likely is it really that everyone else’s brains are inaccurate at times but mine is always right?
  • How likely is it that the same way of thinking that created the sense of crisis in my brain will discover a way out of it?

Break through the Analysis Paralysis

 

If you are tired of hanging out in a state of analysis paralysis or despair about your situation, here are four steps to breaking free:

 

  1. Break the silence. Most of the issues that get us stuck evoke feelings of shame. Shame needs silence, secrecy, and judgment to thrive. Take 15 -30 minutes and write down the issue that has you stuck and all your thoughts about it. Share it with someone who can just listen and not give you advice or be judgmental.
  2. Take a ‘thinking’ vacation. Take your journal entry and place it in a jar for a week (screw the lid on tightly!). Tell yourself that you are going to let the jar hold onto the issue for a week so you can take a break from thinking about it. If it arises in your mind, simply give yourself a gentle reminder that this issue is in the jar for a week, no need to worry about it now.
  3. Pursue a new angle. After a week, take your writing out of the jar. Go back to your trusted listener and share the issue again, now asking yourself how you can look at this from another angle.
  4. Get support. If you are still stuck after steps #1-3, get professional support. Your brain is stuck, but this doesn’t mean you have to stay stuck.

 

Put another way,

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” ~ Marcus Aureluis, Second Century Roman Emperor and Philosopher

 

So whatever you have been procrastinating doing until you have it ‘all figured out,’ STOP analyzing. If your brain hasn’t gotten you there yet, it is not going to until something changes – either your actions or your thoughts.

 

When you are ready to get unstuck from your analysis paralysis, contact me. I am ready to help you free yourself from your mind.

 

__________________________________

Adina Laver is the author of the Divorce Companion™ and founder of Divorce Essentials™, a specialized divorce coaching and support service for those who are considering, in the midst of, or post-divorce and are committed to a healthy path for reclaiming their lives.

 

If you are contemplating a divorce but are stuck or if you are in the throes of making key decisions for your future but need guidance, reach out to Adina. Whether you coach together for one Let’s Get Real Mini Session, or coach for a full Personal Empowerment Breakthrough, Adina is ready to help you navigate through uncertainty so you can create a happier and healthier future!

 

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Divorced Dad

Father’s Day Tribute to Divorced Dads

Having been a Father’s Day baby (actually born on Father’s Day), this day of honoring dads has always been important to me. What I find interesting is that now that I am no longer married, I Divorced Dadfind myself almost more concerned about making sure that my kids have time with their dad on Father’s Day than I did when we were together, which can be complicated as we aim to spend time with my father as well, and he is located in another city.

 

This year, because of other circumstances, my new partner, my ex, my kids, my parents and I will all celebrate Father’s Day together. This is something that none of us could have imagined a year ago, but a testament to the fact that all things transform in time, especially when parents put their kids first.

 

Giving Divorced Dads Due Credit

 

So this week, in honor of Father’s Day, I want to make a tribute to Divorced Dads. Historically, and it still persists in many places today, dads were not thought to have the “parenting gene” or whatever it is we thought made a mom the more suitable caregiver. This belief was reflected in custody determinations that for many years deeply favored the mother. If parents divorced, they could almost count on the fact that the mother would get primary physical custody and the dad would get some visitation rights one night during the week and every other weekend.

 

While things are still far from perfect, gratefully things have changed.

 

I loved reading this article because it certainly matches my experience. Like many divorced moms, I worried about certain aspects of caregiving that my kids always got from me and not their father. What would they do the 50% of the time they were in his care? Amazingly (though not really), I found that when my kids were in their dad’s care, they did get everything they needed. It didn’t always look the same as the way I would do things, but they absolutely got everything they needed. With me no longer present, he instinctively and very competently stepped up to navigate in what we have traditionally thought of as the “maternal role.”

 

And to be completely honest, there were a number of aspects of parenting where my ex excelled and I was more hesitant. In much the same way, I stepped up and found my way too. As the article said, it is the experience if parenting that activates these areas of the brain, not our gender. With desire, commitment and practice, moms and dads both have everything they need (biologically speaking) to be parental.

 

Tribute to Divorced Dads

 

So on this Father’s Day, a tribute to Divorced dads who:

  • Put their children first and make decisions with their best in mind
  • Explore and enjoy the new relationships that are possible with their kids in a space where they have new freedom and liberty to parent in their own way
  • Are finally beginning to be recognized by the law and society as every bit as capable of caregiving as moms
  • By the very nature of being the unique individual that they are, have perspective, experience, and ways of loving to offer as parents that are treasures for their children.

 

This Father’s Day, on June 15th, I invite you to think of a divorced or divorcing dad you know (may even be your former spouse) and take a few moments to honor who they are as a parent. If you are so moved, reach out and acknowledge them as a parent or pass on this article. And if you are a divorced or divorcing dad, I invite you to take a moment to fully acknowledge yourself as a parent and then find a way to connect with your kids, whether they are with you or not.

 

Happy Father’s Day.

 

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Adina Laver is the author of the Divorce Companion™ and founder of Divorce Essentials™, a specialized divorce coaching and support service for those who are considering, in the midst of, or post-divorce and are committed to a healthy path for reclaiming their lives.

 

If you are contemplating a divorce but are stuck or if you are in the throes of making key decisions for your future but need guidance, reach out to Adina. Whether you coach together for one Let’s Get Real Mini Session, or coach for a full Personal Empowerment Breakthrough, Adina is ready to help you navigate through uncertainty so you can create a happier and healthier future!

 

 

 

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My First Post Divorce Mother’s Day

SunflowersI will always remember my first post divorce Mother’s Day as one of my fondest. After years of hosting a beautiful family gathering for anywhere between 9 – 12 mothers and their associated loved ones, this was the first Mother’s Day that was truly about my motherhood.

 

My girls were with me that day and sensing the magnitude of the changes for everyone, they were very committed to taking care of me. They asked me what I would love to do. When I told them there was a Mother’s Day yoga class I really wanted to take, they told me to go! They also told me that they were taking care of dinner. Having made some arrangements to plan a meal and buy food earlier in the week, they were already prepared (who knew?)!

 

So, off I went to yoga – the first Mother’s Day in over 13 years when I was not rushing around like crazy to finish the last few homemade gifts and get the house cleaned and prepared so I could host the party for 20+. Instead, I attended a 90-minute yoga and meditation class, and returned home to snuggle with my girls until it was time to ‘prepare dinner.’

 

“Go to your room mom, and read a book. No peeking!” they demanded.

 

So off I went. Yoga, snuggling and now time to read a book! What an amazing Mother’s Day.

 

As I was up in my room, I heard the back and forth between my girls as they worked to prepare the feast. Finally, upon receiving my formal invitation to dine, I came down to a meal made with as much love as a mother could ever imagine. There was a pasta primavera, flatbread and salad. The three of us delighted in this meal together. And if all this had not been enough, they had made me a Mother’s Day packet of cards, each one naming one thing that makes me special in their eyes.

 

Why do I share this? Not only because it is a sweet post divorce Mother’s Day story and who could possibly resist, but also because when many people think about divorce, they often think only about what they may be ‘losing ‘ or ‘giving up.’ They lament the things that will not be the same. In some cases, this fear of ‘loss’ is so powerful that it inhibits people from ever making changes.

 

Change is Just Change

 

But change is not all bad and there is not only loss on the other side. No, I was not surrounded on Mother’s Day by a beautiful extended family as I had been for many years, but look at the incredible gift I received instead.

 

We get used to the familiar and we habituate to what is. Our mind tells stories that make us believe that we will be deprived on the other side of change and never have it as good. Well, this simply isn’t true. Change is just change. By definition, change is neither bad nor good. What change brings depends in large part upon how we open to it. Are we willing to be open to the new things that change can bring? Are we able to embrace the unexpected blessings that are inherent in change? Are we willing and able to be present to the moment and see what it has to offer?

 

On this Mother’s Day, whether you are a mother or a father, divorcing or struggling in your relationship, I invite you to turn down the volume on the stories the mind likes to tell about how sad, disappointing, or shortchanged something might seem. Instead, try positioning yourself in a new way and ask, “I wonder what will make this Mother’s Day unique and beautiful in its own right. I wonder what blessings I will notice when I lift my eyes in search of beauty.”

 

With this is mind, I am looking forward to my second post divorce Mother’s Day this Sunday and I invite you to share your blessings below as you discover them.

 

Now It’s Your Turn

 

And if you really do want to make a change or want to be able to see things differently but you need some help, contact me.  Let’s talk. Life is truly full of blessings, no matter what direction you may be headed. Let’s discover them together.

___________________________________

Adina Laver is the author of the Divorce Companion™ and founder of Divorce Essentials™, a specialized divorce coaching and support service for those who are considering, in the midst of, or post-divorce and are committed to a healthy path for reclaiming their lives.

 

If you are contemplating a divorce but are stuck or if you are in the throes of making key decisions for your future but need guidance, reach out to Adina. Whether you coach together for one Let’s Get Real Mini Session, or coach for a full Personal Empowerment Breakthrough, Adina is ready to help you navigate through uncertainty so you can create a happier and healthier future!

 

 

 

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Defining Family Post Divorce

It wasn’t my intention to write about kids again this week. In fact, I was about to begin writing Familymy blog (had it all planned out) when I received something my daughter had written for an assignment in school and I had to share.

 

It is about blended families.

It is about a teenager’s perception of family post-divorce.

It is about a young person growing up in a gay community.

It is about love.

 

Enjoy, and as always, keep the comments coming. I LOVE it when you post comments below.

 

Please also consider passing this on to someone you know who could use a smile today, someone who may be struggling with a sense of loss around divorce, or friends in the gay community with kids – anyone who would enjoy sharing in the beauty of a young person’s heart-felt wisdom.

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Author: Talya Laver, 15 (my daughter)

 

Today was a great day, in a very sad way. It’s funny how funerals bring people together in ways that other run of the mill days can’t. They allow you to form bonds with people in your “family” that you didn’t have before. Granted, if your vision of family is solely the people you are related to by blood, you are missing out. And this is coming from someone who really knows.

 

For simplicity’s sake, I attended my aunt’s partner’s funeral. But if you want the full explanation, I attended my mom’s partner’s ex-partner’s partner’s funeral. I know you are probably thinking, what the heck? First off, who knows that many gay people? And second, that’s not really your family.

 

Firstly, I know that many gay people ever since my mom “came out” two years ago and my parents split. Our gatherings now consist of mainly gay people… lesbians, to be specific. And secondly, you would be wrong to say these people are not really my family. They are as much my family as my blood relatives because they are the people I love. They are the people we now see at holidays. They are the people who are there to celebrate the good times. And in hard times, they are the people who grieve together and serve as sources of comfort.

 

So, deciding that we were way over the whole prayer thing for the day and not wanting to run the risk of crying again, the three other girls my age and I went to sit in a corner near my “step”- brother’s lonely friend while the adults held a Shiva (Jewish mourning) service. The four of us sat there and made each other laugh and tried to shush each other when we thought we were getting too loud… just like cousins. A while into it another family friend came over. She has been friends with my “step’-brother since they were little. So she asked us how we were all related.

 

We sat there for a moment, looked at each other, and just laughed knowing that even if we figured it out and were able to articulate it, there was no way she was going to be able to follow. But I decided to take the challenge full on.

 

“The dumbed down version,” I told her “is that Naomi is my sister, and Lea and Kyra are my cousins. If you want the actual version, it goes something like this…. My mom’s partner’s cousin is one of Lea’s moms, but not her birth mom. My mom’s partner’s ex-partner is Kyra’s Godmother and has been best friends with one of her moms since forever. Kyra and Lea grew up together (with a combined total of four moms) and lived near each other at one point, and I use to go to school with Kyra. Got it?”

 

“Nope. But basically you are all cousins,” she concluded after a moment’s pause.

 

And all four of us responded, “Yup.”

 

All of this is to say that in my opinion – your family is the people you love and those who love you – not only those with whom you share your ancestry.

___________________________________

Adina Laver is the author of the Divorce Companion™ and founder of Divorce Essentials™, a specialized divorce coaching and support service for those who are considering, in the midst of, or post-divorce and are committed to a healthy path for reclaiming their lives.

 

If you are contemplating a divorce but are stuck or if you are in the throes of making key decisions for your future but need guidance, reach out to Adina. Whether you coach together for one Let’s Get Real Mini Session, or coach for a full Personal Empowerment Breakthrough, Adina is ready to help you navigate through uncertainty so you can create a happier and healthier future!

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What Kids Like About Divorce

Last night I asked my daughter if there was anything she liked about her parents being divorced. In her very honest way, she replied, “Well, sometimes it means you can get by with some things. If you forget a book to school you can always say it is at your other parent’s house.” In all honesty, she is a child who rarely if ever would use this card if it were not true, but this remark was a powerful reminder that what kids focus on in divorce can be very different from what we think as adults.

 “One of the biggest fears parents have is that divorce

will ruin their kids’ lives”

One of the biggest fears that parents have is that divorce will ‘ruin’ their kids’ lives. In fact, one of the first things my older daughter accused me of was ‘ruining her perfect world.’ Many couples stay together in very unhappy marriages for a long time because they don’t want to hurt their children. There is great value placed on the consistency of routine and, I suppose, a belief that consistency and continuity of these routines is the most important factor in a child’s happiness and healthy adjustment.

 

While consistency and routine are useful in creating a sense of security, there are other factors, I believe, that are equally and sometimes more important for a child’s healthy adjustment including:

  • The capacity of the adults to provide unbridled and unconditional love
  • The capacity of each parent to be fully present in their children’s lives
  • The model that parents set for what it means to have a healthy, loving relationship.

 Shouldn’t you wait until your kids are grown?

As I was contemplating divorce, a few people who love my children suggested that I really needed to wait until my kids were out of the house before making such a change. Give them the opportunity to enjoy an uninterrupted childhood. After that time, my caring friends and family suggested, I could do whatever I liked.

 

This made sense on one level, but then I looked at the situation from another perspective. I asked myself some questions:

  • If one of my children were in my situation, what would I want for her?
  • If I stayed out of a sense of ‘duty,’ what messages would I be I sending to my children about the value of happiness in life?
  • What messages are my kids internalizing about love that will impact their future relationships?

 

My purpose in writing this is not to give parents ‘permission’ to divorce freely without concern that it will negatively impact their children. I am not here to say, “As long as you have a good rationale, go ahead…get the divorce…it will actually be good for your kids.” Not at all.

 

What I am saying is that it is easy for us to get caught in one way of thinking and ignore other factors. We can get caught in thinking that divorce is always bad for kids. The reality is that divorce is about change. Most people find change to be scary because when we change something, we don’t really know what it will be like on the other side. Since we fear the unknown, our brains tend to rationalize why the ‘known’ is better. “The devil we know is better than the devil we don’t know!”

 

Change, by itself, is not good or bad. Rather, it is the way in which we navigate change that matters. The most important thing when making a change is to be intentional. Know why you are making the change and what you want to be different on the other side. Be deliberate in your choices and actions. As far as our children are concerned, they are generally very resilient and adaptable. If we make change with purpose and intention, and if we set a commitment to place their health and welfare at the center, our kids usually thrive and grow in a new situation.

 What my kids like about divorce (and don’t like)

So what do my kids like about divorce? They don’t like schlepping their clothes back and forth. They do like how each of their parents is more attentive to their needs during their custody time. They don’t like not having the shoes they want because it is at their other parent’s house. They do like the new people who are in their lives as a result of the change. They don’t like that sometimes it takes longer to get answers to a question because we need to consult. They do appreciate the fullness with which I am able to bring myself as a parent to their lives now.

 

Our children are precious and as parents it is our responsibility to guide their development and provide for their health and welfare. What I invite you to consider is that there is more than one ‘right way’ to do this. What is important is finding what is right for you, your kids, and your family.

____________________________

Adina Laver is the author of the Divorce Companion™ and founder of Divorce Essentials™, a specialized divorce coaching and support service for those who are considering, in the midst of, or post-divorce and are committed to a healthy path for reclaiming their lives.

 

If you are contemplating a divorce but are stuck or if you are in the throes of making key decisions for your future but need guidance, reach out to Adina. Whether you coach together for one Let’s Get Real Mini Session, or coach for a full Personal Empowerment Breakthrough, Adina is ready to help you navigate through uncertainty so you can create a happier and healthier future!

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How to Consciously Uncouple from a Narcissist

Those of us in the divorce and media worlds are still talking about conscious uncoupling. AndConsciously Uncouple a Narcissist this is a good thing because it means that we are continuing to push against traditional, and often destructive, ideas about what divorce means and how it has to unfold. But what if you are trying to consciously uncouple and you are married to a narcissist, an addict, or someone who simply spends most of their time – well – in an unconscious state?

 

What is Conscious Uncoupling? – Revisited

 

Taking a step back for a minute, let’s acknowledge that – as of yet – there is no clear and consistent definition of ‘Conscious Uncoupling.’ In fact, story has it that Katherine Woodward Thomas who coined the phrase was in seclusion out of the country working on her book with the same title, Conscious Uncoupling, when the story broke a few weeks ago which is why she was so noticeably absent from the earliest discussions.

 

So what does this phrase really mean? I offer here my best explanation here based upon what I have read as well as my own experience with what I believe was certainly a conscious uncoupling.

 

According to Thomas, conscious uncoupling is an intentional process of “lovingly completing a relationship that results in feeling more whole, healed and at peace.” She proposes (and I concur) that breakups are an opportunity to transform an emotional and painful life transition into “a catalyst for making a breakthrough in the way you show up in your life… and in your next relationship.”

 

Others have commented on the importance of a more conscious approach to ensure the health and welfare of the children. Being able to place their best interests first requires a great deal of a couple who faces the possibility of being triggered into fear and anger again and again throughout the uncoupling process.

 

As for me, I offer this… Conscious Uncoupling is a commitment. It is a commitment to being awake to the transition that is occurring in your life and to making decisions that are in alignment with core values, long term priorities, health and well-being; and that reflect the essence of who you are and want to be in the world.

 

What if your partner is not a willing partner to Conscious Uncoupling?

 

In the case of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, both partners seem committed the process and this is always ideal. The reality is, however, that many people pursue divorce in situations where their partner is not willing to come to the table to lovingly complete the relationship together. What if you are divorcing an addict, a narcissist, an abuser, or simply someone who does not want to see the relationship come to an end? Can you still ‘Consciously Uncouple?’

 

I propose here that you absolutely can! “Lovingly completing a relationship so you can feel more whole, healed and at peace” is a choice that each person makes for him or herself.  Every person, regardless of the situation, has the opportunity to intentionally:

  • decide how this experience will shape his or her present and future
  • decide how s/he will show up to all facets of the process of uncoupling – even (and especially) the tough parts
  • bring closure to the relationship and to this chapter of life in a way that honors the past and what each person contributed to the relationship
  • pursue healing from deep wounds so as to live in a place of greater strength
  • navigate this journey with intention and confidence.

 

THIS is a matter of choice. We can never control what our partner will do, but we can choose how we respond and the degree to which we allow other people’s actions to impact us. This is not easy. I have lived the experience of being triggered again and again and even drafting the angry e-mail. There is something cathartic and perhaps a bit empowering about crafting that angry statement. The important thing, however, is maintaining to committed to not sending the e-mail or reacting from the triggered place because nothing is really served by it. This is what makes it “conscious.”

 

Support for the Conscious Uncoupler Who Has to ‘Go it Alone’

 

Uncoupling is difficult, consciously uncoupling challenges us in so many ways. For this reason, I have just released the Divorce Companion, a step-by-step guide for anyone who is committed to choosing an informed and empowered path for making this life transition.  This is the most comprehensive program available to support individuals and couples in getting on the right path. You can learn more at www.DivorceCompanion.com or by visiting my website at divorceessentials.net.

__________________________

Adina Laver is the author of the Divorce Companion™ and founder of Divorce Essentials™, a specialized divorce coaching and support service for those who are considering, in the midst of, or post-divorce and are committed to a healthy path for reclaiming their lives.

 

If you are contemplating a divorce but are stuck or if you are in the throes of making key decisions for your future but need guidance, reach out to Adina. Whether you coach together for one Let’s Get Real Mini Session, or coach for a full Personal Empowerment Breakthrough, Adina is ready to help you navigate through uncertainty so you can create a happier and healthier future!

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Splitting up or Conscious Uncoupling?

What makes Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s break up different from the average conscious uncouplingHollywood divorce story is their reframing of the experience as conscious uncoupling. The media is hot on this one. Is this complete Hollywood hogwash or is there something here that can transform the way we navigate this life transition that impacts 50% of couples in the United States?

 

The term conscious uncoupling was coined by Los Angeles therapist and author Katherine Woodward Thomas who is committed to helping couples release the trauma of a breakup so they can reclaim their power and reinvent their lives. (Have you heard this before? I am feeling in good company here!)

 

For a long time, divorce has carried with it a deep mark of shame. Regardless of the story behind the marriage and the break-up, stating that you were getting a divorce was akin to having a scarlet letter affixed to your cloak for the world to see and judge. To those on the outside, divorce means failure and provokes many married couples to pull away from long time friends for what must only be a fear of “catching” the divorce disease.

 

The fact is, there are many reasons why couples end a marriage. There is a significant rise in the grey divorce because we are simply living longer. As Thomas points out, the assumption of a single lifetime partner stems from a time when lifespan was much shorter – not a time when individuals can spend up to 70 years of their lives in intimate relationships. People grow and change and they do not always grow and change in the same direction. This is normal.

 

In addition, many people are in marital situations that are fraught with abuse, addiction and manipulation. And then, of course, there is the segment of the population like me who discovers that they are gay or feels ready to acknowledge their homosexuality and make a change in their lives. These are all valid reasons to bring a marriage to an end, so doesn’t it behoove us to figure out how to navigate this process without so much acrimony and destruction?

 

How to Achieve Conscious Uncoupling

 

  1. The first essential step, as Gwyneth and Cris have done, is to acknowledge to themselves that this is not a failure, but a conscious choice to make a change and improve the quality of life. When divorce is about failure (F), we want to find someone to blame because neither partner wants to own the “F”. In a conscious uncoupling, no one is wrong.
  2. The second key ingredient is to know what you value more than the right to be angry. For Gwyneth and Cris (and many others) this is their children. Valuing future happiness is also a great focus. When divorce is about the split, it easily becomes contentious. When the focus is on what you want to preserve and what you want to create, it is much easier to consciously uncouple.
  3. A third key ingredient is to know how to return to center. Everyone going through a divorce will get triggered at some point – even Gwyneth and Chris – and I hope we don’t have to read about it in a tabloid. This is human and normal. I experienced a conscious uncoupling with my husband and there were still very tough moments. They key is not to act from the places of anger and hurt and to have strategies for returning to center and refocusing on the bigger goals.
  4. Fourth, it is important to have the right support team in place. Do your friends, family, therapist, attorney, coach, financial planner, and so on help you navigate in a conscious and healthy way or do they fuel the flames of acrimony and mistrust? Conscious uncoupling requires a support system that reinforces this path.
  5. Finally, something that is key to staying on track that I learned from my ex is to take any decision and imagine sharing it with someone you care about and respect. Would you feel proud to share this choice with your children, parents, or that special person in your life (dead or alive) for whom you have deep respect? If this is the gauge, you will make more conscious choices.

What if you are uncoupling from an ‘unconscious’ partner?

 

Doing something consciously is a personal choice. Regardless of the choices your partner makes, anyone can follow the five guidelines set forth above. This is your journey and you are the one who has to live on the other side of it.

 

For support with Consciously Uncoupling – alone or with your partner, I have created the Divorce Companion Program that will be released next week. You will be able to learn more about it at www.divorcecompanion.com.

 

Kudos to Gwyneth and Chris. The journey is challenging and they should be applauded for their commitment to navigating in this healthy way.

________________________

Adina Laver is the author of the soon to be released Divorce Companion™ and founder of Divorce Essentials™, a specialized divorce coaching and support service for those who are considering, in the midst of, or post-divorce and are committed to a healthy path for reclaiming their lives.

 

If you are contemplating a divorce but are stuck or if you are in the throes of making key decisions for your future but need guidance, reach out to Adina. Whether you coach together for one Let’s Get Real Mini Session, or coach for a full Personal Empowerment Breakthrough, Adina is ready to help you navigate through uncertainty so you can create a happier and healthier future!

 

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