Tag Archives: husband

Dear James: Am I On the Right Path?

Dear James,
I recently left my husband of 11-years: it has been a battle from the very beginning. It was an abusive relationship including alcohol and drugs. My question is am I making the right choice by leaving and planning on divorcing him? I’m struggling with my decision to do this.

I also recently applied to go back to school. I want to do this and I have everything paid for, but I need a job. I’m struggling to make the decision to go to work or school and I need to get a place so I can move back to a different town where my kids will attend school. I’m afraid I’m making all the wrong choices, but since I have left, so many doors have opened up to me. I’m excited but also afraid that I need to stay with my husband: that he will truly change and be a good husband.
Answer:
You are indeed on the right path: it’s why it feels so right: and yet so uncomfortable.

Eleven plus years have been spent in torment, anguish, denial and pain.
A decade of hiding the truth just so you could feel the slightest bit normal…sane.
Addicts routinely make promises they never keep: it’s in their DNA. Their need for the next fix, score or drink is so strong, it eviscerates all rational thinking: judgment: responsibility: or accountability.

Substance Abusers and Addicts are illnesses in need of treatment. By second-guessing your decision to remove yourself from this toxic environment by separating and ultimately divorcing, you leave the door wide open for yourself to continue as an enabler.

The only thing you want to enable: is your forward momentum and recovery.
You and your children would be wise to seek counseling in order to truly cleanse your souls. To unburden oneself is to wash away the residue of that which was left behind by lasting impressions.

You never have to stop loving your husband and father of your children. You just have to love your self more: and him enough so as to allow him to fall, so he may yet rise…if he so chooses.

Empower yourself by educating yourself.

Demonstrate to your children the depth and determination of your will, the levity and gaiety of your spirit, and the strength of your convictions.

Open yourself to the many doors and windows that will continue to open for you, as you seek to move and align yourself with your highest purpose and ideals.
Be forgiving of yourself and others, as forgiveness speeds the momentum of your recovery.

Be patient, yet confident, in all your dealings and decisions. Life is not a sprint, but a marathon.

Enjoy the journey, as you will come to discern the destination is fluid, not fixed.

Above all else, believe with all your being that you are doing the true and right thing.

Be steadfast: not steely.

Ultimately, Peace comes to those who willfully believe they are worthy of it.
Be worthy of Peace.

DearJames

DearJames™ provides intuitive insight, answers and advice…to your life questions. DearJames™ is an Intuitive Advice Columnist, Radio Host and Consultant.  DearJames™ is available for private intuitive consultations and you may also listen and call in live every Wednesday at 9:00AM Pacific on the Contact Talk Radio Network during DearJames Live – EXPRESS YOURSELF: an all live call in show where you Tell It Like It Is…And Then Hear What DearJames™ Has To Say. ASK DearJames a question or find an abundance of Inspiration, Advice, Wellness Resources & Tools and Charitable Giving opportunities at www.dearjames.com.

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Two Essential Questions Before Saying “I do”

Wedding ringsBy: Sasha Stone

Recently I caused a minor Facebook frenzy with the following comment:

“It is my observation that marriage for my generation is irrelevant and represents the death of love. I have a few examples in my life that prove otherwise, which is beautiful and wonderful. What about you? What’s your experience?”

I will admit, I did this partially to provoke people. I knew it would strike a chord and married people would get defensive. I was curious to see what that defense would be, because honestly, I would rather my observation be inaccurate. No surprise, most responses had a lot to do with romantic notions of forever, family, and devotion. Those that said their marriage was thriving sited communication, honesty, and respect. This, though, was my favorite response of all:

“Marriage is not just a piece of paper. It is not a piece of paper to prove love. My husband proved that to me well before we got married — which is why we got married in the first place! However, it does open up a lot of options legally – think about health care decisions, financial combinations, term life decisions etc…”

Why my favorite? Because this is real. This has a purpose.

Since my divorce in 2009 I’ve kept a close eye on my views on marriage, observing any changes and fluctuations that might occur and why. In the midst of my divorce, I felt fairly certain I would never get married again. Not because I was bitter and jaded, and not because I didn’t want to have a family, but because marriage had lost its meaning to me.

I got married very young (age 25), and though in love, we hadn’t really spent any time discussing our motives for taking such a huge next step in our relationship. There was the practical consideration of me being able to stay in the U.S., and the idea of wanting to be together forever. Beyond that, we didn’t really look at the deeper currents of why, and consequently nor whether this move was truly in the greatest good for either of our lives.

Whether consciously or not, I think many people get married to hold on to that relationship and that person forever, no matter what, even if there are massive gaps in values, vision, and priorities. As though somehow, having that official certificate guarantees your idealized vision of love and that the person will be yours forever. Clearly, divorce rates indicate otherwise, but people still seem to think, for them it will be different.

What happens all too often though, for my generation at least, is the paper gets signed and the relationship takes a nosedive. I know that is not the case for everyone, but it is strikingly common. I could probably write a 1000 page essay on this topic, there’s so much to it. But I am going to stick my neck out and say the main reason this occurs is because despite our social evolution, we still cling and grasp onto the romance saturated view of marriage that is fed to us through fairytales, both classic and contemporary. Our starving mind (our hearts are usually wiser) latches on to that idea and laps it up voraciously. Then we get married, and our socially evolved self revolts, does not want to accept the illusion of this arrangement, and suddenly, desperately, wants out.

Last year, I had the honor of officiating a wedding for a beloved student and friend (yes, that’s right, minister Sash). I had to be very thoughtful about it because I didn’t want to be a fraud standing up there, guiding two people into an institution for which I hadn’t yet made peace. So I asked the couple tying the knot to answer two questions for me (an assignment they had to do separately, without consulting each other).

#1) Why are you getting married?

Seems straight forward enough, but many people answer this question with something basically along the lines of, “I love this person, I want to be with them forever, and I want to build a family and life with them.” That is awesome! I say go for it, but guess what, you don’t need to be married to do any of those things (at least not in the Western world). Love and commitment are beautiful and wonderful, but you can be married and completely not committed. You can also be fully devoted and not married.

Dig deeper. What are some REAL reasons for making this massive commitment? I find the answers that are deeply spiritual, deeply traditional, and/or deeply practical to be the most compelling. If you and your spouse-to-be have those reasons in common, then there is a much more substantial backing to walking down the aisle than simply the forever story. You have no idea what life is going to hurl your way, but if you have super strong convictions about why marriage is essential to the progress and evolution of your relationship and life together, then you have a firm foundation to stand on.

#2) Why are you marrying this person?

Ok, here is where you get to be romantic and gushy. Still though, I encourage you to dig deep. What makes this person so highly unique and dear to you that you are willing to make a lifelong commitment to them? Get it all down. Be extremely personal, reflective, and specific. Then, when you hit those rough spots in your relationship, come back to this document and remind yourself what a precious being you have the privilege of sharing your life with.

Of course, there are many more questions to ask oneself, but this is not intended to be a guide on finding the right partner (when I figure that out I’ll get back to you ;). My intention is simply to draw your attention to two basic questions whose answers are often taken for granted rather than sincerely discussed.

Yes, I do believe in Love. I believe in commitment, I believe in family, and I believe that humans are meant to live their lives in togetherness, not isolation. I want love, I want babies, and I want to experience the crazy journey of being with someone for a very long time. Would I get married again? Only if the reasons for it truly make sense, and that if I decide to take that step with someone, that we have been openly thoughtful about it and see eye-to-eye and heart-to-heart on the why.

Take action now:

  1. Share your reaction to this article in the comments below.
  2. Send this to someone preparing to embark on the marriage journey. It might offer them a little guidance before taking the plunge.

Originally published on Sasha’s blog 

photo by: State Farm

Elephant in the Room: How Do I Find the Right Man to Marry

Beneath the veil lies my darknessDear Cora,

I just celebrated my 27th birthday in April. I’m finally at a point in my life where I have a great job and can help support my mom and our family. (We’re Guyanese and staying close to family is very important). I’m really happy except for one thing – I want to get married. I want to start raising a family of my own, but I have the worst luck with men. My last serious relationship was years ago when I was still in college. I’ve dated a few guys since then but nothing has panned out. I’ve even had my mother try to arrange a marriage for me, but there was no spark and I couldn’t do it. When I do find a man I’m interested in long-term he doesn’t seem serious about dating. Sometimes I worry that I am too picky so I’ll give guys a shot who I don’t think I have chemistry with, but it’ll turn out my gut instinct is right and they aren’t the guy for me. I’m worried that if I don’t find a good guy to settle down with soon that I am never going to have the chance to start the family I want. What’s your advice?

Thanks,
Single gal

~

Dear Single Gal,

Oh, honey. The first thing we need to address is that 27 is way too young to start practicing your spinster routine! In my eyes you are a baby adult, only just beginning to get serious about long-term plans and taking complete responsibility for yourself. It sounds to me you are quite the capable young woman (key word: YOUNG) with a kind and compassionate heart. Guyanese or not – supporting your mother and family is a noble task and I tip my trunk to you, lady.

As for the husband, I think your trouble finding one comes from the fact you’re looking for one in the first place. We often feel compelled to find a life partner by a certain time in our lives so when women hit 25 and are still single they go into rabid husband-hunting mode. The problem with that is when you are only looking for a husband you stop being present. You look at every man that comes into your life through a lens of “Can I marry this person? Would he be a good dad? Would he remember to take out the trash? How serious is he about settling down?” and you forget to look at them as a whole person. If they don’t fit the mold you have prematurely set for the rest of your life then you move on without really taking stock of who you’re dealing with as a person and you don’t ask the much more important questions – Is he kind? Does he respect me? Does he make me laugh? Is this someone I can be best friends with and love for the rest of my days?

You won’t find that person with a checklist of “husband” attributes. You find that person by paying attention, being present, and allowing yourself the chance to get to know someone without the pressure of your entire future bearing down on the situation. Even if you don’t say it on a first date, most people can feel the wedding hungry vibes radiating off of you and it’s a clear signal to them to run. It’s the same thing with “the spark” you’re looking for. Is that a real thing? While the movie “He’s Just Not Into You” is pretty problematic with its message to women – one of my favorite parts is when Alex (Justin Long) explains to Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin) that “the spark” is made up.

(Warning: Some language, NSFW)

I don’t really think it’s a man-made conspiracy as an excuse not to call a girl, but it speaks to our obsession with fairy tale scenarios. If you’re expecting the perfect guy to walk in and say the perfect things then whisk you away to your dream life – you’re going to be waiting for a really long time. Life isn’t that clean and simple, relationships definitely aren’t. They are complicated and messy and never perfect, which is what makes them enriching and powerful.

So my advice, Single Gal, is to stop looking. Relieve the pressure. Open your eyes and be present. I have a feeling when you let up on yourself – and the guys you meet – it’ll be much easier to see the guy who probably isn’t perfect, but who is perfect for you.

Best wishes,
Cora

* * *

avatar-NO-BKCGRNDSubmit your questions, troubles, and predicaments to Cora via editor [at] intent [dot] com or in the comments section below. The Elephant in the Room advice column will be published every Friday – a blend of humor, compassion, and wisdom specially tailored for our Intent audience.

photo by: AMELIA SPEED

The Night My Husband Didn’t Call and the Fear of Losing a Loved One

Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 1.39.39 PMThe clock in my kitchen is my go-to for all my timely needs. There are other clocks around the house, but for some reason I always consult the kitchen clock for accurate time. Oddly enough, the five minute intervals read “now” instead of numbers, so time telling is a two step translation process – a process that perhaps took the edge off last night as I was watching that minute hand in orbit, converting “nows” into numbers, waiting for my husband to come home after work.

We were all hungry, dinner was hot. Around 6:0o I called him four times in quick succession. I thought the intensity of my effort might encourage him to pick up, mentally willing him with every ring. Nothing.

So finally at 7:00 I sat the crew down to eat. Dinner was typical. The girls chowed down while my son staged a sit-in across the room. We ate the last half of our meal in intentional silence, doing our best to focus on chewing and tasting. In the silence I had a hard time focusing on anything really. Well, anything but this: Where the hell is my husband???

As the “nows” accumulated, one nagging, irrational thought snagged its claws on my otherwise typical thoughts. If he got into an accident, the hospital would have called me, right? Would I have a sixth sense if he was dead? Would I just know? He’s not dead, though. But he could be. No. Could he be? I’m sure he’s fine. Maybe I’ll watch a little TV.

The phone finally rang after I put the kids to sleep. He was fine, enjoying dinner with a friend visiting from out of town. He had actually told me several times he had plans but I forgot, didn’t write it down, screwed up. Oops. All that worrying for nothing. It’s not as if I didn’t have a gentle reminder telling me to be here and “now”.  Jeez.

The scene brought to mind of a poem I heard by Richard Blanco on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross. I pulled this off of NPR’s transcripts, so I’m guessing how the stanzas might be broken up. Enjoy…

Killing Mark” by Poet Richard Blanco

His plane went down over Los Angeles last week, again.

Or was it Long Island?

Boxer shorts, hair gel, his toothbrush washed up on the shore of New Haven, but his body never recovered, I feared.

Monday he cut off his leg chain-sawing. Bleed to death slowly while I was shopping for a new lamp.

Never heard my messages on his cell phone.

Where are you? Call me.

I told him to be careful.

He never listens.

Tonight, 15 minutes late. I’m sure he’s hit a moose on Route 26.

But maybe he survived.

Someone from the hospital will call me, give me his room number. I’ll bring his pajamas and some magazines.

5:25, still no phone call.

Voice mail full.

I turn on the news, wait for the report. Flashes of moose blood, his car mangled, as I buzz around the bedroom dusting the furniture, sorting the sock drawer.

By 7:30, I’m taking mental notes for his eulogy, suddenly adoring all I’ve hated, 10 years worth of nose hairs in the sink, of lost car keys, of chewing too loud and hogging the bed sheets,

when Joy yowls. Ears to the sound of footsteps up the drive and darts to the doorway,

I follow with a scowl: Where the hell were you? Couldn’t you call?

Translation. I die each time I kill you.

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Photo credit: LiLit Ghazaryan

Change Changes Everything

change-world

It took me a while to realize this, and then it was only because it hurt. Badly. Life, world, me – everything hurt.

Let me be frank and straightforward, for this is not an occasion for fancy writing: Chris wanted a divorce. Once. He walked into the house, I remember it clearly, it was a sunny afternoon, a late summer afternoon in Ojai, in California. We lived in a bungalow with a living room wall made of windows. In the brilliant sunshine flooding the room I sat. On the couch. When he walked in and told me he wanted a divorce.

Oh, I can feel my chest tightening at the memory. A shadow of the pain. I did not expect it then. I sat stunned as my mind raced, struggling to keep up with this new development. It raced … into an unexpected direction. “Hurts!” it thought, then “accept, accept, this is happening” then “it’s … it might be a good idea actually…”

It took few minutes. Then I looked up at Chris. “This might be a good idea, actually” I said, “do you want to go have some ice cream?”

Of course it wasn’t over then, it was only the beginning, but I thought that it wasn’t such a bad thing because I was not happy. I would not admit it to myself, but when I had to know I knew that I was not happy. I put my life into Chris’s hands. I draped my responsibilities over his shoulders and left myself powerless, dependent, scared and resentful, while it left him … but that was not important. I was important.

“I did this” I thought to myself, “I created this. This pain I am feeling now is my pain. Chris did not hurt me, he did not create those feelings. I did. This is my life killing me. This is my marriage falling apart. I made it, and I will unmake it. I will heal it. I must heal it or else this will all happen again.”

This is what I decided and this is what I did. I healed. Myself.

I changed myself and my life changed with me. Showered with new clients, jobs, money, I could do what I wanted. For the very first time in this life I was able to buy what I wanted, to quit the job I did not like, to work at home as I always wished I could.

I changed and my life changed.

And I was happy.

And Chris liked me like this, and we did not get divorced.

More art by Pausha Foley:

Begin Your Life

Look! Look! Look!

You Are Your Way

Sign Of The Times: Are Kids Today Not Disciplined Enough?

In every age, in every era, any parent that ever lived to raise its offspring must have thought, “This is not how it used to be when I was younger.”

Growing up in a fairly conservative household, I can’t once remember talking back to my mother or trying to level with her when she unreasonably demanded me to be a certain way. I recall being trained to just ‘suck it up’ and take it in my stride.

Undoubtedly this must have generously contributed to the many ‘anger’ issues I developed as a teenager, which have now taken years of yoga & meditation to heal from. Nonetheless, I am thankful for my mother being the way she was.

We were raised to know our boundaries at a young age. We were raised to respect our elders, and not get involved in arguments that disrespected them in any way. This is one of the reasons why, seven years after my divorce, when my ex mother-in-law says something hurtful to me, such as divorcing my ex-husband and rendering my daughter a product of a broken home, I sit there biting my tongue because where I come from, we don’t answer back. We just take it in our stride.

Needless to say, there is some wisdom in that. After all, engaging in, what would inevitably sound like an argument with an older person, who is now fairly set in their mode of thinking and perceiving the world, is largely a futile exercise. So I respectfully stay shut and make some excuse to leave.

Psychologists today would tell you not to repress feelings or contain yourself like a pressure cooker, but sometimes that is the only thing that will ensure peace of any kind. And so it’s something worth paying a little heed to.

However, this era is all too different even from my youth, and I am only thirty-seven years old. In raising my eight year old daughter, I have found that leveling, arguing, reasoning and coming up with all sorts of excuses and statements is much the modus operandi. And that it matters not whether you have ‘ordained’ something to be or not, these days kids find a way to probe, question and eventually make you relent in some form or another.

I would imagine, some parents think it’s a question of discipline. And that inculcating strict discipline and drawing sharp lines would keep the children from getting into word games with the parent. But I am finding that to be a challenge as I raise my daughter.

In schools they maintain a relationship at par with their teachers. Meanwhile, growing up in South Asia, we spent most of our schooling years being frightened of the teachers, never speaking until called upon and certainly never arguing with the teacher if we failed to understand something. I don’t think that was the correct way, I do believe that academically kids today have it better. Professors understand that children are smarter than ever before in the evolution of mankind. The gadgets and information at their disposal is far superior to anything they have ever seen. But when it comes to parenting, it’s a whole other ball game.

So, I call upon my meditative practices, take a deep breath, and very softly explain to my daughter why she’s not allowed to eat desserts for dinner or skip camp, and silently pray that a long tirade of responses doesn’t ensue. Needless to say, it does. And we go back and forth talking and discussing why certain things are just the way they are, and there are no ways to bend the rules. I am sure my mother felt that it was just as hard to raise my siblings and I, even though we never engaged in any argument or asked questions when we were asked to do things that we didn’t much care for.

The upside to this parenting dilemma may be that my daughter does not end up having the ‘anger’ issues that I had, as a result of holding and suppressing so much within me, as I was growing up. That said, I heave a deep tormented sigh as I suspect somehow kids always find a way to be angry with parents regardless of how they are raised.

Destined Encounter

By Dr Moti Peleg and Ronit Rinat

“The most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all science. The one to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wander and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms.”
Albert Einstein

A DATE WITH DESTINY

On the morning of November 14 2007, my life changed forever. I was a guest with my wife Ronit on the Oprah Winfrey show on ABC titled, “The Greatest Love Story Ever Told”. (See ego2heart.org). After Oprah described my love story with Ronit as “A Date with Destiny”, I awakened to the realization that the path leading to our destined meeting with Oprah was already scripted deep in me, early in my life. It dawned on me that all my life I followed interactive signs and synchronicities with intuitive feelings that guided me without full understanding. The signs often signaled to an approaching destined event, a culmination of interactive situations leading to my destined encounter. It is as if I unconsciously participated in a motion, unaware fully of the entire script that has shaped my life. Our appearance on Oprah was no different. It was a significant event in our life that was meant to be.
Three years earlier, destiny united me with my wife Ronit. As a 17 year old boy, I watched the newly crowned Miss Israel (Ronit) in a magazine photo and I felt mysteriously connected to her sad green/blue eyes. Those eyes beckoned to me from afar. Without understanding it, I knew I would connect with her some day, and I did forty years later. In retrospect, whenever I interacted with people and situations that lead to my destined encounters, I always felt like I was drawn without full clarity to something bigger than myself, like a calling of the divine. Today as a psychologist, a soul mate and an intimacy communicator, I still wonder what would have become of my life had I ignored destiny’s magic of hidden possibilities and the power of my dreams.

LOOKING FOR HAPPINESS IN THE WRONG PLACES

People everywhere around the globe, regardless of their various life situations, yearn to feel happy. They strive every day to find opportunities that would bring them closer to feeling good through achievement, material success, recognition and love. Ironically many people feel disconnected from their true feelings, from which they truly are and what they ultimately are destined to fulfill as individuals and as intimate partners. Throughout their lives they continue to crave happiness through the superficiality of ego-driven recognition and prestige. Nevertheless, destiny lurks deep inside each one of us, demanding happiness through the full expression of our spirit. Thus the question remains, if happiness is the overall, most important life purpose, why is it difficult to open ourselves up to the mystery and wonder of destiny?

DESTINY IS INSIDE OF US–THE PARADOX

To understand this dilemma, we need to first explore the concept of destiny and the destined encounter. Destiny is the ultimate meeting with the fullness of our being, with our true purpose. It is inside each one of us. From the time we are born, everything we need to fulfill our lives is built within us including abundance and happiness. Paradoxically, as we grow and mature, we are encouraged to deny our true self, embracing the egotistical belief that our very essence is tied to material possessions. Ironically, we feel cultural validations define us, as well as the power we falsely believe we can acquire from outer sources such as accomplishments, recognition and fame.
We derail our opportunity to encounter destiny when we cannot connect with our soul. We disconnect from a part of us we lost, left vulnerable to the external forces that feed our demanding ego. Yearning for love, as explained by Kathy Freston, is virtually a search to reunite with spirit, with that lost and disconnected part of ourselves, which we always desire. Love thus entails an individual as well as a relationship search, to become more complete and whole. Through a soulful bond, love requires us to actualize who we are, rather than who we think we are. Love is a destined encounter with our true self that encompasses the divinity within us.

DESTINY BEYOND THE SHADOWS

Deepak Chopra and Robert Ohotto stress that our soul is a pure entity within our being that contains the inscription created for our life and this is the blue print of our existence. When we learn to listen intuitively to our soul’s whisper and silently observe the signs and synchronicities of our surroundings, we become conscious of our life’s story and further able to fulfill our destiny.
Ironically, at the beginning of our life we possess a pure life force, and it gradually becomes inhibited by the toxicity of emotions such as shame, anger, guilt and doubt. Inevitably we become further inhibited by experiences of childhood traumas and adult life distresses. And subsequently, holding back these emotions prevents us from realizing our birth right’s gift, our innate potential.

REACHING DESTINED ENCOUNTER

How do we change this human condition and how do we emancipate ourselves to connect with our life’s purpose? According to Chopra, when we learn to live from the level of our soul, we then are able to recognize that the most luminous part of ourselves connects to the mystery and the rhythm of the universe. Thus, we discover the journey to reach our “Destined Encounter” within our self, and we increasingly are able to meet our destiny and live our purpose as individuals and intimate partners. While listening intuitively to our inner voice and to the surrounding signs and synchronicities, we make it a practice to visualize our dreams and inner wishes. Practicing stillness and daring to address the shadows that hold us back from our true self is vital in clearing the way. The shadows within cause us to hibernate through the years and remain fixated in our comfortable and self imposed interactions with our significant others, our intimate partner and the universe. Through an honest discovery via authentic listening and communicating, we address and embrace the wounds, making it possible for the light behind the shadows to emerge. We uncover the gifts that manifest our deepest capacity to be loved and to love.

AN INVITATION

I would like to invite you, the readers, to connect to times in your life where an experience intrigued and overwhelmed you, an experience you could not explain but later led to an important event in your life whether with a situation, a person or an encounter of any kind.

“We have to trust that seemingly isolated events and hard to rationalize decisions that are like musical notes that eventually form the melody that reveals the divinity of our lives.”

Nurriestearns

Dr Moti Peleg

Got Closure? How to Move Forward Powerfully and Positively

Each of us experiences some kind of loss in this lifetime. People come and go from our lives, whether by choice or circumstance. How we cope with these events affects how we move forward, how we see the world, and how we feel about our lives.

I’m not the only person to have been through a divorce. When my first marriage ended after 17 years, I thought I handled it well. It was an amicable parting, and we maintained a friendly relationship. But then a few years later my sister’s husband died unexpectedly. My grief brought up new emotions, and I felt sad and angry and hurt as I relived the divorce in my mind. I realized through this experience that although I had moved on, I hadn’t really gotten over it; I didn’t have closure. I saw the parallels between my sister’s loss and my own, and I actively sought to come up with a formula through which we could both alleviate our pain.

Relationships take many forms: marriage, friendships, family, co-workers, classmates, lovers. Whenever two people have some kind of a connection, a relationship is established. Our energy goes into these connections, our emotions, our hopes, our human vulnerabilities. A relationship is an organism itself, and it can have a life cycle. But since relationship is a spiritual organism, it doesn’t die. It merely changes shape. The relationships we build with the people we encounter continue in spirit, in memories, and in lessons learned.

We are invested in our relationships with other people. We spend our time, and emotions, developing a kind of bond with a person. We give of ourselves, through our love, our friendship, our concern, and our efforts.

When we are faced with what seems to be the “end” of a relationship, we may feel loss, grief, anger or pain. We might even feel relief, or freedom. We may question the purpose for this change, whether it is abrupt or expected, and the necessity of it. The change may or may not be our choice, or our desire, but something we must learn to live with. The uneasiness may nag at us for years as we struggle to understand. How do we get that “closure” that our hearts and minds so desperately seek so that we can move forward with our lives?

We need to shift our perspective a little bit when it comes to relationships. In our human form, we see the illusion of death, and the ending of relationships. But what really takes place is a transformation. As we learn and grow through our relationships, our relationships evolve. We can use this evolution as an opportunity for continued growth, and for personal transformation. The pains that we feel are growing pains. However a relationship changes, whether it is a loss from physical death, a divorce, a move away, a growing up, or a falling out, we can not only survive, but thrive, knowing that everything, always, is exactly the way it is meant to be.

A Natural Law works whether we are aware of it or not. It is a principle of nature that is in effect at all times, without favoritism. Gravity is a natural law. It works the same for everyone, at all times. By being aware of gravity, we can move about more freely, with less risk of pain from falling down.

The Law of Relationship is two-fold. It says:

1) We are all connected.

2) We are here to help each other.

We are all connected in one way or another. We feel the same emotions; we share the same experiences. We are brothers and sisters on this planet. This connection bonds us, and gives us a relationship with each other. A mother in any part the world, can relate to another mother she has never seen because she knows what it means, and how it feels, to be a mother. We are all born the same way, and have to learn how to walk and talk and find our way in the world. We face challenges and heartache, no matter where we live, or how we live. Our connection cannot be broken.

With our challenges and experiences we learn and grow. Our relationships bring us many challenges and experiences, and through our relationships we learn and grow. This is how we help each other. We may not even know that we are doing it, but just by being in a person’s life, in some small way, we are contributing to the learning process, as they are contributing to ours. Our actions affect other people in ways we can’t even imagine. Even in times when we feel hurt by someone, that is an opportunity for us to learn and grow. We might not realize it in the moment, but in some strange and miraculous way, we are helping each other by going through this experience together.

Closure is different than grief. Grieving is looking back; closure is about looking ahead. We want to let go and move on. This is what closure gives us. We may have gone through the grieving process and still not have the closure we seek. The law of relationship helps us to maneuver our way through the five set process of closure: Recognition, Acceptance, Understanding, Integration, and Gratitude. When we reach a feeling of gratitude, we know we’ve come full circle to experience closure.

Closure is actually the perfect word for it. It’s more than neatly tying up loose ends. Think about life as a series of events and relationships, all linked together in some sort of artistic way, like a beautiful piece of jewelry. We can’t wear a necklace or a bracelet if the chain is just left dangling. The jewelry maker finishes off the piece by adding a clasp, one loop that kind of ties together the beginning and the end, the start and the finish, so that what we are left with is one strong continuous chain. Our closure is that clasp. Closure helps it all make sense. It turns something seemingly broken into something useful, purposeful, and lovely.

Lissa Coffey is the author of CLOSURE and the Law of Relationship: Endings as New Beginnings.  http://www.ClosureBook.com

 PHOTO: Flickr / ecstaticist

Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help Your Wife (and Yourself) Through Diagnosis, Treatment and Beyond: Part 1 — Diagnosis

I remember only too well the day my wife found out she had breast cancer. And I remember only too well what an idiot I was when she told me.

Let me give you a little background. On the last week in August of 2001, my wife, Marsha, had a mammogram that showed a suspicious finding. She’d had many a suspicious reading before, and it was always a false alarm. So when she went to the radiologist for a callback, she wasn’t nervous. Neither was I.

At 11 a.m. Marsha called me at work. Her voice sounded strained. I knew something was wrong. A very blunt radiologist took a second mammogram and said, “Sure looks like cancer to me.”

My response deserves a spot in the hall of bad husbandly remarks: “Ew, that doesn’t sound good.”

Instead of rushing home to her side, I stayed at work all day. Really, it was much easier on me. And much harder on Marsha, who was left wondering, “Did I call the wrong husband?”

I wish I knew then what I know now. Let me give you a few tips, learned from bitter experience and personal screw-ups, on how to support your wife or girlfriend after a cancer diagnosis.

Tip #1: Be there. Man, my wife was so mad at me for not coming straight home from work. What was I thinking? I was thinking, “I have no clue what to do.” But all I needed to do was hug her, hold her, and say, “This is awful news, but we’ll get through it together.”

Tip #2: Shut up and listen (also known as the breast cancer husband’s motto). Ask her how she’s feeling. Listen empathetically. That’s therapeutic for the patient. Even if she feels lousy. Then ask her what she wants you to do to help. And follow orders.

Tip #3: Be her appointment pal. In the crazy days after diagnosis, your wife will run from doctor to doctor, seeking the best team to care for her cancer and sorting out treatment options: Lumpectomy or mastectomy? Chemo before or after surgery? What kind of chemo? Your job is to go with her. Hold her hand in the waiting room. (One study shows that hand-holding reduces stress!) Take notes or record each visit, because patients in shock typically forget much of what the doctor says, and what they do remember is often wrong. And help her keep track of questions she wants to ask. My wife and I used to come up with a list before the doctor’s visit. I’d be the keeper of the list. As the clock was ticking, I would gently remind her of questions to ask – but never ask for her unless she wants you to.

Tip #5: Don’t tell her what to do. Husbands want to protect their family. So many a guy feels he should make decisions for his wife regarding treatment. Don’t do that! She must make choices that make sense to her and her medical team. Your job is to be her sounding board. She may ask, “Do you like this doctor?” Or “What do you think about this surgical option?” Be honest. But don’t be hurt if she doesn’t take your advice. It’s like at work. You give your boss your best ideas. The boss listens. And then the boss does what the boss wants to do. And I don’t have to tell you who’s the boss when it comes to breast cancer.

Tip #6: Try to laugh. It took weeks after Marsha’s diagnosis to recover our ability to chortle. We went wig shopping in a salon catering to cancer patients. I saw boxes of really big wigs. “Honey, would you mind trying one on?” I ventured. Marsha was a sport. Suddenly, she was Dolly Parton! We cracked up. The other customers must have thought that guy and his wife are nuts, cackling like fiends. But for the first time since diagnosis, we felt like ourselves again.

 

Visit Breast Cancer: Healing the Whole Woman to read all of our breast cancer content.

Marc Silver is the author of Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help Your Wife (And Yourself) Through Diagnosis, Treatment and Beyond (http://www.breastcancerhusband.com/).

The Art of Marital Conversation

The problem with communication … is the illusion that it has been accomplished.
~George Bernard Shaw

The day at work has been horrific. Emails never stopped. The voicemail light kept flashing. The boss needed the information yesterday. And to top it all off, you had a fight with your wife as you left this morning.

You feel the tension coming from the house when you get out of your car in the driveway. The kids are in their rooms doing homework and your wife approaches you and says the words most men dread: “we need to talk.”

It seems at this moment, most men have the fight or flight response. I can berate her about the timing of things, continue to insist that I’m right and she’s wrong. Or I can shrug it off and disappear with the TV, the Internet, alcohol, or the work I conveniently brought home.

What is it about talking that is so difficult for men? Granted, this does not apply to all men, but most have some trouble with deep conversation. Especially when it comes to conversing with our spouse.

A brief history

Men have been educated from birth to compete, judge, demand, and diagnose. We are very adept at seeing a problem that needs fixing and developing a way to fix the problem. Unfortunately, this fix is according to the man, possibly not taking into account those around him. This is due in part to our learning to think and communicate in terms of what is “right” or what is “wrong.”

To add to this, we often express our feelings in terms of what has been “done to us” rather than being independent of those around us. We mix up our needs and we ask for what we’d like using demands, guilt, or even the promise of rewards. This should come as no surprise since this is how many of us were raised by our parents.

At best, the basic ways men think and communicate hinder communication and create both misunderstanding and frustration. At worst, they can lead to anger, depression and even violence.

Communicating with your spouse do’s and don’ts

  1. Talk face to face. Anytime you are in a discussion with your spouse that is beyond the scheduling or surface level, do it face to face. If this is not possible, the phone will work, although this can limit the connection and increase the possibility of misunderstandings. Never try to cover deeper issues via email or text messages.
  2. Turn off other distractions during the conversation. If you’re working on the computer, minimize the work or better yet, shut the whole thing off. If you’re watching TV, turn it off. If you are afraid of missing something in the game, get Tivo.
  3. Don’t answer the phone. If it rings in the middle of the conversation, you have voicemail for a reason. Let it do it’s job.
  4. Take the time to listen to her point of view. You are only one part of the relationship. Consider her side of things and ask for clarity if you don’t get what she’s saying. You don’t have to agree with everything she says to still love her. But it will help to understand her if you listen.
  5. Forget about being right or wrong. As soon as the discussion turns to who’s right and who’s wrong, you’ve both lost. If you have an insatiable need to always be right when it comes to your spouse, riddle me this: what’s it like to be married to a loser? If you have to always be right, that makes your spouse always wrong. It’s not about right or wrong most of the time.

Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.
~Rollo May

The art of non-violent communication

Do you think it is possible to connect with what is alive in ourselves and in others from moment-to-moment? Dr. Marshall Rosenberg says yes. His non-violent communication techniques focus on how we express ourselves, how we hear those around us and how to resolve conflict by focusing our consciousness on what we are observing, feeling, needing, and requesting.

In order to connect on a deeper level, we have to check ourselves throughout the conversation. Often, whenever our emotions spike during the discussion, we will change the subject or attack the other person in order to help us feel better about whatever is going on at the moment.

My grandfather once said that when a person involved in a conversation raises their voice, it’s no longer about what best for all involved and the current situation. It’s about their power and their pride.

The art of conversation at a deeper level:

  1. Focus on the intention. Most marital conversations can be simplified down into one of two categories. A chance to be closer together or a chance to be my own person. Humans vacillate between being too close together or too far apart. Conversations are often used to either bring us closer together or create some space between us. If what you are really wanting is companionship, understanding, compassion, then say so outright. If on the other hand you are wanting some space to chart your own course, speak up. Both connection and separateness are necessary parts of every relationship (for more information on this subject check out my Ebook, The Simple Marriage Matrix).
  2. Seek compassionate connection. This is done primarily by the conversations not being tied to a particular outcome, like being right or something you’d like the other person to do. Focus on being clear with your side of the conversation and then clearly hearing their side. This may mean you don’t agree. So what. You are two separate individuals. You are not going to see eye to eye on everything.

The conflict or issue may not be resolved, that’s not the point. A mutually satisfying outcome is where both people are heard and understood. Think of your conversations in terms of sex. When both people are satisfied, the connection is much deeper and lasting.

Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much.
~Robert Greenleaf

 

From SimpleMarriage.net.

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