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This Special Needs Parent Has One Piece of Marital Advice Every Couple Should Hear

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 2.30.05 PMBeing a parent is hard enough to one or more healthy and active children. When one of those children is afflicted with a special need like Down’s syndrome or multiple sclerosis, it can put a lot of stress on Mom and Dad. In fact, some stats have estimated that around 80 percent of couples, who have a special needs child, get divorced.

Blogger Melanie Gomez is a special needs parent herself, and she doesn’t exactly buy this. In a post for The Mighty, she doesn’t try to candy coat how tough this part of her life is, and the stress it places on her marriage from time to time, but she does feel it to be a blessing instead of a curse. And she has one piece of marital advice that can apply not only to special needs parents, but to married people in general. Her words:

“Here’s my advice: You can choose, each day, to be on the same team or not. There is enough coming at you — plenty of opposition — and you don’t need more inside your own home. You have only one other person with whom you can choose to side, huddle and share those thoughts and fears that no one else will ever comprehend. The sooner you get the ‘same team’ mentality going, the sooner you’re on your way to overcoming any obstacle.”

Gomez says that she and her husband have developed an “us vs. the world” mentality, and it has served them well for more than 22 years of marriage. Here are some things to remember as you adopt this mindset.

1. Being on the ‘same team’ is easier when you share a common challenge.

In Melanie’s case, it’s being good parents to their special needs child. But this doesn’t mean their whole marriage is about ensuring their child’s survival. No, it’s what they learn about each other through this challenge. They learn they can depend on one another to help; that they always have each others’ backs; and that each day is easier with one another rather than without. What challenge can you share together as a couple?

2. No one in the world can understand what your challenge is better than you and your spouse.

By leaning on one another instead of turning away, you further strengthen the bond that gets you through good times and bad. Too many couples seek comfort and solace in something outside of the marriage — be it an affair or an addiction — instead of confronting their doubts and fears together.

Marriage isn’t easy to do well, especially if your first instinct is to give up when times are hard. But no matter what pressures the outside world puts on you, you can find relief in each other as long as you’re both looking inward. Good luck!

Infidelity: Why You Should Hold Off Telling Friends and Family

At some point in most people’s lives, they will be cheated on by a significant other. When that SO happens to be a spouse, it amplifies the negative effects and makes it extremely difficult to recover. Many victims of infidelity are caught between working through the marital issues or dumping their spouse altogether. This uncertain balancing act means that telling your support unit — friends and family — is a delicate issue that you shouldn’t jump right in to.

For starters, close family and friends have a harder time with forgiveness than you do.

If you are serious about working through the issues and saving your marriage, it’s going to be tough doing that when your best friends and closest family members want to stick your spouse’s head under a guillotine blade. And while their anger may eventually subside if the two of you are able to work through it, it will never fully go away, and that makes for a lot of awkward gatherings in your future.

Secondly, it’s not fair to tell family and friends until you know what you want.

Friends and family often have to sit on suppressed anger and animosity when you tell them about the affair while still deciding if you want a divorce. Any advice they dispense is limited. They’re being thrust into an awkward situation they’re unfamiliar with where they don’t have any clue what the appropriate response is. In other words, they don’t know how to help you if you don’t know how to help yourself.

Thirdly, whatever issues that exist between you and your spouse will not benefit from the inclusion of outside parties.

Friends and family can be a shoulder to cry on — once you know what you’re going to cry about — but they can’t make your mind up for you. That’s something you’ll have to learn on your own, and it’s something that is wholly contingent on where you and your spouse decide to go from the infidelity. Healthy marriages are healthy because of the work that the two spouses put into it. Telling your friends and family about the infidelity if you’re both prepared to do the work in fixing your marriage will only hinder that.

So when can you tell your friends and family?

When you’re sure that the marriage is over and it’s time to move forward with the divorce, they can be of great assistance in helping you heal. Until then, though, it’s information you may want to sit on.

What do you think, readers? Should infidelity be kept hidden from friends and family until you learn what you’re going to do about the marriage? Sound off in the comments section below.

Dumbest Divorce Mistakes 101: TMI on the Internet

Getting a divorce can put you in a vulnerable position, and when a person gets vulnerable, they tend to make mistakes that the calm-thinking, level-headed version of themselves would never make. The rise of TMI posting to the Internet is one of the likely outcomes. Today we’re going to look at this phenomenon that so many people in the social media generation haven’t learned from. Here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Don’t allow yourself to post or tweet until you’re emotionally mature enough to do so. 

If you feel like venting or saying something off-color about your ex, then here’s a suggestion. Say it to a friend in private, not on social media where that bad boy can be screen capped and submitted as evidence before you have a chance to come to your senses and delete it. There’s a reason Facebook appears in such a large number of divorce filings. It’s often a rich source of evidence.

2. Don’t treat your social network like a therapy group. 

It’s embarrassing for you and annoying to your friends, colleagues, and family members (assuming those are the people who “follow” you). Try to save comments of the sort for actual therapy with an actual professional, who is paid to listen. Not with people who just wanted to get their daily dose of cat videos.

3. Don’t get sucked in to, or create, drama.

Facebook in particular is an easy place to get sucked in to and/or create drama with your ex as well as people you both know who might be “on your ex’s side.” Believe me, I know from election season that it can be hard to let stupidity go unchecked, but for the good of your case, don’t do it.

4. Assume that everyone is watching what you do and say and that the next wrong thing could screw up your entire life.

Why? Because if even one of the “wrong people” see a TMI post on your Facebook, that’s exactly what will happen. 

What are some of the dumbest things you’ve seen someone post on social media? Sound off in the comments section below.

How to Set Boundaries with Your Ex

Boundaries are a survival mechanism that you and your ex should have in place before moving forward with any semblance of a post-divorce relationship. Without these, it is impossible to move on with life and heal from the wounds caused by your divorce. To help you better set boundaries with one another, here are some tips.

1. Do difficult communications via email or through another non-threatening channel. 

You both know there will be situations that arise where it’s best if you’re not in the same room with one another. These intense feelings of animosity — frequently present in the early stages when the breakup is still raw — usually subside with time, but only if you give them the proper distance to dissipate. Therefore, consider avoiding face-to-face confrontation for however long is necessary and going with a “safer” route like email or text message. Since emotions are harder to convey through these modes of communication, it should be easier to avoid misunderstandings.

2. Never leave things up for negotiation. 

If you ever hope to move on with the kind of life you deserve, you have to start living it no matter what the other person says. This is easy when there are no children involved. It gets more challenging when there are. Still, don’t ask permission to do things that are well within your right as a parent to do. Just be open and go through with it. 

3. Be willing to take as well as you give. 

If you’re going to live life by the standard set forth in number two, then you have to be prepared to take the same behaviors in reverse. If anything, you should expect it because that means your ex is moving along with their lives as well. The key, however, is in a paraphrase of a previous statement: as long as it is “well within their right as a parent to do,” it shouldn’t concern you enough to fight about it.

4. Show respect without capitulation. 

If your ex does have something to say about a decision that you make, weigh the statement against his past behaviors and the previous attitude he has displayed involving your divorce. Your ex isn’t always wrong just because they’re your ex. If you find that they are wrong, you can respect what they have to say without responding to it in a manner that encourages conflict. Do this, and they will, in time, likely reciprocate.

5. Don’t allow your child to run roughshod over you. 

By being a strong and decisive parent, your ex, and your child, will grow to respect you more. As a result your ex is less likely to challenge the boundaries you have put in place.

What were some boundaries that you had to set with your ex after the divorce? Sound off in the comments section.

Reclaiming a Spouse’s Love: Is It Even Possible?

Once the D-word is brought into a marriage, it can be difficult to ever recover. That’s because when a person is fed up enough with the relationship to say divorce, they’ve usually made up their mind already. Unfortunately, this can lead to some erratic behavior as the party who wants to save the marriage tries everything in their power to win back their spouse. Are these people wasting their time and sanity on something that will never pay off, or is it possible to reclaim a spouse’s love once it has been lost? 

For answers, we turn to Success Dating. The website recently looked at this phenomenon and had the following to say. 

“We are very quick to judge that we no longer love someone just because the feelings fade. With proper understanding, we can expect that even if the feeling may not be there, it doesn’t mean we don’t love. … In truth, love is a commitment. It is not just a feeling, it is a doing thing. A mature person loves by choice and not simply by circumstance.” 

To get the relationship back on the path to love, the author recommends two things right away. 1) Open a dialogue about the problems you’re having; and 2) Listen to what your spouse is feeling. Bringing in a counselor or mediator at this point can help facilitate the process, but it’s important to remember that you both have to be willing. 

If your spouse has checked out of the relationship entirely, you will need to come to terms with the fact that you can’t make someone feel an emotion that isn’t there. 

So yes, it is possible to reclaim a spouse’s love once that love has been lost, but the best option that you have available to you is to try counseling together. If that doesn’t work, consider counseling on your own and commit to self-improvement without any anticipation that the relationship will ever turn around. Working on improving oneself is the best way to change how someone feels about you, but at the end of the day, it’s up to them. And if they are done with the relationship, then you should be, too. 

Have you ever been in a relationship or marriage where one of you fell out of love and then had a change of heart? What was it about the situation that changed your thinking? Sound off in the comments section.

How to Bring a Relationship Back from the Brink of Breakup

Bringing a strained relationship back from the brink can be one of the most challenging things that you ever do. After all, it’s kind of like trying to force something that at one time felt so natural. However, the moment that you realize the work involved in a relationship is the moment that you can start working toward the process of re-ignition.

Recently on an Exhale TV, Dr. Nicole LaBeach generously shared three tips that can bring couples closer together if they’ve drifted apart. Here’s how to do it.

1. Turn towards each other, not away. 

One of the first things that LaBeach insists for a couple to do is to turn toward one another rather than their friends and family. If there are issues in one’s life, don’t confide in people outside the relationship and expect your partner to still feel close to you. The moment that both partners start doing this together is the moment that they will forge a stronger bond.

2. Don’t forget why you got into the relationship. 

Unfortunately, many couples fall apart because they forgot why they fell in love in the first place, LaBeach observes. Instead of looking at one another and seeing the love of their lives, they take that person’s presence for granted and begin to view them as a piece of furniture that blends into the room. Couples need to spend more quality time together if they’re feeling taken for granted and/or like they’re taking their partner for granted. They need to date and have conversations like they did when the relationship was new or else it’ll never feel that way again. 

3. Make an effort to forgive.

The longer you’re together, the greater the likelihood that you will hurt one another. That hurt won’t often come in massive, grand acts of infidelity. It could simply be a subtle loss of respect over time. But it will happen from time to time, and how you respond to it makes all the difference in the world. The only way to move past it and pull your relationship back from the brink is to make an effort to forgive each other, LaBeach notes.

What are some things that have worked for you in revitalizing your relationship? Is Dr. LaBeach’s advice correct? Sound off in the comments section.

Soldiering On: How to Fight Through and Against Divorce Warfare

One oft-cited statistic in discussions about divorce is that four out of five times, it’s only one spouse wanting to end the marriage. What this means is that the unwilling party will do anything they can to keep things together, even when there is no hope of doing so. This can create significant conflicts on both sides of an issue as the one spouse works to have her wishes honored and the other tries to force something that isn’t there. 

With such competing interests, it’s only natural that things can get ugly, but if you find yourself in one of these contentious types of divorce, take heart. There is a way through. Here’s how you can fight through it and against it. 

Fighting Through It

Demand and give respect. Too often you’ll have one spouse demanding respect while refusing to give it themselves. This can be seen in an adulterous spouse, who places her needs front-and-center without really caring how it affects her spouse. Similarly, a spouse, who doesn’t want out of the marriage, can get so wrapped up in their own wants and problems that they refuse to hear what their spouse is telling them with the words, “I want a divorce.” It can be the hardest thing to do when you’re ready to move on with your life — or when you’re trying to preserve something that isn’t working — but resolving to both give and demand respect will solve many issues between parties. 

Fighting Against It

While the above sounds nice, it isn’t always possible to keep calmness and respect as the order of the day. When your spouse won’t be denied their fight, you can fight back by not giving them what they want. How do you do that? By not engaging in any words or actions that will escalate the conflict. Keep your eyes on the prize — getting through the divorce and setting your life on the right path — and be goal-oriented. Repress any urge toward an emotional outburst that you may feel. Be cold. Dry. Businesslike. If you aren’t playing by their rules, they’ll eventually have to stop playing by them as well. 

What were some things that helped you through a contentious divorce or breakup? Sound off in the comments section. 

Relationship Toxicity: Signs You Should Cut Your Losses

For the vast majority of relationships that fail, the end never happens all of the sudden. The signs are usually there in the relationship toxicity. They poison every aspect of one’s happiness until eventually there is a breaking point. That breaking point can seem like a surprise because of a thing called denial, but if you’re attune to the warning signs then you’ll see where the relationship is headed long before it reaches the end.

Today we’ll look at just a few of these signs. See if any apply to your marriage. 

One: Nothing you do is good enough. 

Any time that you take initiative, is your spouse more likely to complain than anything else? Do they make you feel down on yourself or are they always hyper-critical, seeing the negative before the positive in anything that has to do with you? If so, then your relationship is toxic.  

Two: They’re self-centered. 

They come home from work. They talk about their day. They go off on that jerk of a boss or the co-worker, who never does anything as good as they do it. They never once stop to ask you about your day. There isn’t awareness that you even had a day. You’re simply there to hear them talk.  

Three: There is never peace. 

Is your spouse always at odds with someone? Is it usually the other person’s fault (to hear them tell it)? Do they have criticisms about you, your family, your friends, etc., and only too happy to share? If your spouse is the kind of person that drama seems to surround, then that can only spill over into your relationship and turn it toxic. 

Four: You don’t feel like you can open up to them. 

Whether it’s something you prefer in the bedroom or an interest/hobby you have that you want to explore, you don’t feel like you can ever tell them about it because there will be criticism or resistance to the idea. Also, if you want to pursue a new interest or crush a bad habit they enable, you can’t get encouragement to pursue the growth and change you desire. All these feelings point to the fact that your relationship is toxic. 

In Summary

There are remedies to toxic relationships that don’t involve divorce, but it’s so hard to manage them because it takes the commitment of both people, and toxic people don’t often realize they’re toxic. While it’s admirable to save your marriage, you can’t do it alone in these situations, and you shouldn’t have to.

How to Channel Anger in Healthy Ways

Anger is one of the oldest human emotions, and in divorce, it’s one of the most common. Feelings of betrayal and self-doubt — which are typical of a split with your spouses — can easily give rise to this caustic emotion. But here’s the thing about being angry. There’s nothing wrong with it, as long as you’re finding the right ways to channel it. Here are some of the healthier ways to do just that.

1. Realize it’s a dangerous emotion if improperly expressed.

Like a wildfire, it can spread throughout your system and boil over in unhealthy ways, charring a swath of destruction to all those in its path. Victims can include your ex, but they can also include your friends, family, and children. The moment that you realize what you’re dealing with, it becomes easier to control it.

2. Be goal-oriented, not past-oriented. 

Hallmarks of people incapable of controlling their anger: they continually relive the worst parts of their marriage over and over. They fail to take one proactive step to overcome what they’re feeling. They snap at anyone and everyone and seldom have anything positive to say. Don’t be those people. They’re too focused on the past. By setting goals and then working to achieve them, you won’t have time for anger, and you’ll like the person you become much better.

3. Live for the people you have, not the ones you lost. 

Spouse leave? Did they take some of your best friends with them? Don’t fret over that. Instead observe the people who are still around. These make up your support unit, and they deserve your love and attention for being there. If you start living for them instead of the ones you lost in the divorce, you won’t have it in you to be angry.

4. Self improve. 

The divorce may not have been your fault, but that’s no reason you can’t look at areas of your life that need improvement and then commit to making those improvements. Be it your wardrobe, your waistline, your disposition, your career — find areas where you can grow, and then grow them in the right direction.

If you commit to the four tips above, you won’t necessarily get rid of the anger, but you’ll use it to build yourself up, and that’s ultimately what you want to do.

Marriage Tip Of The Day: Be Unpredictable

One of the major keys to a healthy relationship includes keeping things fresh between you and your spouse. How do you do that? By keeping them on their toes, in a good way.

For example, if your spouse is the one who does most of the cleaning around the house because you work more, take advantage of those times when she is away to tidy up the place. Do the dishes, run a load of laundry, fold clothes, sweep, vacuum — do it without asking.

If your spouse has worked really hard and he wants a day to veg out and play video games, make a gift of that to him.

These are just examples that underscore the importance of the unexpected in a committed relationship. If you know your spouse and you’ve been paying attention, then you know what it is they enjoy. So find a way to give it to them.

But also, keep this in mind: your spouse doesn’t necessarily want you to enjoy what they enjoy.

They just want to see that you appreciate what it means to them. That’s why, in the video game example, the answer isn’t necessarily to join in with him in a day-long gaming session. It’s simply to make the time and the circumstances fit to what he wants to do.

Knowing what your spouse would like to do with you and what your spouse would rather do alone is an important aspect of delivering the unexpected because it shows that you have an understanding of how they operate and how to make a gesture that will have the most significant impact on their happiness and well-being.

If both parties are committed to each other in such a way, then a strong marriage or relationship is within grasp. However, reciprocation is essential. It can’t be one-sided, or bitterness and a feeling that one isn’t appreciated will set in.