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How to Travel Post-Divorce

travelingIf there is one thing divorce is good at doing, it’s knocking people down a peg, or 10. After a divorce, you are probably feeling a few of these common symptoms: Unloved, discarded, broken, over-stressed, and emotionally and financially drained. True, you may be feeling or experiencing these symptoms of divorce now, but know this too will pass.

After the divorce, and near the tail-end of the mourning period, you will feel life seeping back into you, and maybe even smile twice a week. This is the perfect time to take a little post-divorce trip.

A Post-Divorce Trip. Is That a Thing?

Post-divorce trips are gaining in popularity, but aren’t quite established life events yet; there is no manual on post-divorce trip etiquette, or a “Congrats on your post-divorce trip!” Hallmark section. However, there is a philosophy behind the post divorce trip.

The post-divorce philosophy is that life is too short to not enjoy it. After a divorce, people usually have one of two responses: 1) They feel drained, lifeless, and like life is nothing but a mess; 2) They feel empowered to live life how they want to. A post-divorce trip works to make the divorce a part of the past and to offer people a new perspective.

Post-Divorce Tripping on a Budget

If you’re reading this blog and thinking, “Yeah, go on a post-divorce trip, with what money?” then we invite you to think outside of the box. Some trips can come with a hefty price tag, but there are ways around that.

We found a great article with fantastic ideas about traveling on the cheap, if not completely free. You may not end up in four-star hotels with vaulted ceilings and canopy beds, but your experience will be just as real and rejuvenating.

Tips to Post-Divorce Tripping

The whole idea of post-divorce trips is to rejuvenate yourself and your life. So here are a few tips to prevent anything from zapping your rejuvenation and life-affirming experiences.

Tip #1: Go somewhere new. On this trip of rediscovery and wonder, choose a destination that is completely new to you. By submerging yourself in a completely new environment, it will give you the chance to make memories that are untouched by the divorce or the daily stresses. Also, by going somewhere without connections to anything or anyone, you will be able to put the focus where it needs to be right now: you and your happiness.

Tip #2: Don’t pack unnecessary baggage. During the trip resist the urge to contact your spouse. In fact, leave the world behind. Limit your phone calls, texts, instant messages, social media updates while on your trip; at home, those are welcome distractions, but while on your post-divorce trip they are just intrusions.

Tip #3: Choose your company wisely. If the prospect of traveling alone seems frightening, but intriguing, then it might be in your best interest to take the leap and learn to be your own best company. If the prospect of traveling alone seems downright terrifying, then there is no harm in recruiting a travel buddy; but, the travel buddy must have certain qualities.

The travel buddy cannot:

  • bring up painful memories

  • allow you to wallow the whole trip

  • be a pessimist

The travel buddy should:

  • make you laugh

  • be adventurous

  • have a great shoulder to support you with

Where will you go on your post-divorce trip?

Do Fathers Have Custody Rights?

fathers rightsParents: Have any of you parents found yourself with your foot shoved far into your mouth? Yeah, so has every other person at one point in time. But trips to the playground seem to coincide with sudden cravings for the taste of feet. The huddle of parents watching their children play is a breeding ground for innocent-enough small talk, until one person makes the assumption that the divorced father just has visitation.

Each person in the group suddenly is interested in the look of their shoes, eyes widen, and lips slowly are pressed into a thin line. If the seemingly-innocent comment was fresh of your lips, your eyes mirror the apology currently flowing from your mouth.

The Truth About Father Custodians

If the father had heard this before, and is aware of the statistics, they probably were not too offended. After all, the 2009 U.S. census reports only about 17.8% of fathers gain full custody rights of the children after a divorce. It was just your luck that you bumped into the 1 father out of 6 who was the custodial parent. But, if you are the father fighting for custody, don’t let past statistics guide your choice to fight the good custodial fight.

Historically, fathers were the preferred custodian of any children in a divorce or marital split (which we discussed at length in a previous blog); but at the turn of the century, mothers became the championed custodial parents. Ever since the switch in child custody doctrines (read the blog and you’ll understand), the number of custodial mothers have all but stomped out the number of custodial fathers.

In custody battles, fathers may dejectedly say or think, “What’s the point of fighting for custody? The courts never favor the father.” But we are here to say, “Buck up, soldier. These days, fathers have just as many rights to custody as mothers.”

Fighting the Good Fight

We don’t normally endorse any kind of animosity or battling, but when a child’s true best interests are at stake, we fully support fighting the good fight. And besides, single fatherhood is quickly gaining momentum in American society.

In 1993, Indiana became the first American state to pass a child custody law in favor of joint parenting plans. Since then, the other U.S. states have passed similar custody laws championing joint parenting plans. As a result, the amount of single fathers grew by 37.9 percent between the years of 1990 and 2000; the rate continued to increase by 27.3% between the years of 2000 and 2010.

The Pen is Mightier

Although the world we live in might seem to enjoy horrific wars, the pen really is mightier than the sword; this is true especially during a custody battle. Nowadays, courts are focusing more on the best interests of the child, instead of the genders of the parents and child involved.

The courts generally consider the best interests of the child to be factors like:

  • maintaining the same standard of living

  • living in a stable, familiar environment

  • living with the parent who cared and provided for the child on a daily basis

If the father provide examples of all the factors above (and the other state-specific requirements), then he has a good chance of gaining custody. However, don’t take our word as divorce law. If you’re embroiled in a heated custody battle, you should probably seek legal guidance.

We try our best to be helpful and informative at MyDivorceDocuments.com, but we can’t cover everything without hearing from you. If you have a question or comment, let us know in the comment box below. We’ll do our best to get you the best information available.

Post-Divorce Kid-Friendly Moving Tips

Divorce might as well be a synonym of the word “change,” because life is the never the same after divorce enters the picture. Conversations with your spouse aren’t the same after divorce is discussed, family outings don’t have the same cheery feel, and the wedding ring on your finger feels just a little too cold. But those feelings are nothing compared to the changes your family will have to face in the months and years to come.

One of the biggest changes for children is the new living arrangement. Undoubtedly, someone is moving out of the family home, which is stressful for children. But when the entire family is moving out of the family home, and moving to different places, the children are left reeling.

Walk in Their Size 4′s

A study published by the University of Virginia looked into the relationship between the frequency at which a person moved during childhood and the person’s life satisfaction as an adult. In 1994, the researchers interviewed 7,108 Americans between the ages 20 and 75 years-old about their childhood moves,personality types, and life satisfaction.

The researchers found people who moved less during childhood reported having more extroverted personalities and a higher satisfaction in life. People who moved more during childhood reported being more introverted and feeling less satisfaction in life.

But let’s take a little reality check: This study did not observe the children during childhood moves, and only asked participants to vaguely describe their life satisfaction. Additionally, there is no reported information about the participant’s upbringing or other childhood experiences.

Now Guide Their Size 4′s

Here’s the point we want to make: Divorce and the task of moving can be disastrous for a child, but don’t despair that you child will become a delinquent just because the family is moving. Just like everything else in life, there are good ways to handle a situation and not so productive or positive ways to handle a situation.

Many a parent is probably throwing their arms up in indignation, yelling “What else am I doing wrong now?!” Just bear with us, we are not trying to tell you that moving will cause your child irreparable damage. We are just saying it might be prudent to check in with your child about their feelings about moving; and by “might be” we mean “it is.”

Make Their Moving Frown Upside-Down

Here are a few tips to make moving less of a traumatic incident and more of an exciting event.

#1: Keep the communication lines free and clear. Communication is the most important element in a healthy relationship, and it is the best way to make sure your child have everything they need to be happy and healthy.  Take time out of each day to talk to your child about their take on moving. Let them speak freely about the anger, fear, excitement, or anxiety they feel, and try to leave your stress out of this moment.

Moving for divorcing parents is more of a necessity, and maybe even a welcome change. Just recognize moving does not mean the same things to your child, and let them be able to confide that in you without scolding or pressure to change their feelings.

#2: Inclusion is better than dictation. The family dynamic has changed, and now the physical family make-up is changing. For your, child this is an apocalypse; so seize the moment to create a new and improved family dynamic and make-up.

If the family used to be run just by mom and pop, then make this the the beginning of the era of inclusion. Let the kids have a say in where they live, how their room looks, and how to decorate the new house. It will reassure them the family is still theirs to be a part of.

#3: Give them closure. The physical act of moving is as simple as putting things in boxes and trucks, and transporting them to the new house. But moving involves memories, sentimentality, and the disruption of normalcy. For your children, they are leaving everything they know in the world for a foreign land.

To make the move more conclusive, we suggest these 2 things: 1) Wait to move until the end of the school year. Not only would the mid-year move affect their grades, but getting to know a new neighborhood, teacher, friends, and life style would be too much to handle at once. 2) Have a little farewell party or tour. Take you child to visit their old favorite places and friends. This will give the child a positive end to the move, and maybe even excite them for the new places and people they’ll love.

Divorce Vows: Say ‘I Do’ to Your Future

A Huffington Post blogger recently brought up an interesting topic: vows. You took them when you married, so why not make some when you divorce? After all, divorce is definitely as significant an event as marriage, if not more.

Divorce could be considered even more significant than marriage because it is emotionally, financially, and physically wrenching. Marriage is a big change, but the joining of lives is not only a happier event, but it is less complicated than separating lives.

Happily Never After Vows

So, again, we ask, “Why not make divorce vows?” Divorce vows can help embrace this particular life change by actually creating a blueprint for your healing process, and it might even inject a little humor into the mix.

Although divorce vows might be a modern practice, at least it isn’t a public affair like the even more modern divorce party. Divorce vows can, and probably should, be done privately, with the focus of the exercise on yourself, healing, and your future.

Written From the Heart

If you’re at a loss for where to begin writing your divorce vows, take a look at the blogger’s divorce vows. She makes vows to her ex and to herself, and although she admits her vows would be different had she written them a year ago, try to make your vows free of malice and spite.

But if the divorce process is still hot, then go ahead and let your vows convey your anger and pain. View your divorce vows as goals to recovery. Currently, you are sick with pain and anger, the goal is to be healthy and balanced again.

Bringing Out the Inner Poet/Guru

As always, we have a few pointers, and we are more than eager to share them with you.

It’s all about ambiance. Don’t let writing your divorce vows be a rushed, last second event; after all, the only time frame involved is your own. Plan the day/night you are going to do the deed and prepare for it. Set the tone for the night according to your goal. If the divorce is fresh, your goal might be to work through your feelings, so the night might involve loud music that really fires you up and a (as in one!) strong drink. If you are ready to focus on healing and moving on, the night might be one of luxury, filled with your favorite meal and more inspirational music. Make your divorce vows just as special as the ones you made to your now-ex, you deserve it.

Keep your vows fresh in your mind. The whole point of a vow is to follow through on the promise you made. It’s easy to write something one night, put the paper away, and never think about what you wrote ever again. Don’t let your vows be empty words; post your vows somewhere in the house where you can gaze upon the words every day. If it helps, have the vows reproduced into a piece of art so they are something to actually behold; fancy letterhead, a painting, or even on your daily coffee mug are good options.

Don’t forget to renew your vows. Although you might be happy with your vows, and the way they look, don’t forget their purpose. The divorce vows are goals to meet, hurdles and obstacles to overcome. So every 6 months revise or rewrite your vows to be current and fitting with your evolving life.

If you have recently had to click a pen to sign divorce papers, life can be summed up in a few choice words, like “suck,” or “not according to plan.” But after 6 months or so, life might be summed up in different words, like “ever-changing,” or “surprising.” The time after divorce is a break in life when people learn the most about themselves and what they want. Divorce can be a blessing if you take the opportunity to grow and learn.

What are some divorce vows you’re ready to make right now?

Divorce Talk: Telling the Kids

If children understand and identify with anything, they understand and identify with the fictional characters in their favorite movies and books. Northbrook psychologist Dr. Leigh Weisz, who specializes in children’s issues, understands this better than anyone. Weisz also understands what children need to hear, and how they need to hear about their parent’s divorce, which is why she wrote “Kara Kangaroo’s Candy,” a children’s book about divorce.

From One Kangaroo to Another

From the moment the relationship between the parents starts to become strained, to the moment the parents utter the word “divorce,” the children intuitively sense there is trouble in paradise. Similar to how animals have an innate sense of direction, children have a sensitive barometer of the emotional climate in a room.

This superpower all children have is one of the innovative elements discussed in “Kara Kangaroo’s Candy.” In fact, the book was written because Weisz could not find the perfect book to address divorce for her office. “Kara Kangaroo’s Candy” was written to help children cope with divorce, and for parents to understand how to approach the topic with their children.

Tips to Talking with Your Child

An article on PyschologyToday.com put some practical research to an even more practical purpose. Researchers interviewed children individually at length about their parent’s divorce, and the children’s responses have been published to provide parents with divorce pointers. However, we won’t completely ignore Weisz’s helpful info in this list, so don’t be surprise if you see a mix of both source’s advice.

Tip #1: Obtain some good vibrations. Take into account that your child is picking up signals like a metal detector on a volcanic island. Also take into account that although your child is, well, a child, their instincts kick into high gear to fix problems that are being ignored in the family. So do yourself a favor and be honest with yourself and to your child during this difficult time. Also do not forget to emphasize, reiterate, repeat, and go over again the fact that the divorce is not the child’s responsibility or fault.

Tip #2: Plan the family pow-wow. As it turns out, children vividly remember when they were told of the divorce, and they remember it forever. It’s suggested to actually give some thought, if not plan detail for detail, where and how you will deliver the news. Compose yourself for the task so your children don’t forever remember their parents blurting out through sobs they are filing for divorce.

Tip #3: Don’t direct the flow of feelings. As a parent it’s hard not to process your child’s feelings for them; like when they fall off their bike and run to you with a scared, confused expression on their face, the common response from you is, “Oh, that scared you, didn’t it?”

When having the divorce talk, do not try to help them out with their feelings as if divorce is a bike fall. Let your child tell you how they feel, and don’t try to fix the feeling just yet; this is something they will have to heal for themselves over time, and no help from you will make it any easier. Also, you cannot know how the child is feeling until they pin it down and tell you. By trying to paint them as sad or hurt, when they are just shocked, but understanding, it will make it harder for them to honestly face their feelings with you later.

As I’m sure you are aware, there are mounds of other tips about breaking the big news; some of these advice tidbits are sought out and some are rather forced, but we hope these were both palatable and helpful.

If you’ve been there and done that, and want to share what worked for you, feel free to share your experience below.

Fuzz Therapy for Divorce Healing

Not that anyone really needs a reminder of how much divorce impacts children, but it does. A lot. Even if you and your spouse have done everything to make the divorce easier on your child, divorce will have an impact on them in some way for some time. Thankfully there are ways to make it less awful, namely something I like to call Fuzz Therapy (as coined by the immortal Calvin and Hobbes cartoon).

Rosalind Sedacca, a Huffington Post regular, recently published an article about the healing relationship animals and humans tend to have, and how that relationship can help children cope with divorce. As if we needed another reason to love animals.

More Reasons to Love Animals

Not that animals can replace parents or human interactions, but animals provide a strange emotional stability for humans, even (or especially?) for small humans. One of the most distressing things for a child during the divorce process is no longer sleeping in the house with both parents. When it was one family in one house, the home was an impenetrable fortress; now that it’s sort-of one family in two houses, the home(s) is(are) vulnerable to intruders and the elements.

In Sedacca’s article, she cited the following 6 benefits an animal provides to a grieving child: Unconditional love, a confidant, security, bridge to adults, stress reduction, and a best friend.

However, these 6 elements can actually be lumped into 3 more succinct elements.

3 Reasons to Bring in Animal Backup

#1: An animal provides unconditional love, which is an umbrella for the best friend and confidant elements of friendship. If you are skeptical of that statement, just observe a child and a person walking a dog interact on the street. The child is drawn to the dog and wants nothing more than to pet it and be bosom buddies; this is because the animals will always love, play, and pay attention to the child (it also helps that the dog can’t tattle on the child).

#2: Pets love routines, pet love seeing their owner come home everyday, and pets love to be pet for hours at a time. At the same time, this enthusiasm for routine and companionship is comforting and healing to people big and small. A pet, and the routine they inadvertently create, shapes the environment into a secure home. Petting an animal is also scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety (more on than later).

#3: We’re not exactly sure what “Bridge to adults” means, but here’s our best crack at it: Divorce wrenches the family structure, thus confusing and worrying the child about the future of their family. Introducing a pet into the family structure might act like glue, binding and bonding the family to something new, in spite of the divorce.

Fuzz Therapy, It’s a Real Thing

Animal therapy has been part of the medical practice for about 150 years, and can be attributed to Florence Nightingale‘s influence. However, in 1980, the medical community thought it was time to make it an official medical practice, with research to back it up.

Humans and animals make each other healthy and happy, as discussed in an NPR segment that aired on March 5, 2013. Heart attack patients who own a pet lived longer than those without a pet. Horse-riding lessons are helping an autistic 9-year-old boy further develop his speech, social, and listening skills. Many hospitals now have animal ambassador programs, like UCLA’s People-Animal Connection (PAC), which has been running since 1994.

The connection formed between animal and owner is healing, comforting, and inspiring. Also, interacting with an animal (like petting an animal) increases oxytocin (the hormone that makes people feel happy, relaxed, and trusting) and reduces stress.

We know owning a dog isn’t always feasible, but even for busy apartment-dwellers, you can always adopt a cat or buy a hamster. In case you were wondering, we’re on the child’s side when they beg, “Please, please, please can we get a pet?!” And we put up a good argument too.

To the Women Who Populate the World

happy mothers day!As we all know (or at least most of us know) America celebrated Mother’s Day yesterday, Sunday, May 13th. Let it just be said that it wouldn’t surprise me if all the staple items served at a brunch are a scarcity today. But lets move past the odd notion that mothers particularly love combining breakfast and lunch; what we really are here to talk about is what Mother’s Day is (and was) really about.

Where Mother’s Day Came From

No, Mother’s Day was not brought by a horde of storks. Although female goddess were always honored on certain days in the days of mummification and toga-wearing, Mother’s Day does not have such deep roots. In fact, Mother’s Day is one of the holidays with the most shallow roots.

Mothering Day is the oldest link to modern Mother’s Day. Mothering Day was a day in the late middle ages (1600′s) when people traveled from all over to attend service in the main church of their parish on the fourth day of Lent. Slowly, Mothering Day grew to include celebrations for real mothers, but Mother’s Day did not migrate to the U.S. until 1870.

Mother’s Day, American Style

Julia Ward Howe wrote a manifesto in 1870 proposing an American Mother’s Day, which would be a Mother’s Day of Peace. This was in response to the horrors and high death toll of the Civil War. Howe wished Mother’s Day would bring families together, and would unite mothers against their children killing other mother’s children.

After a few decades of women (namely, Anna Reeves Jarvis, and her daughter Anna M. Jarvis) sponsored what they hoped would be Mother’s Day revivals, it was passed as a National holiday by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914. From that day on, Mother’s Day has been the second Sunday of May every year.

A Happy Mother’s Day Means…

I’m not sure how ceremonies for goddess, main church pilgrimages, and anti-violence holidays transformed into a day when women get flowers and are taken to brunch, but we’ll take it (sort of).

For parents who are both mothers and fathers, Mother’s Day can be described as rubbing salt in an open wound for single mothers and fathers alike. So just as a suggestion, for all mothers really, let make Mother’s Day even better in the future.

For starters, why not try asking your mother what her idea of a dream day is? After all, it very well could include sipping on a mimosa and smelling her bouquet.

Divorce from a Young Child’s Perspective

The dramatic event of filing for divorce is a manifestation of problems within the spousal relationship, which children are innocently caught in between. What’s even more emotionally troubling to contemplate is the common tendency for children, especially young ones, to somehow feel responsible for their parents’ separation. While that responsibility is always far from the case, they internalize the divorce and struggle to understand its complex reality.

What children need to always understand, no matter what is happening in any aspect of their life, is their unfaltering, complete innocence. Parents and other family members can help them remember this universal fact by paying attention, talking through the emotional difficulties, and showering their children with consistent support and reassurance.

Center of the World

What if you were able to read the diary of a small child going through their parents’ divorce? According to Stephanie Duckworth, licensed clinical manager at a behavioral health agency, it would sound something like this:

“If only I had been better, maybe they wouldn’t have broken up. Maybe, if I’m really good, they will stop fighting and get back together. Mom said she hates him, but I don’t. I really miss him, even if he does dumb stuff sometimes. What if one day Mom decides I do too many dumb things and doesn’t love me anymore? I feel so sad and my tummy hurts. I don’t tell Mom. I don’t want to make her more sad or mad or both. I don’t think she would understand. My family is broken. I feel broken.”

An important thing to remember about young children is the way they understand their place in the world. It’s hard for them to see that certain family problems have nothing to do with what they have or haven’t done, and they are in no way to blame. The world they can comprehend is small and they themselves are at the center of it, with parents in tightly intertwined proximity.

It’s evident from the excerpt that the vulnerability of young children creates a tendency to be confused and blame themselves. This affects their behavior in certain ways, like shutting down, becoming moody, and not talking about their feelings to their mom or dad, fearing that this would make things worse, and that they are the cause.

Effective Communication and Support

Talking about feelings is key. Even if the child prefers to speaking out to another trusted adult besides the parent, it is incredibly helpful. Like adults who keep things bottled in, children who do so run the risk of developing physical symptoms of the stress, such as head or tummy aches. Releasing emotions in mutual, simple discussion will help remedy this as well as their feelings of being to blame.

Without overwhelming them with too much information about the details of the divorce process, parents should work to state the facts and reassure their child of their unconditional love. It’s also important to avoid saying hurtful things about the other parent in front of the child; children love both their parents. In return, they need to know that they will always be loved, and reassurance of their innocence.

Delaying Divorce: Delaying the Inevitable?

57441057The sadness and emotional stress the divorce process involves makes it tempting to delay a divorce, perhaps permanently. The question anyone who is contemplating divorce would benefit from asking themselves is this: “Am I just delaying the inevitable?” It is a tough question no one can answer but one spouse or the other. If the answer is “yes,” then delayment means staying in a marriage that is in a constant state of turmoil in favor of putting off the other, more temporary, turmoil of cutting the marriage ties.

There are a few clues that point to the reality of imminent divorce, the basic one being that you are utterly miserable on a daily basis. That’s a pretty good sign. Otherwise, coming to the decision to divorce can be confusing and daunting. It’s usually time to divorce when you are preoccupied with the constant thought of doing it, and all attempts at convincing yourself or your spouse to change things have failed.

Lost, Desperate Causes

Sometimes grim reality is hard to face. But as soon as you face and accept difficult things, the quicker you’ll be able to do something about them and move forward. This philosophy is what therapist Abby Rodman incorporates in her article chronicling common cycles in which partners delaying divorce find themselves entrapped. Here are a couple to look out for:

Trying to Change Your Spouse’s Mind

We’d all love to have the superhuman power of magically changing someone’s perspective or feelings regarding a long-standing issue, whether it be the story of how your marriage went wrong, or whether divorcing is the right thing to do. The tough reality of this kind of push-pull situation, Rodman explains, is that it doesn’t work. Emotional stances that serious rarely, if ever, convert to the other side of the argument. So taking months or even years to attempt this feat is unnecessary delayment.

Pushing the Blame

Another type of counterproductive attempt at persuasion is fighting to determine the blame of the relationship’s approaching demise. Part of escaping this trap is taking responsibility for mutual blame. As Rodman says, “You’ve both played a role in the disintegration of the marriage. In the end, does it really matter who shoulders the blame?” Arguing over a faulty, biased claim like blameworthiness is never-ending and definitely doesn’t solve anything.

The Choice is Yours

A main piece of invaluable advice when residing in the limbo of divorce that’s possibly looming on the horizon, is to follow your heart. As cheesy as that may sound, it’s the key to staying true to yourself. Only you know the day to day reality of your marriage and how it’s affecting your livelihood. If the thought of filing for divorce repeatedly haunts your mind, it must be for good reasons. Trust yourself and the life you want your future to hold.

What do our readers think? What do you believe are the clear, tell-tale signs that divorce is the right decision?

The Perfection Trap and How it Hurts Marriages

86515138A big part of the work of being married is biting your tongue and accepting your spouse, mistakes and flaws included. The alternative is a downward spiral of criticism and resulting resentment that often leads to a contentious, exhausting divorce process. Whether one of the partners (or God forbid, both) are bona fide perfectionists or not, letting perfectionist criticisms and expectations infiltrate a relationship is destructive, yet preventable with a little perspective and self-awareness.

There are a few key triggers and remedies of the perfection trap. An overlapping, general principle to remember, which we all sometimes easily forget, is the good-old golden rule: treat others how you’d want to be treated. Somehow the unexpected desire to nit-pick and judge others, especially those you care for the most, causes us to overlook this nugget of truth that creates harmonious love in relationships.

Self-Awareness and an Empathetic Perspective

Luckily, understanding the origins of one’s penchant for criticizing a beloved helps to crawl out of the contention trap and see a situation for what it really is. Susan Heitler, Ph.D., offers a few insights to what triggers lashing out and how to zap the tendency before it zaps your marriage.

1. Physical Stress: There’s a new-world term I found circulating the internet pages of social media–”hangry.” The word is a combination of “hungry” and “angry.” We’ve all been there, whether it’s due to hunger, physical exhaustion, or other bodily plights that seemingly render our ability to be nice unlikely. Before you know it, you’re spewing fiery, venomous words of disapproval and complaint every which way you step. The trick is to be aware when you are in those vulnerable states and fervently warn your spouse about his/her resulting danger in your presence. Take care of yourself and you’ll be more likely to take care of others.

2. Mental/Emotional Stress: The same goes for other kinds of wear and tear. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or trying to juggle too many tasks at once, you are more likely to find fault in your partner in crime. Little does he/she know that the criticism isn’t really about them; it’s about their partner’s stress needing to find release on something or someone. Taking it out on another person doesn’t help, of course, but instead only creates another stress to add to the list due to the inevitable arguing that ensues. Realizing that your stress is the result of other things besides your partner’s relatively minor faulty behavior will help you stop and think about your actions before they do damage.

3. Different Perspectives:  Finally, stepping outside of yourself to see the world with your partner’s eyes will do wonders for the marriage, especially in those times you’re tempted to point out mishaps. Perhaps when they make a mistake, they are going through some stress of their own. Sharing inner turmoils will strengthen empathy and understanding.

Take Home Message

No one is perfect; not you, not your spouse, not a single human on the earth. Everyone knows this fact on some level, but just about everyone tends to forget it when they feel the urge to blurt out others’ flaws without tact or compassion. It would be a tragedy to let petty things build up to the point of filing for divorce. To avoid that road and the pain of criticizing loved ones, let’s all follow the golden rule and forgive imperfections.