Healing & Co-parenting After An Affair

If Tiger Woods and Elin Can Do It – So Can You!

Four years after their split-up, Elin Nordegren shared that she and ex-husband, Tiger Woods have a “really good relationship.”

I am not one for “gossip media” – at all. However through my research on this topic of my passion, peaceful divorce and having extraordinary family life no matter what the circumstance, I came across this story and it put a smile on my face.

Many of you likely know about the story of this famous couple. Tiger broke the sacred promise of monogamy in his marriage by engaging, not once, but dozens of times in extramarital affairs.

Affairs are damaging to marriage. Once that promise is broken, trust is broken with it.  broken rings

Although there are many success stories of couples who successfully re-create their marriage vows on a new foundation of trust and continue to be married for many years, there are more stories of those who split up and go their separate ways after.

It is rare for a couple to go through this kind of marital devastation and come out the other side in good relations, whether still together or not. However, it is possible. And Tiger and Elin are an example of this. As Elin explained, they have a good relationship and the focus on their children.

When there are children involved in any divorce, it is critical for the couple to develop a relationship as co-parents, regardless of the personal relationship breakdown. That takes a level of maturity. It takes a willingness to learn and grow in the process so those issues don’t get in the way of providing a healthy upbringing to the children.

Here are some important steps for separated couples after an affair(s):

Forgiveness – the first person who often needs to be forgiven is the one who had the affair to be forgiven by their self. The one who had the affair is usually filled up with guilt and even self-hatred. Forgiveness is “for” “giving”. Only you can give it to yourself. And the same goes for giving  another.

Trust Building – throughout your co-parenting relationship, practice making and keeping promises, small or big, that TRUSTdemonstrate reliability. It is important for the other partner to see a demonstration of some shift in character that will lend to the integrity of the parenting relationship and role-modelling to the child(ren).

What’s In The Past, Stays In The Past – once a couple has moved on, do not keep bringing up past incidents as a way to prove something wrong about the other person. “See? You always…” Or, “There you go again…” are usually communications that kill off the co-parenting (or any) relationship. This keeps people in the past, and unable to be in the present simply attending to the task that is, in reality, at hand in front of them.

While there are many other practices to take on in order to develop your relationship after an affair, I thought I would offer these few today.

If you have any questions about this subject, please don’t hesitate to contact me @ tallie@peacefuldivorcecoach.com

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HOW TO LOVE IN ANY GIVEN MOMENT

Earlier this month in my blog, “How to Talk to Your Kids About Divorce” I introduced the concept of “Pouring On The Love” so your children feel nurtured, important and secure during and after the separation or divorce process.

A reader wrote in and asked, “How can I pour on the love when my situation is such that I have 4Busy Mom with groceries children between the ages of 5 and 15, who are with me all but 2 weekends per month, I manage a household, a full time job, doctor appointments, etc….How do I make sure they are getting enough attention?”

Busy Dad in kitchen

Seeing as many of us parents can relate to having this type of concern, I thought I would share this with you all.

Pouring on the love is not always easy, but it is simple and is not necessarily what it seems. Mostly we think we need more time: If we had more time we could be more loving. While that perspective seems to make sense, it is not the only possible way. Being loving can happen in a given moment, in the process of doing what you’re doing.

For example:

Scenario: Take 1!

You are busy making dinner after a full day’s work. Maybe on the phone hands-free at the same time. Your child walks in the kitchen and wants your attention – to tell you a funny story or to complain about their sibling’s wrong-doings. In that moment, how you respond speaks. The first reaction may be a thought in your mind, “Argh, I can’t handle this all right now” or some version of that thought or feeling. When you react from there what is likely is an annoyed, frustrated type of reaction (words, body language, tone of voice, etc.), leaving your child with some experience of being a burden or the like. Mom screaming at child - funny

I don’t think there is any parent who couldn’t possibly understand and completely relate to this kind of experience. And, while this is understandable and even justified, the outcome we are left with is less than satisfying, and if the truth were told, we as parents are left feeling pretty horrible, and not how we truly want to be.

Take 2!

Your child comes to you with the same interruption to your dinner-making. Instead of reacting with annoyance and frustration that may initially be there, you choose to be loving there and then.

And…Action!

“Can you hold on a moment?” you say to the person on the phone. You stop what you are doing temporarily. Look at your child in the eyes, and ask, “What is it?” And listen. (Often this takes less time in reality than our mind anticipates the interruption will be)

Then determine how to deal with whatever your child has said. If it was a story share, give them a kiss and say, genuinely “Thank you for telling me this. I’m getting back to making dinner; we’ll be ready to sit down together in about 15 minutes.” Or, if it was a complaint regarding a sibling, see if you can offer a word of advice for them to handle the situation and encourage them to go back in there and deal with it. Dad listening to daughter

How you deal with your child actually speaks, often more than the words themselves. In this scenario your child is more likely to be left with the experience of being important and loved.

And Cut!

Now, you may reflect on this and think, “how can I be this way, really?” or “How can I be this way all the time?”

Hold on. Give yourself a break. You are in the “practice of parenting” AND if you’re in the process of separating or divorcing, you are in the “practice of parenting through separation” now, too. The operative word is “practice.” Allow yourself some grace and space. You will have some successes and you will have some failures, just like anyone who is practicing being good at something that is important to them.

The key is: Stay The Course.

And, I recommend that you don’t “be alone” in your practice. Buddy up with another like-minded parenting adviceparent or friend to support each other.

 

Consider getting some coaching or training from a professional on mastering this craft so you have more wins than failures over time.

Did this help you? Please leave a comment or question.

How To Manage Other People’s Opinions About Your Break Up

why are we friends

 

 

 

I remember in 2009 finding myself sitting in a lawyer’s office after stating I want sole custody of my daughter.

It felt strange. Like an out of body experience. But it was clearly me, sitting in my body, sitting in that office.

The “wake up moment” happened after I told that lawyer that I’d just brought my daughter to her father’s house for a Father’s Day visit and was planning to take her over there the next day again. The lawyer responded, “Don’t do that”

I asked, “How come?”

He said, “Because if the two of you are able to communicate between yourselves, then you don’t need me.”

LIGHT BULB MOMENT!

At the core of my value system is Communication. What I heard the lawyer telling me (and I’m clear that he was just doing his job cause I asked him to ‘get me sole custody’) was to go against my core value….in order that I can have the lawyer speak for me.

I thanked the lawyer for his time, went home and proceeded to call my ex-partner. Within a 10 minute phone conversation that neither of us will forget, we ironed out a custody and visitation agreement that we and our daughter are all happy with. We sorted out our inter-personal differences over time, and, until today, we maintain extraordinary communication.

Why am I sharing this?

Well, what led me to seek out sole custody and end up in the lawyer’s office was the opinion of other people who love me and care about me, and who were worried about what might happen if I don’t get full custody. Friends giving advice - guy and girl

Were they wrong to express their opinion about what I should do?

Absolutely not.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that my emotions were clouding my vision so much that I was reacting to those opinions out of desperation, as opposed to listening to those opinions as exactly that, opinions.

So how should you manage other people’s opinions?

  1. Be open to listening to what people have to say, but remember it is their view based on their experience and knowledge. You want to weigh those views with your own carefully.
  2. Be clear about your vision for your self and your family life.When you have a sense of the end product you envision for your life personally and your family-life you can weigh those opinions against that vision. Ask yourself if pursuing those others’ approaches will lead you closer to your vision. The answer may be ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and that is for you to determine and pursue.
  3. Be grounded in your core values.Often we think we know what our core values are but we actually have them mixed up with something else. Take some time to connect to your inner core, your soul, or what you believe is really important, no matter what. These core values are the anchor that keep you being ‘you.’ When your friends and family express their views, tune in to your core values and see if their suggestions would be an expression of your core values or not.

This is a dance; a paradox. Yes – listen to what others have to say. And, Yes – listen to yourself.

Please leave your comments below as I’m always curious about your views….

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How To Talk To Kids About Divorce

You or someone you know may be getting divorced and haven’t told the kids yet.
  • How do you know when is the right time?
  • How do you know what to say?
  • How do you know how to deal with their response?
Parents Talking To Kid These are the most common questions and concerns of separating parents.
Here is a brief guide to support you or a friend in need:
Choose your timing. Though there’s never a “good” time, there are not-so-good times: school days, right before you head off to work, just as your child is going to dance class or sport practice, or just before bed. When she hears the news, she may suddenly feel unsafe and alone. She needs you to be there. Choose a moment when you’ll be together afterward to offer plenty of hugs and reassurances.
Tell her together. Even if you disagree about everything else, try to agree on what to tell your child, for her sake. Ideally, you want to deliver the news as a team. Telling her together avoids confusion. It helps preserve your child’s sense of trust in both parents.
Keep it simple. Speak in terms your child will understand, limiting the initial explanation to no more than a few key sentences.
For example, you might start with “Mommy and Daddy have done a lot of thinking,” then explain, for example, that Daddy is going to get a new apartment/home. Aim to know what the visitation days and times will be before the conversation so you can share those details. It will comfort your child to know she’ll continue to see both of you and that there’s a plan.
Tell your child that it’s not her fault. Children may blame themselves for the breakup, even if they don’t say so. Your child might think the change is happening because she didn’t do something properly like clean her room or do as well in school as might have been expected. She might also assume some responsibility for trying to fix the problem.
Tell her flat out that the divorce is an adult decision and has nothing to do with her.
Avoid the blame game. However angry you might be, don’t blame each other for the breakup, and avoid arguing in front of your child. Also keep to yourself any details about issues that didn’t work in the marriage.
Sometimes one parent may feel so upset that they want to tell the child about the other spouse’s egregious or erroneous behavior. Refrain from this. Children will take this as a betrayal — or worse, criticism of them. For example, if one calls the other a “liar” or “cheat,” they begin to see themselves, half the product of that parent, as half a liar, half a cheat.
Answers to common questions from kids about divorce:
“What’s a divorce?” Your basic response could go something like: “Divorce means Mommy and Daddy won’t live together anymore. But we’ll always be your parents, and we’ll always love you.”Gently try to find out what she believes or knows about divorce in general and what friends or schoolmates they know whose parents are divorced. This will help you understand the notions she has about divorce and what fears she may harbor about losing friends, families, a parent, a home, or social standing. While divorce is common, it can be awkward for your child at a time when kids are comparing themselves to each other and fretting about fitting in.“Why are you getting divorced?” Don’t go into too much detail and keep the emphasis on “we.” Avoid saying anything like “We don’t love each other anymore,” because your child might assume you can also “fall out of love” with her. You might say, “we work better together living apart and we decided we would do what is best for everyone.”

“Will I still see Grandma and Grandpa? (or other family or friends) Let her know what to expect regarding seeing relatives. Ideally you can say with authenticity that she will continue to see relatives as has been in the past and even that on holidays like Christmas, Passover, Eid, Kwanza or the like, there may be times when you spend it all together.

“Where will I sleep?” At this age, your child will have a lot of questions about how her daily life will be affected: “Will I still go to my same school? Who’s going to take me to dance/skiing/soccer?” These are very real concerns for a child, so go over the details. For example, “You’ll still live with Mommy here in our house. You’ll have a home at Daddy’s new house; you’ll have your own special bedroom.” Depending on what you agree on, you can tell her she can be part of searching for the new place and/or picking decorative items, etc.

“Who will take care of Daddy (or Mommy, depending on which parent is moving out)?” Your child might have a sense of empathy that’s developed enough for her to actually worry about the parent who is moving out.
Reassure her that the other parent will be just fine. You might say, “Daddy might miss you when he’s not with you, but he won’t be sad because he would see you again very soon.”

Next steps:

Pour on the love. Divorce is difficult for children to understand and accept. While your child adjusts, she’ll need a lot of your affection and attention. Resist the urge to talk constantly on the phone or let TV become the sitter. Give her more snuggle time or extra time during bedtime routine. Just as you benefit from your support network of relatives and friends now more than ever, your child needs extra hugs and kisses from you.

Keep talking. Even after the news has sunk in, be prepared to go over the same explanations and answer questions again and again, for weeks or even months. Make sure she knows that you’re open to questions about the divorce any time, even if what you really want is to stop talking about it. One way to keep the lines of communication open is to read kids’ books like Ricci’s Mom’s House, Dad’s House for Kids, or Lallouz’s The Case of the Clown Who Lives in Two Tents.

Keep routines consistent. Sometimes divorce can make it difficult to maintain routines or even keep the house tidy. But continuing a child’s regular schedule, in Mom’s house and Dad’s house, makes children feel safe. As much as possible, make basic mealtimes and other rituals the same between the two households. Make sure the kids keep going to school and any classes or practices — the more things remain the same for your child, the more stable she’ll feel.

Be aware of signs of trouble. Your child may have difficulties adjusting to visitation and custody arrangements. Look for signs like misbehavior or withdrawal, particularly after a visit with the other parent. To open up a dialogue without putting words in your child’s mouth, say something like, “I’m wondering if you’re missing your Mom right now.” Your child might just need time to transition from one household to the next or a safe way to vent.

Consider seeing a family coach or counselor to guide you and your child through this transition. Other parents have said it is the best thing they could have done as it gives a safe place for each parent, personally, to have support, and for children to ask questions or talk about things, without worrying about upsetting their parents.

Make a point of remaining positive. If your divorce means, as it often does, that you’re taking a financial hit and they can no longer have every toy they want or take expensive vacations, let them know you’ll still do lots of fun things together.

PLEASE share your comments below…

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