How to Stop Being Overwhelmed When Dating

Marriage

Marriage (Photo credit: Lel4nd)

Dating can be overwhelming.  There is quite a bit of advice about it but not much about preparing yourself to date.  Deciding in advance why to date and what type of person to date, makes decisions easier.

Why date.  For some, the purpose of dating is to discover if the person has the potential for becoming a long-term partner.   This is not about getting a marriage proposal on the first date; rather it is an acknowledgement that there is a desire for something more.  For others, dating has one purpose, to have fun.  For the fun seekers, the idea of any commitment longer than one date is too much for them.  Generally speaking, this is why those interested in just having fun are not good matches for those interested in long-term commitments.

Don’t waste your time.  If you are dating to find a partner, than wasting your time with those just having fun can be frustrating.  Once you discover that your date is not interested in the same outcome, parting ways on friendly terms is better than stringing out a relationship that will eventually end with resentment.  Most likely the person desiring the long-term commitment will resent the fun seeker because they won’t change their mind.

 Decide what matters.  If you are interested in a long-term commitment, than deciding what matters to you in a partner is better done before you meet them.  This is not a time to decide that your future partner should have blue eyes or black hair because you want kids with that combination; rather this is a time to be selective about what really matters.  Fifteen years later appearances change.  If you fall in love with the appearance of a person and not their intellect, character, or heart, then you will have built the foundation of your marriage on a sink-hole.

Make a list.  This is the hardest part of the process, making a list of the qualities that are really important and compliment you in some way.  For instance, if you know that you are a spender when it comes to money, then you are better off marrying a saver.  If you are coming into the marriage with kids from a previous marriage, then it is essential to have a spouse that loves kids.  If you like to watch weird Sci-Fi movies, then it is good to have someone who can enjoy them with you.  The list should be long and as specific as possible without too much detail.  Writing down a general statement such as “good sense of humor” is not specific enough; rather “enjoys a dry sense of humor” is a better statement.  On the other hand, too specific statements limit your prospects.  This is about finding a balance.

Prioritize.  Once you have your list, put your list in the order of priority in your life.  A person who is active in the ministry of their church might have at the top of the list a person with similar characteristics.  Items such as moral beliefs, value systems, desire for future children, good reputation and employability should be close to the top of the list.  The bottom of the list may include appearance preferences, location, or family background.  However, you may decide differently then suggested, remember this is about your desires for a mate not about someone else.

Use the list.  Please do not bring the list on the first date and begin questioning the other person about the items that are important to you.  This is a bit on the crazy side and is more likely to scare someone away rather than draw them closer to you.  Instead, pick one or two and investigate if your date has the qualities you are looking for in a partner.  Then work your list a bit at a time.

Dating with a purpose in mind and with an understanding of the type of person you are looking for in a partner, makes the process more enjoyable and less frustrating.  It also saves you the heartache of spending too much time and investing too much emotional energy with Mr. Wrong or Mrs. Wrong.

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org or visit my website at www.growwithchristine.com.

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New Divorce Laws Coming To Florida

Official photo of Florida Governor Rick Scott

Official photo of Florida Governor Rick Scott (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

In a very interesting turn of events, Florida Governor Rick Scott vetoed a bill which easily passed both the House and Senate changing the way divorce is handled in Florida.  If the bill became law, permanent alimony would have been abolished and custody arrangements would begin with a 50/50 split.  Many states have already abolished permanent alimony and the latest trend seems to be moving in that direction.  While judges in Florida were already prejudice towards a 50/50 split of custody, this bill would have forced them to work begin from there and change only if there were extenuating circumstances.

 

The hiccup in the bill however was that it had a retroactive clause which could have potentially changed every divorce already agreed upon in the courts.  According to the news report below, this is precisely the reason why Governor Scott vetoed the bill.

 

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/05/02/florida-gov-scott-vetoes-bill-that-would-end-permanent-alimony-in-state/

 

If the bill became law, nearly every divorce already finalized with alimony and custody arrangements could have gone back to the courts.  Such a move would have made many attorneys wealthy.

 

Since this bill easily passed both the House and Senate, it is likely to be reintroduced in the next session without the retroactive clause.  The bottom line is that if you are in the middle of a divorce right now and don’t want your custody split to be 50/50, than finalize the divorce now.  Don’t wait because you might not get a better deal later.

 

 

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org

 

How to Decide to Divorce Your Spouse

divorce-broken-wedding-rings-290x160One of the hardest decisions of my life was to get a divorce.  At some point and time you finally come to the sad realization that you bring out the worse and not the best in your spouse and vice versa. While there were many appropriate reasons for my divorce, airing them out now would only be self-serving.  Rather, after 17 years of blissful marriage to my current husband, my tumultuous first marriage of 3 years has long faded in my memory as if it happened to someone else.  However the reality of its existence still pops up from time again and is a constant reminder to me of God’s mercy and grace.

Perhaps you are struggling right now with deciding if you need to get a divorce and it should be a struggle.  Deciding to break a promise and covenant should not come without challenges, questions, frustrations, guilt, indecisiveness, and doubts.  All of those should exist and it is an indication that you are taking the matter seriously.  Nonetheless, here you are trying to make the decision.  How can you do it?  How can you break up the marriage?  How can you give up on your spouse?  How can you face that person who told you not to get married in the first place?

Separate.  It is difficult to see things when you are right in the middle; it is like trying to see the forest through the trees.  Take a step back and separate from your spouse for a while to gain more perspective.  This should be an agreed upon separation for a period of time to reflect and work on individual issues.  This is not a time to blame the other person but rather to recognize your part in how the marriage fell apart.  The separation can even occur within the same house as long as you have an agreed upon set of boundaries.

Change.  Once you have separated then you can begin the process of changing the things you need to change about yourself.  For instance, you may find that you have become a negative paranoid person when you were not like that prior to your marriage.  Granted, there may be very good a reason for your negativity or paranoia but this is the time to change the parts of yourself that have grown in an unhealthy manner.  Focus on your own change first.

Forgive.  Forgiveness is much easier said than done and is definitely not a one-time act.  First, you must begin by asking for forgiveness for your own poor choices before you begin to forgive your spouse.  Recognizing your need for forgiveness softens your heart and prepares you for the next step of forgiving your spouse.  However, forgiving your spouse is not about releasing him from responsibility; rather it is about your ability not to replay the incident over and over again in your mind inciting huge amounts of anxiety to the point of panic.  Forgiveness is for your benefit.

Evaluate.  After you have completed all of the steps, now it is time to evaluate the state of your marriage and see if divorce is really the right decision.  The steps do not need to include your spouse but the process of restoration is far easier if he is a willing participant.  If he is not willing, then that decision becomes a factor in your final decision.  Weigh your options out more carefully when you decide to break the commitment of marriage than you did when you decided to make the commitment of marriage.

Time.  Take your time making the decision looking at it from a spiritual, emotional, physical, legal, and mental aspect carefully weighing the impact it will have on the people around you especially if children are involved.  Resist the temptation to just get it over with and take your time.  Pray, ask for guidance, read, and talk to trusted family and friends.  Sometimes there really is no perfect solution, only the best out of several bad options.  Once you have made the final decision however, do not drag things out longer than needed.  This will only cause more pain for you and the people around you.

Hope.  Beautiful things can come out of the ashes of shattered dreams.  Whatever your situation, divorce does not need to define you as a person or change you into someone you wish you had not become.  Instead, use your divorce as a fresh start and a chance to do things better the next time.  Don’t be afraid to set new standards and hope for a better relationship the next time.

Deciding to divorce your spouse is a tough decision and should not be taken lightly as it will become one of the hardest decisions you will have to make.  Sometimes you are not in control of the decision as your spouse has already decided it for you.  But when you are, take a step back and choose wisely.

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

 

Don’t Lose Your Christianity in Your Divorce Part 2

So what does it meant to love someone who you are divorcing?  Let’s review the second part of this passage from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

Not Demanding.  Wanting things the way you want them is demanding, selfish, immature, and often unrealistic.  It is so hard to see things from your ex’s point of view during a divorce but your Christianity asks this very thing of you.  It takes a great deal of self-control to put your wants aside and see things from your ex’s perspective however if you can do this, your divorce will go far smoother.

Not Irritable.  Being irritable at you ex will come very naturally for you as just a text or picture of them is likely to spark intense feelings.  This is one of those times when either your emotions will control you or you will control your emotions.  It is normal for you to feel irritable towards your ex but that does not give you permission to act irritable towards your ex.

No Record Keeping.  Forgive, forgive and when you don’t know what else to do, forgive again.  Your ex may entice you to anger every day during the divorce proceedings, forgive them.  Your ex may make rude comments or remarks on texts, emails, in person, or by phone, don’t return the remark but forgive them.  Your ex may relive the past over and over, don’t return the record keeping but forgive them again.  You will have to forgive your ex a thousand times during your divorce and when the thousand is up, forgive them yet again.  This is not about being a door mat or letting your ex take advantage of you, rather it is about not letting your ex control you through your unforgiveness.

Truth Wins.  You may not see the truth win out during your divorce, you may not see it win out after the divorce, and in fact you may never see the truth win during your lifetime.  But the end of the story is that truth does win when Jesus comes to reign as King and you may not even know the full truth.  So don’t rejoice when things go badly for your ex for you never know when things may go just as badly for you.

Don’t Give Up.  Too many times this verse is quoted trying to convince the other person that they should not give up on their marriage.  It is often wrongly used in the context of trying to control and manipulate behavior by saying that you should never give up on your marriage.  But when this verse is put in the context of love, it is love doesn’t give up.  Not giving up on your ex is not about the marriage, it is about your attitude towards them.  Because you love them, you will not give up on loving them regardless of their behavior.

Don’t Lose Faith.  Having faith in your ex is having faith that their intentions, however horrible they may have been at one time, are honorable now.  Again, if evidence proves to the contrary and your ex’s intentions are not good, you don’t have to keep expecting a different more hopeful result.  But you can remain faithful in love and with good distance that one day the tide will turn and there will be closure and restoration of a limited relationship.

Hopeful.  Love is hopeful that in the end all things, issues, differences, struggles, frustrations, troubles, and relationships will be resolved.  Our hope is not in this world or in this lifetime, rather it is a hope and promise in meeting your Creator and spending all Eternity with Him.  Keep your perspective big picture instead of little picture and your ability to remain hopeful will return.  By the way, the hope for the future includes spending all of Eternity with your ex and if you have not prayed likewise for that, now is a good time to start.

Enduring.  Last by not least, love endures through every circumstance.  Not some circumstances, not most circumstances, not the circumstances you want to endure but every single circumstance that you could or don’t even want to imagine.  This translates into loving your ex even when they are speaking lies about you, even when they are yelling at you, even when they are unfair to you, even when they are unforgiving towards you, and even when they use the children against you.  You can still choose to love.

And that is the finally conclusion, that you can still choose to love despite all of the rejection, stress, anxiety, struggles, lies, manipulation, abuse, destructive behavior, broken promises, and betrayal.  Yes, you can still choose to love and in that you will experience what Jesus experienced on this earth and have an even greater appreciation for what He did by dying for your sins.  You can lose your Christianity in your divorce or you can allow your divorce to draw you even closer to God.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Don’t Lose Your Christianity in Your Divorce

Sadly being a Christian is no guarantee that your marriage will survive.  The statistics for Christians getting divorced are exactly the same as non-Christians with the same reasons for getting a divorce: adultery, addiction, abuse, pornography, financial problems, sexual problems, parenting problems, and many more.  Just because a person is a Christian does not mean that they are free from the same struggles that plague everyone else.  The Christian too is born with a sinful nature that must be actively worked against on a daily basis.  So while a Christian can obtain freedom in Christ Jesus, the road to repentance and restoration is the road less traveled because it requires humility, honesty, and a heart change.

There is no doubt at this point that your marriage will end in divorce usually for more than one reason.  But just because your marriage is ending, this does not give you permission to become un-Christ-like in your behavior.  If as a Christian you are taught to “Love your enemies”, than treating your soon to be ex-spouse in a loving manner should go without saying.  However, it does need to be said and reminded over and over as emotions are intense, anger is easily provoked, neither of you trusts the other, and forgiveness is in short supply.

So what does it meant to love someone who you are divorcing?  Let’s review the first part of this passage from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

Patience.  Being patient with your ex is extremely difficult during a divorce as most want the divorce to be over with as soon as possible.  However, depending on your State’s laws and how complicated your divorce is with stuff, kids, and money these issues can take months if not years to resolve.  Having the expectation that things will go smoothly and quickly in a divorce is unrealistic especially since things did not go smoothly in your marriage.  Change your expectations to more realistic ones and recognize that you will need to be even more patient with your ex than before.

Kind.  Showing kindness to your ex is very difficult especially when it is not reciprocated but we are not called to love just those who love us but those who don’t love us as well.  Your ex knows how to push all of your buttons at one time, being kind is not pushing their buttons even when you could or even when you are right.

Not Jealous.  Jealousy is an ugly beast as it is usually not about one person moving on to another relationship rather it is about the other person “getting a better deal”.  Even the best negotiators cannot divide everything equally and someone is likely to feel jaded by the divorce.  Don’t let your feelings of frustration blossom into jealousy because you did not get your fair share.  Instead recognize that in the end you are not the final Judge, God is.

Not Boastful.  Bragging about how much better off you are without your ex in your life is boastfulness.  Bragging about how you got this thing or won that battle is also boastfulness.  Neither should be done even with your friends or family who are on your side.  The truth is that neither party really won in the divorce, both of you were hurt in some way and both of you will have scars from the divorce for the rest of your life.

Not Proud.  Pride creeps up in the strangest of places.  For instance, talking about how much better you were able to handle everything, comparing your sins with your ex, or minimizing your responsibility is all prideful behavior.  Take responsibility for what was your contribution to the divorce, recognize that you needed support to even get the divorce and start viewing all sin as being equal.  This is reducing your prideful behavior.

Not Rude.  Not enough can be said about this category as most people would never even talk to a stranger the same way they talk to their ex.  Just try treating a friend or co-worker with the same lack of respect and level of rudeness as you do your ex and see how long your relationship lasts.  But for some reason because you have been hurt, you justify the rude behavior as being well deserved.  This is not Christ-like behavior.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

How Divorce and Death are Alike

You thought that when the papers were signed for the divorce everything would be better and you would finally feel relief and calm.  But you don’t.  Somehow the hurt emotions intensify and unexpected emotions of remorse, sadness, and guilt pile on top of bitterness, resentment, and frustration.  This has left you confused, disoriented, and even wondering if you made a mistake.  You begin to relive the marriage all over again looking desperately for answers as to why this happened, what went wrong, and how could things have been dealt with differently.  But you are afraid to confine in friends and relatives because they have supported the divorce and your questioning is unwelcome after they have taken a stance for you.

So you find yourself even more alone than before the divorce wondering if this lonely feeling will ever go away.  And it will, but not today or even tomorrow.  A divorce is more than the end of a marriage; it is the end of dreams, expectations, family, and friendships.  When you divorce, you are leaving behind all dreams and hopes for the future, all expectations for a long life together, extended family on both sides, and friendships that bound you together.  It is not the stuff that is hard to separate; rather it is these things which are far harder to separate.  In this way, experiencing a divorce is like experiencing a death and the process to recovery is very similar.

Denial.  While it may seem odd that you will experience denial after you have divorced, it is likely to occur in strange circumstances.  For instance, you are picking up medication at the pharmacy and the pharmacist asks you if you want to pick up your spouse’s medication.  Or you are at a favorite restaurant and the waitress asks if your spouse is joining you.  Or you are at church and a well-meaning person says they miss seeing your spouse.  In all of these incidents it is tempting not to tell the other person about the divorce and just to pretend that you are still together which you can do but it might provide for a more awkward moment later.  In fact, your first instinct may be to do just that but instead try saying the bare minimum, just enough to get away quickly without over explaining.

Anger.  This reaction is far more familiar as leading up to the divorce you most likely experienced this in spades.  While the name of your ex no longer provokes an immediate angry reaction, you will see some anger pop up in unexpected places.  Perhaps a co-worker displays the same lack of motivation that your ex did, your neighbor laughs like your ex, or your child looks and acts more and more like your ex every day.  You may feel unexpected anger towards your co-worker, neighbor or child that has little to do with them and far more to do with who they remind you of.  Stop, take a breather and recognize where your anger is really coming from so that you don’t project it onto an innocent target.

Depression. No matter how easy it was to divorce, going through the holidays without your ex and the routine and traditions that you developed will be difficult.  Expect to feel even more depressed between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day as this is a time of intense celebration, family activities and getting together with friends.  When you are feeling at your most depressed, get out of the house and go do something.  Do not sit at home thinking about how you were at your ex’s family’s house for dinner last year and what a good time you had.  Rather, start new traditions this year that you have always wanted to try such as going to the mountains for Christmas or feeding the homeless on Thanksgiving.

Acceptance.  At the end of a long cycle, you will finally reach acceptance where you are comfortable talking about the end of your marriage without extraneous feelings.  Similar to the death of a close family member or a friend, this process will take about a year to finally achieve.  Your children on the other hand will not be on the same schedule as they will look like they have accepted it far sooner but a couple of years later will show signs of anger and depression.  Don’t be surprised by this, but expect it and anticipate getting them help if needed.

No one gets married wanting to go through a divorce.  Divorce is hard, painful and demands time for proper healing.  By having a better understanding of your emotions and viewing divorce in the same light as a death, you will better glide through the stages instead of stumbling in the dark.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

When Your Spouse Wants to Separate and You Don’t

One of the hardest words to hear from your spouse is the request that you separate for a while or possible even divorce.  Sometimes these words are expected but they are never fully realized while other times these words catch you by surprise.  It is hard to hear and even harder to understand the reason why the separation is necessary as the most obvious reason is frequently not the real reason.  Trying to understand everything before you move on can be a fruitless process as you may not be dealing with the complete truth.  Yet, if you will open yourself up and work past the pain, this can be a time for growth and healing.

Get thinking.   Your time is best not spent making a list of your spouse’s faults and failures, more than likely if they wanted to know your thoughts, they would have asked.  Quite possibly they may already know what you think and are not interested in being reminded of their failures.  Instead of focusing your energy on them, you are far better off focusing your energy on yourself and what you can change.  You cannot change your spouse, otherwise they would be a different person by now and you would not be in this position, but you can change yourself.

Get real.  Do an inventory of yourself making a list of your strengths and weaknesses.  Do not let your spouse or others to make the list, instead compile the list yourself.  Once you have made the list then take a couple of days off and reevaluate the list adding and subtracting as needed.  Having a better perspective of yourself allows you to see things differently and perhaps brings to light some of your failures in the marriage.

Get personal.  Identify the areas that you have failed in your marriage and take responsibility for your faults.  This is a time to ask for forgiveness for mistakes not only from those you have harmed but from God and yourself as well.  This is an extremely difficult process and should be done with great care without expecting any results.  This is not a time to compare faults and decide whose faults are worse; rather it is a time to deal with your issues.

Get moving.  Sitting around feeling sorry for yourself will not help the situation.  Your life has changed and it may be a temporary change or a permanent one but nonetheless it has changed.  You need to adjust to your new situation, new environment, and new reality as soon as possible.  One of the best ways is to try a new exercise routine, volunteer at a homeless shelter, or help a friend with their problem.  By doing something for someone else, you can gain a better perspective on your own life.

While this list may not keep you from feeling depressed or sad due to the separation, it can help you to change your focus off your spouse and onto yourself in a more positive way.  However, prolonged depression should be addressed with a medical professional or counselor.  You can change and you can grow even through some of the most difficult times in your life.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.