Coming Apart From A Narcissist?

Let me introduce you to the narcissist.  Narcissism is a personality disorder, which is a maladaptive and deeply ingrained pattern of behavior and personality style. It can develop from our genes, early childhood and teen experiences and the environment in which we are raised.   In general, the narcissist has a sense of grandiosity and entitlement which can cause him/her to be manipulative, critical, envious of others, and demanding.

Narcissists feel easily slighted, exaggerate their talents, expect special treatment, want the best of everything (because they deserve no less ! ) and are swift to blame others.They are arrogant, to various degrees, need constant attention, and lack empathy.  If they fall short, they are fragile and experience vulnerability and humiliation.  Under the bravado and charm, is a core of insecurity, often unconscious.  They look down at those they consider to be inferior.  There are legions of narcissists on our public stage  in all fields..

Are you in a relationship with someone who only seeks to fulfill his/her needs?   Does it seem that their attention to you, and others, is a means to appear giving but is more about getting attention or having their way.  Their charm may have  attracted you but, as time passes, you observe that it is superficial and geared to serving their own interests.  What is underneath that public charm is not so pleasant.  You will be told that you have stopped being interested, proud and supportive and that is why your relationship has deteriorated.  It’s never their doing. If your partner cannot recognize or acknowledge any part of their contribution, don’t expect any cooperation.  Once they can no longer seduce you into their web, they will accuse you of all the problems in the relationship (please note: we all have some input).

If you admit to some your shortcomings, and that doesn’t make any difference, it may be decision time…to stay or leave.  Such decisions are painful and deserve deep consideration.  If you cannot tolerate your situation and decide to come apart, be prepared.  Try to avoid ‘pressing’ certain buttons that may encourage more abuse.  Do not be reactive to your partner’s behavior  Focus on protecting yourself, your assets and, if applicable, the children. It will not be easy early on but eventually you will be freer to pursue your own goals.    In addition to family and friends, a counselor and good lawyer are critical supports to help you extract yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Divorce and Grandparents

When couples dissolve their relationship, there are extended family members who do not want to lose their relationships with the children. Why should children have to lose those family members they have bonded with and love?  At the grandparent phase of life, you may be  taking stock of where you have been, what you have done and what’s really important.  Maybe you are on the last leg of your journey and more focused on the basics, being connected to others, especially your family.  What could be more important than children?

Chances are you celebrated when your children found the person they wanted to share their life and start a family, providing you with grandchildren.  Love at first sight and ever after!  From their first cuddly days to tottering about, then talking, entertaining and adorable, always interesting.  We’ve all seen many pictures of and heard stories about grandchildren by doting grandparents.  As grandchildren mature, many have a special relationship, confiding in their parent’s parents, experiencing them as a safe haven when things are tense at home.

Why then, when there is a divorce, deprive children of those close relationships as their household, as they knew it, is dissolving?  The security and continuity of talking with and/or seeing grandparents can be soothing and supportive as parents struggle with coming apart.

In a contentious divorce, extended family may be brought into the fray, creating two sides.  Children then have to navigate between both sides of their family, perhaps hearing negative comments about one of their parents.  Or, they may not even be able to see  grandparents as the battle wages.  When parents are engaged in divorce war, children suffer immeasurably.  Their world feels turned upside down and they don’t know when it will end or what else will happen.

Grandparents need to stay out of the negativity, supporting your child by being helpful but not engaging in verbally bashing the children’s other parent.  You can offer  sage, neutral, advice and assure them that things will settle down and life will go on.  Grandparents can serve as a safety net as children’s parents seem to be teetering on a high wire.

When there is a respectful dissolution of a relationship, or divorce, parents tend to recognize and appreciate what their own [and their spouse/partner’s] parents can provide to them and their children.  Grandparents are a valuable resource, in fact, priceless.

 

 

 

Recipe For A Good Divorce

Divorce is not easy  but if you prepare it together, and follow the directions below, you can be proud to serve it up.

        Ingredients

  1. Two partners who know they can’t to stay together
  2. Be ready for a pinch of heartache and eventual happiness
  3. Liberal measures of honesty and trust
  4. Strive to dissolve the relationship/marriage respectfully
  5. Share pertinent information and really listen to each other
  6. A sense of where s/he wants to be in 5 years
  7. Willingness to negotiate conflicts with thinking, not feeling
  8. Develop the ability to forgive, necessary in all recipes
  9. Agree on cooperative co-parenting, if there are children

recipe for a good divorce

 

 

 

 

 

 

Directions

Chill the first ingredient. It must not get overheated !  Sift the next four ingredients, then add to the first, and stir, tolerantly.  Blend the next three ingredients and blend into the first batch. Be patient and let it rise.  It is ready to be baked at a low, steady temperature with understanding and empathy. Allow the cake to cool and then feel good about your efforts and results.  If you have the last ingredient [children], that’s icing on the cake.  Be sure the cake is cool enough.   Stir, gently and smooth on the cake.  Beautiful.  Take a picture and feel proud of your collaborative creation.

Note: These good and healthy ingredients will allow for  errors, especially if you add liberal amounts of #8

Gray Divorce

Although divorce rates have stabilized and appear to be inching downward, couples between ages 50 and 64 are increasingly choosing to come apart. In 1990, one out of ten, in that age group, were getting divorced.  Now it’s one out of four.

Here are some of the reasons for gray divorce:

  • The stigma of divorce has faded.
  • Divorce is easier to obtain than years ago.
  • Long-term unhappiness.
  • Waiting until the kids are grown.
  • Spouses evolve and don’t communicate.
  • People want to discover themselves…alone or with someone new.
  • Couples drift apart and feel a lack of fulfillment.
  • Many cite wanting more freedom and control.
  • Women are tired of caretaking and feel a loss of respect.
  • Men are tired of supporting a wife who doesn’t appreciate them.
  • “It’s my time now and there may be little time left.”
  • Some cite their spouse’s drug or alcohol abuse.
  • “The kids are gone…new lease on life…new interests and friends.”
  • Some women are more financially independent and can now manage alone.
  • Viagra helps more men be appealing to younger women.

The consequences for the above are numerous.   Couples may be severing a relationship that began as young adults or even younger. The leaver may feel the pressure of time and want to act on feelings they have been harboring for some time.  Those who are left often feel confusion, anger, helpless during and after the divorce.  The divorce news is a major and unexpected change in life, when a spouse may be experiencing the physical and emotional aspects of being fifty plus.

Many, fifty and older, are part of the sandwich generation, coping with elderly, more needy, parents and dealing with their own children, ranging from teens to college age or even married, but still looking to parents for guidance and help. While adjusting to their middle age, they feel squeezed at both ends.

Often men, during their silver years, don’t have the same support system that women do and they isolate, possibly affecting their emotional and physical health. They are less inclined to discuss feelings.

Divorce ‘survivors’ are expected to get over grief sooner than those coping with the death of a spouse.  In death, fate ‘decides’; in divorce a spouse decides, leaving the ‘left’ feeling worse, abandoned in a different way, especially if they also need to deal with the fact that a new person is chosen.

If it is a second or third divorce for the person who didn’t make the divorce choice, the trauma of the earlier partings can exacerbate current feelings of loss, fear and anger. “Here I go again.  How will I ever trust?”

Despite all of the consequences listed above, gray divorce can offer new possibilities, if one explores new ways to cope and grow.  It’s a time to spread wings and be open to   new people and experiences as well as deepening old relationships.  Most important is to look at the ledger of your life – understand –  and love yourself.

 

Coming Apart Together

Are you contemplating divorce? Do you have children?

If you are in a relationship/marriage, with children, that’s not working, consider coming apart together. You created your children with love, hopes and dreams for a family future. Just because the adults can’t be together, don’t deny your children the feeling of a family.

When there is a divorce battle, there are two distinct sides, often dividing extended family and friends. Everything trickles down from parents. When there is a divorce war, children (and others) feel the need to take a side.  Everyone loses. Children lose the continuity of co-parenting and perhaps parts of each extended family. War is trauma…  divorce war is a more personal trauma.

The alternative is to demonstrate  that, although the adults can’t live together any more, they can still cooperate on parenting the people they love most in the world…their children.  Children need to be able to love and be with both parents, know that their parents will meet their important needs and will share some parental expectations and consequences so they can enjoy a healthy relationship with each parent. Cooperative co-parenting is a valuable role model.

For parents who do need to come apart, a worthy process is the collaborative divorce method. It’s private, out of court, with a team approach.   Divorce specialists – attorneys, financial and mental health professionals, with specific expertise in the different aspects of divorce, work together.   They provide a comprehensive approach to resolve differences and set the family on the road to still being a family, in two homes.  Two homes can provide love, guidance and the opportunity to see that differences can be settled when people listen to each other, respect the other and come up with solutions that are best for their children.

If this sounds familiar, please consider the collaborative way.

 

Divorce, The Collaborative Way

When it’s time to come apart collaborative divorce allows parents to come apart respectfully

For the last 26 years, savvy couples have discovered a newer,  kinder and gentler,  way to divorce   It’s keeping  your divorce private and confidential.  You don’t  go to Court or have a judge make your  decisions. Collaborative divorce offers an alternative dispute resolution. You each have an attorney, to advocate for you.  Both collaborative attorneys, committed to working in a civil and respective manner to reach an Agreement acceptable to both parties.

The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals [IACP]   has more than 5000 collaborative professionals.   they provide services in 25 countries. Governor Christie, on September 10, 2014, signed the New Jersey Collaborative Family Law Act into law. New Jersey collaborative professionals take pride in being in the vanguard of helping couples dissolve their partnership/marriage in a non-adversarial manner to preserve the sanctity of the family they have created.

We recommend that couples seeking a divorce ask self proclaimed collaborative attorneys if they are members of the IACP.  Ask what specific collaborative training  they have taken. There are eight collaborative practice groups throughout New Jersey. The Collaborative Divorce Association of North Jersey  requires its members to have 40 hours of mediation in addition to  collaborative divorce training. Its members continue advanced education throughout each year to expand and update  skills.

A team approach

Licensed mental health professionals can function as a divorce coach.  They help couples overcome emotional obstacles to get a decent divorce experience. They also keep the team on track of offering options and getting to mutually agreeable resolutions.

The child specialist is a licensed clinical mental health professional.  S/he  meets with parents first and then the children to understand their needs, fears and wishes. Children often don’t share their feelings with parents because they don’t want to upset or anger them. The child specialist’s role is brief and focused.

Although the coach and child specialist are licensed mental health professionals, they are NOT doing therapy. If that seems warranted, they may refer to other professionals. However, they do utilize their clinical skills to guide parents an children in navigating the muddy waters of the family in crisis. Because divorce is such an emotionally intense experience,  having professionals with specific skills can offer priceless guidance toward helping each family member progress.

Licensed collaborative financial professionals help protect the family’s interest by reviewing your assets, debt and income.  They help you each develop viable options for the future. They are skilled not only in dealing with numbers but are trained to work in the emotional atmosphere when you are couples coming apart.

With the collaborative divorce process, professionals have specific areas of expertise to offer which are best suited to clients’ needs and pocketbooks. For example, you would not pay attorney fees for dealing with emotional, communication or parenting issues. Instead, mental health professionals, at a lower fee, are best suited to deal with such concerns and situations. The collaborative team is an experienced grouping, with each professional utilizing and sharing their specific expertise to other team members, when appropriate, to offer a more comprehensive way of addressing the multitude of situations that can arise. The team strives to present a wellness approach for the future of your family.

Why choose collaborative divorce?

  • Collaborative professions work to help couples resolve issues in a more positive way and can be more cost effective.
  • Keeping out of  Court offers privacy, especially desired by couples with high worth or public profiles.
  • There is no judge involved who has to review documents of scores of couples so you benefit from more personal attention. You work directly with collaborative professionals who are dedicated to helping you both to create a plan that works best for your family’s needs.
  • Convenience. There is no Court schedule  or costly cancellations. Collaborative professionals work around your time frames and respect your emotional readiness to continue – or – take a breather, as needed.
  • A team of divorce experts, with specialized training and experience, efficiently addresses your family situation.
  • The collaborative way helps you protect your children from potentially damaging fallout of a “messy” divorce. The goal is to preserve parent’s mutual respect to ensure cooperative co-parenting going forward.
  • After the divorce is over, some team members are available to advise on post-divorce situations, as needed, or to revise any aspect of the final agreement.

You may be coming apart from your partner/spouse but you can still preserve what you both recreated – the family – in two homes, with the collaborative way.

Considering Divorce?

If you are, take your time. It’s a huge step. Marriage is something that should take time and very careful consideration. However long you have been partnered or married, you owe your partner/spouse and children, if you have them, to give it all you’ve got.

Have you thought about your significant other’s critiques of you and if you could make some changes to improve the relationship? If you have already tried everything – talking with your partner/spouse, marital counseling – here are some questions to ask yourself before you take your first divorce step.

Do you choose to divorce respectfully so neither you nor your spouse/partner and certainly not, your children, feel destroyed by the process? Do you want decisions to be made by the two of you and not by lawyers or a judge? Do you want it not to drag on? Is keeping the fees down important?

If the above are your goals, can you:

* Give up blaming, the negative past, ‘ego’ and anger?

* Bring your best self to the table?

* Focus on the big picture?

* Find room in your heart for empathy ?

* Learn to control your emotions?

Are you ready, able and willing for some hard, but worthwhile work?

Do you think your partner/spouse could do the same?

If you want to divorce respectfully and make your own decisions on your schedule, consensual dispute resolution, more specifically, collaborative divorce, is an opportunity to be considered.  Collaborative professionals: attorneys, divorce coaches and child specialists, as well as financial experts, are trained in mediation and the collaborative method to help you through this difficult experience in a manner that can leave parents and children feeling whole as they transition through the divorce experience. The collaborative divorce professionals can also be available to assist you with post divorce issues that may arise..

You can make coming apart less painful….your choice.

Forgive……..Can You?

Has anyone hurt your feelings or insulted you recently? On purpose? Repeatedly? Are you repeating it over and over in your head and stewing? Thinking of a way to ‘get back’? Feeling more tired, stressed, distracted? OK, that’s a lot of questions. Now for some understanding and solutions.

We are all human and have likely hurt others and have been hurt too. Not forgiving is an option but it costs you. The price is high. Holding a grudge impacts us physically and mentally.   Feeling angry, defensive and wanting to hurt back emanates from part of our primitive, brain. We are attacked and want to reciprocate, a matter of life and death in the animal world. However, a larger brain enables us to consider threats and explore other options when our life is not in danger. Physically, wallowing in hurt and rage can affect our stress level, blood pressure and heart rate, leading to physical ills and perhaps even a somewhat shorter life expectancy. Prolonged resentment is a mental burden.

Forgiveness is a state of mind and enhances our self-esteem and mental health.   To forgive someone is not releasing them from their negative words or behavior.   It is simply  letting go of whatever had a negative impact on us. We can only control our words and behavior and, therefore, free ourselves from the burden of trying to change someone else. We can speak up and let the other person know about the impact on us, ie, not being passive and a victim. If that other person persists, it can be useful to share what occurred to a trusted family member, friend, spiritual guide or therapist. But, then, we need to stop licking our wounds and choose to see the beauty in life and other relationships. Forgiveness allows us the power not to get stuck in the negative. It can free us and bring back peace of mind.

How to?

  • Understand that it is a process and can take time. It gets better with practice.
  • Note how your anger and resentment hurts you.
  • Decide who/what needs forgiveness.
  • Review and try to understand their position.
  • Don’t give them control over your feelings
  • Don’t be a victim.
  • See the value of forgiving and know that it greatly improves your life.

Buddha said that holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intention of throwing it at someone else, But you are the one who gets burned.  I say “Toss the coal on the fireplace and enjoy the glow in your life.

Divorce: The Leaver and the Left

For the majority of couples who come apart or divorce, to say it is a ‘trying time’ is to put it mildly. There is a loss of hopes and dreams that most of us have when we embark on such unions, compounded by the reality that has evolved.

When one partner/spouse is convinced that the relationship is no longer viable, the other partner/spouse doesn’t have a choice. What’s important, for both, is to realize that they are not in sync with their thoughts and feelings. Each person needs to understand the other in order to be able to part in a respectful manner, particularly when there are children involved.

The ‘leaver’ has made the decision to come apart, most often after experiencing sadness, anger, hopelessness, etc. about their situation. Most people don’t elect to take such steps lightly or quickly. They mentally slog through  disagreements, disappointments, and considerable differences between them. Both adults navigate  the five stages….akin to having a terminal illness:

The 5 stages

  1. denial…feeling this can’t be happening to us, it’s unreal.
  2. depression… changes in eating, sleeping, energy level.
  3. anger…impatience and resentment of their partner and why can’t they change?
  4. negotiation…acknowledging a need for change and how to achieve it.
  5. acceptance…we will be coming apart.

The leaver needs to realize that their partner, who may not feel the same way about their relationship (or may, but not conclude that coming apart is the best or only solution) has time to adjust and will also need to go through the five stages. They are generally experienced in the order listed above although people often shift back and forward, particularly in the beginning phases. It helps when the leaver understands his/her partner/’s/spouse’s need for going through that process and presents his/her wishes gently.  It helps to clearly state the reasons for their decision and then be patient for his/her partner to catch up.  Doing this can facilitate a  less emotional and more civil dissolution of the relationship or marriage, which is important to the couple and  essential when they have a family.

The person who doesn’t want to end the relationship, for a multitude of possible reasons, is thrust into the first phase listed above. “This can’t be happening! ” “I knew we had problems but…not this!” “How can you do this to me [and the children] ? ”  That partner/spouse usually experiences deep sadness and often anger once the reality settles in. Everyone’s coping mechanisms vary in how this, and all, of the phases present. When anger  boils up in the ‘left’ partner/spouse s/he frequently resents that  leaver seems to be doing so well.  The  left person doesn’t realize that the leaver has already had  similar feelings and is just ahead of him/her.  If their reasoning can be sincerely explained, it can ameliorate a more negative reaction. When there isn’t counter blaming or accusations, there is a  less traumatic coming to terms with the situation and negotiating. Then acceptance can progress.