Got Kids? Stay Married … It’s That Simple

One expert’s controversial take on marriage, divorce and staying together for the sake of the kids.

People often say that you shouldn’t stay married for the sake of the kids. After all, the logic goes, if parents are miserable, it will only hurt the kids.

It’s better for kids, they say, to have two happy parents who lead separate lives than to be exposed to sadness, emotional distance, and conflict in their family. Makes sense, right? Wrong. Now, after seeing the havoc that divorce wreaks on the lives of families, I am an unabashed marriage-saver. And since I became dedicated to helping people resuscitate flat-lined marriages and keep their families together, I have learned a great deal about the process and the benefits of working things out.

First, I learned that implicit in the question, “Should you get divorced if you have kids?” is the assumption that if the couple stays together, they will inevitably remain miserable in the marriage. This is insanity. Over the past decade, we have learned a tremendous amount about what constitutes a successful marriage. We actually have a very concrete understanding of what spouses need to do and stop doing to make marriages work.

Falling in love is easy.

Staying in love is another thing altogether. It requires skills — relationship skills. We learn about relationships as we grow up and unfortunately, most of us didn’t have great role models. 

Even if we did have great role models, we might choose a partner who wasn’t so fortunate. If we don’t have adequate relationship skills — knowing how to co-parent, communicate, resolve conflict, compromise, build on relationship strengths — our relationships fail.

The good news is that today, there are marriage education classes couples can take to improve their Relationship IQs. Couples can transform an unhappy or ho-hum marriage into a great one.

Additionally, although choosing a quality therapist takes some investigation and effort, couples can go to therapists who are skilled at helping them resolve their differences, not just talk about their feelings or the problems.

In short, although it’s understandable why someone who is unhappy in marriage might envision the future to be nothing more than a miserable extension of the past, it ain’t necessarily so.

Marriages can heal, change and improve with the proper help. In fact, studies show that, even without professional help, couples who wait out the storm report that they are extremely happy five years later!

When it comes to marriage, patience isn’t only a virtue, it’s a necessity.

Parents who want a divorce often say that, although it won’t be easy, children are resilient and they will be better off in the long run, but here’s what the research says about this: Divorce takes an enormous toll on children.

Change is very difficult. Dissolving a family has enormous repercussions. Children often are shuffled from home to home. Family finances suffer due to the need to maintain separate households. Parents are often preoccupied with their own emotional well-being.

Frequently, there are moves to new school districts, requiring major emotional adjustments. And then there are second marriages and the unique challenges of step-families. Plus, second and subsequent marriages are less likely to succeed than first marriages, requiring more changes to children’s lifestyles. Studies also suggest that even when the adults are happier in their new lives, there doesn’t seem to be a trickle-down effect on the children. Children, it seems, get the short end of the stick.

So, should you get divorced if you have kids? Here’s one more thing to consider: There is never just a single reason people remain together; there are many, many reasons couples decide to stick it out. Marriage is a package deal.

People choose to remain married because they want companionship, sex, financial security, family ties, extended family, someone with whom to share responsibilities, a person to grow old, a preference to share life as opposed to going it alone, and so on.  If one of the reasons people choose to remain together is for the sake of the kids, I say, “Bravo.” That’s great.

The bottom line is this: We only have one go-around, and we all deserve happiness. No one should plan on simply acquiescing to a life of misery.

Having said that, given the miraculous changes I’ve seen in couples’ relationships, even in the 11th hour, I feel like a psychotic optimist. You don’t have to just stay together for the sake of the kids; get happy for the sake of the kids! It will be a gift for a lifetime.

 

The Absolute Dater – Making Online Dating Easy Again

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6 Questions To Ask On A First Date, According To Experts

First dates are nerve-wracking — that’s something everyone can agree on, right? And in the age of internet dating, even though you can find out a lot of information about someone online, for better or worse, you never really get a feel for a person until you meet them. And of course, that is just the beginning! If you’re unsure of the best way to get to know a potential lover from the get-go, there are some good questions to ask on the first date that might help to figure out if you’re compatible.

“A simple question can lead to a conversation that takes its own course, with little effort from either of you,” Dr. Carissa Coulston, a clinical psychologist, and the main author of relationship articles for The Eternity Rose, tells Bustle. For the sake of nurturing an initial conversation, keep things to the basics at first. “Helpful and neutral questions revolve around work or career interests, hobbies, sport, music and family — these are typically non-contentious.”

And what you might want to avoid? Coulston says generally to steer to left of asking about ex-relationships, or probing into any problems that your date might have briefly referred to, like issues they had with their parents when they were a child.

“Of course, these more personal topics can be discussed between the two of you down the track if your relationship should progress,” Coulston says.

Ultimately, you can talk about whatever you want, and you might have much easier and deeper conversations on some first dates than on others. Below, a few experts shed light on some good initial questions that can give you a peak into a person.

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How Do You Know If You’re With The Right Person? Ask Your Partner These 7 Questions

When you get into a relationship with someone, it’s safe to say that you want to make sure you’re not wasting your time. You want to be with someone who understands you, appreciates you, and is someone you can potentially see a future with. But because we aren’t mind readers, it can be hard to determine if your partner is really right for you. Lucky for you, you don’t necessarily need to be clairvoyant to figure this out because there are questions you can ask your partner to see if they’re “The One.”

“On the surface, asking questions sounds like a good idea, however, how you ask is the key,” Richard Horowitz, professional educator and co-founder of Growing Great Relationships, tells us. “Your partner does not want to feel interrogated. Therefore try to ask questions naturally and not all at once and also ask your partner to ask question so that it feels like a mutual conversation.” Through these conversations over you time, you’ll be able to learn about things such as their values, likes, and dislikes, which can play a huge part in whether or not you two may be compatible with each other. But if you’re confused about where to start, here are seven questions you can ask your partner to find out if they’re truly the right person for you.

1. How Would We Handle Worst-Case Scenarios?

Andrew Zaeh 

Sometimes the best questions to ask your partner have to do with the extremes. Christine Scott-Hudson, licensed psychotherapist, marriage therapist, and owner of Create Your Life Studio, tells us that asking your partner about how they would handle things like emotional affairs, illnesses in the family, or even invasive in-laws is a good way to gauge your partner’s views and how they are under pressure. If your partner’s answers show a willingness to work together to figure out a solution, it’s a good indicator that they’ll be a communicative partner throughout the relationship. But if they have hard-and-fast rules about certain things, you can determine if they’re someone who’s right for you. This question is also a good way to determine if your partner is going to be the support system that you need in a relationship or not.

2. Do You See A Future Here?

This question may seem like it would be awkward to ask early on in a relationship, but it can really show you whether your partner can see things progressing. “Many couples notice they have doubts about the progression of their relationship,” Scott-Hudson says. She suggests asking about all the things that may come with the progression of a relationship like what pace they want to move at and when they’d like to meet and involve friends and family members. “These things are best discussed before the couple moves in together or marries in order to prevent misunderstandings and to promote clear and healthy communication.”

3. Do You Want Kids?

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

You may want to become a perpetual dog-parent and never have kids, or you may want to an entire football team as a family. Whatever your preference is, it’s important to discuss it with your partner to see if you two are on the same page. With something like kids, it’s a little harder to compromise on. Scott-Hudson explains that it’s also important to be on the same page about the issue of possible infertility, to determine if you and your partner would be supportive of each other in that case. She also explains that it’s important to take it a step further and ask about how they would want to raise kids, if you both want them. She suggests asking questions like, “In what religion [if any] will we raise our children? Public or private school? Do you expect one parent to be a stay at home parent, and one to work? Or do you expect both parents to work outside of the home? Will they work during high school and college, or be full time students? Is adoption a possibility? Is in vitro a possibility? Is foster parenting a possibility?”

4. How Do You Feel About Your Family?

Andrew Zaeh 

Family can either be a great or a tricky subject for some people. Either way it’s important to learn about your partner’s family and their interactions with them to determine what values your partner grew up with and how they might act in the future. “How they answer will determine their attachment to important people they grew up with and gives you good information about how they will treat you and your possible children in the future,” Dr. Tammy Nelson, sex therapist and sex therapist and consultant for Ashley Madison, tells us. “It doesn’t matter if they are in a positive relationship with both parents, but more importantly, if they have forgiven them for past mistakes.”

5. How Do You Feel About Sex?

Sex shouldn’t just be something you and your partner do, it should also be something that you talk about. “We choose a partner based on physical and sexual attraction,” Nelson says. “If sex is important to you now, it’s definitely going to be important to you later on. Make sure that you both have the same level of interest in sex and you both see it as a priority.” This is also the case if you’re someone who doesn’t want to have sex. Being open and honest about your position on sex and asking your partner to do the same can show you whether or not you two are compatible.

6. How Important Are Politics To You?

Andrew Zaeh 

For many of us, our political ideals are directly aligned with our identities and personal values. Asking your partner about their political affiliations or who they vote for can give you an idea of what they care about and also what they might not be too concerned with. “Strangely enough, we can put up with separate religious or spiritual views and we can handle it if they are terrible slobs as roommates, but studies show that we cannot tolerate a partner who votes on the opposite side of the aisle,” Nelson says. “It might not seem like a big deal now, but if your partner has different values than you, it will matter. Particularly now, at a time when the government is divided so clearly down party lines around things that matter deeply.”

7. How Do You Act After Arguments?

Although it may be hard for your partner to be totally perceptive to how they act after arguments, asking this question can give you an idea of your partner’s behaviors and what they might need from you whenever you have a falling out. Scott-Hudson suggests asking questions like, “Do you like to be left alone? Do you need physical comfort, like a hug or a pat on the arm, when you are upset? Do you need time and space to process your feelings? Do you need me to reassure you that I’m not leaving you, that I’m not going anywhere, or abandoning you?” By asking your partner these questions, you can determine if their behaviors at your relationship’s worst will be something you’ll be able to deal with or not. And if not, you might have to reevaluate whether they’re the one for you.

It might be hard to determine if your partner is your perfect match with a few questions, but these questions are a starting point to bigger discussions that can really show you what’s important to you and your partner and if those values are compatible in the long-run.

 

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The Top of the Stairs

1970 – Philadelphia

I have three sisters. Janice who’s eighteen months older than me, was born in 1961. My sister April, was born in 1966, and Gabrielle born in 1970.

Sometimes when we went to bed and my folks had people over, we’d leave our rooms, and lie at the top of the stairs and listen to our parents downstairs. It was probably just out of curiosity. What are the adults doing downstairs? What are they talking about? Different voices and laughter. The sounds of adults having fun grownup time with their friends and neighbors. Kids don’t like to go to bed. They want to be up and a part of everything. But we could only listen from the top of the stairs.

Sometimes, we’d lie at the top of the stairs in our pajamas listening to my parents when there weren’t any guests over. Maybe we were hoping we’d hear some secret info about what Santa might be bring us this year. But sometimes, more often than not, there was no laughter. Their voices sounded angry with each other. What could they be angry about? We didn’t do anything. We were in bed. We would hear them fight and argue downstairs in the kitchen. I don’t remember what they argued about. It wasn’t so much their words, but the sound of their voices.

If I think back to the sound of our parents voices when we were little, the sound was more important than what they were saying. Children respond more to tone than to meaning. A young mind only has so much capacity for complex emotion. If the voice is soft and gentle, it’s usually followed by a smile and praise. But if the tone is loud and sharp, it’s probably followed by admonishment or punishment.

Like dogs, we learn the difference in those tones very quickly.

When you’re a little kid, and it’s time to go outside, what’s do your parents always say? Go put your shoes on. We’re going. Where are your shoes? We have to go. Because when you’re a kid, you like to run around in your stocking feet. Normally the shoes come off when you got home, because your mom doesn’t want you tracking dirt all over the house.

One morning, my father was getting ready for work. He couldn’t find his shoes. He looked all over and it just didn’t make sense. His closet was always neatly arranged full of ironed shirts, ties, and suits for his job at the bank.

He asked my mother if she’d seen them. Having no idea what had happened, she joined in the search. They finally found his shoes, and several other pairs stashed away behind some boxes in a different closet.

They began to ask us kids if we knew anything about it. Gabrielle was just a newborn so it couldn’t have been her, and Janice and I simply shook our heads.

My middle sister April, who was a very little girl at the time, but always outspoken, took responsibility.

“Why did you hide daddy’s shoes, April? You know he needs them for work.”

“I heard you and daddy fighting last night. I heard what he said to you. I thought if I hid his shoes he wouldn’t leave. You can’t go outside without your shoes.”

Such a simple act, but what an elegant plan for a four-year-old child to conceive in an attempt to keep her family together, and her daddy from leaving.

I’ll never forget that.

 

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Tales of Rock – Awkward Family Photos: Punk and Metal Edition

Today is my birthday and I love Rock, so here’s a fun special edition of Tales of Rock!

I’m sure you’ve spent way too much time scrolling through the amazing feed of Awkward Family Photos. So instead of rolling your eyes right now, just admit you enjoy looking at other people’s terrible photos. And let’s be real – the era of the awkward family photo is going to fall by the wayside soon as generations obsessed with perfect selfies delete anything that shows us in a less than perfect state. Gone are the days where if you paid for the photos to be developed, they went in the damn album to be immortalized forever in your family’s storage. With that in mind, enjoy this little collection of punk and metal angst from the good old days…

 

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