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Divorce Lawyers

Thyden Gross and Callahan LLPCounselors and Attorneys at Law

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COPING STRATEGIES
FOR DIVORCE EMOTIONS

Does your divorce or separation make you sad, angry, vengeful, depressed, confused or hateful? Emotions are the powerful drivers of many divorce decisions. This blog by a lawyer and psychotherapist will help you cope with divorce emotions.

Archive for March, 2012

Short Book Review

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Joint Custody with a Jerk: Raising a Child with an Uncooperative Ex: A Hands-on, Practical Guide to Communicating with a Difficult Ex-Spouse, by Julie Ross and Judy Corcoran.
A friend came across this book at the library and dropped it off for my review. This is a fine book, with a number of excellent tips for working with your own emotions and communication style to improve things with your former spouse.

One concept that resonates with me is the idea of thinking not in “shoulds” but in “coulds.” The authors point out that “should” makes people feel forced and then they resist the force. But thinking in terms of “could” opens up the possibilities and creates a feeling of relief and openness. You can try it on yourself. Just think, “I should work on my taxes this weekend,” and notice whether your heart sinks, as opposed to “I could work on my taxes this weekend,” which allows you some space.
Only the title of the book is unfortunate. Even if you feel your former spouse is a jerk, you accomplish nothing by advertising that perception. So you can’t leave the book lying around—despite the excellent info—for the kids or visitors to see. A great book, and an accurate title, but you’ve got to hide it.

Believing the Myth

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

          A friend recently offered me a stack of children’s book that her family was finished with. As a grandmother, I welcomed the opportunity to review some classics before I sent them on to my oldest grandchild. When I chose Swiss Family Robinson, I remembered it as something like the fairly recent Tom Hank’s movie—was it Lost? People who are smart, determined, and know a lot, who turn a shipwreck experience into a profound adventure. But Swiss Family Robinson turned out to be a surprise. Even the little guys had guns, and these folks shot first and asked questions later. They may have been swept ashore from their sinking ship to a kind of Eden, but they didn’t exactly co-exist in peace with the animal inhabitants. They either killed them or tamed them.
          This is a long description to explain that I realized that my memory of that book was not a true recollection but a myth. I mean myth in the negative sense of the word, a story that bears little relationship to the truth. As you might guess, I will not be sending this book to my little granddaughter.
          Sometimes in divorce, we also have myths about what the relationship was like. One of my clients struggles with a myth that says, “He was supposed to take care of me!” My perception of her husband is that he’s never taken care of anyone but number one; he’s a user, not a caring provider. But she continues to engage with him as if he will suddenly become the man she meant him to be.

          The spouse you argued with for years about paying his share of the bills isn’t likely to step up to the plate during the divorce, at least not voluntarily. The spouse who refused to get a job during the marriage may just not go back to school, even though you’re paying her alimony to get back on her feet.
          How accurate is your perception of your spouse, or former spouse? Can you assess his or her strengths and weaknesses correctly and anticipate outcomes consistent with what you know? Reality isn’t always pretty, but it will serve you better than holding onto a myth.

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