January 2022 Newsletter

The “Hit the Re-Start Button” issue – I’m not a fan of making New Year’s Resolutions, but I do like to take some time when a new year rolls around to think about new perspectives on life. With that in mind, I share the following quote with you: “At the end of the day, you just have to go for it. It’s either that or spend the rest of your life regretting not putting your heart on the line when you knew you should have.”

The Better Mom Project

This issue opens with How Happy Couples Make Happy People, followed by The 25 Best Pieces of Marriage Advice Happy Couples Follow, and concludes with 4 Basic Things Children of Divorce Want From Their Parents.

We are here to help you and your family with your legal needs. Please call 505-881-2566 to schedule an appointment. Our receptionist is in the office to take your call Monday through Thursday 8:00 am to 5:30 pm, and Friday 8:00 am to noon.

How Happy Couples Make Happy People,

And Not The Other Way Around

Posted on YourTango.com by Phyllis Koch-Sheras & Peter Sheras

From early on, we've been taught, "Happy people make happy couples."

The common wisdom regarding the development of a happy relationship is that you need to be happy as an individual to begin with, and that it's necessary to work on your own happiness first if you want to have a successful relationship.

We've worked with hundreds of couples over the years as marriage therapists and have found that, actually, the opposite is true.

Happy couples create happy people.

It's not just the proverb, "Happy wife, happy life" or, as we now say, "Happy spouse, happy house." Rather, being a powerful and content couple empowers us to be happy together and as individuals.

Everyone wants to have a happy relationship, but you also want to be happy "in" your relationship. What makes the difference is not "working on yourself." Rather, you need to take on working on your relationship and your part in it.

Where do happy couples begin?

The first step is to imagine what your ideal relationship could look like. If your destination is a happy couple in a loving relationship, what does it look like?

First and foremost, it looks like two people who work effectively as a unit rather than focusing on themselves as individuals.

You will find, in fact, that it may be much easier and less threatening to look at your relationship and create a vision for it than to keep analyzing yourself.

The happy couple: the ultimate team.

When creating a vision for the relationship, it will help to think of working together as a team. Good teamwork requires having a joint vision that the team members are jointly committed to.

You can create that vision by taking on each other’s goals as your own as well as having a team goal. A team can win the World Series and also stand to have the best pitcher and the MVP of the leagues as well. Sometimes, these goals empower one another. So you can decide to be happy together and happy in achieving your own goals at the same time.

Our friends Don and Marly described themselves as "happy but not really joyful."

They continuously struggled with Marly being overweight. Marly knew that Don was supportive, but she felt that he was more critical than helpful. This went on for years until they took it on as a couple.

We suggested that they talk about it together to see what they could come up with as a team. They came up with the idea to attend a weight control program together. They asked to be weighed in each week and given their weight only as a couple, not individually.

They worked to lose weight as a team, and guess what? Marly lost weight. And the couple regained the joy and romance they used to have.

Another couple, Pam and Paulo, took on Pam’s painting together. Her art teacher encouraged her to exhibit her paintings, but that seemed overwhelming to her.

Then Pam and Paulo took on creating an exhibit together. She did the painting, and he did the framing. Together they accomplished her goals, and he could enjoy being part of her success and part of their team.

These projects that the couple took on together made them content and fulfilled as individuals, too.

Happy couples develop great team chemistry.

It was really a win/win situation. Like many teams who work well together, happy couples can experience an intangible element at work — what's often called "team chemistry" or "team spirit."

When you take on a project as a team, you may find that you experience a powerful sense of cooperation, a sense of being proud to have worked together to do something special.

Cooperation allows you and your partner to pool your resources and capitalize on your strengths. It also enhances your capacity to trust each other and encourages you to persevere and produce results.

Individuals in the couple, like Pam, often feel an enhanced sense of confidence in their ability to accomplish something they didn’t think they could do.

The power of language in happy couples.

It's said that language is not a description of reality, but rather the creation of reality. You cannot communicate how the world is for us until you have words to paint the picture of what you're experiencing.

Often, that picture is painted in the words you use. If you see the world through the eyes of your couple — the "we" of it — you're more likely to see it as a team might see it. If your language is based on "I," then you'll be looking from your personal and individual worlds.

Happy couples have a language of "we."

"How do we feel about things?"

"How does this affect us?"

"If we're happy, then I can be happy."

Happy couples say "What can 'we' do?"

You can take on almost anything together, even if you've done it by yourself before. Working as a team, you may find that the task becomes much easier and more successful.

Like Marly’s weight loss, you may find that what seemed so difficult and even impossible before, now becomes easier and even enjoyable with your partner.

Look into your own life and pinpoint areas where you've been operating on your own that might benefit from working together with your partner as a team.

Even though some activities may be difficult or boring, doing them together can become a powerful and enjoyable experience.

You'll see then how your happy couple is making you a very happy individual.

The 25 Best Pieces Of Marriage Advice Happy Couples Follow

Posted by Dave Willis on YourTango.com 4/12/21

When Ashley and I got married thirteen years ago, we were young and in love, but we were also pretty clueless (me especially)! Along the way, we've had so many people share wise marriage advice and life experiences with us, which has helped guide our family through good times and hard times.

Through the years, I've been collecting some of the best tips others have shared with us (and some I had to learn through my own mistakes). I found that the 3 most important things in marriage are communication, looking at marriage as a life-long commitment, and being a team.

The most common problems in a marriage? Lack of respect, lack of attention, and a downfall in sexual intimacy.

If you apply this list of 25 principles to your relationship, it could make a life-changing difference in your marriage.

1. Choose to love each other.

Even in those moments when you struggle to like each other. Choosing to love your partner every day means focusing on the gifts they are bringing into your life: their laughter, beauty, sensuality, playfulness, companionship, and so much more.

Wake up each morning and kiss them, morning breath and all! Love is a commitment, not a feeling. This is great advice to give to a bride-to-be before getting married.

2. Always answer the phone when your husband or wife is calling.

This action falls in line with respect and attention. Two very important things not only in a marriage but in any relationship.

You answer when your significant other is calling as a sign of respect. They are trying to contact you and whether it's just to see how your day is going or an emergency, you answer that phone call.

Also when possible, try to keep your phone off when you're together with your spouse. Don't let a phone distract you from spending quality time with your life partner.

Pay attention to them when you are with them. Attention is truly important when building and creating a life together.

3. Make time together a priority.

As stated before, attention is important in a relationship. Your wife or husband needs to feel appreciated and needed. Attention will do that for them.

It doesn't have to be some grand romantic gesture every weekend. It could be as simple as calling them out of the blue just to hear their voice or hugging them the instant they come home.

Budget for consistent date nights. Time is the "currency of relationships," so consistently invest time into your marriage.

4. Surround yourself with friends who will strengthen your marriage.

Your friends influence your marriage more than you realize. The thing you need to be aware of is if they begin to cause problems in your marriage.

Are they pressuring you to do something your partner doesn't want? Are they seeding doubts about your marriage into your head? If so, they probably aren't really your friend and you should straighten them out or cut the cord entirely. Remove yourself from people who may tempt you to compromise your character.

5. Make laughter the soundtrack of your marriage.

The benefits of laughter are endless. As Lindsay Detwiler wrote in an article for YourTango, "I firmly believe it is our ability to joke together, to not take life too seriously even in the most serious of circumstances, that we have fostered a connection deeper than the surface-level struggles found in marriage. Even on terrible days when life throws a rough hand our way, our ability to make each other laugh has carried us through."

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain. Laughter often helps people cope in stressful or serious situations.

So in your marriage share moments of joy. And even in the hard times, find reasons to laugh.

6. In every argument, remember that there won't be a "winner" and a "loser."

Marriage isn't a competition. There's no gold medal for being the better partner.

Marriage is a partnership, you become a team. It's no longer you vs. them it's us vs. the world. You're partners in everything so you'll either win together or lose together. Work together to find a solution.

7. Realize that a strong marriage rarely has two strong people at the same time.

It's usually a husband and wife taking turns being strong for each other in the moments when the other feels weak.

That's the point of marriage, that you will always have someone there to help carry you when you trip and fall. It's having support when you lose your job. It's taking care of the other when they lose their way. Life is hard and married life is no different. No one is strong all the time and it's important to understand that concept.

8. Prioritize what happens in the bedroom.

It takes more than sex to build a strong marriage, but it's nearly impossible to build a strong marriage without it. We are all human and we all have needs.

Though many will deny it, a relationship with sexually active people requires regular sex. It's normal, but many may forget that sex is a necessity.

This is one of the most common problems that can arise in a marriage. Not just because it's pleasurable but because it conveys a sense of closeness to your partner. It's not just pleasure, but intimacy and love that sex creates.

9. Remember that marriage isn't 50/50 — divorce is 50/50.

Marriage has to be 100/100. It's not about splitting everything in half, but both partners giving everything they've got.

But then there are times where one person just can't give you anything at all because they are focused on keeping themselves together and that's alright.

Support in a marriage is not a nice 50/50 split. Some days you are giving your all while your spouse is giving nothing and other days you are taking, offering nothing. This happens mostly while grieving. But after it all, you are back to 100/100 working as a team.

10. Give your best to each other.

Not just your leftovers after you've given your best to everyone else. Again, your husband or wife comes first. You married each other so that you can build a life together and see every inch of each other's souls to the very end.

If you aren't giving your all to your significant other, then who are you giving it to? And why? This could be a sign of a failing marriage if you can't talk to your partner about everything.

You give your best to each other every day. Whether you've been married 6 months or 14 years, you wake up every morning and you give your spouse your all. Make sure your partner feels seen, needed, and heard.

11. Learn from other people, but don't try to be them.

It's important to realize that you can take relationship advice from other couples but when it comes to your marriage, it will never be like anyone else's because it is yours.

Each marriage is made up of two completely different people than those who make up another marriage. Therefore, no marriage should or can be comparable. There's no need to compare your life or your marriage to anyone else's.

12. Don't put your marriage on hold while you're raising your kids.

If you do, you'll end up with an empty nest and an empty marriage. Many people forget that they have a marriage to take care of when they have children. That doesn't just go away. This is the reason why people should never have children to "fix their marriage" because it won't work in the long run.

When you have kids it's still important that you work on your marriage, that you spend time with your partner, that you give them attention.

Doing this along with raising children can be a lot, so make sure you are ready for it before you start trying to have a baby.

13. Never keep secrets from your spouse.

This is some of the best marriage advice I can give you. Because secrecy is the enemy of intimacy.

Secretes can lead to questioning which leads to doubts and you don't want those in your marriage.

Don't give your husband or wife reason to be suspicious or paranoid of you.

14. Never lie to each other.

Lies break trust, and trust is the foundation of a strong marriage. If you lie to each other, especially constantly then your marriage is headed for the graveyard. Just don't do it. There's no reason for it. If you love each other tell each other the truth. A piece of advice is that if you made a mistake, talk it out so you can both move forward.

15. When you've made a mistake, admit it and humbly seek forgiveness.

Know how to apologize, and do it. You should be quick to say, "I was wrong. I'm sorry. Please forgive me."

Along with that, you need to understand and admit when you are in the wrong. Never blame the other for your mistakes. Be open and honest about them. If you follow this, there is room to grow together and make your marriage even stronger.

16. When your husband or wife breaks your trust, give them your forgiveness instantly.

This will promote healing and create the opportunity for trust to be rebuilt. You should be quick to say, "I love you. I forgive you. Let's move forward." But if you need help to do this bringing in a marriage and family therapist is not a bad thing to do.

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17. Be patient with each other.

Patience is a virtue and that rings true today. If you are arguing it's important to listen and be patient or things could snowball quickly and nobody wants that. If your spouse needs help be patient and give them a hand. Your spouse is always more important than your schedule.

18. Model the kind of marriage you would want for your children.

Be the kind of spouse that will make your sons want to grow up to be good husbands and your daughters want to grow up to be good wives. Show them what a marriage can be like and set the bar high. Don't let your son or daughter be trapped in a bad marriage because you showed them what they should tolerate.

19. Be your spouse's biggest fan, rather than their biggest critic.

Be the one who wipes away their tears, not the one who causes them. Constructive criticism is always good because you want your partner to grow and be the best they can be. But you can't always criticize their bad habits. There are other ways to help your partner improve and one way is to be their personal hype man or hype woman. That's right, be their cheerleader!

Praise them when they get something right or accomplish something they've been wanting to get done. Cheer them on. Believe in them. Support them.

20. Never talk badly about your spouse to other people or vent about them online.

If you have an issue with your spouse, you handle it with them. You don't go vent to your best friend or your "Finsta" account. You work it out with them and them alone (unless you have a therapist then by all means go to them if you need to). But when it comes to venting to your friends, it's not a good idea.

Don't even do it with family members! You should protect your spouse at all times and in all places. This is respecting them.

21. Always wear your wedding ring.

It will remind you that you're always connected to your spouse and will remind the rest of the world that you're off-limits. It's a symbol of your love and promise to each other, so why would you take it off?

22. Connect with a community of faith.

A good church or faith community of any religion can make a world of difference in your marriage and family. Marriage is a sacred concept and a faith-based community can help you understand that. They can offer deep advice and guidance for your marriage that can help bring you both closer in faith and love.

23. Pray together.

For those who are religious, having God at the center of your marriage can have a strong pull that will glue your marriage together. Having faith and asking God for advice and guidance is something that will not only help in your marriage but make it constant. Every marriage is stronger with God in the middle of it. And it won't only be a strong one but a happy marriage as well.

24. Say nothing rather than saying anything mean.

This is one of the rules we learn at an early age. If you don't have anything nice to say, then say nothing at all. We are taught early because it's a great lesson to learn in life. When you have to choose between saying nothing or saying something mean to your spouse, say nothing every time. No really, every single time. Being mean gets you nowhere.

25. Never consider divorce as an option.

Relationship experts find it crucial for people to remember that a "perfect marriage" is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other. Do everything and anything besides divorce to fix the issue or problem that has come up.

Marriage is a commitment. When things go sour remember how you fell in love with your spouse.

That day you said "I do" you entered into a contract that said you would stand by your spouse until death do you part. And I bet you meant it for the long haul that day, so why wouldn't you mean it now?

4 Basic Things Children of Divorce Want From Their Parents

Posted by Ann Papayoti on YourTango.com

In 25 years of supporting people going through divorce and in the subsequent rebuilding of their lives, I’ve learned what the effects of divorce on children really are, and what children of divorce actually want from their parents. I’ve often wished parents could see it sooner. I’ve wondered if some would ever see it. Some are so hurt by the emotional trauma that they simply can’t see beyond their own pain to consider another’s. It can be a costly oversight in the form of anxiety, stress, anger, and low self-esteem for the children.

What children of divorce really want from their parents.

1. Children of divorce want their parents to coexist.

They want their parents to be able to be in the same place at the same time without conflict, avoidance, or angst.

They want their parents to be able to meet together with their teachers, to sit together at events, to cheer for them from the same bleacher, to pose with them for photos, and to celebrate their achievements together.

An 18-year-old boy told me his greatest stress in elementary school was playing in the school concert band. He always dreaded performances because his parents hated each other so much, yet both would show up.

He knew they would come and sit apart, seemingly competing for who could sit closer to his spot on the stage. He never knew where to look to try to find a supportive smile.

His stomach would ache, he would begin to feel sick, and he simply couldn’t wait for the concert to end. Afterward, he wouldn’t know who to go to first. He felt responsible for how they would feel.

He quit concert band in elementary school, quit soccer in high school, and later, quit his job.

Children want their parents to be there for them, not against each other.

2. Children of divorce want their parents to communicate respectfully.

They want their parents to be adults, manage emotions, and behave responsibly. Children of divorce want their parents to STOP fighting and criticizing one another in front of them.

They want their parents to be the grown-ups and to let them be the kids. They learned or are learning in kindergarten much about self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness, and relationship skills.

They are expected to express their feelings appropriately while relating and connecting to others. Is this too much to ask of their own parents? Parents are the greatest teachers, and the same-sex parent is their most influential one.

A 14-year-old shared with me that she gets extremely upset hearing her parents fight about her. She said when they fight about her, it feels like it's her fault. It seemed what she wanted for herself wasn’t even what they were fighting about.

She also said that her parents will go weeks without communicating with one another and send messages through her. Then, she again feels at fault for one or the other being upset.

She said she sometimes wishes her divorced parents could feel what it’s like to be in the middle. She wants to hide in her room, not see anyone, and eat the snacks she hid there to try and feel better.

If she could go to her Grandma’s, she would. Grandma always makes the food she likes.

She developed an eating disorder and has ongoing issues with self-esteem.

The effects of divorce on children are often serious and the repercussions last into adulthood.

3. Children of divorce want their parents to cooperate in co-parenting.

They want their best interests to be the focus. If there was an unhealthy, unhappy, high conflict relationship in the home while married, believe me, the children are pro-divorce.

They do NOT want their parents to stay together for them. They do want to remain a top priority in their parents' separate lives. Often parents tell their children they are their number one priority, but their actions don't support that. This can make children feel insecure and unloved.

A 9-year-old boy told me that he felt he had to hide when his mother called or texted him when he was with his father. She just wanted to know how his soccer game went.

His father would react with anger, yelling and accusing her of stealing his time. The boy didn’t understand why her interest in his life would be so upsetting to his father. After all, he actually could have come to watch him play in person.

He stopped answering his mother’s calls and texts; he started hanging out with the wrong crowd.

A parent's relationship with their ex is not your child’s relationship with them. Imposing rules means that someday there might be a price to pay.

4. Children want their parents to commit to healing after going through a divorce.

They want their parents to take responsibility for their lives. So many get stuck in their pain or avoid it, so they don’t do the work of grieving and letting go. They just run to the next thing without doing the reflection and learning the lessons from this period of their life.

Others, often those who may be on the victim end of betrayal, can become so defeated that they begin to betray themselves with their lifestyle choices.

Children of divorce want their parents to talk to someone about their problems. They want them to get the help they need to lead a well-balanced, stable life.

They are highly impacted by their parents' moods and their emotional, social, and financial struggles. Kids want to see their parents smile and hear them laugh.

Children want to play, have fun, and make memories with their divorced parents that will carry them through their lifetime.

A young girl once revealed to me that her mother was so sad all the time since her daddy moved out. She said that every time he called to ask about her day or tell her goodnight, mommy would cry.

This girl said she felt she had to go from being happy on the phone with her dad to comforting her mother, who had no one else to talk to.

She carried the burden of being a parent and friend to her mom, until her mom sought support on her own.

Children want healthy, happy parents who take care of themselves and can take care of them, too.

The effects of divorce on children are often a mixed bag.

Children often feel confused and guilty during their parents' separation and divorce. It's a major life transition for everyone, and they're not equipped to experience the change and uncertainty.

When divorced parents agree to co-exist, communicate, cooperate, and commit to keeping the children’s best interests at the forefront of every encounter and transaction, that shows them that they're truly important.

It demonstrates that divorce redefines a relationship, it doesn’t end it. Parents have an opportunity to create something new and healthy to model for their children to take into their adulthood, instead of packing their baggage full of anxiety, stress, anger, and low self-esteem.

Divorced or separated parents should give themselves the opportunity to recover from heartbreak and disappointment, learn to manage the stress, and regulate their emotions. In doing so, they give children the same capacity for resilience, happiness, and connection.

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