Category Archives: Life Transitions

The Divorce Decision

couple back to backDivorce can be a painful process and is certainly life changing.  One should carefully and fully consider it and other options before steps are taken.

Why Couples Divorce

Why do couples that once married out of love divorce?  The most commonly cited reasons are: finances, frequent arguments, differences in sexual needs, in-laws, differences in child rearing beliefs, and growing apart.

Other reasons for divorce might include:

Communication difficulties:  Different communication styles are very often at the root of marital discord.

Power Struggles: Who’s in charge of what?

Arguing: Learning how to argue “productively” is crucial.

Differing Expectations: Couples must discuss their expectations for marriage beforehand.

Change: Never marry someone with the expectation that you will change them.

Lack of Options: Unhappy couples who feel they have run out of options may turn to divorce believing it to be the only way to become happy again.

Benefits of Marriage Counseling:

Resolve:  The therapist can teach better communication skills to enable resolution of issues.

Clarify:  Clarifying goals can assist in learning to respect your spouses’ ideas.

Your participation: It’s important to learn what role you have in the marital difficulties as we only have control over ourselves, not out partner.

Alternatives: Explore alternatives to divorce such as negotiation and compromise in the marriage.

Whatever you and your spouse decide to do, think carefully, go slowly, and examine all options before moving on.

For the complete article, please go to my page on Psychology Today at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/life-without-anxiety/201704/the-divorce-decision

Sending your Teen off to College Successfully

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High School graduation is behind us and college is about to start.  For those of us launching our teens off to college for the first time, we have about two months to review skills, discuss expectations, spend family time together, shop and pack.  Doing this with thought and planning will help make the transition a smooth one.

You may have plans to spend every waking moment with your soon to depart student only to discover they want to spend all of his/her time with friends.  Support their time with friends while planning some meaningful time with family.  Try to also spend alone time with your teen, perhaps giving them the option of picking the activity.

Some teens are better able to separate if they’re angry.  They may battle with you and/or siblings more often, feeling it’s easier to leave family with whom you’re angry.  Others may have meltdowns, be cranky or even clingy.  Try not to engage in arguing but to give them some space while understanding that change is stressful and going off to college is scary. Reassure them they are ready.

There are some skills your student will need to have at college that may not have been emphasized while living at home.  They will need to do laundry, iron, make a bed, clean, and manage money and time. Make sure they feel comfortable doing these things by giving them guidance and supportive instruction.

Discuss financial expectations with your student.  Where will their spending money come from and how will they access it? Who will pay for books, food outside of the meal plan, entertainment? It’s best to develop a budget with them and make sure they know how to use a credit card, ATM card, and write a check.

Talk to them about how and how often you will be in contact.  Some parents and students prearrange a day and time for weekly phone calls, some text as needed, others FaceTime or Skype.  Some parents tell their students they will leave the frequency of contact up to the student but will let them know if it’s not often enough for the parent.

Help your teen decide what to take with them to school.  Let them pick their bedding and decorations for the dorm room and be there as a guide instead of running the show.  Be supportive of their choices.  Go shopping with them as that’s a great way to spend time together.

Try to control your emotions. Certainly let your child know that you’re going to miss them but not to the point that they will worry about you when they’re gone.  Let them know you trust them and the decisions they will make.

Remember, all your years of hard work have led up to this point.  You’ve taught, they’ve learned. Show your love and trust.

Best of luck to all of you!

Will I ever fall asleep?

insomniaWhy is sleep so elusive to many of us? Very often sleep difficulties arise when we’re worrying about something, when not feeling well, going through menopause, pregnant, or when worrying about not being about to sleep.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, try the following:

1-      Use your bedroom and bed for sleeping only. Don’t read, watch TV, and/or eat in bed.

2-      Don’t nap during the day.

3-      Plan for 8 hours of sleep and go to sleep at a time which would allow for that.  Going to sleep too early will make it that much for difficult to fall asleep.

4-      Tell yourself that you’re going to bed to rest, don’t make sleep the goal.

5-      If you become anxious because you want to sleep and can’t, get out of bed and do something that will keep you busy and distracted. Go back to bed to rest after an hour.

6-      Place your clock out of sight so you can’t stare at the time.

7-      Limit caffeine, including chocolate to before 3 pm.

8-      Limit alcohol intake.

Doing the above consistently for a week to 10 days should take care of the issue.

Pleasant dreams!

 

Do Upcoming Holiday Gatherings Have You Scared?

Family serving Christmas dinnerWhile commercials, cards, and TV shows all show happy family gatherings, the reality is, many family get-togethers cause tremendous difficulties for a lot of us.  Why is that?

There is a great expectation that holidays will be fun, warm, loving. That family reunions will bring joy to all. But that isn’t always the case. Family gatherings can remind us of who’s no longer present, either due to death, divorce, or distance. This can cause sadness and a feeling of loss and longing.

We tend to act out old family roles when the whole family gets together.  So if you were the “acting out” adolescent, you may find yourself in the acting out role again as an adult. If you had competition with your sibling when a child, you may find that the old competitive spirit is alive and well. Old jealousies may rear their ugly head again. Competiton for parental attention for yourself or your children may cause some difficulty.

Here’s what you can do. Remember, holidays don’t have to bring up all or some of the above. Keep focused on the purpose of the gathering: to eat a meal, exchange gifts, or reunite with family members you haven’t seen in a long time. And focus your attention on those that support you, that have your back. This could be your spouse, children, cousins, etc.  Just because others may try to drag you into old dysfunctional patterns and behaviors, it doesn’t mean you have to follow.

Have a peaceful holiday season.

 

Do you Feel Stuck or Trapped?

Your life is not where you’d like or had hoped it to be. You feel trapped and unable to make changes in either your personal or professional life, or even in both. It’s very frustrating to feel stuck in something when you’d really like to be doing something else or would really like to be with someone else. But are you really stuck or trapped?

Do you feel trapped because change seems too difficult? Maybe you stay in your job because looking for a job in this economy seems too hard or because finding a new job seems impossible. So you spend your energy feeling sad, bored, unfulfilled instead of looking to make a change. Ask yourself what you have to lose by looking? You may be surprised at the answer.

Do you Feel Stuck or Trapped?Sometimes we stay in one place even when we think we’d like to be someplace else as a way of avoiding the problem. For instance, does your marriage feel stale, unfulfilling? Perhaps you daydream about leaving the marriage and finding someone more exciting. Is it possible that your daydreams are keeping you rooted in the problems rather than using the energy to work on the marriage? Maybe you and your spouse need to begin to talk about the problems or see a marriage counselor.

Some people feel trapped because they feel locked into something due to commitments they have made. For instance, staying in a job because the income is one you’ve become dependent on due to a high mortgage or children about to go to college. In this case staying put may actually help you to feel better in the long run.

So look at why you feel trapped and ask yourself what you may be avoiding, afraid of, or waiting for. This may help you get unstuck or help you to feel better about the decision to stay put.

Empty Nest Without Feeling Empty

Congratulations, your son or daughter is ready to leave home. That means you have raised them in such a way that they are independent enough to live on their own. Great job! Perhaps they’re going off to college, perhaps getting married, or perhaps moving into their own place to start a job. They are ready to have you cut the apron strings and let them leave the nest. You’re pretty sure they are ready, but are you?

Empty Nest Without Feeling EmptyAlmost everyone faces this new transition with trepidation. Yes, you’re going to have freedom, perhaps have the house alone all to yourself, or to you and your husband, but at what cost? Will you be lonely? Will you be able to find things to do? Will your child still need you? No wonder you’re scared, sad, anxious. Change is scary. You’re transitioning into the unknown. But this is not a crisis. It’s just a new stage in life, an inevitable change that most of us hope we and our children will reach.

For tips on how to face this stage with strength and optimism, please see the full article on Psychology Today’s website at http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/life-without-anxiety/201107/empty-ne…

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or you think I can be of some help. I have offices conveniently located in the New York City and Westchester areas.