Thinking About Divorce? Read This First

Thinking about Divorce?

Most divorces are filed in January and February, according to reports from attorneys—right after the holidays. Why? Increased marital stress, lighter workload, and fewer distractions during the holiday from the unhappy marriage. And deciding to wait until after the holidays to file for divorce.

If you’re thinking about separation and divorce, think again.

Separating from or divorcing your marriage partner is one of the most challenging, significant, and expensive decisions you will make during your lifetime. It’s often mentally, emotionally, physically, socially, and financially draining. Before you separate or divorce, you do well to—

  1. Become well informed about relationships, marriage, and divorce.
  2. Consider couples therapy before proceeding with a divorce.

Read the Ugly, Bad, and Good about Marriage and Divorce provided here to help you do both.

The Ugly News About Marriage

In his book, You Can Be Right or You Can Be Married, Dana Adam Shapiro wrote that as few as 17% of couples are content with their partner.

Vicki Larson, journalist, and co-author of The New I Do, Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists, and Rebels, cites that 6 of every 10 are unhappily coupled and 4 out of 10 have considered leaving their partner.

A study done by the National Opinion Research Center in 2014 revealed that the trend is getting worse, not better. People are becoming less and less happy in their marriages as time goes on. While the actual number of unhappy couples varies and the data is hard to pin down exactly, it seems clear that “happily ever after” is less common than we would like to believe.

(Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/contemplating-divorce/201709/are-you-among-the-growing number-unhappy-married-people 12/20/19)

Current Divorce Rates in the U.S.

  • Every 13 seconds, someone, somewhere in the U.S. files for divorce.
  • 66% of divorces are filed by women.
  • 43% of first marriages end in divorce, down from 50% in 1990.
  • First marriages last an average of 8 years.
  • 60% of second marriages end in divorce.
  • 73% of third marriages end in divorce.
  • Divorce impacts children-
    • 50% of children in the US will see their parents divorce in their lifetime
    • 43% of children in the US are living without their father involved in their lives
  • According to the 2008 voter data, “Red” States have higher divorce rates than “Blue” States.

Divorce and Religious Faith

The Barna Research Group (Evangelical specialists in religion in the US), finds the following divorce rates among religious groups in the US:

  • Non-denominational Christians (Born-again Evangelicals) 34%*
  • Jews 30%
  • Baptists 29%
  • Mainline Protestants 25%
  • Mormons 24%
  • Catholics, Lutherans 21%
  • Atheists, Agnostics 21%

* Donald Hughes, the author of The Divorce Reality, notes that 90% of divorces among born-again couples occur after they have been saved.

Cost of Divorce in North Carolina

The total cost of a divorce, including attorneys’ fees, court costs, real estate transfers, and consultant fees varies so widely for any particular couple, that an “average” cost is almost impossible to calculate. Consider the following estimates:

  • $100k-$200k for a full bore, take-no-prisoners, court divorce with contested children’s issues, a self-owned professional practice or business, and a long-time dependent spouse
  • $10,000 to $30,000 to reach a settlement before the court’s judgment.
  • $6,000 to $12,000 per attorney for couples able to cooperate enough to enter into collaborative law proceedings and avoid court altogether.

Source: https://springfieldcollaborativedivorce.com/average-cost-divorce-north-carolina (12/20/19)

The Bad News

Years of Marriage and Risk of Divorce

1-2 Years/High Risk: Most marriages that end in divorce do so in the first two years, often after infidelity. Research suggests that unrealistic expectations about marriage play a role.

3-4 Years/Average Risk: Most couples have children by year 3. Couples do not stay together for the children; the children help the couple stay together. By year 4 the quality of the relationship often declines.

5-8/High Risk: The average length of a marriage that ends in divorce is about 7 years, give or take a year. Children have survived, relationship quality has declined, and women’s desire to cheat peaks.

9-15 Years/Low Risk: By year 9, most couples no longer have infants at home. Evidence suggests that, for some couples, relationship satisfaction increases as children get older. For other couples the risk of divorce increases. By year 10, couples have a lower divorce rate, perhaps due to more realistic relationship expectations.

15-20 Years/Average Risk: Divorce in one’s 50’s has become so common it’s called “Gray Divorce.” Relationship quality has declined. Infidelity increases. Research indicates one or both partners not wanting to spend the rest of their lives unhappy.

21 Years and Beyond/Low Risk: The risk of divorce reduces each year after 20 years of marriage.

(Source: https://www.fatherly.com/health-science/twenty-year-guide-divorce-risk 12/20/19)

The Good News

Over 40 years of research on couples done by the Gottman Institute shows that emotion-focused couple’s therapy has the highest rate of success for improving a couple’s relationship quality and satisfaction. Its success rate is 75%; 25% higher than other methods.

Before you separate or divorce consider that there’s a 75% chance that your relationship will improve with the most effective method of couple’s therapy.

Also, consider that if your marriage does end in divorce after couple’s therapy, you will know that you did your best to make it work before you divorced. You will also learn a lot about what makes for a long and happy marriage.

Finally, completing couples therapy increases the chances that, if you divorce, your process will be smoother, lead to a more satisfying settlement, and reduce the chances of repeating the same relationship mistakes that led to divorce.

About Me

With me, you receive a—

• Caring, effective, well-trained therapist with 30+ years of experience caring for individuals, couples, and families as they made their way through life’s most difficult challenges, including marital problems.

• Couples Therapist trained in a highly researched and proven method of emotion-focused couples therapy developed by Drs. John and Julie Gottman: Gottman Method Couples Therapy

• Full assessment of your relationship, both its strengths and weaknesses

• Professional guide for gaining the knowledge and skills you need for a happy marriage

• Structured approach of fifteen 90-minute sessions to learn how to repair past regrettable incidents, manage conflict constructively, strengthen your love and affection for each other, and realize your individual and shared dreams.

Before you separate and file for divorce, let’s talk. Contact me today for a free initial consult.

From my heart to yours,

Mark

 

 

The Shadow Side of Holiday Cheer

Regardless of how we’re greeted, many of us experience the winter holiday season as a time of darkness. I’m talking about the darkness of the shadow side of the holiday season. Many suffer through the season instead of celebrating it.

The shadow side of the holidays lurks just under the thin veneer of twinkling décor and omnipresent drone of commercialized Christmas carols and secular holiday songs.

In the shadow side of holiday cheer lurk—

  • The stress of increased demands on our time, energy, and money
  • Anxiety about how we’re going to survive the weeks from Thanksgiving to January 2nd
  • Isolation by alienation from the dominating, surface spirit of the season
  • Grief due to missing a deceased loved who won’t “be home for Christmas” for the
    first or fifteenth time
  • Depression due to internalized frustration with it all and SAD (Seasonal Affective
    Disorder)
  • Disgust with the unhealthy social and economic pressures to be merry and consume
    more retail commodities and so much more

 

Some Good News

Here’s some good news: not everyone is overshadowed by the dark underside of the holiday season. Many love the extra socializing, shopping, music, and décor. It’s their favorite time of year.

They remind those in the shadow that light does shine in the darkness of the winter holiday season. They’re like twinkling stars in the night sky—glimmers of joy and signs of hope.

They remind us that moments of light shine like candles in the darkness. Such moments of light in the darkness come in different ways to different people.

Some come unexpectedly from family, friends, and strangers who smile, speak a kind word, or offer a gracious gesture. Other moments of light in the darkness we create for ourselves.

 

The Shadow Side for My Wife and Me

Even though the holiday season is a shadow-side experience for my wife and me, we intentionally create moments of light together. The most meaningful moments of light for us are moments that connect us with each other and others we love and care for. Here are some moments of light we create together:

We prepare holiday meals and decorate our home together as a couple. We listen to Christmas music we enjoy together: Selene Dion, Diana Krall, George Winston, and Kenny G.

Each year we buy a tree ornament that marks another year we get to celebrate the holidays together as a couple. We also buy three of a new tree ornament in loving memory of Lisa’s son, Steven, who died tragically in 2012. One hangs on our Christmas tree. The other two hang on her daughters’ trees.

We share with each other memories of past holiday seasons. Some that weren’t funny at the time are funny now. Even sharing our grief and sadness with each other is a moment of connection and light in the darkness.

Shopping together for gifts to share with our family members and friends creates moments of light. So are our family gatherings and meals on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.

We only engage in holiday social activities that are actually moments of joy and light in the darkness for us.

My point is this: we can find our own ways to create moments of light in the darkness during the holiday season. Creating such moments of light not only helps us endure until January 2nd, it illumines the darkness for others too.

 

A Holiday Blessing

During this holiday season may others give you glimmers of joy and light. May you also create some moments of light for yourself that illumine others too.

From my heart to yours,
Mark

Thank You for Being You!

 

Hello!

Since November is the month of Thanksgiving, I want to share some thoughts about gratitude and giving thanks.

 

 

 

Gratitude vs. Giving Thanks

In my view, gratitude and giving thanks are two different things. Gratitude is the automatic, natural, emotional response of our own spirit to having a need met that we couldn’t meet for ourselves. We feel relieved. Our heart swells with warmth, and we smile.

For example, when our back itches in a spot we can’t reach and someone scratches it for us and relieves our itch, we automatically feel the emotion of gratitude, smile, and say, “Thank you!” After having the itch on your back relieved, you might have automatically done a favor in return to express your gratitude.

I’d bet you remember several occasions when you needed something you could not obtain your own, someone helped, you felt gratitude, said “Thank you so much!” and did something in return to express your gratitude.

 

Giving Thanks

Giving thanks is a verbal expression. Here’s the thing: we often give thanks without feeling grateful. We say “thank you” to be polite when someone gives us something, whether or not we like or need the gift.

We’ve been taught, and often by shaming, it’s the right thing to do. We’ve been taught we’re of poor character when we don’t say “thank you” for good things we received.

We can also stir up emotions of shame and guilt when we become aware of things we’ve received, didn’t feel grateful for, and didn’t say, “Thank you!” If you keep a “Gratitude Journal” beware of it stirring up guilt and shame instead of gratitude.

 

Things for Which I’m Grateful

When clients, friends, and associates refer folks to me who become clients, my spirit responds with deep gratitude, and I say, “Thank you so much!” Clients allow me to earn a living doing what I’m here to do: help people heal, make their way through difficult challenges, and realize their dreams.

Until now, I haven’t had a tangible way to express my gratitude. Here’s what I’ve decided to do to express my gratitude to those who refer new clients to me: I will do one of the following according to your desire:

  1. Give you a free session (when you are an active client) or reimburse you for one session (when you have completed active therapy)
  2. Donate the cost of a session, in your name, to a charity of your choice
  3. Deposit the cost of a session into a special fund for clients unable to pay for sessions

I’ve already had clients say, “I’m happy to refer to you. You don’t have to do that.” But I do. I do need a tangible way to express my heartfelt gratitude. The gift of a session in return is a place for me to start.

 

Gratitude for My Clients and Couples Therapy

I feel heartfelt gratitude for my clients. I started building a full-time private practice in May of 2018. Since then, the number of both my clients and number of sessions has grown by 50%!

  • 43% come to me for couples therapy
  • 23% come due to panic attacks, anxiety, and depression
  • 23% come for grief counseling
  • 11% come for caregiver support and/or to find themselves and their purpose

Of the clients come to me for the reasons above—

  • 95% suffer with anxiety and depression
  • 95% are grieving
  • 77% have significant relationship problems
  • 74% suffer with shame
  • 58% struggle with their identity and life purpose

 

Since I’m effective helping with anxiety, depression, and grief, and it’s been a while since I last updated my training for couples therapy, I decided to earn certifications in the Gottman Method of Couples Therapy taught by John and Julie Gottman. It meshes well with Life Therapy and the emotion-focused theory I developed. To learn about the Gottmans and their resources for couples go here.

I’ve also refreshed my knowledge and skill in addressing shame.

 

I’m Grateful for Trees and Another Year of Life

I celebrated another birthday in October. I remain wondered by the mere fact of being alive! Lisa and I hold trees in a special place in our hearts. My logo for Life Therapy is a tree.

In gratitude for another year of life, I asked my FaceBook friends to join me in donating to the Old Growth Forest Association. Lisa and I also send our Amazon Smile contributions to the Old Growth Forest Association.

Very little of the Old Growth Forests remain here in the U.S., and we want to contribute to their care. If you’d like to join us in this, you can learn more about the Old Growth Forest Network here.

 

My 5 New Books!

I published FIVE BOOKS in three weeks at the end of September and beginning of October and am very grateful to be finished with this process! My new books are—

  • Re-Visioning Spirit: A Brief Introduction to Thumotics (2nd Edition)
  • Affirmations of Life
  • Your Little Book of Spiritual Knowledge
  • Your Life: An Owner’s Manual
  • Spiritual Sayings for Earthlings

You can learn more about them at my Amazon Author’s page here.

 

Thank You and a Blessing!

Thank you for being you! Thank you for reading this! If you found it meaningful, please share it with others.

May you and yours have much to be grateful for during this month of Thanksgiving!

From my heart to yours,

Mark

An Owner’s Manual for Your Life?

Wouldn’t it be great to have an owner’s manual for your life? That’s what this book is. In this owner’s manual, you learn about your life: what it is, its purpose, how to take good care of it, make the most of it, and fulfill it. You also learn how to troubleshoot and who to contact for support when you need help.

This manual serves as an excellent introduction to Life Therapy. Life Therapy is a holistic alternative to traditional medication therapy and psychotherapy or behavioral health counseling that also complements both.

I formed it out of my formal training and thirty-plus years of counseling individual, couples, and families through life’s most difficult challenges. Ten of those years were with nationally awarded hospice and palliative care organization where I provided both patient care and clinical supervision of other clinicians of all disciplines.

The little owner’s manual is steeped in the wisdom I learned from my professors, supervisors, mentors, and most of all from my patients and clients.

Like any other owner’s manual, you might read it cover to cover or just stick somewhere and read sections when  you need to. Either way, it good to have close by.