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The Woodsfellow Institute for Couples Therapy
The Woodsfellow Institute for Couples Therapy

Leave, Break Up, Divorce?

The Woodsfellow Institute for Couples Therapy

When is it time to separate? If you and your spouse want to find out if your marriage can be saved, call The Woodsfellow Institute at (404) 325-3401 or use our online forms to schedule a complimentary phone consultation, or a marriage counseling appointment, or a full-day marriage intensive.

Learn about our approach to deciding whether to leave, break up, or divorce:

Meant to Be

Being in love is wonderful. It's so fabulous to know that you two are meant to be together. That you are soul mates, destined to travel this lifetime together.

Sometimes the universe gives us a sign. Sometimes we get an indication that this union is blessed. It’s magical. It’s spiritual. It's holy.

You might see it in a special look, or a certain expression. You might see it in the clouds or the sky. You could hear it in some special words. It could be a certain scent, or the feeling a special place in nature. It feels like a deep spiritual confirmation: this is the right person for me. We are meant to be.

Some people have had this experience once; and that one taste of true love and total certainty has sustained them throughout their lives. Some people, when first in love, have this experience frequently.

Many people, further along in a relationship, have this feeling once in a while — maybe at a special place or time, or maybe in the most ordinary circumstances.

It’s a special blessing to feel this way any time. It’s a blessing to have felt this way even once. Don’t forget it.

Remember it.

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Hope for the Best – but Have a Plan for the Worst

We all hope for wonderful, loving times with our partners. We hope to feel happy, secure, thrilled, safe, elated, cherished, etc. And sometimes, that’s how it is. These are the good times, and it’s nice to enjoy them, and delight in them, and create more of them.

However, as in the phrase, "for better and for worse," most of us know that there are difficult times too. Disagreements, arguments, conflicts, frustrations, and hurt feelings — all these make for tougher times.

I think one crucial ingredient for a successful relationship is having plans AHEAD OF TIME for how you two are going to handle these tough times. The worst time to decide how to argue is right in the middle of an argument. (Because tempers are high and cooperation is low).

My wife and I have a number of agreements about handling difficulties. And I’m so glad we do. We don’t surprise each other, we make appointments, we use soft starts, we have ways to ventilate, we honor time-outs, we have "pet names" for our recurring problems, and we both try to understand the other’s point of view.

These are some of the skills that I teach folks in couples therapy. And I help each couple develop their own unique methods for handling their disagreements, arguments, and conflict.

I’d recommend that you come up with some agreements about how to handle difficulties. A mutually agreed on plan, in advance, is much better than making up the plan at the moment of crisis.

Because if you’ve planned for the worst times, you can get back to the best times sooner and more easily. You’ll be glad you did.

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Is Life a Blessing? Or a Curse?

I know that’s very old-fashioned language — and very old-fashioned concepts, but I think there’s something important for all of us in these ideas.

Is life a blessing? Or a curse?

Cognitive therapy would say that whichever we believe — that’s what will be true for us. Our belief becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. One way or another. If you believe life is a curse, you will live a cursed life. If you believe life is a blessing you will live a blessed life.

The way we think about things, affects how we respond to those things. And our different responses set different courses of events in motion. If you believe life is a curse, then you’ll probably feel despondent and resentful and hurt and angry and hopeless and depressed.

When you feel like this, you're probably not much fun to be around. You probably pay attention to bad things; you may ignore some good things. Before long, you create more bad energy yourself.

On the other hand, if you believe life is a blessing, then you'll probably feel grateful and happy and content and appreciative. You probably pay more attention to good things; you may ignore some bad things. Before long, you create more good energy yourself.

So try this logic:

Since no one can truly know whether life is a blessing or a curse

And since believing life is a blessing leads to so much better consequences,

We should all believe that life is a blessing.

Whether it actually is or not.

Because we can’t really know for sure.

And we might as well get the self-fulfilling prophecy working in our favor.

Or, maybe life is BOTH a blessing AND a curse. The blessing is all the beauty and love and peace and truth. The curse is all the hurt and cruelty and destruction and hate. Perhaps both are going on at the same time.

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Holidays and Divorce

The holidays are times that emphasize family togetherness. If your family is together, be grateful for that. A loving, intact family is a profound treasure. Everyone's efforts to "make it work" have succeeded thus. Congratulations. Keep up the good work. Don’t take your family, or your marriage, for granted.

On the other hand, if your holidays are clouded by divorce, you have a special heartbreak to deal with. The more difficult the divorce, the more difficult the holidays — and the more maturity and self-control you’ll need to get through them.

No matter how tough it is, stick with the basic values of sharing, respect, and love for the kids. Remember, no matter what you do, there will be some times when you’ll feel sad and some times when you’ll feel lonely. That’s the way it is for all divorced families.

Here are some suggestions for doing the best you can with holidays and divorce:

  1. Share your children:
  2. Do unto your ex as you would have your ex do unto you.

    Help your ex have some good quality time with your kids; don’t interfere with that.

  3. Remember that the holidays are hard for the kids too:
  4. Speak kindly about your ex to your children.

    As parents, the two of you choose the holiday visiting schedule; don’t make the kids choose between you.

    Talk directly to your ex; don’t use the kids as messengers or delivery boys and girls between you.

  5. Tell your kids you love them. Say:
  6. "I love you."

    "Your mom (dad) loves you."

    We both want you to be happy."

    "We each want to be with you."

  7. Take care of yourself at the moment of empty arms:
  8. When your children have just left you, you’re probably going to feel empty, lonely, and sad. Make a plan for yourself: Is there a friend you can talk to? A book you want to read? A place for you to go? Something for you to do? Find some way to take good care of yourself at that moment.

    If there’s no divorce in your family, be grateful for what you’ve got. Don’t take it for granted. Keep up the good work of keeping your family together.

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As Above So Below

If you wish to know the heavens, look to your own heart.

If you wish to know your own heart, look to the heavens.

When we get caught up in the drama of our struggles with each another, we all-too-easily forget how open and spacious and all-encompassing we are. We forget that we are enormously loving and generous and wonderful and tolerant and merciful and understanding and compassionate and effective and powerful and successful and creative.

In our heart-of-hearts, we ARE all these things. But in our struggles with one another — when intense, conflicting feelings flood us; we shut down. Defending ourselves, we forget our grandeur and become so much smaller. We struggle and battle; we are defeated and laid waste. It’s very sad. It’s tragic.

But hey, wake up. Don’t forget who you really are. Take a moment right now to remember. Your heart is a mirror of the heavens. It reflects all the enormous forces of the universe — all of nature’s beauty and strength. You have within you all that love and all that power. You are hugely loving and hugely powerful, you have enormous capacity to change things and transform them and make them better.

Those forces in the universe are in you as well. As above, so below.

Keep reminding yourself, so you don’t forget.

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