Should I Go or should I Stay?

ImageIs your marriage or relationship worth saving or is it time to call it quits and move on?  This is such a big question with no one size fits all answer.  As a marriage and family therapist and a relationship coach my preference is to make marriages work.  Generally if both individuals are fully committed to the relationship I can assist them in increasing the quality of their relationship and making it work in a way that both people feel loved, respected and are able to be fully themselves.

Over the years I have also become a realist.  Not all relationships can or should continue.  I taught divorce recovery classes for over six years and know that the break up or divorce is no guarantee of a happy ever after either.

My goal is to assist individuals and couples in thriving whether in or out of a relationship.

I cannot make the decision to go or stay for you.  In many cases my suggestion is to do what it takes to make the relationship work including individual or couples counseling or coaching before calling it quits so there will be no regrets.  However some hang on too long, staying in a relationships that is clearly over.

You deserve to be happy, to love the life you are living.  To thrive whether or not you are in a relationship.  Give me a call and I’d be glad to support you in coming to the decision that is right for you.

Until next time,

Amy Barnes, MBA MA LMHC                                                                                                                                                                                          Life and Relationship Coach

 

 

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Your Choice

by Amy Barnes

To divorce or separate may or may not have been your choice. I do believe we each have before us a much bigger, even more important choice. How do I choose to live my life now? Do I choose to live my life as a victim or as a creator? A victim is at the effect of what happens. A creator looks at what has happened and make decisions on what to do and what can happen now.

Who is in charge of my life now? After my divorce I gave up my power. I had given up my power many years before. I can’t blame that on my ex. I thought that was something women were supposed to do. I didn’t understand that I had a choice. You can’t make a choice if you do not know you have one.

The most powerful lesson I have learned is that we always have a choice. As a creator I can make choices about what will happen. Sometimes we can’t see it. Sometimes we don’t even know that a choice exists. I believe we have all the answers inside us but like buried treasure sometimes the answers get lost and we need support in finding them. As a coach I can support you in finding your voice and finding those answers deep within you.

The most important thing I found was my voice. I leaned who I was and what I wanted. I learned how to speak up for myself. I am responsible for my life. It is up to me to decide what and who I want in my life. I have the power to make things happen.

I have a choice. For years after my divorce I stayed a victim. Now I know I have a choice. I choose to be a creator and not a victim. I want to also support you in feeling empowered to have a choice. I support you in having a choice and creating what is best for your life.

Yes, you always have a choice.

Until next time,

Amy Barnes, MA MBA LMHC
Certified Relationship and Body Centered Coach

After Divorce: Thrive or Survive

I’m writing a divorce book for those who don’t like divorce books. This book is for those who are willing to accept the fact that they are getting divorced and willing to move forward with their lives and willing to thrive after divorce. I am not sure that after my divorce I would have been ready for such a book. I was so stuck in my pity party, victimhood, blamer role, just barely surviving, that I did not even understand that I had another option.

You are welcome to choose whether you want to stay in your own pity party, victim, blamer role or move beyond divorce. It is you choice. You get to choose.
I’m not suggesting that you wake up tomorrow morning and everything is wonderful. I am suggesting that healing and thriving after divorce is a process. A process that you can choose.

You do not need to continue to be entangled with your ex or continue to blame your ex (whether from a marriage, long term relationship or domestic partnership) for your current unhappiness.

You also don’t need to have a clue how to do this. All I ask is your willingness In accepting that this might be a possibility for you. Your future depends on it.

If you are currently in the process of a divorce I can support you, if you are willing, in getting through it and coming out better on the other side.

Until next time,

Amy Barnes, MA MBA LMHC
Certified Relationship and Mind Body Coach

Loss of a Dream

In my own divorce and working with hundreds of individuals and couples one of the hardest parts of divorce is the loss of a dream, of having someone to grow old with or walking your daughter down the aisle together or even the hope or having children. (For some there is a relief that they did not have children with their ex.)

In my own relationship we had tried counseling on and off together for about six years. Neither of us we were happy. I even initially went back to get a masters degree in marriage and family therapy to save my own marriage. It did not work. At that point in my life I did not believe in divorce. I was angry and unhappy all the time which spilled over into my ability to parent and into all my other relationships moreover how I felt about myself. Yet I took years to heal from my divorce. I refused to accept it. My inability to accept the divorce only caused me further pain. I put my life on hold and stayed the victim in my own pity party place way too long.

I also did not allow myself to see the parts of the divorce that were my fault. I blamed him for everything which was not fair to either of us. Yet I also blamed myself and saw myself as a failure for mot being able to make the relationship work. the worst of both world. Ultimately my healing from the divorce involved my accepting the end of the divorce. acknowledging my part in why the marriage did not work, unentangling myself emotionally from my ex, forgiving him and wishing him well, and most importantly my own personal growth.

All these realizations and healings have come in stops and starts. Like taking one step forward and three backward and a few sideways and then a few giant steps forward.

What your divorce looks like, how you go about your healing and I hope ultimately thriving after your divorce will be different from what I did and from what others maybe even your best friend has found helpful. I hope from my personal experience and having coached thousands of men and women and hundreds of people though individual coaching and divorce recovery groups that I can support you in this process of moving through and thriving beyond your divorce.

Step 1. Accept that the divorce is real. you cannot even begin to move on or to take the practical steps you need to take until you acknowledge the reality. When working with clients. I have found that awareness no matter how painful, not hiding your head in the sand is necessary.

Acceptance is the opposite of denial, and with acceptance comes the possibility of hope. Even if you cannot now see it. Yes there is light at the end of the tunnel.

If I can support you in thriving after a divorce or break-up, give me a call.

Amy Barnes

Shock Versus Acceptance

Divorce. I’m divorcing you. You’re divorcing me. The words can sting. Bite. They can leave you paralyzed or relieved or with about a million other feelings. Denial. Shock. Anger. Sadness. Even Relief. How can this be happening to me? This state of shock can last from day and weeks to months and years. This also is a time when you will need to make lots of decisions. Yet, for most of us it’s a time when our brains just don’t want to function.

First I suggest making sure your marriage really is over – can you both agree to work on your marriage. Would it be valuable for you each to work on yourselves? Often we blame our marriage when it is actually ourselves we are not happy with. Are you both willing to take a specific amount of time for marriage counseling and to work on your marriage; for example three or six months with both of you giving 100% to the marriage, before calling it quits for good. Then neither of you will have regrets and if doesn’t work you will both know you tried everything. I highly recommend this since only 20% of people are significantly happier five years after their divorce. Don’t threaten divorce unless you mean it. As a marriage coach I inspire couples to have wonderful marriages but this only works if that is what both people truly want.

My spouse wants the divorce and I don’t. The marriage is over. If one spouse is completely out of the marriage there is nothing you can do to make it work. It’s like beating your head against the wall; it feels good when you stop. You can’t heal from a divorce until you have accepted that it will happen. You’re in shock and feel like you are living a nightmare you can’t wake up from. Breathe. Don’t make any major decisions. Don’t agree to anything that you will regret later. Don’t say anything you will regret later.

You can’t make a marriage work no matter how much you want it if the other person has irreversibly called it quits. You can’t heal from a divorce until you have accepted that it is happening. If you are willing, you can get through this and come out better on the other side even if you don’t have a clue how to do it right now.

Call me. I can help.

Until next time,

Amy Barnes, MA MBA LMHC
I empower people to discover their gifts, talents and self worth.

Hot and Cranky

School’s a month away. The novelty of summer has worn away and the heat is playing with everyone’s peace of mind. Your children’s discontent can seem multiplied by a million when you are going through a divorce. You may already feel a bit fried around the edges with both your patience and your temper running short. Your tendency might be to take it out on whoever is nearby which my likely be your kids or your soon to be ex.

Don’t! What is most damaging to kids going through a divorce (and all kids for that matter) is their parents fighting and anger.

Handling you own frustration and anger is vital in creating a safe home atmosphere for you and the kids. Kids learn how to handle their frustration and anger by your example. Play with the kids but also take care of you. Balance times of being together and being apart. Everyone could benefit from some quiet time during the hottest parts of the day. Bring out the sprinkler, a cold watermelon, play outside and go to the pool early in the day or late in the evening. Drink tons of water – sugary drinks and soft drinks don’t hydrate the body as well. In the middle of the day go to the library, watch a movie or just stay inside.

Make a list of summer activities various members of the family enjoy – ask the kids for suggestions. Also explain that because of cost or time not every thing on the list is going to happen. Choose what best fits your family. Don’t make promises you can’t deliver. Make certain to include free or low cost items so the kid’s don’t think you always have to spend money to have a good time.

I empower parents to handle their anger and frustration in healthy ways.
Give me a call.

Until next time,

Amy Barnes MA MBA LMHC

Announcing Moving Through Divorce Workshops

Moving Through Divorce Workshops

Are you currently in the process of divorce or recently divorced? Whether or not you wanted the divorce, we want to support you in getting though this difficult time. Moving Through Divorce is designed to assist you in dealing with both your feelings around divorce and encourage you in doing what it takes to get through this difficult time.

Amy Barnes, LMHC, has led numerous divorce support groups, counseled thousands of people going through divorce, and written over 75 articles on divorce. She is delighted to be joined by co-therapist Sarah Nevin, MA, a recent graduate of Christian Theological Seminary’s Psychotherapy and Faith program and experience in leading groups.

If you have any questions about whether or not this class would be a good fit for you please call Amy Barnes, at 317-257-7544 or amy@lifeoptions.us or Sarah Nevin at 317.439.6854 or sarahnevin@mac.com. Our divorce website is http://beyonddivorce.us.

Two sessions will be offered this fall. Session one begins September 13, and session two begins October 25. Both sessions consist of 6 Tuesdays, from 7-8:30PM. Childcare available upon request. Registration required, fee: $75, includes materials. Class size limited. Pre-registration required. To register online go to http://www.stlukesumc.com, or contact DeAnna at morand@stlukesumc.com or call 846-3404.

Co Parenting is for Life

Co Parenting is for Life
By Amy Barnes MBA MA LMHC

One of the first books I ever read on divorce was The Good Divorce: Keeping Your Family Together When Your Marriage Comes Apart, by Constance Ahrons, Ph.D. Her book emphasized that divorce does not have to have long term negative consequences for the children. Getting divorced does not mean abandoning the children. Healthy divorced parents continue to successfully co parent their children.

Children caught in the middles of a divorce often suffer many consequences including more depression and more acting out. The parents ability to effectively parent their children both as single parents and as co parents is the single most important factor in how well adjusted and happy children are even many years after the divorce.

I’ve thought that all sex and all birth control devices, pills, condoms etc. should come with a warning label: Pregnancy possible. Only have sex with someone you would be willing to co parent with the rest of your life. The only sure fire way to not get pregnant is still to abstain. I’ve met with too many women over the years that got pregnant the first time they ever had sex or were just having a fling or not in a serious relationship only to have this surprise that has tied them to last night’s partner for the rest of their lives.

Bringing children into the world is not something I would take lightly. Having children to fix a troubled marriage or relationship almost always backfires. Marital satisfaction generally drops greatly (I have read estimates as high as 60 to 80% from John Gottman’s studies) after the birth of the first child. Fix your relationship first or find one that works much better and then think about having children.

If you are in the process of divorce, be careful what you fight over, no matter how angry or upset you are at your spouse, is it worth upsetting, abandoning and ruining your kids lives?

If you have a good co parenting relationship, let me know what make it work. If you do not, call me.

Until next time,

Amy Barnes MBA MA LMHC

Transforming Pain to Joy

by Amy Barnes MBA MA LMHC

Divorce causes pain, so does death, loss of a job, cancer, a disappointment or hurt. Some of us bounce back more easily from these places of pain than others. Most of us have a built in resiliency that keeps us going. For some of us we need help just getting back to feeling okay. Most of us need help going from that place of pain to a place of joy some time in our lives.

Counseling and therapy do a reasonably good job of getting people from a place of pain to feeling okay, that is what insurance companies pay for, Mental health insurance companies pay for people with mental health diagnosis to get to a place of okay.

My question is much bigger than that. For me okay is not good enough. I want to feel joy, peace, contentment and even happiness most of the time. As a counselor and coach, I ask myself, what can I do that most reliably helps people get to that place of joy and stay there more and more of the time.

For each of us there are some differences yet there are some consistent things that help us each get to and stay more and more in that place of joy. Now there is an entire field of happiness psychology devoted to helping people feel happier (not just okay).

Would you rather feel joy or just okay?

No this is not a trick question and I have done this long enough and with enough people to know that everyone is willing to move from that place of pain to joy. It takes commitment and a willingness to believe in yourself.

If you answer is YES. I can support in your journey. Give me a call.

Until next time,

Amy Barnes MBA MA LMHC
Amy is a relationship counselor and coach with over 15 years experience, specializing in supporting individuals and couples in transforming pain into joy allowing people to step into their full power and creativity.

Telling Your Divorce Story

by Amy Barnes MBA MA LMHC

Amy is a relationship counselor and coach with over 15 years experience, specializing in supporting individuals in transforming pain into joy after divorce.

When you talk about your divorce what do you say? How we tell the stories of our divorce and other significant events in our lives can either help us move on or keep us stuck. Whatever the reason for your divorce, whether or not you wanted the divorce, you may feel shock, hurt, anger, sadness, overwhelmed or even relieved.

You may want to share the story of your divorce – your side and what your spouse did wrong and/or continues to do wrong to anyone who will listen. After all you have been wronged, you have been hurt and you have a right to tell your story.

Before telling your story one more time, you might with to consider the following:

Is the person you are telling your story to someone you trust, a close friend or a counselor?

Telling your story to anyone who will listen may cause problems you do not want to deal with. You may become the object of gossip, people might avoid you or feel forced to take sides. Once you have shared information you may find friends or family members or your workplace knows more about you than you want them to know. Once you have said it you cannot take it back. If you don’t say it you can not regret saying it later. Just because people are curious and ask you question you do not need to answer.

Is telling my story hurting someone else?

Will telling my story hurt others including other family members or my children? Your children are 50% you and 50% your ex. If you tell negative stories about your child’s other parent you are in a sense telling negative stories about your child. The child then feels devalued. The best gift you can give your children is allowing them to love both parents. Telling your stories to family members or friends may cause them to take sides in a way that is harmful to you or your children.

Is telling my story repeatedly harmful to me?

When I retell a story of how I have been wronged or harmed, feel the same feelings – anger, hurt, sadness as when the original event happened. In a way it is like reopening a wound each time I tell the story. Retelling a story is great if I feel happy each time I retell the story of something that made me happy such as a wonderful vacation of hiking with my kids in Maine, but not so great if the story brings me down each time I tell it.

You may need to tell your story and feel all the feelings a number of times before you are ready to move on. Yet there will come a time will telling your story and bringing up those feelings again and again will no longer be useful to you and you might be served better by focusing on moving on.

Tell your story to safe people.
Don’t share your story when it is not appropriate or harmful.
Consider when it is no longer useful to tell your story.

Let me here from you. How has telling your story helped or harmed you?

Until Next Time,

Amy Barnes MBA MA LMHC