Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

 

 

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

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

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

The Power of Forgiveness

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

Forgiveness is a selfish act. I forgive for me. When I forgive my ex I let go of any power my ex has over me. I wish him or her well and I go on with my life and my ex goes on with his or her life. No longer am I entwined in their life. No longer can I blame them for what happens to me now and in the future. I become free and empowered to live my own life.

Forgiveness does not absolve my ex of me responsibility for what happened. If I make a mess I am still responsible for any consequences and any mess resulting from my actions. Forgiveness does not mean taking away the consequences.

Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. You hurt me and I may forgive you, but I am going to get out of your way so that you cannot hurt me again. I want to protect myself and my loved ones. I won’t forget what happened.

Forgiveness is letting go of the right to revenge. When I forgive I no longer spend my energy plotting against my ex. I realize they are human and I let go. I am free to move on and so are they after they have dealt with the consequences of their actions.

Forgiveness heals me. Energetically when I let go of the hurt, I feel better. The stress and adrenaline are no longer running rampant through my body. I allow my heart, my head, my body and my spirit to heal.

Forgiveness may or may not be a spiritual or religious action. Many of the world religions have a component of forgiveness. For most of us true forgiveness is hard and something we may need to do over and over again.

Forgiveness is not reconciliation. Whether or not I forgive my ex has nothing to do with whether or not I allow my ex back into my life. I may forgive my ex but have no desire to ever see or talk with her or him again. Remember that part about forgiveness is not forgetting.

Forgiveness empowers me. No longer am I allowing my ex or anyone else to control my life. I am in control of me and I am empowered to live my own life.

Forgiveness allows us to let go of the past and to move forward in our lives. As a relationship counselor and coach I work with clients on forgiveness and moving on with their lives. Call me if I can help.

Until next time,

Amy Barnes MBA MA LMHC

Conflict with Your Ex?

By 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.

Nothing can be more infuriating than dealing with an ex who just won’t cooperate, but then that may be why you got a divorce anyway. All too often we want the other person to change: to see our point of view. We believe we are the one who is right. So does the other person. This causes conflict.

You may feel like you need “to walk on eggshells” to not upset your ex. Giving in and not taking a stand when necessary only perpetuates the problem and makes it worse. Then you really are letting your ex control what you do. We each have the ability to move on and to reduce the level of conflict in our lives. Most importantly we have the ability to heal ourselves. Our healing is not dependent on what someone else does or does not do. Taking responsibility for your own life is empowering. This may also feel overwhelming and scary. We may continue blaming others for our current plight in life to avoid accepting responsibility for our own actions or just because we do not know how to approach life differently.

Asking for help when you need it is a healthy behavior. As a relationship counselor and coach many individuals come to see me about conflict with their ex. I assist people to let go of the conflict, to move on and thrive after their divorce, whether or not they wanted the divorce. Learning how to deal with your ex without the drama is an important part of your healing of allowing you to let go. As long as you are still in conflict with your ex your are still in relationship with him or her.

Learning to trust yourself, to trust your gut, to make healthy decisions regarding your life allow you to feel empowered and good about yourself. You can choose to regain control of your life and eliminate the conflict and the drama. Let me know if I can help.
Copyright 2011

Until Next Time

Amy Barnes MBA MA LMHC

Healing From Divorce

By Amy Barnes, MBA MA LMHC

Why is healing from a divorce necessary?  Divorce can leave you feeling devastated in a way that many of your single and married friends do not understand no matter how hard they try.  Being divorced is like a death.  Like a death, a divorce needs time to be grieved. You need not only time but also must be willing to do the work of healing. Time alone does not heal.   Until you have completed the healing process, you may be incredibly vulnerable and easily hurt again or you may have hardened your heart so much that you are unwilling to let anyone in. 

Neither place is healthy emotionally. I am certain you have each met someone who is bitter over a divorce that happened many years ago.  This does not have to be you.  You can heal and life can be good! 
The healing process is different for each person but generally includes the five steps listed below:   

1.  First is denial.  This is really not happening to me.  You may wish to think everything will be fine – nothing has changed.  Accepting that the marriage is really over may feel devastating.

2.   Dealing with the emotional pain.  Not just denying it. You may feel like you are on an emotional roller coaster.  Feelings may include sadness, anger, fear, loneliness plus dozens of other feelings.  You may feel like your heart is breaking.  It may even be hard to get to work or to take care of daily tasks.  Unfortunately this is usually also the time that all the legal work and finances and child custody issues need to be taken care of.

3.  Discovering who you are all over again.  As a single person you are not the same person you were when you entered this relationship.  What do you like to do now? What do you like about yourself?  You may even need to rediscover simple things like what type of food you really like to eat or rediscovering hobbies or trying new activities. What do you like to do now?

4.  Understanding your part in why the marriage did not work.  At this time, this may not seem necessary or possible to you.  This is not about blaming yourself or your spouse but about learning and growing as a person and improving your chances for a better relationship.  You may wish to restore relationships with your family and children if necessary. To make peace with the past and forgive yourself and others. Forgiving does not mean forgetting or allowing yourself to get hurt all over again.  Forgiving is for YOUR benefit. 

5.  Moving on!!! Finally after you have dealt with the past and the pain and understood your part in what happened and know who you are and what you want to do in life and you’ve actually started to feel good about yourself  (Yes, this can actually happen!)  It’s time to move on.  It’s time to put the past behind you and move forward to look ahead to the life that awaits you. 

Many people would like to move straight from step 1 denial to step 5 putting the past behind. Failure to complete the healing process could be why the divorce rate for second marriages is estimated at 60% or higher than the divorce rate for first marriages. 

As a divorce counselor and coach, I have led many divorce recovery programs.  I also work with many individuals who are in the process of healing from a divorce.  We heal best with the support of others.  The healthier you are and the more you know about yourself the more likely your next relationship is to succeed or you may find that do not wish to be in a relationship and that is ok also!  Being divorced does not have to ruin the rest of your life.  If necessary seek help and be willing to do the work of healing.  What you do with the rest of your life is up to you. 
Copyright 2011

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.