How To Fix Low Self-Esteem In Your Marriage

Last week, we met Mimi and Jordan, a lovely young couple whose dating relationship was marked by Mimi being attracted to Jordan precisely because he did not fawn over her. Mimi, although very pretty, smart, and nice, had low self-esteem. She kept that well-hidden with great social skills but in her heart of hearts she did not believe in herself; she felt weak and unsure. Therefore, if a boy would be too admiring, she foolishly felt that it could only mean one thing: He would expect her to take leadership in the relationship and that was something she didn’t feel she could do. Jordan was reserved. He was a responsible person and a hard worker and did not seem to expect anything from Mimi except to be there for him. Oddly enough, once the marriage got underway, Mimi felt the absence of the very thing she had been afraid of in other boys — attention. Actually, this makes sense: The attention made her insecure while dating but once married she felt needy because of her own insecurities. The more she complained to Jordan, the more irritated he felt; she was no longer the same sweet girl he had been dating. Now that Mimi and Jordan have been married for six months and the marriage seems to be heading to that unnecessary and terrible place starting with the word “d,” is there a way to avert this tragic next step? Of course there is. Mimi and Jordan engaged in a short course of counseling to address three issues: Mimi, Jordan, and them. Issue #1: Mimi: Mimi needed a little time...

Why Divorce Is Worse Than The Alternative

Someone asked me recently if I believed in pre-marital counseling for young couples with strife in their relationship. I said, “Absolutely not; they should break up.” If they are in pain and they have not yet gotten married I can only assume that one or the other does not have the tools to get along. The tempers, the blame, the second guessing, the lack of patience, and other behaviors like that are not good. Why should a young person start a new life with pain? Why should a young person introduce a child into a home of hurt? And most important, why should a young person be responsible for correcting the flaws in another person who is a stranger? But once people are married, everything changes. One does become responsible for the other; one is the friend of the other. If you are on the end of receiving pain from a spouse, then you have two reasons to help this spouse: first, to stop your own pain, and second, to encourage this other person to take steps to be a better person. “But, Dr. Deb,” you want to ask, “can anyone really change another person?” Here’s my answer: The myth is that we can’t change others, only ourselves. Our own stories tell us the opposite. Have you not been affected by a good article? A mind-opening discussion? Music? Prayer? Of course we have! Once years ago, when I was going through a long period in which I thought I was too busy with children to pray, I went to a tea during which some women spoke. One recited a poem...

5 Sets of Marriage Tips from Around The Web

Hey, don’t just take my word for it! Let’s see what my colleagues around the web are advising you on the topic “marriage tips.”     1. Marriage Max http://www.marriagemax.com/tip.asp Mort Fertel is not a marriage counselor — and he’s proud of it. He considers himself an alternative because he doesn’t care for the advice that counselors give to unhappy individuals that encourages the breakup of their marriage. I don’t blame him. His point is right on target. What’s more, his advice is sound. His tips change from time to time so you may not find the same one that I found. But the one I found asks the question: If you’re sick and tired of your spouse’s cheating, drinking, neglect, using drugs, or some other terrible habit, should you declare an ultimatum? Fertel says “No” because it won’t help. It will just cause you to feel a momentary feeling of power. What you have not done is give your spouse a reason to care about your ultimatum. What he (or she) will care about, however, is if you are connected to him. This presents its own problem because if he is disconnected from you, chances are you don’t have better tools than he does to be connected. You both found someone like yourselves –who is disconnected. Just to put in my own 2 cents, the above scenario is certainly possible. Others are also possible. It can be that in the beginning, one person is a connector and is attracted to another because she (let’s say) admires that ability in the other to be able to be alone. The...

Men’s Key Ingredient to a Happy, Healthy, Loving Marriage

You did know there were problems. For sure, there were problems. But you honestly did not know they were THIS bad. Your wife left. Or threatened to leave. Or saw an attorney. Or served you with divorce papers. Or had an affair. Or you find yourself paying attention to other women. What’s going on?? How did this happen?? I can tell you that it did not happen out of the clear blue sky. There were warnings. You either didn’t see them or didn’t understand what they meant. Or didn’t want to. The truth is — and I don’t care how long you’ve been married — you don’t know women. You do know that you love your wife. Or loved. Or thought you did. For sure, that is something you know. But you don’t even know why. Or maybe you do. But you still don’t understand her. And you are feeling a combination right now of panic and hopelessness. Maybe also anger. All that is normal. I get that. I get that for two reasons. First of all because I am a therapist and 50% of the people who call me for private therapy are men in your situation. And I’ve helped them! (Please see my About DrDeb page to get an idea of my interesting history and experience. Please see the blog post What’s the Difference Between Therapy and Coaching to get how I work with — and help — people.) The second reason is that I’m a woman. So I understand women. The thing is, we are really not that hard to figure out. We’re just different and...

Three Reasons for Fear of Commitment

We live in a singles world – and instead of being happy about their freedom, these singles are, for the most part, lost and lonely. If the obvious solution is to get hitched, the obvious question is: Why aren’t they doing just that? Why are they afraid of commitment? Here are three reasons. Children of Divorce Research shows that ten years after divorce, adult children may delay commitment in order to avoid putting future children of theirs through the same experience they had. They search for lasting love and faithfulness. They can still remember traumatic moments from their parents’ divorce (http://www.jabfm.org/content/14/3/201.full.pdf). In other words, adult children often search fruitlessly for the ideal relationship that their parents didn’t have. The task is doubly hard for them because their family of origin didn’t teach them what they need to know about happy homes. In fact, if roughly 50% of first marriages end in divorce, 75% of second ones do. What do the children learn from this? Children in Conflicted Homes There is a significant proportion of homes in America that remain intact in spite of abuse, affairs, and neglect. Parents worry that a divorce will harm their children, but without two people on board to create a harmonious home, the children are harmed anyway. Here’s an excerpt from my own published research: “Cummings and Davies (1994) have been observing young children from non-violent homes in laboratory situations for twenty years. They catalogue the following behaviors in response to witnessing laboratory anger between adults: ‘crying, freezing (motionless tension for an extended period), facial distress, distressed body movements (e.g., covering of the ears),...

15 Reasons Not to Divorce

   If your marriage is so very bad that you are on the brink of divorce, then that is precisely when you should not divorce. Here are 15 reasons why: Don’t Divorce When Things Are Awful 1. Whatever made you angry has no chance of being resolved in court. In court, the differences are exaggerated and the feeling of not having been treated fairly increases. 2. Research shows that violence escalates when you divorce and for two years afterwards. If there was no violence, verbal aggression can also escalate to violence. 3. According to a 2011 article on the CNBC site, mediated divorces can cost between several thousand dollars to $7,000, but litigation could cost as much as $50,000. An author, Brette Sember noted that people are usually not prepared for the amount of the retainer and further unprepared for the bills that follow. The article advises coming in having discussed carefully how everything would be divided. Is there something in this scenario a bit incongruous? The article was taken down as of this checkup (2015) so I guess the cost went UP. According to updated info, attorneys are between $150 and $450 an hour. I have never met a $150 attorney in my life although they may bill that for paralegal time. This site indicates the divorce on average is $15,500. 4. Now two households will have to be supported. Whatever your expenses were, now it’s double. 5. Let’s add other “hidden” expenses: houses which no longer have cash value; health insurance; college for children; small but meaningful items in the home such as artwork, memberships, airline miles....

How to Prevent an Ugly Divorce

Evan roared at Sloane. She had just woken up and already her husband of a decade was in a fierce mood. Her heart started pounding and she raced into the bathroom and locked the door, breathless. What could be wrong this time? And how long must this go on? With three children who loved their dad, she’d always had the same answer: Leave things alone; let him calm down and then go on as if nothing happened. But this was taking its toll. Sloane was starting to get stomach aches that ripped her insides up. She saw a doctor but all he could do was write a prescription. He had no way to fix the problem that caused her stomach ailment, and she didn’t either. Actually, she did, but she didn’t know it. Sloane was torn between absorbing this terrible psychic—and physical—pain and just calling it quits, but she didn’t want to go through what Meredith went through. Meredith was a first cousin. Their mothers were sisters who were very close and she and Meredith grew up together. She had danced at Meredith’s wedding and she almost went to Meredith’s funeral. What An Ugly Divorce Can Look Like Meredith, too, had an abusive husband. Meredith, too, had reached her limit. She had taken the divorce route. That choice not only pitched her into a hell that made her rotten marriage look good but she almost died. It wasn’t enough for Meredith’s ex to hire the best lawyers to lie about her in court documents and run up a legal bill that she needed to get the help of family...

A Powerful Tip To Make The Best Use Of Your Divorce

We have an expression in the Jewish tradition which goes, “Also this is for [the] Good!” It is said with a smile and written with an exclamation point. In the case of divorce, it is a very hard expression about which to be sincere. One wonders how in the world to look at a divorce as good. Even in the case where you are thrilled to be out of a deeply hurtful situation–and what divorce isn’t preceded by pain?–there seems to be nothing good about it. The very least amount of pain is in the disappointment: Months, perhaps years, perhaps even decades of a life were invested in another human being who didn’t come through. Divorce Brings Sad Thoughts Of Lost Years And then there is the sense of total waste: If I invested all this time for no return on my investment, not only do I have a right to be disappointed in my partner, but I have to ask myself, “Why didn’t I have sense enough to avoid this pointless relationship from the get-go?” Or at least, “Why didn’t I get out earlier?” So along with the other-blame comes the inevitable self-blame. And I am here to state emphatically that these are not bad questions. I am not going to tell you not to trouble yourself more with these questions since you are suffering so much. I am, instead, going to say, “Hey, these questions are good. Maybe I can help you answer them. Because, if we can figure this out together, not only do you significantly improve your likelihood of not making the same mistake over...

Getting The Whole Picture In Custody Evaluations

There are two ways to make custody evaluations holistic 1. The “whole” picture means the past, present, and future are equally important. During custody disputes, there is a recognition that everyone is under stress and therefore not going to look their best. Some of the most intellignet, nicest people on earth just don’t do well under stress. And what could be more stressful than the legal process which reinforces people as adversaries? That means that in order to learn how parents really function, the evaluator needs to get a picture over time. She needs to get a past history and several present interviews. Personality tests taken now, when things are highly stressed, give a distorted picture. Old tests, say for military service, taken when people were performing at their peak, will give me a much more accurate picture of the person. On the other hand, we all should be learning from experience. Parenting classes, for example, provide the kind of information that, if taken seriously, literally change the personality of the person taking them. It is up to the evaluator, during intensive interviews, to determine just how life-changing such learning experiences actually were for the parent. Based on this information, a sensitive evaluator can make fairly good predictions as to the future behavior of a particular individual. 2. The “whole” picture includes the whole family. The evaluator meets individually with the parents and the child or children. It is important to find out the parents’ strengths, resources, and readiness to resume the challenges of parenting. The evaluator also needs to meet the child alone to find out his or...
Show Buttons
Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkdin
Hide Buttons