Friday, July 16, 2010

How To Handle An Uncooperative Ex-Spouse

Copyright By Merlene Bishop

If you are a non-custodial parent with an ex-spouse who is uncooperative and unpredictable regarding visitation, you do have some choices other than going back to court. A first approach would be staying out of conflict by asking questions of your ex-spouse when he or she puts up obstacles to scheduled visits by the children. This can be done by asking a question after he or she gives an excuse about why the regular visit can't be done, assuming of course that the children are well and there are no family emergencies or car problems.

When you ask him or her a question about the situation, be polite and maintain a level tone of voice. After you ask the question, be silent to give the other person a chance to come up with their own answers. When the answer isn't sufficient, suggest a possible alternative to the situation. Sometimes this will work if they think you are open to compromise. Quite often he or she will come up with a solution if they feel that you are listening and they don't feel pressured.

If that doesn't work and he or she is being hostile, suggest a time to talk about it later that day or the next. The most important thing you can do in the situation is to avoid arguing. You may think that it is unfair that you are making most of the effort, but for the sake of your children it is best to avoid conflict.Children can sense when their divorced parents are in conflict and it is extremely hard on them. They want to love and be loyal to both of you, so when you two are tense and angry they feel confused and upset. They may even feel that the conflict had something to do with them.

Children are naturally self-centered, so when something is not right with their parents, they can feel that they did something wrong. If you have to postpone the visit, be sure you avoid saying anything negative about that to your children when you see them again. It is hard on their self esteem when parents say anything negative to them, so be positive about the other parent.

If you have to go longer than usual without seeing your children because of an uncooperative ex-spouse, find ways to stay in contact with them. Send cards telling them you miss them, or make phone calls. If your work schedule is flexible, you can also have lunch with them at school. Make it a point to go to special evening school activites when you can.

Consider going to their sports games; These are usually on Saturday, and children feel very proud to have parents there when they are doing their best at something that they enjoy. You don't have to sit near your ex-spouse. Bring your own chair and sit somewhere on the sidelines. Make it a point to talk to them during halftime, and be sure you are positive.

Your ex-spouse may be going through a stressful and difficult time that is causing them to be
uncooperative. If you make an effort to be patient and cooperative with him or her, things may go more smoothly in the future. Your children will benefit from your efforts in the long run.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Christian Divorce

Copyright By Merlene Bishop

Christian divorce is a subject that begs for clarity. Christian beliefs can be progressive, conventional or metaphysical, and biblical interpretation is based on their respective understanding. The result is that the acceptability of divorce varies according to that. If you are a conventional Christian you have a challenge in resolving the psychological issues after divorce.

The toughest one is the issue of guilt, since divorce is considered a sin by conventional Christians. This emotion can be a stumbling block for divorce recovery. If this is your situtation, I would suggest that you consider one of the major components of Christianity - forgiveness. Looking at it from that perspective,it is simple and easy to remember that the basic teachings of Jesus were love and forgiveness, and that God loves us unconditionally. Logically speaking then, divorce would not be a sin, and you can forgive yourself and your ex-spouse for the problems that led to divorce, and forgiveness is a vital part of divorce recovery.

This would also free you up from anger and blame towards your ex-spouse. Anger is one of the major stages of the grief process, and if your religious beliefs are reinforcing anger towards your ex-spouse, your task is to let go of that anger and of any guilt resulting from your Christian beliefs.

Consider that you are beloved by God, and hence your happiness is important. In light of this, you can give yourself persmission to forgive your ex-spouse and yourself. As humans, we all know that we are not perfect and on the subject of divorce, we know that both spouses had a part in it. Sometimes the biggest mistake was our choice of mates. Many people get married without being mature and fully in love.

Many people disregard or turn a blind eye to character traits of the other person when deciding to marry, which of course makes for a bad start.

The key to Christian divorce recovery is self-love and self forgiveness. When you ponder how much God loves you, you can move on without guilt, anger or remorse. This opens the door to a healthy divorce recovery and the possibility of a new and happier life.

Be sure to sign up for my free ezine (newsletter) and book located on the upper right side of this page.You can also find my other divorce articles on, and

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Co-Parenting For Never Married Parents

Co-Parenting For Never Married Parents
Copyright by Merlene Bishop

If you had a child with someone you were not married to, the easiest thing to do in the situation would be to walk away from that person and never look back. However, doing so would be very damaging to the child and children need two parents regardless of the circumstances of their birth. Maintaining contact with your child will be touchy at times, since you and the other parent no longer have a relationship.

Additionally, it may be awkward if you are married. Being married creates it's own challenges regarding keeping the child in your life. Your spouse may not be supportive or may feel jealous of the child's parent. If this is the case, try to convey that they have an interest in supporting your child's relationship which is your personal well-being and peace of mind that
comes from being a loving parent to him or her.

Regarding your relationship with the child's parent, try to cooperate even when or if you have to restrain yourself while developing "bloody tongue disease" - biting your tongue. Conflict between the two of you can be damaging to the child, so cooperation is in the best interest of all concerned. What your children need is a predictable relationship with both parents.

The same rules that apply to divorced parents apply to never married parents. The following is a list of suggestions:

*Do not argue in front of the child. If conflict arises, walk away and talk later
by phone or email.

* Realize that your love for your children is the best guide to co-parenting.

*Reassure your child that you love them and will be there for them when they are growing up.

*Talk with the other parent about your goals for the child and ways that you can
cooperate on that.

*Don't let your child play you off against each other. Respect the other parent's opinion when you disagree.

*Whatever your feelings towards the other parent, be willing to set them aside
when you see your child.

Children of never married parents are more vulnerable to substance abuse, identity problems, school dropout and suicide. Considering this never married parents have a significant incentive. Your child's future is at stake and she/he will thank you someday for staying
involved in their life.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Causes and Consequences of Military Divorce

Copyright By Merlene Bishop

If you are the ex-spouse of a military person you know how stressful long deployments can be. Military personnel are expected to put their obligations to their country and their unit first, so there may be a delay in learning about important family issues. Additionally, soldiers travel a lot and the frequent lengthy separations can be hard on the spouses left behind, especially women with children.

Women without children may be more prone to cheating after the long periods without companionship, affection and sex. Men in the military are at a sad disadvantage in the sense that if their wife decides to file for divorce while they are deployed, they are unable to talk out the problems because they are often in isolated places on patrol. This is especially true of military men in Afghanistan now.

Women of military spouses can feel overwhelmed with the family responsibilities and any financial problems that they have to handle alone. Anger and resentment can build up, leaving them inclined to think that life would be better if they had a man in their life who was at home every day. Men on combat duty more often than not develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after seeing their fellow soldiers killed and wounded, or having to kill others designated as the enemy.

This disorder can cause severe nightmares, depression and emotional alienation that stirs up fear for their own safety in wives. Conflict arises between the two and they can't seem to resolve it due to the weight of the other problems and divorce often results. Children of military parents after divorce are likely to suffer from feeling abandoned and unloved because they don't see their fathers often enough.PTSD can be one of the leading causes of military divorce.

After a military divorce, some men who choose not to pay child support are not required by the military to do so. In other cases, military men who pay child support may have so much taken out of their salary that they are unable to save for the time when they are back in civilian life, and they have serious financial hardships when that time comes. Some military men who rejoin civilian life after divorce can feel overwhelmed and suicidal when this happens because they are unable to support themselves due to the amount of child support they are required to pay.

There are some solutions that are being made available now to military spouses on deployment that were not available in the past. With the tech revolution, we have Skype where military people can talk to and see another on computers, and email is another option. However, many men on combat patrol are unable to take advantage of this for long periods of time.

This is a real problem for military families, but there are solutions. Women with children whose husbands are deployed can form support groups for themselves that gives them the help they need in dealing with children and finances. Having this emotional support can make the difference for them and their children. Divorced women can band together individually, or meeting regularly at friends' houses to talk about problems and brainstorm about ways to resolve them.

Divorced people in every walk of life need support, advice and help, and military ex spouses have needs that are greater than the average. Be sure and sign up for my free book here and my divorce support newsletter.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Divorced Men and Financial Problems


Quite often when recently divorced men find themselves having problems paying rent or mortgage, utilities, support and buying food it can exacerbate the emotional problems of divorce. When divorced men who are ordered to pay child support are unemployed and having a tough time they may feel depressed, suicidal and helpless. They may not be as aware of women are about food stamp benefits or assistance paying rent or mortgage payments.

If you are a divorced man having these problems, check with your mortgage lender if you own a home. If not, check with a community services agency in your county for help with rent and food assistance. Many men are too proud to ask for help but they don't need to be. Tough times are tough times - period. You can also petition the court for a reduction in child support. This is not always a guarantee, but it doesn't hurt to help.

Divorced men are not as likely as women to reach out for social help, but it is important they recognize that they are going through a grief process that involves sadness, anger and depression. It will help if you talk to other divorced men about how they are coping. If you have no friends who are divorced, consider joining a divorce support group. You will find other men there who are dealing with the same feelings and circumstances of divorce, and their support and advice will make it easier for you to get through the tough emotional and financial times of divorce.

Our society is not very supportive of men and anger. We condition little boys to "be a little man", fathers call their boys "little men" which discourages them from expressing anger. Is it any wonder then that men often do not deal well with the anger they are experiencing after divorce. If men can recognize that and allow themselves to feel angry when it comes up, they will be doing themselves and their children a favor. They will also be less likely to spout off in anger at their ex wives.

The financial problems they have after divorce can add to the anger, and quite often can cause depression, which is understandable when a person feels helpless to solve a problem. If more men understood the emotions that come with divorce they would give themselves permission to experience them, and would also understand that they are temporary and can occur off and on for a year, they would be better able to cope with the financial problems after divorce.

Let's do a review of the grief process in stages:

*Denial: a feeling of unreality, shock and numbness.

*Sadness:feeling down,uninterested in things that are important to you, or that you need to do.

*Anger: this often involves feelings of blaming yourself or your ex for the things that led to divorce.

*Bargaining: you may bargain with yourself that you can turn things around and avoid divorce.

*Acceptance: at this stage of grief you have finally realized that it is not going to go away.

Financial problems can increase the tendency towards angry feelings - anger at your spouse, anger at the situation. They can also increase the feelings of despondency about financial obligations. The most important thing you can do is to get support for yourself from friends, family and other divorced men. Support will help you get through the grief process and be a better father to your children.

See my "divorce ezine" at the top right side of the page, and sign up for my free divorce newsletter. Doing that will get you a free copy of my book.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Are Divorced Fathers Getting The Shaft ?

Copyright By Merlene Bishop

Men, this is for you so listen up. Quite often men spend too much in getting a divorce because they use an attorney, which they do if they don't know about mediation. It is better for you financially speaking to work out the best possible arrangement you can with your wife about property division, custody and child support. You also need to have a parenting plan that has clear guidelines for visitation, special occasions and holidays. This needs to be worked out before your court hearing.

Another important thing to consider for your children's future is working out an agreement with your wife about the their education. You can both set aside an equal amount every month in a special fund which needs to be flexible enough to allow for income fluctuation . This is much more of a fair arrangement for both of you and establishes a good foundation for their education.

I am sure you know how important it is to your children's well being to be an involved father. Children whose fathers are not consistent with visitation are prone to having many problems as they are growing up, including emotional problems, high school dropout, substance abuse and a tendency towards criminal behavior.

It is imperative that you remain involved in your children's lives, regardless of what happens between you and your wife after divorce. Don't let post-divorce conflict keep you away from your children. Many men who have conflict with their ex wives often give up trying to maintain contact with their children because it seems easier to give up. If you are going through this, it would be to your advantage to find a divorce support group. They can be found by looking up divorce support groups on the internet. They are available in many churches and the hours are convenient for working parents.

You can be a FANTASTIC dad if you make the effort !

Sign up for my divorce newsletter and get a free copy of my book shown on the upper right side of the page.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Detrimental Effects of Divorce On Children

Copyright by Merlene Bishop, M.A.

Twenty five years ago a psychologist named Judith Wallerstein did some psychological research studies on the long term effects of divorce on children. She surveyed and followed up with 131 children of divorce to determine the long term effects of divorce on children's well being. Her results were interesting and surprising, and divorcing parents need to understand what they were.

The results indicated that when there was continuing conflict among divorced parents, children's self esteem was damaged, and they had poor school performance. They were also vulnerable to substance abuse, were sexually active much earlier, were likely to have trust issues in close relationships and were more vulnerable to divorce themselves after marriage.

The pain for adults subsides more quickly after divorce, but it can continue for years in children if there is continuing conflict between parents. She learned that children can survive divorce in a positive way if the parents are open and honest with their children, and if they can learn to avoid exposing children to conflict. This can be avoided if parents can learn to talk to each other rationally and agree to talk about problems when the children are not around.

In today's world, cell phones and email are convenient tools for communicating without children hearing it. If you are in disagreement or conflict with your ex spouse, you always have the option to hang up if talking on the phone. Make it a point to email them later to discuss the problem, and always save your messages.

Make a log on a computer program such as Notepad, Open Office or Microsoft Word that contains everything you talked about, including the date and time of the conversation.This strategy can help remind you and your former spouse of exactly what you said and when. Divorced people can be emotional at times and a business-like approach can help reduce the propensity and frequency of conflict. Additionally, if parents can avoid blaming each other for small problems they are likely to have less conflict.

If either parent is remarried and the new spouse has issues with the child support payments or visitation schedules this can be a source of conflict also. When children are exposed to continung conflict after parental divorce, it can damage their self esteem and cause them to feel emotionally abandoned.

If you are unable to establish business-like communication with your former spouse, you need to find support for yourself and your children. Divorce support groups are a good resource for support for you.

It is also essential as a source for helping your child understand what is happening between parents and for helping you learn how to talk to them in a way that avoids deragatory comments.
The detrimental effects of divorce conflict on children can be mitigated if adults are willing to work on the problems, either separately or collaboratively. If your spouse is not cooperative in doing this, counseling can be helpful in learning techniques for effectively dealing with conflict. Your child's well being is at stake.