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The official blog of familyWORKZ™

October 11, 2009

Upsetting the Apple Cart

Filed under: General psychology — admin @ 9:08 am

What if:

Frogs, in fact, do NOT rest peacefully in lukewarm water waiting to be boiled.

Or, fish do NOT rot from the head down.

Or, low-hanging fruit should NOT be picked first.

And, what if the best playing fields are NOT level.

If these truisms are tipped over and end up being false, does the world change?

Lesson: When your life becomes overrun by stuff, try taking your apple cart and tip it over. Then, pick up one of the apples and heave it as far as you can. See what happens. Check out how it feels. See if you make a new memory.

Memories, after all, is what life is all about.

Crisis of Infidelity

Filed under: Couples — admin @ 8:40 am

Within every marriage lies an agreement that is mutually cultivated and serves as the foundation from which the relationship begins, prospers and, when neglected or broken, fails. The roots of this agreement are cultivated under a wide assortment of conditions: active discussion, constructive negotiation, or passionate play. The voices exercised when developing this agreement can range wide: soft and caring, sober and calculated, or just simply reasonable. This agreement conveys the very essence of the couple and it is what bonds the twosome together uniquely. The agreement is trust – that basic understanding that frames the couple’s relational code of confidentiality. In this sense, trust is meant to convey something more than just the rules of the couple’s contextual and intimate interplay (i.e., rules of engagement). With greater complexity, yet with graceful and economic motive, trust begins in earnest at that moment when the couple defines themselves more as “we” than separate and distinguishable “I’s.”

With the prodigal status of trust being bracketed in the manner described above, it follows that the ultimate breach in a relationship is when this trust is dishonored. This phenomenon can be referred to as a “crisis of infidelity,” a phrase that expressively and plainly captures the crisis “in the breaking of whatever agreement has been accepted by both partners in the marriage.” In short, it can be argued, infidelity is much bigger than adultery. It is less about one person’s error in judgment, with or without intent, and much more about a relational trauma at a very deep and intimately contextual level that leaves behind an attachment scar.

Infidelity is that hurt that is unspoken brought on by the one person who communicates with you best when not speaking.

In an article entitled “Secrets of the Marriage Doctors,” in the premiere issue of My Generation, Scott M. Stanley, PhD, clinical psychologist, codirector of the Center for Marital & Family Studies at the University of Denver writes: “80% of the problems people deal with do not need to be solved, just well discussed.” Allow this just-let-it-soak-in message to ruminate in your brain for awhile, then ask yourself the following questions.

1. When the extramarital affair becomes public, is this therapeutically disastrous? Is the couple unfathomably broken and does it spell the end of the relationship?

2. When trust is breached, it would seem that the couple has entered into a room without any exits. Does this type of situation implicate long term therapy? It would seem that affectional abandonment leads to attitude entrenchment difficulties (e.g., “What did I do to deserve this,” After all these years of faithful commitment look what I get in return,” and, on the other side of the coin, “She drove me into the other person’s arms when she stopped loving me a long time ago.”).

3. Can relational forgiveness occur without a spiritual reference or guidepost? This question is prompted by the comment that “intimacy in marriages is developed through confessions, explanations, and soul-searchings.” Clearly, whether intended or otherwise, this observation has a tone of religiosity.

4. Do possessiveness and intimacy always inversely correlate? Continually? Or can there exist episodic “healthy” pockets of this type of dueling? It seems that that both of these concepts are measured along a common axis (distance), but with disproportionate degrees of mutuality. That is, possessiveness involves closeness that is “commanded” by one person who speaks from a position of control. Intimacy, on the other hand, involves closeness that is “embraced” mutually.

Divorce Questions

Filed under: divorce — admin @ 8:32 am

Families are uniquely encrypted with a private code, a secret language that speaks of an underlying eternal structure. Ideally speaking, nesting snuggly within the bosom of the nuclear family is a clear boundary separating the protection and comforts of the family bond from the uncertainties and cheerlessness of rest of the world. Divorce denotes that specific cultural moment when the family’s secret is broken and the line between them and us becomes blurred, when substance and meaning are eternally altered.

In the September 25, 2000 edition of Time magazine, the cover story raised the now aged-old dilemma concerning divorce: Should a couple stay together for the sake of the kids?” The author points out that, “for adults, divorce is a conclusion, but for children it’s the beginning of uncertainty.” This statement is exceptionally insightful and speaks directly to one of the therapeutic messages delivered in the Walsh et al. chapter: “it is important for clinicians to normalize the initial post-divorce crisis period as transitional, framing problems in relation to the process and identifying common issues that are likely to arise.” Following on the heels of this accommodating and supportive posture I would qualify that there is no “normal” or “common” divorce. Just as each family has its own private code, so to does this secret language uniquely and contextually influence the transactional process of divorce.

With the exception of a family contaminated by substance or physical abuse, clearly, there is no good time for divorce. Divorce is a “culturally unscheduled event.” It can happen at any point in the marital career and family life cycle. Moreover, divorce typically is not announced by invitation. Can you imagine?

Dear Children & Extended Family Members…

We request the honor of your presence at the divorce of your parents on the seventh of February two thousand and one at two o’clock in the afternoon.

Nor is divorce politely discussed among family members around the dinner table: “Hey Sis, Dad just told me about the affair he’s been having for the last few months. How long do you think he should be grounded?”

They say that wisdom is provoked through questioning one’s reality. If so, then contemplate the following questions and see what wisdom rises to the surface.

Remember, every divorce is exceptional, extraordinarily.

1. Does a lousy marriage beat a great divorce?

2. How does that same great divorce stack up against a “good enough” marriage?

3. Is there such a thing as a “good enough” divorce?

4. Does time heal all wounds? Or does the legacy of divorce pathologically prevail?

5. Is the therapist a benevolent healer or agent of social change?

6. What is the value of children in the divorce equation? To what extent does their stake in the family count? Does their pain matter? To what extent should responsible adults be expected to negotiate, compromise, and sacrifice their personal happiness for the sake of the children?

7. Can parents “parent” effectively when there are two households and a divided parental unit?

8. If divorce is saturated by private shame, public failure, and social embarrassment, what are the odds of making a full recovery? What does the recovery process involve? Is there such a thing as a “valuable divorce?”

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