Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Divorce Resources

AFCC Family Court Services Resource Guide
The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts has an online searchable resource guide for support programs, services and resources related to divorce and other family court related issues.  

Monday, January 16, 2017

New Year Resolutions to Enhance Relationships

by Karyn Maczka

Every New Year presents us with a fresh opportunity to refocus our intentions for the upcoming months, as well as to make changes to those aspects of our lives that have not been fully satisfying for us. Oftentimes, even despite our initial determination, we get caught in the business of everyday life and fail to nurture our connection with those we love and care for.

I'd like to share a few simple practices to help you maintain a healthy relationship with your spouse, partner, or loved one. My hope is that with these various "instruments," you can start creating a toolkit that can serve to achieve greater intimacy, increase communication, and improve the quality of your physical and emotional bonds.

I hope you can make the time to do some (or all) of these, as the more you implement them, the more likely you are to feel connected.

1. Come up with traditions around holidays, birthdays, or special occasions; these should be specific to this relationship and enjoyable by both parties.  For example, knitting each other scarves at the beginning of winter; having a birthday picnic, participating in a yearly race together.
2. Put aside about 10 mins each day to do a "check in" with each other. I recommend taking turns (3-5) minutes each, telling your loved one relevant experiences or observations from the day. When you are done, it is the other person's turn. Very important: remember that there is no responding or interrupting, only listening.
3. Have a date night at least once per week. Just the 2 of you- make it something fun, enjoyable, and not so expensive that it becomes stressful.
4. Individually, keep a "gratitude journal." Either at the beginning or at the end of each day, write down something you are grateful for; it can be as specific or as general as you wish. You do not necessarily have to share it with one another, but you may if you so desire.
5. Write a description of what you want your relationship to look like at the end of next year. 
If 2017 is transformational and it brings you everything you ever wanted in your marriage- how would things be different? Take a trip to the future and describe what you see/fee/experience in your ideal relationship. *This is to be done individually by each partner; you can choose to discuss your vision at any time- either now or in the future.

Lastly, enjoy one another! Remember what brought you together and the deep love that holds you. Speak up, let each other know what you need, and keep in mind that you are pretty terrible mind-readers ;)

Best Wishes for 2017!

Karyn Maczka, MA, MFTI

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

7 Ways to Make Room for Spiritual Healing after Divorce

Divorce and separation have all kinds of legal, financial and emotional consequences. One aspect of divorce that is not often talked about is the spiritual consequence experienced by the family members. It is safe to say that for many, divorce is a legal dissolution of a religious or a spiritual contract. For many people, raised with strong religious beliefs, the decision to divorce brings up feelings of guilt, shame, and a sense of failure.

Of late, many distinctions are made between religion and spirituality. Generally speaking, spirituality is described as a more personally chosen and an individual experience compared to religion. Religion may or may not be chosen by one, and tends to be a more collective experience that is guided by texts or leaders. While religion and spirituality bring up inner conflicts and question your faith, these beliefs and values can also be helpful in getting through one of the most difficult times in people's lives. Although in this country we support the separation of church and state, in reality, religion often frames our view of right and wrong and a sense of fairness and justice, and needs to be addressed for healing and growth for all members of the family.

Spiritual healing can take many forms. Here are a few ways of making room for the spiritual and emotional healing after divorce:

1. Finding support of a religious leader/guide who understands your situation may be helpful in getting through this difficult part of your lives with compassion, forgiveness, and room for healing.

2. Young children and adolescents may have different questions and concerns about their own religious and spiritual beliefs. Get the guidance and support of others who have similar values and beliefs to provide answers and bring clarity.

3. Free yourself by learning to forgive. Forgiveness is not the same as accepting behaviors that are unacceptable.

4. According to recent studies, meditation, a staple of many religions, is known to reduce emotional pain.

5. Perhaps you were not active in a church or temple, but this may become a place of refuge at a time of personal crisis. If accepted by others in your faith, it may help the process of refueling and healing for your children during and after the divorce. These places sometimes also provide a community of support and reduce isolation.

6. Avoid getting into conflicts regarding the religious holidays and observances with the other parent. Remember that these holidays provide you and the children a sense of hope and continuity.

7. If possible, create a divorce ritual with the other parent. After the initial emotional turmoil has had time to settle, for the sake of their children, parents may decide to have a divorce ceremony that includes recognizing what was good in the marriage, forgiving each other for the mistakes made during the marriage, and wishing each other well going forward. This can help children feel validated and hopeful about the future.

Growth and change often come with some amount of pain and anxiety. Understanding your own core values, and your religious and spiritual beliefs, may actually help you reorganize your life with more clarity and meaning.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

5 Tips for Keeping Your Emotional Thermometer Cool While Co-Parenting During the Holidays

Going through a divorce brings up intense emotions in families, but going through a divorce during the holidays brings up even more intense feelings of sadness, guilt, regret, and anger. The true spirit of the holidays of love and kindness can easily be lost while one is flooded with negative emotions. It is really important to remember what holidays mean to children and to extended members of the family…
Read the article: 5 Tips for Keeping Your Emotional Thermometer Cool While Co-Parenting During the Holidays
http://www.divorcemag.com/blog/emotional-thermometer-cool-co-parenting-during-holidays

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Not in OUR Culture

Divorce rates have increased in many cultures, worldwide, over the past few decades. In most cultures there are religious, economic, social, and legal pressures and controls placed to encourage continuation of marriage. Legal grounds for divorce vary across cultures but there are some commonly and socially acceptable reasons where people may find support for obtaining a divorce, eg: infidelity, substance abuse,  desertion, violence, and lack of support. In many cultures and religions, with traditional role expectations for men and women, divorce still carries a lot of stigma specially for women. There may be shaming and shunning for women who have gone through a divorce, which can make moving forward very difficult.

Families from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds often have large extended families who exert power and control over their lives. In some situations, these extended networks provide invaluable emotional, social and financial support making the reorganization of life after divorce more manageable. However, in other situations, the extended families may override the concerns for the individual for the reputation or social expectations of the collective. In these situations, families may need to seek out the assistance of culturally appropriate and sensitive therapists, attorneys or clergy.

Monday, April 27, 2015

THE KIDS WILL BE ALL RIGHT!

Whenever there are children involved in a divorce, you are stuck with the other parent for the rest of your lives. Whether you like it or not, you will need to figure out how to cooperate and collaborate with this person for the sake of your children. It is generally a good idea to start out by making concrete parenting plans with as many details spelled out as possible. This not only helps the children know what to expect in the future, it also avoids potential conflicts from arising at times when the children are around. Keeping the conflict to a minimum, especially around children is an important goal in post-divorce parenting. Making these agreements in the early stages of divorce can be difficult. Utilizing professional help in these earlier stages may be necessary and worthwhile to move the process forward.

These parenting plans may need to be modified and altered as the children grow and change. It is often a good idea to incorporate a plan to review these agreements on a regular basis, depending on the ages and stages of development of your children’s lives. For example, younger children often need shorter times and more frequent transitions between their parents, while teens may want longer stretches of time with each parent and fewer transitions.


You can make it work so THE KIDS WILL BE ALL RIGHT!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Benefits of Journaling


The process of putting your thoughts and feelings on (virtual) paper can be many.

Journaling and private self reflection have proven emotional and health benefits. Not surprisingly, keeping track of your feelings and thoughts helps you sort through your own inner wisdom and effectively plan ahead. The act of writing down your thoughts not only airs out your feelings, it also makes things more coherent. It provides you with a narrative, an ongoing documented journey, you can refer to later on. The Divorceworks app provides you with a place to sort out your feelings, thoughts and directs you to actions that help take care of your self and those in your life who may depend on you.