As well as being
the co-founder and former Editorial Director of Divorce Magazine,
Diana Shepherd has had personal experience with divorce both
as a child and as an adult. As the stepmother of three wonderful
teenagers, she urges divorced parents to set aside their differences
for the sake of their children.
I don't know what to do. I'm living with my fiance, and he thinks
that I should be doing all the house work. He also likes to
watch porn, which I don't like. How can I get him to stop watching
porn without an ultamatim, so that he'll want to on his own?
And how can I get him to help me clean around the house? And
to just to treat me nicer? He's nice to other people, but he's
not nice to me -- why is he nicer to other people than me? It
really hurts. I love him and don't want to leave him, but I
need to know what you think I should do. Please help and write
me back as soon as you can -- I don't know what to do.
your best friend were living with a man who treated her this
way, what advice would you give her?
If being someone's unpaid maid turns you on, by all means, go
on living with this guy. If not, you have to make a change ASAP.
But before you do, you need to figure out why you would
let someone treat you like this. If you truly loved yourself,
if you thought you were an amazing human being with a lot to
offer the world, then you wouldn't allow anyone to
treat you so disrespectfully. Your fiance should think he's
damn lucky to have you; if he doesn't -- or if he doesn't show
it -- then you should think very carefully about why you're
getting married. Love is not enough to sustain a relationship:
couples who have been happily married for 40+ years say respect,
friendship, common goals, and commitment to the relationship
are as or more important than love.
here's my advice:
1) Do whatever you need to do in order to regain your
self-respect. This may involve counseling, reading
books, attending workshops -- whatever is going to get you thinking
about and treating yourself better.
Have a serious talk with your fiance about boundaries, commitment,
and what both of you need to be happy together. Make
a list of "must have," "would like to have,"
and "could easily give this up" before sitting down
and talking to him. If you don't know your own "bottom
line" before you meet, you're not going to be able to have
a very powerful conversation with him. Try to have approximately
the same number of items you absolutely need and those you're
willing to give up -- that way, you have less important items
to "trade" for your non-negotiables. Here are a few
examples (of course, you'll design the lists to suit your own
needs and desires):
A) You must treat me with respect. This means no name-calling,
no acting as though I'm your servant, and we make all major
decisions (from buying a TV to where to go on vacation to buying
a house) together
B) If I cook, you do the dishes -- and vice-versa
Would like to have:
A) I would like you to take me out for dinner every Friday night
B) I would like you to stop watching porn
Could give up:
A) I would like you to bring me breakfast in bed every Sunday
B) I would like you to clean the bathroom once a week
If he won't agree to provide you with your non-negotiables (in
exchange for his, of course), then you need to seek couples
counseling immediately. If he refuses to go to counseling
with you, then think about what advice you'd give your very
best friend in the world about her relationship with a man like
this -- then take your own advice.
have been dating a 25-year-old man for a year and a half. His
parents were divorced when he was 21. They had been married
for 26 years. His mother left his father because his father
has a drinking problem. My parents are still married and have
been for almost 28 years. My boyfriend has told me that he's
scared to get married because he doesn't want to screw it up
and end up divorced. What is the divorce rate for children of
divorced parents? What is the divorce rate for children of parents
who are still together (like mine)? Does the fact that my boyfriend's
father has a drinking problem play a huge role in his future?
Is he likely to develop a drinking problem? Is he likely to
repeat some or most of the things his father did to him as a
child that has made him so angry at his father today?
Take a look at the story entitled The
Legacy of Divorce in the Divorce Magazine "Reading
Room." It should answer most of your questions.
As for how your own relationship is going to turn out, that
really depends on both you and Eric. In my experience, if people
don't get help processing traumatic experiences -- such as divorce
-- their emotional scars tend not to heal well. "Help"
doesn't always mean counseling, although in certain cases, it's
an absolute requirement. The first step is a willingness to
face the past and find a way to let it go: by counseling, by
attending a personal-growth seminar such as the ones offered
by Landmark Education or LifeSpring, or by reading self-help
books. The important thing for Eric is to take action, and to
stick with it until he's achieved his desired goal.
might consider taking a course together, like "Getting
the Love you Want"; for more information, go to www.imagotherapy.com.
I took this course a few years ago and found it excellent.
don't get too hung up on statistics: they can only tell you
what most people do, and you and Eric may not be "most
people." But do pay attention to the things he says, and
even more importantly, the things he does. If he demonstrates
to you by his actions that he's not ready to commit to marriage
-- and if he's not willing to do anything to get over his fears
-- then you should consider whether he's the right guy for you
at this time.
have a question about my soon-to-be-ex-husband's girlfriend
moving in with him this summer. My husband and I have been married
for 12 years, and we have three children together. In March
2003 we decided to divorce.Last week he told me that his girlfriend
and he were moving in together this summer. She has two teenage
daughters; she has been divorced twice and does not have a reputation
for fidelity.She is very nice to my children and owns a gymnasium
that they get to play in, so of course they adore her.
we were negotiating the divorce settlement, I tried to get him
to agree that neither of us could live with a partner unless
we were married while the children live in our homes. He wouldn't
agree to it. I thought hard about going to a lawyer and pressing
the issue, but was advised by friends that no judge would force
him to put that in the agreement. When my husband hit me with
the news about his intentions of having his girlfriend and her
girls move in with him, I was shocked. My trust in his ability
to keep the children first has been demolished.
are Catholic and soon my girls will be learning about the sacrament
of marriage. A live-in relationship does not provide the same
safety and security that a legal, moral marriage does. I know
it sounds old-fashioned, but I want my children to grow up and
be able to make good decisions about long-term relationships.
don't want to end up in court because I know that would be really
bad for my children in the long run. I am prepared to do that
however if I feel like he is jeopardizing their long-term mental
in advance for responding.
You're not going to like this answer, but there's nothing you
can do about whether or not your ex-husband lets his girlfriend
move in. Your friends were quite right: no judge would have
made that part of the divorce agreement.
of the hardest things for a divorced mother to face is the thought
of sending her kids off to another house with an adult she didn't
choose -- and often doesn't like. However, being divorced means
that you no longer have any say about your ex's relationships
-- unless there is obvious danger to your children. While I
can see how upsetting it is to you, the situation you've described
does not qualify as dangerous, and no judge is going to change
your co-parenting arrangement becauseyour ex has moved in with
this woman. If she were currently a drug addict, alcoholic,
criminal, etc. -- and you could prove it in court -- you might
be able to change your custody arrangements, but even that wouldn't
be a sure thing.
woman sounds like she has money of her own (so you don't need
to worry about her being a gold-digger and taking funds away
from your kids), and if your kids love her, she must be treating
them well. You already know kids don't love people just because
there are perks (like a gym, or a pony, or a trampoline in the
backyard); as well as letting them play in her gym, she is obviously
being kind to your children, and you need to realize how lucky
you are that this is the case.
also can't force your ex to make the kids his first priority
-- legally or otherwise. This will be very upsetting to you,
and I suggest you find a friend -- or better yet, a support
group for divorced parents -- where you can express your feeling
of anger, frustration, and disappointment about what you view
as your ex's failings as a parent. Expressing your feelings
to him will probably be counterproductive; chewing him out may
provide some short-term gratification, but in the long term,
it will be bad for your co-parenting relationship.
also need to read some books about stepfamilies to give you
an idea of what's "normal" as well as prepare you
for the future. I suggest you read The Truth about Stepfamilies:
Real American Stepfamilies Speak Out about What Works and What
Doesn't When it Comes to Creating a Family Together by
Anne O'Connor (Marlowe & Company, 2003) and Stepwives:
10 Steps to Help Ex-Wives and Stepmothers End the Struggle and
Put Kids First by Lynne Oxhorn-Ringwood and Louise Oxhorn
your ex's relationship will not be permanent, but maybe it will
-- which means you will be connected to him and this woman as
long as your kids are alive. Since this is a real possibility,
you do not want to alienate this woman. You may never be friends,
but you will probably have dealings with her in the future;
for your children's sake as well as your own, you need to develop
a respectful relationship with this woman.
have been with my boyfriend for eight months, and he has asked
me to marry him. I am 18, and he's 20; he used to live next
door, but he has moved to New York for work. I haven't seen
him in a while, but we talk on the phone a lot. I love him so
much, but I'm afraid he will find somebody else unless I can
be with him. My Dad says I can only go out with guys from our
church, but I don't want any of them. Why can't my Dad like
my boyfriend for who he is and let us be happy together?
this isn't really a divorce-related question, I'll try to answer
it. You're probably not going to want to hear this, but love
isn't enough to create a long-term, committed relationship.
And fear that your boyfriend will find someone else is definitely
not a good reason to get married.
last 25 years at the Family Research Lab at the University of
Washington, Dr. John Gottman has studied what he calls the "masters
and disasters" of marriage. He studies heart-rate, facial
expression, and how people talk about their relationship to
each other and to other people; from his research, he's able
to predict with 90% accuracy which couples are going to make
it, and which will not. I suggest you take Dr. Gottman's test
-- see Making
Marriage Work in the Divorce Magazine "Reading
Room" -- to get an idea of whether your relationship is
likely to last.
probably know, marriages between people as young as you and
your boyfriend almost never work out. That doesn't mean you
shouldn't try to create a great relationship with this guy,
but you should try to make sure you're doing it for (at least
some of) the right reasons. Fear of being dumped, lust, or being
in love without deep liking and mutual respect are not good
reasons to get married.
interested in learning more about what makes relationships work,
go to: www.gottman.com.