Divorce Therapist Los Angeles | When Divorce is the Right Thing to Do!

Divorce Therapist Los Angeles Linda Engel on important divorce topics

Most people would agree that marriage is a commitment that should not be taken lightly. In other words, it would be foolish to give up on an otherwise healthy, supportive and loving relationship just because of some tension or disagreement between spouses. The wise know that all relationships will ultimately contain some difficulties and times of disillusionment, but that working through these issues with a mature attitude and sometimes professional help can be very fruitful for the couple.

Relationships do change over time. They deepen and sometimes the early passion, bonding and fun can give way to the “business” of life. Children, in-laws, work, finances, health and home can sometimes override some of the initial excitement and wonder of finally connecting with “the one”. In general if people are willing to hold to their original commitment, work through problems and maintain respect for each other and themselves, they can get get through their difficulties and are usually glad that they did.

On the other hand, there are certain situations that are unhealthy enough that it is advisable to end the relationship. This is when there is any sort of abuse, particulary physical abuse or domestic violence.
However, this is a very complex issue.

Most people don’t understand how someone could be involved in a relationship that contains these sorts of problems or why they would stay. The reasons are many. One reason that people, most commonly women, don’t leave is that for a woman to leave a batterer is a very dangerous thing. It is typically the most common time that a woman can be killed in a dv relationship.

There is also the issue of ambivalence that the woman goes through because of the fact that even though she does understand that it is not healthy or positive to have a spouse or partner who hits you, she sometimes believes that it is temporary or that it is her fault. She may believe that it is due to certain stresses that he is going through and make excuses for him. She may have seen that sort of behavior modeled for her with her own mother.

Also, if the victim of the abuse happens to be a man, he is often ashamed and loathe to get help for fear of being ridiculed for being in the situation.

People who are involved in relationships where there is abuse are often filled with self doubt and make excuses for the abuser. They often lack the faith or resources to survive on their own. Emotional, psychological or financial dependence are common reasons that people remain in unhealthy relationships. Distorted thinking, cultural or social pressure, dictums such as “If you are alone, you are a failure” or “You are too old/fat/thin/uneducated/unsophisticated, etc. to make it on your own” or “You will never find anyone else”. “If I’m divorced, people will think it was my fault:” “It is better for the kids”.

When a relationship is destructive, it is appropriate to end it, albeit not an easy thing to do. Support is an important element. Family, friends, a domestic violence agency or a therapist are options. And relationships that are oppressive or emotionally abusive can be very destructive as well. Love shouldn’t hurt!

Linda Engel is a Divorce Therapist Los Angeles, please contact her for a consultation


Couples Counseling Sherman Oaks | 5 Tips for Dating After Divorce

If you are looking for couples counseling Sherman Oaks, or anywhere in the Los Angeles area, it can be a challenge to put yourself back out into the dating world after the devastation of divorce. Trusting yourself and others can be difficult initially. Your attitude about your divorce will greatly impact the ability to succeed in beginning the daunting search for another relationship, particularly one that suits you at this time of life.

For some, it has been many years since they have faced the single world and working up the confidence to begin again can be tough. You may be filled with self doubt. You may feel too old, too out of style and
wonder about your worthiness to attract a mate. One woman I know had her adult daughter help her to dress for dating and encourage her in a sweet role reversal.

You may feel that you have to fit some mold rather than just being yourself. It can be a time of great insecurity. Although everyone is different, there are some universal concerns.

1) Assess Your Readiness

If you are still grieving the marriage or have not made peace with your present state of being single, there may be some steps that you need to take before moving ahead into the dating scene. You may need group support, with others who are also recently divorced. You may need to reassess your financial state before you put yourself out there. There may be some “cleaning up” that needs to be done. Children may need help in adjusting to having divorced parents and may need special attention for awhile. You may need to speak with a psychotherapist for a brief period. Exploring early relationship dynamics and patterns as well as communication habits can be helpful.

2) Take it Slow

Don’t get involved too quickly as a defense against both the anxiety of your new state and loneliness. Remember that if the other person is healthy, they will also want to take it slow.

3) Be Safe

Remember that if you met someone online, that you do not know this person. Choose a neutral, casual, well lit place for the first meeting and don’t give up all of your personal information quickly. Initial encounters should be fairly casual. Having said that, however, it is o.k. to talk in general terms about what you are both looking for. Marriage, a committed relationship without marriage, friendship, a travel partner or merely casual dating. Keep in mind that you are looking for information that will help you decide whether you should continue.

4) Attend Group Events

Find things that you are interested in and look for singles clubs surrounding those interests. Group events are so much less intimidating than one on one dating. There is no pressure and it allows you time to build
friendships. There are so many wonderful things in which you can become involved. You can travel in a singles group. You can dance, sing (karaoke, anyone?), hike, bike, read (book clubs), volunteer or join a political organization.

5) Talk to People Who Have Some Experience

Go to those who have been doing it for some time and ask what you should look out for. Look for people who have ended up in happy relationships and ask them how they got there. When you are happy and confident you are your most attractive and finally, have fun! This process doesn’t have to be miserable, albeit nerve wracking at times. Happy hunting and don’t forget your sense of humor!

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Divorce Counseling Sherman Oaks | Divorce: Making the best of a bad situation

Divorce counseling Sherman Oaks with Linda Engel. The decision to terminate a marriage is a profound step towards beginning a more effective and satisfying life. One of the most important issues to keep in mind during the process is what your goal is. So, for example, if your goal is to have a healthy coparenting relationship, then you will approach the negotiations with that idea in mind. If your goal is to have an equitable settlement and you happen to be dealing with a particularly difficult spouse, it may serve you better to communicate through attorneys. “Just the facts” and keeping it simple will head off lots of unpleasant and ugly conversations. Negotiations to end a relationship are always difficult due to the emotions involved. Be sure to keep in mind that you want things to be fair, not that you need to punish your partner.

Consider this: Think about the type of emotions involved when you are planning a vacation or a party, any sort of a celebration. Although it may be a lot of work, the idea and the motivation behind it are very different and therefore make it much easier to do.

If you need divorce counseling sherman oaks, remember that most people do not get to the point of divorce without some serious consideration, particularly where there are children involved. If you can keep in mind a few important ideas, the transition, albeit painful, can be a bit smoother.

Remember that no relationship is a mistake nd that we learn important things about ourselves in each one. It is sad when people who come together for love cannot remain together, but it need not be tragic.

Divorce can be an empowering and freeing event ultimately. You can even teach children wonderful lessons about ending or changing relationships with grace and dignity. You need NOT be bitter in the end. Of course, at first, often there is a lot of anger and a sense of betrayal. Actually, one of the stages of grief is anger. Divorce is a loss and the relationship must be grieved properly. It IS important t have a healthy outlet for the anger. It may be a support group, healthy friends, a therapist or a religious leader. You will need a supportive ear to listen to your feelings. Usually underneath the anger is fear and hurt. the fear could be financial or emotional.

You may be asking yourself questions like “How will I survive? Will I be judged? Will I ever have love again?” The longer the marriage was, the more difficult it is to recover. Some psychologists believe that for every five years of a marriage that it takes up to one year to heal. But heal, you can. With the proper support and the right attitude, your divorce can go from a painful and overwhelming ending of a union to a beautiful new path to a lifestyle that is more fitting to the person that you have become.

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Divorce – Tragic End or New Beginning? From a Divorce Therapist, Studio City

As a divorce therapist Studio City, I am often asked if divorce is the end or a beginning. It really all depends on your attitude. With the proper support, difficult transitions can be doorways to new opportunities. What we focus on grows. The positive psychologists know this well. If we focus on sadness, fear, anxiety and tragedy, we will likely be depressed and hopeless. Although we do need an opportunity to vent with regard to these fears, we don’t have to stay there. Divorce does not have to be a tragedy, albeit a painful process.

It is a death of sorts and must be grieved. The stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and ultimately acceptance must be passed through. Most people have known at least one person who gets stuck in the anger stage. By the way, healthy people tend to avoid those folks. For most of us, listening to the rant of a twenty year old betrayal is not an activity that we are drawn to. The depressing generalizations that those who become bitter are just as unpleasant. “All men cheat” or “Women are only interested in money”. As I mentioned earlier, what we focus on grows, so guess what? If you are a woman who peserverates on the idea that “All men cheat”, guess what sort of men you will continue to attract? If you are a man whose philosophy is “Women only want money” you will probably attract those sorts of women.

Negativity begets negativity.

In addition to a divorce therapist  Studio City, many years ago, i worked in a battered women’s shelter. Being a young novice in the field, I was a bit passive, when we did the support groups for the women. I watched the more skilled and experienced social worker continually “contain” the volatile emotions of the women. In my “professional adolescence”, what I learned from my esteemed supervisor was this. “We don’t want to allow them to remain in the hopeless, negative state.” When I behaved passively with the women, not only was I not helping them, but I would end up feeling depressed at the end of group. What I noticed with my supervisor was that although he was supremely empathic to the suffering of these women, that he did not accept their dictums about life and instead insisted on instilling hope for them and for their children. His creative and artful abilities to teach them to visualize having their own power in their lives both emotionally and financially was inspirational.

Of course, this is a select population and many of you may feel that you cannot relate to these women. But, as some level, no matter what level of education, sophistication or socioeconomic status, most people feel somehwat disempowered while going through a divorce. It shakes people to the core. There are worries about finances, children and the future. There is loneliness and sadness as well as anger. No one gets married to get divorced. Most people make great attempts to repair the marriage before they finally accept that life will be better for all if they end the relationship.

As far as children are concerned, in the best cases, children take about a year or so to make the adjustment. There may be some acting out behavior, a temporary drop in grades, some anger and/or manipulation. Kids have the best chance to readjust when their parents readjust in a healthy way. Although ideally, it is best for children to grow up in a stable, intact family, it is not necessarily a tragedy if the parents divorce. A positive lesson that can result from the family rupture could be that, change does not have to be devastating and that people can survive and thrive after divorce. Social support is an important element. Church, temple, family and friends play an important role.

Sometimes, the assistance of a good therapist who specializes in helping people through the transition can be important. Being mindful of health matters at this stressful time is vital. Speaking with your doctor if you notice any physical manifestations of the stress is imperative.

It is especially important to ultimately attempt to learn from the mistakes made in the marriage so as not to repeat them. It may be either not being careful enough in the selection of a mate or not speaking up assertively or knowing how to negotiate and compromise in an intimate relationship. you may have inadvertently repeated patterns that you learned form your family or your culture. You may have suffered from the “grass is greener” thinking and had an affair when things become too routine. I often recommend to the couples that I work with to “have an affair with each other” and to remember all of the trouble that they went to to ensure romance in the beginning stages of the relationship.

These issues need to be examined as you begin your new life. It is important to remember not to disparage your ex to your children as that can be hurtful to them. You also don’t want to put them in the position of “choosing sides”. it is important to keep healthy boundaries about “adult” details of the relationship. The kids don’t need to know everything. Some things they should be shielded from.

Many people who survive much worse tragedies than divorce know the following fact. When you go through difficulties you have a choice. You can remain bitter and angry and continue to suffer or you can choose to learn from the experience, forgive yourself and your ex for the failure of the marriage, remember the good memories, be grateful if beautiful children were produced from the union and begin your new life!