Tag Archive | Divorce

I am Now Pro-Responsible

Since the beginning of time, the issue of women’s reproductive rights has been an issue. Whether it was a decision as to who would raise the child, how to keep from having a child, who had rights over the child, who was the father, whether or not you could claim to be from a particular religion, and this was an argument no matter what class level you were at. From Catherine’s children being removed at birth, by Empress Elizabeth, to all women having no control over getting pregnant. That was until Margaret Sanger came along and opened the first birth control clinic in 1916 (before this there were condoms and other items that wealthy women had access to).  In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court voted on Roe v. Wade (or legalizing abortion) and from that moment on, the war between pro-life and pro-choice has been an endless battle of women and men, screaming why they were right and not listening to the others point of view; safely from their battle grounds.

Now you are deemed anti-feminist if you are pro-life and you are a “baby killer” if you are pro-choice. I once went to a protest in the 1980’s in Los Angeles, CA. It was at a federal building in the Santa Monica area. Women were lined up on two sides and my first thought was that it looked like they were playing “Red Rover, Red Rover.” Each side yelled at the other, to the point where they were red in the face and barely able to talk by the end (I feel sure). They were hoping someone would “come over,” or at least this seemed to be the point of their debate. Though, in retrospect, I really don’t think they cared who crossed the line, they were more focused on the strength of their vocal chords and being right about their beliefs. I walked away from this “debate” because I felt disturbed by this façade or pretense that they even cared about women’s rights. All they seemed to care about was their side. I’ve never focused on arguing about this ever again. It is pointless when no one listens.

Instead, I have continued to work with young women or the father’s, pre-graduate degree in counseling psychology and post. In homeless shelters, TAPP – Teenage Awareness Parenting Project, Social Services/CPS, The Fatherhood Project (various men’s groups I was involved with), and now as a therapist in private practice.

It was hard for me to stay on the pro-choice argument when I began to learn that modern young women were just not using birth control. Not that I don’t believe women have a choice but I was alarmed at the staggering numbers of young women who – not because they were ignorant or had no knowledge of birth control – simply refused to use it. In the foster care system, the girls actually assumed that this would get them “out of the system.” They assumed that the courts would suddenly emancipate them: now that they had a baby, no money, no shelter, no job, no nothing – which is what would happen if they were dumped out on the street as an “emancipated adult.”

Other girls tell me they don’t use birth control because their “doctor said they couldn’t get pregnant.” It is amazing how many girls actually believe their doctor said this. I feel pretty sure that they concocted this belief by misinterpreting what the doctor said. There are probably rare circumstances that a doctor would say this but ultimately, if you are a teen, you are going to get pregnant. This is the prime age for fertilization. A teen’s body is ripe and in outstanding shape. If it isn’t the doctor’s fault, than they are playing the Russian roulette game, “Wait and see.” They aren’t married, just women who are risking and disrespecting their bodies with a guy who is totally hopeless. There are also the girls who “don’t want to get fat,” from old stories about antiquated birth control pills but don’t take into consideration the nine months of being fat, till your deliver the baby.

Meanwhile, the guys are playing the “I don’t feel comfortable with a condom” game. They also play Russian roulette with their bodies, because when they get AIDS or Herpes, that is not very comfortable either and lifelong if not life life-threatening. It is also not comfortable to have “the crabs,” or other venereal diseases. It is easier for a guy to run away from the “I missed my period,” sentence uttered by the gal, because we just don’t do much to hold them accountable in our culture.

So, while I do feel that ultimately, a woman has a right to make a choice about her body, I feel it is disrespectful to our society, to their bodies, and to all the children who are born unwanted to take such a carefree approach to life. Margaret Sanger did not risk her life and give up her family for the sake of abortions. She did this so that women could have sex without the burden of having an unplanned pregnancy. She did this so that poor young married people, in the inner city, weren’t having to forsake marital relations in lieu of 13 kids that they couldn’t feed. Welfare has become a crutch for ignorant people but they didn’t have this back when she started her clinic (welfare is a crutch because people who are raised this way, assume this direction if they get pregnant and so depend on its existence as their fallback plan). Margaret Sanger also did this so that any class level of men and women could have sex and enjoy this without procreation.

Pro-Life and Pro-Choice women could actually come to the table and have some agreements with each other, just as the Pro-Gun and the reductionists could and just as the Democrats and Republicans could. They don’t because each side is more invested in being right than in coming to a compromise.

My new stance on being Pro-Responsible is that focusing on being responsible is much wiser and a better stance to take with young women and women in general than whether or not you should have an abortion. Pro-Life women are women. I haven’t really talked to many of them who believe that a woman who is raped should stay pregnant. However, this is dealt with anyway, IF a woman goes into a Rape Crisis shelter because she can get the “Day After” pill or the RU486 or whatever they call it these days. Though, if it is not the day after, women in general don’t believe a rape victim should be forced to keep the pregnancy. Meanwhile, pro-choice women have told me more times than not that they really wouldn’t get an abortion if they were pregnant or they wouldn’t want to but these are generally very responsible people.

Women who have told me they had an abortion, went through an unbearable amount of pain and grief. Generally speaking, this is a one-time thing, not a birth control option – though it happens. There are no accidents in life though. This is 2019, I don’t accept “it was an accident.” If you are not using birth control, it was on purpose. This is what women need to be focused on as an issue, not whether or not to get an abortion. By focusing on abortion rights, you are going to an early emotional grave – yelling and screaming – about what is the least of our problems. Women not using birth control, this is the more important issue at stake. Lets not forget the Special Needs girls who are extremely vulnerable (especially those in the inner city) to sexually active boys, who will pretty much do it with anyone they can get to pull their pants down.

Being pro-responsible is going to have more of an impact on our youth and young adults as we focus on making sure they are not only educated but encouraged. The most vulnerable population is the inner city girls and the girls from single parent families. These girls all KNOW about birth control, but they aren’t using it. So, what do we do?

We focus on teaching children to have respect for their bodies and building their self-esteem. I have, in the past, been a part of a wonderful organization in San Jose, CA called “Girls For a Change.” In this group, girls became “Social Change Agents.” They focused on projects, throughout the course of their school year, that took them out of themselves and into being concerned about an issue they cared about. Whenever we gathered together for conferences, with hundreds of girls, no one was pregnant. They were also less interested in gangs, chemical dependency, and hanging out with the wrong people. They were more focused on having an education and going to college in the future.

UNESCO studies show that the more educated a woman is, the less children she will have.

I was a Girl Scout until I was 14 years old and this was a safe place, that I could go to, to learn about: being a woman, work ethics, leadership, building a business, among many other things. This organization continues to provide young women with the same values. Women who are in the Girl Scouts, from around the world, can vouch for how this has impacted them. We continue to hear women thanking this group for helping them to become the person they are today. Eighty percent of female entrepreneurs; were once a Girl Scout. It is an institution that has been around since 1910 (began in England).

There are other ways of teaching young women to have respect for themselves and their bodies. Naturally, this is the job of parents but it cannot happen in a household with drugs/alcohol, mental illness, domestic violence, child abuse, narcissistic parent (s), and/or other mental health issues. It is part of a religious education but can’t be if the theologian has issues with women. It also can’t happen in a girls organization that is in a bad neighborhood and controlled by the streets rather than the group (which I have seen).

The Roe v. Wade argument is ridiculous because the law has been passed by the federal courts. It is ridiculous because it has avoided the real issues and we are ignoring the fact that women/girls need to be responsible for their bodies. Men/boys need to be responsible for their bodies as well. When adults do nothing but argue, kids will go off and look for emotional comfort. If we spent more time being focused on family planning and less on abortions being right or not, the issue may be of less concern. To do this, we should focus on creating more organizations that teach young people to respect themselves and to respect the other gender.

Teaching respect for bodies and self, will keep children occupied on their goals for the future and to be more aware of society at large. This is why I am now Pro-Responsible.

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A Holistic Divorce

This past week I attended a two-day training on collaborative law that I would like to share because it is important to be informed of all your choices when considering a #divorce. Disclaimer – this is for #Ohio residents though there are about 18 states and about a dozen countries who practice collaborative law, so please check in your area to find out what applies to you.

If you are considering a divorce, there are four ways to go about this.

A. Collaborative Law

B. Litigation

C. Dissolution

D. Mediation

I’ll start with litigation which everyone knows about and this is your traditional way of going about getting a divorce. The judge may require mediation as a result of this and this is to try and cut down on court time.

Dissolution is where both parties agree on everything and they have an attorney write up their agreement and present to the court. A very inexpensive way to get a divorce however, as mentioned, both parties must agree. Usually this can happen when there are no children involved.

Mediation is where the couple hires a mediator to discuss what needs to happen and they present their agreement to their attorneys who files it in court. This can be done at the onset, you don’t have to wait for the judge to decide on this.

Then there is collaborative law which I call a #holistic divorce. This is where all parties (professionals and spouses) come to a table and discuss the business of getting a divorce. There is *no court involvement in Columbus, Ohio because the judge comes to the attorneys office to sign off on the divorce (*not the same with other major cities in Ohio, check with your state or country). If court involvement it would be once everything has been settled and then there is a filing of paperwork to approve the divorce.

Collaborative law includes two attorneys, a mental health coach or neutral (not in the capacity of a therapist, nor are they providing therapy but, the service is provided by a licensed therapist), a financial coach or neutral and in some cases other specialists are brought in, if need be, for consultation. All professionals meet with the spouse/spouses individually or as a couple upfront to explain the services and begin to assess the couple. Then all parties and professionals come to the table to begin a discussion of what is to take place. This can involve several sessions but there is no court involvement so the schedules are based on everyone at the table rather than dealing with court being in session. Therefore appointments can be more flexible.

What captivated me by this process is that a mental health coach is involved as well as a financial coach. This means two things. One, the mental health coach is there to help determine what is in the best interests of the children and the family. Someone who understands #psychology vs. a Guardian Ad Litem (aka GAL) who, most often, is not a therapist and does not understand mental health. The mental health coach is also doing an assessment to determine if the couple is going to be a good fit for the collaborative law process. In some instances, i.e., domestic violence, substance abuse and mental illness might not be a good fit for the collaborative law process. Two, the financial coach presents the facts of the figures. Then the parties say whose side of the page the items go on and talk about what they see. Eventually, how things will be divided up occurs with much discussion from the team.

In collaborative law, even the attorneys are in a relationship with one another that is not antagonistic as it would be in litigation. While they clearly will represent the spouse who has hired them, at the table they are not in a defensive position but in an empathic position for both parties. This means the spouse who hired them pays for them under the knowledge that their attorney will be listening and be prepared to be concerned for the opposite spouse as well. This is important because the process will not be about “winning” for their side but about the family gaining a supportive outcome.

The divorce process is an uncomfortable position for two people to be in. It is a major transition in someone’s life and how it is dealt with will determine the health and well-being of children involved (as well as the spouses) going forward. When the egos of two people can be mediated by a group of professionals who are helping them to see what is in the best interests of their family, it is more likely that a good outcome can be assured. This is not an inexpensive process yet compared to the time, energy and money that would be spent in litigation, it will most likely be less costly than litigation. The results will most assuredly be less costly on the emotional well-being of both parties and the children involved.

Please note this is NOT legal advice as I am not an attorney. This was presented merely for informational purposes. You should consult with your attorney to find out more information on these options. Also, please take a look at the links provided to gain more knowledge for  yourself. Thank you, Jeannine Vegh, M.A., I.M.F.T.

Why do Pre-Marital Counseling?

Watching this video is the most compelling reason for adding a psychotherapist to your wedding budget. Women are still being raised with their mothers speeding them down the aisle with visions of white dresses and doves flying through the air. We play with Barbies before we have hit puberty, already merging the dolls with Ken or GI Joe. We are focused on boys in high school, which often causes young girls (and boys) to do poorly in their subjects. Marriage is an investment not a fashion show and if you don’t want to be one of the 40-50% who goes through a divorce, then you need to treat this contract as an investment not a day to play Cinderella. The woman and man who plan consciously and patiently on the big day have better chances for success then the one’s who are only focused on looking good. Wouldn’t you rather be the couple who people gush over rather than taking bets to see how long you’ll last? Your family and friends will respect you more when they see the respect you have for each other. I highly recommend a psychotherapist trained in the Gottman method as they are teaching you communication skills and this includes how to argue without tearing each other apart.

A wedding day is meant to be a beautiful time in your life. Not the day you rue in the years to come. It is not his fault nor is it her fault; when you are a couple, you both have a responsibility to your self, your marriage, your future children and to your family as a whole.

Before You Say I Do

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. Benjamin Franklin

Weddings cost an average of $26,720, according to costofawedding.com. The average cost of a divorce is $15,000-$30,000 according to a 2006 Forbes.com article. In my experience the latter figure will vary based on children, assets and EGO. The American Psychological Association reports that 40-50% of all marriages will end in divorce. Many couples wait until they are very married and very upset before they come into therapy. When there has been an affair, when there is about to be an affair, or when they are so over this person that it would take a fairy Godmother to make any difference in the relationship. With all this negativity why say I do in the first place?

On the heels of the Benjamin Franklin quote above, which I absolutely love because it sums up what I am about to say right here. Pre-Marital counseling is a must to add to that wedding budget as you will get a greater return on your investment. In fact, pre-marital counseling can be the most important money you will spend before you say I do.  Yes, it is possible that you will realize you made a mistake (but this is $15-$30,000 saved). It is also possible that you will save yourself a lot of heartache in the days after the “big day.” Here are some tips for making pre-marital counseling work.

  1. Schedule the onset of counseling at the same time you are sending your “Save the Date,” cards (six to eight months) prior to the big day. You need time to do the work and it may involve individual as well.
  2. Communicate with your therapist what your specific needs are. Even when the therapist has an agenda, make sure to let them know if they are missing something or a new issue has popped up (I always do a check-in before we begin the session). If you don’t tell the therapist, how are they supposed to know?
  3. Self-Awareness – Therapy doesn’t work if one person thinks it is the other persons fault. It takes two to tango and you have to be willing to be held accountable in counseling.
  4. Respect for the therapist and for yourself – paying for sessions on time, showing up on time, being committed to your partner and your future. Psychotherapy is a business first and a healing profession second. This is why you are coming: to get the advice, coaching, and support of a professional – not from a friend or family member.
  5. Homework is there for a reason.  To practice this new way of communicating. Don’t expect results if you are going home and behaving in the same manner.
  6. Be open to recommendations of the therapist – If there are addictions with one or both parties, couples counseling is not ready yet. If there is domestic violence a domestic violence agency should be consulted first for batterers work and counseling for the victim. If there is a history of abuse, there may be a need for individual work for that person before they are ready to begin couples. Your therapist will assess your situation and let you know what is necessary to begin.

Unmet needs from childhood are the majority of couple conflicts. Think about what you didn’t get from your parents growing up – love, nurturance, listening, guidance, a father/a mother, validation, whatever it was this is what you will look for in a partner. Unfortunately, since you aren’t really sure what this looks like, you often get exactly what you don’t want. This is because we are more comfortable with what we know and so this is what we attract. For example: someone to take care of (rather than being taking care of), or someone who just doesn’t give you the love you wish for and you are constantly struggling to attain this. Couples come in talking about small things but what is behind it is something so much larger. This has to do with expectations that have been mulling around in their head but no one has ever spoken of.

Effective communication is the key to a successful marriage. Each time I have attended one of those 50 years + type anniversary parties, they have all said the cliché phrase “communication,” when asked what made their marriage work. I have listened to couples tell me their grandparents or aunt/uncles have said the same. What this means is something that often takes people many years of mistakes to figure out. For older couples I can tell you it also means a lot of compromising along the way because they were married in a time when there was no acceptance of pre-marital counseling other than a few sessions with their spiritual leader.

When I work with couples, I am using the training I took at certified Gottman.com led seminars. These are the principles of Dr. John Gottman which are based on his years of research with couples. If you just “google search” his name you will find loads of articles, videos, interviews, photos and of course their website. His work was introduced to me long before I began my studies as a therapist and after becoming a therapist, his name came across my path once again and off I went to the advanced trainings.

In my personal background, I was 17 years old when I married and I was six months pregnant at the time. I was divorced a couple of years later because of abuse and addictions on their part. I later learned, while doing my thesis and again from Dr. John Gottman with his partner Dr. Neil Jacobson that I was in a marriage with a Pit Bull (When Men Batter Women: New Insights Into Ending Abusive Relationships, 1998). I have never remarried but I have been in several long-term relationships that did not last. It was a long time before it finally hit me in the head what I had been missing all along. Fortunately for you, who might be working with me, you won’t have to wait at all. The reason why I love doing work with couples is so that I may give them the advantages I never had. Experience, Education, Intuition, Insight, Holistic thought process and continuing education post-graduate school is what you will get when you come into my office.

A therapist cannot promise you miracles because it is up to you two and what you are willing to commit to working on. When my coupleS work as hard in session as they do out of session – on practicing these principles I am teaching them, I do see success. My belief is that a couple should not be married without some form of pre-marital counseling (see paragraph one).

 

Children’s Mental Health As Important as Physical Health

 

This is a very powerful message about mental health and children. While we are not in the UK, we have many places locally that serve young children and adolescents. The best place to look for someone in your area is to go on PsychologyToday.com At the top of the page click on Find A Therapist, then put in your zip code and then you narrow down your selection by clicking on the different variables provided. (Note: Psychologytoday is a nationwide website).