An Experience for a Lifetime

By Bill Schacht, MS, LCSW

Monday night’s CBS episode of “The Bachelorette” highlighted lady-in-looking JoJo Fletcher’s day-long  visits to the four remaining bachelors’ homes and families.   Throughout this show’s process, JoJo has demonstrated poise and wisdom engaging the men in a non-threatening manner that illuminates their partner potential strengths and weaknesses.

One hometown visit stood out as unique from the other three.  Bachelor Chase, prior to JoJo’s arrival, shared with the audience thoughts and feelings about being an adult child of a “very nasty” divorce.  Chase reveals his angst that JoJo may experience having to meet his father and mother separately and the fact that he had not seen his father in four years as enough negative to make him appear the weakest link in relationship to his competitors for her love.

He also expresses this concern to both mom and dad in the episode.

True to form, JoJo, who doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to inquiring relevant thoughts, feelings, and circumstances when “dating” her options, comes directly at Chase asking him what caused his parents’ divorce and if the childhood scars of family separation may have left him knowing that he is emotionally guarded about the risks of entering into commitment and marriage.

Chase cannot hide this possibility and does his best to tell JoJo that being a child of a painful divorce has him more committed to being who he needs to be in a successful marriage.

And, the negative transforms into a significant positive for Chase as he credits JoJo’s visit as the influence in he and his father meeting and reconnecting after a 48-month separation.

At the end of JoJo’s visit, Chase communicates into the camera that he is pleased and proud that both of his parents emerged from divorce into joyful, healthy relationships with their new spouses and families.

JoJo ends the segment with notable consideration of Chase’s family People of Divorce status.

The viewing reminds us that being People of Divorce is a life-long endeavor.  It also tells us that, as our children of divorce age and enter the dating and mating process, we must provide good support and guidance in helping them be present to and communicate their POD status and experience to potential partners – not as a matter of being or feeling flawed, rather as a matter of being wise and forthright!

Advertisements

The Wonder of Compatability

“The Wonder of Compatibility”

By Bill Schacht, MS, LCSW

 They were just being served their salads as my 12 year old daughter, Hunter Rose, and I were being seated at our favorite Italian restaurant last Friday.  I noticed them out of the corner of my eye sitting across from one another at a small, cozy table.   I thought to myself, “What a sweet elderly couple,” as our waitress handed me a menu.

After we ordered, my eyes kept drifting to over to them.  I figured them in their mid 70’s; Hunter Rose had them somewhat younger as we observed her sipping her white wine and him pouring his beer from bottle to glass.  Her light blue, high collared, casual dress and his khaki pants with short sleeve, plaid shirt seemed to accentuate their age.  They both were wearing bifocals, slid halfway down their respective noses.  Both wore slim, gold wedding bands.

As we munched on our bread sticks, it was on my fourth look to their table that I realized they had not said a single word to one another.  They were into their main course.  Her eyes and focus were on the delicacies on her plate.  She hardly looked up or at him.   With each forkful of food he delivered to his mouth, he was people watching around the dining room and observing nature outside the nearby window.  Their contrast in style was attention getting.

For the next 70 minutes and until our check was paid, there were many glances over to observe their continued, vigilant silence.  They were still leisurely enjoying coffee and dessert as we headed for the exit.

On the drive home, we could not stop discussing and wondering how this couple, that we imagined had been married for numerous decades,  preferred to experience their dinner date in quiet and without eye contact.  We pondered how that worked for them.  But, we both agreed that we had felt a strong unconditional love that flowed between them.

We asked ourselves, “What is the secret to compatibility over a lifelong marriage?”  And, paradoxically, what causes the pleasurable compatibility that couples believe they have on their wedding day to vanish into divorce?

Why do so many couples throw the towel in when they seemingly have so much to build upon while others cherish and continue their commitment when they seem to have so little in common?

If asked, we would all say that couple “compatibility” is a necessary element of a successful long-term marriage.  But, what exactly does that mean?  How will we define it in our existing or future love relationship?  How will we explain it to our dating children?

These questions call for…

“POD WISDOM”

Let’s take it upon ourselves as an Association to answer them.  Go to the “Forum” accompanying this blog and share your thoughts what defines “compatibility” in a successful marriage relationship.  And, weigh in on our new “Compatibility Poll.”  We’ll share our combined wisdom on the subject with the world!

How Will I Know When I Am Ready To Start Dating Again?

“How Will I Know When I Am Ready To Start Dating Again?”

By Bill Schacht, MS, LCSW

This blog begs for…

“POD WISDOM”

I can’t tell you how many people of divorce have asked me the “How will I know…” question.  With 2 million new adult divorcees each year and “guestimating” that the majority of us who go back at begin somewhere between 6 and 36 months post the death of marriage day, we can assume there are about 5,000,000 inquiry circling in their software.

The existential standard answer of, “Don’t worry, you’ll just know,” does not seem intuitively correct and holds way too much potential to have the blind staying blind.

The question offers fertile ground for us to generate an answer as a membership.  We all have notions about this subject.  So, let’s get them out there!

Here is our challenge, members…

Go to the POD FORUM entitled, “How Will I Know…?

Post a comment that begins as follows:  “One way a POD know he/she is ready to begin dating is:???

You fill in the ending.  We will keep track of member responses and create a list of them.  We will vote on each one to determine if it should be included on our “POD WISDOM GUIDE” under the topic “You know you are ready to start dating when….!”

Your posts should be serious in nature with the intention of helping each other.

Simultaneously, I will be asking some relationship experts the same question.  We’ll see who presents the best wisdom!

Share your thought, please!

POD Member Experiences Dating Discrimination

Just viewing the trailer to the new Adam Scott movie A.C.O.D. ( http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-207_162-57598847/adam-scott-is-an-a.c.o.d-in-new-trailer/ ) brings to mind the story 27 year old male POD Association member, Juan, recently shared with me.

Juan had divorced a year ago and started dating six months after.

Juan met Mia through an Internet dating site he joined.  After a few emails and phone calls, they decided to meet.  Juan was attracted to Mia immediately.  Over dinner, he shared with her that he was previously married and divorced (hereafter, termed a “MAD”) and she shared that she had been in two live-in committed relationships (hereafter, termed a “LIC”) that failed.

In thinking and feeling that Mia was a good potential match, a second date was even more enjoyable.  During that date, Juan shared the details of what led to his divorce. His marriage failed to sustain his wife’s change of life plans.

She was an exceptional athlete and, two years into their marriage, she told Juan that she wanted to pursue a goal of being chosen to the USA Olympic team in her sport.  This endeavor necessitated that she would have to move around the country several times in the course of a year to achieve selection goals required to make Team USA.  Juan had just secured a teaching job in the city in which his family lived since his childhood.  To follow her would not only mean he would have to give up his job, but also that he could not be assured he could keep a contract commitment to teach in any city for even a full school year.  His dream was to always reside close to his family.

There were other issues in their marriage, but this was the situation that ultimately led them to divorce. They had no children.

Mia politely listened to Juan’s story and then explained what caused the death of her two live-in relationships.

Juan believed their mutual sharing added more strength to their seedling dating status.

Juan called Mia for a third date.  He noticed her different tone of voice even as she said, “Oh, hello.”  Mia responded to his date request by telling him that she did not want to continue to date.  Juan asked, “Why?”  She responded, “Because you are divorced.”

In telling me the story, Juan was perplexed and confused.  There was something that he just could not understand.  How could Mia’s reason for dismissing him be for a divorce when she had two extended, failed, live-in relationships in her record book?  What was the difference, really?

This is a cultural phenomenon in America today.

A hundred years ago, if Mia had cohabitated with a man outside of wedlock, she would have drawn the scrutiny of her family and the community.

Recent statistics reveal that 8.1 million American households are inhabited by unmarried heterosexual couples. Today, pre-marital cohabitation which fails is looked upon with different eyes than divorce.    A person with four live-in fails is somehow distinct from four divorces logged.

This is especially notable when considering that LIC’s may struggle with commitment issues in the first place or may be less willing or skilled at working hard through relationship breakdowns.

Juan asked me, “Isn’t the break-up of a live-in, committed relationship like a divorce?”  I suggested to him that we could call that a live-in-committed-divorce (hereafter, a “LICD”).

Is it naive to think that the separation of a committed, long-term, live-in couple is less emotionally draining or less of a life punch in the gut than a divorce?   If they have children, are they less effected?

What do you think?  Please tell the members…

Why I Am Never Getting Married

I am always amazed by the conversations I get into with people since beginning the POD mission and project.

Recently I was checking in at the hotel registration desk where I was conducting a workshop. A bright-eyed, polite, twenty-something, seemingly intelligent, attractive lady named Sheila politely said, “How may I help you?” I told her I was here for a conference. She asked for my credit card and began typing on her computer. She paused; then said, “PEOPLE OF DIVORCE, what’s that?”

I shared, “It’s a membership driven, on-line association for the 60 million people of divorce in America that provides education, support, and resources focused on accomplishing the one goal that all POD’s want – to never go through another divorce again, to never have our kids go through another divorce, and to never have our grandchildren feel the pain of divorce.”

Her eyes widened as she looked up at me and said, “That’s wonderful! Your Association is so needed! It is interesting because just last month I made a decision that I am never going to get married. It’s too expensive to get a divorce. And, all of my friends who got married in their 20’s have divorced within two years – every one of them! It’s a big problem in this community.”

Looking into her eyes, I could see she was dead serious.

Is this to where our culture has evolved – our young people not wanting pursuing marriage for fear of divorce? Is this what my 11 year old daughter be thinking when she is 20? What are the implications for our grandchildren? What is the future of our society? What can we do? Please share your thoughts with the membership.

The POD Association: Who We Are, What We Are

The POD Association: Who We Are, What We Are

by Bill Schacht, MS, LCSW

 I am asked, “Bill, who should join PEOPLE OF DIVORCE – The Association?”

So, who are we?  We are people who have, ourselves, gone through family separation or divorce.  We are children of divorce.  We are parents involved in our child’s divorce process.  We are grandparents trying to navigate our grandchildren through family collapse.  We are other relatives, friends, and colleagues who want to be there to support us, the people of divorce.

We are professionals from the school systems, the court systems, community health, behavioral health and physical health care, and government who provide services to adults and children in separation and divorce.

Over the past 5 years I have spoken to thousands of PEOPLE OF DIVORCE (POD).  I always ask one question, “Do you ever want to go through divorce again?”  All responses are a firm, “No.”

All professionals supporting POD have heartfelt desire to help us in whatever way they can to rise above the pain and challenges of divorce and provide support so our pattern will not be duplicated.

What defines our membership is shared commitment to enlighten and educate ourselves to what, specifically, caused our marriage relationships to become broken and to make the changes needed to not duplicate the pattern.  We have promised our children that we will educate ourselves and them about what defines healthy and joyful relationship that can sustain long-term commitment.  We promise our children that we will be good mentors and coaches as they are of age to date and pursue life partners to ensure successful mate selection and relationship growth and development.

As members, we understand that this is neither a simple nor easy endeavor.  We know it will take dedicated time and great perseverance.   We realize this is far from reading one book and doing it alone.  Rather, we acknowledge that to achieve our goal requires life-long learning and a solid support system.

As helping professionals supporting The POD, we know we cannot only focus on fixing what is broken, but that we must provide education and support that leads to the creation of loving healthy long-term relationships by our members and their children.

We all understand our mission is not about talk and theory; we will only succeed through effective, consistent action, individually, and as an Association.

Finally, all members of PEOPLE OF DIVORCE – The Association believe that, as a community, as a culture, as a society, as a nation, we cannot continue to have our marriages, our critical family relationships continue to fail at current rates.  The costs, the consequences will be too much.

As you register to become a POD member, you will be asked to identify your specific member category as below:

General Membership Categories (you will check all that apply)

______  Marriage Divorced

______  Marriage Annulled

______  Marriage Separation

______  Adult Child of Divorce (18 or older)

______  Parent of a divorcing/divorced child

______  Grandparent of a child in family separation or divorce

______  Other family member (i.e. uncle/aunt, cousin, etc.)

______  Friend of a POD

______  Colleague/co-worker of a POD

 

Professional Member Categories

______  Family Law Attorney

______  Guardian Ad Litem

______  Family Court Judge

______  Family Court Clerk

______  Psychologists

______  Marriage Counselor

______  Social Worker

______  Psychotherapist

______  Life Coach

______  Guidance Counselor

______  Teacher

______  School Administrator

______  Physician

______  Health Care Provider (other)

______  Clergy

______  Pastoral Counselor

______  Community Health Director

______  Other __________________________

Did this blog provide information that will cause you to take action? LEAVE A REPLY below and tell us more. Does this blog provide information that will help you achieve your goal of never divorcing again? Will you post further comments or ask questions about this blog on The POD social network? Is this blog relevant to your life experience as a person of divorce? Let us know, below…

A Long-Term Vision for PEOPLE OF DIVORCE – The Association

A Long-Term Vision for PEOPLE OF DIVORCE – The Association

by Bill Schacht, MS, LCSW

In the long run, what will make it worth it?  Why should people of divorce invest time and energy to come together anyway?  Please, seriously ask yourself these questions.

What if, over next 20 years, we reduce the number of potential future divorces of our members, our kids, and our grandchildren by 50%?   Would that be good enough?   What if our influence expanded to where our initiatives produced a 25% reduction divorces in the USA?  What if, through our efforts, we significantly reduced that amount of parent alienation that occurs in some divorces and significantly reduces the number of cases in which child support is not paid?

What if we reduced the divorce rate of second marriages from 65% to 20% and from 73% to 10% of third marriages?

What would be good enough for us to engage and act?

Our potential exists in being not only committing to our own futures as PEOPLE OF DIVORCE, but also to be as committed to supporting others of our kind.   We realize that the American Cancer Society, the Alzheimer’s Association and such have power in their numbers and initiatives.

There are plenty of divorce-related web sites that provide information and advice.  How to survive this, what to do when that.  But, information that is fragmented and only snippets that do not create a systematic plan of action and generate needed support to initiate and sustain real change become just fading thought.

The vision of PEOPLE OF DIVORCE – The Association is to educate and support all of us to act upon all the aspects of family separation and divorce that can negatively impact our lives and the lives of our children and other family members.   Our educational services will be an organized system that helps us completely understand what causes divorce and what we need to do to create and sustain loving, healthy, committed relationships as we move forward.  We will define effective, collaborative parenting from two households and educate ourselves on how to consistently deliver that parenting.

In the future, PEOPLE OF DIVORCE – The Association will be widely recognized as the #1 resource and authority on the subject of divorce.   Our expanding membership will draw experts from all over the world on all divorce-related subjects to contribute to our panoramic educational offerings.

Through web and podcasts on a wide variety of topics of membership need and interest.  Our social network will constantly evolve our organization through communicating membership needs and wants.

The Association will host regional seminars and retreats for members to more closely link our membership in geographic areas.

We will create a political arm – our voice into systems that we want more sensitive and supportive of our needs.  Our schools, our courts, our churches, our government all see our struggles and will benefit from our collective voice communicating how they can better serve us.  In her February 24, 2013 blog, Cathy Meyer writes about “Judges and Lawyers: A Major Problem With the Family Court System.”  Her writing illuminates how Family Law Judges failure to act sabotages best efforts on behalf of POD children.  Reading it frustrates.  What will we what can we, as an Association,  do about it?  That is the important question!

Our educational services will become so recognized for their effectiveness that our curriculums will be incorporated into schools and churches and recommended by the courts.

We will become the organization that conducts and organizes the most research on the phenomenon of divorce and the impact of divorce on children and adults.

This is just a glimpse.  What else do you see in the future for our coming together?  Do you believe it’s worth the effort?

Does this blog provide information that will help you achieve your goal of never divorcing again? LEAVE A REPLY below and tell us more. Did this blog provide information that will cause you to take action? Will you post further comments or ask questions about this blog on The POD social network? Is this blog relevant to your life experience as a person of divorce? Let us know, below…

The POD: Making a Difference, Achieving Our Goal

The POD: Making a Difference, Achieving Our Goal

by Bill Schacht, MS, LCSW

I have shared our vision of PEOPLE OF DIVORCE – The Association with so many.  These are not only POD, but also professionals from the business community: investors, lawyers, marketers, and the like.  Most people have a similar, initial response, “Great idea, well-needed, huge underserved population.”   Most of them then ask, “How are you going to be successful in making a difference in the lives of PODs when no one else has?”  This is a valid and useful question.

The most important piece of the answer is critical to understand.  “I” cannot; but “WE” can.  No one person can create significant change in the relationship patterns of POD.  But, as a mass, we hold the potential.  Why?  Because people with a common goal can create quantum change in the world, whereas an isolated individual cannot.

As a membership in communication, we will share and learn what works and what does not work to end dysfunctional relationship patterns and employ effective relationship patterns. But, hold on, other “experts,” (i.e. the Dr. Phil’s of the world) have all had their crack at it.  No “one” has made a difference in the trends.  In mass, through networking, ongoing communication, and support of our membership, “WE” can.

OK, you are reading this thinking, “How, Bill?”

Here is an example…

In a Huffington Post blog of January 23, 2012 entitled “The Shocking Truth for Thirty Percent of Divorced Women,” author Jennifer Gauvain summarizes her research findings which suggest that 30% of American divorced women surveyed reported that, on the day they were saying “I DO,” they already clearly knew that their marriage would fail.  Is this a shocking notion?  No.  Is the percentage shocking? Yes!  Let’s hypothesize that Jennifer’s study is flawed.  Even at 1/3 error rate results in a 20% rate – still shocking!

I have this crazy idea that some of you reading this right now are thinking, “Yeah, I’m one of the people who did that.”   OK, then!

We can imagine that the problem is even bigger – what percentage of the males are doing the same thing?  We know for sure some.  Let’s conservatively say 10%.  Then, we can ask what percent of these men and women were a “couple?”  Let’s surmise not too many.

As a critical thinking membership, we can hypothesize that 25% of American marriages include at least one person with a someday divorce emblazoned in their thinker.  We already know, from Jennifer’s research, that such thinking magically results in actual divorce.

As an Association, let’s form an opinion about this.  Let’s boldly declare to ourselves and the world that people getting married with such thoughts is a very bad idea.

Now, we have a position from which, as individuals and as a group, we can act.  What if, as a massive group, we can use networking and political influence to significantly reduce the number of men and women who do that?  How could we do that?

The PEOPLE OF DIVORCE – The Association would declare a rule for all people about to be married.

The Rule…

Section A: No person should get married when they are having serious thoughts, with valid reasons, that their pending marriage will probably fail.

Section B:  A person scheduled to be married must tell others, including but not limited to their fiancé, parents, and their best friend that they are having those thoughts.  An additional party to tell should be any pre-marriage coach (i.e. clergy member, etc.)

Section C: No person having such thoughts should say “I DO” unless the “reasons” for the thoughts can be invalidated.  Clergy and judges should not and will not marry people who present such thoughts unless change of those beliefs can be achieved.

Good rule?  You betcha!  If our stats and hypotheses are valid, effective rule compliance could potentially reduce the divorce rate in America by up to 25%.  Wow!

Next question, how do we generate rule compliance?  As an Association, we pole our members for action plan ideas.  We come up with things like this…

  • We ask our members to commit to “the rule.”  Personally, I have no angst about making this promise.  Do you?  If we have 1 million POD members unmarried, stats suggest 75% of them will act on getting married again.  If the numbers prove out stats, 187,000 of those folks would be having the “I think this will fail” cognitions as they approach their next marriage.  If those members follow “the rule,” by definition, 187,000 divorces are prevented.
  • Next we commit to asking our children who are getting engaged if they are having such thoughts and we get them to commit to not go forward with a marriage with such thoughts active.  An unreasonable parental action or request?  No, more a responsibility on our part.
  • Next, we publicize “the rule.” We invest as an Association in 10-15 second radio ads.  Message sounds like this:  “Getting married soon?  Having serious thoughts that your marriage will fail?  25% of people getting married do.  If you are, pause.  Be honest. Get the support you need.   A public service message of PEOPLE OF DIVORCE – The Association.  Go to www.peopleofdivorce.com.
  • In working with numerous clergy, I have been told that many religious based pre-marriage programs are not designed to identify couples who are at high risk of failure to the point of delaying or refusing to conduct the marriage ceremony.  Some programs do have this as a goal.  As an Association and as individual members of The POD, we speak with our church clergy and send literature about Jennifer’s research to all churches that offer pre-marriage programs.  We ask our pastors and church leaders who quality control pre-marriage programs to ask couples if either are having such thoughts, counsel individuals who are to seriously address them, share them with their fiancé, and delay the wedding until relationship confidence can be restored or it is determined  “not a match.”

I am confident that The POD membership will come up with even better ideas to act on this.

Delusional fantasy?  No, common sense.  Impossible to accomplish?  No, doable.  This is just one of many good changes we will champion.

Are you with me?

Did this blog provide information that will cause you to take action? LEAVE A REPLY below and tell us more. Does this blog provide information that will help you achieve your goal of never divorcing again? Will you post further comments or ask questions about this blog on The POD social network? Is this blog relevant to your life experience as a person of divorce? Let us know, below…