Family & Friends, Resilience, Self-Care, Uncategorized

Does Divorce=Failure? (Is Failure a Bad Thing?)

Three (or Four) Questions for Carlin Flora

I was giving a reading about the history of marriage and divorce at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. My piece was about the critical social and economic role that marriage served historically, and how demographic shifts, real material advances and women’s rights have made it largely optional today, a choice, not a necessity. Meaning: as much as we love the idea of marriage, ending a bad one is a choice, too.

After the talk, a woman about my age approached, an artist, liberal minded. “I think you have to acknowledge that many people see divorce as a failure,” she said. “I do. I think it was the best choice in my situation, and for our child, but I still feel a sense of failure for not having been able to make my marriage work, or maybe for having married the wrong person.”

Failure. The other F-word. I was so wrapped up in the attempt to explain divorce in social science terms, I hadn’t give much thought to people’s sense of failure. I didn’t see divorce as failure. I grew up with it. Divorce seemed more a part of life than some aberration. But many people do feel divorce as a failure, as I’ve since learned.

Whatever you think about divorce, failure in general is so universal, you could write a book about it. Many books. Many people have. There’s a recent subset of books on failure promoting its economic upsides, including Fail Fast, Fail Often  and The Upside of Down.

Carlin Flora, author of Friendfluence: The Surprising Way Friends Make Us Who We Are, recently wrote a feature article for Psychology Today magazine about failure I caught up with her to get her take.

Wendy Paris: Why did you want to write about failure after writing a book about friendship?

Carlin Flora: “It seems like the message now is that failure will lead to success and you have to fail to succeed. But they’re talking about traditional views of success. ‘You have to have five failed companies before you have one successful one. You have to have 500 auditions before you get the lead role.’ I was interested in instances where failure does not lead to traditional success. A lot of people never have that success. Failure can still bring benefits, even if it doesn’t lead to clear success.

Read More
TwoKids BlueOrange Studio
Divorce 360, Family & Friends, Parenting, Uncategorized

How Married People Should Talk about Divorce

My son was having a play date with a little girl in a pink dress. They sat in the dirt under the trees, making “traps” out of leaves to catch the fat, wet snails lumbering about the lawn.

I stood watching them with the little girl’s mom. “They have so many friends with divorced parents,” she said. “My older daughter asked, ‘Are you and dad ever getting divorced?’ I don’t know what to say. Of course I don’t think we’ll ever break up. But they see it all around them.”

She also didn’t know how to characterize the divorced parents of their friends. If she was too upbeat, if she normalized divorce too much, wouldn’t that make them worry more that she and her husband might split? “I can’t really make a black-and-white statement about us never divorcing when it’s so obviously a fact of life.”

Divorce does create a ripple affect in the lives of those around us. Our friends not only have to explain divorce to their children but also figure out which night we have our children when trying to make a play date, or ask at which house to drop off a child. If we’re fighting, that toxicity can spread to the play date, the classroom, the soccer field.

Read More
Divorce 360, Family & Friends, Mindfulness, Resilience, Self-Care, Uncategorized

Bounce Back from Anything

Three (or Four) Questions for Tal Ben-Shahar

Tal Ben-Shahar is a resilence expert who taught Harvard University’s super popular course on positive psychology, and is the author of, among other books,  Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment. This fall, he’s offering a year-long course on positive psychology at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in the Berkshires, Massachusetts, starting October 19. The class is mostly online, and includes two five-day retreats at the super-relaxing Kripalu Center. It’s designed for therapists, coaches, consultants, doctors, parents—or anyone wanting to bring the ever-growing research on happiness into their lives.

For those of us who can’t wait for the course, here are some of Ben-Shahar’s suggestions for building resilience in divorce.

Wendy Paris: What is resilience, exactly?

Tal Ben-Shahar: It’s the ability to bounce back after difficulty, to get up after you fall down. To quote [psychotherapist and writer] Nathaniel Branden, resilience is ‘our psychological immune system.’ A strong immune system doesn’t mean we don’t get sick, but just that we get sick less often and recover more promptly. Being resilient doesn’t mean we don’t go through difficulties and hardships. We do, but we go through them more quickly and bounce back faster.

WP: Can you give us some ways to build resilience in divorce?

TBS: Sure.

Read More
ToysTwin Design:Pixabay
Divorce 360, Parenting

The Life-Changing Magic of Helping Kids Get Organized

I opposed all screen time when my son was a toddler. But after my husband moved out, I relented. Specifically, I let our early-rising son watch “Fireman Sam” in the morning while I sat in bed in a torpor with my first cup of coffee.

Two years later, we moved to Los Angeles. Fireman Sam came too, my son continuing to watch him save the accident-prone residents of Ponty Panty early mornings from our post out west.

I hadn’t envisioned a parenting plan so inclusive of an animated firefighter from Wales, and later some crazy purple puff ball masquerading as a chicken. But my son loved them, and establishing routines—even around leisure activities such as a (marginally) educational television show promoting positive values—can help create continuity and a sense of stability.

Stability matters for children. Knowing what happens when translates into confidence and security, a sense of efficacy and control. Creating stability takes extra effort if you move, as we did, or if your child “relocates” weekly because you share custody with your ex.

If you’re divorcing and have joint physical custody, you can take the time to teach kids helpful organization skills. Not so organized yourself? Use the fact of your divorce as motivation to learn.

Read More
happy couple

Should You Log On for Love?

Many of us coming out of marriage are both appalled by and attracted to the notion of online dating. On the one hand—unlimited options! On the other hand, there can be a niggling discomfort when going out with people unconnected to our social or vocational circle. And also, why aren’t we meeting more people naturally? Why do we need to look online?

The bigger question for many of us: does it really work?

Social psychologists Eli Finkle and Paul Eastwick offer some answers. They led a recent study investigating whether online dating is fundamentally different than meeting someone in real life—and if it works better. Does uploading your most flattering photos and a polished, aspirational description of yourself clue a potential mate to your ultimate compatibility and vice-versa?

Read More
1 2 3 5