By Laurel Perlman, Ed.S 973 535-1525
1. I am divorcing and am concerned about the couples in my social circle "taking sides". How can I put my friends at ease without the awkwardness involved in my split?
When it comes to friendships and divorce, it is important to be realistic. Some friends are able to remain neutral and maintain friendships with both parties, while some friends will remain loyal to the person they have been closest to during the marriage. It can help to put your friends at ease by not expecting them to take sides. Try to remember that one of the positive aspects of beginning a new chapter of life is that there will be new friendships to form. You can find new friends in many different places. I met one of my closest friends at my doctor’s office. I admired her sweater and she liked my smile. It was a great start to a new friendship.
2. My children are teenagers and often want to enjoy their own social life on weekends than be forced to spend parental time with their other parent. How can we create equal time for all and be flexible with scheduling?
I believe that older children’s schedules should be made a priority when planning parental visitations. Their lives are in transition too during the divorce process, and they should be allowed to attend birthday parties, sleepovers, and visits with friends. If both parents can put their children’s needs above their own and be flexible with schedules and not get hung up on equal time everyone will benefit. For example if there is a party on Saturday during dad‘s weekend, perhaps your child can stay with his father a little longer on Sunday or have dinner together during the week.
3. What is the first thing you would tell a person who is contemplating divorce?
The first question I ask a person who is contemplating divorce is, “Are you sure?” I ask people if they have considered all of their options and why do they want this divorce. It is important to consider that if you do not take the time to figure out what went wrong in the marriage you are in now, you may be destined to repeat the same patterns in any future relationship you may have.
4. Have you seen an increase in marriage/divorce therapy due to the affects of Social Media?
I have seen an increase in divorce due to the affects of Social Media. People do not realize that carrying on an online relationship is a form of cheating. Men and women are searching for old flames and trying to recapture a happier time when they were young and in love, but that is before they had the stress of mortgage payments, in-laws, work, etc. I know a couple who had been married for 36 years until the husband located his high school girlfriend and left his devastated family to pursue his “true love.”
5. What is the best way to maintain a positive support system with my ex's family for the benefit of my kids?
The best way to maintain a positive support system with your ex’s family for the benefit of your children is never too bad mouth your ex in front of them or your children. Do not gossip about your ex or his family members. Be respectful of them and the role they play and will play forever in your children’s lives.