Tag Archives: divorce

To go or not to go, that is the question.

My relationship is not working.
With apologies to Mr. Shakespeare, what should I do next?

For years experts on the subject have placed the divorce rate in the U.S. at around 50%. Half of those being married will end up divorced. Yikes. Not the most hopeful statistic for those about to marry. Where does this number come from and is it accurate?


How did we get from this…



couple fighting

To this?

It turns out there are four ways to calculate the divorce rate here in the US.

1. Crude Divorce Rate. The age-adjusted crude divorce rate is currently thirteen divorces for every 1,000 people age fifteen and older.
2. Percent Ever Divorced. This is the percentage of ever-divorced adults in a population.
3. Refined Divorce Rate. This is the number of divorces per 1,000 married women.
4. Cohort Measure Rate. This is the “40-50 percent” number that most people cite. It is not a hard, objective number, but an educated projection. It is calculated by looking at a particular “cohort”—a large group of people marrying within a particular measure of time—relative to general life-tables. In short, it comes from looking at divorce trends of the last few decades (those of earlier cohorts) and applying these numbers to couples marrying today, the current cohort.

Two experts, the University of Denver’s Scott Stanley and Dr. Paul Amato of the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center believe that the current divorce rate is 40 to 45%. They also forecast that as baby-boomers (who have maintained the highest divorce rate ever) age out of the model that percentage will continue to go down dramatically.

Ended marriage

Am I ready to become part of that static as my relationship seems to be unreparable? Is there anything that can help make that awful decision to divorce or not to divorce easier? No. Is there a way to clarify your position in your mind? Yes. Ask yourself the following questions. Ponder your answers deeply. Write them down. Put them away for a week and read them again. The questions will point you in the right direction.

Don’t be hesitant about seeking a professional who can help you determine what your answers are really telling you. Even if you must go by yourself, find an expert in marital counseling and wholeheartedly participate. This is a time to be brutally honest with yourself and those around you. It is also a time to prepare for the future. Being sure about the direction your marriage takes will help you take the next steps knowing you’ve made the right choice. Good Luck!

To Stay or to Go?

Excerpted from Family Breakup and Survival
by Ester R.A. Leutenberg and John J. Liptak, EdD

You got to know when to hold ’em; know when to fold ’em . . .”
~ Kenny Rogers

rog & peg edited

A happy couple

Ending a committed relationship is a difficult and emotional decision. As you think about staying or leaving, focus on the impact of your decision for yourself, your partner and your family. Instead of thinking only about breaking up as a yes or no, evaluate the quality of the relationship.

Here are aspects to consider about your present situation. Read the questions and write your answers down. Be clear, be honest, be fair. After you have completed the list, put it away for a few days. Take it out and reread what you wrote.  Have you changed your mind? Take the answers with you when you go to a family counselor and get help determining what they might mean. Let the answers help you decide your next step.

  1. Trust – How safe do you feel physically?
  2. Trust—How safe do you feel emotionally?
  3. Safety– How safe do you feel sexually?
  4. Love– Is your love romantic, platonic, intermittent, evaporating, or other?
  5. Cooperation– How do you help each other with day-to-day responsibilities?
  6. Respect– What level of respect does your partner have for you?
  7. Respect– What level of respect do you have for your partner?
  8. Physical intimacy– How are you and your partner “in sync” about intimacy and sex?
  9. Physical intimacy—How are you and your partner not “in sync” about intimacy and sex?
  10. Physical intimacy– How would you describe your sex life?
  11. Communication– Do you talk to each other about finances?
  12. Communication – Are you only sharing information or are you able to discuss feelings, worries, and excitement?
  13. Values – How much do you agree on ethical and moral issues? How does that influence your relationship?
  14. Religion and spirituality– Do you share a religious and/or spiritual belief system. If you do not, how that works in your relationship?
  15. Raising children– If you have children, describe how you have or have not been able to find common ground regarding discipline, guidance, medical decisions, educational plans and goals.
  16. Family of origin relationships – Do you believe you and/or your partner are more loyal to your own families–of-origin than to each other?
  17. In-law relationships – How have you or have you not worked out relationships that avoid high levels of conflict with each other’s families?
  18. In-Law relationships– Do you have close relationships with your in-laws? Is that likely to continue if your relationship breaks up? Why or why not?
  19. Finances– Are you both contributing to the family economy, either by working outside the home or inside? How does that work for you?
  20. Finances– How do you agree or disagree on methods of spending money?
  21. Finances– How do you agree or disagree on a budget for saving money?
  22. Arguing– Do you and your partner stick to the issue at hand when you argue?
  23. Arguing– Do you or your partner bring up wrong-doings of the past when arguing?
  24. Arguing– Does your fighting ever become physical?
  25. Arguing– When you are arguing with your partner, how safe does everyone in your family feel?
  26. Future– How do you believe your life (and that of your children, if applicable) would be better without this committed relationship?
  27. Future– How do you believe your life (and that of your children, if applicable) would be worse without this committed relationship?

Older Couple

Family Breakup and Survival cover

Family Breakup and Survival

Family Breakup and Survival

This article is taken from Family Breakup and Survival Workbook by
Ester Leutenberg and John Liptak, EdD.

In this article, the title care-giver and adults will be used for family members or paid helpers who give direct CARE and are responsible in any way for one or more children and/or teens.

Through out the article, the term breakup will be used to include any breakup, separation, annulment, and/or divorce. 

What is a Care-Giver Breakup?

A care-giver breakup is one of the most stressful events that a family could encounter. Separation, and ultimately a breakup, can be very difficult on care-givers, children, and other caring family members.Sad family

It is important to distinguish among the various types of circumstances that are included as breakups in this discussion. Here are a few:

• A couple dating who choose to stop seeing each other.
• A legal separation, which often comes before a divorce.
• Annulment, when a marriage is declared null and void.
• Divorce, the dissolution of marriage and the changing of legal responsibilities.
• Separation in which a couple stops cohabitating.

Breaking up can mean many different things to different people. For the purposes of this discussion, we are using the term breakup to include people living in the above situations. Breakups are extremely complicated processes that usually involve phases of a breakup between the two people and their families, and then possible various stages of a grieving process, for all concerned.

Although some breakups end with reconciliation, the stages of grief, the trauma, the issues of child-care, the communications, the visitations, the relationships, the feelings, and the changes still disrupt the family unit in a heart-breaking way. Things that are said, family members remember. Children suffer. How they react depends on their age, personality and the circumstances of the separation process. Families change. The contents of this discussion will help, whether there is reconciliation or not.Unhappy man

The next two sections will provide information related to these two important aspects of any breakup.

The Phases of a Breakup

It is never easy to break up with someone, but the breakup of a relationship can thrust your world into chaos and trigger all types of painful and negative feelings. The process of a relationship breakup follows some fairly distinct and predictable phases.

This model is not meant to be a definitive way that people in a relationship progress toward a breakup. All breakups will be unique and specific to the people involved. Therefore, the model that follows is designed to provide you with a sense of the behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that accompany each of the phases of a breakup.

Phase 1
In this phase, the idea of a breakup often surfaces. The relationship experiences stress and it feels like it is in trouble by the initiator, or by both people. The notion of a breakup is often not directly verbalized, but may be verbalized also.Sad couple

Phase 2
In this phase, ideas about a breakup are often verbalized. Typically, there is an initiator and a non-initiator. The initiator often has gone through a gamut of feelings and is now focusing on the cognitive aspects of telling the partner. The non-initiator usually feels rejected, anger, confusion, self-doubt and depression.

Phase 3
In this phase, the couple involved in the breakup usually begin to shut down and distance themselves physically from each other. They may stop talking to each other and doing things for each other. The couple involved at this point often look at what happened and who is at fault.

Phase 4
In this phase, the legal process often begins. This tends to be a more cognitive stage than the previous one, and most difficult when children are involved. The couple in the relationship feel the reality that is setting in and they begin to explore how their roles, and their families’ lives will be different.Kids adjusting to time with Grammy

The phases of a breakup can be devastating to everyone involved in the relationship. It is important to remember how stressful each of these phases are for both the initiator and the non-initiator as they consider how it affects themselves, each other, children, and other family members.

Stages in Grieving a Breakup

Regardless of their makeup and family dynamics, all members of a family proceed through specific stages in the process of grieving a breakup.

Although the descriptors for these stages may differ from what others use, they are simply a guide for better understanding the general issues that family members may experience while going through a breakup. They are not absolute or chronological.

Stage 1 (denial)
In this stage, family members pretend that the breakup is not a big deal and that they can easily move on with their lives. They often talk about their situation and their emotions until the initial shock wears off. Most people in this stage may feel numb about the situation and try to move past it quickly.

Stage 2 (anger)
In this stage, after the initial pain begins to wear off, family members begin to become angry about their situation or others involved in the breakup. They get angry and see themselves as victims of an injustice. In this stage, the anger can range from mild feelings of aggravation to feelings of rage. In this stage family members may often search for ways to vent their anger.

Stage 3 (Bargaining)
In this stage, family members try different tactics to get back what they had. They begin to believe that reconciliation, no matter how bad the situation was, is better than living the way they did in the past, or living the way they are currently. They often seek a “quick fix” for the situation so that they can get back to the way life was before, even if it was not ideal. In this stage, many members of the family may feel guilty about what happened.

Stage 4 (Sadness)
In this stage, family members begin to experience signs of sadness, possibly leading to depression. They may have difficulty sleeping, lose interest in eating, feel exhausted, and are often irritated. In this stage, family members feel pensive and wish the relationship had turned out differently.

Stage 5 (Moving On)
In this stage, family members begin to accept the fact that a breakup might be the best for all people in the relationship, and they are ready to move on. They are interested in releasing the past, living in the moment, and making strides toward a fulfilling future. They realize that it is time to move on and focus on the positivity in their lives.

Stage 6 (release & establishment)
In this stage, family members are ready to release any bitterness and even accept the reality of the situation. They are ready to begin establishing new relationships that will be part of a positive future.

Look for the next blog for the next this series: Stress & Fear Related to a Breakup.

Read more about Family Breakup and Survival Workbook.
Family Breakup and Survival cover

Stages of Grief

You grieve mentally, physically and spiritually. Many of us experience a similar cycle when grieving — they are common steps we use to help heal. Some people skip steps.

1. Denial When the pain is too great, we temporarily shut down. You feel so numb you act as though nothing happened.
2. Eruption Your emotions suddenly break out —it seems to hit at once.
3. Anger You’ll get angry angry: it’s unfair, someone should have changed things, you don’t understand why. You may even be angry at who you’ve lost for deserting you.
4. Illness Illness and stress go hand in hand. Don’t be surprised if you’re sick.
5. Panic You worry you’ll never get over the loss, that you’ve lost yourself.  You wonder if what you’re going through is normal.
6. Guilt We try to find something to blame.  If there is no one to blame, we blame ourselves.  Feeling as though it’s your fault seems more bearable than there being no reason at all.
7. Loneliness You find yourself avoiding others, feeling as though they can’t understand. You withdraw from friends and family.
8. Re-Entry You want to move on, but can’t yet. You feel loyalty to the memory of who you lost, and worry moving on would be abandoning them.
9. Hope You don’t know when, but one day, you notice you’re doing better. You feel like a fog has lifted. You begin to think you’ll be ok again someday.
10. Reality You reconstruct your life, using the new strengths you’ve gained from grieving.