Relative Evolutions - Evolve, Don't Dissolve
May 23, 2016 - divorce    No Comments

Interview with Greg Gann, a Divorce Financial Analyst

Greg Gann

Greg Gann

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of sitting down with Greg Gann of Gann Partnership LLC in Baltimore, MD. Greg is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. Have you heard that title before? Not everyone has, but everyone should.

We all know that when a couple separates, their conflict typically revolves around money and parenting time. Given the intricacies of the former, I was eager to talk to Greg about how his specific training can assist STBXs* as they navigate the divorce process.

During our discussion, Greg explained that he can operate as a financial neutral for clients seeking a collaborative process (whether officially or unofficially). His job is to present a comprehensive financial picture and help couples make empowered decisions about how to divide their assets. His knowledge enables him to dig deeper than attorneys or accountants, thus providing a more specialized and comprehensive service.

And the best part? Couples who come to Greg are likely to save money over paying separate attorneys for financial discovery.

If you’ve heard me speak, you’ve probably heard me say, “Choose and use your team players wisely.” A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst is an excellent member to add to your team. In the interview below, Greg illustrates the importance of his work with real-life examples. I learned a lot from him, and you probably can too…

 

*STBX= Soon To Be Ex 😉

May 18, 2016 - divorce, marriage    No Comments

Divorce Shaming Drives Me Crazy!

I’ve seen this divorce shaming content before, and today I saw it again:

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I really hate this. I hate it enough that I stopped what I was doing in order to write this blog post because I am so hopping mad. I’d really like to curse a whole bunch, but I try not to do that here. I don’t know the profile of the people who share these memes. I don’t know how many are married or what percentage wish they were. I don’t know if their intent in sharing is because they want to celebrate lasting love or if they want to shame those who divorce.

But, whomever they are and whatever their motive, the message is clear:  “Older generations stayed together because they didn’t give up… unlike people today.”

Bullshit. (Oops, I said I wasn’t going to curse)

Well… yeah, OK, I can admit that these days we’re quicker to replace rather than repair. But that logic applies more to phones and refrigerators than human relationships, which are much more complicated.

And it’s not like divorce is a trendy new phenomenon. In the 1950s, the Divorce Rate bounced between 20-25%. A few years earlier, in 1946, it was 43% (I got those numbers here). Even people who were born and raised in the Good Old Days got divorced.

I wonder what that meme would look like if it was an honest Q&A without a passive-aggressive attack.  Perhaps the woman would say…

“We were born in a time when it was legal for him to beat me, so I never questioned my own worth.”

or…

“I kept my affairs a secret and he never found out.”

or…

“There wasn’t any love between us, but we were good roommates.”

or…

“We made it 65 years because we both exceeded the average life expectancy.”

or…

“We never stopped dating.”

or…

“We were honest and had an open marriage.”

or…

“We didn’t have children. We stayed in the same town and kept the same jobs and the same friends. There wasn’t a lot of stress on our marriage.”

There are many reasons for couples to stay together… or not. And the interworkings of any relationship are as unique as those in the relationship. It’s not fair to compare couples or make generational generalizations. (if it was, I’d like to accuse all older couples of doing a crappy job of instilling their fix-it-don’t-throw-it-away values in their children)

Stop the shame! Each of us is responsible for our own health and happiness. Sometimes you just can’t “fix” a toxic relationship.

 

 

May 6, 2016 - divorce, family, media    No Comments

Nonviolent Communication

My latest educational obsession is Nonviolent Communication (NVC). Since last November, I’ve attended several workshops, read a few books and joined a local practice group. I believe NVC can save the world.

NVC booksMarshall Rosenberg, PhD literally wrote the book about NVC. It’s called Nonviolent Communication, and the third edition is the one most recently made available. In the book, Rosenberg points out the ways humans typically (and non-effectively) communicate:  often we don’t accurately separate our thoughts and feelings… we aren’t in touch with our needs… we make a lot of judgements and comparisons… we deny responsibility… According to Rosenberg, we utilize a lot of “life-alienating communication.”

Rosenberg also notes that all humans have the same basic needs, and conflict arises as a result of varying strategies to meet those needs. This bit of knowledge has worked wonders in helping me understand the arguments in my Facebook Feed.  For instance:  all humans have a need for safety. Some wish to meet that need through stricter control of firearms while others feel safer if they personally carry a gun.

Conflict often results in a power struggle, where each side strives to meet their own needs at the expense of the opponent. Nonviolent communication allows for a productive discussion of observations, feelings, needs and respectful requests. The process employs compassion and empathy, thus resulting in connection. When adversaries are connected and aware of each others needs, solutions flow with greater ease.

It’s a no-brainer to see how these concepts can help families as they evolve through a separation. Not only is NVC useful between exes, but it can also strengthen relationships between parents and children during a pivotal time. Seeing this, I teamed up with a local practitioner of NVC to offer…

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This event will take place May 24, 6:30-8pm at the Cornerstone Coffeehouse in Camp Hill, PA. If you’re interested in attending, please register by calling 717.686.9116 or email events@taraeisenhard.com. There is a $10 per person suggested donation.

What if We Did Divorce the Way We Do Marriage?

Previously, I asked the question, “What if we did marriage the way we do divorce?” The situation was somewhat silly, as the post was meant to inspire consideration. My true intention was to introduce a new question:

What if we did divorce the way we do marriage?

wedding cupcakesLet’s start by reviewing a traditional wedding… when a couple plans their ceremony, they consult with various professionals. It’s likely they’ll visit multiple locations before deciding where to hold the event. They’ll spend some time at a bakery. They’ll price a few potential caterers and florists. Quite often, couples meet with a spiritual leader for pre-marital counseling. The Future Mrs. procures the products and services of a bridal boutique while the groom and his dudes rent tuxedos at another specialty shop. The honeymoon is planned with the assistance of a travel agent, or at least a travel-specific web site. Throughout the (sometimes incredibly stressful) process, family and friends provide assistance, opinions and recommendations while the couple makes all final decisions.

When the Big Day arrives, the bride and groom are surrounded by those who love and support them. Old stressors are erased by new joy as The Kiss commences, dinner is served and the gift table grows heavy with celebratory offerings selected from a registry. As the husband and wife embark on The Rest of Their Lives, they feel confident, supported and loved.

Now… what if divorce looked more like marriage? Imagine, if you will….

Allan and Jamie have been married for nearly 15 years. They have twin teenage daughters, one hyper dog, two autonomous cats, six exotic fish and a bunch of other assets and debts that aren’t as much fun to itemize. After a decade of pretending to be a happy couple, they decide to stop pretending and separate.

As a team, they broke the news to their daughters, parents and best friends (on separate occasions). They assured their children that they were committed to being parents, regardless of how their living arrangements might change. Their parents were shocked, yet overwhelmingly supportive of what they knew was a difficult decision. Their friends remained supportive as well and offered to help in any way they could.

After that, Allan and Jamie scheduled an appointment with a therapist to assist with the emotional processing of what would take place. They met with a financial advisor to discuss the options of their investments. They talked to a real estate agent about their home and vacation property. They sat down together and looked at their bank account balances while considering new budgets. While the details came together, they held regular family meetings in which updates were shared and feelings were expressed. Knowing the needs and fears of their children, they spent some time with a mediator to construct a schedule illustrating how Allan and Jamie would share their parenting time for the first year. The mediator also helped them have a more productive conversation around some hot-button issues they’d been frustrated with. Throughout the discovery process, Allan and Jamie remained in control and on the same team.

When they’d painted a clear-enough picture how to proceed, they put their plans into action and filed the appropriate legal documents. They commemorated the occasion with a small ceremony during which they exchanged vows of respectful release to each other, as well as vows of unwavering support to their daughters. After the ceremony, family and friends gathered for a party to celebrate this new chapter for the family. Gifts included a vacuum cleaner for Jamie and a coffee maker for Allan. Games and dancing continued into the night.

As the family members stepped forward into The Rest of Their Lives, they felt confident, supported and loved.

Parental Alienation… an Interview With Dr. Jennifer J. Harman

Jennifer J. Harman, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Colorado State University. I discovered Dr.  Harman when I watched her TEDx Talk about Parental Alienation. While watching, I was intrigued because, unlike many professionals, Dr. Harman didn’t focus solely on the diagnosis of parents and children. She talked broadly about the societal stereotypes and how our attitudes about mothers and fathers allow alienation to take hold. I was fascinated and wanted to know more.

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of interviewing Dr. Harman. She told me that Parental Alienation isn’t just a Family Issue, it’s a Gender Equality issue. We also talked about her research, her book and what all of this might mean for the future. You can take a look at our discussion here:

I’m so appreciative of the work Dr. Harman is doing. I love the idea of broadening the conversation to a point where it’s no longer so accusatory and personal. For those of us who stand around and point fingers at families affected by alienation, perhaps it’s time we realize we have 3 fingers pointing back at us. Maybe a mirror is the greatest tool for turning this trend around.

P.S. Parental Alienation Awareness Day is April 25. Please share Dr. Harman’s research as part of the conversation.

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