If you feel like you’re completely stuck in life right now with nowhere to go, realize you are lying to yourself. You have imprisoned yourself in your own mind by telling self-defeating stories — stories about what your life should be like, what should or should not have happened, and so on and so forth. By doing this you’ve created a tiny space in your mind and you’ve begun to believe you are actually living in it.
But you are NOT. You are alive in a vast world with infinite destinations. Take a moment to remind yourself of this. Go outside. Look at the sky and the clouds. THIS is the space in which you really live. Breathe it in. Then look at your current situation again.
When someone younger than me (or someone who simply has far less life experience) asks me about how to overcome the pain and frustration associated with life’s unexpected setbacks, this is how I explain it to them (Please note that I’m not suggesting YOU are younger than me or have less life experience. This is just an example.):
Look at the circles above. The black circles represent our relative life experiences. Mine is larger because I am older than you and have experienced more in my lifetime. The smaller red circles represent a negative event that has taken place in our lives. Assume we both experienced the same exact event, whatever the nature. Notice that the negative event circles are the same size for each of us; but also notice what percentage of the area they occupy in each of the black circles. Your negative event seems much larger to you because it is a greater percentage of your total life experiences. I am not diminishing the importance of this event; I simply have a different perspective on it.
What you need to understand is that an overwhelmingly painful and frustrating event in your life right now will one day be part of your much larger past (and pool of experience) and not nearly as significant as it seems in this moment.
Hopefully knowing this changes your perspective and gives you a good reason to NOT give up. And truthfully, this is just one small example of how you can shift your thinking and renew your sense of hope. The bottom line is that you can make many small, internal adjustments starting today that will help you feel better, think more clearly, and grow beyond life’s painful setbacks when they happen.
I had a miscarriage in between my two girls. I went in for an
ultrasound at around seven weeks, and there was no heartbeat. My period is so
irregular that I had to wait two additional weeks to confirm that the pregnancy
was not progressing properly. My obstetrician couldn’t definitively date the
pregnancy because he couldn’t definitively date the ovulation, so I trudged to
multiple radiologists for multiple disappointing ultrasounds over 14 days.
I expected to feel sad during this painful two-week wait, and
after — and I absolutely did. A guttural sadness that would take months to
What I didn’t anticipate was that I would feel a lot of other
things, and that the emotional ground would continue to shift under my feet. I
felt relief when I was able to take a new job right around when I would have
been due to give birth; I knew I wouldn’t have been able to take it had I
carried that pregnancy to term. Then I felt guilty about feeling relieved. I
felt anger — spiky and random, popping up unexpectedly and without apparent
trigger. And most appalling to me was the envy I felt toward women who were
pregnant, successfully. An acquaintance of mine was due around when I would
have been, and I could not stand to be around her during her pregnancy. When
she tried to make plans, I made excuses.
a myriad of responses to loss, said Julia Bueno, a psychotherapist and the
author of “The Brink of Being: Talking About Miscarriage.” “There may
well not be any grief,” Bueno said, and the grief some women feel is
“exquisitely nuanced, powerful and profound.” If the miscarriage is in the
first trimester, it may also be hidden, Bueno said, because you don’t always
look pregnant to the outside world, and it’s not customary to reveal a
pregnancy until you’re past 12 weeks.
of pregnant women may also feel a range of emotions. As technology allows us to
know we’re pregnant just after a missed period, it allows partners to become
bonded to babies far earlier than they might have been in previous generations.
There’s a case study in Bueno’s book about a woman who miscarried twice, whose
husband was grieving deeply. “He bought the pregnancy test. He saw that test
emerge — he was drawn into it,” Bueno said. He was already forging a
relationship with the baby that he had to mourn, too.
five years after my loss, I don’t think about the miscarriage much anymore. I
was lucky to have a second child, which is what I desperately wanted, and that
helped me. But lots of families still feel complicated grief even after having
additional children. Bueno lost twin girls, Florence and Matilda, at 22 weeks,
and she had three miscarriages as well. She went on to have two boys, and for
her, “the nourishment and joy runs alongside the grief.” Bueno told me about an
oral history she had read from a woman with nine children. That woman had a
miscarriage, too, and though she was in her 80s at the time of the oral
history, she still felt the loss acutely despite her sizable brood.
you know someone who has experienced a loss, Bueno said, “err on the side of
compassionate curiosity.” This could mean saying you’re sorry for a loss, and
then asking something open-ended, like, “Tell me what it meant to you,” as it
allows for the many kinds of emotion someone might feel. Be prepared for any
response — a woman may not want to talk about it at all, or she may want to
talk about the gory viscera. I recall making extremely dark jokes about what
came out of me in the aftermath. Those physical side effects, “that stuff needs
to be talked about,” Bueno said. Otherwise we run the risk of women feeling
“icky and shameful and abnormal” about what they’ve experienced.
need to make cultural space for every single kind of reaction to loss — there
will always be a gamut of responses. And sharing these stories is a good place
As the traditional concept
of family continues to evolve, single gay men having children through surrogacy
are beginning to emerge.
Julius Ybañez Towers was taking a walk around the Harlem Meer in Central Park with his twin 10-month-old sons and two dogs. A woman stopped to compliment him for giving his wife a break.
“There’s no wife,” he told the woman. “I’m a single gay dad from surrogacy.” He smiled at the confused look on her face.
Mr. Towers, 40, is still rare, but he is part of a growing movement. Surrogacy agencies across the country report a surge of interest from single gay men in the last few years.
Shelly Marsh, a spokeswoman for Men Having Babies, a nonprofit that helps gay men navigate the surrogacy process, said that the increase in interest from single men is part of a broader surge in gay families.
“Our volume has increased substantially over the last few years,” Ms. Marsh said. “But more so, single men are learning that they do not need to wait to find someone to fulfill the dream of having a biological child.”
Most single gay men pursue what is known as gestational surrogacy: the surrogate is implanted with a fertilized embryo taken from a separate egg donor. The surrogate is not genetically related to the child. She also has no maternal rights, so intended parents are legally protected from her keeping the baby.
For that legal protection however, the birth must happen in a state where it’s legal to pay a surrogate and that recognizes the contract. New Jersey recently approved compensation for surrogates; Washington State’s announced it would do so in January. New York, along with Michigan and Louisiana, are the only states where it remains illegal to pay a woman to be a surrogate mother.
Where it is legal, the total cost of the procedure — from paying the agencies, the donor, the doctors, the surrogate and the birth — can be anywhere from $80,000 to $200,000. None of this is covered by insurance.
But for Mr. Towers, having biological children was a long-held dream that he was willing to work toward.
He grew up in what he called a humble home in Palm Bay, Fla., where he said he was bullied at school. “Growing up gay in a homophobic town, and in tough financial times, it was hard to see how I’d have my own kids,” he said.
His parents strung together several low-wage jobs, and he’s the first in his family to earn a bachelor’s degree. He put himself through law school at University of Pennsylvania. He was a corporate attorney in Manhattan for 15 years and is now pursuing a master’s in public health at Columbia University.
Gradually, after the death of his mother, a failed relationship and two dog adoptions, he realized that he was ready to take on fatherhood, even by himself.
“I wanted to have children more than I wanted a partner,” Mr. Towers said. He viewed being single as a positive because he alone would control the decisions about surrogacy and parenting. Yet control was still an illusion.
Because it is illegal to pay a surrogate in New York, Mr. Towers’s quest to become a father began all the way across the country. Through an agency in Portland, Ore., Northwest Surrogacy Center, he found a woman there who was willing to carry a fertilized embryo. The embryo itself was made with the eggs of an anonymous donor from an agency based in California. These eggs (which, according to the agency, came from an astrophysicist) were fertilized at Oregon Reproductive Medicine, a clinic in Portland.
After a failed transfer of a single embryo, Mr. Towers and his surrogate decided to transfer two embryos in hopes that at least one would take. They knew it could mean twins.
“I realized I couldn’t control everything,” Towers said. “I left it to fate at that point.”
Nine months later, he traveled to Portland for the surrogate’s scheduled C-section and held his sons, Asher and Galen, for the first time. Asher had a short stay in the intensive care unit, so Mr. Towers stayed in Oregon for three more weeks, until the twins were ready for the long flight home to New York.
As unpredictable as the medical prospect of surrogacy may be, some gay men prefer that to the possibility of facing discrimination in adoption.
Dennis Williams had his son, Elan, via surrogacy four years ago. Mr. Williams, who is 46 and black, said he chose surrogacy because the prospect of persuading a woman to allow him to adopt was daunting. “As a single, gay black man,” he said, “I figured I’d be at the bottom of the list for most women.”
Mr. Williams and his former partner had a failed egg donation from a woman they met through a friend. After he and his partner broke up, Mr. Williams still wanted to be a father. The donor, a black lesbian who didn’t plan on having children, agreed to try again for Mr. Williams.
Once he became a father, Mr. Williams said, he felt as if he finally fit in with his big family in Kansas, where he grew up. “I was no longer an anomaly to them,” he said. “Once I had a son, it drew me closer to the tribe.”
For Mr. Towers, the race of his twin sons was more difficult to control. Both his parents are mixed race: his mother half-Filipina, and his father part Native American. He hoped to find a multiracial egg donor, but most of the donors, he found, were white.
“Some accused me of whitewashing my kids’ skin,” Mr. Towers said. “In the end, I don’t care about skin color. I’ll just have to work harder to make them understand their multiracial roots.”
One son, Asher, has the blond hair and blue eyes of the donor, while the other, Galen, has the dark brown hair and complexion of his father.
During the surrogate’s pregnancy, Mr. Towers enrolled in a twins class, did a daddy boot camp and took a baby-dog home-integration class. Even though he has a nanny seven days a week, he is on his own nights and mornings. Like any new parent of twins, he’s overwhelmed at times.
“I don’t like the feeling that I can’t do it all on my own, but sometimes I need help, even with a nanny,” he said. “Because I signed up to be a single father of twins, some people tell me I can’t complain. It contributes to the feeling I’m alone in the wilderness.”
The little moments keep him going.
After the walk around the Harlem Meer, Mr. Towers, with the help of the nanny, returned home and put the boys in their cribs.
He leaned in to kiss each of his sons on the forehead. “Daddy loves you,” he whispered.
As the boys drifted to sleep, he exhaled and stood watching them. He mentioned that he just renewed another year of storage for his remaining frozen embryos. Through a genetic screening test, he knows one embryo is female.
“Who knows?” he said. “One day, when the boys are out of diapers, maybe I’ll have a little girl.”
4 STEPS TO OVERCOME GRIDLOCK THAT HARMS RELATIONSHIPS
All couples are bound to have arguments. When they struggle to manage these ongoing disagreements with constructive conflict conversations, the result is what Dr. John Gottman calls “gridlock.”
Gridlock is like a Chinese Finger Trap. Each partner pulls for his or her position, making compromise impossible.
My Dreams Are Becoming My Worst Nightmare
Our dreams are full of aspirations and wishes that are core to our identity and give our life purpose and meaning. Gridlock is a sign that each partner has dreams that the other hasn’t accepted, doesn’t respect, or isn’t aware of.
Some dreams are practical, like obtaining a certain amount of savings, while others are profound, like owning a beach house in Hawaii. The profound dreams often remain hidden beneath the practical ones.
For example, Kurt wants to make a seven-figure income, but why is that so important to him? Underneath his dream is a deep need for financial security.
When couples are in gridlock, it is only by uncovering the hidden dreams and symbolic meanings that they can get out of the Chinese Finger Trap.
The way out is to first identify the dream within conflict. When partners are gridlocked, they see each other as the source of difficulty. They tend to ignore their part in creating the conflict because it’s hidden from view.
If you find yourself saying, “the only problem is his lack of intelligence,” that’s probably not the whole story.
Uncovering a hidden dream is a challenge and it won’t emerge until you feel the relationship is a safe place to talk about it. If you don’t feel comfortable enough to open up, focus on the first three principles in The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.
My Dreams Are Silly
Personal dreams often go unmentioned because people worry they will burden their partner or negatively impact the relationship. It’s common for partners not to feel entitled to their dreams, but when you bury a dream, it can lead to resentment and ultimately gridlock.
When you share your dreams with your partner, you give your marriage the opportunity to have a profound purpose and sense of shared meaning. As Dr. Gottman explains in The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, “couples who are demanding of their marriage are more likely to have deeply satisfying unions than those who lower their expectations.”
4 Steps to Overcome Gridlock
When you begin to uncover the dreams beneath your gridlock, the problems in your marriage will not immediately go away. It may actually seem to worsen rather than improve. Be patient. The very nature of gridlock is that dreams are in opposition.
Step 1: Explore Each Other’s Dreams
Pick an issue that you both feel causes gridlock in your marriage. Take time to reflect on the hidden dreams that may underlie your position. Talk about it with your partner by using Dr. Gottman’s Conflict Blueprint for a truly effective conflict conversation. Focus on understanding your partner’s position.
What not to say: Kris: I’ve always dreamed of buying a beach house in Hawaii. Kurt: First of all, we can’t afford something like that. I can’t think of anything more stressful than trying to upkeep a property in the middle of the ocean. Think of all the wear and tear we will need to replace. Kris: Forget it…
What to say instead: Kris: I’ve always dreamed of buying a beach house in Hawaii. Kurt: Tell me more about what it means to own a beach house in Hawaii. What would it do for you? Kris: It would be heaven on earth. My family and I used to go every year and my parents always said they wanted to buy a beach house. I’d feel such a sense of accomplishment and we’d be able to invite my parents over! They’d be so proud.
Acknowledging and respecting each other’s deepest most personal hopes and dreams is key to saving and enriching your marriage.
Step 2: Soothe Yourself and Each Other Discussing deeply held dreams that are in opposition can be stressful. Pay attention to your stress levels. If flooding occurs, stop the conversation, take a break, and use repairs.
Step 3: Reach a Temporary Compromise Now it’s time to make peace with this issue (for now) by accepting your differences and establishing some kind of initial compromise. Understand that this problem may never go away. The goal is to remove the hurt so the problem stops being a source of pain. To do this, refer to the Conflict Blueprint to separate the issue into two categories:
Non-negotiable areas: Aspects of the issue that you are unwilling to give up on because it will violate your basic needs or core values. Try to make this section as small as possible.
Areas of flexibility: Parts of the issue where you can be flexible. Try to make this section as large as possible.
Share your list with your partner and work together to come up with a temporary compromise. This compromise should last about three months. Afterwards, you can review where both of you stand. Don’t expect to solve the problem yet. Your goal here is only to live with it more peacefully. After all, 69% of all problems in a relationship are unsolvable.
Here’s what Kris and Kurt did:
They defined minimal core areas they are unwilling to change. Kris says she must have a house in Hawaii. Kurt says he must save $40,000 in order to feel financially secure.
They defined areas of flexibility. Kris says she can settle for a condo, rather than a beachfront house. Even though she wants to buy now, she is willing to wait 3 years as long as they can work together to make it happen. Kurt says he can be flexible about how quickly they save, as long as he knows both of them are working towards this goal. They decide that 5% of their income goes into this savings account.
They found a temporary compromise that honors both of their needs. They will buy a condo, but not for another three years. Meanwhile, they will devote half of their savings to a down payment and half into a mutual fund. In three months, they will review this plan and decide if it’s working or not.
Both Kris and Kurt realize that the underlying perpetual problem will never go away. Kris will always be the visionary, imagining a life on a beach, and Kurt is going to worry about their financial security. By learning to work with each other, both partners are able to cope with their differences, avoid gridlock, and work support each other in achieving their dreams.
Step 4: Give Thanks Overcoming financial gridlock requires more than just one discussion about the issues that have deeply troubled your marriage. The goal with this step is to cultivate a culture of appreciation in which you express your gratitude for all you have. This will feel difficult after talking about such an emotionally charged issue, but that’s all the more reason to make effort to end the conflict conversation on a positive note.
The best way to cope with financial gridlock is to avoid it in the first place. Don’t wait until resentment has set in to ask your partner about their dreams – Dr. Gottman suggests becoming a “dream detective.”
Do your children feel led or pushed? Or asked another way, are you as a
parent dominated by love or frustration? The two questions are inexorably tied
together. Leading is born out of love and pushing is born out of frustration.
Too often as parents we tell our children that we demand obedience and speak
sharply because we love them and only want the best for them. Most likely our
children are not buying this explanation. It feels to them as if they are being
pushed into doing what mum and dad want.
In contrast, notice the sequence of thought and actions in Deuteronomy
6:5-7: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and
with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be
upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit
at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get
First, you are to love God with every fiber of your being, with all that
you have to offer as a human living and being sustained by the grace of God.
Second, the commands of God are to dominate your inner being because of
your profound love for God.
Third, these commands are to be deeply implanted into the lives of your
children during every event and opportunity that God brings to you each day.
So, you as a parent are to deeply love God with all that you are as a
person. This love is expressed by drinking deeply of his commands so that your
heart is permeated with them. Then, this love for God and his commands is to
overflow from your heart into the everyday situations of life that you and your
It is this combination of loving God and living out His commands that
will allow you to impress the love you have for God into the lives of your
children. In this sense no pushing is required. This is what it means to lead.
Even as you embrace this deep love for God that Deuteronomy requires you to
have, your children will be still the same sinful creatures that desperately
need the grace of God. The difference will be that you will not be pushing them
to grasp what remains elusive to you. Rather you will be leading them to the
same place that you long to go – to the cross.
1 SMALL DAILY RITUAL THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE (IN 1 MONTH OR LESS)
it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is
That’s the power of daily rituals.
Now, it’s time remind yourself about YOUR rituals—the little things you do
every single day.
Because these little things define you.
All the results in your life come from these little things.
Regardless of your unique life circumstances, or how you personally define
success, you don’t suddenly become successful. You become successful over time
based on your rituals.
Failure occurs in the same way. All your little daily failures (that you don’t
learn and grow from) come together and cause you to fail…
You keep failing to check the books.
You keep failing to make the calls.
You keep failing to listen to your customers.
You keep failing to do the little things that
need to be done…
one day you wake up and your business has failed. It was all the little things
you did or didn’t do on a daily basis—your rituals—not just one inexplicable,
Think about how this relates to your life.
Your life is your “business!”
And your rituals make or break you, gradually.
So, how have you been managing your rituals, and thus your life?
Are the little things you’re doing every day working for you or against you? If
you think the answer might be the latter, you will find incredible value in
this tiny daily ritual:
Wash your dishes.
Yes, I literally mean washing your dishes. It’s just one small step forward:
When you eat your oatmeal, wash your bowl and spoon. When you finish drinking
your morning coffee, rinse the coffee pot and your mug. Don’t leave any dirty
dishes in the sink or on the counter for later. Wash them immediately.
Form this tiny ritual one dish at a time, one day at a time. Once you do this
consistently for a couple weeks, you can start making sure the sink has been
wiped clean too. Then the counter. Then put your clothes where they belong when
you take them off. Then start doing a few sit-ups every morning. Eat a few
vegetables for dinner. And so forth.
Do one of these at a time, and you’ll start to build a healthy ritual of
practicing self-discipline, and finally know yourself to be capable of doing
the little things that must be done… and finishing what you start.
And as mentioned, Marc and I build more tiny, life-changing daily rituals
like this with our students. It’s an active practice of taking life day by day
and and focusing on the little things that make a lasting difference. Above
all, what you need to remember is that nothing will change in your life unless
you make rituals that reinforce what you hope to achieve. Believe me, over the
past decade Marc and I have successfully worked with hundreds of course
students and live event attendees from around the world who were struggling to
achieve things. So, this strategy is well-tested.
If you’re not willing to make it a daily ritual, you don’t really want to
change your life as much as you say you do—you don’t really want to achieve
that “important” life change or goal. You only like the idea of learning to be
fit/writing a book/building a business/selling your art/getting back to
happy/etc. You don’t actually want to do it, every day.
Victoria’s heart hurt. She’d just received
news, a few days before, that the marriage of her best friend, Callie, had
unexpectedly hit a breaking point. Although they were a part of her church
family, few people really knew what was going on.
When she walked in to teach her Sunday school
class, she could see the pain on the faces of Callie’s two youngest children.
She silently prayed, “Lord, what can I do?”
She stepped up and greeted the kids in a different way. She said, “I am sad
today. And it’s okay to be sad. Lots of times we put on a smile for everyone to
see on the outside, but inside we hurt. You wouldn’t know that I was sad today,
except that I told you.”
She then asked the children for a hug. “When our hearts hurt, we can share the love
that God puts in our hearts with one another, and it helps us feel better.
Would anyone want to give me a hug, today?” Immediately all of the children
lined up. As she hugged each child, some of them admitted to her that they
needed a hug too, including Callie’s children.
The atmosphere in the room changed. Her simple demonstration of honesty and
love had turned things around for her entire classroom. She encouraged her
children to ask for a hug from others if they felt they needed one during the
Today’s One Thing
Demonstrate God’s love to someone in a special
way today. If you’re not sure how, ask God to show you. There are times in our
lives where our authenticity can open the door for our friends or family to
share with us things they may be facing or even encourage them to know that no
one has a perfect life. We are all struggling together and can lean on one
another and God for help in our time of need!
DIVORCE PREVENTION: THE LIGHT SWITCH OF LOVE DILEMMA
is like a light switch.
When people fall in love, the light turns on. They typically
feel excited, captivated, and eager to get to know their partners. They see
each other in a positive light.
When couples divorce, the most common reason is that they “grew
apart.” Essentially, the light switched off at some point.
So what happened?
The way it plays out
reminds me of something from my childhood imagination.
As a child, I used to
hate when my parents turned off my bedroom light.
I would start seeing
Batman in my closet and fear that he was going to kidnap me.
When an earthquake would
happen while I was sleeping, my first thought was that the Joker (from Batman)
was under my bed trying to get me.
When the light switch was
off, I would imagine all the worst things happening.
This happens in
When the light is on,
couples will experience negative events in the relationship, yet still evaluate
the relationship as satisfying overall.
However, as negative
experiences accumulate (without repair and constructive changes), the light switch
reaches a tipping point.
It turns off.
All of a sudden we
evaluate our relationship as dissatisfying.
With the lights off, our
brains imagine the worst intentions of our partner.
Of the 19% of couples who
seek out help with their marital challenges, most start couples therapy with
the lights off, as evidenced by research revealing that couples wait six years
on average before seeking outside help.
As a result, they have to
accumulate a lot of positive experiences while having a dissatisfying view of
their relationship just to turn the light switch on. That’s hard.
It’s like my dad telling
me Batman isn’t in my bedroom closet, but my imagination saying he is. I want
to trust my dad, but my brain is screaming “See! See! There’s Batman.”
Research confirms this.
When we have a negative perspective of our partner, we even misinterpret the
neutral and positive actions of our partner as negative.
The divorce rate for
first marriages in the U.S. is around 45% and the divorce rate for subsequent
marriages is even higher. Despite
these high numbers, only a third of couples who divorce work with a counselor,
coach, or therapist before signing the papers.
What this illuminates is
that there are opportunities to repair and strengthen a relationship before the
light switches off.
Like most things in life,
prevention is often the best intervention.
Catch the accumulating problems early and turn the issues into
material to construct a stronger and more secure relationship.
Proactively strengthen both a couple’s friendship and their
emotional and sexual intimacy while exploring ways to create a meaningful bond.
Let’s keep the lights on,
P.S. Prevention options
are listed below.
P.S.S. While this article
is pro-relationship, it is not my position to decide whether you should stay or
leave a relationship. After all, it is your love life. Clients who have worked
with me know that I am not pro-relationship or pro-separation. My goal is to
help the couple clean things up so they can decide for themselves from a mature
place. I would also say that I have recommended people leave abusive, or
unhealthy relationships in which partners do not want to become
Take an Annual Couple
Checkup: Research from Clark University in Oregon indicates that having
an annual marriage checkup can positively decrease the chances of a
relationship getting worse and help strengthen a relationship overtime. All of
us do health checkups, shouldn’t we do the same for our marriage? If you’re in
Oregon, you can check it out here. You can also take the Couples Checkup by
Prepare-Enrich here (they also send you a variety of discussion
questions to support you in making changes). Another checkup option is RELATE.
Support: If you are on the brink of divorce, I might recommend starting
with Discernment Counseling before starting therapy. Furthermore, therapy and
coaching offer a variety of ways to receive one-on-one support. Depending on
your needs, you can do marathon therapy, weekly sessions, or virtual sessions via
video chat. I’d recommend working with someone who has professional training in
couples therapy. Here are some places you can search for a therapist near
you: Gottman Therapist, Emotionally Focused Couples Therapist, PACT Therapist, AASECT (for support with sex and intimacy challenges)
and Imago Therapist.
Gottman, J. M., Silver,
N., & Berkrot, P. (2012). What makes love last?: how to build trust
and avoid betrayal. Old Saybrook, CT: Tantor Media.
C., Stanely, S., Glenn, N., Amato, P., Nock, S., Markman, H., & Dion, M.
(2002). Marriage in Oklahoma: 2001 baseline statewide survey on marriage and
divorce (SO2096 OKDHS). Oklahoma City, OK: Oklahoma Department of Human
Gottman, J. M. (1994).
What predicts divorce? The relationship between marital processes and marital
outcomes. Hillsdale, NK: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
Robinson, E. A., &
Price, M. G. (1980). Pleasurable behavior in marital interaction: An
observational study. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology ,
48(1), 117-118 DOI: 10.1037/0022-006X.48.1.117
C., Stanely, S., Glenn, N., Amato, P., Nock, S., Markman, H., & Dion, M.
(2002). Marriage in Oklahoma: 2001 baseline statewide survey on marriage and
divorce (SO2096 OKDHS). Oklahoma City, OK: Oklahoma Department of Human
There are three main paths to adopting. The route you
choose will be based on personal, legal and financial factors.
are two main ways to adopt a newborn within the United
States: through an agency or a private attorney. The latter
is referred to as an “independent” or “private” adoption.
adoption is becoming less common and more difficult, but an accredited adoption
agency or professional can help you navigate the process.
through foster care is essentially free and comes with support — but
make sure you have the capacity to help a foster child succeed.
you are exploring the possibility of adopting a child with a different
background from your own, educate yourself on the nuances involved in forming a
transracial or transcultural family.
adoptive parents must complete a “home study,” the process that will clear
your way to being able to legally adopt.
adoptions today have some degree of contact between birth and adoptive
families. Just how “open” your arrangement is will be determined via a
can cost as much as $50,000 — but resources exist to help offset some
The process of adopting can be a long,
complicated and emotional ride, with far more legal and
financial roadblocks than many people assume. But, as
most adoptive parents will tell you, it’s also a deeply fulfilling
are three main paths to adopting in the United States: through the foster
care system, with the help of a local adoption
agency or private attorney, and internationally. The route you
choose will ultimately be based on a number of personal, legal and financial
your reasons for adopting — and accept your limits.
Before embarking on an adoption process, you should be clear
about your motivations for doing so. “This is a lifelong decision you’re
making,” said Rita Soronen, president and C.E.O. of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, so it’s
important to be honest about any specific needs
you may have. Any limit you identify should not be
construed as a “failure,” Soronen clarified. “It’s an honest
personal assessment.” Below are some of the more common questions adoption
experts suggest you explore to help identify whether and which
kind of adoption is right for you:
Is it important to you to
parent a newborn, or are you open to adopting an older child? How
about a sibling group?
Would your home be an appropriate
fit for a child with special needs? Or an infant who was exposed
prenatally to drugs and alcohol?
If you are matched with a child
of another race or background, are you prepared to educate yourself
on the nuances of forming an interracial or intercultural family?
How much contact are you
comfortable having between you and your adopted child, and his
or her birth family?
Foster-adopt: According to the United
States Children’s Bureau, there are over 440,000 children in the
foster care system, over a quarter of who have been legally “freed” for
adoption. This makes foster care “a very real option” for prospective adoptive
parents, said Laurie Goldheim, Adoption Director for the Academy of Adoption
and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (A.A.A.A.). While children who have not
been legally “freed” may eventually become eligible for adoption, Goldheim
stresses that the government’s primary goal in these instances is to reunite
the children with their biological families.
children are in foster care for a reason,” said Soronen of the Dave Thomas
Foundation. Most are school-aged children over the age of 8 who have suffered
some form of trauma or neglect. The Child Welfare Information Gateway has
some resources to help prepare foster-adopt parents for the realities of
parenting a child who has experienced grief.
the best training you’ll receive, according to Soronen, comes once you’ve begun
the certification process. “Every parent is required to complete a home study
and 20 to 30 hours of training,” she said. “It’s time-consuming, but very
educational.” Soronen says this process can also serves as a “reality check”
for parents, meaning you’ll have “plenty of opportunities to decide whether
foster-adopt is right for you.” As a first step, she recommends simply making a
call to a certified foster care agency to begin the
Domestic infant adoption: If you hope to
parent a newborn, there are two main paths to doing so: through an adoption
agency or a private adoption lawyer—the latter is often referred to as an
“independent” or “private” adoption. “Which you choose will really just depend
on how involved you want to be in the process,” said Deborah E. Guston, former
Director of the A.A.A.A. An adoption agency, she explained, typically manages
all aspects of the adoption process for you, from start to finish.
you adopt independently, you will be responsible for aspects an agency would
normally handle, like finding a prospective birth parent through advertising,
and hiring an agency to conduct your home study. “Independent adoptions are
usually good for people who want to be deeply involved in the process,” Guston
said. “Those who don’t mind ceding control may prefer the comfort of an
agency.” Independent adoption isn’t legal in all states, and even where
available, restrictions often apply. Consult an experienced adoption lawyer for
help navigating the laws in your state.
International adoption: Adopting abroad has been
steadily declining in recent years, thanks to the closure of several countries’
international adoption programs. Still, thousands of parents successfully adopt children from
abroad each year. The process for doing so can vary considerably by country. “Some
restrict who can adopt based on marital status, sexual orientation, or age,”
said Goldheim of the A.A.A.A. “Even your body mass index can play a role.” You
can visit the U.S. Department of State’s page on intercountry adoption to
familiarize yourself with individual countries’ adoption laws — be sure to keep
checking back since laws can change rapidly. An accredited provider will
be necessary to guide you through the process.
your adoption professionals carefully.
Finding an adoption agency or lawyer can be
a daunting prospect. As a first step, Becky Fawcett of HelpUsAdopt.org suggests tapping your own
network. “Just start talking about it with people you trust,” said Fawcett.
“Sometimes you’ll be surprised by who has a good recommendation — you never
know who may have been touched by adoption in some way.”
The relationship that exists between
prospective adoptive parents and their professionals is an “intimate” one, says
Guston of the A.A.A.A. “So it really is important to not make your decision
lightly — call several agencies and lawyers and ask lots of questions.”
for the home study.
No matter which adoption path you choose,
you will be required to complete a home study, the process that clears the way
for you to legally adopt. “A good home study will have two parts: evaluation
and education,” said Dawn Davenport, Executive Director of the non-profit
group, Creating a Family. “Your case worker should be assessing your fitness to
serve as an adoptive parent, as well as educating you and providing you with
Though it varies by state and by agency,
home studies generally take anywhere from three to six months to complete and
include: several visits to your home by a case worker, health exams, proof of
income and health coverage, a criminal background check, and the names of
several people close to you who can serve as references. For more detailed
information on what to expect from and how to prepare for the home study
process, explore resources made available by the Child Welfare Information Gateway and Creating a Family.
how “open” you want your adoption to be.
There is a clear trend in the United States
towards maintaining some degree of contact between birth and adoptive families,
thanks in part to ongoing research that has found benefits
for all involved. Just how “open” your arrangement is will be the result of a
negotiated process between you and your child’s birth family. “It can range
anywhere from letters being exchanged once a year on the child’s birthday, to
frequent in person visits,” said Davenport of Creating a Family.
Even in the case of a “closed” adoption,
Davenport notes that children will still be able to access some identifying
information about their birth parents when they turn 18. The popularity of
commercially available DNA testing services, like Ancestry.com and 23andMe, has
also made the process of finding birth relatives so easy that the notion of an
entirely “closed adoption” is now all but obsolete. Creating a Family dedicates several resources on its website to open
adoption as does the Child Welfare Information Gateway.
Adopting through foster care is essentially
free and often comes with subsidies. But the costs associated with other paths
can be considerable. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, an agency
adoption generally ranges from $20,000 to $45,000, an independent adoption from
$15,000 to $40,000, and an international adoption from $20,000 to
note for single, unmarried, and LGBTQ prospective adoptive parents.
states have enacted bills that allow state welfare agencies to legally
discriminate against people on the basis of religion: this has complicated the
efforts of some prospective adoptive parents who identify as LGBTQ, are single,
or are part of an unmarried couple. If adopting through an agency, choose one
listed on the Human Rights Campaign’s All
Children – All Families database of
agencies committed to nondiscriminatory policies. The LGBT
Bar Association’s Family Law Institute also
maintains a directory of lawyers committed to diversity.
IF YOU STOPPED BELIEVING IN LOVE, READ THIS ESSAY NOW
Have you endured a lot of heartbreak, and now you’ve
stopped believing in love? I’m here to give you the courage and insights you
need to trust love one more time. Read on…
always fascinating to me the responses I receive when I tell women that if they
want to break their Prince Harming patterns, then they
must stop overly prioritizing finding a man who is sexy and successful.
They must ALSO prioritize finding a man who:
revels in open, honest communication
displays 20/20 listening skills
shows a Gumby-like flexibility for compromise
women wind up laughing heartily at my description of this evolved kind of man.
insist this type of man does not exist!
“You’re a female chauvinist!”I’ve called these women.
further explain to these women how prejudiced they are being – because they
cannot believe it’s possible for men to be emotionally evolved.
wonder these women have stopped believing in love!
they believe in love – when they have stopped believing there are men out there
who are capable of communicating honestly and deeply from their hearts?
“You’re basically saying that all men areemotional bimbos,” I tell these women.
the combo of the words “female chauvinist” and “emotional
bimbo” shock these women into a fuller awareness of how
gender-prejudiced they’re being.
these women that they must stop being “negative evidence collectors,” seeking
proof that all men are “emotional bimbos.”
warn these women about how they can accidentally encourage a self-fulfilling
prophecy of bad behavior from their man – if they treat a good man
to their bad attitude toward him.
instruct these women to become “positive evidence collectors.”
assignment: They must mindfully start to look for proof of the plentiful,
wonderful Prince Charming–esque guys who are out there.
These good men could be married to or dating their lucky girlfriends.
Or they could be written up in the news.
Maybe they are working alongside them at their offices.
Plus they could even be in the very bed with them – right beside them!
women against using the words “always” and “never” –
in either reference to their love life or men as a category.
“I will never find a man who values growing.”
“I always meet guys who cheat.”
time you create a sentence with an “always” and/or “never”you set
yourself up with a limiting belief that can create a self-fulfilling prophecy
of doom and gloom.
when you use “always” and/or “never” in
a sentence, you put yourself in a hopeless, depressed frame of mind.
I’m with someone who says they’re depressed, I assign them to jackhammer-drill
down to find and dump their pesky “always” and/or “never.”
one of these two words is at the root of their depression – draining them of
faith and vitality.
The words “Always” and “Never” are liars.
whisper mean beliefs into your subconscious and conscious mind, about how you
will forever be unable to change your situation.
call these beliefs “permanent” and “pervasive.”
are wildly dangerous to your spirit and your potential for a happily ever after
The truth is:
very rare that there’s a “never” or an “always” in someone’s life.
Have you stopped believing in love?
If so, try to locate your “always” and “never” limiting beliefs.
Try to understand the root of these beliefs. Do they come from your childhood and/or a series of bad experiences?
Next, be willing to unblock these limiting beliefs. Be open to the possibility that you can find a good partner – someone who truly has lots of emotionally evolved qualities!
This brings us to lawyer time. Pretend you’re a lawyer! Find proof that your “always” and “never” are liars!
Finally – get yourself to fully accept that good partners are very much walking around on this planet! Once you believe in the existence of these good quality people – you will be more likely to find them!!
It’s amazing how powerful changing your belief system can be. When you
change the way you look at men and love, you wind up changing what you notice