Posts Tagged Couples

Challenges of Co-Parenting


Challenges of Co-ParentingDivorce frequently brings the challenge of how best to raise the kids. In today’s environment, it is common for both ex-spouses to share legal and physical custody of children after divorcing.

However, few studies have looked at the process of co-parenting, so little is known about how divorced parents negotiate the co-parenting process. A new study identifies factors that influence the success of co-parenting.

Researchers from Kansas State University discovered that the type of relationship a woman has with her ex-partner is a factor in how the couple shares custody of children.

Investigators followed divorced or separated mothers who were sharing physical custody of their children with their former partners.

Mindy Markham, Ph.D., an assistant professor of family studies and human services divided the study group into three patterns of co-parenting — continuously contentious, always amicable and bad to better.

Markham also looked at additional negative and positive factors that influenced the mothers’ co-parenting relationships.

The study included 20 predominately white, well-educated women between the ages of 26 to 49 who were divorced or separated from the father of their children.

The mothers, from two Midwestern states, shared with their former partners legal and physical custody of the children, who ranged in age from 21 months to 12 years.

At the time of the study, the couples had been separated or divorced from six months to 12 years.

“The findings of this study suggest that shared physical custody relationships are dynamic and can vary greatly,” Markham said.

In current study, nine mothers (45 percent) had continuously contentious co-parenting relationships with their ex-partners from the time of separation to the present.

This stressful negative relationship fueled the mother’s perception of her ex’s parenting abilities; financial concerns, including the ex not having a job or not paying child support; control or abuse by the ex-partner; and the inability of the ex to separate marital — or personal — issues from the co-parenting relationship.

“All mothers in this type of co-parenting relationship reported differences in parenting styles and were concerned with how the ex was raising the children,” Markham said.

“Parenting practices that concerned the mothers varied greatly and included putting children in harmful situations, not bathing the children, not disciplining them and having no rules or routines.

“It was especially difficult for these mothers to share custody with ex-partners who were uninvolved during the marriage. They didn’t believe their exes were responsible parents.”

Markham said eight of the women in the continuously contentious relationships didn’t want to share custody of the children with their ex-partner, but most were told by lawyers or the court that they would have to do so.

Twenty percent of mothers reported an amicable co-parenting relationship — where they reported always getting along with their ex-partners from separation to the present.

In this form of relationship the mothers believed their ex-partners were responsible parents, money wasn’t a source of conflict and the mothers chose to share physical custody.

Seven of the mothers in the study (35 percent) had bad-to-better co-parenting relationships, where co-parenting was contentious at the time of separation, but greatly improved over time.

At the time of the study, these women’s relationships were similar to those of women with always amicable relationships. These mothers wanted to share physical custody, thought the father was a responsible parent and most said money was not a source of conflict.

Significantly, all mothers in bad-to-better relationships said they were unable to co-parent amicably with their ex-partner in the beginning because personal issues were not kept separate from parenting responsibility.

“Although ex-partners with bad-to-better relationships originally allowed their feelings about one another to negatively affect their co-parenting, at some point they realized this was not beneficial and made a conscious effort to change the relationship for the sake of their children,” Markham said.

Being able to communicate with the ex-partner is a major factor during co-parenting. In the always amicable and bad-to-better relationships, mothers were able to communicate well with ex-partners.

The ability to communicate with the ex-partner made discussing differences in parenting styles easier, reported this group of women.

However, for women in continuously contentious relationships, lack of communication was a big issue, Markham said.

These mothers limited direct in-person or phone communication with their ex, preferring alternative methods like texting or email. They also avoided seeing their ex in person when it came time to exchange children by having them picked up at day care or school.

Markham said she was surprised by the level of animosity that accompanies shared custody, at least from some mothers’ perceptions.

“Nearly half of the mothers in this study continue to have conflicted relationships with their ex-partners, and conversations with these women negate the notion that shared physical custody ensures cooperative, less conflicted relationships,” she said.

“This study can be important for helping professionals recognize that shared physical custody is not a panacea for postdivorce problems — and that in some cases it exacerbates them.”

Source: Kansas State University

Parents arguing while child covrs his ears photo by shutterstock.

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Honesty, Not Forgiveness, May Be Best for Couples


Honesty, Not Forgiveness, May Be Best for CouplesEmerging research suggests a marriage in which partners follow the time-honored tradition of forgive and forget can lead to problems.

The finding opposes the strategy of positive psychology — an approach that offered the promise that with forgiveness, optimism, kindness, and positive thinking, people can turn around their relationships even after a serious transgression.

In the new study, investigators discovered that expressing anger might be necessary to resolve a relationship problem — with the short-term discomfort of an angry but honest conversation benefiting the health of the relationship in the long-term.

Experts say the study is part of a larger effort to better understand the contexts in which some relationships succeed and others fail, and also to understand how close relationships affect our health.

James McNulty, Ph.D., of Florida State University initiated the study when he took a closer look at positive psychology and well-being.

“I continued to find evidence that thoughts and behaviors presumed to be associated with better well-being lead to worse well-being among some people — usually the people who need the most help achieving well-being,” McNulty said.

These findings lead McNulty to examine the potential costs of positive psychology. In a set of recent studies, he found that forgiveness in marriage can have some unintended negative effects.

“We all experience a time in a relationship in which a partner transgresses against us in some way. For example, a partner may be financially irresponsible, unfaithful, or unsupportive,” he said.

“When these events occur, we must decide whether we should be angry and hold onto that anger, or forgive.”

His research shows that a variety of factors can complicate the effectiveness of forgiveness, including a partner’s level of agreeableness and the severity and frequency of the transgression.

“Believing a partner is forgiving leads agreeable people to be less likely to offend that partner and disagreeable people to be more likely to offend that partner,” he said.

Moreover, McNulty believes anger can serve an important role in signaling to a transgressing partner that the offensive behavior is not acceptable.

“If the partner can do something to resolve a problem that is likely to otherwise continue and negatively affect the relationship, people may experience long-term benefits by temporarily withholding forgiveness and expressing anger.”

“This work suggests people need to be flexible in how they address the problems that will inevitably arise over the course of their relationships,” McNulty says.

“There is no ‘magic bullet,’ no single way to think or behave in a relationship. The consequences of each decision we make in our relationships depends on the circumstances that surround that decision.”

Source: Society for Personality and Social Psychology

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Husband is Driving Me Crazy


Everytime time i talk to my husband i get mad or aggravated with him. We have been togther a total of 4 years almost 5. i had to deal with him emotional cheating on me which i am not really over with cause the lack of trust. He would go on all types of websites and chats to find women talk to time while i was alseep, at work or anytime i was away he keeps on doing it even when i was giving birth to our second child. I ask him to stop and tell him it hurts me and even got to a point of me crying.

So now im trying to make it work with him cause he claim he stop. when i talk to him i feel like he talks to me with disrecpect. For examples l say i am going to talk a shower and he says good for you or i say your starting to make me upset and he says i am not your making your self upset . I always seem to get sacrastic or smart comments. I am a very strong woman and i always say what i have to but it like i am talking to a kid. I thought it could be a age difference cause im 23 and he is 31. I think he thinks i am young and dumb but i am far far from that. What should i do? I am at a lost.

A: I am very glad you wrote. Your marriage doesn’t have the foundation of trust and respect it needs. You may be strong, but with two children at only 23, you haven’t had the time to develop yourself or your marriage. You two don’t seem to know how to talk to each other or support each other. My guess is that you’re both stressed out.

I strongly suggest that you get some couples counseling. If you and your husband could solve these problems on your own, you would have done so already. Neither one of you is getting what you need in a marriage. Your children need parents who are more respectful and loving with each other.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Is Boyfriend Stringing Me Along?


Okay, so I’ve been talking to this boy for about 2 months now and as far as I was concerned everything was perfect. He’s totally successful, smart, funny, and everything I’m attracted to in a guy. Not to mention, the attraction is completely equal on both our parts. We’ve texted every day since we met, and even though we live 45 minutes away from each other, he still makes time to come see me at least once a week.

Lately, however, I’ve been feeling really confused. His text messages are a lot shorter, and usually consist of 1-3 texts between the two of us. I’m not the girl to blow up a guys phone, so normally I just let it go and wait for his text the next day or whenever he decides to talk to me again. It sounds pathetic on my part, but I’m not going to make a big deal out of nothing when it could be just him being a crap texter. Anyways, these past two weeks he’s still been texting me every day but sometimes when I respond to his text message…he’ll just drop off the face of the earth. He won’t respond to me at all, and I won’t even hear from him till the next day.

He also hasn’t made the effort to come see me at ALL in the past 2 weeks…I’m confused as to why he’s even wasting his time texting me if all he’s not even interested in actually talking to me. Is he stringing me along? We’ve already had sex and I think that’s why I’m getting myself so worked up about this….hopefully someone can solve the pieces to my puzzle here because it’s driving me INSANE.

A: During the first couple of months of dating, most new couples are obsessed with each other. Once that first blush of romance is over, a more realistic rhythm for the relationship sets in. You say this man is successful. That means he puts time and energy and focus into his work. He can’t do that and be totally available to you. For that matter, you can’t be successful at your work either if you are texting all the time.

It’s not at all unreasonable for adults who have careers and interests to only text or talk to each other once a day or to see each other once a week (as an example). What is unreasonable is not talking about what is reasonable.

You and your guy need to have a clear conversation about where this relationship is going and what you need from each other. What you see as only keeping contact may be making him feel crowded. What he sees as reasonable contact is, quoting you, “driving you insane.” There’s no right number of texts or talks or dates needed to make a relationship work. What is needed is an agreement that is comfortable for both of you.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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