If you are dealing with an acrimonious split, you are going to have to call on all your inner calm to separate emotion from logistics. The key here is to keep personal issues out of all interaction. Not easy. Less so when money and kids are involved. Try this reflective approach:
Listen to the rage – but don’t allow it in. Allow them to rant, cry, scream and threaten. Let them vent.
Practise noble silence. Just shut up. You are not trying to make them feel better. Nothing you say will make any difference. Hear them out.
Instead of getting married again, I am going to find a woman I don’t like and just give her a house.
– Rod Stewart
The first step out the door is the hardest. Each step after comes easier and faster, until one day you stop and realise you’re free. How incredible to discover your greatest champion is you. – Hallmark divorce card
‘I want out.’ Three little words. So simple. Sure, there will be technicalities. A fight about custody, a row about money, a squabble over the Battlestar Galactica box set. But then it will all be over. A clean getaway.
Every marriage is a journey that goes through stages of love, hope and hot sex. No matter how bad it gets, you both started out believing it was going to work. So you’ve lost your way and you’re sure that this time it’s going to end in divorce. It would be nice to be able to bill this stage as a star attraction, to promise that this next step is a walk in the park. Yup, that would be really great. But that doesn’t really happen, even if you and your partner didn’t decide to merge your DNA.
Divorce is a big thing. It’s bigger than you think. But there comes a time in some relationships when the pain of staying together outweighs the pain of tearing the family apart. And instead of lying around weeping, we’re going to leave this town in style.
Stacy was our third child in six years. On her first birthday, my wife told me that she didn’t want to have sex any more. ‘Not ever again,’ she said. It was as if I had received a blow to the stomach. She said that she had stopped enjoying it after our first child was born, and had kept trying to make it work. But she was very clear that she never wanted it again. It was all so strange to me; I felt like a man in a dream listening to her talk. This was the woman who had pulled me into a club toilet in a fit of passion. This was the woman whom I had made love to for weeks on end while hiking through India after our wedding. She said it was fine with her if I did other stuff, like watching porn and masturbating, but she wouldn’t tolerate an affair. A lifetime of no sex loomed before me. I was forty-two.
If you’re getting a bit set in your ways and your relationship needs a make-over, try out these new moves; they’re destined to help you find family bliss. Some are old-fashioned; some are wacky. Pick what suits you.
1. Old move: Negotiate a compromise
/New move: The eight-second kiss
Forget trying to win the other person over to your way of thinking. If they agree with you, they are probably just lying anyway. When a fight is going on and on and on, pull this move out of the bag; it’s a sure-fire jaw-dropper. Pucker up for a sizzling, long, engaging, wet ’n wild smacker. Ramming him against the wall is an optional extra.
For my husband’s fiftieth birthday party, I booked a trip to Thailand. No kids, no friends – just us for the first time in years. I had an ulterior motive. I felt like we had lost the passion. We had become, to put it frankly, prudes. We had been wild and fun in our youth. I knew it would take something somewhat radical to bring it back.
We had been faithful to each other for over twenty years, and I felt our relationship was strong enough to handle a few shocks. Tom had always wanted to watch me with another woman. I took a deep breath on the first day we were there and asked the hotel concierge how to organise ‘a girl’. I didn’t know how else to go about it. He didn’t flinch and said he would send one to our room at nine that night.
Here’s what you can do to spice things up:
Play all day: Sex therapists often encourage this technique: engage in solo play, but don’t bring yourself to orgasm. So pluck your strings a few times a day, but don’t blow the horn. This builds desire and keeps your mind thinking about sex. By the time you see each other again, you’ll be chomping at the bit.
Get visual triggers: Keep a collection of erotica and make a point of reading a short story per day. Slushy but steamy romances will start your mind latching onto fantasies. Keep this up for a few weeks or get your book club to experiment with some steamy titles. (Check out a suggested list in Chapter 9.)
Dress sexily: Couples who wear sexy outfits are more likely to get it on. Stockings and suspenders are designed for erotic action, and the effect of skimpy lingerie will work for both of you, enhancing excitement and getting you in the mood.
Talk sexy: Talking about fantasies and watching explicit videos can lead to more excitement in sexual relationships. Though they won’t necessarily guarantee sexual satisfaction or enjoyment, they just might get you started.
Having sex is like playing bridge. If you don’t have a good partner, you’d better have a good hand. – Woody Allen
Somewhere between buying your first king-sized bed (for nights of endless passion) and getting a second bond (for the orthodontic work on your son’s teeth), you lost your sex life. It’s annoying enough losing your car keys, but losing an entire part of your life is downright strange. One minute it was right behind you, keeping you warm in the freezing storeroom at your cousin’s bar mitzvah, and the next second it was gone.
A lot of things will go missing over the years when you are parenting, but this one is the most elusive. It first disappeared during that disastrous round of organic washable nappies you attempted. But way back then, its absence was noted with relief. It made a brief reappearance one night after three bottles of wine when your in-laws offered to babysit, but then the darn thing went AWOL again for another four months. Excitingly, you had a crazy non-stop love-fest during your six-year anniversary trip to Mauritius after that pesky episode when he had a crush on the yoga instructor. And then it went into long and seemingly permanent remission.
The relationship is starting to feel like one long fight. Every conversation turns into a row. Every word is taken the wrong way. Sulks, insults and tears replace the laughter and love talk of the early stages of your romance, and before you know it, you and your soulmate are tearing into each other like a pair of pit bulls.
You have no control over any other person’s behaviour in any way. We are all born with the instinct and ability to have an affair. Marriage is a man-made institution; monogamy goes against natural instincts. But if you are in a committed, sexually exclusive relationship, you make the choice not to jump at any opportunity to hook up with another person. So stop worrying about the other person and focus on affair-proofing yourself. How do you do that? By being involved, awake and open to life.
For those of you who have not been glued to The Oprah Winfrey Show for the last few years, let me tell you about one of its most controversial moments. The guest on this show was a gutsy gal called Ayelet Waldman. Ayelet is gutsy because she made a shocking confession, first in the New York Times and then on mainstream television. It really got America talking. And just what was Ayelet’s shocking confession?