Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Grieving the Losses that Come From Divorce

Lisa has commented on her "Simple Divorce Advice" Blog about a posting I had in the fall regarding grief and divorce. You can see the post, and follower her blog here:

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There is absolutely a grieving process involved but the losses and heartbreak can happen during the marriage, long before it ends! the end is a new beginning for different hopes and dreams that don't necessarily include the picket fence. Think about new goals to get you through the sadness.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Free Kindle Books

Hi Everyone,

Boyd Lemon is author of the books “Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages” and “Unexpected Love and Other Stories.” He also has the blog, Divorce Recovery Resources ( has contributed to this blog. Through Tuesday, Jan. 17th, Amazon is offering a free Kindle download of these books! Click on these links and you can download on your Kindle or Kindle app FOR FREE “Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages” and “Unexpected Love and Other Stories”! Click here and here



Friday, January 13, 2012

Positive Emotions

Today we have a guest post from Nikita Pisani ( on concepts of emotional intelligence and positive emotions:

Positive emotions can act as a means of influence. They require you however to sincerely feel positive about people, and accepting them for who they really are.

“Emotional intelligence refers to the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.”

Many of us are likely to be acquainted with Alfred Binet’s fundamental definition of I.Q. (Intelligence Quotient) and how it relates to one's ability to succeed in school and later on, in his or her a career. In 1990, Salovey and Mayer discovered a ‘new’ form of intelligence, known as Emotional Intelligence (abbreviated as E.I.). Emotional Intelligence was consequently applied to the work domain by Goleman, a definition of which has been delineated in the ‘epigraph’ above.

In ‘Introduction: the intelligence of the heart’, Patrizia Lombardo says that within the humanities, the study of emotions is mainly contingent upon the analytic philosophy rather than to literary criticism, whereby a host of seminal works, such as Albert Hirschman’s The Passions and the Interests: political Arguments for Capitalism before its Triumph, paved the way for the intensive research into the emotions in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s. Hirschman’s work characteristically considered the role of human passions in the making of the modern market economy, which manifests the role that emotions play in decision-making both in our personal life, as well as in the work industry.

“Emotions”, she continues, “also influence the radical pattern of decision-making”. Moreover, emotions contain an element of rationality that usually comes into play when one is confronted with a type of decision–making, seeing that without them decisions would never be taken, and we would linger within the infinite web of parameters and goals before our minds.
Having positive emotions is a quintessential need.

Marriage is (or rather should be) based upon our relationships with a significant other. It is strengthened by mutual communication and respect for one another. Positive emotions however are also strong in our influential position on others, whether in a peer group, or at the place of work.

To take a literary view, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is a realist nineteenth-century fiction that serves as a magnificent social critique on society and significantly, on the double nature of the Victorian society. In this conformist society any form of emotionalism is strictly prohibited. In fact, little or no sort of emotion was allowed to emerge in conversations, or through gestures and other facial expressions. The Victorians were encouraged rather, to use euphemistic terms and to adhere to their conventional life with its great prudishness, avoiding any emotional encounters or display of affection. What had struck me most, and which I thought would be relevant to this article, was Darcy’s emotionally-charged speech, or in a way his ‘confession’ of love to Elizabeth. Indeed, he had been so rapped up in his feelings, which he had kept hidden out of fear that his society would be critical of him, that at one stage, he couldn’t bear any longer, and unleashed all his feelings. Paradoxically (and without him knowing it perhaps), he managed to break away from the ties and restrictions of his society:

“He sat down for a few moments, and then getting up, walked about the room. Elizabeth was surprised, but said no word. After a silence of several minutes, he came towards her in an agitated manner, and thus began:
‘In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feeling will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.’

Elizabeth’s astonishment was beyond expression. She stared, coloured, doubted, and was silent. This he considered sufficient encouragement, and the avowal of all that he felt and had long felt for her immediately followed. He spoke well, but there feeling beside those of the heart to be detailed, and he was not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride. […]”

In the first line of this passage, emotions are mainly revealed through gestures and movements. Darcy gets up and paces around the room, which is illustrative of his state of anxiety; notably, this is further reinforced by the explicit remark made by the narrator regarding his “agitated manner”. In the subsequent paragraph, we get a glimpse of Elizabeth’s feelings, that are mainly conveyed through gestures (“[Elizabeth] stared, coloured, […] was silent”), which hence serve as a ‘cold response’ (which also show her shock) to Darcy’s passionate words. Emotions, therefore, seem to run from Darcy to Elizabeth, and vice versa, whereby the narrator instead of telling the reader directly that Elizabeth was in fact offended – she uses the conjunction “but” in the middle of the following sentence: “He spoke well, but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed…”

Moreover, this extract shows us how necessary it is to adopt the right attitude and positive emotions, and even more than that, the ability to recognize the value and feelings these emotions generate, and the affect they leave upon others. Additionally, it also brings to mind Ronald de Sousa’s essay entitled, ‘Really, what else is there? Emotions value and morality’; here De Sousa identifies emotions as “psychological states”, which are essentially, “correlated with activity in specific regions of the brain”. These are in turn related to our morality, showing therefore that morality is intrinsically embedded and intertwined within our emotional life. However, he moves on to the notion of morality as being subjective, since my “emotional repertoire” and therefore my code of conduct of what is right and what is wrong may be different from yours and vice versa.
I don’t know about you, but like Darcy, I often find it difficult to discharge my feelings and pour my heart out to my family, friends and perhaps that ‘significant other’. In the past, this may have impeded my development of intimate relationships, as – and this has been a frequently recurrent remark – others find me rather secretive and mysterious – although some like it, others will not. With time and closeness however, comes trust. When you trust someone it seems natural to be open with them, to show your feelings, and to stop being afraid of showing who you are, 100%.

Displaying your emotions positively may be similar to – what in the novel we would call the ‘Bildung’ or the epigenesist. This refers to the growth of the artist or of a protagonist in a novel. Here, the ‘Bildung’ would refer to our personal growth, ingrained within a sound recognition of our emotions which will in turn affect our relationships with other people, and especially, with our spouses.

1. In Critical Quarterly, vol. 50, no. 4, Lombardo Patrizia, ‘Introduction: the intelligence of the heart’, p. 1.
2. Ibid.
3. De Sousa, Ronald, ‘Really, what else is there? Emotions, value and morality’, in Critical Quarterly, vol. 50, no. 4, p. 12.

About the author: Nikita Pisani is a freelance writer, proofreader and editor. She is keen on English literature, and sees people, multiculturalism, and communication as one of the greatest things that we can possibly have on our planet. Blog:

Thursday, January 5, 2012

You and Your Attorney: Your Next Big Relationship, Part 2

The following post is part 2 of the post from Monday, by matrimonial attorney, Amy De Shong:

Your attorney should give you a written summary, often called a fee agreement letter, of exactly how and when you will be billed. Read it carefully and do not sign it if you have questions, concerns, or if you do not understand it. Expect to receive invoices monthly and insist that they set forth detailed charges so that you always know exactly where you stand. If your attorney seems uncomfortable answering your reasonable questions about any charges, that’s a red flag. Tell your attorney how you feel and if he or she is not responsive, it may be time to move on to someone else.

You and your counsel should map out a strategy that meets your goals and concerns. That means that you have to be able to identify and articulate those goals and concerns, at least on a basic level. For example, you may want your attorney to get as much money for you as possible, but without being ugly or combative. Your attorney may point out that those goals conflict if your spouse is hiding money from you. That should prompt a healthy discussion about how far your attorney can go in issuing subpoenas and other legal documents before you will become too uncomfortable. Then, talk about what happens after that..

Similarly, be as clear as you can be about your preferred child custody arrangements. If you are a dad who is just fine with alternating weekends, make sure your lawyer knows that so that he or she does not start demanding equally shared custody on your behalf.

As you go along, keep a file of your notes, all correspondence, all emails, and other papers such as pleadings and financial information. Make sure your attorney and his or her assistants do not send emails and other communications to your workplace, unless you want them to do so. (Think carefully about that, by the way.) Clarify expected response times. (In this age of instant responses, some clients demand instant answers to complex questions -- that's not such a good idea.) Plan your phone calls and email exchanges so that you keep your costs down. While you are anxious and upset, it’s easy to ask the same questions over and over again: if you can take careful notes and then refer back to them when you get upset, rather than calling your attorney, you will save money on legal fees. Talk with your counsel about what you can do on your own to contribute to your case and keep your fees down. For example, you may be able to gather and copy documents, or even to prepare summaries of financial information. Just remember that your attorney must read and understand it all in order to make an effective presentation on your behalf.

Remember that no reputable, experienced family lawyer is threatened by a well informed client who seeks to reduce his or her legal fees! At the same time, however, if you find that you are constantly second-guessing or questioning your counsel, he or she will begin to feel mistrusted and not respected. If that goes on for too long, the relationship may fail. If you start to feel that things are not going well between you and your attorney, speak up.

If you have to attend any Court or other legal proceedings, your attorney should explain to you exactly what is expected of you, how much time will be involved, and what will likely happen that day. Will you be cooling your heels in the hallway with your spouse while the attorneys speak with the Judge? Will there be any decision that day? Court is not like what we see on TV and in the movies – there is a lot of waiting. Judges have heavy caseloads and they do not always have the time to read the file before we get there. You can arrive eager and ready for action, only to find yourself 15th on a list of 20 cases.

Attorneys are people too. Sometimes your relationship with your spouse plays out in your relationship with your attorney. The spouse of an aggressive and overbearing spouse retains an aggressive and overbearing attorney. That client gets swept along in an emotionally and financially costly exercise without ever being in control. Because that’s business as usual for that spouse, he or she may not even be aware of it. No personal growth occurs for that client. As a result, he or she may never be able to move beyond the divorce.

Even if your relationship with your counsel is perfect, he or she may head off confidently in directions that you do not want. When that occurs, it’s often because your attorney has grown to care deeply about you and wishes to do whatever it takes to protect your future – sometimes without checking with you first! If you feel that your attorney has raised the battle flag and run headlong into a skirmish that you have no interest in waging, speak up!

While no divorce is ever pleasant, if you have a good relationship with a good attorney and you work as a team, you can expect to come through the process strong, solid, and confident.

Amy P. De Shong, Esquire
Fellow, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
Wisler Pearlstine, LLP
460 Norristown Road, Suite 110
Blue Bell, PA 19422-2326
Phone: (610) 825-8400

Copyright 2011 Amy P. De Shong, Wisler Pearlstine, LLP

Monday, January 2, 2012

You and Your Attorney: Your Next Big Relationship, Part 1

January is the biggest month for new divorce filings. Why? Well, I thinkg there are a number of reasons. Lots of people want to get through the holidays first, keep the peace for friends and family during this time, and so forth. For still others, it's hoping that there will be some holiday magic that somehow changes things. Finally, lots of people look at the new year as a time to make a fresh start.

Matrimonial attorney, Amy De Shong, has some things to say about selecting an attorney. I'm posting the first part today, and the second part on Thursday:

Do I need an attorney? Say you and your spouse want to work amicably toward a low cost divorce outcome. Consulting with an attorney – especially if you do not tell your spouse about it – can feel like a betrayal. Worse, if you do tell your spouse about it, he or she may become angry. (“You promised we wouldn’t lawyer up!”)

Just as you would not sign yourself up for heart surgery without learning about your condition and your options, you should not try to settle with your spouse without having at least one consultation with an experienced family attorney. Your attorney will explain the law and how it applies to your situation. Everything you tell him or her is confidential – even the fact that you were there in the first place! When you learn about your legal rights, obligations, and options – as well as those of your spouse – you will feel the power that can only come from knowledge. There is no substitute for that.

Believe it or not, it’s better for you if your spouse does the same thing.

Can’t we just use the same attorney? In most jurisdictions, attorneys are prohibited from representing both of you. And that makes sense, once you think about it. A homemaking mom’s goals and incentives differ from those of her husband: an attorney representing mom usually seeks a high level of financial support for as long as possible, while counsel for husband seeks to minimize the support obligation and may offer an increased portion of the marital assets in lieu of sharing her client’s income.

I’ll make the appointment: now what? Your attorney should spend one to two hours with you. Expect to pay for the meeting. When you contact his or her office, ask whether there is a charge, the amount, whether payment is expected at the meeting, and whether the firm accepts payment by credit card. Think about how you will pay for the appointment if you do not wish for your spouse to know about the meeting. (If you pay with cash, your attorney should give you a written receipt.)

Ask whether you should bring any documents and expect to be asked to bring your last tax return, paystubs for you and your spouse, and a basic outline of your assets and liabilities. Know the amounts of certain monthly bills, such as your mortgage, real estate taxes, and homeowners insurance, so that the attorney can run a support calculation. Don’t be afraid if you don’t have all of that stuff – just do the best you can. Bring along a list of all your questions. When you make the call for the appointment, be ready to provide your spouse’s name and employment information, so that the attorney can run a conflict search before you get there. (This is particularly important with larger law firms, where another attorney at the firm may have already met with your spouse or the firm may already represent your spouse’s employer or family members.)

If you and your spouse signed any agreements together, including a Prenuptial Agreement, bring them along. The more information you can supply, the more useful the attorney can be. Most jurisdictions use grids or guidelines in assessing child and spousal support obligations. These are usually based on incomes and/or living expenses of the parties and their kids. If a spouse or child has special needs or unusual expenses, such as medication or therapy, bring that information along.

What will I learn at this meeting? As long as you bring the necessary information, your attorney should give you an overview of support, custody, and property distribution. The attorney should answer all of your questions and treat you with compassion and respect. Expect to become emotional and maybe even to cry during the meeting. Your attorney should listen to you, not interrupt you, and not lecture you.

Your attorney should be able to speak to you clearly and in plain terms. If he or she bristles at your concerns, is high-handed, or makes your feel stupid, thank him or her for the time and end the meeting. No experienced attorney should be threatened by your questions. At the same time, however, remember that things you may have read about divorce on the Internet or heard from the folks at your neighborhood bar are not always correct.

On Thursday - see "I've retained an attorney - what next?"

Amy P. De Shong, Esquire
Fellow, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
Wisler Pearlstine, LLP
460 Norristown Road, Suite 110
Blue Bell, PA 19422-2326
Phone: (610) 825-8400

copyright 2011 Amy P. De Shong