How Could They Move On So Quickly?

My ex-husband certainly wasted no time. He didn’t even bother filing for divorce before he married his second (I’m assuming here; there could have been others) wife.

Among all of the myriad thoughts that crashed around my mind in the aftermath of the discovery, one kept popping back up to the surface,

“How could he move on so quickly?”

I just couldn’t understand how he could go from sixteen years with the same person to seemingly head-over-heels within weeks of meeting this new woman. Here he was celebrating his newfound love while I was still struggling to sleep through the night.

Of course, it was apples to oranges trying to equate my mental state at the time with his. For so many reasons, we were at different places when it came to our readiness for moving on.

The following are some of the reasons that your ex may have moved on (or appeared to move on) soon after your breakup:


They have pre-grieved the breakup.

In some situations, one person has known (or at least suspected) that the relationship is over long before it is pronounced terminal. In these cases, the one with the prior knowledge often begins grieving the end of the relationship months or even years before it is truly over. They may begin to withdraw, they might start to expand their social circle and hobbies to fill anticipated gaps and they have time to process the loss. They will be ready to move on before you are because they have been attending to the breakup for a longer period of time.


They want you to think they’ve moved on.

Sometimes moving on is an illusion, a play put on social media or spread through mutual acquaintances in an attempt to make you jealous or regretful. The urge is understandable, although childlike. It can be driven by a, “I’ll show them that I am desirable” attitude. Others try to appear moved on soon after the end of the relationship because they don’t want to be seen as “weak” by appearing affected by the breakup. These people are motivated by a need to be seen as strong.


They are afraid of being alone.

Some people hop from relationship to relationship like life is a rocky river crossing. They cannot stomach the thought of being alone and so they waste no time in lining up the next partner as soon as a relationship implodes. This is less “moving on” and more “grasping on;” they’ll hold onto anyone like a life raft. Learn more about the underlying issues that lead to a fear of being alone.


They are able to compartmentalize your relationship and the new one.

For many us, we cannot enter into a new relationship before we have fully dissected and processed the previous one. Others are able to keep those two processes more separate. It may be that your ex seems to be moving quickly because they are doing the often- invisible internal work concurrent with reentry to the dating scene.


They are using dating as a distraction.

Let’s face it, divorce sucks. And while you’re going through it, you’d rather think about anything else. For some, this distraction comes in the form of dating. Although this can look like they’re moved on, they’re are really using others as a bandaid to temporarily stop the pain. Early dating can also be motivated by the blow to confidence that often accompanies divorce; it’s good to feel wanted.


They started seeing this person before your relationship ended.

If your ex seems to have moved on quickly, it may be that they were having an affair during your relationship and now that your partnership has ended, the love interest is brought to the surface. Of course, this revelation brings with it it’s own set of problems. Betrayal is a uniquely piercing pain with long-ranging repercussions.


They met somebody who is a good fit for them at this point in their lives.

And here’s the hard one – maybe they have met somebody that is a good match for them. I know that can be difficult to stomach when you still might be wishing/hoping/believing that you’re that person. It’s important here to remember that not being the right person for them does not mean that you’re a bad person and it certainly does not mean that you’re not the right person for someone else. It simply means that your ex found a better match for them and now you have an opportunity to look for somebody better for you.



In my ex’s case, he knew that the end was approaching and so had time to process the divorce long before it happened. He was having affairs and so his other wife was lined up and ready to go. And, from what I learned, she was a good fit for him at the time – trusting, nomadic and in possession of a decent credit score.

In time, I no longer questioned how he could move on so quickly. Instead, I got busy with moving on myself with a sense of gratitude that she helped to take him out of my life and far away.


The Pathology Behind the Lie

I don’t get spooked easily.

But I’m spooked right now.

Not because of anything imminent.

But because I’m really starting to understand what kind of danger I may have been in.

When the police first told me how lucky I was to make it out of my first marriage alive, I brushed off their concern. After all, they were talking about the man who had cared for me when I was sick and would gently slide my glasses off my sleeping face each night. How could he have tried to kill me?

Yet even though it seemed unfathomable and he had made no direct threats, I found that I was frightened of him. The reports from his other wife that she found evidence that he was planning her death didn’t help to calm my nerves. And the police took his actions and my fears seriously, setting up nightly patrols during those first few uncertain weeks.

Even then, I didn’t really take it seriously.

But now I do.

And my change in perspective came from the most unlikely of places – a podcast about Casey Anthony, the Florida woman who was accused of killing her young daughter in 2008.

At the time of the trial, I remained largely ignorant of the intense publicity. I knew only the basic outline – she accused the babysitter of kidnapping her child and the child’s body was found some time later.

But listening to the podcast?

In many ways, I felt like I knew her.

Because even though she was a twenty-something mother accused of murder and my ex-husband was a thirty-two-year-old man who committed bigamy and fraud, they were operating out of the same playbook.

And the more I heard about her lies and realized the parallels with my ex’s, the more spooked I became. A feeling of looking down and suddenly realizing that you’re precariously perched high above the security of the ground.

(A quick note here before I delve into the details: As stated, I never followed this case while it was active. Even now, I have not referenced any sources apart from this podcast. There may be information that was discussed in the show that is incorrect or incomplete. Frankly, I’m spooked enough from these details; I have no interest in digging any deeper. Also, I have my gut feelings about Casey’s involvement in Caylee’s death, but I’m not going to speculate about that here. I’m more interested in her multiple lies and her reactions (or non-reactions) to her daughter’s disappearance and then confirmed death.)

In many ways, I’m still too close to my ex’s lies to be able to see them all clearly. They are so interwoven with my own memories of what I believed at the time, that it is difficult for me to be objective. In listening to the description of Casey Anthony, I was able to see these behaviors in a more impersonal and detached manner.

And realizing these similarities makes me truly wonder what my ex was (is?) capable of.


Everything’s Fine

Casey Anthony’s daughter was missing for 39 days. For most of that, Casey kept insisting that everything was fine. Whenever her mother asked about Caylee, she was told that she was an amusement park or with the nanny. Any concern was brushed off with an, “How can you be so ignorant as to think that?” attitude.

My ex had been living a double life for years at the time he left and the financial deceptions that he carried out were beginning to reach critical mass. It got to a point where he was no longer able to shield me from everything (although he gave it a damn good try, including cutting the phone line so that I couldn’t receive calls from creditors). Whenever I would see something that would give me pause, his reaction would always be, “How could you be so ignorant or distrustful to question that?”


Real-Life People Becoming Fictitious Characters

When Casey could no longer deny that her daughter was missing, she then claimed that she was kidnapped by the babysitter. She described to the police how she met this woman through a mutual acquaintance and that she used to babysit his child. This man was real, but he not only didn’t know this babysitter. He had no children.

My ex used a friend in a similar manner. He claimed (to both his other wife and the police) that he co-owned this friend’s business and had a great deal of money coming to him as part of the agreement. This friend (although I’m not sure that’s the correct term) was real. The business was real. But everything else my ex claimed was simply fabricated to connect the dots of lies he had spread.

If They Don’t Exist, Create Them

Sometimes the character needed for the story you’re telling doesn’t exist. When that happened to Casey Anthony, she simply invented the person. For the month that her daughter was missing, she consistently made the claim that her child was with the babysitter. But there was no babysitter. After she accused the nanny of stealing her daughter, she was forced to bring more detail to this imagined character. And she did, even describing the details of the woman’s apartment (which was a merely a vacant unit when the police investigated).

When my ex met his soon-to-be other wife, he told her he was divorced and that his ex-wife was remarried. This fabricated “second husband” of mine remained a mere sketch until he tried using the same story with the police. And they pushed for details. So my “husband” and I had been married a year, were on friendly terms with my ex (in fact, apparently he even attended our imaginary wedding), lived in Snellville and had three dogs. Oh, and my husband apparently worked as a chiropractor. Strangely, I appreciate the fact that if my ex was going to invent a life for me, at least it seems he made up a good one.


Names of Fictitious People Pulled From the Environment

Of course, the nanny that Casey Anthony invented needed a name. She was given the made-up moniker Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez, which was later found to be cobbled together from the names of Casey’s boyfriend’s neighbors. Unfortunately, there did happen to be a real Zenaida Fernandez in the Orlando area at the time. I can only imagine the trauma this poor woman faced as she was questioned by the police and hounded by the media.

My ex was also forced to come up with a name for my fabricated husband. He settled on Mark (Marc?) Mercer. When I learned about this pretend husband’s name from the arresting officer, my mind immediately remembered a prominently-placed billboard for Mercer University. The location? Snellville.


Just Write it Yourself

Casey Anthony apparently created several email addresses to send messages as other people. She apparently didn’t know enough about IP addresses to not be fingered as the origination point of these emails.

My ex got into my email account and sent a “Merry Christmas” email from me to him that incorporated the fake fact that we were divorced. The only problem? This email was dated in July because he either neglected to alter the date or didn’t know how.


Fake the 9 to 5

For months, Casey Anthony told he friends and family that she had a well-paying job as an event planner at Universal Studios. She would get up, get dressed, and go…well, anywhere but Universal Studios, as they had no record of her ever being an employee. My favorite detail – when the police asked her to take them to where she worked (after they learned that Universal didn’t know her), she walked them into one the buildings, up an elevator and down a hall. She didn’t admit the truth until her back was literally against the wall.

I’ve had to try to fill in the gas about my ex’s fake employment, as he took all of the related documentation when he left, but from what I uncovered, he pretended to have clients in his freelance business for quite some time. He made up assignments, pretended to work on them when I went downstairs to his basement office and funneled money from credit cards when he needed to get paid from his invented clients.


If You’re Backed Into a Corner, Just Change Direction

When police discovered that the nanny’s supposed apartment was vacant (and had been for quite some time), Casey Anthony then came up with a new story about the nanny’s location.

When asked by the police why he was recently in Brazil, my ex first denied ever being there. Then, when confronted with the evidence of the trip from passport records, he then claimed that it was a work trip (this was the story that I had been told along with details that even included pictures of the trade show he supposedly was working). The police then proved this claim false with a short phone call to his boss. Although he was no longer freelancing at this point, he then asserted that he was doing a side job for somebody. His other wife soon dismissed this fiction as well.


Financial Lies and Bad Checks

Casey Anthony had a problem. She told everyone she had a job that paid well, yet she often had no real source of income. While her parents bought her gas and often provided her with a roof over head, she faked the rest with a series of bad checks.

I don’t have much detail about most of my ex’s financial deceptions because the evidence went with him (but suffice to say, he made many purchases with money that he didn’t have). But I did get to see a series of emails between the band that played at his illegal wedding and he and the other wife. He continually assured them that “the check is in the mail.” I’m sure. He also strung his attorney out who made the comment to me after the divorce hearing, “Not until I get paid first.” At that one, I just had to giggle. And then there’s the one that gave me my only sense of justice in this whole mess. He lied on the taxes and, as a result, I was granted innocent spouse relief. Thank you, IRS, for seeing him for what he is.


Garnering Sympathy and Flirting With the Professionals

Casey Anthony would flip between continuing to live her life that nothing had happened and playing the victim. After her case was over and she was found not guilty of the murder charges, she started a relationship with one of the investigators from her case.

My ex (and by extension, his attorney), kept whining that I was “vindictive” because I alerted law enforcement about his bigamous marriage. I know, poor baby. In an email to his other wife and my mother, he then went on to describe me as “impossible to live with.” Of course, the letter then went on to accuse me of doing exactly what he was guilty of. Nice try. His smarmy behavior continued when he went to my attorney’s office to pick up some keys. The paralegal called me after he left and said it was disgusting how he was flirting with her and trying to win her over. Maybe he was looking for wife number three?


I know that the possible murder of a child and the deceptions involved in fraud and bigamy are worlds apart. I’m not trying to equate those two situations. Yet, if Casey Anthony did intentionally kill her daughter, it doesn’t seem to be an act driven by malice or even momentary rage. Instead, it would have been an act by somebody who is willing to take extreme actions to get what they want without concern for the consequences.

And by seeing those parallels between her undertakings and my ex’s, I now am starting to believe that he really was capable of taking extreme actions. Maybe even extending to murder.

And that is spooky.


Important Factors to Consider Before Relocating for a Relationship

Have you ever relocated for a relationship?

I have.


The first time, I followed my future-ex-husband from San Antonio to Atlanta. I left behind family, friends and school to move to unseen apartment in a city that I had never even visited. Even with all of the sacrifice, I never considered not making the move. At that point, being with my fiance was more important than anything else.

What can I say, you live and you learn.

The next time was slightly different. After the divorce, I was ready to launch myself out of Atlanta like a pilot jettisoning from a crashing plane. I had my sights and my intention focused on Seattle. And then I met my future husband (and later his dog, Tiger) and made the decision to stay put in the area for at least a year.

But I still had to move, even though it was only towards the western end of town instead of the west coast. This time, I was able to become comfortable with my new surroundings, pick out my own apartment and find a job in the area all before I took the plunge.

Yet even with all of that preparation, it was still sometimes a struggle. Because when you relocate for a relationship, you inevitably are making some trade-offs. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if the exchanges are worth it (and many time they are). But make sure you carefully consider these factors before you take the plunge:


Is this a location where you would choose to live in spite of your partner?

The place where you live has an enormous impact on your overall well-being and happiness. No matter how in love you are, if you hate your city every day, you’ll become miserable. If the draw of the relationship is too great to ignore, can you find a way to make the location more palatable? Maybe a certain neighborhood is more pleasing or the perfect home outweighs the negatives of the rest of the environment. My mom ended up in landlocked San Antonio and she cursed the lack of water until she installed a small backyard pool.


If you and your partner break up, will (or even can you) stay in this location?

At one point, my now-ex and I were looking into the possibility of relocating to California. I remember feeling a strangle little pull in the pit of my stomach when I realized that there was no chance of being able to ever afford to live there on my own salary (and this was when I thought the marriage was healthy). It’s good to have the outline of a “what if” plan sketched out before you invest the time and money into moving.


Do you have your own social group in the location? If not, what will you do to build your own connections?

When one half of a couple relocates for the other, it can easily create a situation where the newly-moved is completely dependent upon the other for their social and emotional needs. If you don’t already have friends or family in the location, what can you put in place immediately to start to grow new friendships. Also, how will you keep in touch with established friends as you nurture these new relationships? Try to have more than one possible source for friendships at the ready in case one proves to be a bust.


Are you giving up status at work or credits at school in order to move? How will that impact you down the road?

When I moved to Atlanta, I basically lost over two years of college credits. Then, when my ex lost his job, I was forced to make some difficult decisions about my planned degree. At the time, I was okay with the decision, yet I’m not sure that I would make the same one again. Be very careful about your professional or earning potential losses with a relocation. The impact of those can be quite large and irreversible. It may make sense to delay to move for a time or to work to find a creative solution.


What will your living situation be like? Are you starting fresh together or moving into their established space?

Moving into someone else’s space is difficult. Even once all of your clothes are in the closet and your pictures are on the wall, you can still feel more like a guest than a permanent resident. Beyond that, how will your space differ from that which you’re accustomed to? Are you moving from the suburbs to a small city apartment or having to deal with the lack of public transit for the first time? Do your research, ask questions and read this for more advice on how to move in together.


Do you have children? How will they be impacted by the move? How will their relationship with their other parent be affected?

Will your kids have to change schools? Will this be easy or hard for them based upon their ages and temperaments? Will they have to share a bedroom for the first time or adjust to a change in available activities? What can you put in place ahead of time to create a niche for them to slide into? If you’re moving away from their other parent (and this parent is involved), plan ahead for ways that your kids can maintain contact. Adult friendships can be sustained with minimal and/or infrequent meaningful contact. Kids’ relationships with their parents cannot.


Does your partner frequently expect you to be the one who makes sacrifices or is this generally an equitable relationship?

This is a biggie. Maybe in this case, it makes sense for you to be the one uprooted. But if the tables were turned, would your partner relocate for you? Outside of the move, is your partner willing to compromise their own desires sometimes for the betterment of the relationship? I know that I would never move for somebody that wouldn’t also move for me.


So how about you?

Have you moved for love (or for what you thought was love at the time)?

Any regrets?

Any triumphs?

Any lessons?



Don’t Forget to Plan Your Marriage (While You’re Busy Planning Your Wedding)

I visited my local Starbucks the other day to enjoy some coffee and free Wi-Fi. I was engaged in relatively mindless grading, so I let my ears wander to the conversations around me. One in particular caught my attention, as it pertained to the seemingly endless numbers of my former students getting married. There was a large group at the table across from me — a young engaged couple, parents, wedding planners (yes, plural) and a priest. The plans they were making were as detailed and complex as those made for a presidential inauguration.

We hear so much about wedding planning. There are entire industries built around helping the couple carry out their “perfect day.” It’s easy to get carried away in the romance and the idea that a single ceremony represents the entirety of a relationship. It’s easy to confuse the ability to control the details of a day with the potential for controlling an entire life. It may be easy, but like the eyes of the audience at a magic show, it is attention focused in the wrong direction. Wedding days should be special; it is a time to celebrate your bond and make a public declaration of your relationship. However, don’t be so busy planning your wedding that you neglect to plan your marriage. Here are a few things to keep in mind for your Big Day, and the days (and years) after you say “I do.”


Weddings begin with compromise. Perhaps she wants to elope and he wants a large, family-filled church ceremony. Hopefully, a middle ground is agreed upon where each partner feels listened to and has his or her critical needs met. Compromise only beginswith the wedding day. As two lives become entwined, differing views and priorities are inevitable. Make sure you know how to navigate these differences in a balanced way.


Have you ever been to a wedding where you couldn’t tell if it was a day for the bride or the bride’s mom? Just as your wedding is your day and should be created in your image, your marriage is yours and yours alone. By all means, listen to the advice of those around you but remember that you make the ultimate decision of what your relationship will look like.



Will children be welcomed at the ceremony or even given a featured role or instead will the invitations politely implore the attendees to leave their offspring at home? I’m always amazed to discover the number of couples that don’t discuss the desired role of children in their lives after marriage. Some, who see children as a natural progression from marriage, simply assume that their future spouse feels the same. Others have the discussion but fail to consider the repercussions if one partner later changes their mind or biology conspires against them. These are important – if difficult – conversations to have.



Apart from those betrothed couples that met at church, there will almost certainly be some differences in childhood or adult religious beliefs and practices. Since marriage vows have historically been performed within a religious framework, the wedding provides a wonderful opportunity to discuss the role and significance that religion will take for the couple. This conversation needs to extend beyond the wedding day. It’s even more important that the couple agrees on where every Sunday morning will be spent than on who will lead the service on the day the marriage begins.


Most people are very deliberate about the friends they invite to be a part of their wedding. They want to surround themselves with others who will be supportive, realistic, and share in their joy. Be just as deliberate in choosing the friends that surround your marriage. We are influenced by those we spend our time with; choose wisely.


Much time and money is put into creating the décor and ambiance of a wedding day. Just because the day is over and the budget is back to reality does not mean that you have to forgo beauty. Find ways to incorporate items that make you smile into your daily life. Any table is brightened by even the simplest centerpiece.


The focus of a wedding is on the words spoken between the spouses-to-be — the promises and declarations to love, honor, and cherish. Even after the walk down the aisle, words, whether spoken or written, are still an important part of a marriage. Never assume that your spouse knows how you feel and never underestimate the power of a positive word or two. The best part? When you say how much you love or appreciate your partner, it fuels those positive feelings in you as well.


Many wedding traditions have a deliberate balance between the time spent as a couple and the time spent apart. Even when you married, it is important to spend time away from your partner, either alone or with other friends or family. Make sure you have discussed your needs and expectations for your balance of time; it’s important to reach an agreement between the two of you so that no one feels smothered and no one feels abandoned.


Some of the meaning in a wedding comes from tradition — elements handed down through generations that create a sense of unity and belonging. Just because the ceremony has ended does not mean that there is not room for traditions in your marriage. Look to your families of origin for rituals that you can implement in your new union or seek to create your own traditions. These conventions will serve to strengthen the bond between you and your spouse and give you a foundation upon which to build lasting memories.


It is the rare couple who marries without a budget. Just because the presents are unwrapped and put away and you have begun to get used to married life does not mean that the budget goes out the window. Make sure you and your new spouse continue to talk about money. Agree on common financial goals. Separate needs from wants. Don’t let nickels and dimes create a wall between you and your betrothed.


A wedding is a public vow, whether it be made in a private ceremony or in front of thousands, it is still declaring your commitment to the world. After the wedding, life settles down and it’s easy to confine your marriage to your private life. Or, even worse, expose your frustrations with your spouse but keep mum about the joys. Even after the wedding, make a habit of speaking positively about your spouse and your marriage. Sharing this commitment publicly helps to keep it alive.


The best weddings are fun. They have a sense of levity and humor. Any mishaps are laughed about and the challenges are kept in perspective. That’s pretty good advice for a marriage, as well. Not every day will be a party but you can strive to find humor and laughter in every situation. Find ways to bring excitement and fun into your marriage. The associated smiles are priceless.

I’m sure that the couple I overheard at Starbucks will have a lovely wedding (and I am SO glad that I’m not footing the bill!). I just hope they have planned as thoroughly to have a lovely marriage.

What NOT to Do If You’re Unhappy in Your Marriage

unhappy marriage

So you’ve come to realize that you’re unhappy in your marriage.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that you look forward to the times when your spouse is out of the home. Maybe you’re feeling increasingly stifled or frustrated with your life and you’re experiencing a driving need to do something different. Or your spouse has begun to feel like a stranger to you and you startle to learn that you feel longer with them than when you’re by yourself.

Your mind is a whirlwind of conflicting thoughts and emotions. You remember your vows and you think about the pain that divorce would inflict upon your partner and children and you make an internal pledge to suck it up and make it work. Then, as you contemplate endless years with more of the same unhappiness or discontentment, you begin to summon the courage to make a change. And then you remember your shared history and the time invested into the relationship and you’re again unsure.

I’ve written before about what to do when you’re in the midst of a marital crisis.

But what about what not to do? Sometimes we need to be able to see the hazards clearly so that we can make sure we avoid crashing into them.

Here is that list –


What NOT to Do If You’re Unhappy in Your Marriage:


Don’t Ignore It

When things are uncomfortable or suboptimal, it can be tempting to turn away from the unpleasant reality. To pull an adult version of, “If I don’t look for the monster under the bed, it can’t exist.” Yet ignoring any concrete issues in the marriage or your own unhappiness with the status quo will not only be unsuccessful, it will also be unsustainable over the long run. The issues, whatever they may be be, will not resolve on their own and your ignored feelings will refuse to stay silent indefinitely.

It is only by facing your unhappiness that you have the possibility of resolving it.

Worried that you’re ignoring some important signs of marital discord? Here are five signs that you may be in denial.


Don’t Fixate On It

It is important not to deny your marital unhappiness and it is also critical that you refrain from becoming preoccupied with it. Whatever we nurture, grows. If all of your attention is focused on your discontentment, it will begin to multiply until it blocks your view of any residual affection or commitment.

When your marriage is in trouble, it’s natural for it to threaten to become all-consuming. After all, tremors in your relationship create aftershocks that travel through your entire life as you begin to realize how much everything is connected. You may find yourself grasping onto whatever you can as a fear of loss and isolation begins to press against your ribcage, threatening to cut off all of your oxygen supply.

Even as you’re navigating this uncertain and scary time, continue to reassure yourself that you will be okay no matter what the outcome.


Don’t Assign Blame Without Responsibility

It’s so easy – and often quite deserved – to place the blame for your marital dissatisfaction  at the feet of your misbehaving or unenlightened spouse. “I’m miserable because he drinks.” “If she would just pay attention to me instead of just the kids, we’d be okay.” “We’re struggling because he keeps flirting with random girls on Facebook.”

All of those things may well be true. And it may also be true that your partner’s actions and your happiness are mutually exclusive, that as long as their behavior continues, you will be miserable. You cannot change their choices. Yet you also have a responsibility to yourself. What you tolerate, will continue. What you allow, communicates how you can be treated. When you only blame, you give away your power. When you take on responsibility for your own decisions, you become even more powerful.

It’s important to recognize, name and confront the decisions and behaviors that your parter is making that negatively impact the marriage. And it’s also important for you to identify and express the choices that you have in light of the circumstances. You may not be able to save your marriage alone, but you do have the power to save yourself.


Don’t Have a “Bandaid” Kid

What more tangible sign is there of a unity of two people than a child? This living, breathing combination of both of you. An impressionable and defenseless embodiment of love wrapped in blankets and dreams. So it’s no surprise that people often (consciously or subconsciously) have a child in an attempt to refresh a struggling marriage.

Yet children are also an immense strain on a relationship. Tempers flare as sleep becomes a rare and precious commodity. Finances stretch under the new responsibility and the partnership often feels the strain. And the challenging steps of negotiating a fair division of labor while navigating new roles can make even the closest couples begin to have doubts.

On top of the inevitable stressors that a child adds to a marriage, it is also unfair to task a kid with the burden of stitching a worn and threadbare relationship together. Just as you spruce up the physical space to welcome home a new baby, ensure that the repairs on the marriage are undertaken before a new child is brought into the fold.



Don’t Open Up the Relationship

Many of the podcasts I listen to and advice columns I read feature advice-seekers who begin by describing their dissatisfaction with their marriages and then follow up with a question about the viability of opening up their marriage. On the one hand, I get it. They’re desperate to find a way to keep what they have that also provides the excitement and novelty that one or both spouses are craving. On the other hand, navigating the transition from a monogamous relationship to an open one is fraught with many stumbling blocks. I can’t imagine a couple that is already in trouble successfully communicating about emotionally-charged boundaries and rules.

Part of the reason that opening up the relationship may be appealing in times of discord is that is acts as both a distraction from the marital problems and another source of the validation or intimacy that may be missing from the primary relationship. And when attentions are focused elsewhere, the unhappiness within the marriage is likely to grow.


Don’t Make a Major Purchase

For many of us, when we’re unhappy, we look to material goods to fill the voids that we feel inside. It’s easy to fall prey to the illusion put forth by advertisers as we see happy and smiling families spilling out of new homes or heading out in their newly-acquired vehicle on some sort of perfect adventure. We can begin to blame our current possessions for our discontentment and pin our hopes on becoming happier once we secure that next new thing.

Not only is this snipe hunt a distraction and wallet-emptier, it can become an endless search for meaning and satisfaction where it cannot be found. No matter what baubles decorate your marriage or what wrappings surround your relationship, the basic connection (or disconnection) remains the same.


Don’t Seek Emotional Intimacy or Validation Elsewhere

When you feel invisible in your marriage, it’s tempting to find others who will truly see and appreciate you. Be careful on this slippery slope. Attention feels good and you can end up unintentionally sliding into an emotional affair (here are the key signs to watch out for).

If you think your marriage has a chance, give it that chance. Focus your energy towards making your partnership stronger and growing yourself into a better spouse. If your marriage is already on shaky ground, focusing elsewhere is a surefire way to send it tumbling into ruins.

And if your marriage is dead, have the respect to communicate its demise before you turn your attentions elsewhere.


Don’t Disappear

Because that’s just a cowardly and malicious way to end a relationship. You have the right to leave, but don’t lose sight of your spouse’s rights as well. Here is what you do owe your spouse, no matter what decision you decide upon for you.