Author/Life Coach Shares Expert Relationship Advice
Lori Rubenstein's books light a surefire path to greater personal joy and fulfillment
Divorce rates have reached all-time highs, spelling misery and unhappiness for thousands of men and women. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 20 million divorced adults across the nation. Furthermore, recent statistics suggest that more than 50 percent of all current marriages will end in divorce and another 43 percent will end in separation long before they ever reach their Silver Anniversary.
But there is life after divorce, according to Verde Valley life coach, mediator and divorce attorney Lori Rubenstein. Author of the new book Transcending Divorce: A Guide for Personal Growth and Transformation plus an earlier work called Conscious Relationships, Lori offers sound advice for resuming healthy relationships based on the wisdom of her own personal and professional life experiences.
Lori was a divorce attorney in Oregon and Pennsylvania for 18 years who now works as a life-after-divorce coach and mediator in northern Arizona. She also ranks among the renowned motivational contributors, along with Wayne Dyer, in the No. 1 best-selling, self-help anthology Wake Up - Live the Life You Love, in which she writes about transcending divorce.
Lori shares simple but profound excerpts from her books along with her top 10 guidelines for maintaining a greater sense of self so you too can enjoy fulfilling relationships once again. Visit her Web site at www.transcendingdivorce.com for even more tips, book purchasing information and to sign up for her free newsletter.
How to Date and NOT Lose Yourself in a Relationship
By Lori Rubenstein, JD, CPC
Life-After-Divorce Mediator and Life Coach
Are you scared to death to get involved in a new relationship because you don’t know how to NOT lose yourself?
If you answered yes, you are not alone. Many people who have been through a breakup after a long-term relationship are nervous about getting out there and establishing a new one.
Fear of being vulnerable and getting hurt again drives many to stay home and just “veg” out. Others still are gun-shy about dating because they fear losing themselves.When they separated, they didn’t just lose the other person; they had to go on a search to find themselves.
If you are one of those people, then this article is for you!
Lessons from Lauren
Lauren was married for 22 years and has been single for two years. She feels like she is ready to start dating.
It’s taken her the last two years to get over the loss of the family, her role as mother and wife. During the entire marriage, she identified herself as “Don’s wife.” Her job was to support his career, move the entire family with each career transfer, and be super-mom (she was in charge of every medical decision, transportation, purchasing and caring for clothing, meals, shopping, homework, school communication, sports and extracurricular activities).
About 20 years into the marriage, Don began to express resentment over the fact that he was the only breadwinner. He wanted to change their agreed-upon marital roles to some extent. Lauren could not begin to imagine changing that agreement, since she had absolutely no idea what going out into the workforce entailed. She was a housewife; she was good at her job; and she was proud of her accomplishments.
When they divorced, Lauren was depressed, terrified and confused. Who was she now? How would she make it on her own?
Well, like all terrified, newly divorced people, Lauren got up one day, took a deep breath and decided to survive. She began by taking one step at a time and eventually she created a life of her own. She started taking classes at the community college and discovered she was a pretty smart cookie! That helped her self-esteem. She even had a college professor flirt with her…another self-esteem boost.
With spousal support, child support and some money from the sale of the marital home, she is able to meagerly scrap by, but she is doing it on her own. She is finishing her associate’s degree and getting ready to go out into the workforce.
Reclaiming a sense of self
Your situation may not be as extreme as Lauren’s, but the feelings are still the same. She has worked hard to become independent. She is scared to start dating because she does not want to fall back into the habit of being dependent on a man or just completely losing all she has gained.
This is a primary reason why so many women wait longer than men to get remarried. They are on a mission of self-discovery and do not want to go backwards.
Here I was, a career woman with my own business, and yet, I still lost myself in that relationship.
On a personal note, within a week after I separated from my husband, I went to the grocery store and remember standing in the vegetable isle confused because I truly did not know what it was I wanted to buy. I was so used to buying food for my ex-husband and children, that I forgot what I liked independent from him. Here I was, a career woman with my own business, and yet, I still lost myself in that relationship.
So, what do you do? How do you not lose yourself in relationship?
Here are 10 guidelines:
1. Get rid of the negative, demeaning verbiage that was used by your ex and that you took on during the relationship. By this I mean that if you were verbally or emotionally abused during the relationship and you started believing that you were a defective person in some way, get counseling or coaching. Realize it’s not true, and let it go. If you do not love yourself, don’t expect others to love you. You teach new partners how to treat you by how you treat and view yourself.
2. Take a trip down memory lane and remember who you were before the relationship. What did you love? What were your dreams and visions?
3. Develop new friendships. These new friends will keep you on track. Tell them: “I don’t want to lose myself in this new relationship. If you see me doing that, please tell me.”
4. Forgiveness is mandatory. If you are still holding onto hurt or anger, whether in the position of a victim or martyr, you are very likely to repeat the same pattern as before and lose yourself again.
5. Become more active and fill your time with activities and hobbies that you love.
6. Love and accept yourself. If you need to make changes to become happy with yourself, then do that. It’s more likely you will not lose yourself if you are happy and satisfied with who you have become.
7. Learn the art of assertiveness. Being assertive allows you to state your needs without hurting others. You have new boundaries and are not afraid to state them. When you set and stick to boundaries, you earn respect for yourself and you want to stay on track with the “new you.”
8. Pray for help. Sometimes it’s just in the asking. Sometimes the oneness and wholeness we feel with God can replace the need to feel enveloped with another person and thus lose yourself completely. (This should not be read to mean that feeling whole with your new mate is not positive; just do not lose the balance of who you are).
9. Do not become co-dependent in the relationship. A good way to make sure this does not happen is to hold each other to the highest standards rather than the lowest common denominator. If your new partner is NOT competent, do not attempt to make him/her that way. Recognize the red flags up-front and do not get involved. Do not settle for a fixer-upper!
10. Don’t give up friends, work, organizations, activities, hobbies, dreams or goals which you have come to love. They may have entered your life as a single person, yet as a partnered person you do not need to lose them. Remember, your new mate fell in love with you as a person with all these activities, so don’t change who you are at your essence.
A love affair with yourself
To avoid losing yourself in a new relationship, commit to having fun in that relationship. Notice if things become over-burdened and you feel like it’s drudgery to relate to your new mate. Then you’ve lost yourself.
Therapist Edmund J. Bourne says: "Co-dependency can be defined as the tendency to put others’ needs before your own. You accommodate to others to such a degree that you tend to discount or ignore your own feelings, desires and basic needs. Your self-esteem depends largely on how well you please, take care of and/or solve problems for someone else (or many others)."
In some cases, this is very sweet and endearing. However, only you know if you go too far and lose yourself completely. If you had this tendency in previous relationships, be aware and stay alert, and monitor yourself closely when moving into a new relationship.
Excerpts from Transcending Divorce: A Guide for Personal Growth and Transformation (Copyright 2007 Lori Rubenstein) reprinted with permission from the author. To order, visit www.lulu.com/lori11.
Meet the Author
As a personal life coach, I dare to transcend with my clients. I powerfully speak the truth while passionately and responsibly connecting with clients. Together, we joyfully and intuitively allow the spirit within us to soar.
I have transcended many times in my own life. I am currently a Personal Life Coach, mediator and successful divorce attorney.
I teach classes for Divorce and Custody as well as Life Makeover Classes. As a divorce attorney, I have worked with more than 1,000 clients to help them deal with fearful transitions in their lives.
As a mediator, I help people find creative solutions and gain dignity by resolving their own conflict. I am told that I am an amazing "idea person." As a coach, I love helping people to transcend their current situation and find joy and passion in their lives once again.
My experience is both professional and personal. As a mother of two children, I practice walking my talk. As a child of divorce, and through daily interaction with my divorce clients, I know and see the effects of continuing the parental fight around children. It has serious ramifications on the children's self-esteem. As a divorced and remarried parent, I continue to be reminded of how my own choices affect my children.
I have learned to transform bottled-up negative energy into courage, strength and the ability to change and enrich my life. Once I recognized the need to change and grow, I discovered the resolve within myself to accomplish my desires.
After attending the University of Nevada in Reno, I graduated in 1985 with a Juris Doctor from Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C. I served as an attorney for Legal Services in Harrisburg, Penn., for five years and then as the Regional Director of Oregon Legal Services' Roseburg branch for another five years. In 1994 I became a certified mediator through Confluence Northwest in Portland, Oreg., and in 1995 went into private practice.
In 2002 I was certified by the Academy for Coach Training (Bellevue, Wash.) as a Certified Professional Coach.
I have served on numerous legal and community boards. Some of these positions include: the past Young Career Woman for the Oregon Business and Professional Women's Club, past president of the Douglas County Bar Association, past board member of the Oregon Bar Association's Local Professional Responsibility Committee and Family Law Section, as well as numerous statewide family law task forces in both Oregon and Pennsylvania.
"Dare to Transcend!"
If you are open to reach beyond your current life's boundaries, take the plunge, and accept the opportunity to achieve your dreams, whatever they may be, wherever they may take you.
TOOLS TO TRANSCEND
Lori Rubenstein offers several programs this fall: “Transcending Divorce” tele-classes, relationship classes and a women’s retreat “Standing Firm on Feminine Ground." For a list of classes, visit www.transcendingdivorce.com or www.daretotranscend.com.
Order all of Lori's books at www.lulu.com/lori11.
Lori is passionate about partnering with people to live the life they love! Send your e-mail inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All for one;
one for all.