Saturday, January 11, 2014

Connected, but alone?

Hi everyone,

I haven't blogged in a long time.   I often think about issues that keep coming up in my practice.   I seem to be working so much that I don't have time to sit down to write about it.  However, after listening to this Ted Talk by Sherry Turkle, I felt I had to post this so my followers would listen to this very important talk about the negative effects of  substituting cell phone texting for human connection. When it comes to the single most talked about problems in a marriage, the lack of human contact through talking, touching, and gazing in each others eyes, which have been  replaced by emails, texting, television and other tech and robotic substitutes is staggering, painful and harmful to the marriage.  May I remind each couple every night, to put down your cell phones, turn off the television and the computer and just hang out and talk for 15 minutes each day.  This alone can help to rejuvenate a marriage and make you feel more engaged and connected.  This is what every couple wants and needs.

 Sherry Turkle: Connectedbut alone? | Video on
  • Apr 3, 2012
    ... and online personas are redefining human connection and communication -- and
  • Sunday, August 18, 2013

    What Is A Healthy Marriage?

    This video discusses emotional responsiveness and how it is necessary to make you feel happy in a committed relationship.  If your partner is not accessible, responsive, and engaged with you, then you might be missing the key ingredients that would make you feel happier in your marriage.  I have been trained by Sue Johnson and use Emotionally Focused Therapy during my treatment with my couples. Please listen to her speak. Are you getting what you want in your marriage?

    Wednesday, April 24, 2013

    When Your Child Walks in During Sex

    Hi Parents,

    Sex and affection is very important to keep a marriage healthy.   One of the most often problems discussed in Couple Therapy is, " We don't have enough time to have sex in our daily hectic lives". This article presents another problem which we are often confronted with that we don't often discuss.  Since we don't have much time to enjoy long uninterrupted sex, we might try to squeeze sex in when we can.  What do we do when our children walk in on us during the sexual act? As the author discusses, affection should not be saved for just the bedroom.  It is important to show your children, that healthy affection and sexuality should be the norm rather than  being shielded  from it, of course, age appropriate. 
    Please read this interesting article and write me any comments that you may have. Till next time. You can always contact me through my website or email address.
    Beverly Zagofsky
    Couples Therapy

    When your child walks in during sex

    Wednesday, December 5, 2012

    Gettin Along With The In-Laws, Not easy, But Important


    I have found over the years of working with couples, in-laws have been a source of frustrations, hurt feelings, and bitter disagreements between partners.   Usually, but not always, there are more problems associated with the wife and her husbands family, then the other way around.  This is the first study that I have found,  that gives an interesting explanation of why this occurs.  It also gives guidelines that may help prospective new in-laws avoid these pit falls.

    Since we are coming into the holiday season, which provides lots of occassions to celebrate  with family, realizing that in-laws should have boundaries,  can make these get togethers that much more fun.  All in-laws, but especially mother's of husbands, need to sometimes, zip their lip, when it comes to giving advice to their daughter in-law.  Remember, they were once a young wife,  navigating their way through the insecurity of married life. Support,  not advise and criticism is what everyone needs.

    Have a happy holiday season,
    Best Regards,
    Beverly Zagofsky

    You can reach me at 908 879 2222

    By Alice Phillipson

    Getting along with the in-laws is never easy but it could be the secret to a long and happy
    marriage, according to new research.

    Husband's who enjoy a good relationship with their in-laws have a 20 per cent higher chance
    of avoiding divorce, an American study has found.

    However, the opposite is true for women.  Wives who get on well with their in-laws are 20%
    more likely to split up.

    According to researchers at the University of Michigan, women who enjoy the company of their
    in-laws may become too involved with their husbands's fanily, to the point where wives believe the in-laws are meddling.

    Men do not share the same worries, which could explain the discrepancy between husbands and wives.
    Dr Terri Orbuch, a psychologist and research professor who led the study, said it's a positive aspect of a relationship if men get on well with their in-laws because "these ties connect the husband to the wife".
    However, women do not view relationships with in-laws in the same way, she said.
    "Because relationships are so important to women, their identity as a wife and mother is central to their being," she said.
    "They interpret what their in-laws say and do as interference into their identity as a spouse and parent."
    She added that wives should be wary of sharing details of their marriages so that boundaries are kept in place.
    The study at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research examined 373 same-race couples over a period of 26 years, beginning in 1986.
    All the couples were aged between 25 and 37 and had been married for a year or less when the study began. Dr Orbuch has followed them throughout their years of marriage.


    Tuesday, June 5, 2012

    Is Divorce Good for Children?

    Is Divorce Good For Children? This article is an interesting overview of how Divorce affects children. It gives some interesting insight into some issues that a couple should consider before filing those divorce papers. I see couples all the time in conflict over the best thing to do about separating, when there are children involved. Although, this Author, recommends involving the children in making the decision about divorce, I do not advocate this position. Children are not mature enough at any age, nor do they know or should they know, the intimate details of what brought the couple to this crises in the first place. However, that being said, the Author makes some important points about the emotional states necessary for Partners to achieve a satisfying and happy marriage. If they don't develop these abilities to maintain a marriage, getting divorvce will only begin a turnstile of serial unhappy relationships. If you find your self in this situation, Marriage Counseling can help.

    Please call:
    908 879 2222 

    Posted by Elisabeth Davies| April 26, 2012

    Did you know that in 2011 Arizona had the highest divorce rate in the nation among women? (1) Do you think divorce effects the children from these homes?
    Over the years I have counseled hundreds of family’s pre and post divorce and although children are resilient, divorce can leave lasting effects depending on the child’s age and development.
    Can a child’s trust be effected by divorce?
    Children do not have control, or often times even a say in the decision to get a divorce. This can lead to feelings of helplessness and insecurity. Children are born trusting that their parents will take care of their needs growing up, physically and emotionally. A child’s trust is developed in their family. This is influenced greatly through providing a home that is safe and caring. If one parent moves out and is not consistent with visitation or does not keep their word regarding when they will call or see their child, the child’s trust can be broken. If children are unable to trust their parents, they can carry these trust issues over into other relationships and have doubts about trusting other people. Parents keeping  the promises they make to their children and providing for children’s needs will help develop trust in the relationship.
    Can children develop abandonment issues from divorce?
    A divorce during the preschool and early elementary years of a child’s life can elicit separation anxiety in children. They can become clingy and fearful of being detached from their home or parent. It is important that each parent let the child know they will not be abandoned. Consistently staying in your child’s life will help them develop a sense of security about their self and their future without fearing ‘What will become of me?” Fear of being abandoned is the most common, long lasting issue that I see from children and adults whose parents divorced when they were growing up. When a parent moves out of the home the child often internalizes, “Why did you leave me?” When a child feels abandoned by a relationship where their primary bonding occurred, they often have more difficulty trusting that they will not be abandoned in future intimate relationships.
    Can a child lose respect when mom or dad says negative things about one another?
    In the early years children’s self-esteem is being developed, which comes from their family. This is influenced greatly by the feelings and perceptions of the family sticking up for one another, focusing on each others strengths and avoiding excessive criticism. If children overhear their parents being critical of one another this can make the child feel ‘in the middle’. Children want to be loyal to each parent.  Many adults whose parents went through divorce when they were children have shared with me the respect a parent has earned from them, by not bad mouthing the other parent. Children listen to parents that they respect.
    Can children take longer to heal from divorce if their parents don’t get along?
    Many parents have asked me, “Isn’t it better to divorce than have our children see us fighting so much?” My response is “Why are you fighting in front of your kids, can’t you wait till they are not around or go outside, away from the kids and have your arguments?” Many children have expressed being afraid when their parents fight because they cannot stop the arguing, even when they ask their parents to stop. Parent’s fighting causes emotional distress on children. Our children watch us and learn from us what acceptable communication in relationships is. Children can develop anger from feeling a lack of control when parents continue to argue and treat each other unkindly. When parents are in turmoil with one another, it will take longer for the child to adjust to the divorce.
    Do children blame themselves for their parents divorce?
    Children under the age of six are egocentric and often think they are the cause of the parents divorce. If a parent gets a divorce during this time, it is important that the parent tells the child that it is not their fault. Although it is difficult to take ownership and not blame our partner for divorce, it will role model to our children not to blame our problems on others, thus avoiding a ‘victim mentality.’ Some lasting effects I have seen from clients whose parents have divorced during this stage include: fear of conflict and being a people pleaser to keep people in a relationship with them.
    Can children lose their sense of belonging from divorce?
    As children become older, they develop a sense of belonging. This begins in their family, by feeling loved and accepted during their elementary years. If parents decide to get a divorce and one parent moves out during this age, the child’s sense of belonging is shattered. It is important that the child knows they will always be your family. Consistently staying in their life and developing a quality relationship will help them avoid feeling rejected, or wonder ‘Where do I belong?’ I ask parents who are considering divorce to ask their children if it’s ok with them that they divorce their other parent, because this decision will have an effect on their childhood. This holds us accountable as parents, since we are responsible for our children’s childhoods.  Our childhood leaves a permanent imprint on our life.
    What are children’s needs?
    Children are dependent upon their parents to take care of and provide for their needs, even during divorce. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children need:
    A sense of security about self and their future
    A sense of belonging
    A need for structure when things are falling apart
    A need for a stable parent
    A sense of purpose and direction toward achievement and self-expression
    A sense of personal competence and ability to meet life’s challenges
    A sense of trust in parents and self
    Children do not see themselves as autonomous from their parents, until late into adolescence. If parents  divorce prior to children being able to earn an income, children must know they will be provided for so they do not develop a sense of ‘lack’ and helplessness to provide for their needs.
    Are children effected by having to go back and forth between homes?
    Parents living in separate residences and having joint custody following a divorce is an adjustment that can be difficult for children. Children fair best with structure and stability. When children have to go between residences it is hard for them to get rooted into feeling at home. It is an easier adjustment for the child when parents can live in close proximity so the child can stay at the same school and have the same friends. Children can also get attached to certain items they want to bring to the non-custodial parents home. Flexibility on the parent’s part can help the child adjust to different residences.
    A parent communicating in advance why they are getting divorced and how the divorce will effect the child’s routine helps the child move forward, as well as feel a sense of security about themselves and their future, by knowing what adjustments to expect going through divorce.
    What will help you get through a divorce?
    Counseling from an experienced divorce provider can help provide skills and emotional support for parents and children going through divorce.
    Reading books to your children about divorce can also be helpful. Dinosaurs Divorce by Marc Brown is a book many children have found helpful in sparking questions about their own divorce.
    Divorce Support groups can be helpful to parents, by sharing and learning from other people going through similar circumstances.
    A loving church, prayer or spiritual practices can help with a sense of belonging and depending on something bigger than you for support.
    Spending time with loyal friends and family can help with feeling connected and supported during stressful transitions, such as divorce.
    Playing and exercising is great for burning off the stress divorce can bring.
    Journaling is a great recording outlet to keep track of your feelings and progress through divorce over time
    Is staying married better than divorce?
    I do not suggest you try to get through a divorce by yourself. Statistics show that about 75% of divorced people remarry (2) but the divorce rate for second marriages is higher than the divorce rate for first marriages. If you do not have the 5 components necessary to make a marriage work the first time, it is important that you acquire these, prior to remarrying, so that it can last.
    The 5 components necessary to make a marriage work:
    Commitment (staying and problem solving )
    Communication (expressing what you need from each other)
    Trust (faithful, honest, loyal, dependable)
    Respect (treating each other as valuable)
    Love (patient, kind, forgiving, persevering)
    Children who come from divorced homes have more than a 50% chance of their marriage failing when they marry, verses children whose parents did not divorce.
    Financially divorce can decrease a person’s wealth by an average of 77% (3) Many couples are delaying the divorce process because they cannot afford to support the family on their own income.
    An unhappy spouse may feel that they will be happier if they divorce their partner. The research shows that divorced people are not happier than married people. (3) This is because marriage is not the cause of happiness. Our own contented thinking is what causes our happiness. If you’re not content when your married, you’re not going to be content just because you are divorced.
    Men, women and children all have better health, wealth, satisfaction and success in intact first marriages. There are so many helpful resources to work a marriage out, and your children will all fair better in the long run. (4)
    Written by: Elisabeth Davies, MC (married 18 years, raising 2 children in an intact 1st marriage).

    Saturday, April 28, 2012

    Put Your Spouse First

    Hi Couples out there, It is so sad that couples come to me in despair because they just don't feel that they are important to their partners. It seems that everything takes priority over their partners. I hear complaints of telephone conversations, computer games and facebook, TV, children, work, school, house work, the list is endless. I am hear to tell you that you need to put your partner first! That is right! FIRST! Put all other past times aside and focus in on your partner. Even if it is only for 15 minutes a day. Stare into each others eyes, listen closely, debrief, tell each other "You are the one". "You are important", "I am here for you. It doesn't take much time, and it will really make a difference. Try it and let me know. Everyone may need Marriage Therapy some time, it could make the difference between an ok relationship and a great relation. Reach me in Chester, New Jersey Regards, Beverly

    Monday, September 19, 2011

    Divorce Sucks


    I work with many couples where one partner is coming to see me to sort out whether he/she should leave or whether he/she should stay and work on their marriage. For some, it seems so much harder to stay in a marriage that they feel is emotionally empty and not fulfilling all of their needs. Staying is especially difficult, if they are already involved in an emotional or a physical affair at the same time that they are trying to make this decision. Nothing can compare to the excitement, newness and passion of a new relationship. The average affair lasts between 18 months and 2 years. After that, the same issues that made the affair partner feel tied down, unappreciated, misunderstood and stressed, tends to surface and the reality sets in. The problem becomes that much more complicated with more people involved, and more drama.
    Here is an interesting article written by a woman about her experience with divorce. It gives you a realistic view of what happens to the children, that might be forgotten when you are in the excitement of the affair.
    Your children need you forever and should be your number one focus. Your actions will always impact them. I know, because I see it daily from the couples who come for counseling. Many of them have been impacted by their parents relationship and their behaviors and view them as role models of how a marriage should work. Before you decide to divorce, consider your children.

    Call me if you need me.
    Beverly Zagofsky
    908 879 2222

    Wasbands And Wives: Seven Reasons To Stay Married
    Huffington Post
    9-18-11 by Gigi Levangie

    Divorce sucks.
    I mean, it really sucks. Got kids? If so, don't do it.

    You probably think you have no reason to listen to me. I'd agree if we were talking about shifting weather patterns or why Lil' Wayne has diamonds instead of front teeth. But, hey, I've lived a pretty long time -- by L.A. standards, I'm ancient -- and I've had many life experiences, among them two marriages.

    My novels The Starter Wife and Queen Takes King, as well as the original screenplay I wrote for Stepmom, all center on marital break-ups. I've become a reluctant expert; the poster ex-wife for divorce. My second wasband and I (I coined the term, it sounds nicer than "ex") get along so well that we are often mistaken for a happily married couple at Little League games, the school play, or a first grader's birthday party. We still share holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and, of course, Super Bowl Sunday. We sign off on emails to each other with a minimum three x's and o's. We kiss hello, we hug goodbye. Our divorce -- though public and heavily laden with fancy attorneys whose grandchildren's weddings we paid for -- was actually about as amicable as one could hope. I have never said a bad word about my "was" to my children; I hope he can say the same.

    What we no longer share is the bond of marriage.

    The first time around, I was married just three months after meeting Starter Husband at a nightclub. (I didn't say I was smart, just married.) My "starter" marriage proved to be just that -- lasting three years, a year for each month of courtship.

    I left my home, husband, four dogs, and shotgun, and moved around the corner from Canter's Deli to an empty apartment with an empty aquarium. The first week apart from Starter Husband, I lost eight pounds. Friends forced me to eat matzoh ball soup, counting every spoonful. At night, alone in bed for the first time in years, I swam through my tears while listening to George Michael and Don Henley (the only time I've listened to Don Henley), weeping to Van Cliburn playing Mozart sonatas.

    I also wrote my first screenplay.

    I reasoned that marriage had held me back from fulfilling my dreams, from self-actualization -- the pinnacle of Maslow's hierarchy of needs (love and belonging hovering way below, only after safety needs and stuff like "breathing"). Oprah would have been proud.

    I swore to my friends I would never marry again.
    Um. Hey. Guess what? I was wrong. I got married. Again.

    The second was supposed to be "my" marriage -- ironic. I'd been determined to make holy matrimony my bitch. I knew the territory. We drove my baby-blue Ford Falcon downtown, got married in front of a judge and several gang members . Then I dashed off, making it to work that day by 10:30 that morning.

    This time I would do it right. But after over 16 years of living together, almost ten years of marriage, with a family unit of two little boys, my husband's two older children, and a mini-dachshund named Cecil, I found myself divorced. Again.
    I was in my forties, and hadn't learned a thing about relationships. If anything, I was less sure of what I knew at this point than when I was 16 and happily engaged to Prince (in my head). Since I'm not remotely Elizabeth Taylor, this divorce thing was getting old, fast.

    What I've learned since is that divorce lingers. It makes you sad when you least expect it. It colors everything -- from a first date with a promising somebody to a basketball game where your kid makes three-pointers. And you can tell yourself, yeah, I did it for my kids, so they could grow up with a healthy mother, a happier mother who had more time for them. But single motherhood, even with access to help, is not for sissies. Sure, I have more control over my children under the circumstances -- but in return, I'm more strung-out, I'm more overwhelmed.

    Okay, after the second break-up, I no longer have to eat osso bucco with Sumner Redstone, and that almost makes it worth it, but I also have to answer my children's questions about why, how, when. I have to tell them that -- despite my past, despite my wasband's past -- marriage is still worth trying.

    It is also worth preserving.

    Ladies (and curious men), these are my top seven (and a half) reasons for staying married:

    1. All men suck...
    ...and all men are great. All men are annoying. And all men put the toilet seat down every time. All men are needy. And all men live to make you happy. All men are demanding. And all men are easy. (Well, actually, all men are easy, especially those in politics, but that's a whole other subject.)

    All men are cheap. And all men love shopping at the Tiffany's counter. All men keep you guessing. And all men check in several times a day, just because. All men hog the covers. And all men tuck you in at night. All men are dull. And all men will whisk you off to Napa on a moment's notice.

    All men are mama's boys. And all men are fighter pilots. All men are complicated. And all men have basic needs, like ESPN in HD.

    Do you get what I'm saying, here? Men are human. Weird, I know.

    Basically, if you hate your spouse and get divorced, you will be trading him in for a similar model, only in chinos. If you're lucky.

    2. Raising kids on your own sucks...
    ...but this doesn't mean you want to raise them with someone new.

    Divorce with children is -- mathematically speaking -- 180 million times worse than divorce without children. I'm sure there's a New York Times study to back me up on this.

    Kids are not better off with divorced parents. (Hi, angry tweets from ecstatically divorced parents!) Psychologist Judith Wallerstein conducted a 25-year study on the effects of divorce on the children involved; her book chronicling her findings is more frightening than any TV commercial advertising an Anthony Hopkins movie. If I really don't want to sleep at night, I'll reread her statistics. For example, children of divorce are more likely than children from intact families to drop out of school, suffer drug and alcohol problems, require psychotherapy, and get divorced themselves.
    Recently, there was a new study in The American Sociological Review that showed children of divorce lag in math scores and social skills. For years.

    Insomnia, much?

    My observations of children of divorce, including my own, are simple. Divorce makes your kids' life harder. Would you want to go to a different home every few days because it suits someone else's schedule? Would you like to remember at which house you left your wallet, your laptop, your workout bag, your briefcase? How about sleep in a different bed, use a different toothbrush, get used to the new person in the kitchen and the master bedroom? Your kids have to remember textbooks, notebooks, backpacks, favorite t-shirts, socks, Vans, homework, football helmet, cleats... No wonder these kids are more anxious.

    On top of that, they have to do science reports in first grade, master algebra in fifth. Everything's gotten harder. I've volunteered in my sons' classes, and I hate to say it, but I can tell which children have parents who are divorced.

    Admitting this brings me no pleasure, and a great deal of pain.

    A friend of mine, a divorced mother, told me that her son was depressed about the new woman in his dad's life. "I'm afraid I'm going to forget our Christmases, Mom," he told her, "Someday, will it be like they never happened?"

    Consistency is key to a happy, healthy childhood. Guess what's inconsistent? Living with divorce.

    3. The money sucks.
    Financially speaking, both men and women are better off staying married. Post-divorce, the higher wage-earner typically pays alimony and child support. The lower wage-earner typically endures a lower standard of living.

    Fighting over money turns people into the worst versions of themselves. This is true whether you're divorced or married. Throw divorce lawyers into the mix and you have a recipe for bankruptcy, both financial and moral.

    I've found that in dating, men are expensive -- probably as expensive as women. I know many divorced women who've lent money to their boyfriends or bought them expensive gifts. No longer do men feel remiss in accepting, and in some cases, demanding money, clothes, cars, trinkets. Hey, we wanted men to be more like us, right? We've turned men into luxury items.

    The only good thing to come out of this recession is that fewer people are getting divorced. Why? They can't afford to.

    4. Raising other people's kids suck...
    ...because you're also raising not only their issues, but their parents' issues. That's a f-ckload of issues, to put it in psychological terms. If you get divorced, it's likely you're going to be dating other divorced people -- and guess what, they come with the same thing you have -- ex-and-kid baggage. Hey, I love kids, I've raised or helped raise enough of them, going back over two decades -- but being a stepparent, or even a stepfriend -- is not for the faint of heart. Parents get bent out of shape when another adult comes into the picture, no matter how good their intentions. I've got the restraining order to prove it.

    Fitting the pieces together with others after a divorce is a constant struggle, whether you're talking about old exes, new marriages, or the children from either. I've talked and talked to women and men desperately trying to figure out how and when and with whom to start again. And why? Why put yourself through the drama? How do you fit the puzzle pieces together when one of the pieces is a hormonal pre-teen, another is a borderline personality ex bent on destroying everything in her path, including her own child, and a third is the dog who growls every time you enter the room.

    This is not the most romantic scenario.

    Bottom line: You may care as much for your significant other's children as they do, but you are not their parent.

    5. Dating sucks (after the first three months); your ex dating sucks and never stops sucking.
    Look at your date. Does his slightly wheezy laugh grate on your nerves? What about the fact that he just called his ex-wife a b-tch? Or, better yet, a c-nt? Charmed yet? Do you like a backwards baseball cap and baggy jeans on a forty-year-old? No? Guess how much you're going to like it in twenty years? Just. As. Much.

    Every little quirk that you find the slightest bit irritating in your dining partner is guaranteed to become the central core of his personality as the years pile on. Good luck with that.

    Speaking of dating. Dates will shock you -- shock you -- with what they believe is normal behavior. When a dinner date feels like a scene from Hangover 2, you know you're in trouble.

    Internet dating now seems like a safe, time-tested way to get to know people -- until you read about the film executive who was the victim of a sexual attack by a man she met on Match.Com. Craigslist is just another name for potential date rape; to a single mother, nothing is scarier than craigslist.

    Which brings me to another point: sex. Living with children is like living with parents. Except you're not a teenager, trying to sneak one over on Mom and Dad. You are the sole member of the household responsible for the health and well-being of your children. And your kids don't want you to date. They don't want you to bring home someone new. Even if they like the new guy or girl, they don't want to appear to be choosing sides against their other biological parent.
    When you do go out with someone (after the kids go to bed), you size them up not only against your standards, but the standards of your children. You're not the only one going out on that date -- your seven-year-old is right there with you, with his toothy grin. Your fourteen-year-old is scowling in the background. Your stoic ten-year-old has tears welling up in his eyes.

    Frankly, other than superficial dating far away from your kids' eyes and ears, E.S.P. might be the only thing that makes sense for the single parent.

    Yes, your happiness is important, but the moment you gave birth, your happiness took a backseat to that squalling bundle of joy. You're not a teenager anymore. It's not about you. Your self-actualization and self-esteem needs to move over and make some mac and cheese.

    Keep this in mind, as well. Just as time is the only true test of love and marriage -- time is the true test of divorce, as well. Time heals, it clarifies in surprising ways. The old hurts seem more minor, less lacerating. Now you've been hurt anew, and by someone with whom you don't share children or a dog or a name. You've been hurt by someone you barely even know.

    6. Bumps in the night suck.
    A single mother feels it every day: When the sun goes down, there is no one there to watch your back. I have to be combination nursemaid and Rambo. I have not slept a full night in three years; it's hard to sleep with one eye open and a dog named Peanut the only thing between you and potential threat. A phone call after nine sends chills down my spine. The other night my doorbell rang at 11:30. It was a drunken teenage girl (I'm learning there are no other kind) demanding her purse back. Er, you may not find this frightening if you have a man in the house. I, on the other hand, called the cops, and thought seriously about getting a gun.

    It's scary not being married.

    7. Synergy sucks...
    ...when it's gone. Prior to my divorce, an Oscar-winning screenwriter told me to keep in mind that a couple is more than just the sum of two people. Do you get it? Neither did I, but that's probably why I don't have an Oscar. Still, I've thought about what he said a lot since then. He was speaking of synergy, the mutually advantageous conjunction of distinct elements. The two of you have combined to make something that would not otherwise exist. What we are together is greater than what we are apart.

    On the other hand (now ring-free), when you divorce, there's you and the divorce.

    A marriage is a living thing. A divorce -- while it can go on forever in court, bankrupting you financially, emotionally, mentally and physically -- is not a living thing; it's a death.

    Really hard to see that when you're furious at each other, with one foot out the door, your middle finger raised high. Adrenalin loves a dramatic exit.

    There's that fallback saying people in a break-up often say: "You want to get to know someone? Divorce them". I don't believe it. I think it should be reworded: You want to get to know someone under the most stressful conditions...

    On the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, divorce is just a tad less stressful than death of a spouse (presumably, one you liked). People don't behave well under that kind of stress. Money is tight, the kids are upset, in the air is the odor of hatred. The spouse that you loved enough to marry is now a raging dick.

    If your husband beat you, verbally abused you more than you verbally abused him, abused drugs, alcohol, or wanted a porn family, then by all means, leave. You're better off. But, in other cases, maybe there's a higher order. Maybe we were actually correct in selecting that person, that spouse, to procreate with.

    In the midst of our separation, our family therapist, a cancer survivor in her 60s, who'd been practicing for many years, gave me sage advice, which I was too angry or blind to accept. "Wait until the kids are launched," she told me. "Who knows? You may even find yourself in love again, with your husband."

    I chose not to take it. A big part of me wishes I had.