What's Your Shelf Life?

Posted by: Vince Frese

What's Your Shelf Life?


I once heard a woman lamenting about her "shelf life". I had never heard that expression before and I asked her to explain. She said that men find women less attractive as women get older. Therefore, women have a limited time in which to find a suitable mate. If they get too old, they will be cast aside like last week's newspaper. She went on to explain that men don't have that problem since women find them attractive at any age. 

I remember feeling very sad at this cynical viewpoint, and I told her so. I went on to explain, that while the body certainly ages, virtue never does. I told her that what men and women alike are really seeking is someone of virtue, not some perfect physical specimen. A person who lives their life guided by timeless virtues like honesty, integrity, commitment, self-control, respect, kindness, and selflessness, is a rare person indeed. This is what makes them so attractive. And virtuous people always attract other virtuous people.  Physically attractive people are everywhere, virtuous people are not. Without virtue, all that you will have left as you age is wrinkles. Live a life of virtue and you will remain vibrant and attractive no matter how old you get. 


The Secret

Posted by: divorcedcatholic.org

Tagged in: hope , faith , Catholic divorce , annulment

 

Valentine's Day is upon us, and for those who are divorced, celebrating love is very hard to do. That is, of course, unless you know the secret...


Fear Is A Lousy Strategy

Posted by: Patrick Collins

Tagged in: relationships , how to , hope , faith , divorce , Catholic divorce

One of the most common reactions to divorce is fear. That is very understandable. Who wouldn’t be scared if their entire life came crashing in around them? The problem with fear is not being scared, that’s normal. The problem is acting on fear. That’s when fear becomes a lousy strategy. I have seen time and again how people take matters into their own hands and act on this fear. Bad choices almost always occur. Here are some examples (you can probably relate to some or all of these—and come up with a few of your own!).


It was 6:00 pm and I was in a bit of a predicament. I was standing in a very crowded restaurant bar next to two gentlemen on bar stools and they had been there a while. I was trying to mind my own business but noticed one of them smiled and tipped his golf cap. Being a single woman at the time, I began feeling uncomfortable and tried to appear preoccupied with waiting for the rest of my party to arrive while the hostess arranged a table for 7. As this man turned to face me, I thought I knew what was coming and hoped I could get out of there without being rude. But I was about to be surprised.

"Would you like my seat?" he said. "Thank you for offering," I replied with a polite smile, "But I'm waiting for my friends... they're making a table for us." He introduced himself as Mike and then an unexpected and interesting conversation ensued. Surprisingly, this late-40- something gentleman was quite an open book. He talked about his contracting business, then a recent golf trip with his buddies, and then his 3rd wife and teenage son who "hated him." Since I had also been through a divorce 6 years earlier, I felt sad for him. He said he used to be Catholic, used to serve mass as an altar boy, referring to that time in his youth as "the good ole' days." Admittedly, he was dissatisfied with life, but reasoned that it was all good because he could come to the bar after work each day to get an "attitude adjustment" before he headed home.

I briefly mentioned my own divorce and that I, too, was Catholic, but added that my faith was what got me through it all (in hopes that I might send a positive message about practicing the faith). I mentioned the group of friends I was meeting - also Catholic and great to work with. And right about then, they showed up and our table was ready. I thanked Mike for the conversation and said goodbye, still feeling sad for him.

Unexpectedly, Mike approached our table after a few minutes. He was not drunk, but he was clearly under the influence of the "truth serum" he had been drinking. He said to us all, "I want you to know that I am jealous," and he laughed somewhat awkwardly. "I'm jealous because you have your faith." Everyone at the table was quiet and attentive. "I was supposed to be a priest," he said, pointing to his own chest. "I've known that since I was a kid." His eyes welled-up a bit. "But I got a girl pregnant and all bets were off. I haven't been back to church since and now I'm on my third wife. You don't know how lucky you all are. Sorry to interrupt." Then Mike turned and left.

That was 10 years ago and the memory of that encounter is still vivid. I related to Mike because, although my circumstances were very different, I too had allowed the world to pull me away from my faith in a very dangerous way. Six years before my chance meeting with Mike, I was struggling with my husband leaving me and not really understanding how I could reconcile the fact that I was "divorced and Catholic." That was so contrary to everything I had been taught my whole life. In my morally weakened and emotional state, I became highly susceptible to what I call, "the culture of divorce."

The culture of divorce poses itself as an oasis in the desert of pain and suffering, but in reality it is the ultimate mirage... actually, more like a huge pit of quicksand. There are well-meaning people who congratulate you on your divorce, thinking that type of encouragement helps you feel better and the issue of the pain is avoided altogether. That is the first mistake, thinking that avoiding the pain is the way to heal, when addressing the pain is the real place to start. They always know the "perfect person" to set you up with on a date.

In the culture of divorce, the environment is laced with an "anything goes because you deserve to be happy" attitude that suggests all kinds of immoral behavior are completely appropriate and acceptable, based on the premise that indulging yourself is the path to healing. There are endless opportunities for finding new relationships to help you "heal"; casual dating and intimacy, weekend flings, new "loves", etc. Unfortunately, I found myself immersed in this culture for a time after my divorce and what I received in return was anything but healing. In return, I received confusion, bitterness, heartache, severe depression, total dissatisfaction with life, and a strained relationship with God.

After my marriage fell apart, I was so disillusioned that I allowed cynicism to take over. I started to believe that "til death do us part" was a myth and from that point, I began to settle for less. "My dream is life-long marriage, but since that's not possible, I'll have to find happiness some other way. I know I shouldn't be involved with this person, but he makes me feel good, attractive, appreciated. Where else will I find that? And then I reached the point of the ultimate form of settling for less - Even though I know it's wrong, it's all okay because God understands.

I finally realized that doing it my way was the wrong way and I was headed for disaster. My mistake was trusting in myself instead of in God, the One who knows best how to make me happy. Instead of clinging to my faith for support and healing, I gave in to the world and its lies. I wanted to be happy and I knew the only way to achieve that was to leave the life I was living - the lie I was living - completely behind, so that's precisely what I did. It was a difficult proposition of course, but one that had to be executed. I allowed my conviction to do what was right embolden me in my decision making.

Making those decisions was not easy, nor was it fun. I had to cut off bad relationships and build new (good) ones. I had to force myself to step out into uncomfortable and unknown territories, which was scary at times, but I let my conviction to be a better person and be closer to God be my motivation.

In the end, I realized there was a time and a place for everything, and the time for me to be with someone would come... but not before I had healed and done the work on myself that needed to be done. When the time for me to meet the man God had chosen for me came about, everything about it was right. I was truly free to fall in love with him because I had been through the annulment process, worked hard on myself, and was as healed as I was going to get. And it was an incredible experience! We will be celebrating our 9th wedding anniversary on June 17th.

It's easy to get sucked into the culture of divorce because of the sadness, loneliness, and heartache. Even if you have the personal strength to not sucumb to the party lifestyle, get into inappropriate relationships, sink into depression, etc., you must still beware, because the main goal of this culture is to make you lose your faith in God. Many good people lose their faith altogether because they are so hurt and angry. If you are struggling with this "Culture of Divorce" here are a few suggestions to help you detach from it and find the real path to healing:

1. Focus on yourself. Give yourself time to heal. Reflect on the things you want to change, and write those things down. Then, write down how you will make those changes and

2. Make prayer a simple conversation with God. I found praying this way a great comfort... speaking to Him just as I would a trusted friend and asking for strength to do what needed to be done.

3. Be bold! Trust that God will take care of you. Take the steps you need to take, without hesitation, to detach from what is holding you back. God will not let you down!

4. Keep your eyes on the goal. When the temptation to do the things you know will divert you from your goal present themselves, say a quick prayer for strength (God, help me!) and remind yourself why you set this goal.

If you think about it, children trust us in everything! They trust we will feed them good food, protect them from harm, take them fun places, buy them good things. Why should we, children of our Loving Father, trust Him any less? He knows better than we do what will make us happy. Especially in this month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as Christ beckons us to return to Him, come closer to Him, let us open our hearts to Him and resolve to take a step closer to Him each day. I will be praying for you all and I hope you will pray for me, too!


5 Secrets for Getting Through a Bad Day - Lisa Duffy

Posted by: Lisa

Tagged in: myblog , how to , hope , faith , divorce

Mother Teresa reminded us while she was alive that if we have not suffered incredibly we haven't really loved, because to love is to suffer. If you are suffering now because of your divorce, you know these words to be true. And no doubt, you know only too well what having a "bad day" means.

Bad days characteristically just come out of nowhere and hit like a semi truck without warning. For some people, they are completely debilitating and make everyday life difficult, if not impossible to live through.

Losing a loved one is difficult to cope with and when that is compounded by betrayals, nastiness, and deceit, it is only natural that your heart will need a lot of TLC. We are not stone cold beings, but flesh and blood, with a heart created expressly for love... it's the human condition and Christ himself lived this, too, especially during His passion and death. You can count on the fact that He understands you and is very close to you as you suffer.


Turning Shame Into Joy - by guest writer Yvonne Marchese

Posted by: Lisa

Tagged in: how to , hope , faith , divorce

 

My father left my mother and our family two days before my high school graduation. He was having an affair with his first cousin and apparently, everyone knew - everyone except us, of course. It was pretty embarrassing for us. The day of my graduation, while walking through the parking lot on my way into the church, I saw lifelong family friends coming towards me. Just as I started to acknowledge them, I became acutely aware that they intended to walk right by me - staring straight ahead as if I wasn't there. At that moment, embarrassment turned to shame.

Shame:  A painful emotion caused by a strong sense of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness, or disgrace.


Coming Out of The Darkness of Divorce

Posted by: Patrick Collins

Tagged in: how to , hope , faith , divorce

 

At any given time, everyone has some aspect of their life that could be described as a “darkness”. It could be a physical darkness due to an illness with yourself or a loved one. It could be a financial darkness due to the loss of a job. It could be an emotional darkness due to a divorce. Whatever your darkness is, it is sure to create a lot of fear and anxiety.


What to Tell Your Kids About Why You Got Divorced

Posted by: Patrick Collins

Tagged in: Untagged 

During my separation, I read a book about how to help kids through divorce. The general wisdom in this book regarding what to tell the kids was: 1) Don’t blame the other parent (good advice) and 2) Tell the kids that the reason for the divorce is because mommy and daddy are having “big people problems” (bad advice). I tried this with my kids and it didn’t work. Well, okay, the first part did work. I worked hard to present their mother in a good light even though that was far from reality. That helped the kids not have to pick sides, and it respected the image they had of their mother.

The second bit of advice was lousy. All it did was leave the kids confused and scratching their heads. Telling them their mother and I were having “big people problems” didn’t conform with the reality that they lived. Their day-to-day life was one where they saw mommy and daddy getting along. We were cooperative with each other, rarely fought, and seemed happy. To them, life was good. So, the day that they I told them that their mother and I were getting a divorce came as a complete and total surprise to them. When I tried the “big people problem” line on them, they weren’t buying it. They wanted to know exactly why mommy and daddy were getting a divorce. In their mind, there had to be some significant reason their utopia was ending.

They were right, there were serious reasons why mommy and daddy were getting a divorce. And while these reasons certainly were due to “big people problems,” disclosing them to the kids would shatter the image they had of their mother and create further pain. They kept asking “Why, Daddy, why?” and I kept giving them variations of the “big people problems” line. Nothing I said seemed to satisfy their desire to erase this question mark from their lives.

One day I was expressing this problem to a single-parent friend. She told me that she had experienced the same problem with her kids. With some trial and error, she came up with a solution that worked.  She told her kids that when two people get married, they make a promise to love each other for life. She went on to tell them that for some reason, that she didn’t totally understand, their father decided he could no longer keep that promise. That did the trick. The endless questioning ceased. The question of “Why?” was answered with a very reasonable answer that makes sense to every kid: bad things happen when someone breaks a promise.

I asked the next obvious question which was: “Didn’t they ask you what promise Daddy had broken?”. She said, “Of course! I told them that they would have to ask their father since he would better be able to answer that question.” While this may seem like passing-the-buck over to the other parent, it does at least put the situation into perspective. The other parent will typically be grateful that you didn’t drag them through the mud, or give details of their offenses. For the kids, a big hole in the puzzle of their life has gotten somewhat smaller as some of the pieces have dropped into place.

When I gave this “broken promise” explanation to my kids, the questioning stopped. They almost seemed to relax. They finally had an answer that aligned with the reality they were experiencing: mommy made some kind of major decision because she moved out. This satisfied their need to understand why the divorce happened and helped them to accept it and start to move forward. The “broken promise” became the reason for the divorce shifting the focus away from the details that caused the promise to be broken. While the “broken promise” explanation may not the perfect solution in every circumstance (there isn’t one), it does give the kids something to hold onto that jives with their reality and sense of justice.

(c) Vincent Frese, II
www.divorcedcatholic.org
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Journey of Hope Conference 2010
February 27-28, 2010
Atlanta, Georgia 

 

Divorce doesn't have to be a dead-end. 


Live In The Moment!

Posted by: Patrick Collins

Tagged in: how to , hope , divorce

Live in the Moment!
4 Ways to Restore a Hopeful Attitude

 

 


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