Divorced With Children 

August 6, 2015

By Terence T. Gorski, Author, Trainer, and Consultant
GORSKI BOOKS: www.relapse.org

We usually get divorced to leave our Ex behind. We want them permanently out of our lives. We want to be free to get on with our own lives. 

If we are divorced with children, the problem is obvious — children are forever. They can never become the “ex-child” of either partner. So your Ex is never really your Ex. This is because your Ex is not and probably never will be your child’s Ex! Your children love and need your Ex just as much as they did before you were divorced.

This means that if you love your children and think things through, you come to realize that it is important to follow some rules: 

  1. Do not talk down about someone your children love — in this case your Ex. 
  2. Do not make you child feel bad for loving their own parent. 
  3. Above all, do not force your children to choose which parent to love and which to leave behind. Children who are alienated from one parent by the other are forced to leave  the alienated parent behind buried in a heap of unresolved emotion they can’t really understand. 
  4. Remember, it is your divorce. You made the decision, not your children. They did not choose this. Choose your kids well being first and let them do what all children must do — love both parents.

These are great rules — they even carry the ring of sobriety and responsibility. Unfortunately, we are fallible human beings. We strive in all things for progress knowing we can never achieve perfection. 

The rules are simple — put human fallibility makes them difficult to follow. Part of the difficulty is that we got divorced because we wanted or needed to leave our “ex” behind, or our “”Ex” wanted or needed to leave us behind. The goal of divorce, from the parents point of view, is to get their spouse permanently out their lives so they can get on with rebuilding of their own lives.

The problem here is obvious — children are forever. They can never become the “ex-children” of either partner. If we love our children, we will strive to never force them to make a choice between their parents unless their physical safety or life is at risk.

If we love our kids we deal with visitation schedules, shared holidays, staying silent when we want to scream at our “ex” in front them. We do it all for them, not for our Ex. 

What’s even worse is when “our children” are away from us “visiting” with our Ex we must deal with our fears. Ask almost any divorced parents and they will tell you the truth as they see it: “I am a better parent than my Ex and I have “serious concerns” about my Ex’s parenting style. 

So, at some point, we must deal with the reality that we are divorced from our Ex, yet our lives are forever connected to our Ex through our children. 

For the love of our children we try our best to make “joint parenting” as normal as possible for them. We do our best to rebuild our lives within limits — the primary limit being that children love and need both parents. Therefore, if we love our children, total disconnection from our Ex is usually not an option.

Divorced with children means we almost get free from the problems of our marriage — almost, but not quite. 

We try to follow the simple rules spelled out above. But being a fallible human being we at times fail miserably. Fortunately, most children forgive their parents because children tend to love their parents in spite of their human fallibility. 

GORSKI BOOKS: www.relapse.org 

Check out the book: Getting Love Right – Learning The Choices of Healthy Intimacy

Love and Control

November 15, 2014


When you love someone you have no control. Love is born in giving up control to another who may hurt you in your vulnerability. Love dies when control is taken back to end the pain. Love is always a strange mix of ecstasy and agony and survives in the ability to tolerate both.

Getting Love Right


Levels of Relationship – Your Choice

October 25, 2013

Relationships_Business_01No one person can meet all of your needs and wants an wants. We need relationships with many different people, on different levels. We need a richly woven fabric of relationships, proper placed with clear boundaries and expectations.

In this blog, I am inviting you to experiment with thinking about relationships in what may be a very new and different way. I want you to imagine that relationships can exist on different levels.

You can choose the level of relationship you want and invite others to join you there. They of course have the right to accept, refuse, or renegotiate the invitation. You will be invited into relationships with others, and you have the same rights. It is important to recognize what level of relationship you are be invited into and make a choice. Then you need to set and maintain clear boundaries.

Many people find it helpful to think of relationships as unfolding on five levels.

1. ACQUAINTANCES have superficial relationships with you that are respectful such as a waiter or waitress, someone you casually work with, etc.

2. COMPANIONS share activities with you, but the activity is more important than the person. If I work out with someone and they want me to go to a movie instead I will probably say no. If I need a tennis partner and you don’t want to play, I will call another person I know who plays tennis. Many people have acquaintances with people they work out with at the gym. They may not see each other or share any other interests other than that. AND that’s OK. This means I can have some people I work out with, other people I play chess with, and a whole different group of people who share my interest in martial arts. I don’t expect these people to cross-over into other activities — and that’s OK.

3. FRIENDS are companions who share a wide variety if interests and activity. The purpose of the activity is to spend time with the person. So if we both don’t want to see a movie we will figure out something else to do. Being with the friend is primary, the activity is secondary.

4. PARTNERS are people who we make serious commitments to regarding work, earning money, building a business, buying a house, etc. a partnership is conditional whereas friendships are unconditional. If you are responsible for investing my money, that it what I expect you to do. If you don’t make me money on investments I find someone else. If I hire you to do a job and you don’t do it I let you go. Nothing personal. I need to get that job done and you agreed to do it in exchange for reimbursement.

5. LOVERS/INTIMATE partners are people that we share physical affection, sensuality, and sexuality with. Now here where it gets complicated.

Some people have casual sex with attractive acquaintances. Other people start out as workout partners and it explodes into passionate sex. Some people are great lovers and terrible friends and life partners.

The problem is we are conditioned by a cultural fantasy, not a reality, that one friend or intimate partner should meet all if our needs in all areas across the entire life span.

People who get married often mistakenly believe the most important thing in a marriage is love. That fantasy crashes when you get divorced and stand before a judge reestablishing legal contracts regarding money, property, custody of and visitation with kids.

Most people are serial monogamous. They have a period of dating, then make some commitments by sharing rent, buying a house together, having children which legally obligates both parents to share economic responsibilities for supporting the children.

About 60% of the people getting married today will be divorced within seven to nine years. Of those who get divorced half will remarry within seven years with more than half if those second marriages ending in divorce once again.

Thinking in terms of levels if relationship can help to be realistic in their expectations. No one can be all things to their partner. A great lover may be a terrible patent. A good friend may be an irresponsible business partner.

There us one thing that I believe is true. If you only have sex with friends there are less likely to have problems. Jump into bed with an attractive acquaintance and you’re playing Russian Roulette with your love life.

I explain this way of thinking about relationships in the book Getting Love Right – Learning The Choices of Healthy Intimacy by Terence T. Gorski  (A 5 star rated by readers at Amazon)

Gorski Books: www.relapse.org


October 14, 2013


EMPATHY is the ability to notice, sense, and understand the experiences of others. Empathy can be understood as consisting of a number steps, each related to a skill that can be learned.

1. Empathy begins with the ability to center yourself and notice what you are thinking and feeling in the moment. We tend to assume that others are thinking and feeling the way we are. It is difficult to understand that the other person may have very different thoughts and feelings than we have. It is important to step out of our own mind-set and feelings in order to communicate on a deeper and more meaningful level with others.

2. Understanding the shared social and cultural context that gives the situation meaning. It is common for people in familiar situations to take the social context for granted and forget that it could be influencing the experience of others. In other words, I may experience the context as one inviting intimate communication. The person I am with may feel that the context is inhibiting to deeper intimate communication.

3. What beliefs about yourself, the other person, and the world are you bringing into the situation. These beliefs shape what you expect to see and whether you see the other as normal or abnormal as measured by your expectations. You are bringing beliefs into the situation that can be projected onto the other person. What you are projecting upon the other person may or may not fit who the person really is.

4. To what degree can you step out of your own experience and mindset and just notice the other person –just be aware of the other person’ point of view.

5. How skilled are you at expressing to the other person, both verbally and non-verbally your genuine responses to who they are and what they are doing. Genuine expressions can be both emotionally and understood intellectual.

The level of empathy increases as you become better at being accurately aware of the here-and-now experiences of others, being aware and showing your own here-and-now experiences to others, and communicating clearly and without pre-judgment about how you are experiencing the other person.

Empathy can both make us more vulnerable because we show others who we are in both our strengths and our weaknesses. Intimacy can also make us seem more threatening because the person we are talking with feels that their strengths and weaknesses are visible to you.

The level of Intimacy us the ability to share close honest human experiences with others. It is directly related to the levels of shared intimacy.

The level of genuine trust requires high levels of shared intimacy. As a result, intimacy skills are central to building and maintaining close and trusting relationships.

Gorski Books: www.relapse.orgl

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