Tag Archives: couples

Keys to a Pain Free Break-up

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We’ve all been there.  Your once dynamic and fun relationship has faded to a dull, listless obligatory chore.  Whether you both are aware of the inevitable and impending split or if your partner is calmly rowing down a river in Egypt, it’s time to get this done.  But how do you sever ties without crushing your once-beloved?  There is no easy answer, but here we have collected a few of the more tried and true methods for separating with mutual respect and consideration.

Location & Date (…to no longer Date)

Choose the right locale and time.  This may seem fairly obvious, but some individuals may become angered and, in the heat of the moment, break up with someone during an important time/date in their partner’s life.  Clearly birthdays, major holidays and other key life events are taboo.  You don’t want your future ex dredging up the awful memory of your break-up every time they see a plump and delicious Thanksgiving turkey, do you?  While not wanting to pick the wrong time to break things off can be an invaluable tool for chronic break-up-procrastinators, there will always be appropriate windows to choose from.  Just pick the right time and strike with precision.

By the same token, you don’t want to do it in a place that they associate with something special or positive (their parent’s home, their place of worship, their favorite Chuck E. Cheese, etc.)  Just choose a nice, neutral, bland spot and get it over with.  Hopefully this will help make the event as non-memorable as humanly possible.

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Some Privacy, Please

While it may be all too tempting to want to execute the break up in a public place, with the goal of mitigating the emotional outpouring of the break-up-ee, this is a bad idea.  Trying to control their emotional state by enforcing societal restrictions on them may only make matters worse; meaning, they could become even more upset and make a real scene (screaming, glass throwing, hair pulling/extraction).  Just find a simple, quiet, private place and deliver the bad news.  This way they can express their feelings honestly without having to worry about looking like a fool to others or having to try to suppress their sadness.

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Face to face

Surely your once-adored sweetie deserves some face time (and no, not the “Face Time” app) for this occasion.  Be a grown-up, look them in the eyes and give it to ‘em straight.  This actually helps give both of you some closure.  If your relationship is still on the very green side, then a heartfelt phone call may suffice (but never, ever, ever a text – this is the message delivery equivalent of saying “You’re as valuable to me as a tweet about Trump.”)

The Truth Hurts…but is appreciated.

In trying to spare someone’s feelings, the go-to move is to concoct a host of reasons why the relationship failed that you personally deem ‘not that damaging.’  While certain hurtful things are unnecessary and can be omitted (“It’s true: you really did look fat in those pants”), the crux of your decision to break-up with them must be plainly shared.  If you come up with some elaborate lie about how you need to move to Iceland, the truth will inevitably come back to them, and subsequently you.  You’re not sparing them anything by fibbing; you’re only causing them to question things that are difficult or impossible to comprehend.  If you are honest, then they can assess the situation for what it really is, and this will help them (and you) move on in a mature and healthy way.

Poker Face (no, don’t ‘poke her/his face,’ just remain calm)

A common reaction people undergo when being broken up with is not only sadness but unbridled anger.  If this should be the scenario you find yourself in, just keep your own emotions in check.  Don’t fight back, just try to really listen to them.  Let them get whatever is driving them mad in the moment off their chest.  They will eventually lose steam and the storm will pass.  If you stay sympathetic during this period, the end result can be that you may actually part civilly.  However, don’t try to push for an immediate friendship (if that’s not coming organically).  Obviously many people need a healing/adjustment period if this is ever going to be the case.

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-Joe Leone 

How to Avoid Bad-Mouthing Your Ex

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After a divorce or break-up, you are going to be angry. When people are angry, they often want to express their negative emotions, but that is not always a great idea. In fact, giving in to the temptation to bad-mouth your ex will probably work against you, and, what’s worse, against your children.

Therapist Ashley Davis Bush advises that you strive to remember that your children are one-half your ex, which means negative talk about him or her is negative talk about them. Whether or not it is immediately apparent, they are genetically predisposed to be like the person you firmly dislike, so they can be directly hurt by the things you say.

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Another, less easy to digest piece of advice is to remember that you once loved, or at least thought you loved, this person. Have respect for the time in your life when things were different, and try to learn to accept and respect the choices you made in the past. Saying negative things about that individual will only make you internalize the idea that your time with him or her was a mistake.

Avoiding derogatory talk about the other person may be fairly easy at first, but what happens when they start saying bad things about you? Resisting the urge to retaliate or defend oneself is extremely difficult and often goes against human nature. However, the other person’s behavior should not influence your own when it comes to what’s best for your kids. Their inability to control themselves means they are hurting, and while you may not be able to lend a helping hand or an understanding ear, you can at least be the bigger person and give your kids an opportunity to talk about what they hear without having to also hear your rebuttal.

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One way to approach this is to stop thinking of that person as your “ex” and instead think of him or her as your child’s other parent. This will reinforce the responsible role both of you should be playing in your child’s life and take the emphasis away from your relationship that went sour. Use the time you interact with your ex to create positive experiences that teach them how to get along with others, and if that’s not possible because of your ex or because you are simply too upset, then re-focus your energy on doing something fun with your children instead of dwelling on the insult and anger you feel.

Regardless of your situation and the personality of your ex, it is advisable to have a thick skin and avoid letting negativity from the other side get you down or lower your resolve. Your primary goal should be to show your child love and compassion, both for them and the situation. Bad-mouthing ultimately brings you down and can create a risk of being alienated from your child. Even if your ex is saying mean things to your child, such as, “You are not smart because your mother doesn’t push you hard enough to do well in school,” resist the urge to respond directly by saying something about him or her. Try instead to create an open environment in which your children can talk to you about the painful things they are hearing.

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Even if you do find yourself slipping and resort to saying negative things about your child’s other parent, you can stop. Ashley Davis Bush also advises creating a habit of saying, “Cancel that,” even mid-sentence, and beginning again. You can substitute negativity for more neutral words, such as, “My child’s other parent and I regularly disagree,” rather than saying something along the lines of, “My ex does things in a stupid way.” The key to not bad-mouthing your ex is keeping an eye on the future, not the past. Move forward into the future with strength and determination, not vengeance.

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Financial Problems and the Couples Who Hate Them

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Psychologytoday.com reports that 7 out of 10 couples relay that a major source of strife in their relationships is the constant stress over MONEY.  “What should we spend on?  Who pays for what?  What can we afford?  Hey, I found a quarter…is it mine or yours??”  Read the following tips to resolve any and all cash related quibbles with your special lady or fella’.

During the Dating Phase: 

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…Too soon? 

When’s the best time to talk about money?  When you find yourself in a real financial pickle, right?  Wrong.  Dead wrong!  You should set aside a little chunk of time to discuss money plans and goals, ideally before anything goes awry.  Of course you don’t want to rush into it (this isn’t second date dinner discussion material), but it’s fine to address this at the (fairly) early stages of a serious relationship.  Topics of interest should include: “what to do if one of us is fired/laid off/forcibly removed from the premises; should we have a joint checking account; are there any loan sharks waiting nearby to break your legs?”  If your partner is consistently recalcitrant when you bring up matters of finance, this may be indicative of a general non communicative attitude/penchant for keeping secrets.  If this is the case, money may be the least of your worries.

Gender studies 

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Much like opinions over The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and assorted Spike TV programming, views concerning money can differ greatly between the sexes.  In general, women look at (the presence of) money as a rock; substantial capital equals a safe and secure life and a comfortable nest for lil’ ones.  Males, on the other callused hand, typically view money in one of two ways: a) as something to play with and utilize in high risk maneuvers and b) as a status indicator, which increases one’s self confidence with each additional bank account “0.”  The challenge is finding a happy middle ground, where you can see your partner’s point of view and come to an equitable compromise.

All that money…with no honey

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Sometimes the topic of an argument can seemingly be money, but that’s just what is superficially being discussed.  The real issue, or the “subtext,” could be a host of other common relationship concerns: worries over who has the power/control, insecurity over being truly loved, short and long term stability, uncertainty and the basic anxiety that can arise over self esteem and worth.  Certain times you really need to take a microscope to the heart of the fracas to identify the root cause.  If it’s not financial in nature, then it may be time to sit down and have a chat about what’s really stirring up all those volatile emotions.

After the Wedding Bells Chime:

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The Urge to…Merge?

Once you work out most of the typical relationship kinks and go through with a marriage, the merging of finances often becomes the most immediate issue that needs attention.  Keep individual accounts or join them together in a mighty fiscal union?  Engagedmarriage.com reports that “One system is not inherently better than the other; it all depends on your overall approach to marriage. These days, many couples are opting for a middle ground approach, with both spouses keeping some money in individual accounts and also saving a certain amount in a joint account. Later on in your relationship, it may be easier to merge everything into a joint account, but this is not a necessity right off the bat.”  Whichever method you choose, just make sure both parties are comfortable with the arrangement.

Walk a Mile in their Heels/Loafers

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Even after you walk down the aisle, you still may need to walk a little in your partner’s shoes.  That is to say, really try to see things from their financial perspective.  One partner may want to delineate a strict, regimented budget, while the other may not.  In regards to this issue, daveramsey.com offers the advice that “It is tough, but with patience and kindness, your spouse will eventually see the light (don’t beat them over the head with the need for a budget, and please don’t subject your spouse to a lecture.)”  Striving for equanimity in this endeavor is key; clear heads will not only prevail but they can rest assured that their other half is satisfied as well.

Rules Were Meant to Be Followed 

Setting up a spending budget for both parties involved is generally a good idea.  That’s not to say: “you can never buy Nikes without asking me!”, but rather you should collectively agree upon certain things that should have a set amount allocated to them, and then a freestyle budget for whatever other personal expenses you like.  Some couples can be more rigid in this respect than others; the important thing is to find which way of “making expenditures as a couple” works best for your particular situation.

Bring in the Pros 

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If you feel you and your mate don’t really have a handle on the whole financial planning thing, feel free to consult with a financial advisor (a lot of banks will offer this service for free even).  Professionals are used to dealing with these issues and can help alleviate the strain of figuring out what to do.  Denise Knowles, a relationship counsellor at Relate, told nhs.uk that “People who’ve never been in this situation before may feel embarrassed.  Don’t be. The people who work as advisers are there to help. If you don’t want to talk about your problems in person, use telephone helplines and look at the information that’s available on the internet.”

At the end of the day, open communication is the best way to tackle basically every relationship problem under the sun, finance related or otherwise.  Consider your partner’s feelings and mindset, and then try to make educated and empathetic decisions together.  Then …give each other a kiss!  You can’t buy love, and you already have that.

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-Joe Leone 

Divorce Rates and the Economy

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Locked in a loveless marriage for years, the prospect of divorce can seem impossible given certain economic restraints.  Simply put, when you’re broke, you just can’t afford to separate.  So, over the last few years, there has been good news on both fronts: the economy has gone up, as well as divorce rates.

Bloomberg.com found that “the number of Americans getting divorced rose for the third year in a row to about 2.4 million in 2012, after plunging in the 18-month recession ended June 2009, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.”

With the newfound freedom of financial stability, divorce rates have peaked.  This is in stark contrast to the way things were in 2008, on the tail of the massive recession.  Divorce rates shriveled up then.  This is not an anomaly, historically speaking.  As reported by latimes.com, “’This is exactly what happened in the 1930s,’ said Johns Hopkins University sociologist Andrew Cherlin. ‘The divorce rate dropped during the Great Depression not because people were happier with their marriages, but because they couldn’t afford to get divorced.’”

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According to huffingtonpost.com, “divorce rates declined after the economy took a hit in 2007, which some scholars later hailed as a “silver lining” to the recession, espousing that couples became stronger in a time of crisis.”  A more accurate interpretation of this data has revealed that couples were not banding together to combat the wintry economic climate, but simply that legally separating was not financially feasible for them.  The cost of the divorce itself, court mandated alimony or child support fees, realty agent costs for securing new housing, everyday bills no longer split between two people; these are all factors which keep a couple forcibly intact.

The relationship between divorce and the economy isn’t one sided either.  Since the inception of widespread splitting, divorce has had a resolutely adverse impact on the financial well being of the country.  As stated by economicdevelopment.org:  “Divorce slows economic growth with its negative impact on productivity.”  The newly single enjoy less salary bumps than those in similar positions who are married, especially men.  Equally (negatively) affected are women, and their offspring: “women and children in single-parent households are at particular risk for living in poverty and indeed family earnings for half of the nation’s children have been falling over time,” reports brookings.edu.  However, there is one noteworthy aspect of the economy which is positively affected: the housing industry.  When a couple splits, the need for at least one more lodging often arises.  In some circumstances, both parties will leave the place they currently inhabit, thus two new spaces are sought.  This has contributed to a boost in apartment complex construction, in addition to regular smaller houses.  Then, naturally, are all the new things that go into the home: appliances, furnishings, decorations, etc.

Diamond-Lighthouse-selling-house-grab-handsAn interesting statistic that goes hand in hand with the divorce rate increase is the simultaneous rise in birth rate.  While these two seem diametrically opposed, the reality is that the couples that do indeed stay together during finically booming times are becoming less reluctant to take on the notoriously high costs of child rearing.  “Birth rates and divorce rates are rising. We may even see them rise strongly in the next couple of years, as households who put off these life-changing events decide to act.” says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics (theatlantic.com).  Thus a homeostatic level of population is organically reached: some couples are splitting apart, but the ones that stay together are conceiving will vigor.

As the economy (hopefully) continues to rebound, it is not certain whether divorce percentages will be buoyed at the same rate.  Whatever the implications of a thriving national economy ultimately are, most people can agree that it’s a positive thing when we can enjoy more and more freedoms, whatever they may be.

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-Joe Leone

Divorce Means More than Just the Loss of a Spouse

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According to a study done by Utah State University, the average divorcing individual can’t maintain their standard of living after a divorce. That study showed the average divorcee needs a more than 30% increase in income to maintain the same standard of living they had prior to their divorce.

It seems that women are hit the hardest when it comes to divorce, but statistics show that everyone is affected, and sometimes not in the ways one may think. About one in five women fall into poverty as a result of divorce. Part of the reason is related to children: three out of four divorced mothers don’t receive the full child support due to them. Another part of that heightened risk of poverty is related to home ownership: about 1/3 of women who own a home and have children lose their home to divorce. Research indicates that most women do not recover from the hit to their standard of living unless they remarry.
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