These are interesting times. Online Dating Gains as Dow Jones Falls is the title of an article appearing this year in the LA Times. Who would have thought this would make business news?

The article claimed personal ads were up at Craigslist and that sites such as eHarmoney and Match.com had seen a 20% increase in subscribers. Why? Because tough times make people yearn for committed love, yet it’s harder to find as most of us are staying home these days.

However all is not well, even in the online dating world. Match.com reported while its online activity has doubled, 84% of those surveyed stated they were dating less and being more selective. Furthermore, women revealed strange happenings such as going on a first date only to have the man announce, upon finishing a pricey dinner, he’d “forgotten his wallet.”

So is marriage a better place to be? Not exactly. True, even divorce attorneys are seeing a decline in business, but it’s not because couples are happier than ever.

Many married couples are facing the difficult challenge of living together, but separately, until the economy turns around so they can afford a divorce. And how’s that working? From personal experience I can tell you stoney silence can be deadening and rage terrifying.

Domestic abuse hotlines and shelters are meeting unprecedented demands and, thanks to budget cuts to support the bailouts, all now have even less money to work with.

What does this all mean for you? Hopefully, you are okay, or even great. However if you, or someone you know, is in a stressful situation that could escalate into something more volatile there are a few things you should know.

Upscale Abuse is Flourishing…

I’ve worked with many clients who are struggling with Upscale Abuse. Smart, educated, beautiful, gifted women who are shocked to piece together the fact they are in an abusive marriage. Most don’t have the “victim” mentality and are mortified to find that yes, they are victims of domestic violence. These women succeed at most things, so it’s excruciatingly painful that they can’t make their marriage work.

Often they are married to powerful, high earning men. Many have given up promising careers at their spouse’s unrelenting urging. Compassionate moms, they do all they can to protect their children from the dad’s emotional and/or physical abuse. They create beautiful homes, become a super volunteer, and do whatever they can to “make their husband look good.” They are so busy they don’t see how their spouse is slowly, but surely, chipping away at their soul.

Then one day they wake up and realize they can no longer perpetuate the “happily-ever-after” myth. Perhaps their spouse has had an affair, cut them off financially, grabbed them by the throat, or their survival instincts tell them they better make a plan to get out before it’s too late.

When kids are involved, a new wrinkle is added. Many women stay to protect their children from time alone with an abusive parent. Others have extreme guilt at breaking up their family. What they don’t realize is that it is exposure to conflict, and witnessing abuse, that harms children not divorce or loosing a privileged lifestyle. When a child sees a parent get hit, yelled at or criticized the child unknowingly experiences it as something happening to him/her. So if you are staying for the children, studies show you are doing them more harm than good.

If you can identify, get a copy of Susan Weitzman’s book Not To People Like Us: Hidden Abuse in Upscale Marriages or check out nottopeoplelikeus.com. Knowing you are not alone is so crucial to getting out. In your world that swirls with “unreals” and craziness, you’ll find this book/site a gift of validation. You’ll know you are not crazy.

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