Tuesday, 21 January 2020

After Divorce, Giving Our Kids Custody of the Home

The Fourth Grade Parents’ Night Out is in full swing. These adults-only gatherings, potluck style with plenty of cocktails, are a tradition at my sons’ school. A new couple introduces themselves and we make small talk over glasses of wine while I wait for the inevitable question.
There it is, from the wife, looking around the room: “Who’s your husband?”
We’re divorced, I explain. He’s with the boys tonight.
We live in a traditional, smallish Midwestern city. Midwesterners are not big on sharing. Getting too personal makes us very nervous. Most often, as soon as I say divorce the conversation is quickly changed to a less embarrassing topic. So… how ‘bout those Colts!
But the wife leans in, curious. “So do the kids live with you? What’s your arrangement?” (She must not be from around here, I muse.)

I roll into my pitch. Not that I’m trying to sell anything. I’ve just found the more succinctly I state it, the easier it is for others to digest (hand gestures help).
“Our living arrangement’s kind of unusual. The boys stay in the house [hands together in front of me, fingertips touching like I’m holding a big snowball] and their dad and I have separate apartments [right hand out to the side; then left hand]. We move in and out every week [right hand in; then move left hand in, while moving right out] to take care of them,” [hands back in front holding the precious snowball].
I stop flopping my hands around and wait for a reaction. The shocked silence and confused expression, I’m used to. Her eyes welling up with tears? That’s new.

What I’m describing is called “bird nesting” or “nesting.” It’s based on the idea of the kids being like baby birds and the mother and father birds flying in and out of the nest to take care of them. This means, in non-ornithological terms, that after a divorce the kids continue to stay in the family home while the parents take turns moving in and out.
In our case, my ex and I each have our own apartments where we live when we’re not in the house with the boys. We switch into the house on Wednesday mornings and Saturday evenings. The boys and all their stuff — clothing, homework, sports gear, musical instruments, and piles of beloved childhood detritus in their rooms — stay put.

I read about the idea in Laura Wasser’s great book, “It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way: How to Divorce Without Destroying Your Family or Bankrupting Yourself.” Nesting struck a chord with the boys’ dad and me. We hoped keeping the routine of daily life as consistent as possible would give continuity as we figured out what divorce would mean for our family. Of course, changes were going to come. We hoped if their day-to-day life didn’t feel that much different, it could temper the fear and uncertainty.

When we sat them down to tell them we were getting a divorce – they were 12, 9, and 5 at the time — the very next thing we said was: But nothing’s changing for you. You will keep living right here.
We presented it with familiar scenarios: It’s like when Dad goes on a business trip for a few days and Mom takes care of you. Or when Mom goes to see her friends and Dad’s in charge.

When we were divorcing nesting was almost unheard-of, at least in our part of the country. Anita M. Ventrelli, former chairwoman of the American Bar Association’s family law section, said she recalled the concept surfacing about 10 years ago, but she did not think anyone was keeping track of how common it is.
“Nesting isn’t really something that’s in the divorce statutes,” she noted. “It’s a solution that creative lawyers and parents have developed to address concerns about moving kids. It’s often agreed to outside of court — a creature of settlements, not something that judges would likely order.”
Describing it to our lawyers, therapists and financial adviser took some explaining and forced us to answer some tough questions. Telling family, friends and the boys’ teachers, required clarifying and repeating (hence the elevator-pitch-with-hand-gestures).
The most frequent question? How long are you going to do that?
The best answer we could come up with was, I don’t know, I guess until we decide not to?
We’re moving into year three, and our answer is still the same.

Which is not to say it’s easy. There are hassles, for sure – shared space, finances, and keeping track of my own stuff between the house and my apartment.
For couples considering nesting, Ms. Ventrelli, a senior partner at Schiller DuCanto & Fleck in Chicago, suggests three questions: “Is this something my ex and I can both agree to do? Can we each find somewhere else to live when not in the nest? Can we work together to share and care for the nest?” If you can’t say “yes” to all of these, Ms. Ventrelli cautions, “You may find challenges of nesting make it unsustainable, though it could serve as a short-term solution until the divorce is settled.”
Nesting isn’t necessarily the answer for everyone. But there’s no reason the traditional post-divorce scenario has to be the go-to solution, either.
So many memories live in a family home. The boys continuing to live there – and all of us crossing paths there regularly — is a constant reminder to all of us. While our narrative is ever-changing, we were and always will be our version of a family.

As for my new friend at the school party?
“Oh my God, if my parents had done something like that, it would have made such a difference,” she says, wiping her eyes and glancing with embarrassment from her husband to me.

“It was 30 years ago but I will never forget my little sister sobbing uncontrollably every time we had to move houses. It was awful.” Her eyes tear up again. “I’m so sorry I’m getting so emotional!”
“That’s O.K.,” I say, my eyes welling up, too. “You just made me feel like what we’re doing might actually all be worth it.”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/30/well/family/after-divorce-giving-our-kids-custody-of-the-home.html?_r=1

Saturday, 18 January 2020

How Not to Commit Social Media Suicide During Your Divorce

It’s very difficult to restrain yourself when under attack, but there are several reasons why it’s not a good idea to go on a rampage.

Are you going to get really mad at your ex during divorce? Will there be people who stick their nose in your business, gossip about you, and think the worst of you? The answer to all of these is yes! The emotional entrĂ©e’ of divorce and all of the nasty side dishes of rumors and conflict make for a terrible case of indigestion! You will be tempted to blow your top, run in circles trying to set the record straight, and agonize over every misconception and damaged relationship.

Be careful! This is not the time to get an itchy trigger finger and start firing off retaliatory shots in all directions!

As satisfying as it could be to publicly shame your ex for his actions and give the court of public opinion a piece of your mind, what this situation calls for is dignity and self-control. It’s very difficult to restrain yourself when under attack, but there are several reasons why it’s not a good idea to go on a rampage!

Seven Reasons NOT to Commit Social Media Suicide:

1. “Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law…” is not just the line from when police make an arrest. Oh, no, this is the cold hard reality of how your words, pictures, and other actions on social media can come back to bite you hard in court! Never put anything in writing that you wouldn’t want the judge of your divorce case (or your kids, your boss, your grandma…) to read! Ask yourself if what you’re about to post is worth affecting custody and other factors of your divorce?

2. Have you ever seen what gasoline does when you add it to a fire? Kaboom! If things are already messy because others are making it so, your involvement is only going to turn up the animosity a notch, and nothing good is going to come from that!

3. Do you really want the dirty laundry from your personal life on display for the world? You may not have started this war, but going on a rant about your dirtbag ex and all the sordid details of your life disaster is nothing short of embarrassing. Some of your acquaintances may be inclined to pull up a chair and a big bowl of popcorn to watch your soap opera play out, but do you really want to be everyone’s cheap entertainment?

4. Do you want to prove your ex right? If your ex is the type to portray you as a crazy, volatile person who’s impossible to live with, the last thing you want to do is make a starring appearance on social media showing him and the rest of the world how psycho you really are!

Bite your tongue. Take deep breaths. Now, conduct yourself as a poised, rational, and sane individual who can’t be bothered to attend the crazy ex-position. You may never have your day in the sun to attack your ex’s allegations, but your dignified approach will make everyone else question what’s been said about you! Who’s really the crazy one here if you are so normal and appropriate while they keep running their mouth and throwing mud?
As I always say; “if someone’s going to be a jerk, let it be them!”

5. Who are you, and how do you want to be seen? Once something hits the internet, it’s very unlikely to be completely erased. I still get flashback memories on Facebook from during my divorce days and am either reminded of what a dark and sad time that was (but, yippee! I’m no longer living that!), or I shake my head and think “did I really say that out loud in front of hundreds of people?”

Think about it, if your kids aren’t on social media yet, they most likely will be one day, and it’s doubtful that you won’t want them to see where you posted that their dad was a hypocritical hot head (my bad). I recognized that I was letting social media become a little too much of my personal journal. In some ways I did want people to see what I said because I wanted to be able to tell my side. In other ways, I just needed someone to talk to. Figure out what your motivation is and decide if there might be a healthier way to fulfill your needs!

6. Drama is a turn off. Initially most people probably won’t be able to take their eyes off of the destruction that is your marriage. It’s like a horrific ten care pile-up that everyone driving past has to rubberneck to catch a glimpse of. The juicy details are tantalizing and awesome fodder for the gossip mill. I promise you, though, that before long most people do not, I repeat, do not want to hear about your divorce!

What divorcing people often need most at these frustrating times is an understanding ear to confide to. There is so much raw emotion, and it’s very healthy to release it. The problem is that most people are secretly freaked out by divorce. Many people will act as though you have a disease and they do not want to catch your cooties and infect their marriage. They will feel bad for you. They will want to help you in some way. They just can’t handle hearing hours of complaining and crying every time they see you.

So, if you are using social media to serve as your caring shoulder to unload on, expect some sympathy and support in the beginning; but, if you relentlessly spill poisonous blather about your ex and your miserable situation, don’t be surprised if, eventually, people start to unfriend or unfollow you. Either what you share or how you are saying it may easily become a major turn off, especially if they were friends with both of you.

7. From your keyboard to your ex’s ear. You may think your contacts on social media are your “friends”, but don’t be surprised if you have some rats among your friend list! During my divorce I went on a massive purge of my friend list of anyone who had a mutual connection to me and my ex because I found that things I said to my “friends” ended up being told back to him. I learned that it can be hard to know who you really can trust, so either tighten your circle, or zip your lips!

The suggestion to remain calm and quiet on social media during a divorce may sound like a tall order. It may require an iron resolve to ignore rumors and mistruths about your situation or to remain dignified in the face of turmoil. You may live to seriously regret sharing certain information or making disparaging comments about your ex or divorce online because, unlike Vegas, what happens on social media becomes everyone’s business!

The bottom line, and what finally brought me peace on this issue, is that when it comes down to it, the people who really matter will stand by you and believe you. If others will so easily be caught up in negative things about you, then you probably didn’t need them in your life!

Source: https://goodmenproject.com/divorce/dont-commit-social-media-suicide-during-your-divorce-dg/

Saturday, 11 January 2020

9 Ways to Deal with Change

Use these tactics to guide yourself through life-altering events.

Marriage, breakups, career changes, job loss, illness, having children, an empty nest, financial downturns, moving, graduating, losing someone you love. Stuff happens. All of these are common transitions and stress triggers. How do you cope? Here are a few self-coaching tips that can help:

  1. Admit that you feel vulnerable and seek help, which will defuse your negativity.
  2. Become proactive. Those who are empowered look for opportunities to make things better. Victims sit back and worry about what will happen.
  3. Know that you are never stuck with just one feeling. You may feel afraid and optimistic and excited about the same circumstances. Focus on the positive emotions.
  4. Trust yourself based on past successes, asking, When have I managed change before? How did I do that? How did it turn out?
  5. Avoid obsessing about the future. The solutions for how you feel now are usually in the present.
  6. When your future seems to depend on someone else’s actions, you might be inclined to obsess about what-ifs. Instead make the present moment the most important thing in your mind.
  7. Take positive action to get back on track: Put on music and dance in your kitchen; go for a walk; breathe deeply; read something inspirational.
  8. Quiet your mind briefly so you can see a fork in the road with a positive outcome. Find something you’re grateful for or remind yourself that things have a way of working out.
  9. Get out of your own head. Many people ease their stress and fears quickly with meditation, with prayer or by helping someone else.

Friday, 10 January 2020

Embrace Your Transformation to Thrive After Divorce

Anyone who has gone through a divorce knows there’s a period of time when survival is the goal. The numbness has worn off and the pain from a non-physical event feels all too real. But it begs the questions: Is it possible to thrive after divorce, instead of merely surviving? 

That was the question I asked myself as I navigated through the stages of grief {denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance}. Never one to settle, I wanted to stop feeling okay and start feeling great. I wanted to learn the lessons I was supposed to learn, lest I be destined to repeat them, and expand into a bigger and better life for myself and my daughter.
I realized in order to thrive, I needed to embrace my new life rather than resist it. My divorce became an “opportunity for growth” instead of a disaster, and I embarked on a transformation that was painful but completely worth it! The period of time during and after my divorce led me to what is now a large portion of my life’s work: helping people transform after divorce. The Single Mom Transformation Program was created from my work as an executive coach, and The Successful Single Mom book series was born so others could experience their powerful, positive transformation. 
If you’re ready to embark on your post-divorce transformation, you’re in for some hard work but the reward is a major treat called “your new life.” This will be the beginning of some of the very best years of your life, if you want them to be!
Here are some action steps to get you started:
1) Forgive, forget and start moving on. It’s hard to let go. It may seem easier to stay mad, try to get revenge, lick your wounds and feel sorry for yourself. But hey - listen to me now: You deserve better than to wear your divorce on your sleeve and your face. If you think people can’t see and feel your divorce on you, you’re wrong. We can, must like animals and children smell fear.
2) Decide. Every transformation begins with a decision, in this case, the decision you make changes the course of your life: “I’m deciding to make the best of my divorce, instead of letting my divorce get the better of me.
3) Respond. You’re not a victim, and today is the today to “respond” instead of “react” to whatever is happening in your life. You are in the driver’s seat from this day forward, and you get to make 100 percent of the decisions affecting your happiness and your future.
4) Envision. The old vision you had of your life is something to let go of, and in it’s place put a vibrant, healthy, delightful and joy-filled vision that gets you excited just thinking about it. Excited people thrive, it’s a fact, and it’s time for you to be one of them.
5) Make a list, and check it twice. If you’re like I was after my divorce, there are a whole list of things you’ve wanted to do, places you’ve wanted to go, experiences you’ve been dying to try but putting off ... many of them for years and years. Create an actual list and get busy living your life, and crossing things off of your list with vim and vigor. In other words, start living your life! 
Thriving after divorce isn’t impossible, au contraire, it’s actually very possible. You can do it by beginning today, and every day after today recommitting to the new life you’re creating.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

When a major change or decision seems too scary.

I was just listening to a podcast and heard something really significant, momentous even, and I wanted to share it with you as I think it summarises the challenge we all face in many aspects of life from time to time, whether:
  • Tackling a project at work;
  • Taking control of our diet or exercise;
  • Wanting to contribute and make a difference to larger scale problems in the world;
  • Setting out to thrive and build a new life after divorce.

The challenge? It is all far too big and scary when viewed as a whole.

The tip, whilst simple, easy to understand and probably something that we have all heard many times in many different forms, really made sense to me today…

“When you find something too big and scary and the very thought of it is paralysing you into inaction, or fear, ratchet the challenge back until you reach a level you’re comfortable with and act on that.”

Simple, right?

In the context of the examples above, our challenge may then be ‘ratcheted back’ to:

Focussing upon what progress we can make against our project today (or this morning, or this hour) rather than wondering how we’ll ever finish the whole thing.

Focussing on eating a healthy breakfast, or building a half hour walk into our day, rather than worrying about each and every meal being healthy or beating ourselves up for not being at the gym each and every evening.

Donating just £1 or $1 to a cause that resonates with us rather than getting demoralised about the plight of those far less fortunate than us.

In the context of setting out to thrive after divorce or separation, this could be as simple as making a choice today to:

  • Create an online dating profile and get back into the world of dating
  • Setting up a new bank account to start saving for a vacation or to invest in some education for yourself
  • Starting to read a book you’d bought but have been delaying reading
  • Focussing some time and attention on yourself by taking yourself out for a coffee or catching up with a friend
  • Opening a debate with your ex that is proactively focussed on the future (such as to float some ideas for how you wish to raise your kids after divorce) rather than rehashing events of the past.

It really depends on where you find yourself on the journey but whichever you choose, each of these steps may help to break down the size and scale of the challenge you face, and by reducing the fear you will increase the action and magnify the results which can only be a good thing.

I hope this is of interest and use to you. It struck me as pertinent, relevant and interesting, hence my desire to share!

Should you wish to check out the podcast in question, it was the Tim Ferriss Show featuring an interview with US Senator Cory Booker; very interesting and enlightening.

If you’re interested in a recommendation for a good read too (see above!) then I can highly recommend the excellent “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferriss; I’m a big fan of his (can you tell?!). The book is a collection of interviews with loads of really interesting and inspiring people and I’d highly recommend checking it out.

Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss - Amazon.com

Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss - Amazon.co.uk

Thanks and have a great day!


Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Help! My Spouse Just Asked for a Divorce

Here's how not to blow your chances of getting things back on track

Whether it seems “out of the blue” or you have been sensing it for a long time, it is scary as hell when your spouse wants to leave you. (By the way, it’s never “out of the blue,” but that’s another article). Maybe at this point, you will do anything to save the marriage … even therapy. However, what if it your spouse says “I’m done?”

As the saying goes – it’s not over ‘till it’s over. If you still desire to save your marriage, there are many things you should (and should not) be doing.

Top 10 Things You SHOULD NOT Do If Your Spouse Wants to Leave You and You Want to Save Your Marriage:

  1. Do not beg, plead, pursue, or make demands. This will have the opposite effect and turn your spouse off.
  2. Do not make excessive phone calls and texts to your spouse. Do not act desperate or needy.
  3. Do not continually point out all good points in marriage or about you.
  4. Do not try to get him/her to read marriage books, look at your wedding pictures, etc.
  5. Do not trail your spouse around the house like a sad puppy. In fact, do not appear like a sad puppy at all!
  6. Do not ask family or friends to encourage your spouse to stay with you. Discussing such personal matters with these people will upset your spouse and make things worse.
  7. Do not buy gifts, flowers, and cards to make up for what you may have done. You will not be successful at buying back love.
  8. Do not spy on spouse by following in your car, checking emails, cell phone, bills, etc.
  9. Do not say "I Love You." Your spouse is not in the mood to hear it right now, and it will come off as manipulative or "pushy."
  10. Do not go wild. Stay away from drugs, alcohol, the bar scene or having sex with others. If you really want to get your spouse back, these behaviors will not do it!
Here Are the Top 10 Things You SHOULD DO If Your Spouse Wants to Leave You and You Want to Save Your Marriage:
  1. Do bring your “best self” to this crisis. It is not the time to fall apart, go into a rage or get vengeful. Muster up the best attitude you can.
  2. Do keep up with your appearance. Going unshaven, stinking from not showering, looking like a slob or sitting endlessly on the couch watching TV will not be enticing to your spouse at all.
  3. Do behave respectfully toward your spouse and have self-respect as well.
  4. Do act as though you are moving forward with confidence regardless of whether or not your spouse stays with you.
  5. Do keep busy. Continue your day to day activities. And, go out on your own, with friends, with family and the kids. Go to a place of worship, try a new hobby, get some exercise. In other words, get a life for yourself despite what happens with your marriage. You may invite your spouse, but do not react negatively if he or she does not take you up on your suggestion. Do not change your intended plans.
  6. Do give your spouse some space! Do not question your spouse about his/her whereabouts or schedule.
  7. Do let your spouse see you as content regardless of your current feelings. Your moods will be fluctuating. However, you should be someone that your spouse would want to be around because you are pleasant.
  8. Do allow your spouse come to you with any questions or concerns about the marriage, not the other way around. Other than sincerely letting your partner know that you want to save the marriage, be patient about any discussions about you two. If he or she does come to talk, be an active and engaged listener, showing you care about what is being said.
  9. Do not engage in arguments. Do not “take the bait” if your spouse tries to get you to do this. You may even have to walk away. (If your spouse claims that you “always walk away,” just state you would be happy to stay and have a civil conversation...then do it!)
  10. Do get help. Read self-help or self-improvement books or see a counselor (with experience with couples). Divorce Remedy is a good book for your circumstances.
It can be devastating to hear that your spouse wants to leave you. Even spouses that say they want to divorce are actually still somewhat ambivalent about doing so. You want the best opportunity to have things work out in your favor. Many people completely sabotage this by acting desperate, angry, nasty or vengeful. This is the opposite of what you should be doing.

Follow these dos and don’ts and, above all, be consistent with these actions and behaviors. You must demonstrate that you are capable of real change. You need to think deeply about what has gotten you both to this place. What behaviors are you willing to change to get your marriage on track? Think about what your spouse has probably been complaining about for a very long time. What have you been remiss in hearing from your spouse?

It may seem unfair that you have to do all the changing. For now, yes, you most likely do because you are at a disadvantage. You need to essentially change first. If you have an addiction (porn, substance or other) or you had an affair or you are abusive (physical and/or emotional), you must get your own treatment to work on these. You will also have a long road ahead of you to repair the damage you caused.

Making positive changes (whether your marriage works out or not) is always a good idea. Chances are there are some behaviors or traits you have that would be problematic in most relationships. If you can get your spouse back on board with you about working on the marriage, making changes would definitely not have been in vain.

Source: https://www.verywellmind.com/help-spouse-asked-for-a-divorce-4047516