Wednesday, 24 April 2019

The positive impact of divorce on children

Divorce is often perceived as a failure. The process of starting over can be difficult and overwhelming. A great deal of strength is required. It is rarely the ‘easy way out’.
When you have children, it becomes even more complex. While it is true some children face difficulties through this transition either emotionally or behaviourally, it is not all doom and gloom. Your daughter is not any more likely to be a crazy cat lady and your son a criminal just because their parents get divorced.

It is all going to be OK, so take a few deep breaths and relax while we discuss the positive impact of divorce on children.

It is better to live in two happy homes than one unhappy one
Your separation may have been sudden and unexpected or it may have been caused by years of unhappiness. Either way, if there is tension and arguing in the home it is not a positive environment for a child. Even if you think you are concealing the problems, kids have an uncanny way of picking up on them. Sometimes trying to save your children from a divorce can mean you sacrifice yourself and leave them feeling guilty. And, it does not necessarily mean they are happier for it. When children witness their parents being happy and confident in two separate houses it will help them feel positive about the situation. It will teach them that change can be for the better. For a child, routine, happiness, laughter and play is the best remedy for a parental breakup.

It teaches your children the values and morals you want them to uphold
You know the old the saying, actions speak louder than words. In this situation showing your little ones that you won’t settle for being unhappy and are strong enough to start over, will show them what you value and where your morals sit. It also says you can peacefully walk away from a bad situation; you don’t have to accept it at face value. People are allowed to come and go from your life as we all grow and change. Your partner should be your best friend, and you wouldn’t want your children replicating negative behaviour (either now or as an adult) because of how they see you treating your ‘friend’.

It creates a bond between siblings
One interesting outcome of divorce on children is a strong bond between siblings if they are lucky enough to have them. They are in it together, and no one understands a situation quite like someone else who is right there with you. My 5-year-old daughter has often stated adamantly she doesn’t want to stay with her father, but she always goes because she needs to look out for her older brother. If parents move on and new partners are introduced, siblings will support each other through the new transition.

Your children have a chance to build relationships with both parents
Family life can be busy, and with parents at conflict, it could be a full-time job avoiding one another. This, on top of work commitments and the daily juggle can mean quality time with one or both parents is overlooked. When you are divorced it can allow parents to spend more one on one time with your children and get to know them as individuals. If your children are in share-cared, you can use your time without them to catch-up on work/chores, meaning your time with them is more focused on them. For single mums doing it on their own, you will likely have an unbreakable connection with your children and feel like a lioness with your sense of protectiveness over your cubs.

Your children will learn empathy for others
When a child goes through a big life change such as a divorce, it teaches them empathy for others. Eventually they will understand their parents are only human and nobody is perfect. They will learn everyone is different and everyone feels pain. As an example, my 7-year-old son has a good friend at school whose parents have recently separated. He told me he asked his friend if he was OK and if he wanted to talk as he knew what he was going through. While his little buddy wasn’t quite ready to chat over coffee and cake, my son proceeded to distract him with a game of soccer. Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and this can be learnt from an early age.


Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Don’t say these things to your friend going through a divorce

When my good friend confided last August that her husband had been hiring prostitutes and had a sex addiction, I launched into fighter mode. I berated everything about him — his judgment, his narcissism (my diagnosis, not a professional’s), his cowardice and his abdication of fatherly duties.

My friend nodded as if on autopilot. She was depressed, yes. But I also assumed she was in crisis mode and needing a rescue. So I tried to rescue her. I cooked meals, pitched in for a house cleaner, set up informational interviews between her and prospective employers.
In the months following her discovery of his addiction, she decided to file for divorce. As one of her sounding boards, I reacted with shock or fury each time he hurt her. I opined on her divorce settlements, urged her to put her kids in therapy and often circled back to what a jerk her ex was.

I thought I was being a good friend.

But when two more friends told me of their pending divorces, I had a reaction that embarrasses me: exhaustion. Even though their situations were not about me, I had no idea how I’d summon the energy to help them fight as I had for my other pal.

Once I stepped back, I understood that no one had asked me to fight the good fight; I’d ascribed myself that role thinking it was what a good friend would do. That reaction is common but not necessarily helpful, says Irene Lee, a therapist in Colorado who works with individuals, couples and families.

“People tend to make situations about themselves, so a well-meaning person will start doling out advice without knowing all the facts and circumstances,” Lee says. “Emotional situations can trigger our own feelings and prejudices, and we project that onto the scenario presented to us.”

My response probably stemmed from unresolved issues regarding my own divorced parents and, later, a stepfamily. But that’s my problem. And their situation, I realized, was not an appropriate time for me to work out my own issues.

So what’s a better reaction than telling your friend her ex is a loser who never deserved her? Listen. People going through divorce are bound to feel a world of emotions — sometimes all within 10 minutes — and a good friend listens to them and validates their feelings with empathy, not pity.

My divorcing friends are doing better now. They generously shared with me what was most — and least — helpful from their friends. Here’s what they had to say:

Don’t denigrate their spouse. Sure, they may be furious, and you’re welcome to affirm their emotions. But even when someone divorces over infidelity or abuse, they may still hold positive feelings for their partner. Often, an ex-spouse is still a co-parent, so it’s not helpful to label him a lazy jerk when your pal will be forever linked to this person. Lee advises focusing on your friend — not their spouse — and what your friend might need in the moment.

Don’t offer uneducated advice. Unless you’ve been through it, you probably don’t know what your state’s divorce laws are or what a fair settlement would be. “We tend to problem-solve,” Lee says. “It makes us feel better to be useful, but we often ‘solve’ a problem that hasn’t yet been declared a problem, which isn’t ours to fix anyway.” Better to listen to your friend and if there are areas where you might be able to help — such as a job search or finding an attorney — ask if she’d like help before diving in.

Don’t insist on silver linings. You might think losing that dude who’s been dragging her down for years is going to be the best thing ever, but your friend doesn’t need a Pollyanna. Meet her wherever she is emotionally. If she’s feeling hopeful that divorce is the right step, support her decision and praise her for taking positive action. If she’s apoplectic at her soon-to-be-ex, give her space to vent. If she’s struggling and negative, accept those emotions and assure her that you love her and will be there for her. Remember: This is her experience, not yours.

Don’t make vague offers of help. When she’s eyeball-deep in unraveling her life, it’s not helpful to say, “If you need anything, I’m here.” Instead offer concrete assistance. Tell her you’d love to watch her kids on Saturday to give her a break, or ask what day of the week would be good to drop by with dinner for her and her family.

Don’t tell them about someone else you know going through divorce. It may seem helpful to make your friend not feel like they’re alone. But, Lee says, they are. “Their situation is unique to them, and they don’t necessarily want to hear about someone else’s problems,” she says.

As for myself, I’ve always been feisty. Put me in a stressful situation, and chances are I’ll fight, not flee. And I want to protect my friends. But watching girlfriends go through divorce and land on their feet (without me orchestrating it!), I’ve come to an important conclusion: Most people going through a major life change simply want to be heard. More often than not, that means putting aside the boxing gloves and reaching out to hold a hand.


After divorce, shared parenting is best for children’s health and development

As a young psychology intern in the late 1970s, my first patients were boys from divorced homes, suffering from what was then called “father hunger.” In those days, when parents split up, dads fell by the wayside. Fathers saw their children at the mothers’ discretion. This customary fallout from divorce reflected the belief that mothers are supremely important while fathers are expendable. We’ve come a long way since then.

Observing the problems that were being attributed to divorce, my colleagues and I began conducting studies in the late 1970s to learn how to help children cope better when their parents parted ways. The results of our research in Texas, supported by the National Institute for Mental Health, converged with studies in California, Virginia, and Arizona. The message from this work was clear: children and their fathers usually (though not always) wanted and needed more time together than they were getting. All signs pointed to the benefits for most families of having two parents involved in children’s lives who jointly maintained responsibility for their care. This is what is now called shared parenting.

Toward the end of the 20th century, divorce decrees offered children visits with their father every other weekend. The term visits captured the transformation of dad into something like an uncle, where the children are guests in his home. Dad became an entertainment director: The contacts were fun, but the texture and depth paled in comparison to a realistic parent-child relationship. At that time, only a handful of studies had peered into families in which 

We now have more than 50 studies of joint physical custody. Using different methods, and examining families in the United States and abroad, the results are encouraging: children who spend at least 35 percent time with each parent, rather than live with one and visit the other, have better relationships with their fathers and mothers and do better academically, socially, and psychologically. As will be described next week at the International Conference on Shared Parenting in Boston, they get better grades; are less likely to smoke, get drunk, and use drugs; and are less susceptible to anxiety, depression, and stress-related illnesses.

Despite the obvious benefits of shared parenting, gender barriers don’t crumble easily and legal reform doesn’t usually happen without pushback. Although critics of shared parenting concede that children whose parents share physical custody enjoy many advantages, they reason that these children do better because their parents have more money and less conflict, not because their children spend nearly equal time with each parent. The critics also believe that if one parent opposes shared custody, it’s a bad plan for that family.

Linda Nielsen, a professor of educational and adolescent psychology at Wake Forest University, drilled into the research to test these ideas. She found that children whose parents share physical custody have better outcomes even when one parent initially opposed the arrangement and even when conflict between the parents was high. And the benefits of shared parenting were independent of the parents’ income. The lesson from her work? To ensure better outcomes for children of divorced parents, focus on improving the quality of their relationships with each parent by maximizing the time spent with each of them.

Most psychologists recognize the importance of keeping both parents actively involved in their children’s lives. But some draw the line when it comes to young children. Many people still think that moms should care for infants and toddlers and that we jeopardize children’s wellbeing if we trust dads with the job.

In practice, this means that young children whose parents split up spend every night in their mother’s home. Sleeping overnight at dad’s house is prohibited, even though the same child sleeps at day care, naps at dad’s house on Saturdays, and has sleepovers at grandma’s.

This blanket restriction continues even though dads push the baby stroller a lot more today than ever before in history. In dual-earner families, fathers account for 41 percent of the total time that both parents engage with their infants. This is good news for their children.

Fathers benefit from on-the-job experience just as mothers do. They learn to read their baby’s signals and respond sensitively. Fathers may even have a greater impact than mothers in some areas such as language development and persistence in facing challenging obstacles — the “can do” attitude that is essential to success.

To assess where science stands on the issue of shared parenting and overnights for young children, I spent two years reviewing the relevant scientific literature and vetting my analyses with an international group of experts. This work, published in an American Psychological Association journal, was endorsed by 110 leading researchers and practitioners.

Here are the two main conclusions: First, shared parenting should be the norm not just for children whose parents live together, and not just for older children, but also for children of all ages whose parents live apart from each other. Children need a father, not an uncle-daddy. Second, if we want to give children the best chance for normal relationships with their fathers, limiting fathering time to daytime hours until children enter kindergarten is not the way to do that.

To be sure, shared parenting is not for all families after divorce. But there’s a general consensus that it is good for many of them.

If we value dad soothing his fretful baby at 3 a.m. or reading “Goodnight Moon” to his toddler while the parents are living together, why deprive the child of these expressions of fatherly love just because the parents no longer live together, or just because the sun has set?

Richard A. Warshak, PhD, is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and the author of “Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report” and “Divorce Poison: How To Protect Your Family From Bad-mouthing and Brainwashing.”


Monday, 22 April 2019

How To Cope When Your Kids Have a New Stepfather

Your child's happiness and comfort should be your priority

Seldom is the decision is sudden; divorced dads typically know well in advanced when their ex will be getting remarried. Regardless of the details of their courtship, the new union will not sit well with any parent that does not have primary or sole custody. There are so many factors to this addition to the family, it can be hard to know how to react. The most important thing is always the kids, but where does their father fit in?

Some feelings are completely natural; men may feel a need to compete for the affection of their children or prove their worth through material gifts. It almost feels like this other guy, who has no connection with your kids other than being married to their mom, is barging in and disrupting the delicate balance that already exists in a separated family. While we frequently hear in our society about how hard it is for a divorced woman to see her ex-husband get remarried, it can be equally challenging when the tables are reversed.
Read on for some tips on how to deal with a new stepfather in your children's lives.

Dealing with Your Feelings
So, how does a dad deal with these feelings? How can he still stay the "father" to the kids when there is another man in their daily life? First, it is important to recognize that it is best for the children to have a positive relationship with their stepfather in their new blended family.

Regardless of how you feel, he has a major presence in their life.

Creating distance between the kids and the new stepfather is a sure recipe for failure. Having Mom remarry is already a difficult reality for any child, and it would be twice as hard if their father works to undermine it. So, talk to the kids about their new stepfather and help them adjust to the new reality.

Putting their well-being ahead of your new competitive feelings is a good first step.

Don't Compete with the New Stepfather
Sometimes dads who find themselves in this situation will try to compete with the new stepfather by being a "Disneyland Dad," and giving his kids everything they want and being really relaxed with rules and standards. It is natural to want the kids to have more fun with you than with him. But allowing the rules to go out the window and letting them get away with anything does not do the children a service. In fact, maintaining consistency in your relationships with the kids will actually be positive when so much in changing in their world otherwise.

Don't Put Down the Stepfather
You probably will not get along with or like to be around the new guy. Still, it is important for your children to see that you respect him and their mother. If you do the opposite, say, by giving the impression that this is a person that your kids should not respect or take seriously, you will find yourself struggling with the entire family. Say nice things about him and their mom whenever you can.

That said, if the guy exhibits risky behaviors, you have to protect your children. A custody challenge could be warranted if the stepfather is verbally or physically abusive, or if he is regularly overly intoxicated, or if there are other violations upon your children.

Talking to Other Dads Who Have Been There
Opening up to another separated father may be outside your comfort zone, but it is the best way to gain perspective. You will have the chance to see how others have handled this transition and whether the experience was good or bad, which will help you find your own best path. If you don't know any non-custodial fathers with this kind of experience, find a fathers support group near you.

Have a Great Life Outside of Your Family
Get involved in activities outside of work; service clubs, PTAs, and the like will give you some release. Stay healthy and physically active. A good life balance will help you, in the long run, to keep being a positive influence on your kids and will put many of these things into perspective.

Your children need their father to be a positive, fun and loving influence in their life.

While they should also have a good relationship with a stepfather, the best thing you can do is to be their real dad, to live up to your obligations and to be a positive and upbeat part of their lives.


Saturday, 20 April 2019

7 Ways to Rebuild Your Financial Life Post-Divorce

For most people, nothing in their life will be as expensive as their divorce.

Divorce is one of the most life-altering experiences to go through. It not only changes our relationship dynamics, but in most cases, it completely alters our lifestyle.
No matter how hard we've worked to live the life we've dreamed of, more often than not, divorces are financially devastating. Many people lose half or more of everything they've saved over the course of their life. This includes their home, their savings, their retirement, business and other investments.

If that isn't painful enough, divorcing people often see their income wither and their expenses explode. We cannot forget to factor in the outrageous expenses for attorney fees on both sides, with the higher earning partner often having to pay for half or more of the lower earning partner's fees. No doubt about it, divorce is usually bad news financially. Having said this, all is not lost. There is much we can to do improve our financial situation significantly post-divorce.

1. Try not to waste energy panicking.

Obviously, this is much easier said than done. Nonetheless, we must be diligent in making sure every ounce of our available energy is focused toward saving and rebuilding our finances wherever we can.

Worry wastes the valuable time and energy we need, and it keeps our minds too jumbled to find reasonable solutions. As powerless as we may feel, we are never powerless. Where there is the will, and a little creativity, there is a way. After a divorce, we have a multitude of choices to explore, so as bad as things may seem, we will certainly not end up on the streets. We must do all we can to shift our focus onto solutions and away from problems. This mental shift puts us into a proactive mindset, which has the immediate impact of changing our mood to hopeful.

2. Take inventory.

Because divorces are so twisting and confusing, it may be difficult to understand how or what is going to happen with our finances and investments. Remember that knowledge is power. We must do our research and gather the information necessary to know how to rebuild.

It is helpful to create spreadsheets, making a separate sheet for our varying incomes, another for our expenses and another for assets and liabilities. On each sheet enter the type of account, who owns it, what the rate is and the contact information for each institution. As we gain more information through the divorce process, we become clear on where and how things are going to land. This gives us a better idea on the areas where we need to stay conservative, and the areas where we can afford to take some calculated risks to start rebuilding. It's astonishing how empowering it is to have one place to go when we feel stressed and need an overview of our finances. Our spreadsheets provide us exactly that.

3. Balance your budget.

After a divorce it will undoubtedly take some time to adjust to the income/expense story of our new life. This isn't fun, but feeling resentful doesn't bring any less stress and nor does it bring us more freedom.

We must accept what is and work with what we have. If we feel unclear on the average amount we can spend, we should be more conservative and start keeping track until things become clear. This is the most important piece of financial information we have. With it, we'll know if we need to cut back and take on a heavier load at work to increase our income, or if our situation is stable enough where we can live within the means of what we currently have and still rebuild.

If we figure out that our spending exceeds our income, this situation is dire and must change immediately. We are better off knowing this information than pretending it doesn't exist and driving ourselves into an even deeper level of financial ruin.

4. Set up accounts correctly.

Resetting our lives in an organized and simple way can be confusing while we're traversing a divorce. It is important to count on our legal representatives to advise us on how to take over the title of our accounts, and also who the beneficiaries on our accounts should be.

This topic is especially important when it comes to dealing with retirement accounts. We must learn and familiarize ourselves with the rules on this, but we must also be mindful not to act as our own attorney. Good legal advice is key when it comes to the proper vesting and naming our beneficiaries. All these steps are what help to bring us back to a sense of normalcy, security and balance in our life.

5. Organize priorities.

The realities that come with divorce include huge doses of emotional shock and disbelief. When we're divorcing it can feel as if everything is coming at us all at once, which causes us tremendous anxiety. When we are full of anxiety we start thinking in terms of dooms day. This type of thinking is highly dangerous because it leads us into emotional shutdown.

If we determine that we don't have enough money to survive month to month, then first priority will need to be our budget. If need be, we must seek a financial advisor who will help us to save and grow our income. If money isn't our issue, we must turn our focus on increasing our finances, moving and creating our new life.

6. Pick your supports.

Divorce separates our friends and family just as it divides the marriage. It is vital to pick the people who support us unconditionally, and who we know will have our back no matter what.
Part of the pain of divorce is that we not only lose a marriage, but we also lose many of the friends that were made during the course of the marriage. If our ex is talking poorly about us to everyone we love and care for, we must do all we can to stay quiet and not fuel that fire. 
Those who are true to us will not believe everything they hear, and nor will they put us in a position to have to defend ourselves or our decision- making.

It can also be important to get into some form of therapy, or a divorce support group, especially if we have children who have been placed in the middle. Our community of support is what keeps us resilient.

7. Learn

By taking inventory, balancing our finances, organizing our priorities and establishing our supports, it helps to keep us moving forward even when we feel as if we don't have the energy.

It is hard not to let the stress of a divorce kill our motivation and faith in people. However, the more proactive we are, the more we learn, reflect and take care of ourselves the healthier we are when going through the divorce and the more easily we move on after the divorce. We must put all of our energy into not letting our divorce cause us to lose direction. 
We must force ourselves to focus on staying on task and moving in a new and positive direction. Our happiness and continued success, at the end of the day, becomes our greatest retribution.


Friday, 19 April 2019

Positive Outcomes of Divorce

When marriages are untenable and there is nowhere else to go, in order to save your emotional and sometimes physical life, as well as secure the mental health and wellbeing of your children, sometimes the only place to go is "out."

Imagine that you're preparing your husband's favorite meal. He walks through the door at dinnertime and you greet him. Suddenly, and without any provocation at all, his mood changes. It's as if a dark cloud has come over the room. Your mind starts racing back, you wonder what did you say, what did you do? This scenario plays out over and over again in some marriages and can diminish self-esteem, wear down emotional resource, and kill your soul.

Or maybe you've hit a wall in your marriage. You've been here several times before with your spouse, and you both feel at wits' end. When marriages are untenable and there is nowhere else to go, in order to save your emotional and sometimes physical life, as well as secure the mental health and wellbeing of your children, sometimes the only place to go is "out."

It is at this moment, when you decide to change your life, to advocate yourself and your children, that a visit to a counselor, psychiatrist or psychologist is warranted.

Positive Outcome of Divorce #1: Self-Reflection and Self-Healing

With professional guidance you can discover what affected your choice of a mate and assure yourself that you will never make that mistake again. This self-reflection and self-healing is one of the most positive outcomes of divorce. By doing inner work, you can recognize and acknowledge your own patterns that led you to a dysfunctional relationship in the first place. Then, if you can integrate back into your psyche those early patterns from your family of origin, you can redeem them and never have to repeat them again.

At this time of greatest trauma, your defenses are cracked open, and for the first time in a long time you are your natural self. This is the undefended healthy core of your existence, and it is from this place of your natural resource that you can heal, renew and experience rebirth. By experiencing your authentic self, you will automatically build your self-esteem, depression will lift, and you are able to move into a happier and healthier lifestyle.

When you first fall in love, you may project onto the beloved your ideal: the best of who you are, those rose-colored glasses of your imagination. This is what we call a projection. However, by suppressing who you really are -- by going along to get along -- you are using up vital energy just to hold down your feelings.

You will still be compelled to move towards those old patterns that worked for you within your original family. However, because you are now conscious and aware, you will see red flags everywhere, and you have the opportunity, therefore, to override those impulses that compel you to move towards the wrong relationship and as a result make room for the right one. In essence, you're changing a habit, and as you grow and break your old habits, you allow yourself the opportunity to experience a different relationship with a new spouse. It's important to remember that we are different with different people.

This is restoration, how you bring yourself back to your full potential -- the you that you were meant to be. A healthy partner is the one who carries the positive characteristics of our opposite sex parent, and that's when second marriages can become fulfilling and mutual. Even your physical health can be restored.

Positive Outcome #2: Better Health

Now we know that telomeres, the little rings around your chromosomes that fall off as you age, also fall off when you are stressed. Miraculously, they can be restored through healthy lifestyle changes. Therefore, by releasing yourself from an unhealthy partnership, you not only can become healthier mentally and physically, but also add years to your life through happiness.

Positive Outcome #3: Self-Confidence and Empowerment

The first feeling you experience at the onset of divorce can be fear of the unknown. However, by moving into your fullest capacity, the real you, as I describe above, this will automatically rebuild your self-esteem, your sense of self, your capacity for intimacy, your creative energy and allow you to take back the power you surrendered in a poor relationship. In my work as a researcher, educator and human behavior expert, I've witnessed that poor marriages are often based on possessiveness, lack of intimacy, need for space and distance and need for control.

Positive Outcome #4: Giving Your Children the Gift of Modeling Healthy Relationships

Finally, as difficult as the process of divorce can be on your children, it also allows them to watch you make human mistakes -- and then grow from them. As you do your inner work and regain your true self, your children are watching, and they can learn the importance of valuing yourself. They also have the opportunity to learn how to properly behave and react should they find themselves in a similar situation down the road. And finally in the future, you can model, for your children, a true and healthy marriage.

The best relationships come out of strength, not weakness. When you are whole and know yourself, you will meet someone with whom you can be mutual. This is a marriage born of strength, not of lack. Once the negative and critical patterns of poor partnerships are released, you can expand into the undefended you. By rediscovering yourself, that inner you that you were before marriage, following your own rhythm of sleeping, being, staying home and going out, you act on your own behalf and by so doing find your own authority is empowered. This returns a sense of control, allowing you to grieve the past and embrace the future.


Thursday, 18 April 2019

When Your Ex-Wife is Getting Married

One of the hardest moments for a divorced man is when his ex-spouse remarries. Learn what you can do to prepare for her remarriage and how you and your kids will cope when your ex-wife remarries. Recently, I had a call from one of my good divorced friends who just got the news that his ex was remarrying, asking for some divorce advice. Even though their relationship after the divorce was not that great, it was still quite an emotional blow to him.

Steve told me, "I didn't think I would feel this way. I guess I just assumed that even though we were divorced, I would always be her one and only and that no man would ever take what had been "my place."

Steve was experiencing some of the feelings that many men know as his former spouse announces her engagement to someone else. While some men may rejoice when their ex remarries ("The end of alimony!"), others have feelings of loss and even depression.
"While I know that the marriage is over, I just hadn't thought about how it would feel to be replaced by another man," Steve told me. "I knew that she was dating other guys, but I just never thought she would remarry and maybe feel about someone else the way she felt about me once upon a time." So, if you have some weird feelings about your ex-spouse remarrying, how can you handle it and what should you do to make this moment of truth a little more manageable? 

Prepare to Mourn
You may think that you went through all the mourning you would ever need when the divorce became final. And it certainly is a tough transition from married life to being a single dad, whether you have primary custody of the kids or not. But there is a new level of finality to the former relationship when the mother of your kids remarries.

So be prepared to have a rough time, and take the steps needed to mourn the loss of a relationship all over again.

She Has Moved On - You Need to As Well
Having your ex remarry is the best evidence that she has moved on with her life without you. When it happens, you need to tell yourself that regardless of how you feel now or felt at the time of the divorce, it is time to move on with your life without her. Some good visualizations can be helpful here. See yourself happy and fulfilled, having fun with the kids or with friends, and see yourself without her. Try to associate some positive feelings with the remarriage rather than just the negative ones.

Get Her Out of Your System
On a related note, as you make the decision to move on, you have to work to change your thoughts about her. Whether you ever fantasized about reconciling with her, those feelings are often behind the scenes in your mind after a divorce. Her marriage to a new guy totally deflates that fantasy, and you have to find a path in life that involves her only as the mother of your kids, not as a friend, partner, or even an enemy.

Keep Your Distance
Even if you have maintained a good relationship after the divorce, it is important to draw some new boundaries around her new marriage relationship.
Even if you are invited to the wedding, find a good reason not to go. And don't plan to just hang out around her place waiting for the kids or whatever; the new marriage changes all of those old relationships. Keeping a distance will help you avoid many unpleasant things associated with her new family situation.

Prepare Plans for the Wedding Day
Often, the actual wedding day can be a particularly traumatic moment. If your kids are attending, make sure arrangements are made to get them there and back. Sometimes grandparents are a good option for the kids on their mom's wedding day. Then you make some plans to stay busy and involved. Go out with some friends, or find a group to go camping or fishing with. Find a sporting event or a cultural event to attend. But don't let yourself sit around and risk down feelings.

Listen to the Kids
Speaking of the children, they may have some feelings of their own about their mom's remarriage. For them, it may also burst a fantasy about mom and dad getting back together. This is a good time to do a lot of listening to their feelings. Often, in the midst of their mom's excitement and planning, the children can become an afterthought. There can also be some nervousness about now having a stepfather in their lives. So make sure you are there for them and that you are addressing their needs and concerns as well.

Put Some Distance Between You and Your Former In-Laws
Many dads I know who go through a divorce still maintain a good relationship with their former in-laws. Some are even invited to family events, whether or not the ex attends. After your ex's remarriage, however, those moments become much more difficult. You can even inadvertently torpedo the relationship between your ex's family and her new husband. So another good boundary line to draw is to step back from a continued relationship with your former in-laws.

Respect Your Ex and Her Husband in Front of the Kids
Sometimes feelings about your ex's remarriage can negatively impact the children. As we have seen in so many families involved in divorce, alienating the kids needlessly from their mother brings regrets and damages long-term relationships with the children. Certainly, if the ex and/or her new husband are abusive or drug users, you have to try to protect the kids. But if not, then show respect for your ex and her new husband. Making sure the kids have positive relationships with both parents works best for the kids and for mom and dad in the long run.

Find Someone to Talk To

Finally, don't try to deal with these feelings alone. Find a support group, a good friend, or a counselor or clergy to talk with. Often, verbalizing the negative or jealous or depressed feelings can help you put them in perspective. As important as a good support system is after a divorce, it is even more important when your former spouse remarries.