Wednesday, 17 April 2019

5 Tips For Dealing With Anger During Divorce

After a divorce, most people go through a myriad of emotions. Hurt, disappointment, and grief are some of the more easily recognized emotions, but underlying all of these may be anger.

Anger is a fact of life, especially for most people experiencing a divorce. Because anger is a human reality, what can you do to deal with and use proactively the anger you feel during divorce?

Strategies for Dealing With Anger During Divorce

Below are 5 strategies that will help you understand and deal with anger in a positive manner.

Don't Give In

Anger is a legitimate emotion, it is your heart trying to tell you something hurts emotionally. Stuffing anger to avoid dealing with it can result in depression which, in some cases is your anger turned inward. Allow yourself to explore the reasons for your anger and to express the anger in a proactive manner.

Learning to respond in a healthy manner to emotional pain isn't easy. It's the first step you have to take if you are going to keep the anger you feel from becoming destructive. Our first response to being hurt or feeling powerless is to lash out. To attempt to get revenge and regain a sense of control. When that is your response, you're feeding your anger instead of exploring and attempting to understand it.

To lessen anger and fully understand what you are feeling, you need to allow yourself to feel vulnerable and hurt. Anger gives a false sense of empowerment, vulnerability causes feelings of helplessness.

Anger is an emotional fraud. It's there to trick you into not fully understanding what lies beneath the anger, a lot of hurt and vulnerability. Anger hardens your heart and, if fed, keeps you from ever getting in touch with what you are truly feeling.

There is no shame in admitting you are hurt and feeling out of control.

And, doing so softens your heart, leads to being in touch with your feelings and staying open to new relationships and a healthier life after divorce. Choosing pain over anger is hell in the short-term but, healthy in the long-term.

Don’t Fear Your Anger

Women especially may have been brought up to think that they should be “nice and agreeable” and not get angry. Everyone gets angry, and it is a healthy emotion, not something to be feared. Journal or talk to a friend to vent your angry feelings, so you can work through them.

Feared anger leads to stuffed anger which leads to you one day blowing like Mount Vesuvius and leaving a path of destruction in your wake.\Get in touch with the feelings causing the anger and explore appropriate ways to express the anger you feel.

Don’t Worry About Losing Control of Your Anger

One fear many people have is, if they let their anger out they won’t be able to control the rage that may be inside them. This is usually a fear with no basis in fact. Find a safe place to vent your anger.

Punch a pillow, scream, or do whatever makes you feel the release you need without harming anyone. And, that is the key, stop fearing your anger, express it in a way that leads you to a reduction in the anger you feel without it causing or exacerbating conflict and harm.

Don’t Worry About What Other People Think

If you feel anger, you have a right to your feelings. Individuals may think that it’s acceptable to express grief or sadness, but anger may bring on feelings of embarrassment or shame because it is generally frowned upon.

Anger can be an early warning system that something is wrong. Is someone mistreating you? Is someone trying to take advantage of you? Use your anger to build healthy boundaries and distance yourself from those attempting to do you harm.

Get Regular Exercise

If you are having a hard time processing the reasons for your anger, it may be resulting from your overall situation and the frustration you feel from dealing with stress. Taking a walk, doing aerobics or finding stress-relieving yoga poses, or even kickboxing can make a person dealing with anger feel much relief.

According to, "exercise acts like a drug, protecting against angry mood induction, almost like taking aspirin to prevent a heart attack." So, instead of working out to burn calories, work out to burn off those feelings of anger.

Do an exercise that you know is safe for you, and give it your all. Check with your physician if you have any questions about whether or not exercise is appropriate for you.

Nothing contributes more to divorce turning into all-out war than anger. Get it under check, explore what it is trying to tell you, and when needed us your anger appropriately to protect yourself during the divorce process.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

How to Deal With Your Parents’ Divorce

Dealing with your parents' divorce is never easy, no matter what age you are. And while you may not have to worry about some of the issues that can arise during childhood, such as custody battles, moving, or coordinating after-school pickups, having to deal with your parents' divorce during adulthood comes with its own unique set of challenges and obstacles. If you're struggling or trying to make sense of your parents' divorce at their age, there are steps you can take right now to deal with and overcome these overpowering issues.

1. Reach Out for Support
Even though you're now older and wiser, dealing with parents who are divorcing doesn't spare you from the wide range of feelings and emotions that children experience when their parents divorce. If you're feeling sad, confused, hurt, guilty, or angry about the situation, it's important that you reach out to close friends, siblings, and other supportive people in your life who can help you work through these emotions and tackle them head-on.

Many children often meet with therapists when their parents get divorced, and being older doesn't mean that you shouldn't reach out to trained professionals to help you work through your emotions. You'll get through this, so don't be afraid to widen your support system to help you in the process.

2. Don't Let It Ruin Your Vision of Your Childhood
When your parents divorce when you're older, it's not uncommon to look back at your childhood and carefully review every wonderful memory in search of clues of your parents' unhappiness.

However, you shouldn't let their divorce jade or cast a negative shadow on the times that you spent as a family while growing up, and you shouldn't try to scrutinize and pinpoint evidence of your parents' discontentment. Even if your parents are divorcing, you should still treasure those happy moments and let them bring you joy.

Happy childhood memories don't dissolve when your parents' marriage does.

3. Set Boundaries With Your Parents
As an adult, your parents may treat you more like a friend and confidant rather than as their child, and this means that they may individually turn to you to help deal with their grief, vent and lament about the other. If you find yourself having to listen to each of your parents complain, name call, and insult each other, you should speak up and put an end to this kind of behavior.

You need to remind them that you're still their child, and that you won't be put in a situation where you have to choose sides or speak ill about one of your parents to the other to appease their needs. They should still play a parental role and make sure that you're coping with the situation and dealing with your own whirlwind of emotions during this challenging time.

4. Don't Let It Ruin Your View of Relationships in General
If you're dealing with your parents' divorce as an adult, it's not uncommon that this kind of news start to influence how you view relationships in general. You may wonder how such a seemingly strong and happy relationship can simply crumble after all these years. However, every relationship is different, and just because your parents' relationship is now ending doesn't mean that your current or future relationships won't work out for the long haul.
Don't let their ending marriage negatively impact your view of dating and relationships. Staying positive and optimistic is the grown-up thing to do.

5. Understand That It Takes Time to Get Used to the New Normal
When you're dealing with your parents' divorce, you should recognize that it'll take time for you to get used to the new reality. It may be strange to split up during the holidays, see your parents living in different homes or even watch them date other people, and you won't suddenly feel OK with the situation overnight. By taking it day by day and understanding that there'll be highs as well as lows, you'll be better able to make sense of their divorce and settle into this new chapter of your life.


Monday, 15 April 2019

6 Tips to Help You Process Emotions When Your Ex Starts Dating

Whether the divorce was your idea or your spouse’s, most people find themselves experiencing negative emotions when their ex-spouse starts dating again. Does this mean you still love them? Are these feelings normal? These are common questions you may ask yourself when your ex-spouse starts dating again.

Here are six tips that will help you process those negative emotions.

Your Feelings Are Perfectly Normal

You spent a large part of your life with this person, and during the years you were together, dating and married, you came to think of that person as YOUR significant other.

You two were a couple and to see your spouse with someone else will trigger feelings in you that may be surprising and unpleasant.

It does not mean you are still in love but rather you are witnessing the evidence that your spouse now has someone else in the place you used to fill. Though you may not understand the feelings you are having, they are a natural part of moving on after a divorce. When you meet someone new, you will have a better perspective on how your ex is feeling about you and the relationship you both once had.

You Should Expect to Feel Jealous

Most people are puzzled as to why they are jealous of someone they didn’t want in their life any longer. It’s a common reaction. This was YOUR husband or YOUR wife, you expected fidelity, and now it may feel like cheating to see them with someone else.

Remember what you think and what you feel can sometimes be at odds, but it’s perfectly normal to feel some jealousy and even look for things to criticize in your ex’s new partner.

And, if you've not moved on to a new relationship of your own, your jealousy may stem from the mere fact that they have.

Remember the Reasons You Divorced

Divorce is not entered into lightly, and you probably have valid reasons for the divorce. Keeping this in mind will help you to accept the changes that have come as a result and the confusing feelings you are having over your ex dating again.

Every time you experience a negative reaction to your ex dating, stop and go through the list of reasons you are no longer married. Remembering the negative aspects of your marriage can go a long way in helping alleviate any the unpleasant idea of him/her dating again.

Move Forward in Your Life

Is it possible you are uncomfortable with the idea of your ex dating because you are stuck and unable to move forward with your life?

I’m sure you’ve heard that saying, “The best revenge is living well.” Well, it’s true! If you are feeling jealous, the last thing you want is for your ex to know. Instead of focusing on what he/she is doing, focus on living the best life you can and before you know it, you won’t be concerned with whether or not your ex is dating.

No Two Relationships Are the Same

The relationship that you had with your ex will never be reproduced with anyone else. Each relationship between two people is different, and what you had together during your marriage will never be reproduced with someone else.

The special things you had together were unique to the two of you. So, when you feel jealousy or discomfort over your ex dating, remember that no one can really take the same place in your ex’s life that you had.

So, keep in mind how unique you are and that you will also have someone new to share your life with one day.

Remember That Your Ex Deserves to Be Happy

No matter how much conflict you lived through during the divorce process, if you search your heart, you really don’t want your ex to not move forward. You also don’t want to stay stuck yourself. You really don’t want him/her to be miserable. Letting go is a process, and it may take you some time and effort to get there.

The time will come when you are happy again. More than likely, with a new partner. When that time comes you aren't going to waste time worrying about who your ex is with. Why not start not worrying about that now, instead of later?

Seeing your ex-spouse with someone else can be a shocking experience, but ultimately you will come to accept it, just as your ex will have to adjust to seeing new people in your life.
Concentrate on the good memories you had and the good times to come.


Saturday, 13 April 2019

6 Emotional Stages to Keep in Mind During and After Divorce

Grief for a separated partner is normal and you will get through it

Everyone will react differently to divorce. The vulnerable will endure emotional stages similar to grieving the death of a loved one. It is better to be armed with expectations of the separation process; at least this way, the worst feelings will not have the upper hand when they begin to manifest.

Just like with grief of any kind it is common to move back and forth between the stages. You may find some of the stages easier to navigate than others.

The thing to remember is that you will eventually find hope and healing.

Why Do People Grieve After a Divorce?

Why grieve the loss of your marriage? There are three reasons you may enter the grieving process during and after your divorce.

You're still in love or can't let go. Loving someone means you were attached to that person being part of your daily life. Losing a spouse via divorce is equal to losing a spouse to death.
You relied on your spouse. Your spouse, for years, was someone you could count on. You both gave and received many things from each other and your relationship. Due to divorce, you are losing both the physical and emotional aspects of the relationship you had with your spouse and came to depend on. Sexual intimacy will come to an end as will their emotional support.

Lifestyle changes. You shared a home and family together. You had plans together and dreams of the future. Whether the relationship was stable or not, divorce means giving up the lifestyle you had (or hoped for) with your spouse and adjusting to dramatic changes in your life.

6 Emotional Stages of Divorce

  1. Denial: You find it hard to believe this is happening to you. You refuse to accept that the relationship is over and struggle with trying to find solutions to the marital problems. You spend time believing that if you do or say the right thing your spouse will come home. You hate feeling out of control of the destiny of your marriage. You are convinced that divorce is not the solution to the marital problems. Denial is a powerful coping tool some use to keep from facing the reality of their situation. 
  2. Shock: You feel panic, rage, and numbness. You may feel like you are going crazy. You swing between despair that your marriage is over and hope that it will be restored. It seems impossible to cope with these feelings. Fear is common when considering a life alone; you may wonder how you are going to survive after your divorce. Many feelings and questions seem impossible to shake, but the most important thing is to remember that they are temporary.
  3. Rollercoaster: Depression is a danger at this stage and you may cry at the drop of a hat. You can’t seem to settle your feelings and thoughts. You swing from being hopeful to feeling utter despair. During this stage, you try to break down what has happened in order to understand your pain and make it go away. This can lead to many destructive thoughts, from how things could have gone differently to placing the blame entirely on yourself.
  4. Bargaining: You still hold onto the hope that your marriage will be restored. There is a willingness to change anything about yourself and if you could just get it right, your spouse would return. The important thing to learn during this stage is that you can’t control the thoughts, desires or actions of another human being. The left behind spouse—the one who didn't want a divorce—is likely to linger in this stage longer than the spouse who chose to divorce.
  5. Letting go: During this stage, you realize that the marriage is over, and that there is nothing you can do or say to change that. You become more willing to forgive the faults of your ex-spouse and take responsibility for your part in the breakdown of the marriage. You begin to feel a sense of liberation and hope for the future.
  6. Acceptance: The obsessive thoughts have stopped, the need to heal your marriage is behind you, and you begin to feel as if you can have a fulfilling life. You make plans and follow through with them. You open up to the idea of finding new interests. You no longer dwell on the past, but are emotionally prepared for the future. This is a period of growth where you discover that you have strengths and talents to build on and you are able to go forward in spite of your fear. Your pain gives way to hope and you discover that there is life after divorce.

Friday, 12 April 2019

The reasons why willpower is not enough

Those who are known for getting things done, for committing and then executing, even in times of adversity or hardship can become known for having a lot of willpower You can read a recent article I wrote on this very subject at In the episode I'll share my thoughts on how I believe willpower on its own is often not enough. If we're committing to do something or to get through something that is challenging or testing, if we require willpower then it's often an indication that we're not really committed to the decision, and we don't believe in ourselves strongly enough. I'll share the 4 things that I believe are essential to minimise our dependency on having to rely on willpower, and how these can be evidenced in our life, and built upon.

How to Be Happy in a World of Turmoil

How many times have you thought to yourself the following: If only I had more money, if only I had someone to love, if only I had a better job, if only I felt better.

If only I had that one thing I am missing, I would be happy.

Truth be told, following that reasoning you will never attain real happiness.

Actually, the opposite effect would occur. Instead, you will keep hitting your head against an imaginary line of “wanting more” and suffer throughout the process.

If your basis for finding happiness is possession, whether monetary o
r emotional, the equation is doomed to fail.

Happiness is not based on what we posses, quite the opposite, happiness is seeing the light in the dark, the good in the bad, and the blessings hidden within the adversity.

All in all, this crazy maze of ups and downs, victories and defeats (aka lessons) are all part of this complex yet fascinating thing we call LIFE.

The key in all of this is to expect for good things to happen despite your current situation. By focusing on your blessings, you allow your mind to operate from a place of thankfulness.

It is then, by letting your mind to “just be,” that the greatest ideas come alive. If you operate from a place of abundance instead a place of scarcity, you allow your creative juices to flow and open the door to better things to appear.

If you are constantly facing rejection, find the strength and hope to keep going. If you do so, you’ll be stepping closer to achieving success and getting closer to achieving your goals.

At a young age, Oprah Winfrey was fired from her job as a reporter because “she was unfit for television.” Years later, by keeping the flame of hope alive, Oprah became the host of her own program, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” which aired 25 sessions before launching her own television network, The Oprah Winfrey Network.

I am convinced that HOPE is a combination of being persistent, optimistic, and faithful that better days are ahead.

If you keep that simple virtue within the core of your being, it allows your mind to think clearly, it allows you to reflect on the good things of life, and as a result, you allow your mind to operate from a place of creativity and joy, where new ideas and projects can be created.
Everyday that we are able to get out of bed, that we are able to breath, and our heart is beating, is a new opportunity for us to take on the world and hope that the days ahead will continue to get better... And trust me, they will.


Thursday, 11 April 2019

Adolescence and "Getting Over" Parental Divorce

Parental divorce is not a loss to get over, but to get used to

Of the 350+ weekly blogs I have written about parenting adolescents, the one that has received by far the most reads and correspondance was written back in December, 2011 about the Adjustment to Parental Divorce by Children and Adolescents. So it’s a topic worth revisiting.

I still get comments, mostly from young people, to this day, like this recent example.

“My parents divorced when I was 11. After that day I lost stability in my life, traveling to and from both households on a regular basis, seeing the family torn in two and not knowing which parent’s house I would be staying in for the day drove me crazy to the point where I would secretly cry in my room hoping that one day my parents would unite once again. Strange enough, my mum used to tell me I was lucky to have double houses, bedrooms, etc. I never bought that argument. After a few years my mum was annoyed hearing that I’m still hurting about the divorce and she wanted me to sort of like just get over it. I guess she always assumed that divorce affects the parents more than the children. Over the years I managed to console myself, but now being 20 and looking back I do still wish they hadn’t divorced.”


As I suggested back in 2011, age-stage of the girl or boy at the time of divorce can affect their initial adjustment.

Children (still focused on attachment to childhood and parents) often tend to have a scared and clinging, sometimes regressive response, acting in increasingly dependent ways to cope with family insecurity created by divorce. “I need them to take more special care of me!” their actions seem to say.

Adolescents (now focused on detachment from childhood and parents) often tend to have an angry and injured, sometimes more distancing response, acting in increasingly independent ways to cope with this disruptive family change. “I’m going to take more charge of myself!” their actions seem to say.

Sometimes parents will ask at what age a child can make an easier adjustment to parental divorce, often assuming the older the better, because of increased maturity. But I disagree. The more years of personal history there are with married parents heading the same household, the more challenging the adjustment becomes because the girl or boy has more years of historical investment and familiarity to modify when family life is split asunder.
Thus I believe a five-year-old can often make an easier adjustment to parental divorce than a fifteen-year-old, although neither can do so without some pain. The same goes for adjustment to parental remarriage (which happens more often than not) because the five-year-old is capable of accepting and bonding with a step-parent in ways that the fifteen-year-old usually cannot.

Even witnessing their marital unhappiness, most adolescents don’t want parents to divorce, and don’t agree with that decision when it is made. Often they take injury and offense, perhaps feeling something like this. “It’s not fair. Nobody asked me whether I wanted them to divorce and split the family, but I’m family aren’t I? I feel so sad and angry and yanked around! They think that doing what feels right for them should feel all right to me. But they are wrong!”

I believe the notion of “getting over” parental divorce misses the mark. “Getting used” to parental divorce is more realistic expectation. “Getting over” implies putting the experience behind you and carrying on, like it was nothing more than another bump in the road of growing up. “Getting used” to parental divorce means learning to live with an unwanted and painful family change, integrating its consequences in one’s life, and living with some lasting influence ever after.

When parents dissolve the marriage children and adolescents feel divided as living with either parent separately serves as a reminder of earlier times when everyone lived together. Children and adolescents of divorce must learn to lead dual family lives.

However, while the child is still focused on life in the family circle, the adolescent is in the business of creating an independent social circle of peers with whom spending more time is desired. Thus a child can be more accepting of visitation requirements than an adolescent for whom moving back and forth between households can interfere with a maintaining a growing social life.

So what is required for an adolescent to adjust (come to terms of acceptance and learn to live with) parental divorce? One way I think about this adjustment is in terms of ten common losses that parental divorce can bring to adolescent lives. Consider them one at a time.

LOSS OF HAPPINESS. Most young people mourn the loss of the in-tact family. They miss some of how life used to be when they lived as an original unit. Unlike children, adolescents (for independence and privacy sake) can be less openly declarative about their unhappiness to parents. Still, it often helps if there is some trusted adult with whom the young person can share this pain and get some emotional support. In addition, talking out reduces the need for negatively acting unhappiness out, which can often make matters worse.

LOSS OF STABILITY. Particularly early on, parental divorce can feel chaotic as parental separation and litigation and establishing twin residences and maybe moving living places and schools can create a lot of confusion. It often helps when parents can clarify arrangements and the young person can predict new demands and establish a semblance of order and routine to be counted on.

LOSS OF FAITH. Probably the most disturbing lesson for an adolescent about parental divorce is that love can be lost, that love does not necessarily last forever, that the commitment of love can be broken. It often helps when parents at least make clear that loss of love between parents entailed no loss of parental love for children, nor were children a factor in the loss of marital love.

LOSS OF CONNECTION. Parental divorce tends to reduce old accessibility to parents – a custodial parent can be much busier and a non-custodial parent can be harder to frequently see. In both cases ease of old contact with parents can be diminished. It often helps when parents make a consistent effort to be available when the adolescent needs to talk or get together.

LOSS OF CONFIDENCE. Parental divorce is not a simple family event, but is a complex and challenging one for the adolescent on four levels of adjustment. For example, they have a lot to STOP, like no longer celebrating full family occasions. They have a lot to START, like establishing a visitation schedule. They have a lot to INCREASE, like assuming more self-management responsibility. They have a lot to DECREASE, like having less time with parents and living on reduced resources. In the face of so much change it is easy to feel overwhelmed and hard to feel competent. “I can’t get used to all that’s going on!” This is why it often helps when parents can identify hard adjustments the adolescent is accomplishing so sense of progress can be affirmed.

LOSS OF UNDERSTANDING. Parental divorce takes the adolescent from a known experience of family life into one where the present can feel inexplicable and the future unknown. If the divorce hits the young person as a surprise, “I never knew they were that unhappy,” it can often help understanding when parents give some reasons for the divorce, even when they have different explanations to offer. If there was some evidence of parental discord to prepare the adolescent, there are still a host of open concerns about the future: “What’s going to happen now?” It often helps when parents encourage and answer these questions so the young person can better manage her or his ignorance and need to know.

LOSS OF POWER. Most adolescents feel disenfranchised by parental divorce: “I have no say about how divorce is turning my life upside down!” It’s easy to feel helpless and angry as parents undo marriage and alter the adolescent’s family life. It often helps when parents can show that to some degree the other side of loss is freedom – freedom from some old restraints and freedom for some new opportunities. In this way they can open up areas of discretionary change where the adolescent can assert some preferential control.

LOSS OF FAMILIARITY. When a parent divorces, both by necessity and desire they begin to make a host of personal changes as well that can alter the adult in adolescent eyes. A single parent picks up responsibilities the other parent used to do. Freedom to pursue a new parental interest is allowed. If adult dating for companionship develops into a significant attachment, that new relationship can alter how the single parent used to be. It often helps for the parent to openly to discuss these influences so the adolescent can get used to so much that is new, and perhaps the parent can moderate some of the changes going on.

LOSS OF TRUST. When parents, for their own self-interest, divorce and divide the family, the adolescent tends to lose some trust in their leadership, particularly when it comes to parents directing the young person’s life. Consequently the adolescent’s drive to independence tends to be intensified as she or he becomes more dedicated to pursuing their own self-interest. It often helps if parents support this increased drive for self-direction where they constructively can.

LOSS OF COMPATABILITY. Parents decide to divorce because they cannot get along. For the adolescent, the hope is that they will relate better living apart than married. However, in an un-reconciled divorce (parents still embittered and embattled) the young person can feel caught in the middle of their ongoing hostility. It usually helps if parents can come to terms of emotional acceptance with whatever differences drove them apart so they can recommit to parent together in the best interests of the children, and for the adolescent to know this ongoing partnership is so.

So: adolescents do not “get over” parental divorce so much as they get used to it by rising to the challenge of meeting a host of adjustment demands, a few of which associated with loss have been listed above. In the process of making these adjustments, there can be some gifts from adversity – strengthened resilience, determination, and independence among them.

But what parents need to remember is this: although meant to primarily change adult married lives, divorce changes the family lives of adolescents just as much, and maybe more.

For more about the effects of divorce on adolescents, see my young adult novel, THE CASE OF THE SCARY DIVORCE -- A Jackson Skye Mystery, (Magination Press, 1997.) Information at: