Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Understanding Divorce-Related Anger

  • Anger is a common emotion expressed during a divorce.
  • Anger can fuel decisions made during a divorce proceeding and color the opinion of a co-parent.
  • There are resources one can use to control their anger.
Marital problems are not always instant. Many of the issues that couples face, such as dishonesty, poor spending habits, or substance abuse, are problems that continue to build over time. Other concerns, such as infidelity or violent behavior, are more instant, but all of these have the potential to lead to divorce.

What leads up to the divorce experience, as well as the divorce experience itself, can create some of the strongest emotions that one may feel during the course of their lives. These emotions can guide the decisions being made and color the opinion of a soon-to-be ex-spouse for years to come.

This is anger.

The emotion

Anger is an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage, according to psychologist Dr. Charles Sielberger, published by the American Psychological Association. It is expressed through an instinctive, natural, and adaptive form of aggression that responds to threats and inspires powerful behaviors and feelings.

During a divorce, understanding the anger directed toward a spouse or an ex-spouse seems simple. They did something wrong to hurt you. You did something wrong to hurt them. The children have been hurt as a result of someone’s faults. On the surface, this seems easy.
Because of the complexity of human emotions and how transpiring events are never simple, it’s difficult to call any aspect of a divorce or understanding why someone feels the way that they do, easy. They are entitled to their feelings, whatever they may be.

However, understanding the layers to them and how they affect aspects of your case are part of the first steps in moving forward after the experience.

The action

Many of can forget this, but we, as human beings, have choices about how we act on anger, according to Licensed Mental Health Counselors, Rosalind Sedacca and Amy Sherman, of The Huffington Post. It’s significant to grasp how the anger from a divorce affects others. 
People fearing you or walking on egg shells solves nothing and creates more problems and potential conflicts.

There also is very little excuse, in terms of justifying aggressive behavior to others. As much as we, as a society, say we understand what someone facing a divorce is going through, the truth is that we don’t. Every person is different, and every divorce is different. To say we understand the aggressive and intense behavior of someone facing the complexity of their own situation is to diminish the unique nature of every divorce case and every marital relationship. This makes for little ground to stand on, in terms of justifying one’s anger to others.

Keeping your distance from others, especially children, is the best course of action, when dealing with bouts of extreme anger, due to your divorce. Many believe that these bouts of intense anger are a part of an individual’s grieving process. Due to the mental and emotional damage of the experience, one can feel repelled from their ex-spouse. However, the anger and possible hatred is not because you no longer have feelings for this individual. It’s because you still do and those feelings have been abused, according to therapist Susan Pease Gadoua in Psychology Today.

When a soon-to-be ex-spouse expresses dissatisfaction regarding an aspect of the marriage or asks for something that you consider to be crossing a line during divorce proceedings, the anger can surface, clouding your judgement and adding a level of intensity that can disrupt legal proceedings.

Co-parenting problems

It can get even worse for co-parenting and custody. Emotional baggage is always one wrong word away from being unleashed, and when one of the divorced co-parents is experiencing issues related to parenting styles or scheduling, it can be damaging for the children.

According to Sedacca and Sherman, parents who learn to control their anger and make better choices when emotionally charged, enjoy the privileges of co-parenting more effectively and successfully.

The experience

While control is important, it can be beneficial to let yourself feel the frustration. In getting angry, you can get motivated. According to The Huffington Post, your anger may give you the fuel to fight back In whatever way you feel wronged. It gives you the energy and focus to get back what you deserve or take back from your ex-spouse what you feel they took away.

In getting back whatever you feel that you are owed, you may find yourself letting go of the anger and the grudge. Individuals exploring a life after anger find themselves taking more responsibility for their own behavior and their own feelings and displaying a much deeper appreciation for what it means to love yourself. That can help you move on and find someone who will love that passion and intensity.

Anger management

If you are unable to move forward in your quest to quell your anger, there are resources that you can look to, which will help treat it.

Seeking help from a mental health professional for anger management is not something to be ashamed of after a divorce. It is admitting that the experience and intensity of this loss in your life requires the attention of others who will listen and support you, as you process your feelings and grow healthier and stronger for the experience.

Anger is a common emotion to feel during the divorce experience. It speaks to the intensity of affection you had during your marriage, and when that ended, there was no other way to express the sudden change in the physical, mental, and emotional makeup of your life. Anger was the solution.

However, it does not have to stay the solution. In fact, it would be beneficial to your case if the irrational portions of anger were processed before the litigation begins, but we, as human beings, do not always have the ability to control the processing of emotions. All we can do is learn to control the intensity of our feelings and grow as individuals.


Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Coping with Divorce-Related Anger

Divorce-related anger can literally make you crazy – causing you to say and do things you'd never dream of if you were thinking clearly. Even though it's a normal part of the healing process, anger can become a destructive force in your life. Here's how to cope.

Rose was so mad she could hardly see straight. She and her husband, Jim, were six months into their “trial separation” when she discovered that he had been dating someone else. Reeling from the impact of the painful news, she sped over to his new apartment, intent on learning every last detail about the new woman in his life. Her heart pounded and terrifying questions flashed through her mind as she drove: “How could he have lied to me? Who was this other woman? Was she attractive?” And, perhaps worst of all, “What was I thinking when I suggested that we should separate?”

At Jim’s apartment, a deep and uncontrollable rage rose up inside Rose’s chest as she pounded her fist again and again on the dining-room table. “How could you do this to me?” she cried, as Jim sat and watched, white-faced and speechless as the breakfast dishes flew off the table and smashed into pieces on the floor. He had no idea how to react – or how to begin to defuse the scene that was unfolding in front of him…

Anger is a very familiar emotion for all of us. And in healthy relationships, it can be an overwhelmingly positive force in our lives. “Healthy anger can tell us if there’s something wrong – something painful and threatening that we need to take care of,” says Dr. M. Chet Mirman (Ph.D.), a licensed clinical psychologist at The Center for Divorce Recovery in Chicago. “It helps us protect ourselves, and lets us know when people are crossing our boundaries.”

But for couples who are going through separation or divorce, anger is often anything but healthy. When anger is coupled with divorce, it’s often used as a misguided means of hanging on to a failed marriage; for some people, a bad relationship is better than no relationship at all. Divorce anger allows someone to punish his/her ex while maintaining an ongoing (bitter) relationship with him/her. It’s a situation that leaves both partners in divorce limbo: a perilous situation that obstructs growth and self-awareness.

Some people hold onto their anger so tightly that their rage takes over their whole lives, coloring and informing all their thoughts and actions. They weigh every action to see how much emotional or physical harm it will inflict on their ex-spouse – even simply being a nuisance will do in a pinch – without seeing the injuries they may be inflicting on innocent victims.

Divorce anger is also often expressed through the legal process itself. It’s very important to remember that your lawyer is your advocate, not your therapist or best friend. Expressing anger to your ex-spouse through the legal process invariably leads to prolonged, emotional proceedings that will ultimately leave you – and the family resources – drained dry.

Using the court as a venue to vent your anger is a bad idea for a couple of key reasons: it’s the wrong venue, and it’s very expensive (financially and emotionally). Unfortunately, the legal divorce process itself tends to add fuel to the fires of anger. Dividing property (some of which has great sentimental value) and trying to prove your case for custody and/or support can be very emotionally charged because these issues underline what is being lost or changed because of your divorce. Some degree of upset is inevitable, but driving yourself alongside your ex into bankruptcy is truly cutting off your nose to spite your face.

So how can you cope with divorce-related anger? The key lies in understanding its roots, and in finding constructive ways to express the hurt, disappointment, and loss that both you and your former spouse are feeling now as you proceed through separation and divorce. “Anger can really be a very healthy and positive tool, but if we use it destructively, all we do is scare people and alienate them,” stresses Dr. Andrea Brandt (Ph.D. M.F.T.), the author of Mindful Anger: A Pathway to Emotional Freedom (W. W. Norton & Company, 2014). “People have to learn to have anger work for them, not against them.”

Here’s some advice about coping with your own and your ex-spouse’s divorce-related anger.

If You are Angry

  • Write it out. Work through your anger by keeping a journal or by writing letters you don’t mail, suggests Dr. Brandt.
  • Shout it out. “If you can roll up the windows in your car or put your head in a pillow and scream, it can drain some of that negative energy out of your body,” she adds.
  • Talk it out. It’s important when you’re angry to develop your own personal support system. Instead of directing your anger at your ex-spouse, talk to a good friend (or two), or find a therapist who specializes in anger management.
  • Get some professional help. “Remember, anger acts as a shield. Your anger suppresses other vulnerable feelings that may be too hard to deal with. It’s easier to feel angry than to feel lost, confused, and worried,” says Dr. Mirman. “Talking to a professional can help you begin to feel those emotions you’ve been suppressing and move past the anger.” You could also benefit from a support or anger-management group where you can share your story and develop greater self-awareness around you anger.
  • Re-examine your “core beliefs.” Anger can be based on something that you observed or were told in early childhood, and that you grew up believing. Ask yourself if that belief is actually true, and if it’s still serving you well.
  • Take responsibility for your part of the marriage break-up. “It’s a rare couple in which both partners were exactly equal in the breaking of the marriage, but it’s an even rarer couple in which one partner was solely at fault,” notes Dr. Ahrons.
  • Do some personal growth work. Your anger can help you identify old patterns, and then you can take the steps to stop repeating them.
  • Learn what “pushes your buttons.” Try to understand your anger – and what triggers it – before you express it. Don’t be afraid to say that you need some time to think about your response.
  • Protect your children. Never make them part of your conflict with your former partner by withholding visitation or support or poisoning their minds against your ex. “For the sake of the children, if for no other reason, learn constructive methods of expressing anger,” Dr. Ahrons says.
  • Keep conflicts at a moderate level, and choose your battles carefully. Expressing every little irritation and disagreement provokes resentment. Think about the most important issues – and let go of the small stuff.
  • Use “I-messages” when expressing anger. Say: “I feel disappointed when you don’t call,” not: “You stupid idiot, you’re always late!”
  • Give yourself time to recover from the loss of your marriage . On average, experts say that the healing process takes about two years. “It’s important to realize how sad you are,” says Dr. Ahrons. “This won’t necessarily make you more vulnerable to your ex-spouse; your successful handling of your emotions puts you in a more powerful position.”
  • Forgive, let go, move on. Anger can become a comfort, a constant in our lives, but as long as you continue to nurse your anger against your ex, you will never have a happy, fulfilled, post-divorce life. Own your responsibility for the break-up, and realize that you have the power to make the choice to forgive and move on, or stay angry and remain stuck. It doesn’t matter what your ex does, you can still choose forgiveness.

If your Ex is Angry

  • Listen to and validate your ex-spouse’s comments. Your ex may be feeling like he/she isn’t being heard; by really listening to his or her concerns, you may realize where the anger is coming from and identify what you can do to help.
  • Don’t be afraid to take a “time-out.” Walk away from an angry attack if you can’t handle it. Say, “I think we need to take a break and continue this conversation when we’re both calm.” Put limits on what you’ll take and how you’ll be treated.
  • Get some assertiveness training to boost your self-esteem. “Anger is like a fire that must be burned up into the ashes of forgiveness,” writes Dr. Ahrons. “If we are passive, it is like throwing more logs onto the fire…”
  • Defuse the situation . Try agreeing or sympathizing with your ex whenever possible. When you agree or offer a genuine apology, it tends to quiet people down pretty quickly. You’re not feeding the flames, so the anger usually starts to burn itself out.
  • Try not to take your ex-spouse’s comments too personally. Anger is a projection of your ex’s inner feelings; accept that he/she is angry because he/she is going through turmoil right now.
  • Stay calm. It can really help de-escalate the anger. Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, can be effective when you’re listening to someone who’s really angry. A mantra can be helpful, too, adds Dr. Brandt. “If I’m speaking with someone who’s really angry at me, I’ll always say silently to myself, ‘This is good for our relationship.’”
  • Learn to recognize your own hot buttons. When someone pushes one of your buttons, your response is going to be way out of proportion to the offense. Instead, try thinking of you ex’s angry words as simple information rather than an attack.
  • Try to feel a little compassion – no matter how hard that may be. Your ex may be feeling fearful that they’ll be alone forever or that they’ll never see their kids again. Try to hear what’s beneath the anger; quite often, it’s fear, pain, or shame. Showing empathy or compassion for your ex can go a long way to defusing his or her anger.
  • Be honest with yourself. Recognize that when someone is angry with you, there may be something in what they’re saying. “Very often, you might hear something that’s really valuable,” says Dr. Brandt. If your ex is yelling at you, you can choose to think he/she’s a jerk and start yelling back, or you can “dig for the gold” in what he/she’s saying. Keep the gold; discard the dirt and rocks.
  • Value your safety above all else. If your former partner’s divorce anger seems to be headed in a dangerous direction, put some boundaries in place and communicate through a third party. Threats should always be taken seriously: remove yourself from the situation and refuse face-to-face contact if you sense any danger at all.

Monday, 14 January 2019

46 Steps to Ensure Your Divorce Recovery: A Definition and Guide

Divorce recovery describes the all encompassing process of emotional and practical restructuring and healing throughout the phases of divorce. It is a constant, cyclical process in which you are broken down and built back up numerous times until finally, you are whole again. Divorce recovery is painful, yes, but it is also an opportunity.

Based on our background in education and our divorce recovery practice, we’ve identified three phases of divorce (contemplating, navigating, and recovering) and suggest the following concrete steps you can take throughout them to best ensure your full divorce recovery. As you complete each step you will be one step closer to your reconnection with self, independence, and true healing.
No matter what phase you are in, if you are mindful of your divorce recovery, our advice to you is…

  1. Accept that it’s okay right now to not have all the answers. Your job is to begin to study and learn what is possible for your life.
  2. Avoid making any radical decisions for at least a year after your divorce. The self-discovery curve is too steep during your divorce recovery. Chances are you are going to learn things you don’t know about yourself. So give yourself some time before you move to Tahiti. You may end up wishing you’d just moved down the street.
  3. Forgive yourself if you are scared. It’s to be expected. You didn’t major in “divorce” in college. How can you possibly know what your life after divorce might mean?
  4. Make a list of your most critical financial questions. Do you know where you stand today? What are your assets? How much debt do you have? What are your near and far term financial goals? How do you get a job if you are facing your fifties?
  5. Help your children along their divorce recovery path by getting educated and taking action for you and them. At times your children might surprise you with their maturity and resilience. Other times they’re so angry or withdrawn it worries you. Understand your children’s recovery path is not the same as yours. They are not going to see or feel the same things as you. Read books (for you, and to them). Look for more resources, like your children’s school or a child therapist, to help you understand how your children are coping and recovering from the divorce. Learn the difference between what is appropriate and what requires your immediate attention.
  6. Understand that you are grieving (or you will be, at some point) and that this is your own, unique divorce recovery path. Grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss of anykind. While you may not feel you are grieving the loss of the person you divorced (you may actually be happy about that) you will likely grieve the loss of hopes and dreams that you had for your life. It’s a confusing time, because at the heart of grief is a mixture of emotions. You might feel incredibly free and exhilarated one moment, lonely and terrified the next, and hollow or despairing the next. This is the nature of grief, and it’s necessary to acknowledge ALL of those feelings as normal and acceptable.
  7. Appreciate that divorce recovery takes time. While nobody knows exactly how long (some researchers say 17 months, others insist it’s three to five years) we know that to advance through the divorce recovery process it requires intention. You must do something. (Check! You are reading this list now!) It’s far less about signing the divorce decree than it is about recovering a sense of homeostasis and positivity.
  8. Be careful in whom you confide – this includes family. Few people can be objective, and fewer still are marriage or divorce experts. Yet, there are plenty of opinions and judgements. Just because your neighbor got burned by his ex, it does not mean that’s what’s in store for you.
  9. At the same time, don’t isolate yourself. This is not the time to try and figure it out alone. The decisions to make are too big and too important. This is a good time to invest in your divorce recovery by surrounding yourself with people skilled in helping you.
  10. Connect with your friend(s). You need support, understanding, and accountability. You need someone who will listen and suspend his/her own judgment. You might need practical things too, like someone to watch the kids when you have appointments or you need space to simply clear your head.
  11. Make a list of your most critical practical questions. Where and how should you live would certainly be one of them. Is it better to keep the house, or sell it and rent? Who is going to care for the house or the car, or the laundry for that matter when your ex is gone? How can you get a job if you need to be home with the kids? (You will see some questions live on multiple lists.)
  12. Make a list of your most critical legal questions. Maybe you are finished with the divorce but you must put a new will in place, or now, you’ve just been named Power of Attorney for your aging mother. What does that mean?
  13. Make a list of your emotional concerns. What are your fears? Is it the prospect of being alone? Is it how your divorce will hurt your kids? Do you worry you might burn out your friends, because you sound like a whiny, broken record? Write these down.
  14. Reach out for professional, compassionate support. There are a lot of resources for divorce these days. The thing you should know first and foremost, you should not try to do this alone. A certified divorce coach can help you before, during, and/or after the divorce (and no, talking to one does not mean you are necessarily getting divorced). A coach can help you with many of the questions keeping you up at night (Can you afford a divorce? How do you break the news to the kids? How will you cope when your ex has the kids?) and s/he can help you identify your choices (Is mediation right for you? What financial preparations should you have in place for living independently?). A good divorce coach will also help you take your smartest steps (How do you learn to coparent? Go back to work? Change jobs? Will you ever have the capacity to love again?)
  15. Seek to get educated on what’s possible for you. Ask friends or professionals you trust for referrals. Look for experts who can help you answer all your questions. Consider working with those pros (lawyers, real estate brokers, financial, or career advisors) who understand divorce recovery and the rebuilding process, and who seem willing and patient to teach you — and not just talk at you.
  16. Make a list of your other, helping professionals. What other professionals do you need to speak to, if not now, eventually? Who will teach you how to do things your mate used to do? For easy reference, pull together a list of professionals you think you’ll need, like a computer tutor, plumber, locksmith, CPA, electrician, gardener, etc. — for when the time comes.
  17. Come to understand that divorce is a whole life challenge, or as we like to say, “Divorce is a business transaction. How you pick up the pieces and rebuild your life is the mind body challenge.” Evaluate your financial, legal, practical and emotional questions above and notice how divorce has impacted all aspects of your life.
  18. Try tuning into your body. What is your body telling you about your situation? Are your shoulders locked up near your ears? Do you feel like you are suffocating? Are you experiencing panic attacks or getting sick more than usual? How are you sleeping? Try to find ways to take care of yourself and relieve some of the anxiety before it starts to undermine your health.
  19. Again, forgive yourself if you are panicking or just feeling numb. Your body is trying to communicate with you that “something is not right.” Tell your body you will try to listen more going forward.
  20. Starting now, take notes on when you begin to feel certain pains, aches, and headaches. What are the circumstances leading up to these symptoms?
  21. Go to the doctor and get a full physical if you are overdue. Review with your doctor your list of issues if you have them, and share insights to your stress. Get your annual mammogram if you are a forty or older woman (and we recommend a 3D mammogram, and if your breasts are dense, a sonogram). If you are a man, when was the last time you went to a doctor? You must take care of yourself because who else is going to?
  22. Be careful how you self-medicate to deal with the stress and aches and trying circumstances you are experiencing. Numbing yourself could prevent you from being levelheaded as you start to learn what is new and possible for your life.
  23. Watch out for where you vent and be wary of social media. If you say something online, it’s there forever and can be used against you. Same for emails. Before posting or hitting SEND, review what you are saying as if you were a judge. Be very careful.
  24. Find a way to process what you are going through. Are you meeting with a divorce coach or therapist regularly? Are you connecting with your friends? Are you journaling? Who is keeping you tethered as you go through this roller coaster of pain and upheaval? Often we find solutions or at least new perspectives when we are forced to process out loud or on paper. What works best for you?
  25. To help you feel anchored, get organized. Start evaluating what you do and do not need and begin purging. Organize your important papers and documents, for example, and list all passwords and login instructions to accounts. Keep that newly minted list in a safe place.
  26. Don’t let the negative voices control you. When we are feeling low, it’s easy to let those negative voices grow deafening.“You failed.You are toast. No one will ever love you again.” Listening to those voices only keeps you in a dark place. So, tell them to hush.
  27. Create a budget. It’s important to understand how much you take in and spend each month. In addition to the obvious (rent/mortgage, car payment, utilities) don’t forget to factor in things like dry cleaning, haircuts, coffees, and vacation expenditures, etc.
  28. Face your loneliness. Now that you are no longer under the same roof as your ex, you are likely confronted with empty space. There you are left facing yourself. Take heart, that’s exactly where you are supposed to be. This is often the time you start really processing what role you played in the demise of the relationship, a necessary part to your full divorce recovery. And if you are not feeling grief, be prepared for it to hit you sometime.
  29. When the grief hits you, just be with it. Or make a list of all the things (material and not) you have lost. It surely is a lot. Now that you are looking at the list, give it some attention. Maybe you didn’t love your ex so much in the end. This makes you feel conflicted. So you are not grieving her as much as you are grieving the end of the fantasy, the identity you both built, the loss of what you invested in and co-created. That is a tragic loss. And for some people, we need to really ponder and be with that loss for a while.
  30. Look for Meet Up or support groups for like-minded people. Identify groups that are facilitated by a therapist or coach and be cautious of groups that focus on complaining.
  31. Embrace the discovery process. Now is an opportunity to get comfortable in your new skin — but how can you get comfortable if you don’t even know who you are anymore or what you want? Get excited, it’s exhilarating to discover what you want and who you are in this next chapter.
  32. Live. Explore. Try things on. Who do you want to be now that you’ve grown up? If you could do anything, what would that look like? Write down your ideas and see how many you can realize. No more pushing them aside, it’s time to try them out.
  33. Write your divorce story. If you still feel at a loss, you can’t get out of bed, start writing. Begin with your earliest memory of divorce and move into telling the story of your own divorce. What did you already know about divorce when it came up with your spouse? Did you have preconceived notions about what divorce should look like? How has your divorce changed the way you think?
  34. Find a way to exercise everyday so your brain chemistry has a chance to relax and rebuild you. Your primary relationship is with your body, your being. Maybe you cannot get to the gym, but can you make sure you walk every day? The Center for Disease Control recommends 7,000 to 8,000 steps per day to see health benefits. Consider a fitness tracker or app on your phone to help you work up to your goal.
  35. Understand your social landscape is going to change. Sometimes it’s tough when you are recovering from divorce to hang out with the same friends you shared as a couple. Some friends will invite you out and you’ll feel like a third wheel. Other friends don’t know what to do, so they don’t invite you at all. You’ll meet new friends as well. Your social world will experience a bit of a shake up and then it will resettle into place. Be open to the changes.
  36. Open your eyes to new adventures and friends. You may find your interests change or you’ll have a desire to do something you never really thought about before. Perhaps you’ll go to Cuba! Or a new friend will introduce you to rock climbing, or you’ll take your bike out of storage and dust it off.This is a time of exploration.
  37. Reconnect with old friends. As you recover from divorce, you may realize that some of your old friends fell off the radar, perhaps because life got too busy or because your spouse never really got along with them. Don’t you wonder what they are up to these days? Now it’s easier than ever with social media to find those old friends. Surprise yourself and them. Rekindle your connections with those you miss and could never forget.
  38. Do things alone. Part of your grieving is being alone with yourself and rediscovering you. Welcome chances to dine out alone, travel alone, see movies alone… this is part of understanding the difference between what it is to be lonely vs. alone and being okay with that.
  39. Be sexually educated. A 2010 study of sexual health from Indiana University found the lowest rates of condom use were among people ages 45 and older, because older people may think they cannot get pregnant or are not at risk for STD’s. Yet according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the numbers of older people with HIV has nearly doubled. People aged 55 and older accounted for 26% of all Americans living with diagnosed or undiagnosed HIV infection in 2013. Be safe. Wear a rain jacket.
  40. Recognize the dating world has changed. Don’t let online dating scare you. Connect with someone who can help you with this and who can also laugh with you. Maybe your funny, kind girlfriend can take pictures of you and help you draft your online profile? Go ahead if it feels right. Enjoy it.
  41. Do be careful of your kids in terms of introducing a new person too soon. Remember, your kids are recovering from this divorce, too. They don’t need to be introduced to everyone you have dinner with. Instead, wait until a relationship becomes significant and you think this person might be around awhile. Have an age appropriate conversation with your children: first, to tell them about your new friend, and then to introduce him/her.
  42. Or don’t have a romantic relationship at all. Have you skipped from one relationship to the next your whole entire life? Well, stop. Your job isn’t to scramble to find your next partner if you aren’t ready or don’t want one. Work it and enjoy your independence!
  43. Understand and appreciate you are part of a new world. Divorce is changing. The stigma is losing it’s grip, the landscape is shifting, and it’s for you to determine who you will be. There will be times that you feel a little out of control. With the damp wings of a butterfly drying, you will be a little unstable, but you are coming out of a cocoon.
  44. Stretch yourself. The divorce certainly took you out of your comfort zone in a not so pleasant way, so why not seek ways to stretch yourself that are more fun? Go master the Tango by Air BnB’ing it in Buenos Aires! Go skydiving! Or buy the pickup truck you’ve always wanted and head fly-fishing. Just go.
  45. Allow yourself to trust again. This can be a tough part of your divorce recovery, because surely you’ve been disappointed, hurt, or even crushed along the way. But as you take these steps, you will feel better. You will meet good people and realize that you are able to trust again. You may even open your heart to love again.
  46. Remember opening to love means loving yourself first. It comes full circle. In order to fully recover from your divorce, you must give yourself a chance to grieve, to rebuild, to discover, to heal, and to love.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Creating Your New Life After Divorce: 10 Tips for Starting Over

Your divorce is over. You’ve separated your finances and divided the furniture. You are officially done with lawyers and judges and the whole divorce system. You know that it’s time to let go of the past and start your new life after divorce. But at this point, you have no idea how!

The Usual Advice About Starting a New Life After Divorce

When most people think of starting over after divorce what they’re really thinking about is: dating! While dating is certainly a part of life after divorce, it’s not ALL there is to think about. You’ve also got the less sexy, more practical stuff to figure out.

You’ve got to learn how to change the storm windows, balance the checkbook, and cook for the kids. You’ve got to do all of the things that your spouse used to do. What’s more, you’ve got to learn to do all of those things alone.

That part sucks the most.

Plus, you may still not be feeling like you’re on top of your game.

Your divorce may have left you drained – financially and emotionally. You may feel broken and bullied, or possibly betrayed. What’s more, it may feel like you’re light years away from “getting over it,” even though that’s exactly what your friends tell you that you should do.

It’s as if everyone thinks that there’s some magic switch in your brain that you can just flip to become instantly happy and whole.

If only it were that easy.

10 Tips for Creating Your New Life After Divorce

Like it or not, there is no “magic formula” for getting over your divorce. There is no “average amount of time” it takes to put your divorce behind you and start creating your new life after divorce.

Every person is different.

Yet, there are things that you can do to make your healing after divorce easier – and faster. Here are 10 tips you can try when you’re building your new life after divorce.

1. Grieve.

Getting a divorce is the second most stressful life transition you can make. (The first is surviving the death of your spouse.) It makes sense then that most people experience divorce as a loss. In a very real sense, divorce is the “death” of your marriage. If you want to get over that death in a healthy way, you have to let yourself grieve.

Yet what most people don’t realize is that a divorce is way more than just the death of your marriage.

It’s also the death of your dream of “happily ever after.” It’s the death of your intact, nuclear family. It’s the death of your role as husband or wife. In many ways, it’s the death of your very identity – who you thought you were in the world.

If you don’t give yourself time to grieve all of these “deaths,” you will never be able to let go and move on. Without meaning to, you will hold on to your anger and resentment. Instead of creating a bright new future, you’ll find yourself clinging to the tarnished and distant past.

If you do nothing else to build your new life after divorce – grieve. Everything else grows out of that.

2. Remember Who You Are.

Lots of people lose themselves in their marriage. They’re so busy focusing on “we” that they lose sight of “me.” Their identity becomes completely merged into their role as husband, wife, father or mother. That’s totally understandable. In order to make a solid couple, you’ve got to compromise bits of yourself.

The problem is that when you get divorced, your identity as a couple disappears. Suddenly, there is no more “we.” But, after you’ve been married for years (or decades!) you may feel like there’s no longer a “me” either!

Re-establishing your identity as a separate individual takes time. It also takes a lot of soul-searching. It’s not as if you can open a book entitled, “Me … Before Marriage.” You have to work to dig up the pieces of you that you may have left behind. You also have to decide which pieces of “the old you” you want to resurrect, and which pieces are better left in the past.

How do you do that? The best way to start is by looking inside.

You need to spend time thinking about the things that you used to love to do before you were married. Think about things you wanted to do while you were married, but couldn’t do because they weren’t practical, or because your spouse wouldn’t have approved. Try doing those things now. See how you feel. Keep doing what feels right. Let go of what feels wrong.

3. Decide Who You Want to Be.

Remembering who you are is a great first step in rebuilding your identity and your life. But if all you do is remember who you WERE in the past you lose the opportunity to create an even better you in the future.

When you’re going through a major life transition, like divorce, you get to wipe the slate clean and start all over again. You get to DECIDE who you want to be, and what you want your future to look like. If that sounds simple and naïve, consider this.

Every person who has ever lost a pound on a diet started by deciding they wanted to lose weight. Everyone who has ever created a business, or started a new relationship, or learned to compete in any activity, did so by first deciding that that is what they wanted to do.
There is power in your decisions. But to use that power, you have to actually make decisions.

No matter what you do, life goes on. If you don’t take the time to consciously create the life you want, then you end up getting whatever kind of life you get. Life doesn’t stop just because you haven’t decided what you want. That’s why making a decision now, when you’re at this point in your life, is so important.

4. Hang on to Your Therapist.

Just because your divorce is over, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ready to take on the world alone! Keeping your therapist by your side, at least for a little while longer, can make your transition into your new life after divorce much smoother.

Remember, once your divorce is final, you officially start your “year of firsts” – your first set of holidays alone, your first single parent experiences, your first time checking the box on the form that says “Divorced.” While not all of those “firsts” may be a big deal to you, some of them may trigger emotions that surprise you.

Your therapist can also help you work through any lingering negativity from your divorce. S/he can help you deal with any stifled anger, unresolved resentment, and feelings of hurt and betrayal that you may still be grappling with.

Finally, your therapist (or coach!) can also help you deal with your relationship with your ex. While you may think that won’t be necessary, if you have kids – it’s necessary!

Therapists and coaches are uniquely qualified to teach you the communication skills that will make co-parenting with your ex easier. As a bonus, if your kids have problems adjusting to their new family situation, your therapist can be an amazing resource. S/he can help you understand what may be going on with your kids. S/he can also refer you to a good child psychologist if you need it.

5. Learn to Rely on Yourself.

When you’re part of a couple, it’s normal to divide responsibilities between you and your spouse. You can get a whole lot more done if you’re responsible for certain daily chores and your spouse is responsible for others.

It’s definitely more efficient for you and your spouse to do different things when you’re married. The problem is, once you get divorced, you often have to become a jack-of-all-trades. Either that, or you have to be willing to pay someone else to do what your spouse used to do for you.

Since money is usually tight after you get a divorce, most people find themselves having to learn to do all kinds of things that they never thought they would have to do. Believe it or not, that’s actually a good thing.

There are few things in life that are more empowering than being able to say, “I did it myself!” Being reasonably self-sufficient gives you a tremendous amount of control over your life.

You don’t need to spend money hiring someone to do things for you. You also don’t need to hang around and wait for the person you hired to show up, or to do the job well. You can do what needs to be done yourself AND feel confident and accomplished in the process.

6. Consciously Cultivate New Friendships.

You lose a lot of friends when you get divorced.

Couples that you and your ex used to hang out with now avoid you like you’ve just contracted a highly contagious case of MERSA. Friends you’ve had for years take sides with your ex. Neighbors keep their distance as if getting a divorce was some sort of social disease that they’re afraid they’ll catch too.

Losing all those friends – on top of losing your spouse! – can make you feel isolated and lonely. That’s why getting out and making new friends now is so important.

If you haven’t got the faintest idea how to make new friends, start small. Go to lunch with a co-worker. Join a health club or a Meet Up group and start talking to people. Volunteer to work at a church or a charity. Once you get used to it, you’ll find there are a million ways to meet new people.

Of course, if your divorce has left you feeling rather anti-social, that’s okay too. It’s perfectly fine to hibernate for a while. But if your divorce has been over for months (or years!) then it may be time for you to force yourself to come out of your cave!

7. Release, Rearrange and Redecorate.

Whether we think about it or not, our homes have a huge impact on how we feel. Our surroundings directly affect our mood.

Unfortunately, when you’re going through a divorce, you’re not always in control of your surroundings. They’re also generally one of the last things you have time to worry about. But, once your divorce is behind you, focusing on your environment can be a quick, easy way to dramatically improve the way you feel.

If you got the house in your divorce, chances are that it is still full of all kinds of things that remind you of your ex. Even if you didn’t get the house, chances are you still have all kinds of “stuff” that brings back memories. If those things make you feel good, awesome! Keep them. If not, then now may be the time to do a little household purge.

While you’re throwing out what you no longer want or need, you may also want to think about redecorating in a more major way. Believe it or not, this doesn’t have to be expensive.

A fresh coat of paint in a new color can totally change the way a room feels. Re-arranging the furniture can make your house look and feel completely different. Not only will changing your environment change the way you feel, but it’s also a symbolic outward sign that you’ve started a new life.

8. Tie Up Your Loose Ends.

Just because the judge pronounced you divorced, that doesn’t mean that you’re done with your divorce paperwork! (Sorry!)

If you and your spouse have any joint accounts, or are co-signors on each other’s credit cards, now is the time to separate those things. If you need to formally divide your retirement accounts – do it now!

It doesn’t matter that dealing with all this legal stuff is the LAST thing you want to do. Not dividing your assets or debts immediately after divorce can create a legal and financial disaster later. Plus, putting off dealing with all your “loose ends” only makes you dread dealing with them more. (It also makes it less likely your loose ends will ever get tied up!)

Now is also the time to re-do your will and change the beneficiary on your life insurance policy. Notify your employee benefits department of your divorce. If you need to get your own health insurance after divorce, make sure you do that right away. Health insurance companies have strict deadlines. If you miss the coverage deadline, you may end up going without decent health insurance for months until the next open enrollment period comes around.

Finally, if you have kids, you may want to set up a joint “kids’ calendar” with your ex. This could be a simple Google Calendar. Or you can use special co-parenting
software. Setting up a joint calendar will help you and your ex keep your kids’ lives running as smoothly as possible after your divorce.

9. Create a Bucket List.

When you’re married, you have to compromise. You put aside your dreams of going to exotic places where your ex doesn’t want to go. You don’t do things you’d love to do if you know your ex would hate doing them.

Now is the time to dust off your dreams and create a “bucket list” of things you’d love to do and places you want to go.

Not everything on your list needs to be expensive or unusual. If you’ve always dreamed of planting a garden in your backyard, or getting a dog, that’s fine. It’s YOUR bucket list. What matters is that the things you put on that list matter to you.

That’s not to say that you’ll be able to do everything on your bucket list as soon as the ink is dry on your divorce decree. But that’s not what matters anyway.

The point of making a bucket list is not to DO everything on the list at once. The point of making a bucket list is to let yourself dream about what you want. Creating those dreams is the first step in making them real.

10. Forgive.

This is, by far, the hardest part of building your new life after divorce. It’s also the most important.

If the thought of forgiving your ex still makes your blood boil, go back to tip number 4 and talk to your therapist. (Sorry, but you’ve still got some work to do!)

The truth is the anger and resentment you carry against your ex doesn’t hurt your ex. It hurts you. It makes you unhappy and upset. If you hang on to it for too long you become bitter. Meanwhile, your ex can live his/her life in whatever way s/he wants while your anger eats you alive. (True, you can go out of your way to create drama for your ex. But, that ups the level of drama in your life – and in your kids’ lives – even more!)

Your ex isn’t the only one you have to forgive though. Step by step you need to work through your anger against your ex’s lawyer, the court system, the judge, your ex’s “sweetie” and all the friends you lost in your divorce. Most of all, you need to forgive yourself.

Whether you want to admit it or not, you’re human. Humans aren’t perfect. They make mistakes. You probably did too. It’s okay. Resenting yourself, or constantly feeling like you are a failure, or a helpless victim, or a bad person, is counter-productive. Those feelings stand in your way. Until you let them go they will keep you from moving forward with your life.

Creating the Life of Your Dreams

Divorce may not have been what you wanted for your life. It plucks you out of your comfort zone and shakes you to your core. It turns your world upside down and threatens everything you hold dear.

Yet, even the worst divorce can have a silver lining. But, you have to look for it. To start, you have to want to look for it. You have to be willing to let go of the pain and the drama. It’s hard. But, if you do, in time you may find that the worst experience of your life also brought with it the greatest opportunities to create the happiness you crave.


Thursday, 10 January 2019

5 Simple Tips for  Women Starting Over After Divorce

Marriage should be a mutually beneficial arrangement for two people. Love, of course, matters, but historically, women had finances and their future stability to consider when choosing a husband. And over the past hundred years, our concept of marriage has changed—not just in America, but in many parts of the world. Today, women no longer marry to survive. Instead, independent women tie the knot for love and self-realization. But love and self-realization are also increasingly becoming reasons for getting a divorce.

According to a recent study conducted by WP Diamonds, one in ten marriages ends due to a lack of freedom. Once divorced, this newly-won freedom can seem a little frightening to even the most independent women. The important thing is to stay focused on your goals and assert your wishes. Starting over after divorce is about taking control of your new life.

Fight for your dreams, and take control of your life

Maintain a positive outlook, and when all else fails, remember that independence doesn’t mean never asking for help. Realize how much other people value you—your colleagues, friends, and family. Allow your positive thoughts to fuel you and help you build up your inner strength. If you need more support during this difficult time, you should get that support. Your real friends and family will stand by you through hard times. Talk to your friends, other divorced women, or a professional to get the divorce advice you need. In fact, one out of every four people going through a divorce would consider seeking professional help from a therapist.

And that’s good. For if there was ever a time one should turn to experts, it’s during the life crisis of divorce. Those same people who’d “consider a therapist” might benefit from learning about the steps resulting from working with a coach. For at some point, you want to stop talking about your situation and DO something that is appropriate for your 
circumstances. And without regret. Appropriate action lessens anxiety and can relieve stress.

Independent women know this. We know how to make the best out of what life gives us, to speak up, and to take control — all of which takes a certain boldness and action. This also means taking control of our mental wellbeing and making decisions that are in our best interest.

Stand up for your rights, and carefully think about your next steps

Parting with someone close to you can be an emotional and painful process. Making rational decisions during this time is difficult but essential. If you can do so now, your future will be more stable—both emotionally and financially. Many women find it helpful to create a plan to follow during and after the divorce so they don’t lose track of what is important. As a divorced woman, you have rights. Create a checklist of your next steps. Here are a few examples of tasks you can add to your checklist:

  • Seek professional, emotional divorce advice
  • Find a good financial advisor
  • Ensure your children understand the changes they’re experiencing

It is not always easy, but it is ever so important to be honest with your children and to talk to them about what is going on. Your intention might be to protect them, but this is a hard time for them as well. Now more than ever, they need to know that they are loved and that they don’t need to choose one parent over the other.

Be yourself, and gather your strength for the future

In all stages of life, you should remain true to yourself and follow your own path. This is also very important when it comes to starting over after divorce. Remember: You are not just a wife or a mother. You will always be, first and foremost, you—an individual, an independent woman. You can decide for yourself where to go, what to do, and which values you cherish after divorce.

Sometimes the stress of going through a divorce can bring out our ugly sides, and a person can turn to intimidation and other forms of manipulation to get what they want or to spite their Ex. If you remain fair and refuse to fall into this trap, you will increase your chances of coming out the other side a much more positive and emotionally stable woman. Stay true to yourself and surround yourself with people who are important to you—people who love and support you. Celebrate the good times rather than dwelling on the past.

Be patient—starting over after divorce takes time

Deciding to divorce was likely a long process, after all. The decision to part ways with the person who was once your other half is not taken lightly. The wait for the divorce to finalize can also be excruciating. Depending on how long you were married, the prenuptial agreement, children, and many other factors, the divorce process can take several months or years. This is not always easy so when you hit a low moment picture your life after divorce and what it will feel like to be in control again. If your divorce has just finalized, know that once the dust has settled life after divorce will get better.

Your reward: your new life after divorce

Life goes on. As you contemplated divorce, filed the paperwork, and waited for your attorney to tell you it was finally over, daily tasks and responsibilities continued to pile up. Your job, your children, your home—each of them needs your attention. Divorce is rarely easy. You might have even asked yourself, “How will I move on after divorce?” The truth is that starting over after divorce will bring up a lot of emotions, but mostly, women feel like taking a great sigh of relief. Both before and throughout the divorce process, it can feel like you’re holding your breath. Are you ready to let it out? Your life as an independent, divorced woman is waiting for you.


New year, new start: How to divorce with dignity

Tomorrow is ‘Divorce Day’ or ‘D-Day’, the first day back to work after the holidays when divorce inquiries to solicitors traditionally double. If you’re in the process of a break-up, FRANCINE KAYE, a relationship expert and author of The Divorce Doctor, offers advice on how to survive the split with your dignity intact.


Visiting a family mediator with your former partner will save you time and money by drawing up the basic guidelines for your dignified divorce. Alternatively, find a collaborative lawyer who will work co-operatively with the other side. Lawyers are trained to be litigators, not therapists, so they have to be reminded you are not at war.
Avoid provoking your former partner by responding promptly to any requests for documentation and information.


This may be hard to swallow, but if your ex says ‘I want the children on Wednesday night’ or ‘I’m not paying for that’, your job is to understand their needs before becoming defensive.
When you immediately react defensively, you just prolong the war. Instead try using the following as a model response to whatever they express:

‘When you say you want the children on Wednesday night [specific behaviour], I feel frustrated [my emotion] because it means that I cannot take the children swimming, which I want to do [the impact on me]. What I want is for you to keep to our agreed contact plan so that I can make arrangements for myself and the children or give a reason why you want to make changes [my desired outcome].’

Use all four parts of this message to put yourself back in control and let your former partner know your boundaries.


Taking responsibility for your role in any conflict that may arise at this challenging time is probably the last thing you want to do. But playing the blame game only allows the problem to continue. Ask yourself: ‘How am I partly responsible for this conflict’?

However resistant you are to the idea of negotiating these issues with your former partner, taking responsibility for your part in disagreements will make it easier to reach resolution.


In Britain, one in four children lives in a split family. But children don’t divorce, parents do.

It’s your responsibility to make sure your split is as easy as possible for your offspring. In order to raise well-balanced children who grow into adults capable of having great relationships, it’s our duty to help them understand that just because their parents’ relationship didn’t work, it is possible for Mum and Dad to heal their hearts and go on to love again.


Create a parenting plan, agreed by you both, that covers the main aspects of caring for your children.

Ideally, your plan should cover contact arrangements, holidays and keeping each other informed about illness and school-related activities.

If your children have challenges of any kind, put aside your own disputes and talk (yes, I did say talk) about how best to deal with them. You will have different ideas and both ways will have their merits.


Often circumstances dictate that you still have to live together after divorce. To begin the letting-go process while still living together, you’ll need to create the following personal boundaries. Decide:

How to talk and listen to each other.
How you will handle the finances.
What to share in terms of food, household products, cooking and cleaning.
What is your personal space, what is your spouse’s and what is shared.
How you will parent.
Where you will sleep.
When you both know and have agreed on what is expected, then firm boundaries will be established.


What makes you happy? Emerging with your identity intact after divorce means finding out what your rules for your new life will be.

What are your interests and passions? How do you take care of yourself? How much time do you make for you?

Your divorce gives you the opportunity to regain your identity and redesign your life the way you want to live it. Take time to think about what you want in your life after divorce.


Your past does not equal your future — unless you allow it to. In the past, you and your partner did what you did and said what you said with the resources you had available to you both at the time.

If either of you could have done it differently, you would have done. The truth is neither of you knew any other way.

Divorcing with dignity means there is no blame. When you are able to view yourself as an individual and no longer someone’s partner, the process of emotionally divorcing will be complete.

There is life after divorce and as you gain emotional strength each day you will emerge stronger and more resilient than you ever thought possible.


Wednesday, 9 January 2019

6 Ways to Become More Positive Today

Perspective is destiny. Here's how to improve yours.

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” ― Lao Tzu

Each of us has a set of messages that play over and over in our minds. This internal dialogue, or personal commentary, influences our words, actions, habits, relationships and ultimately, in the words of Lao Tzu, the destiny of our lives.

Too often the pattern of self-talk we’ve developed is negative. This internal seed of negativity causes a dark ripple that extends to all corners of our daily lives. We walk around with a dark cloud hovering close-by, and view all glasses as half-empty. Our conversations always revert to all that is wrong with the world, and we’re constantly expecting the worst.

This negative approach to life can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Concepts such as the law of attraction, “you reap what you sow,” and “birds of a feather flock together,” speak to the magnetic power of our thoughts. Many studies confirm the correlation between positive thinking and success.

So how can we begin to brighten our view of the world, and infuse more positivity into our thought patterns? Although quite simple, these six steps can make a profound impact on your approach to life, and ultimately create a more positive outcome.

1. Practice Gratitude.
One of the quickest ways to shift your focus away from negativity, judgment, and disappointment is to list the things in your life for which you are grateful. Be grateful to be gainfully employed, to sleep in a bed each night, for the sun that comes up each morning, for the waiter who greets you with a smile, for the people that love and care for you, and for a body that lets you experience life each day. Practicing gratefulness can cause almost an immediate shift in your perspective. Keeping a daily gratitude journal, even digitally, can help remind you to keep life’s blessings at the forefront of your mind. Another strategy is to have a gratitude partner—someone who can support you in your journey to positive thinking. Each day, text, email or tell each other three things for which you are grateful. 
Think of this person as your accountability partner for your path to healthy thinking.

2. Two Steps Forward.
Initially, it might be hard to stop the negative flow of thoughts. This shift takes time. Be patient with yourself, and first just try to observe your thought patterns. See if you can catch yourself judging others, focusing on failures, complaining about work, or criticizing yourself or your body. When you observe these thoughts, take a moment to counter each negative thought with two positive observations or gratitudes. Think of it as taking two steps forward after your one step back.

3. Positive Posture.
The mind and the body have an intrinsic connection—each has a profound impact on the other. If you are struggling to move your mind into a more positive perspective, try moving your body there first. Try standing up straight, shoulders back, chin held high, stretching your arms out as wide as they can go. Feel powerful. Feel positive. Carrying yourself with “positive posture” will encourage your mind to feel more positive as well.

4. Smile.
Another way for your body to “trick” your mind into being more positive is through smiling. The simple act of smiling, even if you don’t necessarily have anything to smile about, can instantly change the way you feel internally. Whether you are sitting at your desk, driving in your car, or walking down the street, smile. You will be amazed how your mind reacts. Even better, try smiling at a co-worker or stranger you pass in the hallway or on the sidewalk. Did they smile back?

5. Ditch the Crabs.
If you put a crab in a bucket, it will easily climb out. But if you put a second crab in the bucket, neither of them will escape. Once one starts to escape, the other will pull it back down into the bucket. In other words, surround yourself with positive people. It's hard to maintain a positive perspective if you are constantly pulled down by the negativity of friends, family, or co-workers. If you get trapped in a negative conversation, gracefully try to change the subject to something more positive. However, if you are surrounded by a bucketful of negative crabs, it may be time to reevaluate your circle of friends in an effort to be surrounded by uplifting individuals.

6. Do Something Kind.
It’s easy to get absorbed by our own world of misfortune and to forget about the people around us. Stepping outside of your daily routine to help someone else can provide amazing perspective and fill you with positivity. Strive to do one nice thing for someone else each day. Call a family member or friend in need of a kind word, compliment a stranger, go out of your way to help a co-worker complete a task, or join the thousands of caffeinated people “paying it forward” in the Starbucks line.

Life is not always easy, and sometimes we get handed a bushel of lemons. However, it is our own perspective that ultimately determines if we will drudge through life puckered and sour, or skip along with a glass of sweet lemonade.