Sunday, 30 April 2017

Is Death Easier Than Divorce?

Last week a woman said something to me that stopped me in my tracks. It had occurred within the context of a conversation we were having about the death of my husband last year when she asked me how I was coping. I explained that I was getting back on my feet. It was then she said,

“You’re lucky; death is so much easier than divorce.”

Had I heard her correctly? She went onto explain, saying that before she’d divorced her husband she had often wished him dead because all her troubles would have disappeared overnight.

I’ve often heard people in unhappy marriages discuss how much easier it would be if the other person died rather than going through a breakup. I must say that when I was in a miserable relationship, I once had that thought, and, as fleeting as it was, the shame of it stayed with me long after the relationship had ended.

In the cold light of day, death would seem to instantly resolve many problems: not having to make the decision to leave, not having to risk breaking up the family, or threatening the security of the family home or finances, no on-going power struggle with the ex, no co-parenting problems, no loss of self-esteem or friends, and no legal battles.

Divorce, on the other hand, seems to be more complicated as it can create a sense of failure for not making the marriage work. You can experience guilt, even, as a result of feelings of not trying ‘hard enough’. Having to continually communicate with your ex can cause issues to arise, especially if there are children involved.

If the divorce is particularly acrimonious, one of the hardest things to endure is the inner conflict of wanting to be a good single parent and be nice to the ex in front of the kids versus wanting to scream at him/her for ruining your life!

Interestingly, a study from the University College Dublin in 2004 revealed thatchildren suffer more from the effects of a divorce than the death of a parent. It stated that the children of divorced parents were more likely to suffer from depression, have poor social skills, and do worse at school compared to children who experienced parental bereavement. Does it also challenge the view that a child would be better off with divorced parents than to be raised in a ‘bad marriage’?

Having experienced both divorce and death as a partner, and a mother, I can report several correlations.

In both cases, the grief centrally revolves around the loss of your future life. It’s natural to assume that you’ll be with your partner forever and you feather that dream by building a fantastical life about how the two of you are going to drive your campervan into the sunset and live on the Islands of Dreams.

The loss of those fantasies- for that’s what they are- creates an ocean of grief that nothing and no one can fill. The only remedy is to bawl your eyes out while saying goodbye.
The main difference that I’ve found between going through a divorce, or bereavement, is the way that people treat you. Someone going through divorce can be regarded as an emotional wreck, and other people may stay away for fear of being embroiled in the breakup drama.
Once the divorce is complete, friends often take sides, potentially leading to an even more painful loss of the friendship group that you previously turned to in your time of need.

Conversely, grieving the death of a spouse seems to solicit a different responselike friends offering a shoulder to cry on, placing a thoughtful lasagne on the doorstep and gently encouraging the bereaved to step back out into normal life again.

The two are extreme by comparison yet, for me, the feelings of grief were as intense in both divorce and bereavement.

One obvious difference is that divorce is a choice and death is not. I have shared many evenings with friends while they debate whether or not they should leave their spouse. Some of their debates have raged on for years! Making a decision to leave a marriage when children, family structure and finances are intuitively sewn up together is often a painful and drawn-out process.

Of course, with death the decision is made for you.

If I could return to that conversation with that woman (me) who was so unhappy in her relationship, I would encourage her to leave it - pronto. What is the point in continuing with something that brings you heartache, or perhaps more truthfully, makes you think that death would bring a solution to the problem?

Having the had the experience of being in a marriage with someone that I truly loved and then having to watch them die, I can honestly say that I do feel fortunatefor having been left with the happy memories of a joyous life spent together.

The pain of the loss of someone whom I loved and who I know loved me who I spent many happy years with does, to me, seem preferable than the pain of being moored in the bitterness, agony, and disillusionment of not being able to have made a - once loving - relationship work out.

It’s easier, for me, at least, to grieve someone that I loved who is now gone, than it is, perhaps, to grieve the living when love has gone.


Saturday, 29 April 2017

Confronting one of my fears and moving forward with action!

Taking some of my own advice from my last video message, I thought I'd better confront one of my own minor fears and get back on the bike after a winter off; fear of failure (thanks to the lost fitness) and fear of success (if it went well I'd have to do it more regularly!) were both at play! Fortunately all was well in the end!

Hope you're having a great weekend!

Divorce With Dignity: Don’t Throw Daggers

So you and your ex have decided to split, perhaps your ex dumped you and you’re hurting. Or your ex made you so miserable that you dumped them. Either way the relationship is over and you’re getting divorced. Emotions are going to be bouncing off the walls; anger, sadness frustration, perhaps elation. You name it, you will experience them all.

And then comes the Divorce and financial settlement. There are several ways you can handle your divorce legally; mediation, arbitration or litigation but in emotional terms you can do it calmly, sensibly or with a fight. Now you may be the most reasonable person on the planet and your Ex could be a total arse, so you won’t have complete control of it being all “happy-clappy” but you do have the control of how you conduct yourself through a Divorce.

Unless you are an experienced divorce lawyer or a serial divorcee, the whole process may seem incredibly daunting and the approach you take will be guided by your lawyer. If your lawyer has an aggressive style, then hold on to your hats because it will be an all-out war.
Often people mistake an aggressive style for being more effective but this just simply is not true. Anything that holds both you and your ex in the ‘Anger’ zone will just cost more money and more pain. So when you pick your lawyer, make sure you are picking someone who is a good reflection of your personality. If you want to Divorce with Dignity, then get yourself someone with a dignified approach.

Even with the best lawyer on your side, you will undoubtedly want to take some pot-shots at your Ex. Perhaps he never put his dishes in the dishwasher or she was too busy on the phone to her friends and you just want to make the point One-Last-Time. But think about it this way, what is that actually going to achieve?

• Are you hoping that they will finally realise what you have been saying all along and roll around on the floor begging for forgiveness? If they haven’t understood that throughout the relationship, then they sure as hell won’t understand it now.

• Are you even trying to save the relationship by getting them to see the error of their ways? Let’s be real, hurting someone has never been the way of winning someone over.

• Are you wanting some acknowledgement of your hurt? Then I get that, but then you also have to also accept that your Ex is hurting too and you are a part of their pain. You are going to need to acknowledge their hurt as well.

The hardest part of letting go of a relationship is actually accepting that you had a part to play in the demise of it. This may seem like a really difficult thing to do if you are in the early stages of a break up but it will be the most freeing thing you will do to move on.

Throwing daggers is actually just an expression of your hurt; trying to convey how you feel. 
And the more you keep doing it, the longer the relationship will take to get over. Feelings and thoughts form an attachment, so the longer you have feelings (even anger or hate) the longer you remain emotionally attached to that person. The sooner you stop throwing daggers at your Ex, the quicker the pain will be over.


Friday, 28 April 2017

When Divorce Happens

If you’re one of the many couples who have spoken about divorce or who are actually in the process of filing for divorce, the one thing I can tell you right now is that you will be all right. It may not seem like it but you will.

Having been through the process twice, I know that these next few weeks or months will be, very likely, shrouded in anger and hurt, and accompanied by a seemingly bottomless bucket of resentment.

The divorce process has a habit of bringing out a not-so-nice side of you that you didn’t even know existed such as a burst of creativity in finding ways to hurt your ex emotionally and mentally and feel nothing... for a while.

If you didn’t initiate the divorce, then you’re a couple of steps behind your soon-to-be-ex in terms of accepting that the relationship is indeed over which will in turn hurt you or confuse you even more as you wonder, how come they are managing so well! 

Well, the reason for that is that they have already done some processing of the situation while still married to you. There was a time they were where you are now.

You will do certain things believing deeply that they are in the best interest of the children like telling them that it’s really your partner’s fault that the family is breaking up and you would never do that to them.

If you’re going through solicitors (have you considered family mediation?), you will at some point, confuse them for a therapist and pour your heart out to them not caring that you’re then, at that moment, paying them for a service they are not qualified to handle.

If you have lived for months in denial that this day will come, accepting that it’s here, that it is what it is, feels impossible to do. You go through moments of thinking, “I’m sure I can rescue this,” only to realise that you can’t, which immediately makes you jump back on the ever rotating wheel of very powerful negative emotions.

When it comes to the children, you swear that you will get full custody of them because, suddenly, in the space of what seems like 24 hours, your soon-to-be ex has become the most incompetent parent you have ever encountered! Even when someone explains to you that there is no such thing as full custody in the UK, you believe deeply that that is not fair and you will change the law if need be to “protect your children.”

When it comes to friends and relatives, you prefer, in the beginning at least, to consult with the ones who will not only listen to everything you say, but that they also back you up so much that they, and you, don’t realise that they are only fanning the flames of your anger, hurt and resentment. Who wants to speak with the objective, sensible ones?
Also watch how friends will fall away like autumn leaves, especially the ones whom you believed would be there for you.

When this happens, don’t worry too much about it, you will deal with it later on down the line. For now, just know that they would have fallen away anyway at a later date in time divorce or not.

You’re probably beginning to think about all the meaningless sex you’re going to have with everyone and everybody because you haven’t had it for such a long time!

You begin to hope that the guy who works on second floor will finally ask you out because now you can say yes, skip dinner, coffee and straight to his/yours. Or you start planning how you will finally get to tell Susanna in Planning Department how much you’re hurting in the hope that she will take you home and look after you.

If you have recently decided to separate, you will be going through this and a whole other lot of emotions including fear, shock and a whole lot of loss of actual memory, which is quickly replaced by a whole lot of selective memory.

The next few weeks, months or even couple of years will not be easy but I promise you that you will get through this tunnel.

Divorce, unfortunately for some of us, is truly part of our life’s journey. You’re going through it now but it doesn’t need to define who you are just like being laid off work, which also brings on fear, shock and a sense of loss, doesn’t define who you are for the rest of your life.

You will find love again.

You will laugh again.

Your children will be fine again.

And your life will go on again.

If you allow it....


How to TRULY be in a Relationship After Divorce Broke Your Heart

You’ve worked hard to get over your divorce. Don’t let it get in the way of your future happiness.

Living through the tumultuous end of your marriage is one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do. And the repercussions of it echo through your life in often surprising ways – and sometimes for a long time after your divorce is a done deal.

One of the most common ways to experience the fallout of divorce long after it’s final is in your new relationships.

So, when you meet someone you really like, it’s natural to wonder how to be in a relationship with them or if you even want to be in a relationship again. You wonder if it’s possible to find love after divorce.

Questioning whether you want another relationship usually driven by fear. When your heart has been broken by divorce, it’s very difficult to believe that you could ever have a good relationship.

You struggle with how to be in a relationship again. Maybe you simply fear the past repeating itself. But here’s the thing, the ONLY way this fear is real is if these two things are true:

You’re exactly the same person you were.

Your new love interest is just like your ex.

Now, if you’ve done your work – really done your work – to heal from your divorce, one of the things you now understand is your part in the failure of your marriage.

And because you’re smart and determined, you’ve taken the steps necessary to make sure you no longer behave in that way and you know how to spot it quickly when you do. This alone guarantees that you’re NOT exactly the same person you were.

Another benefit of doing your work to get over your divorce is that there’s very little chance you’re attracted to the same type of person you divorced. (Remember that the person you divorced is seldom the person you thought you married.)

So, if you’ve done all the hard work to heal, your fear of not being able to have a good relationship isn’t based on facts. It’s just a fear of the past that’s holding you back fro
m exploring your new life – the life you’ve been working so hard on making great.

Now when you really take a step back to look at it, it’s your ex and the memory of your marriage that’s keeping you from exploring the connection you have with your new love interest. And you sure don’t want your ex controlling your future!

Another reality is that the connection you have doesn’t guarantee that a relationship with this new person will work out or that you should enter it without caution. It just means that you’re attracted enough to want to explore how to be in a relationship with them.

Taking a chance to learn how to be in a relationship again with someone you genuinely care about can be extremely fun – especially after all the effort you’ve put into moving on with your life. And if this new relationship has the potential to contribute to your happiness, you deserve to explore it without fear.

So silence the echoes of your divorce and don’t let them get in the way of your pursuit of happiness.


Thursday, 27 April 2017

Get past the fear and take action

Some thoughts on how our fears whether founded or unfounded can hold us back from achieving our goals or taking actions to achieve our goals.

What fears are holding you back from your intention to thrive?

Divorce Recovery Time and Why You Can’t Cheat the Clock

Divorce is the second most stressful life event, preceded only by the death of a spouse or child. That’s according to the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale anyway. It rates a score of 73. Whatever that means.

My guilty secret is that it didn’t seem all that bad. There was one occasion - just the one time in the year since it happened that I really missed the guy.
I was packing his stuff up, not long after he’d left, and I took a dry, clean shirt off the radiator. It was a kind of mock dress shirt, with frills down the front, punctuated with gaudy, crass red stitching.

I always hated that shirt.

Suddenly the emotion hit, leaving me breathless with the intensity of it. It lasted all of five seconds, and then I was fine, shaken more by the surprise of feeling that way, than the feeling itself.

Five seconds after seven years.

It felt like a fair trade off. “This must be how normal people feel,” I thought, having been earlier chastised for an apparent lack of emotion.

If they do feel that way, if that five seconds segues into the 18 months to five-year period that is meant to make up divorce recovery time, then it has certainly earned its place on the winners’ podium of horrors.

Recovery time seems to span a large, variable timeframe for different people, but for everyone, the timeframe is longer than they would want. When I started looking it up, in the early days, I was defiant.

“Five years. Five years? It’s been three weeks, and I feel fine. Better than fine, great in fact.”
In reality, it’s only now, a year later, that I can look back and realise that I didn’t feel all that good. It’s hard to pinpoint why I felt so bad, when ultimately, and even with the benefit of hindsight, the overriding feeling was one of relief.

It’s possibly a defence mechanism: knowing you’re going to feel that terrible for that long wouldn’t aid any kind of recovery process.

And what is recovery? It can’t be a return to previous form? That would be some kind of regression. You have to adapt to your circumstances, and that means change. Maybe that means becoming a happier person, more capable of dealing with problems, more able to navigate through the daily minefields with less anxiety. It certainly involves becoming more self-sufficient, even if the impression of having support and back up was nothing more than an illusion.

Getting to this point is not easy: while I seem to have had it easier than most, it was a tough year. But having ridden out the worst of it, I can conclude that all the worst stuff is necessary. As the chimes ushering the end of 2013 rang out, I felt as though they took the last vestiges of the pain with them. My magic timeframe was pretty much twelve months exactly.

This couldn’t have been predicted by any kind of chart, experts or other anecdotal evidence. 
The time it takes is the time it takes. Unfortunately it seems that time itself is a process that can’t be bypassed, despite how much dating, soul searching or yoga you do. You have to wait it out. Sucks, but that’s just the way it works.

The worst thing is the backsliding. It happens, and you just have to accept it. This is apparently one of the things that hits a lot of people the hardest: you’re chugging along doing fine, and then it kicks you in the guts, as visceral as it is emotional. It’s a cruel intrusion into your belief that you were doing well, and stirs up all kind of worries, one of the more potent ones being the fear of insanity. It’s generally not insanity: and Kübler-Ross will back me up on that.

These intrusions become less and less regular, until suddenly they never happen, apart from on a minor scale. You may see a particular brand of marmalade on a supermarket shelf that sets off a synapse deep inside your brain somewhere, and makes you realise that the memories you carry with you will always be there on some level, but confronting them is no longer significant.

When the day arrives that you are genuinely able to look at the good times as good, the bad times as bad, and attach no meaning, importance or emotion to them, that’s probably a good indication that you’re pretty much there.
When that day arrives, you will probably be happy about how it all went down.


12 Reasons Why Divorced Women Rock

Mark Radcliffe considers it an honor to date a divorced woman. Here’s why.

A female friend of mine got divorced recently, and confessed to me how much she dreaded now having the “divorced” label hanging over her head as she re-entered the dating pool, like some modern day version of the scarlet letter. That she, too, had failed to make it work, and men would recoil from her in disgust, running for the nearest 20-something as soon as possible.

But I for one, think being divorced can actually be a stamp of awesomeness to we men willing to look past the stigma. I think this experience actually means you’re a cut above your never-been-married friends. And here’s why:

1. You’ve experienced loss, and rebounded from it. You have courage, resilience, strength. That’s an attractive trait to men looking for a worthy partner.

2. Hey at least you dared to get married! You took a swing at love, rather than just playing it safe on the sidelines. You placed a bet in the lottery of life, and while it didn’t work out, you can dust yourself up and try again. Hell, even George Clooney couldn’t make his first marriage work.

3. You know it’s better to be alone for the right reasons than with someone for the wrong. And are maybe more willing to wait for the right guy than jump into something just to have a body next to you. You don’t feel “incomplete” if you’re not in a relationship, and are maybe becoming a better person each day that you’re on your own.

4. You now know (if you didn’t before) that love takes work. That it doesn’t just magically take care of itself, and float along in a some happy, pink cloud surrounded by unicorns and cotton candy. You know that both parties have to commit to supporting each other and making compromises on a daily basis. This, too, means you’ll have a more realistic and mature approach to your future relationships.

5. You had the balls (irony intended) to walk away from something that wasn’t working. You stood up and said, “No, I won’t stay in something that’s a lie.” And that means you have standards. Principles. And me, I like a woman who takes a stand. And isn’t afraid to face some public scorn in the process. Where others see “scandal,” I see strength.

6. Maybe you’ve recognized that you’ve made a mistake–either in your own actions, or simply by marrying someone else who was making a lot of mistakes
. And that’s incredibly valuable for your future partners in life, because you’re clearly humble enough to accept criticism and question yourself.

7. You probably now have a deep knowledge of what sexually satisfies you (and what doesn’t). And that’s rare for women and men. And your future relationships will benefit significantly from that.

8. Maybe you were the one who walked away, and now know what “Mr. Wrong” looks like, so you’ll better able to spot “Mr. Right.” Your bullshit detector is now iron-clad, and you realize you don’t always have to “stand by your man.” Because a lot of guys don’t deserve to be stood by. You’ll be less likely to fall for bullshit more able to identify a true heart.

9. Or maybe you yourself realize you weren’t such a peach, yourself. That you have things to work on in your character, personality or attitude. But that willingness to accept fault is also incredibly attractive to the right guy. You’ve recognized you’re not perfect? Congrats, most of us never get there. We’ve got shit to work on, too. It’s nice to have some company.

10. You know what it’s like to watch love slip away, and you’re more able to keep it from happening again, to have the tough conversations that need to happen. Hell, maybe you can help us prevent us from losing our way, too, if we drift.

11. Because you look wonderful when you walk down the street alone, unafraid, cool and confident.
When you sit at the bar with no one next to you, it doesn’t bother you a bit. You kind of even seem to be enjoying it. Which makes us want to be next to you all the more.

12. So you’ve got a few scars.
They make you more interesting. You’ve suffered pain and loss, so you value joy and happiness more than those who’ve never lost it. You’ve experienced a wider range of emotion in life, and have a deeper appreciation for the highs & lows.

If you’re worried about the future, please don’t. Believe that your best years are ahead of you. Because there are those of us who find you all the more appealing for the battles you’ve won & lost. Who find you much more interesting and inspiring for having a few kinks in your armor and some stories to tell.

And maybe you’ll find one of us wanting to be by your side sooner than you think.

But, maybe you’ll be just fine without us. 


Wednesday, 26 April 2017

New child-custody law lets Ky. children win with shared parenting

Monday, Gov. Matt Bevin signed a revised law affecting temporary child-custody orders — the starting point for divorces. Kentucky’s House and Senate unanimously approved the law, which creates a presumption of joint custody and equal parenting time.

The new law, House Bill 492, answers many Kentucky children’s prayers. The Easter bunny is bringing children a better chance to see both parents after a divorce.

Children in married families enjoy both their parents. Before the new law, children in divorced families enjoyed whichever parent the court picked (primary custody). These children may be allowed a short visit with the other parent.

However, the new law encourages a better arrangement called shared parenting. In shared parenting, children get to see both parents equally. Instead of a single parent winning, the children do.

Studies show that shared parenting children really are winners. Shared parenting children are more likely to be involved in football or music contests than sole custody children. Children who see both parents are also less likely to do drugs or have premarital sex.

The funny thing is that both parents win, too. Neither is denied his or her half of parenting time. Neither parent is forced to work all day long and then be a single parent all night long every day. They have half their evenings and weekends to focus on their careers, tend to one of their own parents or start a new relationship.

Now, fewer divorcing Kentucky parents will be fighting tooth and nail to “win” their children. Thanks to Bevin and bill sponsors David Osborne, R-Prospect, Jason Petrie, R-Elkton, and Robby Milles, R-Henderson, joint custody is the temporary order law in Kentucky.

Surrounding states are rapidly passing permanent custody shared parenting laws. Illinois started shared parenting last year and Missouri just started it a few months ago. Let’s hope Bevin and the bill sponsors improve Kentucky’s permanent custody order law, also.

It’s so easy to point out our government’s flaws. But today we celebrate our legislators making things better. The entire Kentucky House and Senate have helped children see both parents after divorce. And they should because our kids deserve both parents.


How to Let Go of Your Ex After a Break-Up

“He left me. He said he didn’t love me anymore and just walked out.” A client sobbed on the sofa in my clinic a six months ago. Her heart had been completely broken by her partner of 11 years. (I have changed names and some scenarios to protect confidentiality)

She was completely overwhelmed with sadness and an acute sense of loss. She had a high flying career and was angry at herself for falling apart yet she had no control over the crying or the obsessing over what she might have done wrong.

The truth is that she had suspected for the last 18months that something was wrong. Her ex, who I shall call James, had become gradually more distant and less affectionate. He had always bought flowers home on a Friday but that dwindled, as did other little gestures that she used to take for granted like a cup of tea in bed on Sunday’s and buying her the latest book from her favourite author when it came out.

At first Susie had been too busy to really notice but over time she started to feel sad about it. Whenever she brought it up he told her he was sorry and that he had been busy too. Whenever they argued about it and she said she didn’t feel as loved by him anymore he would accuse her of being too demanding.

Their sex life petered out in the last six months but she assumed it was all down to the length of their relationship and that it was natural that sex would not be as frequent after 11 years. Susie busied herself in work and tried not to think about it. After all they still had a good circle of friends and a fun social life together so it wasn’t all bad.

So the break-up hit her like a freight train. She felt broken inside and her self confidence was at rock bottom. Susie came to see me to find out how to feel better as James had made it clear he was not coming back. She felt partly responsible and wishes she had done more about the problems and not allowed them to fester.

The interesting thing about heart break is that it really physically hurts inside. It’s an exquisite pain that can grab hold of you and paralyse you from moving forward with your life. The good news is that there are lots of things you can do to help you let go of your ex. It’s not easy but with practice and a determination to get back in control of your feelings will help you to get there.

Don’t be afraid to face any negative emotions. It’s ok to cry and actually helps you to heal. It’s all part of the loss cycle and a natural part of your recovery process. It’s normal to grieve the loss of your relationship. Susie was so relieved to find this out that she relaxed. She had thought she was depressed and would never feel happier. But the truth is that sadness is part of the natural recovery process.

The key to letting go of your ex is to change your focus from the past and what happened to the future and put your energy and attention into creating your new single life. Stop telling your sad story to everyone who will listen and start to talk about all the new things you want to achieve and have in your life. Susie had been talking about her break-up for hours with her mum and best friend. They meant well but actually gave her negative reinforcement as they were hurt and angry too. Susie and I worked on some exciting new goals that she wanted to create for her future. It gave her a new focus with her mum and best friend and they were able to support her in a more positive way.

Make some changes to the way you do things, especially your daily routine. This will enable you to experience new things and not end up doing the same things alone that you used to do together. You could introduce a morning walk or move some furniture around in your home which will give the room a fresh feel. Even little changes can make a huge immediate impact on how you are feeling. Susie decided to clear out James’ clothes from the wardrobe and pack them away. Whilst this was tough for her to do she felt much better immediately after.

Write a bucket list of all the things you would love to do over the next 12 months but you would never have been able to whilst in your relationship. Turn your loneliness into a sense of freedom to do things that make you happy. Susie had always fancied going on a fitness retreat but James was horrified at that idea and preferred to lie by a beach. So she booked herself 5 days on a retreat abroad and came back fitter, more confident in herself and with a tan. She carried it through into her daily routine and joined a gym as she recognised how having a healthy body gave her more mental strength and a better ability to move forward with her life.

Susie now has the tools and techniques to feel better and move forward with her life. She feels back in control of her emotions and has created a future she is excited to live and is loving it.

She still pops into my clinic from time to time as new challenges arise as she now appreciates the importance of dealing with issues immediately and not allowing them to fester. She came in recently as she felt ready to start dating again and wanted some help to get started. She has let go of James and is ready to start looking for a new love.

Letting go of your ex is never easy if you loved them deeply. They may always hold a place in your heart, however this place should be pain-free and full of happy memories.


Tuesday, 25 April 2017

8 Surprising Ways Divorce Affects Your Health

No two people experience a divorce the same way, but most can agree that it's an extremely painful and difficult situation, both mentally and physically. Though you'll be busy filling out legal paperwork with your attorney, it's essential to pay attention to your mind and body: Research shows that divorce can take a serious toll on everything from your sleep habits to your heart (no surprise there). Knowing about the following conditions will allow you to take charge of your health and do everything you can to prevent them from developing.


"Typically, after a divorce anxiety levels shoot sky high," says Fran Walfish, PsyD, a psychotherapist in Beverly Hills and an expert panelist on the upcoming television series Sex Box. "You don't have a companion in the big, bad world anymore," she says, and the future that you once pictured no longer exists. Plus, there's a ton of uncertainty, which can lead to feeling insecure. Depending on the circumstances, you might suddenly have to move, get a new job, and survive on less money than before. Your children might need to change schools or get used to a back-and-forth arrangement with you and your ex. Walfish says that anxiety can sometimes manifest itself in controlling behavior, such as sending a gazillion emails to your divorce attorney or emptying your joint bank account to try to take over the finances.

Drastic Weight Change

Gaining or losing a significant amount of weight is something else you might notice during or after a divorce. Some people turn to comfort foods because doughnuts or fried chicken might temporarily perk them up. For others, divorce has the opposite effect. "I had a patient walk in after a long absence. She was very slim, and I remarked upon it. She said, 'Yep, I'm getting a divorce. I call it the Grief Diet,' " says Walfish. "She lost her appetite. Sometimes you can't eat when you're distraught."

Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome occurs when you have several dangerous conditions at once, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess belly fat, and high cholesterol. It increases your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. A study published in Archives of Internal Medicine found that women who are divorced (as well as women who are widowed or in unhappy marriages) are more likely to develop metabolic syndrome than women who are in happy marriages.


After a marriage dissolves, "many people feel like failures," says Walfish. What contributed to the divorce may also play a role. For instance, if your spouse cheated on you, that knowledge might send you into a downward spiral of hopelessness and destroy your self-confidence. "I really and truly believe that this is the pivotal moment in life where it's beneficial to seek out a good therapist," says Walfish. For one thing, it helps to gain support from someone who is emotionally removed from the situation. This is also your chance to discover why you were drawn to the relationship in the first place—and learn how to avoid a similar situation. "It's a golden opportunity to write a new, brighter script for the next chapter in your life," says Wolfish.

Cardiovascular Disease

A study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that both middle-aged men and women are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease after going through a divorce, compared with married people of the same age. It also revealed that middle-aged women who get divorced are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than middle-aged men who get divorced. Why do women have it worse? Here's one explanation: 

Research shows that the stress of divorce leads to higher levels of inflammation in women, and those levels persist for some time, explains Mark D. Hayward, professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. "Part of the reason for the continued elevation in women is that the period after divorce is highly stressful, too. Women often take bigger hits in terms of finances, and they tend to stay single longer than men."

Substance Abuse

Post-split, you might find yourself becoming more dependent on cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs to cope with feeling lonely, anxious, or depressed. One 2012 review of scientific literature published in The Journal of Men's Health found that divorced men have higher rates of substance abuse, as well as higher rates of mortality, depression, and lack of social support, compared with married men. The stress you feel from a divorce is second only to the stress you feel from the death of a spouse, explains study co-author Dave Robinson, PhD, director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at Utah State University. "And men are more likely to ignore the significant impact that divorce has on them."


"In my divorced clients, sleep disruption is very common, as well as nightmares," says Walfish. This might mean having trouble falling or staying asleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, insomnia is very common among those who are depressed, so divorce-related depression is one possible underlying cause of the sleep issues. Be sure to follow these tips to sleep better every night.

Chronic Health Problems & Mobility Issues

Many health consequences of divorce are linked. For example, it can be harder to eat well and exercise regularly if you're feeling depressed and not sleeping well. And those unhealthy habits can lead to serious diseases and conditions. A study published in Journal of Health and Social Behavior found that divorced or widowed people have 20% more chronic health conditions (such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer) than people who are married. They also have 23% more mobility limitations, such as not being able to climb stairs or walk a block. Consider this one more reason to make sure you get a physical each year.


Essential Requirements to Maintain Emotional Maturity in Divorce

It is not unreasonable to expect a certain level of emotional maturity, from both parties before, during and after divorce.

Two adults entered the marriage, two adults are divorcing.

In order to maintain as least a minimum of civility and respect, especially when children are involved, emotional maturity is crucial.

Be an adult.

Emotional maturity is comprised of many things and varies with individual perspectives. However, during the divorce process, the following are essential:

Take responsibility for your thoughts, words and actions. Emotions are running high, everyone is hurting. What you do and say in this situation matters. The repercussions of hurtful, negative words and actions will continue to ripple for years. Be mindful.

Own your part in the marriage and the divorce. This isn’t the time for outward blaming or playing the victim. Maybe things were unfair. Maybe things didn’t work out as you had hoped. It is over now. Own your part of it. It takes two to tango.

Stop wallowing in negative emotions. Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D., author of My Stroke of Insight, documented the biological time-span of an emotion as 90 seconds. What you do after those 90 seconds is up to you. Challenge your beliefs to see how they match up with reality. If you need help, get help. Don’t take your negative feelings out on others.

Avoid using “you” statements.

Respond, don’t react. Negotiate, don’t argue. Be wise, not defensive. Divorce isn’t about winning or losing, right or wrong. The marriage is over, pointing fingers, keeping score, tattle telling…there is no place for it.

Try to see the bigger picture. Step back from your ego self and negative judgment.

Release the need for comparison. Both of you are disappointed, hurting and grieving.

Strive for acceptance and compassion. The choice is yours to grow from this experience or let it define you.

Apologize when necessary. Not the “I’m sorry, but…” kind of apology either. Apologize and mean it. “I apologize. What I did/said was wrong and hurtful. I wish I could take it all back but know I can’t. I will try my hardest to not let this happen again. I hope you can forgive me. I am sorry.”

Be an adult.

Your children will thank you.


Monday, 24 April 2017

When a major change or decision seems too scary.

I was just listening to a podcast and heard something really significant, momentous even, and I wanted to share it with you as I think it summarises the challenge we all face in many aspects of life from time to time, whether:

  • Tackling a project at work;
  • Taking control of our diet or exercise;
  • Wanting to contribute and make a difference to larger scale problems in the world;
  • Setting out to thrive and build a new life after divorce.

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

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

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

Simple, right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss -

Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss -

Thanks and have a great day!


Anger Management: Why Let Go of Anger Towards Your Ex

Nine times out of 10 my clients come to me because they are angry and hurt at their ex because they feel betrayed by him or because in their mind he has done something wrong.
Whatever the situation is, it’s really important to let go of the bitterness, as the only person it really hurts is you. Below is a list of reasons why it is indeed bad to be bitter and why it’s important to let go.

1) Stops you from loving you

When we feel that someone has betrayed us there is a belief that states that “I would never have done that” or “I am not like that.” In truth we are everything and your ex is just a mirror of you. What you judge in him will usually be an indication that you judge that very thing within yourself and believe you are not.

Being this way will only keep your love of yourself at arms length and will stop you from making peace with yourself. This of course will give him the power and destroy your confidence. Why would you want to do that to yourself?
Instead, when you go into the habit of blaming him - change the statements that start with ‘he is so’ or ‘you are’ to ‘we are’ and see if you can find at least five examples where you are that way and find the benefits for each one.

2) Will lead to a toxic body

Holding onto any negative emotions takes more energy than letting them go. People who hold onto anger will usually find that they have less energy than those who don’t because negative emotions tend to have a more dense frequency.
Imagine for a moment that each factor that is causing you the bitterness is a big rock. Do you think you might feel weighed down if you keep on piling on the rocks? Of course you will.

Carrying these emotions on an ongoing basis will weaken and build up toxins in your body as it releases adrenalin - which suppresses the immune system, impairs digestion, uses up vital vitamins and minerals, causes pain and stiffness, makes your body acidic which results in inflammation all of which will help towards keeping you feeling worse.

Instead, find a way to purge your emotions by hitting a pillow, going outside and screaming your lungs out.

3) Will prolong your suffering

If you are still living in the past and focusing on what your ex has done to you, you wont be living in the present, which will guarantee depression and sadness. Living in the present is where you will experience happiness, as it is here that the suffering stops.

Suffering is only caused by your mind attaching itself to the story that you have created for yourself. If you keep holding onto the bitterness, the story will ensue and so will your obsessing. An event is just an event until you give meaning and energy to it.

Instead, change your story and the meaning you have given to the event. Give it a positive meaning so that you can shorten your suffering.

4) Will be more difficult to attract a new relationship into your life

If you are still holding onto the bitterness of the past you will either carry this bitterness will make it more difficult to attract a new relationship because the bitterness and attachment to your ex tends to the block the energy of receiving someone new into your life.

Holding onto the past, is like buying new clothes and not being able to fit them in your closet because all your old clothes take up all the room. The only way of to fit the new clothes in the wardrobe is to clear out the old. The same is true for letting in a new relationship.
Instead let go and make way for the new.

5) Increase the chances of ruining the next relationship

Without healing the wounds or dealing with the anger of the past, you will be more likely to take the anger and bitterness into the next relationship, if you do manage to attract a new one to you.

Again, being present in the relationship you find yourself in, will be challenging as you will want to vent to your partner, and living like this can be very tiring for them. Speaking from experience, I believe that the stress of an ex who was still bitter towards his ex, was one of the major reasons why our relationship died.

It will also make it more challenging to receive the love from your new partner, because you are still protecting yourself from the past. This once again, can be very tiring not only for your new partner but also for you.

In short it’s important to let go of the bitterness if you wish to find peace instead.


Sunday, 23 April 2017

Lessons I Have Learned Post Divorce

Today I am reflecting on some of the lessons I have learned during and post divorce.

Happiness is a choice

This may seem obvious to some of you, but when you are caught up in a continual cycle of drama you may not be able to see that removing yourself from a negative situation is your choice. I have learned to remove myself from negative people and negative situations that don’t have a positive impact on my life. In nearly all situations I ask myself “does this make me happy?” or “do I feel good about this?” if the answer is “No” then it’s not something I pursue. You can use the ‘joy or annoy’ method! Bin the things, situations and people that annoy, keep the ones that bring you joy.

Forgiveness is required to move forward

Right now this may seem impossible for you and admittedly I still find it hard to fully forgive my ex and his (now) wife for turning my world upside-down and putting me in a very difficult situation. Not only did their actions affect me emotionally and mentally, being coerced in to bankruptcy and denied rights to an equal divorce has continued to affect my life and financial situation for nearly 5 years.

However, I am reminded of the quote “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die“ ~ Buddha. I must accept that I will never receive an apology for what they put me through and that by holding on to resentment, the only person getting hurt is me!

The UK legal system is flawed

Maybe I didn’t select the right representation or maybe I was just a small fish in a big pond. If my solicitor had told me right from the start that I would get nothing from my ex due to my bankruptcy then I NEVER would have pursued him to pay my mum back what she was owed from the house. If I had known that he would come after my business/livelihood and that legally he was entitled to, I would have taken steps to protect it and myself. All in all it was a costly and emotionally damaging exercise where he kept everything and my mum only received a fraction of what she was due. I received nothing and still owe my dad for the cost of the divorce. If I could turn back the clock, my choice of solicitor and route to divorce would be completely different. My advice would be; do some research, select the right route to divorce for you and if going down the route of using a solicitor, choose someone you feel comfortable with.

Psychopaths exist outside of the movies

I have dated a psychopath, post divorce, and believe I may also have married one. I believe no decent human being would act in a malicious manner to intentionally hurt a vulnerable person.

It’s ok to ask for help

I fought for ages about seeking professional help. My defense was “I’m fine!”. On reflection, the early days of the split were when I needed help the most, over 4 years on I believe that this lack of professional help in the early stages has impacted on how I deal with my emotions now. Go get help and don’t be embarrassed about it!

Stress is a choice, depression is not

I choose to be self-employed, therefore I can choose whether to be stressed about work, deadlines or life in general. It is in my power to keep stress at a minimum level. For years I thought I thrived in stressful situations, procrastinating on projects and leaving it to the last minute to meet the deadline as working under pressure produced the best results... or so I thought! Having tried to lose weight for over 4 years and consistently putting it on, I am beginning to understand (and be educated on) the impact of stress on the body. Having been diagnosed with depression and ignoring this diagnosis I am now bigger than I have ever been, EVEN THOUGH I eat well and have 3 personal training sessions a week and complete my step goal each day. I have drastically changed some habits to reduce my stress levels and I am working on others. I may just have to succumb to the idea that all though mentally I feel ‘fine’, my body is telling me that I am depressed.

Acceptance is key

In order to move forward you must accept what has happened and learn to find peace with it. Some people may say ‘things happen for a reason’. I used to HATE it when people threw this cliché at me, but now I find myself saying it to others in times of emotional turmoil. I have accepted the role I played in the end of my marriage and have accepted that in order to have a happy life I must follow my own advice and forgive those who have caused me hurt.

Money isn’t everything

Going through bankruptcy alone and living off a small wage was a lesson I would never have wanted to learn in a million years! I was a high flyer in marketing, loved shopping and home-making... But shit happens and I dealt with it, day by day. I am still tarnished with the ‘bankruptcy brush’ as I can’t get a mortgage or write a cheque or get a credit card, but it has taught me that the important thing in life is not how much money is in the bank but how much love there is around you. My family, friends, pets and my home are among the MOST important things to me and I am truly grateful to have them in my life.

Choose your friends wisely

I learned very early on after my split that there are some friends who will be there no matter what, they’ll give you the truth even if it hurts because they care - hold on to them and don’t let them go, and there are some friends who stick around because they a) feel guilty b) are nosey c) love drama & gossip - avoid these at all costs! Delete them from social media, no need to be nasty or cause further drama, just be aware of who in your life makes a positive impact and who doesn’t.

Finally - Embrace change and all the lessons life throws at you!


Saturday, 22 April 2017

A Friend in Need is a Friend in Deed - What Role Do Your Friends Play in Your Divorce?

We all need our friends, especially in times of crisis. Divorce and separation is one of those life crises where you might feel that you need all the friends you can get, or do you? It is interesting to think about what place friends occupy in the new and choppy waters of a painful separation.

Having run many divorce support groups and divorce workshops, I begin to wonder whether friends are always the helping hand and the shoulder to cry on that is needed. If they are, what is the price that is paid for that? It would seem that friends can be the opposite of what is expected simply adding to the feelings of disappointment. It is natural to think that those you thought were closest to you would jump to the occasion and provide all the comfort and security without being asked.

However, friends who you might have been on numerous holidays with as families or as a couple, or friends that you spent nights in the pub with, or Saturday nights having dinner with downing a bottle of wine and having a laugh sometimes seem to disappear. That feeling of taking for granted some very basic elements of security get whipped away at the same time as your relationship. It is incredibly painful to know that your friends are now inviting your ex and not you, and have perhaps ‘coupled up’ with your ex and his or her new partner instead of staying loyal to you. There are also friends for whom you are suddenly not the draw that you were before. I hear you say, that you are not invited anymore for dinner because you are not part of a couple and don’t fit, that somehow if you are female that you are a ‘threat’ to married men.

Then there are the friends who are real friends, but who you feel you are burdening with the looped tape of your divorce. You, of course, need to talk endlessly about your feelings and what your ex has done and continues to do, but your fear is that the friendship can’t sustain it. That’s when you need a local group or workshop or some individual sessions to support you so that you can be free to feel less burdensome of those around you that you love.

There are also friends who are full of wise advice. Is it wise though, or is it a reflection of their own agendas? It is impossible to hear someone close to you saying, ‘it’s time to move on, you should be over it by now, nobody liked him/her anyway. None of those things, although meant well are at all helpful. In fact, they are quite shocking. Those words put a distance between you and your friend who is not as understanding as you thought they were.

With separation come all sorts of changes and losses. Friendships are one of those. Lifestyle changes with divorce and so do friends. Don’t be surprised, be ready and think of it as a way of meeting new people more in keeping with your new life who will grow with you through it. They will be more relevant and fit better.

There is a loss inevitably, but there is also a gain.