Saturday, 29 September 2018

Confessions of a Part-Time Mom

Divorce and shared custody suits me, and it suits my kids, too.

Divorce hits with a particular brutality when small children are involved. My ex-husband and I agreed to joint custody, and we co-parent amicably, so our situation is better than most. 
And yet, adding to my initial anger, disappointment, and shame about the end of the relationship was a heavy layer of guilt for forcing our children to trundle back and forth between us, wishing there was a GPS tracking device for the baseball gloves, soccer cleats, library books, and loveys that always seemed to be at the wrong house.

Those transitions were awful at first. Kissing my daughter’s tear-stained face while she clung to me—and trying not to cry myself—was wrenching in a way that seemed to symbolize the larger demolishment of our family. And don’t get me wrong: I still have those moments. But after we settled into a familiar schedule, part-time parenting turned into a strange kind of gift.

Here’s the truth: Having my two children half the time is exactly the right amount, and I cannot imagine my life any other way. Unhappily married in a 1,200-square-foot flat with two toddlers and an aggrieved spouse, I was physically and emotionally suffocated. Now the same space feels positively palatial, particularly when I am the only person in it.
I know how I am supposed to feel about my divorced-parent reality. A good mother would be devastated to lose thousands of dinner-bath-bedtime-story evenings. A good mother would be heartsick to wake up alone. Deprived of her children full time, a good mother would feel sorrowful and bereft.

Not me. I rarely feel bad when my kids are with their father. For a while, I felt bad for not feeling bad. Finally, I realized what plenty of other divorced moms figured out long ago: Divorce suits us, and actually, it suits our kids. Staying together “for the sake of the children” is not doing them any favors. Kids know everything. They know when they’re serving as the glue to hold together a teetering house of toothpicks that should have been dissembled a long time ago. They need joy and security. Cordial exes may be in a better position to give them those things than a married couple who make each other miserable. Most women don’t say so, though, for fear of getting tarred and feathered.

There is, rightly, a growing acceptance that it is not necessary to be Ward and June Cleaver to produce happy, successful, well-adjusted offspring. Families come in all shapes and sizes now, biological, fostered, and adopted, and in any number of racial, ethnic, religious, and gender combinations. What’s less accepted is the idea that divorced co-parents can produce happy, successful, well-adjusted offspring. Nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. Many more are deeply unhappy, even toxic. Some people stay together out of fear—of being alone, of the social stigma of divorce, of what are often profound economic consequences. Fear that the alternative could be worse is not a foundation for a happy union, and yet we cling to the idea that children need two full-time parents under the same roof to thrive.

Could the converse be true—that some parents are better as part-timers, and their children are better off as a result? I have always liked to spend time by myself. What I did not realize is how much my parenting would improve if I got to spend time by myself. Many of the things I need to feel human are child-unfriendly. These include having time to write, work, go running, and have long, lazy conversations with friends over drinks and dinner. Many of the things that make me feel subhuman involve the endlessly repeating, mind-eating, vocabulary-impoverishing rituals—the butt wiping, teeth brushing, and hand washing of wriggling, resistant bodies, the “no, no, NO”—that constitute much of child rearing.

When I was married, my coping method was to retreat to an inner world with virtual but soundproof walls. “You’re not present” was the common refrain. Often that was true. Rather than live in the slow-motion moments of tantrum throwing and sibling-on-sibling violence, my mind went elsewhere: to the book I was writing, to a case I was working on, to anything except the two small people actually in front of me. Who wants to be “present” for this? I wondered as I crawled around the kitchen floor on my hands and knees trying to sop up every last smashed Honey Nut Cheerio with a wet paper towel.

“You are getting on my last nerve.” That is what my eighth-grade math teacher used to tell my class before the hammer came down. I envied her, because the warning implied that she had more than one nerve that we could hop on before she lost her mind.

I told myself to be grateful. Not everyone who wants children gets to have them. But knowing that motherhood is a piece of good fortune did not help me enjoy rainy weekends, endlessly accumulating laundry, and the nonstop whack-a-mole of tidying up.

Now it is different. Time reduced by half becomes a scarce and precious resource. I am far more able to be present knowing that, sooner or later, I get to be absent. I like the control that comes with deciding when we will do what. I like the freedom that comes with having my approach to motherhood go unremarked upon. My lapses in judgment occur in relative privacy, and as a result I have fewer of them. It is so much easier and more joyful to be a mother without an ever-present accusatory eye. It is so much easier and more joyful to be a mother knowing there is a reprieve.

By Day 5 with the two of them—outnumbered, outsm
arted, and outrun—I am done. Seeing my ex-husband’s car coming into the driveway, I exhale with relief.

On the flip side, by Day 5 on my own, I am sad and lonely, particularly if there were no intervening school events, sports games, or joint family outings. But missing my kids has a positive effect on my parenting. When their dad drops them off and they ring the doorbell over and over, yelling “Mom!” as they jump up and down, I rush down the stairs to let them in. I feel happy and grateful and head over heels in love.


Friday, 28 September 2018

I Was The Victim Of Parental Alienation, And This Is What It’s Like

Parental alienation is a hot topic right now, particularly among separated or divorced parents, but there are a lot of misconceptions of what it actually is.

In fact, if you ask Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC, she says, “There is hardly a day that doesn’t go by in my counseling practice where someone brings up the concept of parental alienation.” However, according to her, the term is often misused.

According to Hammond, “Parental alienation occurs when one parent encourages their child to unfairly reject the other parent.” Now, this might seem pretty clear-cut, but it’s actually far more complicated than one parent asking their child who’s their favorite: mom or dad? And it can result is some pretty nasty side effects, such as unwarranted fear, hostility, and/or disrespect toward one parent while displaying signs of loyalty, unconditional trust, and/or empathy toward the other.

Parental alienation boils down into three categories:

First, there is naïve alienation.

This is when one parent tries to alienate the child from the other parent through passive-aggressive comments. For instance, when my mother would say, “Your dad makes more money than me, so he can buy you a bike.” While this was probably true, I was only 10, and her comments caused a rift between me and my father when he didn’t buy me a bike.

While this all seems pretty subtle, passive-aggressive comments towards the other parent can add up and create long-term problems. Other examples could be a parent saying something like, “Your father doesn’t work, so she can attend your parent teacher conference. He obviously has the time.” Or “I bet your mother could help with that. She studied English and needs to use it for something.”

The second category is active alienation.

This is when one parent actively tries to alienate one parent by creating feelings of loyalty. For example, one parent might try to get their child to keep secrets from the other. Like when I discovered that my father was writing child support checks, making copies to use in court, and then throwing the checks away without sending them to my mother. He asked me to keep that a secret. I was 11, and felt that I owed it to him to keep quiet (yes, my father was a sleaze-bag, but that’s another essay).

Now, according to Hammond, what my father did by asking me to keep his secret was create a “private bond from which the child learns to withhold parts of their life from the other parent.” Not a good way to raise a child, right?

The third category is obsessive alienation.

This is when one parent aggressively seeks out ways to manipulate the child into disconnecting from the other parent. An example of this would be when my father told me that my mother was unstable and that he worried she might hurt me some day. While he said it with compassion, his comments didn’t have a whole lot of bearing and ultimately damaged the relationship between me and my mother.

Another example of this one might be something like, “I want you to tell me when you father’s been drinking so I can bring it up at our next court date.”

Naturally, children may not be aware that they are the victims of parental alienation. I didn’t realize it until I was probably in my 20s. And to be honest, I still haven’t gotten to the bottom of all the ways it damaged me as a child. But I must admit, beginning to recognize it has helped along with therapy.

Some children may never realize that they have been subject to parental alienation. Some parents might not even realize they are doing it. However, sometimes kids pick up on it, and then end up flipping the script, turning things around on the manipulative parent. There’s actually a term for that — reverse parental alienation. And sadly, there is also child-induced alienation. This is where a child has suffered from emotional, physical, or sexual trauma at the hands of a one parent, and so they make a conscious point to alienate that parent in hopes of avoiding more trauma.

So what does Hammond recommend if you notice parental alienation? Immediate professional help.

“As soon as any of these behaviors are detected in a child, they should be seen by a therapist who understands parental alienation and is comfortable working with both parents in the process. Parental alienation in the obsessive sense is harmful to the child in a long-term situation because it causes the child to trust only the perception of the one parent and not trust the other parent – or worse, not trust themselves. This is very damaging to a child who will eventually need to be able to rely on their own instincts in dangerous and fearful situations.”

Whenever possible, divorcing or separating parents should do their best to set their own emotions aside and make their child the number one priority regardless of how hurt they might be by their ex. And yes, I understand that this is easier said than done.

It’s surprising how easily you can impact your child in a negative way, and it’s important to be reflective and intentional in situations like these. Yes, you should be aware of potential parental alienation by your co-parent, but you should also be aware of inadvertently engaging in these tendencies yourself.

Sometimes it’s necessary to be reflective, particularly when raising a child. Maybe then you can avoid setting your child up to the victim of parental alienation, like I was.


Thursday, 27 September 2018

Announcing my new book: Bird-Nest Co-parenting after Divorce

As you may know, I'm really passionate about co-parenting as a means of raising your kids after divorce, and I'm excited to announce that I have just completed a new book on Bird-nest co-parenting after divorce which is now available on Amazon:
In the book, I describe how co-parenting works, how bird-nesting (an extreme form of co-parenting) works, and how you can make this work for the benefit of all in your divorced family.
I believe it is an unusual but extremely child-centric form of co-parenting and me and my ex-wife have used it to raise our two daughters from our divorced-marriage with great success.
Anyone who buys the book can send me proof of their Amazon purchase and I'll gladly get back in touch to see if I can offer some personal and direct guidance on how to implement bird-nesting, co-parenting or assist in any other way with challenges they are currently facing.
Simply email me at
Thanks, and I look forward to hearing what you think of the book!

How to successfully co-parent the children after a divorce

Roughly one third of marriages in Australia end in divorce, with approximately 21,000 of those involving children.

Divorce can be an especially hard time on children, with many feeling their whole world has turned upside down.

The most important thing for couples to remember when divorcing is learning how to successfully practice cooperative parenting.

"How much time the children spend with each parent is not the most important thing – the most important thing is the co-parenting, which is now the standard that we're trying to encourage," Anne Hollonds, from the Australian Institute of Family Studies, tells Georgie Gardner on TODAY's Agenda.

"It's actually short for 'cooperative parenting' so the emphasis needs to be on the 'cooperative'.

"Just at the time when you're deciding you can’t live with this person anymore, you've got to translate that relationship into a cooperative parenting partnership and that can be really hard."

Mother of two Lucy Good told the program she and her ex-husband have co-parented their children since their divorce six years ago.

"When we divorced we both remained living in the same place, not the same house, but 10 minutes apart so everything in our children's lives remained the same – apart from the fact their parents had separated and were living in different homes," Good says.

"They had the same friends, the same schools. We co-parent on a 50-50 basis, so our kids live with me half the time and their dad half the time."

Hollonds says co-parenting works only when both parties can put their differences aside.
"It is much harder when there is a lot of bitterness and a lot of arguments that can't be resolved," Hollands says.

"What we know, from research, it's the ongoing arguments that damage the children so divorce is not a solution, necessarily, to make things better for the kids.

"You've got to make divorce work for you and for the children, particularly focused on reducing the amount of conflict.

"One piece of advice that I think is really useful is to fast forward to when your children are 20 or 30 years old – ask yourself, how do you want them to remember their childhood? What sorts of memories do you want them to have?

"And if you keep remembering that you are in the midst of creating their childhood memories now, then that helps you to rise above some of those day to day irritations that are going to be there but you have to let some things go and focus on what matters most."
Good admits co-parenting with her ex was tricky at times.

"All you really want is to have some breathing space from them but instead you have to remodel your relationship and take it from being partners in a marriage to being partners in co-parenting," she tells Gardner.

"And that relationship requires mutual respect from one another, excellent communication, determination and commitment from both parents to be the best we can be as co-parents, and it also requires the understanding that whatever happens between us our kids always come first."

One situation that can cause a divorce to become even harder to deal with is the introduction of a new partner.

"Often people find they've made progress and then this new partner comes onto the scene and things go backwards because a lot of those feelings erupt again, or you re-visit some of the pain and the hurt," Hollonds says.

"I think getting some professional help at times like that is really important to help you to manage your own reactions.

"Even if your partner is behaving badly, you don't have to respond badly. You always have a choice as to how you respond and being respectful and taking that higher ground for the sake of the children never fails.

"Don’t let big life changes like new partners throw you off – keep focused on the children and go slowly with new partners. Often we rush things – go slowly, remember the kids and how they might be feeling."


Wednesday, 26 September 2018

How My Divorce Made Me a Better Dad ⏤ And a Better Man

"The only thing I really wanted to be when I grew up was an amazing father. Being divorced crushed me."

“I don’t love you anymore.” In an instant, those words changed my life forever. A million thoughts raced through my mind: “What?!” “What about the kids?!” “Can we make it work?!” “I’ll do whatever it takes!”

It was Christmas Eve, and we were having a conversation ⏤ okay, a disagreement ⏤ about whether we should move. My wife (now ex-wife) was just finishing her first year in real estate, and we were struggling financially. We couldn’t live off my income alone, and we were using up what little savings we had. We bought a house we couldn’t afford and had just spent too much on Christmas gifts for the kids. But I believed in her. I knew she could be successful and even though times were tough now, we could ⏤ we would ⏤ make it.

She was silent. She was done listening. But there was a weight in the air, and I knew something else other than moving was on her mind. She hesitated, but I egged her tell me what it was. And then she said it: “I don’t love you anymore. No amount of counseling, foot rubs, or money could change her mind.

My biological father left when I was born. My step-father wasn’t much of one and consistently decided alcohol was more important than his children. But this isn’t a “poor me” story. I’m not looking for sympathy. My childhood was really good, and I have an amazing mom. I’m fine. As a result of my childhood though, the only thing I really wanted to be when I grew up was an amazing father. I wanted to become the best fatherly version of myself.

Being divorced crushed me. I mean really crushed me. My wife was my world, my family was my life. Everything had been flipped upside down. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move, I had a gun in my hand several times. What I thought was my world was over. But it wasn’t. When I came out on the other side, I had learned a few things. Lessons that I hope can help other dads who find themselves in the same unfortunate situation today. Maybe they can help you. Maybe they can help you from getting divorced. Or help you recognize problems in your marriage before they spiral out of control. Maybe what I’ve learned can help you in your darkest moment and realize life does get better, way better.

In short, I learned that the kids will be okay. I learned what I really want (and need) in a partner. I learned how to balance a relationship with kids. I learned how to be a better partner. And finally, I learned how to be a better father.

The kids will be okay. I am blessed to see my three every Thursday thru Sunday. They’re ages are 12-, 7-, and 4-years-old, and they all experienced divorce at different stages of their lives. My oldest is technically my “step” daughter, but I’ve raised her since she was born. And my biggest fear as I went through this hell was that I wouldn’t be able to see my little angel again ⏤ I love her more than words can express. Luckily, both my ex and her biological father have been amazing and allow me see her frequently. She’s really grown up as a person during this mess, initially taking on a motherly role and helping me with her younger brothers, helping with dishes, picking up the house. She’s constantly caring and worried about me, and was so happy when I started dating because she knew I wouldn’t be alone. Once I started dating, she fell back into the role of my child. I like her better there. 
She’s going to grow up fast enough. She’s going to be okay.

My oldest boy has a soft heart. He was crushed. He shut down at first and couldn’t understand how this could happen. His mom and I didn’t fight, at least not in front of the kids. He and I talked a lot. We talked about his feelings, we talked about what was happening and what changes he might experience. We grew closer. Now he talks to me about his feelings, frequently. He’s excelling in school. He’s excelling in sports. He’s going to be okay.

My youngest was 2-years-old when everything started. I really didn’t think this would affect him at all since he was so young. But it did. He was angry. He couldn’t express his emotions with words so he acted out. He was afraid to be left alone and didn’t want to sleep in his room. For the most part, he controls his emotions now and uses his words when he’s upset. Part of that is just him getting older, part is him knowing his mom and I both still love him, even though we aren’t together. He sleeps in his room all night now. He’s going to be okay.

Looking back on my marriage, I realized several things I wish I had done differently. Why couldn’t I have just rubbed her feet or her neck when she asked? We should have talked more. We should have made time to go on dates. We should have put each other first. We
should have taken vacations.Being single again allowed me to be picky ⏤ to search for what I really wanted in a partner. Dating sucks. I was on several dating apps and web pages ⏤ Match, Bumble, Tinder, POF, you name it, I was there ⏤ but I didn’t like anyone I dated. 
Nothing clicked, something was always missing. It wasn’t until I was set up by a friend that I was like, “Wow! this is amazing.” And more importantly, I realized this is what it is supposed to be like. I found a true connection, someone I could laugh and talk with all night long. We shared stories and hopes and dreams and struggles. When she met my kids, she loved them as if they were her own.

My kids come first. But now I have a new partner to share the journey with. She’s been more than amazing. The kids adore her. She adores the kids. Balancing the kids with my new love has been easy because we communicate so well. We talk each night about what happened that day, about what’s coming up for the rest of the week, about who needs to be dropped off and who needs to be picked up. On the days we don’t have my kids, I still miss them like crazy, but it gives us the time to spend with each other. Automatic date nights are built in. My new love doesn’t mind sharing our lives. She comes to soccer games, attends school functions, and seamlessly fits into the rest of our lives.

Which leads me to my last point. Being divorced taught me how to be a better father. I only have limited time with kids, so I make the most of it. No sitting around the house being bored. No kids in one room and me in the living room. We eat together. We play together. We dance, wrestle, play board games, and hug. I don’t miss things because of work. The little things became more important. My two oldest and I text and I call them on days I don’t see them. I have a different but closer relationship with them now than before. And I don’t take the daily stuff for granted.


Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Divorce Anxiety: 11 Top Fears and How to Overcome Them

Divorce anxiety is painfully real. When you’re considering a divorce, the rollercoaster ride of emotions you experience can leave you feeling confused, exhausted and paralysed with fear. I remember realising that my marriage was coming to an end. I would start to ponder various situations, re-live various experiences to try and retrieve something positive. Only to become lost in an emotional quagmire of what ifs and maybes, regrets, disappointments and feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of the chain of events that would follow those few words: “I can’t stay married to you any longer”.

When divorce is the only option

While I was stuck in the mire of fear and anxiety, I found comfort in the fact that I wasn’t the first wife about to leave her husband and become a single mum. I wouldn’t be the last either. I tried to reframe my divorce anxiety and look at my impending divorce as an experience that would make me grow as an individual. An opportunity to live life on my own terms, regain the sense of freedom that I had lost and live with the set of values dear to me. I considered the divorce a learning experience as well as a lifeline. I was beginning to feel my mental and physical health drain away from me. So, when the day arrived for me to take the plunge and admit my feelings to my husband, I was left with little choice.

“Adrian Mole’s father was so angry that so many people got divorced nowadays. HE had been unhappily married for 30 years, why should everybody else get away?” Sue Townsend

Divorce anxiety and fear

Divorce anxiety and fear are two of the major emotions you are likely to experience when going through a divorce, even when it’s you that’s driving the divorce. The prospect of change can be anxiety-provoking and when considering a divorce, change is affected on every important aspect of your life: your children, your home, your finances, your in-laws, your own family, your mutual friends, possibly even down to who gets the pets. Only to be further underlined by the prospect of dating again, the fear of being alone, the fear of being socially side-lined, the fear of managing financially. The fear of wondering if you can actually do it.

“A heart can stop beating for a while, one can still live.” Suzanne Finnamore, Split: A Memoir of Divorce

Optimism or pessimism?

Divorce represents the end of a union. It’s important to remember that we always have a choice as to how we allow something to affect us. While you may feel hemmed in by your negative emotions, remember that divorce does not need to be a terrible experience. Viewed positively, divorce anxiety can be reframed into a freeing experience. Divorce can be empowering. Divorce can offer you both new beginnings. Yes, there will be some bumps in the road ahead as you are both navigating an emotional path which can leave you feeling vulnerable and raw as well as defensive and afraid. Yet there are also positives you can focus on to help you make your way forward.

Divorce anxiety is debilitating. Below are 11 of the main problems associated with divorce and strategies to help you overcome them.

1. Divorce anxiety about your children

If you have young children, you will both need to remain fair and objective about how you are going to help them cope with your split. Avoid arguing in front of them. If your partner won’t back down and insists on arguing in front of the children, be the one who turns around and walks away. Try and diffuse the situation as much as possible. If your partner becomes violent towards you, you need to involve the police. The safety of you and your children is of paramount importance. It is not their fault that your marriage is coming to an end and they will need to be shielded from the negativity of the divorce.

Avoid belittling your partner

Your children will need two sensible and stable parents who they can trust to look after them correctly. Don’t say negative things about the other parent in front of them. It might make you feel better, but it will hurt the children and what’s more, it’s not fair. Despite your misgivings about your partner, they love both of you. When you talk negatively about each other in front of them, by extension, young children will perceive you as speaking negatively about them too. So just don’t do it. It’s not necessary and you will only end up hurting them. When you do need to sound off about your partner, do it to a trusted friend who will maintain your confidentiality.

Put children’s needs above your own

Make sure to consider the children’s needs above your own. Young children will not be ready to suddenly spend long periods of their time apart from their main caregiver. Just because you are their father or mother doesn’t give you “the moral right” to have them when you want. They need to be willing too. Give them the time they need to adjust at their own speed. If it takes two or three years until they are happy to spend a weekend away from their main caregiver, allow them that time. Until then, make the time that you do spend with them extra special and fun. You’ll soon have them wanting to sleep over and spend more time with you.

When they feel safe and secure, it will come naturally. Most importantly, you don’t want to be the parent that the children remember negatively when they’re old enough to make their own decisions and have their own opinions. Ultimately, forcing your will upon them when they’re not ready for it will back-fire on you.

Strategies to cope with their loss

If you’re finding that you are missing them terribly, consider writing a diary about your dreams and plans for them. You could create a journal that you could present to them on their 18th birthday or other milestone. Get creative. Find old photos of you and them. Photograph trips that you make together and keep a record of cinema tickets, theatre tickets and any other reference you have of things you’ve done with your children. Write poems about them. Include letters and notes they have written to you. Press flowers that remind you of them.

It won’t replace their absence in your life, but it will help you come to terms with not “living” with them anymore and will give you a project to work upon. What’s more it’s about the best present you could ever gift to anyone. It will have your love all over it and will be a testament to your deep affection of them.

Get to know your emotions

Make sure you rely on trusted friends who can help you overcome your divorce anxiety surrounding your children. Share your concerns and fears. Talking will help you to work out exactly what aspect of not seeing your children as regularly as you did while you were married is hurting you the most.


When I ask my clients this question, sometimes they feel jealous that the main caregiver is spending more time with the children than them. Jealousy is an emotion that only serves to hurt you further. If jealousy is an aspect of your divorce that is causing you problems, consider getting professional help to overcome it.

“If you spend your time hoping someone will suffer the consequences for what they did to your heart, then you’re allowing them to hurt you a second time in your mind.” Shannon L. Alder – 300 Questions To Ask Your Parents


Anger is another common emotion associated with divorce. Negative emotions such as anger will eat away at your energy. That you are no longer in control of aspects of your life hurts. Anger can be because your partner is forcing you down a road you don’t want to travel. You feel angry having to financially support someone who is hurting you so much.
 Remember that you are ever only in control of yourself. No matter how hard you try to control other people, all you will do is waste your energy. Remember also, that alimony / maintenance payments are put into effect because generally one half of the marriage has foregone a successful career to enable the other party to be the main breadwinner.

Oftentimes we don’t realise how angry we feel, we just have a sense of frustrated fizzing brewing beneath the surface. Again, talking to a trusted friend or experienced therapist will help you decipher your angry feelings and give you specific strategies to help you overcome them.

“When you stop resisting, you encourage delightfully unexpected surprises into your life.” Kate Hartley

Myth busting

Consider also, that staying together for the sake of the children is a myth. Children aren’t stupid. Even if you don’t argue in front of your children, they will pick up on the energy between you. Do you want your children to grow up thinking that your unloving and possibly disrespectful relationship towards each other is normal? It could lead them to repeat the behaviour they’ve grown up witnessing. If you don’t love each other, go your separate ways.
Children are far happier when they know you are happy too. Children are also extremely resilient. Let them talk and air their emotions when they need to. Create space for them to work their way through the divorce. When they feel their emotions are respected and valued, it will give them a sense of security.

Where possible maintain family routines to help your children feel more secure. If you know of friends going through a similar situation, try and meet up so that your and their children can get to know each other. Knowing they are not alone can go a long way to reducing their divorce anxiety and making them feel more normal.

2. Will you lose your home?

Divorce often means having to sell the marital home so that monies can be shared out proportionately. If you’re very lucky, you may be able to stay in the marital home with the children which will mean less upheaval for all of you, but this is rare. Divorce will mean some level of sacrifice. Ultimately, is staying in the marital home crucial to your mental health? Probably not. While we may love our marital home and have fond memories attached to it, if finances dictate, it will need to be sold. Don’t let divorce anxiety keep you stuck wanting something you simply can’t have. Start working out what you can afford to buy or rent and see it as a new adventure. You gain nothing by wallowing in self-pity and wishing that things could be different. Divorce is a time of new action and fresh beginnings.

3. Where will you live?

Work out where you need to look for a new home. If you are a parent, you will need to consider proximity to the children’s school. Also if the children are young and the non-resident parent is involved in their lives, you will need to consider how close to each other you are going to live so that the children can see you both regularly. If your support network lives at the other end of the country, you will need to work out how you can help facilitate contact with the non-resident parent, possibly by hiring a chaperone to accompany your children on long trips, or agreeing for the non-resident parent an extra night with the children to allow for long distance travel.

Moving abroad

While the non-resident parent cannot dictate where you live geographically, if you plan to move the children out of the country, you will most likely need the agreement of a judge to do so. The court will weigh up the reasons why you need to move out of the country against the importance for the children to have on-going contact with the non-resident parent. Bear in mind that contact with the non-resident parent carries a lot of weight.

If you really plan on emigrating, you may have to delay your plans until the children are old enough to have their own opinion about it and be willing to make the move. In the UK, children are considered to have a legal voice at the age of 10 and over. In the US it varies between States. In California, it is age 14 and above. Under the age of 14 it is up to the judge to decide.

4. How will I manage financially?

Divorce generally entails financial hardship. Financial concerns tend to rank at the top of all divorce anxiety issues. If you know divorce is imminent there are a few things you can do to soften the financial blow:

Bank accounts

If your bank accounts are shared, put an alert on any transaction over £500 / $500 just in case your partner tries to shift money around without your knowledge.

If possible, before you split up, close all joint bank accounts. You don’t want an angry partner running up bills that you may also be liable to repay. If you can’t come to an agreement about your bank accounts, consider asking your bank to freeze the accounts temporarily. Then once the divorce is finalised the court will decide who should be liable to pay off the debt. If your partner refuses to pay the debt, it won’t affect your own credit score and is no longer your problem.

Go through your bank statements, no matter how scary a job this might be. Once you know what your monthly outgoings are, you’ll be able to plan ahead knowing what income you need to bring in every month. You will need this information for when you complete Form E of your divorce papers. If you end up in court, the judge will need to know what your monthly requirements are.

Financial planning

If you don’t understand your partner’s financial dealings, consider hiring a forensic accountant who will clarify what investments are where and how much they are worth.
Start saving to help cover you for a few months post-divorce to help to keep you going.
Work out what you owe and what you own. You will need to know the value of all your assets and liabilities. Start gathering proof of income – yours and your partners.

If you don’t own your own credit card, get yourself one but use it wisely. If you’ve always shared a credit card with your partner, you will need to start to build up your own good credit score. Having a good credit score will make it easier for you to take out loans, sign up for monthly payment plans etc. Start making a few purchases a month and make sure you pay off the balance every month.

Learn to be thrifty. Give up the non-essential stuff and focus on saving whatever you can. You don’t need to commit yourself to a life of continued thrift and simplicity, but financial wastage isn’t going to help you. Learning how to be thrifty is extremely freeing too. We surround ourselves with so much junk and unnecessary clutter. Use your divorce as an exercise to pare down some of your belongings. Go minimal for a while and see how relaxing and refreshing it can be.

Confide in friends and family. You don’t need to tell everyone about your marital difficulties, but by having a few trusted allies on board, if your boat starts to sink, you can reach out for financial or emotional support. Trust me, you’ll need a friendly smile every now and again.

5. Losing your in-laws

Despite the old jokes about mother-in-laws, some of them totally rock. Divorce is a difficult time for your in-laws. They may feel very affectionately about you too and of course, if you have children, they are still grandparents to those children and have a right to be involved in your children’s lives.

If you have a good relationship with your in-laws, be respectful of their relationship with your partner. They will need space to be able to support their offspring. Now is not the time to be garnering their favour. With time, the dust will settle and if you’ve enjoyed a stable and positive relationship with them in the past, it’s likely that will continue once the divorce proceedings have come to an end.

6. Your parents and your ex

Remember that your parents may also have formed a bond of love and trust with your soon-to-be ex. Be clear and fair with your parents when conversing with them about your divorce. It’s important that they are there to support you emotionally, and possibly financially, while you sort yourself out. Your parents will suffer their own divorce anxiety about you. Allow them the space to come to terms with your break up in their own time. If they want to remain in touch with your ex-partner, allow it. You can’t prevent it in any case. It doesn’t mean they love you any less.

7. Trusted friends

Sometimes, we just need a bolt-hole where we know we’re welcome at any time of the night and day. It’s a strange phenomenon, but when you get divorced you may find that some of your friends distancing themselves from you. I’m not sure if it’s because you no longer fit comfortably at the dinner-party table as you’re just a singleton, or whether they have some innate fear that you’re going to run off with their spouse.

Whatever the reasons, don’t be surprised if you find this happening to you. Try not to take it personally. It says a lot more about them than it does about you. Instead, focus on the friends who are offering you support and allow them to help you. Divorce can be a lonely old time and there will be moments when having a trusting, smiling face, a warmly delivered hug and a shared bowl of soup can help you to see the silver lining of the emotional chaos you find yourself caught up in.

8. Who gets the pets

As an animal lover, I couldn’t possibly consider being without my beloved pets. Sometimes we may bring our own pet into the marriage and it’s a logical decision to take that pet with you when you divorce. However, when you buy pets jointly, you need to sit down and work out sensibly, who can give the pet the best home and love. Pets need company, dogs especially. What’s more, this may also affect the pet that was brought into the marriage by one partner, but has been cared for by the other half. Whoever ends up being the main caregiver for the children should probably assume the ongoing care of the pet(s) too.

The children will also need to have regular contact with their furry friends. Don’t underestimate the affection a child holds for a pet. They may grieve the pet more than the parent, so beware of forcing their separation from their beloved animals.

9. Costs of divorce vs costs to your health

There is no doubt that divorce is expensive, so is selling and moving home. But what’s the cost to your health if you stay stuck in a bad marriage? What negative impact is your failing relationship having on your children? Do you want them to grow up thinking your unloving relationship is normal of married life? Even when children recognise dysfunctional behaviour, because it’s what they’ve grown used to, they will often go on to repeat similar patterns themselves. Do you want that kind of a future for your own offspring?

10. Communication is key

If I can offer one word of advice it’s to try and remain friends to each other. At the very least, communicate with each other. It may be difficult at times, especially when one or both of you is hurting and you are being forced to deal with contentious issues like children, finance and support. Get good legal advice, but beware that there are many legals out there who like to stoke the flames of acrimony, so choose wisely. If you have children, choose a lawyer who specialises in family law. He or she will make sure the children’s best interests are served and will help you to make the right decisions.

If communication breaks down in the early stages, consider hiring a mediator who will be able to act as a third party. A mediator helps you work together to reach an agreement and can save you a lot of money if you can agree on the framework of your divorce. Once you’ve agreed on your framework, have your own legal representative check it over.

“Communication to a relationship is like oxygen to life. Without it … it dies.” Tony Gaskins

11. Self-care

Divorce anxiety has the knack of draining our energy and leaving us feeling lacklustre, overwhelmed and desperate. Make sure you prioritise your own health, both emotional and physical. In good health, you will be preparing yourself in the best way possible to successfully manage the coming months. You don’t want to regret the decisions you make because they will impact a large proportion of your future life. Let friends support you. Eat well, avoid drinking too much alcohol and try and prioritise good sleep. You’ll need your brain functioning as well as possible and a well fed, hydrated and rested brain will serve you much better than the frazzled alternative.

Importantly, take regular exercise – not only will it make you feel better about yourself and help you sleep more deeply, it is one of the best stress-busters known to man. Furthermore, get out in nature every day for a minimum of 20 minutes. Get the sun on your face and if the weather is bad, dress appropriately and blow the cobwebs away. Being outside has myriad health benefits and will help to support you during the difficult times ahead.

Lastly, have faith in the process. Eventually all the stress and decision-making will be over. Divorce anxiety will be a thing of the past. You will be able to wake up with a sense of freedom, empowerment and know that you have taken the necessary action to start to live life on your own terms.

If you’re considering divorce, what’s stopping you making that decision? What are the major challenges you are facing through your divorce? Do you have special ways of coping with them?

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” Lao Tzu – Tao Te Ching


Monday, 24 September 2018

Afraid of Divorce? 15 Reasons Not To Be

Are you afraid of getting divorced? I understand. Society places so much value on staying married. There is pressure there.

Some of that pressure is good, it keeps people from taking marriage too lightly. (Except for Kim Kardashian. )

However, there are those on the other end of the spectrum who need to get divorced but don’t, because they are too scared. I understand that side too.

Divorce is stressful. Facing the unknown and facing fears head-on is tough. However, there are upsides to divorce.

As a relationship therapist with 20+ years experience, I have gone through this with many clients and friends. Here are some benefits and upsides to divorce that I have seen and learned:

1. Divorce pain is temporary. It will pass. Staying married in an unhealthy relationship will last longer than the temporary pain of a divorce. Sometimes it is good to pull the old bandage off so that you can heal and move on with your life.

2. Just because society tells you that something is “bad” doesn’t mean it is. After all, caffeine was considered dangerous at one time. Now they are saying if you drink enough of it, you won’t get cancer. Slaves used to be considered okay. The list of societally endorsed mistakes is long.

3. The same people judging you negatively for getting a divorce are probably part of the Miserable & Married crowd. There are plenty of those. Happy, contented and healthy people don’t go around judging and condemning other people.

4. Forever is a long freaking time. The people who made these marriage rules only lived into their twenties. Then they conveniently died of the Black Plague or something worse. Remember this.

BTW: I love the scene on Curb Your Enthusiasm when Larry is supposed to renew his vows. He stands up there and starts coughing and wigging out when he has to say “into eternity.” His argument is “Eternity???!” Isn’t a lifetime enough? LOL.

5. People change and grow, they want different things. That is the reality of life. This is normal, okay and expected.

6. If you squash yourself, squash your needs, and keep down who you really are, you will suffer from depression, stress and anxiety or develop stress related medical problems. Staying miserable due to fear will allow fear to grow in you. This fear will make you feel more dependent and more scared about leaving. If your relationship is severely unhealthy, you will be even more afraid to leave. A total mind f***!

7. What about the kids? Kids will suffer more if you stay miserable in your marriage. This can lead to them feeling fearful of leaving their own marriages if they are unhealthy or dysfunctional. Do you want that for them? Use your love for their care as motivation.

8. No matter how difficult a divorce gets, you always have choices. It is easy to forget this. No matter how miserable your ex tries to make you, you will have choices. In addition, you will have supportive friends, wine, your therapist, girlfriends, various 12-step programs, and your Higher Power.

9. It takes courage to face the unknown. Get support and rely on your Higher Power to see you through. This is good practice of learning where and how to let go.

10. What about the kids again? It is very difficult to maintain integrity when things get nasty. As long as you are doing that, and holding your kids’ needs first, it will be okay. Read the Good Karma Divorce by M. Lowrance and get them as much support as possible. They will get through it.

11. Some fathers actually show up and provide active interaction with kids after a divorce. I have had a ton of friends with spouses who never interacted with the kids or participated in the kids’ lives until they got divorced. Post divorce, the parent has to actually drive to the house, pick up the kids, and talk to them. This can be a wonderful shift for children who are used to dad just slinking off to his man cave.

12. After they say it out loud and put the divorce into play, most people are relieved to be done with that constant fighting and tension they had felt. They they can finally B-R-E-A-T-H-E. Ahhh …. Let your lawyer fight it out instead of you. It is a huge relief for many after the hardest parts are finalised.

13. If you are the unlucky winner of a spouse that has left you, I am so sorry. You will need to grieve. Know that the world has something so much better waiting for you. Please try to trust this and carry hope. I have seen it happen over and over so if you don’t believe me, trust that I may be right.

14. If you guys change your mind, you can always get married again. I have a client whose parents got divorced and then remarried 20 years later. This time, they are happy. Everything happens in the time and manner it is supposed to.

15. Last but not least, now you can be like a kid in a candy store in the sex department. Tinder,, Farmers Only. There is a lot of hot sex going on out there with people who are newly divorced. Wahoo!

I am certainly not endorsing divorce. It is best if a couple gets professional treatment before taking this step. It is important to take the time to consider the impact of such a decision long term.

In addition, as a couples counselor, I am proud to say that there have been many couples who have walked through my door thinking they may have to get divorced but then they didn’t. However, staying together isn’t always the best option for every couple and family. We don’t always have all the information we need to make good decisions when we walk down that aisle.

“The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t,” really isn’t the best philosophy for joy and richness. Don’t ever let fear be your primary motivation. Let joy, hope, faith, and courage carry you along…


Friday, 21 September 2018

5 Common Causes of Divorce Anxiety and How to Cope With Them

Some changes are exciting and invigorating while others are viewed as overwhelmingly negative – and divorce is one of them. Here are simple tips on how to find calm when experiencing divorce anxiety.

Divorce Anxiety: Common Triggers and Coping Mechanisms

“No one likes change” may be a popular saying but it’s also reductive. We all know that certain changes – a new job, a new home etc. – can be incredibly exciting and invigorating. Some changes, though, are viewed as overwhelmingly negative – and divorce is one of them.

Because of this, it’s understandable that, whilst a marriage is in the process of being dissolved, those affected find themselves feeling anxious from time to time. Here, in my experience, are the five most common causes of divorce anxiety along with some simple tips on how to calm your nerves in the face of these triggers.

1. New Living Arrangements

We’re social creatures by nature so the thought of living alone, leaving the family home, finding a new home, being “home alone” with your kids, etc. regularly creates divorce anxiety.

In my experience, though, it is not really living with their spouse that people will miss but the idealized, imagined version of living with a partner that so many of us have that never really matches up to the reality.

Should such thoughts enter your mind, remember the times that living with your spouse was infuriating. It also helps to think of the friends and family living nearby and remembering that, when you fee
l lonely, there are always people you can rely on who are just a phone call away.

2. Making New Friends

Human beings are naturally sociable and crave the company of others. With our friendship circle often defined by our marriages, though, it’s fair to assume that some of these relationships will crumble and that we’ll need to go through the lengthy and frustrating process of creating a new friendship circle as a result.

Firstly, you’re probably going to find that some of your existing friends don’t want to take sides and want to maintain a relationship with both you and your spouse. Secondly, remember that you’ve been making new friends throughout the course of your entire life. 
Consider trying a new hobby or leisure activity or restarting an old one; as long as these get you out of the house, you’ll significantly increase the likelihood of meeting new people who share at least one common interest with you.

3. Increased Costs

When you can split the cost of living with someone, it’s cheaper to live. It’s straightforward and flawless logic and, yes, you’re going to be stretched financially, but think for a moment – is this going to be the first time you have ever struggled with money?

We’ve all had times where we’ve needed to tighten our belts or take on extra work to find the cash to pay our bills. Remember this when divorce anxiety over cash flow has its claws in you; remind yourself that you got through these tough times and you’ll get through this one, too.

If you’re feeling particularly anxious, sit down, review your monthly expenses, and work out where you can make savings relatively easily. Once you’ve done this, you’ll feel far more prepared and significantly less worried.

4. Co-Parenting

Sharing parental responsibility with your former spouse requires patience, compromise, and pragmatism. The need to consistently maintain a civil relationship with someone you may no longer like or, in the worse-case scenario, even actively dislike would make anyone concerned and, yes, it’ll require effort – but I’m certain you already possess all the motivation you need.

No sacrifices are easier to make than those we make for our children. Remaining respectful when you disagree on how to approach a particular problem or you’re trying to rearrange who’ll be having the kids and when is going to be testing but, as you’ll be doing it for your children, you’ll find a way to make it work.

If your ex is very high-conflict or has a personality disorder (such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder), you may need professional help to make co-parenting work and to protect yourself against parental alienation.

5. Dating after Divorce

You may think that starting a new relationship would be the last thing on someone’s mind when they’re in the midst of a divorce. Surprisingly, though – and perhaps due to the inherent desire for affection that we all possess – the thought of trying to meet someone new is a palpable cause for concern amongst those whose marriages are coming to an end.

In this instance, our advice is cliched but with good reason: romantic relationships cannot be forced and, tempting though it may be to try to force the issue, they must be left to occur organically. For this reason, all we can preach in this instance is patience. If the anxiety brought about by the need for companionship becomes too much, seek solace amongst your friends and loved ones.


Thursday, 20 September 2018

Reduce the Stress of a Divorce

No matter how frustrated you may have become with your partner, the decision to divorce never is an easy one. Strong emotions often arise on both sides. But there are healthy ways to cope.

Making the Decision

The decision legally to end a relationship sets off a long and difficult process. Even without complicated legal and financial issues, the upheaval is often enormous, affecting children, grandparents, friends and the extended family. The chances are that some of the family members involved will experience a drop in their standard of living. All will face an emotional challenge.

So before deciding to divorce, make sure you have done all you can to improve your relationship. Are you certain that there is no alternative, such as separation? Think about talking it over with a marriage and family therapist or getting other expert advice and help. A consultation with a lawyer can provide an idea of the likely legal and financial outcomes. Often lawyers will provide free initial consultations. Look in the Yellow Pages under “attorneys” for those who specifically handle divorces, as lawyers often specialise.

Coping with the Stress of Divorce

Separation and divorce are two of the most painful life events there are. They can lead you to question everything in your life, including your own identity and your ability to cope by yourself. Divorce highlights your fears and sensitivities, so old wounds from the past might resurface. You will need to recover your self-esteem, which will take time.

Below are some coping techniques to help you take care of yourself and others.

  • Consider joining a support group, and going through mediation. It can lead to better communication and fewer confrontations with your ex-partner.
  • Rather than withdrawing socially, surround yourself with friends. Remember how important they are in providing support, perspective and practical help.
  • Learn how to balance giving and receiving. You don’t have to be perfect.
  • Don’t beat yourself up over what you should have done. Stop the negative self-talk and guilt. You can’t change the past, so try to learn the lessons the present offers, then focus on a positive future.
  • Set aside time just for yourself to help you find balance.
  • Don’t worry about what other people might think.
  • Declutter your environment. If something is too painful to look at or is useless to you now that you’re alone, throw it out.
  • Determine what most needs doing and in what order. Then break up the tasks into smaller steps that can be done in several shorter periods of time. That way larger tasks seem more manageable and you are more likely to get them done.
  • If you have been a stay-at-home mom and out of the workforce for some time, you probably will need to go back to school for training in a marketable skill. Bringing home your own money is satisfying and creates independence. It also sets a positive example for your children.
  • Work toward forgiveness and moving on. Don’t deny your anger, but don’t let it drain your energy by getting stuck in resentment.
  • Don’t be scared of going out on your own and opening up to new people.

Divorce and Money Issues

In addition to the difficulties of ending a relationship, you also will have to deal with finances. This can be particularly tricky if there is an atmosphere of mistrust because of the break-up. Many divorces actually are caused my money issues.

If your partner used to deal with all the financial matters, make it a priority to learn how to budget and manage your finances. Get advice on the financial decisions you need to make, especially if you are selling your house. Ask for help from your lawyer or an organization which supports those going through a divorce.

Most couples agree on a financial settlement without going to court, but even so, a typical divorce settlement can take over a year to finalize. Deciding on child maintenance payments can be especially difficult. Make a list of all your assets and debts, close joint accounts as soon as possible, and get advice on how your pension, savings and investments will be affected.

Divorce’s Effect on Children

While most adapt well, some children will suffer significant adjustment problems. They will at the very least be anxious about their relationships within the family and about the disruption in their own lives. A lot depends on how you handle it — you can make an enormous difference in how well they cope.

Below are some ways to reduce divorce’s emotional impact on children.

  • Give them as much reassurance as possible. Keep telling them that they are not responsible for the break-up.
  • Talk over what is happening in an age-appropriate way.
  • Be open to their questions and encourage them to talk about their feelings, but don’t force them to talk.
  • Encourage them to maintain their relationship with the other parent. Don’t criticize the other parent, demand exclusive loyalty, or use them to hurt your ex-partner.
  • Avoid looking to your children for support or guidance. Ask friends or a therapist instead.
  • Maintain normal household routines as far as possible.
  • Look for signs of distress: increasingly clingy behavior, tantrums, fear of separation, anxiety at bedtime, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, thumb-sucking, bed-wetting, headaches or stomachaches, increased aggression or perfectionism.
  • If you observe these symptoms, let the child know that you understand they are upset and it’s OK to talk about it to you or another trusted adult. Help them express themselves as best they can and seek professional help if signs of distress continue.
  • To reduce conflict around holidays, keep expectations realistic, including expectations of yourself. Don’t make younger children decide which parent to spend the holiday with; this will cause enormous distress. Parents should not try to outdo each other, or make up for problems, with presents or other indulgences.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

How to Handle Anxiety and Fear During Divorce

There are two very difficult emotions that almost everyone going through a divorce experiences for a long time: Anxiety and fear. If you think about it, it makes sense. The unknown can be scary and stressful, especially when it comes to children, finances, living alone, the divorce process itself, maintaining a relationship with your ex, and dating.

There are many ways to soothe anxiety and fear. Some people go on medication. While I am not personally a fan, I think in some cases, seeking medical help and taking a pill is necessary, very beneficial and nothing to be ashamed of. People also cope with anxiety and fear by exercising, making lifestyle changes, going to therapy, implementing faith in their lives, and something I’m going to address below—training the mind to re-think.

Here are 9 things you might be thinking during your divorce which could be causing anxiety and fear, and 9 ways to train your mind to re-think them:

1. Life feels like it’s two steps forward, four steps back. Hard work, dedication and consistency will ultimately move me ahead, making the steps backward not even noticeable at some point.

2. I’m scared. Fear is created in my own mind. I have the power to recognize that and to use it to drive me, motivate me, and energize me to achieve great things.

3. My financial picture seems bleak. I have a roof over my head, food on my table, heat, medical care, even a bed to sleep in. That’s not bleak.

4. I hope my divorce doesn’t affect my children in a negative way. I have the power to raise my children as I see fit. I’m a great mom (or dad), I show them love, I have open communication with them and I am doing everything in my power to help them during this difficult time. The rest is uncontrollable and therefore is a waste of negative energy to think about.

5. When it comes to dating after divorce, relationships can be complicated with kids and ex’s, and loving again takes vulnerability and courage, which I don’t know if I have. Romantic love at any age is beautiful and fun and sexy and breathtaking. Vulnerability is healthy and makes the relationship better. Whether he loves me or not is out of my control. All I can do is be me and be proud of who I am.

6. Dealing with my ex can be so difficult. Enough whining. My relationship with my ex is something I will have to maintain in a healthy way for a long, long time. I must learn to live with it and take the emotion out of it. In other words, nothing good comes from bringing up the past. And, I will never stop taking the high road. It will never be the wrong decision, no matter how he (or she) acts towards me.

7. It’s hard to be a single mom (or dad). I feel alone sometimes. Would I rather be in my former bad marriage? Also, I am not alone if I have children, a good family and/or friends, and people who love me. Plus, 50% of the population is divorced making 50 percent of them single parents, just like me.

8. Why is my ex in a relationship and I’m still single? This isn’t a competition. Let him or her live their life. I need to focus on mine. Do I want to be in a relationship? If so, how can I make that happen? Am I happy? If not, what’s it going to take to make me happy? Better figure it out soon.

9. Getting older isn’t easy. Really? You’re playing that card? Am I healthy? I need to do what it takes to get to my healthiest potential. Health should be my number one priority. What’s it going to take?

I have one last suggestion for dealing with fear and anxiety during divorce. Go to the gym. There is something about that place, as if it has some kind of a vacuum that sucks in everything that is bugging you.

I’m not saying that working out solves your problems, but rather that engaging in physical activity, lifting weights and challenging your body takes your mind to the core of what you are doing at that moment—working hard, and it makes everything in life seem so much more manageable and solvable.

I find that if I walk in there all doom and gloom, I always walk out refreshed, my mind open to all these creative avenues that are going to help solve my problems, along with a feeling of accomplishment and self-worth. It happens to me time and time again. I’ll go so far as to say going to the gym is like taking a happy pill.

Remember that you aren’t alone in experiencing fear and anxiety during divorce, and even after. It’s part of life. The key in managing it is focusing that energy on the things you have, the positives, and the aspects that are going to shape your bright future. And when you start thinking that way, good things begin to happen!


Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Avoiding Post-Divorce Depression

  • Men are at a greater risk of suffering from depression after divorce
  • There are many ways you can fight depression, including building a support system
  • Seek medical advice if you feel you are suffering from depression

From financial uncertainties to the very real chance of being limited to a weekend dad, the upheaval in a man’s life when he is facing divorce is enough to drive nearly anyone to the breaking point.

It is no secret that the tumultuous process creates an incredible amount of stress, but the problems really begin to escalate when this leads to conditions that are more serious.
Depression is a fairly common and potentially debilitating mental health condition that impacts every aspect of your life, and the chances of falling into a depression increase greatly following a divorce.

However, there are steps you can take to mitigate your chances of suffering from depression after the end of your marriage, and it begins with identifying your risk level.

Men face increased risk of post-divorce depression

Studies have found a greatly increased risk of depression for those going through divorce, which is even more of a problem for men who are nearly twice as likely to suffer from post-divorce depression as women.

While every person deals with significant and sudden life changes differently, you can be sure almost everyone going through divorce will feel some form of loss and confusion. There are many factors that likely contribute to the fact that men have a significantly higher rate of depression after a divorce than women, which include:

The wife is more likely to initiate a divorce — The person who files has likely spent time contemplating their future before coming to the decision that it is time to divorce, often leaving their spouse caught completely off guard and left in shock (which more often than not is the husband).

Men are more likely to lose custody of their children — Although strides are being made to give fathers the custody they deserve, the mother is still more likely to obtain primary-parent status.

This can (understandably) be a hard pill to swallow for many fathers who have loved and supported their children their entire lives.

Men are less likely to have a system of support — Likely one of the biggest reasons men have a more difficult time coping with divorce is that they tend to keep their problems to themselves, whereas women are much more likely to share their pains with friends, family or professionals.

Divorce is not something you should go through alone.

Men often have greater financial obligations post-divorce — With child support almost always being awarded to the parent with more overnights, this can be the icing on the cake for fathers who feel they were slighted with the custody decision.

Additionally, the vast majority of alimony obligations are held by men despite the growing number of breadwinner wives.

Many other situation factors — Every couple will have different circumstances that led to the end of their marriage, which leaves plenty of room for factors such as infidelity, health problems, substance abuse, etc., to play a role in post-divorce depression.

Additionally, you are at an even greater risk of developing depression if you have suffered episodes of depression in your past. If you are a man who has dealt with depression before and are going through a divorce, you need to be acutely aware that you are in a very risky spot and should not hesitate to seek help if you need it.

Mitigating chances of post-divorce depression

Just like there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all divorce, there is no single method that will work for everyone in coping with the aftermath.

It will be up to each individual to find a personalized technique for managing the stress of their own unique situation, and there are plenty of suggestions put forward by experts and guys who have been through divorce to help give you some ideas.

Build a support network — Everyone needs an outlet to help them work through all the negative aspects of a divorce, and there are plenty of support groups and options out there for men that are just a quick Google search away.

Whether it’s simply a friend who allows you to vent, a group or a professional therapist, it is important not to hold everything inside when you are going through a divorce.
Try not to dwell on what you can’t control —You got the short end of the stick when it comes to custody, a child support and alimony obligation and your ex got the house. Unfortunately, unless there was a mistake or the law was applied incorrectly, there is likely little you can do about it.

However, you can control focusing on moving forward and making the best of what you do have. Make the best of your time with your kids, and avoid letting anger and frustrations spill into other areas of your life (easier said than done of course).

Immerse yourself in something constructive — Anything from a new hobby to losing yourself in an engaging book or compelling TV series can help take your mind off the things that are out of your control.

Use the divorce as an opportunity to try something new or pick up an old passion and channel your negative energy into something positive. Perhaps you used to like tinkering on cars but you didn’t have the time while you were married, or maybe you’ve always wanted to try your hand at woodworking — this is your chance to do something new.

Avoid the rebound — Too many guys run into the problem of jumping into new, unhealthy relationships before they have fully healed from the divorce. Whether you are trying to replace your partner or you think it will help you move on more quickly, pump the brakes before getting too serious.

More often than not, rebounds end poorly.

Stay healthy — Eating a balanced diet and regular exercise are a great way to naturally fight depression by increasing the amount of healthy chemicals, such as serotonin, in your brain. Additionally, it will help you sleep better, feel better and boost self-esteem – all of which are great natural ways to stave off depression.

It’s easy to fall into a routine of self-medicating with booze and junk food, but this pattern of behavior will only serve to worsen the symptoms of depression long-term.

Depression is a serious condition and it is no mystery why such a traumatic, life-changing event like divorce dramatically increases your risk of developing depression.

However, there are plenty of ways to fight off the causes of depression, and a good support group will help you get through the worst parts of the divorce without it having a major impact on your life moving forward.

If you do find yourself feeling depressed, do not feel like you are alone and please seek medical advice immediately.