Saturday, 30 September 2017

10 Reasons This Divorced Mom Is Glad It’s Dad’s Weekend

I’m a divorced mom, and I am happy my kids are with their dad this weekend.

I know that’s surprising to read.

Divorce stigma is powerful and real. We divorced parents carry shame and grief and worry around on our backs like three clingy monkeys. We feel the stigma when we fill out school paperwork that doesn’t allow for two houses and hear the constant pitying refrain of “oh, I’m sorry” when we talk about our “broken home.”

The truth is: lots about shared custody is complicated and difficult and sad. But there’s a secret part of this equation that we don’t talk about. Ever. Maybe we divorced parents are afraid being honest about any positive part of sharing custody, however small, might be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back and make us social outcasts forever.

Stigma, schtigma. I’m talking about it. Without further ado, here are the ten reasons I’m glad my three angels are with their dad this weekend.

10. I’m over cooking for people who have opinions: For the last week, I’ve put healthy, balanced meals on the table so my children could look at them and ask if this is what we’re having for dinner. No, this is the display dinner before I break out the burgers and fries. Of course this is what’s for dinner! Get your face right, child, I don’t want to see or hear that you and Brussels sprouts are not a thing.

9. My house is clean and will stay that way: If my children are ever lost in the woods, we will be able to find them by the trail of hair bands, chargers, and other assorted schmutz left in their wake. When my house is clean and they’re home, the tidiness doesn’t last long enough to snap a photo, let alone revel in it. I’ve learned to adjust my routine so the house is clean the day they leave. That gives me a weekend to look at neatly stacked magazines and easy-to-find remotes stacked near the couch before Monday arrives and the hurricane hits.

8. Car pool drop offs and pick ups are the sixth circle of hell: I drove for, wait for it, four hours yesterday and never left the five miles surrounding our home. I was at the same intersection five times. Each time, I had a different kid in the back. I may not drive at all this weekend, just to give the car a much-needed rest.

6. The kids miss their dad: I love my sweeties. My husband loves my sweeties. I’m their mama and he is a terrific stepfather. That doesn’t fill the daddy space in their hearts. Dad sleeps in and makes pancakes and knows all the silly viral videos they watched this week. He’s different from Mama. They need him.

5. I’m all out of words: Seriously, fresh out. I am asked to comment on 64,000 things a day. Yesterday, my 8-year-old asked me what planet I would be if I had to choose. Mostly, I love it. I want nothing more than to be fully connected and enmeshed in their busy lives. I appreciate that they want my opinion. It’s a privilege. Also, it is exhausting.

4. No more pop-quizzes: Who was the 15th president? What’s important about the Pythagorean Theorem? What’s for dinner April 23? Nope. All done. Google and Mama are signing off for the weekend.

3. I need to tag in my partner: This parenting gig is not for the faint of heart. My 15-year-old son is pushing hard against any limit I set, which is his job as a teenager. I’ve been the bad guy most of the week. Dad is prepped and ready to take over as the Master of No. No, you can’t meet your friends when your homework’s not done. No, girls can’t “hang” upstairs in your room with the door closed. No, you can’t finance a new phone. I’m glad to pass the No baton.

2. I miss my husband: Our life is loud and busy and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Four days a month, I connect with my husband in the way we might if we were newlyweds. Just us and the dog. We eat breakfast late and nap and stay up binge-watching totally inappropriate shows. It’s glorious, and I look forward to it. Blended family couples don’t get alone time at the start of their marriages; we must capture it where we can.

and finally...

1. They’re still mine, and they’ll be back: I’m happy to see them go because I’m finally at peace with our family’s regular and predictable rhythm. I love my children and they love me. I’d rather have them full time but that isn’t our path.

They’re not any less mine at Dad’s. They’ll be back. Our children are happy and healthy and loved and loving, just as they would be in a first family. They simply split time differently.

Secure in the knowledge that the kids are happy and healthy, I can pursue what keeps me happy and healthy too. I fill my reserves when the kids are with their dad, and that makes me a better mom when they come home to me.

I know this isn’t every divorced parent’s reality. Many single moms and dads do not have an active parenting partner to tag in. Many are still swimming through grief. That’s okay. It took time and work for me to even whisper that a weekend to myself twice a month was not all horrible. Today, I’m owning it.


Friday, 29 September 2017

Ex-etiquette: Honoring parents, acknowledging stepparents

Q. My parents broke up years ago and chose new partners that are far better suited for them. I was raised by four people I knew loved me. I was never asked to choose homes or parents. However, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day poses a problem for me. Got any ideas how I can acknowledge my stepparents while not slighting my mom and dad? What’s good ex-etiquette?

A. Good ex-etiquette is good behavior after divorce or separation based on the best interest of the child you share, and it sounds as if you have had parent figures who have done their best to do just that — put you first. Based on that, you may be worrying for nothing. If it was common place for your mom and dad to put their issues aside and let you love everyone who cares for you, it’s unlikely they will be offended by your affection for their partners. That’s how they raised you. Unfortunately, your question is proof that even though parents do a good job at co-parenting, a child of divorce can still feel torn. No one asked you to compare, yet you still feel as if acknowledging one means you may be slighting the other. It doesn’t have to be an “either/or situation.” It can be “also” if you let it.

The truth is, you have already answered your own question. It’s obvious you have a clear understanding that Mom is Mom and Dad is Dad, plus, you feel lucky to have two other people in your life who have loved and cared for you — so that’s exactly what you say. (Ex-etiquette rule No. 8, “Be honest and straightforward.”)

“On this day of all days, when it comes to mind how grateful I am to have a Mother (or Father) I adore, I would also like to thank you, (name of the partner), for your love and support.”

Sounds a little formal, I know, but something like that in your own words acknowledges your parent as a priority and lets your bonusparent know how grateful you are for his or her contribution. You may also want to consider acknowledging mom or dad. Good ex-etiquette does establish a pecking order — “Parents make the rules; bonusparents uphold them.” (Ex-etiquette rule No. 4)

From a mother’s perspective, it’s a great comfort to know your child is loved in their other parent’s home — and it goes a long way if it is acknowledged. Right around Mother’s Day was the first time my bonuskids’ mom acknowledged my contribution — she started out with something like, “Now that time has passed, and things have calmed down I know my kids are safe with you, and that’s all I really ever cared about.”

Then she came out and said, “Thank you for loving my kids.”

I liked that a lot. Still, do.

Finally, be kind to yourself. Do your best not to put yourself in the middle. Your parents didn’t. That was good ex-etiquette.

Happy Mother’s Day!


Thursday, 28 September 2017

How to End a Miserable Marriage (Without Feeling Guilty at All)

It’s time to stop bullying yourself into staying…

One of the reasons making the decision to divorce is so painful – even when you know that leaving your marriage is absolutely the right thing to do – is that you believe doing so is wrong or bad.

So instead of sitting down with your spouse and having an honest discussion about ending your marriage, you remain stuck in your head (and your unhappy marriage) wondering how to divorce without feeling guilty.

Guilt is an emotional anchor and can prevent you from taking the actions you need to take care of yourself.

It’s tremendously difficult to shed because it’s based on the expectations you have of yourself. Expectations like being an amazing parent to your kids, being true to your spiritual and religious beliefs, keeping the promises you make to your spouse and yourself, and the family and friends who love and respect you.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with these expectations – until you use them against yourself as a reason to feel guilty about even considering getting divorced, despite knowing the only way for you to feel true happiness is to leave your marriage..

So here you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Paralyzed and unable to move. Out of guilt.

But you can move forward, work through your guilt and gain the clarity and peace of mind you yearn for.

The first step is to work on your thoughts.

As you continue to adjust your thoughts by allowing yourself to gather and consider more information, your emotions will shift away from the guilt. You can then begin your divorce journey from a place of respect for your spouse – and for yourself – rather than from a place of guilt, shame and blame.

Here are five tips for how to divorce without feeling guilty – for anything.

Feeling guilty about what divorce would do to your kids?

First, it is extremely important to understand that the commonly accepted “fact” that divorce destroys children is a lie.

What makes divorce so hard for kids is how their parents react to and deal with it. If you and their other parent treat your children as messengers or spies, stop spending quality time with them because you’re too wrapped up in your life, stop showing them the love they deserve, cease giving them the structure and security they need, or talk poorly about their other parent when they are within earshot, your kids will certainly suffer.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t suffering because of your divorce. It means they are suffering because of your poor behavior and role modeling.

If you commit to being the best parent you can be and get the support you need to move past your divorce as completely as possible, you have nothing to feel guilty about.

Feeling guilty about betraying your spiritual and/or religious beliefs?

This type of guilt is usually based on fear of reprisal from On High. And this was something I really struggled with when I got divorced.

In virtually all religious traditions The Deity is forgiving and teaches love. If this is true of your religious/spiritual view, then you know that others can be and are forgiven for their mistakes.

And you’re no different from any other person, you make mistakes and you can be forgiven without the requirement to continue to feel guilty once you’ve asked for forgiveness. Even better, you take the time to learn the lessons from your experiences so you can move forward with enriching your spiritual and religious life.

And, seriously, if God can forgive you, who are you to not forgive yourself?

Feeling guilty about breaking your promise to your spouse?

The fact is that people grow and change over time. You and your spouse are both different from the people who promised to live together for the rest of your lives.

And chances are you’ve both neglected your marriage over the years.

The best thing you can do now is acknowledge to yourself and to your spouse your own part in the demise of your marriage and apologize for it. And since this is the best you can do, there’s no reason to continue to beat yourself up for it, since castigating yourself won’t change anything.

This is another opportunity for you to learn and change how you’ll do things in the future.

Feeling guilty about breaking your promise to yourself?

Again, you’ve changed over the years and so has your spouse.
The truth is that you’ve always don’t your best given the circumstances you were in and the knowledge you had at that time. That doesn’t mean you were perfect or the ideal mate for your spouse, and that’s OK.

The promises we make to ourselves are the best we know how to make at the time to provide us with as much joy, as little pain, and as solid a sense of integrity as possible. As we mature, what makes us feel good about our lives changes – sometimes dramatically.

Sometimes the only way to maintain personal integrity is to break a promise you made to yourself when you were a different person and to then let the guilt of having to break the promise dissipate.

Feeling guilty because of how your family and friends might react (or are reacting)?

You’ve probably heard the adage “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

This sentiment is an important one to remember as you continue your divorce journey.

The people who truly love you want the best for you and sometimes their expectations and biases can get in the way. And when that happens they begin their efforts to induce guilt in you.

When family or friends attempt to send you off on a guilt trip, their words and behavior say much more about them than about you.

And that sometimes they turn out to be people who don’t matter in your life (at least in the moment).

These tips regarding how to divorce without feeling guilty all focus on how YOU think about and interpret things.

That’s because you need to change your thoughts and perspectives before you can start releasing the emotional anchor of guilt.

As you continue to remind yourself of these ideas, you’ll start feeling more compassionate toward yourself and your soon-to-be-ex.

As your compassion grows, your guilt will diminish and you’ll be able to move forward and end your marriage with respect and love for everyone concerned – including yourself.


Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Omaha mom: How a divorce can lead to improved parenting

My alternating Saturday mornings are wildly different. In one weekend, I wake and stretch my toes, heave a big satisfactory sigh and smile into the quiet. I prepare my coffee, lazily curl up on my couch to read my newspaper and decide how I will spend the day in self-care and hobbies.

On the next weekend, I can hardly wait for my fifth-grader to come peek into my room so we can loudly make breakfast together in the hopes of stirring her 13-year old sister. The cheerful chaos of mapping out our activity-driven day ensues with the search for shin guards, identifying when homework will be done and getting caught up on the who’s in and out of their fast-paced, friend-swapping lives.

As a divorced parent, both weekends carry guilt.

In the first, I feel guilty for the sheer enjoyment I experience in down time. Often, the quiet lasts too long and I crave the chatter of my girls, and my heart sinks by Sunday evening with missing them. In the second, I feel guilty for having to “catch up” after the past couple of days without them. I have to balance the urge to “make up” for missing them with spoiling them and planning only fun-filled activities void of any normal parent-child responsibilities and chores.

I have learned in my own life and in watching divorced parents for nearly two decades, that navigating the hardness of co-parenting and never really getting used to not living 100 percent of the time with your children takes a lot of work. It also leads to some fairly universal new parenting perspectives.

We have to do it all, and that improves our overall parenting — even if it's exhausting. During our parenting time, we are 100 percent in charge and responsible for all things parenting, including new challenges and issues because we must be both mom and dad.

For me, I had to learn how to be more active with my kids because that was a role, pre-divorce, filled by their dad. He had to learn the art of matching hair bows to outfits and tracking all of the parenting to-dos. We are both now more complete parents, having had to fill both roles.

We have rich relationships with our kids. For better or worse, our children spend more one-on-one time with each of us than they ever did when we were a family unit. Despite the downside of never having us together, they do get undivided attention from each of us on a regular basis.

We have a deep appreciation for time spent with our kids. As any parent who has been away from their child on a business trip or an adult vacation has experienced, you miss your kids. You look forward to seeing them again. You cannot wait to hug them. Divorced parents experience this feeling toward their kids weekly. As a result, a deep appreciation grows post-divorce for the time you get with your children. It is rarely taken for granted and often treasured.

Divorce is hard; parenting after divorce is even harder. But the new parenting perspectives gained from the grit of just getting through it lead to renewed relationships with your children that will be the best version yet.


Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Seek out Help, don't go it alone

"An arch consists of two weaknesses which, leaning on each other, become a strength." - Leonardo DaVinci
We all need help from time to time, especially when working through times of challenge and difficulty such as divorce or any other hardship. There should be no shame, embarrassment or pride that prevents us from seeking help, learning and inspiration from those who've been through similar challenges to us and who can help us to understand how they made it through.
"You have two hands, one to help others, the other to help yourself" - Anon There will always be those who are a few steps ahead of us and those a few steps behind. What's important is to help those we can help and to seek help from those who can help us.

Recognise where you need help in life and then seek it out; there is great power in doing so!

Monday, 25 September 2017

Living for the future vs Living in the Now

My thoughts on the importance of living for the now, looking to the future and letting go of the past (once you've learned the lessons from it of course!)

How easy do you find it to stay in the now? Let me know your thoughts!

Find more videos like this one over at the Divorced Lifestyle Design YouTube Channel!

Thursday, 21 September 2017

How Social Media Can Affect Your Divorce

Every so often a topic arises which isn’t, strictly speaking, in the financial realm I usually discuss, but nevertheless has important implications for women going through financially complex divorces. Social media is one of those topics. In my practice as a Divorce Financial Strategist™, I am seeing more and more that not only can social networks and digital communications contribute to the breakup of a marriage, they can have unforeseen consequences in divorce settlement negotiations, as well.

Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and other social media and professional networking websites and smartphone applications have become an important part of how people interact in today’s culture. They’re fun and useful, and these days, they’re second nature to many of us. When something happens in our lives, we post about it to let our friends know. When something happens in our careers, we update our profiles to enhance professional connections. We’re sharing personal and professional news, triumphs and tragedies, laughs and tears . . . . and lots and lots of pictures.

Unfortunately, though, we sometimes do this without thinking through all the potential consequences. Not every “friend” is a friend. Not every connection is an ally. And many times, a message you thought was private turns out to be anything but.

Here are some of the ways that social media activity can impact your divorce proceedings:

Online activity can provide clues to hidden assets or other dirty tricks.

Married couples often have dozens of mutual friends and connections. If the marriage breaks up, obviously some of these people will be more loyal to one spouse than the other. I’ve had more than one client report a steady stream of information about her estranged husband’s financial activities, as relayed by mutual friends who were still following his Facebook updates. So, even if he’s blocked you from seeing his posts directly, your mutual friends can still tell you all about the ski trip he took to Switzerland with his girlfriend a week after claiming he couldn’t afford to pay spousal support.

Yes, we can definitely add social media activity to the list of signs that your husband may be hiding assets during divorce. Sometimes it isn’t the husband’s online activity that gives him away, but his friends’. Maybe your husband’s pals shared pictures of their trip to Vegas in his new BMW, or his girlfriend updated her Facebook status to exclaim over an expensive present, when he just pleaded in Court that he’s broke. Or maybe a college friend of his suddenly appeared in pictures with a “new” boat –one you recognize as your husband’s, and suspect that this pal is holding it for him until your divorce is finalized. If you think your husband may be hiding assets, social media activity might well bear out your suspicions.

You might also check to see what your husband is saying about himself on dating websites, compared to what he’s saying about himself in Court. Don’t assume he’s been smart enough to keep a low profile. His ego might overcome his better judgment.

Email and text messages can be admissible evidence in Court.

In addition to activity on social media and networking websites, emails and texts – the routine ways we communicate today – can sometimes be subpoenaed and gone through with a fine-tooth comb.

If your husband refers even obliquely to an impending bonus, a new job offer, or a plan to “get away from it all for a few days,” this might be evidence that he is not telling the truth on his Financial Affidavit. At the very least, it could call his credibility into serious question.

Family lawyers advise their clients not to put anything in an email, a text message, online or anywhere that they don’t want the judge to read. In the context of a divorce, if either party has shared information digitally that is at odds with what they’ve conveyed in person, or in legal documents, it can create serious problems. Lying on financial documents is a crime, and social media, email and text messages provide a potentially huge trail of evidence that can be hard to explain away.

This can all work in your favor. But remember, it all applies to you, too.

We’ve discussed ways social media can trip up your husband, but you also need to be exceedingly careful with your own online activity during divorce. Be absolutely sure you update your privacy settings on all social media accounts. Even better would be to follow this general rule:

Don’t post, Tweet, or share anything that you wouldn’t say in person to the whole world, to be remembered forever.

This infographic provides a useful guideline for online conduct during divorce.
In general, you should think of social media activity as both public and permanent. Even if you’ve deleted or hidden previous posts or photos, it is possible that someone has taken a screenshot of your page while they existed or were public, or that a cached version is still retrievable through a search engine. Even Snapchat, a picture-sharing app that’s popular because pictures shared through it “disappear” after a few seconds, is vulnerable to a quick screen shot by the photo’s recipient.

So please, remember two things about social media as you go through the divorce process: 
1) It may provide very useful information about your spouse, particularly if what he says in legal documents is at odds with what he posts online, and 2) He’s hearing that exact same advice from his divorce team. If you use social media yourself, you need to exercise caution, discretion and excellent judgment.

Finally, please note that I’m not an attorney, and I don’t give legal advice. Laws about using email, texts and social media as evidence in divorce cases are notoriously convoluted, and also differ from state to state. Have a detailed discussion with your divorce attorney to find out what online information can be legally obtained and used in your case, and also how to protect your own privacy.


Saturday, 16 September 2017

Making sure the kids are all right, post-divorce

SINGAPORE, June 4 — Going through a divorce is a tough time for couples but they are not the only ones affected by it. Couples who have children also have to deal with the repercussions that their separation has on the little ones and do everything they can to guide them through this trying time.

It was announced in March that a pilot scheme had been launched last November by Singapore’s Family Justice Courts, to train professionals known as “parenting coordinators”, who will help divorcing couples to make sure issues like access arrangements are followed accordingly.

These coordinators work toward reducing conflict and help couples on their journey toward successful co-parenting.

However, even if the separation is a somewhat peaceful process and sharing custody of a child is not a problem, divorce affects children in various ways and parents should address them. Not surprisingly, experts agree that the key here is communication.

“Children are egocentric and they may blame themselves for the divorce if parents do not communicate about it to them,” said Dr Lim Boon Leng, a psychiatrist at Gleneagles Hospital. “Most importantly, parents should present a united front. It is best to explain things together and avoid blaming each other. Explain things in simple terms and keep to the facts.”

Jessica Lamb, a psychotherapist and mediator at Relationship Matters, added that children benefit from honest, open and clear communication so it is important that they know what is happening.

“Children need to know that although their day-to-day family life is going to change, the divorce is the ending of their parents’ marriage and not the end of their family,” said Lamb. “It’s important to reassure them that they will not be asked to choose between Mum and Dad and will not lose their relationship with either parent.”

Let them talk

It is also advisable to give children the chance to express themselves. Dr Lim stressed the importance of allowing children to talk about their anxieties and feelings of uncertainties. 
Parents then need to reassure them that the decision is made by the adults and they are not to be blamed in any way.

“Give your child space to talk and validate how they are feeling,” Lamb explained. “If your child is angry then encourage them to talk about their anger and help them express it and make sense of it. If they are sad then let them know that it’s normal to feel sad and that you do too. If they are feeling anxious about the future then acknowledge that it is an uncertain time and that they are loved and things will settle down soon.

“Let them know that you are both available and willing to talk or listen when they need it and that if they would like to contact their other parent when with you, it is ok,” she added.
And there are rules to follow as to what you should and should not do in front of the kids. Fighting for your children’s affection is a no-no and so is bad-mouthing each other in front of them. Never blame the children for your divorce or ask them to take sides. And do not fight in front of the kids. It is also important to continue to work as a team when it comes to parenting.

Help them cope

How children cope with your divorce and the means to help them depends on their age. For very young ones under five, Dr Lim recommended explaining the divorce using story books with such themes. While these kids may not be able to understand the concept of divorce, they are vulnerable to separation anxiety and will often blame themselves for the divorce. So keep to a consistent schedule for visitations, to minimise any difficulties in adjusting.
Children aged between five and 10 can understand the divorce proceedings better but will still blame themselves for it. “The older ones in this age range may take sides and villainise the ‘bad’ parent,” said Dr Lim. “A greater amount of time may need to be spent to hear them out. Reassure them that they are not abandoned and keep the visitations schedule predictable.”

It gets a bit trickier for children between the ages of 10 and 16 as they can often get rebellious and make it harder for parents to communicate with them.
“Let the children know that the door is always open should they want to talk to maintain open communication. Always be ready to talk and to listen when the teenagers come to you,” said Dr Lim.

And just because they understand the situation better does not mean that you should lean on them. Lamb elaborated: “Although children at this age are more able to process what is happening and understand their parents’ point of view, they should not be expected to take on the role of a friend and become an emotional crutch for either parent. They still need their parents to be their Mum and Dad and take care of them, not the other way around.”

Finally, if you’re going through a divorce when your children are aged above 16, tread carefully as they are able to understand the emotional turmoil involved and may be more scarred and have a mistrust of marriage as a result. It is also at this age that they are more likely to experience grief over the ‘loss’ of their family.

Dr Lim advised that parents therefore have to also address the emotions and grief that the youths experience. Talk to them about their insecurities and negativity of marriage, and help them learn that not all marriages end this way.


Thursday, 14 September 2017

It's ALWAYS the right time to take on a difficult decision or action.

Is there ever a perfect time, with perfect conditions for doing something, saying something or making a decision? Sometimes you can think of a thousand reasons not to do something, you want to wait for conditions to be more favourable, for a better time when you think it will be easier.

Generally speaking, it's always the right time NOW! You have no idea what is around the corner, you may be waiting for things to change, to improve when in reality things will only get worse, more challenging.

Front up, and do it now! You'll be glad you did!

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Divorce Recovery & Your Ticket to Divorce Purgatory: A Summary of the 7 Deadly Mindset Sins to Avoid

"If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." - Wayne Dyer

"Mind over matter." It means how we think about an issue can have a significant influence in how we deal with that issue.

This innocuous phrase is nothing more than a general, feel-good aphorism - unless it is armed with specific, issue-related targets.

And, that's what we have here: Seven specific, issue-related targets that require you to choose between focusing on the past versus looking to the future.

The perspective you choose will materially affect the success of both getting uncoupled (that is, divorced), as well as recovering from your divorce.

Unfortunately, more often than not, we automatically look at divorce and the divorce recovery process through the lens of a painful past and can only see how frightening the unknown future life after divorce appears to be.

This is where the offer of a mindset shift can save you from years of unnecessary pain.


Issue 1. Divorce as a Problem to be Solved or a Person to Be Punished?

Do you see divorce recovery as presenting a series of problems to be solved? Or does it present you with a series of opportunities to take revenge on your ex?

Issue 2. Would You Rather Be Right or Be Happy?

If you had to choose, would you rather be happy? Or would you rather be right? There are no slam-dunk winners in divorce. Are you willing to let being happy be enough? What's truly more important to you: living a future of happiness or spending your life justifying the "rightness" of your past actions and reactions?

Issue 3. Divorce: Calamity or a Do-Over?

Do you see your divorce as a tragedy or as the gift of another chance to realize happiness and fulfillment? Are you excited at the opportunity to "start over," but now with the newly gained wisdom earned from your divorce?

Issue 4. Is the Divorce Decree a Personal Affront or an Invitation to Happiness and Contentment?

Do you see the judge's opinion in the final decree as a disastrous personal indignity, or as an invitation to experience great new things? No one likes all the aspects of a divorce decree. Can you treat the decree as an example of "what is," or do you prefer to see it as a loss of "what could have, or even should have, been?"

Issue 5. The Divorce Kaleidoscope: A Broken Picture of the Past or New Way to See Your World?

If you looked at your divorce through the eyes of a kaleidoscope, do you see an exciting new way to observe your future, or do you see a broken picture of how life used to be?

Issue 6. Divorce as a Life Event or Divorce as a Way of Life?

Do you see your divorce as just an event, albeit a traumatic one, in your life? Or, is your divorce a way of life that reflects how you think about yourself and defines who you are?

Issue 7. Do You Look in the Mirror to Remember the Past or Keep Your Eye on the Prize?

Are you willing to keep your eye on the prize: happiness and contentment in the next chapter of your life? Or does divorce provide an opportunity to relive the past and feel sorry for yourself? After the initial disappointment has passed, where will you put your energy? On a hopeful future or an unpleasant past?


Each of the seven mindset issues presents a choice between holding on to the past versus looking to the future. Living in the past prepares a place of torment for you. Rather than accelerating through your recovery, you end up stalled on the side of the road in divorce purgatory with only your intimate nightmares of divorce to keep you company. The bottom line? The choice is yours, and yours alone.


What to think: happiness and contentment are only a shift in mindset away.

What to feel: relief that you don't have to carry the past along with you 24/7.

What to do: reframe your memories of bad divorce experiences into visions of good for the future.

Warning: Just because it sounds simple to do doesn't mean it is easy.

Experiencing the death of a relationship is traumatic. Plus, embarking on life after a relationship dies carries with it the fear of an unknown future. I call this cluster of trauma and fear the "pain of divorce." In a nutshell, I end the pain. See for a full explanation of how the BeFree Divorce Recovery Program can speed up your recovery process.

Want to see how well you are handling the stress of your breakup? Fill in this short, free survey ( to find out how you compare with over 500 others who have gone before you.


Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Handling Relations with our Ex

Some thoughts on how we can better handle relations with our ex after divorce or separation.

Whether your relationship is amicable or strained there will always be some areas of challenge and tension... it's how you manage these that makes the difference.

Find more videos like this one over at the Divorced Lifestyle Design YouTube Channel!

The Secret To A Successful And Happy Divorce

Divorce is such an ugly word in the English language.

It has so many negative connotations.

And we’re constantly reminded of our marital status no matter where we go.

Go to the doctor and they’ll ask you the marital status.

Online, they’ll ask you your marital status. Single, married, widowed or divorced. Well, to me it’s either single or married. It’s nobody’s concern or business whether you’re widowed or divorced or separated.

All it does is reveal how you’re going to be judged.

Judged by people you speak with and literally judged by yourself.

I’ve been coaching people for almost 20 years now, and when a divorced person comes to me, they’ll always tell me how their marriage failed.

Well, their marriage did not fail. It wasn’t a failure. They actually tried to work and have a marriage, and that is not a failure. That’s an amazing, beautiful lesson that they had and shared with another person.

You had to bring that person into your life to learn more about yourself to understand the lessons that you needed to learn to make the changes that you needed to make in yourself to grow as a person. So, it’s just another step in the evolution of you as a human being living through the experiences of your life.

And that’s the first step in a successful divorce -

Recognize the beautiful lessons that were learned.

Embrace those lessons. Only after those lessons are fully embraced will you actually have a healthier relationship. The people who decide not to embrace the lessons continue to talk negatively about their divorce.

They go on to the next relationship that will repeat the same lessons again until they finally figure out that you need to really look at yourself and take responsibility for the things that you may or may not have caused in that relationship.

Now, for people who share children with somebody: children are not possessions.

They’re not negotiating tools or chips so you can get more child support or money out of an ex.

Children are beautiful souls who came into this world because two people brought them into it.

I have single mothers tell me, “I carried her or I carried him. Their father doesn’t deserve them.””I brought them into this world.”

And that’s a very narcissistic approach to parenting.

It’s all about them and not about the children that they brought into this world. Because it takes a mother and a father to equally raise the beautiful loving boys and girls into amazing men and women.

Depriving your child time with the opposite sex parent is basically sending your child down a rocky road to therapy and screwed up relationships.

When a child cannot have access or a substantial amount of time with their father and/or mother due to another parents’ control issues over the kids, it is basically just setting them up for future relationship issues when they get older.

When a child gets old enough, they will rebel and see the truth, and see how they were blocked karmically and energetically from spending time with their parents.

I’m seeing it with a lot of clients right now. Their mothers have controlled their kids. And now their teenage daughters are lashing out, literally having sex in the bathroom of school, and doing other things that are detrimental to the development of the child once they get into adulthood.

When a child can’t have a relationship with both parents, whether it’s a boy or girl, it’s going to lead to issues with their relationships in the future.

How do I know that? It happened to me.

It’s happened to the majority of clients I have counseled over the last 20 years.

But there’s a percentage of mothers and fathers out there who block their kids from spending equal time with the other parent. They do it based out of their own fears and insecurities.

They truly believe that they should not give up their child at all.

They believe that the other parent can’t do as good a job as them, but really what it comes down to is they’ve got major issues, separation anxiety and things they have not resolved in their childhood. So, they’re holding on to the one thing that they can control: their child.

Basically, not allowing the child to really have all the beautiful things that they truly need in their life.

These parents will always put themselves first.

And always claim they’re the best parents in the world because they don’t really want to look in the mirror.

The beauty of divorce is that it took two people to bring a kid into this world.

It took two people to create this magical being.

And it takes two people respect it, to bring this child up. So, for those of you who are controlling a child, blocking another parent from spending time with a child, maybe you should look really deep into your own issues and how this playing out in your life with your children and your ex.

Because you’re setting your kids up for future relationship failures, and I’ve seen it thousands of times.

You’re setting yourself up for a kid that’s going to rebel because eventually, all the control and all the dominating things you’re doing now is not going to work anymore when the kid gets older.

And they’re going to see the other parent because all they’ve done is just be about love and wanting to be with them with no control.They’re going to run right into the arms of that one.

I’ve seen it with many of my clients. So the key to a successful, happy divorce is what? It’s a means of working together, not control.


Monday, 11 September 2017

You are Not Your Divorce

There are times when it feels like you are nothing more than your divorce. It’s an understandable perception – it’s always on your mind, even in the deepest recesses that you’re not aware of. And, there is the fact that the tentacles of divorce manage to touch every area of your life. Your physical and emotional health, your friends and family, your finances, and planning for your future, all are colored by the fact that you are getting divorced - or already are. It’s a big change. But it doesn’t have to define you.

I think it’s valuable to remember this – you are not your divorce. You are the sum of your life experience, which has shaped you into the person you are today. You have developed a set a values during that life experience, even if you are not aware of it. This is a good time to put them down on paper – name them, give voice to your values. Yes, even if you do it with energy that relates to your divorce. For example, “I value honesty” (and he/she obviously did not). 'I value financial security'... and so forth.

Knowing what is important to you can become a sort of moral compass in a time of crisis, like divorce. It’s very easy to be pulled in one direction or another without some sort of guiding principals in life. Especially when your foundation has been rocked.

I know a divorced woman who was a dedicated wife and mother, although very unhappy. Like Nora, in “A Doll’s House”, she reached a point of no return in terms of her discontentment, and simply left the marriage. She truly felt that it was a matter of life and death. Having few friends, no career, little work experience, and two children under the age of 10, she rented an apartment and found full time work.‘Carrie’ really didn’t know what was important to her, except for her children. For the next few years, she enjoyed the social life which she missed during her marriage, and even had several important relationships with men.

But without clarity or reflection about who she wanted to become, or what she valued in life, Carrie's children became the focal point of her life. As the children grew up, which they all do, moving into their own lives, she found herself living what she described as a “meaningless” life. She had some make up work to do, and eventually did figure out what mattered to her. Carrie now runs a food co-op for homeless people, and says she feels a growing sense of ‘purpose’ returning to her life.

I would not begrudge anyone from having a light, carefree moment or two after divorce. It’s been a stressful time, full of change and adjustment. It’s good to listen to the wanderlust need, or the need for quiet and calm. Take some time out. But keep an eye and ear to yourself, and notice what your inner voice is saying.

It’s hard for many of us to look into our own hearts and souls and listen. Many of us have been conditioned to notice what matters to others, and to make their dreams our missions to fulfil. This is the time when you must learn how to listen to yourself. What really matters to you, the kind of person you are, who you want to become, and what kind of life you see for yourself – these things together form to become your guiding light after a divorce.

You are so much more than your divorce.


Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Take the difficult decisions, have the awkward conversations

Sometimes we all need to front-up and take the difficult decisions, have the awkward conversations and take the actions we've been putting off. This can often be the case as we work through divorce.
It's understandable that procrastination can take over when there is something we really don't want to do, either out of fear for the consequences that we anticipate or because of uncertainty over what will happen.
Sometimes you just need to get on and do it!

Monday, 4 September 2017

Make shared parenting mandatory: Activists

New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) Activists, fighting for shared parenting in case of divorce or separation, on Friday demanded a law to make shared parenting mandatory seeking punishment for parents who disobey the court orders regarding child visitation.

“Ahead of Father’s Day, we are demanding implementation of the Law Commission of India 2015 report that provides equal legal status and joint custody of the children to both parents,” Kumar V. Jahgirdar, founder and president of the Child Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP), told IANS.

He said the joint custody of a child has to be made mandatory by reforming family laws.
Bengaluru-based CRISP — whose activists from its regional chapters in Chandigarh, New Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Lucknow will observe silent protests and awareness campaigns on International Father’s Day that falls on every third Sunday of June (June 18 this year) — is pushing for reforms in family laws.

Jahgirdar, who is seeking adequate paternity leave just like women, said these days when both parents are working, the role of the father in nurturing a child has become all the more important.

“The central government has to introduce a bill in the ensuing session of Parliament on shared parenting with necessary amendments in guardianship and custody laws as recommended by the Law Commission irrespective of the child’s gender,” he said.
The two laws — the Guardians and Wards Act of 1890 and the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act of 1956 — at present decide the custody of children in divorce cases.
According CRISP estimates, more than 25,000 divorce cases are pending in family courts in Bangalore alone. In the country, the figure totals over 500,000.

The parents of the estranged couples have their own woes.

Sudha Rajashekar, who heads the grandparents’ wing of CRISP, said separate visitation rights have to be provided to the senior citizens as they are deprived of seeing their grandchildren.

She told IANS there is need for change in the existing laws on rights of grandparents along with the fathers.

Jahgirdar’s NGO has also been demanding a separate union ministry for children and to de-link from the existing Ministry of Women and Child Development since the objectives of both women and children are different.

It is seeking an end to discrimination between maternal grandparents and paternal grandparents and has demanded that family courts treat both equally.


Sunday, 3 September 2017

How Do You Build Resilience?

This past winter, I didn't wear a coat. It’s not that the cold didn't bother me; the idea wasn't to ignore the temperature. Instead, the idea was to build resiliency.

The fighter Mike Tyson once said, “Everybody has a plan, until they get punched in the mouth.” As an entrepreneur, you need to roll with the punches. Complacency is deadly in business. Kodak, Blackberry, even AOL (see below) are cautionary tales of what happens when business leaders fail to adapt during changing times.

My own coat challenge was just one way to keep myself sharp. I’ll drive new routes home so I don’t fall into patterns. I’ll show up in a new city with only $10 in my pocket -- and no credit cards -- to see if I can figure out how to get my destination. I’ve even tried eating healthy off a food stamp budget for two weeks, learning how to keep what’s crucial and eliminate what’s superfluous.

Some people, by virtue of their DNA, are just born more resilient. Research shows that those naturally selected have a higher proportion of neuropeptide, a transmitter in the brain, that makes them more psychologically hearty and resistant to high-pressure situations. 
Luckily, research shows that resiliency can be as much nurture as it is nature.

While some of my self-imposed challenges may seem bizarre, resiliency training helps me rise to the demands of operating a business. Rather than let obstacles get the better of me, I’ve practiced the fine art of calculation, regulating my emotions in order to stay focused and find the clear path forward.

In my view, there are four things resilient individuals -- and organizations -- must do in order to rise above adversity.

1. Remain realistic.

Optimism is great, but big challenges require a sober grasp of reality. It’s important for business leaders to ask, “Do I truly understand -- and accept -- the reality of the situation?”
People who are overly positive are less likely to foresee pitfalls. Worse, they’re prone to slip into denial, rather than tackle the hard issues in front of them. The truth is, facing reality is often uncomfortable and requires a certain gut-check. But business leaders need that kind of cool, unblinking courage to confront difficult situations and move forward toward success.

2. Reframe problems into lessons.

When the going gets tough, we all know people who start to lament, “Why me?” But playing the victim doesn’t solve problems. Tough times are going to happen. The resilient leader asks, “What have I learned from this experience?” Not, “What have I lost?”
The lessons of past experiences only help to inform future chances to do it better next time. That’s something all successful businesses and individuals understand.

A case study from my own experience: Our health search business had a vision of getting into the cost transparency-business. And our exuberant sales team sold it -- but it was slideware, not software. The product had to be built under a tight deadline. The client, thinking it was already done, asked for customized modifications, which we had to build into the core product against a deadline. In the end, we ended up with a piece of customized software but violated the basic business rule: Build it once, sell it a hundred times.

3. Be resourceful.

Making do with what’s at hand takes discipline and a keen eye. Often, creative individuals with a varied skill set are able to come up with the best solutions. When the going gets tough, these leaders imagine possibilities and improvise their way toward a solution, whereas others may stay idle and remain confounded.

Resourceful individuals are more resilient since they’re able to rise above stress and thrive with changing times.

Another case study: Soon after we launched our website, a formidable competitor burst onto the scene. Revolution Health, founded by Steve Case of AOL -- here's my AOL example -- was well-funded and taking aim at the space we were in. How could we possibly compete? Rather than panic or fold up our tent, we looked for places where Revolution Health wasn't building things we felt consumers needed. We focused all our energies on those narrow spaces. And we made a bet on building traffic through free SEO from Google -- while
Revolution burned through millions building its brand. This competitor also had internal issues that ultimately caused its failure, leaving the field wide open, because it chased some of the other smaller, less resilient competitors out of the way.

4. Work for a higher purpose.

Leaders would be wise to practice what Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor E. Frankl termed “meaning therapy.” Simply put, it teaches people to look past their immediate hardships to think of the greater meaning of their lives.

In business, purpose and profits don’t have to be at odds. A company that cares deeply about a cause creates intrinsic value for both the workers and the customers. At Vitals, we’re committed to making the experience of choosing healthcare better. That mission drives and unifies the staff. It makes it likely that employees will stick together -- and not jump ship -- during difficult periods. And it’s something customers can easily grasp and get behind.

In the end, no one in business can expect to simply walk out among the raindrops. 
Resiliency is a reflex, a way of understanding the world when the odds are stacked against you. It requires facing down the competition, improvising solutions and creating something meaningful out of work. This is how Vitals has survived during setbacks -- and will continue to when the next challenge arrives.


Saturday, 2 September 2017

Dad fires back after critics slam viral Facebook post on divorce

About seven months ago, Billy Flynn, a divorced father of two, made national headlines when his Facebook post on co-parenting went viral.

It's been shared almost 120,000 times, and close to 220,000 people have reacted to it.
Flynn was married for 11 years before separating from his wife in 2012. Since then, he has worked to establish a new "normal" when it comes to the family dynamics.

There's no road map when it comes to divorce, especially when there are children involved. 
The adults hold a great deal of power, and it's easy to get caught up in the emotional component.

Flynn works as managing partner of Gadbois Audet, a firm that deals with family law, in addition to several other areas, so he sees parents "duking it out" in court and not considering the ramifications involved.

When adults focus on their negative feelings toward one another, the children take the hit.
According to Flynn's now-famous post, he agrees.

Here are his words that went viral:

"It's my ex-wife's birthday today so I got up early and brought flowers and cards and a gift over for the kids to give her and helped them make her breakfast. Per usual someone asked me why the hell I still do things for her all the time. This annoys me. So ima break it down for you all.

I'm raising two little men. The example I set for how I treat their mom is going to significantly shape how they see and treat women and affect their perception of relationships. I think even more so in my case because we are divorced. So if you aren't modeling good relationship behavior for your kids, get your (expletive) together. Rise above it and be an example. This is bigger than you.

Raise good men. Raise strong women. Please. The world needs them, now more than ever."

In the months following his post, Flynn has been inundated with comments - both positive and negative. Some have lashed out, calling his views unrealistic, while others have commended his ability to "man up" in what can be a difficult situation.

We reached out to Flynn for a more in-depth explanation of his post - and to address the criticism that he's faced as a result of putting his life in front of the world. Here's what he had to say

"I'm not advocating that everyone should or even CAN do what I do. My kids like making Mom breakfast on her birthday, so I shop for them and help them make it and leave. That's their breakfast with Mom, I'm just a facilitator. Every case is different, depending on the relationship and the boundaries you have set with your ex and their new partner, if they have one. The details of what you do aren't important. The message behind it is: You're an example. Little ones don't have the resources an adult has, but they still want to show love and appreciation for their parents. Setting aside your differences to facilitate that and set an example without negativity is the point, not making breakfast. People miss the forest for the trees on this one. Whether it's taking them shopping for a card on her birthday or helping them hand-make something on Mother's Day, you have a chance to join and encourage their affection to an important person in their life. Parents are god-like figures in a child's life. 

How you act toward this important person will leave an impression right now and for their future, whether you like it or not. Kids don't need to know your resentment or interpersonal issues with your ex, that's selfish. They aren't your personal sounding board or therapist. 

They are too young to comprehend the issues, but they aren't too young to sense anger and resentment and they don't know what to do with that. It's confusing. You have to set it aside. 

We can pretend Santa is real for them, why can't we pretend Mom and Dad still value each other and care to treat each other with respect? It's even more important! They look to you as an example of how to behave, of how to be, of what is acceptable in relationships - and ultimately, that's the bottom line. Actions speak louder than words. It doesn't matter what the other person does or doesn't do. You can't control that. But you CAN control the behaviors and values you demonstrate for your children."


Friday, 1 September 2017

September Is Boom Time for Divorce

September is the second largest boom time of the year for divorce after January. The stress and strain of the summer holiday when normal routines are broken and families often end up spending a lot more quality time together can take its toll. If you have a good solid foundation to your marriage then you will be able to ride the waves when they appear. 

However if the marriage is already shaky then summer holidays can rock it to the core.
Families with kids will have their term time routine thrown into chaos as the children are off school for 6-8 weeks at a time. Partners often have different expectations of holiday time. I often hear that mum’s need a break from the children and Dad’s need a break from work. 
So arguments arise when nobody wants to do the mundane housework or entertain the kids all day long.

These issues become added to the ever increasing stack of niggles that have been accumulating over the weeks, months and sometimes years. These frustrations add to any underlying issues and the problems become magnified.

This will put pressure on any family unit so it’s important to set some guidelines and communicate about what you as a couple expect and need from the holiday time.

Be clear about what your expectations are for any time off work you may have. If you feel you need a rest then discuss how this can work with the children off at the same time.

  • Make sure you respect each other’s needs as well as your own
  • Be prepared to reach a compromise
  • Talk calmly about any niggles as they arise. If you can nip them in the bud you have more chance of preventing arguments
  • Plan in some couple time so you don’t forget the romance. Often kids will dominate the holiday time so it’s important to book out some alone time for the two of you

The school gates in the first few weeks of term are often where you discover who survived the summer and who the casualties have been. It can often be surprising as you never know what happens behind closed doors. The most unlikely of partners can decide to uncouple and go their separate ways.

This boom affect celebrities too as we see in the news headline recently with Arsene Wenger and Jeremy Kyle both announcing their divorces this week. They have to live out this traumatic time in the glare of the media which must make it all the most daunting and difficult.

With 1 in 4 kids seeing their parents divorced by the age of 16 it is becoming a normal part of life. Many kids will have friends in their class who have been through similar situations rather than being the exception to the rule.

The stigma around divorce is disappearing as it doesn’t have to be seen as a failure. You may have had a wonderful loving relationship that just came to an end. Maybe it fizzled out or maybe one of you ended it rather suddenly or painfully. However the truth is that divorce doesn’t have to a long lasting negative affect on your life. Of course there will be ups and downs and sadly there is no magic wand to take the pain away. But the reality is many people go on to be happy again and even get married again. It’s not the end, in fact it can be the start of a new and exciting phase in your life.