opposites attract

Opposites Attract But Do They Stay Together?

opposites attract

 

I’ve spent a lot of time wondering why opposites attract and whether or not my experiences are unique. Even in grade school, I remember being attracted to Daniel, a quiet blonde who sat near me in my 5th grade science class (I’m an extroverted brunette) and pondering why I was irresistibly drawn to him.

Truthfully, most of my partners have had differences that run deeper than physical appearance. At times, the magnetism ends up feeling more like a tension. For instance, both my first and second husbands love gardening, while I’m happiest at a social gathering. Needless to say, these differences have presented challenges in both of my marriages.

In the Huffington Post article ‘Opposites Attract’ Or Birds Of A Feather,’ Karl A. Pillemer, Ph.D. posits that while opposites often have an intense attraction, these matches don’t always last. Since Pillemer’s landmark study is comprised of over 500 people married over 40 years, his findings are worthy of note.

He writes, “The research findings are quite clear: marriages that are homogenous in terms of economic background, religion, and closeness in age are the most stable and tend to be happier. Sharing core values has also been found to promote marital stability and happiness.”

In my opinion, the take away from Pillemer’s research is that you don’t necessarily have to avoid dating someone who appears to be your opposite.  But you need to recognize that if you marry someone with drastically different values, you will face complex issues that could put you more at risk for divorce.

Author Sandy Weiner explains that chemistry is essential for a relationship to last because, without it, you have a nice friendship. However, Weiner concludes that it’s important to have both chemistry and compatibility. She writes, “This is about common values and life goals, whether you feel comfortable with each other, have fun together, share common experiences, and pretty much “get” each other.  Compatibility is essential for a relationship to last.”

What I’ve come to realize is that while popular opinion tells us that opposites attract, few authors describe how polar opposites play themselves out in terms of personalities and emotional needs. One exception is Ross Rosenberg, a codependency expert.

He writes, “It’s not uncommon for people with codependent traits to be attracted to narcissists. Codependents – who are giving and consumed with the needs and desires of others – do not know how to emotionally disconnect from romantic relationships with individuals who are narcissistic—individuals who are self-centered, controlling, and harmful to them.” Rosenberg notes, “The inherently dysfunctional “codependency dance” requires two opposite but distinctly balanced partners: the pleaser/fixer (codependent) and the taker/controller (narcissist).”

Rosenberg describes opposites as “human magnets” who are irresistibly pulled toward each other, not so much by their conscious decisions or intentions, but rather by their opposite “magnetic field.” He writes, “Such partners with complementary magnetic roles are irresistibly drawn together and locked into a relationship that is nearly impossible to resist or break free of.”

He posits that couples who are opposites are immune to breakups due to the amorous nature of their relationship magnetism – unless one partner moves in a healthier direction, and the other one doesn’t follow.

For instance, Sarah came to my office stating that her live-in boyfriend Tony had been complaining about her being too busy with classes and social activities. When I asked her view of things, she said “I guess I’ve just really changed over the past year. It’s not that I don’t love Tony, but I want to pursue other interests that require that I be out at night, like graduate school, and he doesn’t seem happy for me. I’m not ready to get married and be a mom yet and Tony wants to settle down.”

When Sarah called to ask if I would meet with her and Tony together, I agreed to one session, in order to hear Tony’s view of their situation and to assess whether or not their relationship was in jeopardy. It seemed clear from the moment they sat down that Sarah’s and Tony’s values and goals were very much at odds with one another. Tony’s desire to start a family wasn’t in sync with Sarah’s desire to pursue an advanced degree and to be a social butterfly.

Unsurprisingly, when couples have vastly different core values and life goals this can make for a lot of friction in a relationship. When I pointed this out to Sarah and Tony they agreed that Sarah’s adventuresome, extroverted nature and need for freedom conflicted with Tony’s introverted and conservative nature – plus his eagerness to get married. While Tony was ready for a permanent, long-term commitment, Sarah simply wasn’t there yet. In my opinion, tying the knot and having children under these circumstances could only increase the likelihood of this couple facing divorce.

But what about couples that share core values and life goals but simply have polar opposite personalities and interests? My advice is to weather the storms and use your differences to add spark to the relationship. In other words, if you’re outgoing and a spender, marry someone who understands that even if they are quiet and more conservative with money. Dr Pillemer notes that some differences can spice up a relationship. In other words, differences don’t necessarily have to tear you apart as long as you accept them, share core values, and maintain mutual respect.

The key is taking responsibility for your own behavior and honest communication with your partner. Renowned relationship expert Dr. John Gottman reminds us that friendship is the glue that can hold a marriage together: “Couples who “know each other intimately [and] are well versed in each other’s likes, dislikes, personality quirks, hopes, and dreams” are couples who make it.”

Here are tips that can help you deal with differences between you and your partner:

  • Don’t give up the things you love to do such as hobbies or interests. This will only breed resentment.
  • Support one another’s passions. Accept that you won’t always share the same interests. Respect your partner’s need for space if they want to go on a vacation without you, etc.
  • Don’t put aside resentments that can destroy a relationship. Learn to resolve conflicts skillfully. Experiencing conflict is inevitable and couples who strive to avoid it are at the risk of developing stagnant relationships, according to author Kate McNulty.
  • Improve communication with couples counseling if both partners are motivated.
  • Avoid the “blame game.” The next time you feel upset at your partner, check out what’s going on inside yourself and pause and reflect before you place the blame on them.

In closing, be sure to pay close attention the next time you are in a challenging situation with your partner and examine the part you play. Keep in mind Dr. John Gottman’s guiding principle of adding more positive interactions – a five-to-one ratio. In other words, for every negative interaction with your partner, add five positive ones. Don’t take love for granted and adopt a mindset that differences can spark passion and interest. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own happiness.

More from Terry:

 6 Tips To Bring Back Love And Passion To Your Marriage

Marriage Counseling: Can It Save A Marriage On The Brink?

Follow Terry Gaspard on Twitter, Facebook, and movingpastdivorce.com

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how to fit in after divorce

Friendships, Family, Work: How To Fit In After Divorce

how to fit in after divorce

 

I wish Elizabeth Barrett Browning had been around long enough to advise us all after the depth and breadth and height our souls had once reached in love and tell us in her grand poetic prose how to fit in after a divorce had forced it all to plummet to the hard-rocky ground!

There are many times I have felt that I should go reside on the island of Misfit Toys since my divorce, in order to feel like I belonged. I am a Baby Boomer and like all Boomers, we come from an idealistic model of relationships.

Our parents had us after World War II and we were a product of those referred to as the Greatest Generation. We straddle between the world of party lines and actual dial telephones to modern techie cell phones and social media communications.

We live with one foot in the world of real people greeting each other directly and shaking hands to the world of visiting your friends and relatives through the lens of social media and sending them a hand waving emoji.

So, why did I feel that I didn’t quite fit in since my divorce?

How has my “fit” changed from married person to divorced person?

Well, let me count the ways. And maybe some of you have experienced this too.

“As your life changes, so will your circle.”

Yunus Chhapra 

How To Fit In After Divorce

Friendships

I found that soon after my divorce, my friends changed. My friendships changed. When you are a couple you usually have those “couple friends” … you know, those people that you always go to dinner with, go to concerts with and the movies with.

Those who help you out with your kids because they too have kids the same age.

Those that loan you a tool if you need it.

Those that help you move furniture up a flight of stairs. Or, help to install a new window.

Those “go to” people who were always in your couples’ orbit.

I found out shortly after my divorce that I was soon looked at as the awkward friend. My ex-husband left the orbit altogether. So, I was left to explain why my husband left. In the beginning, they all wanted to know the juicy details.

I didn’t give out the gory particulars, but what I did share was consumed and it served to feed not only their morbid curiosity, it also fed their need for drama at no risk to themselves. I was left to try to tell the story and I was looked at differently from that point forward.

We were the couple that everyone thought had it all. We were the couple that many wanted to be. Once a split happens with “that couple”, you know…the one people look up to, well it makes them question their very own relationships.

Especially if the model husband in their eyes, left you for another woman. I had one person tell me that if it could happen to us it could happen to anyone. It could happen to them.

I also started getting some side eyes from my female friends. I guess now that I was a single woman, I might be a threat. I have had many other women in the time since my divorce tell me that they too experienced this with their friends.

The result is that you migrate away. You don’t get invited anymore. You have children to care for anyway, but you soon realize that you are alone. It felt like I was a rowboat tied to pier and someone came and just quietly untied the rope from the pier, and I drifted away ever so quietly.

When this happened, I came to the knowing that I needed to find my own orbit. My own people. If you are new to being officially defined as “divorced” on your current identifications, do not despair.

What you will find is that the people who are about to enter your new solar system, are deeper and more compassionate. Because that is who you are now, and you will be drawn to those who may have experienced something similar.

Their care and wisdom are much needed as you embrace new friendships that are 100% yours. Those that you have left behind in the wreckage of your marriage hold little value to you.

And those that stayed the course with you and loved you through the whole horrible experience, are golden. Find your own people and celebrate!

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”

British Novelist Jane Howard

Family

If you have gotten a divorce and you are now a single parent, that of course changes a family. It changes the very foundation that you built your family on. If you are lucky, the family that built you, is what gets you through it.

And you find that you rely and lean on your family like never before. But what I also found out through my journey after divorce, is that I had changed. I was no longer that same family member that they once knew.

How could I be?

I had been through such a brutal life experience and as a result, the person I once was no longer existed. I was now a myriad of people.

I was fragile as well as tough.

I was compassionate as well as short tempered.

I was now responsible for an entire family. And they had no idea what that felt like.

Even in imagination, they dare not go there.

So how do you slide back into that role inside your family when you don’t know what that role is?

And even still, how can your family recognize you now and find a common denominator beyond shared parents?

Well, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t happen overnight and its not easy. But it can happen and, on your terms, too.

I had once written that I felt the most alone when I am with my family at the holidays, get-togethers, weddings, etc. All the family congregations that resembled the model household.

Married couples with their kids who even have kids of their own now. And so, it goes. It is where I come from. It is all that I knew, until the day I was forced to unlearn it.

I think many people feel as I do when they come together. Everyone was completely well meaning and really had no idea how I was feeling. I am good at masking it to “fit in” and make others feel more comfortable than me.

But the truth be told, as I mentioned in the article before, it’s hard to feel whole when you are reminded by all the real wholeness that surrounds you.

It takes courage to speak up and introduce this new you. To represent the person, you are now and expect nothing less than their full support and respect. It’s not your job to keep up a persona that you no longer own.

You are a whole person in your own right, and you have earned the respect of everyone.

So, introduce your new whole self to the family that you know. To the woman, you are both just getting to know. Give them a chance and enjoy the relationship.

And if you determine that you have changed too much, and they can’t accept your new improved version of yourself, then choose your friendships as family.

Because at the end of the day, everyone needs a family, a clan or a tribe they can call their own.

“Being a working mother and a working single parent instills in you a sense of determination.”

Felicity Jones

Work

There is no better reason to work then because you need the money. In some cases, it’s the only reason. After I was divorced, I told a friend that I just wanted to meet a man who would say three things to me.

She said, “Oh, I love you?”

I responded with, “No! You can quit!”

The juggling act of working a full-time job and raising a family alone is unnerving to say the least. There are days that you literally feel like a performer who is spinning plates.

As the plates keep getting added, you are sweating to keep them all going at once and terrified that one will fall, and the rest come tumbling down.

That’s what it can feel like when you are a single mom who is the breadwinner of the family. You handle things completely differently than you’re married counterparts at work.

To begin, you don’t have a significant other whom you can fall back on. I remember I called my ex-husband to help me when my daughter was ill. I had already taken a day off and was nervous to ask for another day.

He responded and said he couldn’t; he had to work. Like I wasn’t working and supporting an entire family?

Like I didn’t need to work more than Good Ole Diamond Jim himself?

This was in the day that most workplaces didn’t have laptops they could bring home. So, what do you do? You take the day off and pray that it won’t come back to haunt you.

You pray that you won’t be revisiting this when you have your performance review.

You pray that your boss leaves and you get a new one who has no idea that you ever took a day off in your life.

And you pray that if none of that occurs, your work ethic as a woman who carries a globe on her shoulders every day of the week and twice on Sunday will receive the respect she deserves. And she does.

Over time, you communicate very little to anyone at work regarding your family and the responsibilities you carry. It takes one person who wants your job, who lets it slip that you left early to pick up your child, or you left early to go to the drugstore to get a prescription for your child, or you came back late from your lunch because you had to go home and pick up a book that your child left at home and they needed for class.

It takes one person to characterize you as less then committed to your job. And it usually comes from someone who has never been married, let alone had children.

If you are wise, you trust only a few. And again, those that you do trust are golden and you need them to lean on every once in a while.

Because the last thing you will be able to cope with, is a job loss.

And guess what?

I eventually did lose my job. So, no matter how old your kids are. As long as you are a single working mom, be cautious with you job. We live in a much better workspace now and employers are much more forgiving and flexible. But, there are no guarantees and you need to always be smart.

You may not feel a complete fit because of the lengths you feel that you have to go to protect yourself, but at the end of the day you do fit because you are doing an amazing job and most people in your work environment would never know what a true Rock Star you really are. But you do!

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths,”

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

So, who are you now?

You have created a new you through the eyes of your friends, your family, your work colleagues.

Who is this new you?

Well, only you know the answer to that. And it may be a work in progress for a while. But, what I am certain of is that this, “NEW YOU” that you have become and embraced and introduced to the world is someone who will be amazing at all you endeavor.

And you are someone who is full of compassion, humility, and excitement as you venture into this new chapter of YOU. And always remember:

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

Dr. Seuss

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6 Warning Signs You Are Dating a Narcissist

6 Warning Signs You Are Dating a Narcissist

Narcissist Man.jpg

Could you be dating a narcissist and not even know it?

After starting to date again after divorce, I often found myself drawn toward highly successful professional men who are competitive in business and strongly determined to continue to build their own financial empire.  Their determined, confident attitudes and visible business successes appealed to my strong desires for security and stability.

A recent first date I went on was with this type of guy. My date with a dentist turned into a three-hour marathon of misery for me when he insisted that we sit in a back booth that he had reserved in advance with the hostess by visiting the restaurant the night before and then he told our server that he would leave an extra-generous tip if she served our meals at a very leisurely pace.

Right away he launched into a one-sided brag fest about how he got elected president of his college fraternity and why he easily scored highest in his graduating class on the dental board exam. He then dropped names of all the famous people he knows who live in our city and then went on to reveal the names of all the famous people his dad knows too.  By the time the pasta finally arrived, I wanted to collapse into my plate from sheer boredom and exhaustion.

After that mind-numbing experience, I ran to my car and swore off dating for several months.

Unfortunately, this was just one more very disillusioning date with a narcissistic man. I had already experienced many others.

Several times I dated a man exclusively for three to six months, expecting things to become more serious overtime, only to have them abruptly break things off with very little explanation or distance themselves with vague excuses about why they couldn’t continue to spend time with me.

After spending many frustrating weeks trying to figure out how to get each of these men I had dated exclusively to connect with me on an emotional level so that our relationship could continue to grow, I finally discovered that there was a big disconnect between the type of relationship I was expecting to unfold and what these narcissistic men were able to contribute in terms of intimacy, emotional connection, and respectful two-way communications.

I discovered that I was living on crumbs and pretending it was a whole nutritious meal.

Are you Dating a Narcissist? Here are 6 Warning Signs:

1. He is pre-occupied with how things around him appear and how he is perceived by others. He aggressively pursues financial success and is not content with what he already has acquired or achieved. He has a strong craving for admiration, praise and his home, car, clothes and high status are a direct measurement of how successful he appears to others.

2. He exploits or takes advantage of others to get what he wants. Narcissists are highly skilled at using others’ talents; taking advantage of their desire to avoid conflicts and their good-natured helpfulness as a means to an end to achieve their own goals.

3. He does not appreciate or even see your unique abilities and natural gifts. Highly self-absorbed, narcissists are so driven by how they can use others to benefit themselves that your own individual strengths, abilities and achievements are often ignored or dismissed as inconsequential.

4. He resents authority and despises correction or being told what to do. He is reluctant to accept any blame or criticism and strongly prefers to be in control of things and those around him at all times. Having his faults pointed out to him or even having to admit that he made a mistake can set him off into a fit of rage.

5. Petty arguments often erupt into power struggles. The narcissistic man thrives on being right so disputes are rarely resolved. Mediation and counseling rarely helps to improve communications with a narcissist because this type of person sees themselves as under attack and can’t stand for their actions to be subject to the opinions of others and held up to the light.

6. He disregards your healthy needs for attention and affection. Since narcissistic men often lack empathy and the self-examination necessary to create an intimate relationship, you’ll often find yourself running on empty. Attempts to get more affection from him often leads to him creating a secret life to run to and evading your questions about what is really happening or not happening in your relationship.

If you recognize these signs in a man that you are dating, it is helpful to remember that narcissists have very rigid expectations (especially for themselves) and so this type of man rarely changes his ways.

Understanding or experiencing intimacy and love within the context of a balanced and healthy relationship is not on the agenda of a narcissist.

Unfortunately, many times we keep trying to change a narcissistic man into who we’d like them to become or the reverse- trying to twist ourselves like pretzels into a perfect version of what he wants instead of cutting our losses. Recognizing the traits of a narcissistic man and realizing how deeply rooted they are is critical so that we can begin taking back control of our own life and start to move forward in a healthier direction.

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giving my power away

Codependency in the Aftermath of Divorce: Why Are You Still Giving Your Power Away?

giving my power away

 

There are many ways to describe Codependency, but for the sake of intimate relationships, I will use this one. This definition was given by Scott Wetzler, Ph.D., “Codependent relationships signify a degree of unhealthy clinginess, where one person doesn’t have self-sufficiency or autonomy. One or both parties depend on their loved one for fulfillment.”

I believe we are all codependent when we are not standing in our truth. When we don’t know who we are we look to those closest to us, in this case, our partner, to fulfill our own needs: financially, emotionally, mentally, and physically.  That’s a tall order! Imagine one person having the job of making you happy? This is like saying your partner is your one-stop-shop for meeting all your needs, and when they don’t meet all your needs because that is an impossible undertaking, you create toxic expectations.

The truth is nobody can make you happy. Nobody can “complete you.” Sure there are some people that like having a codependent relationship, but typically it’s because they want power over you.  Eventually, the soul craves freedom; freedom to be who you are, and if it doesn’t get that freedom, fulfillment will never come.

So why bring up codependency in the aftermath of divorce? Because how you do anything is how you do everything. If you were codependent in your marriage you will still be codependent in divorce. You may still be very codependent with your ex-spouse. Most marriages do not come to an end consciously on their own, many times one of the parties doesn’t even want to divorce. They may not know who they are without their partner, because their identity is tied to who they were as a couple.  This is by definition what it means to lack autonomy…”I don’t know who I am without you.”    

I get it. I started dating my partner when we were teenagers. We were just kids. We had no idea who we even were yet. We were together for 19 years. It was as if we had morphed into the same being.  It was not until my mid-thirties that my soul craved autonomy. It craved to know who it was, apart from being a wife and a mother.  I had no idea who I was because I depended on my partner to carry me…to carry us. It was unfair, not only to him but to my spirit.

It didn’t stop there. Even in the aftermath of divorce, I was still codependent. There I was, wanting out of this marriage, craving the freedom to be who I was, yet still giving my power away.  This was so subtle that the naked eye couldn’t even catch it. 

I needed him to make me feel significant, I needed him to validate me as a good mother, I needed him to respect me, I needed him to know that I was capable of being on my own, and I needed him to know that I was powerful.

I NEEDED HIM. I STILL NEEDED HIM. I WAS GIVING MY POWER AWAY TO HIM.

This was the energy I was giving him, the power I was giving away as if I was screaming to the universe that I wasn’t enough.  I was saying that I needed someone else in order to feel worthy, in order to be fulfilled. How was it that I needed someone so much that I was trying to separate from? It was the ultimate contradiction.  My soul needed autonomy, yet my ego needed validation to feel worthy. It was a need that was impossible to fill by someone else.

This energy was the ignitor for a tug-of-war throughout my divorce, and it kept me energetically attached…it kept us attached. This is what it means to be physically divorced but still energetically married…to be energetically attached to a person you were previously bonded with intimately.  Your souls connected at one point, and in divorce, it doesn’t disappear after signing divorce papers. This takes awareness. I talk about this in more detail here are-you-divorced-but-still-feel-like-you-are-energetically-married

I finally realized all the ways in which I was giving my power away, and what I needed to do in order to reclaim it. You know when you are no longer codependent when you are no longer triggered, and they no longer have the power to bring you to your knees. When nothing anyone does, says or takes away causes you to react any longer.  No more energy is given away, no more power is handed over carelessly. You begin to start remembering who you are, and you remember how powerful you are.

I was done playing tug-of-war.  I spent too many years holding onto that rope so tight that letting go felt like absolute freedom to my soul.  It was a freedom that I never knew existed but internally remembered it as my true essence. Freedom came from knowing that I didn’t need anyone to make me feel worthy and that it was time to rediscover who I was and what I was capable of in this lifetime.  This came from slowly disconnecting to what was taking my power away and reconnecting to myself, to my truth.

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friends with your ex

Should You Remain Friends With Your Ex After Divorce?

friends with your ex

 

A very common question for newly separated and divorced women is ‘Can I still be friends with my ex?’

This may be because when we’re in the midst of pain and heartbreak, the thought of NEVER seeing our beloved again can be simply too much to bear – particularly if the decision to divorce was not our own. We feel like utter crap and the idea that we can still have a piece – even a small piece – of our beloved is a comforting one.

But here is the thing: this person is no longer our beloved. And harsh as it may sound, the sooner we give our psyche permission to accept this fact, the sooner we will move forward and heal. Holding on to somebody we were once but are no longer intimate with can seriously delay our healing.

Of course, in our grief, our brains will be telling us the opposite of this. We fight to hold on because we don’t want to feel the bitter pain that will ultimately come once we concede that it is really over. Who wants to feel pain? Not most of us.

In order to escape at least some of the pain, our psyche urges us to hold on to something, anything. So we tell ourselves that we should ‘remain friends’ with him. This is where we have it wrong. Yes, we will feel pain when we let go. Yes, pain sucks.

But on the other side of pain and heartache is FREEDOM – freedom from wanting and needing something that is no longer good for us; freedom from craving something that is simply no longer there.

The unfortunate catch is that we must go through it in order to get through it. For true healing and recovery, there really is no better way. By being brave enough to let go of your extruly let go – you will pave the way for an even better and brighter future for yourself; a future in which you become the independent and beautiful creature you know you are capable of being.

Here are 3 points to consider if you want to remain friends with your ex:

1. You need to work at EMOTIONALLY separating from him

When we have spent a good portion of our time with another person in an intimate relationship, emotional bonds and ties will have formed – this is a normal and natural process. During a break-up, those bonds and ties must be severed, and this naturally hurts.

It especially hurts in the early days of a breakup or divorce. And it is during these early days that we need to be especially mindful of allowing the process of emotional separation to occur. The simplest way to allow it to occur is to have physical distance from your ex. Put simply:

To heal and move forward, you must emotionally separate from your ex.

To emotionally separate, you need distance.

It is completely normal and natural to pine for your ex in the early days of divorce. What is important is that you do your best to remain mindful of what’s going on – and what needs to happen – during this period. So, rather than give in to temptation and text, call or turn up on his doorstep, use this time wisely.

Learn how to be alone. Learn how to not hate it. Learn to self-soothe. Learn to go deep inside and discover who you are – who you REALLY are – without the labels of ‘wife’ or ‘girlfriend’. Reconnect with old friends. Find your passion! Remember, you were someone before your relationship. And that girl is still in there somewhere. Make it your mission to find her.

2. You need to decide what level of contact is best for YOU

This step works a whole lot better once you’ve begun the process of emotional detachment or separation. This is because you will be making the decision from a place of clarity – not a place of grief, sadness, and confusion.

Only you can decide what level of contact (if any) with your ex is best for you moving forward. Everybody’s circumstances are different. If you are going through a divorce, have children or other family or financial ties with your ex, there will obviously need to be some contact and it would be in everybody’s best interests if that contact was civil.

Be mindful here that civil (or friendly) contact does not mean that you need to have a friendship. It does mean that you are able to participate in a conversation with your ex without being reduced to a grieving, crying and/or angry mess.

In the early days of my divorce (before I’d emotionally separated and ceased pining night and day for him) I found it helpful to limit contact to text message and email. Face-to-face and telephone conversations usually saw me reduced to the aforementioned grieving, crying and angry mess.

3. You need to take it one day at a time

Finally, if you’re having a tough time in the heartbreak department, there is no need to torture yourself by declaring that you will NEVER see your ex again. It is OK to simply take it one day or week at a time. Understand that things will likely look a whole lot different in six or twelve months’ time.

When my husband first left me, I honestly could not imagine that there would come a day that I would be able to look at him and not feel heartbreak, or love, or anger, or grief, or excruciating pain. I was in an agonizing state of flux – wanting to see him to ease my misery; wishing he would die because seeing him was torture.

Now, five years on, I feel none of these things when I see him. I sometimes feel an odd affection for what we once had together. We are friends, but not best friends. We do what’s best for our kids. The great thing? All of this happened organically – with time, space and healing.  And now I truly can’t imagine life any other way.

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How a Divorced Mom Can Excel in a Work From Home Job

work from home

 

Adjusting to life after a divorce can be hard. There are many things that a divorced mom must get accustomed to in order to properly move on and thrive. For instance, she will not have a partner to rely on and she will have to weather certain storms alone. Then, she might lose certain friends and family members.

Most importantly, there is the fear of limiting her time with the children, depending on the custody arrangement. Unfortunately, these are the realities of divorce but they can be handled with some effort.

To be able to take care of herself and her kids, a divorced mom will often look for a job. However, if they were a stay-at-home mom before, this may seem a bit difficult. Luckily, there are so many career opportunities out there and some of them don’t even require leaving the home. So, in case you’ve found yourself in this situation, keep on reading to see how a divorced mom can excel at her telecommuting job.

Divorced Moms Can Excel in a Work From Home Job

Finding the Right Job for Their Circumstances

The first step should be looking for a job that can be done in your current circumstances that will allow for financial stability. For starters, consider your skills and see what you can be doing. Then, do some budgeting and figure out how much money you will need on a monthly basis and how much each job pays. Finally, you need to establish work hours for yourself in order to have free time to spend with your kids and run your everyday errands.

For example, if you like working with kids, you can provide other busy parents with childcare services. They can drop the kids off at your place and you watch over them, feed them and play games together.

Then, if you prefer working with numbers, you can consider accounting and bookkeeping. An office can easily be run from your home and considering the overheads, the profit can be very good. Lastly, you can consider all sorts of online jobs, from content writing and proofreading through coding and graphic design to even being a virtual assistant. The options truly abound and you will surely be able to find something that fits your skills and meets your needs.

Creating a Productive Environment

Now that you’ve decided on what you will be doing, you need to create a space for your operations. Seeing as how you might not have the luxury of a separate room for your job, you will have to make the most of what you do have. Come up with a list of things that you require in order for the work to go smoothly and slowly start acquiring them.

For instance, if you plan on providing childcare services, you will need to ensure the area where the kids will be is childproof and has all the necessary toys and entertainment options. Bookkeepers and accountants will find that proper software is vital for keeping everything tidy and accurate. In addition to your computer and phone, you will also need some other essentials such as a strong internet connection, a wireless printer/scanner along with the necessary apps for printing on the go. These things will allow you to streamline all processes and get everything done much faster.

Finally, the environment should be pleasant and motivating so make sure there is enough natural light. If the area is quite dim, layer light fixtures so that your eyes don’t get strained. Then, get an ergonomic chair if you will be spending a lot of time in front of the computer. Add some calming but inspiring colors and think about introducing some plants as they have many health benefits.

Balancing Your Private and Professional Life

Last but not least, while developing your career is important in order to feel fulfilled and take care of your family, you cannot forget about having a balance between your private and professional life. It is very important to create boundaries for both yourself and other people.

People need to understand that working from home doesn’t mean that you are available to them whenever they need you. You should set working hours for yourself and explain to them that you are not to be disturbed during that time. In terms of your kids, it might be best to look for a period when they are at school or daycare.

To stay on top of everything, you should do your best to plan your time well and stay organized. Knowing the schedules of everyone in the family will help with this a lot. Make sure you make the most of your free time together and truly create a bond with your kids.

Working overtime might seem tempting if you need more money but spending this precious time with your little ones can never be replaced. Plus, you cannot forget about your own health and wellbeing so make sure you are taking good care of yourself as well.

To fuel your career from home, you will first need to find a profession that you are good at and that fulfills you; then, you must create a productive environment for yourself in order to make the most of this job; and finally, work on finding the balance between work and your private life as spending time with your kids is priceless. Good luck on this new adventure!

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2020 decade of freedom

Let 2020 Usher In a New Decade Of Freedom!

2020 decade of freedom

 

I don’t know about you, but my social media feed has been filled with people discussing how 2020 brings in a new decade.  For me, 2020 will mark the 13th year since I filed for divorce in my first marriage.

So much has happened since that cold night in 2007.  My first husband tossed me out into a snowbank, like a used tissue with just the clothes on my back.

If you’ve been following my blog at Divorce Mag, you’ve followed a lot of the journey, and if you’ve read my book you’ve followed much of the journey…intimately. I’ve been thinking for months about what message I want to share with you for the New Year’s themed blog.

Spending considerable time in reflection about how cliche so many of the themes around the new year become, an example being “new year, new you”…and as I said the new decade is increasing the triteness of these tropes in my mind.  I’ve decided on a more personal note, from me to you.

Dear Reader

Even before I found myself in that snowbank, I had a morning where I woke up and the world had completely changed for me. A moment where I realized I was completely alone with just the clothes on my back.  Understandably, I felt traumatized by this and sucked into a vortex of grief, fear, anger, shame, and confusion. I believed the man who told me that I better get out of that marriage because the next escalation was going to be my murder.

It made sense to my spirit that he was right, but I didn’t know how to respond without anyone or anything.  Although I heard his words and believed them, this only fed into my vortex, and now I was trying not to be bitter because I had done everything right according to the way I was raised.

Let 2020 Usher in a New Decade of Freedom

You may not be experiencing that type of situation. As much as I believe divorce is like a birth, it is also life-shattering. Filing for divorce for me was like shattering a vase by throwing it off the shelf.  The vase was my life, and at first it was terrifying because I couldn’t get all the pieces together correctly and in some cases, the pieces were so small they escaped pick up altogether.

However, I had complete freedom to re-arrange these pieces and I didn’t need to worry about the pieces I couldn’t pick up.

I only recently became aware of the Japanese art of Kintsugi.  Kintsugi is the art of repairing broken pottery by sealing the cracks with gold.  You can also seal your own cracks with gold when you design your post-divorce life.

2020 marks the beginning of a new decade.  My wish for you is a decade where you experience healing and restoration. Do not let divorce destroy you or your light. Shine brightly.  You have value, and sometimes divorce is a necessary course correction.  Avoid being trapped in bitterness or the grief, anger, shame, fear vortex.

Even if you are completely alone as you read my words, you are never alone. I wrote this for you, and as you move through your process, you will meet others like us. Each divorce is different, but use the time to move through the grief and emerge as a new being.  Get to know yourself again, and then use that knowledge to assert your identity in the world. Divorce sucks, it really does, but it is not a personal failing. Do not let it trap you.

This post originally appeared on DivorceMag.com

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work after divorce

15 Very Important Reasons You Will And Want Need To Work After Divorce

work after divorce

 

This is a subject that has been on my mind lately…why do some women not feel the need to work after divorce? The vast majority of us understand the need to become self-sufficient and able to provide financially for ourselves and our children.

Some, however, feel their ex-husband should continue to bear all the responsibility post-divorce or, they have the skewed belief that alimony and child support frees them up from having to worry about their future financial security.

I see this belief played out in my Facebook timeline constantly. Women divorce, spend years living off child support and alimony and then BAM, those funds run out and they pay the consequences of not planning ahead.

And, they justify this behavior by saying, “I was a stay-at-home mom and I’m going to continue to be a stay-at-home mom. That is all fine and dandy until your children are no longer at home, the child support comes to an end and alimony runs out.

What then?

Why aren’t these women wondering about who will send them monthly checks when the ex no longer has to or, starts refusing to?

I understand the fear associated with lifestyle changes that can come along with divorce. I was a stay-at-home mom for 16 years before my ex left and if all really were “fair in love and war” he should have been made to take care of the woman he abandoned. It isn’t fair though, and it does none of us any favors to hold onto the way things should be, instead of face the reality of how things now are.

Thanks to no-fault divorce laws women who are left behind can no longer depend on the man who left them to continue to take care of them. And there is no excuse for not taking care of ourselves.

And, women who leave a marriage certainly should not expect a man they no longer want to be married to, to support them after divorce. Seriously, no!

Women, whether you have children or not, need to return to work after divorce. If they want to survive financially, there is no other way to conduct their lives post-divorce.

15 Very Important Reasons You Will Want To Work After Divorce

1. You Earn 

Financial independence and freedom can be one of the most important variables that influence the quality and quantity of a woman and her children’s lives. It means better food on the table, a better roof over their heads, and a bit of money in the bank after the bills are paid.

It can also be one of the most liberating aspects for a decent quality of life and respect.

2. You Learn 

Learning is one of the foundational pillars of personal and professional growth and life, and the sky (rather your view of the sky) is the limit to what you can learn when you work. The most important thing you’ll learn is that you can be self-sufficient.

3. You Become Independent

You have an identity of your own – independent of your personal relationships and associations. There’s no telling how important it is in your own self-confidence and self-worth.

4. You Improve

Your general knowledge improves – just by being part of a world outside of the 4-walls you observe, listen and comprehend a lot lot more. You become more than a mother!

5. You Appreciate Equality

You appreciate the differences and nuances of the world within the 4-walls and outside the 4-walls. Trust me, this bursts your bubbles in terms of what it takes to be a working woman!

6. Your View Changes

You get to see how fair/unfair life is beyond the 4-walls. And that changes the way you view your own life and the way you live your life

6. Your Self-Esteem Increases

Your own self-esteem increases significantly – you just feel so much surer of yourself.

8. You Get Recognition

Your family and society view you in a new light – many times, this translates into more respect and value they associate with you.

9. You Get Empowered

You are better enabled, equipped and empowered to make decisions – simply because you know that you have a choice.

10. You Can Shop

You can “buy” things for yourself – yes! You’re a good prospect for (m)any businesses. You pump money into the economy and boost money circulation. You don’t have to do without things you need if you’re part of the workforce.

11. You Become Role Model

You can be a role model to someone, especially your daughters! I know many of my role models are everyday working women who balance life and work every single day.

12. You Learn Life Skills

You learn a lot of key “life skills”. Top among them are time management, communication, negotiation, saying NO.

13. Learn To Let Go

You tend to let go of a lot of excess baggage. Many times it is simply because you don’t have time to delve into the past or worry about the future.

14. You Inspire

You can inspire someone somewhere. Just by being a live example of “It is possible, you can do it

15. Your Family Prospers

Your work will directly / indirectly play a significant part in your children’s standard of living. There is no better reason to work after divorce than that!

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5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Saying Yes To Dating After Divorce

5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Saying Yes To Dating After Divorce

I advise my coaching clients to not begin dating after divorce or thinking about a new relationship until they have recovered from the old relationship…the one they have just extracted themselves from.

The emotional upheaval you feel during and after divorce is an opportunity to grow as a person. Consider the first year after your divorce a time-out that offers you to sow the seeds of your self-development. A time in which you give yourself the opportunity to emerge from the experience of divorce knowing yourself better and feel stronger and more enthusiastic about what the future holds.

In order to fully recover from a divorce and move on with your life, you need to understand what went wrong in your marriage, acknowledge the role you played and change negative behaviors that could interfere with future relationships.

It is imperative that you fully accept and understand that you made choices in your marriage that had a negative effect on the marriage. You made mistakes; learning from those mistakes is the best way to not repeat them in future relationships.

Some questions to ask yourself before saying yes to dating after divorce:

  • Step back and look at the big picture. How did you contribute to the problems of the relationship?
  • Think about how you react to stress and deal with conflict and insecurities. Could you act in a more constructive way?
  • Do you accept other people the way they are, not the way you think they should be?
  • Examine your negative feelings as a starting point for change. Are you in control of your feelings, or are they in control of you? Do you respond to circumstances based on emotions or logic?

I’m not suggesting you beat yourself up for mistakes you made or negative behavior traits but I do suggest you take an honest inventory and make constructive changes. The post divorce healing process gives you an opportunity to learn more about yourself, how you relate to others, and the problems you need to work on.

If you are able to objectively examine your own choices and behaviors, including the reasons why you chose your ex, you’ll be able to see where you went wrong and make better choices in future relationships. When you can do that, you are ready to jump back into the “dating scene.” But when you do, beware that pesky rebound relationship.

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forgiveness after a toxic marriage

Forgiveness After a Toxic Marriage: Here’s Why It’s Important

forgiveness after a toxic marriage

 

“There is no future without forgiveness.” Desmond Tutu

The single most important step you must take in order to move on after divorce is to forgive. 

Over the course of your marriage, things must have been said and done by both yourself and your husband that were hurtful and toxic.

Hanging on to these hurts will perpetuate their destructive effect, unless and until they are released.

Hanging on to past hurts is like strapping an anchor to your neck and dragging it wherever you go.

Unforgiveness will bring you down and prevent you from rising up to your highest potential. It will deprive you of the peace that you need to create a happy life.

You won’t be able to start over with a clean slate if you’re still obsessed with the wrongs of the past.

When you forgive, you release yourself from the bondage of blame and resentment and break free from the spell past hurts have placed on you. 

Forgiveness is freedom from judgment, ill feelings, and being “right” at the expense of being happy.

Sometimes we adopt a posture of righteous indignation because we mistakenly believe that not forgiving the other person makes him or her the bad guy while making us the victim, the nice guy. We feel morally superior.

But being unforgiving doesn’t make you good and the other person bad. It makes you unhappy! The other person can very well go on with his or her life untouched by your anger and hatred.

Remember, you deserve to be happy. So, tap on the power of forgiveness to set yourself free.

You need to forgive your husband for every wrong, real or perceived.

Yes, every single one of them. You need to forgive yourself for all the things you regret associated with your marriage and in every area of your life.

You need to forgive every person who, in your opinion, contributed to the breakdown of your marriage. That includes friends, relatives, in-laws, even “the other woman.”

This is hard stuff, I know, and don’t get mad at me for saying so. But as hard as this may be, it is essential to your happiness.  Release the charge. Stop thinking about it, or at least think about it with neutral feelings.

We are often unwilling to forgive because we assume that forgiving turns us into doormats. That forgiving is condoning offensive behaviors. That, by forgiving, we are making them acceptable. We are enabling the perpetrator. We are inviting more of the same.

But that isn’t true.

Forgiving is not about condoning bad behaviors, especially forgiveness after a toxic marriage.

Some behaviors, abusive ones, in particular, are wrong and unacceptable, and should never be tolerated.

Those behaviors may have given you good reasons to end your marriage. But they do not justify ending your peace and depriving yourself of the happiness that is your birthright.

Forgiveness opens the door to a life of freedom and possibility.

Forgiveness makes room in your heart to allow love to flow in.

Maybe you’re not comfortable forgiving because you fear it makes you seem weak.

To the contrary, forgiving is empowering, because it dissolves the grip past hurts have over you. It allows you to face your vulnerabilities and gives you the opportunity to heal and dissolve them.

When you hang on to past hurts and resentments, you are giving your power away.

Holding on to resentment actually poisons you. It keeps you bound to the person you badly want out of your life.

Every time you think about the hurtful event, you are allowing it to continue hurting you over and over again, even after the conduct has stopped.

Some people hang on to hurts that happened long ago, by people who may no longer be alive. Who do you think is hurt by the unforgiveness? Not the dead guy, for sure!

You are not alone.

We have all been hurt, often by people we love. By people, we thought loved us. And we have to process feelings of betrayal as well.

Perhaps you have endured vicious behaviors that were totally uncalled for. You may think you have been inflicted the unforgivable. I understand.

I am not trying to minimize your pain, but open your mind to the possibility that other people have endured horrifying experiences, even worse than yours, and have found it in their hearts to forgive. Through forgiveness, these people have achieved freedom, and inspire us to allow the power of forgiveness to heal our deepest wounds.

Louise Hay had been sexually abused as a child. Yet, she turned her painful experiences into an occasion to heal herself and to help others heal through a lifetime of inspiring works. Likewise, Immaculee Ilibagiza, in her book “Left to Tell: Discovering God in the Midst of the Rwandan Holocaust,” shares her stirring story on achieving freedom through forgiveness, after her family members were murdered by friends and neighbors during the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s.

Their examples underscore how forgiveness can serve you.

Forgiveness doesn’t stop with your husband. Also, forgive yourself. The past is over and done. You cannot change it, but you can choose again. Learn your lessons and be the better person from it.

Consider incorporating a forgiveness practice into your life.

It will support you as you examine your relationship, decide whether to leave or stay and start your life anew, with or without your husband. It will pay dividends in every area of your life and will enable you to enjoy better relationships and a serene existence.

If you’re not sure how to go about it, there is plenty of help available. The subject is so vast and complex that you could fill a whole library with books about forgiveness. There are lots of amazing teachers, all of them courageously sharing their personal stories and unique forgiveness techniques. Find one that resonates with you. Or feel free to create techniques of your own if you can’t find one that is right for you.

My favorite book on the subject is “Forgiveness: 21 Days to Forgive Everyone for Everything” by Iyanla Vanzant. This fabulous little book comes with a built-in, 21-day workbook and includes a CD with guided meditation exercises for every day of your forgiveness journey. By day 14, I felt considerably lighter and more peaceful.

I have also found inspiration in Louise Hay’s book “You Can Heal Your Life,” as well as Colin Tipping’s “Radical Forgiveness: Making Room for the Miraclewww.amazon.com/Radical-Forgiveness-Miracle-Tipping-Paperback/dp/B00OX8BXFG.”

You can also join forgiveness support groups at a local church or online.

The key is to allow the power of forgiveness to release you from the wounds of the past and pave the way for a brighter future.

If You’re Not Ready to Forgive Yet

Maybe your spouse or others have engaged in very damaging behaviors that you need to process. Perhaps your emotions are still too raw, and you are not yet ready to forgive. Be kind to yourself and honor your feelings.

Forgiveness requires you to be ready and receptive. You may want to wait until the heat is off, the dust settles and you are out of the emotional danger zone. That is perfectly okay.

Take baby steps down the road to forgiveness. Louise Hay taught that you can start by being willing to forgive. Take the first step now and get ready for a life in which your husband’s misdeeds are not even worthy of a passing thought.

Now you’re ready to begin anew. Rebuild your life on a clean slate with the power of forgiveness.

Note: Excerpt adapted from the book Solve the Divorce Dilemma: Do You Keep Your Husband or Do You Post Him on Craigslist? by Sonia Frontera.

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