For women who are divorcing in middle age, this blog regularly publishes relationship advice, including tips on starting to date again and navigating new relationships. The blog also offers personal stories and suggestions on starting over after a divorce.
It happens all the time and you’re probably not even aware of it.
Or you are aware of it, but you’ve just accepted it as a way of life.
Your boss just *assumes* you’re going to work late…even though you already made plans.
Your ex texts you, saying how sad he is, although you asked him to quit contacting you.
Your adult daughter hangs up on you when she gets a call from a friend.
At this point in your life, after your divorce and as you work to move on, you may have just shrugged it off, accepting the fact that people are going to walk all over you, treat you like a doormat, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
And that the time for being a doormat ends now.
So, if you’re tired of being treated like a doormat. I’m going to show you how to easily stand up for yourself and show people how to treat you with the respect you deserve.
But first, we gotta talk about some ugly truths. They’re hard to read, but you need to know them.
Ugly Truth #1. Many of us were conditioned to be “nice” and to not make a scene.
Many times in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood that you were taught to play nice, to be “well-behaved, and to not make a big deal out of something, society was conditioning you to be okay with not having your voice heard. You were being conditioned, little by little, to accept the fact that people could walk all over you and take advantage of you. And you were being conditioned to think it was socially unacceptable or “bad” to voice your opinion that something was wrong, or if you didn’t like something.
And that being “nice” and being “the good girl” meant that you had your voice taken from you. It’s infuriating, isn’t it?
Ugly Truth #2. Many of us were not raised to establish strong boundaries.
A result of being raised to be “nice” and not make a scene meant that plenty of people—whether it was your ex, your family, your kids, your friends, your coworkers–probably asked too much of you, intruded in personal business, or took advantage of you. And since you were never given the tools to say, “No,” or “I’m not comfortable with that decision,” you maybe not have learned how to establish strong boundaries for yourself. It was like the concept never even existed.
Healthy boundaries is a critical skill to establishing your confidence…but many of us were never taught that we had a right to boundaries and to say “no.”
Ugly Truth #3. We were taught by society that our needs didn’t matter.
Many of us over the age of 50 us have felt this insidious pressure to be the perfect wife and the perfect mother. Even as early as elementary school, I remember teachers saying, “Well, you’re certainly a headstrong little girl, aren’t you? None of the boys will like you if you’re so stubborn and loud.” This probably happened to you as well—whenever you voiced that something wasn’t fair, or if you got angry that you didn’t get what you wanted. But that constant failure to acknowledge the things you wanted, even when you were little, conditioned you to think that what you wanted—even what you needed–was never a priority. Which is why so many of us have a hard time advocated for ourselves. And then we blame ourselves for not knowing how to do it.
And it usually takes some life-shattering event like a divorce to wake us up.
But think of that divorce as a blessing in disguise, because now you’re presented with an opportunity to find your voice, and reverse course on the disrespect.
I want you to take everything you’ve been taught about “not making a scene” and “being nice so that people don’t think you’re a witch…” and throw in in the trash. Because your newest challenge is here.
I just spent a week with my two young adult daughters. We traveled across eastern Canada to visit my mom in my hometown on Cape Breton Island. It was a welcome road trip as I rarely spend that much time with both girls at the same time. My oldest lives with my husband and the youngest moved out a few years back to make the commute to school easier.
When I left their dad last year, my relationship with each of them took a hit. It hurt – a LOT. Despite the fact that I have an amicable relationship with their father, I had shattered the trust and ease that I have had with my girls. The past week presented an opportunity to see if we’ve gotten past some of the pain – it was thrilling to hang out with them. But it turns out that there are still so many emotions and issues that have not been addressed. Probably because we have not directly discussed the topic other than during some very superficial conversations.
At 21 and 24, both of these amazing women are still struggling to figure themselves out. They have lives of their own with a unique set of relationships and their own paths to follow. The split up of their family rocked their very foundations and they have not yet made peace with the new reality. Or with me. On the surface, everything is civil but I learned this week that it is difficult for them to reconcile this new version of their mother with the one that they grew up and loved completely. In many ways, they feel that they have no idea who I am anymore. In some ways, I no longer know myself but I do know that I have to find out where I belong in this world.
I wish that I could “make it all better” like when they were little girls and a simple kiss would erase the booboo – that level of complete trust takes nurturing and time. For now, the easy-going laughter and comradery is missing and I find myself, like them, in the middle of a grieving process. They don’t come to me for advice very often when something is bothering them in their own lives – I’ve been shut out to an extent. But, we are still talking and that means everything to me.
Ironically, one of my reasons to leave my marriage was to show my daughters that it is possible to make excruciatingly difficult choices. I wanted to show them that it is possible to change one’s life with grace and the upmost respect for the people involved. History will show if that worked out well. For now, I am incredibly grateful that my grown daughters will still go on road trips with me and are willing participants in figuring out our new “normal”. These women mean the world to me and they need time to work out their feelings. I can give them time and patience and a lot of love. And a chance for us to figure out what it means to be a family that live in different places.
Author Bio: A 50 something woman who is turning the page. Newly separated and now taking the time to identify and follow her dreams – one day at a time.
“How could I have been so stupid? I don’t even recognize myself anymore. I always thought people who went through this should just get a clue, work on their self-esteem and walk out the door. So how could this have happened to me?”
As a Toxic Relationship Recovery Specialist, I hear these kinds of concerns every day. Even the most intelligent and accomplished people can find it difficult to forgive themselves after the humiliation of a toxic relationship. Yet, so many women in their 50’s are trying to do just that as they leave their relationships and marriages due to psychological and emotional abuse. I am here to tell you that the end of a toxic relationship does not have to be the end of your self- esteem nor does it have to be the end of your most important relationship in this life – the relationship with yourself. In fact, if you do the work required to truly heal then the end of a toxic relationship can actually be the wake up you need to finally create the life you want! The life you truly deserve after so many years of taking care of everyone else.
So, how do you forgive yourself after a toxic relationship so you can stop the feeling of being stuck and finally move forward in creating a life you are excited about living?
Recognize That You Were Playing a Game in Which You Did Not Understand the Rules
When you were little you probably played the board game Sorry. If you are in a truly toxic relationship then you could call the game “Not Sorry.” Toxic people are not sorry when they hurt your feelings, they think it is always their turn, and they don’t see any problem in making you feel bad if it makes them feel better. They constantly switch between victim and hero and quickly tear you down if you have the audacity to point out how they are hurting you. With all the articles and confusion surrounding toxic people how do you know who is truly toxic and who is just having a bad day? A toxic person consistently refuses to play by the same set of rules.
Recognize That You Only See From Your Own Perspective
Have you ever gone back to a playground you went to as a child? When you revisit these places as adults the amusements of your childhood don’t seem nearly as large or as magical as they did when you were a kid. Fast forward to adulthood and we still see from our own perspective. For example, if you are kind, forgiving and constantly looking for ways to improve yourself then you expect others to be kind, forgiving, and looking for ways to improve themselves. Enter the toxic person. They know you see the world from that perspective and they can use that to their every advantage.
So they say things like, “ I thought you were a good person.” or “ You’d think you could forgive, but you are always looking to start a fight.” This makes you feel bad so you drop the conversation and they win. But, because you are a good, kind, forgiving person you don’t realize they are winning because you would never manipulate someone! Forgive yourself. The only reason you didn’t know what to look for in a toxic person is because you are not a toxic person – which is obviously a great thing!
People Love Because of Who They Are Not Because of Who You Are
Whenever you find yourself looking in the mirror and wondering what you can change about yourself to make someone love you I want you to remind yourself that some of the best and brightest people in this world have experienced lies and abuse. Toxic people “love” by finding people to adore them, take care of them, and act as emotional punching bags when the world makes the toxic person angry. If you are a good, kind, and forgiving person then you love because you want to connect, be a part of something bigger than yourself, and because you just feel better when you have someone to love. A toxic person will use your need for connection to pull you back in after they push you away. And, the dance continues…
So, if you have been through the divorce, the break up, the chaos and now your ex is posting pictures with another partner and you think “Gosh they look so happy. It must have been me.” give yourself a good shake and a strong cup of coffee and remember that people love based on who they are not who you are. You couldn’t have changed them, but now you can move forward in life to change yourself.
Sarah K Ramsey is a Toxic Relationship Recovery Specialist who helps amazing women remember how amazing they are after enduring the pain of a toxic partner. Her work has been featured in the Emotional Abuse Recovery Summit as well as the Healing Narcissistic Trauma Conference. Contact Sarah at email@example.com.
When you first got married, odds are you never imagined that one day you would be signing your divorce papers. No matter how common people say divorce is or how many statistics are thrown your way, you thought you and your spouse were the couple to be. You were full of hope and love and promise.
Having this ideal of happy married life disappear before your eyes is nothing short of devastating. Even if you were the one who ended the relationship, it is still difficult to know that a partnership that had such promise did not turn out the way you’d hoped.
Nobody ever goes into a marriage thinking that one day they may be divorced. This can make getting over such a traumatic event in your life very difficult or nearly impossible. But don’t give up hope. Your relationship has ended – not your life.
Here are the top 5 ways to recover after a divorce.
Depression, anger, sadness, relief, and resentment have probably all crept into your mind and heart at some point or another following your separation.
It’s perfectly natural to take time to wallow after your breakup. Sit on the couch in your PJs, watch bad movies, eat ice cream, drink wine, and munch on mac and cheese to your heart’s delight. But eventually, you’re going to have to find a new normal and create a single routine you can live by.
After a tragedy happens, it can be difficult to start making plans for the future. After all, you’ll probably be left thinking about how your future no longer holds a spot for your ex.
Instead of overwhelming yourself with a five-year-plan, we encourage you to take things day by day. Wake up, take a shower, make coffee, go to work. Come home, make dinner, go for a run, go to bed.
For the first couple of weeks after getting a divorce, even the basic aspects of your day are going to feel impossible to do. But it’s important not only to get a routine started quickly after your divorce, but to make taking care of your body a regular part of this new routine.
2. Utilize Your Support System
Self-compassion is a huge part of getting over a divorce.
A University of Arizona study surveyed 105 divorcées who had been married an average of thirteen years or more. They were asked to answer questions about their divorce and their recovery process.
Results found that those who had higher levels of self-compassion had fewer bad dreams about the divorce, less negative reflections on the marriage, and fewer negative thoughts overall.
So, do not be afraid to lean on them for support when situations call for.
3. Cut the Cord
Even if you were miserably unhappy in your marriage, there will be times where you miss your spouse. This feeling is only intensified if you were not the one who wanted the relationship to end. You will miss your partner’s companionship, the easy repertoire you shared, and the consistent company.
But whatever you do, don’t stalk your ex on social media.
In fact, cutting the cord between you and your ex-husband/wife is one of our biggest pieces of advice for getting over your divorce. Do not follow them on their social media profiles. Actually, do yourself a favor and block them from yours. Delete their number out of your phone, and do not interact socially unless absolutely necessary.
Let your lives be a complete mystery to one another. By doing so, you will save yourself a lot of hurt.
4. Get Back to Your Old Habits
Do you even remember the person you were before you got married? Getting a divorce means you can focus on yourself in a way you probably haven’t been able to in a very long time.
This means you can spend more time with friends. They can be a great pick-me-up for your emotional blues. Plan outings, trips, dinners, and sleepovers with friends and family members.
Get back to doing the things you love. When was the last time you could play your favorite instrument? Work out? Draw or illustrate? Now that you are single, it is the perfect time to get back to your old favorite hobbies or perhaps make new ones.
Volunteering is another great way to spend your time. Not only does this benefit those less fortunate, but helping others also makes you less likely to focus on your own problems.
5. Don’t Be Afraid of Professional Help
Research shows that breakups trigger severe psychological distress and a decline in overall life satisfaction. It’s no wonder why it can feel so impossible to succeed in getting over a divorce.
Seeking professional help should never be something you are ashamed of. A divorce therapist is someone who has been trained to help you through the painful aftermath of your breakup.
It can be cathartic to talk about your worries, sadness, and feelings to someone outside of your friends and family. They will be able to help you work through the myriad of confusing feelings you are experiencing and give you rational perspective.
A therapist can also help you begin the healing process, give you new coping skills, and help you make goals that you can look forward to achieving.
It’s natural to feel a loss after a marriage has ended, but getting a divorce does not mean the end of happiness. Over time, you will learn how to live day by day.
It can be helpful to cut the cord from your spouse by refusing to have contact with them and avoiding their social media accounts. Trust in your support system and those who truly love you and you will be back to your old self before you know it.
Rachael Pace is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.
It’s no secret that midlife or “gray” divorce is skyrocketing. And, according to the AARP, 66 percent of these divorces — which have doubled since 1990 — are initiated by women. But the numbers, without any narrative, are just numbers. They don’t tell us why so many women, seemingly in droves, are making this heartbreakingly difficult decision. My interest piqued, I designed and distributed a survey to find out more. Hundreds of women took the survey and told their stories. And I am very grateful they did.
Because I’m a psychotherapist who has worked with dozens of divorced and divorcing folks, I wasn’t prepared to be surprise by the results. As it turns out, I was both intrigued and enlightened by many of the findings. But the one piece of data that most surprised me was this: A whopping 53 percent of women said they divorced their spouses because of emotional or psychological abuse. This was the number one reason women gave for leaving their marriages.
What is emotional (or psychological) abuse exactly? It’s the systematic manipulation of one person by another — through intimidation, bullying and criticism— in order to gain control. Emotionally abusive partners do this by making their spouses feel inadequate, stupid, guilty, lazy or ugly. There’s practically nothing the victim can do to win the favor of the abusive partner. She may be on her best behavior (defined by him), cook his favorite food every night, or lose 20 pounds so he’ll find her more attractive. Newsflash: None of these things will make a whit of difference. It often takes time before the victim realizes the futility of her efforts, so she will continue to dance like a marionette to please her implacable spouse.
Emotional abuse is always present at the start of a relationship, despite how cleverly cloaked it may be in humor or concern or love. It never magically appears overnight. People with a propensity to emotionally abuse carefully select partners who seem susceptible. Emotional abuse can, at least initially, fly below the radar. And emotional abusers are so masterful at their insidious craft that they’re expert in not scaring potential victims away.
How do you know if you’re in — or heading into — an emotionally abusive marriage? Simply put, if you don’t have healthy autonomy –- in speaking or socializing or living –- then you’re already in a danger zone. Are you watching what you say, who you engage with, or how you dress in order to contain his reactions? Do you limit what you tell others about the relationship because it’s an unspoken rule you shouldn’t talk about it? Emotional abuse begins with rules put in place by your partner. Rules designed to ultimately diminish and control you.
For over 50 percent of the survey respondents, years of being chastised and belittled finally took their toll. Enough of a toll that they ended their marriages because of it. Here’s what some of the respondents had to say, post-divorce, about being free from the emotional abuse they endured in their marriages. Their relief is palpable:
“I am free to pursue my interests without being made to feel guilty.”
“The best thing is not having someone to say no to things you want to do.”
“Being able to be my own person with my own goals and dreams without being told I’m ‘silly and pointless’ for the first time since I was 16 years old.”
“Not feeling as if I have to live my life under someone else’s ‘rules’.”
And while we now know over half of women surveyed left their marriages because of emotional abuse, even more — a full 70 percent — said they had married because they were in love. But as sure as the love was there, so was the flagrant abuse, lying in wait until the unique insularity of marriage gave it license to show its full face.
The wise, insightful women who took my survey are no different from me, you, your daughter, your manicurist, your physician or your favorite actress. Emotionally abused women aren’t weak or stupid. Almost anyone can be a victim of emotional abuse at some point during her life. To be clear, there’s no shame in being vulnerable to your spouse or working hard on your marriage. But it is problematic when you flail away at improving an irretrievably broken relationship while watching any semblance of self-respect disappear in the rearview.
Change can’t happen without insight. And a victim of emotional abuse may temporarily lose her capacity for insight as everything she ever believed about herself — and basic human kindness and decency— becomes skewed and distorted as a result of the abuse. But the data here is hopeful. The numbers tell us that somehow, some way, victims of emotional abuse are finding their way back to health and self-love. More than ever before in history, women are making it abundantly clear they’re no longer willing to stay to married partners who abuse them.
Divorce is traumatizing during any stage of life. But it takes on different layers of overwhelm in our 50s and beyond, when we are dealing with other issues like retirement, caring for elderly parents, and worrying about our adult children.
It’s a lot to handle, but when you know what to expect, a lot of that stress may decrease. While there are many logistical and financial things to do address during divorce, understanding what to expect emotional lays the groundwork for the road ahead. Here are just a few of the thinks to prepare yourself for when your marriage is ending.
1) You will doubt yourself, and feel so afraid of the unknown that you will reason that even though you are miserable, you at least are comfortable, and that you can endure your unhappy marriage. In your heart of hearts you know it isn’t true. You will bargain with yourself because you are scared. Know that this is normal.
2) The rollercoaster of emotions unlike anything you have ever experienced: the regret, the grief, the pain, the confusion, the fear, the desperation of wanting to be loved after your spouse is gone. But gradually, a weight will lift from your shoulders—the same weight you denied all this time when you told yourself nothing was wrong.
3) Your self-esteem may shatter, and you will be desperate for love and validation. You may be tempted to to date immediately and latch on to the first person who pays attention to you. Resist this urge even if you have not had that romantic touch or intimacy for a long time. Trying to fill that void with another relationship robs you of the chance to heal.
4) You may tell yourself that you’re fine, but you need a support system: a therapist, a divorce coach, a support group, good friends, the non-judgmental anonymity of online forums. Whatever combination of systems you choose should help you attain two objectives–creating a safe place for venting, while also helping you find healthy ways to cope.
5) Once you and your spouse decide to split, you will feel like you are getting sprayed with an industrial firehose. The number of “to-do’s” regarding emotions, finances, legal issues, custody, and other logistics will come at you with incredible urgency. You will feel paralyzed and overwhelmed. Understand that splitting is a process. There are things to address immediately (safety, shelter, income), things to address later (understanding legal and custody issues, finding an emotional support system) and things to address longer-term. Remind yourself that divorce is a marathon and requires patience and persistence. Save yourself the stress by accepting that not everything has to be done right now.
6) You will have no control over your spouse’s behavior. For serious offenses (threatening harm, cleaning out your savings account), you will absolutely need to take action. But there will also be annoyances that may not endanger you, but will anger you. Remember that although you can’t control their behavior, you can control how you react to it. There is power in taking the high road.
7) You will be tempted to make certain divorce decisions that are driven by emotion, rather than driven by logic. You will constantly forget that divorce, boiled down, is a business transaction–a splitting of assets and incomes. During the legal process, you will be forced to choose your battles. Choose wisely.
8) You will find yourself in new situations that make you uncomfortable. You may be re-entering the workforce. Your budget may be tight. If your social life revolved around other married couples, this dynamic may seem miserable for you. You may find friends treating you differently, thinking for some reason your split means that their relationship is in jeopardy. Understand that you are not alone in all of these struggles, and that whatever support you need–career help, financial advice, counseling, new opportunities for socialization–is out there.
9) In your times of despair, you will wallow in self-pity. You will break down frequently at the most inconvenient times, and say, “my life was not supposed to be like this.” This is part of the grieving process, and you will learn how to balance it all: accepting that your circumstances changed, dealing with them, and also learning how to heal and move on. You will learn that you are not a prisoner to those circumstances, and it is you who has the power to come out of this whole ordeal a stronger person.
10) You will learn that the split has presented you with a choice and it is your decision how you handle it. You can choose to look at this split as a trauma from which you will never recover, or you can choose the path that takes more work–the path where you ask for assistance, get the support you need, educate yourself, and understand that you will have the power to get through it all. The choice is yours.
Martha Bodyfelt is a divorce recovery coach whose website “Surviving Your Split” helps women in their 50s navigate their divorce and get their confidence back. For your Free Divorce Goddess Recovery Kit, stop by http://survivingyoursplit.com/ or drop Martha a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
No matter where you are in the divorce process it’s unavoidable.
You know the feeling all too well. That divorce anxiety and stress. The fear of the unknown. The loss of control of the life we thought we knew. It’s normal to panic, but that doesn’t mean you have to go through your days worried that you’re doing something wrong in your divorce, or that you’re going to screw something up.
You deserve better than that.
See, here’s the the thing that cripples us during divorce. When we’re going through something new and unfamiliar, we think that for some reason we won’t be good at it, and that we’ll completely fail at it. The same irrational thinking is applicable to the divorce process. Most of the time we’re panicking because we have no idea what the heck is going to happen from one day to the next.
“Is my ex going to change their mind on the settlement?”
“Will I have enough money as a single parent to support myself but still be there for my children?”
“Oh god. What if this divorce drags out? Am I going to be broke?”
“I haven’t worked outside the home for years. Where on earth will I even start?”
“Am I ever going to get over this anger I have?”
“Will I ever find love again?”
We don’t know the answers to these questions or the myriad others invading our thoughts at all hours of the day, and those unanswered questions are what make us anxious. Anxiety preys on our insecurities about what we don’t know. And for some reason, we have been conditioned to think that THE UNKNOWN= SOMETHING COMPLETELY HORRIBLE, which is just crazy.
We fear the unknown, without really fully grasping that the UNKNOWN can actually have a ton of amazing things for us. Our anxiety paralyzes us because it has hijacked our not knowing the future, the UNKNOWN, and has put dibs on it saying, “Oh, because you are unsure of what will happen, that means it must automatically something horrible.”
And you know what, Anxiety? That’s just BS. Just because we don’t have a crystal ball to see into the future doesn’t mean we’re going to be held hostage anymore, lying awake at night, worried sick about what the future has in store for us.
We’re going to do thing differently. You already have all the tools you need to kick your anxiety to the curb. And with the exercise below, you’ll learn how to do just that.
Kick Anxiety to the Curb Exercise
This exercise is actually really easy, and a lot of fun. Chances are in your life, you have been though other stressful situations. And I know for a fact that you were able to get through those situations, plan them out, and navigate with grace.
You can do the same thing with your divorce anxiety in a few easy steps.
1.Take a few minutes and think about some of the past stressful situations in your life.
2.Write down how you dealt with those situations. What did you do, exactly? What fears did you have that you were able to work through? What steps did you take?
Example: I was laid off unexpectedly last year. I totally didn’t see it coming and I wasn’t prepared to look for another job.
After initially freaking out, I knew that I had to get to get busy and that I didn’t have time to sit and be upset. I updated my resume. I subscribed to job alerts on several job sites. I started attending as many career fairs as I could find. I started reaching out to former colleagues to see if they knew of any openings. I also applied for unemployment compensation and re-tooled my budget because I knew things would be tight until I found new work
3.After you are finished doing this with a few events in your life, list the things in your divorce that are causing you anxiety. Be honest and thorough. You’ll find that getting it all off your chest will make you feel better.
4.Now for the big leap: How can you apply some the things that you did in other stressful situations of your life to your current divorce anxiety? The connections are there, and they are strong.
A.Example: I am anxious about the divorce because I don’t know what to do. But I remember feeling that way when I was laid off.
B.Plan: Much like when I was laid off, the only way I can make any changes in the way I feel is if I take action. I feel anxious because I feel unsure, but I won’t feel unsure if I start to plan. So, I am going to start to research. I am going to list everything I actually can do, and then take action to do them. If I am worried about money, I will look at my budget and see if I really need to worry. If I do, I will research other income sources or speak with a financial advisor. If I need help trying to figure this all out, I will reach out for further guidance.
Repeat this step with all the things that are giving you anxiety and stress, and you’ll start to realize that there is actually so much you can control. This is your life. You own it. And the anxiety that holds you hostage is something you can kick to the curb.
Martha Bodyfelt is a divorce recovery coach whose website “Surviving Your Split” shows readers how to get their confidence back and move on with their lives. For your Free Divorce Goddess Survival Kit, stop by Surviving Your Split today!
Great article in Psychology Today about second marriage. There are definitely some rules of the road that couples need to address before committing.
There are 5 Basic Conversations that are suggested.
“Talk first, marry second
When marrying, whether it is for the first or tenth time, it’s critical to get to know each other before committing. In some ways, it’s easier the second time around because you are more mature and, hopefully, you’ve learned from your mistakes…..
You know that feeling. Some of us know it all too well during divorce and after divorce.
When one of your grown children, after spending the weekend with your ex, tells you about the “new friend” that is at your ex’s house.
Or when you hear about the trip your ex is taking to Europe while you’re struggling to make ends meet.
The Green Eyed Monster that consumes us, when what we should really be doing is focusing on our own divorce recovery.
You’re not alone when it comes to dealing with jealousy, especially after a divorce. And I have to share with you two very ugly truths about this emotion.
Jealousy is selfish.
Have you ever known someone in your life that was always “me me me” and never bothered to ask you about your day, or your hopes and dreams? Well, jealousy is like that person, because it’s a barrier that causes you to worry about something (your ex’s new life) that you have no control over.
And instead of focusing on yourself, jealously is there instead, being all, “Oh, look at their wonderful life! Oh, look at all the things they’re doing that are amazing!”
What benefit is it to you to be focusing your energy on what the other person is doing? What benefit is it to you to be thinking about how good your ex has it, when you feel like you were screwed over?
You already know the answer. Being jealous is of no benefit. So why is it still something that we can’t seem to shake while trying to move on from divorce?
The truth hurts and you’re about to learn why.
Jealousy is also lazy.
You know what’s easier than working on yourself?
Sitting there, stewing over about how much better your ex has it.
One of the many reasons that jealousy brings out the worst in us is because it diverts attention away from putting ourselves first. And instead of doing the hard work of focusing on how we can move on, jealousy leads us astray, by taking the easy road of being reactive about things beyond our control.
And while you’re worrying about that, you waste precious time that could be spend focusing on the most important thing—YOU.
It’s easier to say, “Oh, it should be ME taking that vacation instead of my ex” than to focus on your own finances and schedule, and plan a vacation that fits your lifestyle and budget.
It’s easier to say, “That jerk already has a new partner! It’s not fair!” than starting to take care of yourself, learning how to plan for your own future, and focusing on getting out of your rut and getting your life back on track.
See what I mean?
Jealousy is sapping you of your energy to move on. It’s a lot easier to remain bitter over something you can’t control than it is to be responsible for your own happiness and moving ahead under your terms.
But I’m jealous! So what am I supposed to do?!
I know, I know…you’re human and you may be hurting, especially if your marriage lasted decades. But there’s something you can do about it.
Exercise: Turn your jealousy into productivity.
The next time you’re feeling jealous about whatever your ex is doing, or anything going on in your life for that matter, do the following.
• Pinpoint exactly what is making you jealous. These are your jealousy triggers.
“I heard from my son that his father is going to Europe in the fall with his new girlfriend, and I’m here having trouble paying rent. What the hell?”
• Dig deeper. What is it exactly that you’re jealous of? List it, and be honest with yourself. Jealousy rarely has anything to do with the other person. It has everything to with what you’re doing and how you’re thinking about yourself. It is an emotion that has no power when you are being mindful and proactive with your own life.
“I am jealous because I am hurt. I feel hurt because we never did anything fun or adventurous or travel in our relationship and I feel left out. I am also jealous because I feel like financially, I cannot treat myself.
• Ask yourself what you can do instead. How can you divert that energy you are spending being jealous into something actionable for you?
“My feelings are hurt and maybe I can’t fix that pain myself. The next time I am triggered, perhaps I can reach out to friends or family for support, or instead direct that energy into doing an activity that I like to do. As far as finances go…sure, I can’t go anywhere exotic right now. But I can start looking at my finances and budget, and maybe start planning a getaway or a nice trip for myself that is within my budget.
How about you? Do you struggle with jealousy? And what actions can you take to overcome it?
Regardless of who filed, many women feel overwhelmed as they begin to gather financial statements and documents. The more they learn about their financial status, the more embarrassed and ashamed they feel. They may even feel defeated.
The first onset of emotions often stems from not being involved in the financial landscape during the marriage. I work with women to help them step-by-step through that process to ensure they move out of the feeling of embarrassment and shame and into a place of feeling empowered on their journey through divorce.
Here are five ways to help rise above overwhelm, take action and reclaim your power.
Engage in the ongoing process of gathering information. If women experience roadblocks from their spouse during this process, there are two options. The first option is to hire an attorney that will activate the legal process to formally request information. The second option is to hire a financial private investigator who can be used in conjunction with or independent from an attorney.
Organize the information in a way that allows you to swiftly access the data to prevent confusion from setting in. Creating a system that works for you will help clear the fog and bring clarity and accuracy to the current picture. This will be helpful when meeting with the attorney, completing the financial disclosure documents, and even attending mediation.
Set boundaries around the day-to-day finances. This begins with identifying who will pay for what during the divorce process. A family law attorney can draft a document that sets the ground rules for financial conduct. However, it is up to you to help hold your soon-be-to ex accountable. Don’t rely solely on the court system to monitor this activity. Be sure to use your voice to speak up about financial behaviors that aren’t in alignment with the agreement.
Get clear on your values, desires and expectations. Take time to write down what is important to you. Create two columns: Non-Negotiable and Negotiable. Stick to those Non-Negotiable items and remember to let go of anything that shows up under the Negotiable column.
Stop apologizing for what you don’t know. Make sure your communication is in alignment with your list of negotiable and non-negotiable items. A great strategy is to use the assertive communication formula. It sets the stage for creating a win/win and an environment of respect. For example, I feel ________ when ______. This is great when communicating with your attorney, your team and your ex-spouse. This simple formula can be used to address challenging behavior as well as affirm positive behavior
As you move into divorce, your financial situation tends to move out of the fog and into clarity. Once you have clarity you can take empowered actions. I work with women who are facing divorce. My passion is to help them go from financial self-sabotage to financial self-confidence. It is important to take one step at a time. These five steps will help reduce overwhelm and empower you on your journey. If you need additional support about your financial picture, visit our Divorce Conversations podcast at https://www.womensfinancialwellnesscenter.com/podcast.