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.
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 email@example.com.
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!
My friend Bethany kept falling in lust with men at her office, which would’ve been fine except that she was in a seventeen-year marriage with two teenaged daughters. She was never physically unfaithful to her husband Doug, but the cost in integrity was devastating.
Finally the inevitable happened. She fell in love with one of her co-workers. Again, there was no physical infidelity, but hearts were involved. She decided she’d rather end her marriage than have an affair.
This is one of the things I love about Bethany, no equivocation, but in this instance I thought she was being rash. Couldn’t she tell Doug what was happening? That the survival of their marriage was at DefCon 5? I was shocked to discover she’d been honest with Doug and he’d remained passive.
When Bethany divorced Doug you’d have thought she was divorcing me. We’ve known each other since our Study of Women and Men In Society class in Bovard Auditorium at USC circa 1986 and bonded over our shared experience of being children of divorce. How could she consider leaving a marriage to, as she fully admitted, a funny, kind, committed man?
“What does that mean you and Doug don’t have sex? You mean, like, you have it once a month or so?”
“I mean, like, we haven’t had sex in two years.”
“Holy shit! I had no idea!”
“It’s not really something people advertise. And the last time we did it we had to get drunk and watch porn.”
“But why?” I asked, “Why don’t you have sex?”
“Because I’ve become his mother. We have an Oedipal relationship. Just minus the sex.”
Bethany explained that over the years she’d taken up more and more real estate in the marriage or Doug simply did less and less so she had to. She managed their family schedule, she had the bigger job, she planned all their vacations, she made all major decisions about their finances and their children.
“Is this because you’re controlling and bossy?” I asked. She is controlling and bossy and I can say that because so am I.
“Maybe,” she said. ”But, I don’t always want to be the boss, sometimes I really want him to take over.”
There certainly was one place where Doug was the boss and that was in the bedroom. He could control Bethany by withholding. My assessment, not hers.
When you’re a married person, other people’s divorces – from marriages that seemed solid and strong – can be threatening. If it happened to them it could happen to you. I have a propensity to be the boss in my home and Bethany’s story was a wake-up call that always getting my way in my marriage could end up being a pyrrhic victory. Fortunately, my husband Henry is willing to tell me when I need to “crawl out of his ass.”
Over time I came to understand that in divorcing Doug, Bethany did something incredibly brave. She took all the hits for breaking up her family, from her parents, her siblings, her children and her friends, myself included, in order to seek a fuller, more integrated life.
In the midst of the divorce, when Bethany had lost twenty pounds and couldn’t sleep and doubted herself, she clung to one simple truth, “I can’t live the rest of my life without passion.”
A passionless life. Not just sexless, but passionless. We all need to have a passion. Whether it’s passion for our partner or spouse, our work, our children, our hobbies. The lack of sex in Bethany’s marriage had eroded the passion of her spirit. She was living a rote, predictable, stagnant life.
It took time for me to see her situation objectively — divorce is always a personal trigger for me — and to realize I didn’t have the moral right to sentence her to a passionless life.
That was two years ago. I look at Bethany’s life today. It’s not perfect. The man she fell in love with is no longer in her life and she’s not in a hurry to meet someone new. She wants to better understand herself and not bring her daughters into a situation that won’t last. She and Doug are incredibly amiable and excellent parents to their now almost grown daughters.
Funnily enough, Bethany’s life is sexless again, but this time it’s by choice. Which leaves room for passion and possibility.
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.
Hippie Love and Peace poster. Retro style typography, pretty girl in neon colors. Groovy vintage illustration.
As you recover from your divorce and move on, there is one all-too-common emotion that causes us way more headaches than you need.
Anger. Being ticked off. The persistent rage that will not leave you but could jeopardize your future relationships.
To start off with, there is something that you must remember.
Anger is a thief. Don’t let it rob you of your chance to move on.
You work hard to maintain the things you love. Think about. You probably keep your house or apartment nice and cozy, and you probably have homeowner’s insurance to protect it in case something happens to it. Your beloved heirlooms and the mementos you treasure are probably tucked away with the greatest of love and care.
You wouldn’t leave your door unlocked and invite a thief in to destroy those things in your home that you love, would you?
Heck no! Those things are yours. You worked your ass off to safeguard the things that give you joy and comfort.
So, why on earth are you leaving the door to your life and the door to your happiness, inviting Anger in on a daily basis? Just as a thief will break into your home, wreck it, and take away everything that is dear to you, so will Anger.
It’s time to lock the door and install one of those baller home security systems. It is time to protect one of the most precious things that anger will rob you of: your happiness and chance to heal.
Anger = your reaction to other people’s stupid stuff trying to control you. Why let it?
When you are ticked off at something, your body is all too happy to let us know it. Your blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate increase because your adrenal glands are being set into “fight or flight” mode.
This physiological reaction may have served cavemen and cavewomen when it was time to fight off whatever prehistoric beast threatened their survival, but the same anger that disrupts your calm. Why let it control you like that?
The fact that your ex didn’t treat you right, the fact that the marriage is ending or has ended, and the fact that the ex and their lawyers may still be doing stupid stuff is just that. They are only facts, but they are not indicators of how you are obligated to react because of them.
Do you remember the delightful “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies with Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow?
If you don’t, please stream them. NOW.
Of the many memorable quotes and tidbits of wisdom this swashbuckling pirate said, the one that stuck with me was the following:
“The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.”
The things that anger you off are merely facts of things that are happening or have happened in your life. Think of them as “the problem” in the first sentence of the quotation.
“Your attitude about the problem” is your anger. The stupid stuff that you are reacting to doesn’t have to disrupt your peace of mind. How you choose to react to the problem—in this case how you choose to react to the facts (the events that are making you angry), is what makes the difference between navigating this process with less drama and stress for yourself, or letting all the madness drag you down and leave you exhausted.
You’re better than getting pissed off at something that you cannot control in the first place. It’s time to focus on the things you actually can control.
And the first step to leaving the anger behind you? It’s simple.
If it does not serve you, then let it go.
Some years ago, I was sweating my butt off in a hot yoga class, frustrated that I could not get into a back bend because my arthritis decided it didn’t want to play nice, my stomach churning because of the third argument I had had with my boss that week, and my heart sinking because a man who I had been seeing and who I really liked had called the night before to break up with me. I was a knot of rage that afternoon in the yoga class.
“If it does not serve you, then let it go.”
Although the yoga teacher probably meant it for the students to be kind and patient with themselves, reassuring them the back bend would happen when the body was ready for it, those words stuck. And I remember bursting into tears.
It wasn’t about being upset about not being flexible enough during that moment in time.
It was about not letting the fact we were inflexible cloud our ability to just be and move on.
It was about understanding that if a negative emotion was not going to improve our lives, then we needed to show it the door. There is no place for anger holding us hostage.
The next time you start to feel pissed off about the divorce drama, do the following.
1.When your pulse starts to quicken, take a step back.
2.Close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths.
3.Remember that whatever BS is coming your way does not have the power to piss you off.
4.Remember that if the anger is not contributing to your well-being, then breathe that negativity out.
5.Inhale in the fresh air and focus on the beautiful life and calm that will be your guide.
6.Carry on, because you have waaaaayy too many awesome things going on to waste your precious emotional energy on anything toxic.
What struggles do you experience when it comes to dealing with divorce anger? What steps have you taken to kick it to the curb? I love hearing from you, so write me and let me know!
Martha Bodyfelt is a divorce recovery coach whose website “Surviving Your Split” shows women over 50 how to get their confidence back and move on with their lives. . For your Free Divorce Goddess Survival Kit, stop by Surviving Your Split or drop Martha a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I had this job and career that made me comfortable and paid well. It was not necessarily a job that I loved, but it made me feel secure and gave me the validation that I thought I needed.
Until I was laid off.
I started to panic, because although I was not necessarily happy with it, it least it paid the bills and the thought of financially uncertainty terrified me.
But here’s where my own missteps came in: As I started to assemble a resume, apply for new jobs, desperately hoping I would find employment soon, a voice in the back of my head get chiming in.
I’ll feel so much better once I get that job interview!
I know everything will be okay once I get the job offer.
I will be happy again once I am in a new job.
Once I get that first paycheck, I know I’ll smile and feel better about everything.
Do you see the dangerous pattern going on here?
You’ve probably done something like this, too. And it can sabotage your ability to move on.
Relying on external factors to make you happy.
It’s easy, but not simple. We cannot depend on outside factors to shape our attitudes in life, whether’s it’s when we are in recovery from divorce, dealing with employment issues, or anything else.
Only we can do that and that’s why we are going to start this quest with developing self-awareness. Because the more in-tune we are with our own thoughts, our own sense of joy, and our own triggers, the easier it will be to practice that mindfulness we need to be kinder to ourselves, more confident in ourselves, and able to hold ourselves accountable to building on with the next chapter in our lives. So let’s get started.
“Once X happens, only then will I be or feel Y….”
At some point in our lives—we’ve all done this. And as we learn to heal and move the hell on from this divorce, we may still fall into what I call the X-Y Trap. We say to ourselves that it will take a certain external situation (what I call the X) in order for us to achieve an internal state (what I call the Y). While this occurs in everyday situations, the X-Y Trap loves to linger during the divorce process. Do any of these sound familiar?
“Once the papers are signed, then I will be happy.”
“I’ll be happy again when I find a new partner to be with. Somebody who will be so much better than my ex-spouse.”
“When I move out of this house with all its memories and ghosts, I’ll be happy.”
“As soon as I quit feeling so overwhelmed, then I can work on being happy.
They sure as hell sound familiar to me, because I know as I was learning to move on, I would fall into this trap as well.
So, how do we avoid falling into the X-Y Trap? And, if we are already ensnared, how can we get the hell out of it?
Only by changing what goes on internally can we start finding happiness.
It’s simple, but not easy.
We must start thinking in terms of looking inward and relying on ourselves to be happy. No amount of money or outside validation or relationship status will do it for us. It must come from inside. We must consciously choose to be grateful and choose happiness, even when we feel overwhelmed and feel like we are a complete mess. Even when we feel like we are alone or feel betrayed or feel bad or impatient or feel like we will never get through the divorce and emerge on the other side, stronger and more confident than from where we started. Those feeling all derive from outside influence that we choose to react towards in a way that does not help us.
Regardless of where we are in life, we must all consciously choose to be happy, to be grateful, and to find joy in the fact that we are here, we are alive, and we are being given a second chance in this life. We must choose internally to embrace the fact we are now becoming independent—not only financially and now having the ability to live on our terms—but now independent to rely on ourselves to be happy—something no outside forces should determine for us.
Exercise—Take charge of your own happiness.
It may have been years—if at all—that we have looked within ourselves to find a happiness that does not rely on external factors. It may seem overwhelming and impossible, especially when we are stressed-out and grieving. But it does not have to be. Take a look at the easy exercise below, with examples to get you started.
Step 1: Name the things you have relied on to be happy. Some of my own examples are below if you need to get started.
A certain number in my bank account will make me happy.
Being in a relationship with a man who treats me right will make me happy.
Step 2: Flip the script.
No relationship in the world is going to make me happy if I do not love myself and treat myself right. From now on, I am going to focus on myself and work on myself. I need to start putting myself first—speaking up for myself, taking better care of myself, and finding joy in being alone.
Step 3: Whenever you are triggered and thinking that you need something external to make you happy, do this exercise.
Do it often. And the more you practice finding internal happiness, the more your life becomes filled with gratitude, not needing to rely on some outside factor you cannot control to make you happy. You are strong enough to find that within yourself.
Martha Bodyfelt is a divorce coach whose website, “Surviving Your Split,” helps readers get through their separation and divorce with less stress and drama so that they can move on with their lives. Stop by http://survivingyoursplit.comand sign up for your free divorce survival kit or say hello at email@example.com.