Divorce rates rise to 50% when a woman earns more than her husband.
There were many reasons my marriage failed. But our traditional role reversal pushed us over the edge: I was a breadwinner wife.
I’d opted to go freelance before I had children knowing this was probably my best chance of working flexibly while continuing to earn a decent wage.
But I had never expected to be the sole breadwinner. I had certainly never expected to have to go back to work quite so soon after having my children, just to make ends meet.
It didn’t help our marriage that my ex spent eight years out of work (despite my encouragement to find a job). Or that his drinking and controlling behavior became steadily worse over time.
They were eight years of living within the same four walls, under the same roof, bringing up young children, never getting any space away from one another.
As his self-esteem plummeted, it seemed the only way he could cope with my stress and resentment and his feelings of inadequacy was to criticise me and my parenting.
We stopped working as a team and increasingly, it felt as though we were in competition. Rather than building each other up, we were pulling each other down. Ultimately, it ended just over a year ago when I left him and filed for divorce.
Half of non-traditional marriages fail
Sadly, my story is far from unique. Divorce rates rise to 50% when a woman earns more than her husband, according to a study from the University of Chicago.
It found the percentage of people who report being “very happy” with their marriage declines when a woman out-earns her husband.
One explanation for this, the researchers suggest, is that a wife making more money is also doing more chores to assuage her husband’s unease.
The research found that breadwinning wives tend to downplay their financial contributions, defer to their husbands in decision making, and do a disproportionate amount of housework. It suggests there is a concerted effort from both parties in such marriages to overlook the wife’s financial contribution and career success, resulting in a lack of recognition.
Serving as both the primary breadwinner and the primary homemaker is also excessively draining. And that’s before you even get into the additional mental load many wives take on (organizing birthdays, social occasions, household schedules and holidays etc).
The exhaustion that results from taking all this on, the researchers point out, “may be one of the mechanisms behind our results on divorce.” No kidding!
Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater
Moreover, men who are financially dependent are more likely to cheat, according to research in the American Sociological Review. Anecdotally, I know of several relationships where yummy mummies in the schoolyard proved too much of a temptation for part-time or stay-at-home dads.
“I hypothesize that the more economically dependent a married man is on his partner, the greater his likelihood of engaging in infidelity,” writes author Christin Munsch in the ASR. “Extramarital sex allows threatened men to distance themselves from, and perhaps punish, their breadwinning spouse.”
Cheating may also be a more likely consequence in marriages where sex is not a regular occurrence within a marriage. A nonexistent sex life can also be attributed to traditional gender role reversal, according to Ralph Gardner, in his article for New York magazine, ‘Alpha Women, Beta Men’.
In it, he quotes PR executive Anna, who admits: “Sex was not a problem for [my ex]. It was a problem for me. When someone seems like a child, it’s not that attractive. In the end, it felt like I had three children.”
These are not the best ingredients for a happy marriage!
Statistics suggest that around 40% of women in heterosexual relationships are now the primary breadwinner. With this figure expected to grow, what does it mean for the future of marriage?
When half of all marriages fail – with the average cost of divorce soaring to a current high of £70,000 in the UK – will modern couples begin to question whether they should bother?
Ours, unfortunately, is a pioneering generation and hence, it is our marriages being put to the test. As gender roles evolve, both men and women need to strike a better balance that will support the longevity of their relationships, particularly when children come along.
Everything’s falling apart during divorce, but we have to somehow hold it together from 9-5!
During my divorce I was a hot mess! Somehow I held it together in front of my kids because I didn’t want them to be more anxious about the upcoming changes than necessary. I usually fell apart during my commute to and from work when I knew I wouldn’t have an audience to my blubbering and I had plenty of time to think through whatever mess my life found itself in for that particular day.
More often than I care to admit, I was reduced to tears while at my desk. I tried to be inconspicuous about my wreck at home and fragile emotional state; but, my three office mates often detected my sniffles from behind my computer monitor or caught the tail end of a heated conversation between me and my ex. I ended up telling my office mates about my upcoming divorce before many other people simply because I could no longer hide the fact that my marriage was in trouble!
One thing about a job, especially when going through a divorce, is that it’s not something we can afford to let slide, even though we can barely focus, everything is a mess, and the last thing we need to worry about is completing monthly reports or giving great customer service! For most of us, that job will be our life line and means of support after the divorce. We need the income, and the work serves to provide structure and focus when everything else is spiraling out of control!
In short, we can’t let our divorce interfere with our career, even if holding it together from 9 to 5 is the hardest thing we’ll ever have to do!
So, how do we stay employed and survive a divorce at the same time?
Do be honest with your employer and colleagues about what’s going on. There’s no need to share in depth details about your divorce plans and your life in shambles; but, it doesn’t hurt for those who share your life at work to understand that you’ve got some things going on in your personal life.
When there was no longer any way to keep my situation under wraps, I sent an e-mail to the people in my department and briefly explained that I was getting a divorce, so I apologized in advance if I behaved strangely in any way. My department head actually applauded me for my bravery and transparency; otherwise, I was treated very respectfully and given full privacy to handle my affairs.
Don’t forget why you show up for work each day! Most people, even a boss, will understand that you’re human and having a difficult time; but, at the end of the day, you’re still expected to do a job. You will probably be extended forgiveness for some of the differences in your personality or even occasional schedule changes to accommodate court hearings and so on; but, if you completely lose focus, slip in productivity, and become a liability, you’re asking to be let go.
A former co-worker of mine really struggled through her divorce. The rest of us sympathized and even picked up some of her slack. Her behavior became problematic when all she wanted to talk about at work was her divorce, and she openly spent her days on the clock researching lawyers and other divorce-related topics. She not only drove everyone nuts, but jeopardized her job!
Do use work as an outlet. A very helpful strategy to survive divorce is to find an outlet to pour thoughts and energy into. So long as you’re thinking hard about projects to complete and channeling your energy into assigned tasks, you won’t be pre-occupied with worries about the divorce. Busy hands and maintaining a familiar schedule can help provide comfort and direction when you most need it. Think about your job as an investment in your future because it will continue to be in your life and a need even when your divorce is finalized!
Don’t fall apart all the time! Most co-workers and supervisors will understand if you have your emotional moments so long as you’re pulled together and functional the majority of the time. Sobbing in your cubicle, screaming at your ex over the phone, or generally being a walking disaster is hard to excuse on an ongoing basis. If you’re having a tough time, try to excuse yourself to the restroom, your car, or someplace private while you pull yourself together.
Do accept help that’s offered! I found many of my strongest divorce warriors around the water cooler. While work is what’s expected to be accomplished in the office, many of us form close bonds with our office “family.” Many co-workers offered me kind words of support, and helped me move and gather some of the things I needed for my new place. Many employers also offer an employee assistance program to help employees with counseling or other needs during a personal crisis. If your employer offers any such perks, take advantage of any support you can get!
Do surround yourself with positive motivation. Work during divorce may be no picnic, but you can try to find ways to make it more pleasant and keep your focus in the right areas. Your life is getting an overhaul, so why not your cubicle? Ditch the dreary office supplies and adorn your desk with cheery pens and notepads that you’ll look forward to using! Add a splash of color from a pleasing calendar, or maybe even a few pretty flowers. Stock up on favorite tea or coffee, put out some cute photos of your kids and the dog, and stash away some chocolate in your bottom drawer! Many of us spend just about as many hours on the job as we do at home, so you might as well be comfortable and surrounded by things you like!
Thankfully, the roughest parts of divorce, when we can barely function, don’t last forever! Work may seem like a double-edged sword during the collapse of a marriage. It’s completely necessary because of the income it brings, but it’s a huge drain of time and energy when everything during that time is focused on surviving the divorce.
Hang in there and throw yourself into your job! Maintain your professional composure as much as you can, and accept the help and support that’s offered to you! It will pay off in the end!
Committing to self-love and our life’s work before committing to a romantic relationship, is the key to fulfillment and wholeness.
Within 6 short weeks of my marriage ending, I found myself galavanting all around Colorado with a very young, hot lover.
He was an instructor at my Yoga Studio who, through his intoxicating looks and bold 20-something prowess, helped me temporarily forget that my life was actually in complete shambles (I had suddenly become a 40-year old single mother of 3 without any plans for my future). We’d go on long hikes, spend afternoons wrapped in my bedsheets, and travel to hidden hot springs and tropical beaches enmeshed in the physical comfort of each other.
It was a delicious distraction, but once it came to an end, I was left face to face with myself and the raw emotional pain that needed tending to in order to truly move on to a fulfilling relationship.
Over the next few years of exploring the world of dating after divorce, attending many dating groups and coaching sessions, shedding some tears over poor choices, and spending long nights reading relationship books and trying to make sense out of the madness of this new frontier, a number of important themes emerged.
What I Learned I Needed To Know Before Dating After Divorce.
1. Stay single until you can be sure you are entering a relationship for the right reasons.
A truly loving, committed relationship is about sharing life experiences, learning and growing with someone who is self-aware and free of the “pull” of past hurts, and being open and willing to do the work it takes to be in a safe, drama-free space together.
To do so, we must first commit to the learning the lessons we need to get out of the ending of our last marriage/long-term relationship. Dig in the dirt. Let ourselves fall apart and know that it’s okay not to be okay for a while, maybe for a long time. The grieving process can be lengthy and drawn out…there is a lot of good personal growth to receive in the time after a breakup but we’ve got to be willing to receive it.
Relationships are not vehicles to heal the pain and hurt of the divorce, to make us feel better or more desirable after the end of the marriage. Hookups and rebounds may feel better for a while, and may offer a shallow and temporary level of respite from the grieving process. They are fun and fine to a degree but please be honest…they are filling a shallow need for validation and only delay the process.
Until we truly commit to the work of self-love that is required after the devastation of divorce, it’s not time to consider ourselves a contender for a long-term commitment.
We’ve got to be honest with ourselves and our potential partners about where we are in the grieving and rebuilding phase. It will save everyone a lot of time and heartbreak, to be honest and forthright. Keep in mind that true healing takes time, and until we get the lessons we need to get from the end of the marriage, it’s simply not time to start something new.
2. Love yourself more than you ever thought possible
You’ve heard the term “No one will ever be able to love you more than you love yourself” and it’s 100% true, 100% of the time. We attract others who will treat us only as well as we treat ourselves. If we believe ourselves to be unworthy or unlovable at a deep level, no matter how pretty the package of our prospective partner, over time they will only reflect back our own thoughts and beliefs.
Physical: Begin by listening to, then responding to and respecting the needs of the body. Create a nurturing inner sanctuary where you feel safe and held. Learn what your body requires exercise and diet and rest to maintain balance, and commit to giving it the nutrients that it needs to thrive.
Mental: Kick out the roommate in your head that tells you, you’re not good enough, beautiful/handsome enough, young enough, wealthy enough to have a wonderful loving and supportive partnership.
Replace self-deprecating thoughts with thoughts that affirm your wholeness such as “I am awesome and deserve someone who knows my worth”, or “I am completely lovable just the way I am”, and “I am deserving of great love”.
No matter what happened with your ex, you have the power to rewrite the conversations that affirm the truth of who you are.
Emotional: Bring deep self-compassion and kindness to your hurt parts. Understand how you contributed to the relationship ending. Examine the pain that is coming up from your childhood. Get divorce coaching and outside support to truly heal.
Spiritual: Develop and maintain a deeper connection to your spirit by recognizing and honoring the voice of your intuition and inner knowing and guidance. This can be accomplished through meditation, journaling, or simply spending quiet moments in nature.
This inner guidance will let you know when you are truly “ready” for a relationship, and if someone you meet is right or wrong for you.
Create a life of your dreams by connecting to a vision that reflects your worthiness and lovability. Know your passions and why you are here. Make a commitment to, more than anything else, following those passions.
Committing to self-love and our life’s work before committing to a romantic relationship, is the key to fulfillment and wholeness…when we commit to a life of service to ourselves and others, we have made the vows that must precede a commitment to another person.
3. Learn what a healthy relationship looks like and take your time.
After being married, it’s so easy to idealize the person you’re dating and have fantasies of cuddling with a hot coffee next weekend while watching your kiddo play soccer while laughing on the sidelines together (I kid you not, I did after a first date with someone I barely knew).
Because we have already been married and maybe had children with our past partner, we may easily project the scenarios onto people we have just met, fantasizing about the role they will play in our lives without knowing much about them.
But the truth about dating after divorce is that the true measure of an appropriate and desirable partner goes well beyond whether or not they will be able to fit into the same role as our ex. It is all about knowing ourselves, who we are and what we want, and then truly getting to know someone over time.
There are wonderful resources and books that can help support us in learning what a healthy relationship requires. Commit to the process of understanding what it takes to communicate and build a solid structure for a relationship before jumping in.
One of the most important first steps is to learn if they are actually available for a long-term relationship. Have they resolved past relationships with parents and spouse, are they looking for a long-term committed relationship, do they have similar dreams about the future as you, do they want/not want children-yours or otherwise, do they believe in monogamy? Do they work on themselves, and are they free from addiction? Take time to observe them, ask questions, and not jump quickly into bed together which thanks to wonderful hormones like Oxytocin, can result in lack of discernment and clouded intuition.
I once dated a man who I thought was available and perfect for the role of boyfriend. After spending a few months together he said words I wanted to hear like “I think you are the one…I’ve never felt this way before”. When I became an honest observer of the situation and took time to pay attention to his actions (he never invited me to spend time with his friends or family, never talked about our future, still hadn’t filed the paperwork for divorce with his wife), I then discovered that he was dating and sleeping with other women. I quickly realized he was not available nor even interested in a long-term commitment to me.
Healthy relationships start off slow, as friends. Commitment then intimacy come only after a physical, mental and emotional connection has been made, and consistently demonstrated over time.
When you love yourself, you can be open to many alternate resources for creativity, love, and support so that you don’t rely on a partner to give you something you lack. Even if you were in a codependent or unhealthy marriage, you can and will change the patterns by honoring yourself, knowing and sticking with your standards then requiring (in a healthy and loving way) that others love and honor you as much as you love you.
4. Have FUN
When you do decide to jump in and start to date, approach it as an adventure rather than a burden. Prepare as much as possible, then let go, have fun, and trust the process.
You get to choose if you will date a little or a lot. You can get to know what you want in a future partner by meeting lots of people and having fun. More than anything, dating is an opportunity to be exposed to new thoughts, environments, and lifestyles.
I’ve had dates take me to concerts that I may never have chosen, and to restaurants that I had never heard of. Being in the moment and enjoying the new experiences really can be fun if you let it be!
I’ve also learned so much about how other people live their jobs, upbringing, beliefs, and travels-and it’s broadened my perspective on life in so many ways. Going out on dates also offers a rich environment not only to get to know others but to know yourself.
In asking and responding to questions about each other’s lives and core values, it gives us the opportunity, to be honest, and authentically communicate about ourselves with the other. How can we find out in talking as well as observing their actions if they are a “fit” for us? We can approach dating as a fun challenge to get to know what really makes the other person “tick”, what’s the key that unlocks their puzzle!
Most importantly, we can enjoy the process of noting how we feel when we are around this person…is the lightness and joy or a pit in the stomach and anxiety? Is there ease or awkwardness? Are there feelings that something is just “not right”? It’s a fun experience to be curious and light about learning another person’s universe, and how it fits with ours.
From my own experience in being in a new relationship after three years of healing and dating, I can attest to the fact that entering into a long-term commitment isn’t the endgame, it’s just the beginning. It will bring up our vulnerabilities and fears like nothing else can. When we enter the arena with an arsenal of self-love, high standards, an understanding of the process, we can create and enjoy the ride of relationship at a much deeper level.
One way to spot a narcissistic man is by how ‘perfect’ they seem.
Arrogant, manipulative, controlling and extremely damaging behavior aside – it may appear that the narcissist is damn near perfect. They are likely to be well-groomed, live in an immaculate house, have an important job, and to be mainly seen associating with similarly important, high-class individuals.
A true narcissist simply has to appear to be perfect.
A true narcissist will do everything in their power to conceal ANY less than perfect aspect of him or herself. A true narcissist will never (unless it is part of a love bombing technique) admit to any wrongdoing, or apportion any blame unto him or herself.
In fact, it could be said that one way to spot a narcissist is by how ‘perfect’ they seem. At first glance, they – or their stories – may seem a little ‘unreal’ or too good to be true. They may be full of stories of their achievements and so-called successes and appear to lack a ‘real’ or ‘human’ side. A person with an average or healthy ego is more likely to intersperse their conversation with topics other than themselves and how perfect and important they are.
Yet make no mistake – the narcissist is far from perfect.
The narcissist is a very damaged individual with deep – quite likely unconscious – feelings of shame and inadequacy. He or she has buried their true self so effectively and so completely (and so long ago) that all that now exists is an outer shell – a false self which may look perfect, but which is actually nothing more than a hollow shell.
How did this happen? It may be that the narcissist was brought up to believe that they were not good enough as they were. So in time, he or she buried their true self and constructed a false self – somebody who was not just good enough but who was actually superior to everybody else.
With no real sense of self or self-esteem to talk of, the narcissist requires almost constant validation from other people to confirm that they are ‘real’ – hence the need to appear perfect.
To appear as anything less than perfect would be a MAJOR blow to the narcissist’s sense of identity.
This need to be seen as both perfect and superior to others obviously causes havoc in the narcissist’s relationships. They will be envious of others (I have been on the receiving end of such envy and it is not a pleasant thing) and they will become enraged when they have supposedly been outshone by another (narcissistic rage, anyone?).
Of course, everybody feels envious of others at times. The way a narcissist feels envy, however, is in no way similar to the way in which a regular person feels envy. Narcissists secretly feel envy all of the time. And, because they don’t know how to effectively deal with it (a regular person may process feelings of envy by striving to do or be better), they deal with it the only way they can – by striving to make others envious of them, so they can feel better, and mightier, and more perfect. It is a childish, stupid and never-ending game, and one that I personally refuse to further partake in.
Narcissists don’t know how to truly love others.
The people in their lives are seen as tools or pawns and are very carefully selected – only those who are able to assist them in their quest for superiority will do. As well as wanting – needing – to be seen in association with the powerful and the mighty, the narcissist needs people who are lacking in self-confidence and therefore more likely to be ensnared.
Someone who is willing to assist them in their perverse quest for perfection and domination? Perfect. Someone who will readily accept the bad treatment and feelings of shame that the narcissist will so expertly – and regularly – dish out to them? Perfect.
You may have feelings of sympathy for the narcissist – particularly if you are the empathetic type (as I am).
But a word of warning here – be very wary of trying to rescue, save or fix him or her. Have sympathy if you must – but then leave them to it. I speak from bitter experience. A true narcissist cannot be cured because they don’t believe that there is anything wrong with them. In their (hollow) minds, they are perfect. It is everybody else with the problem.
If you have been badly burned by a narcissist in the past, you will likely – hopefully – be better equipped at both spotting and letting another into your life. Once you know the game and how it’s played, you can choose to stop playing. Because sad as it is, you will never be truly loved by a narcissist. Conserve your energy for someone who although not outwardly ‘perfect’, is perfect for you. Find someone truly capable of giving you the love you deserve. And leave the narcissist to it.
Allegations of child abuse have to be taken seriously.
Many parents find themselves in need of legal guidance when facing allegations of child abuse or neglect. Often, the sooner you involve an attorney, the more options you will have. But before hiring a child abuse attorney, you should feel out their experience and approach.
To make sure you find an attorney who can meet your needs, speak with a few, and ask the following questions.
How much experience do you have handling child abuse cases?
Every child abuse case is different. Find out how much relevant experience the attorney has handling child protective hearings as this type of experience is most valuable.
What options do I have for handling my case?
An experienced attorney who has handled child abuse cases like your own will be able to give you a general idea of your options. In some cases, you can work with child protective services to keep the matter out of court. In others, you will need to prepare a defense for litigation.
What will your services cost?
The cost for a child abuse defense attorney can vary based on experience and location. Ask about billing structure (i.e. flat fee or hourly) and what factors can make your case more expensive. It’s important to find an attorney whom you can afford as child abuse cases can be lengthy and complex.
Have you worked with the court in my county/state?
If you were facing child abuse allegations, it’s a good idea to ask the attorney if he or she has handled many cases in that county. Also, ask whether he or she has good working relationships with the court, including the judge and the opposing party. A good working relationship does not mean they are allies or friends, but rather they respect each other as professionals. The more respect your attorney has, the better an advocate he or she can be.
How much experience do you have with appeals?
Parents have a right to appeal certain decisions in their cases. But appeals cases have a notoriously low success rate. Thus, if you want the best chance at an appeal, you should find a child abuse attorney who has handled many appeals cases.
Don’t leave it all to trust in divorce, get it in writing!
How many divorced or divorcing people have mentioned to me things like “oh, I don’t have to worry about getting a lawyer involved with that and making it complicated- I can trust him!”? Lots.
You want some free divorce advice? Here it is: get it in writing! I’m dead serious! This is the moment when I, the person who’s “been there” can look back at myself in the past or a person just beginning the process and confidently state that not getting all those gray areas and questionable things in writing now is asking for trouble later!
I don’t blame anyone who has ever had the thought that it’s not necessary for whatever million possible reasons. Quite honestly, it’s still refreshing and beautiful that people still have faith and trust in a soon to be ex or the system! Don’t we all want to think we’re above the pettiness and slime of an ugly divorce? Don’t we all hope that we can escape the scars of the horror stories we’ve all heard?
Well, those horror stories stand as a reminder of the ugliest of possibilities. No, we won’t all be a part of one of those divorce nightmares that last several years and cost a king’s ransom; but, we will all be served at least a dose of ugliness that we would rather avoid. Some of us see the dark underbelly of who our former spouse really is while still married, while others may not learn how terrible things can get until we’re deep in the mud of legal proceedings or even awhile into the future.
I have heard so many divorcing people, myself included, remark that they and their ex can work out all the small details and nothing needs to be written in stone. I wholeheartedly encourage a divorcing couple to discuss and settle on their own solutions because it can save both time and money in the divorce process, and the decisions made will be their own instead of whatever the court imposes on them. That’s a win-win for everyone!
Where the DIY approach falls short of serving everyone well in the future is when we talk, trust, and hope for the best, but we don’t commit those decisions to an official plan!
Think about it:
Things change! You may agree or see eye-to-eye right now, but what will either of you think after someone else gets to one of you and changes your mind (parents and new romantic partners are excellent at this!), after circumstances change and make the decision no longer so mutually beneficial, or some more conflict erupts during and after the divorce?
People move, change jobs, get involved with new people, and fall in and out of favor every day! The chances of a handshake agreement holding water months or even years down the road is unlikely. Time has a way of altering our memories, so who’s to say how each of us might perceive the events of a past conversation in the future?
Good luck collecting on words! Plenty of divorced people will share that they have enough difficulty collecting on promises ordered by a judge, so what makes you think that words exchanged with someone you’re divorcing will hold up?
Andrea, a divorced mom of two teens could kick herself now for never officially seeking child support for her kids or getting any other agreement about her ex’s involvement in helping to pay for child-related expenses. She thought that, as their dad, he would be invested enough in their needs that she wouldn’t have to force him to help take care of his own kids! Three years later, and she is still begging for help with school supplies, glasses, and medical bills. She is planning to go back to court; but, think of the time and agony that has been wasted because they left their co-parenting matters to verbal agreements rather than adding them to their legal parenting plan!
Prepare to argue! When things are left up to chance, rather than thoroughly reviewed and signed off on, there will always be room left for conflict and each person’s interpretation. Kristin, the mom of a three-year-old, regrets not having more discussion about holidays and some of the gray areas in their schedule. She assumed they could work out visitation on a case-by-case basis. Now, her ex has a girlfriend and a new baby, and he is not nearly as flexible or communicative as he used to be. She finds herself frustrated by loose language in their court orders and the constant battles over what each parent wants.
Let’s get real…this is now your ex! We can hope that our ex will continue to have the best interest of their children beyond the divorce, but what makes you think they will necessarily care about what’s best for you? Some exes remain good friends and can be counted on to be kind and caring to one another in the future; but, this is not the case for many of us! Your ex will develop new priorities and relationships, and most exes do not continue on friendly terms after the marriage ends.
We can’t always predict which issues today will become tomorrow’s landmines; however, we can avoid many fights and frustrations by erring on the safe side. Getting everything in writing may initially come across as unfriendly or too hardcore; but, it really serves to protect everyone’s interests.
I know that when I was divorcing, I lived in fear of instigating conflict or making my ex-husband mad because I didn’t want him to come after me in a way that would cause me harm in the divorce. I tip toed around big issues and tried to play nice because I just wanted it to be over and with the least amount of drama possible.
I’m not alone in this. I hear many others express that they’re afraid to have certain difficult conversations or they don’t want to up the ante by involving child support or lawyers to solidify aspects of the divorce. Yes, you may really ignite some anger in your ex if you force them to formally commit to something; however, I would bet that their resistance is a sign of their actual disagreement over an issue, and there’s a good chance that this is an issue they intend to bail on as soon as they’re in the clear!
Trust me, a tantrum today is worth securing your future. If you feel that an issue is important, then you have a right to discuss it and try to reach an agreement. If an ex is worth their word over a handshake, then signing their name to that agreement won’t be a problem! We simply can’t take for granted that the person we think we know today will fulfill their promises tomorrow!
The more a father wants to be involved in the life of his kids, the better off everyone is in the end.
One of the largest complaints clients have post-divorce is about communication with their ex. If there are children born of a relationship, then communication is going to have to continue for quite a long time. I often advise clients that it goes on past your children’s eighteenth birthday. And, it will play a role in how successful your ex is as a parent after you two divorce.
Your children will have college graduations, weddings and perhaps even one day give birth to your grandchildren. And if you and your ex want to be around for those life events, how you both react to one another now is imperative.
I chastise my clients the most during their divorce when they continue to set their exes up for failure. Most often, the only thing that changes after a divorce is your marital status. He is still who he is and you will remain in large part who you are. Regardless of his small flaws why not help your ex succeed at fatherhood?
If he was untimely when you were married, why do you believe he will become Mr. Punctual post-separation?
It is unlikely his attentiveness to scheduling and homework requirements will be better now that you are divorced.
There is not much you can do if your ex is unwilling to be an active or even generic father. But there are several things you can do if he is at least trying in order to help him continue to be a successful father.
Here are 10 starting points if you wanted your ex to succeed at parenting after divorce:
1. Keep your mouth shut about the little things. If ice cream after baseball practice every once in awhile has always been Dad and kiddo’s “thing”, let it continue. It may not be how you parent or the choice you would make but that doesn’t make it wrong.
2. A shared online calendar for important dates involving the kids, extracurricular activities, visitation, and vacations is a helpful tool. Allowing both parents to enter dates and be advised of events so there are no miscommunications and limited contact between you and your ex is beneficial to everyone.
3. Never use visitation exchanges to discuss matters about the kids while they are present. This is not a reason to continue to berate or even criticize him and NEVER should it happen in front of your children.
4. Be flexible. Unless there are safety concerns, allow more visitation if it is being requested. It doesn’t have to be much, but even a few hours during a week may be exactly what your children want and need with your ex.
5. Do not let your children become messengers between you and your ex. If your ex continues to send messages through your little ones, continue to explain that no message conveyed in this manner is an acceptable form of communication.
6. Clarify everything you do not understand. You were married to the man and you know what he meant when he said certain things, but the language you use post-divorce must evolve. Do not allow mixed message, silent threats or innuendo to continue. You are not his mother, babysitter or secretary and you both need to explain yourselves fully and completely when it comes to your children.
7. Stop making excuses for him. I never recommend telling children everything about why or how parents make the decisions they make. However, that does not mean you should lie or cover up for your ex. “I do not know why Dad didn’t come to your game” or “He did not say why he was late picking you up” are both solid answers if they are truthful.
Children are brilliant and they can figure things out for themselves. And the less you insert yourself into the relationship between your ex and your kids, the more they will pick up and discern for themselves.
8. Let him fail. If he is doing parenting right, he will fail; just like you. Do not use his failures as a chance to cover for him or to make excuses. As long as his decisions are not safety issues, everyone will turn out just fine.
9. Say something kind in the presence of your children. There is power in just saying “thank you.” Regardless of the action, everyone needs to hear that their efforts are being noticed. You get double points if you thank him in front of your kids.
10. Anything involving your kids should flow freely between both your households. Information directly impacting your child, backpacks, homework, toys, and clothes all belong to the child and they should travel with the child. Do not become fixed on a set of clothes for your house and your ex’s and do not hold information about parent-teacher conferences and new extracurricular activities. The more everyone is knowledgeable and involved, the healthier a transition to two household kids will become.
You do not have to parent alone after divorce and you shouldn’t be expected to. The more a father wants to be involved in the life of his kids, the better off everyone is in the end. And, most fathers stay involved if they believe their involvement is wanted and needed.
*No part of this article is to be considered legal advice and does not create or imply an attorney/client relationship between the reader and the author. Please refer to your local bar association in order to secure an attorney or the advice of an attorney.
As terribly cliché as it sounds, many people find divorce as an opportunity to rediscover themselves.
Needless to say, divorce comes with overwhelming emotional turmoil; it is a loss just like any other, and all losses require some time for grieving. When it happened to me, I knew it was the right decision (maybe the best one yet) but that doesn’t mean I didn’t feel the loss on many different levels. I could have done many things in a better way during the divorce process, but in retrospect, I’m proud of myself for acknowledging this feeling, yet not letting it bury me deep underneath the pain.
In fact, I think I was simply tired and exhausted from months of feeling terrible prior to the divorce; I couldn’t stand all the negativity anymore, so bit by bit, I looked for ways to make life easier for myself, as mindfully as I could. I will share with you the things that helped me embrace a happier mindset the most. That said, this is not a proverbial band-aid for the pain you’re feeling, but advice to help you do the same and reach a happier place.
5 Post-Divorce Changes That Will Bring Back Your Smile
Learn a new skill
I’ve written previously about the significance of hobbies in coping with divorce stress. They helped me a great deal, as they kept me busy and away from thoughts that would drive me mad. If you think you don’t have time for hobbies, think again, and try to make time. It could be doing something with your children (such as crafting) but I strongly suggest finding some time just for yourself. If you feel you can commit to learning a new skill, by all means, join a class or teach yourself something you’ve never done before. Is there something you always wanted to know how to do, such as sewing or kickboxing? Now is the time to commit yourself. Your mind will be engaged in something new and productive and you will feel proud to see the results of your efforts.
Surround yourself with love and positivity
This is beyond important because there will be days when you’re overcome with sadness despite your efforts and you’ll need a shoulder to lean on. Build a support system of friends and family, and draw strength from the love and understanding they offer. But I put great emphasis on the positivity part. If your friend or family member wants to comfort you by bashing on your ex, however tempting that may be, tell them that’s not the way you want them to go about things. This is about you entirely, not your ex, and no negative feeling can be cured with more negativity.
We all need tenderness, especially at a time of loss and emotional exhaustion. Show affection to your children and hug them (they really need it now also), hug your friends and family, snuggle your pet and if you don’t have one, go to a petting zoo with your kids or offer to pet-sit for a friend. The simplest hug warms our heart and gives us hope, and psychology acknowledges that skin contact is essential for our overall well-being.
And I mean both emotionally and physically. The emotional decluttering is much easier said than done, as it includes forgiveness and letting go…something I was personally not ready to do for a long time. So I resorted to what I could do at the moment to help myself. I cleaned out my home of the remnants of my old life and the complicated memories they represented to me. Some things I was not quite ready to throw out yet but I didn’t want to be constantly reminded of them in my home, so I sent them away to a storage facility. Years passed until I was ready to stop clinging to them, and that’s when the process of emotional decluttering was finally over. I came to terms with myself, with what had happened and with the new dynamic I had with my ex, which was based entirely on co-parenting. Each individual does this at their own pace, but the sooner you can do it, the better. Either way, it takes willpower and a lot of mindfulness. …And regarding that wedding ring you still don’t know what to do with? You might want to read this inspiring story about the symbolic gesture of selling it.
Make your needs a priority
We naturally put our children first, and after divorce, you’re likely to end up ignoring your emotional exhaustion while trying to help them cope. But give yourself a break every now and then if you want to remain sane, and it will prove much more effective in the long run. Remember, self-care does not equal selfishness. If you need some time alone, send your children to their grandparents or to a camp or a vacation with their father. Don’t wait to be offered, it is okay to openly demand this. Go to that vacation with your friends you always wanted to go to, and don’t feel guilty about it, I beg of you.
As terribly cliché as it sounds, many people find divorce as an opportunity to rediscover themselves, myself included. Be grateful for what you have and don’t dwell on the past, assigning blame or regretting things. It’s the only way to go forward and find peace of mind. Don’t look for quick fixes, because a new haircut or quirky tattoo won’t make you feel better. Your relationship is over, but your life is not, so consider this a new chapter and write the pages to it.
We highly sensitive persons tend to be gentle, smart, and highly conscientious creatures who prefer quiet environments.
I stumbled across the term Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) years ago in college. Though much of the description sounded like me, I blew it off as just another personality type, like Meyers-Briggs, or enneagram, or astrological signs (which are fun, sometimes insightful, but I’m not going to bet my life on them). So I didn’t spend much time looking further into the term. I only wish I had, as it may have saved me much heartache (and maybe even my first marriage).
Fast forward to after my marriage ended. I spent a lot of time trying to understand what happened to sabotage our love. I was acutely aware that the weight of heavy stress in our lives had played a large part in unraveling our marriage. The challenges of having children, owning a home, and making a living that appeared fairly easy for others to handle felt exhausting and overwhelming for me. And for my then-husband.
It was then that I re-encountered the term HSP. It was a huge “ah-ha!” moment. Because it turns out, we are both Highly Sensitive People. This was one of the primary reasons we both secretly kept asking ourselves over and over, “What is wrong with me?”, “Why is everything so overwhelming?”, and “Why can’t I hold it all together?”. It was why we both felt flawed and run down much of the time.
It was also why our love was eroding over time – because we were always “stressed out”.
Not knowing what a Highly Sensitive Person was, we didn’t understand how being an HSP can affect the health of our relationships. It requires a different approach to life and to love than normal.
Much research has happened in the last 15 years to validate that this is, in fact, a neurobiological trait that sets a full 18-20% of all species apart from the other 80% or so! We simply have a more sensitive nervous system.
This creates some very big challenges for HSPs living in cultures where speed, aggression, high stimulation, and insensitivity are not only the norm but are highly valued.
As I delved into learning more I was floored by what I discovered.
We HSPs tend to be gentle, smart, and highly conscientious creatures who prefer quiet environments.
It can be extremely overwhelming for HSPs to live in our type-a culture, with so much responsibility and never-ending to-do lists. Because of our sensitive system, we take in more sensory information (including emotions) and process it all deeply. This means we feel pressure, fear, sadness, anger, and pretty much everything, more intensely. We also become emotionally overloaded much faster than non-HSPs, if we don’t manage ourselves well.
No wonder I used to walk around feeling like something was wrong with me compared to others.
For example, parties can be overwhelming for me due to all the sights, sounds, scents, jostling bodies, and other people’s emotions (which HSPs tend to “catch” like a cold, being very empathic.).
Conflict with others is hard to shake off (this was problematic in my marriage).
Seeing others in pain brings tears to my eyes (this was problematic, too, as my ex was depressed a lot, which is also common for HSPs).
Making a mistake used to devour me with guilt (yep, this too wreaked havoc on my marriage, because who can be genuinely loving and kind when they are being eaten up by guilt?).
What relief I felt as I started to understand that all this is normal for many of us! And that I could learn to work with it, instead of letting it work against me.
If you have trouble bouncing back from strong emotions or don’t love big parties, like me, it might mean you are an HSP.
Other signs include you may be a “highly sensitive person.”
often feeling that everything is just “too much”
feeling emotions deeply
taking things “too personally”, “too seriously”, or being “touchy”
having been called shy as a child (or even still)
being a super smeller, or being bothered by loud or chronic noise
having a low threshold for stress and pain
needing more sleep than others or you feel terrible
picking up on the tension that others are experiencing (and taking it on as your own)
low tolerance for shallow idle conversation
love of beauty and meaning
being naturally creative
deep care about others suffering and desire to help alleviate it
feeling misunderstood or different all your life
Getting easily agitated or irritable
An aversion to hearing negative news stories
and on and on….
Perhaps some of the above sounds like you, or someone you love.
Why does this all matter when it comes to your love life? Because if you do not understand, honor, and learn how to work with this trait, it can sabotage your relationship. As HSPs we have unique needs and thus often need unique skills, in addition to regular relationship skills, in order to have the healthy fulfilling love life we long for.
Here are 6 areas where managing this trait poorly can affect your relationship in detrimental ways
Because everything is more intense for us, we become overstimulated easily and then lose access to the calm place from which our relationship skills and love flow, as if we are locked out of our own heart. We can then become emotionally reactive, moody, touchy and irritable, or really withdrawn from our loved ones.
We pick up on any subtle unkind tones or comments from our partner and take them very personally. For example, if our partner is only slightly agitated at us, we might feel it as real anger towards us and that (and any negative experience with our partner) can linger a long time inside us and be hard to shake off.
We are likely to experience burnout and exhaustion (perhaps even depression and anxiety) as we try to navigate the overwhelming world. This leads to low energy, low libido, and low zest (which is so important for a vital healthy relationship).
We need more down time and space to ourselves than others, but often don’t take it because we want to do our best at caring for and being available for others who rely on us (as we are so conscientious).
We have high standards for others (and ourselves) and they don’t always live up to them, which leads to disappointment. We can be judgmental and critical because our deeply observant nature makes even the subtlest of faults in our partner (and yourself) loom large.
We often feel flawed because we are different than the valued norm. This can lead to a lack of self-confidence, self-love, and ability to advocate for our own needs, which are often higher than non-HSPs. Yet, the basis for a deeply loving relationship between partners is real self-love.
If any of the above sounds familiar to you, maybe you can see like I did after my first marriage ended, how the above traits may have contributed to big rifts, distance, and deterioration in your marriage over time.
Though there is much more to say about how High Sensitivity can affect relationships (both positively and negatively), what I really want for you to understand is that having this trait does not need to lead to an unhappy love life!
In fact, as long as you can embrace and learn how to work with this trait, it is likely you will have one of the richest most loving and meaningful partnerships possible!
But, you must learn to work with it.
Making changes in some of these areas can improve your relationship tremendously. Skills for working with this trait and maximizing its gifts are easily teachable. Even just starting to understand the trait can be hugely transformative. I know it was for me.
As they say, knowledge is power. So the simple awareness that you are a Highly Sensitive Person is a huge leap forward in changing your relationships for the better. It is from the platform of awareness and understanding that we become inspired to learn the skills to address our challenges and harness our gifts so we can create and keep the love we long for in our lives.
As I have developed the vital skills I need to care for myself well, work with my emotions, communicate effectively, feel safe asking for what I need, and access my deep compassionate and loving nature, my new relationship has blossomed into a thing of such potent joy, support, and passion.
I am about to get re-married! And I couldn’t be more joy-filled or surer of the health of our relationship. It is a far cry from my first marriage and feels so right.
What I now understand, and what thrills me, is that sensitive people are built for deep loving connection more than any others. By developing the skills to do so, you not only heal your life and give yourself the very best chance at an incredibly fulfilling, supportive, and loving next relationship, but you also model that love for all others, which is exactly what the world needs right now.
And you? If you now suspect you may be Highly Sensitive, too, how do you thinking it has affected your love life as far as you can tell?
Some exes can pull off a friendship if they maintain good boundaries and neither one of them have a high conflict personality.
Let’s face it, many people are not emotionally ready to move on after a breakup and believe that preserving a friendship with their ex (assuming there was one) is useful. While it’s normal to want to undo the past, so often when we try to forge a friendship with our ex-spouse we are blindsided by complications and pitfalls.
When my marriage ended, I felt a lot of pressure to maintain a friendship with my ex and found out over time that it wasn’t practical or in the best interests of myself or my children. In my case, I believe that I was looking for closure by trying to be friends with my ex – but soon realized that letting go of the reasons why our marriage dissolved was a healthier decision. I also came to terms with the fact that I didn’t need to have all of the answers to why my marriage failed in order to move on.
That being said, some ex’s can pull off a friendship if they maintain good boundaries and neither one of them have a high conflict personality. Kendra, 38, a middle school teacher was able to maintain contact with her ex-partner for special occasions because he respected her privacy, didn’t stop by unannounced and had developed a support network, including a new wife.
There are many reasons why people strive to be friends with their ex after a breakup or divorce. One of the reasons is that they like to share resources and help each other out. They still consider themselves to be friends. Melinda, 46, a journalist, confides: “I can’t really completely heal from the breakup unless we stay in touch. I know that John shares my view, and that’s what works best for us.”
Another reason why people want to stay in close contact with a former partner after a breakup is guilt.
Sometimes the person who is the dumper feels guilty about leaving the relationship, especially if they were unfaithful, and wants to remain friendly with the dumpee to help to ease their guilt. In this case, counseling with a qualified therapist is a more effective way to deal with these leftover emotions.
Further, some individuals keep their relationship alive because they hope for reconciliation but they don’t necessarily acknowledge it. According to Susan J. Elliott, author of Getting Past Your Breakup, “Examining your quest for contact and being honest about your real intentions will help you stop making excuses to make contact.” Alan, age thirty-eight, reflects: I tried to keep in touch with Alyssa with the hope that we could mend things and one day get back together – even though I knew she was dating someone else.”
5 Things to Consider If Your Ex Wants to Be Your Friend:
You both need time and space to heal and regular contact (text, face-face, etc.) can extend the healing process. You need to give your relationship time to die naturally.
It’s important to forge a new identity: After the breakup, it’s key to lose your identity as a couple and to return to who you were as an individual, rather than half of a couple.
You need to allow yourself time to grieve the loss of the relationship. Like all losses, the breakup of a long-term relationship or marriage causes people to go through various stages of grief. In order to move through anger, denial, etc. it’s essential that individuals have the emotional and physical space to do this.
It can create confusion for children. It’s normal for children to experience reconciliation fantasies and seeing their parents spend time together (social events, holidays, etc.) can cause them to long for their pre-divorce family. Children benefit from parents who are collaborative but not necessarily close friends post-divorce.
You need energy to “take care of yourself” and to form new relationships. Maintaining a close friendship with an ex (especially if it’s emotionally or physically intimate) can delay this process. At some point, it’s crucial to accept your divorce come to a place of moving on from the past.
For instance, Clarissa, 43, an emergency room nurse thought that maintain a friendship with her ex at his request might help him adjust but it delayed his grieving. She reflects, “After I left my husband, David, he took it very hard and wanted to be friends. I thought that if we hung out sometimes, it would help him deal with being alone but it only made things worse. I let my guilt and his feelings of rejection be the driving force rather than common sense. It took him a few years to get over our breakup and he usually didn’t respond well to me saying “no” when he wanted to stop by unannounced. It put me in an awkward position, especially when our kids were around and wanted him to stay.”
Let’s face it, many people are not emotionally ready to move on after a breakup and believe that preserving a friendship with their ex-partner is useful. While it’s normal to want to undo the past, so often when we try to forge a friendship with our ex and are blindsided by complications and pitfalls such as trying to forge a new romantic relationship. It makes sense that a new partner might feel some jealousy or resentment if your ex is still a part of your life.
That being said, some ex’s can pull off a friendship if they maintain good boundaries and neither one of them have a high conflict personality. Kendra, 38, a middle school teacher was able to maintain contact with her ex-partner for special occasions because he respected her privacy, didn’t stop by unannounced and had developed a support network, including a new wife.
It’s important to be aware that for many people, the drawbacks of being friends with your ex usually outweigh the benefits. It’s often difficult to maintain clear boundaries with a former spouse – especially if you feel guilty about ending the marriage. You might be too flexible or accommodating due to guilt feelings. It’s also confusing for children to see their parents together often and sets the stage for more reconciliation fantasies.
However, if you have children, maintaining a cooperative relationship with their other parent can help them adjust and thrive. Most of all, keep in mind that it’s important to take care of you and give yourself time to heal and to develop new relationships after a divorce. If maintaining a friendship with your ex-spouse complicates this process, then it might not be the best idea or serve you well in the long run.