No one wants a second divorce! If you remarry after divorce for the right reasons it is the best way to keep yourself out of a second round in divorce court.
Most remarry after divorce because they’ve fallen “in love.” When you’ve got the baggage of a failed marriage, children, and financial issues, is being in love reason enough to remarry?
A few years back a woman and her three sons moved next door to me. I was intrigued by her situation and thrilled to have a single mother of sons to connect with and possibly build a friendship with.
As it turned out, this woman and I were opposites in every way. She had two teenage sons who came and went as they pleased. Her younger son was left to fend for himself while his mother worked and then went out in the evenings.
During a conversation with her, she said to me, “I’ve got to find a man to support me.” Within four months she had found her man, moved herself and her children into his home and started planning a wedding.
I ran into her a couple of years later and she had a new baby on her hip. She was driving a BMW and in the process of building her dream home. She was also miserable. She droned on and on about how unhappy she was, how stressful her life was, how her new husband worked day and night, leaving her lonely and alone with a new baby.
She got what she wanted out of the new marriage, financial support. But, marriage is about more than support or feelings of intense love. There are right reasons and wrong reasons to marry for a second time, marry for the wrong reasons and you will be setting yourself up for failure.
Reasons You Should Remarry After Divorce:
1. Because you’ve fallen in love. What better reason to want to be with someone forever? It needs to be love that stands the test of time, though. Don’t rush to the alter just because you feel butterflies when he holds your hand. Or, your heart flip-flops when she walks into the room. Remarry because your love has been proven, has stood the test of time, the ups and downs that come along with life. Test it before you bet the rest of your life on it.
2. Because you want to, not because you need to. When you’ve completely healed from your divorce you won’t think of remarriage as something you “need” to do, it will be something you “want” to do. When you can live happy and single, on your own, you will be able to live happily as a couple with someone you love. You won’t need that person to take care of you or your emotional needs. You will want to share the happy life you’ve built with your new love.
3. When you are able to give and receive. You are able to take care of not only yourself but the other person. You are fully aware that marriage is give and take and you are willing to give whatever is called for. And, in return appreciate what is given to you.
4. It isn’t all about lust. Sex is dandy but it isn’t too handy during times of conflict and strife. He or she may really get your motor humming but how comfortable are you with this person on a daily basis? How well do the two of you work through conflict? The ability to resolve a dispute far outweighs the ability to make her/his toes curl in the bedroom when it comes to determining how successful a marriage will be.
5. Your finances are compatible. Do you know his credit history? What kind of debt will she bring into the marriage? Is he paying child support? Is she receiving child support? How will you each protect assets you bring into the marriage? When all this is considered and incomes are joined will you have enough to live comfortably as a blended family?
6. Your friends and family like your new love. My father was a great judge of character. I failed to listen to what he had to say about my ex when they first met. In fact, I failed to listen to not only him but several other people. I let the love I felt get in the way of realizing that, at times those who love us are a better judge of what we should and shouldn’t do. Especially if we are in the throes of “love.”
Love truly is blind, so do yourself a favor and ask around. If your friends and family are having doubts step back and take a second look without those rose-colored glasses.
The thought of marrying again may cause the hair on the back of your neck to stand up, and not in a good way. Going into a second marriage will normally cause fear and trepidation. No one wants a second divorce! If you remarry for the right reasons is the best way to keep yourself out of a second round in divorce court.
The first step in effectively dealing with anger is to recognize that whilst anger is a completely normal and natural reaction to grief, left unchecked it has the potential to cause significant harm.
When my husband announced he wanted a divorce, to say I was blindsided would be an understatement. I felt as though my world had been turned around and upside down and that I would never feel normal, whole or happy again. Yet the thing that took me MOST by surprise in the weeks following his announcement was the overwhelming ANGER I felt towards him, and the situation brought about by him. The emotion hit me completely unaware, pervading every bloody fiber of my being. It was intense and it was frightening. And I had to learn to deal effectively with anger.
At the time, anger was a reasonably foreign emotion to me – I had witnessed it in others but cannot say that I’d ever really felt it myself before – or if I had, certainly not with the intensity that I was now experiencing it. The most I can recall previously feeling during bad times was a high level of frustration – and that was easy enough to deal with. This new feeling was another thing entirely.
What was I angry about? On a conscious level, I was pissed that one person – one unthinking man – could have the power to devastatingly turn not just my life – but the life of two innocent kids upside down. But I have since learned that there was more to it than that.
Truth is, I was utterly and devastatingly heartbroken. I felt rejected, abandoned, isolated, alone. I was reeling from the shock that my husband, my first love, had found someone better than me. That he had chosen to be with her instead of me – the one he should have been with until his or my dying day. I felt humiliated, embarrassed and oh so freaking hurt.
Yet, I wasn’t quite ready at this stage to feel the full force of my sadness, so as a coping or dealing mechanism I was given a good dose of ANGER to deal with and process first. Feeling anger is a whole lot easier than feeling the full weight of sadness, yes?
All of this makes sense when we remember that a divorce is a death of sorts, and as with any death we must go through the process of grieving. After we’ve come through the initial denial stage of grief, we often feel anger. We’re no longer in complete denial of what happened, but we’re not yet ready to feel the full force of our depression and sadness.
The anger is a way for us to ‘fight’ what is happening to us. This ‘fight’ feeling is very natural and very normal and needs to get out. We may also feel anger towards our ex because subconsciously we are not yet ready to let go of him. We may believe that a bitter relationship is better than none at all. Looking back, I believe that this was the case with me.
So, how to effectively deal with anger? Well, I believe that the first step in dealing with it is to recognize that whilst anger is a completely normal and natural reaction to grief, left unchecked it has the potential to cause significant harm – personally, professionally and financially. The trick, therefore, is to:
Accept that it won’t last forever, and
Find safe and effective ways to deal with it in the meantime
Here are 7 constructive ways to deal effectively with ANGER when you’re going through a divorce:
1. Tell yourself its temporary: Remind yourself that it is part of the grieving process and that if dealt with properly it will pass – as ALL things pass. There need not be a definitive timeline, as long as you do not let it become a habit by deliberately holding on to it. Give yourself time to recover from what you’ve been through – it was no small thing.
2. Write it down: Express what you’re feeling in a journal – don’t edit anything, just get it all out. Or pen an angry letter to your ex (do NOT send this letter).
3. Talk about it: Talk with a trusted friend or therapist (NOT your ex).
4. Let it out: Sometimes, you will feel the need to literally drain your body of the negative energy. This is good, as long as you do it safely and privately. Punch a pillow, scream, kick your bed, wail. Do this until it is out of your system, then move on. Do it when the need next arises, then move on once again.
5. Engage professional help: Only you will know if or when this is needed. Therapy may be worth considering if you feel that you’re not moving on from your anger and you’re using it to suppress other emotions over a prolonged period.
6. Choose your battles: Be mindful of your triggers. Remind yourself that you do not need to react with anger over every.little.thing. Learn to save it for the big stuff. Pause before responding to the things that you know will trigger you.
7. Learn from it: This one thing probably helped me more than any other. After a time, I decided that I no longer wanted to be a victim of my circumstances – to what happened to me. I wanted a greater understanding of why things happened as they did, and why my reactions were as they were. I ultimately used this time to go deep within myself – to examine core beliefs and identify, and scrap, those which no longer served me. I learned to ‘own’ my reactions, rather than automatically blaming outside circumstances over which I had no control.
Lastly, remember always that you DESERVE to live a happy, peaceful and fulfilling life – this is true regardless of your circumstances. Don’t waste the opportunity to learn and grow from what you’re going through. Ask yourself if you really want to be the woman who chooses bitterness and resentment over forgiveness and happiness years after the event.
Actively choose to let go of your ex and what he did or didn’t do. THIS is truly the path to happiness and peace – and you deserve nothing less.
The red flags in my marriage, helped me navigate dating after divorce and be more successful in those relationships.
When I first started to think about meeting new people and feeling overwhelmed by the dating world, especially after being out of the game for almost 20 years, I realized I needed to remind myself that I knew what I was doing, that I actually dated my ex-husband and although there were growing pains along the way, there were also moments of joy during the 20 years we were together. What could I take from those moments, the good and the bad ones, to navigate the world of dating?
As I look back at my marriage I can pinpoint times I now see should have been red flags that needed to be addressed and dealt with but weren’t–we all overlook things we shouldn’t but it’s how we think about these issues now that can help one heal, move forward and ultimately learn how to navigate future relationships.
An easy way for me to look through my past was to list things I could see were issues and those that were positives in the relationship. This is not an easy exercise by any means but one that gave me some closure on my past relationship and some reassurance that I could go out and date with a fresh perspective on who I now was, what I wanted and the way in which I wanted to nurture a relationship with someone else.
Below are 6 of the questions I asked myself about the red flags in my marriage.
These are not questions to make you go down a slippery slope of listing what you did or didn’t do in your past relationship, judge yourself or think about what you could have done to save the relationship. These questions are meant to reflect on the past so that you can determine what it is you want and need for yourself moving forward.
1. What was he unhappy about?
Given the events that led him to leave our marriage, the reasons he gave me for doing so, and the way in which he did it, I know I can list a lot of things here but what I wanted to capture, though is what I thought were the main issues during the marriage.
2. Were there some issues that surfaced over and over again that I or we overlooked and didn’t address?
3. Was I dismissive of the things he expressed being unhappy about?
4. Was he clear to me about what he needed and wanted in order to be happy?
How can I now use the answers to these questions to help me navigate the world of dating? Communication is key to making any relationship work and thrive and with poor communication, resentment often presents itself. This was the case in my marriage. From my perspective, his resentment grew over the years and he had finally reached his tipping point and left.
When I started to date, I made sure to listen, ask questions and accept a person’s non-negotiables. I didn’t want to get into a pattern of thinking where I would dismiss someone’s non-negotiables, even perhaps think they would eventually change their mind about something I wasn’t on board with.
For example, if someone told me they wanted more children and I didn’t, then chances are, he might not change his mind about that and that might become an issue down the line.
Another example: He wants to travel the world and go camping in the Himalayas for 3 months, and that’s not your cup of tea, then you owe it to yourself and the other person to be honest. Having this information up-front is important for yourself and the other person because it allows both parties to judge if the relationship will be compatible.
5. What was I unhappy about?
This is the part that was difficult for me to address because this is when I realized how much I had given of myself and ultimately failed to give myself the space I wanted and needed in the relationship.
It wasn’t until I was jolted out of my “wife identity” that I started to see how much I had given up the things I valued the most in life. We all make sacrifices in life but when I started to list the things I overlooked in my life, I made a point of making sure these items were no longer negotiable in future relationships. Setting my boundaries and knowing how much wiggle room I had for my “non-negotiables” made it so much easier for me to navigate the dating process and eventually become serious with someone.
6. How did I express love, happiness, and joy in my previous relationship and what were my expectations around these?
What I learned after I answered these questions for myself is: be true to who you are, define what makes you feel happy and secure in a relationship, make known the small gestures you appreciate and perhaps the larger ones that you may want in a relationship. Make sure to find out the same about your partner.
Another eye-opener for me was when I realized that during the 20 years we were together, we had fallen into a habit of assuming we were the same people we were 20 years ago and not shifting or molding our interactions, style of communication, and the way we took care of ourselves to the adults we were becoming.
For example, my needs and wants shifted in the past 20 years and so did his but in looking at the past, I realized that I, and we as a couple, did not respect these changes in our lives. Emotionally, our relationship got stuck along the way and so the way we tried to meet our evolving needs became incompatible with who we were becoming.
Yes, I’m divorced on my birthday, but does that mean I can’t have fun?
Nothing sets us up more for disappointment as an adult than those glorious birthday celebrations of childhood! A typical birthday for me, as a kid, left me feeling nothing short of a celebrity, and I try to do the same for my kids. Whatever you want for breakfast, “it’s your day!” Whatever you want to do today, “it’s your day!”
I have a summer birthday, so I never got to take birthday treats to school; but, often a child’s birthday includes a party with classmates, a celebration with family, being sung to, presents, cake, and the whole she-bang!
Welcome to adulthood, and a birthday is either an unpleasant reminder of aging that we choose to ignore, or it’s a day that we’ve been conditioned to associate with red carpet treatment, that fizzles when it’s just another day to go to work, pay bills, and take out the trash. Some of us will still get star treatment from friends or family; but, for many of us, this personal holiday can feel even lonelier because it still feels like it should be special, but often comes and goes without much fanfare.
For those of us who are divorced, a red-letter day on our own personal calendar can become a whole new level deeper in disappointment because we may be left to celebrate alone.
I recall my first post-divorce birthday and the sound of crickets around me on a day when I anticipated the arrival of my special date. No one sang. No one said, “Happy Birthday!” No one presented me with a cake, a gift, or a card.
The emptiness of the day was sad, but I realized that if I had been married to my ex that day, I wouldn’t be able to expect any different! How many birthdays as a wife did I endure with the lump-in-throat realization that I was insignificant enough to forget? I spent more of my birthdays than I could count being ignored, forgotten, and dismissed even though I went out of my way to make my spouse feel special on his important days!
I concluded that it’s more hurtful and maddening to be left in the cold on one’s birthday when we’re in a relationship, and that person should care enough about us to make us feel special, but doesn’t! A spouse should take on the role of parents, grandparents, and others who used to mark the occasion for us. As adults, we may no longer be able to expect a piñata, bouncy house, or magician for our birthday, but everyone deserves just one day out of the year to feel special!
As a divorced woman, I no longer had an association with a partner who should make it his mission to show me love and appreciation on anniversaries, birthdays, Mother’s Day, and other holidays. As previously stated, that was not something that I was accustomed to during my marriage, but the fact that he was there made it more aggravating and painful to be ignored. If I had been single or divorced during those years, I would have had no reason to halfway expect someone to care!
My new divorced status took me some time to adjust to, but it became a realization that, as with so many other things, when we become adults, we become responsible for our own life! I could sit around and wait for someone to notice and take the time to acknowledge my birthday. I could choose to mope and be salty if I’m forgotten. Or, I could take the reins of my own happiness and do something about it!
How can we own our birthday after divorce?
What’s wrong with approaching a group of co-workers and saying “Hey, Thursday is my birthday, do you all want to go out for lunch?”
A friend of mine follows the German tradition of hosting her own birthday parties. Unlike most Americans who think someone else needs to put on a party for us, she prepares a spread of food, puts on some music, and opens some wine, then invites friends, family, and neighbors to have a fun evening in her honor!
What should stop you from treating yourself to that cute pair of earrings you saw in your favorite boutique?
Why not stop for ice cream or treat yourself to a delectable piece of cake from the bakery?
Why not take the day off work and decide from start to finish how to spend your day? Sip coffee on the patio with your favorite kind of bagel, sleep ‘til noon, go on a hike, go to a movie, or whatever you want!
How about using your birthday as an opportunity to raise money or bring awareness for a special cause?
One of the most important lessons to learn in life is that our happiness is not dependent on others! We should not wait for others to set the wheels in motion to be able to do what we want, nor let the fact that others may be busy, inconsiderate, or forgetful keep us from celebrating life!
And, what if we have no significant other when our birthday rolls around? Will we really let our unattached relationship status prevent us from enjoying life or having fun? Do life and our reasons for living need to disappear at divorce?
We have no guarantees that anyone else will make us a priority; therefore, we owe it to ourselves to make a priority out of recognizing and making merry, whether anyone else thinks to do so, cares enough to, or is even a part of our life! To be honest, no one is going to care as much about our birthday as us, so why leave it to others to make magic happen on or behalf?
Today is my birthday. I am equal parts hiding my head in the sand because I’m having a hard time swallowing the fact that I’m now 45, and simultaneously ready for fun and to do something special. My kids are with their dad this week, so it’s already not the ideal circumstances to celebrate, as I would like.
One thing we learn through divorce is to be flexible, otherwise, we’re miserable! For today, I am happy to accept a text from my kids, and when we have a chance to eat cake together we will! I’m grateful to receive greetings on social media and in person from friends and co-workers (even my dentist- lol!). The days are long gone when I expect to be treated like queen for a day, in the over-the-top fashion we tend to treat kids. Today, I will be my own kind of queen, and I will make sure it’s a happy day in my own way!
I, in turn, did what I needed to do. I went on a trip to Maui.
I remember that trip to Maui like it was yesterday because I’ve held that vision no matter where I’ve been or what I’ve gone through on this emotional roller coaster since splitting from my ex.
It was a beautiful April day in Maui. The sun was shining, the temperature was a perfect 84 degrees, the water was warm, and everything was lined up perfectly for a vision that I wanted to have in my life.
I started visualizing what I wanted my life to look like, and I started imagining what life would be like for me in the future.
I imagined being on that beach when my daughter was a little older. And it’s funny because she’s now at that age that I imagined her to be.
Next to me in my vision was the woman that I wanted to create a family with. A woman who saw me and felt me for who I am. A woman who accepted me, yet also pushed me to be the best version of myself.
My relationship with my daughter’s mother was never healthy.
We were always battling and bumping heads, but that’s okay. Why? Because we were not meant to be together for the long haul. And yet, we created an amazing soul, this amazing human being that came into our lives.
As I walked that beach, I imagined what life would be like with my person. What it would feel like to be seen and loved the way that I needed to be seen and loved. Without having to fight for love, for affection, or for anything.
I held onto that vision as I’ve gone through the last five and a half years.
And I’ve had many relationships since that day in 2012.
I had one in ’13, one in ’14, one in ’15, and a few in ’16 and ’17.
Each of them taught me many things.
Each one kept me on the path.
I never gave up on that path. I always believed in my vision.
And That’s Why I Truly Believe Divorce is an Opportunity
Divorce is the opportunity for you to believe in a vision.
They no longer have to witness the tension between you and your partner.
They no longer have to see the cover-up that’s going on every single day.
One day, my daughter’s going to see her father in a loving relationship. That has always been a goal of mine.
And she’s going to know what a man is like when he loves a woman. Because that way, she’ll be able to model it, and she’ll be able to have successful relationships of her own because of that.
That’s what divorce does.
Divorce gives you the freedom to create the life that you’re really looking for.
It allows you to have the freedom to create the relationship that’s going to serve your children in a much healthier way.
That’s what we’re here for.
I know how difficult it might be when you go through a divorce. Believe me, I know how challenging it is.
But if you have a vision, you’ll no longer look at divorce as a failure. You will look at it as an opportunity to grow.
An opportunity to create the life that you want without having the tension around the partnership that was no longer working.
And what’s most important to me — and what should be to you as well — is that, for the first time in a long time, you can actually show your children what a happy man or woman looks like when they’re in a healthy loving relationship.
You can show them what a healthy loving relationship with yourself looks like.
And then you can show them what a healthy loving relationship with someone else looks like.
You have that opportunity, and the opportunity all starts with your own vision.
The truth is things will probably get worse before they get better. That’s how divorce goes.
Each week, I get emails from readers going through a divorce. As I read their words, I can feel their pain. Regardless of who initiates it, divorce is painful. If children are involved, it can be exponentially more painful.
Your mind and body are going through the withdrawal of the happy chemicals produced when you’re in love. While you’re fighting the urge to punch the wall, your mind is playing tricks on you, wanting those happy hormones to start production again!
You may feel like engaging in things like impromptu shopping trips, sexual promiscuity or binge eating and drinking. These are all false methods of producing those same hormones. You will pass through no less than nine stages of grieving your relationship.
You will experience shock that it’s over; denial that it’s over and you will become desperate to figure out why your marriage ended. You will engage in external and internal bargaining which is where you are either saying “I’ll do anything to get him back” or “If I had done X differently”.
You may suffer a relapse and sleep with him again. At some point, you’ll experience a phase of accepting it’s over but then, you might feel angry. Hope is another stage of the grieving process. Early on, you’re hoping things can work out. Later, you will hope you can survive without him.
While you’re muddling through this rollercoaster of emotions and fighting (or caving into) those urges, there are a few things I can share to help you through.
Take Solace In The Fact That Things Will Get Better
The truth is things will probably get worse before they get better. That’s how breakups go. You will have good days and bad days. You will plod through stages of grieving your relationship: shock, denial, desperately searching for answers, internal bargaining, external bargaining, acceptance, anger and hope, to name a few.
These stages are orchestrated by your mind which is still trying to ramp up happy hormone production. As you recognize and accept these stages, they become easier to get through and soon, you’re genuinely feeling better.
Soon, you will begin to see that the only way through is by letting go of the past and looking forward to the future. At that point, you can work on rebuilding your confidence and shoring up your self-esteem.
Talk To Your Kids About It
Children have a natural tendency to blame themselves when parents divorce. They feel they weren’t good enough or they could have done something differently so their parents would stay together.
Take time to talk to them about the divorce. This isn’t your chance to tell them daddy is a terrible guy, even if he is. Don’t ever engage in that conversation with your children. Instead, focus on making sure they know this isn’t their fault.
Let them know how their lives will be different. When will they get to see daddy? How much time will they spend with you and at his house?
Encourage your kids to ask questions. They have tons. Make sure to keep an open line of communication and let them know they can come to you with anything. Remember, they’re scared.
Understand How Your Mind Works
Your mind is an interesting element of your being. There are three main components, which work together like parts of a computer. The conscious mind, the part we’re all aware of, works like a keyboard. Its sole purpose is to input information.
The subconscious mind is sort of like the main storage of your computer. Your unconscious is like that part of the computer everyone thinks they erase but, invariably some hack gets in and finds files still being stored.
If you input things like injuries, memories or self-talk, it’s stored in the subconscious and ultimately, the unconscious mind.
Your subconscious and your conscious mind work together, day-to-day in a back-and-forth way. Inputs are entered and the appropriate output is retrieved from the subconscious.
Particularly prickly things are often stored deep in our unconscious as a protective measure. Recovering memories stored in your unconscious often takes psychological intervention or a trigger like a smell. Someone who was beaten with a leather strap will recall that memory if they smell leather.
When you continuously input “I’m so ugly” or “I am unworthy of a good man”, it’s stored in the subconscious. Now, you look in the mirror (input) and out comes “I’m so ugly” because that’s what you’ve stored.
In order to change the outputs that are triggered, you must alter the inputs. When you stand in front of a mirror, you need to say “I am beautiful.” When you’re looking at guys on a dating site or out with your friends, you need to say “I am worthy of a good man”.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and your stored negative thoughts didn’t get there in a day either. Reprogramming will take time and effort but you can do it. Begin by observing the negative inputs you use. Write them down and then, write their counterpart. “I’m so ugly” becomes “I am beautiful”.
It isn’t a matter of believing these thoughts right now, it’s about getting yourself to believe them by inputting them enough, just like you did the negatives, so that you do believe them soon.
Develop A Workout Plan! (And Stick To It!)
One of the best things you can do for yourself right now, today, is go move your body. It doesn’t matter whether you weigh 100 pounds or 400 pounds. Get up and move. You are experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety right now.
The number one best way to silence that anxiety and squelch that fight or flight chemical rush that comes with it is to exercise. When you exercise, your body produces endorphins, which shoot directly to those anxiety chemicals and neutralize them.
Of course, there are the added health benefits of working out like becoming physically stronger, improving your heart health and a host of others but the biggest benefit to working out is one usually overlooked. It’s a stress-buster!
Once you work your plan today, get up and do it again tomorrow. I know you might be sore so do something else tomorrow. If you walked or ran today, lift some weights or do some tummy crunches. Just. Do. Something.
Begin The Healing Process
In order to begin to heal from the breakup, there are a few steps you need to take. I’ll try to keep them short since that whole conscious mind thing was so long!
A. Write Him A Letter
You need to write a letter to your ex. You will not be sending it. This letter is strictly to help you work through the healing process. It is not for him.
In order for this letter to promote healing, you need to include in this letter what you forgive your ex for.
Let’s take a quick detour into why you need to forgive him because I can hear you groaning and pushing back from here.
B. Practice Forgiveness
Everyone thinks that when you forgive someone, you are saying that what they did was okay. That isn’t what forgiveness is about. Forgiveness is not condoning what someone did or forgetting.
Forgiveness is about taking the negativity out of a situation. It’s for you. It sends a message to your mind that you are ready to move past this and begin healing. Most importantly, forgiveness is really you forgiving yourself.
When you forgive someone for hurting you, you are letting go of the anger you’re keeping. This jumpstarts your growth and progress. You also give yourself permission to stop living in the past and begin to live in the present. You also regain your power over the person you’ve held anger against. As long as you maintain anger, they’re living rent-free in your head.
You also release the negativity that was bogging you down, mentally and physically. Finally, forgiveness allows you to recall the positive traits of the other person and you can accept your ex for who he is.
Forgiving doesn’t mean you’re ready to launch into a new relationship. It’s just the first step in your healing.
Write your letter and include a statement which begins with, “I forgive…” This statement gives you permission to move forward. You don’t need to forgive him for everything but pick something you can let go of and start there.
Before you write the letter, make sure you’ve written and narrowed down your list of forgivable things to just the important items. Choose one or two you really feel strongly about and include them in your letter.
Your last line should be your line of forgiveness. Write this letter as if the other person is going to read it. Use full sentences. Don’t include bullet points or acronyms and shorthand.
Once the letter is written, set it aside for a few days.
Now that you’ve let the letter sit for a few days, you need to take a couple of final steps. First, read the letter, out loud. Read it slowly and listen to each word. Allow the feelings that come, don’t push them down.
After you have read the letter and collected yourself, it’s time to burn the letter – safely. As you burn it, say something like “Thank you [ ] for being a part of my life. I am letting you go with love.” I know it might sound hokey but this is for you, remember? This is part of your healing. It doesn’t matter if you don’t really want to thank him. This isn’t about him, it’s about you.
Once the letter is burned, your final step in letting go is to physically walk away. Dispose of the remains of the letter, safely, and walk away. This is symbolic of you walking away from your grief and pain.
The truth is that it’s good for you to remain single for a while. When you’re in a relationship, you change. Your values are different. You may do things your partner likes, even though you don’t really like those things. Your world is centered on being part of a pair.
Take advantage of this time and get to know yourself again. Work through those negative thoughts and get them turned around. Assess your financial situation and make any necessary course corrections. Begin to determine what your beliefs and values are, just you.
If you have children, it’s important to let them settle into a new routine before you introduce a new man. Let them get accustomed to the idea of mom and dad living apart first. Trust me, if Mr. Right is out there for you, he will still be waiting, and more receptive to you, if you take time now to recalibrate.
You will know you’re ready to date again when you have established boundaries, uncovered your beliefs and values and have completely moved past the urge to punch your ex in the throat. Even if he’s still being a jerk, if you’ve boosted your confidence and initiated positive self-talk, you’ll be able to write off his bad behavior and move on.
When you are ready to date again, go slowly. Don’t look at every first date as a step toward the altar. Just have fun with it. Don’t apply the pressure of “will he want to marry me?” Men date first for fun before they look at whether or not they want to settle down. You should do the same.
Date multiple men and date at least one type of guy you thought you’d never want to date. If you’re conservative, date the motorcycle dude. If you’re a wild and crazy type, date a lawyer or accountant. You might be surprised. Again, you’re not looking at him as your next husband. You’re exploring and having fun!
The great news is that, in the middle of having fun, you’ll find Mr. Right #2! A new and improved model over the first!
The needs of our kids continue to evolve as they grow. Would you ever let these needs interfere with your time together?
Among the many challenges of co-parenting is simply the fact that we want our children to be as happy and comfortable as possible and to be able to feel at home in either parent’s home, despite the fact that they travel between parents on a frequent basis. Most of have bedrooms set up with everything our children need and want, including clothes, and the usual comforts we all expect of home sweet home so that our kids have a place to play, sleep, and spend time with us.
I hear some divorced parents refer to their house as the home for the children, even when kids spend equal amount of time in each residence; but, if our arrangement calls for anything close to 50-50 we should hope for our kids to experience a sense of security and belonging at all times instead of wishing for them to be perpetually homesick and uprooted just so we can be the most popular- right?
I digress, though that will be a great discussion for another day!
My point is that we do our best to create a home for our kids even if it’s not the home they always knew or the place where they will spend all their time. In my opinion, that need continues, even as our children grow. Some of their basic needs, such as a bed, clothing, and other basic needs, will continue to be necessities, no matter their age, while other things will change over time.
For instance, kids begin to have different needs as they begin puberty, and it’s essential for parents to keep up with those needs so that our kids have whatever they require at any stage of life. We can argue about what constitutes a “necessity” versus a “want.” Almost any teen will tell us that they need to have a cell phone (and don’t even think you’re getting by with some old flip phone!), video game system, internet, and all the newest fashions.
I’m here to tell teens that humans survived for thousands of years without taking selfies or owning an X Box. I know they think they “need” all this stuff, but I’ll leave the decision to purchase these items up to their parents. What I will advocate for strongly is a young lady having a supply of feminine hygiene products, a young man having razors, and so on. When they were babies they needed diapers, now that they’re growing up, the list changes!
A young lady, around 23, who works in my building was recently describing her childhood to a co-worker. When asked where she grew up and went to school, she explained that her parents were divorced and lived in neighboring towns. For all of her growing up years, she alternated between homes until she became a teenager and started wearing make-up and styling her hair. She shared that she had all the beauty supplies she needed at her mom’s house, but not at her dad’s, so she stopped going to her dad’s!
I didn’t detect a hint of true animosity toward her father, and she made it clear that they maintain a good relationship and she still saw him during the rest of her high school career. I found myself surprised that something as simple as a curling iron and eye shadow could have disrupted regular visitation with one parent, then I reflected on what it was like to be a teen girl ages ago.
Oh, yes, I was that girl in the late 80’s early 90’s burning up the ozone layer with Aquanet hairspray and frying my permed tresses with my Benders curlers! I never wore a lot of make-up, but I was seriously concerned with my fashion. If someone had told me that on alternating weeks I would have to go to school with flat hair and wearing something not from the Limited, I would have probably locked myself into my bedroom!
No offense to either my mom or dad, but fitting in was so important during that stage of my life, that not having what I needed to put my best foot forward would have created great anxiety and frustration for me! So, I could halfway see where this young lady was coming from, although I think it was sad that it impacted her family relationship.
I think of my own pre-teen daughter. She likes cute clothes and sometimes experiments with make-up, but she’s not in full-blown teen mode, insisting on having her look on fleek at all times. I see a definite difference in things I buy and provide for my kids versus what their dad does. There’s nothing wrong, in theory, with the choices he makes. She may care more, at some point, and this may become a bigger issue. We’ll see!
For some kids, their “necessities” might include stylish clothes, while for others it might be having materials to support their favorite hobbies like art supplies, sporting equipment, and so on. Every child and what makes him or her feel happy is unique!
So, kids and parents in this kind of situation are faced with a few options:
The child could be allowed to take their chosen items back and forth (I know, I know! This causes a firestorm of conflict over who paid for it, fears of things getting lost, or disgust because the other parent won’t buy their own! The question seems to be “whose stuff is it, anyways?” Mom might have paid for it, so is it the child’s property or does it belong to mom’s home?)
Both households could keep a supply of what the child desires on hand (seriously, I don’t think it would be that hard to run down to the drugstore and let her pick out some nail polish, hair styling equipment, and make-up if that’s going to help her feel complete. No, I did not suggest dropping several hundred dollars on some fancy pants high dollar cosmetics, unless that’s what everyone chooses to do!)
The child could remain at the one home that supports their needs (this is drastic, folks, and should be considered a last resort! It would be preferable for a reasonable compromise to be reached by all instead of giving in to demands of a spoiled child who demands something unreasonable or punishing one parent who is unable to keep up with what their co-parent is able to do.)
Some parents (and kids!) will use life transitions and co-parenting conflict as an opportunity to play games. It’s reasonable for both parents to have a say and agree to such things as wearing make-up, dating, driving, and other major decisions regarding their child. Some parents will try to win favor by bribing kids with things they know the other parent can’t or won’t provide, just as some kids will play parents off of one another to have more money spent on them (or to watch the fireworks!).
It’s important to differentiate between actual needs of the child and other things that are within reason versus over the top “you wish” items kids think they need. We can’t lose sight of the fact that the needs of kids change over time. Kids are very costly, even when they’re not involved in multiple activities, and they deserve for us to keep up with those needs the best that we can. Each parent’s standards will determine what is spoiling and what is typical.
The best place to start might be a conversation with your child to discuss how things are changing in their life and how you can support them. Your child might not want anything more than your love and understanding; but, don’t be surprised if they are interested in whatever form of entertainment, fashion, or communication their peers are into.
Are you in tune with the person your child is becoming so that you can provide what they need to feel comfortable in your home? Would you ever let something as simple as not having reasonable provisions for them in your home interfere with visitation to the point where they stop staying in your home?
Are divorced people selfish? Can we even really answer that question, because do we ever really know what’s going on in someone else’s life?
“People who get divorced are selfish,” he said. He went on to tell me about a teenager he knew who recently committed suicide, and the note left behind seemed to indicate that he blamed his parent’s divorce for his decision to end his life. I was told about how his mother was unhappy and chose to leave her son’s dad. “Why couldn’t she have just stuck it out long enough for the boy to leave for college? Instead, she just selfishly left because she was unhappy, he killed himself, and it’s her fault.”
I winced at these comments. First of all, the loss of the young man’s life is tragic, under any circumstances. The fact that he chose to take his own life is an immeasurable heartbreak for his family, no matter why he did it.
Suicide has been in the headlines a lot lately because of celebrities who succumbed to it; but, we can never say with complete certainty what plagues the deepest, most innermost corners of another’s mind. Even the father of famous designer, Kate Spade, noted that he spoke to her the night before her death, and she seemed happy and was even making travel plans with her daughter.
Certainly, a divorce is a catastrophic event in a child’s life, and they need lots of support to overcome the loss. I won’t pretend to know how recently this teen’s parents divorced or what the circumstances of their split were. No divorce is pretty; however, some are more contentious and unsettling than others.
Perhaps he was so distraught about the break-up of his parent’s marriage and needed more emotional supports than what were available to him, and he acted out in the most desperate way?
Perhaps, like so many teens, he was struggling under the weight of the many pressures teens face, and felt he couldn’t handle it anymore?
I have no doubt that his parents will forever mourn his loss and wonder what they could have done to prevent this tragedy.
The question, however, persists. Is it selfish to divorce? Was this teen’s mom selfish for seeking a divorce from his dad?
A divorce might be considered selfish if:
One asks for a divorce because they’re bored with the relationship or with life in general.
One seeks a divorce without being willing to work on repairing the relationship or owning any part of the problems in the relationship.
One jumps out of a loving marriage to pursue a new sexual partner.
One doesn’t care about how their actions will impact those left to live with the consequences.
I’m sure there are plenty of other ways a decision to divorce could be purely selfish!
No matter what reasons prompt a couple to divorce, I doubt that most of us will ever fully know or understand because we’re not a part of their most intimate moments, nor privy to their thoughts and feelings. I guarantee you that when I was going through my divorce, no one knew everything going on in my home or my relationship. I was too ashamed to admit so much of what was going on, and often avoided talking about it or letting others in on my personal torment.
Again, we don’t know what was really going on between the parents of the deceased teen. We can say “she just left her husband,” but do we really know what life was like for her in that home? Had she endured years of abuse, infidelity, or neglect, or did she really just up and leave on a whim? To an outsider (or even a child who has been kept in the dark) the decision to divorce may seem “sudden,” but might have actually been years in the making!
We can say that she “should have waited it out until he was old enough to go out on his own,” but do we know for sure what we would be asking of her?
Maybe she felt that leaving was a way to extinguish the conflict between her and her spouse so that her son could have a more peaceful existence to finish his childhood in? Maybe there are things that happened between her and the boy’s father that he was not privy to because she shielded him from it, and he didn’t understand because he didn’t know?
Had I been forced to remain with my children’s father until they were old enough to move out, I may have turned to suicide, myself. I don’t say this in jest as sometimes people do (“Oh, I’d kill myself if I had to do _____!”). No, I was in a deep depression over the state of my marriage and the hopelessness I felt!
The only thing keeping me alive was my love for my children. Some part of me, though, knew that I had a better chance at climbing out of my depression and being whole again if I left my husband and that if I could be whole and happy again, this would roll over onto my ability to be the best parent possible for my kids! Not only did I think I divorce could be the final solution for myself after years of trying to save the marriage, but that it could help my husband be a happier and better person, too, and I was right!
I would dare anyone to call me selfish for getting a divorce! Seriously, bring on the judgment and criticism because you don’t know!
One statement I could make about the people who are often so quick to make judgments about those who have divorced is that they often have no personal experience with living in the hell of a bad marriage! I’m so happy for them! It is really easy to stand outside of a situation, not knowing all the fine and private details, and assume to know what motivates others and what it must be like to be them!
Others have no idea how long problems have existed in the marriage, what interventions have been attempted, what acts have been committed. They can say divorced people “gave up”, “took the easy way out”, or “were selfish”; but, the only ones who really know the full truth is that couple! And, let’s not forget that every tale has two sides, so just because one spouse has their perspective doesn’t mean that a whole other set of details doesn’t exist within the other spouse’s perspective.
The truly selfish people who have bailed on good spouses and salvageable marriages make everyone else who’ve had to turn to divorce look bad! The majority of us never wanted to be divorced, and we also never wanted to be mistreated, unloved, and jerked around by the people we trusted with our hearts! For most of us, divorce was a decision landed on after agonizing through the options and being left with no other choice.
What we can say about such a situation is that because divorce takes such an emotional toll on everyone touched by it, we have to be sure to take care of ourselves and others who are affected. Sometimes we (or the ones we love) are all too good at hiding the pain from others. So, just as we have to be careful about making assumptions regarding other people’s personal lives, we also must try not to miss any signs that the people we care about need help. And, if we need help, we should be sure to get it!
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, open 24 hours per day, can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.
The shame I felt over my divorce put me at a disadvantage when it came to getting the support I needed and being willing to properly protect myself legally.
For nearly a year after my ex left and filed for a divorce no one knew but close friends and family. Very few of my neighbors were aware of the fact that we were divorcing. No one from my church found out until I broke down and started crying one Sunday. The shame I felt over my divorce kept me from being honest and open about the adversity I was experiencing. Which, in turn, kept me from seeking the support I needed.
I don’t think mine is an uncommon story. Whether you are the one who wanted the divorce or, you were the one left behind there is a lot of shame associated with a marriage not working out.
Shame is the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable or improper, done by oneself or another. When we think we’ve done something to harm someone else, the natural response is to feel shame.
In my case, there was a massive amount of shame because he had left. I must have done something horrible to him to cause him to walk away from our family. I took on the burden for the problems in the marriage and loaded my psyche with the toxicity of carrying responsibility that was not mine.
If you are the leaver you may feel shame over hurting your spouse and all the emotional chaos your desire for a divorce caused. You may feel shame and guilt, if you have children, over putting your children through the divorce of their parents.
Temporary feelings of shame are healthy, they keep us in check and from trouncing all over the feelings of other people. Long-lasting shame is toxic because it can rob us of our ability to view ourselves as good and loving individuals. If your self-esteem and value as a human being tanks you will have a hard time moving on after divorce and finding happiness.
4 Ways To Keep Shame From Holding Your Back:
Give yourself credit for what you did right. As the old saying goes, “It takes two to make a marriage and two to break a marriage.” There may have been problems in the marriage to cause the irrevocable breakdown but you don’t own all those problems. Make a list and when you begin to doubt yourself refer to it and all the things you did right and give yourself a break.
I was faithful,
I was honest,
I never struck him/her,
I tried with all my power to make it work.
Replace negative thoughts about yourself with positive thoughts. Constantly fixating on the negative feelings you have about yourself only keeps painful memories alive and dictating how you live your life. Just like your marriage, the negative thoughts belong in the past. You can’t move on to a better future if you don’t leave them where they belong…in the past.
Use empowering language when you talk about your situation. Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) is a therapy built on the belief that using positive and self-loving language can influence your subconscious mind which then leads you to a more self-loving attitude.
One helpful NLP technique: dilute strongly negative words will prime your subconscious mind to think more positively about who you are as a person. For example:
Instead of saying, “She is devastated because I divorced her” say to yourself, “She is disappointed that the marriage had to end. The word “disappointed” is far less negative than the word, “devastated.”
If you were left and feeling shame, don’t say, “I’m crushed because he left me, say to yourself, “I’m surprised he left.” Saying to yourself and others that you are “surprised” will have a far less negative effect than using the word “crushed.”
Dr. Al Siebert, director of Portland, Oregon’s Resiliency Center and author of The Resiliency Advantage suggests, “If you’re bouncing back from a challenging time, it’s essential to become aware to not dwell on the pain of what you are going through. Instead, consciously pepper your conversations with strong, uplifting, optimistic words that will keep you aimed in a strong, positive, healing direction.”
So, not only do you want to change the way you think about your divorce, you want to change the way you talk about your divorce.
Make apologies to those you’ve hurt. For most of us, it is never our intent to hurt or cause emotional harm to others. There are times in life when, for us to get what we need, others suffer negative consequences. If you are feeling shame because you know you caused hurt and harm, reach out to that person with an apology. Say you are, “sorry” and mean it.
Like I said earlier, it takes two to break a marriage. Apologizing for your role in the problems in the marriage and any hurt feelings due to your need for a divorce will not only help your ex begin to heal, it will heal your pain also.
At times the problems in the marriage are too deep, there are no solutions and making the decision that it is time to divorce is your only option.
Should you stay or, should you go? That is the question most that divorce struggle with for some time before making the decision to leave. When in a bad marriage it may seem those are the only two options, staying or going. It isn’t quite as simple as asking yourself if it’s time to divorce, though.
Here are three alternatives when trying to make such a decision. You can stay and work on your marriage, you can separate and hope that distance helps bring a new perspective to the marital problems or, you can divorce.
Staying doesn’t have to mean the marriage continues on the same rocky path. Separation can be a time for each spouse to reflect on the marriage, themselves and gain perspective on the problems in the marriage. A separation is a great tool that can be used to either save the marriage or transition into the divorce process.
Should You Stay, Go or, Is It Time To Divorce?
Should you stay?
All marriages, without exception, hit rough spots. There will be times when you adore your spouse, times when you don’t like your spouse and times when you can’t stand the sight of your spouse. Feelings toward a spouse and marriage come in waves or cycles. Given the opportunity and the application of appropriate relationship skills, the bad times ultimately pass.
The issue that most seem to have is their high expectations for a love filled, “happily ever after” marriage. Viewing marriage realistically and knowing that your marriage will have periods of discontent makes it easier to deal with the bad times. It also keeps you from making a rash decision to divorce that you will later regret.
What do you do if the marital problems are huge and the bad times seem to carry on and on? If you’ve chosen to stay in the marriage in the hope that things will “get better,” you have to do more than just stay.
Couples have options, they can work together to find solutions to the marital problems or they can seek outside help in the form of a marriage counselor or marriage educator.
Lori Lowe, author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss says, “If you are facing difficulty in your life, share your sorrows and challenges with your mate so he or she can walk through it with you. Consider that this valley, while you would never choose it, maybe something that makes you stronger as a person and as a couple.”
Whether you work as a couple with resources you find online, in a bookstore or seek the assistance of a trained professional you and your children will reap the benefits of a healthy, happy marriage. After doing the work if you should decide that divorce is the choice for you, you will at least be able to live with the knowledge you did all in your power to save the marriage and keep the family intact.
Should you go?
You may find it easier to “go” if you view leaving as a step in rebuilding the marriage, not ending the marriage. The thought of creating distance from your spouse during times of turmoil may seem counter-productive but if done respectfully and properly, separation can be a great tool for bringing a couple back together.
A separation with the intent to restore the marriage can succeed if there is good communication before and during the separation. There should be honesty about the reason for the separation. If separation is a way out of the marriage for you, don’t lead your spouse on by telling him/her that you are leaving because you “need some space.”
Although the marriage is in trouble there must be a level of trust between spouses about the reason for the separation, the expectations for the marriage during the separation and the goals you are working toward together.
Should You Divorce?
At times the problems in the marriage are too deep, there are no solutions and divorce is the option you choose. If this is so for you, I hope that you are able to dismantle your marriage in a way that shows respect to yourself, your spouse and your children.
The reality is this…divorce is not a “friendly” step to take so there will be some conflict, maybe even periods of high conflict during the divorce. Most divorces are initiated by one spouse. Commonly it is not the result of both spouses coming together and making the decision. Due to this, someone is going to be left behind, emotionally hurt and angry.
Divorce will prolong your discomfort, not relieve it. It will take time for you to feel the relief from marital problems you are seeking. If you find that you can’t stay and must go, go with the knowledge that divorce won’t immediately put an end to the marital problems you struggle with.
Prepare yourself for the emotional upheaval caused by divorce and doing what you need to do to take care of yourself legally, emotionally and physically through the divorce process and after.