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YouTube, the single moms first line of defense against leaking faucets, bored kids and taking up with the wrong man for the wrong reasons. 

I could have hired someone to do it, but I didn’t. Instead, I sat in the grass, phone in hand, a wrench by my feet. I was determined. It was me against a leaky outdoor faucet. But I was armed with a secret weapon.

YouTube.

When I got divorced, I wanted to keep things as consistent as I could for my children. And part of that meant keeping them in the only home they had ever known. I was so focused on buying the house, on the negotiations, the paperwork, and the loans, though, that I overlooked the part about what it would actually mean to live in and maintain an almost 100-year-old home on my own.

I consider myself a pretty self-sufficient girl, but the truth was that I had lived with my parents until I went off to college, then I lived in apartments. If something broke, we called the landlord and it was (eventually) fixed. When I bought my first house, this house, I had a husband who took care of the things that broke, whether that meant doing it himself or coordinating a professional to handle it. Bob Vila, I was not.

Still, I was determined to stay in our home after my divorce.

I had done it. I was now the sole owner of the old house that I loved, that my children loved.

As the weather turned nicer, I knew my kids were going to want their wading pool and water balloons filled. There was just one problem: our only outside faucet had such a persistent leak that the water had been turned off in the cellar the fall before. It had to be fixed. “Just call a plumber,” my well-meaning father kept saying. A plumber? That seemed a little excessive for a dripping faucet. I was not looking for a repeat of a few weeks before when I had paid an electrician $150 to flip a fuse switch.

So, I did what my kids do when they want to learn something. (Or, let’s be honest here when they want to watch other kids play with toys.) I went to YouTube. If there were videos that showed you how to open a blind bag, surely there were videos to show you how to fix a leaky faucet.

And that’s how I found myself one afternoon sitting in the grass, phone propped up on flagstone, determined to make a faucet work as I clicked through YouTube videos.

I didn’t need a husband; I had a whole army of helpful men and women right at my fingertips. And if one wasn’t explaining things in a way that made sense to me, there was no argument. No frustration over whose “way” was best. I just clicked on the next video until I found someone I wanted to listen to. Why had I not thought of this before?

It took me a while to find a video which had the same faucet as I had. I also didn’t have many tools; just one very old wrench found buried in the back of a cabinet, that I’m pretty sure we had used to stir a paint can or something. But the man in the video never lost patience. He paused when I needed him to. He repeated himself when I needed to hear something again. He would get louder and softer anytime I asked. It was the perfect relationship.

I eventually got the faucet apart. And just like my YouTube partner suggested, I took the rusty piece to a plumbing supply store to get the right parts. Not Home Depot or Lowes, but a real plumbing supply store like the professionals used. (In all fairness, I did have to Google where one was.) And once there, I was struck by something I had learned often in my divorce: there are so many people ready to help you, ready to support you, if you just ask. Within just a few minutes of walking in the door, I had three guys helping me, asking me to describe what kind of pipes I had, and trying out different washers on my rusty, old faucet. One man, a plumber, even gave me his number and told me to call him if I got in over my head. It was a nice offer, but YouTube and I had it covered.

That afternoon, I turned the wrench one last time, went down into my basement, turned the main water line on and then ran back out to the faucet. I held my breath. This was it. Was it going to work? I grasped the handle and tuned. Water ran. And it stopped completely when I turned the handle back. I screamed so loud that the elderly, Italian man across the street stopped watering his flowers and stared.

I had done it. This was so much more than water. We were going to be all right. This single mom was going to be able to take care of this house all by herself.

That faucet was just the start of my YouTube relationship. Since then, I have used it to assemble a gas grill, install storm doors, thaw frozen pipes, fix broken windows, install air conditioners and use a variety of new-to-me tools; all things I never would have thought I could have done on my own. Now, in addition to friends and family, I have yet another form of “Single Mom Support”: YouTube.

Don’t get me wrong, it would be incredibly nice to have someone in my life who could do these things for me. And I am certainly not saying that there aren’t times when it is best to call in a professional. But had I not gotten divorced, I would never have learned that I am capable of doing so much more than I thought I could. I might have missed the rush of doing something outside my comfort zone and getting it right.

And until the day comes when I’m not the one only responsible for taking care of my home, I know I can turn to YouTube for more than just “Ryan’s Toy Review”.

The post YouTube: A Single Mom’s Secret Weapon appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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We hear a lot from the men’s rights movement about the type women who receive alimony. What we don’t hear from them is, alimony is only received if it’s deserved. 

Bill’s face turned red as he read the letter from the judge. Their divorce was contentious, and he knew it was a gamble letting the judge decide how to settle the marital assets. His ex and he just couldn’t agree. She was irrationally demanding that he pay alimony, and he wasn’t going to budge. No way was his hard-earned money going to support her lazy, entitled lifestyle.

He earned plenty of money as a doctor, so he could afford to pay her a monthly allowance, but it was the principal of the matter that he disagreed with. She didn’t do anything all day long, why doesn’t she just get a job?

The judge’s letter spelled out he would be paying $8,000/month to his wife in alimony, for 10 years. His eyes widened and mouth clenched as he read and reread that number. Could he handle the payment? Yes! But he may need therapy to get through it.

It’s therapeutic to laugh about alimony, but it’s very serious if you’re dealing with it for the first time.

Stories like the above can be funny to some, horrifying to others, but they create a stereotype of alimony that says: only gold digging, pain-in-the-@$$, lazy, entitled women get alimony because they make irrational demands on their hardworking ex-husbands.

DEBUNKING THE STEREOTYPE OF ALIMONY

Let’s debunk a few myths about alimony.

What’s the difference between spousal support, alimony, and maintenance?

They are all the same thing. The term “alimony” is gradually becoming replaced with “spousal support” and “maintenance”, probably because of the stereotype associated with the term “alimony”.

What are the chances of me getting alimony?

Slim. Alimony is not very common. It takes a perfect recipe of incomes, jobs, family history, age, health, and standard of life to make alimony a good fit for a divorcing couple.

How can I get alimony?

Your divorce can’t be finalized yet. You can retroactively be awarded spousal support. If you are currently in the divorce process, you can look at being awarded alimony in two ways. One, negotiate it into the property settlement agreement. If you and/or your attorney are getting stuck in negotiations trying to incorporate it into the agreement, contact a divorce financial analyst. We are trained to help come up with a solution that will work for both parties.

Two, let the judge decide. The judge may award alimony based on the case your attorney makes in court, but they may not. You roll the dice when you let your divorce fate be decided on by a judge.

How does a judge determine if I qualify to receive spousal support?

It depends on your state. Your state may have guidelines that it follows. In that case it is pretty cut and dry. A quick google search for “alimony guidelines in California” gave me this answer:

A general rule is that spousal support will last for half the length of a less than 10 years long marriage. However, in longer marriages, the court will not set alimony duration. The burden will be on the party who pays to prove that spousal support is not necessary at some future point in time.

In my home state, however, there is no state guideline. So, a judge uses his or her discretion to determine if and how much alimony should be awarded.

What does a judge look at when deciding the spousal support amount and duration?
  • How long you were married?
  • Are both you and your ex-spouse physically/mentally able to work?
  • Are you healthy? Is your spouse healthy?
  • How old are you and your spouse?
  • Can your spouse afford to pay spousal support?
  • What’s the current job and life situation for both you and your spouse?
  • Do you need spousal support?
  • What was your prior standard of living?
  • What are your reasonable needs?
  • Is your spouse responsible for supporting others besides you?
  • Would awarding alimony even out the property settlement for your divorce?
  • How much and what other property were you awarded? (for example, if you receive a lot of alimony, you may not receive the equity in the house of other financial assets)
  • Was the divorce your spouse’s fault? (in states that accept grounds for fault in divorce)
How do I determine my “reasonable needs”? I don’t want to change my quality of life.

This is a gray area. You can debate it in negotiations, or you can roll the dice and let the judge decide what you reasonable needs are.

In the case of red-faced Bill, above, the judge determined that his wife had reasonable needs to partially sustain her formal standard of living. It won’t support the vacation home and travel that she was accustomed to, but she can continue to live close to her old standard of life, with a few adjustments.

Why did the judge award that much in alimony to her? Bill and she had been married for 30 years. She was a stay at home mom for 30 years. Her kids are grown now, but she was out of the workforce for so long, she doesn’t feel her chances are good at starting over at an entry-level job. That’s hard to do at 55, she says. The judge awarded her $8,000/month for 10 years, and $150,000 from their retirement accounts. She’ll either have to invest wisely or get a job and save up more for retirement in order to support herself in retirement after the alimony runs out in 10 years.

Who pays the taxes on spousal support?

The person who receives the spousal support will usually pay ordinary income taxes on it. The person who pays the spousal support can deduct it from his or her taxes. There are a couple of exceptions that disqualify the taxation of spousal support. If you are questioning whether it should be taxable in your case, contact a divorce financial analyst.

Do men receive spousal support?

You bet. I know several successful female doctors (they can be of any profession) the key here is that they consistently make a high income) where their husband is a stay-at-home dad. He may have a part-time job, but he is the primary caretaker of the kids and the home. If they get hit by divorce, those men will likely be looking at receiving “maintenance” payments from their ex-wives.

Is alimony a good fit for me? Or is there a better alternative?

Alimony is not my favorite. It has significant weaknesses, which I will address in another article in the future. There are alternatives to alimony which are much more beneficial. But each divorce is unique, and alimony may be the only or the best solution. Send me a message if you need alimony alternative help before I get that next article published.

DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER

This is what most people think of when they hear the word “alimony”. It represents the loathsome, greedy, shallow, diva side of humankind. Maybe that’s true in some cases. But most likely, not.

On the other side of the alimony story is probably a hurt, pain, and loss.

So next time you hear of someone having to pay alimony, think twice before you start imagining red horns growing out of the ex-wives head, holding her hand out for more money. There’s two sides to every story, including why alimony was awarded.

The post Alimony: What It Is And Why It May Be Deserved appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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You want to protect yourself, your children AND your money during divorce!

Protecting your money during your divorce will need to be an important focus for you. Money is the one issue you can start protecting and preparing for long before you file for a divorce.

If you suspect your spouse of hiding money, if you think the separation and divorce will be acrimonious and riddle with conflict, you need to take precautions with your finances in advance of filing for a divorce.

First, let me say to stay-at-home moms, “your money” is the money your husband earns to keep the household afloat. When you both agreed that you would stay at home to raise the children there was an implied agreement that the one income would cover the expenses of both spouses and the family. Therefore, if you end up divorcing, don’t think that because you don’t earn a separate income that you have no money to protect.

You and your children will need to be financially secure until you can go back to work, that means you being willing to protect what portion of his income you need to remain financially viable after the divorce is final.

Here are the best ways to protect your money when divorcing. 1. Open Personal Banking Accounts

If you don’t already have a bank account in your name alone, open both a checking and savings account. Inform your spouse when you do so and give them an accounting of how much money you will be depositing in the accounts.

You want your spouse to be aware of these accounts so you won’t be accused of attempting to hide marital monies.

Once you separate and file for divorce you’ll need cash to cover attorney fees, court fees and, if necessary a new place to live. A good rule of thumb is to not file for a divorce until you have enough money for legal fees and living expenses to last at least 3 months.

2. Close All Joint Credit Accounts

Pay down and close all joint credit accounts you and your spouse hold together. Whether it is a Target credit card or a home mortgage, credit accounts need to be paid off if possible or, put in one or the other spouse’s name alone.

If you aren’t able to pay off the credit accounts talk to your creditors and find out what steps need to be taken to have your name removed from the accounts. When you go to divorce mediation or divorce court, all debts will have to be split during divorce settlement negotiations. The fewer debts you have, the less stress during negotiations.

If you don’t work or have an income, encourage the income earning spouse to help you remove your name from all joint accounts. If need be, you can negotiate the split of debt by promising to take on a portion of the marital debt once you are working and earning a living wage.

To protect money or investments held in joint accounts, you can also withdraw half of the money. If you withdraw all of the money the court could order you to give half back. Another option is to change the signature authority on any joint account so that both of you must sign in order to complete a transaction.

Instead of Mr. or Mrs. the account will read, Mr. and Mrs. And require both spouse’s signatures before monies in the account can be used.

3. Protect Your Valuables

If you are in an abusive relationship or believe your spouse will destroy or hide valuable possessions hide them. Keep in mind, though, any valuables you have that were purchased with marital funds will need to be valued and split during the divorce process.

What you want to do is protect valuable assets but not hide the fact that they are in your possession. When you file a list of marital property with the court, make sure you list any valuables you’ve removed from the home. Do not sell any valuables if you need cash. If you do so, you will have to pay the monies back during divorce settlement negotiations.

4. Don’t Incur New Debt

What you want is to save as much money as possible before you file for a divorce.

Running up charges on a credit card isn’t saving money. Once you’ve gotten your name removed from that Target credit card, cut it up. It’s cash from here until your divorce is final. Keep a wise head and save for the future so you don’t begin your new single life without of control credit card debt.

5. Request a Copy of Both Credit Reports

You want to know, not only how your credit looks but the same for your spouse. Do they have open credit accounts in their name alone that you had no knowledge of? Have they made foolish decisions that negatively impact both yours and their credit report? If there are issues with the credit reports, you can go to working cleaning yours up if you have copies of both credit reports.

6. Get a Post Office Box

You don’t want your new banking information or, anything else related to your desire for a divorce to go to an address where it can be intercepted by your spouse. To protect your privacy and keep your spouse from getting their hands on important documents, set up a PO Box and have your mail delivered there.

7. Document Before You File

You want to get evidence of valuables and cash sources before you file for a divorce. Take pictures of marital possessions. Did you buy an expensive Grandfather clock during a vacation in Germany? Take a picture! Along with pictures of possessions, make copies of bank account and investment account statements. Keep all these pics and documents in a safe place away from the home.

8. Get Job Training Before You File

If you’ve been a stay-at-home mom and have no marketable skills, go back to school before jumping into a divorce. You can protect your future earning potential by making sure you have future earning potential. Don’t make the mistake that you will be able to live off child support and alimony while you go back to school.

Alimony laws are changing drastically. Today, you will receive very little for a very short period of time.

9. Get Rid of Financial Power Imbalances

If your spouse has always been in charge of paying the bills and keeping up with the finances, this needs to change.

Knowing exactly how much money comes into the household and where it goes out to puts you on level footing with your spouse once you file and start negotiating a divorce settlement.

10. Know the Value of Pension and Retirement Accounts

Retirement funds are usually a couple’s biggest marital asset. Familiarizing yourself with the value of both your and your spouse’s accounts and how they are divided during divorce according to your state’s divorce laws puts you in a better position, one of not being taken advantage of during divorce settlement negotiations.

11. Don’t Ask for “Alimony”

Here me out! Alimony is taxable income. I have a friend who refused alimony in lieu of her ex paying her mortgage for 4 years. She still had a monthly check coming in from her ex, it just wasn’t called alimony in the legal paperwork. If it is not listed as alimony in your final decree of divorce, you don’t have to claim it as income at tax time. Tax break! So, once the divorce is filed and negotiations have begun, pay close attention that alimony is not listed as part of your final divorce decree.

Divorce shakes up your emotions and can cause you to make irrational decisions when it comes to finances or, any other aspect of the divorce process. If you’ve taken proactive steps to protect your money before you file for a divorce it only makes sense that you will be better prepared to make rational decisions about your finances during your divorce. Decisions you won’t regret 5 years down the road.

The post 11 Tips For Protecting Your Money During Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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You wouldn’t believe what needs to be considered before dating a divorced woman.

Divorce is a painful end to what usually starts out as a beautiful relationship. Whatever the cause of a divorce, it takes its toll on the self-esteem and emotional health of both partners. When a deep investment of emotions, love, and care is lost at the end of a relationship, that loss can shatter the personality and trust of both parties.

Women, in particular, are more vulnerable in this regard. Whether they suffered mental or physical torture, or betrayal and infidelity, the emotional wear and tear may result in lifelong damage to their whole self.

Entering into a new relationship is never an easy decision for a divorced woman. And if she has kids, the idea of remarrying can seem even more daunting. This is because of the fear and loss of trust resulting from the former relationship. And entering into a new relationship with a woman who has experienced loss of fear and trust brings more challenge and responsibility to the man who is truly in love with a divorced woman.

If you are a man considering dating a divorced woman, don’t rush her. Earning her trust will take time, understanding, and patience.

Here are some important things to know before you start dating a divorced woman:

1. Understand her needs—and yours, too

A woman with a broken relationship has an entirely different set of needs from the rest. She has undergone rejection, failure, and isolation, which ultimately have altered her perception towards life and people. Her self-esteem has been tested, and now she needs some time and space to overcome the trauma. Resentment can linger, but with the support and care of loved ones, she can grow from the experience and become a better individual as a result.

As a newcomer in her life, try to understand how she now thinks about herself, kids, and a potential second marriage. You must be well aware of your own needs, too. This is important because you are the one who will help her step out of the past. Think twice if you expect immediate intimacy with her. Be open-minded and honest to make things easy for her. Don’t ask her out if you do not have the patience to deal with all the issues that come along with dating a divorced woman. Rather than being judgmental, be respectful. Since her children are her priority, she may no longer desire to indulge herself in other relationships. In such a case, it’s better to be a caring friend who understands all her needs. She deserves that much.

2. Accept her changed self

The hardships she has experienced might have resulted in a tough, independent, and straightforward woman who’s successful in courageously confronting the aftermaths of divorce. Appreciate her efforts and focus on the positive attributes of her personality. She might be apprehensive towards a new relationship or marriage, but your sincerity and persistence over time might help her become more comfortable with the idea of dating again.

3. Be supportive of her career

This new woman you’re dating has probably been working to make her living. Appreciate and celebrate her achievements in order to show her that you care for her. Before you start dating her, you both must be on the same page regarding her career. Don’t compel her to quit her job just for the sake of being a homemaker. Rather, compliment her independent and self-sufficient personality with an open heart and mind.

4. Accept her children and responsibilities

Realize the fact that you are dating a woman who is a mother, first and foremost. Try not to be possessive but instead, understand her responsibility towards children. Remember, your acceptance in her life is subject to your sincerity towards her children, too. Show her your genuine concern for them. Avoid commenting negatively about her ex-spouse, as the divorce might be a sensitive trigger for the children.

5. Express love, not sympathy

True love is always the best therapy. But the way you express your love matters the most. Be respectful of her feelings and thoughts. She needs your love, not sympathy. Honest communication is the key to a devoted relationship. Listen to her needs, complaints, and problems. Your willingness to understand her issues helps build trust, which is very important for both of you. Let her pour her heart out in front of you. The more she vents her fear and anxiety, the better she’ll feel towards life and people.

6. Be Lively

Life is tough for a divorced woman. So you must be lively just to lighten up her mood. Remember, you’re the one who can make her life easygoing and lovable again. Cracking a funny joke or smiling at her can make her laugh and feel good when you’re around. A cheerful attitude of your own can help her learn to tackle life in a more positive way.

7. Don’t play games

Your sincerity counts more than anything else. Don’t initiate a relationship if you are not serious about anything long-term. Starting a new relationship means a lot to a divorced woman. She has already suffered the agony of heartbreak once. Realize the fact that if she’s dating you it means she’s counting on you. Don’t play with her emotions. She wants nothing but your sincerity and commitment.

Your intention to date a divorced woman demands care and sincerity. A divorced woman can prove to be a better life partner, as she understands the value of this relationship more than anybody else. But it does require your devotion and love, to make her not only feel special but start loving life again!

The post Listen Up! 7 Things Men Must Know Before Dating a Divorced Woman appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Why do you think so little of yourself? Why do you feel you can’t get a man that doesn’t belong to someone else?

I’d be willing to bet that you’re sleeping right now. Why wouldn’t you be? It’s 3 in the morning. It’d also be safe to guess that you will wake up in a few hours with no remembrance of what happened a year ago. November 12th is just another random day to you. In fact, it was probably just another Sunday for you, heading home from yet another business meeting. Just another short trip to New York playing dress up for all of the company’s traders. I wonder if you had to coordinate picking up your kids that afternoon. Did they stay the weekend at their dad’s?

Me wondering what your weekend was like probably feels weird, I’m sure. Welcome to the world of being the victim of infidelity. As I sit here in a quiet home with the rest of the city enjoying the last few hours of sleep before a busy Monday morning, I’m tormented by thoughts of you. You see, this date has been weighing on my mind for two months now. Ever since finding out what you did with my husband. I’ve known that this date would carry a lot of power with it. Any forward progress I’ve made to recover from the trauma I’ve been put through seems to be temporarily paused. The Mack truck that ran me over has started back up and it’s chasing after me again today.

I should have seen the signs. Honestly.

I liked becoming friends with the woman my husband worked with. You were always the cool chick that understood me, sought me out, eager to chat. But hearing all of your sordid stories about what you allegedly did with [the celebrity who shall not be named] never really gave me that giddy, giggly response that it seemed to give you. After all, he’s a married man. I have no idea of who he is as a man, or what the state of his marriage is, but I do know that married is married. Unfortunately, from what I’ve heard about you, you certainly don’t feel the same. Do you take pride in the men in the office calling you The Big Game Hunter? Does that somehow give you a sense of power in a man-driven industry? As a woman who used to work in the same industry, I will tell you what it makes me think of when I hear it. It makes me feel sorry for you. Those guys aren’t meaning it as a compliment. They view you as a pathetic predator. As someone who thinks so little of herself that she gets her self-worth from how many notches she can put on her belt. It’s sad, really.

But that’s who you are, right?

You saw my husband and said, “Yep, he’s it.” Or was it that you heard all the talk about how controlling I was as a wife? Heck, even I hear that one a lot. Poor guy doesn’t get to go do anything fun with the guys because his wife never ‘lets’ him. You both just needed a little boost to the ego, right? Isn’t that what you said? I will never know what led you to his hotel room a year ago, but I am haunted by the images of that night. This morning. One year ago. And all I can do is pray that God gives me the strength to somehow get through this day. That He will make it possible for me to put one step in front of the other, shake those disgusting thoughts out of my head, and somehow be the mom my kids need me to be.

Ah yes, the kids. Betcha don’t think about my kids today.

So why is it that I’m thinking about your two little boys? Why do their images get blurred in my head? Why do flashes of their sweet faces blend in with snippets of seeing you in compromising positions with my husband? Is it because what the two of you did that night affected not only the two of you, not just me, but four small children as well? Do they know any of this happened? God, I pray not. I pray that this never affects their innocence. I hope that they are able to buck the statistic that predicts that they will carry on this same kind of behavior in their marriages. That will be the true miracle to come out of this yuckiness.

So here I sit, still a ball of emotions, wounded and scarred, wondering why I feel so compelled to write you a letter today on the anniversary of your tryst. What message could be so important that I know I won’t be able to sleep without first writing it down? For you, I’m sure it’s nothing. This won’t change who you are or even make you think twice about anything other than work today. But I will say that for me it’s critical to let you know:

I will make it through this. Only by the incredible Grace of God will that be possible, but it will happen. You will not define me, or – more importantly – my kids. One day I will wake up and to my core not care anything about you or what you did to my life. One day. And until then, I will pray for you. It will most likely be through clenched teeth form quite some time. My words will not be sincere for years, I’m sure. But one day I will find it in my heart to forgive you and your adulterous way. One day you will have no power over me and I will wish you well. I will be able to pray for your happiness and truly mean it. Because I know that God has some pretty incredible things planned for me in spite of you. Instead of taking up residence in my head, you will only be a blip on a screen…far…far away. Or at least that’s my prayer for today.

The post For You, On The Anniversary Of Your Tryst With My Husband appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Marriage is not ‘one size fits all’ kind of club. What works for us wouldn’t work for others

My first marriage ended 2 and a bit years after it started. It didn’t fail, it ended.

With the end of that marriage came a waterfall of emotion, upheaval, new beginnings, sore endings, heightened feelings, angry words, resentment and the “what ifs”. But the strongest feeling? Devastation and crippling disappointment in myself, coming from a large family on both my Mum and Dad’s side it was a strange feeling. I was the first and the only one (so far) to get divorced. Why had this happened to me? Why did I have to be different, cause a stir? Buck convention?

Despite what we read in the media about the Divorce rates and ‘failed’ marriages I truly don’t believe for a moment that it’s as shallow as it sounds. For me it’s because times are changing, our generation has been raised to believe in equality, to be emotionally intelligent enough to know that it’s not simply a case of ‘getting by’. We are allowed to enjoy what we have, be it materially or emotionally or all of it!! Most importantly women have a voice and freedom. Men are being raised to know that women have their own strengths. If a situation is bad it can be changed.

And that was the problem in my first marriage. We couldn’t change. Neither of us.

He was strong-willed and believed women had a place. I was strong-willed and believed I could be independent and a wife and a mother. We were both right. Just not together.

We had met for a reason, there were millions of them, but the single most important was our daughter. I can only speak for myself when I say I had completely underestimated how much harder having a child would make a separation and then divorce. A lot of time has passed now and the waters are a lot calmer, but it hasn’t been easy. Not one bit.

I learned hard cold lessons about myself, the kind of thoughts and feelings that you think you’ll never have. Huge highs – the feeling of ‘I Can’, ‘I will’ and ‘Wow’ but the lows were like nothing I have experienced. All out failure, my heart ached even though I was the one that asked for the divorce. The judgment from people around me, the ‘do you not think you could have tried counseling/tried harder/tried changing?’

I had tried, I’d tried so hard that I had disappeared and turned into a woman I didn’t recognize, spark gone. Lights out.

In the dark times, I would think of my Grandparents married in the late 1940’s, my Grandmother a wildly independent and spirited soul who met the love of her life Michai, a ridiculously handsome and impeccably dressed Romanian who had ended up in the UK after being captured in World War II. They were married when my Gran was 19 and quickly my Mum was born. Their life was tough, really tough. Discriminated against from the wider community and cut off from (some but not all) of my Grans family and friends.

Was it that their relationship was backed by the soundtrack fit for a Hollywood Movie? Or was it sheer grit and determination? What was it that led them to be together until the day my Grandad died?

I watched my own parents, my sister and her husband, my cousins, aunts, and uncles and a theme started to emerge.

There was no magic wand, there was no formula but there was something that they all had. Themselves. In each relationship, whilst a couple they were also individuals. Yes, they may have slowly over years adapted their behaviors or opened their minds to different ways of doing things but they were still fundamentally the same person. In fact, in some cases, they had become stronger versions of themselves as a result of the support, love, and loyalty within the marriage.

All of the relationships were perfectly imperfect. They had grown and changed but stayed together. Why? Because when it came to things like money, working, raising their children their baseline was the same.

At times my Gran was hateful to Grandad, and at times he was a selfish bastard, so it wasn’t all about romance, but it was real. As real as the relationships I am surrounded by today.

I can remember really taking notice of if all, and thinking that if I was lucky enough to meet someone to be with, to build a family with, a home, a life. A second chance. I needed to strengthen up and learn what my “baseline” was, without it the same old relationship pattern would start again.

The day my divorce came through, it was an unusually sunny early spring day. I walked to the chip shop and randomly sat on a bench with Esme eating chips, completely baffled by the fact that with a date stamp on a piece of paper it was done. Divorced. Single.

When I met Chris, all the ‘things’ I had listed in my mind as a priority in my 20’s no longer existed. My Mum had said to me just weeks before we met “What you need Bec is soft and gentle, strong, but gentle.” I remember almost laughing out loud, but she was right.

Chris is gentle and quiet, but driven, strong, loyal, protective and the most intelligent man I know. We are complete opposites. I love people, spontaneity, loud music, entertaining. He is naturally quite shy and prefers to be in the background. He is a listener and I am a talker. He drives me bonkers. I drive him crazy with my overreactions and passionate opinions. I am crap with money, whilst he should be Martin Lewis’s, right-hand man.

Marriage is not ‘one size fits all’ kind of club. What works for us wouldn’t work for others, Chris works A LOT, and I am on my own A LOT, however, we feel the same about our kids and family, and generally, most decisions are shared ones plus we hate Sci-fi and walking boots.

We have the same baseline.

The post Marriage Is Not a “One Size Fits All” Kind Of Club appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Divorce mediation can lessen the stress of divorce on both children and parents.

Separation and divorce has lasting and varied consequences for families. For children, their coping methods are heavily influenced by their parents’ relationship. If the separation is characterized by increased conflict, it creates a stressful environment for children. Divorce will certainly have a long-term impact on children; however, the emotional turmoil created by conflict will increase the negative effects endured by children caught in the middle of their parents’ separation. Thus, it is important to curb the amount of conflict in which you are involved for the sake of your children.

Legal proceedings inevitably cause conflict for spouses, and as a result, children may be exposed to a harmful, tempestuous environment while the divorce carries on. One way couples can prevent more conflict and see lasting positive outcomes is by choosing mediation over litigation.

One mediation study followed people who were randomly assigned to traditional litigation in court or mediation. The results were remarkable, with positive outcomes for family relationships twelve years later. Parents who chose mediation ended up significantly happier with the process and results, and both parents were more involved in their children’s lives than those who litigated.

Children whose parents mediated their divorces had more contact with the parent they did not live with than children whose parents chose litigation.

Twelve years later:

  • 28 percent of children whose parents mediated saw their non-residential parent once a week, compared with 9 percent of parents who litigated.
  • 36 percent of litigating nonresidential parents had not seen their children in the past year, compared with 16 percent of mediating parents.
  • 52 percent of parents who mediated had weekly phone contact with their children, versus 14 percent of parents who litigated. These differences in telephone contact were particularly notable since many of the children had left home or moved away.

During mediation sessions, I help parents sort through, and more importantly, identify the emotions they are experiencing. Oftentimes, those in the midst of a conflict will experience anger, but that is only what appears on the surface. Once we delve deeper into that anger, we reveal sadness and grief. Recognizing this range of emotions is an important first step–it allows parents to work through their feelings and eventually learn how to manage them, which in turn helps them become more effective communicators during times of conflict. This open communication will improve negotiation between parents, leading to a happier outlook for everyone involved.

One of the best ways to overcome the negative effects of conflict in a divorce after legal proceedings is to establish an open dialogue among the people involved. A project featured in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy targets families wherein parents are entrenched in conflict and children are often caught in the middle.

The project, No Kids in the Middle, involved the help of professional counselors at two centers in the Netherlands and sought to help resolve conflict between parents for the well-being of children who are stuck in the middle of their parents’ divorce.

Researchers worked with children torn between parents who often engaged their children in conflicts relating to their failed marriage. Parents were observed embroiling their children in arguments where they were called upon to take the side of one parent or endured negative comments about their parents. This polarizing environment is confusing and stressful for children, resulting in a less-than-healthy context for emotional development.

The professionals in the study tried their utmost to convince parents to use reason and work together; however, cooperation was not always possible. In these cases, they advised parents to parent individually, without the pressure and influence of the other parent–in other words, they advised parents to ‘live and let live’.

If you are experiencing a lot of conflict with your spouse, step back and consider how fighting affects your children. It is easy to find yourself overwhelmed by the emotion of a divorce and in turn overlook the effect snide comments or passive aggressive actions may have on children caught in the middle. If these conflicts are impossible to overlook, it may be more feasible to parent individually.

The study sets an important example for couples who argue: counseling is an invaluable resource. Talking in a safe and open environment could be integral to the long-term happiness of your children.

The post How Mediation Lessens Divorce Stress On Children appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Stress is an expected partner of divorce! Now is the time to develop positive outlets to release negativity from your life!

Have you ever washed and then dried a pair of tennis shoes in the dryer? It’s like a marching band took up residence in the laundry room as the shoes bang, bang, bang up against the sides of the machine! I can’t help but think that the experience of enduring a divorce is quite similar to the sensation of spinning out of control while banging one’s head against the wall- just like those poor sneakers!

If I’ve learned anything about divorce, it’s that the stress and emotions involved can become overwhelming. We simply must have an outlet to allow the pressure of that stress to release, or the negativity bubbles and boils under the surface until it blows like a volcano! One or more healthy outlets allows the energy of stress to be converted into something much more pleasant, positive, and productive!

All emotions surrounding divorce are completely natural and understandable; it’s what we do with that energy that makes it either positive or negative. For instance, if we’re angry, taking out our frustrations in a road rage incident is not exactly healthy; but, there are many options we can consider to keep our minds occupied and bring about a sense of peace in an otherwise tense time.

Consider the many benefits any of these outlets may have and how adding one or more to your stress toolkit could do wonders for your wellbeing:

Physical exercise. Exercise has multiple benefits to our physical and mental wellbeing. Physical activity not only promotes physical fitness, but it causes the release of endorphins, the “feel good” neurotransmitters. Endorphins are fantastic at fighting off depression and anxiety, which we all know can be prevalent during divorce!

It’s not necessary to have an expensive gym membership or exercise equipment to reap the benefits of exercise! Simply walking, jogging, or working out with free weights can be quite effective and cost almost nothing. An investment in a yoga class, pilates, or a fun cardio dance class, however, is a great investment in yourself!

We may especially enjoy the benefits of getting toned, losing weight, and improving overall health; but, exercise, is also a great way to connect with our kids and can be a lifetime healthy habit that we engage all while getting some fresh air or spending time outdoors!

Meditation and relaxation. We can either employ techniques that help us focus and achieve calm, or simply listen to our bodies more often when we need rest. Relaxation can take many forms, including yoga, Tai chi, breathing exercises, mantras, and guided meditation. These exercises can increase self-awareness, quiet negative emotions, reduce anxiety, and increase patience, tolerance, and creativity.

Many people experience a deepened sense of tranquility, clarity, and rejuvenation after taking time to calm the mind. Another attribute of these methods is that they can be done just about anywhere, and results can often be felt after just a few minutes!

Spirituality. Spirituality is a personal choice and is lived very uniquely by each person who practices it. Being a spiritual person doesn’t guarantee less stress when “bad things” happen; but, what it may do is help us endure difficult situations better because we have a structure and system of beliefs that guide us and offer direction. If one subscribes to an organized religion, the network of support offered within a place of worship can provide hope and encouragement during a tumultuous time.

Nutrition. When we’re stressed, our body may experience a host of negative consequences including muscle tension and pain, poor sleep, and digestive problems (among many!), and our body requires more nutrients to combat these issues. Remember the old saying “you are what you eat?” Well, if we consume large quantities of caffeine, sugar, fat, and alcohol (as many of us do as a comforting response to stress), we actually bog our bodies down with garbage that makes it harder to function!

A high-stress time, such as a divorce is the time to nourish ourselves with foods rich in nutrients and vitamins, such as fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, calcium, and essential fatty acids because they can help us fight the effects of stress by making our bodies operate more efficiently, and help our hormones, immune system, and others maintain balance.

Volunteerism. Becoming involved in our community, and with causes we care about may be just as therapeutic as a work out! Studies suggest that the physical and emotional benefits of volunteering not only make us feel better because we are connected with others in a meaningful way; but, we also reap the benefits of knowing we are a part of something that is a benefit to others and making a positive difference in the world!

Doctors even believe that volunteering has the added physical benefits of reducing blood pressure, which in turn makes us less susceptible to heart disease and stroke, and may help us live longer! It’s a win-win for everyone!

What do you care about? The environment? Animal welfare? Your community? Whatever cause has a special place in your heart also surely has a charitable side with which we can dedicate time and energy to, instead of wasting worrying and feeling down about our divorce!

Creativity. Creativity can be expressed in a number of ways (dance, music, painting, design, crafting, writing, and so much more!), but every variation of creativity has the power to reduce stress by channeling negative energy into the inspiration for something new and unique. We can be creative simply in the way we decorate our home, arrange a few blossoms for the table, or experiment with fashion. We can really let our creative juices flow by stepping out of our bubble to start taking pictures, attending a pottery class, trying out improv, or putting pen to paper to write or draw.

Maybe it’s been years since last allowing thoughts and ideas to light a fire within? Divorce is an ideal time to release pent up energy and emotion into a cathartic blast of color, words, and sounds! Seriously, it’s like therapy to splatter paint, squish clay, twirl, and interpret all those feelings into movement and visual representations of what’s going on inside of us!

Stress outlets: we all need them, and we will all feel better for having used them to succeed through the stress and pressure of a divorce! Each of us can tap into a variety of different strategies to get the relief we need during difficult times. I have always found art, writing, and talking through my problems to be a big help; but, you will need to find your own tools to release negativity from your life. Start by gravitating toward interests and activities that you have always found to be enjoyable; but, don’t be afraid to try new things, as well! Divorce is a time when we need all the coping skills and help we can get to survive. It’s important to develop ways of taking care of ourselves and to make stress relief and self-care a priority!

The post What Outlets Do You Need In Your Stress Toolkit To Succeed Through Divorce? appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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t’s important to have both chemistry and compatibility with an intimate partner if you want the relationship to endure the test of time.

Chemistry is such a powerful force that many people confuse it with compatibility. While chemistry can be a glue that binds couples together early on in a relationship, it can fade over time if partners don’t share core values and maintain mutual respect.

That said, it’s possible to have both chemistry and compatibility with someone. Chemistry can be defined as a complex emotional or psychological interaction between two people. It can cause a couple to feel passionate and attracted to one another.

On the other hand, compatibility can be described as having an authentic connection with a partner who you admire. You like and respect who they are and how they carry themselves through the world.

In the beginning of a relationship, we tend to present our best selves and only see the best in our partners. But that honeymoon stage always ends and disillusionment can set in. That’s why it’s important to have both chemistry and compatibility with an intimate partner if you want the relationship to endure the test of time.

A supportive partner helps you navigate the unpredictable, ever-changing aspects of life as your vulnerabilities are exposed and you disagree. This type of partnership can only be achieved if you have compatibility with someone. Chemistry can help you weather the storms of life but compatibility enables you to set goals and find shared meaning in your relationship.

Are you wondering if you are wasting your time in a relationship that may not be the best fit for you over time? Here are eight signs that can help you decide if your relationship is worth pursuing.

8 signs you have both compatibility and chemistry with your partner:

You feel comfortable with each other and it’s easy to get close. In other words, you feel that you can be yourself with your partner and don’t have to put up a facade or work hard to impress him or her.

You have real affection and passion for each other. This is where sexual chemistry comes in and it should go hand and hand with affection. You have fun together a good deal of the time and tend to laugh at the same jokes.

You feel there’s real mutual respect. You accept and respect each other for who you are. In Is He Mr. Right?, Mira Kirshenbaum explains that if you don’t have respect for your partner, it will eat away at chemistry until you have nothing left.

You admire your partner for who he or she is as a person. If you can’t admire how someone lives their life, let alone admire them, it’s hard to keep any relationship going.

You share similar concerns about the world and your values are in sync. You are comfortable talking freely about your passions and support each other’s interests. For instance, you may not share the exact same views about how to stop world hunger, but you’re on the same page in regards to most of your values.

Your partner accepts you for who you are, doesn’t try to change you, and validates your perspective. Life is messy and changeable at times and it’s natural to go through ups and downs. A partner who truly cares about you attempts to boost your self-esteem even when you aren’t at your best. They make space for your thoughts and views and don’t make you feel bad for being in a bad mood or having a tough day.

You share a strong desire to learn and grow with your partner. In other words, to use your experiences to help you grow together and individually.

You have a shared vision for the life you want to create together. You talk about your future and make plans. Don’t waste your time on someone who doesn’t include you in his or her future plans with a sense of excitement. Author Howard J. Markman writes: “Couples can choose to protect their relationship by setting aside time to enjoy each other, renewing their sense of closeness and togetherness.”

Foster Admiration and Friendship with Your Partner

There is recent evidence that happy, lasting relationships rely on a lot more than a marriage certificate and that the secret ingredient is friendship. Look for qualities you admire in your partner and remind yourself of these admirable qualities regularly.

According to Erin Brodwin, “People in a relationship who saw their significant other as their best friend and either lived with that person or married them were happier than couples who saw their best friend as someone outside of the relationship.”

When it comes to matters of the heart, where admiration and respect are found, love will be sustained. But where these things are absent, love will die. Finding a partner who likes and respects you as much as you do him or her will give you the best chance of finding lasting love.

Follow Terry on Facebook, Twitter, and movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parent’s Breakup and Enjoy a Happy Relationship was published by Sourcebooks.

This article first appeared on HuffingtonPost.com

The post 8 Ways To Stop Confusing Chemistry And Compatibility appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Nothing could be more treacherous than divorcing and living in the same house.

It might make sense for you and your former spouse to stay in the same house even after you’ve made the decision to get a separation or a divorce. It might not be financially feasible for one or both of you to move out and find a new place; you might be making use of a nesting plan and trying to minimize the number of changes affecting your children at that current point in time.

Regardless of your reasoning, it is important to keep in mind survival tips if you intend to live in the same house as your former spouse.

The more you plan ahead, the easier living in the same house during divorce will be. Your own advanced consideration goes a long way.

1. Know the Reasons for Staying in The Same House

The first way to ensure that you can survive living in the same house together after the divorce is to have a major reason why. If there’s no specific reason why you’re keeping the same the residence and working with one another to establish a schedule or adhering to an existing custody and visitation arrangement, it will be difficult for you to keep up with the downsides associated with such a plan.

2. Define Your Own Space

Having occasional peace and quiet and ensuring that you have a place to go to get some privacy is extremely beneficial. It will be very difficult, for example, to share the bathroom with a spouse that you are getting a divorce from.

There’s no doubt that you’ll want to sleep in separate bedrooms, so it’s a good idea to have separate spaces to spend time away from one another and to sleep. It may be best to remove all of your belongings from the common area and into your individual spaces.

3. Protect Your Important Property and Your Documents

You might assume that your divorce is going to be amicable, but far too many people find out too late that they are not able to come to a civil divorce agreement with their spouse, especially when they’re living under the same roof. Many people assume that their divorce won’t get dirty. However, these situations can develop quickly and raw emotions are quite common. Make sure you have copies of all vital documents for your children, as well as the marital finances and assets.

You will want to keep these in a safe place that is inaccessible to the spouse. Other important things like pictures, jewelry or sensitive documents may need to be stored elsewhere.

4. Don’t Avoid Coming Home

Sometimes the stress inside the home or your own emotions of coping with the end of the marriage might encourage you to run away. Your absence, however, can send the wrong message to your children and can also hurt your case for child custody in court. If your children need you and this is the primary decision that you and your spouse have made to work in the home together, you need to avoid running away. This is why it is so important for you to have your own individual space inside the house.

5. Do Not Engage in Conflict Wherever Possible

You may be angry, trying to find ways to get your spouse’s attention if you wish to get back together or ready to move on. Fight-starting behaviors like name-calling, or pointing out particular triggers could be tempting. However, if both of you made the decision to divorce, then you need to find a way to stay focused on the future instead of the past. Remember that you need to be prepared for conflicts to arise, but also work as hard as possible to avoid starting it on your own.

6. Avoid Temptation

Avoid behaviors that could trigger emotional cues with your former spouse that could blur the lines for the two of you, as well as for your children. Trying to get back together in the midst of an ongoing divorce could make everybody confused and face additional emotional challenges. There are complications and consequences associated with getting physical with your former spouse again, and this should always be considered carefully before you engage in this behavior. Having clear boundaries within the house can help minimize the chances that you will run into each other on a regular basis. It can be particularly difficult if one or both of you begins dating someone else living outside of the house. Make sure you have clear boundaries and rules in place, and always act in the best interests of your children.

7. Try to Make Good Use of Your Time

One of the major reasons that people choose to stay under the same roof after a divorce is because they are trying to save money. Make sure you make good use of your time and the benefits of saving this money by making a plan for what will happen after you move out. For example, you could begin planning a visitation for your children. Furthermore, this is your chance to walk through the home and take inventory of everything. You might create a plan of distribution of the property that you deem to be fair.

It can be difficult to try to live together in the same house while you are going through a divorce, but it is not impossible when you have a clearly articulated plan, and are thoroughly prepared for the challenges and obstacles that may arise during this difficult but temporary time.

8. Keep Repeating “This Too Shall Pass”

This difficult chapter of your life will not last forever. If you there is a set date when one of you intends to move, or a court date that is set to determine what will happen to the house, you can keep focusing on this. If your primary goal is ultimately being apart, staying focused on this goal overall will help you during this challenging time.

The post Divorcing And Living In The Same House? 8 Survival Tips appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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