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Post-Divorce Jealousy: 3 Ways to Beat It Before It Beats You

Post-divorce jealousy is a not-so-rare phenomenon that can hold you back years when it comes to rebuilding your own life and finding your own “happy place.” That’s the theory of attorney Krista Barth, who writes that “No good comes from worrying about the things others have, material or otherwise.”

She continued: “Your ex has a new significant other, a new house, a new car. Your ex is traveling the world (and they never did this with you). Your ex is spending your child support payment on their nails or golf. They are now father or mother of the year, and they never even changed a diaper! You cannot control someone or their actions, but you can control your reactions.”

This is very good advice if you feel yourself suffering from post-divorce jealousy. Here are some actionable things that you can do to change your outlook.

1. See the benefit to what your spouse is trying to accomplish. 

If your spouse has improved their parenting game or grown more responsible, think about how that can benefit your children. If you don’t have kids, you might instead see it as a wakeup call to focus less on them and more on you. After all, the way that most people start making improvements in their lives, is they look inwardly and change the things that aren’t working.

2. See the benefit of no longer being ‘connected’ to your spouse. 

There are times where your ex is going to appear better off than you, just like there are times when roles will be reversed. It’s called life. You go through ups and downs. They go through ups and downs. The important thing to remember is that you cannot control their ups any more than you can control your downs. You can, as Barta writes, respond well, however. If you’re lamenting the fact that your ex’s life is on the upswing and yours isn’t, then they’re obviously not your favorite person. Why not change your perception as a result and bask in the glory of your own freedom? They’re no longer your problem. Be happy with that!

3. Start living for you. 

Until you realize that you are just as capable of adopting a positive outlook and making good changes in your life, you’re always going to be trailing behind this hypothetical ex. Instead of doing that, start living for you. Set your own goals. Work hard to accomplish them. Lose weight, get in better shape, eat right, rest, pursue your passions and interests. This is your time, not theirs.

Jealousy never looks good on anyone. It affects how you feel about yourself and how others perceive you. Before giving in to it, apply some positivity and the tips mentioned above.

4 Depression Management Tips After a Divorce

Depression can easily take hold in the immediate stages after divorce, especially if you weren’t the party, who wanted it. Feelings of rejection and failure often accompany the death of a marriage, and it’s very easy for these things to meld in to full blown depression. In some people, the cases are mild and can be reversed through lifestyle changes and goal setting. In others, the issue may take a physical toll and even lead to suicide or reckless life decisions. No matter what part of the spectrum you’re on, these are some good tips for beating back the dangers of this condition. 

1. Make wise lifestyle choices. 

Mild depression can often be defeated with better lifestyle choices and the mental decision to love yourself. Start with water intake and healthy, nutritious foods. The more good that you put in to your body, the more good you’ll get out of it. If you do engage in alcoholic beverages, make sure you’re doing so in moderation.

2. Get your blood pumping. 

A healthy exercise routine — emphasis on “routine” — will get your blood pumping, fat burning, and muscles growing. All of these things have positive psychological effects that grow the more that you stick to your goals. One note: “routine” is a good word when it comes to working out regularly, but it can be a bad word if you get locked in the same exercises and challenges. Especially with your body, always be looking to change up the routine-within-the-routine. In other words, don’t let your body get too used to any one weight or exercise. 

3. Make contact. 

One of the worst things in the world that a human being can go through is loneliness. This is not to be confused with being alone. Being alone is fine so long as you love yourself and fill that time with things that gratify you as a person and make you love yourself. But everyone, no matter how introverted they are, needs to step away from “being alone” at some point and make contact with the outside world. Choose people who are your advocates. Individuals who accept you for who you are and who are there for you when you need them most. Also, look to establish new contacts with people that have similar interests. You never know where your next best friend and/or love interest might come from. 

4. Seek help.

If you’re doing everything mentioned above or if depression runs in your family — either diagnosed or undiagnosed — visit a doctor and talk about what you’re going through. Most depression medications can help you find balance and feel better-adjusted while being one of the few prescription drugs that are cheap to purchase.

Depression can be a silent killer, either directly through the decision to harm yourself or indirectly through a series of reckless choices. Don’t let it win. What has helped you cope with depression? Share your thoughts in our comments section!

3 Ways to Reassure Your Kids After a Divorce

Children take divorce hard. That’s not an old wives’ tale. It’s something that has been proven out case-by-case, study-after-study. That’s not to say that it’s something that has to haunt them forever, though. In fact, you have a lot of say in the direction that it takes them in life, so try to make sure they’re on the right path with the following reassurances.

1. Let them know unequivocally that it isn’t their fault. 

Kids can often feel like they’re the reasons Mom and Dad are getting a divorce, and it’s not really a message that we as parents are innocent of sending. When you let the stress and animosity of your marriage spill out onto the child or for the child to see and that ends up in divorce, what else can they think? Make sure that you and your spouse are making time to explain the drive behind the divorce. It may mean a difficult conversation where you can no longer shield the child from the realities of life, but it beats the alternative of having them accept all the blame that isn’t theirs to begin with.

2. Express to them that they are still Mom and Dad’s number one priority, and that neither of you will love them less after the divorce is final. 

Children need to hear and be shown that they are loved, and you can do that by taking the time to express it to them together and individually every chance that you get. That doesn’t mean they will immediately understand the divorce, but they will believe that you are not going to forget them; that you will still look at them as the gifts that they are. 

3. Show them a stable home wherever they’re staying. 

This is easier said than done but definitely necessary. The older a child gets, the wiser he will become. And with wisdom comes experimentation. One of the areas they’re likely to experiment in is playing Mom and Dad against one another to get their way. While this may feel like a short-term game for them, none of you win when that happens. What the child is really trying to show is that he yearns for discipline and stability. He yearns for a Mom and Dad, who will care enough about him to rein him in. When you fail to work together as co-parents, he may get his way in the short term, but he’ll lose his way in the long term, and will probably grow to resent you for it. So make sure that wherever he’s staying, he has to follow the same set of rules and standards. Approach disciplinary actions as a team. Even if you could not work together to save the marriage, you should still be able to work together to guide your child.

What were/are some common fears that your children have felt/are feeling through divorce? What reassurances have you given that were effective? Sound off in the comments section!

4 Reminders to Make You Better Co-Parents

Co-parenting can be difficult, particularly if you are fresh out of a contentious divorce and still trying to figure out how to coexist. It’s at this point that you’ve both got to refocus your efforts on the child and do what is best for him or her. The centerpiece of your relationship must shift. While before you may have been trying to make your relationship work for everyone, now you have to make the co-parenting relationship take precedent. That means setting aside personal feelings and ill will and remembering these basic but important tips.

1. Have conversations instead of disagreements. 

Yes, you will disagree with one another, and you may even feel anger, but try to leave that at the door when discussing parenting decisions. The need to compete is over. “My way is better than your way” hysterics no longer have a place because regardless of method, it must be something that stabilizes and nurtures the child. If you do feel like your voices are starting to raise, take a break and focus on what you CAN agree on. Also, realize that fragmented parenting is not an option, and that compromise is a must if you’re going to do right by your child.

2. Respect each other.

You may not like your ex as a person, but you can respect them if their heart is in it for the child. Try to let go of the past and look at their motives as it concerns your son or daughter. If they are doing what they feel is right for the child — even if it’s not the way that you would do it — respect that.

3. Save contentious issues for times when your children aren’t around. 

By “not around,” we mean “not even in the same house.” Wait until your children are at a friend’s house or at school if there is something that you foresee being contentious. Then meet at a neutral place — publicly — and hash it out over coffee or lunch. Kids are good at picking up on tension, so there needs to be some type of buffer between your meeting and the next time you see your child.

4. Choose your next relationship as a complement to your co-parenting relationship. 

If being a good co-parent is what you’re looking to do, then make sure that any future relationships fit in nicely with that situation. Doesn’t mean you have to make your new boyfriend or girlfriend be friends with your ex, but they do need to be able to interact without tension, and your new significant other needs to understand that the co-parenting relationship isn’t one they can control.

What are some things that have helped you co-parent effectively? Share your tips in our comments section!

These Single Life Quotes Are Exactly What You Need to Hear

When you get a divorce, there are going to be times that are so difficult you may be tempted to replace one bad love with another just because it gets you out of confronting the harsh reality of loneliness. But being single isn’t so bad. In fact, if you give it a chance, it can be the bomb. That’s something we were reminded of today while perusing the Huffington Post. The site shared 12 quotes that prove being single is a wonderful thing, and while they’re all worth checking out, these were the three that really stood out.

“You do not need to be loved, not at the cost of yourself. The single relationship that is truly central and crucial in a life is the relationship to the self. Of all the people you will know in a lifetime, you are the only one you will never lose.” 

– Jo Coudert

The poignancy of this quote really struck me and reminded me of the years following my own divorce right up until remarrying. I had to learn how to travel the long hard road of coming to love myself. I made mistakes along the way, and there were times that I failed. But I would have never been able to move on and find true happiness if I hadn’t taken the lumps and discovered strengths I never knew that I had. That can happen for you, too, after divorce. You just have to make a commitment to yourself that you will get there.

“I don’t like to be labeled as lonely just because I am alone.” 

–Delta Burke

There is a clear distinction between “alone” and “lonely.” People who learn to love themselves will never know loneliness.

“When I get lonely these days, I think: So be lonely, Liz. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it. For once in your life, welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.” 

–Elizabeth Gilbert

Many suggest never marrying the first one or two people you date after divorce because you’re not really in a healthy relationship. You’re looking for something you haven’t found yet. Unfortunately many people think they can find the missing piece in a new relationship, instead of realizing it’s been in themselves the whole time.

What are some quotes that have helped you make peace with the single life? Share your picks in the comments section!

How Divorce Changes the Way You View Love

Love is such a dynamic word — one that changes its meaning based on time and experience — and no one knows this better than a divorcee. When you’re married the first time, you tend to have an idealized version of what the word means. You think it means butterflies and passion and a never-ending “honeymoon phase.” But when you’ve been divorced, you know the work that goes in to it, and you also know the fleeting uneasiness that comes with a new relationship. In essence, your divorce changes the way that you view love. Here’s what it reveals.

1. Love goes from a feeling to an action. 

To be fair, marriages that stand the test of time learn this same lesson. You don’t just “love” your partner with words. You love them through actions. You aren’t “in love”; you practice love. You know that when you stop doing so, that love starts to wither and fade.

2. Love goes from eternal to conditional. 

Even if you’re able to pick up the pieces and move on with life, finding someone that you connect with on a deeper level, you understand that love is more conditional than you were initially comfortable admitting. You know that even though you can love someone with all your heart and show them that every day, they can wake up one morning and say they don’t love you back, and all that love you thought would last forever comes crashing down. While that sounds terrible on the surface, it actually teaches you a valuable and much-needed lesson. You have to learn to love yourself before you can expect someone else to do the same. And if they ever stop loving you, then at least you know you’re a good person with value.

3. Love still makes you nervous but for different reasons than before your first marriage. 

We mentioned the butterflies and passion above. What we meant was that feeling of uncontrollable nervousness that shows up any time you’re around that special someone. Once you’ve been through the divorce fire, however, you start to get nervous around love for another reason. The realization that there is so much at stake with no guaranteed reward. You have to rely on faith more than every before, and that can be difficult when it’s burned you.

How did, or how has, your outlook changed since getting a divorce? Sound off in the comments section.

4 Destructive Behaviors Common to Post-Divorce Recovery

The period of time shortly following your divorce can be one of the most vulnerable points that you face in your recovery. This is where you’ll be the most tempted to let go of healthy choices and give in to bad decisions. But being aware of destructive behaviors can give you the best chance to avoid them. Here are four of the most common. If you can keep these out of your life, you’ll be in a great position.

1. Substance abuse

Many divorcees — particularly the ones not wanting out of the marriage — will use alcohol and other substances as a way of self-medicating when the papers are finalized. Unfortunately, a dependency can develop, and from there, it can turn into full-on addiction, affecting relationships as well as physical and psychological health.

2. Fighting with your ex

Once the divorce is final, there is no reason to keep dredging up the past with your ex, especially when you don’t have any children to keep you linked to one another. If you do have kids, you can still take steps to parent your child without bringing old arguments into play. Limit potential conflicts by conducting co-parenting decisions and interactions via email or text message.

3. Bad-mouthing your ex to the kids

Remember that every bad thing you say about your ex in front of your child is an attack on the child as well. That may not be how it seems to you, but it is to them. The fact that your child comes from both you and your ex, is not lost on them, and they’re superb at making connections — even connections you didn’t intend for them to make. Doing this can also lead to the No. 2 destructive behavior above.

4. Not taking care of yourself

Beyond substance abuse, other ways that you can self-destruct include not eating right, not exercising, and just exercising general apathy for life in general. These “sins of omission,” so to speak, can affect future relationships, work opportunities, and your overall mental health, leading to depression, anxiety, or worse.

What are some things that you have the most difficulty with now that your divorce is final? Are there any demons that you’ve been able to overcome? Share your journey in our comments section.

 

4 Signs You’ve Grown Apart

Long-lasting marriages and relationships aren’t usually as easy several years down the road as they seem from the start. Eventually the honeymoon phase will wear off. Kisses and hugs will begin to feel like routines instead of heartfelt gestures. And if you’re not careful, that over-familiarity with one another can signal the beginning of the end. 

But here’s the good news: you can overcome these lulls that you will inevitably experience with your partner. It just takes awareness and commitment. But to get there, it helps knowing the major signs that you’re growing (or have grown apart). Taking it from the top, here are some of the most common. 

1. Lack of physical intimacy

Physical intimacy often wanes as hormones start to level off or decline, but that doesn’t mean you should stop looking at or touching each other. Whether you’re 25 years old or 80, you can still be physically intimate with your partner to some degree that makes sense within the reality of your relationship. The key to overcoming this sign that you’ve grown apart is to make time for togetherness. Open up to one another, and the physicality will follow. 

2. Looking forward to your time apart

No one is saying that you should want to spend every waking minute of the day with each other, but if you derive more pleasure and energy from separating than you do from coming together, there’s a problem. Couples who communicate effectively are able to keep excitement in their marriages and relationships, and they are able to capitalize on the quality of time they spend together while not paying as much attention to the quantity. By pursuing each others’ interests and scheduling things that you can both look forward to you can ensure your time together is well spent. 

3. Losing your desire to put in the work

Maybe you know what needs to be done as a couple in order to fix your woes, but you just don’t care enough to put in the time and effort. If this is the attitude of one or both parties in a marriage or long-term relationship, then it’s very likely the situation is beyond hope. 

4. Refusing to listen

This final sign you’ve grown apart is a bit of an offshoot of some of the other entries on this list, but it is still worth singling out. When you are done trying and you lack the energy that it takes to strengthen your relationship, there’s a good chance that you’ll no longer listen to anything your spouse wants or says. This signals the breakdown of communication, which can be quite toxic. Whether it comes as a result of the other things on this list or it’s actually the cause, the moment you shut your ears to your spouse is the moment that all hope is lost. 

What were some ways that you knew you and your spouse had grown apart? Sound off in the comments section!

This Special Needs Parent Has One Piece of Marital Advice Every Couple Should Hear

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 2.30.05 PMBeing a parent is hard enough to one or more healthy and active children. When one of those children is afflicted with a special need like Down’s syndrome or multiple sclerosis, it can put a lot of stress on Mom and Dad. In fact, some stats have estimated that around 80 percent of couples, who have a special needs child, get divorced.

Blogger Melanie Gomez is a special needs parent herself, and she doesn’t exactly buy this. In a post for The Mighty, she doesn’t try to candy coat how tough this part of her life is, and the stress it places on her marriage from time to time, but she does feel it to be a blessing instead of a curse. And she has one piece of marital advice that can apply not only to special needs parents, but to married people in general. Her words:

“Here’s my advice: You can choose, each day, to be on the same team or not. There is enough coming at you — plenty of opposition — and you don’t need more inside your own home. You have only one other person with whom you can choose to side, huddle and share those thoughts and fears that no one else will ever comprehend. The sooner you get the ‘same team’ mentality going, the sooner you’re on your way to overcoming any obstacle.”

Gomez says that she and her husband have developed an “us vs. the world” mentality, and it has served them well for more than 22 years of marriage. Here are some things to remember as you adopt this mindset.

1. Being on the ‘same team’ is easier when you share a common challenge.

In Melanie’s case, it’s being good parents to their special needs child. But this doesn’t mean their whole marriage is about ensuring their child’s survival. No, it’s what they learn about each other through this challenge. They learn they can depend on one another to help; that they always have each others’ backs; and that each day is easier with one another rather than without. What challenge can you share together as a couple?

2. No one in the world can understand what your challenge is better than you and your spouse.

By leaning on one another instead of turning away, you further strengthen the bond that gets you through good times and bad. Too many couples seek comfort and solace in something outside of the marriage — be it an affair or an addiction — instead of confronting their doubts and fears together.

Marriage isn’t easy to do well, especially if your first instinct is to give up when times are hard. But no matter what pressures the outside world puts on you, you can find relief in each other as long as you’re both looking inward. Good luck!

Infidelity: Why You Should Hold Off Telling Friends and Family

At some point in most people’s lives, they will be cheated on by a significant other. When that SO happens to be a spouse, it amplifies the negative effects and makes it extremely difficult to recover. Many victims of infidelity are caught between working through the marital issues or dumping their spouse altogether. This uncertain balancing act means that telling your support unit — friends and family — is a delicate issue that you shouldn’t jump right in to.

For starters, close family and friends have a harder time with forgiveness than you do.

If you are serious about working through the issues and saving your marriage, it’s going to be tough doing that when your best friends and closest family members want to stick your spouse’s head under a guillotine blade. And while their anger may eventually subside if the two of you are able to work through it, it will never fully go away, and that makes for a lot of awkward gatherings in your future.

Secondly, it’s not fair to tell family and friends until you know what you want.

Friends and family often have to sit on suppressed anger and animosity when you tell them about the affair while still deciding if you want a divorce. Any advice they dispense is limited. They’re being thrust into an awkward situation they’re unfamiliar with where they don’t have any clue what the appropriate response is. In other words, they don’t know how to help you if you don’t know how to help yourself.

Thirdly, whatever issues that exist between you and your spouse will not benefit from the inclusion of outside parties.

Friends and family can be a shoulder to cry on — once you know what you’re going to cry about — but they can’t make your mind up for you. That’s something you’ll have to learn on your own, and it’s something that is wholly contingent on where you and your spouse decide to go from the infidelity. Healthy marriages are healthy because of the work that the two spouses put into it. Telling your friends and family about the infidelity if you’re both prepared to do the work in fixing your marriage will only hinder that.

So when can you tell your friends and family?

When you’re sure that the marriage is over and it’s time to move forward with the divorce, they can be of great assistance in helping you heal. Until then, though, it’s information you may want to sit on.

What do you think, readers? Should infidelity be kept hidden from friends and family until you learn what you’re going to do about the marriage? Sound off in the comments section below.