AuthorAnthony Fitch

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Why Is Divorce So Hard? 4 Likely Culprits

Very few people in the history of divorce — at least on the “losing” side — ever see the silver lining at the time that they are going through the experience. In their own mind, they create “winning” and “losing” sides and place themselves on the latter instead of seeking some form of clarity from the experience. In a recent article on Psychology Today, Dr. Bella DePaulo took an in-depth look at who does poorly in a divorce. Here were some things she cited as critical factors that contribute to failure. 


History of psychological issues

  • Anxious attachment to one’s spouse
  • Dwelling on the experience
  • Reliving the specifics
  • Failing to achieve personal growth from the experience

While one, some, or all of these can be present in a person’s inability to cope with divorce, it’s the last factor that I’d like to spend some time on today. For many, this is the major obstacle that impedes recovery. It goes back to this whole myth of winning and losing. The reality is that divorce isn’t about victories and losses. It’s about looking within oneself and finding the right tools and the right perspective to emerge a better person.

When someone divorces you, you’re no longer a factor in his or her life, so it’s pointless trying to be. Each of the points that DePaulo mentions above — particularly the first four — have some grounding in being hung up on one’s spouse.

Maybe it’s the rejection. Maybe there is still love for your ex. Whatever it is, it ties you to them in an unhealthy way. Only by focusing on this last point — the quest for personal clarity — can you hope to overcome the issues associated with your divorce.

By taking a look at yourself and asking the question, “How am I going to improve from this?,” you take control of the power to determine who you want and need to be.

With divorce, your ex is done trying to help you be a better person. They are focused instead on their own lives and well-being. You can’t find redemption or self-confidence in their eyes. You have to start looking through your own.

What are some ways you were able to achieve a deeper understanding of yourself after divorce? What did you notice when you looked at yourself six months or a year later from physical, mental, and emotional perspectives? Sound off in the comments section below.

Dumbest Divorce Mistakes 101: TMI on the Internet

Getting a divorce can put you in a vulnerable position, and when a person gets vulnerable, they tend to make mistakes that the calm-thinking, level-headed version of themselves would never make. The rise of TMI posting to the Internet is one of the likely outcomes. Today we’re going to look at this phenomenon that so many people in the social media generation haven’t learned from. Here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Don’t allow yourself to post or tweet until you’re emotionally mature enough to do so. 

If you feel like venting or saying something off-color about your ex, then here’s a suggestion. Say it to a friend in private, not on social media where that bad boy can be screen capped and submitted as evidence before you have a chance to come to your senses and delete it. There’s a reason Facebook appears in such a large number of divorce filings. It’s often a rich source of evidence.

2. Don’t treat your social network like a therapy group. 

It’s embarrassing for you and annoying to your friends, colleagues, and family members (assuming those are the people who “follow” you). Try to save comments of the sort for actual therapy with an actual professional, who is paid to listen. Not with people who just wanted to get their daily dose of cat videos.

3. Don’t get sucked in to, or create, drama.

Facebook in particular is an easy place to get sucked in to and/or create drama with your ex as well as people you both know who might be “on your ex’s side.” Believe me, I know from election season that it can be hard to let stupidity go unchecked, but for the good of your case, don’t do it.

4. Assume that everyone is watching what you do and say and that the next wrong thing could screw up your entire life.

Why? Because if even one of the “wrong people” see a TMI post on your Facebook, that’s exactly what will happen. 

What are some of the dumbest things you’ve seen someone post on social media? Sound off in the comments section below.

What to Remember About Your First Date Following a Divorce

Dating after a divorce is as exciting as it is challenging. Too many divorcees take that first invitation (or request) too seriously, though. To help, we’ve put together a short list of the things that you will want to remember as you get ready to make a new acquaintance (and possibly begin an affair to remember). Let’s get started!

1. The other person probably isn’t Mr./Mrs. Right, and neither are you. 

First dates following a divorce are almost never successful for making a healthy love connection. How could they be? You’ve just ended a long-term commitment, and you’re still a bit hurt and/or confused about what happened. You can’t possibly be in the position to choose a good mate. But here’s the thing: you’re probably not the right material either. If you have no recent dating experience coming out of the marriage, then you are too stunted emotionally to be able to put someone else’s needs ahead of your own. And that’s okay, provided that you understand that about yourself.

2. You’ll go further on fun than emotional weightiness. 

Don’t get too serious with talk or action on a first date. If you’re telling someone your deepest, darkest fears, then you’re screwing up royally. Be focused instead on fun and observing the other person. Don’t get weighty with your conversation material, or you’ll risk either moving too fast or scaring someone off. 

3. It should be the first of many. 

Only by dating a number of different people can you start to be assured about who the “real you” is emerging from the divorce. Try to be open and diverse in your selection, and make sure that even the bad dates teach you something new about yourself.

4. It shouldn’t be what defines your recovery.

The “love of a good woman” (or man) should never be what you’re depending on to get over your divorce. It should instead be your personal growth and development. How happy are you with you? Forget how happy someone else is with you. Can you look in the mirror and like what you see?

What are some of your worst first-date mistakes after a divorce? Sound off in the comments section below!

How to Set Boundaries with Your Ex

Boundaries are a survival mechanism that you and your ex should have in place before moving forward with any semblance of a post-divorce relationship. Without these, it is impossible to move on with life and heal from the wounds caused by your divorce. To help you better set boundaries with one another, here are some tips.

1. Do difficult communications via email or through another non-threatening channel. 

You both know there will be situations that arise where it’s best if you’re not in the same room with one another. These intense feelings of animosity — frequently present in the early stages when the breakup is still raw — usually subside with time, but only if you give them the proper distance to dissipate. Therefore, consider avoiding face-to-face confrontation for however long is necessary and going with a “safer” route like email or text message. Since emotions are harder to convey through these modes of communication, it should be easier to avoid misunderstandings.

2. Never leave things up for negotiation. 

If you ever hope to move on with the kind of life you deserve, you have to start living it no matter what the other person says. This is easy when there are no children involved. It gets more challenging when there are. Still, don’t ask permission to do things that are well within your right as a parent to do. Just be open and go through with it. 

3. Be willing to take as well as you give. 

If you’re going to live life by the standard set forth in number two, then you have to be prepared to take the same behaviors in reverse. If anything, you should expect it because that means your ex is moving along with their lives as well. The key, however, is in a paraphrase of a previous statement: as long as it is “well within their right as a parent to do,” it shouldn’t concern you enough to fight about it.

4. Show respect without capitulation. 

If your ex does have something to say about a decision that you make, weigh the statement against his past behaviors and the previous attitude he has displayed involving your divorce. Your ex isn’t always wrong just because they’re your ex. If you find that they are wrong, you can respect what they have to say without responding to it in a manner that encourages conflict. Do this, and they will, in time, likely reciprocate.

5. Don’t allow your child to run roughshod over you. 

By being a strong and decisive parent, your ex, and your child, will grow to respect you more. As a result your ex is less likely to challenge the boundaries you have put in place.

What were some boundaries that you had to set with your ex after the divorce? Sound off in the comments section.

The Link Between Divorce and Heart Attacks

A new study released in April 2015 revealed that men and women who experience divorce are more susceptible to heart attacks; and surprisingly, it’s women who run a greater risk. 

The study — from Duke University and reported here by the BBC — reveals that women carry a 24 percent greater likelihood to have a heart attack if they’ve been divorced once and the number goes up to 77 percent if divorced multiple times. Worse, remarrying only slightly improves the odds of avoiding a heart attack. 

The analysis was of 15,827 people and originally published in the journal Circulation. It argued that “chronic stress, linked to divorce, had a long-term impact on the body.” 

Men experienced a 10 percent greater likelihood of divorce-caused heart attack for one time and 30 percent for multiples. Men who remarried tended to bounce back unlike their female counterparts, indicating that men reenter marriage with a great deal more confidence than women. It also indicates that men use marriage as a way of dealing with stress. 

(In both men and women, the likelihood tripled for multiple divorcees.) 

Of the comparative ease with which men deal with divorce and remarriage, an author of the study had this to say. 

“I think this is the most interesting bit in the paper. We joke around here and call it the ‘any-women-will-do orientation’ for men. They’re more comfortable being married than not married and cope with different women being their spouses. First marriages are protective for women and it’s a little dicey after that.”

Of course, you’ll stand a much better chance of avoiding the heart attack risk if you focus on your health and wellness after divorce. Changing the diet to heart-healthy foods, exercising four or five times per week, and taking care of your mental well-being with hobbies, are all great ways of alleviating the stress that most divorcees feel. 

Do you feel like your divorce is causing unhealthy physical side effects for you? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

Co-Parents, This Is What a ‘Breakthrough’ Looks Like

Becoming a divorced co-parent for the first time can be tricky business. After all, you typically go in to a parenting situation with the support of your spouse. When divorce occurs, that support can become fragmented. Yahoo! contributor Melissa Fleming had that very problem, but was able to find her way through after what she admits was a “grim divorce.”

In fact, it was so grim that it took the pair four years to finalize. 

Fleming said that she and her husband conducted communications primarily through email from that point forward until he suggested that they do something different for an upcoming custody-sharing period. Split the girls up for one-on-one time. Fleming claims she initially “balked” at the idea but that her ex convinced her to meet in person for coffee.

“When we came out of our email corners and sat across from each other, we easily reached compromises,” Fleming writes. “In person, we focused on the issue at hand without bringing in past emotional baggage or future what-ifs. I learned when to hold steady and when to let go. I was also able to recognize the role we each played in the downfall of our marriage and divorce trajectory, enjoying the freedom of my single time and moving on from the anger towards creating a fulfilling life as a trio.” 

Fleming believed this was an “emotional turning-point” in hers and her husband’s post-divorce life, and it led to some quality one-on-one time that allowed their girls to feel like individuals. 

This co-parenting “breakthrough” is a reminder of how much can be accomplished when you bring in face-to-face interaction. Obviously, that isn’t something you want to do if there was domestic violence involved in the relationship, but if it’s just you and your ex not seeing eye-to-eye, consider sitting down in a public place and interacting. You might be surprised at the level of compromise and understanding that you’re able to reach. 

And on one final note: if you try it once and it doesn’t work, come back to it later on. Time can help you cope tremendously with issues that seem like deal breakers today. Just something to think about if you’re struggling at this co-parenting thing. Good luck!

How Maine Is Trying to Ease Custody Tension

A new article in the Bangor Daily News highlights two bills that Maine is currently weighing in an effort to ease the custody transition between two parents and their children. According to the piece, written by Judy Harrison, LD 642 and LD 346 would add to the “best interest of the child” standard that courts use in determining a custody/parenting plan. 

Exceptions in both bills would include “domestic violence, abuse, neglect and/or drug use by a parent … in determining how much time and under what circumstances children spend it with each parent,” Harrison states.

“The basic goal of the bill is that, before anyone gets divorced, both parents get access to their children regardless of what their parenting skills are,” says Sen. David Dutremble, D-Biddeford. 

He continued: “Attorneys, guardians ad litem and judges step in and take the best interest of the child standard into consideration and make recommendations to the court. But how would someone who does not know your child know what the best interest of your child is supposed to be? … I think the system should start with shared parenting as a basis from which to start making decisions. The idea is to prevent the system from pitting one parent against the other and to allow both parents access to their kids.” 

The pain of custody transition is why many of our clients choose to collaborate on their divorce settlement from the very beginning. By setting aside differences, even if it’s just temporarily, and devising a plan that focuses on the child instead of individual pride or animosity, parents can make some surprising breakthroughs. 

If you’re both concerned about how your child will be affected by your divorce, don’t hesitate to sit down and work out the details together, laws or no laws.

Do you think the Maine bills are necessary, or do parents already have the tools they need to decide what is best for their children? And how does your state handle this part of the divorce process? Sound off in the comments section. 

Reclaiming a Spouse’s Love: Is It Even Possible?

Once the D-word is brought into a marriage, it can be difficult to ever recover. That’s because when a person is fed up enough with the relationship to say divorce, they’ve usually made up their mind already. Unfortunately, this can lead to some erratic behavior as the party who wants to save the marriage tries everything in their power to win back their spouse. Are these people wasting their time and sanity on something that will never pay off, or is it possible to reclaim a spouse’s love once it has been lost? 

For answers, we turn to Success Dating. The website recently looked at this phenomenon and had the following to say. 

“We are very quick to judge that we no longer love someone just because the feelings fade. With proper understanding, we can expect that even if the feeling may not be there, it doesn’t mean we don’t love. … In truth, love is a commitment. It is not just a feeling, it is a doing thing. A mature person loves by choice and not simply by circumstance.” 

To get the relationship back on the path to love, the author recommends two things right away. 1) Open a dialogue about the problems you’re having; and 2) Listen to what your spouse is feeling. Bringing in a counselor or mediator at this point can help facilitate the process, but it’s important to remember that you both have to be willing. 

If your spouse has checked out of the relationship entirely, you will need to come to terms with the fact that you can’t make someone feel an emotion that isn’t there. 

So yes, it is possible to reclaim a spouse’s love once that love has been lost, but the best option that you have available to you is to try counseling together. If that doesn’t work, consider counseling on your own and commit to self-improvement without any anticipation that the relationship will ever turn around. Working on improving oneself is the best way to change how someone feels about you, but at the end of the day, it’s up to them. And if they are done with the relationship, then you should be, too. 

Have you ever been in a relationship or marriage where one of you fell out of love and then had a change of heart? What was it about the situation that changed your thinking? Sound off in the comments section.

Marriage at War: The Struggles of Being a Spouse to a Soldier in Combat

Military marriages are definitely unique in their challenges and triumphs. In spite of experiencing some of the highest stress levels of any couple type, men and women of the Armed Forces have one of the lowest rates of divorce. This is truly remarkable when you consider the experience of people, whose spouses are active-duty and placed in combat zones.

Recently Quora took a look at this very phenomenon with the question, “What does it feel like to have a spouse who is a soldier in an active war zone?” 

Here’s an excerpt from the wife of a Marine, Deborah Gahm

“At home, we continue on with our lives.  I went to work, our daughter went to school.  I told her teachers that her dad was deployed in case it became an issue at school.  I counted on my friends and family when I needed help.  I also set aside 930-10 pm as my time to cry if I needed to, if the day had just been too much.  Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t but I always knew that it was my time to be sad/mad/and whatever else I needed to feel.  

“I am a firm believer in that you shouldn’t spend your life worrying  about things that you can’t control.  I approach deployments like that.   There is nothing I can do here that will change what is or isn’t  happening to him there.  Of course, there was plenty that he didn’t  elaborate on.  Things that happened that I am only recently finding  out.  It’s ok though, if I had known all the times that they had been  engaged or ambushed, I would have worried a lot more.  

“When you are going through it, you think you’re doing great.  You don’t cry or get upset very often.  You take care of everything.  You hold your tongue when people say stupid things.  You are grateful for the prayers of friends.  You say your own prayers.  You just deal with what happens one day at a time. 

“But… you don’t realize how much latent stress you carry with you.  You get used to it and it’s not until he steps off that plane and it all drains away that you know how much stress was hidden away.  

“I love my husband very much and even though we’ve been through a lot.  I wouldn’t change a thing.  Well, maybe that year when he first got out of the Marine Corps and grew his hair long – it just wasn’t a good look for him.

“We still laugh, and love, and really what else matters?” 

Highly recommend checking out Mrs. Gahm’s full post to get a glimpse of the day-to-day. 

Have any of you, or are any of you, married to soldiers in active combat zones? What is your experience like? Share in the comments section. 

3 Second Marriage Success Tips

Historically, statistics have shown that second and third marriages are more likely to end in divorce than first marriages. But this is mostly because the parties involved don’t learn from their mistakes or pause to consider what they can do differently the second time around. To help you break the cycle if you’re dating someone new, we’ve put together a quick list of second marriage success tips. Here’s what you should consider before tying the knot again.

1. Healing comes first. 

The mistake many divorcees make is in moving on too quickly before they’ve had a chance to heal. Maybe it’s something they’re trying to prove to their ex as in, “Look at what you’re missing out on,” or maybe it’s something they’re trying to prove to themselves. Either way it’s a bad idea. The best course of action is to not even consider dating until you can look back on the divorce as a lesson learned rather than a tug that feels as if it is constantly tearing off the scabs before they’ve had a chance to heal.

2. Change yourself for the better, and you’ll change your ‘type’ for the better. 

Many people feel victimized because it seems they are constantly finding “the bad ones.” They try to portray this as bad luck when it is really about personal decision-making. If your new person reminds you too much of your ex or if you feel like everyone is ALWAYS bringing the drama to your door, that’s because you’re bringing a lot of it on yourself. By changing your attitude and influences, you will change your life for the better and that will change the type of person you attract. 

3. Be faster to forgive than engage.

One of the hallmarks of successful second marriages is that you learn it’s no longer about “winning” and “losing” when it comes to differences with your significant other. If you adopt a spirit of forgiveness and mercy and giving others the benefit of the doubt, then you will solve many of the problems that plagued your first relationship. Don’t engage in battle. It’s love, not warfare. 

Any veterans around who’ve done the second marriage thing and made it work? What helped you the most? Sound off in the comments section.