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Social Media Divorce: Facebook [Dis]Connecting Couples

 

Social networking giant, Facebook, has been shown to be the biggest home wrecker since Marilyn Monroe in a recent United Kingdom study. In Divorce Online’s survey of 5,000 people, 33% of the divorces cited Facebook to be a contributing factor. A similar survey in 2009 recorded only 20% of divorces citing Facebook or social networking websites as a cause for divorce.

Online networking websites are influencing divorces more and more, and here is why: With one fell click, wandering eyes can turn into flirty instant messaging and more. New friends, and lovers, can be collected by the hundreds in a matter of minutes. The most common cause cited in Facebook-induced divorce was inappropriate messaging with someone of the opposite sex. As it turns out, the most wonderful aspect of social media is turning out to be too much to resist for couples.

However, on a more basic level, Facebook and social media have been shown to apply new stresses to relationships. Jealousy is an age-old vice, but with constant input over significant other’s statuses, check-ins, new friends, and conversations, it’s difficult to put that nagging suspicion to rest. The two most common stresses on relationships due to social media are sharing too much personal information on profiles, and the tagging of ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends in photos. Another root of the social media wedge between modern couples leading to more filing for divorce is the ease one can discover information about a person’s past. But people unsuspecting of their double-timing spouse can sometimes come across heartbreaking discoveries on social media sites, too.

The O’Neils, a Tacoma, Washington couple, found themselves in a news flurry when Mrs. O’Neil found her husband’s second wife in the “People You Might Know” column on Facebook. In March 2012, the first Mrs. O’Neil reported her husband to the police. Mr. O’Neil was then charged with a gross misdemeanor (no pun intended) for bigamy. According to Mr. O ‘Neil, he filed for divorce from the first Mrs. O’Neil and left the paperwork with a neighbor to file, who forgot to do so.

More and more, Facebook and other social media platforms have been shown to still cause problems for couples even after divorce. Ex-spouses are known to vent their frustrations and anger over Facebook statuses or Twitters. In 2012, 20% of Twitter users petitioned courts with behavior allegations against spouses or ex-spouses for publishing insensitive or snide material about them online.

Social media sights were implemented and touted as great pathways for communication and keeping family, friends, and significant other’s closer. So far this is proving true: Facebook is allowing communication to go both ways, both the good and bad communication. Yet it’s also allowing the ugly to come along for the ride. And on a side note, we should not be surprised that with more use of social media interaction and the convenience on the internet, more people are filing their divorce forms online.

Post-Divorce Holiday Tips

As a recent divorcee, you know you’re in trouble when the malls begin to adorn everything with red bows and garlands. When normally you’d be “Ho, ho, ho, and a cup’o cheer,” now you might find yourself feeling more “Bah Humbug!” Don’t worry, you’re not a horrible person, you’re just going through a particularly excruciating transition in your life. You’ll make it through this holiday season, but if you want to make it unscathed, here are a few tips about how to make the holidays something worth smiling about, even post-divorce.

Setting the Tone for Your Holidays

First things first: It’s highly likely you will turn into an emotional wreck a few times this holiday season; but that is okay. Accepting this and the (awful) feelings you will experience in waves is the first step to preparing for the holidays after a divorce. But here comes the hard part: You must not let yourself fall apart and become crippled by these emotions. The only thing to do, that is emotionally healthy, is to allow yourself to think through these feelings.

Think of it as a preemptive strike against depression and the ruination of your holidays. After all, you’re divorces, not dead, not imprisoned, or and not a social freak. Think of this holiday season as a time when you can do whatever you want. You can create a new holiday tradition, decorate however you want, and spend the holidays with whoever you want. See? It’s not so bad.

Say Hello to Friends You Know

So in the same vein as allowing yourself to emotionally heal, it is a wise choice to surround yourself with family, friends, and loved ones. The alternative is holing up and becoming the holiday miser of the family. No one wants to be known as the crazy uncle or aunt, so do yourself a favor and reject the urge to become a holiday recluse. If you were to shut out the world for a couple of months all you would achieve is steeping in your own misery and pain.

Aside from resisting the call of the hermit, forcing yourself to be around those who love with will help heal those divorce wounds. After a divorce people tend to feel unlovable and undesirable. There is nothing more damaging to the psyche than cultivating poor self esteem and self-loathing. So break out of the cycle and let yourself be loved!

Stick to the Plan

One of the most comforting things about the holidays is the routines and traditions we fall into. One of the worst affects of divorce is ruining those routines and traditions we fall into. So building off of the previous tip, we suggest making a list of the normal holiday routines and traditions you follow each year, and continuing those traditions.

Mind you, you can skip a routine or tradition or two if they are too painful to follow through with, if you never liked it anyway, or if you just don’t want to. Remember: Divorce is a new beginning for you, not the end of your life. The holidays are a time for celebration, warmth, and, well, cheer. Don’t let a divorce ruin the holiday season for you.

Splitting Child Custody During the Holidays

Thanksgiving is like a test run for the rest of the season’s holidays for divorced families. There is always the awkward questions of which family the children will spend which holidays with. Divorce creates a messy family life, but with simple planning and cooperation this can be tidied up in a cinch. Each family is different, and so should each family’s holiday custody schedule.

Different Strokes

If you’re having a hard time figuring out your child’s holiday schedule, then here are a few ways it can be done. But again, remember a schedule that works for one family may not work for another; so feel free to alter these schedule examples to fit your needs.

Annual Alternating: The most common schedule is rotating holidays with the child. So one year one parent will have the child on Thanksgiving, and the next year the other parent will have the child on Thanksgiving. This option allows for a more relaxed holiday for both you and your child because there is no time table to be mindful of. The downside is the absence of one of the parents will be a little distressing the first few times for both the absent parent and the child.

Halfsies: Another option is to equally split the holiday with the child. For example, the child would spend the first half of the day with one parent and their family, and then the other half of the day would be spent with the other parent and their family. In doing this, you solve the issue of the parents and child missing the other’s company. However, for this to work the parents and families must live in fairly close proximity. Also, the day would be a bit more rushed and stressful because you’ll have the keep track of time.

Rescheduling the Holidays: If neither of the above options suite your needs, try celebrating the holidays at another time. In this scenario the child would celebrate with one parent and their family on the actual holiday, and then celebrate at a later (or earlier) time with the other parent and their family. This route avoids confusion, time tables, and stressful drop offs all together. But this also means choosing which family will enjoy the child’s presence on the holiday. This would work best if one parent’s holiday plans are already on a day other than the holiday, or if the parents live in different cities.

One Big, Happy Family: This is by far the most unconventional, high risk, high reward option, which is why we saved it for last. If your ex and their family are cordial with you and your family, you could try continuing to celebrate as one big, happy family. The child would feel completely secure within their family, in spite of the divorce; but this means the families would have to be on good terms. Before you try this option have frequent talks about the plans with both families. Maybe have a test run without the child to make sure there will be no fireworks during the holidays; fireworks are only pretty from afar.

There are a few factors to consider when devising a holiday schedule, like the child’s desires, the families’ wishes, the stress factor of the day, where everyone lives, and so much more. But the most important factor is what would make your child’s holidays fun, comfortable, and stress-free. Planning ahead is the key to happy holiday for any divorced family. Hope your Thanksgiving is stress free and pleasant!

Tough Love Lessons: Can We Still Be Friends?

Not every divorce is a heated battle that requires a posse of attorneys or multiple Kleenex trips to Costco. No, some marriages end peacefully with mutual understanding and a dignified parting of ways; these marriages usually are the ones in which the inevitable question is brought up in: Can we still be friends?
For all you divorcees out there who needed a posse of attorneys, or who needed to make those runs for commercial-sized packages of Kleenex know the correct answer to this question: NO!
Why can’t you be friends, even if your divorce was a quiet and painless as a lazy Sunday? Well, try this on for size: You are no longer a couple and you both desperately need to discover who you are without your ex.
No ‘I’ in Couple
You may not think that you have become a different person just because you were married, but just think about your daily routine with and without marriage and your ex. Yes, it’s official. Life is different when you are a part of a couple and when it is just you, on your own, without a built-in dinner buddy. You may not have wanted it to happen, but when you are in a serious relationship, you change a little, and your routine changes a lot.
But, now that you are out of that serious relationship you need to rediscover who you are by yourself, or maybe how you want to be. Just make sure that who you want to be is okay being alone for a while before jumping into a new serious relationship.
But, But…
If you find yourself being the one asking “Can we still be friends?” then we need to have a different talk. Whether you consciously think or feel this or not, your motives behind trying to keep your ex involved in your life may be caused by two things (which might be working in tandem): 1. You’re afraid of being alone; 2. You have unresolved feelings you’re not ready to let go of.
I’m just going to say it; both of those feelings are self reasons to keep an ex in your life. Divorce and major life changes are scary experiences, and it’s only natural you want someone close to you during those changes. But if you’re major life change is being single again, and the person you’re keeping close is your ex, then you’re not really being single again.
On the other hand, if you don’t feel ready to have your ex become a periphery character in your life, then you need to ask yourself why. The answer probably has something to do with unresolved feelings you have towards your ex. It may be easier to keep holding on to your ex instead of dealing with your feelings, but it’s not better for you.
Let’s get this lie cleared up: Divorce is never easy, even if yours was an uncontested divorce. And the period after a divorce is even harder since you must rebuild your life, daily routine, and dust off the single person you once were. So do yourself a favor and keep communication with your ex to a bare minimum; yes, even if you’re divorce was mutually agreed upon. Think of it this way: If you keep your ex in your life, not only are you not healing, but you aren’t letting your ex have the chance to heal either.

The Kids Are All Right

In a touching Huffington Post article, the author compiled a list of wonderful things children had to say to their parents after their divorce. Wait, children can handle divorce? This idea clashes with the notion that divorce ruins children emotionally for life. As it turns out, the doublespeak occurs unabashedly. While browsing the Huffington Post’s divorce section, you can also see titles like, “Study: Divorce Affects Kids’ Math and Social Skills,” “5 Reasons Divorce is Good for Kids,” “Children of Divorce More Likely to Contemplate Suicide,” and “Should You Stay Together for the Kids?”

With all this conflicting information dumped on parents, it’s a miracle anyone makes it to finalizing their divorce without a mental breakdown. But there is a way to divorce without ruining your children’s lives, and that’s with honesty and affection.

Honesty

Most divorce articles and studies note that children who have been negatively impacted by divorce feel they cannot trust others. This is probably due to the way the divorce was sprung upon the children. Divorce can take children by surprise, and it often does. In a child’s mind, there are two parents, and it would defy logic and reason for the parents to split; it’s like a divorce cannot even take place. That is, until the child’s parents sit down and tell the child point blank, “Mommy and Daddy are getting divorced. We are not going to live together anymore, but we still love you.”

This is an honest statement, but up until this point was the child able to see that sometimes even parents don’t agree? The lie in this scenario was the “all is as it should be” lie, which is a lie of omission parents frequently make. We’re not promoting full-fledged arguments in the child’s presence, but we also do not support lying to your children that life is always a walk in the park. Even after a split, it is best to allow your child to openly ask questions about the divorce and your feelings (just answer the questions honestly). This will develop the child’s sense of trust, even in the face of divorce.

Affection

The biggest way to reassure your child of the love and care you have for them is to shower them with affection. Make sure they feel loved and cared for by you, your family, your ex, and your ex’s family. Affection, coupled with honesty, is the best way to reassure your child that a divorce does not mean a divorce from them. Make a note that affection does not mean caving into your child’s every demand, spoiling them, or never reprimanding them.

By affection we mean the same parental love and guidance you showered upon your child before the divorce. So don’t create new rules or bend old rules when it comes to raising your child. You put those barriers up to protect them from a destructive and negative disposition and life; their world is changing, so don’t start changing the boundaries of their world too.

To  make the transition smoother for the child, then follow the two rules. What is best is never easy, so even though you may be internally conflicted or feel guilty about divorcing, never break the honesty and affection rule. If you follow the two rules, you may end up hearing things like this “I love seeing you happy again, mom,” or “I am proud of you, you are strong.”

Sesame Street vs. the World of Divorce

By this time, Sesame Street is more than just a TV show to most children and even adults, it’s a movement. Sesame Street began their journey to entertain, educate, and value children in 1969, and they aren’t even close to stopping today. Sesame Street is the reason why most adults and children know their ABC’s, and now Sesame Street is the reason why children of divorce families can understand divorce. This past Tuesday, December 11th, 2012, Sesame Street launched their online segment called “Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce,” in which Abby Cadabby makes Muppet history.

Divorce Spokesmuppet

Abby Cadabby is a pink, perpetually 3 year-old, fairy-in-training resident of Sesame Street who shared a major secret with viewers in the “Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce” segment: Her parents are divorced. Abby and her friends are drawing pictures of their houses, and when Abby draws two pictures (one of her dad’s house and one of her mom’s house) the Muppets are intrigued. Abby explains that her family doesn’t live in one house all together because of a thing called divorce. With the help of one of the neighbors, Abby tells her Muppet friends her parents had “grown up problems…they couldn’t fix…” but they still love her very much.

First Kid on the Block

This is not the first time Sesame Street tried to go where no Muppet has gone before. In the early 1990’s, the brains behind Sesame Street were incensed about a report announcing the projected rise in divorce. The Sesame Street team became determined to address the issue of divorce in as calculated and calm a manner possible, before more children were exposed to divorce. So they researched and drafted a divorce segment. The Sesame Street team chose Snuffleupapagus, the long eye-lashed mammoth, to be the spokesmuppet for divorce. In the filmed segment, a distraught Snuffy told Big Bird about his father moving out of the family cave because of a thing called divorce.

However, the results of the divorce masterpiece screen test indicated it was too much too soon. Although the episode had an entire song and dance about divorce sometimes being for the best and Snuffy’s parents still loving him, the children only perceived horrible messages about divorce. The children in the focus groups were in tears and fearful of their own parents divorcing. They said all arguments meant a divorce was coming, and they worried where Snuffy would live. The children even worried that Snuffy’s parents didn’t love him anymore.

Needless to say, Sesame Street killed the episode, in spite of the research, psychology consultants, and story boarding. It was obvious they failed to correctly broach the topic of divorce, so they avoided the subject for the next 20 years.

Where One Muppet Dared to Go

This time, the Sesame Street team approached divorce from a retrospective viewpoint. Abby’s parents already divorced, and she was already adjusted to the changes divorce caused. By having a spokesmuppet who already went through the divorce process as a role model, as opposed to Snuffy’s more insecure stage, the children are assured that divorce does not mean an end to love and familial bonds.

The Boomerang Kids

Times are tough in the current economy, and how ever that affects the divorce rate is irrelevant right now. Right now we are going to talk about the new boomerang trend. A parent’s work is never done, as most of you parents of adult children know, and this is especially true when your adult child has no place to stay due to a divorce. Of course adults are resistant to the idea of moving back in with their parents, but if an empty wallet dictates that a necessity they will grit their teeth and ring your doorbell.
Naturally, you’ll want to let them stay and give them a sanctuary to heal from the divorce in, but as a parent how to do set boundaries? We dare you to find a parenting book that includes advice for this scenario.
Mommy Dearest

When your child is going through a divorce it can be hard not to play the role of the all-accommodating parent. But just like when your child was five years old and scraped their knee, after a divorce it is your job to calmly help clean the wound and encourage them to get back out there. The only differences you should make in your parenting plan are nixing the whole crust-cutting, and outfit selecting business.
Yes, the relationship between parent and child never seems to change much, and this is especially accentuated when they live together again. Ground rules are a must in this situation, but it’s been a while since you’ve had to make and enforce rules of the house. How do you go about it without seeming like you’re trying to “parent” your child again?
Second Set of Laws of the Land
Be upfront about your expectations. Usually, parents expect their children to stay temporarily, and although this seems obvious, have a little chat to make sure this is the case. Make this conversation two sided instead of you just setting a date for them to move out. Also, this should be a tentative time frame because we all know life can throw crazy things at a person.

Timing is key. Careful having this conversation too soon because it could make your child feel like their safety net is already being pulled from under them. For example, if your child is in the middle of sobbing about their divorce, or having a panic attack at the thought of the future, it is not the time to discuss their boarding time frame.
Let you children know your door is always open to them, but that your house is still your house with your rules. We don’t mean reinstate the rules they used to abide by, like curfew, television limitations, and their diet. We mean general house rules, like cleaning up after yourself, sharing food expenses, and household duties. These tasks and rules are appropriate and aren’t asking too much. After all, they are your child, not a guest.
Divorce is never an easy time in a person’s life, but it also affects the people surrounding the divorcee. As a parent of a divorcing or divorced child, your job is to support your child, but not to overly pamper and coddle them. Life is full of hard knocks, and you raised them to pick themselves up; don’t ruin all your hard work now.

Divorce Forecast: Post-Holiday Divorce Flood

The holidays are a wonderful time. Family and friends gather around to share good cheer and good food; there are presents to be unwrapped and enjoyed; and the cold weather makes everyone turn to cozy nights indoors. However, the cold weather also seems to provide drifting couples an incentive to stay together and retain the warmth of the season, and not a moment later. January to March marks the season of divorce, which has been a lesser known fact divorce attorneys and divorce coaches have kept to themselves.

Another fact divorce professionals have kept to themselves is how couples tend to stick together when their financial situation becomes a tight. But seeing as the recession appears to be coming to an end, we may be in for a flurry of divorce on top of the divorce season this year.

The Reason for the Season
Divorce season is not a myth or some sensationalized passing trend. For many years couples who see nothing but divorce in their future have taken one for the team and stuck out the marriage until the holiday season passed. Couples with children attempt to remain in each other’s good graces to avoid spoiling the holiday season for their children. Other couples remained unhappily married in an effort to not disrupt the status quo of the happy holidays. Then, there are those spouses who are on the fence about their marriage and are hoping some holiday magic will rub off on their marriage.

Regardless of the holidays, during times of financial hardship, couples tend to stick together to avoid empty wallets and an even worse financial state. This may seem counter intuitive, but the majority of marriages fizzle out instead of burst into flames. The less combustible marriages avoid the “D” word until they feel they can afford to begin life anew.

The holidays come and go, and sometimes the holidays take some marriages with them. The couples of these marriages view the New Year as a time for change, rebirth, and renewal. This is why in the weeks after the New Year, when children return from winter break, the divorce rate goes up 50% higher than any other month of the year.

How Do You Celebrate Divorce Season?
While the holidays amplify all that is wrong with your family and marriage, the season can come through and produce some shining gems of why you fought so hard for your family and marriage. There is never a good time for divorce, which is something all divorcees must accept and face. Even in the symbolic rush to shed your unhappy marriage by New Years, a month and 14 days later you must face the international holiday of love and romance.

If you’ve been thinking about divorce at all lately, now is the time to take a step back and make sure you don’t make a decision during the season of strained relationships. But, if divorce has been creeping up on your marriage for quite some time now, it would not be wise to dismiss the idea of divorce. Just celebrate the divorce season by making calm, rational decisions irrespective of the pressure of the holiday season.

5 Divorce Rings, No Turtledoves

Rings are an interesting symbol of fidelity and love, but there are many types of rings. There are of course the rings that signify nothing and are purely ornamental; there are promise rings; there are the traditional Irish claddagh rings; and way back in time, royalty wore official rings signifying their power. But today there is a new type of ring slowly collecting steam called divorce rings. After all, the jewelry people wear, or no longer wear, conveys a change in their relationship status, so why not have a specialty jewelry line that proudly announces this?

Ring of Truth

After a divorce, both spouses must eventually come to the moment when they permanently take off their wedding ring. At this point, the ring is no longer just a piece of jewelry or symbol of love. The ring  is a part of your daily routine, and is a part of your daily dress.

A wedding ring is also more than a present you could return. Presumably, you helped pick out the ring, and you picked the one you liked and felt you could wear day in and day out. That circle of metal is a part of you, and now you’re expected to never wear it again. Well, some people have looked at that path and said, “No.”

One Ring to Rule Them All

Divorce rings are becoming a wider known type of jewelry, but the genre of jewelry isn’t yet so large. Part of the reason why divorce jewelry hasn’t been sprung into a giant money-making scheme is because lots of divorcees interested in divorce jewelry prefer to alter their wedding ring into a divorce ring. The act of transforming this piece of identity to match the wearer’s new identity is healing in some ways.

In a New York Times article about divorce rings, a divorcee, Wanda Dibben, was interviewed who took her wedding ring into her jeweler and asked for the ring to be made into a divorce ring. A piece of the gold wedding band was removed, and the gap was “stitched” together with silver strands. Instead of giving away the wedding band, or just putting it in a memory box, the divorcee had it transformed into a divorce ring because she was “very attached” to the ring. Now, her ring is like “a buffer into [her] independence again and help[s] facilitate healing.”

Infinity and Beyond

Rings are supposed to signify the limitless, never-ending element of marriage and the love in the marriage, but sometimes all that is just cockeyed optimism. If you can change the symbol of limitless and unity of your marriage to instead symbolize your own unlimited future, maybe you can transition easier into a life that is fully your own. If you don’t want anything to do with your old wedding ring, you can buy yourself a divorce ring without any old memories or previous attachments.

Divorce is about readjusting the focus of your life. Just like your wedding ring was symbol and reminder of your life with another person, a divorce ring can be a symbol and reminder that you should live your life for you.

Parenting During Tragic Times, Part I

On December 14th a gunman stormed Newtown, Connecticut’s  Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 27 people, the majority of the casualties being children between the ages of 5 and 8. The horrific incident has sparked debates over gun control laws and mental health care reform. In addition to shocking and wounding the nation deeply, the Sandy Hook tragedy has confronted parents with difficult questions from their younger children.

Do We Tell the Children?

After a horrific incident like the Sandy Hook shooting, parents the world over hug their children more often and tighter. Parents with safe, living children feel the other parents’ excruciating pain of losing a child; but parents with unharmed children also feel guilt over their good fortune. That is, until those parents must explain what happened to their children.

Most parents teeter on the brink of telling and not telling their children about tragedies, but think about this: If you don’t bring up the topic with your children, someone else will either directly with your child or indirectly. Children are usually in their strange little day dream spheres, but that does not mean they are not observant. News of the Sandy Hook shooting is bound to wind up on the child’s radar. So instead of hearing about it through the grapevine, it is best to break the news to them yourself in a safe, trusting environment.

How to Talk with Your Child About Tragedy

For divorced parents, finding ways and times to discuss topics like school shootings is more limited than married parents. But the talk should feel natural and easy, instead of scheduling a time and sitting the children down rigidly to break the news. This approach will spark some anxiety and nervous behavior because formally sitting down makes it seem like the child somehow is expected to take action or hold this act as a personal attack.

It is recommended to bring the topic up during a longer car ride, at dinner, or maybe during some down time. Ask your child if they heard about the incident, and ask them what they think and feel about it. Keep the conversation open and relaxed, and listen to the child’s words, tone, and expression.

If you detect excessive distress, let your child know the incident is bewildering and it’s okay to feel unsure and upset. However, make sure to ensure the child’s safety. Let them know you will always protect them, tell them how other adults feel protective of children too, and tell them about how schools will take extra precautions as well.

Divorce is basically expected in our society now since the divorce rate has settled at a steady 50%. There are many articles and studies about how divorce affects children, and how to  successfully co-parent. But the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy has exposed an area of parenting we all hope we never have to face: How do you address topics like school shootings with your child? And more specifically, how do two divorced parents address these topics with their child? Read “Parenting During Tragic Times, Part II” to discover ways to co-parent during times of tragedy.