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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 II

As a parent, how does one answer a question like, “Why did that man shoot those children?” Then there is the most base, yet most difficult question a parent could respond to: “What does it mean to be dead?” Parents treat these questions like live ammunition, and often collaborate on providing their child with a suitable answer. But what about the parents who are divorced and do not have as much collaboration time or willingness to cooperate with the other? How are children of divorced parents expected to fare when perplexed by the horrors of the world, like school shootings?

First and Foremost

When spouses decide to divorce, and they have children, those spouses are first and foremost parents. The spouses relationship as romantic partners is over, but their duties and roles as parents to their children is never, and should never be considered, over upon a divorce.

After a tragedy like Sandy Hook, all children will feel shaken and unsure about their own situation. In the child’s mind, no one is safe. After the Sandy Hook incident, it is natural for children to be more attached and anxious about losing a parent or family member, especially a child of a divorced family. In a way, the child has already ‘lost’ a parent, and will have enhanced separation anxiety after something like Sandy Hook. To combat the separation anxiety make sure both parents are fully available to the child if they should ask for them. Both parents should make sure the child can call, visit, or see them whenever the child needs.

Set the Tone

In divorced families, both parents must find a way and time to discuss how to approach the subject and talk with the children. If the parents feel it is necessary, the parents may decide to limit TV exposure to prevent the children from becoming over saturated by the news.

Make sure both parents are dedicated to listening to the child’s thoughts and feelings. Allowing the child to speak freely will not only strengthen the bond and trust between parent and child, but it will boost the child’s confidence to share feelings and thoughts. But listening must go beyond just quietly waiting for the child to finish speaking. Listening involves asking questions when appropriate and encouraging the child to fully express themselves.

In these conversations, parents should keep their comments positive and reassuring. When we say positive and reassuring comments, we mean restraining yourself from conveying feelings of anxiety and anger. It is completely appropriate to share your feelings of sadness and regret, but if you appear to be deeply, violently affected by Sandy Hook, your child will see you as less stable and comforting.

Parenting is a delicate business that leaves every parent’s nerves fried. The pressure of providing your child with the basis of their perspective makes you sweat bullets with each decision you make. But take a moment and relax; children are smart and capable of creating their own thoughts and opinions early. It is your job to nurture their mind and body by being a safe house, and the only way you can do that is by showering them with unlimited love. If they know they are loved, they will be okay.

Divorce Your Technology Too

The New Year is almost here, and we all know what that means for many unhappily married couples: Splitsville. Some couples may be just holding on long enough to make it through the holidays, or some spouses may be waiting for the holidays to end to drop the hammer. Either way, divorce is a serious undertaking which requires completely separating one spouses’ belongings from the other spouses’. But beyond packing up your knickknacks and clothes in boxes there is another world that needs to be cleaned out and separated as well, and that is the cyber world.

Technology is a wonderful tool to connect with those you love, but when you’re trying to break from certain people it can be easy to forget about your cyber world. Here are a few helpful tips to making your new single, private life truly private.

iCloud Hazards: iCloud is a great way to ensure you will never lose precious pictures and more because it backs up your phone, laptop, and more on the easily accessible web. If you had iCloud, chances are your spouse has access to it too. Disconnecting your device from the marital iCloud may seem like a hassle, but it’s well worth it. Breaking the connection between iCloud and your phone or laptop will prevent your ex from the occasional late night stalking. It’s not cruel or selfish to do this, it’s smart. Would you want your ex reading your texts?

Wipe the Memory Clean: You may think we are just paranoid now, but if the temptation is there, so will your ex. If you used the family computer just think of all the passwords, usernames, credit card information, and more you saved and stored. Better be safe than sorry, so do yourself a favor and wipe the computer’s history clean. Don’t forget to check and make sure your auto-populated usernames and passwords are cleaned out too.

Location, Location, Location: You may forget all of the nifty things your smartphone can do, but you’re ex might not forget. When you got your smartphone no doubt you went through the phase of buying any and every app you could get, some of which probably included a locator or tracking device. Some apps make the great stalking game open to friends, so check your friends list to make sure you don’t mind any of them knowing where you are. Some smartphones even have a built in tracking device in case they were lost, which can easily be used to track your whereabouts at any time.

Change is Good: If you follow any of these tips, please let this be one of them: Change your passwords. Most, if not all, couples share or just tell each other passwords without a second thought; but your relationship has changed and it’s not a bad idea to change your passwords along with the relationship status.

The Divorcee’s Guide to the New Year

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The New Year is here, and if you’re divorced you might have been dreading NYE parties. If you’re divorced you probably have been dreading most social events because it eventually comes out: You’re divorced. Sometimes you can see the alarm in your new friend’s face, sometimes you can hear it. No matter how common divorce becomes, many people are still surprised when it comes out that you were in fact apart of one of those marriages that didn’t make it to 2013. But guess what? Part of the reason being divorced has become part of your identity is because you have let it. Harsh? Maybe a little, but here’s how to unstick that icky divorced you from just you.

Make a Resolution

New Years has passed, but we’re still in the infancy of 2013, so making a resolution is just fine. Besides, it’s not like there are resolution police setting up checkpoints. So make a resolution, right now, not to introduce yourself as the divorced friend; don’t tell your tale to willing coffee shop locals; refrain from throwing in references to your ex.

Divorce is devastating, but by allowing yourself to languish in the toxic ooze of divorce will only hurt you in the long run. Making a resolution to stop seeing yourself as the divorcee instead of the multitude of other things that make you, well, you will greatly enhance your 2013.

We do have one caveat: If you started 2013 as a newly divorced individual, give yourself some good wallowing time. It’s part of the grieving process and who are we to interfere with that? If, however, it’s been at least a year after your divorce, it’s time to put away that side of you and rediscover the other things about yourself.

Celebrate Yourself

Every now and again everyone needs a reminder of how cool they are, and divorcees are definitely in need of that. A great new trend to try out is a divorce party. They are a great way to close one chapter of your life in a lighthearted way, and to welcome the new chapter.

Here are a few tips for throwing a divorce party:

  • Rent a neutral space, like a local bar or restaurant you love for easy clean up and minimal set-up.
  • Make a list of possible invites and then narrow it down to people you feel are supportive and are positive influences in your life.
  • Send out invitations early so people have time to warm up to the idea. Also include a little info about why you’re throwing a divorce party (like, “celebrating a new phase in my life”) because it’s not likely they’ve been to a divorce party yet.
  • If you want a themed party, focus on lighthearted ones to not make others uncomfortable and to keep it fun.

Divorce is no walk in the park, but here’s to you not letting the negatives in life define you. Kick off 2013 on the right foot by shedding old skin and making way to grow into a stronger, more confident, happier person.

The Singletons: Parents and Prosperous

Superhero mother and babyIt has been said children of rich parents have encouragement, while children of poor parents have grit. In response to this, a recently written article argued that children raised by single mothers have both encouragement and grit. Pamela Krimpke, the author of the Slate article “It’s Better to Be Raised by a Single Mother“, says children of single parents are given real world experiences, which make the children appreciative, hard working, and insightful.

While there is no scientific or psychological research behind this, we are inclined to agree that children of single parents have a little more life experience than children of intact families (which is an entire topic in itself). Yet we won’t discriminate or question the efforts of single fathers. Any single parent deserves to have hats tipped at them and pats on the back.

The Laws of Single Parents

Single parenting is hard. There is no question about it. But here are a few tips that may make the journey just a little more enjoyable and decrease the probability of ripping ones hair out.

Get Some Sleep: For any human being, sleep is an essential part of being able to function. But for parents, single and coupled, sleep is both a necessity and a rare luxury. Some way, somehow, though, you must find a way to get some sleep because sleep boosts immunity, allows your body to repair itself, and releases tension. So whatever you do, make sure your child stays on a reasonable sleep schedule so you can stay on a reasonable sleep schedule.

Weave a Supportive Network: Married parents have a built in support network, but even they need some reinforcements from time to time. A good support network for single parents is imperative. To build a support network, look to family, friends, neighbors, and community groups. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but wisdom.

Guard Your Health: You are the one person your kids depend on for everything, so make sure you’re always in good health. The best way to do this is to keep up a healthy regimen of healthy, colorful, fresh foods along with a refreshing exercise schedule. The exercise doesn’t have to be a workout that takes everything out of your; the exercise should be a tension releasing workout that leaves you invigorated, and can double as some well deserved me-time.

Create Structure: For your sanity, and your child’s future, begin setting boundaries and rules early. Part of parenting and setting boundaries is learning to say “No,” and this couldn’t be a better thing for a child to hear every now and again. Learning to set limits and say no will allow you to evaluate and make decisions about what is necessary and what isn’t; it will also teach your child valuable life lessons.

Go Easy on Yourself: For any parent it’s easy to set the lofty goal of trying to be and do everything, but when you don’t reach that goal you feel like a horrible parent. Avoid aspiring to be Wonder Woman or Superman, and just try to be the best you can be; be Super You.  A part of being the best you can be is coming to terms with what your best is and working within your abilities. That’s the way to keep a household happy, whether it’s headed by two parents or just one.

Marriage Isn’t a Moral Measuring Stick

85784552Gray divorce was a big deal about three months ago, but now it’s nothing more than a little section on Huffintington Post: Divorce. It appears the world has already tired of the topic, except when celebrities and public figures are involved.

It’s true, Buzz Aldrin and his soon-to-be ex-wife, Lois Driggs Cannon, filed for divorce on December 28th, 2012. We won’t get into the details of the divorce because the amount of money the almost-former Ms. Aldrin is getting makes our pupils turn into dollar signs. What we will get into is how this piece of Aldrin news isn’t quite so depressing or indicative of moral looseness as one might assume.

Dear Old Buzz

Since making the second set of footprints on the moon, Buzz Aldrin has had quite a time of it in life. He’s been through a battle with alcoholism, two divorces and marriages, and a lifetime struggle of being labeled #2. The man is currently 82 years old, and has had a turbulent, probably exhausting life. Yet even at such a jaw dropping age he is making decisions a person half his age is making; he’s getting divorced and continuing his pursuit of happiness.

Buzz Aldrin just might reignite the world’s fascination with gray divorce. Well, at this point it’s more like white divorce, but here’s why divorce at any age isn’t telling of an amoral society.

Marriage Isn’t a Moral Measuring Stick

For generations marriage has been closely associated with morality, wholesomeness, and everything good and pure. But this is a romantic, unrealistic view of what marriage means for society. Just because a couple has decided to legally enter a union does not mean that life is in any way better than a single person’s life. Marriage shouldn’t be viewed just as something people in our world do. Ask yourself, do you want to get married because it’s something “people do”?

This question is what is really so shocking about gray divorce. News about gray divorce snaps people out of their day-to-day lives and makes them reevaluate their own situations. If older people, who are supposed to just wait around for the end, are refusing to settle in their lives, then why should the younger generations? The answer is: They shouldn’t.

Marriage is ________

So if marriage isn’t a moral measuring stick, what is it? Marriage is supposed to the be ultimate display and symbol of love. But love is a fickle emotion, as any stereotypical adolescent knows. For a marriage to stay a real marriage (meaning: still full of love), the spouses must constantly check in on their relationship, which is the basis of the marriage.(Could that simplistic idea be our answer? “Marriage is a relationship.”)

No one wants to be wrong, but if a marriage is discovered to run out of love without a hope of a refill, then why shouldn’t divorce be the solution? If this realization should creep into my life, I hope I have the strength to take a page from Buzz Aldrin and continue to live life like it has meaning up until the end.

As it stands, marriage is viewed as a test with only two options: pass or fail. But since the fail rate is about 50%, maybe it’s time to view marriage in a new light.

Detox After Divorce

detoxDivorce marks a horrible time in a person’s life. The divorcee is probably feeling unwanted, brokenhearted, lost, and contagiously depressed. Wherever you go, whoever you see makes you think of your divorce. It comes up in conversations with your best friend, your family members, and sometimes unsuspecting grocery store employees.

No doubt about it, once divorce worms its way into your life it’s almost impossible to get rid of it. Divorce is like a contagious, cancerous disease. But did you know there are ways to detoxify your life?

Detox Your Demons…

Nestled in West Hollywood, California is the Divorce Detox center. The Divorce Detox center was opened by Allison Pescosolido and Andra Brosh to help people “learn valuable skills to restart [their] life.”

In December 2012, a New York Times columnist took part of one of the Divorce Detox programs and wrote an in-depth article about the experience. The journalist went through individual sessions with life coach Allison Pescosolido, who walked him through healing activities like finding new hobbies, purging your life of unnecessary things, setting personal goals, and self reflection (lots of self reflection).

Divorce Detox offers a spectrum of services and programs. They offer an internet “Divorce Detox Survival Kit” that comes at only $19.00, but for the full treatment you’ll have to dish out $3,500.00 for their “Individual Intensive.”

… Yourself for Less

We don’t know about you, but we don’t have $3,500.00 lying around. So here are some tips to help gain the same peace of mind and vigor one would feel after Divorce Detox sessions.

Tip #1: Focus on the things in life you are grateful for. If you count your blessings you are focusing on things that make you feel good in life, things you look forward to. This is part of learning to enjoy life on your own and allow yourself to thrive.

Tip #2: Don’t shy away from the truth. Focus on positive things, but accept the negatives in your life, in your personality, and in your relationship pattern. Accept them, but then work on fixing the negatives. It’s easy to blame the ex for everything, but don’t forget you voluntarily stayed with that person.

Tip #3: “I am a human.” Repeat this phrase at least once a day, and more if necessary. By admitting to yourself you are human means you accept you will make mistakes, but constantly change and evolve as you live. Humans, like all living things, are perpetually going through cycles of change, growth, and renewal. Embrace it and remind yourself you are always changing; you are not the person you were a year ago, a month ago, or even a day ago.

There you have it, basic divorce detoxification on the cheap. Now go forth and thrive, you joyful, honest human!

Marriage like a Phoenix

fireThere have been some strange whisperings around Huffington Post: Divorce about infidelity and marriages. One blog writes about David Letterman’s statement during an Oprah show that after his affair he “never felt better about [him]self, and [his] relationship with [his] wife has never been better.” After this statement, and an affirmation form a writer at The Stir, the blog dares to ask the question, “Can an affair make a marriage stronger?” The answer to which was a resounding “NO” in the comments.

The Truth Corner

Welcome to the Truth Corner. In this little space in the blogosphere, we will tell the unadulterated truth; and now we are about to tell the unadulterated truth about adultery.

Firstly, Mr. Letterman probably has never felt better about himself because he just discovered his wife will in fact remain married to his old, cheating self. Secondly, Mr. Letterman must have horrible judgement to think it’s good for his image to stroke his own ego after such a public faux pas. Thirdly, the only way a marriage can come back stronger after an affair is if the old marriage dies.

Thank you very much for tuning in for this edition of the Truth Corner.

The Marriage, Reincarnate

Just so you won’t get the wrong impression about the Huffington Post, we found a wonderful blog about how a marriage should recover from an affair written by Tammy Nelson. Nelson’s blog goes into the process a married couple went through to salvage their marriage.

After the initial shock or rage wears off, the next step is to think about how you feel about your marriage. Nelson make two lists of questions to consider, one list for the unfaithful spouse and another for the wronged spouse.

The unfaithful spouse should ask themselves:

  • Do you regret the infidelity? We are assuming this question does not mean “Do you regret getting caught?” The question is “Do you regret hurting your spouse and making this error?”
  • Do you love your spouse and want to continue to have a [romantic] relationship with them?
  • Are you ready to honestly and openly work on the relationship? Yes, for clarity’s sake, working “honestly and openly” will include pain, tears, and some anger.

The wronged spouses should ask themselves:

  • Are you scared your relationship with the person won’t survive?
  • Does the thought of ending relationship feel wrong to you?
  • Are you also ready to honestly and openly work on the relationship, including pain, tears, and anger?

If the spouses answered “Yes” to all of their questions, the relationship may have a chance to move on from the infidelity.

The Phoenix Marriage

According to Nelson, from this point on the couple must come to the realization that there is no returning to the marriage they had. The only way to stay in a relationship is to let that marriage die and recreate a new, stronger marriage from the old one’s ashes. This might require counseling; actually, this will probably require counseling.

But this is the true way to move on after a bout of infidelity and adultery. To make a break from a relationship so flawed that infidelity was allowed to sprout. When thinking about healing a marriage after unfaithfulness, think more about starting new and not going back to the way things were. Who would want to go back to the way things were if infidelity was the end result? People on the fast track to divorce court, and maybe David Letterman.

Love, Divorce, and ‘Family’ Matters

200209831-001In the 21st century we like our families mixed. With the rise in divorce, it’s almost impossible for anyone to say they don’t have at least one step relation or acquaintance. This used to be a shameful topic because divorce used to be seen as a shameful act. But now marriage is seen as a romantic, heartfelt decision rather than a rational necessity, and there is (relatively) no shame in ending an unhappy marriage.

Yet after ending an unhappy marriage, you may be faced with the task of deciding who your family is. Does this signal the breakdown of the family as we know it, or the beginning of an evolved family structure?

21st Century Family

In 2010, the Pew Research Center uncovered that 42% of 2,691 surveyed adults had at least one step-relative in their family; of those 2,691, 30% had a step or half sibling, and 18% had a living stepparent. Welcome to the make up of almost every 21st century family, thanks to gender equality, changing morals, modernized divorce laws, and whatever else we can blame the high divorce rate on.

While 21st century families don’t quite look like The Jetsons, 21st century families do slightly resemble the Jetsons’ robot maid, Rosie. Like Rosie, 21st century families are made of different pieces fused together. In 21st century families, there are step-siblings, ex-stepparents, various “uncles” and “aunts” who aren’t related by blood or marriage, and ex-relations’ relations who need sentence-long introductions.

Yet somehow all these people can be easily defined as “family.” Family is usually defined as “a group of persons of common ancestry,” but there are many other definitions.

Are You My Family?

Merriam-Webster.com includes groups who share the same home, share the same convictons and values, as well as various related organisms as part of the definition of “family.” This is because relationships and the semantics of those relationships are complicated. Once two people have become acquainted they cannot un-know each other. The result is one big, happy Frankenfamily.

Remember the old saying, “You can’t choose your family”? Well, consider that saying to be outdated. With in-laws and other “family” coming and going in and out of marriage, there is a choice. If you never really bonded, you can let an ex-in-law fall by the wayside; on the flip side, if you have a strong bond with a now-ex-in-law, you don’t necessarily have to let them go. Of course every family is different, and the decision to keep a certain “relative” around is up to the individual.

Is the Family Stronger?

The term “Frankenfamily” might not be very inspiring or reassuring, but it’s very possible the Frankenfamily is a much stronger unit than the family of old. The traditional perception of family chains a person to relationships with people they may not care for in the least. But the Frankenfamily is created upon much more stable ground since the person chooses and admits people into their family.

The Frankenfamily does not completely disband or destroy the traditional family, it just allows the family tree to be pruned. Who wants rotting branches on their family tree, anyway? Not I, that’s for sure.

Downwind of Divorce: Friends of Divorcees

friends hidingWhen divorce is in the picture, it’s been a bad day, week, month, and probably even year. The people who usually make the dark days brighter are friends; but when divorce is in the air, and your pack of friends is downwind, the pack swiftly dwindles to a select few (and sometimes no one at all). At this point it’s an accepted truth that divorce has a knack for sifting through a person’s true friends and faux-friends. In fact, there have been books written on the topic, such as Dr. Bruce Fisher’s book “Rebuilding When Your Relationship Ends.”

Through the Faux-Friend’s Lens

In this book, Dr. Fisher explores the friend of a divorcee persona and the reason why friends tend to make themselves scarce when they catch a whiff of divorce on the breeze.

#1 From friend to threat. In a group of couples, you are expected to be happily taken. When this potpourri of duos is unbalanced, the group feels threatened by the singleton’s brassiness (this ties into #4). After all, that was the groups thing, you were all taken and unavailable.

#2 Divide and be conquered (or shunned). Divorce is an unpleasant topic and occurrence that makes everyone look at their shoes wide-eyed. So what do most people do? They pick a side and hope only to deal with half of the awkwardness of divorce. So if (or once) your group of friends take sides, you’ll find out who your loyal pack is made of.

#3 Flight, not fight. Logically, people know divorce is not contagious. But they are afraid of where their minds (and relationships) will wander if they are present for the demise of a marriage. To avoid catching those impressionable thoughts, they stand back and hope the bad juju doesn’t follow them.

#4 Bold as brass. As old as western culture is, there is still a stigma surrounding divorce. Divorce people are perceived as somehow morally loose and less respectable than married people. Although married people have just as many bad apples as divorced people, unfortunately the divorcees are stuck with a bad rep.

Divorcees Are People Too

Even if you’re not a faux-friend, you might be tempted to back away slowly just so you won’t have to wrack your brain for comforting things to say. Well, now you won’t have an excuse, because here is a condensed list of things every divorcee wants to hear, compiled by The Stir’s blogger Aunt Becky.

  •  I love you. This is at the top of our list because friendship is all about companionship and heartfelt relationships. These 3 words express you care, and reaffirm your friend will never be alone if you’re there.
  • This sucks. Sometimes there is nothing better than just acknowledging the suckiness of the situation. But the upside has to follow this acknowledgement, or you run the risk of your friend wallowing too long.
  • One thing at a time. Just like when you’re swamped at work, you need to step back, take a deep breath, and address things one at a time. Help your friend do this every now and then so they don’t explode from stressful schedules and painful tasks.
  • Can I be your plus 1? Divorcees have to deal with loss wherever they turn, and nothing rubs it in more than invitations with the dreaded “plus 1″ option. Your friend may just want to hide under the covers and never have a social life again. Take the edge (and pressure) off of them by offering to be their plus one and rehabilitate them into the world and laughter.
  • What do you need? Sometimes your friend may need a little help remembering to eat, grocery shop, pay bills, and get the divorce process rolling. Don’t let them forget about themselves, and don’t let them feel like they have to go through this alone by refocusing them on their needs.