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Costly Divorce Coping

If you are human, you have probably fallen victim to the lure of instant gratification many times in your life. With the rise of high speed internet and technology, we are used to getting what we want quickly. Patience tends to wear thin in the modern world, and when it comes to negative emotions, patience wears even thinner. But appropriately dealing with difficult feelings associated with traumatic events like filing for divorce, is necessary in order to move on and heal.

Coping with hard times in unhealthy ways, such as through spending money or other methods of instant gratification, only serves to numb and trap yourself within negative emotions, which delays recovery and is harmful to your future. Choosing healthy self-soothing methods and working through your emotions instead ensures positive healing and growth.

Pleasure-Seeking Methods

Things that bring sugar-coated pleasure are easy to accumulate. Buy that expensive, gorgeous pair of shoes, or eat that second piece of cake, and your sad mood will take a hike quickly, with indulgent delight eagerly taking its place. The problem with this method of self-soothing is the way it only works temporarily, and usually causes future issues down the road.

Financial: When it comes to spending money to make yourself feel better, there are obvious negative ramifications. Not only does it deplete assets most likely needed during a divorce, it can handicap your financial independence afterwards.

It’s helpful to make sure your motivations are healthy before making any financial decisions during a fragile emotional time. This Huffington Post article quotes financial planner, Douglas J. Eaton, advising, “The most important question to be answered is: ‘What is the most important to you about your money and why?’…Do some soul-searching to define who you are and do not allow your money to define you.” Excessive spending cannot save you from the emotional distress of divorce, so it’s wise to keep spending in its rightful place on your list of priorities.

Self-Numbing: Additionally, any gratification you do savor from self-indulgent coping mechanisms, like overeating, is short-lived and empty. The emotions of sadness, anxiety, or frustration need to be worked through, not covered up or avoided. If you avoid and numb them, they will simply return after your pleasure of choice fades.

Our impatience with negative feelings results in instantly gratifying behaviors that only serve our present state, not our future. As writer Polly Campbell informs, “We move into ‘present bias’ when we want immediate gratification–in the case of sadness, we want to feel better–so we become impatient and ignore the greater benefits that come when we settle down and wait awhile.”

What Are Better Ways to Cope?

The main necessity for healthy coping in the face of the divorce process, is facing it bravely. This means not being afraid to feel your sadness and then seeking the right kind of support to overcome it. As a result, instead of pushing bad feelings away temporarily, you take control of them and gradually become free. Support from family and friends helps with this process, and doing enjoyable activities, that don’t involve harming your future assets or physical health. Patiently taking care of yourself and your future is the key to thriving recovery.

What are some other healthy ways to cope with divorce?

Steps to a Strong Marriage Foundation

83163694While it’s helpful to pinpoint what causes divorce and relationship dissolution, what is perhaps even more beneficial is knowing how to create a solid marriage. Every relationship is unique and there is no specific roadmap that eliminates the possibility of throwing in the towel and filing for divorce. There are, however, general surefire ways to give a romance the best shot at succeeding by setting a foundation to build a strong marriage.

An all encompassing piece of wisdom is to remember that a marriage is not a happily ever after fairy-tale that will never let you down. Like the ever changing events in one’s life, people evolve too, and so should a relationship. Constant work and progress is necessary to nourish those strong bonds that sealed a couple together in the first place.

Steps to Strength

Some things couples can do to make sure they are putting their best feet forward include fostering good habits of communication and compassion. Licensed Master Social Worker, Nathan Feiles, offers tried and true suggestions in his blog featured on PsychCentral. Here are a few gems.

Acceptance of Flaws: It can be tempting to make someone your project by striving to change, fix, and perfect. Trouble with this scenario is that it doesn’t work and is often met with resentment. People have flaws only they can change, if they take it upon themselves to do so. As Feiles says, “The trick is to be with someone whose flaws you can handle.” Accepting someone means accepting all of them, the good and the bad.

Similar Values: At the same time, there are certain flaws or, more accurately, differences that could significantly impact the relationship. Having drastically differing values from your partner tends to mean much more conflict and misunderstanding. “While some values are likely to not align, hopefully the foundational values of your relationship are,” explains Feiles. For example, a couple would most likely fair better when they have similar religious and political slants. While opposites sometimes do tend to attract, sharing important values and beliefs provide a solid foundation.

Good Listening Skills: Name some top qualities you value in your best friend, and one of them is bound to be a good listener. When there are problems or successes in life, we all need an open ear and mind to share them with and support us. Since a marriage is similar to spending every day with a best friend, the list of desired qualities is similar. Listen to your husband or wife with sincerity and empathy, and they will feel loved and want to return the favor.

Marriage Maintenance

The key to successfully fulfilling all of the above guidelines is to keep them in check and updated. Taking stock of what kind of maintenance your marriage requires and what needs tweaking keeps it from sliding down the slippery slope that could lead to an even slipperier divorce process. All of the work that goes into marriage upkeep requires patience and dedication. Luckily taking care of loving strongholds of acceptance, shared values, and listening skills, ensures a stable foundation from which to grow and build.

Love Addiction Causes and Consequences

87730262Can someone be addicted to love? Judging by the title of this blog, the answer is, yes. Love addiction might sound like an almost positive quality to have, but in it’s clinical, psychological diagnosis, it’s a real addiction, and therefore, a very real problem. Those afflicted with this ailment can find its roots within their childhood experiences. They then see its ramifications in their later romantic relationships, with an intensity that may often lead to heartbreak, ranging from an inevitable breakup to filing for divorce.

Love addiction is an intense obsession with the beloved to the extent of disregarding yourself and your own, at times basic, practical self-care needs. It sounds like a classic romance movie from the studios of Hollywood, but the reality of being pathologically addicted to someone is more devastating than tantalizing.

Fear of Abandonment

Lingering behind the clinging, desperate relational behaviors of love addicts is deep-seated fear that they are not loved at all and are at constant risk of abandonment. A PsychCentral article explains the neurosis origin: “People generally become love addicts due to a past history of abandonment from their primary caregivers. Adult love addicts usually recognized as children that their most precious needs for validation, love, and connection with one or both parents were not met.”

The past sets off a pattern of seeking to fulfill those unmet needs of self-esteem in destructive ways that continue to deplete the very self-regard and love the addict is searching for. What results is an unhealthy dependence on incoming approval and attention from the beloved they obsess over, tightly clasping to them in fear that they will leave.

The Addict’s Faulty Solution

One interesting aspect of a love addict’s romantic habits is the seemingly opposite fear of intimacy mixed in with the intensity of their obsession. Their particular lack of self-confidence results in both “a conscious fear of abandonment and an underlying subconscious fear of intimacy. To a love addict, intensity in a relationship is often mistaken for intimacy,” the article states.

By intensity, it generally means the constant effort to be with the romantic partner at all times or no what he or she is doing all the time in a controlling way, always seeking attention and validation. They overly depend on the other to make them happy and take care of all of their needs, thereby neglecting to take care of themselves and the quality of the relationship. This could create tense feelings of resentment on both ends and eventually lead to an even more contentious divorce process.

The Real Solution

What the love addict really needs is self-awareness and self-love that comes through dealing with past hurt emotions and experiences. Depending on the intensity of the addiction, therapy is usually needed to accomplish this feat. Real love means taking care of yourself as well as the other person, and being a whole, self-sustaining individual who is happy with themselves, without depending solely on someone else to bring them happiness.

What are our readers’ opinions of love addiction and its possible contribution to some cases of divorce?

Alimony & Sexism

76755050When the word sexism pops up, it’s common to tag it as a women’s problem; women face injustices in the workplace, and in home-life expectations. But sexism affects men as well. Questions and activism are on the rise regarding the fairness of alimony, and the regular handouts men are oftentimes required to pay ex-wives after filing for divorce. A centuries old system, alimony is beginning to be labeled as out of date with the changing times and gender roles of modern society.

Although every divorce case is different and requires special discretion, many states still require husbands to pay lifetime alimony, with few exceptions. It is especially deemed unjust by these husbands when the wife is fully capable of supporting herself if she so chose. The alimony law’s unfairness in these cases brings up the question of its value and promotion of a different kind of sexism that holds firm to strict gender expectations that are no longer appreciated.

“It’s not fair; it’s the law”

The main argument against lifetime alimony law is that ex-wives are reaping these monetary benefits for no good reason, other than the law states they should because it’s stuck in a 1950’s mentality. Opponents, consisting of both men and women, as discussed in an NPR article, are in favor of modifications, such as the new law in Massachusetts that customizes and determines alimony according to marriage length.

One such alimony opponent discussed in the article is Tom Leustek, a New Jersey based professor whose ex-wife has a Ph.D. Still, he was ordered by a judge to pay her lifetime alimony, since she had ended up quitting a high-paying job to start a less financially rewarding psychology practice. Leustek argues her earning potential is still alive and well. He quotes the judge, who said, “It’s not fair, Mr. Leustek; it’s the law.” That was the turning point leading him to take up activism through a group, called the New Jersey Alimony Reform, that seeks to modify the law in a similar way Massachusetts did.

Stuck in the 1950’s?

The term sexism comes into play when you consider the state of marital affairs of the past, in which most women in America stayed home to care for the house and children, while the breadwinning men trotted off to work. It was and continues to be a limiting stereotype that is still in the process of being eradicated as more and more women step into the workforce and increase their opportunities.

Businessman Raymond Posa is another alimony questioner who faced a similar situation to Leustek’s, agrees that the divorce law needs to change with the times. Referring to the assumptions made by alimony enforcement, he says, “It’s like you’re incapable of getting on your own two feet, and you need to depend on this person for the rest of your life?” If women are making their own money, it makes sense for the patriarchal notion of depending on a man to fall to the wayside where it belongs.

Love at Any (St)Age

Let’s just acknowledge this right off that bat: Just because you’re divorced does not mean you’re dead. Although at times during the divorce process you might feel like a fine specimen of the living dead, you are not. Just repeat that to yourself in the mirror a few times a day and maybe you’ll actually start to believe it.

But this blog is about the post-divorce stage when trips to the grocery store becoming a grazing ground, in more than one way (if you catch our drift). For some, this stage approaches faster and with more ease than for other divorcees. But we have a sneaking suspicion one of the contributing factors to the time and ease at which a divorcee re-enters the dating scene is whether they come in a multi-pack.

The More the Merrier?

It’s difficult for a divorcee to re-enter the dating world, let alone for a divorcee who also holds the title of parent to re-enter the dating world. The statistics overwhelmingly shout that children of divorce are scarred for life, do poorly in school, might be suicidal, don’t seek healthy relationships, and for some reason are not math whizzes. So it’s no wonder a newly divorced parent’s head explodes at the thought of what dating would do to their children.

We are all for independent thinking, and let us emphasize no one knows what’s best for your family other than you and your family. But in case you were wondering, popular opinions on this topic range the entire spectrum. On one end of the spectrum, we have people who believe dating and children should be in totally separate spheres; at on the other end of the spectrum, we have people who believe they can be mixed healthily.

Finding Your Comfort Zone

In a HuffPost Live segment, host Marc Lamont Hill invites divorced parents/ HuffPost bloggers Ed Housewright, Emma Johnson, Jena Kingsley, Jessica Solloway, and Robin Amos Kahn to discuss the topic of single parents dating. The diverse group shares ideas about how to approach dating after divorce, and shed light on all the beautiful points of the spectrum.

Here are the arguments behind the two opposing sides of the issue, as brought up by the HuffPost bloggers:

  • Slow and Steady: The first concern dating parents under this philosophy have is their children’s emotional and mental state. Divorce presents a horrible upheaval for children and their families, which can cause confusion and emotional instability. Dating parents fear introducing romantic possibilities to their children will open the gateway to further feelings of abandonment and pain, should the relationship not work out. Parents operating under this belief promote only introducing a romantic partner after about 6 solid months of being in an exclusive relationship.

  • C’est La Vie: The opposing camp believes dating parents can approach dating with their children in a positive, balanced manner. As stated by one of the HuffPost bloggers, teaching your children about the ebbs and flows of life can prepare and strengthen a child to handle all of life’s curveballs. Age-appropriate communication about dating is the key to going this route, especially explaining the role (or lack of a role) dates have in the child’s life.

Wherever you may fall in the spectrum, don’t forget the players in the relationship. As Housewright said in the HuffPost discussion: “It just depends on your child. You need to know your child, and know their make-up. I don’t think you can make across the board rules. I wouldn’t give any advice to anybody else.”

Where do you fall on the spectrum and why? Sound off, Readers.

The Pros and Cons of Online Dating

Pros&ConsOnlineDatingIn the early 2000′s, when people used to think of online dating they probably imaged online daters typing sweet nothings back and forth with Siri-like significant others. But today, a mere 13 years later, we are comfortable (or at least more comfortable) with the idea of cyber-fishing for that special one in the sea.

But how do relationships with cyber beginnings rank compared to relationships with more conventional beginning? That is the question currently on the mind of lead researcher Eli J. Finkel, first author of the article, “Online Dating: A Critical Analysis From the Perspective of Psychological Science.”

Finkel and his research team were commissioned by eHarmony to delve into the state of modern relationships and marriages by researching a two part question: Is online dating different from the dating of yore, and is it better? This is what Finkel’s team found.

Is online dating different?

Yes, Finkel’s team discovered, online dating is different. The summary of the published study notes online dating is definitely different because romance and potential partners used to be vetted by ” village elders, family members, or friends,” and now those human reference points are “a mathematical matching algorithm.”

But they went a step further. Online dating is different in these 3 different aspects:

  • Access “refers to [the] users’ exposure to and opportunity to evaluate potential romantic partners they are otherwise unlikely to encounter.”

  • Communication “refers to users’ opportunity to use various forms of computer-mediated communication (CMC) to interact with specific potential partners through the dating site before meeting face-to-face.”

  • Matching refers to “a site’s use of a mathematical algorithm to select potential partners for users.”

Is online dating better?

The answer to this question is yes and no. We have highlighted some of the positives and negatives of online dating, as specified in the study, below.

Online dating is better than conventional dating because:

  • you can access potential partners all over the world via the internet.

  • you have an added filter for potential partners due to CMC.

  • certain sites filter out unsuitable partners with the interview processes.

Online dating is not better because:

  • it deprives the participants of the “experiential” (meaning discovered through experience) part of meeting a potential partner face-to-face, and discovering how their body language, voice, and treatment of others appeals to you.

  • it makes romance more of a job interview, so participants objectify and distance themselves from potential partners.

  • an algorithm cannot accurately match how well two people will interact, and cannot measure or predict how two people will “grow and mature over time” together.

What does this information do for us?

So where are we after receiving this information? Well, that depends on you and your opinion. Knowing the study was funded by eHarmony made us first believe the study would find online dating to be the best way to find a significant other, but that was happily not the case.

Well, Readers, what do you think about online dating? Sound off below.

Happy (Single) Father’s Day!

Celebrating Single FathersTake a stroll down any store’s card aisle, and you will notice the sudden increase of cards with fishing poles, athletic equipment, and La-Z Boy chairs splattered on the covers; you know, manly things. In case you’re really bad with dates, we will tell you why: Sunday, June 16th, is Father’s Day!

Much like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day now seems like a holiday controlled by the stationery stores, but that doesn’t mean its beginnings were money-grubbing. So for all the fathers, especially the single fathers (as you will find), here is a brief history of Father’s Day.

The History of Father’s Day

While Father’s Day doesn’t have as long or rich a history as Mother’s Day, that doesn’t mean the same spirit of love and recognition wasn’t behind it’s creation. In fact, Father’s Day was created to do nothing but give fathers the special recognition they sorely lacked, especially single fathers, according to the Library of Congress article.

In 1910, a little girl from Spokane Washington, named Sonora Dodd, came up with the bright idea of creating a holiday dedicated to fathers while listening to a Mother’s Day sermon. Sonora Dodd is said to have reflected on the care her single father gave her and her siblings since her mother’s untimely death during childbirth. Since Sonora’s father’s birthday was in June, she encouraged neighboring churches to celebrate this new holiday in June.

The Fathering of Father’s Day

By 1910, the idea of Mother’s Day had been in America for 40 years, although it was not recognized as a national holiday until 1914 by President Woodrow Wilson. Although Father’s Day had been gaining popularity, President Wilson was not presented with a Father’s Day holiday proclamation to sign.

President Calvin Coolidge, however, was presented with and signed a Father’s Day proclamation in 1924. Coolidge is quoted as saying (ironically) he wanted Father’s Day  to “establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children and to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations.”

Father’s Day for the Modern Man

The world is constantly changing (evolving or devolving, you decide), but holidays and the traditions observed during each holiday have a way of bringing us back to familiar, almost cozy, paradigms. Case in point, the horrific-looking, stereotype-ridden Father’s Day cards.

What father is known only by his love of fish tackle, lounging, and sports? Yes, one or more of these might harken warm thoughts of your own father, but the point is this: Do father’s want to be known solely for these pursuits and pleasures? I’m pretty positive fathers would like to be equally known for the bedtime story telling, hugs, and comforting words.

If this baffles you, chalk it up to the changing times; but there is nothing more telling of changing times than the increasing rate of single fathers. According to the 2002 U.S. Census, about 2.2 million American households were headed by single fathers, which marks an 62% increase of single fatherhood within a decade. These fathers, like Sonora Dodd’s father, are everything to their children, and they probably wouldn’t have it any other way.

So instead of playing into Hallmark’s stereotype-perpetuating hands, choose to celebrate all types of fathers for all their roles, influences, and complexities this Sunday.

Rebuilding After Divorce: It’s Not As Hard As You Think, And Here’s Why

Rebuilding after divorceRebuilding after divorce — even in a stress-free do it yourself divorce like the kind we often see here at — can be difficult when the wound is still fresh, and you’re trying to adjust to life alone.

But the good news is, it’s not as hard as you think. At least, it doesn’t have to be. To make the journey from loss to recovery an easier one, you’ll need to understand things about yourself. Unique qualities that make you attractive to others and, more importantly, pleasing to yourself.

Here’s why you shouldn’t fear the rebuilding process after you or your spouse decides to file for divorce, but rather, embrace it.

You Know Your Limits.

When couples enter into a marriage for the first time, there is an aura of uncertainty about what they will (and won’t) accept in a relationship. If you’re divorced, you’ve been there and done it. You know what you’re not looking for in another person as well as your preferences.

If You Let It, Divorce Teaches You How To Love Yourself.

Before marriage, many have a tendency to tie their own value to another person. They look for validation in the eyes and the arms of a lover, and until they find it, they’re not happy. Once the marriage is over, you have two options. You can seek pity from others — a mistake many divorcees make by dating too soon — or you can take time for yourself and explore all the interests and hobbies that were impeded by your marriage. When it comes to pity-versus-self discovery, always choose the latter.

More Options 

The world we live in today is much different than it was 20 years ago. Today, a 45-year-old divorcee doesn’t have to “take whatever he or she can get” when it comes to social opportunities. There are numerous ways that you can meet other like-minded people and explore common interests that might lead to something more meaningful. Book clubs, bicycle groups, church, CrossFit, online dating services. You can use the web to explore all these opportunities, enabling you to get back out there when YOU’RE ready and not when society thinks you should be.

Whether you spent 17 years battling it out in court or opted for the easy DIY divorce, the only person, who can hold you back from the rebuilding process is you. Don’t let negativity dictate who you become.