Divorced woman

Divorced But Not Done: 5 Must-Dos for Staying Positive After Separating

Getting divorced is a painful experience. It can leave you feeling like you’re still drowning under the weight of it long after your “case” has come to a close.

Do you feel like your divorce is over, but you haven’t truly begun to move on? This is common for many newly divorced women. But there comes a certain point when you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start your life over.

Starting anew after watching the life you had planned crumble to bits take a lot of effort on your part. This is especially true if you were not the one who wanted the marriage to end.

When it comes to knowing how to be or what to do after getting divorced, your attitude is everything.

Here are 5 important pieces of divorce advice about staying positive and looking forward instead of lingering on your pain.

1. Allow yourself time to grieve

After enduring a traumatic incident, such as the chilling process of divorce, many new singles make it their mission to move up and onward. This is a great goal to have, but don’t underestimate the grieving process.

Even if you don’t want to spend another minute thinking about your Ex, it’s still important to grieve your relationship with him*. Doing so will help you move on with your life.


Read 46 Steps to Ensure Your Divorce Recovery: A Definition and a Guide


Think of the good times you had with your Ex-husband and go over all of the things you are going to miss. Then move on to the emotions and memories that are leaving you feeling bitter, sad, or resentful. These memories may be hard to relive, but you cannot move on from your divorce until you have learned to process it and let go of the past.

Once you have let the past go, you can look back with only the positive lessons you learned as you work toward new goals in your life.

2. Plan something fun

Going through a separation or trial divorce is one of the most emotionally exhausting experiences any person can ever go through. There is so much waiting, fighting, finances spent, and emotions drained during this process.

Now that it’s over, it’s time to look forward to something positive for a change.

One great piece of divorce advice for creating a positive mindset is to start making plans. These can be big life plans or social engagements, so long as the result is that you have something to look forward to and can have fun. Some examples include:

  • Rent a house in a new neighborhood
  • Move to a new city
  • Travel solo
  • Get a new job
  • Go back to school
  • Volunteer with an organization whose mission turns you on!
  • Move up the ranks in your current place of employment
  • Travel with friends, family, or another divorced woman
  • Learn how to play an instrument/speak another language
  • Commit to doing something fun each week like attending live shows, making dinner dates, or joining a walking group each weekend

Whatever your dreams are, don’t hold back. Now is the time to make goals for yourself and pursue them with all of your heart.

3. Build an amazing support system

One solid piece of divorce advice that you should follow is to have a support system in place.

Don’t be too proud to ask for help. Your friends and family may know that you are Wonder Woman, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need a shoulder to lean on every once in a while.

Your friends and family love you. Let them help you get through this difficult period in your life.

Not only will they be there for socializing, venting, and support with moving or other life changes, but research shows that receiving support from friends and family during a distressing life event (such as a divorce) can significantly lower psychological distress.

4. Start focusing on yourself

Do you even remember the person you were before you got married? What was that girl like? Who did she aspire to be and how much of her has gotten lost along the way?

One way you can stay positive after your divorce is by focusing on yourself for a change.

Odds are during your marriage you were fixated on either working, taking care of your partner’s needs, or raising children. But when was the last time you focused on your own desires?

Now is the time for you to take back control of your own life.

Start making exciting goals that you can work toward. Take classes, plan fun outings with friends, pick up old hobbies that used to bring you joy or make new ones. These are the things that will make you happy and remind you who you really are deep down.

5.  Start taking care of yourself

Your personal health is a big part of staying positive after a divorce.

Exercise multiple times a week. Doctor’s recommend getting at least thirty minutes of exercise daily to maintain personal health and proper weight. Not only will getting active keep you feeling healthy, but it will also boost your confidence and release feel-good endorphins.

Keep the positivity flowing by eating better. Start cooking at home more often, and stay away from processed foods that can make you feel bloated or depressed.

Mindful meditation is another great way to promote positivity and self-care in your life. Studies show that meditation has been proven to reduce stress, boost your mood, and reduce anxiety-related behaviors, such as panic attacks.

When you practice mindful meditation, you focus on what’s really going on in your life without judgment or anger. You simply process the emotions and then learn to let them go.

The best post-divorce advice you could ever follow is to focus on self-care.

Practice positive meditations, and take control of your mindset. Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family for support during this trying time, and focus on your personal hobbies and health. The more you center your thoughts on the positive aspects of your life, the happier you will be.

 

Sylvia Smith a writer currently associated with Marriage.com, is a big believer in living consciously and encourages people to adopt its principles in their relationships. By taking purposeful and intentional action, Sylvia feels any relationship or marriage can be transformed and truly enjoyed.

*At SAS for Women, we respect same-sex marriages, however, for the sake of simplicity in this article we refer to your spouse as a male.

Delaying divorce tactics

Delaying Divorce Tactics

Even when our marriages feel rocky, many of us are resistant to change. So when you or your spouse comes to the other and says, “I want a divorce,” understanding your emotions and your new reality can be a long and difficult journey. It’s not uncommon for either partner to find reasons to resist and to use a variety of delaying divorce tactics as you scramble to make sense of the events that led you here.

It’s almost impossible to leave your marriage without “baggage,” without emotions and regrets.

As angry or hurt as you are, a part of you does not want to hurt the people you love the most. If you have children, you tell yourself that the break up news will break them. When you look at your husband* and say you want a divorce, you dread the heartbreak or shock or, even, anger you’ll see in his face.

And if it’s the other way around—if you are the one being told your marriage is over—then the realization of either how bad your marriage has gotten or how much you’ve grown apart fills you with another kind of regret. The kind that makes you asks yourself: What did I miss? Were there signs? What could I have done differently? I know we have problems, but why doesn’t he care enough to try to work on our relationship and stay?

Grappling with these emotions during divorce can cause us to lash out and make questionable decisions. It can also cause us to procrastinate or go into denial.

Why people use delaying divorce tactics

If you or your husband find yourself looking for ways to delay or stop your divorce, it’s usually for one of the following reasons…

  1. You’re angry and unhappy about the divorce, so you’ve decided that you won’t make this easy for anyone. You want any form of revenge or punishment you can get.
  2. You’re scared about your future (or your children’s future), and so you’re trying to prolong the inevitable for as long as possible.
  3. You think you can fix your marriage—that, perhaps, your spouse is rushing into this decision or being too stubborn to work on himself—and you’re trying to give the two of you more time together so that he realizes this too.
  4. You’re hoping to gain something financially—you’re hiding assets, racking up attorney fees, or putting off support payments.

Of course, human emotions are complicated and fickle things. It’s possible you or your spouse has a myriad of reasons for delaying your divorce, but these are some of the more common ones.

Below you’ll find a list of common delaying divorce tactics—it’s important that you recognize them, whether you’re the person doing them or not. Sometimes we delay movement or “progress” in our lives unintentionally, and we have to take a step back to see it clearly.

Seeing a therapist

Whether you talk to a therapist on your own or attend marriage counseling, talking to a professional about the problems arising in your relationship is one way to delay your divorce and help you figure out what it is you and your spouse really want. Some states will grant a continuance putting the divorce on hold for a number of days if it looks like there’s a possibility of reconciliation.

But if you’ve already seen a therapist (possibly even more than once) or your husband isn’t receptive to counseling, then it becomes clear that no amount of talking is going to help your marriage. These conversations quickly devolve into attempts at figuring out who to blame, and solving that is nearly impossible and almost always pointless.

Claiming to have busy schedules

By cancelling meetings at the last minute or being unavailable to schedule them at all, you can delay your divorce. Sometimes people use their jobs as an excuse, but some people exploit or invent health reasons to cause delays. Whether it’s stress-related or a medical condition, they claim that their need to schedule doctor visits and procedures is affecting their ability to continue on with divorce proceedings in a timely manner.

Changing attorneys

People look for new attorneys for a lot of reasons. Sometimes they just want someone who’s more aggressive. They do not feel well represented, or maybe they don’t feel understood or heard.

When you or your spouse changes attorneys, you can be granted a continuance and divorce proceedings are placed on hold. This isn’t always the case, of course. Judges might require you to stick to your current schedule even if you’re changing representation. But certainly, divorce professionals have seen spouses use this tactic to consistently put off negotiations.

Being unresponsive

Ignoring texts, phone calls, and emails? Failing to sign documents? Generally being unresponsive and unavailable is another way that people attempt to delay their divorce.

Consciously or not.

In any case, whether it’s you or your spouse employing delaying divorce tactics, judges and attorneys have seen it all. Your particular spin will not be new. Divorce professionals recognize when someone isn’t acting in good faith, and in many states, this is when attempts at delaying divorce start to backfire. They might continue on with proceedings without you, and in the end, your husband will get much of what he wanted in the first place.

If you think your spouse is attempting to delay your divorce, a good attorney will help you balance out those attempts with, for one, motions to deny their repeated cancellation requests and other tactics. Your attorney will help you prove that you have made every effort to notify your husband of the divorce proceedings and come to an agreement, and the judge will be able to use this evidence to waive his rights to a trial.

Delaying divorce tactics might work, but they can never truly be successful in the long-term. We no longer live in a world where one spouse can force another to remain in a marriage against their will, and these tactics don’t just hurt your Ex—they inevitably prolong your own pain and put off your divorce recovery. They also affect your children’s relationship with both parents and their ability to heal. How you resolve your challenges with the divorce, the temperature of the negotiation, and how you conduct yourselves is directly related to how your children will recover long term.

If one of you is really ready to move on from your marriage, then using delaying divorce tactics won’t actually change anything. The longer you put off your divorce, the higher the chances are that your spouse will move on with his/her life—romantically and otherwise—while you’re still technically married. This further complicates everything. Even well-intentioned love interests will want to offer their opinions on your divorce, and those opinions could sway your Ex to make certain choices as proceedings continue. Choices that may not benefit you or your children.

If you find yourself dealing with delaying divorce tactics, whether you are perpetrating them or not, we encourage you to seek the divorce support you need so you and your family can move through and forward with your lives.

Whether you are considering a divorce or already navigating the confusing experience, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone. Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of divorce.

SAS offers women 6, FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, your family, and your future. “A successful divorce requires smart steps, taken one at a time.” – SAS for Women 

 

*This piece was written for SAS for Women, an all-women website. At SAS we respect same-sex marriages, however, for the sake of simplicity in this article we refer to your spouse as a male.

How to divorce a missing spouse

How to Divorce a Missing Spouse

Marriage doesn’t always work out.

Feelings fade away, interests don’t align, and couples drift apart from each other. Sometimes both you and your husband* want nothing more than to be miles apart—you’re no longer bothering to “keep tabs” on each other anymore! But marriage isn’t something you can really walk away from and forget about. There’s a legal weight to the words “I do” and “till death do us part.”

Even if you get married on a whim in Vegas, with Elvis presiding over your marriage, that contract is as real as it gets. And here lies the rub: if you fall in love with someone else and want to get married again, you need to get a divorce first.

But what if you and your husband drifted so far apart from each other, you don’t actually know where he is? Because, yes, marriage might not always work out, but surely your divorce won’t either when step number one is figuring out exactly how to divorce a missing spouse. Luckily, that’s not the case. Women who find themselves in this position have options.

Missing in action

If your not-so-significant other is M.I.A and you’ve lost track of where he’s living, do not fret. There are a few more legal steps you need to take, but you can still get a divorce. Your husband’s absence doesn’t mean you have to stay married to him forever.

That would be just plain unfair, but the good news is that each state has laws about how to divorce a missing spouse. A central part of this process is taking out an ad and publishing a notice of the divorce in the local newspaper. Before starting the publication process, however, there are a few steps you need to take as required by the state you’re in. Let’s take a look.

Leave no stone unturned

The first order of business is to conduct an exhaustive search for your missing husband. Most states require a “diligent effort” search, so if you’ve heard the term “due diligence” before, it applies in this situation. What this all means is that you have taken all the necessary steps in trying to locate your husband.

Here are some of the steps in the due diligence search process:

  • You must ask the sheriff to try and serve your husband at his last known address (in some states).
  • Use the internet, email, social media and other networking sites to try and track down your husband. Besides, you can try search people online tools to find out new registered information about your spouse.
  • Get in touch with the DMV for his latest registration information.
  • Check with the post office and voter registration.
  • Contact your husband’s known family to find birth parents, friends, and office mates, as well as previous employers.
  • Try calling his last known phone number.

If you don’t want to do all this (no time, emotional distress), don’t worry. You can always hire an attorney or private investigator to act on your behalf. Hiring a professional is actually a great idea because they can conduct a more thorough search than you can.

Get court approval to publish

After conducting a due diligence search and exhausting all possible ways to find your missing husband, it’s time to go to court. Take the results of your search, present it to the court, and ask for permission to serve your husband by publication. Depending on what state you’re in, the process usually involves filing a motion with the court together with an affidavit.

An affidavit is a sworn statement detailing your efforts to search for your husband. The judge will review your testimony once you file your papers with the court. If the judge approves your due diligence, they will issue an order for publication.

It’s publishing time

After getting your order for publication, read the instructions carefully. The rules for “service by publication” vary for each state. For instance, in New York, the newspaper must serve the last known address of your husband. Most states require that you run the notice once a week for three straight weeks in the county where you filed the divorce.

Most jurisdictions give you 30 days to publish your notice after receiving your order, and some require you to post a note at the courthouse. Look for the newspaper’s legal notice department and show them your order and a copy of all divorce documents. The legal staff will help you craft an appropriate notice based on the judge’s instructions.

The divorce process

The newspaper will give you an affidavit that confirms they published your notice. You must notify the court that you’ve run the announcement and file the affidavit immediately. Note that there will be a waiting period of up to 30 days before you can go ahead with your divorce. This gives your husband time to respond and provide notice to the court.

If your husband doesn’t respond after the required waiting period, you can ask the court to give you a divorce by default. Some states cannot rule monetary issues such as child support or property division when you get a divorce via a missing spouse. If that’s the case for you, you’ll get a divorce, but some problems will likely remain unresolved.

Figuring out how to divorce a missing spouse seems daunting at first, but like most things, it can be tackled one step at a time. The route to getting divorce may be a little longer than usual, yes, but you’ll soon be sipping margaritas on the beach with some girlfriends or your new love once all the legalities are over and done with.

Ben Hartwig is a Digital Overlord at InfoTracer who takes a wide view on the whole system. He authors guides on entire security posture, both physical and cyber. He enjoys sharing best practices and does it the right way!

Whether you are considering a divorce or already navigating the confusing experience, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone. Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to support them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of divorce.

SAS offers women 6 FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, your family, and your future. “A successful divorce requires smart steps, taken one at a time.” – SAS for Women 

*At SAS for Women, we respect same-sex marriages, however, for the sake of simplicity in this article we refer to your spouse as a male.

parental alienation syndrome

Parental Alienation Syndrome: What Is It? And How to Cope

Children who have been trained to not like one of their parents are often seen in custody disputes. Such training, programming, or what some might call “brainwashing” can be labeled as parental alienation when its goal is to somehow strengthen the role of the abusing parent. Parental alienation becomes a “syndrome” when the child, having been programmed to denigrate the other parent, now plays a role at keeping the “targeted parent” estranged and alienated.

Parental alienation syndrome may sound clinical and technical, but it refers to an all too common occurrence during and after divorce: one parent who attempts to poison their children against the other parent—and who, through control or emotional abuse, succeeds in having the kids adopt and enforce this view.

Many of us recognize examples of parental alienation—your spouse tries to monopolize your children’s time. He* paints a one-sided portrait of you and your marriage (ignoring all the good parts), while reminding the children of how many times you’ve failed them. He tries to provoke you so that you’ll take him to court, and because he is convinced of his own moral high ground, he will relish in it when you do.

Your perpetrator will make you a victim and then turnaround and call himself one. He will say he’s trying to protect your children and “do what’s best for them”, but he is so focused on hurting you and your relationship with them that he’s lost sight of what is healthy, what is indeed beneficial to the children. His tactics inevitably result with your children becoming the worst kind of collateral damage.

What’s happening to the kids

When a parent is successful at turning the children against their other parent, the children’s respect for the targeted parent quickly erodes. For example, your children may begin to openly insult you, or they may demand to spend more time with your Ex. They may begin to act out, or shut down, and their academic performance may slip. If you and your Ex find yourself in an argument, your children may repeatedly (overtly or covertly) side with him.

Your children might adopt the language of your Ex, as they process the world through “his eyes.” This goes beyond the subtle (and perhaps not so subtle) manipulations of your Ex coming to fruition.

Your children are now choosing their other parent over you, yes, but they too are suffering for it.

With so much at stake, healthy coparenting means avoiding parental alienation at all costs and being conscious of good parenting skills.

However, an insidious dimension to the problem is that perpetrators of parental alienation often display behaviors associated with good parenting: meaning, they show up for school events and pickups. They are deeply involved in their children’s lives such that it looks like they are doing everything right as a parent. And yet their engagement is often tightly wound with control and personality disorders, like narcissism. They use lies and manipulation and power as their weapons. At the end of the day, what they really care about is winning.

So, how do we “fight” against parental alienation and its syndrome?

First, we must learn to recognize it. And part of recognizing it is accepting that we women are often the perpetrators.

Until the 1990s—when women were more often the traditional, stay-at-home parent—it was mothers who had more time with their kids and therefore more time to “emotionally overshare,” or to use their children as a sounding board for marital problems. And it was fathers who were more often the targeted parent. Today, as more and more men are the primary caregivers or at least sharing a greater portion of that responsibility, the traditional roles played out in parental alienation are shifting, too.

This said, the “stay-at-home” factor does not necessarily dictate who the perpetrator is. There are ample examples of the moneyed parent using his or her economic edge to offer “a more privileged lifestyle” to a child—resulting in the child favoring the privileged parent.

What is clear is that parental alienation can be perpetrated by either parent and by either gender, but the result always impacts the children.

If you are feeling the stress of a difficult marriage, or struggling with independence as a single mother, we encourage you to find a healthy place to vent and get support for the challenges facing you. It may be hard, but strive to speak respectfully of your Ex to your kids. In our work supporting women through and past divorce, we’ve seen all too often what happens when a woman ignores this advice: her children grow older, and as they eventually circle back to their estranged parent, she is held responsible for the traumatic breakdown of the past.

The remaining information is directed toward our female readers who feel they may be at risk or are currently suffering from parental alienation syndrome.

Distorted memories and perception

If you’re suffering from parental alienation syndrome, your Ex is likely a master manipulator—he’s so successful at this, in fact, that he can distort your children’s memories and perception.

Mom isn’t tired and overworked. She isn’t casual, or maybe, even a little bohemian. No, “she’s let herself go,” “she can’t keep a home,” “she’s a mess,” or “she can’t be trusted because she’s lazy, irresponsible” or “she never grew up.” Or maybe your marriage ended because of an affair, and when your children gather the courage to confront your Ex, he plants the idea that you may have been sleeping around too—or that you, not him, are the adulterer. You broke up the family.

Suddenly your children look at you and what “they know” differently. Men who do this tell themselves they are simply keeping it real or they “just want their children to know the truth,” but more often they’re projecting or downright lying—they are trying to lessen your role, connection, and significance.

Strained familial relationships

The sad fact is that if your Ex is truly successful at alienating you from your children, he’s likely successful at separating them from your extended family, too. The pain and disappointment your family feels from being barred access to your kids will be real and will heighten your pain, too. Your Ex might invent or bend truths to make your parents and siblings (your children’s grandparents, aunts, and uncles) look like strangers or worse, enemies. He’ll find reasons and excuses to keep your kids from being with your family because he’s “protecting them,” but really it’s because your family is an extension of you.

Low self-esteem

How we define our sense of self worth is complicated. If your Ex is targeting you, he’s teaching your children to view your traits and interests as negative. But your children, being part of you, likely share some of those traits and interests. Suddenly they might want to hide parts of themselves away. They might feel ashamed because they know they are part of you.

One of the worst parts about being a victim of parental alienation is that your children don’t usually realize what’s happening.

They don’t have the distance or maturity to understand it either. Even though they are feeling and suffering through all of the above, they will, still, often choose your Ex. It’s a toxic relationship in which your children are constantly seeking validation from the very person who is least likely to give it to them—or, more to the point—to the person whose validation is likely to be fleeting.

This is an abusive relationship: for the love your Ex is extending is conditioned on your children’s rejection of you.

Parental alienation syndrome and support

Abuse and parental alienation have become central issues in some divorce cases.

If you’re dealing with an abusive Ex (and, arguably, alienation in any form is abuse) then we suggest finding a lawyer who understands and recognizes an abuser when she sees one. Do not underestimate your Ex. Do not allow your positive, rose-tinted memories of him to sway your ability to do all you can to protect yourself and your children.

And because you’re here, reading this, know that if you are suffering from parental alienation syndrome, there’s a real chance your children are suffering with you, perhaps in silence.

There are research support groups and organizations nearby that will educate and empower you. Learn about parenting tools that can help you maintain healthy boundaries yet communicate essential information between you and your Ex. Relying on the old way you communicated never worked before, and confronting your Ex about his behavior won’t help either.  Let go of the concept of “coparenting” — the otherwise healthy approach to communicating regularly with your Ex. (because it’s in the best interest of your children’s development). And understand that your endeavoring to survive as an estranged parent. Know that trying to talk to your children directly about how alienated your feeling can backfire as well. Your children may be punished by their other parent just for engaging with you. Don’t give your Ex an invitation to stir things up and make your divorce recovery harder. You’ve got to keep going, working on yourself, because one day, chances are your children will circle back to you. When they do you want to be everything you can for them. Strong. Independent. Healthy.

Parental alienation syndrome is real and coping with it may be a long and lonely battle—and indeed, it’s a battle that may not even be possible for you to truly win. Divorce, as with much of life, isn’t that black and white. But don’t give up. Find regular time for self-care with a therapist trained and experienced in parental alienation. Cultivate a support system with other parents who understand how isolating your experience is right now. They can give you perspective and help guide and protect you during those hours you feel your most alone.

If you already find your children slipping away from you, leave room in your life and in your heart for the possibility that they will one day come back because we’ve seen it all, my friend—and it’s not all tragedy. Sometimes we do get our happy endings, but we have to play the long game, to let go of the idea that we are in control of the where and when.

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the challenging experience of divorce and re-creation. Now you can secure female-centered support and smart next steps coparenting and rebuilding your life with Paloma’s Group, our virtual group coaching program for women post-divorce. To learn if Paloma is right for you, schedule your quick 15-minute chat now. To promote sisterhood and protect confidentiality, space is limited. 

*This piece was written for SAS for Women, an all-women website. At SAS we respect same-sex marriages, however, for the sake of simplicity in this article we refer to your spouse as a male.

References: Clawar, S. S. and Rivlin, B. V. (1991), Children Held Hostage: Dealing with Programmed and Brainwashed Children. Chicago, Illinois: American Bar Association.

get over my ex

14 Ways I’m Going to Get Over My Ex!

What makes a post-divorce break up different than a divorce? Listen in as one divorced woman talks about how she’s going to get over her (latest) Ex…

Dear Jack,

I’m going to tell you everything I think about you, felt for you, and feel for you. I am going to EXPLODE!

And cry.

And you’re never going to know.

In fact, I’m going to record myself so I can evaluate this whole thing later—this whole thing being you, me, and what was us. But for now, I need a witness. A listener. And it can’t be you anymore.

I’m going to walk around a piece of paper I’ve placed on a table, and depending on how I feel at different moments, I’m going to attack it—with bitterness, outbursts, and wet fingers from swiping away tears.

I am scribbling things like …

Rejected! LIVID! HOWLING at the moon!

MISSING you.

I am FEELING old.

Why did you let this go on for so long?

Why are you such a coward?

I surprise myself at my depth of raw hurt. It’s clear I unequivocally love you, loved you, yes, love you even now. Because look at me and what I am reduced to.

When my paper is looking more Jackson Pollack than diary entry, I step back and wait — to let it catch more. Because there will be more, I know — waves of rollercoaster shock and grief for what you’ve done. And for me, for being in this place. For feeling this pain. The anguish of what is right now.

And then?

I’m going to put my dark, smeared masterpiece in an envelope.

I am not going to mail you this testament, this letter, because it would be lost on you. I am going to put it on a far shelf in a cellar closet. Not forgotten, mind you, but contained. I’ve learned I need to work you and what this story really means out more, and when I have, when I am ready, I’ll pull out this hidden envelope. In sacrament or something else, I’ll burn it. Or bury it. Or maybe post it to a wall of cork and throw darts at it.

(It’s got to be cork. I won’t want to damage the wall behind the letter, because that would be permanent.)

As a divorced woman who has survived before, I know I will get over you.

But I also know, I will always love you.

Until I can live in peace with that truth, here is what else I am going to do to get over my Ex. To get over you, my latest heartbreak.

1. I am going to moan and cry

I am going to come to terms with letting you go only after much resistance. So, cry I must.

2. I am going surround myself with girlfriends

My girlfriends remind me of who I am and the rings of fire I’ve already been through. I am going to feel their love and savor their bias. And I am going to laugh and let them say whatever they want to say about you — and NEVER defend you.

3. I am going to block you

I know my weakness, my tendency to obsess over you. There will be no more Facebook peeks or Instagram stalking from me. I won’t allow it. I’m blocking your texts and number. I’ve learned I must treat you like a drug and go cold turkey.

4. One night (or more) I’m going to eat WTF I want

Remember how you’re allergic to shellfish and nuts? Well, I am going out with my besties, and we’re ordering lobster tails with peanut saté followed by gallons of pistachio ice cream.

5. I am going to repeat aloud what I know: I am going to get over you

People break up with each other all the time. I’ve been here before, and so have so many others.

6. I’m going to commit to regular exercise

Exercising will help me feel and look better about myself. Feeling healthier is going to help me bounce back sooner.

7. I am going to get drunk and curse you out

I exercised, but now I’m hanging with my friend who could always drink you under the table and she’s reminding me why she didn’t like you either! How do I get over my Ex? I’ve already forgotten him.


Related: Post Divorce: How to Avoid Making the Same Mistakes in Your Next Relationship


8. I’m going to try to rebalance

Recovering from my hangover is going to remind me how fragile and very precious I actually am. I am going to try to regulate my sleep and eat healthily to support my heart and immune system as they metabolize the pain and vodka.

9. I’m reconnecting with a trusted professional

Something I learned through my past divorce—I will feel better if I don’t just talk about the pain I am going through but actually DO something with these feelings. Taking action is really important. Hello, Divorce Coach, remember me? I’m back but in a different, improved way.

10. I’m going to find a home for your belongings

Granted, you’ve not got a lot of things here (and there’s no 401(k)). But I’ve discovered a special place where your toothbrush is going to live. And it’s not at my house.

11. I may reactivate my online dating profile—and act out!

I say I might—not because I’ve healed—but because I am an independent woman, and I can! It may feel good to hear someone say I have a pretty smile. Or to go out for a drink with someone who thinks I am special; someone who doesn’t see the tire tracks on my back from where I’ve been dumped.

12. I am going to smudge the house

The last time I had to get over my Ex, I hired a professional energy clearer. I’ve since learned I can buy the sage myself from the health food store, and on my own, purify my house of all the (stinking, rotten) heaviness you left. Poof! Gone!

13. I am going to consider what missteps I took in this ill-fated Tango

What was my responsibility in the downfall of our relationship? And what have you taught me? (But only after I’ve exhausted myself being small and blaming you.)

14. I am going to be kind to myself

I know getting over you is going to hurt, and it’s going to require time and steps. I learned that through a much deeper, momentous trip — my divorce recovery. That’s right, sir. You are not my first.

 

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the challenging experience of divorce and re-creation. Now you can learn the Art of Reinvention through Paloma’s Group, our virtual, online post-divorce group coaching class for women only. To promote sisterhood and protect confidentiality, space is limited.

* This piece was written for SAS for Women, an all-women website. At SAS we respect same-sex marriages, however, for the sake of simplicity in this article we refer to your spouse as a male.

Coping with Divorce like a modern woman

Not Your Mother’s Divorce: How to Cope Like a Modern Woman

Coping with divorce was not on my list of goals as a happily married mom of three. But my husband of twelve years had a different list, one he shared with me just weeks before Christmas.

He asked me to join him at the dining room table, where he sat with a piece of paper and two fingers of scotch in front of him and read the words he’d prepared: He’d been unfaithful for more than ten years, and he was leaving me for someone he’d met and known for one day in Las Vegas.

I remember sliding off my chair onto the floor as he walked out, leaving me alone with the kids sleeping in their beds.

When I finally got to my feet, an image of my mother flashed before me and I felt weak with shame. How could I be here, in a situation so similar to what she had faced with my father? How was it possible when I had done everything right? I had chosen my husband so carefully, certain that I could never be fooled by an unfaithful man.

Let the ghosts out

I dreaded telling her, certain that she would make the inevitable comparisons and that my experience would invite more dad-bashing.

But my mother only cried with me. A lot. I felt the depth of her pain through the phone line, and I was soothed because there is nothing in the world like crying to your mother. I believe it waters some dry patch in us that, as adults, we tend to overlook, intent instead on staking up our Proven-Winner lives.

Here I had believed my life was in full bloom. I had vowed to do everything differently from my mother, different from all the divorced women who came before me. My mother didn’t know how to write a check when my parents divorced. She had never handled her own money. I may have been a stay-at-home mom when my husband left, but I had a college degree and I knew how to run a Quickbooks spreadsheet. I was part of a new generation of smart women.

But the helplessness, the sense of doom, that my mother must have felt flared in me, and I understood it in a way I never could before.

In a session with my therapist, I cried, “I don’t want to be like my mother, alone and bitter!”

“That’s one picture,” he said. “But there are others.”

Those words would become a lifeline for me: there are other pictures, other ways of being. I didn’t have to become my mother. Now that I’d been thrust into the same situation, I felt the anger and judgments I’d carried toward her dissolve, replaced by a resolve that I would do all I could to feel powerful again after divorce.

So I created a new list:

Refuse to repeat the past

I found ways to ground myself in the present, even if that meant constantly repeating the obvious to myself: I lived in a different city, had a different education, personality, and support system than my mother. I could move on and choose a new future simply by deciding to.

Break the rules that need to be broken

During my divorce process I was told what to do by a variety of experts, including lawyers, mediators, vocational counselors, judges, and even other divorced friends. When I decided, on my own, to move myself and my kids to a cheaper apartment, my lawyer warned me to get permission from the court first. Instead, I trusted my gut and calmly explained that my move would save everyone money, including my former husband. My lawyer shifted gears so enthusiastically that I almost thought it was his idea!

Put yourself first

I learned that coping includes not only setting boundaries but stretching them too. I trained myself to tell my Ex-husband, “Sorry, that won’t work for me.” That was it. End of sentence. I stopped adding explanations and entertaining objections.

And then I went dancing. I took every lesson I’d always dreamed of taking, enduring the embarrassment of being up close and personal with strangers or stepping on someone’s toes. Dancing would become one of the unexpected gifts of my divorce. And when I knew enough to hold my own, I invited my mom to a jazz club, where we tore up the dance floor and had a blast.

I saw that we had very different ways of moving, both on the dance floor and through our divorces.

My divorce wasn’t my mother’s divorce. It was mine. And it was perfectly orchestrated for me to become my best self—past, present, and future.

 

Tammy Letherer is an author and writing coach. Her most recent book, The Buddha at My Table: How I Found Peace in Betrayal and Divorce, is a Gold Medal Winner in the Living Now Book Awards and in the Human Relations Indie Book Awards. It was also a finalist in the 2018 Best Book Awards. Tammy writes regularly about creativity, the writing life, inspiration, and spirituality. You can find her blogs on Huffington Post, SheKnows, GrokNation, SheDoesTheCity, and more. Connect with her at TammyLetherer.com.

Best coparenting skills

8 Skills for the Best Coparenting

Figuring out the best coparenting skills while dealing with your Ex isn’t always easy. After divorce, routines are disrupted and then pieced back together. Emotions are strained. Energy levels are low to nonexistent. And while kids bounce back quicker, on some level, they may be sharing some of these feelings too—a breeding ground for the sort of emotions that cause children to act out or hide themselves away.

The good news is that the some of the best coparenting skills are similar if not the same as those parenting skills you were practicing before your divorce. The key is to not let them fall to the wayside after divorce and to brace yourself and your children for the ways in which your lives are about to change. That sort of honesty and vigilance will shield you from some of the worst of your post-divorce recovery.

Below are eight of the best coparenting skills we wish to share. Keep these in mind as you navigate your divorce and post-divorce journey with your children’s other parent.

Putting your children’s interest first, always

This might sounds simple, but it’s effective—you might not always feel like you’re making the right choices, but if you’re making decisions with your children’s best interest in mind, then you’re already doing your job as a parent. When faced with a tough choice, take a deep breath, push petty concerns out of your mind, and place the image of you children center stage. Just focus on doing right by them because the rest of it is outside of your control.

Communicating with your Ex without using your kids as messengers

Children often become middlemen when it comes to divorce, but in today’s world, there’s just no excuse for it. With cellphones, email, websites, and court recommended apps like Family Wizard, there’s no shortage of ways to speak to your Ex without actually having to hear or see him*.

Using your children as messengers places an undue burden on their shoulders—a burden that becomes even heavier when those messages are nuanced and weighted. Your children may forget to pass one along, or they may be scared of how you or your Ex will react. To avoid this, it might help if you use a professional tone when you speak with your Ex. Make sure you listen even when you disagree, and keep your conversations focused on your children.

Being patient

Patience is a virtue any day, but you’ll have to stretch this skill a lot during your divorce recovery. When we aren’t patient, we can snap like rubber bands. Sometimes that looks like an eruption festering inside us: we sulk. Sometimes it bursts out: we shout. But research shows that yelling at your children actually makes their behavior and your relationship with them worse not better. When you shout at your kids, they can feel a sense of rejection which might result in low self-esteem and self-control.


Read: What to Do When Your Child Acts Like Your Ex-husband


Rather than berating yourself for lashing out at your children (even when you told yourself you wouldn’t), try to come up with a strategy to use next time. Part of your plan might be giving yourself some distance from the situation, if possible. Take a short walk. Get some fresh air. You might also do your best to put yourself in your children’s shoes—what’s really upsetting them? Is it the divorce or something else? Could you have played a part in it, even unintentionally? What can you do to make sure your children feel seen in this moment?

Creating a sense of consistency

Yes, you and your Ex live in different houses and spend time with your kids on a different schedule. But when it comes to “the rules” and how to discipline your children, attempt to develop consistency. When’s bedtime? What constitutes a healthy meal? Is snacking okay? How much screen time, if any, is allowed? If necessary, what’s an appropriate punishment for breaking these rules?

When one parent has to bear the burden of being “the fun one” or “the strict one,” it’s never a good thing. Your children need to understand that they can’t take advantage of either of their parents or play them against each other. You are all on the same team even though you live under different roofs.

This is one of those best coparenting skills that you’d likely been practicing before your divorce, but after, the discipline needed to keep it up increases. Which brings us to our next point.

Respecting the differences between you and your Ex

Maybe your Ex loathes watching movies but loves the outdoors, or maybe he’s soft-spoken when it comes to the small stuff but great when it really matters. These aspects of your Ex’s personality may be different from yours—and while that’s okay, your children may go through an adjustment period when they realize that who you and your Ex were as a couple and who you both are as individuals might not look exactly the same.

So if your child comes home complaining that Dad took her hiking. Again. Or that his idea of a home-cooked meal is always some variation of meat and potatoes. Remember that this is not an opportunity for you to buddy-up with your child, chiming in with, “I know, I always hated that about him, too!” For overtly or subliminally badmouthing your Ex will only backfire in the long run. Instead, try using this moment as an opportunity to explain to your child that every person is different and that every experience is valuable. Your daughter might not appreciate hiking now, for instance, but when she’s older, she’ll likely look back on these memories fondly. Differences can be fun too. Together, you and your children can have “your own thing” that’s unique to your relationship.

Making the transition between visitations smooth

When you and your Ex pick the kids up from each other’s homes, are bags packed and ready to go? You can keep certain basics at both homes, like toothbrushes, underwear, or hairbrushes, to cut down on the amount of packing that needs to be done each visit and to make each place truly feel like it’s “theirs” rather than a place they only sometimes occupy.

When they arrive in your home, give them time to adjust to the atmosphere and expectations that exist under your roof. It’s different from your Ex’s house—and kids need time to adapt. At the end of your visits, are the kids really prepared to leave—have they made their goodbyes and had a proper meal? Try to create a sense of calm around these arrivals and departures. When children are rushed out the door abruptly, it feels more like they are being torn away from their parent rather than merely saying goodbye for now.

Speaking positively about your Ex

In fact, we’d take this one step further. If you hear your children talking about your Ex negatively, try to communicate your displeasure (obviously this does not apply to situations involving abuse or neglect, in which you should 100% listen to your children). Put on a frown, and encourage them to put themselves in your Ex’s shoes. Each and every one of you is going through a difficult time—a transition period—and being kind to one another is one way you can help see each other through it. And respect for each parent is important.

Children can quickly get in the habit of using you as a sounding board to complain about their other parent, but it’s a habit you should try to curb as soon as possible. Your kids need to understand that you and their other parent are not enemies.

Being boring, when the time calls for it

Research shows that children need time to do regular things with both of their parents and not just stuff that’s entertaining. That’s true whether you’re married or divorced. For one, boredom can even lead to creativity and self-sufficiency. It also keeps expectations realistic.

When your divorce is still fresh, for instance, it’s easy to get into the habit of wanting all your time with your children to be fun and exciting. You might try to fill up each and every moment so that time passes by faster and there’s little to no time for dwelling on the past (or the fact that one parent is now missing from these activities). This type of non-stop action doesn’t lead to the natural pauses in conversation—ones that might in turn lead to parenting opportunities—or allow your children to develop a normal routine. You start to become less of a parent and more of a friend.

Your relationship with your coparent doesn’t need to be antagonistic (although we understand if you’re past finding ways to get along and more focused on how to simply get by). Together, you can develop a plan that benefits both you and your children. These may be some of the best coparenting skills, but they’re even more tools to add to your coparenting utility belt out there. There’s no way for you to master each of them all at once, but with practice, you can get there.

If you are seeking an education on best practices for coparenting as you support your children through one of the toughest moments in your lives, you will want to know about Gaia’s Group, SAS for Women’s virtual group coaching class for coparenting mothers. We all need a thoughtful, committed plan for helping our children weather and move beyond separation and divorce. Doing it the healthiest way is a choice. 

*This piece was written for SAS for Women, an all-women website. At SAS we respect same-sex marriages, however, for the sake of simplicity in this article we refer to your spouse as a male.

Bad divorce advice

8 Terrible (But Common) Pieces of Divorce Advice You Should Definitely Ignore

It’s a rare skill to listen to someone without offering up your two cents, and divorce advice is no different. Each and everyone one of us does this. For women, especially, it’s only natural to want to help our loved ones. So we dole out our well-meaning advice. We try to fix whatever’s broken. But we don’t know what we don’t know, and when it comes to someone else’s marriage, there’s just so damn much we don’t know. Will never know.

If you find yourself on the receiving end of this “well-intentioned” divorce advice, just know that you’re not alone in this. Most of it comes from a good place, though much of it is terrible. Here are some of the more common pieces of divorce advice we’ve come across and why they often miss the mark.

Wait until the children are out of the house, for their sake

One of the most common pieces of divorce advice is simply to not get divorced at all. At least, not until the children are old enough to live on their own. This, the advice giver says, is what’s best for your children. But the research shows that’s not the case. Getting divorced and removing your children from an environment filled with tension and uncertainty can be better for you children in the long run.

In this case, the advice giver skirts around everything left unsaid: teach your children that it’s more important to be miserable than happy, to do what’s easy rather than what feels right, to pretend that everything is okay rather than bare your mistakes to the world, to make fear-based decisions instead of taking risks and being brave.

Get it together already

Harsh. But it’s tough love, right? The problem with telling someone to get it together is that it implies there’s a time limit on how long each of us has to wallow in our emotions. To just be. To process the end of a relationship. But sometimes all we feel up to on a given day is planting ourselves in front of the TV and watching When Harry Met Sally on repeat. Yes, Netflix, we are still here.

We get it, no one likes to see someone they love in pain, so when someone tells you to shut off your feelings, to “X or get off the pot” just to make them more comfortable around you simply explain to them that that is exactly what they are doing. You are sad, and that’s okay. If they don’t like what they see, they can leave you to it. Your divorce recovery journey is your journey, and no one but you gets to dictate what that journey looks like.

You just need to try harder

Divorce advice about you needing to “put in the work” almost always includes phrases like “to get that spark back.” Most of these people mean well, but being that they are on the outside of your marriage looking in, they can’t possibly know just how much effort you’ve already put into reconnecting with your partner and “fixing” whatever’s wrong in your marriage.

Working on your marriage is a complicated thing. It might be that all of this burden is being placed on your shoulders—or maybe it’s the opposite. On the advice of your loved ones, you’re constantly having talks with your husband* about trying more, making more time, changing his behavior, and now, he feels as though he’s walking on eggshells. That everything he does is wrong. This isn’t good either.

You and your partner should not feel pressured to perform a role that no longer fits, to be what someone expects of you rather than be yourself. Sometimes we try so hard to make our marriages work that we fail to see that we’ve become two mismatched puzzle pieces being forced together.

And then there’s the flip side.

It’s time to find someone better

It’s hard not to cringe when someone tells you this. Are they implying that you chose the wrong partner? That your Ex isn’t a good person? The truth is there are often a myriad of, and not just one, reasons that cause a marriage to come to an end. There is no winning or losing side. And in the months or even years leading up to your divorce, it’s quite possible that you painted a pretty one-sided picture of your Ex. It’s possible that your loved ones don’t have the full story.

After divorce, we each have our own lessons to learn. Could we communicate better? Be more patient and understanding? Are we being honest with ourselves about what we want out of life? Maybe your Ex was exactly who you needed in your life at a given moment, and now, for whatever reason, things have changed.

And if you have children who overhear talk of finding someone better, it’s possible that they’ll develop a negative view of themselves. After all, half of their identity has been formed by their father. If he’s not “good enough,” then maybe you feel the same way about them, too.

Next time, you’ll get it right

Here’s another cringeworthy piece of divorce advice. Marriage, children, the house—for so many, these are the markers of someone who has “made it.” Someone who’s successful and has it all. But now, your marriage is over. If you were once a winner, then logic says you’re now a loser. They (meaning all the people who are still winning, all the “happily-married” couples whose lives you are envious of) have gotten it and are still getting it right.

By now, surely you can see the problem with this kind of thinking. The logic is flawed. For one, there might not be a next time, and you might be perfectly okay with that. But more than that, marriage, and life by extension, is not a game. And you are not a failure for deciding to stop playing one way.

You need a rebound

You need to move on! You need to get “out there” and have some fun. You need to get under someone to get over someone. No matter how they phrase their words, anyone who gives you this advice is telling you the same thing: jump into bed with someone else—it’s the only way to let go of your feelings for your Ex.


Read: How to Avoid Rebound Relationships After Divorce


And hey, if this has helped you, then more power to you, but each of us is cut from a different cloth. There’s a time and place for casual sex, and while you’re recovering from divorce may not be one of them. Instead of helping you feel more alive and in control, it can make you feel even more alone and empty. At the end of the day, there’s that word “casual” attached to the sex. Casual as in no attachments, no feelings, and no promises. When you’re at your most vulnerable, sometimes you need to surround yourself by people who offer more stability than that.

You better dive back into that dating pool—you’re not getting any younger

It seems that for women our biological clocks never quite stop ticking. Our days are numbered in large, bold font with a neon arrow pointing to our expiration date for all to see. After divorce, we feel pressured to quickly find another of those plentiful fish in the sea. To snap one up and lock it down before the wrinkles settle in for good and we grow tired of covering up the grey.

And all this pressure? It puts you at risk of settling for someone who’s not really right for you and ignoring someone who might surprise you. It makes the whole dating experience more of a frantic frenzy than a journey that teaches you just as much about yourself as it does about any man. Give yourself the time you deserve to properly recover from your divorce before you start dating again. You can find happiness at any age, and anyone who tells you otherwise should be ignored. They’re projecting their own fears, but you know better than that.

Squeeze every penny out of that [insert insult here]

During and after your divorce, you’ll likely be experiencing many emotions, with one in particular often rising to the surface: anger. And your loved ones, who are also feeling angry on your behalf, might be stoking those fires rather than helping you put them out. But deciding to go after your Ex “for all that the’s worth” almost never makes those feelings go away. Instead, it prolongs your divorce proceedings. It creates resentment on both sides. It makes successfully coparenting nearly impossible.

In the moment, being angry might feel good, but in the long run, you’re giving both you and your Ex less resources to live your lives and raise your children with.

If you’ve gone through or are currently in the midst of divorce, we’d love to hear from you. What’s the worst piece of divorce advice you received? What “words of wisdom” do you wish you had ignored?

Whether you are considering a divorce, already navigating it, or are recovering from its upheaval, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do IT alone. Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of divorce and divorce recovery. Experience SAS firsthand. Schedule your free, 45-minute consultation to hear perspective, next steps and the best resources that will honor your life and who you are meant to be.

This article was authored for the all-women website SAS for Women by Melanie Figueroa, a writer and content editor who loves discussing women’s issues and creativity. Melanie helps authors and small businesses improve their writing and solve their editorial needs.

*At SAS we respect same-sex marriages, however, for the sake of simplicity in this article we refer to your spouse as a male.

post divorce

Post Divorce: How to Avoid Making the Same Mistakes in Your Next Relationship

When you get out of a long-term relationship or marriage, the newfound freedom can feel both exhilarating and daunting, especially if you’ve felt trapped or unhappy for a long time.

In your post divorce/new found life, you can now do things you couldn’t do before.

You can stay out late when your Ex has the kids.

You don’t have to answer to him* anymore (at least not like you used to).

You can be your own woman and show up in the world in a way that you felt you haven’t been able to in a very long time.

You’re a free agent! Part of you just wants to do something different, have a good time, and be who you really are.

You’re conscious of what happened with your Ex

In retrospect, you realize maybe you kind of fell into your past relationships. And now years later, you wondered what truly happened—what about those people drew you to them—and if that pain could’ve been avoided.

Maybe you’re already in a budding romance. There’s amazing chemistry. Things are moving quickly. And you haven’t felt this deep a connection with any other man before. You’re wondering where he’s been all your life.

At the same time, there’s a part of you that’s scared. You really want it to last. But you’re afraid of making the same mistakes. You’re worried about overlooking red flags and ending up with a different version of your Ex.

I feel you. This post divorce stage in life can be exciting and confusing at the same time. But it doesn’t have to lead to heartbreak.

If you want to avoid making the same mistakes in your next relationship, there are five things you can do to help set yourself up for relationship success and give yourself the best chance of finding a committed relationship that lasts.

To be clear, this is not to say that your previous relationships were mistakes or that you did anything wrong. Every experience no matter how painful can bring powerful new awareness to our life.

The truth is, we don’t know what we don’t know. You’ve already acknowledged that you want to avoid making the same “mistakes,” that you want to be more conscious on your dating journey, and that’s the first step.

So how do you actually get conscious and avoid making the same “mistakes”?

Get a clear vision of the kind of life and relationship you ultimately want

Your vision is the dream that lives inside you for the kind of life and relationship that you ultimately want. It’s where you want to live, how you want to live, and the kind of work or career that’s deeply fulfilling for you. It’s the kind of relationship that you really want.

Not just the qualities you’re looking for in a partner but rather a clear and conscious picture of the kind of experience that you want in a partnership. It’s about knowing what that partnership looks like and feels like.

Having a clear vision for the kind of life and relationship you want—before you start dating—is important because being conscious of your vision will help you avoid getting deeply involved with someone who doesn’t want the same things you want from life.

For example, if your dream is to have more kids or travel around the world, getting deeply involved with someone who is done having kids or who hates travel is only going to end in deep disappointment for the both of you.

So, if you don’t know what your vision is for the kind of life and relationship that you want, take the time to explore and get clear before you date to find your next serious relationship.

In the meantime, take a break from dating or date for fun, and avoid getting deeply involved until you’re clear on what you want in life and in a partnership.

Be aware of your relationship history and patterns

Being aware of your relationship history and patterns is about knowing, for example, why you seem to be irresistibly attracted to guys who [insert bad habit, problem, or “character flaw” here].

It’s about knowing what part you might have played in the demise of a relationship. It’s about knowing where you have wounds or scars so that when your insecurities get triggered (and they will), you’ll know where the feelings are coming from. And you’ll know whether a relationship issue is simply a story you’re telling yourself or if it’s a real red flag.

The saying is true: those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it. Without conscious awareness of our patterns, we’re not aware of the whys behind our decisions. But when we’re empowered with awareness, we can consciously make different choices that support our relationship goals instead of detracting from them.

Know your relationship requirements

Relationship requirements are your nonnegotiables. Requirements are what you absolutely require in a relationship in order for a relationship to work for you. They’re your dealbreakers.

They’re qualities of a relationship that you feel so strongly about that you would end a relationship if even one of them was missing.

If you’ve thought about or are living your life post divorce, chances are that you have some idea of what you will and won’t tolerate in a relationship.

So looking at your relationship history (all your relationships), in addition to looking at why your marriage ended, will give you valuable clues into what your dealbreakers are post divorce.

We tend to think of relationship requirements as qualities that we want our partner to have.

But the best way to approach this is to think about the experience that you want to have in a partnership.

So, for example, if your Ex cheated on you and you know that that’s a deal breaker for you, then your requirement might be monogamy and being faithful.

Or if you’re thinking you require open and honest communication in a partnership, what’s most important is to know exactly what that looks like and feels like for you in the kind of partnership that you want to have.

In other words: how would you know that you had open and honest communication in your relationship if you saw it?

The incredible value of knowing your relationship requirements is knowing exactly what to look for when you’re dating so that you can more quickly and effectively screen potential partners post divorce.

By knowing your relationship requirements, you’ll know exactly what you’re “testing” for in your relationship as you get more deeply involved, so you avoid wasting your time with guys who aren’t a match and only spend your time with quality men who have long-term potential. The kind of men who vibe with your vision of life post divorce.

Post divorce, get real clear on your needs and wants

Your needs and wants are related to your vision and requirements in that they’re part of what you need in order to have a happy and fulfilling life and relationship.

Your needs are what you need in a relationship in order for the relationship to work for you.

They’re different from requirements in that requirements are dealbreakers, whereas an unmet need wouldn’t necessarily mean you would end the relationship.

We have functional and emotional needs.

Functional needs are what we need in a relationship in order for it to work. For example, if you’re a punctual person but your boyfriend tends to run late, that’s going to create an issue for you.

It might not be a deal breaker, but it raises an issue because your need for punctuality is not being met.

Emotional needs are what we need to feel loved.

For example, for many people, it’s really important to experience affection and appreciation in a relationship. You might be thinking, “Well, of course! Wouldn’t that be a dealbreaker to not have affection and appreciation in a relationship?”

Not necessarily.

The difference between needs and requirements are that requirements are black and white. They’re absolute, they’re dealbreakers. They have the power to end a relationship.

Unmet needs raise an issue, but they’re not dealbreakers.

So if your honey forgot your anniversary once or didn’t give you a kiss when he got home from work, would you end the relationship? Probably not. But it might certainly raise an issue for you.

And then “wants” are the icing on the cake. They’re the qualities of a relationship that you would like to have, but it’s not critical to your happiness or to the functioning of a relationship for you.

It’s so important to know your needs and wants because, like knowing your requirements, it will help you screen potential partners for long-term compatibility. If you’re not clear on what your needs are, how would you know whether your potential partner can even meet them?

Having your needs met is key to your long-term happiness. So dating with your needs in mind will help you make the right choices with men.

Practice conscious dating

The fifth key to avoiding making the same mistakes in your next relationship is to practice conscious dating, which means bringing all these important elements together—your vision, needs, and requirements—and using them as powerful tools to screen for compatibility and (this is a really big one) to balance your heart with your head.

It’s about consciously taking the time to evaluate whether you’re ready for a relationship, focusing on “getting ready” if you’re dating to find a committed partnership, and resolving anything (like legal ties to your Ex) that might interfere with the growth and success of a new romance post divorce.

When you’ve just gotten out of a long-term relationship and start dating for fun, or when you’re head over heels in a new romance, it’s so easy to get caught up in the chemistry and attraction.

Don’t get me wrong, chemistry and attraction are important elements for connection and bringing people together. They have an important purpose in dating and relationships!

But we get into trouble when we make relationship decisions based on chemistry and attraction alone.

Having a clear vision for the kind of relationship you want and being conscious of your requirements, needs and wants (and the differences between them) empowers you to stay objective, avoid getting distracted, and ultimately be deeply true to yourself and your relationship goals.

So whether you’re reveling in your newfound freedom or exploring a new romance, I invite you to go slow in your break up or divorce recovery, date with intention, and keep your eyes wide open.

Take this time for yourself to “get ready” for a relationship. Clarify your dreams and goals for your life and the partnership that you ultimately want to have. It can be an opportunity for amazing clarity and deep self-awareness that will help you find and create a life that you love…with the love of your life.

Melissa Josue is a dating and relationship coach for smart successful women who are frustrated that they keep attracting men who are emotionally unavailable or aren’t ready to commit. She helps them spot red flags before they get hurt, confidently know when to stay or go, and attract a highly compatible partner who’s ready to make them a priority, so they can have a happy, committed relationship. Learn more about how to be a “Conscious Dater” and download free resources here.

*This piece was written for SAS for Women, an all-women website. At SAS we respect same-sex marriages, however, for the sake of simplicity in this article we refer to your spouse as a male.