Browse Articles on the topic of Life After Divorce

Working with a divorce coach ... the good and the bad

What You Need to Know About Working with a Divorce Coach (the Benefits … and the Downsides)

As you navigate through the thoughts of divorce, dealing with divorce, or recovering from divorce, a divorce coach might be your best source of comprehensive support. That’s because an experienced divorce coach knows divorce is not just a legal or financial dilemma.  It’s a whole life challenge that requires your making diverse but smart decision—and not just for you, but for your family and your future.

No matter where you are on your journey, there are two things your divorce coach will consistently do for you. She will help you understand and cope with the wide range of emotions you’re experiencing, and she will help you answer the questions that are preventing you from moving forward.

A divorce coach will provide you with support tailored to your unique situation.

Thinking about divorce? A divorce coach can help you:

1. Gain clarity about your situation and your choices

Just because you’re thinking about divorce doesn’t mean getting a divorce is the best solution for you. Your divorce coach can help you understand what you must know about divorce so you find your way forward with integrity, so you can feel good about the decision you’ll ultimately make.

2. Understand your legal choices if you decide to divorce

One of the most confusing aspects of divorce is how to do it. What model of divorce do you choose? Mediation? DIY? Collaborative? Traditional litigation? Your circumstances and the feedback you receive from a coach can help you choose which model is best for you—and which models definitely aren’t. This saves you from embarking on the wrong and potentially costly path.

3. Evaluate your choices by providing you with unbiased and honest feedback

When you talk with your friends and family about your options, no matter how much they love you, chances are good that they’ll be biased because your decision could impact them or what they want for you. When you work with an experienced and knowledgeable divorce coach, you will have both a sounding board and a guide who isn’t concerned with how your decision might impact her.

4. Consider all the practical, financial, and legal challenges you may face regardless of your ultimate decision

Your divorce coach knows the challenges of putting a marriage back together again and of ending a marriage. With her knowledge and experience, she can guide you in defining your values and goals. She’ll encourage you to envision your future, so you can make your decision with a full picture of what lies ahead.

5. Connect you with the right people

You may need the services of a financial advisor, lawyer, mediator, accountant, or a parenting specialist. A divorce coach can attend those meetings with you, if necessary, or join you on phone calls as you gather the information you need to make your decision.

If you’re dealing with divorce, the benefits of working with a divorce coach include:

1. Helping you strategize the necessary steps (and when to take them) so you efficiently move through the divorce process and prepare for your life after divorce

With her knowledge and experience, your divorce coach will be able to help you step-by-step through the divorce process. She will help you consider your options—how they will impact you today and in the future. This saves time and money, so you don’t need to learn things the hard way.

2. Helping you deal with stress and navigate the overwhelming

You’ll experience so many different emotions because of this major life transition that at times you’ll find it difficult to think. Yet you still need to make decisions because the divorce process demands it. Your divorce coach will help you cope so you can make the best decisions possible for your family and your future.

3. Supporting you across every obstacle, challenge, and experience

As part of your divorce journey, you might experience sleeplessness, anxiety, fear, and anger. You might also be at a loss when it comes to looking for a new place to live, finding a job, or juggling the challenges of being a single parent. Your divorce coach will know exactly how to help you deal with every physical, emotional, and practical challenge you face as you’re dealing with your divorce.

4. Teaching you how to communicate effectively with your soon-to-be Ex

Despite the fact that you’re divorcing and emotions may be running high, you will still need to communicate with your former spouse. At a minimum, you’ll need to discuss coparenting and the division of property. Your divorce coach will share tools and tips with you to make the necessary discussions easier.

5. Connecting you with the right people

Financial advisors, lawyers, mediators, accountants, and parenting experts—since it can be overwhelming to keep track of all the details involved with getting divorced, your divorce coach can even accompany you to court and any meetings with other experts on your team to take notes and provide support.

One of the best things you can do for yourself when you’re dealing with divorce is to have the right team of experts support you. Your divorce coach will advise you when and if you need to add additional experts to your team and how best to communicate with them.

If you’re recovering from divorce, working with a divorce coach can:

1. Help you deal with your grief about all that you’ve lost and all that will never be

There’s no doubt that you lose many things when you divorce—including your hopes and dreams for the future. It’s natural to grieve the losses. Your divorce coach will support you as you let go of the past.

2. Help you reboot and create your best life starting now

She will gently remind you of the reasons you divorced so you can focus on the present and your future instead of getting stuck in the past.

3. Help you see the lessons your marriage has taught you instead of allowing you to feel like a failure

Your divorce coach will help you find and focus on the lessons your marriage taught you, so you begin your recovery and healing … so  you can move forward and create your best next chapter.

4. Help you embrace your new freedom instead of fearing it

Divorce is a major life-changing event. Your divorce coach can help you frame your experiences as exciting challenges instead of terror- or anxiety-inducing ones.

5. Help you rediscover your true self

Compromises are part and parcel of marriage, and it’s easy to lose your true self as a result. Your divorce coach can help you revisit and define your personal values and goals, as well as envision and create your future.

Despite all these benefits, working with a divorce coach isn’t always a good idea.

What are the downsides to working with a divorce coach?

1. You will need to take action to overcome the obstacles and challenges you face

Many people just want a sounding board to vent their emotions and thoughts to because doing so makes them feel placated. The problem is these people don’t actually want to do anything besides talk. If this is you, working with a divorce coach isn’t a good idea.

2. Working with a coach can make the conversation about divorce “too real”

Meeting with a divorce coach does not mean you are necessarily divorcing: you are getting educated about your options. But as you learn more, you gain clarity, which may compel you to take action. If you don’t want to change your life, then working with a divorce coach isn’t a good idea.

3. You will need to do your research and select an experienced and knowledgeable divorce coach

Not everyone is a good divorce coach. You want a coach who is certified and experienced—possibly even specialized. (Everyone who has been through a divorce thinks she’d make a good coach, and that’s simply not true.)

4. You will receive good and bad feedback

If you are intimidated by feedback of any kind, a divorce coach may not be for you.

5. You will hear the truth—not just your version of it

If you don’t want to hear the truth, then you don’t want to work with a coach.

6. You will have to make your own decisions

If you’d like someone else to make decisions for you, working with a divorce coach is not right for you. A divorce coach’s job is to help empower you, so you become the best decision maker possible.

7. You will have her, and potentially a team, available to support you throughout your divorce journey

If you believe you can and should handle everything on your own, then you shouldn’t work with a coach.

A relatively new profession, the role a divorce coach plays is not widely understood in our culture. But her relevance as a “thinking partner” and guide through the challenges of divorce is making divorce coaches increasingly indispensable as you navigate through a journey fraught with complexity.

And yet, a divorce coach is not for everyone. If you’re ready to face your situation and your possible divorce journey now, with integrity and an eye toward minimizing the impact on everyone, choosing to work with a divorce coach is the best decision you can make.

Whether you are considering divorce, already navigating the experience, or recreating the life you deserve, 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. Schedule your free session to learn about your possible next steps to a better day of living with courage, compassion and integrity.

Woman holding black daisy after divorce

Grief After Divorce: How to Recognize and Move Past It

“After Divorce” or “Post Divorce” are words society uses to capture that phase coming after you’ve signed the divorce document.  You know, when so many people say, you should be “moving on”? We call this phase Stage 3 (of 4) of Divorce, for indeed it represents all that comes after the contemplation and court proceedings; but it is its own tricky stage to be in, full of extreme highs and lows, discoveries, and challenges. Stage 3 also has a lot to do with understanding grief.

We wish we could tell you what to expect while you go through your own Stage 3, what to prepare for with your particular brand of grief (and all the other complicated feelings that will come along with it), but we can’t. Grief is supremely personal, and how it manifests itself is organic to each of us. What grief looked like for us (Kim and Liza) during and after our divorces will look very different for you.

We recognize that you may not call what you are going through or what you are feeling grief. We know this because we didn’t either—at first. Kim found the “after divorce” feelings she was experiencing to be really confusing:

“I wanted the divorce. I initiated the divorce. I knew the divorce made the most sense for a ton of reasons. So, who was I to grieve it or anything when I’d brought the divorce upon myself, upon us? And yet, grieve I did.”

“I would not have called my feelings of relief, of elation, of freedom as bearing any semblance to grief,” laughs Liza, mostly at herself:

“And yet, I know there were — and continue to be even today — profound moments when the loss is there. I feel it deeply, like some delayed response. When I come across a photo of myself—early on in my marriage—I can see that young girl, the person I was trying to be. I was trying so hard to be ‘right,’ to be all the things he said I wasn’t. There’s a part of me today that wishes I could take that girl into another room and just talk to her quietly. I wish I could save her. But then again, I am what I am now because of her failings. And to be honest, I have no regrets.”

We think you are getting the picture, too. The after divorce stage is complicated, rife with the inchoate and very real feelings of loss. If you don’t feel it yet, trust us, you will. We recommend you read The Grief Recovery Handbook to begin to understand your grief after divorce and how you can think about it differently. But right now? We urge you to keep reading, prepare for what comes next, and take measures to understand your reality.

What is grief?

Let’s break down the idea of grieving a bit. Our first instinct is to think grief = sadness, like the death of a loved one. And that’s true of course, but it’s a lot more complex than that. Using the Grief Recovery Institute’s definition of grief, we know that grief is “all of the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.”

Using this lens, we can certainly see how divorce and the accompanying changes it brings into our lives is a time that’s full of grief. The familiar we know and rely on are no longer, putting us in a state of confusion and pain. So, for example, while you were in a dysfunctional marriage, it was the only marriage you’ve ever known. You may be thrilled, sad, and terrified that it has ended because you don’t know what lies beyond. The loss of the familiar, the dreams you’ve held close, or what you thought would be—that’s what you’re missing. That’s what you’re grieving.

Does it make sense, if we say that your head and heart are at odds with one another?

Perhaps your heart wanted the family to stay together for the kids, while your head knew that his anger was toxic to the family and out of control. Your heart may have wanted to believe that he was going to land that next big job and all would be fine, while your head knew that he hadn’t held a job in 10 years. Looking at the situation now, he had financially ruined your family. Your heart may have wanted him to say “I love you” with that sparkle in his eyes like he used to, but your head knew that he had checked out of the marriage a long time ago. It’s a tough struggle because your head and your heart are both very powerful, so you find yourself in an internal tug-of-war.

You can engage in that tug-of-war indefinitely. Grief can cripple you if you let it. And yes, sure, we can recommend more books to read and videos to look up and support groups to go to—but honestly? None of that is going to help you move through the grief.

Have you ever read the children’s book, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and gotten to the line, “Can’t go over it, can’t go under it, gotta go through it”? Well, what you are facing is not that different. Your grief seems enormous. It seems to have no end. But you must move through the grief. You have to work at it.

How do you work through grief after divorce?

1. Choose to recover. You have to literally make the choice in both your head and your heart that you are going to wade through your grief with purpose. You have to be determined, focused, and persistent in your choice. Once you decide that you have to push through your grief as opposed to letting it drown you, your whole experience shifts, and you take the power back.

Grief is a normal and natural reaction to loss, so if you know it’s coming and you remember that you can help yourself get through it, you’ll come out the other side. If you do the work, you will be wiser and probably more compassionate to yourself and others as a result.

This is a little simplistic, but we think you’ll get what we mean—think of it like a cold. We all get them occasionally, and once the illness has taken hold of us, there is no quick cure. You have to let the cold run its course. However, most of us don’t simply go to bed and wait for the cold to pass or allow it to worsen and turn into something like pneumonia or bronchitis. No, we take steps to make ourselves more comfortable, to lessen the symptoms, to shorten the duration, and to make sure our body has the tools it needs to kill the virus. Grief can be a lot like that—there are tools you can use to give your heart and mind what they need to resume a healthy balance.

2. Find community. Don’t make the mistake of trying to push through your grief alone. If you’ve read even a few of our articles, this is a drum we beat often. There are so many ways to connect with people—other women out there who know exactly how you feel and can offer you an empathetic ear and a shoulder to lean on.

Lately, we have had quite a few clients who are young mothers, meaning they are relatively young and their children are young—like babies! This is a particularly challenging time to be going through a divorce. There’s the intense physical labor of caring for young ones but also the feeling that no one in their right mind could be experiencing divorce at this juncture of parenthood. It’s a painful, isolating time. They can’t confide in their peer mommy groups. What a relief it is when they found other women in their same shoes!

One word of caution is that if you choose to look for a support group, try a few before you decide to stick with it. Our experience is that some support groups can be pretty depressing, with people telling stories every week but no real help being offered. Hearing each other’s stories can be one way to feel like you aren’t alone, but without taking the next step, without doing something to feel better, mere talk can keep you at a standstill. Understand what you are looking for and try targeting a group that is led by either a coach, a grief recovery specialist, or a therapist who can offer you concrete steps to take in-between meetings.

3. Take action. Take action in new, tried-and-true, or inspiring and challenging ways. Your goal is to put into place a few new behavioral patterns. A great way to do that is to search meetup.com for things you love to do or things you’d like to learn. Go to a meeting and see if you get hooked—or if you meet someone who is looking at the scenario as irreverently as you are. Try volunteering, take a class, start a journal, or plan a trip. The idea is to do something different.

Taking action and moving through your grief isn’t about staying in that dark place in your head; it’s about bringing your head and heart into the light. Moving past grief after divorce is possible for you, but remember: overcoming your grief is a choice. Are you ready to find out what comes after divorce?

 

SAS women are those amazing ladies you meet who are entirely committed to rebuilding their lives after divorce — on their own terms. If you are discerning, newly divorced and independent, you are invited to experience SAS for Women firsthand and schedule your free, 45-minute, private consultation.  Whether you work further with us or not, we’ll help you understand what your next, black and white steps are for walking into your BRAVE unknown.

 

Luxe, messed up bed

Happiness After Divorce: Your Sexual Reawakening

During the last ten years of my marriage, I had zero interest in sex. Actually, it may have even been a negative amount of interest. Ten years is a long time. I chalked my disinterest up to two kids and getting older (I was in my late 30s, so I was clearly trying to rationalize and ignore the glaring fact that I was miserable in my marriage). All of this didn’t mean I wasn’t having sex. But the sex was, at best, something to check off my to-do list.

Happiness after divorce is possible for you (because it was for me)

One fear I had (and often see clients grappling with) was this: Is bad sex in an unsatisfying loveless marriage still better than the possibility of NEVER HAVING SEX AGAIN? It took me several years of weighing the fear—an unlikely and irrational one—of living the rest of my days entirely alone without a loving partner against the increasingly intolerable state of my marriage. I was thinking about divorce. Was that the right choice for me? I finally took a giant leap and moved out, focusing on baby steps like finding my own apartment, choosing a paint color for my new bedroom, and unpacking boxes one by one. But experiencing true happiness after divorce still seemed out of reach.

So, it came as a HUGE surprise when I discovered that in addition to unpacking those boxes of belongings—even the metaphorical boxes of emotions I had kept hidden away—I unpacked some interest in sex. Ok, not just some interest. I experienced a sexual reawakening! Just days after moving into my new place, SEX was all I could think about. That’s not an exaggeration. I felt different, becoming very physically aware of myself and my body. I felt so different that I looked different. Friends, family, and other people in my life asked me if I had a facelift or another kind of treatment. It dawned on me that perhaps I looked different because of feelings I was experiencing for the first time in many years: hope and happiness. And let’s face it, happiness is sexy.

Is bad sex in an unsatisfying loveless marriage still better than the possibility of NEVER HAVING SEX AGAIN?

Don’t get me wrong—just because I felt a tremendous rush of interest in sex doesn’t mean I wasn’t equally consumed by bouts of pure, unadulterated panic. Sure, I had lots of interest but no game plan and no potential dates in sight. Would anyone find me attractive? Would anyone see me as anything other than a middle-aged mother of two trying desperately to keep her sh*t together? I couldn’t even allow myself to fully imagine the mechanics of undressing in front of another man. It all felt far too overwhelming.

My first kiss as the “new me”

It was a few days after moving into my new home when I received a text from a number I didn’t recognize. It was an old boyfriend I had dated in my 20s. I hadn’t heard from him in years. I knew that he had separated from his wife at some point, but I didn’t give it much thought. The text said, “Happy New Year! Hope you’re well. Would love to grab a drink sometime.” Assuming he had heard about my separation, I immediately called our one mutual friend to see if she had told him the news. She had not. In fact, she also hadn’t spoken to him in a long time. I was floored. What were the chances of my Ex texting me just days after I moved out on my own? We set up a date, and every time I imagined seeing him, I felt nervous.

I felt free and alive for the first time in what felt like a very long time.

When I arrived at Indochine, a sceney NYC restaurant frequented by models and celebrities, I barely recognized myself! I felt like I was 25 again: out at night, in the “real” world, with other people who weren’t parents! While eating dinner with my Ex (we’ll call him Chaz), I remembered that he could never stop himself from checking out every attractive woman in sight. And that he is unapologetic about it. This habit once drove me nuts and was the reason I ended things with him years before. I noted that Chaz clearly hadn’t changed. His eyes skipped from woman to woman, landing on a lanky and gorgeous Afroed hostess, but I didn’t care. I felt free and alive for the first time in what felt like a very long time. And I had a one-track mind . . .

After dinner, Chaz and I walked a few blocks south to a spot we used to go to together back in the day. It was dark, moody, and easy to hide in. I was tipsy by this point, and I think Chaz was too. We sat down across from one another, and he leaned in to kiss me. It wasn’t an innocent, just-for-old-time’s-sake kind of kiss. It was a lean-into-each-other, full throttle make out session. My first kiss with a man who was not my husband in nearly 16 years. It was THRILLING, to say the least.

We finished our drinks, and a cab dropped us off at our respective apartments. No, we didn’t have sex. Kissing someone new was enough for me just then. We furiously made out the entire taxi ride (which would be my first of several kissing experiences in a taxi). After leaving him, I was excited about my new life after divorce. I was single, unmarried, and free.

A lot of women think they cannot become who they are meant to be without another man.

I’ve discovered otherwise. Me.

 

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the challenging experience of divorce. Now you can find support and learn best practices RE-creating your life after divorce with Paloma’s Group. Decide who you really are. Find IT. Create IT. Own IT.

Classes start June 12 and space is limited.  Visit here for details. 

Alyssa Dineen has been a New York City stylist for close to 20 years. After getting divorced herself, Alyssa started a service to help newly single people get into the dating app world with confidence. She has worked with all different personalities, body types and budgets and knows how to help you stay relevant and current while still feeling like yourself — the best version of yourself. Meet Alyssa and receive her personal guidance through SAS’ Paloma’s Group.

Women starting over after divorce

5 Simple Tips for Women Starting Over After Divorce

Marriage should be a mutually beneficial arrangement for two people. Love, of course, matters, but historically, women had finances and their future stability to consider when choosing a husband. And over the past hundred years, our concept of marriage has changed—not just in America, but in many parts of the world. Today, women no longer marry to survive. Instead, independent women tie the knot for love and self-realization. But love and self-realization are also increasingly becoming reasons for getting a divorce.

According to a recent study conducted by WP Diamonds, one in ten marriages ends due to a lack of freedom. Once divorced, this newly-won freedom can seem a little frightening to even the most independent women. The important thing is to stay focused on your goals and assert your wishes. Starting over after divorce is about taking control of your new life.

Fight for your dreams, and take control of your life

Maintain a positive outlook, and when all else fails, remember that independence doesn’t mean never asking for help. Realize how much other people value you—your colleagues, friends, and family. Allow your positive thoughts to fuel you and help you build up your inner strength. If you need more support during this difficult time, you should get that support. Your real friends and family will stand by you through hard times. Talk to your friends, other divorced women, or a professional to get the divorce advice you need. In fact, one out of every four people going through a divorce would consider seeking professional help from a therapist.

And that’s good. For if there was ever a time one should turn to experts, it’s during the life crisis of divorce. Those same people who’d “consider a therapist” might benefit from learning about the steps resulting from working with a coach. For at some point, you want to stop talking about your situation and DO something that is appropriate for your circumstances. And without regret.  Appropriate action lessens anxiety and can relieve stress.

Independent women know this. We know how to make the best out of what life gives us, to speak up, and to take control — all of which takes a certain boldness and action. This also means taking control of our mental wellbeing and making decisions that are in our best interest.

Stand up for your rights, and carefully think about your next steps

Parting with someone close to you can be an emotional and painful process. Making rational decisions during this time is difficult but essential. If you can do so now, your future will be more stable—both emotionally and financially. Many women find it helpful to create a plan to follow during and after the divorce so they don’t lose track of what is important. As a divorced woman, you have rights. Create a checklist of your next steps. Here are a few examples of tasks you can add to your checklist:

  • Seek professional, emotional divorce advice
  • Find a good financial advisor
  • Ensure your children understand the changes they’re experiencing

It is not always easy, but it is ever so important to be honest with your children and to talk to them about what is going on. Your intention might be to protect them, but this is a hard time for them as well. Now more than ever, they need to know that they are loved and that they don’t need to choose one parent over the other.

Not sure what steps you need to take? Here are some more tips for newly-divorced independent women.

Be yourself, and gather your strength for the future

In all stages of life, you should remain true to yourself and follow your own path. This is also very important when it comes to starting over after divorce. Remember: You are not just a wife or a mother. You will always be, first and foremost, you—an individual, an independent woman. You can decide for yourself where to go, what to do, and which values you cherish after divorce.

Sometimes the stress of going through a divorce can bring out our ugly sides, and a person can turn to intimidation and other forms of manipulation to get what they want or to spite their Ex. If you remain fair and refuse to fall into this trap, you will increase your chances of coming out the other side a much more positive and emotionally stable woman. Stay true to yourself and surround yourself with people who are important to you—people who love and support you. Celebrate the good times rather than dwelling on the past.

Take these 46 steps to ensure your divorce recovery.

Be patient—starting over after divorce takes time

Deciding to divorce was likely a long process, after all. The decision to part ways with the person who was once your other half is not taken lightly. The wait for the divorce to finalize can also be excruciating. Depending on how long you were married, the prenuptial agreement, children, and many other factors, the divorce process can take several months or years. This is not always easy so when you hit a low moment picture your life after divorce and what it will feel like to be in control again. If your divorce has just finalized, know that once the dust has settled life after divorce will get better.

Your reward: your new life after divorce

Life goes on. As you contemplated divorce, filed the paperwork, and waited for your attorney to tell you it was finally over, daily tasks and responsibilities continued to pile up. Your job, your children, your home—each of them needs your attention. Divorce is rarely easy. You might have even asked yourself, “How will I move on after divorce?” The truth is that starting over after divorce will bring up a lot of emotions, but mostly, women feel like taking a great sigh of relief. Both before and throughout the divorce process, it can feel like you’re holding your breath. Are you ready to let it out? Your life as an independent, divorced woman is waiting for you.

Since 2012, SAS for Women is entirely dedicated to the unexpected challenges women face while considering a divorce and navigating the divorce experience and its afterward. SAS offers women six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, your family, and your future. “Divorce can be on your terms.“– SAS for Women.

 

 

Grown up woman talks to divorced mom

What My Grown-Up Self Would Tell My Divorced Mom

Parents always wonder about the children when they get divorced. Will they be okay? Will they understand? What will they remember? My parents divorced when I was eight years old. My father told me he would have stayed, if my mother would have tried. My mother told me all she ever did was try. And for many years, finding out “the truth” mattered to me. I wanted someone to blame. Sometimes that person was my father. Sometimes that person was my mother. Other times it wasn’t a person at all but the very idea of love itself.

For half my childhood, my single, divorced mom raised me and my three siblings. We survived on her bookkeeper salary and the child support check my father sent (mostly) every month. As a teenager, it was easy to believe in the way most teenagers do that I knew best. That if I were my mother I would do it all differently. Now, only a couple years older than my mother was when she married my father, I’m not so sure. Her shoes fit more comfortably. So, what do I wish my divorced mom would have known? From the practical to the personal, here I go.

It’s better to lean into your pain together than hide it away.

My mother’s optimism has always impressed me, but her optimism is something that I now, as an adult, see in myself as something else: a mask. In other words, my mother was good at faking it. When I was growing up, we both faked it for the same reasons. I was a good student who read books, stayed out of trouble, and faded into the background. I said “fine” when she asked how I was doing, instead of saying how sad or lost I felt. I developed a sort of apathy and tried to unburden my mother. To take one more thing—raising me—off her plate, so, in many ways, my siblings and I raised each other. In doing so, I’m afraid we may have made my mother feel like we didn’t need her, which could not have been further from the truth.

I’m afraid we may have made my mother feel like we didn’t need her, which could not have been further from the truth.

Optimism is a mask that’s hard to keep on forever. Hiding becomes a habit that’s hard to break, further isolating you from your loved ones, and turning to substances like alcohol to cope is all too easy. That’s why it’s so important to find a support group outside of your usual social circles—women who understand your situation because they are going through it too or have already been there. Wanting to “be strong” for your children is understandable, but needing help is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, knowing when to ask for help is a great lesson for your children to learn.

As a divorced mom, your relationship with money will change, and that’s okay.

Because my mother never remarried and had no college degree, finances were often a struggle. Little luxuries, like attending ballet classes, disappeared. We stopped bringing lunch to school and instead began typing our ID numbers into keypads in the cafeteria while women wearing hair nets discreetly pointed out what food the government would pay for and what food they would not. Then it got worse—my mother explained how we were losing the house. The car went missing from the driveway one night, and again, my mother explained, only this time we learned what a repo man was.

My mother was drowning. If I mentioned anything to my father, he’d mumble something about child support and the conversation would quickly shift to a diatribe of all the ways my mother was failing us.

My mother was not failing us. She was not alone, and neither are you. According to the US Census Bureau, nearly 40 percent of households led by single moms are living below the poverty line. Even today, when articles rethinking the value of a college degree seem prevalent, the impact having a bachelor’s degree makes on your earning potential can’t be ignored. In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median biweekly paycheck of someone with a bachelor’s degree was $928 more than a person with a high school diploma.

But if you’re drowning in debt and stretched thin, like my mother was, then attending college likely seems out of reach. Single mothers might be surprised to find out there are often more resources available to them than they think. If you’re a divorced mom, you can also take advantage of  online finance classes geared toward women where you can learn about budgeting, paying off debt, and saving.

There’s a line between honesty and therapy.

I grew up in a house full of women (and one little brother, poor him) who loved to talk. We prided ourselves on our ability to be honest with each other. Even so, as a child, if I overheard my mother or anyone else speak poorly of my father, I took it upon myself to personally defend his honor. I didn’t condone his actions, I said, but he was my father and I loved him and that was that as far as I was concerned.

After the divorce, I saw my father often. He took us to see movies and let me wander libraries and bookstores while he distracted my little brother. He listened to me, and I could tell he thought I was smart. That kind of thing mattered to me. But I wasn’t going to stay little forever. Sometimes I’d come home to my mother and vent, and it was then the floodgates would open. We became co-victims of my father’s transgressions.

The phrase “talk it out” exists for a reason.

The phrase “talk it out” exists for a reason. Many of us feel better after a good talk with someone who just gets it. But after divorce, relationships with friends and family can feel strained. Because children usually deeply understand the events that led to a divorce, even if they can’t articulate everything they heard and saw, it’s easy for parents to overshare.

A common complaint I’ve heard from other children of divorce is how their parents treated them (and often still treat them) as messengers or, even, as therapists. But your children’s father will always be a part of their lives, even if he ceases being part of yours. Instead of creating a wedge between your children and their father, use divorce as a lesson in setting personal boundaries, forgiving others, and loving someone despite their imperfections. If you find yourself venting to your children, do your best to bite your tongue and speak to a friend or professional instead. Let your children form their own opinions about who their father is or isn’t.

Your children need a parent, not a friend.

As I got older, I became my mother’s confidant. The person she could talk to without judgment. Children who find themselves in this position often begin to see their parents as their equal. This dynamic grows worse if you struggle to discipline or provide structure for your children. Do they have chores? Do they have a curfew? Do you ask about their day at school, or review homework assignments together? And when mistakes are made and tantrums are thrown, how do you teach your children?

After divorce, the instinct to “do it all yourself” can be so tempting. You come home tired after a long work day. The thought of barking orders at your children or ticking domestic tasks off your to-do list seems just about impossible. So you let things slide.

When your kids start to think of you as the parent “who lets things slide,” that’s when you have a problem. You become the cool adult friend they just happen to live with instead of their parent.

But when your kids start to think of you as the parent “who lets things slide,” that’s when you have a problem. You become the cool adult friend they just happen to live with instead of their parent.

The importance of creating family moments.

I have so many happy memories, even after the divorce, but I also remember how, as we grew older, our daily lives grew more fragmented. My mother was (and still is) fun. She liked to garden and do DIY projects, anything from rehabbing furniture to making lotions and lip balms from scratch. She cooked constantly and never from a recipe. I loved helping her. I’d ask her how much seasoning to put in a dish and the reply was always the same: “Trust your gut.” These things brought us together. Later, we often retreated to our own bedrooms after school, where I’d read a book or my brother would play video games. I found myself feeling nostalgic for a past I knew I couldn’t get back to.

It’s important to continue traditions and begin new ones—to have family dinners, to host game or movie nights. To remind your children that the end of a marriage isn’t the end of their world.

As a divorced mom, it’s important to continue traditions and begin new ones—to have family dinners, to host game or movie nights. To remind your children that the end of a marriage isn’t the end of their world.

You can’t control everything that happens after divorce. What your children will remember more than anything is that you were there for them and that you did your best for them. Show your children that you can fail and keep going. How what’s worse than making a mistake is not learning your lesson. I remember how much my mother tried more than I remember her failures. More than anything, this is what I’d tell her—it’s what I do tell her.

This article was authored for SAS for Women by Melanie Figueroa, a freelance 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.

SAS for Women is entirely dedicated to the unexpected challenges women face while considering a divorce and navigating the divorce experience. SAS offers women six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, your family, and your future. “Divorce can be on your terms.” – SAS For Women.

 

Finding the true you after divorce

How to Move On and Discover Your True Self After Divorce

It’s tempting, and oh, so easy to believe that the hard work of divorce is completing the legal, financial, and practical steps you must take to officially dissolve your marriage. The black and white stuff. And Lord knows there’s a myriad of those logistical, challenges. You have to decide how you will divorce, how, or what kind of lawyer to use. You need to discover your ducks, get them in a row and hunt down papers, file, combine, fill out, let alone try to read.  You must develop your strategy and absorb stressful negotiations. All of which in total and individually is very difficult to navigate. Yet these steps have not transformed you. They have not delivered you to a place called Moved On after divorce.

To move on, to create a life worthy of you and filled with worth for you, you need to accept the invitation. It’s an invitation that is unspoken and easy to ignore. Yet, if you want what’s coming around your corner to be genuine, to be filled with meaning, discoveries, growth, joy, and peace, you must accept the invitation, and do the work.

Allowing yourself to heal after divorce

The unspoken invitation your divorce delivers is the opportunity to discover your true self.

Discovering the true you is a journey that not everyone opts for. Yet, the opportunity is there for everyone who divorces.

The reason so many decline or ignore the invitation is because accepting it first requires a genuine desire to heal. Some people prefer to remain bitter and angry, to remain the victim of their divorce, or to ignore healing in favor of beginning a new relationship as quickly as possible.

Although each of these responses is normal, none of them will help you cope with divorce or move on. In other words, these reactions to divorce won’t allow you to heal.

To heal properly, you need to deal with the emotional story, the wounds created by your divorce and the responsibility you played in bringing an end to your marriage.

Accepting that grief is a part of divorce

You lose a lot when you divorce. Obviously, you lose your spouse, your dreams of growing old together, and your lifestyle. But you could also lose your home, the ability to see your children daily, someone to help with the day to day tasks of living, friends, and so many other things you’ve grown accustomed to, both large and small.

And with the recognition of each loss, you’ll grieve.

Grief is a complicated emotion. It’s unique to each person which means your grief will be unlike the grief your friend may have experienced when she divorced. Grief is also nonlinear. You’ll feel like you’ve moved forward—like you are on your way to feeling better—but then something will happen. Suddenly, you’ll feel like you’ve been thrown back into the abyss of misery and you can’t get out of bed.

…And understanding that grief is complicated

The grief you’ll feel is also complicated by the fact that it isn’t just one emotion you feel before, during and after divorce but a range of them. And you probably started experiencing feelings of grief as soon as the possibility of divorce became a reality: back there when you were beginning the divorce process.  Or right now, after divorce, the grief ebbs and flows. It washes over you …

Thoughts of disbelief, that this can’t be happening to you—that’s shock and denial. Because your mind naturally protects you from taking in more information and pain than you can deal with at once, feeling this way is common when you don’t want to divorce.

You will probably suffer gut-wrenching pain about the end of your marriage and all the changes you must face during and after divorce as you work through your grief. Change is always painful, and changes of the magnitude required by divorce are often awful—at least at first.

As you continue coping with your divorce and grieving, don’t be surprised if you struggle with trying to understand why divorce is the answer to the problems present in your marriage. You might struggle with trying to assign blame.

At first you might even struggle to figure out what you did that caused your Ex to want to end your marriage. And when you think you have it all figured out, you may promise your Ex that you’ll change if he come back to you. But the firmer he stands in their decision to divorce, the more frustrated you’ll become.

Then, at some point, you may get so frustrated that you start blaming your Ex and feeling tremendous anger toward him because, in your eyes, he is the cause of all the pain and torment you’re feeling.

Another emotion you might encounter as you continue healing from your divorce is loneliness. You’re more likely to experience loneliness if you’ve lost friendships due to your divorce or if you don’t know other people who are divorced who are willing to support you through your healing process.

However, not all the emotions you may experience as part of working through your grief are negative. You can also feel hopeful about life after divorce. And when you do, you will begin to make plans for the future. These plans should not be the same as the logistical steps you needed to take to get through your divorce. These plans are things you want to do, things that make you smile and feel excited as you contemplate them.

Your grief is complex, nonlinear, and unique. You may or may not experience these emotions. That combined with the nebulous nature of healing from grief can make it seem never-ending. You can feel trapped in and at times engulfed by your grief.

Why leaning into (instead of avoiding) your grief is crucial to moving on after divorce

When you feel trapped and defeated by all that you’re going through it can be incredibly tempting to self-medicate yourself in order to numb the pain. Some people wind up declining the invitation to discover their true selves by over or under eating, drinking too much, looking for love through sex, or taking prescription and nonprescription drugs.

But the beauty of allowing yourself to experience your grief, so long as you maintain your desire to heal, is that you will continue to make small incremental steps toward feeling better.

It’s the compounding of these small incremental steps that will eventually lead you out of your grief with a new sense of who you truly are. It’s through the testing and trials you survive because of and after divorce that you learn to drop the BS, the masks, and the stories you used to hide behind.

When your emotional wound of grief has healed, you can finally face the world as you truly are—powerful, unique, lovable, and perfectly you.

Whether you are navigating the experience, or recreating after divorce, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone. Smart women around the world have chosen SAS For Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of Divorce.

How Divorce Affects Children and families

Divorce and Children: The Not So Secret Way to Get Through Divorce Without Breaking up the Family

Divorce is complicated. Divorce and children? That’s when uncomplicating things really matters. A “normal” family dynamic looks different to all of us. But those relationships and routines—the warmth, safety, energy, and feeling of support a family provides—is something none of us wants to lose. The benefits of a close-knit family seem obvious when you look at your children and think about what is best for them and their future.

It often feels like the whole of society dedicates itself to family ideals, to the conventional, to sizing up our families and judging how they fit into the mold. But the conventional is not reality. Most families don’t fit into the mold at all, and yet they are wonderful in their uniqueness. Every family functions its own way. Whether you’re divorced or not, if your children know that their parents are there for them, then that is all it takes to make a family.

There are many ways divorce can affect a family, but thankfully, there are also many ways your family can continue to function after divorce. This is the time in your children’s lives when they need your support, patience, and understanding the most. Parents are not the only ones who go through a divorce, and the experience can be very confusing for children of all ages.

What children of divorce need

When it comes to children and divorce, know that your kids can come through the other side of divorce as stronger people. There are positive lessons to learn even in what seems to be an endless series of negative experiences. Divorce can teach your children a lot about life and help them become the capable young adults you want them to be.

Overcoming obstacles is a huge part of life, and divorce is full of life lessons for adults and children alike. The old saying “pull together in times of crisis” rings true. Your loved ones need to love and be loved even during stressful or uncertain moments in their lives (perhaps especially in these moments). A divorce may represent the first big upheaval and genuine challenge your children face—it’s important to help them get through it.

Tell your children that divorce is unfortunate but not unusual. That both you and your Ex love your children and that neither of you is going anywhere. No one is getting left behind. Tell your children that life is full of changes, and this is just one of them. It is no one’s “fault.” In fact, leave out the details altogether until your children are old enough to understand but do respect their right to know the truth—whatever you do, don’t outright lie. Lying is never a good example to set, and no one deserves to be kept in the dark when everything they are experiencing is confusing enough already.

Make sure that, when possible, you and your Ex are still present and involved in your children’s lives. Organizing regular time to spend with both parents and having similar rules for each household will help create stability for your children. Custody schedules can be a big help at this stage. While you and your children adjust to your new situation, it is better to minimize schedule changes, and if possible, avoid changing schools too. Consistency and routines are important. That doesn’t mean adopt a rigid parenting plan. You need to allow room for flexibility because no one is perfect. Just try to keep some form of routine until everyone can settle in.

Be prepared for changes

A big fear for many parents after getting a divorce is that their children will start to act out and show signs of bad behavior. It’s common for children of divorce to experience mixed emotions, stress, or anger—to feel hurt—just like you. If you notice these warning signs, you need to do the best you can to address your child’s emotions as soon as you can so that they don’t develop into behavioral problems.

If your children tell you they are okay, don’t automatically take their word for it. Make sure to check on how your children are behaving in school and speak to them as often as you can without being overly nosy. Create a safe space where your children feel they can talk to you about things openly. Speaking to an impartial person can also help your children so you shouldn’t rule therapy out. However, you shouldn’t force your children to go to therapy either. Extended relatives can be really helpful in this regard, someone close to your children but not too close for them to share time with. Children love and need every member of their family so try not to cut any of these family figures out of their lives.

That being said, be prepared for a variety of reactions amongst your extended family. It’s natural for family members to try to take sides, but this is the last thing you want. Children pick up on hostility, and it’s not fair to put them in situations where they may feel forced to choose a side. Talk to your in-laws, grandparents, and everyone else you can think of. Express your concerns and try to keep your disagreements with or prejudices against your Ex private. Focus on the positives instead.

Tell your extended families how you see yourselves moving forward together in the future. No matter your feelings towards your Ex or his family, your children don’t deserve a damaged relationship with him as this can be hard to overcome.

Divorce and children—what really matters

The experts don’t always agree about how much divorce affects families. The main thing to focus on is your children’s wellbeing in the wake of all these big changes. The end of a marriage often affects children of divorce the most, and you need to reassure them while respecting their right to their emotions. It’s impossible to completely protect children from everything. Children of divorce are stronger than you can imagine. Most children will not go on to develop problems after divorce but, like you, may have painful memories.

You, your children, and your Ex will always be a family. Your children need to realize this. It’s your job to make sure that they do. Every family is different and deals with divorce in their own way, but a family is still a family—there’s no changing that. The structure of a family can change over time, but that won’t stop you from growing together like all people in relationships do. Divorce can be healthy and so can the family relationships that blossom after it.

SAS for Women is entirely dedicated to the unexpected challenges women face while considering a divorce and navigating the divorce experience. SAS offers women six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, your family, and your future. “Divorce can be on your terms.” – SAS For Women

This article was authored by Krishan Smith: senior editor and content specialist at Custody X Change, a custody software solution. Custody X Change provides software for developing and managing custody agreements, parenting plans, and schedules.

Imagining life after divorce

My Life After Divorce: The Unexpected Gifts

For me, life after divorce is when time shifted. In fact, I measure things now in terms of  “A.D.” (after divorce) as opposed to “W.H.” ( — while I was “with him”). And A.D.? It’s my current epoch, and let me reassure you, A.D. is good.

But, you might be in another place right now, and you are not buying it. You wonder how YOU would cope and what your life after divorce would even look like. Understood. I remember all too vividly my imaginings, my fear of aloneness. It was dark. So dark it stopped me in my tracks for a long time. So maybe if I share a glimpse of reality, a few hours in the life of this graying divorceé, you might dare to imagine something else that is possible … for you.

My day begins, whenever I want. This morning it began with the light first filtering through my shade. I roll over. I remember it’s Sunday … also, I’ve peeked at the clock and seen it’s a double-win. It’s only 7:10 am. Not 8:10 am, because I have not adjusted the clock on the bureau since Day Light Savings Time came, and went.

When I do get up I am reminded my space is mine, and that even my bathroom gives me a charge. Not for its plunge pool tub, (there ain’t one) but because I find this room ALWAYS as I have left it. Immaculate (okay, so I am a bit of a neat freak … ). The towels are hung and dry from yesterday’s use. My worn clothes are in the hamper. The sink is clean. The toilet seat is down. My day seems expansive.

Then I look in the mirror. Oh, how easily I forget. I see myself, my age, and the traces of a story I can’t erase. But it was going to be so much worse, I remind myself, and even laugh. I have very much myself to thank for doing the greatest thing I feared and stepping away before I lost more. I pause. I am always pausing to take stock. It is part of my grieving process, my divorce recovery, my ongoing inventory of what has been lost, and what I have won.

Later, after breakfast, I tell myself I will not be married … to my computer today. That it’s all about managing relationships, and my relationships begin with me!! I will not spend my entire day with my computer, sitting, and not living. So I walk over to my computer and (…okay, I digress to boast more: the computer is my new baby. Though I’ve bought it used, I’ve installed it, connected it to the internet, and sunk it to my printer. And by God, the whole system works! Indeed, my entire tech-system (– inside this sweeping apartment of 600 feet) is managed and trouble-shot by me, and it all works. Today!

CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES! I never thought I’d be my own Tech Troubleshooter! But like so many things that came my way After Divorce, becoming more tech savvy, more adaptable to what life threw my way, was something I have become very good at precisely because I didn’t have a man around.

These little and sometimes BIG victories make me wonder: if can do all that stuff I loathed and feared in the past, what else is possible?

I unplug my computer — is the point.

For possibility fills me with possibility, which reminds me of the audio course I bought,“An Introduction to Meditation,” and it’s been waiting for me, collecting dust for a good eight months. I wipe the dust from the audio jacket now and without overthinking, head to my stereo (the stereo that, you got it, was installed by me! Are they even called “stereos” anymore?) and I load the stereo pockets with 5 of the 12 disks. I think about when I might play these disks. When can I dedicate the time to really listen? I mean, this is meditation, do I even want to get real right now? It’s kind of early on a Sunday. Maybe I’ll go for a walk? When another button clicks in my head. I must stop over-thinking. Just push play.

I step back. And I am so glad I’ve begun.

What does a divorcée do with the rest of her life?

Whatever she chooses.

SAS for Women is entirely dedicated to the unique challenges women face when considering, navigating or living independently after divorce. SAS offers every woman a complimentary coaching session to help you understand exactly where you are and what you actually face next. SAS is committed to helping you discover the right step for you.

 

Single mother lifting her daughter

Coparenting Tips: 4 Ground Rules All Divorced Parents Should Live by (For Everybody’s Sake)

So that’s it. Game over. You’re all talked out, and the writing on the wall is clear. Something has to change, and you and your partner have decided divorce is the best answer. If you share children with your Ex, then before you can even think about how you’ll fumble through the world of dating (because, at first, there’s sure to be at least a little fumbling while you figure out what you want) you have to come to terms with your new situation. You need coparenting tips and someone to shine a light on the path that leads forward and beyond. So, let’s begin.

You could sit on the couch watching episode after episode of Ray Donovan (cliché carton of mint chocolate chip ice cream included). You could go to the gym and spin yourself silly with endorphins. Or, you could head to Vegas for a divorce party and toast your new beginning. Whatever you do, don’t settle for old stereotypes—images of women plotting their Ex’s demise in the shadows. You’ve got too much to look forward to and to discover. Concentrate instead on creating the best life possible for your children, and redrafting the shared connection you will always have with your Ex. Confront those negative feelings about your Ex, and work on building a successful coparenting relationship. When you realize the positive impact doing so has on your children, nothing else will matter. Trust me.

Stay focused

Remember those negative feelings I mentioned? (Of course you do—right now those feelings are still fresh and raw.) They’re your first hurdle to jump on your journey toward successful coparenting. Everyone needs to vent. That’s what friends, and coaches, and therapists, and groups are for. Sharing your experiences with and supporting others, can help you move past your own feelings and gain perspective. Your emotions can be obstacles when enforcing the following four coparenting tips, so learn to let go.

Focus on creating a warm and stable environment for your children. It’s a difficult time for them too, of course. They need their parents now, possibly more than ever, and they need you to be united. Not distracted by personal squabbles that have nothing to do with your role as parents. When talking to your Ex, try not to bring up the past or allow yourself to be drawn into arguments. Stay on topic.

You are bound to have more than a few disagreements about your differing parenting philosophies. Stay focused on your main goal: doing what’s right for your children. They need time with both their parents without disrupting their entire lives and routines.

Stay positive

Staying positive can be tricky, right? The end of a marriage can feel like the end of your world, but it’s only the start of something new. Your marriage may not have turned out as planned, but that doesn’t mean you have nothing to be grateful for. Your children, friends, extended family, and pets should all add to not detract from your life. Maintaining a positive outlook is one of the best coparenting tips out there. Negative experiences are what you make of them. How you react to those experiences determines whether or not you learn from them.

Being positive helps you proactively pursue an ideal coparenting setup. Explore the potential of mediation, therapy, and counseling, and take time to learn about the processes involved in creating a parenting plan or custody agreement. There’s a lot of information out there. The legal aspects involved in creating a custody agreement can make it seem like a daunting task, but really, forming an agreement can be simple.

Get organized, but be flexible

Staying focused and positive are two coparenting tips that will help you create the consistency every family needs, especially those going through divorce proceedings. Having a set visitation calendar helps both you and your coparent understand your responsibilities with little room for conflict or misunderstandings.

Something I’ve touched on in a previous article is respecting your coparent’s differences and parenting style. It’s great to have shared values and rules about how to properly raise children, but there are bound to be points you simply don’t agree on. Structure is crucial, but being rigid is a barrier.

For the initial transition period, it can help if everyone (parents and children) has a routine. The routine will change—that’s just life! If you still need to iron out the kinks in your routine and lock down schedules, a temporary custody agreement might be the best option for your family.

Be prepared to compromise. I know this isn’t easy. You love your kids. Your feelings for your Ex, on the other hand, are complicated (to say the least). But just remember any feelings you have for your Ex can’t compare to the love you have for your children. Any compromises you make are for them.

Communicate often and effectively

In my last article, I also spoke at length about keeping the channels of communication open. Nothing has changed since then. Avoid misunderstandings by communicating often, and be a positive role model for your children (and your Ex).

Keeping your Ex in the dark about important matters will only jeopardize your ability to stay positive and focused. Be civil (even when they aren’t making it easy). Being civil helps control everyone’s emotions, and you will leave exchanges feeling all the better for it.

If you have children, it’s not news to you that your Ex will most likely always be a part of your life. These coparenting tips will help you set aside your feelings and do right by your children. A rocky marriage does not have to translate to a rocky childhood for your kids.

Whether you are navigating the experience and aftermath of divorce, or in that confusing but fertile place of recreating the life you want to lead, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do it alone. Smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of “After Divorce.” “A successful divorce requires smart steps through and beyond the divorce document.” Learn what we mean and how it will benefit you in a free 45-minute consultation.

 

This article was authored by Krishan Smith: senior editor and content specialist at Custody X Change, a custody software solution. Custody X Change provides software for developing and managing custody agreements, parenting plans and schedules.