Browse Articles on the topic of Life After Divorce

stop gaslighting yourself

5 Self-Saving Ways to Stop Gaslighting Yourself

Ahh, the gaslighters of the world! They brighten or dampen the flame according to their own agenda and leave their targets rubbing their eyes and wondering… what just happened? It’s subtle at times, egregiously blatant at others. But it’s always a twisted manipulation that makes you second-guess yourself. And, once you’ve become accustomed to doubting yourself, courtesy of others, you start gaslighting yourself.

Gaslighting is an emotionally abusive, insidious tactic used to make another person question their feelings, memory, reality, and sanity.

The name comes from a 1938 play and then a 1940 movie called Gas Light

In a devious plot to have his wife committed to a mental institution, a husband plays with his wife’s mind. Every night he dims the gas lights a little more, then questions his wife’s sanity when she notices the subtle changes.

This kind of manipulation continues—all intended to make his wife think she is going crazy. He brings other people into the manipulation, as well, so his wife becomes surrounded by skeptics and critics.

His endgame?

To steal his wife’s inheritance.


If you are thinking about divorce, and don’t know what steps to take, fearing you may take wrong ones, feel anchored and read our popular “36 Things to Do If You are Thinking About Divorce.”


Today the term gaslighting is used to describe the creepy, narcissistic, sociopathic, conscienceless, entitled, lying method of making another person self-doubt.

It’s a power-play.

Gaslighter’s Tactics

The gaslighter will use any number of tactics in a passive-aggressive way to plant the seed of insanity in a target. Common phrases a victim will become accustomed to hearing include:

  • “I never said that!”
  • “That’s not what happened at all!”
  • “Your ‘proof’ is fabricated.”
  • “What are you talking about?”
  • “It’s all your fault! This wouldn’t have happened if you had/hadn’t….”
  • “You’re too sensitive!”
  • “No, you’re overreacting.”
  • “You’re obviously tired.”
  • “Have you been drinking?”
  • “Even your friends are starting to ask questions.”
  • “How could you possibly forget that?”

The gaslighter may even go so far as to change the victim’s environment to instill doubt about her memory.

And lying, whether directly or indirectly, is always at the heart of gaslighting…

…even when you are gaslighting yourself.

But why would you do something so awful to yourself? And how can you even do something like that when you “know” the truth?

The key to understanding gaslighting is its insidious pervasiveness. It’s not a one-and-out occurrence that would otherwise lead you to simply “block” someone from ever having contact with you again.


Understand more about the many shades of abuse. Read “Leaving an Abusive Marriage? There are Steps to Take First.”


Gaslighting works drop by drop, one oddity and one questioning head tilt at a time.

What does this have to do with relationships and divorce?

Possibly everything.

Gaslighting and Divorce

We have all witnessed more than a tolerable amount of gaslighting in politics, and most recently in war and divorce, which can be its own kind of war, can have more than its share.

If your husband routinely ignores or even criticizes your feelings, you may have started doing the same to yourself.

“Hmm. Maybe I am too sensitive. Maybe I did overreact and he’s right – I expect too much, complain too much, ‘feel’ too much. Yes, maybe my memory is starting to go.”

“Maybe I need help.”

And voilá! Suddenly you—the one who would never talk to your spouse or a friend that way—are gaslighting yourself.

Suddenly you are questioning your own feelings and responses, suppressing your thoughts, becoming self-critical, or doubting your own reality.

If you have been living in an unhappy or even abusive marriage, you may now be overthinking when to leave your husband

You may not trust yourself to make that kind of decision. After all, you’re the one who’s at fault, right?

Wrong.

And nothing is more important than getting real… about what is real.

Here are five suggestions for how to stop gaslighting yourself.

  • Ask yourself, “What would I say to a friend if I heard her talking to herself this way?”

    Why is it that we give ourselves license to be unkind to ourselves in ways we would never be with anyone else?

    Would you ever speak to a loved one in a way that made her doubt herself, not like herself, not trust her own experiences?

    So why do you think it’s OK to run those negative tapes in your own mind?

    The fact that you’re “speaking” them internally doesn’t make them any less damning. On the contrary, it’s the internalized, subconscious tapes that do the most damage.

  • Dig deep and ask whose opinion this really belongs to.

    If you have unknowingly eased into the practice of gaslighting yourself, take the time to do some personal-history sleuthing.

    Who has instilled in you the notion that you can’t trust your own perceptions, opinions, preferences, experiences, and memories?

    Did it start in childhood and therefore feel “natural” in your married life?

    Did a parent disapprove of who you were and what you did, and steer you away from self-confidence?

    Did your husband berate your feelings, responses, needs, and complaints? Or did he chisel away at your sense of self and gradually subordinate you to his own wants?

    The objective here is to stop owning what doesn’t belong to you!

  • Step away from your thoughts and see them as their own entities.

    Thoughts, after all, are “things.” They are not your identity or the source of your worth.

    They carry great power to influence your feelings and shape your behavior. But they are also under your authority.

    When you recognize a negative thought creeping up or silencing an otherwise natural, healthy expression, pause.

    Acknowledge this thought as a visitor knocking on your door. “There it is again!”

    Do you let it in or shoo it away? (You don’t, after all, have an open-door policy…do you?)

  • Give yourself the grace of a balanced point of view.

    The difference between gaslighting and not gaslighting yourself doesn’t lie in perfection.

    The abusers in your life may have taught you differently (despite their own glaring imperfections) but being human doesn’t forfeit your reality.

    It’s healthy to examine your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

    It’s healthy to recognize when and how you can do better.

    It’s also healthy to be able to laugh at your mistakes and to know and accept your strengths and weaknesses.

  • Speak to yourself with externalizing affirmations.

    In order to stop gaslighting yourself, you have to recognize when the gaslighting is happening – both externally and internally.

    Slow down. Hit pause. Don’t “open the door” to your uninvited thoughts.

    When someone says, “You’re too sensitive,” for example, you have a choice.

    You can automatically fold and tell yourself, “Gosh, y’know, you really are too sensitive. Get a backbone. And next time, don’t say anything.”

    Or you can tell yourself, “I know what I heard. And I know what I felt when I heard it. I’m entitled to my feelings. If this person doesn’t want to discuss how we can better communicate in the future, that’s not my problem.”

    Your feelings are as worthy as anyone else’s.

    Your reality is as worthy as anyone else’s. 

Relationships can (and should be) a safe haven – physically, emotionally, spiritually. They provide, ideally, a reflective context for honest expression, growth, and healing.


Consider reading, “27 Cautionary Signs You are in a Toxic Marriage.”


Unfortunately, abusive tactics like gaslighting undermine that potential. Instead of healing, they destroy. They create a war zone within intimate, isolated spaces.

Knowing the signs of gaslighting from others is the first step toward recognizing when you are gaslighting yourself.

And recognition is the first step in healing.

 

Notes

How to stop gaslighting yourself?

In two words. 

Annie’s Group.

Learn what is possible for your life. 

 

War and divorce

8 Elements of Divorce and War

We often say that a bad relationship or divorce can feel like war. It does.

I was looking at a man, face red with rage, justifying his aggression with ideas only he could understand. I saw an entitled man, a self-centered, vindictive, and self-righteous man. He was a man of influence and uncontested power. A man who claimed to be threatened and defending himself. 

It wasn’t a Soon-to-Be-Ex-Husband in a fit of verbal abuse. It was Vladimir Putin, the president of my country, on national TV, justifying his order to send troops to Ukraine. He claimed the move was to defend the Russian population and our interests. And his language was concealing the fact of genocide.

As a woman recently divorced from a narcissist, I felt it as I also saw it and I heard it. It was all too familiar. And as soon as I recognized the dynamic, I woke out of my phase of denial and experienced this incredible clarity on the conflict. I understood the aggressor’s tactic: his seemingly logical justification for violence. For war. 

A Note Before We Begin

Dear reader, in this blog post I’d like to share my impressions of current events as a Russian, as a means for bridging the gap between us—you in the West and us, here in Russia. These are my personal thoughts only, with no wish to offend anyone in the world. But as one who was denied her feelings for a certain period of time, and who was told her emotions didn’t matter for the duration of my marriage, I am taking this moment to express myself, because I know I am not alone and it must be done. The powerful community of SAS for Women emboldens me. I’d like to think of us as sisters spanning the globe, across thousands of miles, supporting each other through crisis, tough times, divorce, and now, war.

We are all scared now, and uncertain of our future. We don’t know what to expect or how to deal with the sense of having no control. But I believe a better understanding of our circumstances and whom we’re dealing with can provide light for the end of the tunnel.  

Below are my 8 points connecting aspects of divorce with war and our current political reality.

1. Being Entitled 

Sometimes people feel entitledto other people. They seek the undivided attention of their parents, a friend, or a lover. If a spouse or a friend has a new outside influence, they get jealous. Not because their love is strong, but because they fear losing control and their attention. They can feel hurt and betrayed when the person they feel entitled to gets other friends or lovers. 

For centuries, Russia and Ukraine were one country, governed from Moscow. When the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991, many Russians, the current president included, didn’t believe the separation was real. On the personal level, Russians and Ukrainians are intertwined, intermarried. Until the start of the “events”, there were officially 2 million Ukrainians living in Russia and 8 million Russians living in Ukraine. We regarded each other as brothers. On the extreme end of the politics, Russian leaders regarded Ukraine as a natural sphere of interest, an entitlement, a country that must value its ties with Russia first and foremost. When Ukraine preferred to have other allies, Russia got jealous. For many years Ukraine wanted to become part of the European Union and build ties with NATO not least to safeguard itself from a Russian military invasion. With this invasion, Russia was punishing Ukraine for going off with someone else.

2. Power Dynamics

In a conflict, be it a divorce or a “military operation”, it may seem that there are two equal parties, like in civilized tennis match. When I was getting divorced, I could feel keenly how society and the state made many things easier for a man. A man can scare a woman with aggression, and even act on it. In Russia, where we have serious family abuse issues, threats aren’t considered to be a problem by the police.


Leaving an abusive marriage? There are steps to take first


I am seeing the same abusive, bullying tactics by the army today. Russia is a 150-million strong country, while Ukraine has 50 million inhabitants. The quarrel isn’t equal. The weights are different, as is the opportunity to pull in allies. The countries have different importance in the world economy, too. And as usual, the stronger side uses this strength to its advantage, pretending it’s level playing field.

3. People Get Hurt Senselessly

When this all started, an English friend messaged me to ask how I was doing and said: “Mr. Putin must see sense and stop”. My friend implied that Putin should see how many people are getting hurt on both sides of the border. He must see how his own people are being badly affected by the sanctions. He must get the economics of it. He must realize it’s futile and bad to harm everyday humans being, let alone old people and children. He should stop. 

That logic doesn’t work.

It’s the same as when a narcissist is aggressive to his* spouse in front of the kids. He doesn’t care about the kids — just about his own battle. And often the kids are pushed into taking sides or are punished for seeming to take sides and allying with their mother.


Consider reading “41 Things to Remember If You Are Coparenting with a Narcissist.”


The same happens in war. In Russia, people were told that those who tried to flee Russia, would have their property taken away. And those who speak against the war can get up to 15 years in jail.

4. Not Looking for a Win-Win

My divorce lawyer told me a story of a female client he once had, a woman who was willing to back down, to reach a compromise with her Ex, only to see him bit by bit consume everything she was giving up, and wanting more. 

Like war, in a divorce from a narcissist or an abuser, the aggressor doesn’t want to reach a compromise. They announce their target and even pretend to act in someone’s best interests – the kids, or the Russian-speaking population, but their end game is victory. Nothing less. They want to defeat. They want to see a loser. They want to celebrate their victory and feel strong. 

Peaceful negotiations must come from a place of strength, from legal support and allies. 

By the way, bullies get surprised to see strong defense or resistance. They are enraged if their counterpart gets allies. Because in their minds, they have already won. They feel entitled to win due to their strength, weight, and self-righteousness.   

5. Gaslighting and Smear Campaigns

When I initiated divorce, I did it because I could no longer stand verbal abuse in front of other people and in front of my kids. However, my Ex assured our mutual friends that I left him and the kids to enjoy sexual encounters outside our marriage. He believed it himself. He spun the story from me being the victim to actually the villain. 

Watching the news and propaganda from all sides, I find it hard to believe what is true and what isn’t. I know that people can go to great lengths to distort the truth for their own gain, to turn victims into villains. They seem to do this spinning naturally. 

6. Hard to Relate

We know that we can lose friends as we go through divorce. Because we can find it hard to relate to other people and they can’t relate to our problems. 

A woman set on remaining married and a woman planning to divorce will find little to talk about and can sometimes drift apart as friends. We can even find it hard to relate to someone going through a divorce if it’s very different from our own.

Conflicts can polarize people. We feel strongly about an issue and can decide to stop talking to a person due to their views. During the Covid pandemic, friendships suffered due to different views on vaccines. During the current political crisis, we all feel scared and unsure. Yet we find it hard to relate to each other because we experience fear in a different way. In Ukraine, people fear for their lives as they spend time in bomb shelters. In Russia, people fear for the direction their country is going. Will we turn into the next North Korea or Iran? Will our children be able to travel? Will our sons be drafted? Will we ever be able to see our friends and families in other countries? Will the internet work?

Societies in the West fear for their livelihoods as recession looms. They fear the threat of nuclear war. 

We all see scary videos and photos in the press or the Internet. We all remember relatives or history lessons retelling us the atrocities of the world wars.  We are all living through the same events, but we experience them differently. And instead of feeling together, we run the risk as people of drifting apart.  

7. Feeling Powerless and Ashamed.

Going through a divorce, we can face criticism from other people, or from our  internal voice, demanding “how did you let this all happen? How did you end up with such a man or partner? Such an abuser? Why didn’t you build boundaries? Why didn’t’ you protect yourself? How could you allow such a co-dependent relationship to flourish and your own personality to disintegrate?


Consider reading “27 Cautionary Signs You are in a Toxic Marriage.” 


Here in Russia, such questions equally crop up during discussions of the war. How could we have allowed this to happen? Why haven’t we made it clear that we don’t support these policies or current events?

The answer is this: it’s not the lack of our expression that is the problem. It’s the Narcissist who doesn’t want to hear anything and doesn’t care what others want.   

As people of all countries watch this conflict unroll and feel increasingly helpless, people here in Russia also feel ashamed of being associated with the initiators of the war.

To cope with the feeling of anxiety and helplessness, psychologists teach us to concentrate on things we can control in our lives, like our health, our immediate families, or by helping others or by creating things.

8. Can Someone Save Me?

When we live through a conflict – be it in a bad marriage or war – we crave to be saved. It comes from realizing how powerless we are in the face of larger foes. 

When I was experiencing marriage challenges, I sometimes thought that maybe I’d meet a new man who would understand me, and that in fact, he’d save me, he’d whisk me away. Similarly, I often dreamt of moving to a different town or country, even as a way to escape. In the end, it turned out I had to accept it wasn’t about someone else or running away. I could no longer stay in a difficult marriage. I moved out, I created a new home and I rebuilt my life. And while my family and friends supported me on my journey, I saved myself. 


On that note of personal responsibility and saving yourself, feel inspired. It’s a new day for women getting divorced. Check out our short movie, “One Woman’s Journey.”


It is reported that 200,000 Russians left Russia in the first 10 days once the war began. They couldn’t stay in a country that invades its neighbors. They feared for their own freedom of speech and livelihoods.

As I sat with girlfriends drinking tea and talking aloud about different immigration possibilities, a friend of mine cut to the chase, “Can someone save us?!“ As those of us who consider ourselves westernized Russians talked more, and specifically, how we could be saved from this regime, another friend sighed, “I guess it’s only up to God now.”

Another friend who works in a large organization said that for the first time in her long career she hears top managers mention God during business talks.

A survivor of divorce, I know that one day it will endeven if it takes longer and destroys more value than we ever wanted. We need to take better care of ourselves and our loved ones now. When the new life starts, we can appreciate our bravery and resilience. This is the real strength that matters.

With this strength, we can rebuild bridges. Hopefully, the rift between women and the rest of the population in any given country won’t be too big by then.

Notes

Natasha Repina is a writer living in Russia. She wishes to increase understanding between people of different countries and in no way wishes to offend. For reasons of security, she is unable to leave her personal information, but you are encouraged to connect with her by commenting below.

Choose not to go it alone. Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner with them through the emotional and oftentimes, the complicated experience of divorce. Join our tribe and receive six free months of email coaching, action plans, checklists, and support strategies for you — and your precious future.

 

* At SAS, we support same-sex marriages. For the sake of ease, we may refer to the Ex as “he/him” but we understand that exes come with many gender identities. 

Divorce at Work

Your Divorce at Work: To Share or Not to Share?

If you are going through a divorce, you’re almost certainly experiencing strong emotions that might be overwhelming at times. So while your personal life is absolutely none of your employer’s business, if your boss or coworkers will notice that you’re a bit out of sorts, anxious, distracted, sad, or depressed, it may be best to share the news of your divorce at work. It’s certainly personal—and it’s not about oversharing with TMI—yet there’s a professional way to approach the situation that may be in your best career interests.

Why It’s Important to Let Your Boss Know

The main reason to notify your employer about your divorce is to let them know how it might affect you personally and thus affect your work. Given the emotional roller coaster ride that is the typical divorce process, you may need some flexibility and understanding from your employer due to your need to occasionally take divorce-related calls, meet with your lawyer during the day, and attend mediation sessions. These items alone may require you to (infrequently) miss work, arrive late, or leave work early. 

Another reason that you may choose to notify your company about your divorce is that your state may abide by certain laws. (All US states have their own individual divorce laws, so it’s important to learn the laws in your state when you ask questions of a divorce attorney.) 

Under the New York City and the New York State “Human Right Laws” that govern workplace rights, an employer may not discriminate against an employee based on whether they are married, single, divorced, or in any other particular type of personal “familial” relationship, so if you suffer a negative change in your employment status on the heels of notifying your company about your divorce, that change may be considered illegal and discriminatory.

So notifying your employer about your divorce has a secondary protective effect on job status.

The Fine Print

Keep in mind that divorce itself is not a “protected activity” under any employment law, but “marital status” IS protected, at least in New York and a handful of other states, and if you’re experiencing separation and/or divorce-based severe emotional distress, you have the right to seek flexibility from your employer, legally known as a “reasonable accommodation” of your job responsibilities due to the temporary emotional, mental, and life situational disability or “impairment” that you’re enduring because of this major life-change. 

Sharing Your Divorce at Work: A Realistic Approach

While you should never use your divorce as a reason to excuse poor performance (mostly because as mentioned above, marital divorce is not a “protected status” under any federal or state employment law, such as, for example, pregnancy or disability), if you’re experiencing major depression, anxiety, or other emotional and/or physical symptoms due to the highly stressful divorce situation, then you are likely entitled to flexibility through a temporary reasonable accommodation of your job responsibilities as a direct result of your temporary emotional and/or physical symptoms related to this major life change.

So without getting into the gory details of your marital discord with your spouse, you may want to keep your employer in the loop if only so that they can exhibit flexibility and compassion (the ordinary lay words for “reasonable accommodation” under the law), and thus support you while you continue to perform the essential functions of your job through the most difficult period of your separation and divorce.

Do you think that you may need more time to complete certain work tasks? Or perhaps you just need a little understanding during this difficult time? 

Try to be as honest as possible, so that your employer knows what to expect from you during this process. Again, this does not mean you need to get confessional, or divulge otherwise irrelevant and intimate details about your split—you do not—but you want to avoid the situation where your boss feels that you’re not quite your usual upbeat, energetic self, but they don’t know why.

Managing Stress While Maintaining Your Duties

Perhaps they start treating you as if your performance is lagging for no good reason, and the next thing you know you’re being written up, or poorly evaluated, or worst case, terminated for being gloomy, low energy, and not giving 100% to the job.

It goes without saying that getting fired while you’re going through a separation or divorce is just another serious major life blow that you should avoid at almost any cost during a divorce. This is another reason why a little information and notification can go a long way to getting your boss and coworkers aligned on your side and optimally supportive of you.


If you are looking for a road map to help you through divorce, you’ll want to read “The 55 Must-Do’s on Your Modern Divorce Checklist.”


While your divorce is clearly a tough time in your life (even if you’re the one who initiated it and for good reason) it will still undoubtedly take a toll on you. The world keeps spinning on its axis, and you still have a job that needs to get done.

Your employer is counting on you, so please do not take advantage of their understanding by using your divorce as an excuse for why you are failing to adequately perform at work.

Additionally, divorce tends to involve much paperwork, and you may need to visit your company’s human resources or benefits department (or the next best thing at your workplace) to update certain documents. This may include your health insurance and tax information to reflect your new status as a single person, which is another reason to notify your boss of this major life change.

Give Yourself a Break

You may also want to take a few days off when you’re first confronted with the reality of your divorce, whether it was you (consider reading “I Wanted the Divorce, Why Am I So Sad?) or your spouse who instigated the separation. The emotional trauma can be difficult to handle, at least initially, so perhaps use some of your accrued vacation days to refocus, ground yourself, and self-care. Divorce is a grieving process, and if you don’t have any vacation days to use, then perhaps you can take a few days off as sick days, or take a brief, short-term disability leave.

That temporary leave may be protected under disability discrimination laws, as companies are always reluctant to punish or fire employees who are on protected short-term disability leaves. Termination based on that alone may be illegal disability discrimination. If you’re choosing that route, please consult with your primary care physician or a mental health practitioner so that your emotional distress (and request for leave) will be medically confirmed by one of your treating health professionals.


Read “How Long Does It Take to Get Over a Divorce, and 4 Signs You are On Your Way.


In my experience, clients going through a divorce must come to terms with all the divorce happenings, as it often initially feels like a runaway train with no engineer at the switch, so you need support to navigate through the initial days and weeks and reflect on the never-ending questions you’ll be pondering, without the daily and hourly interference from work calls or emails. (Outside of work, consider finding support in the form of therapy, coaching, or divorce support groups.) 

Making Your Job Happen During Divorce

If you can’t take time off from work, either because of your choice or because your job is not permitting it, consider asking to work remotely as a temporary reasonable accommodation of your divorce-based stressors. That work-approved flexibility may be just the ticket to help you balance yourself.  

Once the initial divorce dust has settled, then you can return to the office and try your best to focus on your work, or at least distract yourself from the divorce through your work. As one client shared during this period in relation to her work and the divorce: “My Ex can take away our relationship, he can take all of our shared possessions, even when it’s totally unfair, but the one thing he can’t take from me is my career.” 

And this is why it’s so vitally important to protect your job during a difficult divorce. Your career may be the only thing left that you feel you still have full control over during a time of massive upheaval in your personal life. (Check out this related piece, if you are thinking about quitting your job, and why you want to be careful about that, too.)

Keep It Simple

To recap, notifying your employer of the divorce doesn’t mean that you should make a federal case out of it, so to speak. It may be best to schedule a quick meeting just to notify your boss that you’re going through a divorce and that you may need some time off for meetings, telephone calls, or court dates. Then proactively suggest how you will make up any work you may miss on those days, as while you want your employer’s cooperation and understanding, remember that your company isn’t a social services agency (at least not for you, its employee). But do keep in mind that you can and should ask your company if they know of any resources you might be able to utilize, such as its Employee Assistance Program, that may offer free confidential counseling or legal support to their employees going through just such acute, temporary crises.

If you work in New York, where our employee rights firm is based, given NY’s liberal interpretation of what constitutes “disability” under the law, then your divorce-based emotional distress is a protected “impairment” entitled to flexibility and reasonable accommodation, so take advantage of that fact if you require time to decompress and cope with such high-level stress. The additional protection that will be accorded to you if you go down that road is that your employer is not permitted to retaliate against you and subject you to backlash as a result of your protected request for some reasonable time off, or your request to work remotely, etc., due to the divorce-related mental, emotional or physical fallout from your divorce process.

Understanding Anti-Discrimination Laws at Work

Finally, in roughly half the states in the United States, “marital” or “familial” status is protected under those state’s anti-discrimination laws, so if you suffer an adverse employment action such as a demotion, failure to promote, or termination on the heels of your notification of divorce, you may have a claim for discrimination on that basis alone. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it again anyway for emphasis), it’s far better to protect your job and career while you’re going through a divorce, than it will be to lose your job while you’re going through a divorce, even if you do have a viable discrimination case to pursue thereafter.

But it’s good to know that you do have some legal protections from workplace hostility and discriminatory treatment during a painful marital divorce if your employer treats you differently because of the divorce, or because of your emotional disability resulting from the divorce, but remember this one important fact:

You can be fired while you’re going through a painful divorce, and you can be fired while suffering from major depression during a divorce. You just cannot be fired because of your marital status change (at least not in the states where marital status is protected) and you cannot be legally fired because you are temporarily distraught and impaired by divorce-based depression, anxiety, etc., especially if your depression and anxiety are medically documented.

Notes:

If you feel you’ve been treated unfairly in your place of employment because of your divorce or other workplace discriminatory practices, I invite you to schedule a free consultation to learn your rights and what can be done about your situation. Contact my firm Tuckner, Sipser, Weinstock & Sipser, LLP, or call 212.766.9100 and schedule a meeting. We’ve been advancing women’s rights since 1999.

 

Life After Divorce: Grief

Life After Divorce: The Grief You Didn’t Count On

There comes a stage in our life after divorce that we’re often not prepared for. It arrives after the legal issues are settled, most of the fighting is over, and we accept the fact of the divorce and its outcomes, they are what they are. At such a moment, we might be thinking we should be finding bliss now, but instead we feel sadness (again). Memories and dreams come back to haunt us at the same time “negative” emotions circle up. This may be a natural part of our life-after-divorce grief and healing.

Of course, holidays like Valentine’s Day don’t help.

It’s time to welcome your post-divorce grief.

Divorce is one of the top reasons for grief in virtually any conversation about loss. Divorce can cause us as much distress as the death of a loved one or a treasured pet. But with divorce, we very often lose multiple things at the same time: a partner, a friend, and a home. If we look at the Holmes-Rahe Stress Scale that lists events that cause us to feel grief, we can appreciate that divorce gives us several stressors, not one. You are not crazy or weak if you feel sad or overwhelmed because these are indeed tough times.

Post-divorce grief can be aggravated by wrong expectations – namely, the idea that it should pass within 6 to 12 months after a divorce document is signed. That’s the general timeframe we expect close friends to be sensitive to us. After 12 months, it seems, we should be “getting on with it.” 

Another incorrect expectation is that the person who initiated the divorce should be happy and relieved rather than bereaved. That was my experience.

And there’s a term for this phenomenon, this experience of grieving the separation with a spouse who was abusive, or who was highly unpleasant for at least some of the time married. Such sadness is called “disenfranchised grief”, a term coined by Kenneth J. Doka. Disenfranchised grief is not openly acknowledged, socially validated, or publicly mourned. The danger of it is that “the lack of support you get during your grieving process can prolong emotional pain.”

Welcome your more difficult feelings

The inability to be open about our life-after-divorce grief can lead to shame, confusion, and feelings of guilt for letting yourself down. It can develop into depression with the sufferer not recognizing that they need to ask for help.


You are not alone. 

Check out our “How to Overcome the 6 Hardest Things About Life After Divorce.”


However, there is good news. Once we look grief in the eye and process it, we can make room for a new life with new routines, rituals, and — if we want to and are ready for it — new partners.

To help ourselves through the tough times and process the loss, we should remind ourselves that however bad the end of the marriage was, there were always good things to grieve about.

Letting go of past love

Usually, when we are living through it, we see divorce as a sequence of legal, financial, and children-related processes and negotiations conducted in a lengthy and sterilized manner. It’s easy and even pleasant to demonize your Ex. For some of us, anger is necessary to give us the courage and energy to separate and break the system. Unfortunately, it’s also easy to get stuck in anger and hatred; they serve as a backdrop for our own self-righteousness. However, staying angry and blaming him* is not the path to closure, but a waste of our time and energy keeping us more often in a spin cycle of repeating and repeating the narrative we tell ourselves.

In the grander scheme of things, divorce is the loss of love. It’s broken promises. It’s the loss of companionship, the meals, the walks, the trips, the lifestyle. Overall, it’s the loss of sharing and an end to a valuable human connection. Without the support of the former structure, we can be left lonely and confused.

Admitting that love existed and died is harder than being angry. While the earlier stages of marital rift can make us think of a reconciliation, after divorce we definitely know that we can’t do more. We feel sad and helpless. 

For some people who like order and control, being helpless is the hardest feeling to endure.

However hard it may be, accepting the inevitable and our helplessness can take us to a new level. An English theologian Thomas Fuller said, “the night is darkest just before the dawn.” He added, “But keep your eyes open; if you avert your eyes from the dark, you’ll be blind to the rays of a new day.”

It’s only a dream

It often appears in relationship advice columns that what we are mourning is not the relationship itself, but the dream of a happier life. However, that doesn’t make sadness any easier. As Dr. Ann Gold Buscho writes in Psychology Today “the loss of the hopes and dreams you had on your wedding day is like a death. Allow yourself to feel that grief and trust that it will pass”.

The importance of hopes and dreams is that they cultivate our future. They give us the strength to carry on through hard times. Many of us dream of growing older with our man, seeing the kids off to college, downsizing, maybe moving to a different town, getting a bed-and-breakfast, or opening a café by the ocean. I did. Now that the person is no longer your partner, it may feel like there is no more future, nothing to work for. Even if a new man arrives, I will never have another chance to marry someone I met at 20. I will never have a chance to grow old with the father of my children, who loves my kids as much as I do.

Acknowledging the life-after-divorce grief is one step towards laying to rest the old dreams to make way for new ideas and hopes.

Goodbye, my friend

Divorce is highly likely to affect our circle of friends. Frankly, I was even looking forward to saying goodbye to a judgmental toxic woman or two. In reality, after divorce, we can pursue those who are more in sync with us. They may be especially funny, intellectual, or spiritual. Childhood friends may reappear or disappear. The loss of the familiar is worth acknowledging and grieving about. But it’s helpful to remember that with each loss comes a new space and opening for new people, experiences, and things.

Find a helping hand

Therapists suggest asking for help and accepting help during grieving. I’ve found it helpful to ask for support, whether it’s accepting invitations to dinners or watching a film together just to feel someone’s presence. But let’s remind ourselves of whom we are turning to for moral support and words. In my experience, it was exactly my poor understanding of my grief that drove me to hide from some friends. And elsewhere, I discovered that even some friends who had been through divorce themselves (and had the best of intentions) hurt me as they wanted me to get over my sadness or dark emotions quickly.


With all you’ve been through, do you wonder if happiness is even possible after divorce? 


Some cultures and social groups are better at managing negative feelings than others. If you are part of a culture where you are supposed to keep a stiff upper lip and get on with it, I encourage you to look outside your usual social circle for support.

Grief is personal and lonely

In our precious life after divorce, let’s do our best to steer clear of labels and boxes we put ourselves in. Let’s accept that grief is personal in the way we experience it, how it impacts us and how long it takes. It’s normal that it should make us feel very lonely —  like we are the only people in the world experiencing such pain. That is why joining groups of women in similar situations is so important. 

My personal divorce journey included learning to deal with loneliness, becoming my own companion, and learning not to fear being without a partner. I am very glad I took that journey. It gives me a feeling of strength and of heaving a choice whether to be on my own or with someone I chose.

Is it possible to grieve together with your Ex?

You can try it! I planned and offered to my former husband an invitation to gather and give ritual to the good things in our marriage, say our thank yous, and grieve together the breakup, but he wasn’t interested. This may be because we are in different places emotionally. I also discovered that my suggestion to grieve together could appear to be a reconciliation proposal.

Things will never be the same again

As we move forward with our life after divorce, one thing that will never be the same is us. We need to say goodbye to our old selves, mourning the choices we made, the sacrifices we undertook for the benefit of the marriage and our family.

As we say goodbye to the younger, more naïve version of self, we acknowledge how much we have been through, how much we had to lose, and how important these losses were. That self-care and respect may be something we have forgotten in the process of divorce. Now we are rediscovering it as we process life-after-divorce grief. And the good thing  is that this self-respect skill can now stay with us forever.

By letting go of the old structures and dreams we create space for new traditions, new rituals, and new versions of ourselves on the way to the future.

Notes

Anna Ivanova-Galitsina is Russia-based communication and storytelling expert. She is rebuilding life after divorce and misses international travels. You can reach her at anna.i.galitsina@gmail.com

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 confusing afterward. SAS offers women six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists, and support strategies for you, and your future. Join our tribe and stay connected.

Coparenting with a Narcissist by Weheartit.

41 Things to Remember When Coparenting with a Narcissist

Divorcing with children is one of the hardest things you may ever do. But doing so with an ex-spouse who is also a narcissist, well, this presents its own ring of hell. For it’s likely that your Ex’s narcissism is a large part of why you’re divorcing at all, so the thought of having to continue to “work with your Ex” long-term to parent can feel daunting, intimidating, depressing, infuriating—as if you’ve not escaped him at all. Luckily, coparenting with a narcissist can be possible—you can do this. It simply requires a shift in your mindset and a change in your communication.

In fact, learning how to deal with a narcissist at arm’s length as your coparent is a critical piece to your recovery from having married one—and certainly critical to your children who are impacted by the actions of both of you. 

Before we jump into sharing suggested practices, rules, and tips for coparenting with a narcissist, we want to address the obvious elephant on the page. You deserve credit here for what you are setting out to do, modeling the healthiest thing you can to your kids. Because the healthiest thing for you would be to have no contact with this person at all. If you had your choice you’d be done with him*. But he’s your children’s other parent. Here you are.

Let’s show your kids something different than what he is showing them. 

First, though, we’ll get clear on what a narcissist is.

What is a Narcissist?

You may have heard the term thrown around, but it’s important to clarify the details and discuss some common misconceptions about what a narcissist is. 

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is defined by the American Psychological Association as a disturbance characterized by a lack of empathy towards others, a sense of grandiosity or exaggerated self-importance, entitlement, and a fantastical sense of one’s power. 

Narcissists also experience difficulty with any forms of indifference, defeat, or criticism, and often refuse to accept these common experiences as valid. They may go into a rage when their “power” is challenged, or they may attempt to discredit the individual sharing the information they feel challenged by. 

They may depend on the admiration of others to validate their feelings that they are more important than others. 

This can get tricky when children are involved, as children are an easy audience for validating a narcissist’s self-absorbed need for admiration. Coparenting with a narcissist can therefore provide some unique challenges.

Note that some narcissists may commandeer this phrasing to call others narcissists as a deflection mechanism. They are adept at manipulating whatever tools they have at their disposal to serve their own self-image fantasy.

After divorce, how do you move forward while coparenting with a narcissist?

It may not happen overnight, but once you become familiar with the frame of mind most helpful in working with a narcissist, knowing how to respond will become second nature. 

Recognizing how narcissism works will also help you detach emotionally from whatever attempts a narcissist makes to manipulate you, the court systems, your family and friends, or your children. 

To get started, keep reading now for our 41 tips for coparenting with a narcissist. And know that going forward, we will refer to your narcissistic Ex-Spouse as your N. Ex. or your children’s other parent or father.

Where Your Children Are Involved

  1. Always keep your children top of mind and model healthy behavior to them. 

If you cannot take in the full gamut of this list, at the minimum, remember this first rule and you won’t go wrong.

In reality, you may have escaped your former spouse, to some degree, but your kids have little choice in who their father is. If you think of your children first before responding to your N. Ex, you will be teaching your kids behavior and skills that will nurture them and their understanding of how to deal with a narcissist who happens to be a parent. (See #6)

  1. Understand the difference between coparenting and parallel parenting and be honest with yourself.

Parallel parenting may afford some distance and reduced contact between you and your N. Ex., because, unfortunately, you will likely never attain the standards of a healthy coparenting relationship with the father of your children. Coparenting with a narcissist is typically not compatible with standard coparenting routines. Appreciating this will help you manage your expectations about the future by staying realistic and accepting the things you cannot change.  

For this article, we will use the word “parenting” when guiding you, but—between us—you are probably not coparenting but parallel parenting. 

  1. Avoid talking about your Ex negatively or passive-aggressively (even if you hate him) as your children will internalize that you also feel this way about a part of them.

    You are striving to help your kids cope with their other parent. If they express their frustrations with him, it’s important to listen and validate while also letting them know you’re available to help with whatever it is they feel they need.

  2. Find professionals and put in place a support system for your children.

    This is so they have a neutral place to go and vent; so they don’t feel like they are burdening you or their father. They may feel isolated from the outside world. Giving them space to normalize their feelings outside of their immediate family can be incredibly healing.

Tip: Check with your kids’ schools or their doctors for referrals to professionals who work with children your kids’ age.

  1. Try to do everything to keep your kids out of conflict. 

    Your N. Ex may look for manipulative moments to use your children as pawns for leverage, or as a way to “recruit” them to serve him or his needs or his ideas of what they should be doing. Your N. Ex will not know how important it is to leave the kids out of conflict, tense moments, stressed scenes, because his ego and needs reign supreme. But if your kids are around try to stay calm and neutral in front of them and him. This is a key skill in coparenting with a narcissist.

  2. It is not your job to educate your children about narcissists per se.

    Instead, you can educate them subtly by modeling healthy responses to your N. Ex. Let them come to their own conclusions about your and his personality types. Throwing your N. Ex under the bus and labeling the summation of his existence as one word, “narcissist” only makes you look troubled too.

  3. Don’t feel sorry for your kids.

It’s no picnic having a narcissistic parent, but there could be worse problems. Showing your children that they should be pitied is teaching them they are disempowered. Au contraire: as a result of having a narcissistic parent, they will learn coping mechanisms for surviving and growing and hopefully, avoiding a spouse like this down the road. 

  1. Be prepared. 

    Your children may even act like their father. Observe your children — who have learned how to survive in this family, just like you did. Even if they are adult, their behaviors may reinforce the old, toxic norms they grew up with. Be patient and don’t expect your children to always understand you or the new normal. Therapy can help them (and you) get a more grounded sense of healthy behaviors. Coparenting with a narcissist can be exhausting, and you’ll need the steady reset of therapy to maintain your own mental health.

  2. What’s more, expect your kids to act out.

    It’s likely that your kids feel safer with you, which is why they may act out with you more so than their other parent. They’ve probably learned that their other parent’s approval is conditional, and they want to be loved by him (if even unconsciously). They may be more guarded with him because they don’t want the backlash of not pleasing him. Allow them the freedom to express their full range of emotions with you and without judgment, and make sure they know their feelings are valid. 

  3. Do not allow your children to replicate their father’s behavior.

    While it’s important to validate your child’s acting out (this is a stressful time for them), you must make sure that you don’t sacrifice the boundaries of healthy engagement. Like their dad, your children may need retraining. Don’t give in to toxic behavior toward you. Calmly discussing the new rules of engagement without being reactive may be an important turning point in your relationship with them. 

Tip: At your house, there are New Rules.

  1. Model to your children what it looks like to trust your instincts.

     This is a powerful lesson for any child. You don’t have to make it about their dad, but show them every day how important it is to listen to their inner wisdom and to not ignore red flags in life. Confidently show them what it looks like to know what you do and do not want.

  2. Try to fill the void that your N. Ex leaves and nurture the unseen.

    Observe how you think your N. Ex treats your kids and close the gap. By definition, narcissists put themselves first, so be the parent who puts your kids first and shows them your unconditional love. They need you more than ever.

  3. Pay close attention to your child’s interests and cultivate their passions.

    Your N. Ex is likely not doing that but pushing activities or commitments that he finds important (to him).  Be the parent who sees your child’s individual, special talents and nurtures their unique interests. See them.

  4. Be grateful and stay prepared for things to take a turn.

In the back of your head always remember, your N. Ex could complicate matters. Be grateful for the times when there is peace in your house and your kids can experience a kinder, stabler atmosphere. Seeing this difference between the homes will help your children realize they do have the power to create boundaries and to cultivate the life they deserve.

  1. Be savvy about the research on kids and divorce.

    Studies show that children whose parents broke up and coparented as civilly as possible were children who tended to weather the divorce best long term. Conversely, those kids whose parents split amidst high conflict and whose parents continued to generate conflict were kids who suffered the worst and had the hardest time resuming normalcy in their lives. Appreciate this and understand it’s going to take extra work on your part to demonstrate what healthy is because your N. Ex probably doesn’t have it in him.

  2. Never give up on your children.

    Your spouse may dominate, inconvenience, or manipulate them, but as their healthier parent, you can never give up on your kids. Show them you are always there for whatever (and whenever) they need you.  

How to Interact with Your Narcissistic Ex 

  1. Do not openly criticize (or negotiate with) your N. Ex in front of your children.

    Do you want him to do this to you? (We know, he probably already does!) But modeling healthy behavior is important for everyone involved and sets a precedent for future interactions. Also, if you’re thinking about a narcissist’s need to be adored unconditionally, having an audience of his “followers” (kids) may trigger his uglier behaviors. In other words, you’ll need to be much more tactful to get your message heard.

  1. Calmly state your new rules to your N. Ex.

    It is not like the old days when you were married. There are hard-line boundaries now. You are blocking him. You are not listening to him. You are not doing his bidding. You won’t argue in front of the kids. If he wants to let you know something (unless it is an emergency) there are clear protocols and boundaries for connecting to the mother of his children. The following are a few ideas you may want to consider.

  1. Follow a parenting plan that is as comprehensive as possible.

    Hammering things out in advance, and having rules to point to will help enforce boundaries with your N. Ex and make coparenting with a narcissist easier. You want to avoid making things up as you go along at all costs.

  2. Commit to a parenting app that will enable your communication but also, critically, act as a buffer between you two.

    The app will allow you to share school calendars, doctor’s appointments, and important meetings, without having to remind your N. Ex or having to connect with him to remind him. It will also document your having shared this information and when and if he reads it. It’s an excellent accountability tool to use when coparenting with a narcissist.We like Family Wizard because it’s among the oldest apps supporting parents and the one most often suggested by family courts.

  1. Set up regular call times for your kids with each parent when they are at the other parent’s house.

    This is important so it’s a rule and everybody can plan on it. (However, be prepared to hold the space for your kids if dad fails to take their call because he’s got something more “important” going on.)

  2. Take a cool 24 hours before you respond to any of his communications (preferably through your parenting app).

This will give you time to consider how you want to respond in the interest of your kids. Of course, you cannot do this with everything. There will be times of urgency, and you will have to respond. But in general, putting a time barrier between your communications will serve the dual purpose of allowing you to emotionally cool off and will also send the message that you are a busy person and he is not your first priority. This sets a real precedent for responsiveness that will be easier to maintain long term.

  1. Stay black & white. Do not emotionally engage with your N. Ex.

    Limit your emotional vulnerability to him. Be careful of your heart and its pain, and your possible sense of anger or unfairness. Showing “how you feel” or exposing your vulnerability makes it possible for him to use it against you in the future. Remember: narcissists are not above using manipulation to get their needs met. Seeking “to reason with him” or “to explain your feelings” never worked before. Cut it, move on. And think about your kids. They need you to get the facts out to their dad. Keep it black and white.

  1. Keep reminding yourself that the leopard doesn’t change his spots.

    Just because you’ve been working on yourself and have had some epiphanies about your former marriage does not mean your N. Ex is doing any of that kind of work. Don’t expect him to change. You might want to remain skeptical of any claims he may make—how he has changed! or that he seems to be doing “even better now!” Remember, manipulation and showboating are in your N. Ex’s nature.

  2. Do not bother sharing your truth that you find him to be a narcissist.

    It’s not going to advance your relations, serve your kids or magically transform him into a philanthropist! Calling him a narcissist (even a suggestion that he needs help, therapy, counseling, etc.) will only backfire. As with your emotional vulnerabilities, you’ll need to resist the urge to show your cards with this revelation. A narcissist will never see themselves as one.

  3. Practice your own rules and firm boundaries for dealing with him.

    For example, when communicating, remind yourself of the BIFF ruleKeep your communication:

      • Brief.
      • Informative
      • Friendly 
      • Firm
  1. Be prepared for face-to-face meetings and public interactions.

    Don’t wing it, prepare. If you don’t, you are likely to resort to the behavior you used to do (and how well did that serve you in the past?) Instead, visualize scenarios, practicing whom you want to be when you see your N. Ex and how you want to respond using BIFF. (See tip #24). You are retraining your body’s response system.

Tip: It helps if you visualize that your kids are watching you.

  1. Stop apologizing.

    You can never apologize enough to a narcissist, and in their book, you will always be wrong. Stop trying to find a resolution by taking the hit or expecting his apology. He will never apologize genuinely for his wrongdoing, and your apologies won’t stop him from constantly blaming you. 

  2. Save your power.

    This means not going head-to-head with your N. Ex. This will always trigger the worst of his narcissism.  It will never work without greatly exhausting you and getting you emotionally fired up or feeling depleted. You can only outwit the narcissist by not engaging directly with him on an issue. BIFF, baby (See #24). You may also want to educate yourself on the “gray rocking” tactic of showing no emotion to a narcissist as a form of self-protection.

  3. Do the Right Thing: don’t let his behavior affect yours.

It’s safe to say that your N. Ex will often not do the right thing when it comes to parenting, because narcissists think of themselves first and foremost, and they believe they can do no wrong—the opposite of a good parent. But if you endeavor to do the right thing for your kids, your children will see the difference one day. They may not understand you right now, but they will look back and remember how you showed character in difficult times.

Even if your kids aren’t around, do the right thing to remind yourself of the type of person you are, no matter who’s watching. 

  1. Model to your N. Ex the way you want to be treated.

Let’s face it, selfless behavior does not come naturally to your children’s father. He needs to learn how things should be done. Instead of telling him or yelling at him, or begging him, show him how by being that person. While there’s little guarantee that he’ll catch the drift, it may at least be easier for him to play along with the healthy routines you set than to disrupt them. If he does attempt to get a reaction from you, showing him that he has no more power over your emotions may ultimately cause him to become disinterested in trying. 

  1. Let go.

You have no control over him or how he does things inside or outside his house. Be selective with what you learn about and what gets you upset. Choose your battles wisely. And don’t let your children think you are quizzing them about how things are done in dad’s house. 

Part of showing that your N. Ex no longer has emotional power over you is to ultimately make that true. Whether it’s the right women’s divorce group, meditation, a new activity, hobby, or therapy (or all of the above), you’ll need to find your way to avert your eyes and take back your life. In doing so, you are accepting the only control you have is over yourself and how you show up for your kids.

  1. This means letting go of the fantasy (no matter how dim it is) that your N. Ex is there for you in any way.

Sometimes with distance, one forgets certain things about our N. Ex. The distance can cause us to soften, or to even romanticize who he is. ‘Oh, he’s not that bad.” (We, women, have an incredible ability to forget pain, otherwise, we would never give birth a second time.) 

Do not delude yourself into thinking he will be there for you if you need him. Never expect anything from him, and you will never be disappointed again. Coparenting with a narcissist can be lonely, but as long as you know you’re doing it alone from the start, you won’t set yourself up for disappointment.

  1. Be prepared to repeat and remind your N. Ex of your boundaries.

    Your N. Ex probably benefited from your lack of boundaries before, so he may continue to try to exploit you even post-divorce. Be prepared to repeat and stand by your boundaries. This is also a way for you to remind yourself by putting it into your muscle memory: you are breaking with your past and forging a new chapter as a single mom. 

Repairing Your Relationship with Yourself 

  1. Keep a log.

    Document your ongoing experiences with your N. Ex. Date it and keep it simple with each account being one or two lines. Make sure you indicate how his behavior impacted your children (first) and you (second) at the time. A simple log will be helpful if you ever need to go to court or prove what’s been or not been happening. And the court system will be more interested in how the children were impacted in any of these interactions.

Keeping a detailed log can be helpful to validate your feelings and experiences with factual details, too. You may have been at the receiving end of your N. Ex’s gaslighting behavior, which eroded your trust in yourself and your memories. Rereading your log and seeing what’s black and white can help you metabolize what you’ve been and are going through.

  1. Stay committed to your divorce recovery.

    You’ve been damaged, but you’ve shown yourself that you can do incredible things, like survive divorcing and coparenting with a narcissist. Keep taking steps forward not backward. Also, a strong mama who keeps evolving is the best mama for her kids

  2. Keep track of all bills and receipts paid.

    Your N. Ex loves to argue, blame or distort the facts. So, expect more down the road and be prepared to respond with black and white facts and figures. Knowing that you’re retaining this tangible proof can help you feel safe and build confidence in your ability to troubleshoot any issues that arise.

  3. Understand the difference between parental estrangement and parental alienation.

Narcissists often consciously or unwittingly perpetrate harmful attachments onto their children. When coparenting with a narcissist, strive to see this behavior developing and do everything to stop it in its tracks.

  1. Forgive yourself.

Realize that if you’ve been in a long-term marriage, partnered with a narcissist, you’ve been trained to think a certain way: always putting your former narcissist first. Forgive yourself, because that’s how you survived. 

  1. Break old patterns and continue your transformation.

You are learning how to break with your former behaviors and discover who you are. For those women who are older, and rebuilding after gray divorce, these patterns are especially difficult to break and can be reinforced by the way your older children treat you. You don’t have to do it alone: get support.      

  1. Find your tribe.

Appreciate that you N. Ex may think he’s special and the only one of his kind. But a lot of women have divorced partners just like him, and once you realize this, you realize too how genuinely good it feels to be with other women who understand what you have been through. Coparenting with a narcissist is unfortunately a common situation.

Consider joining a group of women who are committed to reinventing after divorce, women who are seeking to do right by their kids and live another story. 

 

* At SAS, we support same-sex marriages. For the sake of ease, we may refer to the Ex as “he/him” but we understand that exes come with many gender identities. 

Notes

Whether you are navigating the experience of divorce, or that challenging place of recreating the life you deserve, 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 oftentimes complicated experience of divorce and reinvention. 

SAS offers all women six free months of email coaching, action plans, checklists, and support strategies for you and your precious future.  Join our tribe and stay connected.

6 Ways to Be Debt Free After Divorce

6 Ways to Be Debt-Free After Divorce

Going through a divorce can feel incredibly draining: emotionally, psychologically, and—of course—financially. While emotional healing can be a long, winding road, one objective way to start fresh is to work towards eliminating your financial debts as soon as possible. Clearing your debts can serve as a powerful method of beginning a new chapter of your life, signaling to your subconscious and the world that you are capable of making positive, impactful changes in your own life. In order to tackle your debt, you must have a proper plan and thorough knowledge about the best ways to get rid of your divorce debt. To help, we are sharing the top 6 ways to be debt-free after divorce.

Reducing Your Debt

As per the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC), the divorce rate is around 2.7 per 1,000 people in 45 reporting states, including the DC. The majority of the couples going through a divorce can find it challenging to deal with the debt situation. Nevertheless, you can use these methods to reduce your debt and soon eliminate it.

1. Consolidate your Debt 

The first thing you need to do is consolidate your debt to bring down your interest payments. For example, women often put the fees involving their divorce process on their credit cards because they don’t have direct access to funds. As a result, they end up paying high interest on those cards. Therefore, the first thing that you need to do is clear all those high-interest loans.

Read more about smart hacks for debt consolidation,

2. Negotiate with Creditors 

The next thing you need to do is negotiate to bring down your debt or interest rate. If you have a good payment history and a good reputation among the creditors, they will be more than willing to facilitate you in your hard times.

You can always negotiate with your lenders to bring down the interest rates if you have a good credit score and history. As a result, you can save the money you pay in interest and bring down your debt.

Let’s say you owe back tax taxes to the IRS. Contact the IRS and ask to be put on a payment plan which will reduce the interest you would normally pay had you not asked to be put on a payment plan.

3. Divide your Loan

Once you end your marriage, (even before it’s officially recognized by the divorce document) it is imperative to take responsibility for the monies or loans you are liable for.

If your spouse or Soon-to-be-Ex spouse does not make the payments on time, you will be held responsible. You will share the blame for it even if you share no responsibility in your divorce contract. This can significantly impact your credit score and history.

As an independent woman, you need to develop your credit history for the future. Therefore, if you have any joint loans with your Ex, you should refinance them. This alone is a good reason to consult with a financial person once you know you will divorce.

Paying Off Your Debt

Now that you are able to bring down your debt, it is time to pay it off. To avoid hassles, the right strategy is vital. If you throw all your savings into clearing out the loans, it could result in other financial problems. So instead, here are a few ways you can plan to fully eliminate your loans.

4. Increase your Sources of Income 

When it comes to debt elimination, increasing your income is imperative. You can use the extra money in hand to chip away at your debt and get rid of the financial burden. Although it won’t be easy, it is best to eliminate your debt.

You can look for part-time opportunities that you can take up after your job. These part-time opportunities are often called side-hustles. Maybe you have a particular talent or passion that could complement your full-time job—like tutoring others in a foreign language, or designing flower arrangements for parties, or creating website designs? You could also ask your current employer to increase your salary or look for a job with a higher salary.

In a nutshell, your strategy needs to be about increasing your income. And the good news is that divorce is often a catalyst for getting creative and practical with your life. It can inspire your ambition to find more challenging things to do and to be compensated for it.

Related: Divorce Recovery: 10 Things to Do If You are Suddenly in Charge of Your Finances

5. Look for Ways to Get More Cash 

Apart from getting another job, you can also look for ways to increase the cash in hand. For instance, you can always throw a garage sale and sell items that you do not need. What about your luxury items that may be sitting on your shelf… or parked in that same garage? Anything from watches and jewelry (wedding rings?) to handbags or vehicles. There’s often a market for your unused items and a consignment or specialty platform like eBay or Poshmark that specializes in selling these things. Investigate your options and purge your possessions wherever possible.

6. Cash in your Life Insurance 

Another way to pay off your debt is by cashing your life insurance. It can help you get the number of funds you need to clear off your debt. The best part is, even if you have beneficiaries, you can take a small amount out of the policy and leave the rest of the proceeds for the people you care about.

Before you cash out your life insurance policy, however, make sure you investigate the fees you may pay for doing so. There will be charges.

The Most Important Takeaway…

Going through a divorce and dealing with your debt situation can be difficult, and even terrifying. The massive transition from your old life to your new one will likely take some time to get used to. But the goal of getting rid of all your debt needs to be on the top of your list.

Freeing yourself from debt means no longer having to pay a huge interest fee each month. With that monkey off your back, you will feel not only financially relieved but emotionally liberated.

To summarize, remember: you should plan to consolidate your debt to get a lower interest rate and then increase your income to pay off the debt quickly.

Notes

To learn how your debt might be consolidated and what steps you can take to move forward feeling more financially free, you are invited to schedule a free consultation with Lyle Solomon, the author of this article and a principal attorney for the Oak View Law Group in California. Lyle graduated from the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento and is a specialist helping people rid themselves of debt.

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 confusing afterward. SAS offers women six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, and your future. Join our tribe and stay connected.

The Holidays After Divorce

The Holidays After Divorce: Their Surprising Gifts

“Have myself a merry little Christmas … “

‘Tis the season for Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa celebrations: those festive holidays of light strategically devised to arrive in the middle of the dark season to give us all hope for brighter days ahead. The sparkle, the decorations, the songs, the festive food, and not to mention, the well-deserved days off, all conspire to tell us this is a “most wonderful time of the year.”

I live in Russia, and here we celebrate Christmas and New Year’s in the same fashion. We put on our finest winter wear and get together with our beloved family and friends we may not have seen in a long while (thank you, COVID). We sit down to enjoy savory foods like duck, goose, or pork, the celebrated Russian salad we call “Olivier,” and of course, salmon caviar, which we wash down with a glass of sparkling wine or a shot of vodka.

But just like in the rest of the world, here in Russia, the holidays (especially after divorce) can also remind us our lives may not be the most wonderful. We may smile or laugh but we can see the fractured light coming through the glasses of raised crystal, the dysfunction that cracks the surface. It’s in this space of forced light that certain things become abundantly clear: it hurts to see our spouse make no effort with the festivities or to overindulge with drink. It’s embarrassing to be disrespected in front of others or to see our loving efforts dismissed. And it can be a struggle to be nice to the in-laws when we are counting the days for something to change.

The Surprising Fact About Christmas

As in the transformative stories of childhood, Christmas can actually be a time for a positive change.

As Psychology Today has written, the commonly held belief that suicide rates rise during or after holidays is a myth. Instead, those who are depressed and contemplating suicide are often offered some degree of protection by the proximity of their relatives and the prospect, at least, of “things getting better from here.”

Obviously, the expectation that things will be getting better is our basis for the New Year’s tradition of creating resolutions. These commitments to ourselves help reassure us that we can and will become a better version of ourselves.

There’s a reason why divorce lawyers inboxes get flooded after Christmas or why employment experts call the first weekday after the holidays “Massive Monday” as masses of people start looking for new jobs.

I know, because for the past two years, I’ve contributed to both statistics.

Two years ago, just before Christmas 2019, my then-husband and I filed for divorce. In January 2021, I quit a job I didn’t like.

Holidays After Divorce: Adapting to Change

Two years later, I approach my second Christmas as a divorced mother of two with calm and (dare I say) a certain levity. I am involved in several work projects that inspire far more joy than my old job. And I am supervising a renovation in my new apartment, the one I bought after my Ex and I sold our marital home. And this year, most importantly, I know for sure that both my sons will be joining me for Christmas and New Year’s dinners.

After the divorce, I was devastated my elder son decided what he did, and I used to be nervous when I met him while living apart. Without realizing it then, I wanted to be my best self for him, hoping that he’d recognize his error and would prefer me and move in with me. I definitely overcompensated with attention and presents. It didn’t work.

Two years after the divorce and my separation from my elder son, I don’t feel like I have to woo him anymore. We have a new connection now, and understanding and empathy are enough for me. I don’t think that it’s essential to have him back living under my roof.

What I am conscious of is that I have developed a new closeness with my younger son during these past two years and that’s been a blessing. So, when the three of us meet this Christmas, joining my parents who love my boys very much, I believe we will all be in a different place. Divorce recovery is something we all needed and deserve. As much as we’re coming to terms that we are still a family, the family has taken on a different shape. Holidays after divorce can still be joyful.

What’s Different This Christmas?

For me, the biggest change this Christmas is my new attitude as an independent woman. I am doing more of what I want this year. It’s far less about pleasing others. I say no to invites that are too much for me. I decorate my home as early as I want and in the style I choose. Also, I no longer pretend I am decorating the tree or doing this “for the kids”. I am doing it for me, which makes it better. I am a happier, brighter Mom, feeling less trapped or belittled, all of which I know my boys see. This year I turned on fairy lights because I like fairy lights. And candles. Lots and lots of candles.

And this year in the glow of our light, coming together, I will make myself emotionally ready to be a positive presence for my boys who may not be in the same exact place as me, recovering from the divorce and feeling grateful. I will make myself available for any questions they may have, answering them as straightly as possible but not overwhelming them with all my truths. My truths are mine and meant for me.

Happy holidays to you all, around the world. Spread the light.

 

Notes

Anna Ivanova-Galitsina is an international expert in communications and storytelling based in Moscow, Russia. She has two teenage sons and a dog, and she is building a new happier life. You can reach out to her via e-mail for comments or discussion.

Whether you are navigating the experience of divorce or that confusing place of recreating the life you deserve, 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 reinvention. SAS offers women six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists, and support strategies for you, and your future. Join our tribe and stay connected

Starting Over After Divorce

The Truth About Starting Over After Divorce at 45

Starting over after divorce at 45 is something I never planned for. Like many women, I dreamt of being married to a loving partner and raising our children, and then playing with our grandchildren. When I thought about divorce in my 30’s, I still didn’t want to be divorced. The plan then was to remarry immediately and create an even more successful family. A newer, kinder, and richer man would share my burdens, handle the nasty divorce-related negotiations and shield me from shame and guilt. He would be a great stepdad and a father to more of my kids. That was my idea of a successful life for a woman starting over after divorce at 45.

The reality was different. I initiated my divorce without the prospect of a better husband at 43 and finalized it at 44 almost 2 years ago.

I think that my age gave me courage and motivation. In a way, I realized that “the rest of my life” was getting shorter with every year and this motivated me towards change. If I didn’t change my life, it would stay the same, if not worse. I realized that my Ex’s abusive tactics would never stop. And I was right. To illustrate, my Ex is already remarried and is verbally abusive to his new wife. I felt unsafe growing old with an abuser. My children turned into teenagers. I reckoned they needed a sane and hopefully happy mother to support them in their critical years.

Divorce as Part of a Midlife Crisis

For me, like for many other women, divorce came as part of a midlife crisis. It’s the time when we are forced to reassess our bodies, careers, relationships, let kids grow up. We let go of old patterns and look for new meanings. Divorce helps us transform in its brutal way. In my case, I got divorced, lost my job, lost my home, went into COVID lockdown, and saw my eldest son choose to stay with his father — all in a space of 6 months.

From a home-owner, a wife and a mother of two, a career-minded professional, I turned into a jobless divorced half-empty nester living with my parents.

There are lots of things to face in your life after divorce. At 45, I am looking for a job and even considering a new career. I haven’t rebuilt my finances and haven’t yet moved into my new apartment. I’ve had to reassess my relationship with my Ex. I am still working on healing my relationship with my children, looking to rebuild my connections with my friends, and when it comes to my parents, I am looking at them in a new light.

Maybe most importantly: I am looking at myself. Who am I after all? What do I like doing, eating, watching? Whom do I like being with?

These questions and practical issues invariably bring up feelings within me, and so I think it’s important to discuss what it’s like emotionally, now that I am starting over after divorce at 45.


If you’re recreating after divorce and looking for insights and traction, check out our “How to Overcome the 6 Hardest Things About Life After Divorce


Divorce and Grief

The honest truth is that divorce at any age makes us feel grief and disappointment. Divorce takes everything we envisioned —like hearth and home, love and children, and long-term goals of golden years —and throws that dream out the window. As if that wasn’t enough, many of us have deeper-seeded emotions that come to the surface once we’re looking out that window, assessing the damage. It’s better to recognize these feelings and handle them with care. They are different for every woman and very much depend on core beliefs, culture, or religion. I live in Moscow, and certainly here in Russia, women who have been married for a long time especially with children likely did it out of fundamental faith in the institution of marriage. Some see God’s intention for us to live married. Others consider marriage as the only safe and respectable way to raise children.

I found myself deeply grieving and needing a longer, kinder adjustment time to my new reality. The transformation from a wife in a nuclear family to a single mom with just one of the kids choosing to live with me caused deep guilt, shame, and an escapable feeling of being a failure.

Motherhood In Midlife Divorce

Despite my journey, I am now finding that starting over after divorce at 45 as a mother is not as bad as I thought. I may not be a mom who provides her children with a classic family experience —but who does anymore? I may have put some of my interests ahead of theirs when I divorced. However, I am still concentrating on other motherly jobs like taking care of their education, their health, coordinating logistics, teaching them values and healthy habits, and demonstrating responsibility. I am doing my best to respect my sons’ choices and their need for a relationship with their father. I am learning how to continue their education with less money than we planned.

It seems like my motherhood style is working. My elder son recently gave me an unexpected hug and a kiss and said: “Thank you for being the way you are. You are such a great mom.” It brought tears to my eyes.

Whereas I planned for coparenting with a lot of coordinated decisions, I admit that I am happy with the parallel parenting with almost no contact and no arguing. Now, if I want my son to go to yoga, I just talk to my son. Previously I had to get approval from my Ex and argue for yoga versus boxing or football. Now, it’s the business of the kids to discuss with their father whatever they need to discuss. My current model saves me time and energy.

Responsibility: The one who decides and drinks all the wine

In my experience of starting over after divorce at 45, I want to single out a newfound responsibility. I am still getting used to being the sole decision-maker in many things. Now it’s me who has responsibility for the bills, the gadgets, the car maintenance, vacation destination, vaccine choices. Not only do I need to decide what to watch on TV but I also have to work out how to turn the damn thing on!

All this new responsibility and decision-making is stressful. The longer the marriage, the more stressful the new tasks. Many of us need to learn updated technology and computer skills, for example, if we hope to go out into the workforce. This means allocating resources and time for the new learning. The result, however, can be empowering!

I continue to make discoveries about my old way of life and my new one. For example, I am learning that while my Ex-husband pretended to share responsibility when we were married, he was in fact controlling my activities and my hobbies, and my beauty-related spending. He also pushed me to get jobs I didn’t want just so we would have more money. Realizing that I was controlled for a long time was sad but now I feel even more liberated.

Facing responsibility is empowering. I’ve learned about my own usage of resources and consumption. And, being the only adult in my family, I can no longer blame a husband for the empty wine bottle or the undone bed.

Financially Speaking

Divorce is a tough time financially. Moreover, high legal fees and multiple therapy sessions are only part of the problem. The bigger part of the problem is that divorce takes away the confidence and energy necessary for work. I still have days when all I can manage physically is to walk the dog and thank God for food delivery services. A recently divorced friend in a high-power job confessed that she is only staying employed because of her ability to delegate to subordinates.

Rebuilding finances can take even longer if you decide to change your career as part of the midlife crisis. Many women who were stay-at-home Moms are starting from scratch.

It can take a few years to rebuild your life financially and professionally after a divorce, and it takes longer to rebuild ourselves emotionally and personally. We need to recognize that, manage our ambitions, and maybe watch fewer films where women are left better off after a successful divorce from a millionaire!

On the positive side, I don’t feel financially insecure like I did in my marriage. I may not have a stable income now but I use it the way I see fit. And no one is forcing me into a job that I don’t like.

Recovering Socially and Romantically

I haven’t dated yet after my divorce. That’s 2 years. I never imagined it would be possible to not date for such a long time, but it is easy. There wasn’t much socializing due to COVID, no vacations where a holiday romance could have happened. At the moment I am horrified by Tinder and other dating apps. I might consider apps later, but at the moment I am embracing singlehood. Right now, I like the idea of self-partnering, taking myself out for lunch or a walk. I have made myself available for girly events and organized some myself like a trip to a gallery or museum or a live music event. And I am loving it.

While I am enjoying my new single status, some friends seem to have a problem with it. When I tell friends about embracing my singlehood, three different women replied with the same message: “Don’t despair, you may still meet a nice man.” I think culturally in Russia we still think that it’s safer and more respectable to be with a man than on your own.

A “single person” has a negative connotation in the Russian language and translates as “lonely” or “solitary”, one to be pitied. Another possibility is that my friends are just jealous that I have my freedom and the whole bed to myself!

Other Cultural Details About Midlife Divorce in Russia

The divorce experience and life after divorce can differ anywhere and within any country due to the difference between people, values, class specifics, or religious ideas. Getting divorced in Russia meant that I had to go beyond the information provided in Russia, and rely instead on English-language resources about divorce, abuse, narcissistic abuse, coparenting, and how to rebuild myself. Many such concepts and terms just don’t exist in my language. I am so grateful to have the skill of speaking different languages because it means I am not locked into one world.

Yet, while psychological or emotional advice in English was useful, I had to be careful with legal or financial information because of the differences with Russian law. I am sad to say that the Russian legal system does not protect women enough either through a welfare system or by recognizing the impact of abuse. As a single mother out of a job for ten months, I got next to nothing from the state in financial support. I have learned that in many countries, it can be similar; a woman needs to have sufficient savings and support of a family to live onward after divorce.

I have also noticed that men in Russia in my social circles remarry quickly or enter into a new long-term relationship almost immediately after their divorces. Conversely, women take time to rediscover who they really are and what it is they want. That discovery is precious and long overdue.

So, as I ask myself again: “What is starting over after divorce at 45 really like?” I must say, it’s not bad. Not bad at all. I am definitely happy I’ve done it. And as I look back at how much I have been through, I feel proud of myself. “Good for me, brave girl!”

Notes

Anna Ivanova-Galitsina is an international expert in communications and storytelling based in Moscow, Russia. She has two teenage sons and a dog, and she is building a new happier life. You can reach out to her via e-mail for comments or discussion.

Whether you are navigating the experience of divorce, or that confusing place of recreating the life you deserve, 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 reinvention. SAS offers women six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists, and support strategies for you, and your future. Join our tribe and stay connected

Understanding the Difference Between Coparenting and Parallel Parenting

Understanding the Difference Between Coparenting and Parallel Parenting

Of all the complexities, strategies, and obligations involved in a divorce, none are as important as those involving children. The ability (or inability) of the parting couple to put their children above their own grievances is critical to the final arrangement. It’s also the essential difference between coparenting and parallel parenting.

Custody arrangements script more than just guardianship and a visitation calendar. They reflect the tone of the divorce and the maturity of the parents. And they lay the foundation for the children’s adaptability and happiness.

It has been almost half a century since joint custody became a custodial option, let alone the norm. 

Anyone who was a child of divorce before this major shift will remember a very different arrangement. The custodial parent, usually the mother, had legal and physical guardianship of the children. And the non-custodial parent had visitation, usually bi-weekly for a weekend.

You can probably imagine the emotional upending for parents and children alike. Anyone who has seen the 1979 Oscar-winning movie Kramer vs. Kramer can attest to the palpable agony of everyone involved.

For the non-custodial parent, being reduced to seeing your child only four days a month, while paying child support, could be emotionally eviscerating.

For the custodial parent, having full responsibility for your child, without the daily help from a spouse, could be overwhelming.

And for the child? Well, the effects of being raised by one parent, perhaps missing the other, and fielding alliance persuasions from both could be harrowing.

Important Terms to Learn

Before exploring the difference between coparenting and parallel parenting, let’s clarify a few terms that you will frequently hear.

Custody refers to the rights and responsibilities between parents for their children. It is divided into legal custody and physical custody. 

  • Legal custody refers to the right and responsibility to make important decisions for the child. Where will he go to school and church? Who will his doctors be? Can he travel out of state? 

One or both parents can have legal custody, contingent upon the amiability and communication between them.

  • Physical custody refers to where the child will live. Again, physical custody can be granted to one (sole) or both (joint) parents. 

It’s possible for parents to share legal custody but not physical custody. In this case, both would be involved in important decision-making. The child, however, would live with the primary custodian and have visitation with the other.

Visitation, while sounding like “physical custody,” refers to the actual arrangement for time spent with each parent. 

Having joint physical custody, for example, doesn’t mean the child has to split time 50/50 between parents. Because of school, friends, and other ties, a child will usually spend more time with one parent. 

You can probably get a sense of how these terms are going to play out in the different parenting arrangements.

The difference between coparenting and parallel parenting isn’t rooted in legal or physical custody. It’s rooted in the ability and commitment of the parents to behave and communicate in a responsible and amicable manner. 

A judge’s decision to establish one or the other will always come down to the best interests of the child(ren). 

To put it bluntly, if the two of you can’t be in the same room without snarling, arguing, or embarrassing your child, don’t plan on coparenting.

You may receive joint legal custody and even joint physical custody. But, if you can’t rise above who you are as exes to be exemplary parents, your child shouldn’t suffer the consequences.

So let’s start on a positive, best-case-scenario note: coparenting. 

The underlying premise of coparenting is that children of divorce benefit from having strong, healthy relationships with both parents. And both parents commit themselves to making that possible for the children.

While co-parenting may sound like the obvious choice, it relies on a special relationship between exes. It requires the kind of respect and healthy communication that you would naturally think could have saved your marriage in the first place.

What Does Coparenting Look Like?

  • You and your coparent are separated, divorced, or otherwise not romantically involved or cohabitating with one another.
  • You are both involved in important decisions involving your child, and you communicate openly and respectfully about them.
  • Communicationg occurs comfortably in various forms—in-person, by phone, by text, and by email.
  • You can be in the same room or at the same events for your child and be cordial. You actually make a point of both being present at important events like birthdays and school productions.
  • Both of you are flexible in matters of childrearing, accommodating things like changes in schedules, vacations, and transportation.
  • You allow your child to have a voice in the visitation arrangements. You understand that younger children don’t do well shuffling between homes. Older children, however, want more say in where they spend their time, and you both allow for that.
  • Your goodwill toward one another doesn’t preclude healthy boundaries. You don’t give false hope that you will be getting back together.
  • You are respectful and cordial toward your ex’s new spouse (if relevant). And you include him/her in communication when necessary for the good of your child.
  • Neither parent ever, ever bad-mouths the other in front of your child. You handle disagreements between adults only. And you share your frustrations (they will definitely happen) with adult friends, a counselor, a coach, or a support group.
  • You have a forum in place for conflict resolution to avoid problems.
  • Both of you want your child to witness his parents working together for his well-being.

The critical difference between coparenting and parallel parenting lies in the ability for and commitment to healthy communication with your ex. Sometimes, for possibly a laundry list of reasons, coparenting simply isn’t an option, and parallel parenting is the only viable solution.

What Does Parallel Parenting Look Like?

  • You and your ex may or may not share physical custody.
  • Your relationship with your ex is contentious, high-conflict, and you still harbor too much anger and negativity to communicate directly in a healthy way, even for your child.
  • You and your ex disengage. This may mean you limit direct contact in matters where you cannot communicate respectfully.
  • You and your ex, while sharing in major decisions, conduct your day-to-day parenting completely separately. Except for emergencies, you don’t check in with one another or impose your individual styles or expectations on one another. 
  • Your communication is “all business.” Nothing personal is exchanged—only necessary information about your child.
  • You avoid personal contact and talking by phone. This may mean you hand off your child without seeing or interacting with one another.
  • You use emails and calendars as your primary means of communication.
  • Neither one of you changes the schedule without a written agreement.
  • You never, ever use your child as a messenger or seek him as an ally against your ex.

The communication difference between coparenting and parallel parenting may make your arrangement seem carved in stone. But it doesn’t have to stay that way.

Hopefully, if you begin with a coparenting relationship, you will not only be able to maintain it, but even improve upon it.

If the initial period after your divorce necessitates parallel parenting, however, there is still hope for evolution. 

Releasing Your Anger

Keep in mind that one of the most prohibitive things to coparenting is unresolved, unrelinquished anger. The belief that your life will never be good again can keep you in a state of seething resentment toward your ex.

But, once you start to discover and live the good things about life post-divorce, the anger will begin to fall away. Dedicate yourself to your own growth and accountability, and you will eventually step into a non-blaming ownership of your life. 

With a renewed focus on what can (and should) be, it will become easier to see beyond yourself. And you will become able to shift your focus to the priority and lifelong well-being of your child.

If both you and your ex can bring this kind of self-development to the table, co-parenting can become your new normal.

Notes

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner with them through the emotional and often complicated experience of divorce. We invite you to learn what’s possible for you. Schedule your FREE 15-minute consultation with SAS. Whether you are coping with divorce or are already navigating your life afterward, choose to acknowledge your vulnerability and learn from others. Choose not to go it alone.