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Communicating through divorce can be challenging.

Challenges of Communicating Through Divorce When You Have Kids

Problems with communication are often cited as a leading cause of divorce. Yet as a parent, getting divorced doesn’t typically mean that all conversations with your former spouse will cease. While your coparent might be far from your favorite person, finding a way to communicate through your divorce and beyond is non-negotiable when you have kids.

The methods you use to communicate can have an enormous impact on how successful your coparenting interactions are. If face-to-face interactions or phone calls continually prove to be non-starters, perhaps you’ll turn to web- and mobile-based resources like email or texting. The positives of text and email are obvious.

But if you’re struggling with conflict, text and email won’t make a difference if you’re seriously looking to improve your communication.

Some parents realize that text and email aren’t going to cut it so they ask others to get involved as messengers. But when parents choose an inappropriate third-party to serve as their messenger, this strategy can lead to much bigger issues.

For the messenger, the emotional burden of having to carry a message—especially if it’s not a particularly pleasant one—can be huge. This can be true if someone such as a child’s nanny, another family member, or a close friend is being held responsible for sending messages. And asking children to send the messages can create an even more dire situation for your family by putting them in the middle of potential conflict.

As hard as it can be to make communication work in coparenting, finding a healthy way to manage it for the sake of your kids makes it well worth the effort.

Set healthy boundaries as you communicate through divorce (and beyond)

So, what’s a positive first step to take towards lessening the challenges of communicating through divorce?

Instead of trying to communicate the same ways you once did, building a framework of healthy coparenting boundaries can significantly improve your efforts.

Commit to keeping your kids from being middlemen

Though it almost goes without saying, it’s absolutely crucial to protect your children. They should never be made to feel like they are carrying a burden because of your divorce. Even something as simple as asking one of your kids to relay a brief message to your coparent can be a potent source of emotional strain and anxiety. In doing so, your child must bear the responsibility of receiving the first-hand response to that message which, depending on the reaction, can be overwhelming.

As coparents, commit to keeping your kids out of the middle of your conflict and communications. Additionally, prevent others from acting as your messenger, including your child’s nanny. If you need a third-party to assist in your communication, enlist help from your attorneys or a neutral third-party professional such as a mediator or parenting coordinator.


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


Stick to your parenting agreement

Your parenting agreement should act as a guide for handling different aspects of raising your children as coparents. It will encompass everything from parenting time schedules and shared expenses to how big decisions will be made for your kids.

Sticking to your agreement can act as evidence that backs up different parenting decisions you make. This can curb conflict because parents are more likely to remain on the same page.

On top of details about your children’s daily care, your parenting agreement may lay out specifications for your communication plan. It can be critical to include specific guidelines, especially if conflict has been a recurring issue.

Give parallel parenting a try

If conflict becomes a chronic issue, switching to parallel parenting can be a great option.

In a parallel parenting arrangement, parents can disengage from one another while still playing an active role in raising their children. Backing off from one another—and from the constant disagreements that may have existed when engaged in more traditional coparenting—encourages a new level of calm in each household.

Disengagement in parallel parenting doesn’t mean that parents won’t be communicating at all. Instead, they will significantly limit their interactions to keep them business-like and entirely focused on their children. While some find email or text messages are equal to the task, they still present all the same opportunities for miscommunication that can lead to conflict.

Try a coparenting app

Coparenting apps are often recommended by family law practitioners to help resolve communication issues between parents. At their best, coparenting apps have built-in boundaries that promote efficient and straightforward conversations about shared parenting matters. Information is exchanged on the key aspects of shared parenting.

Apps designed to promote transparent and timely communication in a neutral environment can seriously support your efforts to improve your coparenting communication. Some of these apps include tools like shared parenting time calendars, expense and payments registers, family vital information banks, file storage space, private and shared journals, highly-documented messaging, and more.

Not all coparenting apps are created equal, however. While documented messaging is a crucial feature to have in any coparenting app, this alone won’t do much to help remove you and your coparent from the cycle of conflict in written exchanges. The right coparenting app should help to reduce conflict by providing you with specialized tools designed for every shared parenting situation you may encounter.

One such app, OurFamilyWizard, offers a full suite of tools that help you to focus your communication on the points that matter the most. For instance, instead of sending a message regarding a one-time change to the parenting schedule, parents will create this request directly on their calendar. Using the Trade/Swap function, you only enter the essential details regarding the change including the date and time, and a brief reason. If your co-parent approves the request, the calendar will automatically update to reflect the agreement. This cuts the need for updating the calendar later on, and a complete history of these requests is always maintained, leaving less confusion as to what was agreed upon.

It also cuts down on direct communication with your Ex, or negotiating with him*.

When a conversation must be had, the app’s messaging features provide a space for secure discussions while also offering analytical feedback. Integrated into the message board, ToneMeter™ is a function that will review the content of messages as they are written and flag any emotionally-charged phrases. This lets parents review the analysis and update their tone before sending the message. This function helps to promote mindful communication when messaging.

Many coparenting apps are subscription-based services, yet apps like OurFamilyWizard offer fee waiver programs to help make their tools available even to parents who cannot afford a subscription.

Keep learning 

The experience of your divorce, and what led up to it, is an opportunity for you to learn about yourself, to demonstrate to your children that you can be even better now, as their mom. You can promote honest communication, establish boundaries and fair “rules,” and take responsibility for your world.  Staying open to learning how others successfully coparent, what best practices are, or what new tools have been developed to support divorced parents lessens your burden and, more importantly, shows your children that you are doing your best to support everyone’s move into this next chapter healthily. For a lot of people, becoming a divorced parent and wanting to do right by their kids is a big motivator to getting educated on how to do it successfully and with heart.

Communicating through divorce when you have kids can be a significant challenge, even on a good day. Don’t expect that you’ll fall right into the best communication strategy immediately. The process of finding what works for your situation may take a little time. It’s imperative to keep your kids protected and out of the middle of conflict as you make this transition. Work to build healthy communication boundaries in your coparenting. Your boundaries will help to create a clear framework of how your interactions will take place, leaving less room for conflict and confusion.

Sara Klemp is a content manager and online marketing specialist for OurFamilyWizard. Since 2001, the OurFamilyWizard website and mobile applications have helped countless co-parents to improve communication and reduce conflict. Learn more at OurFamilyWizard.com

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

Divorce decree

Demystifying Your Divorce Decree

What is a Divorce Decree? And who decides what’s in it?

The Divorce Decree, often referred to as the “Judgment of Divorce” or “JOD,” is the document that makes your divorce official under the law. It’s an Order of the Court that formally dissolves a marriage.

As anyone who has been through the process will tell you, the road to that Divorce Decree is long even in a straightforward case, and just when you think the end is in sight, there is often another bend in the path. People are usually relieved to arrive at a Divorce Agreement (the final resolution of all the issues in the divorce by agreement of you and your spouse—with or without the assistance of a court along the way) only to learn that the divorce process is not quite over.

Divorce Decree vs. Divorce Agreement

The Divorce Decree is a completely separate document from your Divorce Agreement, and no one even starts thinking about the Decree until the divorce case is fully settled between you and your spouse and memorialized in the Divorce Agreement, or all the issues have been decided by the Court.

The Divorce Decree is only a handful of pages whereas the Divorce Agreement could be fifty or sixty pages. However, just about every Decree includes a sentence saying that the terms of the Agreement are made a part of the Decree “by reference.” This means that each term of your very, very detailed Agreement is solidly enforceable regardless of whether it is also specifically mentioned in the brief Decree.

The Divorce Decree is prepared by your lawyer and submitted to the Court to be signed by the Judge. Most often you, your spouse and your lawyers agree to the wording of the JOD and sign off on the Decree that is submitted to the Court. But sometimes you won’t be able to agree on the terms of the Decree. When this happens, each party submits a Proposed Judgment to the Court and the Judge chooses which one to sign.

Once the Judge signs the Decree, it needs to be processed by the County Clerk’s Office and entered into the County’s records. Only then is the Judgment finally ready for pickup.The lawyer who filed the Judgment is usually the one who obtains a copy from the Court, and she will serve it on the other party with a cover sheet called the Notice of Entry. Service of the Divorce Decree with Notice of Entry and filing a copy of that Notice of Entry in Court makes your divorce as official and final as can be.

I keep hearing about “Divorce Papers.” What are those?

The Judgment of Divorce is submitted to the Court with about fifteen other documents (give or take depending on the case, but always including your Divorce Agreement if you have one). Some of these need to be signed by you, some need to be signed by your Ex, and some are signed by one or both of your respective attorneys. Together, these documents are referred to as “Divorce Papers.”

One spouse’s lawyer will prepare the Papers, and the other spouse’s lawyer will review and edit them. The back-and-forth over the Divorce Papers usually takes a few weeks, but take heart: this process is generally low stress and a world away from negotiating the Divorce Agreement.

The court system in most places is very strict about the contents of the Papers so the negotiation about the contents primarily centers around technical concerns and formalities rather than substance.

Related: How Long Does It Take to Get Over a Divorce? And 4 Signs You Are On Your Way

So when will I have that final Decree in hand?

In geographic areas with busy court systems, like New York City, it often takes about three months from when your lawyer files your Divorce Papers until the Judgment of Divorce is signed by the Court, entered into County records by the Clerk, and made ready for pickup. In today’s automated world, this long processing time seems shocking, but the Court system is mind-bogglingly old fashioned even in the “greatest city in the world.” In other places in the country it could be must faster—or slower.

Your lawyer needs to send someone to hand deliver the Divorce Papers to the Courthouse where there is sometimes only a single person whose job it is to review and accept the Papers. When this person takes a vacation, no Divorce Papers can be filed. It is as simple (and absurd) as that. Depending on whether your case was ever in litigation or not, your Papers will either go directly to your Judge or be randomly assigned. Reviewing Divorce Papers is tedious grunt work, and all the Judges have stacks of them so they tend to hang out for a while. When the Papers finally make it off the Judge’s desk and are recorded in the Clerk’s Office, your lawyer is not notified by email but instead by postcard.

But I’m ready to work on moving on and putting the divorce process behind me. Am I at the mercy of the County Clerk to start living like I’m divorced?

The good news is that most people will feel emotionally divorced upon the signing of their Divorce Agreement and Divorce Papers.

The “Big Day” in the life cycle of a divorce is the day the you and your soon-to-be Ex sign your Divorce Agreement—or less frequently, the day the Judge hands down a final decision after a trial on the issues in the divorce.

By the time most people receive their signed and entered Divorce Decree in the mail from their attorney they have put much of the upheaval of the divorce process behind them. They’ve been living by the custody and support terms of their Divorce Agreement for a few months and have divided most, if not all, of their property. They’ve begun the important work of individually recovering and rebuilding their lives.

Is there anything that absolutely must wait until I receive my Divorce Decree?

While most of the terms of your divorce go into effect when you sign an Agreement or after a Judge decides the issues in your case, there is one big exception.

You cannot make changes to health insurance coverage until the Divorce Decree is entered in the Clerk’s Office. The law is extremely strict about this—you are entitled to remain on your spouse’s health insurance plan until the Judgment of Divorce is entered into the records of the County Clerk.

My Divorce Decree is finally ready. Where do I get a copy, and what do I need it for?

You can obtain a Certified copy of your Judgment of Divorce at any time for a nominal fee. In New York County the fee is $8.00 plus a few cents per page in copy charges. Some counties allow you to obtain a Certified copy by mail, but others still require you to go to the County Clerk’s Office in person. If you are represented by an attorney, he or she will usually obtain a Certified copy and send it to you for your records as a matter of routine.

The Divorce Decree is an extremely important record akin to a birth certificate or marriage certificate. You will need it if you want to change your name after divorce and again to obtain a marriage license if you want to remarry someday. It is also proof of your divorce that may be relevant to areas like your income taxes, insurance policies, social security benefits, and retirement accounts.

Your Divorce Decree is also a powerful document because it is a Court Order. If you ever need to call the police because there is a custody problem, you will want to have the Decree to show them. Similarly, if you ever need to go to Court to change or enforce the terms of your divorce, you will need to submit a copy of the Decree.

Two or three Certified copies retrieved directly from the Court is probably enough to maintain on hand as a photocopy will suffice for many purposes. You can obtain additional copies at any time no matter how long ago your Divorce was filed.

For more than 20 years, Nina Epstein and law partner Elyse Goldweber have helped individuals and families in the New York City metropolitan area with the full range of legal issues associated with creation and dissolution of personal unions—including divorce, separation, and child custody and support. Ariella Deutsch is a more recent but no less passionate member of their legal team. For more information on how they might assist you please call (212) 355-4149.

Since 2012 smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional and often times complicated experience of divorce. We invite you to learn what’s possible for you. Schedule you free, 45 minute consultation with SAS. Whether you are coping or already navigating your life afterward, a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone.

Woman staying safe w online dating

Online Dating: 5 Must Do’s for Staying Safe After Divorce

Online dating makes us feel like we’re being proactive. If you’re “on the market,” you don’t have to wait for a friend to introduce you to so-and-so’s best friend’s brother or throw back one-too-many cocktails as you wait for someone to catch your eye at another bar or party. No, now you can swipe left and right as you wait in line at the grocery store or sit in front of the TV. But there are just so many dating apps out there—Tinder, Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel, Match.com, eharmony, OkCupid, PlentyOfFish. So many, in fact, that you shouldn’t be surprised if you see some of the same faces on multiple platforms!

The world of online dating is so popular that it’s almost impossible to keep away from, but it’s a world that has a dark side. Using a dating app to “get out there” can feel like learning a whole new language to a newly divorced woman, especially one who married long before the internet was up and running (like me). I’ve had many dates and some relationships through dating apps, and I’ve found most of the men* to be very kind and polite. But that’s not always the case.

I was glad to not have shared my full name with a couple of the men I’ve met online—if I had, I might not have heard the last from them after the date flopped. Some men insisted on knowing personal details early on. Harmless? Maybe. But these men are strangers, and you should always put your safety first.

Although this is a blog for divorced women, men can also benefit from using the online dating safety tips below. So don’t be shy about sharing these suggestions with some of the men in your life. A recent story in Arizona illustrates the importance of staying safe when online dating.

If you are a divorced woman, there are several thing things to keep in mind when gearing up to date online. But for this post, I’m going to focus on keeping you safe when using dating apps and interacting with strangers. These recommendations are in addition to basic safety practices like…

  • Always meeting in a public place
  • Letting a friend know when and where your date is
  • Not revealing personal information, like your full name, too early as this can easily be linked to your home and work addresses

I want you to explore and have fun—you’ve been through a lot, and your divorce recovery has been hard-won. But putting you and your safety first is nonnegotiable, even if it means a bit more work and assertiveness on your part!

So here are 5 Must Do’s for staying safe when online dating.

1. Set up an email account just for people you’re interacting with on dating apps

Don’t set up the account with your full name. For example, create a new Gmail account, and instead of using the name “Jennifer Parker,” use an email address that no one would recognize, like [email protected]

Some dating apps require you to link your account to Facebook. Pay attention to what information is being uploaded to the dating app. You may need to set up another Facebook account with less information (not a “phony” account full of fake information—just less) than your primary one.

2. Do not give out your “real” cell phone number

Instead, set up a Google Voice account (you can do this while you’re setting up your new Gmail account). Many times, a cellphone number can reveal the name of the person who owns the account. If you don’t believe me, type a friend’s cell phone number or your own into Google.

A guy once asked me way too many questions about my cell phone number. Why was it a different area code? (Google Voice can run out of numbers in certain area codes, but you can choose one from anywhere in the country.) Was it a real cell phone number? Why couldn’t I give him my iPhone number? Could I “please, please, please” switch to my real cell phone number so we could FaceTime? This was all prior to even meeting for a date! I politely declined, canceled our date, and blocked him. (Blocking someone on Google Voice is even better than on the iPhone as even voicemails will not come through. They simply get a message that the number was disconnected. Done!)

3. Don’t give out or use your full name on the app

This is especially true if you have an unusual name. For example, if your name is Marietta and you live in Glen Cove, NY, running a search for those two facts alone will likely reveal your full name and address. So, instead, perhaps use Mari and put down a nearby town or large city.


Related:  100 Must Do’s for the Newly Divorced Independent Woman


4. Don’t include pictures of yourself that you’ve posted elsewhere

Thanks to Google reverse image search pictures can be traced back to other sources. If you use your LinkedIn or Twitter profile picture, there’s a good chance anyone looking hard enough could find you there.

But even without Google, posting images you’ve shared elsewhere can be dangerous. I have a friend who used her Facebook profile picture on a dating app. One guy looked through Facebook for people in her town, found her picture, and showed up on her doorstep. So don’t do it. Be safe.

5. Limit what you reveal

If you’re a pediatric dentist and live in Pasadena, that information can help someone find out your full name, address, and more. Be vague about the details of your life and profession. I’m not talking about someone you’ve gone on several dates with but someone who you’ve only just started seeing.

Trust your gut (don’t demand that your gut give you a logical reason). If anything seems off, walk away. If your date reveals his actual name, a simple internet search may tell you some things about him. (Google for yourself to see.) I took this a step further once when a guy I was planning to meet had 12 criminal records, according to my Google search. I told myself, if I couldn’t figure out what that was all about, I was going to cancel the date due to a permanent case of “the flu.” Instead, I bought a one-month membership to Instant Checkmate and found out he’s just a really bad driver (all traffic violations—nothing actually criminal).

There are men out there who will be insulted or annoyed that you won’t reveal what they want to know before you’re comfortable. (I should know—I’ve met a couple of them.) In my experience, when a relationship moves past the first few dates and I develop a sense of trust, telling my date that my name is Elyse and not Ellie isn’t a big deal. Your date will understand and think: Why, what a smart woman she is. Hiding your full name or your phone number is hardly the same as, say, refusing to reveal your real age. Any date who would make a big deal out of you staying safe when online dating is not worth another moment of your time. So don’t take it personally—just move on!

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. Whether you navigating divorce or already rebuilding your life after the overwhelming experience, one thing making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not reinvent alone. We invite you to schedule a free 45-minute consultation with SAS to hear feedback, next steps, resources and best practices for creating the life you deserve.

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

How long does it take to get over a divorce

How Long Does It Take to Get Over a Divorce? And 4 Signs You are On Your Way

There’s a saying about getting over someone—that it takes half the time you spent together to truly move on. That means six months of wallowing for a year-long relationship—time that might drag on endlessly, or time that might fly by faster than you can blink. But for longer relationships? Those marriages that have spanned years and possibly decades? The waiting period is a whole other discussion, a conversation we are going to have now.

Because after divorce, you want your life back. But a part of you is still reliving the past, turning your marriage over and over like a skipping stone in your hand. A stone that, at some point, you have to drop. You have to let it go. For the truth of the matter is spending the next decade missing your Ex—and feeling sorry for yourself—is even more depressing than your actual divorce.

So you aim to help yourself, you start researching. You ask friends, you ask family (or maybe they ask you), “How long is it supposed to take to get over a divorce, anyway?” Yet, you get nothing in return, but differing answers leading to more questions.

Now you’re here reading, and we are with you. We know that sometimes arming yourself with knowledge is the best way you can feel in control, especially when it comes to all-things-divorce. So, how long does it take?

What science says

Past studies suggest that it takes a person, on average, eighteen months to move on after divorce, while others simply leave it at “it’s complicated.” And that’s the truth—divorce is complicated, and because of this, science is only so accurate. Some study participants, for instance, might have been separated before getting a divorce, while others had only just broken things off. Other participants may have wanted a divorce, while others still wanted to try to make their marriages work.

What is clear is that even when marriages look the same on paper, their insides are messy, intricate things that can’t be examined like a math equation.

What experience says

What we know, despite what our loved ones tell us or even what science says, is that people often discover they’ve “moved on” almost unconsciously. They wake up one morning, and the sadness they’ve been carrying feels different, less of a weight than a kind of memory. You’re in the middle of a conversation, for instance, or you are out shopping in the grocery store, and you see the latest tabloid announcing another celebrity divorce when you remember your own divorce, what you’re supposed to be grieving, or “missing” or reverberating from. Only you don’t so much. You feel stabilized. It’s not that you’re unaware of the scars you are wearing, but you own them now. And best of all, you no longer care. 

This not caring is freeing! It seems to happen a little sooner when you have distance from your Ex. That means no “let’s be friends.” No late-night, I’m-feeling-sorry-for-myself phone calls. No hookups “for old times sake.” In fact, to help with your healing, you must consider your past relationship like a drug, for a certain time at least. You have to cut off your exposure to the drug and to its many triggers.

You have to re-circuit your brain and teach it to do new things rather than reach for the phone to “let him have it” or to beg. (Drink a glass of water every time you want to call your Ex!) Limit your triggers of being reminded of him*. Unfriend him, or better yet, block your Ex on social media. Delete his number from your phone. If you are coparenting with him, only communicate through Family Wizard. This is about creating a buffer for the new and emerging you to grow. It’s not about adding to your confusion and grief by constantly being near the man you once thought you’d spend the rest of your life with.

But what if you aren’t grieving your “Was-band”? But grieving the loss of who you were in the marriage? Who you used to be? The lifestyle you enjoyed? The summer rituals you shared? What about the friends and family who played a role in that former life of yours?

Life after divorce is a whole new way of living, and it means almost by definition … change. A lot of change. You need time to grapple with the changes and the many losses you have suffered, ignored, or even, created. So really, when we ask how long does it take to recover from divorce? We are talking about the time it takes until “You’ve Got Your Groove Back.”

But what if you are tone—or you can’t dance? Getting your groove back does not explain what you are striving for?

In our 46 Steps to Divorce Recovery, A Definition and A Guide, we define this moment in time, post-divorce, as a process, a journey of its own within divorce where the  “emotional and practical restructuring and healing” is a “constant, cyclical process in which you are broken down and built back up numerous times until finally, you are whole again.”

Another way of saying this is, you will know when you are healed when all the shattered pieces come back together in a way that makes you feel proud of yourself.

What you can do to help yourself move on

The very fundamental desire to heal is your beginning. Now you must take steps. Try to avoid doing things that smack of those old familiar patterns and people you miss. At first, fighting these instincts will be hard, because during your marriage you probably did everything you could to bring all these things together—the people, the routines, the joys, the rituals. You tried to make the most of your marriage. But now your challenge is to create your “new normal,” and to do that, you’ll have to rediscover yourself and who you are now.

Some women find that their divorce recovery takes years, while others find that they’ve prepared for divorce so long that within months or weeks they already feel better than they have in years. To those in the latter camp, we say, yes, you may be feeling better. But don’t lose sight of the work and steps you must still be taking to ensure your healthy independence. Doing the work and practicing self care, will ensure you start seeing the signs that indeed, you have started to truly move on.

Here are some of those signs.

1. The idea of going on a date is thrilling

If, after divorce, you say to yourself whenever someone suggests you should get back out there,“What? Start all over? It’s so much work…” this is a sign that you’re not over your divorce. The idea of dating feels like a chore, a series of boxes to check off a list someone else has generated, rather than the adventure it can really be. So, don’t do it. Focus on yourself and what you need to discover about putting your life back together. Until you do this work, you will only be showing up half-heartedly or, damaged.

But if you feel a twinge of excitement at the thought of meeting someone new, then some part of you might be ready to move on—at least in the romantic department. Check in with yourself. Manage your expectations of self, what you want, what you need, and what you are willing to share.

2. You feel comfortable in your own skin

You’re feeling yourself. Not just feeling sexy—though there’s no shame in that, you feel healthy and fully of energy. You feel a sense of peace and balance. You have planted your feet in the direction you want your life to take. In short, you know who you are, and you like that person.

For some women, this may mean they’ve secured a job (a paycheck!) and routine. For others it may mean understanding at long last their finances, and what their plan is for moving forward. Or maybe the kids are no longer acting out but settling into their new routines at both houses, and this is giving you a chance to ease up in hyper-management of the shifting parts. But that frenzy of survival mode has passed. You are able to look up and consider what else might be possible for you now.

3. You feel positive about you future

Before your divorce and maybe even sometimes, afterwards, it was hard to care much about your future let alone believe there was anything good waiting for you there. But now surprising events or happenings have inspired you. You may be full of hope. Look! There’s so much about your life that’s new and surprising. You never could have predicted or planned for it.

There’s something beautiful about leaning into the unexpected.

Being positive about your future implies that you have taken a hard look at your past and come to a place of acceptance about it, both the good and the bad. It means you no longer carry the past like a weight. You’ve moved past blame. When you are living in the here and now, planning and building your new future, this is another strong indicator that you’ve begun moving on after divorce.

4. Your divorce doesn’t keep you up at night

The end of any relationship generally comes with a certain dose of feeling sorry for yourself. Nights spent crying yourself to sleep and days spent walking around in a daze. But now? You’re tired of being tired. You’re done with being sad. You find yourself making plans for your summer and spending more time with new people and those unbelievably wonderful, stalwart friends. One day you think to yourself, “When was the last time I thought about HIM?” And the fact that you have to think about that puts a smile on your face.

You might never truly “get over” your divorce, but over time, it will become a quieter ache instead of an intense pain. The heartbreak will callus over—you’ll be wiser and more prepared for red flags that may appear again. Experience is a gift that gives you the chance to learn from mistakes and failures. Whether those mistakes and failures are real or simply dancing in your head, time and doing the work you must will give you perspective.

When it comes to getting over a divorce, there’s no rulebook or timeline except the one that feels right for you. If you do nothing about your divorce recovery, you can expect very little to change about the way you are feeling. It will probably become more muddled and less pronounced. But did you grow from it? If you choose to support yourself by finding the help you need to really honor your beautiful life, you’ll discover the time it takes to get over your divorce will be just the right amount of time you need to move forward bravely and with grace.

Since 2012 smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional and often times complicated experience of divorce. We invite you to learn what’s possible for you. Schedule you free, 45 minute consultation with SAS. Whether you are coping or already navigating your life afterward, a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone.

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

Life after divorce

How to Overcome the 6 Hardest Things About Life After Divorce

People talk a lot about what it’s like to get a divorce, but those conversations don’t often extend to what life after divorce is like. Because, unless you’ve been divorced, you don’t quite get what this next phase is really all about.

During divorce, there’s a certain process: you have items to research, things to get educated about, decisions to make, meetings to attend, paperwork to file, and on and on—all of which are black and white steps you had to take to complete the business transaction of “dissolving” your marriage. And while those steps felt overwhelming, frightening, and generally all over the place (you may be or have been sad, in shock, mad as hell, disappointed, betrayed, in denial, or numb), the process, nevertheless, had a way of keeping you grounded. You had a goal. To get through a “negotiated” document, sign it, and obtain a divorce.

Now, as you look around in your new life after divorce, your sense of time — and what to do with it — is different. Even if you are struggling and fighting for survival, your mind and heart may be ruminating on the past and on “the who” you will become.

Yes, your life after divorce will be your juiciest stage if you are open to it

This is the “finding yourself” stage, and we urge you to have no shame about it.

Discovering and taking care of yourself will include preparing for what’s coming in your life where possible (implementing best practices that give you structure) and also learning to let go. This stage involves taking time to consider deeply your story so far, what brought you to the end of your marriage/relationship, and the good and bad roles you played.

Discovering who you are can get messy in a different way than where you’ve been. You can’t blame your husband for everything anymore. It’s time to pick up your baggage.

Based on our work coaching women, here are six of the hardest things about life after divorce—and more importantly, what you can do about them to make room for the good stuff. Okay, now deep breath…

1. It’s gone. Your life as you knew it

Sounds obvious, but a few of us are Resistors to Reality, women who spend months (years?) in denial about the fundamental impact divorce will have (or has had) on our lives.

A Resistor to Reality might strive to or blindly maintain the lifestyle she had when married—going on similar vacations, eating out at trendy, higher end restaurants, or placing groceries inside her cart without checking the price or quantity (so accustomed is she to buying “for everybody”). She might be paying the mortgage on an oversized and overpriced home because she either feels she is owed it, can’t face the prospect of change, or doesn’t want a move to “affect the kids.” She might be worried about downscaling for fear she’ll lose her friends or her social standing.

But now we all know, no matter how “amicable” the end of our marriages were, divorce has a way of turning our lives upside down. Divorce will take you outside your comfort zone. Divorce is about change.

Ideally, you started to metabolize these changes during the divorce process, and if you haven’t, your life after divorce is going to be harder—not just materially but psychologically and emotionally. The sooner you come to terms with your new reality the sooner you can adjust, redirect, and start shaping the future you want. Working with a divorce coach –during the divorce process, or as you rebuild your life — will help you understand what you can and cannot do as you actualize your best next chapter.

You may not feel it yet, but inside this vast unknown of Life After Divorce — there is a great, big beautiful life waiting for you.

2. Even when you do your best, your children will feel the effects of divorce

You’re a woman, not a robot. During and after divorce, your emotions may remain scattered, frayed, or short-wired. Everyday decisions may seem insurmountable. You try to be strong, to let it all roll off your back, because you want to be the best mother possible. You want your children to see you stand tall instead of falling apart. But you will have bad days, just like we all do. You slip. You might vent about your Ex to your children. Or they’ll overhear (eavesdrop?) you badmouthing him to a friend or family member in a moment of frustration or desperation.

No matter how old your children are—even if they are adults or not living at home anymore—divorce will impact them. It may affect their outlook and their ability to connect with others, including you and your Ex. Your splitting up will alter holidays and family functions. And although you may feel some closure with your Ex after the divorce document is signed or he’s no longer living in the same house, if you have children, he* will always be in your life.

Divorce may mean communicating with your ex-partner whom you never communicated well with before. You may be dealing with things like support orders and visitations, drop-offs and pick-ups. Your children’s lives will be disrupted, and afterward, each of you will have to figure out how to move forward and create a new life together.

According to the research, you can best support your children (and thus, yourself) through divorce, and life afterward, by being mindful of the ongoing conflict between you and your Ex. Children who suffer the most are those whose parents keep the hostility alive, who don’t aim to try to do things as amicably as possible. It is not, as you might guess, the history of your marriage when you all lived together in the same house, but how you two (you and your spouse) navigate the divorce.

When dealing with your children directly, among the best things you can do is to acknowledge their pain and perspective and not badmouth their father. Listen to them. Understand that while the reasons for your divorce might be obvious to you, they are less so to your children. You can help them feel less confused by being straight and honest and keeping the lines of communication open instead of shutting yourself off from the world. This does not mean treating your kids as an equal (even if they are “old souls” or “smart” or so-called “adults”) but being open about issues surrounding the divorce in an age-appropriate way.

Should you tell your kids you are leaving their dad because he cheated? Because he embezzled money? Because he’s an addict? We urge you not to share the gorier details until you and your children are out of the heat, down the road, when your kids are grown up.

If you wonder how to break the news to your kids, need support parenting as a single woman or coparenting with a challenging Ex, or would even like books that you could read aloud to your children, consider our post on the 35 best books on divorce.

3. Certain friends and family have “disappeared”

Divorce means change and you’re probably feeling this, socially and family-wise. It’s a huge awakening for many of us that friends we thought were so tried and true have disappeared or become mute. It’s as if they fear your divorce might be contagious.

Though we’ve come a long way culturally, lessening the stigma of divorce, meaningful people in our lives might still pick sides—whether they are forced to by your Ex, feel compelled to out of a sense of fierce loyalty, or have a preference to be with the “more fun” or more moneyed-spouse. This hurts. And it not only shocks, but it cuts to the bone, especially if you have little or no friendships outside of those you formed with your Ex during your marriage. You may be feeling bereft as you start off your new life.

When it comes to family, it’s clichéd but true: blood is often thicker than water. You may have had a great relationship with your Ex’s family, for instance. Maybe they’re a big clan and fun and tightknit—and you always had a particular connection with some of them. Getting a divorce, though, can cause them to draw a line and side with their blood relative. The wonderful relationship you had with them is no mas.

In the wake of the space left vacant by others, it’s important for you to touch in with yourself and find new hobbies and interests—this will help you discover new people. Push yourself to get outside so you shift your mindset, to take up an activity you’ve always wanted to but never “had the time” for before, to volunteer or travel. You can even join a support group with other divorced women who understand what you’re going through and who are committed to recreating their lives healthily — with intention — too.

4. An empty house

Coming home after work, making dinner for yourself, eating it alone, and not having someone to share your day with (if you’ve always had that) has a way of making you feel like you have no purpose. This is even the case with divorced women who didn’t have a lot to say to their Ex in the evening hours while married. But somehow watching Jeopardy in silence or a movie you both enjoyed now seems particularly enviable. At least you could hear another person breathing.

If you have children, the silence in your home when they are staying with their dad can be deafening at first. All the sounds children make means lives are being lived, and the emptiness left in their place can leave you feeling lonely and unanchored. Who are you if your children don’t need you?

But know that this is just a phase, new pains that you will overcome. There is a big difference between being alone and being lonely. You may not be able to change the former, but you can change your mindset and decide that you never have to be the latter.

Use this time to reflect, to read, or to enjoy a quiet activity. Maybe you’ll become vegan (ha! Your Ex was such a carnivore!). Or you’ll adopt a dog from the humane society. Or you’ll use this time in the evening to meditate, do yoga, or go to the gym.

This alone time is important to your divorce recovery. You must come to terms with yourself and rediscover who you are before you can rebuild your life in a meaningful way or even show up whole and healed in your next meaningful relationship.

5. The shock of being “replaced”

Your Ex might start dating right after the divorce. He may even begin to date during your divorce proceedings. In either case, this can feel like a punch to the gut. Did he ever really love you? How could he date so quickly? What does she have that you don’t? Even if you wanted the divorce, it’s not easy to keep the green-eyed monster of jealousy at bay when you see or hear that the man you’d thought you’d spend the rest of your life with is hooking up (or more) with someone else. It can feel like torture.

Take heart, it’s not uncommon for many spouses to appear like they are “moving on” immediately after divorce, and some begin to date and sometimes remarry fairly soon. Those who do are often responding to the feelings of loneliness and/or the conventional understanding of what happiness is (to be married). If this is your Ex, he may not be pausing to reflect and heal from what you and he have been through.

The odds that his next relationship will be any happier than yours with him are very low. Very low indeed. He is simply not doing the work you know you must do in the early phases of your life after divorce.

To help lessen your pain, make sure you avoid contact with your Ex when possible, or places that remind you of him for a healthy period of time. Tell your friends (the good ones you still have) that you do not want to be kept au courante to what he is doing socially. It will hurt you. You are trying to look in another direction, with a goal of caring for yourself and nourishing you.

Develop a new daily routine that cultivates you, strengthen bonds with your family and friends, and makes space for you to metabolize all you’ve been through. Which brings us to our critical number 6 on the list. Keep reading.

6. Learning to let go and adapting to the Unknown

When you were married, you had a certain vision of your future. You probably had dreams of how you would retire, where it might be, who your social circles would be, what you would do, and maybe how often your grandchildren would visit. Divorce has changed all that. In your life after divorce, one of the hardest things is accepting that you must let go … let go all the dreams that involved him and, yes, others.

You must grieve and take stock of all the losses you have lived through. And recognize that you may not be grieving your husband so much as you are grieving a way of being and the fantasy that was your marriage.

Letting go means letting go of the idea that we can control everything

Life after divorce can be a painful time—it can also be a crazy time—but it is not a static time. The journey is not over. It’s just reached a particular place where it’s time for you to process your grief and reconnect with you and who you want to be. This is your work now.

After divorce, your canvas is blank. The slate is wiped clean. And as you stare at it, wondering, you might not have a clue what you want to fill it with. But let us assure you, you have no clue the marvelous things awaiting you. The hardest part is just getting started. Dare to discover. Pick up the paintbrush and begin.

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS to partner them through the challenging experience of divorce and recreation. Now you can learn the Art of Reinvention post-divorce. Secure female-centered support and wise next steps as you rebuild your life — practically, financially, romantically, smartly — with  Palomas Group, our virtual, post-divorce group coaching class, for women only. To promote sisterhood and protect confidentiality, space is limited.

*We support same-sex marriages. For the sake of simplicity in this article, however, we refer to your spouse as your “husband” or a “he.”

A woman in midlife smiling while standing out of doors.

Life After Divorce? It’s Going to Be Better Than You Imagined!

Saying goodbye to a marriage is tough. When you get a divorce your entire life changes. From finances, to parenting, to even loneliness, there are a lot of hurdles to get over, but in the end, remember this: you are getting a divorce for a reason, and life moving forward, your life after divorce, is going to be better than you imagined it could be.

Remember Why You Are Getting a Divorce

In order to move forward and enjoy your new life as a single woman, it is important to remember why you and your spouse are separating in the first place.  Now, we are not talking about dwelling on all the bad stuff and getting stuck in the past, but giving yourself permission to look forward to your future without your mate.

When Janice was newly divorced she concentrated so much on what she was missing (someone to talk her day over with; someone to share her hopes and dreams with; someone to help pay the bills –and take out the trash), that she began to romanticize the marriage she had loved.

“Lucky for me I had a good friend who shook away those “fake memories” and reminded me of the reasons why my husband and I split.  Despite my faulty memory, all was not rosy in our relationship and if I was ever going to find the kind of fulfilling marriage I dreamed about, I was going to have to move past that relationship and open myself up to another, hopefully better, one.”

Until you acknowledge what went wrong in your marriage, not only will you thwart your efforts at new happiness, but you will set the stage for a repeat performance and doom your next relationship to failure too.

Life After Divorce Does Offer Some Benefits 

Being alone for a while (even a long while) isn’t a bad thing. Many women discover life after divorce to be a freeing experience. Even when money is tight, and the struggles of single parenting are exhausting, the benefits of being alone can be more than worth the downsides you experience. Here are just a few things single, liberated women have reported after their divorce:

  1. Peace.  Life pre-divorce can be chaotic and stressful. While separating may be hard on both of you, staying together is often worse. If your marriage has dissolved into fits of anger and frustration, going your separate ways can often restore peace to your home – and your soul. Leaving a marriage may add some temporary chaos to your days, but once the split is final, your life can resume at a more peaceful level.
  2. Living Life for Themselves. For many women, divorce offers them the chance to concentrate on themselves for a change. Tending to be caregivers and “fixers” in a relationship, women often shortchange themselves when stuck in a bad relationship. Once they break free of the marriage, they allow themselves the opportunity to seek a job change; new hobby; lifestyle change; etc.
  3. Income. “While my income was half what it has been when I was married, I soon discovered that without my spouse’s spending, my income was enough to give me what I really wanted – peace of mind,” says Diane. Always a thrifty person, she discovered that living in a smaller apartment and driving an older car didn’t bother her at all. “I suddenly had the freedom to use my money the way I saw fit and that was exhilarating!”
  4. Less Mess.  For Pam, life after divorce meant finally having a clean house. “My ex was a real slob. Once he was gone I soon discovered that my house remained clean and I loved it. Not that a messy home isn’t worth the right partner, but having to constantly clean up after someone you don’t like much anymore sure wasn’t worth it.”
  5. More Time. Married women (especially those with kids) are expected to do it all: work; raise a family; keep a tidy home; volunteer; do all the errands; and more. For some, leaving a marriage actually offers them more free time. Listen to what Renee had to say. “I was terrified of being on my own with the kids. How was I going to get it all done when I was struggling before my divorce to manage my life? But once my husband moved out, I began to see how much I had done for him (and how little he did for me). My schedule didn’t change all that much, and then the weekend came and the kids went to spend it with their dad. I had not had a weekend free to do whatever I wanted in years! I know I am lucky because my ex-husband is a great dad and takes our kids virtually every weekend. This gives me the chance to catch up on things around the house; take a nap; or even go out with friends. The best thing about my divorce: I have more free time to myself.
  6. Becoming Friends Again. In some cases, living apart can help couples become friends again. Just because you aren’t married does not mean you have to be enemies. This can be especially important for those with children.

Getting a divorce isn’t meant as a way to ditch your responsibilities and start a whole new life. But, it can take a chaotic life and make it easier to manage.  For some women, moving beyond their marriage offers them the chance to pursue their dreams; travel the world; or simply relax again. Life isn’t meant to be spent in constant chaos. When it is time for a divorce, don’t consider it a failure, but rather a learning experience. Take what lessons you can from your marriage and your divorce and move forward towards a new beginning. Don’t wallow in defeat, but rather race toward victory. After all, in your life after divorce you are free to pursue any future you want. So get out there and enjoy yourself! You deserve it.

 

Since 2012 smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to help them through this emotional and often times complicated experience of divorce. Whether you are considering divorce or already navigating the experience and aftermath of divorce, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone. To learn things you can do to support and protect yourself NOW, schedule your free, 45 minute consultation.

 

 

 

 

 

How to avoid rebound relationshipS

How to Avoid Rebound Relationships After Divorce

There might be plenty of fish in the sea, but that doesn’t mean we won’t hook a bottom-feeder we’ll want to throw back. Sometimes, though, it will be hard to tell which fish are the keepers, especially when you’re freshly divorced and reentering the dating scene after a long marriage. Whether you were the one who wanted the divorce or not, dating after divorce can be baffling. As we begin, we are often finding out about ourselves at the same time we’re looking around at others for stability, for terra firma. This need for stability and love after divorce can lead to ignoring a lot of red flags when it comes to dating—or missing them all together—and ending up in a relationship that’s going nowhere because of incompatibility and insecurities. On the other hand, you might end up in a whirlwind relationship that moves too fast and ends up with you feeling excited and then, heartbroken. After divorce, are you only destined for rebound relationships? Rebound relationships are, by definition, almost always setup to fail. A lot of people believe that a rebound relationship is defined by time—that dating soon after a breakup or divorce alone indicates a rebound, but that’s not always the case. If you’ve set yourself free of your past relationship, you’ve been working on your divorce recovery, and you feel ready to get out there, then do. Rebounds are really about not being over your past partner and feeling insecure about being single. Generally, people don’t actively look for a rebound relationship but find themselves in one, looking for a “soul mate” or trying to find a substitute for their Ex, or they’ve moved into a relationship too fast because they’re afraid of being alone. The best way to avoid all the pitfalls of a rebound relationship might seem like not dating at all or to date but avoid anything serious—but then you’re cutting yourself off from moving on from your divorce and building a wall between you and a lot of potentially great fish out there waiting to be caught. Instead, here are some tips to help you avoid a rebound relationship when you’re reentering the dating scene after divorce.

1. Try to avoid dating men or women who are also freshly divorced if they seem as if they are still hung up on their Ex

It’s not bad to date other people who have gone through a divorce, and, hey, it even makes sense. But if they’re still fixated on their Ex and don’t seem to really be interested in getting to know you, then they aren’t ready to date, and you might end up as a fill-in for their former partner rather than a romantic interest based on your own merit. A sign that the person you’re dating is not over their Ex might be their constant reference to their Ex or even, their refusal to talk about her/him—so unless they are in a healthy place where they can discuss their past relationship, they aren’t ready to date. If this describes you, then you likely shouldn’t jump into a relationship but instead skip to #4 on this list.

2. Don’t try to recreate your past

Remember, you are divorced and that means some aspect of your past wasn’t working. While you don’t want to completely date off-type, don’t go after a person just because they remind you of qualities you enjoyed in your Ex. Your new partner cannot ever be a stand-in for your old partner. You want to like someone for who they are, not because of who they remind you of. Sometimes this can be hard to distinguish. Maybe you and your Ex enjoyed going to the beach, or skiing, and the new person in your life does too. But this is something you enjoy; remember that. If you have other things in common that make you compatible, things you did not have with your Ex—that’s better. This will move you beyond the history of your Ex and what your Ex liked, did, or said. It will foster your growth as an independent person.

3. Put yourself and your needs first

Don’t compromise your needs, no matter what. You’ve just gone through a divorce. You might find yourself not only feeling vulnerable but feeling like your newly-found singlehood means you’re somehow worth less. But you are deserving, your feelings are important, and you must not let others take advantage of you, especially when you are feeling vulnerable. If your new relationship isn’t fulfilling your needs and you find yourself repeatedly compromising your wants, needs, feelings, and even bank account to keep your new partner happy, it’s time to call your relationship what it is—a rebound. It’s time to call it quits. Consider focusing on more important things, like developing you and who you want to be before you share yourself again.

4. Play the field

No, this doesn’t make you’re “a player.” Chances are you honestly don’t know what you want after the divorce. It might be that you thought you had something perfect before, but time proved otherwise. Figuring out what you want after divorce is like asking someone who’s never had ice cream before what their favorite flavor at Baskin-Robbins is—it’s an impossible question to answer without sampling the flavors first. The best way to avoid a rebound relationship is to explore. Go on a few dates, see what you like and what you don’t like. Do this before you settle down or commit again. If all is said and done and you find yourself in a rebound relationship that seems headed for heartbreak, there is one last step you can take: break it off before it goes further. You’ve gone through a divorce already. It was both painful and a learning experience, and this breakup will be a learning experience, too — hopefully without the depth of pain; but be prepared, there may be heartache. Maybe you invested in the relationship too fast or you made compromises without fully realizing what you were doing. But you are a stronger person now, and you must not be in a relationship that doesn’t make you feel like your best self. After you break up with your rebound, you’ll be free. Free to explore and cast your line again, to see what’s out there and what is possible. And, who knows, maybe this time you’ll reel in a keeper. If you don’t right away, remember, this new time in your life is about finding out about you, your life, your values, and who you want to be. You’ve come too far to not recognize — you are the greatest keeper of all.

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS to partner them through the challenging experience of divorce and recreation. Now you can learn the Art of Reinvention post-divorce. Secure female-centered support and wise next steps as you rebuild your life — practically, financially, romantically, smartly — with  Paloma’s Group, our virtual, post-divorce group coaching class, for women only. To promote sisterhood and protect confidentiality, space is limited.

Should You Get a Pet After Divorce

Should You Get a Pet After Divorce?

Getting a divorce can be an incredibly stressful and draining process, no matter how long you were married. It seems like everything you know and have taken for granted until now, has suddenly changed, pulling the metaphorical rug out from beneath your feet.

But once the dust finally settles, this can also be a time of promise and opportunity, a time to try new things and make plans that put you first. Some newly-single folk may opt for flashy new cars or luxury holidays, while others go straight for the extreme makeover—divorce is not unlike a mid-life crisis in that way. After the end of a relationship, you’re not exactly sure who you are anymore, and all these bright and shiny things help fill that void for a short while.

Here, however, we introduce an altogether cuddlier alternative, one that gives back. That’s right: a pet.

Pets keep you company

Let’s start with an obvious but no less important point: getting a pet after a divorce or breakup means another living presence is once again in your house. Loneliness after a divorce is natural, especially if you’d spent years living with your Ex. But natural doesn’t mean the same thing as easy. Even if you have a strong support network of friends and relatives, little things like coming home to an empty house or eating meals alone can be incredibly painful.

“Dogs have helped me through my divorce with their unconditional love and acceptance,” Millie says. Millie, a SAS client was married for nearly 47 years and has been divorced for two. “If I am depressed, Mikey never fails to put a smile on my face. [Pets are] cute. They’re adorable, they’re silly, and they have functioned as emotional support therapy for me throughout my life.”

While the conversation with a pet (save certain breeds of parrot, perhaps) may be a little one-sided, having an animal companion around really can do wonders for loneliness. Researchers have found that petting a dog or cat releases a cocktail of “happy hormones” into the brain, including serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone.” Studies have also shown that living with a pet helps limit feelings of loneliness, with the bonus side effect of reducing loneliness-related health problems.

If you’re searching for unconditional love and support, look no further than a pet

Don’t underestimate the healing power of a little uncomplicated, unconditional love in times of crisis.

Your pet doesn’t mind if you eat a whole tub of ice cream for dinner, or if you couldn’t face taking a shower today.

Your pet certainly won’t judge you for bingeing on that trashy show that your Ex couldn’t stand.

Your pet will stay by your side (or on your lap if you let them), adoring you for exactly who you are. As cheesy as it may sound, sometimes it’s important to be reminded that you are worthy of love.

For people who have experienced emotional trauma, their furry friend is more than simply a source of love and affection but also a source of support. In fact, emotional support animals help many people deal with conditions ranging from depression and anxiety to PTSD.

These amazing animals are a steady source of companionship for their owners, helping them manage daily tasks that would otherwise be near impossible. While an emotional support animal needs to be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional to make them legitimate, there’s no reason why your pet shouldn’t be an “unofficial” source of emotional support.

A pet is a big responsibility…but that can be a good thing

After a divorce, added responsibility might be the last thing you want, especially if you have suddenly become a single parent. And, sure, any pet, even a hamster or goldfish, will require feeding, cleaning, and more. There will be food costs and vet bills to take into account too, which should not be taken lightly.

“You are getting a child that is not going to grow up. It’s a big commitment and responsibility in time, energy, and, hello, MONEY,” Millie says. “Vet care and grooming is a fortune. Because people don’t realize that, so many animals end up in shelters.”

Consider this: for many people, a divorce is a massive upheaval to their whole life, shattering their daily routine. After the legalities, the potential house moves, the emotional drain…at some point, it will be time to start rebuilding your life and setting up a new routine. Getting into a new routine can be surprisingly difficult, however, especially if you don’t have children or if you’re not working.

Like it or not, getting a pet after a breakup will get you into a new routine, and more likely than not, that routine will be a healthier, happier one.

Need an excuse to get up in the morning? There’s no wake-up call like a hungry pet reminding you it’s breakfast time. Want to get more exercise? A dog will be happy to help! Sometimes, knowing that another living being is relying on you can be just the push you need to get moving when you’re feeling down or unmotivated.

Looking to meet new people? A pet can help

Whether you’ve decided it’s time to tentatively dip a toe into the dating pool or jump right in, or even if you’re just looking to make some new, platonic friends, meeting people post-divorce is important. But it can be difficult for the newly-single to readjust to suddenly having to put themselves out there, especially in the digital age of dating apps and social media.

A pet, especially one that needs frequent outdoor exercise, can be a great way to advance your divorce recovery, to ease yourself back into the world after a divorce. Not only can your furry friend present a helpful icebreaker (hot tip: owners love talking about their pets), your pet can also gain you entry into what from the outside may seem like a secret club.

As Millie says, “I am not as free as I was before, but the blessings I get from having a pet in my life so FAR outweigh the responsibility and commitment. Now it’s about more than just me. It’s about taking care of another living being. He gives me a reason to get up in the morning.”

Before you know it, you’ll be greeting the other dog-walkers in the park by name—or at least by their dog’s name—and joining each other on walks. Who knows, maybe you’ll eventually take things to the next level.

Is a pet right for you?

Tempting as it might be to jump in your car and drive straight to the animal shelter, it is important to stop and consider all the ramifications of getting a pet after a breakup. This is a time of upheaval in your life. Ask yourself questions like, Do I have enough room for a pet? Will I need to move soon? Do I have time to care for a pet properly? Who will look after the pet while I’m at work or if I want to go away on a trip? Can I afford a pet?

Don’t let getting a pet be a rash decision that you come to regret. A pet can be a wonderful companion, a source of comfort, and a reason to get out of bed in the morning, but it can also be hard work. Remember, a pet is a partner for life.

 

Emily Cline works with Certapet, whose primary goal is to help those in need of an Emotional Support Animal. Certapet strongly believes that having an ESA is beneficial, valuable, and can foster an overall positive change in a person’s mental health. From depression to PTSD to anxiety and more, Emotional Support Animals assist their owners in managing their mental or emotional condition and can potentially reduce the symptoms these individuals experience. CertaPet connects individuals who have a disabling condition or mental health diagnosis with a Licensed Mental Health Professional who provides an evaluation and treatment for the individual through a secure online platform.

 

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. Whether you are considering a divorce, navigating it, or already rebuilding after the overwhelming experience, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone.

“Life, your life, is calling you!” – SAS for Women

How to recover from a divorce break up if you feel abandoned.

Divorce: How to Get Over a Breakup When You Feel Abandoned

Often when you are reading about divorce and the woman’s perspective, many stories assume that the woman was unhappy and that she was the one who left the marriage. The research supports this, that women initiate divorce more often than men. And at SAS, we certainly work with women who feel and act on this. But let’s not hide the fact that for many other women, you’re not the one who wanted the divorce. You did not initiate this.

  • You might have been thinking it, but he acted first.
  • Or you knew things weren’t great, but you never thought it would come to this.
  • Or, you’ve been blindsided.

In any of these scenarios, but especially the last two, you don’t feel so empowered.

You feel betrayed, left, rejected, abandoned. This is a traumatic experience. When your husband*, the man you committed your life to, is doing the abandoning, the feelings welling up inside you may seem insurmountable. But they are surmountable. You need to hear this, you can heal.  But it’s not going happen today. It will be a process. Right now, you need perspective, support, and to know that you are not alone. There are women who’ve experienced this trauma, too, and know what you are feeling. These women want you to know your healing process will not look the same as that of women who left their husbands. In this piece, we’ll discuss how to get over such a trauma, a breakup of epic weight. Your marriage.

Let’s begin by saying you may find yourself unsure of how to start, how to move forward in your now (or soon to be) independent life. How can you forget about him? How can you begin again? How can you trust again? Are you worthy of being loved?  Being abandoned or rejected would suggest you are not. This truth seems to cut to the heart of your being.

Dealing with the aftermath, the grief

Some people think of grief as a process connected only to death, but it’s a natural reaction to loss of any kind. Grief is what happens when the familiar is broken, when we reach out for someone only to find their essence gone.  They are absent. When we’ve been abandoned by someone we love, all of our feelings—abandoned, angry, betrayed, struck, shocked, sad—tend to converge and ebb and flow in a wave of emotions we desperately attempt to pick through and make sense of.

You must be with these emotions.  You must let them ebb and flow. They exist for good reason. You need to pick through, process, and give meaning to them. You must mourn.

When your husband said “I want a divorce,” the first wave hit. You might have felt, or continue to feel shock. You might feel numb. You might not be able to sleep through the night, or remember the last time you were hungry. You might think you didn’t hear him right. He was talking about the neighbors, they’re getting a divorce. It can’t be you. Doesn’t make sense, what do you know about the world, if you don’t even know the man you’ve committed your life to? Yesterday, you felt safe. Today, your legs just got kicked out from underneath you.

The thing about grief is that you might also feel none of these things. There is nothing about grief that is universal.

What we do know is that unresolved grief is real, tragic, and avoidable.

Refusing to explore those questions—Who can I trust? Am I worthy? Why do I feel like my right arm was just cut off?—by believing that time will heal all your wounds will not serve you.

When you don’t process your grief, you simply make it a part of your story. This results in your building walls between yourself and the rest of the world in an effort to protect you from ever being hurt again. This stunts you. You prevent yourself from experiencing anything deep and meaningful, even happiness.

Figuring out how to get over a breakup is different for every woman

Even if you understand rationally that you must metabolize your grief—the future can still seem lonely and it can be difficult to find direction and especially, to find yourself after divorce. Especially because, people don’t understand you. They want the best for you. They say things like, “You’re so much better off without HIM! Now get yourself out there, Girl, and have some fun! Meet some good guys who are going to appreciate you.”

And you have no interest.  No interest of any sort because you’re still spinning from the shock and trauma of being left.  The divorce document may be signed, or because of your pain, it’s hard for you to focus (so the divorce is actually being drawn out). But this grief you are feeling is nonlinear. Maybe you still love him.

First and foremost, you must give yourself time to grieve and to complete your grieving. There are steps to your divorce recovery, which will help you clear your path after heartbreak, but understand everyone’s timeline is different. You might feel ready to go out to social events like you used to as a couple in three months or six months or two years time. You may decide you will never do anything like you used to, and this includes those kind of social events you and your Ex went to. You may or may not ever wish to date again either.

Whatever amount of time you feel is right should be the amount of time you allow yourself to do what you want to do.

Putting yourself first

You begin by putting yourself first. You must recover YOU. When you were in your marriage, your “I” and “me” become “us” and “we.” For so long, Friday nights weren’t for you but about spending time with the family or going out or staying in with your partner. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself “What do I want to do?” and then go do it. It’s really that simple. And that hard.

Think about things you’ve always wanted to do, like go on a retreat, volunteer somewhere, or take a painting class. Can you even remember what used to turn you on? You can, if you give yourself the time to think about what still excites you, what calls you, what opens your eyes?

Sometimes it’s hard to get started, and at first, you might feel selfish about “finding yourself.” But this is your job now. By pursuing your own wants and interests it’s not about abandoning your family, or responsibilities, or habits—it’s about taking stock of one’s life now. What activities, people, behaviors no longer serve you? What new things, goals, and endeavors are calling you to explore and follow through with?

Discover yourself more by getting outside yourself

Finding yourself means looking for yourself and looking at yourself in different ways. Resilience studies show that people are more resilient—they recover from traumatic events more effectively than others—when they have strong support networks of people to help them cope with crisis. So surround yourself with those who love and care for you.

However, you can achieve an even bigger boost of resilience by offering support to others.

This sounds counter-intuitive, like the last thing you’d want to do when you are feeling tapped out and kicked to the curb. But any way you can reach out and help other people is a way of moving outside yourself and your story.  This gives you perspective and cultivates your sense of empathy and connectedness with others. It helps you feel meaningful and purposeful. This does not necessarily mean volunteering for two years with the Peace Corps but aligning yourself with a mission outside your own personal trauma. The mission must have meaning to you and make you want to push through adversity on its behalf. 

The importance of finding support

If you feel like you need help, though, ask for it. Surviving loneliness after divorce can be a constant battle. Certain friends or family members, specific types of divorce groups, and professionals who understand the process like therapists and divorce coaches can help you heal. It’s okay to cry or wallow for a while. Maybe your Ex isn’t worth your tears, but the loss of the marriage, the magnitude of that shared identity, the comfortable life style you enjoyed, is what the pain is about. Maybe you need to mourn the fantasy that was your marriage or the time you invested in it trying to make it work. If you feel like you’re in pain, let yourself be with the pain in a safe place. Just don’t get lost in your pain and suffering and start looking for an easy way out—ask for help navigating your way through it.

Support can be especially important if you are navigating divorce—the legal and financial process—at the same time you are flooded with emotions of denial or rejection. Hitting pause to heal may not be possible for you right now. And that’s okay, because after the document is negotiated, you will be better positioned to focus on yourself. That is really the best time to come to terms with your emotional loss.

During divorce

If the divorce is happening now, you must get your game face on and consider the negotiation (as much as possible) as a business transaction. You cannot afford to be make legal and financial decisions from your wounded heart or from your sense of injustice (you never saw this coming, damnit! He should pay! He’s been living a double life fooling around with this other woman?) Why? Because looking for justice for your broken heart is never going to happen legally. And it will definitely cost you more—more money, more time, and, especially, more pain.

Divorce coaches can help you understand what to do with your heart as you face the black and white logistics of divorce. They understand the emotions and what you must do with them. They may even help you learn to rehabilitate and reframe those feelings we most often associate with shame, anger or weakness.

After divorce

Time can help with the wounds, but time alone will not heal them. You must do something. Take time to understand what you are healing from and to really be with those feelings. After you go through the grieving process, which is part of the healing process, a lot of those initial feelings that came with being dumped—abandonment, betrayal, rejection and feeling like you can never love again—will fade and be replaced with a newfound sense of who you are: independent and resilient.

Let’s not forget you are human. You may be scarred, but those scars will be less fragile and new—your skin will be thicker and tougher—as you move into the next chapter in your life. Those scars will talk of living, loving, recovering, and recreating.

There is no magic formula to help you recover from a breakup as momentous as divorce…But if you take time to understand what the journey of divorce really looks like and what you must do to legally protect yourself, you will give yourself the space and time to lean into your emotions and to learn what this story of loss means for you. You will reclaim you. You will heal.

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, practical and oft times complicated experience of divorce and reinvention. If you are looking for perspective, validation, and healthy next steps, we invite you to schedule your free 45-minute, private consultation with SAS. Whether you work further with us or not, we promise you’ll learn a resource or two as you begin clearing the debris and perceiving what else is genuinely possible. 

*We support same-sex marriages. For the sake of simplicity in this article, however, we refer to your spouse as your “husband” or a “he.”