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Finding ourselves after divorce

What Does Finding Ourselves After Divorce Mean & Is It Actually Possible?

The concept of “finding ourselves” crops up time and time again in life. When you’re a teenager getting to know yourself, when you’re exploring your tumultuous twenties (and possibly completely reevaluating that teenage version of yourself you invented), and later on in life, when you experience a life-changing event like divorce.

We are often told as divorcees that the end of our marriage is a good opportunity to really “find ourselves” and connect with our inner selves. But what is the intention behind this saying? Is it just a useless platitude meant to reassure us that there is a larger meaning to life, or is it a zen-like state of self-awareness that is actually achievable?

In this post, we’ll be taking a closer look at the idea of finding ourselves after divorce, asking ourselves what that really means, and discovering whether or not it’s even possible.

Being comfortable spending time with yourself

When you’re married, you spend a lot of your time as one half of a whole. That’s the thing about married life; whether you have been together for decades or just a few years, whether you have children together or not, your lives become intertwined. It can be hard to remember where one of you begins and the other ends. You start to ask yourself questions like, do I even like hiking or bowling or any of the other activities I once did as a couple, or do I just think I do because my husband does? Why do I keep putting off x, y, or z? Do I actually like the person I’ve become? When you are forced to see yourself through your own eyes instead of someone else’s, your entire perspective can shift.

As a divorced person, you go from being constantly with someone else—if not physically then at least consciously having to take that person and their thoughts and goals into consideration—to being on your own again. And this transition can be extremely difficult. After all, the person you once shared everything with is no longer there by your side. Add in all those questions cycling through your mind, and it can feel a bit like an identity crisis.

In this situation, it can be tempting to either hide away from society completely (thus becoming intensely lonely) or bury your problems by surrounding yourself with the hustle and bustle of everyday life—like white noise that drowns out any pain or loneliness you may be feeling. Some people throw themselves into crazy behaviors as a means of experiencing their new, wild freedom.

Instead of doing this, seek comfort from yourself and find it within. It’s so important to be comfortable spending time with yourself, whether it’s for the long term or if you end up in a new relationship. Regardless, you need to be happy living your own independent life with your wellbeing at the center of everything you do.

Go to the movies on your own; go out for dinner and relish in your table for one. Have fun and enjoy your own company. Run yourself a relaxing bath, pour yourself a glass of wine, and settle in with a good book. Start to view your time on your own as a luxury; don’t let it pass you by. There are hundreds of things you can do as a newly-divorced, independent woman. When we talk about finding ourselves after divorce, this is how we get there.

Being happy with every aspect of you—including your body

Finding yourself means being comfortable and confident in your own skin, feeling free and happy enough to do whatever you want to do.

Becoming content with every aspect of yourself—including your body—is a tricky thing to achieve if you’re going through or have gone through a divorce. If the reason for the breakdown of your marriage is infidelity on your Ex’s part, then it’s all too easy to feel like your body isn’t good enough. It’s not skinny enough or curvy enough or young enough.


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


Or maybe it’s that you went into your marriage during a different time of your life. Back then, you were younger and your body looked different. Maybe it was before you had children. It’s no secret that childbirth changes our bodies, and many women struggle to deal with their postpartum body and find themselves beautiful again.

Embracing your mom figure and seeing the beauty in your body again can be tough, especially if you’re going through a divorce as well. Perhaps you’ve put on weight, or your mom tummy won’t go. Or maybe you’re self-conscious about your stretch marks.

Whatever your body hang-ups, look for clothing companies that understand how we live with these self-hating thoughts and that, instead, celebrate mom bodies. Knix has an interesting inspiring Life After Birth Project. Partnering with online initiate The Empowered Birth Project and doula collective Carriage House Birth, Knix have launched a powerful visual project celebrating the strength and beauty of postpartum bodies.

As this project shows, finding happiness with your body isn’t about looking to the past and aiming to get back to the previous version of you: it’s about redefining yourself. Celebrate where you are now and what your body has achieved, whether that is growing and nursing healthy children, staying active and healthy, or carrying you through life’s challenges. You are fabulous and so is your body.

Making sense of your past

Making sense of our past is an important stepping stone to finding ourselves after divorce. It helps you to understand yourself, your behavior, and your actions more, which is what really helps us to define ourselves.

It’s not always easy to make sense of your past—especially if you’ve been sharing that past with your Ex and you are no longer together. Looking back at our history can be hurtful and challenging.

For many of us, we got into a relationship with our Ex (or Exes) at a completely different stage in our lives—and sometimes, very very young. Maybe too young, even. Perhaps this “forever” relationship papered over some cracks in your life that you haven’t thought about in a long, long time, such as your upbringing. Whatever happened in your past, now is a good time to make sense of it all. By doing so, you will start to understand yourself wholly and do the work that is deeply necessary for your divorce recovery.

This could be your own solo exploration of your past—perhaps writing a journal to become more self-aware or doing exercises involving looking back on your memories and previous life without anger or bitterness. You may even find fondness and gratitude, but if this is too hard, then at least try to find neutrality. The rest will come with time.

If you are struggling to make sense of your experiences and feelings from before, you might want to speak to someone. A kind and trustworthy friend or family member may help, but sometimes the most help we get comes from people removed from a situation—that perhaps don’t know you or your past that well—like a therapist. They will help you explore and make sense of your past safely, helping you find peace.

Recognizing your own power

Ultimately, finding yourself comes down to feeling fulfilled because you found the courage and the power within yourself to create the person you always knew you could be.

Think about what you want and who you really want to be, and recognize your own power to make this happen. You are in control of your life and your fate.

Sometimes, this means getting out of your comfort zone and trying new things. After all, if you’re going through the same old routine every day—going to the same job, eating the same food, and coming home to the same evening staying in and watching television—you’re never going to grow and challenge yourself.

Give yourself time and permission to try new things: take up a new hobby—something you’ve always wanted to do, like painting or dancing. Push yourself to meet new people. You’d be amazed at the new friends that come into your life when you’re going through a big change like a divorce. Of course, life is all about balance. By all means, be a thrill-seeker and experiment, but remember to be reliable for the sake of your family.

Putting yourself into new (and sometimes challenging) situations gives you a chance to grow, explore yourself, and most of all, have fun.

Life doesn’t stop just because you are divorced. Your new life begins—and it’s full of possibilities and excitement. Remember, you have the power, and recognizing this brings you a step closer to find yourself and finding fulfillment.

Finding ourselves after divorce means feeling content and fulfilled by the person we are and the life we lead. And the great news is that it is definitely possible.

In fact, it’s actually one of the positive side effects of going through something as huge and life-changing as a divorce. This is your chance to really connect with your inner self, recognize your power, and make changes to your life that will give you true happiness and confidence. Maybe finding ourselves after divorce isn’t so much about dusting off an old version of yourself or even inventing a new persona so much as having the courage to redefine your reality.

About the author: Kayleigh Alexandra is a writer, editor and influencer coordinator that regularly pens lifestyle advice for a range of inspirational brands and thought leaders around the world. Follow her work via Twitter @MentionMeio.

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

SAS offers women 6, FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you and your future. Join our tribe now.

Divorce help for women

Divorce Help for Thoughtful Women

There’s no one way to be married, and the same is true for divorce. Smart women find the best way through it is by viewing the divorce process as a whole, and then narrowing in and breaking down each piece into manageable sizes that can be more easily accomplished. Take things slowly, and make sure the direction you’re headed in is the one you really want to go in. Like any journey, you have to first take a look at the lay of the land and develop a holistic understanding of what this new place you’re venturing into looks like.

We are all about divorce help for women. Here are a few pointers to get you started, whether you’re thinking of divorce or just beginning the process.

Get educated

Being informed makes us feel more powerful. It’s also eye-opening because as much as humans love to play the “blame game,” we know too well that in a marriage fault is very rarely easy to assign. Do your research. Read books on divorce. Talk to professionals. Become an expert on your own options because that way, no matter how things turn out, you will feel confident that you’re making the right choices for yourself and your family.

Develop a safety net

You need to find new ways of creating stability in your life—there is so much that’s outside of our control, but saving money, connecting with new and old friends, and creating spaces for ourselves that feel safe and empowering are things that are very much within our control. You just have to be brave and disciplined enough to go out and do them. So start a “war chest,” where you save money for both yourself, your children, and your future. Nourish yourself. Find a women’s hiking group. Find a new job. Do things that make you feel whole again.

Be careful who you trust with the whole truth

People often enter into conversations with their own set of preconceived notions. If you have people in your life who you trust and know to be open-minded or objective, then by all means, allow them to be a shoulder to lean on. Otherwise, you may want to keep the details of your divorce to yourself. People judge. They give out opinions where they’re unwanted. Right now, you have to protect yourself as much as possible—even from people who mean well. Surround yourself with positive people.

Get organized

Get an email address you use specifically for divorce matters (you might even use a private or incognito window if you’re on a shared computer). Keep a notebook, and divide it into three sections: emotional, legal, and financial. You could also add other sections like family or other if you’d like. Write down your fears in the emotional section. Then take a look at the list and ask yourself which are actually legal or financial questions and move accordingly. Maybe they’re something else entirely. Now look back at all your legal and financial questions. Who can help you find your answers? A lawyer? An accountant? A certified divorce financial analyst? A divorce coach? There are countless professionals out there offering divorce help for women.

Keep a folder where you store important documents. What do you own? What do you owe? Keep a calendar of appointments and important deadlines. If your divorce isn’t amicable, you might even need to document your husband’s transgressions.

Get a legal consultation

Google can only take you so far, and the information you find generally only covers the basics of divorce laws in your state. We all think we can avoid going to see a lawyer, or that the cost isn’t worth it. But the fact is that you can’t afford to remain ignorant about your own circumstances—you’re only hurting yourself.

Find a new normal

You have to find a new normal. Even if you and your husband end up deciding there is still enough love left to work on reigniting the spark, you have to live your life like that saying “you can’t go home again.” You can’t go back because that life was no longer serving you. You need new routines and positive habits. At some point, you have to stop searching for divorce help for women. You have to feed your body and your soul. Exercise, and go to classes. Get a medical exam. Go do all the things you keep saying you want to do but have never quite gotten to. Step outside yourself and your comfort zone in order to find a new way forward.

Understand the journey you’re on

Manage your expectations. This divorce recovery will not only be about overcoming the legal and financial aspects of divorce but the emotional as well. What kind of support will you need to cope with the stresses of divorce? Be sure to look into therapy, reach out to a divorced friend, and look into the benefits of working with a divorce coach (even if you don’t end up getting divorced, they can be tremendously helpful). And if you’re not quite ready for divorce, then be sure not to threaten your husband with it until you know exactly what it means and what it looks like for you. Whatever you do, don’t rely on your attorney alone; they’re not there to cover the entire scope of divorce and the emotions that come with it.

There will be a tipping point

There’s rarely a moment in any of our lives where we can say with 100% certainty that we are making the right decision. We plan, we research, we talk things out. We trust in our intuition and our smarts. But at the end of the day, we don’t possess the crystal ball we so desperately want. The same is true for divorce. Even when you reach your own personal tipping point—that thing or the distance that pushes you over the edge from simply consider a divorce to actually getting one—you will still feel a little uncertain. But know that there is life after divorce, and what it looks like is different for everyone.

Most importantly, be kind to yourself and take things one day at a time. There is divorce help for women out there. But the past will only drag you down if you let it. Focus on what’s right in front of you, the aspects of your life that are within your control now, and create a plan. And if you can, be kind to your spouse too.

When we reach a point in our relationship where divorce is suddenly on the table, the decision feels as though it was already made for us. Asking for what we need to be happy isn’t always easy. Nor is it obvious what we are legally entitled to. Get educated on what your rights are and what is legally yours, and as well, learn about the healthiest ways for evaluating your choices and moving through the process. Around the corner, there is a beautiful life you cannot yet imagine and it’s waiting for you.

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

SAS offers women 6, FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, your family, and your future.

“A successful divorce requires smart steps, taken one at a time.”

~ SAS for Women 

Dealing with joint custody

Joint Custody: What Is It, and How Does It Work?

I spoke with divorce attorney Kathy Wagner about joint custody recently. She shared some critical insights from her 30-plus years of experience practicing family law in Somerset County, New Jersey. While there will be similarities in family law state-to-state, there are also important differences, so be sure to Google custody law in your state before taking action on any of this.

The difference between physical and legal custody

In New Jersey, the person who has physical custody has actual possession of the child, meaning the child lives primarily with that person. Having legal custody means having the right to make decisions for the child in the areas of health, education, and general welfare.

When the parents are married, both of these powers are vested in both parents. This means the child lives with both parents, and both parents can and do make legal decisions for the child.

After the parents live separately, the physical and legal custody arrangements must be settled with a custody decision either amongst themselves, memorialized by the court in the final judgment of divorce, or by a family law judge if the parents cannot agree.


Remind yourself of what your children deserve. Read How to Help Your Child Cope with Divorce.


The best interests of the child dictate the custody arrangement

In New Jersey, family law judges determine what custody arrangement is in the “best interests of the child.” The judge begins by presuming that children benefit from maintaining “frequent and continuing contact with both parents” and from having both parents “share the rights and responsibilities of child-rearing.” N.J.S.A. 9:2-4. Then the judge weighs the following factors, among others, in determining what custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child:

  • The parents’ ability to agree, communicate, and cooperate regarding the child
  • The parents’ willingness to accept custody and any history of unjustified withholding
  • The interaction and relationship of the child with the parents and other siblings
  • History of domestic violence
  • Safety of the child and/or either parent from physical abuse by other parent
  • Preference of the child of sufficient age and capacity
  • Needs of the child
  • Stability of home environment
  • Quality and continuity of child’s education
  • Fitness of parents
  • Geographical proximity of parents’ homes
  • Extent and quality of time spent with child both before and after separation
  • Parents’ employment responsibilities
  • Age and number of children

Contrary to popular belief, a judge will never exclusively use one factor—like a parent’s income level—as the sole deciding factor in who gets custody of a child.

There are three types of custody in New Jersey

In New Jersey, custody can be summarized by these three possible arrangements: Joint, Split, and Sole custody. Sole and Joint custody is defined specifically by New Jersey law.

Joint custody

This is what married parents have by default. Both people can make decisions about the child’s welfare, and the child lives in the same home as both parents. After a divorce, parents can often retain joint legal custody, even if the child lives mostly with one parent or the other.

According to state law, any joint custody arrangements must include specific instructions for consultation between parents on important decisions and residency of the minor child.

Split custody

If parents have more than one child, the court could split the children between the two parents. This is rarely done—in most cases the courts won’t split siblings apart so long as there is another option. In exceptional cases, such as there being a child from a previous marriage or a large age gap between siblings, the court might be more willing to split custody between parents.

Sole custody

Sadly, some people just aren’t fit to be parents. It could be due to alcoholism, criminal behavior, or abuse, but in any case, the case courts will not leave a child in the care of a parent who seems abusive or negligent. In these cases, one parent takes legal and physical custody of the child, while the other parent loses those rights.

Unless the other parent is found to be abusive or negligent, the parent with sole custody must still make arrangements for the child to have time with the other parent. The statues provide no guidance for what constitutes “appropriate parenting time,” and this is a frequent cause of custody battles.


Learn about the relevance of drug use in divorce in Coparenting Through Divorce: Drug Use, Drug Testing & Family Court.


How does joint custody work?

Again, parents can share joint physical custody, joint legal custody, or both. If parents share both, then it is common for their child to live with one parent during the school week and with the other the remainder of the time. The parents consult with one another regarding major decisions and collaborate to parent their child as best they can despite the divorce.

Joint custody obviously requires a great deal of civil and constructive communication between parents, and not every divorced couple is capable of this.

Can we make the joint custody arrangement without a lawyer?

It’s highly recommended that you speak to an attorney and file a motion with the court if you want to change the child custody arrangement set by the court. Of course, you have the right to represent yourself pro se if you wish, but be forewarned: the courts won’t make special accommodations for you as a layperson, and you will be expected to follow the same procedures as a lawyer.

If you and your Ex try to change the custody arrangement without going to court, this can be problematic in that if either of you decide not to follow your new arrangement, the new arrangement cannot be enforced by the court. In fact, it is the person insisting on the new arrangement that will be found in the wrong by the family law judge, who knows only about the original arrangement.

Find the best lawyer for your joint custody case

Family law is a highly specialized area of practice, and laws vary state-to-state. In New Jersey, custody disputes are settled in separate courts from other legal matters by dedicated family court judges. Even if you and your Ex seem to agree on most things and believe that you can make joint custody work, you need to find an experienced family law attorney in your area who can help you craft an arrangement that works for your family and get that arrangement approved by the court.

Veronica Baxter is a blogger and legal assistant to Katherine K. Wagner, Esq. Katherine practices divorce and family law in Somerset County, NJ.

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

SAS offers women 6, FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, your family, and your future.

“A successful divorce requires smart steps, taken one at a time.”

~ SAS for Women 

Divorced women on a boat

11 Truths Divorced Women Want You to Know

If you are thinking about or dealing with divorce, it’s human nature to want to hear things from other women who have survived it. We want to compare our experiences of hell, and we want to know how they did it, ultimately, how they, women like us, championed through it. Hearing their story creates a bond that pulls us in and lessens the magnitude of our own story and the depth of feeling so very alone.

As women who work with women dealing with divorce, we know this to be especially TRUE, and so whenever possible, we like to share some of the insightful gems we hear when women open up and talk about their experiences. There’s nothing like a smart woman for calling the issues out.

Here are eleven truths divorced women want you to know about and to be on the lookout for.

You can’t Google-solve your divorce

“When my marriage was breaking up and I was trying to survive,” says Kelly, an accomplished professional in her forties, “I tried to figure out everything using Google. But it became a rabbit hole! What helped me more was accepting that everything was in flux and not so easily solve-able. That divorce wasn’t just a document, or a financial readjustment, or things I could learn on the internet. It was a life shocker involving me to get really clear on who I wanted to be now that everything in my life had been chucked. Once I got that it helped me realize the journey, what divorce recovery is. I realized I would not be put together for a long time.”

It’s normal to be afraid

“Once I accepted it was normal to be afraid,” laughs Jessie, “it was freeing. Like it allowed me to relax a little. Being afraid doesn’t mean you can’t do it.”

Lonely is not the same as alone

“All my life—even probably causing me to marry,” admits Susan, a woman in her sixties, “I was afraid to be alone. And later it was definitely one of the things that kept me in a dysfunctional place—just being scared to be by myself. I was afraid I could not survive. But now I wake up by myself. I am alone, I realize being lonely is very different than being alone. Lonely means missing, feeling incomplete, wanting or feeling a lack of someone or something. Alone! Alone, I like being alone now and doing things I want to do. I don’t find myself or my life lacking.”

It’ll be normal for your kids to hate and judge you

“One of the hardest things for me was hearing my kids say what they said,” says Karen, a mother of three teens. “They really knew how to hurt me. Despite my efforts to do things healthily, I was human and at times I failed. And it’s clear I failed BIG TIME sometimes! But what I tell my friends now who are facing divorce is that your children will not always understand what’s going on—and neither will you all the time. But your kids don’t have the life span on this earth to understand. Until they do, they need your sympathy and support, not their shoulder to cry on.”

There’s a big difference between signing an agreement and healing your heart

“To help you stay organized,’ says Penny, a woman married for more than twenty-two years, “It can help if you think of the emotional journey through divorce like a roller coaster. And then outside the game park, your legal process. There’s a really big difference between the two, and it’s important to keep them separate. This means doing something for your emotions when you are triggered or upset or falling down. You got to find a safe place to go. Like my therapist was my godsend. And separately, you’ve got to look at the business transaction of the divorce and use a completely different part of your brain when you are making smart decisions there. Don’t lead with your emotions in the business transaction!”

Let go of “right” or “wrong”

“Stop trying to view your choices as right or wrong,” counsels Marcie. “The best decision making in divorce, is often not a question of what is right or wrong but what makes the most sense, what seems like the healthiest approach. Once you realize this, you become much more comfortable with the gray in life and a better problem-solver!”

There are great people waiting for you

An exciting, whole, new community of people are waiting for you. They understand what you’ve been through (they’ve got quite a few good stories of their own), but they don’t want you to stay wallowing there. They want you to step into your new chapter like them, and to keep learning, to keep living. Let’s start creating that life right now.

Stop listening to people who don’t know

There’s nothing wrong with you if you don’t want to date after divorce. Don’t listen to your well-meaning friends, family, or annoying neighbors who urge you to “get back out there” if it doesn’t appeal to you now or ever. You’ve got a million other things to think about, feel and enjoy.

Your best days are coming

“I am convinced the biggest most expansive moments, happen post-divorce,” says Jennifer who has moved to a new country. “I had no idea how finding out about me on a soulful level would automatically translate into my finding more and more situations that inspire me. I am not sure if it’s because one is more grateful or aware, but listening to who we are, becomes self-fulfilling!”

You will learn much more

You know how you feel tired these days? How you feel like an old dog who could not stand to learn anymore tricks? “Well, I’ve got news for you,” says Deshum. “As tired and baked as you might feel now, you can and you will still learn new things! It’s called adaption, and Charles Darwin knew it’s important for you to learn, change and adapt so you can stick around. So get excited because you’re going to learn to Tango!”

Love is there

“Some of us are hurt. We’re wounded,” shared Maria quietly. “We don’t know what to think of love, or if we will ever want a part of love again. I know I never thought I’d be in a relationship again. I just wasn’t interested. After my divorce, I was building my business, and working so hard. I honestly wasn’t interested even in dating…But then, love suddenly happened. Out of the blue! As if to remind me that love existed before my marriage, and during my marriage. And yes, it exists still…after divorce. Watch out, because love can find us.”

Change the course of your life — AFTER DIVORCE!

Paloma’s Group™: Learning the Art of Reinvention.

For newly independent women, post-divorce. Over the course of (only) 3 months, each live-coaching, online class ​builds on a core theme required to ​design a life you deserve. Schedule a free 45-minute coaching session to explore (and experience) how this remarkable group of post-divorce women will plan and act on creating a life they love.

We promise — whether you join us for Paloma or not  — you’ll walk away from your complimentary coaching-session discovering a next step in your unique After Divorce journey. 

“We choose not to do it alone.” ~ SAS for Women

 

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

How to reinvent your look after divorce

How to Reinvent Your Look After Divorce

It might be a cliché to reinvent your look after divorce, but that’s never stopped anyone before. Let’s face it—getting a divorce is a stressful time for most, but there are a few ways that you can get through it and boost your confidence. Sure, everyone has different circumstances. There are plenty of ways you can handle the emotions that come with and the stresses of a divorce, but no matter what, your goal should be to handle it all with dignity.

Having confidence in yourself is important to get through a divorce with a positive attitude and some fighting spirit.

Reassess your look

It’s common for women in a long-term relationship to “let things slide” when it comes to their wardrobe and overall look. We tend to fall back on comfortable clothing and casual wear. After all, being in a long-term relationship is supposed to be comfortable, and we don’t need to find a new partner because we already have one!

Following the break-up, during your divorce recovery, it is all too easy to get sucked into a negative mindset. We feel bruised and numb. The emotional upheaval is real. You probably won’t care what you look like for a while, but once you are over the worst of it, it’s time to reassess and decide where changes can be made in your wardrobe.

Take a long, hard look at your closet. Throw out all your dated clothing and unflattering sweatpants. It’s time to start looking like a hot, single again. (Or, at the very least, trying to!) There’s nothing stopping you—reinvent your look after divorce.

Being confident in your style

The key to being confident about how you look is to believe you are confident. One way to do that is to play the part. You will easily feel more confident if you leave the house each day having made an effort, so don a new bright lipstick, put on clothes that make you feel good, make an effort to do your hair—whatever it takes to feel strong and confident in yourself.

Many people feel more confident if they are dressed up, versus feeling sorry for themselves in pajamas and a baggy t-shirt. While being in your comfy clothes to lounge around the house is okay, don’t let it become a habit. Keep comfy clothes for bedtime. Make sure to get dressed and look smart for the business of the day.

If you don’t have anything in your wardrobe that makes you feel and look good, go out and buy yourself something that will. Right now, you are in control of your decisions, and you should do things for you. If buying a new handbag will make you feel more confident in yourself, then go ahead.

But rather than impulsive purchases, take the time to think about what you want, and purchase something that is going to be treasured by you. Online sites such as SSENSE have lots of luxury fashion items, such as Saint Laurent handbags, which could make a great investment piece.

If there are things you’ve always wanted to have but felt selfish in doing so, now is the time to be selfish. Do things for yourself, and treasure the independence and freedom you have right now. Like we said before, you’re in control. You can absolutely reinvent your look after divorce.

Now, that’s not to say you should go out and spend money recklessly, but you could make a day out of treating yourself and invite a close friend who always knows how to make you feel good. Spending time with the people who support you is also a great confidence booster, and any good friend will know how to be there for you, just as you would be there for them.

If shopping isn’t your thing, consider other steps to take solo and with friends—as long as you are enjoying yourself and spending quality time with the people you love—including yourself.

Curate a capsule wardrobe that flatters your shape

Whether you are ready to embark on a fitness program, taking up yoga to fight post-divorce depression, or not, it’s time to curate a capsule wardrobe that embodies the new you. Mix and match your looks for work, nights out with girlfriends, and eventually, dates. Pull together a series of different looks using timeless classics and up-to-the-minute fashion items.


Looking to move beyond your wardrobe? If you are newly divorced and wondering how to rebuild your life in 360 degrees, you want to know about Paloma’s Group our Life After Divorce Support Group.


It’s OK to buy some cheap fashion pieces, but if you want a more stylish look, invest in a few good quality classics like a blazer, designer white tee, and a good quality pair of jeans. Don’t forget about footwear and accessories too. These help you pull together a more cohesive look.

Finally, what is important to remember is that you will grow and learn from this experience. Things are going to be tough, and your life will seem incredibly difficult to deal with at times. But this post isn’t just about how to reinvent your look after divorce—it’s about taking one step closer toward changing your entire outlook. If you focus on yourself and the love and support of your close friends and family, eventually the pain will be something in the past.

Cultivating confidence in yourself to build a brighter new future will help you move forward, so keep going. You WILL eventually get to a place where you and more positive things reign.

Rosana Beechum is a young lady focusing on rediscovering her sexuality as a divorced mother of two. Whilst doing this, she is looking to share advice with fellow women in a similar situation emphasizing the importance of looking after yourself in terms of mind and body. 

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of divorce and divorce recovery. Experience SAS firsthand. Schedule your free, 45-minute consultation to hear perspective, next steps and the best resources that will honor your life and who you are meant to be.

Thinking about mental health in a relationship

Reasons to Always Check Your Mental Health in a Relationship

People say you can forget yourself in someone else—given that, it’s no wonder people also forget about their mental health in a relationship. It can be hard to squeeze in self-care on a good day. When things in your love life feel precarious, everything, including yourself, seems to fall to the wayside.

Relationships can come with many challenges, but like most of us, you and your partner likely aim to solve whatever problems come your way together. But sometimes, events may lead to that mutual understanding and trust dissolving right before your very eyes. The “band” has broken up. You’re no longer a team. A divorce or separation seems inevitable. If you find yourself in this position, don’t forget about the importance of checking your mental health.

While there are plenty more, here are four reasons why you should always check your mental health in a relationship:

1. Mental and physical health may form a link

Certain thought patterns may let the body feel specific feelings. If you’re watching a scary movie, your hair might stand on end, or if you’re falling in love, it might feel like there are butterflies fluttering in your stomach.

Now, many relationships come with challenges. For instance, you or your partner might be working day and night to meet deadlines. This scenario may leave the other person in the relationship feeling alone. It might even lead to a lot of overthinking.

Negative thoughts may result in physical manifestations of those views. The anxiety and worry might make your stomach churn as you think about your partner and your relationship. The extra stress might make you lose your appetite.

If faced with challenges in your relationship, consider taking deep breaths. This action may seem simple, but it might help you think more clearly. Don’t let pride get in the way of a healthy, loving relationship. There might be times when you have to be the better person as you take a step back. Focus on your thoughts and breathing patterns.

And if you or your partner are having difficulties that are already affecting your mental health, consider seeking professional advice.

2. Mental health may affect social interactions

Social events like working in an office, interacting with family members, and ordering coffee at the local café may seem like everyday tasks. However, these interactions require a person to have sound mental wellbeing.

Challenges in relationships might create negative thoughts that affect these social interactions. If you fight with your partner before heading into the office, it might change your work ethic. Routine tasks like documenting reports might feel like more of a challenge than usual. Arguments may replay in your mind. Seemingly routine tasks like ordering coffee or talking with a relative might become more tiresome than the norm.

Despite whatever is going on in your relationship, it’s essential to redefine your focus for the day. Head to a quiet room as you try to listen to your thoughts. Play happy music to help you relax. Try not to let the last fight with your partner hinder you from completing important tasks. And again, if you think it’s becoming a larger problem, consider seeking professional counseling services.

3. Current mental illnesses may worsen when provoked

Couples may already have certain mental illnesses before their relationship starts. These ailments may include mood, personality, and anxiety disorders—and because of that, they might affect your mental health in a relationship.

Having bipolar disorder means you have alternating instances of ecstasy and depression. These feelings may come and go without warning. Your happiness, sadness, and anger may become extreme. The adverse events happening in your life might make you burst out in anger at your partner, even if your partner isn’t the primary cause of those emotions.

Consider finding a happy place inside your head when stressful events seem to come from all sides. Talk to your partner about your mental condition. Your partner may be able to help you find solutions to cope with your mental illness. Keep in mind that one of the essential aspects of a long-term relationship is proper communication. Handling stress might seem complicated, but always remember that your partner is there to help you in times of need.

4. Physical health might worsen when mental wellbeing drops

You might be living with a chronic illness that may make everyday tasks more challenging to deal with. A few examples of these chronic ailments include cancer, diabetes, and heart-related concerns.

Physical health concerns might worsen when you don’t care for your mental health. Depression, for instance, may lead to unhealthy appetites, which can then lead to other health issues like anorexia or high blood pressure.

Don’t forget to think about yourself even when you’re in a relationship. Self-care is even more important during trying times in your relationship, like when you’re filing for divorce. While working together is still a critical aspect of a long-term relationship, consider thinking about yourself when needed, especially if your partner isn’t around to be there with you. Search for things that can help you relax. You might want to carry a stress ball around with you, for example, or eat your favorite, healthy comfort food.

Try not to let your emotions get the best of you when battling negative thoughts. Outbursts may cause mental and physical health problems. Check for the signs of mental health issues before they worsen. Above all, opt for professional counseling services if you find it too difficult to cope with what’s happening around you.

This article was written by Rebecca Hawkings who loves life and loves to help people change their lives for the better. She’s volunteered in the past to help those who are less fortunate and currently works full time while studying to become a psychologist. 

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of divorce and divorce recovery. Experience SAS firsthand. Schedule your free, 45-minute consultation to hear perspective, next steps and the best resources that will honor your life and who you are meant to be.

Life after divorce

Life After Divorce: Getting You and Your Money Together

Before, during, and after divorce, one thing that’s on everyone’s mind is their finances. The following is an imagined conversation, but as a financial advisor, I’ve heard variations of it all too often amidst women struggling to rebuild their life after divorce.

An all-too-common conversation between divorced friends

FRIEND: So, how are things going with the divorce? Are you close to finalizing everything?

FRIEND 2: Believe it or not, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. My attorney has been wonderful—as far as attorneys go, I guess.

FRIEND: That’s great.

FRIEND 2: Yeah, I guess.

FRIEND: What’s wrong? I thought you said your attorney was good.

FRIEND 2: Yes, she is, but, well, this other part is embarrassing.

FRIEND: What do you mean? Are you OK?

FRIEND 2: I’m fine—but it’s hard for me to talk about this. I feel ashamed. You probably won’t understand.

FRIEND: What is it? Are you OK? Please, let me help you.

FRIEND 2: Well, OK, OK. But please don’t tell anyone, OK?

FRIEND: OK.

FRIEND 2: Well, my attorney is good. She got me almost everything I wanted, or at least everything I thought I deserved—to be fair.

FRIEND: So what’s the problem?

FRIEND 2: This is hard for me. Well, I let my husband take care of all the money stuff. I never really kept track of what we had. And now the attorney is showing me all these accounts that I’m getting. And this may sound stupid, but I don’t know what to do with them, how to read them or understand them.

FRIEND: Oh, don’t worry, you’ll be fine. I thought you were going to say you were sick or something! 

FRIEND 2: Don’t laugh, please, this is making me sick. I don’t know anything about investments. I’ve never balanced a checkbook, let alone managed our account online. I can’t believe I let this happen! And now I have to take care of it for me and the kids? Mutual funds, 401(k)s, life insurance—what does it all even mean? It’s overwhelming! To be truthful, I am scared. I thought life after divorce would be easier. I am going to mess everything up and lose what little I have.

FRIEND: OK OK. Calm down, everything will be fine.

FRIEND 2: How do you know everything will be fine? You went to college and studied economics! When you got divorced you already knew about all these things.


Learn what other steps you could be taking to promote your healthiest life after divorce. Read 100 Must Do’s for the Newly Divorced, Independent Woman


FRIEND: No way—after I got married and had kids I forgot everything I learned in college about money because my Ex handled the finances too.

FRIEND 2: So what did you do with the money you got in the divorce? How did you begin?

FRIEND: I was lucky. My sister had a friend who’s a financial person, a professional she referred me to. He began to teach me what to focus on and helped me learn how to invest money. The important thing is that this person guiding you is smart and a good teacher who can help you take care of everything as you rebuild your life after divorce. Do you want his name?

FRIEND 2: Sure, I guess. I’m assuming he’s qualified and he knows what he’s doing?

FRIEND: Yes, he’s got all types of credentials, but that’s not what impressed me.

FRIEND 2: Then why did you use him?

FRIEND: Because of how he interacted with me when I first met him. He took the time to get an idea of what I understood and figure out what I didn’t have a clue about. It seemed like he knew when I didn’t understand something, and he took the extra time to make it clear before we moved onto the next topic.

FRIEND 2: Sounds like someone who doesn’t exist!

FRIEND: Too good to be true, right!

FRIEND 2: Yeah, but he probably deals with a lot of rich people and would’t deal with small accounts like mine.

FRIEND: Nope, not the case—he only accepts referrals from existing clients so when I refer you to him, he will work with you if you want him to. By the way, he doesn’t have a minimum.

FRIEND 2: But if I sign up with him is he ever going to call me after I give him my money?

FRIEND: That’s one of the most important things! When I first started working with him, he spent a ton of time with me to come up with a plan, to understand what my goals are. He even helped me identify my goals. He’s a very good listener. And he requires meeting with you as times goes on to review the plan and to see if it needs any changes. Oh, and one more thing, when you meet with him, he doesn’t hand you off to his assistant or junior person on the team.

FRIEND 2: OK. But how will I know if he’s doing a good job?

FRIEND: You will have online access so you can review the accounts at any time. Quarterly reports are also provided. And he also checks with my accountant to make sure I’m paying enough in taxes and stuff like that. I like having more than one person looking after me. Life after divorce is hard enough. I like a diversified approach. I am not putting my eggs in any one basket ever again. Neither in marriage or other things.

FRIEND 2: OK. I guess I can call him.

FRIEND: I have a better idea. If it’s OK with you, I’ll have him call you. He’s very good at being proactive and following up.

FRIEND 2: Well that would be a big help. I think I feel better after talking with you.

FRIEND: Yes, that’s a step in the right direction.

Life after divorce can be fraught with a sense of anxiety and, yes, even shame. If you find yourself here, then maybe you feel a bit more like Friend 2 in this scenario. Knowing help is out there can already make the weight on your shoulders feel a little smaller, but not everyone has a friend with a referral in their back pocket—how do you even begin to pick the right financial professional for you? What do you do when you find yourself suddenly in charge of your household’s finances?

Keys to picking a financial professional

  • Get recommendations from people you know and trust. That means anyone from family members and friends to attorneys, accountants, divorce coaches, and therapists.
  • Interview the financial professional in person or by phone. You are looking for a personality that will work well with your personality.
  • Check the financial professional’s background on the Financial Industry Regulatory
  • Authority (FINRA) BrokerCheck website.
  • Does the financial professional have account minimums?
  • Does the financial professional handle a lot of clients like you. By that, we mean people who are going through a transition due to divorce or widowhood.
  • How does the financial professional get paid? Do they earn commissions on each transaction, or do they charge an annual fee based on how much you have with him?
  • Does the financial professional have a communication plan for staying in touch with clients? How often can you expect a phone call or email from him? Does he have periodic reviews? If so, how often? Are they in-person or over-the-phone?
  • Who is the financial professional’s typical client? You don’t want to be overlooked for his bigger clients!

Life after divorce is a journey, and it’s one made easier by having the right community by your side. The best part of starting over is that you get to decide exactly who’s a part of that community—your friends and relatives, yes, but also smart professionals who empower you to make the best choices for yourself and your family. They are out there, and now you know how to find them.

 

This conversation is hypothetical and is intended for illustration purposes only. The article is for informational purposes only and it is not to be considered tax or legal advice. AXA Advisors (its affiliates) and associates do not provide tax, accounting or legal advice or services. You should seek advice based on your particular circumstances from an independent tax or legal advisor. Christopher Kelly offers securities through AXA Advisors, LLC (NY, NY 2123144600), member FINRA, SIPC. Annuity and insurance products offered through AXA Network, LLC. Individuals may transact business and/or respond to inquiries only in state(s) in which they are properly registered and/or licensed.  AGE 146422(08/19) (exp.08/21)

Chris Kelly is a financial advisor with over 25 years of experience in the financial services industry. He specializes in what he calls “Financial Transitions” – helping families design and implement a financial plan to help deal with the loss of the primary income earner due to divorce, death, or disability. He is well-versed in a broad range of financial subjects including investments, cash flow planning, and estate planning. Chris has offices in Woodbridge, NJ, Wall, NJ and New York City.

Contact Chris at [email protected] or 732-292-3357 to begin a conversation on how to make your post-divorce financial journey a smooth one.

 

divorced women

What All Divorced Women Have in Common

Years ago, when I was still shell-shocked from learning of my husband’s infidelity and angry that I had become a divorced woman, I went out to dinner with two friends. Both were divorced women, so we had that in common. But one was talking easily about co-hosting her son’s graduation party with her Ex and his new wife—the woman he’d left her for.

She barely even rolled her eyes when she said his name!

I couldn’t believe it. “How can you stand to be in the same room with him?” I asked, thinking of my own Ex-husband and the knot of dread and anxiety I felt just seeing his name pop up on my phone.

“It’s been five years,” she said. “After a while, I stopped caring about the past. You’ll get there too.”

She said this casually, with so much assurance, that I felt I had to believe her. But how could I?

I couldn’t imagine a day when I could be civil to my Ex

And I considered this pretty normal. Certainly, my other girlfriends who were newly divorced weren’t planning parties with their Ex-husbands. Like me, their scars were too fresh. They were still reeling from divorce fallout that seemed unending: Sandy was constantly facing her Ex in court, while Roxanne’s Ex refused to see or speak to her for more than a year. Linda was grieving not just the loss of her husband but the loss of her best friend, with whom he had an affair. Katie, in her sixties, had given up her retirement plans and savings for her second husband only to be abandoned and forced to navigate the harsh realities of a grey divorce.

What I knew for sure was that my friends and I, and many women like us, had been thrust into situations we never asked for.

As divorced women, how could we stop caring about the past when the past wouldn’t leave us alone?

I gave this a lot of thought. And I kept hearing my friend’s confident voice saying, “You’ll get there too.”


For more suggestions on how to move forward, check out What to Do After Divorce: Your Top 15 Best Moves


Then a funny thing happened. The more I thought about the past, the more I began seeing it through a different lens. In the same way that I had never imagined getting a divorce, I’d never imagined doing other challenging things, like not getting permission from the judge before moving my children to a safer, less expensive apartment. Or buying my own car without consulting with my Ex. Or enrolling in a course to become an energy medicine practitioner. Or learning to say no (full stop!) when my Ex tried to control my life.

When I focused on all the strong, independent moves I made throughout my divorce, the past didn’t seem so suffocating. In fact, I saw that I actually came through my divorce with the best gift imaginable: I met the best version of myself.

And this has been true for my friends too. We have something wonderful in common.

Divorced women have a secret superpower; it’s the strength to rise again

Not all of us look wildly successful on the outside. All of us still face challenges and struggles, but we share an inner strength that we never knew existed.

Here’s what that strength looks like:

Sandy spent so much time in court that she connected with someone who offered her a job as the office manager of an all-female law firm.

The extended cold shoulder Roxanne got from her Ex gave her the space to meet an amazing new partner.

Linda kept loneliness at bay by focusing on her education and career. She earned a doctorate degree and became a department head at a Big Ten university.

Katie, like me, wrote an award-winning memoir about surviving divorce.

Now, when I meet someone going through a divorce, I want to be the one offering assurances. I want to share what my friends and I have learned. I want to take that baffled, disbelieving woman gently by the shoulders, look her in the eyes, and tell her to have faith.

Divorced women are the strongest women you’ll ever meet

A divorced woman knows that the best version of her has gone ahead and is pulling her forward.

A divorced woman has earned a seat at a table loaded with resilience, clarity, wisdom, and freedom. And yes, it’s the very same table where she may, one day, have dinner with her Ex and her Ex’s new wife.

And it will be no big deal. I promise.

Tammy Letherer is an author and writing coach. Her most recent book, The Buddha at My Table: How I Found Peace in Betrayal and Divorce, is a Gold Medal Winner in the Living Now Book Awards and in the Human Relations Indie Book Awards. It was also a finalist in the 2018 Best Book Awards and National Indie Excellence Awards. 


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We promise — whether you join us for Paloma or not  — you’ll walk away from your complimentary coaching-session discovering a next step in your unique After Divorce journey. 

“We choose not to do it alone.” ~ SAS for Women

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

A family dealing with parental estrangement walking on a dark path alongside a building

When is it Parental Estrangement and When is it Parental Alienation?

Divorce is full of big words—the ones the lawyers and courts toss around, the ones your friends and family are scared of, and the ones your divorce coach and therapist use to label processes and behaviors that seem almost incapable of being contained so easily. When it comes to divorce and children, two common terms parents become aware of are parental alienation and parental estrangement.

Even the smoothest divorces can impact your relationship with your children. But it’s not always easy to pin down the source of your specific issues. Your mind starts racing. Is it something I said during the divorce? Are my children angry with me? Or disappointed? And which is worse? And when the answers to these questions don’t come quickly, you begin slipping down that slippery slope. Have I broken them somehow? Maybe it’s not anything I’ve done at all—maybe it’s him*. What has he been saying to them?

Two different things could be happening here, and you have more control over one than the other.

But what exactly is the difference between parental estrangement and parental alienation?

Parental estrangement

The source of parental estrangement can be murky. Your children have cut off contact with you or, at the very least, there is a growing distance between you. You get a sense that your children are blaming your for something but what that blame is for is less clear, especially if your children aren’t the type of people to freely share their feelings and opinions. But with estrangement, your children’s feelings are their own. They have not been influenced by their other parent (even if that other parent, coincidentally, shares many of the same feelings).

If you feel estranged from your children and they’ve communicated to you why that is, you might feel defensive, but as hard as it may be, we recommend you keep those feelings from your kids. Children often see things as black or white and right or wrong. Little moments or impulsive actions take on vast meaning. Your children are experiencing so much for the first time, and divorce has a way of dredging up all of it—the good and the bad. Even if you can’t understand where your children are coming from, you must respect their point of view and work with them from that perspective.

Know that it’s okay to accept each other’s differences, but as the parent in this situation, you should defer to your children’s point of view to repair your relationship. Whether the reasons your children are distancing themselves from you are real or perceived, they are still their reasons.

Are you experiencing parental estrangement?

Think through your divorce: Were there times where you let your stress levels get the best of you? Did you get depressed and disappear? Did you get angry and lash out? Did you turn to substances to numb your pain? In what ways did your divorce disrupt your children’s lives? A new home? A new city?

Did someone hit pause on your lives? Have you remembered to press play again?

Have you been giving your children space? Maybe it’s actually too much space. Maybe what they really need is a more hands-on form of support. Sometimes if you wait for your children to “come around on their own” they just, well, never do. They learn, instead, to get by on their own. They take your space as a hint: You’re alone now. Time to suck it up, and grow up. Make sure your children understand that you are still their parent even if the dynamics of your family have changed. Play an active role in repairing and creating a new relationship with your children.

Sometimes parental estrangement feels a lot like parental alienation (more on the latter below) because “the symptoms” of both situations overlap in some cases. Both situations are isolating, for the parent and the children. And both situations can have long-term effects on your relationship with your children. The key difference? With estrangement, there isn’t another parent behind-the-scenes working against you.

Parental alienation

With parental alienation, you know exactly who the perpetrator is: your Ex or, perhaps, even yourself. In this situation, one parent is actively campaigning against the other parent, both manipulating their children and monopolizing their time to foster negative feelings toward that other parent.

It’s a subtle difference, but it’s one that matters. While this is nothing short of devious, it’s hard to repair the rift without causing more mental harm to your children in the process.

You can’t, for instance, outright call their other parent a liar because that plays into the same mental games of alienating your children from their other parent. You can’t get the courts to cut off or reduce visitation without proof that your Ex is actively working against you, and to gain said proof would mean pressing your kids to testify against their other parent. Perhaps worst of all, even if you do “fix” your relationship with your children, those achievements are likely to be temporary—your Ex, after all, is still out there waiting for his next moment to strike.

Are you experiencing parental alienation?

Parental alienation can be hard to distinguish from parental estrangement. You can’t know what your Ex is saying to your kids, and for obvious reasons, you shouldn’t ask your children to divulge private conversations—it can be hard on them to repeat the negative (and perhaps genuinely horrible) things that your Ex may have said.

But there are some telltale signs of alienation: One parent constructs a negative narrative around their children’s other parent. They list off reasons for the divorce, for instance, and always put the blame on the other parent. Or they suggest that the other parent doesn’t care about their kids because they don’t spend as much time with them. Or maybe it’s less deliberate—one parent consistently vents to friends and family members about their Ex and the children overhear, or post-divorce, one parent is depressed or otherwise in a bad spot while the other parent is seemingly thriving.

Regardless of the specific ways in which you’ve become alienated from your children, the rift will grow worse over time. Your Ex is, in effect, poisoning your relationship with your children, and like most poisons, they grow stronger the more a person is exposed to them.

Parental estrangement vs. parental alienation

Parental estrangement, then, is when you can look back at your actions throughout your divorce and recognize that you’ve made choices that have left your children feeling unsupported in a time of need. Even if you can’t recognize this yourself, your children have likely accused you of doing so.

Parental alienation is when your children’s other parent is actively poisoning your relationship with your children. It’s an ongoing psychological battle that isn’t about your children’s best interests or yours or even your Ex’s, really. It has more to do with power than anything. But here’s the other thing we haven’t mentioned yet about parental alienation—over time, it becomes an actual syndrome. By that, we mean that parental alienation syndrome is habitual. A pattern develops, routines settle in, and your children may no longer play passive roles in the damage that’s being done to your relationship. Instead, they begin to see the world through the eyes of the parent who’s targeting their other parent.

What you can do in the case of parental estrangement

If your life involves parental estrangement or you’re hoping to avoid it, there are some things you can do to start to repair your relationship with your children. (Depending on the specifics of your situation, some of these may help in cases involving parental alienation as well.)

  • Has your child spoken up about the growing distance between you? Don’t wait for them to “get over it” or “come around.” Address your children’s concerns directly by listening to them, trying to understand, validating their feelings, and telling them that you want to work on their concerns with them so you two can repair your relationship.
  • Don’t wait for your children to contact you to repair your relationship with them—you are the parent. Even if your children have hurled insults your way, ignored your messages, or placed an unfair amount of blame on your shoulders, you need to take the first step and reach out. Even if your children have crow’s feet and their fair share of grey, this particular dynamic will never really change. Your children may eventually come around on their own, to be sure, but you may lose more time than any of us is comfortable with if you wait too long.
  • If you’re struggling to get through to your children, know that persistence is key here as are the words you use—let your children know you love them, that you want to repair your relationship, and that you’ll keep checking-in with them so that they know you’re there when they’re ready to talk to you. We’re not suggesting that you harass or stalk your children, to be clear. There are ways to reach out that feel less invasive than a text or call, like a letter, for instance.
  • Don’t violate your children’s boundaries. Don’t show up unexpectedly at their school or other parent’s house to talk or force your company on them. This can backfire and cause your children to feel even more distant from you.
  • Do not give up on communicating with your children—no matter how long they ignore you. You might feel abandoned, and that’s a bitter pill to swallow. But, again, you are the parent in this relationship, and your children were never here to emotionally support you. Call your children on their birthdays and holidays even if they don’t answer. Set an example of the type of relationship you want to have with your children, and in time, they may grow to appreciate that you never gave up.
  • If your children do come around and feel ready to speak with you, they might want to talk about the aspects of your relationship that made them distance themselves from you in the first place. Whether you agree with their side of your story or not, you must do your best to react neutrally and find a way to work together to overcome your past. An unwillingness to see your shared history from your children’s perspective is just one reason you may have been cut off from them in the first place—and while that may seem harsh, it has more to do with your children feeling as though they are living in one reality while you exist in another. There is no greater distance than that.
  • Be ready to admit your shortcomings to your children. Of course, we know that we’re simply humans—we’re far from perfect. But your divorce and how you handled the aftermath may have been the first time in your children’s lives where they really came to understand this firsthand. Don’t sweep your mistakes under the rug. Own your flaws, and let your children see you work through them.
  • You might be ready to move on, but your children might need more time to be angry or sad or confused. To just feel and experience whatever emotions are flooding through them. If you children are acting out, don’t punish them or push them to get over their feelings. Instead, make sure they know that their emotions are valid and that you are there for them whether they are ready to move forward or not.

Understand that a “repaired” relationship with your children may look different than you thought it would. If there’s one thing we all know, it’s that you can’t change the past and you can’t return to it. Before divorce, you didn’t have to deal with things like a custody agreement, a different home, or your Ex’s new partner. Your relationship with your children—indeed your entire lives—have changed in fundamental ways that you simply can’t ignore.

What you can do in the case of parental alienation

There are a few additional things you can do to try to repair your relationship with your children when your Ex is actively working to poison it.

  • Let your children know that their mental state comes first. Explain that they might feel upset or pressured or mad at you but that’s okay—they don’t need to tell you why, but if they ever want to talk, you are there for them and will always love them unconditionally.
  • See if your Ex will agree to therapy for your children. This way there’s a third party there to help your children navigate their relationship with both parents and work through any negative feelings they may have in a safe environment.
  • Don’t worry about being right or about proving your Ex wrong—instead, model healthy parent-child behavior by not crossing that boundary and focus on things that are within your control. Focus on strengthening your relationship with your children and not tearing apart their relationship with their other parent. Forcing your children to be the middlemen between you and your Ex will only isolate them further.
  • Work on good coparenting skills with your Ex. This is especially true if the alienation is accidental more than purposeful (though in either case, we realize this isn’t always easy, especially if some sort of betrayal was responsible for your divorce). If your Ex is in a bad place mentally and is using your children as a therapist, talking to them about what’s going on and appropriate places for help might work wonders in repairing your relationship with your children.

In general, you want to be clear with your Ex about the fact that, post-divorce, you two have every right to be upset and vent about one another, but that, for the sake of your children, that should be done privately. And because children have a way of overhearing things they shouldn’t, it’s best to vent your feelings when they’re not at home.

Why is the difference between parental estrangement and parental alienation important?

Name your demons, and maybe then you can face them. Divorce is different for everyone. It’s the naming of each part of the process—contemplation, finding a lawyer, awaiting your divorce decree, to list a few—that makes us feel like we’ve arrived somewhere and are now standing on firmer ground. The more information we have, the more prepared we feel to face whatever comes next.

But naming your demons isn’t enough. You have to take ownership of them or you will never feel like you are truly in control of them. And that’s why knowing the difference between estrangement and alienation is so important.

With parental estrangement, feeling in control means being honest with yourself: Do you want a relationship with your children? Then stop making excuses for yourself. You know now that you and your children can live without one another, but is that what you really want? Whatever attempts you’ve made in the past? They didn’t work. Think long and hard about why, and next time, approach things differently.

With alienation, feeling in control means exercising an extreme amount of patience and accepting that, ultimately, you’re not actually in control. It means learning when to let go and focus on you for your best divorce recovery. Understand that you simply can’t change other people or push the clock forward so that time heals everyone all at once—it’s simply not an option. So let it go.

We choose to focus on what we can control, and we recommend you do the same. Even though it may feel like it, you’re not the first person to weather this storm. Meet up with other divorced women. Use this time to travel. Lose yourself in nature so that you might find yourself again. Reach out to a divorce coach who can help you understand your choices and the actions leading to the results you really want—so you, your children, and your relationship with them make it safely through this time in your life.

Since 2012, SAS for Women is entirely dedicated to the unique challenges women face when dealing with divorce or navigating its afterward. Discover the smartest, and most educated, next step for you and your family. Schedule your free, 45-minute coaching session with SAS now.

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