Divorce and Separation: How to Handle The Reactions of Family and Friends

Question:
“I’ve been separated for a few months now and am still feeling pretty shell-shocked. How do I handle my friends and family? Everyone is telling me what to do, how I should feel, asking all sorts of questions I don’t feel like answering. I feel like shutting down.

Answer:

The transition from going from married to separated can be pretty rocky. It sounds like your emotional stamina has been really tested, which is to be expected. Your family and friends and all of their advice and questions are well-intentioned, but it sounds like they aren’t really helping. So how do you ask for what you need?

Don’t be afraid to tell your supporters that you appreciate their help but right now the best way they could help you is simply to offer you love and to listen to you. Listening deeply to another without an agenda to “fix” them or solve their problem is such an important gift. Too often people listen more to what they want to say next, instead of ….

just listening and letting someone pour their heart out. Tell them the barrage of advice and “Here’s what I would do” are adding to your sense of overwhelm instead of helping you get your feet back on the ground.

Realize that your friends and family are likely going through their own emotional upset as well. People don’t get training manuals on divorce etiquette, so they are doing the best they can and may simply be feeling uncomfortable themselves. They may have strong feelings about your ex-partner, or are concerned about your well-being, or both. It could be bringing up their own feelings of insecurity or doubt about their own relationship. Regardless, it’s totally acceptable to let them know what you need. If the conversation starts to go down a road you don’t want to travel, simply tell them “You know, I’d rather not get into that right now. Let’s change the subject.” They will follow your cues.

It is important, however, that you do find some forum to express and explore your feelings. Divorce isn’t easy, but it’s an opportunity to discover new wisdom and strength within yourself, if you’re willing to look. So I wouldn’t recommend simply “shutting down” permanently. The risk there is that you could simply repeat past mistakes because the lessons that are in this separation for you haven’t been fully excavated and digested.

The Divorce Resource Kit offers many tools, such as the THRIVE Principles ™ and strategies to help you get your sense of center and confidence back. You may also want to work with a divorce coach or find a local support group where you can connect with others going through divorce. You don’t need to travel the divorce journey alone.

WANT TO ASK A QUESTION?
Ask your question, in confidence, by clicking here or you may email us at askthrive@thriveafterdivorce.com. We’ll answer your question in upcoming issues!

Finding Your Balance After Divorce

Q. “My question is really an intricate combination of how to keep myself in balance and go forward instead of wallowing in rumination about being unemployed, parenting three kids (9, 11, & 16) and navigating the mediation process all at the same time! My house is a disorganized mess, my finances are slim and uncertain, and the kids are struggling with self-image, anger and silence. It’s hard to even get up in the morning, especially those days I’m alone.”

A. You are certainly in the thick of the upheaval that separation and divorce can create. I remember those days well and it can be a very bumpy road. Divorce is like having a tornado touch down and hit your life. Every major part of your life – your children, finances, friends, emotional state – feel like they have been strewn about. The stress from all of this is enormous, so I really honor you for asking this question and reaching out for support. While I can’t answer everything you’ve asked here, let me at least identify a key priority area for you and recommend some useful resources to get you started.

There are so many moving parts here, it can feel overwhelming to even know how to begin. The first piece of the divorce puzzle that I recommend you attend to is yourself. Your self-care practices are critical. You can get stretched very thin as you cope with lawyers, finances, children and your own feelings about your separation. The unfortunate thing about divorce is that you’re asked to make such important choices at a time when your emotions are running high. And when emotions run high, the ability to make considered and savvy decisions tends to run low. By ensuring you do whatever you can to recharge your batteries, it will help to stabilize you and support you in dealing with all the other important relationships and issues you are currently facing.

What does that look like if you were to uplevel your self care? Start writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal instead of bottling them up. Simple and inexpensive things like taking a walk in nature or getting yourself flowers can help. Ask for help from family and friends in specific ways. For example, having a clutter busting party at your home might help you get an important “win” in short order. You may want to reach out to trusted friends or a divorce coach for support.

In my award-winning Divorce Resource Kit, I address this subject specifically and there’s even a checklist with 52 easy, inexpensive self-care strategies in it. There are also many tips and principles there to help you create your own road map through divorce, and to help you set your priorities. I would also recommend “The 7 Pitfalls of Single Parenting: What To Avoid to Help Your Children Thrive after Divorce.” This award-winning book addresses many of the issues you are facing with your children, and will help you to cut your learning curve of being a divorced parent considerably.

The bottom line here? Take it one step, and one day at a time. Be gentle and caring with yourself. Don’t try to take on everything at the same time. And above all, don’t reinvent the wheel on how to cope with all the issues divorce is raising for you. There are so many great resources available to help you.

WANT TO ASK A QUESTION?

Ask your question, in confidence, by clicking here or you may email us. We’ll answer your question in upcoming issues!

Divorce and Separation: Letting Go of Your Past Married Life

Q. “How I let go my life for the past 23 years?”

A. Finding the energy and will to move forward into uncharted territories after divorce can be a really tough challenge. It’s uncomfortable standing at that turning point of ending a relationship and facing an unknown future.

But staying stuck in a place of looking back at the past with regret, sadness and longing is problematic because you do need to step into a life after divorce. Imagine trying to drive a car, but you’re only ever looking in the rearview mirror. It’s tricky to get to where you want to go unless you shift your gaze to your life ahead.

Here are just a few tips to help you get the courage to move ahead. First, harvest the wisdom that you’ve gained in those 23 years. How have you grown? What strength and insight do you have now that you didn’t before? Our partners are often our greatest teachers, so even though the relationship is ending there are gifts you’ve received from your union. This simple exercise will help you realize that amidst the pain and sadness, there are absolute life jewels you’ve received from this process.

Second, use what didn’t work in your relationship to get clear on what you DO want to have in your life going ahead. In divorce most of us have a laundry list of all the things that we didn’t like about our ex-partner. So why not use that to your advantage to get clear on what your values and priorities for future relationships are? For example, if your husband didn’t share some important interests in you, or was dishonest, now you know that finding a partner who shares your passions and values honesty as much as you do is important for you to have.

If you’d like more strategies to help map your life after divorce, I’d recommend you check out my award-winning Divorce Resource Kit. It will guide you in simple yet powerful ways to getting your emotional feet back on the ground, and how to find the courage and energy to step boldly into your new life.

Break Free from 5 Common Money Mindset Traps

Many brilliant entrepreneurs live with an internal contradiction that if left unchecked can really hamper their success and impact in the world. It’s the conflict we feel about money.

On the one hand, heart-centered business owners are all about living their purpose, changing the world and leading people to live from an abundance paradigm. But on the other hand, many struggle with conflicting beliefs about money. Deep down in their core there is that old paradigm of scarcity and lack still running the show at an unconscious level. This can sabotage the greatest intentions and best efforts if they are not handled.

Your willingness to transform and transcend any old, dusty, limiting money stories is key to your success. The first step in any transformation is awareness.

Money Mindset Trap #1 – The Belief You’re Not Good Enough

Do you believe you’re good enough? Are you worthy of success, love and abundance? If you hesitated even one iota about answering “Yes!”, you must have taken out a membership in the “I’m not good enough” club. (Most people have too, so you’re not alone on this one!)

How does living with the belief that “I’m not good enough” impact your money? It makes it hard to charge what you’re worth. It’s difficult to really appreciate and stand in the value you offer. You might be reluctant to invest in yourself or enlist support, which in turn impacts your ability to grow your business. Learning to transcend this limiting belief will unlock all kinds of potential for you financially.

Money Mindset Trap #2 – Your Family’s Money Legacy

We don’t just inherit our family’s looks, genetics and traditions. We also inherit a legacy of how our family felt about money. The beliefs, habits, fears and doubts our family of origin had about money has an enormous impact on our own money story.

If you’re a parent yourself, you know that children often do what you do, not what you say. It is important to see with clear eyes some of the messages about money we absorbed growing up. With that awareness, we can then start to create a new family legacy about money for ourselves and our children.

Money Mindset Trap #3 – “But I Don’t Wanna Grow Up”

Another pitfall is the voice that tells you, “But I don’t wanna grow up!” Not knowing how much you spend, falling behind on bills, or being in denial about your debt are clues there’s a rebellious adolescent that would rather have a knight in shining armor come along instead.

Being willing to let our spiritual grown-up take the lead in the money department opens up new thoughts, choices and excitement about your level of abundance. It lets you step into a place of leadership and wisdom with you being a powerful steward and manifester of your abundance.

Money Mindset Trap #4 – Being Rich Isn’t Spiritual

A lot of heart-centered entrepreneurs struggle with a belief that it is not okay to be rich and spiritual. This was a tough one for me as well! We absorbed some money story along the way that to care about money is crass, or means we’re not spiritual enough. We create separation between financial abundance and our soul’s journey.

Yet everything is energy. Money is simply another form of energy. It’s actually an important vehicle that helps you make your life’s purpose a reality, rather than a pipe dream. Most importantly, who you become in the journey of opening to prosperity and abundance is exactly the kind of polishing and stretching we need to realize the greatest YOU that you can become.

Money Mindset Trap #5 – I Don’t Know How

With all of these various money mindset traps going off, it is easy to feel like you don’t know what you’re really doing. How to manifest money isn’t something that they taught you at school. Most people don’t innately have the tools, systems or structures to manage and manifest the kind of financial abundance they are capable of having. We let a perceived lack of skills and knowledge disempower us.

All it takes is the decision to stop letting a lack of knowledge be an excuse for not reaching your financial potential. Take even just one baby step to learning some of the basic skills and tools and notice how quickly you’ll feel aligned and open to financial abundance.

Divorce and Separation: How to Handle Criticism from Your Ex

Question:
“How do I handle my anxiety? My ex-husband says negative things to me constantly.”

Answer:
Thank you for a great question about how to learn to manage your emotional state so it doesn’t go completely topsy-turvy when your ex-spouse fires off a nasty comment or jibe. So many people can relate to this situation, and there are indeed some strategies that can help you to not spin out emotionally.

In divorce there are lots of strong emotions that run rampant, often for months on end. This makes it hard to keep your emotional balance. Ex-spouses seem particularly gifted at knowing how to push those hot buttons that can send you into fear, anxiety, anger or depression. But it’s important to realize that we may never be able to get them to stop pushing the button BUT we can learn how to unplug that button so it doesn’t take you out of your power. To do this properly requires far more than can be offered in this article, but here are some strategies to get you started.

First, realize that what your ex thinks of you is actually none of your business. As I explain in my award-winning Divorce Resource Kit, the degree to which you continue to allow your energy and time to be sucked into drama about why your ex said something derogatory is the degree to which you help contribute to your ongoing suffering. Recognize that your ex is upset and acting out in a particular way because of their emotional reality, but that is your ex’s responsibility to sort out. Your primary responsibility has to be to your own healing journey. Don’t let your ex’s emotional state become a distraction to your own healing.

Second, go beyond the content of the negativity and get curious about what the dynamic is underneath it that bothers you so. If you’re having a strong emotional reaction, there is some gold here to mine for you.

For example, perhaps your ex mouthing off about you makes you feel totally disrespected. But look at that button of “I feel disrespected” closely. Are there some ways you might be disrespecting yourself? If so, what steps could you take to better honor and respect yourself. Often when you dig more deeply into the issue you will find some area where you need to uplevel and support yourself. When you address that, you’ll invariably find that particular barb from your ex will have far less ability to upset you because you have started to defuse the button altogether.

WANT TO ASK A QUESTION?
Ask your question, in confidence, by clicking here or you may email us at askthrive@thriveafterdivorce.com. We’ll answer your question in upcoming issues!

Divorce and Separation: You’re Not Losing Your Mind

Q. “My husband and I are getting separated after 15 years (his idea) and I feel crushed. I feel like I’m losing my mind though – I keep forgetting things and can’t seem to focus my attention any more. Is this normal?”

A. Going through a separation and divorce is one of the most stressful things people go through. Emotions swing wildly. We feel loss and uncertainty as the world we knew is turned upside. I’m not a medical expert, but this feeling of overwhelm and being unable to have the same speed and efficiency of mental function you used to have is pretty normal. I remember having that thought more than once myself! It’s hard to retain or recall information. It’s challenging to make a decision. I felt like I could only absorb so much information before I started to feel swamped and agitated. So know that you are not alone in having this experience.

When we go through a big change that feels threatening to our security in any way, we get triggered into a flight or fight response. The hypothalamus in the brain fires up our nerve cells and… Continue reading

Divorce and Separation: Can Ex-Spouses Still be Friends?

Q. “How do I cope with my husband moving on and no longer sharing a friendship after 22 years together? How do I make sure my little boy is OK and doesn’t find it too hard?

A. One important dynamic In divorce is that partners will work through the emotional stages of the divorce process often at very different paces. The one who initiates the divorce has had more time to process and come to terms with a life and an identity outside the marriage. The one who is left behind struggles not only with the loss of the relationship and the dreams of living happily ever after, but also must cope with the shock of being passed over or possibly replaced by someone else.

From your question, I must assume that your husband initiated the divorce and that is why this is feeling particularly difficult for you. I would recommend that instead of seeing you and your ex as friends, … Continue reading

Divorce: Tips for Dating Again

Q. “It’s been years since I’ve been out on the dating scene and even though I think I’m ready to love again, I’m scared. I feel like a nervous kid again. Is this normal?”

A. The decision to get back out in the dating world after divorce definitely can feel scary and intimidating, so you are certainly not alone with that. Relationships can be wonderful teachers, and a great source of joy and intimacy, so it’s great that you’re ready to head out into what feels like new territory. There’s so much to say about this very important topic, so I will give you a few key tips now. Learning how to create successful and loving relationships is one of the divorce puzzle pieces I teach about in my award-winning product, The Divorce Resource Kit. From soup to nuts, from how to know when you’re ready to date again, how to introduce new partners to your children, and how to build the foundation for loving and lasting relationships, I highly recommend you check that resource out and save yourself heartache and time.

One thing I always recommend before you start dating and even while dating someone else is to always date yourself first. Treat yourself with the love, respect and appreciation Continue reading

Participants Needed for Divorce and Custody Dispute Study

Just wanted to pass along this request I recently received. I’m all in support of research and creating better understanding of how the divorce process works. If you are interested here is the information.

Participants Needed for Divorce and Custody Dispute Study

Dr. Julie Ancis, a professor of Counseling Psychology at Georgia State University, is studying women’s experiences with divorce and custody disputes. The purpose of this research is to gain an understanding of women’s experiences within the legal system. Individual interviews are being conducted with participants, and will cover topics such as interactions with attorneys, judges, and guardian ad items; coping; and parenting issues. Interviews are confidential and tend to last between 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours. With the knowledge gained through this study, we would like to educate those in the court systems and health professionals about the unique challenges that women may face in divorce and custody disputes. We may pursue a study about men’s experiences at a future date. Thank you for your consideration!

Dr. Julie Ancis can be contacted at cpsjra@langate.gsu.edu

Divorce: How Grandparents Can Support Divorcing Children

Q. My son is going through a divorce and I’m terribly concerned about him and my two grandchildren. He’s a pretty independent person, and I think he feels ashamed that his marriage has failed. I don’t know if this means I can never talk to my daughter-in-law again either. I don’t want to meddle in his affairs, but can you recommend any ways I can help?

A. Your son is very fortunate to have a mom who is in his corner, through the good time and through the tough times. One of the first ways you can help your son is to make sure you are supporting YOU during this family crisis. You’re witnessing the breakup of a family, and there is nothing worse than seeing our children in pain. You’re likely going to go through a sense of grief, loss, anger, sadness and the whole gamut as you digest your son’s divorce.

Educate yourself about the divorce process and the challenges of raising children in two homes. My award-winning book, The 7 Pitfalls of Single Parenting: What to Avoid to Help Your Children Thrive after Divorce would be a great start, as is… Continue reading