Archive for February 2016
The Most Important Skill You Need For Healing After Divorce
And it’s fun to learn too!
Healing after divorce is really challenging because the end of your marriage itself is so traumatic. Your life gets ripped apart all at once and again and again as you struggle to find a new equilibrium, a new way of living – on your own.
It’s kinda like divorce is this huge, catastrophic earthquake. And then it’s followed by all these aftershocks of varying intensities (e.g., a nasty gram from your ex, selling your home, paying child support instead of living with your children every day) until you are able to complete your healing and move on from the end of your marriage.
You might believe that your divorce recovery is subject to the whims of others like your ex, your attorney, the judge, or even your kids. And you’d be right, but only partially and only slightly.
The biggest determining factor in your healing after divorce is your peaceful core.
A peaceful core is that place you can go to on the inside where you feel calm and powerful. Nothing can shake you when you’re at this place of peace. You can often discover new ideas to help you on your healing journey when you regularly spend time with your inner calm.
In his book The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale writes “A peaceful mind generates power.” And I completely agree with him. It’s only when you remove yourself from the distractions of all the aftershocks of your divorce that you’ll find the powerful thoughts that will help you speed your healing after divorce.
Worried that you aren’t sure how to reach your peaceful core or if you even have one? Here’s a great exercise I learned from John Addison of Success Magazine that will help you get in touch with your inner calm:
Close your eyes and picture a moment when you were at complete peace. It could be a time when you were 5 years old or just last week. The when doesn’t matter. What does matter is the experience and how vividly you can remember it.
Now, I’ll bet that if you really let yourself fully relive just that moment of complete peace you’ve got a smile on your face. This place of pure contented peace is your peaceful core.
Since you now know what your peaceful core is, you can purposefully build it. By doing so, you’ll find it to be the bedrock of strength you can call on to help you recover from your divorce and move on with your life no matter what challenges you face along the way.
You’re probably wondering “How do I build my inner bedrock of strength?” You do it by creating more experiences of complete peace.
Here are 5 tips to help you have more peaceful experiences:
- Regularly spend time enjoying a hobby that’s calming and rejuvenating. Some hobbies are stressful or frustrating. If you have hobbies like this that you enjoy, that’s great because you stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone. Participating in hobbies like this usually lead to improved your self-confidence when you become proficient at them.But they’re different than the hobbies I’m talking about. The recreational activities I’m talking about are the ones you can lose yourself in and feel completely at peace doing. Gardening, dancing, stamp collecting and writing are examples of hobbies that I’ve heard some people say they can lose themselves in. (Dancing and gardening both work for me.)
- Enjoy nature. Spending time outside listening to the birds sing, watching the clouds move leisurely across the sky, or feeling the grass beneath your feet are all ways to disconnect form the hectic pace of divorce and slow things down.
Nature has a way of healing bodies, minds and souls that most of us don’t take advantage of often enough. Who knows, you next experience of calm could be waiting for you right now just outside your front door.
- Meditate or pray. These practices are all about creating peace and have been advocated as doing so for thousands of years. (If you don’t believe me, there’s plenty of current research you can take a peek at.)If you need some suggestions for how to get started with meditation check out YouTube or listen to this 2-minute guided meditation I’ve put together.
- Listen to a particular song or type of music. Music can completely transport you. I’ll listen to music to help me express emotions or just to relax. (I love to listen to Mozart when I want to happily relax.)What music can you completely lose yourself in? Listen to more of it to build your peaceful core.
- Develop an attitude conducive to peace – genuine happiness, gratitude and perspective. It’s really hard to be peaceful if you’re consistently feeling attached or miserable. However, if you can shift your perspectives to ones of happiness, gratitude and thoughtful responsiveness instead of reactivity you’ll discover that peace comes more naturally to you.Yes, I know I might be starting a bit of a chicken-or-egg discussion here, but does it really matter? I don’t think so. The goal is to increase your experiences of peace. So do what you can whenever you can to shift your attitude toward peace. (Once I got past the chicken-or-egg nature of this suggestion, I was able to create a whole lot more calm in my life by shifting my attitude.)
Just because you develop the skill of experiencing your peaceful core doesn’t mean that you’ll never lose touch with it again as you continue your healing after divorce. What it does mean is that the inevitable aftershocks won’t throw your equilibrium off as must. You’ll find it easier to deal with and move forward from whatever challenges you face. And before you know it you’ll be living a new life as a confident, calm recently re-singled person instead of a frazzled recently divorced one.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.
If you’re looking for more help in recovering from your divorce, you’ll find it in Healing After Divorce.
Surviving Divorce: Face Your Fears And Wipe Away Your Tears
Surviving divorce requires grief, courage and action.
Healing after the end of your marriage is hard. It’s not for the weak by any stretch of the imagination. And yet the pain of it all makes even the strongest wonder if surviving divorce is something they’ll be able to do or not.
The true hurt of divorce is unfathomable to anyone who’s never experienced it themselves. But for those of us who have or are currently in the midst of it we know the depths of despair, the isolating loneliness, the vengeful rage, the unbelievable betrayal, the soul-crushing insecurity, the bone-weariness of insomnia, the paralyzing fear and all the other unfamiliar (and unwanted) experiences, thoughts and emotions of divorce.
Frankly, we all reach that point where we wonder if surviving divorce is even possible.
I want you to know that it is absolutely possible (no matter how you’re feeling right now) to not only make it through your divorce, but to go on to live a fulfilling, wonderful life that might even include finding love again. The secret is to move through your divorce pain and avoid getting stuck in the seemingly overwhelming experiences of divorce.
Here are 3 pitfalls that people tend to collapse into when they’re healing after divorce and how to survive each of them:
- Grieving the losses. This is important. I want you to grieve your losses, it’s a necessary part of surviving divorce. What I don’t want you to do is to get stuck here. Shed your tears, but don’t wallow. Talk about your pain and release a little more of it every time you do. Your grief should be healing and cathartic, not your new identity.The 5 tips in this article about dealing with divorce depression will help you find the healing in your grief. (My favorites are tips 1 and 2.)
- Fearing the pain. One of the things we all learned as kids was to avoid pain. The challenge when you’re healing from divorce is to face the pain. And the only way to face the pain is to become courageous. When you’re courageous, you take the necessary actions and push through the pain.Your reward for doing so is peace, strength and confidence. And couldn’t you use some of all three of these qualities right now?
- Dreading the future. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying there are no guarantees in life. And dreading your life after divorce is believing not only that there are no guarantees, but that there’s no hope. I’m here to tell you there positively is hope. You have a chance and a calling to live your life to the fullest despite your divorce.So find your inspiration for having hope. Maybe you’ll fuel your hope with your dreams of a better future, or with the desire to provide for your kids, or even with your wish for proving to your ex (and yourself) that they’re missing out because they chose not to be with you. Whatever you find motivating to keep you expecting the best for yourself in the future focus it. It will keep you from collapsing into the dread that can make surviving divorce that much more difficult for you.
I know reading this article isn’t going to solve all of the challenges you face with surviving your divorce, but that was never my intent. My real hope is that you’ve found comfort in knowing that what you’re experiencing is probably fairly normal and that you’ll also find inspiration to continue facing your fears and wiping away your tears as you continue your journey healing after divorce.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach and advisor helping people just like you who want to survive and thrive after divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.
If you’re looking for more help on surviving divorce, read more articles in Healing After Divorce.
An Open Letter To My Body: You Are Perfect As You Are
You didn’t deserve those cruel things I did to you.
I owe you an apology, and I’ve owed you one for years.
It wasn’t your fault — no matter how much I thought that it was. It was mine. And I’m finally able to take responsibility for that now. So, yes, I’m sorry. Deeply sorry and I regret the words, thoughts and actions I’ve taken against you.
You’ve always been perfect — no matter how much I denied that perfection because I was busy comparing myself to others, or because I listened to slanderous remarks others made about you.
You’ve supported me and given me the physical strength I needed to become the confident woman I am today. For that I’m deeply grateful — and deeply ashamed that I’ve treated you so poorly.
When I was born, everyone celebrated you as perfect and ideal because I had all my fingers, toes and limbs and no obvious imperfections.
And yet as you grew and changed dramatically over the following childhood years, something shifted. Instead of being celebrated for your beauty, you were harshly scrutinized and found lacking.
Even dearly loved family members said you’d “never be pretty.”
They said that your butt was “too big,” that your walk was “unbecoming to a girl.” They denied your perfection.
Yet, I wasn’t innocent in this. I was an accomplice to that betrayal because I believed the lies they said about you. And then, I created more lies of my own. I was wrong.
I was wrong to look at the stretch marks on my hips and breasts as ugly scars that made you hideous to look at. The truth is that the stretch marks are just testament to the miraculous changes you accomplished as I grew from infant to woman.
As an adolescent, I was wrong to hate the pilling on my pants from my legs rubbing together. Just because the “beautiful girls” had thighs that didn’t touch, didn’t mean mine were fat or ugly.
I was wrong to feel embarrassment when others teased me about having a big butt. You deserved my courage. I should have defended you. Today, I know my rump is a glorious curve that perfectly fits my frame.
I was wrong to search high and low for anything that would miraculously erase the bumps and bulges of cellulite. Especially now that I know it was just your response to all the sugar and salt I was feeding you. But the self-judgment, embarrassment, and misplaced focus were nothing compared to what I did to you when I got divorced. And for this I am the most regretful.
I made you feel pain you didn’t deserve — I’m sorry.
It wasn’t because you weren’t beautifully attractive, that I was alone again. You didn’t deserve me dieting to the point of emaciation as I tried to look like the women in the magazines. Denying you what you needed to function and thrive was horrible. But somehow you forgave me as soon as I started caring for you again.
You filled back out. The sexy slopes of my breasts returned. The sensuous curves of my hips and legs returned. And as you came back to life, so did I.
But the biggest change of all happened when I finally decided to love you — by giving you the rest, exercise, hydration and nutrition you require. I suppose this was my unspoken apology for all of the wrongs you’ve suffered because of me.
Your generous and forgiving response of giving me the energy, mental capacity and enjoyment of living in a strong, powerful body deserve more than an unspoken apology. They deserve this very public proclamation — I love my body!
No, it’s still not air-brushed magazine perfect. It’s better than that! My body is perfect for me in all of its supposed imperfection because it houses me and allows me to live my glorious life.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.
This article was originally published on YourTango.com.
5 Things To Do When Your Divorce Grief Attacks You
You can’t predict when your grief will hit and that’s scary. Use this plan and stop feeling scared.
It’s not surprising that divorce hurts or that part of the healing involves grieving. But knowing this intellectually does nothing to prepare you for the reality of the pain or the way your grief attacks you out of the blue.
Grief is merciless. It can hit you full force anywhere and at any time. It demands to be felt or at least acknowledged until you’ve worked through the pain of all you’ve lost.
Your grief will change you. If you allow yourself to feel and work through it, your anguish will change you for the better. However, if you ignore or stuff your sorrow, it will fester and change you for the worse.
When your losses are recent and raw, you’re more susceptible to being unexpectedly overcome by tidal waves of hurt regardless of whether or not you’ve been working through your pain. But the waves of anguish aren’t confined to when your divorce wound is new. They can hit any time and you don’t have a choice about when or where these grief attacks happen.
So what do you do when your grief ambushes you at an inopportune moment or place?
- Accept what’s happening and be kind to yourself. There’s no rule book or time frame for grief, so you certainly don’t need to judge yourself for what your soul needs to express. You’ve probably already sobbed so much that you can’t believe you have any more tears to shed, but when your heart aches so much you can feel it in your bones the tears will continue to come. Your tears are cleansing and by expressing your sorrow you lessen it. The more you allow the grief to flow through you, the less of a hold has on you.
- If at all possible, excuse yourself and find some privacy. But don’t apologize. It’s OK to admit you’re not OK, but there’s no reason to feel even worse than you do by believing you need to apologize because you’re upsetting others.
- Take all the time you need to compose yourself. The truth is you can’t be strong all of the time when you’re dealing with loss on the scale that you are. Sometimes you just need to be alone and let your tears out even if the sometime is in the middle of a meeting with your boss or in the middle of the cereal aisle at the grocery store.
- Understand that there will be those who don’t understand. People who’ve never experienced the grief of divorce will never get that you lost not just your spouse or your marriage. You’ve lost your life – the way it was. Your life will never, ever be the same and that’s absolutely heartbreaking. You’ve lost not only the now, but the future you thought you’d have together. It’s a lot to say goodbye to. Unless someone has had a similar loss they’ll never really understand so it’s up to you to ignore their personal judgments and ignorance instead of using it to further torture yourself.
Sometimes, carrying on, just carrying on, is the super human achievement. ~Albert Camus
- Carry on as best you can once the storm has subsided. Of course people will ask how you’re doing once you return. One of the kindest (to you and to them) ways you can respond is to thank them for their concern and let them know that your bad days aren’t a sign of weakness. They’re actually the days you’re fighting your hardest to work through your grief.
Having a game plan for what to do when your divorce grief attacks will help you to weather the onslaught a bit easier, but it won’t prevent the attacks.
The only way to prevent them is to experience your emotions. You can’t ignore the pain and heartache away. You need to feel it and then get into action to make your new now and future better than they seem right now.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And if you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.
7 Tips for Dating After Divorce
Dating after divorce should be fun! Follow these tips to make sure it is.
Once your divorce is inevitable, you’re probably going to start thinking about the possibility of another relationship. And these thoughts will stir up all kinds of emotions – fear, disbelief, curiosity, confusion, frustration, intimidation and excitement – as you progress through making your divorce final.
Dating after divorce is way different than dating was before you got married.
Not only has dating itself changed (say hello to Tinder, eHarmony, Match, OKCupid, etc.), but you’ve changed. Marriage, parenthood and divorce tend to do that to a person.
So before you run full tilt to embrace dating as part of your life after divorce, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a few things in order.
- Make sure you’re ready to date. You’re probably not ready to date if you’re not healed from your divorce. It’s really hard to have a good time dating if you still cry when you tell the story of your breakup because it will come up – usually on the first date.Being healed from your divorce also means that you understand why your marriage failed and your part in it. (Yeah, it really does take two for a relationship to bust. Sure your part may just be that you chose to marry your ex, but you gotta take some responsibility for it.)
And finally, being over your divorce means you can talk about something else besides your divorce or your ex or your child support or … well, I’m sure you get the idea. Being ready to date means that you’ve spent some time creating a new post-divorce life that you are enjoying.
- Decide what your dating goal is. Not everyone dates for the same reason. Maybe your goal is hooking up, validating that you’re desirable, companionship, finding a relationship, or searching for your real soul mate.Although it is possible to pursue more than one goal at a time, you’ll have the best luck if you can narrow it down. Each of these goals require a different type and quality of focus.
I mean really, if you’re looking for a hook up you probably won’t be that picky about who you go out with. But if you’re looking for the next love of your life you’re going to look for someone who’s able to make more of a commitment. You follow me?
- Determine the type of people you’d like to date. Yes, this does follow closely with the idea of deciding what your dating goal is, but it’s also more than that.After divorce (or even a bad breakup) most people approach dating with their ex in mind. Either they accept that their ex is their type or they decide they want nothing to do with anyone who reminds them in any way of their ex.
The truth is that since you’re a different person from the one that married your ex, chances are you don’t really know who’s going to be the right type of person for you now.
So, start off by making a list of desirable qualities and deal-breaker qualities. Doing this exercise will help you both narrow down the field and expand it too because you won’t be a slave to thinking you’re only attracted to a certain type.
- Love yourself. OK, you can make the silly sexual jokes about “loving yourself,” but that’s not what I’m talking about here. Well, not completely.The last thing you want to do when you’re dating is appear desperate. Desperation is a HUGE turnoff.
So do what you need to do to feel good about you and your post-divorce life. If that means going to the gym and getting fit, do it. If it means getting a makeover, do it. If it means masturbating, do it.
Confidence is attractive. Personal style is attractive. Knowing that you’re a wonderful person is attractive. And attractive is definitely what you’re going for when you’re dating (and when you want to keep a relationship vibrant).
- Be patient. Unless hook ups are your only dating goal, then patience is a virtue. Rushing things will only get you more heartache. (Yes, mine is the voice of heartbroken experience.) You also don’t want to settle for someone just because you’re tired of being alone.Take your time choosing who you’ll spend your time with. Your time is valuable. You love and respect yourself too much to waste it on people who don’t deserve you.
- Date 2-3 people at the same time. I know this may sound funny, but it goes hand-in-hand with the idea of being patient. You aren’t going to know everything about someone immediately and it’s really helpful to have others to compare and contrast them with.It takes time (and Google) to learn about who you’re dating. You’re going to want to ask lots of questions. You’re also going to answer a lot of questions and the more honest you can be the better off you’ll be able to evaluate whether or not you want to continue seeing someone.
- Decide to have fun. Dating should be fun! Be flirtatious, laugh and smile a lot. Stay positive and look at dating as a great big adventure.But if it starts to feel like work or begins to take up too much of your time, then you need to step back.
Reevaluate the place that dating has in your life and make sure you’re spending the time you need on the rest of your life – working, parenting, taking care of your home, doing self-care, and spending time with your friends.
Look, I know there’s a lot here and you’ll probably ignore at least some of these tips. (I know I did when I started dating after divorce. I threw all of them out of the window and wound up having my heart and self-esteem crushed – again – in my first attempt at dating.)
But just because your post-divorce dating starts off a bit bumpy doesn’t mean you should give it up and decide to be celibate for the rest of your life. (Although, if that truly works for you, go for it!)
When I finally got dating after divorce right, I was looking at it as a series of experiments. Each guy I agreed to meet was a new experiment. Sometimes things clicked and I’d agree to go out with him again, but most of the time they didn’t.
And when they didn’t, I didn’t see him again because he definitely wasn’t right for me and we didn’t need to waste any more time hoping things would change.
Dating is just you experimenting and testing both yourself and each person you go out with. Sometimes you’ll have a lot of fun. Sometimes you’ll be ready for the date to end before you’ve finished saying “Hi.” Regardless, dating can be an incredibly enriching (and fabulous) part of your life after divorce.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are wondering about dating (and life in general) after divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re ready to take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.
Celebrate Your Life After Divorce! Don’t Just Get Through It.
Three easy tips to start celebrating your life again.
If you were on the receiving end of the announcement “I want a divorce”, your self-esteem took a huge hit. For months your mind reeled with questions about why you weren’t good enough for them anymore. It was a horribly painful time.
The lucky ones figure out that they will be better off without their ex. They believe that being someplace and with someone who celebrates them and doesn’t just tolerate them is mandatory.
But for way too many the pain of rejection continues into their life after divorce – and this is the real tragedy.
Sure, the the end of your marriage is horribly sad, but replacing what can be a vibrant, joyful life for one of mere existence or even misery is an absolute disaster.
Now I’m not saying that you should ignore your feelings of sadness or loneliness. But what I am saying is you also need to allow other (more uplifting) emotions to have some of your time and attention too.
And you’re probably wondering something like, “Yeah, how do you do that when you’re consumed with hurt, anger and self-loathing?”
You do it bit by bit. AND you do it purposefully.
Every morning while you’re in the shower or brushing your teeth, ask yourself what’s one thing you’re looking forward to today. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, but it does have to be something even if you have to make it up.
You might look forward to getting the soap out of your eye or the toothpaste rinsed out of your mouth. You might look forward to feeling the prickle of the brush or comb against your scalp or the warmth of your morning coffee or tea.
The thing is to look forward to something and then celebrate it when it happens. Now celebration doesn’t have to mean confetti and balloons (unless you really like that stuff). A celebration can just be an acknowledgement and a smile – just taking the time to recognize that what you were looking forward to has happened and that you enjoyed it.
Another way you can purposefully infuse some uplifting emotions into your life after divorce is to take the advice my friend Ruth gave me when she was 96 years old. Wake up every morning and expect that something wonderful will happen. Wonderful could be cuddling with a kitten (which was one of Ruth’s favorite things to do), taking time to enjoy the beauty of the sunset, or seeing your child smile.
In other words, wonderful infuses your life (even after divorce) if you choose to look for it.
You might also decide to start keeping a gratitude journal. Keeping a gratitude journal may sound like a big deal, but it’s not. It’s actually very simple – at least the way I do it is.
Every night before you go to sleep take a few moments and write 3 things that you’ve done today that you’re thankful for. I do this by completing these 3 sentences:
- I’m thankful I ___________.
- I’m grateful I ____________.
- I appreciate my __________.
Research has shown (Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being) that when you focus gratitude on what you’ve done that you’ll more quickly tap into feelings of happiness because you’re putting yourself in control instead of someone or something else.
Injecting some more celebratory emotions into your repertoire of sentiments isn’t a big deal. It’s actually quite easy. All you have to do is spend time noticing and creating moments when you get to experience uplifting feelings.
The more you do, the more you’ll shift from living unhappily post-divorce to experiencing a vibrant, joyful life again. And you know there’s plenty to look forward to and celebrate about that!
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re ready to take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.
13 Ways You Can Improve Your Unhappy Marriage
Don’t settle for an unhappy marriage!
I read a lot of articles and books on self-help and leadership. I’m regularly amazed at how pertinent the advice given in these materials is to marriages.
I recently read an article attributed to the late Jim Rohn that has wonderful advice for an individual to improve their life. But what I think is even more interesting is how this same advice is helpful for improving a miserable marriage.
Here are his 13 tips for how to improve your life and how I believe they can improve your unhappy marriage:
- Face your fears. If you’re honest with yourself, one of your biggest fears is that you’ll always be unhappy in your marriage and that your dreams of happily ever after were just pipe dreams courtesy of Disney and all the other fairy tales you heard as a child.This fear, like any other, doesn’t disappear just because you try to ignore it. You need to face your fear and conquer it. Either you put your all into making your unhappy union better or you continue to live with the disquiet of knowing you are settling for what is because you’re too afraid (lazy?) to do differently.
- Exercise your willpower to change direction. If you know that your marriage is heading in the wrong direction you must take action and choose to change things.Will it be easy? Probably not because there’s some inertia to overcome, but the alternative is to accept mediocrity and I know you didn’t marry with the goal of living a mediocre life together.
- Admit your mistakes. Yup, you’ve made mistakes along the way and will probably make more. The quickest way to put the mistakes behind you and prevent them from festering in your spouse’s heart and mind is to admit when you’re wrong as soon as you realize it and then apologize to your love.Yeah, it might be difficult to start this one off especially if you believe that your mate has more to apologize for than you do, but be the model on this one. Bravely set the standard for how your marriage will be from this moment forward.
- Refine your goals. The dreams you both had for “happily ever after” when you married probably need a bit of upgrading now that you’ve been together for a while. So sit down together and figure out what your new “happily ever after” can and should look like so that you’re both proud to call each other spouse again.Your spouse isn’t ready to do this yet? Well, there’s nothing to stop you from upgrading your own expectations for the marriage and then start working toward them.
- Believe in yourself. One of the easiest ways to keep yourself motivated to reaching for your goal of turning an unhappy marriage into a happy one is to have self-confidence. Believing in yourself will enable you to continue doing what you need to do to make your marriage vibrant again (or know there’s nothing else left to try to save your marriage).(Oh, and one of the most attractive things about anyone is self-confidence. Just saying that in case you’re feeling a tad unattractive which is one of the most common complaints of someone in an unhappy marriage.)
- Ask for wisdom. You don’t have to have all the answers and neither does your spouse! Get the help you need in the form of books, articles, marriage counselors or even a coach. Use their advice and suggestions as a jumping off point for improving your marriage.
- Conserve your time. One of the things that I’ve learned in my (second) marriage is that there’s only so much time in a day. I don’t need to spend any more time than necessary being unhappy or arguing with my husband. We’ve learned how to express ourselves and not fall into the trap of inflaming an argument. Our trick? We’ve adopted the motto “Work the problem.”Keeping this thought in mind when we express what the problem is allows us to stick to what’s at the root of the disagreement. Then, after we’ve each expressed and acknowledged the emotions, we can quickly move on to solving the problem.
- Invest your profits. In a marriage, profits mean more than just money. They also include personal wins, happy times with your children and happy times together. Investing all of these profits means saving and building on them.One of the easiest ways to invest the profits of the happy times is to spend time together reviewing each day’s positive events. And if your spouse isn’t up to doing that with you just yet, you can always start a journal and start the practice with your children.
- Live with intensity. At its best, life is a vibrant kaleidoscope of love and amazing experiences, but only if that’s how you approach it. Remember how vibrant life was when you first fell in love? Well, you can get at least some of that back if you start investing in living your life again instead of just going through the motions.
- Find your place. A marriage is a partnership. Many times an unhappy union is rooted in unmet expectations and an imbalance in contributions to the marriage. Find the best place and way you can contribute to the success and happiness of your partnership.Obviously, your best place isn’t doing it all and your spouse’s best place isn’t doing it all either. Find where you both excel and capitalize on those strengths to improve your partnership and eliminate those nagging hurt feelings about unmet expectations and unfair distribution of work.
- Demand integrity from yourself. Integrity is critical to the success of a marriage. The most common marriage vows include something along the lines of “to love, honor and cherish.” It’s impossible to fulfill these vows if you’re not being honest with yourself and your beloved.
- Welcome the disciplines. No matter what the fairy tales told us when we were kids, the truth is marriage takes work. It requires discipline. Yet, the reward for having the discipline to work on your marriage Every. Single. Day. is the fairy tale ending of happily ever after.I don’t know about you, but that reward is enough for me (and my hubby) to work on my marriage every day. And yes, that does mean even those days when I’m not feeling my best because an “I love you” said with a stuffy nose still means a lot.
- Fight for what’s right. If you’re spearheading the effort to shift your marriage from unhappy to wonderful, you can expect some push back from your spouse. They’ll push back because you’re changing things up and that means they’re going to need to change. And, honestly, they might believe it’s easier being lazy and living the with status quo or even that things really can’t get better.But you and I both know the truth of the matter. If your marriage is right, it’s worth fighting for. So keep moving forward and fight the good fight. Your honey will start adapting to the new when they’re ready (and if they don’t, then you know the better fight is to move on in a different direction).
These 13 tips for improving your marriage are complete. But they’re also high level. They don’t get down and dirty and give you the exact steps to take to turn around your unhappy marriage.
So be willing to experiment with these tips. Look at them regularly and see what new inspiration they spark and then roll up your sleeves and get into action.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach and advisor helping people just like you who are wondering “Should I stay or should I go?” You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.