How To Use Your Divorce Heartbreak To Become A Better Parent

Mother and daughter walking and dealing with grief while discussing heartbreak.

Yes, it really is possible to express the pain of your heartbreak and become a better parent at the same time!

I know you love your kids. But when you’re recently separated or divorced, it’s easy to get lost in dealing with grief instead of parenting in the same way you did before the heartbreak of your split.

And it’s completely understandable! You’re going through one hell of a lot.

There’s a tug-of-war between what you need (to lie in bed with the covers over your head crying) and what your kids need (a parent who’s there for them as they make sense of their new life). And the constant back and forth adds to your guilt about not being the parent you were before.

What makes these seemingly opposing needs especially challenging is that the grief you’re feeling is actually changing how your brain works. Through brain imaging, researchers at Stony Brook University found similarities between romantic rejection and cocaine craving. No wonder you’re having a hard time!

But the truth is no matter how you’re feeling, you still have to parent.

So how do you accomplish both dealing with grief and parenting? By using your heartbreak as an opportunity to teach your kids about resilience.

Allow them to see your sadness as you’re dealing with grief. Reassure them that you will feel better and that your sadness is not their fault.

Answer the questions your children have about your sadness in a way they can easily understand. But don’t share too much information because it could be confusing to your children and because kids tend to see themselves as the cause for all that happens in their world. (Yes, this includes both your heartbreak and your divorce.)

Don’t be surprised if as you express your heartbreak that they start to more consciously express theirs too. They’ll be sad (and angry) about how their life has changed too. But with the example you’re setting of dealing with grief in a healthy way they’ll move through theirs in a healthy way too.

This is an important point: you’re going to do a much better job teaching your children about appropriate ways for dealing with grief by showing them than just telling them. Your kids look up to you and will mimic the way you’re behaving.

So don’t try to completely hide your misery. Your kids will see through your attempt at masking your feelings and learn to stuff down their emotions of sadness instead of expressing them.

When you look at your needs for dealing with grief and parenting from this angle, it may not make things easier for you on a day-to-day basis. But it may remove some of the guilt you’re feeling about how you’re parenting differently now because, actually, you’re teaching them a very valuable life skill – how to deal with heartbreak and keep living.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are wondering if staying married is the right answer for them. 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.

Looking for more help coping with your heartbreak? Read more advice in Dealing With Grief

 

How Your MBTI Type Impacts Healing After Divorce

Man looking up thinking about his healing after divorce.

Use your MBTI type to get over your divorce more quickly.

No matter how you look at it, divorce sucks. All divorcing couples battle with the drama and trauma of ending their marriage – even if they do it very differently as individuals. Despite the same basic struggle, we each suffer through healing after divorce differently because as individuals our experience and understanding of the world is different.

Social scientists, philosophers, therapists, astrologers and researchers have striven over the centuries to categorize people in an effort to provide tools for understanding both others and ourselves. Each of the tools developed has its pros and cons along with its adherents and detractors. In other words, none of the tools has been globally accepted as 100% accurate.

Despite the imperfections, one of the tools that’s been in common use for more than 50 years is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The MBTI is a self-assessment tool that categorizes people into one of 16 different personality types. Each of the personality types has specific strengths and weaknesses.

What does the MBTI have to do with healing after divorce? Well, LOTS! Maybe.

By knowing the specific strengths and weaknesses of your personality type you can prepare for and mitigate what will be the most difficult parts of divorce recovery for you. Yes, the MBTI has the potential to help you predict what will be most difficult for you in healing after divorce, but remember it’s not 100% accurate.

If you already know your MBTI personality type, all you need to do is find your type in the list below-. You’ll see your strengths, general weaknesses and the most likely ways you’ll experience difficulty in healing after divorce.

If you don’t already know your MBTI personality type, you can take either a full MBTI assessment or a free MBTI assessment online.

ENFJ: The Teacher

Strengths – communication, loyal and affectionate, honors commitments

Weaknesses – harbors hurt feelings, tendency to manipulate and/or smother because they know what’s best for others

Specific Divorce Challenges:

  • Must move past the hurt feelings of divorce or run the risk of becoming bitter.
  • Avoid urge to manipulate ex (and kids) to get what you want.
  • Avoid urge to smother children now that you’re a single parent.

Tips For Healing After Divorce:

  • Find a support group, divorced friend, counselor, therapist or divorce coach to help you process the emotional turmoil of divorce.
  • Develop the skills you need to become more independent to help you avoid the urge to manipulate your ex.
  • Know when to ask for help and then accept it graciously when it’s given.

ENFP: The Champion

Strengths – fun, optimistic, can read others well, great communicator

Weaknesses – has trouble with conflict, can be manipulative, easily bored

Specific Divorce Challenges:

  • Will avoid conflict and instead try to manipulate their ex (and kids) to get what they want.

Tips For Healing After Divorce:

  • Use your skills of communication and explore being direct (with compassion) with your ex and kids instead of beating around the bush or manipulating them.
  • Work with an attorney who will be efficient and finish the legalities of your divorce as quickly as possible so you can move forward with your life.

ENTJ: The Field Marshall

Strengths – excellent with money, takes criticism well and sees it as an opportunity for growth, can set and achieve goals

Weaknesses – can be controlling and intimidating, appears angry, tendency to be impulsive to stay ahead of their competitors

Specific Divorce Challenges:

  • Will attempt to control the divorce process and co-parenting relationship after divorce.
  • Will have difficulty focusing on the long-term impact of their decisions because of the need to win.

Tips For Healing After Divorce:

  • Pay attention to both the long-term and short-term impacts of your decisions and actions because no one ever truly wins a divorce.
  • Divorce is an opportunity for long-term growth. Use the knowledge gained from your failed marriage to improve your life. Set yourself the goal of pausing before making decisions and taking actions that impact others during your divorce recovery.

ENTP: The Inventor

Strengths – communication, quick, alert, resourceful in problem-solving, generally laid back

Weaknesses – poor follow-up skills, easily bored, argumentative, indecision

Specific Divorce Challenges:

  • Tendency to argue with ex instead of resolving the issues that come up.
  • Will have a difficult time finishing the tasks required to get divorced.

Tips For Healing After Divorce:

  • Hire an attorney who is as quick and communicative as you are or can at least keep up with you.
  • Use your resourceful nature to overcome your tendency to procrastinate and get what needs to be done so you can complete the divorce and move on with your life.

ESFJ: The Provider

Strengths – focuses on other’s needs, excellent at money management, honors commitments

Weaknesses – dislikes change, takes the blame for others, has trouble with conflict

Specific Divorce Challenges:

  • May take a disproportionate amount of blame for the end of the marriage.
  • Will avoid conflict and may choose to follow the rules rather than stand up for themselves – even if the rules are being made by their ex.

Tips For Healing After Divorce:

  • Instead of automatically taking the blame for the divorce, know that it takes two to make a marriage work and two to allow it to fail.
  • Get clear about what’s important to you without input from your ex and then work with your attorney to make sure your divorce agreement allows you to take care of you and your kids.
  • Make your needs a priority so you can have the strength and resources to continue focusing on providing for your loved ones.

ESFP: The Performer

Strengths – working with others, using common sense, adaptable

Weaknesses – long-term commitments, takes criticism personally, needs approval

Specific Divorce Challenges:

  • Will take the divorce personally and tend to think of themselves as a failure instead of realizing it’s the marriage that broke down.
  • Will back down from standing up for themselves during the divorce negotiations.

Tips For Healing After Divorce:

  • Accept that you are not a failure because the marriage failed. It takes two to make a marriage work and two for it to fail. Work with a helping professional to support you in moving on from your divorce especially if you have a difficult time shaking the belief that you’re a failure because your marriage failed.
  • Work closely with your attorney during the negotiations so they can support you in standing firm in the face of any demands your ex makes that would be detrimental to you and/or your kids.

ESTJ: The Supervisor

Strengths – born leader, loyal and committed, social and enthusiastic

Weaknesses – expressing feelings, tendency to be blunt and insensitive, likes to be right

Specific Divorce Challenges:

  • Will be especially frustrated with your ex for not seeing things your way and be blunt about your frustration.
  • Believe that your view of the divorce and what needs to be done is the only correct way to view it.

Tips For Healing After Divorce:

  • Your ex is not your spouse any longer so stop judging them for having an opinion that’s different from your own. You may be 100% right, but that doesn’t mean your ex has to agree with you.
  • Learning to compromise with your ex will be an extremely valuable skill if you’re co-parents.

ESTP: The Promoter

Strengths – flexible and tolerant, focuses on the present and therefore makes quick decisions, learns best by doing

Weaknesses – impulsive, easily bored, unknowingly insensitive

Specific Divorce Challenges:

  • >Will tend to not want to think about the details of the divorce agreement and therefore agree quickly to a settlement instead of choosing what’s in their (and their children’s) best interest.
  • May inflame the situation because of insensitivity.

Tips For Healing After Divorce:

  • Temper your ability to make decisions quickly with examining what’s the long-term impact of your decisions when it comes to forging your divorce agreement.
  • Look for an attorney who is efficient and who explains to you the long-term impact of your decisions. This is one agreement you want to reach with a full understanding of the long-term consequences.

INFJ: The Counselor

Strengths – good listener, good communicator, insightful because seeks meaning in all things and wants to understand what motivates people

Weaknesses – analysis paralysis by attempting to seek out the most perfect situation and refusing to take a chance on anything less, trouble with conflict, can be manipulative, easily bored

Specific Divorce Challenges:

  • Will be uncomfortable with the conflict of divorce.
  • Will search for the perfect solution and have difficulty compromising to reach a divorce agreement.

Tips For Healing After Divorce:

  • Agree to ideal little wins instead of looking for the perfect solution for your entire divorce settlement.
  • Avoid manipulating your ex and kids as a way to avoid conflict. Instead be direct and compassionate in requesting what you want, be willing to compromise.
  • Be careful about second-guessing yourself after an agreement has been reached because it will only cause you torment.

INFP: The Healer

Strengths – seeks to understand people and help fulfill their potential. Curious and quick to see possibilities. Loyal, loving and caring, reading other’s feelings

Weaknesses – idealization of others (urge to distort reality with fantasy), reacts emotionally, extreme dislike of criticism, blames themselves

Specific Divorce Challenges:

  • Will blame themselves for the divorce.
  • Will find the emotional upheavals of divorce especially difficult.

Tips For Healing After Divorce:

  • Know that it takes two to make a marriage work and two to make one fail.
  • Find a divorce support group, a friend who’s been through divorce, a counselor or a divorce coach to help you navigate the normal emotional turmoil of divorce.

INTJ: The Mastermind

Strengths – Strong drive for implementing their ideas and achieving their goals. highly intelligent, honors commitments, independent

Weaknesses – sociality, unwilling to take blame, arrogant, insensitive

Specific Divorce Challenges:

  • Will blame their ex for the divorce and not accept any responsibility for their own part in the demise of the marriage.
  • Will blaze their own trail through the divorce and on with the rest of their life without much concern for others along the way.

Tips For Healing After Divorce:

  • It takes 2 to make a marriage work and 2 to make one fail. You’re both culpable for the failure of the marriage.
  • Your divorce impacts your entire family and not just you. So take this fact into consideration as you progress through your healing.

INTP: The Architect

Strengths – Seeks to develop logical explanations for everything that interests them. Quiet, contained and analytical. Laid back, not demanding, imaginative and creative

Weaknesses – inaction, explosive, distrusting of others, critical of others

Specific Divorce Challenges:

  • Will blame their ex for the divorce.
  • Will tend to explosive anger when things get tough during the divorce process.
  • Runs the risk of getting stuck instead of completely healing from their divorce.

Tips For Healing After Divorce:

  • Know that it takes two to make a marriage work and two to make one fail.
  • Channel your anger about your divorce into positive action.
  • Find a book, a divorce support group or a helping professional to assist you in moving through your divorce so you can move on with your life.

ISFJ: The Protector

Strengths – Quiet, friendly and responsible. Notices and remembers specifics about people they care about. Good listener, eager to serve, great organization

Weaknesses – self-sacrifice (adopts external problems as their own), neglects own needs, dislikes change, takes criticism personally

Specific Divorce Challenges:

  • Very difficult to make the decision to divorce if able to make it at all.
  • Will feel the guilt terribly especially if ex blames them at all.
  • Will have difficulty adjusting to all of the change divorce brings and may neglect their own needs as a result.
  • May attempt to help their ex solve all their problems post-divorce.

Tips For Healing After Divorce:

  • Know that it takes two to make a marriage work and two to make it fail.
  • Be careful about helping your ex post-divorce and make sure that you’re not hurting yourself by doing so.
  • Take time daily to take care of you because if you don’t take care of you, you will burn out and won’t have the capacity to continue caring for others.

ISFP: The Composer

Strengths – quiet, friendly, sensitive and kind, enjoys the present moment, loyal and committed, laid back and adaptable, good listener

Weaknesses – sensitivity (aversion to criticism or conflict), shies away from conflict, hard to get to know, withdrawn

Specific Divorce Challenges:

  • Will withdraw even further when marriage ends.
  • Will avoid conflict and criticism which will make the divorce process even more difficult and draining.
  • Will remain in an unhappy marriage out of loyalty and commitment.

Tips For Healing After Divorce:

  • Find a divorce support group, a friend who has been through divorce, a counselor or coach to help you navigate the changes your divorce is bringing with it.
  • Know that the conflict and criticism levied at you by your ex is more about them than you and develop the skills to not take it all personally.

ISTJ: The Inspector

Strengths – quiet, serious and very responsible, values traditions and loyalty, orderly & organized, handles criticism well, good listener

Weaknesses – too rigid, needs to be right, not in tune with feelings, change – they’re all about quality and want to use the tried and true method of getting things done, has trouble believing without seeing

Specific Divorce Challenges:

  • They want to follow the best path for getting divorced.
  • Will fight bitterly to have things their way because they need to be right more than they need to move on with their lives.

Tips For Healing After Divorce:

  • Divorce is about learning to compromise and moving on with your life. Keep your focus on being responsible for reaching a workable divorce settlement and parenting plan so you can put your life into a new and improved order.
  • Admit that you had a part in the failure of the marriage – even if that part was only agreeing to marry your ex.

ISTP: The Crafter

Strengths – analyzes what makes things work and can organize large amounts of data, orderly and organized, handles criticism well, good listener

Weaknesses – passiveness, prefers analysis over action, emotionally uncomfortable, long-term planning

Specific Divorce Challenges:

  • Will avoid emotional processing of their divorce.
  • Will plan more for the short-term than for the long-term.

Tips For Healing After Divorce:

  • Find a divorce support group, divorced friend, counselor or divorce coach who will help you process the normal emotions of divorce. You need to process these emotions so you don’t become bitter or even physically ill.
  • Choose an attorney who will help you plan identify the long-term impact of your divorce agreement for both you and your children.

No matter what your personality type, moving on from the end of your marriage and healing after divorce is difficult. Use the information here as a starting point to help you anticipate the pitfalls you might encounter along the way, but don’t be surprised if other challenges show up too.

Looking for more help with divorce recovery and moving on with your life? Read more advice in Healing After Divorce.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who want to heal after their divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly adviceAnd, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.

People Who Do These 5 Things Are WAY Better At Handling Divorce

Middle-aged woman looking confident in the way she's handling her divorce.

Yes, you can absolutely handle this!

Divorce is such a trip, tossing you head first into a world that’s largely unfamiliar. You’re suddenly forced to navigate situations (and make hard decisions) you’ve never faced before.

You’re living alone (and wondering if you’ll live alone for the rest of your life). You’re handling your finances … or what’s left of them. You’re building a personal relationship with your kids in a new way. You’re working with an attorney and legal system that don’t know (and sometimes don’t seem to care about) you and your situation. And, hopefully, you’re standing up to your ex (maybe for the first time ever).

It’s a lot! No wonder you feel like divorce is eating you alive. The constant overwhelm often leads to profound anxiety, frustration and sadness … which creates even more overwhelm. It’s a horribly vicious cycle. And, you worry your friends will stop taking your calls because you feel so needy.

Sure, you could choose to talk with your doctor about a prescription for an anti-depressant. But, a new study found alarming side effects. So, what else can you do to manage the stress without losing your mind?

Good news, there are some simple, effective ways to inject a little calm into your perpetually overwhelming life. By easing at least a little of the anxiety, you’ll feel more capable of handling things and a bit more in control of your life.

Here are five of the easiest and most immediate ways to create a sense calm despite the swirl of divorce stress you’re facing:

  1. Breathe – I know it sounds ridiculous on the surface (and even patronizing to your real sense of overwhelm), but here is the fact: When you are under stress, you breathe more shallowly and shallow breathing increases anxiety. (See the vicious cycle here?)

    Deep, calm breaths, however, offer these major benefits: managing stress and anxiety, lowering blood pressure, regulating heart rate, sparking brain growth, improving immune function, and boosting energy. And let’s face it, these are all things you need to handle divorce (and all of its drama) well.

  2. Hug yourself – Yup, this is another seemingly silly idea, but again there is scientific evidence to back up this tip. Psychology Today reports that hugging increases your sense of security, positive feelings and better health. And PsychCentral states that you can receive these benefits simply by hugging yourself or even by imagining a hug. (If you do choose to imagine a hug, just don’t imagine hugging your ex. That just opens another whole can of worms.)
  3. Practice the “bubble” exercise –I learned this technique when I was processing my own overwhelming feelings during my divorce. It helped me to feel whole again, less drained … less like divorce was eating me alive bit by bit. (or rather, bite by bite).

    To perform the bubble exercise: Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Take a few calming deep breaths and then imagine yourself surrounded by a protective bubble. Once you imagine your bubble, notice its color, thickness and texture. Play with making the bubble thicker so you can prevent unwanted interruptions, like the hurtful texts your ex is sending. Experiment with all the ways you can adjust your protective bubble to support you in finding a calm, safe place.

  4. Write your feelings down – The University of Rochester Medical Center found that journaling helps manage anxiety, reduce stress and cope with depression.

    Huffington Post reports 10 additional benefits from journaling: stretching your IQ, evoking mindfulness, achieving goals, boosting emotional intelligence, boosting memory and comprehension, strengthening self-discipline, improving communication skills, promoting healing, sparking creativity and enhancing self-confidence.

    Oh, and journaling costs almost nothing (just the price of a pen and some paper) and you can do it almost anywhere. Sounds like a perfect activity to embrace during divorce!

  5. Seek out real support – Divorce is one of the loneliest life events you can experience. It’s inherently isolating because few people really understand it unless they’ve been through it themselves. Maybe it’s time to join a divorce recovery support group (I did, and it helped so much!), work with a therapist or even a divorce coach.

    Having space to talk freely about what’s really going on in your life with a group (or an individual) who truly understands what you’re going through is liberating, calming and incredibly reassuring too. Sometimes knowing you’re not the only one dealing with this madness is enough to make if feel less daunting.

Now, all of this said – though these are great tips to take the edge off, they won’t magically make you immune to the stress of your divorce or that horrible feeling of being eaten alive by all the demands. You’ll still have to face those challenges. But that’s what strong people do … they handle things. Just pause to take care of yourself in the process.

With continued practice, the tips above offer you much needed breathing room to think more clearly and make better decisions about everything you’re facing – from having a conversation with your doctor, your ex or your attorney to what to feed the kids (and yourself) for dinner.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce 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 adviceAnd if you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

This piece was first published at YourTango.com.

 

Are You A Prisoner Of Your Unhappy Marriage?

Woman stuck in the prison of an unhappy marriage.

Here’s the key to free yourself.

Living in an unhappy marriage is horrible. You wonder what’s the point of continuing to live with the person or ogre or idiot or baggage or whatever name you currently use for the one you used to happily call spouse.

Yet, despite your obvious misery, you choose to stay. You choose to remain in the prison your marriage has become.

WHY?! You don’t deserve to settle for a miserable marriage (or life).

Look, I’m really not judging you or beating you up. I get it because I’ve been there. I lived as a prisoner of an unhappy marriage for more than a decade before I found the courage to change things.

I don’t want you to waste another minute stuck in an unhappy marriage.

The challenge is I don’t know why you are doing it. But what I do know are the top 10 reasons people stay in a miserable marriage. So I’ll address each of these reasons and hope that one of them speaks to you.

  1. You have too much to lose. If you are staying married because you have too much to lose, then you need to get busy figuring out how to make your marriage better right now.

    Don’t squander another precious second being unhappily married. Talk with a couple who is happily married and ask them their secrets. Read everything you can get your hands on about making marriage work and then do what the authors suggest. Go to couple’s therapy. And if your spouse won’t go, get therapy for yourself. Go on a marriage retreat. Talk with a coach.

    I don’t care exactly what you choose to do. I do care that you get your butt in gear today and start doing everything you can to make your marriage (and life) better.

  2. You’re worried about the impact divorce could have on your children. If your marriage is miserable because you or your children are the victim of abuse, your spouse has untreated addictions or your marriage is so volatile that you’d never want your children to have a similar marriage, then let me tell you that staying married is having a much more negative impact on your children than divorce ever could.

    If you’re in an unhappy marriage for other reasons and you’re only staying because of the impact divorce could have on your children, then you need to get educated. Become a researcher and investigator.

    Scour the internet for everything you can find on how divorce impacts children. But don’t just look at the headlines, look deeper than that. Who exactly were the people studied? Who exactly did the studies? Do they have an obvious bias?

    Ask other people about their experiences. Talk with all the single parents you know and ask them how divorce has impacted their children.

    Talk with experts. Notice that this is plural. Talk with more than one expert and get their opinions about how divorce could affect your children.

    Then, after you’ve collected all of your information, revisit your reason for remaining in your unhappy marriage. If you’re convinced that remaining is in the best interest of you and your children, then do everything you can to make your marriage better. (If you need help to know what you can do, see 1.  You have too much to lose above.)

  3. You can’t afford to move out or live on your own. The first thing you need to do is figure out what it would take for you to afford to live on your own. Once you understand what it would take from a money standpoint, ask yourself how you could earn or create that kind of money. If it would require you going back to school or reentering a career you’ve been out of for a while, then get busy researching institutions or start networking and letting people know you’re looking for employment.

    If after doing your research, you don’t have any options at all for how to afford to live on your own, then you don’t have to remain in an unhappy marriage. You can throw your all into making it better again.

  4. You can’t afford to go through a divorce. The first thing you need to do is figure out what it would take for you to afford the divorce. Brainstorm ideas for how you could save the money you need. Maybe you need to get a second job. Maybe you need to improve your employability. Maybe you need to get a little cash back every time you go to the grocery and put that money someplace safe. Maybe you need to ask your family for a loan.

    Chances are that you have options to explore for gathering the cash you need over time. Then once you have the money you need you can proceed with leaving your unhappy marriage and get a divorce.

  5. You want to give it some more time before making a final decision. What are you hoping will happen by giving it more time?

    This sounds to me that you have hope for your marriage getting better. If that’s the case, please refer to 1. You have too much to lose above.You deserve to know that you’ve done everything possible to save your unhappy marriage before calling it quits.

  6. You want to avoid the stigma of divorce. For some cultures the stigma of divorce is unbearable. For other cultures the stigma is much less than it was.

    If your culture is one where the stigma of divorce is greater than the toll living in an unhappy marriage is taking on you, then do everything within your power to make your marriage better or at least more bearable for you.

    If your culture is more accepting of divorce, then I wonder if this is just an excuse to not take action because you’re afraid of how divorce could change your life. If this is you, then do some research and find out how divorce impacts people like you.

    After you have this knowledge, you might uncover another reason why you’re willing to stay in an unhappy marriage. If you do, then you can refer to this list again and see what might be your next course of action.

    And maybe, after you have the knowledge, you might decide that divorce is preferable to remaining in an unsatisfying marriage.

  7. You stay only for your partner’s money. Seriously?! You’re complaining about being in an unhappy marriage when you’re only in it for the money?

    I find that incredibly sad for your spouse. If you’re using your spouse for the lifestyle they can provide for you, then you need to figure out how to get happy and, even better, how to make your spouse happy too.

  8. You’re worried about how you will manage contact with the children. Parenting plans help divorcing couples figure out how to manage contact with their children. If you have minor children, your attorney should help you put together a parenting plan.

    If your children aren’t minors, then you’ve got a few things to do. First, build a personal relationship with each of your children that’s independent of their other parent. Second, realize that there will be special occasions in your children’s lives that they’ll want to have both of their parents attend; so build a workable relationship with your soon-to-be-ex that will allow you each to put your children’s best interest ahead of any squabbles you may have with each other.

  9. You’re worried you won’t meet anyone else. This is a natural worry when you’re contemplating the end of an unhappy marriage. The question you need to ask yourself is if you’re willing to stay with the person you’re miserable with or are you willing to take a chance (maybe even visit an online dating site) on finding someone new or even being happy by yourself.

    Look, if this is your only reason for staying, then you could use a boost to your self-esteem. Make a list of 10 things you like about yourself and remind yourself of these qualities on a daily basis. Update your look with a new haircut and outfit. Lose weight and get fit.

    Do something that makes you feel good about you. Then, once you feel better about yourself, see if your worry about whether or not you’d meet anyone else is still your reason for wanting to stay in an unhappy marriage.

  10. You and your spouse have too many shared financial interests. If money and finances are so important to you, then you need to figure out how to make your marriage (and life) better. Refer to 1. You have too much to lose above and get into action to improve your miserable marriage.

Look, I know it’s very, very difficult to decide whether to stay in or leave an unhappy marriage. But the one thing you can’t do is what I did – just hope that things will get better by sticking it out. You’ll just feel more wretched and depressed if you do.

I want you to notice something about each of the suggestions I gave for the top 10 reasons people stay in an unhappy marriage. They each involve you taking action. And this is on purpose.

You can’t change a situation unless you take action. No one else is going to change it for you. Even if your spouse changes, you’re going to have to adapt to their new behaviors which obviously means you’re changing.

So roll up your sleeves and stop being willing to settle for the status quo. You don’t have to remain a prisoner of your unhappy marriage. You can do something about it so you can feel happier whether you choose to stay or go. You have the key to freedom from your unhappy marriage. You just have to choose to use it.

Looking for more help with your marriage? Read more advice in Unhappy Marriage?

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are wondering if staying married is the right answer for them. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly adviceAnd, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.

What You Must Do To Have An Ah-Mazing Life After Divorce

Your life after divorce can be as happy as this woman looks!

Science says all it takes is some belief in yourself.

Starting over again after divorce fills you with a terrifying (and slightly obsessive) set of fears. You’re afraid that your life after divorce can only be worse than your life was before. You hammer yourself with the thought that you failed at being married. And obviously this failure means there’s something wrong with you which, again obviously, means you deserve misery for the rest of your life.

Well, OK, maybe that’s not what your fears about your life after divorce are, but that’s what mine were. As you can tell, I quickly slid into the abyss of self-loathing.

But even with all my divorce depression and self-flagellation, I was also secretly excited about the possibilities my freedom opened up for me – at least sometimes. It was really an immensely confusing time for me.

I found my way out of my fog of misery by slowly changing my opinion of myself. I thought, “Maybe, just maybe I wasn’t unwanted trash because my marriage failed. Maybe I could kinda start believing my friends who said I was wonderful.” And that’s how I found the trailhead for my long trek from divorce back to living an ah-mazing life post-divorce.

What I want you to take from my experience is that the better you feel about yourself, the better your life after divorce will be and the quicker it will be that way!

But don’t just take my word for it. Researchers at Shahid Beheshti University found that a low self-efficacy increases emotional and social problems. And we both know that when you divorce you’ve got more than enough emotional and social problems without purposely adding to them.

So, what do you do with this research that says the better you feel about yourself and your capabilities, the better your life after divorce will be? You keep reading because what follows are several ideas (all of which have worked either for me or someone I know) to get you feeling better about you ASAP.

  • Decide that you’re going to feel better about yourself. Yeah, this may sound a bit anti-climactic, but the truth is you can talk about it or you can commit to doing what it takes to actually feel better about yourself. This is the decision you’ve got to whole-heartedly make before you will notice any real progress here.
  • Stop judging yourself so harshly. This is where the rubber starts meeting the road because you’ve got to become acutely aware of that itty-bitty shitty committee that’s been running things in your head for a while now. You know all those negative things you think about yourself? They’re all coming from this committee. And the only way to get them to shut up is to take control of them by choosing to think differently about yourself.
  • Give yourself positive affirmations and afformations. No, you won’t turn into Stuart Smalley. What you will turn into is someone who can offer proof for the affirmations they make about themselves which increases their effectiveness and sets you up for a truly wonderful life after divorce.
  • Accept and believe compliments. When you’re feeling bad about yourself, it’s really, really hard to believe anything good that anyone else says about it. That’s because your committee is in charge of beating you down and deciding all compliments are lies. Yup, when you don’t accept and believe the compliments others give you you’re essentially calling them liars. (Now, some people may just be blowing up your skirt/briefs because they want something from you, but not your true friends.)
  • Nurture yourself daily. Yes, every single day you need to do something nice for you. You don’t have to do anything elaborate, but you do need to pamper yourself. Maybe you eat a wonderful meal, or meditate, or take 5 deep breaths, or take a walk to clear your mind. Well, I’m sure you get idea here. Nurturing yourself doesn’t have to mean that you’re getting a daily massage (although, if you do that’s fabulous!), it just means that you’re purposely spending time doing something that makes you feel good.

Improving your self-esteem isn’t as simple as choosing one of these suggestions and being done or as simple as doing each one once. Feeling better about yourself so your life after divorce is well worth living is a process.

Remember that trek I told you I took? Well, that’s what you can expect too. Your journey from the miasma of divorce misery to an ah-mazing post-divorce life will take time and effort. But I can assure you that the time and effort will be incredibly well spent because ah-mazing is totally worth it!

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce 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. 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.

Looking for more help navigating your post-divorce life? Read more advice about Life After Divorce.

 

Divorce: The Kind Of Heartache You Can Feel In Your Bones

Clothed woman lying in a tub of water crying over her heartbreak.

What to do when your heartache is so great the world just seems to be flying past.

Having your spouse tell you they want a divorce is like an unexpected punch to the gut. You’re shocked and instinctively double-over from the pain. You can’t quite catch your breath.

You’re convinced you’ve misheard them, that it’s some horrible dream that you’re going to wake up from, but it’s not. This is real.

As the shock begins to wear off, the heartache starts and it’s debilitating. You go from living life in a daze of denial to living life in so much pain you can hardly move much less think.

What happened to us? How can they really want this? What’s wrong with me? Why do I hurt so much? What about the kids? Will this pain ever end?

These and a thousand other questions run rampant through your mind, demanding answers. Yet there are no answers, no closure, only more questions and more pain.

So what can you do to relieve the heartache of divorce?

The answer is you have to allow yourself to grieve and then move on. It’s simple to say this, but not so simple to do. So, let me share with you some ideas for how you can begin healing your heartache.

  1. Cry (Sob) – Yes, as silly as it may sound, you need to allow your tears to flow (if you’ve got tears). Crying lets your soul release a bit of what it can’t quite put into words. Some people cry easily and can’t seem to stop until they’re exhausted. Others have a harder time getting started and need to schedule time where they allow themselves to fully feel the pain and express it with tears.
  2. Writhe – Remember being a child and moving your body around in agony when you were really upset? Well, that’s what I’m suggesting you do now. If you’re like me and express yourself with movement – you talk with your hands, you get fidgety when you sit too long, you need to keep your body moving to help burn up the energy you’ve got – writhing will help heal your heartache. Twisting and turning your body when you feel grief down to your bones releases the tension that you naturally build up in your muscles when you’re upset (or stressed).
  3. Shout – Shouting or even letting loose a primal howl is cathartic. Wearing your vocal cords out expressing the inexpressible pain you’re experiencing gives voice to your heartache and lessens it.
  4. Pray – Sharing your grief with the all-knowing and all-comforting God, or Universe, or Higher Self provides relief. The act of prayer acknowledges that you’re not alone no matter how alone and abandoned you feel. The sense of security in knowing that you’re still connected to all that is does a lot to assuage the bone-deep ache of divorce.
  5. Journal – Writing by hand on a piece of paper about every facet of your heartache is a wonderful gift to give yourself. The act of writing allows you to process your pain in a different way than any of the previous suggestions because it uses different parts of your brain. Journaling also allows you to see in words specifically what it is that you’re grieving which makes it both more real and you’re more likely to have new ideas about how to deal more effectively with the pain.
  6. Talk – For most people dealing with heartache, talking about their situation with people who truly listen and who understands heartache is extremely beneficial. So open up about your pain and what’s going on with a friend who’s been through divorce, a clergy member, a divorce support group, a mentor, a therapist, and/or a coach.

Unfortunately, you can’t select one of these six suggestions, do it and expect that your heartache will cease. These are simply the tools you need to use again and again and again and … to mend your broken heart.

But each time you use these tools you’ll relieve yourself of a little more pain, a little more sorrow, and a little more heartache. There won’t be a time when you suddenly say “I’m done with my heartache,” but you will begin noticing that your need to use these six suggestions decreases.

So continue emptying your grief. Remind yourself that you will feel good again no matter how you feel right now. How do I know? Because I’ve experienced heartache I could feel in my bones and I found my way back to feeling happy again by using doing just what I’m suggesting to you.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce 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 interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

Looking for more help healing the heartache of divorce? Read more advice about Dealing With Grief.