5 Tips For A Happier Life After Divorce

Joyful woman with her arms lifted in celebration as she considers the 5 tips for a happier life after divorce

When you’re over your grief, these tips will help you find happiness again.

Regardless of whether you chose to end your marriage or your spouse did, divorce hurts. The pain is the result of all the losses – lost love, lost dreams for the future together, lost family, lost identity, and a myriad of others.

Each of these losses bury you deeper and deeper into pain and sadness. You sink lower and lower wondering if you can ever truly be happy again.

Although it may not quite seem possible now, you can have a happier life after divorce than you can imagine.

The happiness won’t just happen automagically though. You’ve got to help it along by changing your mindset from one that expects more hurt and misery to one that begins to expect that you will have a happier life after divorce than the one you’re living right now.

Changing your mindset may sound like a daunting task given everything else you’ve got going on, but it’s actually pretty simple if you’re willing to make a small commitment to doing so and following some straight-forward advice.

5 tips for creating a happier life after divorce:

  1. Be thankful for what you have.Divorce forces you to take stock of what you don’t have any longer. It’s normal to grieve the losses and feel sadness. And you need to experience the grief.However, sometimes the grief and sadness of divorce can become a habit. You continue focusing on all that you don’t have instead of being thankful for what you still do have.When you start making a shift of focus from what you lost to what you’ve got or even gained, you start emerging from the depths of divorce despair and prime yourself for a better life after divorce. The best part is that the more time you spend time contemplating what you do have the more and more momentum you’re gaining toward making your happiness a reality.
  2. Look at the past with appreciation – not blame or regret.
    Powerful emotions tend to tie us to whatever creates them. If you are still angry with and/or blame your ex for what happened in your marriage, you’re still tied to your ex. Being connected to him/her by these strong emotions will keep you connected to your ex which isn’t the best situation for you to move on and create a happier life after divorce.

    Similarly if you’re looking at the past and blaming yourself or feeling unexpressed regret, you’re stuck. You’re beating yourself up and staying trapped. You must do what you need to do to clear your conscience.

    Once you clear the powerful negative feelings that are keeping you mired in the past, you’ll be able to shift your emotions to more appreciative ones. Then you’ll realize that the only way you’ve become the person you are today (and who you will become in the future) is because of what you’ve experienced in the past. And this will help you to thankfully leave the past in the past.

  3. Create a plan for your future.
    Divorce changes everything – including all the plans you had for the future with ex.

    It’s time to start dreaming again about what you want from your life now that you’re getting a fresh start. As you begin imagining what you want, it’s OK to start small. What you’ll discover is that as you continue to dream that you’ll be able to fill in more of the details until your plan is incredibly vibrant and compelling.

  4. Look forward with anticipation instead of fear.
    Once you start imagining how you will create a happier life after divorce, you’ll start doing what you need to do to make it a reality. And any time you start doing new things it’s natural to feel a bit of fear creep in.

    However, if you can wake up every day, anticipating great things to happen – no matter how small, you’ll find that your fear will begin to melt away. Identify at least one great thing that happens every day and you’ll have a difficult time continuing to feel sad and hurt about your divorce.

  5. Choose happiness.
    As cliché as it sounds, happiness is a choice. You can choose to remain miserable by continuing to think the same thoughts day in and day out. Or you can choose to start thinking and doing things differently. Making this second choice again and again and again will put you squarely on the path of creating a happier life after divorce.

These five pieces of advice will seem trite and too simplistic if you’re still in the depths of divorce despair. If that’s how they seem to you, you’re not quite done grieving the end of your marriage yet. And that’s 100% OK. Everyone grieves at their own pace.

When you’re ready, you’ll begin seeing these tips as the keys to creating a happier life after divorce than you can begin to imagine right now. That doesn’t mean that they’ll be easy to implement or that you’ll do them perfectly every day, it just means that you’ll recognize them as the way you’ll push through all of the pain and sadness of your divorce, rise up and create an incredible life for yourself regardless of how your marriage ended.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who want support in dealing with the pain divorce and creating a post-divorce life you’re happy with. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me as your personal coach, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session. 

Looking for more ideas about thriving after divorce? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Life After Divorce.

5 Daily Habits To Jump-Start Success In Your Life After Divorce

Woman smiling because her life after divorce is great!

Yes, even with a failed marriage your life after divorce can be successful (and happy).

I can hear you now. “Success? Who the crap can think about success or happiness when their marriage just ended in divorce?”

Although you might not initially believe me, you should think about both happiness and success right now – not from the standpoint of how you don’t have either, but from the standpoint of how you can achieve both.

Look, your life is happening right now and the only way to make sure your life after divorce works for you is if you make the effort to start getting some things in order as quickly as you’re able.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not being flip about the pain you’re feeling.

Your divorce is probably one of the lowest points of your life. (It was for me.) Not only is your old life stripped away, but you’re faced with really hard questions about how to make your way through life on your own (maybe even as a single parent).

You’re going to have to continue the hard work you’ve already been doing to set yourself (and your kids) up for a successful post-divorce life. Transitioning from married to single isn’t easy. And believing that your life after divorce could ever feel good seems almost impossible right now.

But I know you can do it. How? Because you (and your kids) are worth it. You’ve got too much life ahead of you to call it quits now and settle for miserable.

So what do you do? You start small by developing some habits that will form the foundation on which you can build a happy and successful life after divorce.

Below are the 5 habits you need to develop to build your life after divorce into one that feels successful and that you love.

  1. Make your health a priority. I’m talking a holistic health here. Take care of yourself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. You have to take care of you first so you can have the energy to take care of those who depend on you.
  2. Don’t get distracted by what your ex is (or isn’t) doing. Unless your ex is doing something egregiously wrong, you need to let them live their own life so you can live your own. I know it’s not easy to let go after all the years you’ve spent together, but letting go is exactly what you need to do so you can move on with your life after divorce.
  3. Stay inspired by reading, taking classes, having new experiences. Getting and staying involved in things that make you feel good and even challenge you will keep you motivated. And when you feel motivated to have more fun experiences and think new empowering thoughts you’ll be easily able to make the next habit happen.
  4. Live each day to the fullest. Yes, squeeze every last ounce of wonderful out of every day that you can. I know that things may not seem all that wonderful right now, but start looking for what’s good about each day. I actually keep a journal and write down everything that I’ve really enjoyed each day. It might be the sound of the birds singing early in the morning or playing with my dogs. Wonderful isn’t always something big. It is just something you’ve noticed and appreciated.
  5. Plan the next day the night before. This tip is last because it comes easiest after you’ve started working on the other habits. Taking the time to lay out your clothes, plan the next day’s tasks, and layout the things you need to take to work (or the kids need to take to school) the night before will make your morning go much more smoothly. And we both know that if your morning goes well it’s easier for the rest of the day to go that way too.

I’ve listed these habits in this order for a reason – to give you the most critical one first. Taking care of you has to come first. If you’re not taking care of you, you can’t do much else for long.

So don’t worry if these 5 foundational habits seem like too much right now. Just work on the first one.

And when you’re ready, start picking up the others so you can build your life after divorce on a solid foundation that will easily allow you to have the happiness and success you both want and deserve.

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 support as you re-create your post-divorce life? You’ll find the help you want in Life After Divorce.


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.


Celebrate Your Life After Divorce! Don’t Just Get Through It.

Celebrate your life after divorce!

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.

Divorce Is Tough. The Mortgage Doesn’t Have To Be.

Should your life after divorce include living in the marital home?

By Mark Watson, Loan Officer, Guardian Mortgage Company, Inc.

This is a terrific article. It’s jam-packed with information that I am so happy to be able to share! I’ve added just a few comments in square brackets [].

If you are going through a divorce, you are probably exhausted by all the details and decisions that have to be made as the two of you separate. Even in the most amicable situations it can be very emotional. [Remember there are the 5 facets of divorce – social, emotional, legal, financial and functional – that all overlap. So it makes sense that in the midst of making the decisions required to divorce that you would experience a lot of emotions.]

There is usually a lot of discussion about the house as it usually represents the family’s largest asset. [Dealing with an asset would be an example of the financial facet of divorce. When dealing with the financial facet of divorce it’s best to remain primarily in a business mindset instead of an emotional one because you’ll be better able to make decisions you can live with for the long haul.]

While divorce is a tough process, resolving the mortgage doesn’t have to be. According to Mark Watson, Vice President of Guardian Mortgage Company in Plano, Texas, there are three things homeowners can do to make it easier on themselves:

  1. Make realistic decisions.
  2. Understand your loan options.
  3. Seek help.

Make Realistic Decisions.

In many divorces, the home is refinanced in the name of one of the spouses and any profit or losses are negotiated between the couple. Sometimes the home is sold, and sometimes there is a long-term agreement in place about the home. Occasionally, a house with no mortgage is given to one spouse as part of the divorce settlement.

“It makes no difference to the mortgage company whether or not the name changes on the mortgage,” notes Watson. “However, the spouse no longer living in the home usually does not want to be responsible for it. Plus, they may want some cash out of it.”

If your house is paid off, a quit claim deed can be an easy solution to home ownership in a divorce settlement and make your life after divorce easier.

If there is no mortgage on the home, and one spouse plans to keep it as part of the settlement, the process is simple. “The attorney prepares a quit-claim deed and records it as part of the divorce,” says Watson. “The home belongs to just one spouse from that point forward.”

Most homes have a mortgage, though. There are a number of questions that must be answered in order to pick the right process for your situation, but the most important is “which spouse can afford to keep the home after the divorce?” It is often the most difficult as there is often a lot of emotional attachment towards the house that may not have anything to do with the financial realities of the situation. [The best way to answer these questions is from a business-minded perspective. The “businesses” to be considered are the financial business of each spouse post-divorce as well as the business of raising happy, healthy children. In other words, you need to keep in mind what your life after divorce will really be like if you choose to keep the house.]

The spouse with primary custody of the children will often want to keep the home to provide a stable environment and to stay near school and friends.

“I often see couples where the wife isn’t working and hasn’t worked in years,” says Bruce Rayburn of The Rayburn Group of Ebby Halliday Realtors based in Plano, Texas. “This makes it very hard to qualify for a refinance. Even if both spouses were working at the time of the divorce, it doesn’t mean either spouse can afford the mortgage with only one salary.”

“Even getting child support is often not enough,” Rayburn adds.

Besides the amount of income required to qualify for a refinance, the source of the income makes a difference. “For conforming loans ($417,000 or less in most areas of Texas), alimony and child support cannot count towards qualifying income until there have been at least three months of steady payments. In addition, the paying spouse must be required by law to pay for at least three years after the closing date of the sale,” notes Watson.

“For FHA Loans, the requirement is six months of payment. Furthermore, if the amount of alimony or child support is greater than 30% of the borrower’s income, then a full year’s worth of reliable payments is required.”

[Regardless of where you live you need to know a lot about what the legalities and implications of keeping the house are as you make decisions that will impact your post-divorce lifestyle and residence.]

Understand Your Loan Options.

Many couples believe that they have to sell or refinance the home in order to finalize the divorce, which is not always the case. Sometimes sale or refinance of the home is delayed for months to years. 

According to attorney Penny Phillips of Plano, Texas, many families with children want to keep the family home for them until they are older and/or in college. “In this case, one spouse will sometimes agree to wait to get the equity out of the house until after the children have left,” says Phillips.

In Texas, a lien can be placed on the house – called an Owelty Lien Agreement – such that one spouse will own the house, but the other will still retain rights to equity that was present in the house at the time of the divorce. This gives the first spouse the right to make improvements and to own the home, but the second spouse will get his or her share of the equity later when the kids are grown or the market improves or whatever reason the couple has chosen to wait.

“It is a win-win because the owner-spouse gets the benefit of all improvements and equity growth in the meantime, but the other spouse still gets the benefit of all the years of contributing to the equity when they were married,” adds Phillips.

“Since the home is not sold or refinanced, there is no need for the remaining spouse to get qualified for a new mortgage until the cash-out time. They just need to keep making timely payments. This is a good solution for situations where the divorce is fairly amicable and the spouses can work together for this common goal. I always advise that they tell the mortgage company about the divorce, however, as both partners need to continue to get notices about the loan,” says Phillips.

[Keep in mind that just because a divorce starts out amicably doesn’t mean it will stay that way. So making sure that both spouses continue to get notices about the loan is a smart decision. After all, keeping life after divorce amicable between exes requires regular, respectful communication, but tempers can still flare despite the best efforts.]

“We generally see Owelty Liens when a couple is in the process of refinancing the home,” notes Watson. “You don’t need to wait a specific amount of time to use it, and it has the added benefit of letting you do a “special purpose” refinance and go up to 95% of the appraised value of the home. This provides more equity at the end of the process.

“Current “cash-out” guidelines for refinancing in Texas allow for financing up to 80% of the loan value. A special purpose refinance allows you to get an extra 15% out of the home, which is then shared between the couple as per the terms of their divorce. I always talk to my clients about Owelty Liens because it can make a big difference if one partner is trying to buy another home, for example. Also, if the other partner finds out after the fact that they could have gotten more cash out of the refinance and didn’t, it can cause more unhappiness all around.”

Seek Help.

Dividing up the marriage assets is emotional and financially risky if you are not sure what you are doing. Early in the divorce, both spouses should consult their mortgage provider, realtor and CPA as well as an attorney in order to review their options and the financial and tax consequences of certain decisions. These objective outsiders will help you navigate your particular situation and direct you to other resources. In addition, they can act as a go-between if the divorce is contentious.

[One other divorce professional you may want to contact when dealing with the financial questions of divorce is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. These professionals are trained in how to help couples develop different scenarios for an equitable division of their assets and debts so they’ll each have a better picture of what their financial life after divorce will be like.]

“It is a false economy to do a divorce yourself. I’ve seen couples ruin their credit by doing it wrong. In one case, so many mistakes were made; one partner almost went to jail. It’s not worth it,” said Phillips. “Plus the experts can tell you about Owelty Liens and other ways to get the best out of a bad situation.”

“Lack of communication makes the divorce harder,” says Rayburn. “I often will work with both spouses in a divorce to help sell the old home, refinance and/or find a new, less expensive home if that is their post-divorce reality. I’ve even helped people through multiple relationships over the years because I was able to facilitate communications between the parties.”

“I often give my clients a list of good appraisers to call on,” says Watson. “Even if they don’t plan to sell or refinance right away, they need an appraisal in order to fairly determine the value of the home for the divorce settlement. I can then take that appraisal and show them how much equity is in the house so they can have more meaningful discussions.”

As with most issues related to divorce, there is no single best way to handle your mortgage. Divorcing couples must take a long look at their finances, and make realistic decisions based on a thorough understanding of their options.

Have more questions about how to handle your mortgage through divorce? Contact an experienced loan officer like Mark Watson at Guardian Mortgage Company today about your specific situation. Guardian Mortgage Company has been serving North Texas since 1965. Mark Watson (214) 473-7954.

Your Life After Divorce Assignment:

If you’re at the point of trying to decide what to do with the marital home, focus on the business decision you need to make. Despite how much you are attached to your home, the fact is it’s just a thing, a place. Spending your energy deciding how to best deal with this marital asset instead of what it represents will help you come to the best decision for you – the decision that you’ll be most comfortable with financially and emotionally in the long haul.

If it’s difficult for you to separate the business aspect of this decision from the emotional one, give me a call at 817-993-0561 so we can schedule a Complimentary Consultation and together we’ll figure out a way for you to have an easier time making the decisions you need to make as part of your divorce and make your life after divorce as good as it can be.

You don’t have to go through this alone. I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor. I understand what you’re going through because I’ve been through it too. I’ve been helping people just like you who are dealing with all the stress and pain of divorce since 2007. You can join my anonymous newsletter list for free weekly advice or email me directly for a free consultation at Karen@functionaldivorce.com.

Are you looking for more tips about setting yourself up for your best possible post-divorce life? You can find more great information at Life After Divorce.