When you got married, chances are it was a happy occasion and you had dreams of “Happily Ever After.” Leaving the idea of “Happily Ever After” and getting to the point in a marriage when divorce becomes a viable option is usually extremely painful and confusing. Actually making the decision to divorce is rarely easy.
Although the decision to divorce is strictly between you and your spouse, there are 3 different ways you can know when it’s time to make a dramatic change in your marriage.
- You’re feeling robotic and just going through the motions. If you find that your marriage is just kinda there – you each do the minimum to maintain the relationship – it’s time for something to change. You deserve to have your marriage be meaningful. Overall, your primary relationship should contribute positively to the quality of your life.
- You’re stuck in analysis paralysis. If you can’t make up your mind about whether or not something needs to change in your marriage, then you’re experiencing analysis paralysis. What I’ve discovered when I find myself in situations like this is that I’m lacking courage. If I have an inkling that something needs to change, it does! Debating with myself about whether or not I trust myself is a waste of time and has the potential to further damage the relationship. My time is better spent by figuring out what needs to change and then taking the action to make things better.
- You’re hiding yourself. We all wear masks of one form or another to get along. It’s part of our socialization. Think about it, how many times do you automatically respond “Fine.” when someone asks you how you’re doing? We may be having a miserable day, but we still respond “Fine.” The problem with purposely hiding yourself in your marriage is that besides denying who we are we’re also preventing ourselves from having the real benefits of being in an intimate relationship with our spouse. Relationships are meant to support us and prove a safe place for us to be us. If you feel like you can’t be you, it’s definitely time for something to change.
It’s natural for every relationship to grow and change over time. Each of the situations described above is just an indicator that a change is needed – not that you need to divorce. By recognizing that your marriage is in one of these situations, you might even be able to make the necessary changes to save your marriage and avoid divorce altogether. However, to accomplish this takes courage, the willingness to be vulnerable and a determination to eliminate robotic responses.
Your Friendly Coaching Assignment:
Which of these situations remind you most of your marriage? Every relationship needs to change at various times. Sometimes the change that needs to happen is one that you need to make, sometimes it’s something you need to discuss with the other person and ask them to make, and most of the time you both need to make adjustments.
What adjustments would make your marriage or your next relationship better? Getting clarity about what would improve the relationship in your opinion is vital. You might be able to do this on your own or you might need to discuss it with the other person. Once you have the needed clarity it will be much easier to improve your marriage and/or avoid the same situations in your next relationship.
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.
(c) 2013 Karen Finn. All rights reserved under all copyright conventions.
As anyone who’s been through divorce knows, it’s an incredibly stressful time. If the only stresses you had to worry about were due to divorce that would be one thing, but the real problem is that the rest of your life doesn’t stop just because you’re getting divorced. All of your usual day-to-day stressors (work, traffic, kids’ schedules, other family demands, and the news) somehow become even larger when you’re dealing with the big D.
In this first of three articles on minimizing stress when you’re dealing with divorce, we’ll be focusing on renewing your energy.
When’s the last time you thought about where your energy comes from? It wouldn’t surprise me if you’d never thought of it before. After all, it’s something that most of us take for granted. We assume we’ll have the energy to get through our day each and every day. We just accept that some days it’s easier to get through the day than others.
The thing is, when you’re going through divorce on top of everything else it can be more difficult than usual to get through your day. When I started consistently having trouble having enough energy to get through my day while I was going through my divorce 10 years ago, I got interested in how I could boost my energy and that led me to wondering where my energy came from.
What I learned was that our energy comes from our psychology and our physiology. Yup, it comes from a combination of how you think and how your body responds (which ultimately means how you treat your body). It’s just as simple and as hard as that.
Luckily, the concept is pretty easy to understand. The more positive and calm your thoughts and the more healthy your body is the better you’ll be able to deal with stress. Unfortunately, the concept can be pretty difficult to implement if you’ve not paid much attention to your thoughts or your general health prior to divorce becoming a reality in your life. To help you out, I’ve got five quick tips that can give you a head start to renewing your energy even in the midst of divorce.
1. Start your day with a positive thought. Lots of people get out of bed dreading the day, but if you can start your day with a positive thought it will go a long way toward lessening the stress you have all day long.
Ten years ago, I was one of those people. I felt like I was on a treadmill of needing to meet one responsibility after another with a few catastrophes thrown in for variety. Learning to wake up with a positive thought (or two) really made a difference for me. It helped me get past the plague of depressive thoughts about being divorced and on to better things.
2. Schedule at least one break for yourself every day where you have ZERO responsibilities and ZERO interruptions. The break can even be as short as 5 minutes. The important thing is that you take it.
Ten years ago, I didn’t know what it was to have a real break. I spent almost every waking moment either working or worrying – neither of which was very helpful to renewing my energy. Learning to take a real break was hard for me, but by constantly trying out different things I realized that by allowing myself to have a time and space where I had zero responsibilities or interruptions that I felt tons better. I had more energy to go back to working (and worrying).
3. End your day with gratitude. Allowing yourself to appreciate the good that happened during the day goes a long way toward allowing you to have restorative sleep at night.
When I was going through my divorce, I used to have terrible nightmares. I’d dream about the worst case scenarios of all the things I had gone to sleep worrying about. As a result of the nightmares, I got very little sleep which just made life that much harder the next day. When I learned to change my thoughts at night from the worry to something more positive, the frequency of my nightmares decreased dramatically and I slept better. Of course when I got better sleep, I felt more energetic the next day.
4. Eat well and regularly. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “you are what you eat” before. There’s definitely some truth to that phrase, but when you’re going through divorce it’s even more powerfully truthful. Most people change the way they eat when they’re feeling stressed. They’ll over eat or eat “junk food” to soothe themselves or they’ll “forget” to eat in an attempt to gain some control. Either path leads to decreased energy. They’re either fueling their bodies with junk or not fueling their bodies at all.
I went the control route when I was dealing with the big D. I severely curtailed my eating and tried to live on next to nothing. I became anorexic and let me tell you that starving yourself is not the way to increase your energy! I felt exhausted and anxious most of the time. Luckily, I had a trainer who literally got in my face about being anorexic and got me to start eating healthfully again. It made a HUGE difference in my energy level and my mood. I actually started to feel happy again.
5. Get some exercise daily. When you’re going through divorce, it’s really easy to believe you don’t have time for exercise because there are just so many other things needing your attention. Exercise doesn’t have to mean a trip to the gym or the yoga studio, it can be as simple as taking a walk around the block, playing Frisbee with your kids and dog or even doing 5 jumping jacks. Exercise is anything that gets your body moving in a way you don’t usually do. The wonderful thing is that the novelty of the movement will energize you.
I was a glutton for punishment 10 years ago. I took everything to the extreme and would work out daily. What I learned from that was exercise doesn’t have to be work. It can be fun. The point of getting some exercise daily is just to move your body and change your thoughts. The wonderful thing I discovered about changing my thoughts was that I felt better and more energetic!
These 5 tips for renewing your energy are simple. Hopefully, they’re simple enough that you’re ready to try one or more of them out for yourself. I know you’ll start to notice improved energy levels and less stress once you implement at least one of these tips daily regardless of where you are in your divorce process.
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
Eating well and regularly is a challenge my clients always face, so Your Functional Divorce Assignment will focus on this tip.
Take the following quiz to get an idea of how you might eat well and regularly.
Select one answer for each question.
1. On average, every day I have ________ servings of caffeine (energy drinks, coffee, sodas, tea).
A. More than 5
B. 2 – 5
C. Less than 2
2. I eat some protein with every meal or snack.
3. I eat _____ meals each day.
4. I drink _______ glasses of water each day.
C. 8 or more
Ideally, C is the better answer for each of the questions. If you’ve answered A for any of these questions you might want to consider changing things so that you can answer B instead and I’ll bet that you just might feel a bit more energetic when you do.
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 interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.
If you’re looking for more help on how to navigate the challenges of your life now, read more articles about Life After Divorce.
This week’s post is by Wendy Knutson, CPA.
If you’re getting a divorce, you’ll have to work through a variety of financial issues governed by prevailing state law. But don’t overlook the federal income tax implications. Advance planning can be critical in the following areas:
Alimony vs. child support. Generally, payments designated as alimony in a divorce decree are deductible by the payer and taxable to the recipient. But the opposite is true for child support; the payments can’t be deducted by the payer and are tax-free to the recipient. Make sure that the decree accurately reflects your intentions.
Filing status. If you divorce before year-end, you must file your 2012 federal income tax return as an unmarried individual. Depending on your situation, you may fare better or worse as an unmarried filer. For instance, joint filers could be hurt by the “marriage penalty” if the income of the spouses are relatively equal. In that case, it may be advantageous to finalize the divorce before year-end.
Dependency exemptions. Generally, the parent who has custody of young children for most of the year is the one entitled to dependency exemptions for the children. However, a noncustodial parent may claim the exemptions if the custodial parent signs a formal waiver.
Division of property. Property transferred incident to a divorce is tax-free to the recipient. The recipient’s basis and holding period are the same as they were for the ex-spouse. If you receive property in a divorce and then sell it, you must report the realized gain or loss on your tax return.
Other special tax rules may apply to the sale of a principal residence, IRA and retirement plan benefits, and life insurance policies. In summary: Seek expert tax guidance throughout the divorce proceedings to protect your financial welfare.
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
If you’ve got questions about taxes, give a CPA a call.
“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.”
As You Like It Act 2, scene 7, 139-143
Divorce is one of those times when we notice that people exit from our lives and the roles and responsibilities we shared with them no longer make sense. Many of these roles and responsibilities are ones we probably took for granted when these people were regularly in our lives. But now that they aren’t we just might find ourselves at a loss for how to get these unfilled roles filled.
Unlike a production of one of Shakespeare’s plays, we don’t usually have an understudy that will step up in if the person currently fulfilling a role suddenly isn’t there any more. This is where we need to roll up our sleeves and get to work on the functional divorce.
1. The first step is to identify which roles and responsibilities have been dropped.
To help you get started here are some roles and responsibilities people struggle with when they divorce. Well, they range widely – from the simple to the complex. Here is a partial list of what you might be struggling with:
-Chef/cook -Budgeter/Bill payer -Mom/Dad -Home maintainer -Lover/loved -Primary wage earner -Maid/butler -Laundry/Dry cleaning expert -Grocery Shopper -Investor
We struggle with roles and responsibilities when we get divorced because in a sense we’ve allowed ourselves and our spouses to become type-cast. We get used to how we’ve been living and how we’ve been living with our spouse. When we get separated/divorced, all the roles we’ve become so adept at are suddenly changed. We can feel overwhelmed about how much we’ve now got to do. We might feel a sense of freedom about how much less we have to do or we might have a sense of fear about how much less we have to do. Most likely, we feel a combination of it all.
2. The second step is to prioritize the order in which the unfilled roles need to be filled.
Not everything needs to be done at once. Which is the most critical role that needs to get covered? And after that is taken care of which is next most critical. Go through your entire list and prioritize each and every roll you’ve identified.
3. The third step is to develop your game plan for getting the most urgent roles filled.
Yes, you’ll probably have to work on multiple roles at once. I wish it was easier, but divorce is difficult at times. What I can tell you is that by taking a systematic approach to your functional divorce you will establish your new normal much more quickly. The benefit of that is a decrease in the stress and strain you (and your kids) are experiencing as a result of your divorce.
Taking a good look at the roles and responsibilities you had in your marriage and how they are changing as a result of your separation/divorce is critical to decreasing the stress and strain you experience. By having a good feel for how things are changing and what you can do to make it easier on yourself and your kids will go a long way toward getting you and your kids settled in your new roles. You can think of this experience as a script change and you are the chief writer who is determined to end the story happily.
You Functional Divorce Assignment:
Make your own list of roles and responsibilities that are impacted by your divorce. Use the list above to give you inspiration and come up with all the roles and responsibilities that you are now faced with covering.
Prioritize your list. Yes, there are a lot of things that in flux when you get divorced, but not all of them are top priority. Which are the most immediately important and which can wait for a bit.
Develop a game plan. How will you incorporate your new roles and responsibilities into your life? The important thing here is to make sure your game plan is realistic and achievable.
It’s OK to ask someone for help. Sometimes the parts you realize you now need to or want to play in your life are way different from anything you’ve ever done before. If that’s the case for you, I want to encourage you to ask for help. The right help at the right time can make all the difference in how quickly you can reach the happy ending to your divorce experience.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach. I help people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice.