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Divorce, whether it feels like somewhat of a relief or an entire upheaval of your happiness, may cause you to make irrational decisions. Much like positive emotions may lead a person to make positive choices, negative emotions may lead a person to do the opposite. It’s important to stay grounded following a divorce, to deal with the grief by making positive choices as opposed to negative ones, which can exacerbate life after divorce. These 7 mistakes are easy to make when a negative thought pattern is controlling your behavior – avoid them…
After a divorce, it might make you feel good to change up your look. They say “the first step to feeling better is looking better”. But some changes are simply too drastic. Don’t go out and get a tattoo, or a body piercing, or anything that’s permanent. You’d be making this decision out of negative emotion such as grief or resentment. The last thing you need in your life is a constant reminder of that negativity. And you may just come to regret that decision directly after making it.
Once you’re separated, you may think that your ex’s behavior will change. Don’t have high expectations. People change on their own. You simply don’t have the power to change someone, especially an ex with whom resentment may still linger. Having high hopes that your ex-spouse may act differently to you now that you are divorced, perhaps less hostile or just friendlier, is setting yourself up for a letdown. Don’t fall into that trap. Focus on yourself and being the best person you can be.
Yes, it can be extremely difficult to get back into the dating world. You crave intimacy and attention. But you’re afraid of that vulnerability that comes along with putting yourself back out there. So, you automatically think of how convenient it would be to look up an old ex, if only for comfort sex. But remember, your exes are exes for a reason. You weren’t meant to be. Sex, even if it’s just for comfort, releases oxytocin – often referred to as “the love hormone”. You may end up developing feelings for an ex who was never good for you to begin with if you engage in sexual activities with them. Avoid this mistake at all costs. Wait until you’re ready to put yourself back out there, knowing fully what you want in your next partner.
It seems easier to either curl up with your emotions or cover them up following a divorce than to face them. But this is never a good idea. The art of therapy will never die, nor will the use of psychology. Find a psychologist that you feel comfortable with, someone you feel you can fully describe your feelings to, and someone who offers you coping mechanisms, ideas, and affirmations to help in your own healing process.
Airing out your feelings on Social Media will do you no good. If you need to vent, talk to your psychologist. Cherish their feedback more than anyone else’s. They are professionals. Talking bad about your ex-spouse won’t make you feel any better, either. If you turn to Facebook to vent out your feelings about your ex-spouse or your feelings in general, you may end up with numerous people who don’t fully know the complexities of your prior relationship trying to give you advice. Their advice might serve your wrong, and too many voices in your head simply turns to static.
It can be hard to feel like a “third-wheel”, but it’s unlikely that your good friends who are in positive, working marriages are going to let you feel like that. Reach out to them. Tell them that you still want to be a part of their lives. If they were good friends to you when you were married, they’ll likely still be good to you when you’re divorced. And who knows, they may just end up being a bridge to a new partner in life. Isolation won’t offer up this bridge.
When we’re given two choices, and one is more comfortable than the other, we often choose the more comfortable option – even if the other option was the right one. Think back to your marriage. What did you do wrong in that marriage? In every divorce, both parties have some fault as to why the relationship when awry. What was it about your ex-spouse that initially made you fall for them? What was it about them that you feel made the relationship unhealthy? Be cautious of these traits when looking for a new partner. The last thing you want to do is get in a relationship with someone who is a repeat of your ex-spouse, which might feel comfortable to you. So, proceed with some caution. Make sure not to drag bad relationship habits that may have contributed to the failure of your last marriage into a new relationship. You may even surprise yourself and realize that an entirely different personality than what you’ve always looked for is what you actually need.
Getting back on track following a divorce is pretty much always harder than we can imagine. One foot in front of the other. Remember, you are capable of anything, no matter what stage in life you are at.
Divorce can an physically taxing, financially tolling, emotional rollercoaster. Whereas some feel like a weight has been lifted after a divorce, having dealt with emotional, psychological or physical abuse from their spouse, others may have tried their hardest to keep their marriage together, only to see it fall to pieces regardless. For those divorcees, the loss can hit hard. When you marry someone, you envisage your union lasting forever. Here are 3 difficult truths about divorce and ways you can overcome them…
Before your divorce, you may have had someone to at least lean on somewhat through turbulent change. Now, that change is losing them completely. They’re gone. Your shoulder, if ever your spouse was one, won’t be there for you to lean on. You truly are alone in coping with your emotions. Now, you may be envisioning a future without a teammate. It’s entirely natural to feel like you’ve lost your strength after a divorce. But now is a time for self-discovery, and self-love. You still need to keep your health, wellbeing, and life together. You’ll have to step up to the plate on your own. And in doing so, you’ll realize that you do have the strength to be independent, even after being dependent on your ex-spouse for so long. You may have had such self-love before your marriage, and that self-love may have been lost throughout an unhealthy relationship. But that self-love will come back.
Take your time, but don’t curl up with that loneliness or lack of self-love. You may feel an urge to get out and rebuild your social life. You might not know where to start, though. Luckily, it’s easier than you may think, so long as you face any reservations about putting yourself out there. If you don’t have friends or simply want a new group of friends, join a social group like Meetup.com. Search the site for meetups that involve activities you truly love doing. When you feel ready, try and get out there – if only to make new friendships and social circles. This will aid in the process of relearning what it is to love yourself.
Divorce can be traumatizing for a child, especially if they’re dragged through a custody battle. And especially if they realize they won’t be able to see one of their parents as often as the other. Children can be extremely intuitive, as well. Much like they may have sensed your pain during your marriage and during the divorce process, they’ll sense it if it’s there afterward.
Divorce can also cause a child to have to grow up faster than normal. And that’s natural. Take this time to come up with creative ways that will help both you and your child throughout the healing process. Don’t leave it up to your child to figure out how to heal on their own, even if you don’t feel as if you’ve healed. Heal together.
A divorce can shake a child’s world view. But as a parent, you have the ability to help keep your child grounded and well-adjusted after a divorce. The way in which you approach your child on how they are copying should be different, however, based on their age. Throughout the developmental process, a child’s perception of the world and the factors that affect their own world changes. Here’s a guide to approaching a child’s divorce at each developmental stage.
California Psychologist John B. Kelly shines a light on the different developmental stages of a child’s life and the key developmental issues parents must face when helping their child both understand, accept, and overcome the complexities of divorce.
Babies & Toddlers:
Kelly points out what emotional symptoms to watch out for in preschoolers that may be signs of emotional distress following divorce. Preschoolers who express fear, anger or emotional instability (clinginess, anxiety, whininess or general instability), and lack of sleep may be having trouble handling a divorce.
Kelly points out the parental priorities of parents who have recently divorced – particularly parents of toddlers and preschoolers. According to Kelly, toddlers and preschoolers require consistent care and nurturing, which gives them a sense of reassurance. Their lives “need to be anchored by the normal routines (meals, play, bath, bed) in the presence of a parent who is ‘there for them’”. This is always important for children, but especially after a divorce. Kelly notes, “‘If things aren’t going well at home, preteens and teenagers can escape by going to hang out with friends. Babies, toddlers and preschoolers can’t’”.
She also notes that preschoolers need “‘simple, concrete explanations.’” She advises parents to stick to the basics, describing who will be moving out, where the child will live, who will look after them and how often they will see each parent. She also advises to be prepared for questions and to provide short, concise answers. One conversation won’t do the job, though, according to Kelly. There may be several short talks.
6-8 year olds:
9-11 year olds:
School-aged children may show distress in the form of fear, anxiety, anger, or sadness, according to Kelly. They may also display more clear-cut signs that they are missing one of their parents. Some may even wonder what they can do to reconcile the relationship between their parents. This is something to watch out for. They may blame themselves for the divorce, not understanding that this was an adult decision and that their actions didn’t play a part in the divorce. Children who fantasize about a reconciliation or conjure up ways to help their parents reconcile may have more difficulty with the process of healing and healthily adjusting post-divorce.
Kelly points out that at this age, parents do have some different priorities. Routine and stable care is still very important. Although older kids in this age range have more of an ability to understand how they are feeling and express said feelings does not mean that they will. If you feel your child in this age group is distressed, but won’t speak about it, it may be up to you to open the dialogue. Kelly recommends asking about their feelings indirectly as opposed to directly. Asking a direct question, such as “Are you sad?” can come off as threatening. An indirect statement to open up dialogue, such as, “Some kids feel angry, sad, or afraid after their parents get divorced”, is less threatening. Kelly also recommends books about divorce for children. It can help them understand their feelings and cope with them.
12-14 year olds:
With 12-14 year olds, Kelly recommends watching out for irritability and anger – both common – aimed at either parents. With a young teen, it can be difficult to gauge whether or not their moodiness is an effect of divorce. Think about how they were before the separation and how they are acting after. This may give you insight as to whether or not their moodiness is in fact a result of the divorce.
With young teens, it’s important to keep communication open so emotional problems don’t go unnoticed. They can be difficult to reach, and sometimes even act as if they don’t want to be reached out to. But most still crave connection, in some way, with their parents. So, even if they push back, keep trying if you feel they may be distressed over the divorce. If you are going to talk about it, make sure you meet them half way. Bring in topics of discussion that they want to talk about. Again, this can be a difficult age group to reach. So it’s important to let them feel that their voice matters and that you are truly interested.
Dinosaurs Divorce: A Guide For Changing Families by Laurene Krasny Brown and Mark Brown (Ages 4-8)
I Don’t Want To Talk About It by Jeanie Franz Ransom (Ages 4-8)
My Mom and Dad Don’t Live Together Anymore: A Drawing Book For Children Of Separated or Divorced Parents by Judith Aron Rubin (Ages 4-12)
What Can I Do? A Book for Children of Divorce by Danielle Lowry (Ages 8-12)
For many, it’s common knowledge that journaling about life events that are detrimental aids in the coping process. Journaling in and of itself has been proven to help clarify thoughts, understand more about who you are, reduce stress, solve problems and resolve disputes with other individuals with clearer perspective. Overall, journaling has been said to help one’s health and wellbeing.
But further studies on the benefits of journaling have been completed, and do somewhat contradict prior findings in some cases. According to a study which evaluated the effects of “expressive writing” (writing about emotions or feelings), some people with a certain personality trait of “brooding” (showing unhappiness) may not benefit from journaling expressively.
Participants were taken from a sample of individuals who had just completed a divorce months before. They were split into 3 groups and given assignments. Those who were told to expressively write about their divorce and the emotions they held over their separation showed a higher correlation with worse emotional disturbances than those who were simply told to journal (the control group) about their lives after divorce. The study also showed, through psychological evaluation, that those who showed a general unhappiness benefitted least from expressively writing.
Another study expanded on the findings of this study, which evaluated a larger sample to see what effects expressive writing (vs. general journaling) would have on average heart rate, heart rate variability, and blood pressure. The study found that expressive writing (in narrative form) about a divorce had a positive impact on heart rate variability, even on individuals who tended to relive negative emotions in their writing. So, even individuals who still struggled with their lives post-divorce showed improvements in heart rate variability. These are somewhat strange findings, but as a reminder, these are correlations – meaning this is not definitive proof.
Essentially, social psychologists have, for years and years, shown that construction of life narratives through writing can have great benefits on both psychological and physiological health. However, according to these two interacting studies, those who have undergone a divorce and tend to write expressively, ruminating on negative emotions, might want to stray from journaling.