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Battling During Divorce

Missing Attachment

Doing battle during a divorce won’t necessarily end with you getting you what you wanted. In fact, if you do battle in an irrational way, you may end up with nothing at all.

People may draw proverbial lines in the sand regarding what they consider worth fighting over during a divorce. But as in most things in life, we live and learn, so  what you chose to battle for in your divorce may seem silly in retrospect.

When fighting during a divorce, people often feel like they’re being dragged through the mud for months, or even years. It may feel like it will never end. Almost everything can cause a battle during a divorce—who will be responsible to pay off the credit cards? Who will get the kids for the holidays?—the list seems endless. So, it’s up to you to figure out what you want and how you plan to approach the situation should the hostility begin to grow.

Here are some tips to help you learn how to pick your divorce battles in a mindful way.

Don’t beat yourself up when you feel frustration during the process. Divorce is messy. It’s filled with  emotions you wouldn’t wish even on your worst enemy. Even if it seems you’re understanding what’s happening, you may still feel confusion and panic. That’s totally normal. Things will be weird and confusing at times.

You can choose your divorce battles mindfully, so you’ll be able to see the big-picture view with minimal stress. Doing this will require you to be brutally honest with yourself. When you do this, you should be able to answer these questions: Am I battling over something that’s essential? Do my dependents and I require this for our safety or well-being?

Answering truthfully will help you understand what things you feel are non-negotiable when you choose which battles to wage. Everyone’s situations are different, and it’s up to you to discern what’s truly worth your time and emotional energy to battle for. Things worth battling for likely include savings, alimony, fair division of debt, child support, spousal support, and protection orders, if any sort of endangerment has been involved.

What You’re Fighting For

Divorces can drag on due to the division of the types of assets that don’t have anything to do with money. Legal battles can drag on if couples fight over sentimental items or over things that they’d just like to have. Battles like this may not have anything to do with the items; it may just be an attempt to make yourself feel better.

It’s important for you to understand the line dividing the “nice to have” items from the “must have for survival” items. This will help you in determining what you’re willing to spend negotiating for them in terms of time, energy and money.

Why You’re Fighting

You may feel anger during the process of divorce, and  choose to project those feelings onto your spouse. This may make you feel like you need to “get back” at them. You’ll find yourself soliciting advice on how you can make your ex pay for the hurt they’ve caused. It’s important instead to process those emotions and separate them from the legal aspects of your divorce. If your spouse is making unreasonable demands, you need to realize that they may doing this, too, whether they know they are or not.

You won’t be able to control how your spouse behaves during the process of divorce. If you find yourself placing demands on your partner—demands that you might be able to negotiate in a calmer and more rational manner—it may not hurt to analyze the approach and the ability it has to make the divorce process go smoother and faster.

Impact of Divorce Battles

It is important to remember that there are no “winners” in a divorce. Divorce cases can drag on for years, with nothing to show for it but drained bank accounts, cleared 401ks, and stresses on you and your kids that might never be relieved.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t stick up for yourself. But remember, before you begin the legal, financial and emotional battle of divorce, you need to be honest with yourself and think about what it is you truly need for survival, what is important to you, what’s best for your dependents, and how to act so you don’t have regrets in the future.

If you’re drained and broke after the divorce, how can you start the new chapter in your life mindfully, without being weighted down by indignation and hurt? You need to acknowledge the balance of advocating for yourself and knowing when to give up the control that doesn’t exist anymore.

It’s critical to be honest with yourself, kind to yourself, and mindful of the new chapter in your life that you can look forward to once your divorce journey comes to an end. Let that guide you how to spend your time, your money, and your emotional energy. Who knows—you may not really care about that new furniture very much after all!

Are You Too Needy?

Missing Attachment

While it’s fine to test boundaries and expectations at the beginning of a new relationship, be aware that acting overly needy can kill a relationship. Even something as insignificant as calling or texting repeatedly during the work day is considered to be “needy” behavior by some people.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with showing some level of vulnerability in a relationship, especially if you’re with somebody you want to stay with long-term. But vulnerability has to be a two-way street. Relationships can only work if both partners are able to rely on each other, and if the balance of power is relatively equal. When one person or the other acts too clingy or needy or clingy, the relationship can’t last.

Some people assume that dating someone a few years older than themselves will help avoid clingy behavior, as older people would be more experienced. But this is not always the case.

Here are some ways you can avoid appearing too needy or clingy, and avoid being the relationship killer.

Be mature. Treat your partner the way you expect to be treated. Show respect. Set mutually acceptable boundaries regarding physical contact when you’re together and calls and texts when you’re apart, and respect them.

Give room to breathe. If you’re having issues with a partner who isn’t a great communicator, then try striking when the proverbial iron is cold. You’re more likely to have a successful discussion if the atmosphere is relaxed and you’re both feeling less angry and regressed. In other words, just because you feel like you need to talk doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to right away. Important conversations will be more successful if you’re both  open to interacting. And if the other person needs some space, do what you can to give it.

Look at your past. If you’re in love and are acting needy, consider your family history, which may include a past hurt that’s being triggered because you’re entering into an intimate relationship. The other person can’t heal your past hurts. Only you can do that.

Watch for mental health cues. Anxiety and depression are more common than most people realize. Both can interfere with healthy and stable thought patterns. Both can damage your self-esteem, and both can make you act needy. But there’s hope; both can be successfully treated. Seeking professional help in these cases can only serve to help you in your relationship.

The root of problem could lie with the other person. Some relationship issues are created by just one person in the relationship. If your partner is a narcissist, you may be made to feel like you don’t matter. Or maybe your partner is just not that into you, so it’s time to end the relationship. Facing the facts can be hard, but it’s usually better than feeling continually tortured in your relationship.

Abuse is never okay. Any sort of abuse in a relationship, whether it’s verbal, emotional, physical or sexual, is unacceptable. If your partner is abusing you, you need to find safety and get help. Your neediness could be the result of dependence, which gives your partner a terrible level of power over you. If you find yourself in a situation like this, you probably will require some form of outside help. Don’t hesitate to seek it.

There is some good news in all of this. Most clinginess and neediness is just a minor annoyance. It isn’t life-threatening. If you are in a toxic or abusive relationship, by all means, get out of it. But neediness may simply be a burden that your partner isn’t equipped to handle, even if he or she is otherwise more or less “normal.”

If you’re the needy one and you desire to save your relationship, you need to realize that you’re expressing your possessiveness is killing the relationship. Seek appropriate professional help to ensure that you’re guided back onto the right track, and can start working to save your relationship.

Don’t hesitate to do the work. Give your partner space, if that’s what needed. You should be able to work things out!

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Living Alone After Divorce: Bliss? Really?

Missing Attachment

You may be scared about living alone again as you’re facing your divorce, but you’ll soon learn that living alone again involves some amazing simple pleasures.

When I moved out of “our” house during my divorce proceedings, it was my first time living alone after 18 years of marriage. I wasn’t scared. I was terrified.

I’d never bought or even rented a place to live on my own. I was constantly concerned for my safety. I couldn’t even think about how I would deal with simple home maintenance and repairs. And how was I going to pay for all of that?

My parents had very traditional, “old-school” values and ideas about marriage. The very thought of talking with my father about living with my boyfriend after college gave me chills. It was a conversation I felt like I’d do anything to avoid.

Less appealing than that conversation was the prospect of planning and coordinating a wedding large enough to accommodate all my parents’ friends and family. This would involve stomping all over my parents’ expectations, moods and feelings, as our ideas of what the wedding should be were as different as night and day. Never mind what it would all cost.

So when we graduated college at 22 years old, my boyfriend and I packed up our dorm rooms, moved to the city in the next state over where he’d secured an entry-level job, and had a courthouse wedding.

Problem solved, right?

After all, what woman hasn’t talked with her friends about how important college dating is? College dating that would, of course, lead to marriage immediately after college graduation, in other words, the M.R.S. degree.

Looking back now, I’ve come to realize how I limited myself by not taking some time after college to build my confidence and learn how to tackle the challenges of adulting. This also deprived me of the opportunity to live on my own, and to learn how to savor the bliss of doing that. In short, even though I was in my mid-40s, I’d never experienced the pleasures of living on my own.

I’ve since come to appreciate those pleasures. Below are 8 of the simplest ones:

  1. Your pet’s slobbery and loving attention is all aimed at you when you come home.
  2. All of the hot water in the water heater is for your shower.
  3. You won’t trip over sweaty work-out clothes and socks on the floor.
  4. You don’t have to smell Axe body spray all over your house.
  5. Goodbye, Man Cave. Hello, She-Shed.
  6. You will have enough silence to sit and peruse the new issue of Cosmopolitan. Twice.
  7. Both closets and the whole master bath are now yours.
  8. Tonight’s dinner menu: One quart of Belgian Chocolate Häagen-Dazs ice cream. Yes, right out of the carton. Don’t judge, you know you want it.

Have you come to appreciate the simple pleasures that accompany living alone?

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Genuine Healing After Divorce

Missing Attachment

While going through divorce, people have feelings across the spectrum, or even beyond it. Some people feel rage and anger. Some express hate while others feel numb and indifferent.

Whatever you may be feeling as you process the emotions of your divorce, here are some things you can do to move past the confusing emotions and open yourself to the process of genuine healing.

  • The legal process is not therapeutic. Most people retain lawyers as quickly as they can when the prospect of divorce looms. This can give some sense of peace and accomplishment. Attorneys have a way of soothing anxiety and building confidence with their legal jargon filled with terms like “financial punishment” and “sizable settlement.” It’s easy to focus on this boost of confidence if you feel insecure. But lawyers come with a significant price tag, and the legal process can also serve to increase anger and pain. True peace can only be found within. A lawyer can’t obtain it for you.
  • Let go of the past. This takes lots of practice. Early on in the process, you may need to remind yourself to do this as often as hourly. You need to stop being the person you once were. You will have to find a way to forgive your ex and yourself. As you work through your process letting go, you will find that you’re increasingly able to embrace the present and plan for the possibilities that the future holds.
  • Be grateful. Your ex may be a source of significant stress to you, and you may wish that you’d never even met. But you need to find a way to recognize the positive things your spouse brought into your life. Even during the toughest times, it’s possible for you to be grateful for things. Tough times provide you with the chance to practice being patient and compassionate. They help you learn how to communicate properly.
  • Plan a separation ceremony. Find a way to plan this event with your ex. Exchange vows in which you release each other. Express your desire to treat each other with respect. Commit to cooperate as you parent and support your kids.
  • Celebrate going solo. Whether you choose a party, an intimate gathering or a personal meditative ceremony, take the opportunity to make and express a new commitment to you and your own sense of well-being. Give yourself permission to make a fresh start and to move forward.
  • Form a new type relationship with your ex. You and your spouse aren’t lifetime partners anymore. You aren’t housemates, and your finances aren’t bound together. It’s time for you to forge a new relationship. It may involve co-parenting. It can be as friendly or distant as you want it to be. But you still may need to work together. Set appropriate new boundaries and effective ways to communicate as you move forward.
  • Build new traditions. Upholding important family rituals can be difficult, if not impossible, after a divorce. Losing those traditions can increase feelings of insecurity. So instead of trying to fill the gaps, try to start new traditions instead. If Christmas brunch used to be your ex’s time to work their kitchen magic, try instead to go out to a restaurant. If you have children, be sure to include them as you make your plans. Be as creative as you can in coming up with the new traditions.
  • Take care of yourself. Make sure that you’re eating well, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep. Beyond that, make sure you’re being good to yourself. Curl up with a book, go get a manicure or massage, or go see a movie with some friends. Listen to what your body is telling you, and nourish your soul. This process will help heal your wounds.

A healthy healing process requires patience and time. But it promises you an inner peace that will be all your own. You may even find that you move past feeling indifferent towards your ex, and begin feeling a kind regard instead.

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Four Steps to Rebuild Love

Missing Attachment

Most couples build their marriage on a strong foundation of love which binds them together. As the years pass and the outside pressures increase, some couples begin to question whether they’re still in love, wondering when and why their intense feelings disappeared.

Some couples who feel that way may conclude that separation and divorce is their only option. Others hope that their love might be able to be restored, if they are both willing to work on the relation. Such work will certainly involve a restoration of that loving foundation that bound them together in the first place.

Most couples attempting to save a marriage focus on the stresses and conflicts in the marriage, rather than working on restoring the emotional bond and the feelings of love that they used to share.

But resolving conflict is far less important than rebuilding love in any attempt to save a marriage. Conflicts can easily be resolved when there’s already a foundation of love in place. Therefore, the only sensible approach is to focus on returning the couple to the place of deep love and care for each another. Once they accomplish this, they can start trying to resolve the conflicts in the relationship. Resolving conflicts is certainly important, but love should always be the top priority.

Steps to Rebuilding Love

This may be a difficult exercise, but think back to the beginning of your relationship with your spouse. Try to remember what it was about your spouse that made you fall in love. Identifying the origin of your feelings of affection and love for your spouse will serve to help you begin rebuilding that love.

If one spouse is always taking and the other is always giving, the foundation of love that the marriage was built on is going to suffer. Just as with a personal bank account, it’s not possible to spend all of your money and then expect to find money there when you go to check your balance. You have to make a deposit to replenish the available supply. Love in a marriage works in a similar way. You can’t constantly make demands and take, but still expect the love to grow and thrive unless you are nourishing and growing it in some way.

It is possible for love in a marriage to last a lifetime. You need to avoid taking more than you give, as doing this will over-stress your love. If you feel an absence of love in your marriage and you desire to rebuild your foundation of love, here are four things you can do to begin that process.

  1. Make a plan. Commit to recreating the love in your marriage, and then think of ways you can work to sustain it.

Your plan should consist of giving love to help replenish it, just like adding money would refill that drained bank account. Come up with an actionable plan to get love back on the right track.

Love will either grow, or it will wither and die. This is mostly based on how significant of an investment the spouses are willing to make.

  1. Break bad habits. Identify the negative, love-destroying habits you’ve developed, and do whatever you can to destroy those habits.

Set in place a plan of action. Communicate with your spouse about those habits and behaviors. Think of new, positive behaviors you can both engage in to replace the bad ones, and help you rebuild your emotional bonds and connections between the two of you.

  1. Treat your spouse kindly. Make a commitment to always treat your spouse lovingly. Work to make this second nature. More than likely, your actions will motivate your spouse to do the same thing in return. Giving and receiving love is a proven method to fall back in love with your spouse.
  2. Meet your spouse’s emotional needs. This could be a two-part step. If you don’t already know what your spouse’s emotional needs are, you’ll have to figure that out first. Then you need to learn how to best meet those needs. If you really don’t have a clue about what those needs are, here are some things you could do to help you figure that out.
  • Plan evening meals together, alone. If this means you have to give the kids dinner and put them to bed before you have your dinner, do it. It’s worth it. Eating together, alone, will provide calm atmosphere for you to discuss important adult issues, problems and resolutions with no distractions.
  • Make it a priority to spend uninterrupted time together. Start with about 30 minutes. During this time you could hold hands and talk together about your day. Or could discuss what things you appreciate about each other. Or you could make some plans to go on a special date together. Whatever you decide to do during this time, make sure it focus on you and your spouse.
  • Reach out to each other during your work day. Send a text or an email, or make a quick phone call. Even though you may be busy, be sure you’re maintaining your closeness and your connection.
  • Keep up with your spouse’s appointments and important occasions. Whether it’s a meeting at work or a doctor’s appointment, keep track of what they’re doing and express interest in how things went. Spouses often forget that this can be an easy way to show love and to bond with each other.
  • Start and end each day with an expression of physical affection. Give a hug or a kiss. Or both. It’s possible to take just a moment or two no matter how rushed you may be and make a physical connection at the start and end of each day.

It is possible to rebuild love in a faltering marriage. The couple must be willing to slow down and to invest the time and effort required. Love can thrive again.