3 Ways to Get Revenge During a Divorce- It’s Not What You Think!

High conflict divorces are peppered with all sorts of negative emotions. Betrayal, deceit, anger, and manipulation can all feed the fire of wanting revenge. If you are or have been in a high conflict divorce, you’ve probably daydreamed about destroying your ex’s car or publicly broadcasting their misbehavior. In fact, this is the story line to many great songs and movies out there. What if I told you the sweetest revenge is not what you think? I’m here to let you in on the secret of how you can maintain your pride while still holding the upper hand.

  1. Zip It!

Divorce is played on the battlefield of communication. Ammunition is fired back and forth in the form of hurtful words and accusations. The idea of this type of communication is to get an angry reaction from the other person. You want them to realize how much they’ve hurt you or they want to go to any lengths to be viewed as the winner. The best way to put a halt to all of the destructive communication warfare is to refuse to participate. The number one thing that can squash an inflammatory rant is silence. If you refuse to engage, the other party has two choices- stop the attack or continue the rant on their own at the risk of discrediting themselves.

You have power in how you communicate and it is a strong tool in your arsenal. Silence can often say so much more than any cutting word ever could. If you choose to use silence, you take away their power over you and do not feed their satisfaction of seeing you triggered by them.

2. Stick to the Facts

While at times it is best to not respond, that is not always possible throughout the process. This is especially true when trying to establish a co parenting relationship. Just like with the silence tactic, sticking to the facts can be just as unnerving to the person who is trying to get reaction from you. If you know you ex is pushing your hot buttons and expecting you to erupt into an emotional volcano, imagine the satisfaction you will have when you don’t produce that result.

When the conversation is getting derailed with blaming, shaming, or accusing remarks, you can simply reply “I would like to focus on ______ right now”. It is likely that they will try harder with their cutting remarks to get under your skin. This is when you become the broken record and once again bring it back to the factual topic at hand with no emotional response to their comments. The fact that your are staying calm and not participating in their drama will be unsettling to them and very satisfying for you.

There are ways to continue to move the divorce process forward in a productive way that do not involve constant dialog with your ex. You can choose to communicate via email. This will allow you to think your responses through and not respond when your ex is pushing your hot buttons. This also allows you to stick to the facts about the case or about co parenting. Another benefit is that it forms a paper trail, which avoids the “their word against yours” scenario. In extreme cases, it might be necessary to not have any communication at all with your ex and allow all communication to go through the attorneys. This may be the only way that negotiations can be handled so that you can reach a resolution.

3. Live Your Best Life

This is the ULTIMATE revenge. Nothing says “I’m over you” more than actually moving on with your life!! If you find yourself constantly calling out your ex on Facebook or scheming some way to pile on the guilt and shame in hopes of getting revenge, you are really only investing more time and energy into your ex. This actually shows them the opposite of revenge. It shows you are still emotionally attached, angry, and bitter. Even negative attention is still attention and means you are still playing the game. Truly going out there and living a happy life means that the dysfunctional relationship is no longer negatively affecting you or holding you back. Best of all, you don’t have to compromise your integrity to do this!

When you think about it, revenge is a funny thing. It’s intent is to hurt the person and show them how much you don’t want to be involved with them. In reality, it fuels the flames of the relationship, even if it is to continue the toxicity. Following the steps above allows you to actually untangle yourself from the dysfunctional relationship and move on. When this happens, you won’t even be concerned about getting revenge because you will be too busy focusing on the positive aspects of your life! And that, my friends, is the sweetest revenge of all!!

What to Tell the Kids When You are Getting Divorced

There are many times as a parent when we are faced with having difficult conversations with our children. Whether we are telling them a loved one has died or they will be moving to a different state, we know that after the conversation is over, their life will be forever changed in one way or another. Telling your children that you and your spouse are getting divorced is definitely one of those life altering conversations.

Often, parents get caught up in imagining the worst case scenario in this situation. These imagined fears often paralyze parents to delay the inevitable conversation. Postponing the discussion allows parents to sit with their stress and anxiety longer, which makes the anticipation build to a point where it doesn’t even feel as if they will be able to survive telling them. Having a plan can help make this daunting divorce task more manageable. As you read through these strategies, keep in mind that children are typically very resilient and often thrive in life as children of divorce. It is often not the act of the divorce itself, but how each parent handles and navigates the divorce that will shape the outcome for the children.

Make a Plan– If you and your ex are able to adhere to some level of civil communication, it is best to have a discussion about how and when you will tell the kids about the divorce. Will you be together during the conversation? What verbiage can you agree to? What questions can you prepare for and how will you respond? It is very helpful to be on a unified front as much as possible regarding your approach. This will help make your message congruent as well as sets the tone for working collaboratively as co parents. It also shows the children that despite the change in your relationship, you are still their parents and already acting as co parents.

If a collaborative family discussion would not be productive or possible, your discussion can still be very successful. Keeping the focus on your child and not attacking your soon-to-be ex will help them still feel the sense of security that they do not have to choose sides.

Be Honest– When discussing difficult situations with kids, it can feel uncomfortable and lead us to stumble over our words or use flowery language to try to lessen the blow of the message. This can be confusing and leave the kids unsure of what was actually being said. During the discussion, use words that are accurate to the situation, such as the actual words divorce and/or separation (depending on the case). A factual explanation of the definition of such words may be appropriate to help clarify meaning. It is best to not force the kids to read between the lines or guess what the message is.

Give an Age Appropriate Rational– Kids are curious and will wonder why this is happening. While you definitely don’t want to throw one parent under the bus or put the kids in the middle of adult problems, it is important to give them some reasoning for the divorce. If you say absolutely nothing as to why, they will imagine a scenario that may be far worse for them emotionally, such as blaming themselves. This is often the go-to thought when it is unclear as to why the parents are divorcing. Your reasoning can be general and not blame driven, yet still give them enough to help them understand. Something as simple as “we are no longer able to get along as a married couple” might be appropriate.

Reassure Them Regarding Changes that Will Impact Them– Kids are naturally egocentric and will worry most about how this will change their lives on a day to day basis. To help reduce their anxiety about this major life change, it is helpful to discuss what will and will not be different in their lives. For example, you many want to explain to them they will be spending time at mom’s house and dad’s house (a change), but no matter where they are, they will have their needs (food, clothing, shelter, activities, etc.) met (not a change). Giving them security around their daily lives will help them adjust to their new normal.

Tell Them It Is Not Their Fault– No matter what you say, this is the MOST important thing and it should be said over and over. Again, kids are egocentric by nature and will believe that they had something to do with the divorce or could have done something to prevent it. It is extremely important for their processing that you help them understand that this is an issue between you and your spouse and does not change your love towards them.

Kids will all react differently and are bound to have additional questions as the process continues. Keeping the conversations open and honest will help them process the divorce their own way and in their own time.

Holidays After Divorce: A Story of Hope

Today’s blog is going to take on a different feel. I usually blog with tips and tricks to help navigate the divorce process. Today I’m going to get personal and write about my own story of healing and hope. There are no specific steps or action items to check off to get from point A to point B in this story, but I hope that the journey I describe inspires you to hang on tight to the hope that things will get easier.

We all have our favorite holidays and traditions. It is ok if your favorite holiday is totally different than the next person. This story can apply to your personal favorite time of year and the hurt caused by the divorce that you now face during that time. For me, my favorite holiday has always been Christmas. As a little girl, I used to start listening to Christmas music in July and could not wait until it was time to decorate the house. Nothing felt more magical than sitting in a dark room with just the lights of the Christmas tree glowing. I loved everything about this time of year and often dreamed about how I would decorate my own house and what traditions I would make with my children some day.

When I was married, I tried to make the perfect Christmas for my family. I wanted everything to be just right- picture perfect even. Looking back, I now realize that is all it was. Picture perfect on the outside, but the actual reality was not at all what I envisioned as a little girl. In my dream, my husband helped decorate the tree and loved the traditions as much as I did. He was excited to experience the magic of the season with our children and was like a kid himself on Christmas morning watching them tear open their gifts.

That was my dream, not my reality. No matter how much I tried to make things perfect, the missing link was having someone who wanted to share this with me. When I realized I could not will him to participate or be involved with our family, even during this time of year, my first spark of Christmas died.

The first Christmas after the divorce, I really tried to reignite that spark. I was ready to dive into new traditions and make happy memories. With each attempt, I lost a little bit more of the spark. Christmas activities took on a stressful quality rather than being fun experiences. I saw other families with both a mom and a dad at holiday events and couldn’t help but feel a little jealous. I began to feel overwhelmingly sad at the thought of doing even simple holiday traditions alone- just me and the kids. It was my reminder that I was still holding Christmas to the standard of my dream, yet my reality kept creeping further and further from that image.

The following three Christmas seasons continued in the same manner. Each year I felt less and less of my Christmas spark. I was going through the motions to try to salvage some semblance of tradition and happy Christmas memories for the boys. Most of the time the event or activity ended in frustration and tears all around. I was having my own pity party because it did not feel right to me and they were feeding off of my frustration, anger, and sadness. Each year I chose to put out fewer and fewer decorations because- what’s the point? I found myself changing the station when Christmas music came on the radio. Things like buying and wrapping gifts, making cookies, and visiting Santa became things that I dreaded and I just wanted to get them over with. Last year, I didn’t even want to put up the tree. Instead of being that beautiful symbol I remember, it became one more chore I had to do.

I then hit my Christmas equivalent of rock bottom. I clearly recall talking to my sister on the phone just days before Christmas. I was in a Grinch like mood and said that the decorations were making the walls of my house feel like they were closing in on me. And then I said it….”I can’t wait for Christmas to be over so that I can put all of this crap away and go back to normal”! Never in all my years would have imagined these to be my feelings about Christmas. The time of year that I used to love and that brought so much joy. It was gone and I thought I would never get it back.

I’m sure by now you are thinking…where is this going? This sounds like the opposite of hope! But alas, we have reached the turning point! As the seasons changed this year, I was caught off guard by my desire to start playing Christmas music again. The songs sounded happy, unlike the annoyance I felt when hearing them the past few years. A trip to the store to buy a new tree resulted in a grand shopping trip where I was a “yes mom”! Yes we can some get new decorations! Yes we can get more lights! Yes…it was all coming back! We were all smiling and getting excited for Christmas! The tasks of the season did not hold the same weighted dread as the past few years. I wanted to do them and it felt good. More importantly, I felt good about it.

Now, here’s where I wish I had a the secret recipe for my change of heart this season, but unfortunately I do not. Everybody’s journey is different and the healing process cannot be replicated. It’s a journey you have to uncover on your own. I will say that my own healing process has been a long and difficult road full of self reflection and it is far from over. I do believe that all of my healing work showed itself to me during this time of year. I see how far I fell and I also see how far I’ve come back. I replaced old negative thoughts (and decorations) with ones of strength and hope. Healing is absolutely a long process, but it continues to show slivers of hope along the way. Your healing path may not look like mine, and it’s not supposed to. You will find what helps you and what heals your soul. When you do, you will just know. You will feel that spark start to come back. I can see the spark once again, even though it’s not as bright as it once was. It is there. My hope is rooted in the belief that with each passing year, it will grow brighter until it has fully returned. No matter what holiday you are struggling with post divorce, please know there is hope. Hope for happiness. Hope for peace. Hope for love and family. Hope for the future. Please hold fast to hope. The spark will return.

Getting Divorced Can Be a Pain in the Neck- Literally: Somatic Symptoms of Stress

It goes without saying that getting divorced is one of the biggest stressors a person can go through in their life. It is life altering and very time consuming. Not to mention it causes upheaval to every aspect of your life at the exact same time. Even if the divorce will end up having a positive overall outcome, it is still a grieving process of the marriage that didn’t turn out the way you planned. Factors that led to the divorce are often unpleasant and sources of their own stress. By the time couples are in the divorce process, their cup of negative life stressors is often overflowing.

You find yourself powering through paperwork, financial documents, real estate transactions, and possible custody battles, all while trying to communicate and make decisions with the very person you are wanting to distance yourself from legally. The dance is utterly exhausting and often takes a huge toll on our physical health.

I vividly remember that, throughout my divorce, I often thought I also had a new medical ailment- neck/back pain. I could not remember straining my back or lifting anything too heavy. I found it strange that I could be “sleeping wrong” in the same spot so often. Finally, after several sore bouts with my neck and back, a dear friend of mine, who is an acupuncturist and massage therapist, explained to me that the problem area in my back was the exact spot where our bodies store anger, stress, and PTSD emotions. This opened my eyes to be able to pinpoint my neck pain and associate it with environmental stressors in my life. It was fascinating to me to be able track which stressors were enough to cause me to have a physical reaction. Once I could identify my triggers, I could take proactive steps to work on stress reducing skills if I knew I would be faced with one of those stressors.

Other common somatic symptoms of stress include headaches, muscle spasms, involuntary eye twitches, stomach pain, nausea, gastrointestinal issues, skin rashes/hives, increase or decrease in appetite, and increase or decrease in sleep. Prolonged periods of stress can cause hair loss and a weakened immune system. Multiple stress related symptoms are not uncommon when going through a divorce. The process is long and your stress can manifest differently over the course of the divorce.

As I mentioned earlier, the best way to reduce somatic symptoms is to first identify the actual trigger. The divorce itself is a broad topic, so it is helpful to identify what is going on when the specific physical symptoms happen. For example, do you notice headache symptoms when trying to organize documentation? Do you feel sick to your stomach before a difficult conversation with your ex? Do you have muscle twitches when in a legal office setting? While you can’t avoid these stressors during a divorce, you can prepare you body if you know what is coming and what is a trigger.

Once you have identified the triggers, you can take proactive measures to prepare your body for the upcoming stressor. It may take some trial and error to find what works best for you, but I encourage you to try breathing techniques, yoga/stretching, acupressure mats, affirming self talk, journaling, meditation, and visual imagery. These are just a few starting tools to explore and I’m sure you have a few specific ones that work best for you.

The key is using them proactively instead of reactively. By using these tools before a call to your ex or meeting with your lawyer, you can reduce the likelihood that your body will respond with physical pain. By preparing your body in advance, you have given enough space in your emotional “cup” for it to not overflow into the physical realm.

Documentation and Divorce: How to do it without driving yourself crazy!

In a perfect divorce world, each spouse would be able to separate from the marriage with fond and respectful feelings for each other. They would be able acknowledge each other as good parents, even though their own relationship did not work. They would be happy that their child has a loving and close relationship with the opposite parent. Here, there’s nothing to report about the other parent and both are a healthy part of the child’s life. That’s the goal, or better yet, the dream.

As many of you know, most divorces are not tied up in a neat little bow like what I described. Many of us have been in situations that leave us questioning our ex’s behavior or mental status. Perhaps there is drinking and/or drug use going on. Maybe your ex has mental health concerns that they are ignoring. There might be poor parenting choices happening that are not classified as abusive, but also not in anyone’s best interest. I can say from experience, that I have been there and this is a very scary place to be. It feels like there are wrong things happening in your life and the lives of your children, yet they don’t qualify as “wrong enough” to have legal action taken to alter the separation agreement or parenting plan. Unfortunately, after several long (and costly) phone calls to my attorney, I realized that while I may not approve of him allowing the children to never brush their teeth on the weekends they were with him, that doesn’t classify as neglect. I may disagree with his decision to take them to a hotel bar during his visits in town, but it was technically a restaurant establishment and they weren’t driving anywhere. Several missed visits left the children angry and crushed, but it wasn’t breaking any sort of parenting law in the court’s eyes. He seemed to always get the benefit of the doubt and another chance.

Here’s where the natural instinct to document EVERYTHING kicks in. I fell victim to this idea and thought that if someone else could see what I was seeing, maybe they could help. If you are like me, I was keeping myself up at night and doing very little else with my free time except documenting my ex’s behavior. While I may have ended up with the makings of a good book, it had very little, if any, effect on my overall divorce.

We all know the importance of documentation, especially when it comes to supporting a case in court. This information can be the key evidence that will help you to prove your case. When the stakes are high and feelings are hurt, we must first examine the motives behind the documentation.  Why are you documenting in the first place? This is the time where you need to stop and do a self evaluation of your motives. An honest look at the intent behind the documentation can save you time and money in the long run. 

Will This Matter In Court? If you are reviewing your documentation and realizing there is no legal malice behind what your are recording, chances are your are letting your emotions drive your process. While your documentation might support your reasoning for being angry at your spouse, the courts will not make ruling based on issues that are not of a legal basis. While the scorned ex spouse may care what the ex is doing  in his/her free time, the courts will not (unless it is an infringement of the law). 

Is This in the Best Interest of the Children? Our feelings of bitterness, betrayal, anger, and resentment can drive us to make decisions that are not healthy in the long run. We can get tunnel vision and solely focus on getting revenge in any way possible. This may come in the form of trying to prove that he/she doesn’t deserve their time with the kids or wanting others to see their flaws. You might even feel as if you are winning if you air the other person’s faults. When divorce reaches this level, nobody end up the winner, especially the children. 

When deciding what is important to document, you must first educate yourself. It is imperative that you know what laws you are dealing with and the basics of those laws. If a specific issue comes up, consulting your attorney is helpful as well. 

Financial Misconduct– Money is always a difficult topic. It might be a main reason for the divorce in the first place! With emotions running high, it is easy to get caught up in feeling like we deserve more or that one person is cheating the other person out of money. This obviously happens and there are many laws regrading these issues. If you believe that there is a monetary legal infraction involved, such as misappropriation of marital funds, you must become familiar with the terms of that law. This will help ensure you are documenting correctly to make your case.

Child Abuse– It is absolutely imperative that we keep our children safe when it comes to abuse. These claims must be taken seriously. Claims of child abuse cannot and should not be used to seek revenge or try to keep the other person from seeing the children. Any and all child abuse claims should be dealt with immediately and not in the form of documentation that we are discussing here. If you have a child abuse claim, it should be reported to your county’s children’s services immediately. 

Much of this may seem like common sense, but when you feel threatened or powerless, the lines tend to blur. You can save yourself time and money by doing your research.

How to Document

Separate your issues. It is best to keep separate documents for each category or issue you are documenting. For example, keep financial issues separate from custody issues. The more specific you are with you categorization, the easier it will be to find what is needed if necessary.

Use bullet points rather than writing in narrative form. Bullet points help keep your thoughts organized and narrow down the important facts. Narratives drain your time and energy, as well as make it difficult to find information.

Use a tally system to track specific behaviors rather than explaining each case. For example, if you are wanting to document evidence that your ex cancels/no shows for visits with the kids, keep a tally of dates rather than writing each instance.

Keep receipts and bank statements with the written documentation. This allows for an easy way back up your documentation, as well as cross reference. 

Screen shot all texts and send them to your email. This will allow you to have all of the written text communication in an accessible place that is easily forwarded on if needed.

Store all of you emails in a Documentation file. This will allow you to file the information away and not worry about it getting lost in your email feed. This makes for quick and easy reference.

Co-Parenting: There’s an App for That

There are so many facets of co-parenting that it is hard to imagine how you can keep up with it all and not be in constant communication with your ex all day long. Luckily with today’s technology, co-parenting has become more streamlined than ever. There are several helpful apps that can fit the needs of your specific family situation regarding co-parenting and scheduling. These apps can help you stay in compliance with schedules, share medical information, and track child support. They can also help decrease the need for direct and constant communication with your ex, as both of you have access to the information. 

Apps such as Our Family Wizard, 2 Houses, and CoParently are great for families that have an effective and working system in place regarding co-parenting. These apps let you sync interactive calendars, manage the kids’ schedules, track expenses and reimbursement, store children’s information securely, and even direct message through the app. This feature stores a secure tracking/documentation of exchanges between you and your ex if needed. These apps definitely keep the double house hold system informed and up to date regarding the kids. 

If you have a more parallel parenting style with your co-parent, meaning your are mostly parenting separately except when legally necessary, or if you have a contentious relationship with your ex, an app like CoParenter would be helpful. This app provides the ability to communicate, share schedules, and store kids information like the other apps, but it has a high priority on documentation for legal reasons. It offers legal support and 24/7 support for high conflict situations. It also has a library of materials that help explain legal terms. 

Other apps, such as Cozi and Parentship are not specifically tailored to divorce, but can also be helpful. These apps allow you to sync your calendar with other people in your family, including grandparents and other caretakers. This may be very helpful when there are multiple caretakers between the two houses. 

Finally, there are apps that are very specific to tracking one area of co-parenting only. Apps such as SupportPay and Custody Connection allow you to specifically communicate about one area as needed. SupportPay tracks child support and/or alimony payments, as well as the children’s expenses (medical, educational, extra curricular etc.). Custody Connection allows you to track and record child exchange times, changes to the custody arrangements, and keeps records of missed visits. Each of these are very specific, but can be very beneficial if needed for your co-parenting situation. 

Technology gives us the ability to make co-parenting a much simpler process. These tools help both parents stay involved and up to date in their children’s lives. Keeping the communication open and simplified can often lead to a more satisfying and cooperative co-parenting relationship. 

What’s My Role? Helping your Kids Manage Father’s Day After a Divorce

Even though the divorce separates you from your spouse legally, your children are still a part of both of your lives. This often leaves ex-spouses in uncertain territory as to how to navigate special days that they used to orchestrate for their ex. Holidays such as Mother’s Day/Father’s Day and birthdays can be difficult because they are a special day for your ex and it’s tricky to know how to manage that with your children. With Father’s Day fast approaching, I wanted to take the opportunity to address how divorced mothers can feel confident in their role on this day.

If the divorce was contentious or you experienced betrayal, you may feel like your ex does not deserve any type of celebration. This is even further compounded if your ex is making parenting choices throughout the year that often do not put the children as first priority. The thought of helping plan a celebration for fatherhood can almost be too much to stomach in some cases.

In other situations, the divorce may be amicable and result in a friendly relationship with your ex. This may still leave a divorced mom with ambivalence as to how much she should play a part in Father’s Day celebrations. Perhaps there is a new wife and you are worried about stepping on her toes. Maybe you are worried about sending mixed signals to your ex. Whatever the reason, days like Father’s Day, birthdays, and other holidays can be difficult to know your role.

The first step is to take yourself out of the equation, at least emotionally. This is no longer about you celebrating that person, but your children showing their love. If you can see yourself as the vehicle that helps your children fulfill their wishes for their dad on this day, it takes a lot of the questioning out of it. It’s ok to ask your kids how they want to honor their father on Father’s Day. It does not have to be a lavish ordeal, but they may want to make a card or make a special treat for him. As children, they often need physical help completing these tasks. By being open to doing so, you are showing them that you support their ideas and their relationship with the other parent.

This also shows your children that you are open to helping them with anything they are struggling with, including matters that regard the other parent. It gives your children reassurance that you want them to be happy and not feel stuck in the middle of an adult situation. Your children love you both, regardless how you feel about your ex. Helping them express their love to the other parent is more about helping your children feel happy and loved, not your ex.

Open conversations with your ex, and possibly his new wife, might be uncomfortable, but will help the kids feel more at ease. You may also have plans with your own family that you would like the children to be a part of. Remember, you two are the adults and are in charge of the schedule. If the kids feel torn between the wishes of the two parents, especially on holidays, they will often retreat and not want to participate in any of the planned activities.

Of course there are always special circumstances where this idyllic image of the children wanting to celebrate with their father on Father’s Day is not the case. Maybe the relationship is strained and children do not want to see him on this day. Maybe he is not around to celebrate with the kids. These real feelings can also be honored with an open conversation with your kids. They may feel guilty for not wanting to be a part of Father’s Day. They may also feel left out if their father is not around on this day. Asking your kids how you can help them is the best way to meet their needs. I have started to do this with my own children after my ex’s death. Last year was their first Father’s Day after he died. I asked them how they were feeling about the approaching day and how they wanted to handle the day when it arrived. They were all in agreement that they wanted to change it to Family Day and just do fun things together as a family. Other children in a similar situation may want to do something to memorialize them or honor them in some way. Either way is fine and it is important for the kids to know that you will support and help them see their vision through.

In the end, these holidays are not about you making your ex feel special. They are about you showing your kids that their feelings are valid and it’s ok to show their true feelings. Your support and assistance shows them that they have your permission to express all of their emotions openly. It give them a sense of unity and reassurance that their family isn’t broken, it just may look a little different.

What is a Divorce Coach…and Why do I Need One?

Getting divorced is highly emotional and often extremely overwhelming. I bet that you did not say to yourself on your wedding day “I’m going to start getting everything organized and emotionally prepare for my future divorce”. It’s often during this time of heightened emotional stress that you are trying to get all of your necessary documentation ready, as well as wade through the muddied waters of your feelings. To say it’s an emotional rollercoaster is an understatement.

Going from “we” to “me” can also feel very lonely and can even cripple you with fear. Many question if they can manage everything on their own. Questions like, “What does my future look like”? and “Why is my ex acting this way”? are common and need to be dealt with as you go though your divorce process. A divorce coach is your non-biased partner on this journey. Divorce coaching allows you to identify specific and achievable goals to move you forward in a positive direction. You owe it to yourself to put the building blocks in place to secure stability in your future. The tools learned will help you achieve desirable results throughout the divorce and gain the ability to work effectively with your ex on issues such as co-parenting and productive communication.

A divorce coach is there to help you identify your goals and values, which helps keep you focused on a more effective outcome for yourself. They help uncover what is actually keeping you stuck when you hit roadblocks and partner with you to develop action plans to move forward in a positive manner. Having a divorce coach as a neutral party to process the steps of your divorce is necessary. They help you stay grounded and focused on your goals without letting negative feelings cloud your judgement.

You may be wondering why you would choose to use a divorce coach over a traditional therapist and the truth is- you might need both! In traditional therapy, the process is different and often focuses more on your past experiences and how those are now impacting you. This is a healthy and worthwhile process, but very different than the work done in divorce coaching. Therapists are also able to diagnose specific mental health disorders and design their treatment accordingly. While these mental health concerns may surface during your divorce, the coaching process is there to facilitate your journey through the actual divorce. The goals are very specific and present/future oriented. Divorce coaching helps you move from where your are now, to where you want to be regarding your divorce.

Coaching will help you:

  • Find a confident voice in the divorce process
  • Gain clarity with difficult decisions
  • Develop skills to help manage conflict with your ex
  • Build a solid divorce and/or parenting plan
  • Diminish the negative effects of the divorce process for your children and yourself
  • Establish clear and comfortable boundaries with your ex
  • Gain skills as a single parent and co-parent 
  • Explore career transition to gain financial independence 
  • Navigate dating and new relationships
  • Develop healthy blended families
  • Significantly lower attorney fees by working through issues outside of the attorney’s office
  • Receive an unbiased perspective from someone who understands the divorce process

Aside from the emotional support gained from divorce coaching, the financial savings is often a big draw to using coaching services. While the initial upfront cost of divorce coaching might seem like just another added expense during a potentially unstable financial time, it actually is able to save you in the long run. Those who utilize coaching services spend less in legal fees and shorten their divorce process significantly. By using your coaching sessions as a space to detangle your feelings and develop confidence in the decisions you are making, the time spent with your lawyer is more proactive and effective, which ultimately saves both time and money.

Knowing first hand how hard the divorce process can be is the very reason I started Thriving Ahead Divorce Coaching. I knew there had to be a smoother way to travel this difficult life path. Divorce coaching offers you the option of finding peace, strength, empowerment in the divorce process. This ultimately will help you find the happiness you are looking for beyond your divorce.

Single Parenting During COVID-19 Quarantine

It goes without saying that this is an unprecedented time for all of us in the world. As we struggle to mange the unseen invader all around us, we are also all trying to adapt to this new, and hopefully temporary, normal in our daily lives. Everyone is making adjustments and sacrifices, all to help the greater good. Every family, no matter what the dynamic, seems to be scrambling to keep afloat right now. While this pandemic clearly presents challenges for all, there are definitely some unique hurdles for single parents.

Maybe you work on the front lines and your ex does not. You may both agree that your child/children are safest staying with your ex at this time. While the facts make sense, you may harbor a bit of jealousy for the amount of extra time he or she gets with the kids.

Maybe you do not have a great co-parenting relationship with your ex. Maybe you don’t trust they are adhering to protocol and social distancing. This can lead to anxiety and appreciation about being forced to abide by the parenting plan at this time.

Maybe having time alone when the kids are with your ex is always hard for you. Maybe you typically fill that time with friends and social activities, which are now not available.

Maybe your ex lost their job and that means your child support has also stopped. Maybe you lost your job and don’t know how you are going to uphold your end of the financial agreement.

If you are like me, 100% custody with no co-parent, you might be feeling completely overwhelmed. You are now quarantined with your children and no other adult interaction except for brief waves on walks or quick talks across the yard to the neighbors. This isolation also is compounded with the crippling fear of getting sick yourself. Thoughts like “What would happen if I got sick?” or “Who would help with the kids if I were sick?” start running through your mind. While many younger people manage the illness at home, from what I’ve heard it can take you down for several weeks. These thoughts can spiral anyone down the dooms day rabbit hole.

All of these examples present unique worries for single parents during this time. This is where I urge you to go back to single parenting basics. What is in your control and what is not? First of all, we are not able to control exactly who gets the virus and who doesn’t. We can take measures to stop the spread, but even those measure are not a 100% guarantee. Just like pre-virus days (which seem so long ago), we can only be responsible for our own actions and choices. Your ex is responsible for their choices as well. Pre-virus, you were operating under the assumption that each parent was going to act in the best interest in the child. Try to remind yourself that this situation is no different. Just like before, if one party is making choices that are unlawful or putting the kids in outright danger, measures are in place to act on this and keep the kids safe. Normalizing this new issue as another example of handling day to day safety concerns can decrease the anxiety in scary situation.

Next, find what you are able to control regarding the wellbeing of your children. Decisions must be made on a temporary basis to meet new childcare and safety needs. Remind yourself of this often. This is not a custody issue at the moment. One party is not “winning” in this situation and the decisions made are ultimately what needs to be done to keep your children safe. If that means your ex getting more time with them because of the ability to work from home or because you work on the front lines, remind yourself that it is a temporary sacrifice and what needs to be done for the children, not to benefit your ex.

The measures society needs to take to ensure the health and safety of others is also a change that is out of everyone’s control. These new norms, like social distancing and stay at home orders, are definitely different and cause us to make adjustments to our daily routines. If you are finding yourself feeling overwhelmingly isolated without a partner to share the balance of quarantine duties, take extra measures to reach out to others. These next few tips are no different than what is being suggested for anyone struggling with being isolated, but they can be forgotten when you are just trying to keep everything moving as a single parent. It is so important for you to schedule adult interaction time. This can be done by setting up video calls with a friend or group of friends. Asking a neighbor to talk from porch to porch, or even have a group text chain going so you can send quick thoughts throughout the day can provide a much needed adult interaction break. Just the other day, I had a friend drive to my house and sit in her car while I sat on my front walk steps and we talked for about 30 minutes. It made my night to have a real life conversation with another adult! It is absolutely ok to reach out for adult connection during these times. Without it, you will burn out so quickly.

I wish a had the secret answer to how to make this all better for everyone, but unfortunately no one does right now. We are all in this together, but I know first hand that it can feel like a double blow as a single parent. Our lives can feel isolating already and now we are needing to isolate even further. The task can feel overwhelming, but just know that I see you and I’m right there with you. Give yourself a break and know you are doing your best in these strange and difficult circumstances.

When Your Ex Dies: Where Does That Leave You?

This post has been weighing on me for some time. I’ve wrestled with the thought of putting this part of my story out there. It still feels so raw and a bit surreal. Yet, I know I’m not the only one dealing with this situation. There is healing power in hearing that someone has been or is where you are as well. That is what is giving me the push to open up the conversation about the emotional rollercoaster that happens when your ex dies.

It’s almost impossible to believe that it has been one year since my ex husband died. To see the words typed out still gives me chills. It had been almost a week since the boys had heard from their father, which was not the norm. I reached out to his parents to see if they knew anything and they immediately became concerned. After a long night of unanswered questions, my phone rang close to midnight. It was his parents telling me he had taken his own life.

I can’t remember what I said or even how the phone call ended. My first thought was of my kids- “Oh my God, how am I going to tell them”? They had already been though so much with the divorce and they were so young. This seemed like too much for them to bear. The next day, I gathered as much courage as I could and sat them down to tell them that their father was dead. It was the hardest conversation I have ever had, but somehow we made it though.

Over the next few days, I was in an emotional fog of confusing emotions. I was unbelievably sad that he chose to do this. I felt sorry for him and hurt that he didn’t see another way out. There was also a flood of memories from when I first met him and when I loved him. I also felt angry. How could he put his children through this? How could he leave us a second time? The past was also still there. He hurt me so many times. The wounds of betrayal were still fresh. The hurtful things he said to me were still playing in my mind. I could not erase the times he completely checked out as a father and the emotional toll that took on the boys. All of those things happened and were my story, but now my story and my feelings felt wrong. The old saying, “Don’t speak (or think) ill of the dead” was stuck in my head. Was I allowed to still have these negative feelings about someone who died? Does his death now negate everything that happened in the past? Did that make me a bad person? It all felt wrong and I felt very guilty. I wanted to erase those thoughts from my mind, but I couldn’t. They were my truth. It was definitely a struggle to even start to understand that this was no ordinary grief, if there even is such a thing. This was complicated.

Next came the funeral. Although his family always continued to treat me as part of the family, just as they had done when we were married, I couldn’t help but feel like an outsider. This was the first time I had seen his extended family, those who I considered my family as well, since before the divorce. The circumstances of why we were all together again made the reunion even more difficult. They kindly offered for me to stand in the family receiving line, but I couldn’t imagine how I was supposed introduce myself to people. “Hi. I’m the ex wife.” was all I could imagine. I started talking to close friends and managed to find my comfort zone with them. When the service started, I didn’t know where to sit. Do I follow the family to the front? Luckily, my youngest, who was 3 at the time, chose for me. He followed our friends and insisted we sit by them. (My older two chose to stay out of the room with my father- it was just too much.) While I know these were my own thoughts and not implied by anyone there, I couldn’t help but feel like I couldn’t find my place. But, what was my place?

In the next weeks, when the emotional mess was too overwhelming, I would try turning to the more factual questions. Am I still considered divorced? Am I now a widow? I found that even these questions did not have easy answers. Nothing about this was straightforward and I felt like I was stuck in no man’s land. Once again, I didn’t have a place. So, I Googled it. As it turns out, even Google didn’t have a straight answer. A widow is considered a married person whose spouse dies. Yet, being divorced implies that there is an ex spouse. I kept clicking on link after link, searching for the right answer. Then, one of the links that I read stopped me in my tracks and was my first sign of clarity in so long. It basically said, “You get to choose because there is no right answer”. This became my mantra and my emotional life preserver.

I started telling myself, I’m going to choose to allow myself to have all the feelings, past and present, because that is my reality. I’m going to choose to not compare my experience to “typical grief”, because this is so far from it. I started to CHOOSE to not put parameters around my feelings and just allow myself to feel whatever came to the surface. It took reading those words on Google to make me realize there is no right way to feel in this situation. I just had to do what was right for me.

As the year went on, my grief and my children’s grief often looked very different. I had to remind myself that this is ok. My experience and memories of their father are not their memories of him. It became hard for me to hear them often martyr him or view their memories with rose colored glasses. Part of me wanted to seek validation by reminding them of how they were often treated. Luckily, I did not act on impulse and gave myself the chance to see that this was all part of their grief process, not mine. They were and still are trying to make sense of all of this chaos that has been swirling around them for their young lives. They are entitled to do this in a way that is effective for them. Maybe it hurts too much to remember the truth at this point. I do know that I want them to choose how to grieve just like I was able to do so.

If this story resonates with you, I hope you were able to find some comfort in knowing you are not alone. This uncommon situation can often feel isolating and taboo on multiple levels. Please know that there is no instruction manual for how to feel in this situation. You have to trust yourself to know that whatever feelings surface are there for a reason. They are there so you can process them and use them to help grow in strength and peace. Choose to be gentle with yourself. Honor your story by acknowledging all of your feelings. I hope you find the strength to choose for yourself where your place is in this experience. Through that choice, you will allow yourself to be free.