Free yourself from Post-Divorce Negativity


Free yourself from Post-Divorce Negativity

Few events in life can fill you with so many negative emotions such as sadness, a sense of loss, despair, depression, anxiety and hatred like a bitter divorce. Even conscious uncoupling can be deeply unsettling. The first thing to realize is that it is all inside your own head. You may feel a torrent of emotions. But you decide exactly what to do with them, how to manage them and ultimately whether you come out a stronger, more developed, self-actualized person at the end who has experienced a kind of personal growth from this experience, or if you miss that chance due to retaining bitterness. If you are hurling all of this hatred and anger at your spouse, you’ll soon realize it’s like swallowing poison to murder someone; it hurts you terribly, but the impact on them is limited. Instead, an outlook of yourself both as patient and doctor is sufficient. You have these emotions and now it’s time to see how to best tend to them so that you get the best outcome. Your spouse as well may be casting vitriol at you every chance they get. You can’t control what happened or how they feel. Nor can you control their behavior. What you can control is your reaction to it, and how much you will let it bother you. There are some simple beliefs you can adopt to help shed your negativity and also protect yourself against your ex’s. Here’s how to free yourself from post-divorce negativity.

Realize that whatever your spouse says about you is their problem, not yours. Be sure to clear your name. And if they are using the children to spy or as a weapon, make sure to nip that situation in the bud. The children should never be put in the middle. They will suffer for it. But other than that, they will say what they will. You choose how you react to it. Their speech is all about them, not about you. What’s more, other people will be watching how you react. Will you be classy all the way, or sink to their level? In the end others judge them for their behavior, and they’ll sink themselves. Instead of seeing divorce as an end, which it invariably is, see it as a new beginning. You have freedom to be who you want to be, and discover a whole new you. Your life won’t be perfect after divorce, but it is still pretty good and it can be even be better. Make a dream board. Write in a diary. Make a bucket list. Go back to school. Get some more training or try and climb the ladder at work. Invest in a hobby. Take a trip with a friend. There are so many things you can do and so many directions you can take your life in now that your ex isn’t weighing you down. There will be good days and bad. If you need to cry it out, do it. It’s a healing process and think of it as such. But don’t wallow in grief. Know when it’s time to pick yourself up and get going again.

Realize that every experience you have in life is another lesson that makes you wiser and therefore a better person in the end. It may not feel like it now but this could be a completely transformative experience for you. Not everything in life is meant to endure. Change can be very scary and it can be hard to say goodbye. Just keep things moving. Make the necessary steps, no matter how small or staggering. Sooner or later you will make it to where you are supposed to be. Sometimes it feels satisfying to take part in divorce drama with your ex. But sooner or later you will understand that it weighs you down far more than it lifts you up. After a divorce you may feel like damaged goods. But the truth is people are judging you far less than you think. Understand that your life and your happiness is ultimately based on your own thinking and no one elses. You can make the world a better place and you can make your life all you want it to be. It’s all up to you. For more, pick up a copy of the book, The Rediscovery of Me: Reinventing Life after Divorce by Dr. Marcia Brevard Wynn and Earl Sewell.

Is Divorce Really Contagious?


Is Divorce Really Contagious?

The longest ever longitudinal study is reaping information on marriage and divorce, the latter compiled on what researchers call “the divorce report”. This report prompted CBS to run the story, “Divorce contagious? Your Network Could Bring you Down.” In the wider study, 5,000 offspring and 12,000 people in their networks were the original participants. Some of the participants of this wider study have been taking part since 1948. Researchers found some startling conclusions from the divorce aspect of this larger study. For instance, if you have a friend who gets divorced you are 147% more likely to divorce yourself. However, very few participants in this study did end up getting divorced. If your sibling gets divorced you have a 22% higher chance of splitting from your spouse soon, within four years. If you work at a small company where one person gets divorced you have a 55% chance of getting divorced, within that same timeframe of four years. But people you have direct, intimate contact with aren’t the only ones who influence divorce. Even friends of friends, two degrees of separation can affect your decision to get a divorce according to the divorce report. External forces and the “birds of a feather” influence scenario were accounted for in this study, so they had no bearing on the results.

So is divorce really contagious? What we don’t have is the reason why the first person got divorced and how it influenced the second or subsequent divorces. Perhaps it was a common phenomenon. For instance, one person was unhappy with their relationship and no matter what they did, it didn’t work. They confided in a good friend, and both parties it ended up shared the same experience. When one of these friends decides that enough is enough and gets divorced it gives the other person the courage to file for divorce as well. In other words, we don’t know the reason behind the initial decision and how exactly it influenced the other person to get a divorce. We also don’t know if the decision was good or bad. When we hear that divorce might be contagious we assume that this is a negative influence. But if it gives people the courage to leave bad relationships in order to pursue healthier, well-adjusted and satisfying ones, is this not a good thing? The decisions of those around us of course influence us in all kinds of ways, both negative and positive. There may have been some cases where the couple wasn’t miserable but really just going through a tough time, but could have worked it out and had been happy together. But it is just as likely that this was a relationship beyond saving and a friend’s courage encouraged them to take steps toward their own chance at happiness and fulfilment. If emotional or physical abuse are part and parcel of this relationship, it may take the influence of friends and family to give the person the courage to leave.

Certainly many people do stay together nowadays only for convenience, to avoid hurting the children or because they can’t afford the financial or emotional drain divorce can have on them. One study has shown that children are happy in a well-adjusted, loving and nurturing environment regardless of whether their parents are together or not. In terms of the financial and emotional toll, no one can tell you when you are ready for that. But long-term separation has certainly become the norm with couples. These findings are interesting, but certainly lots more research is needed before we know whether or not the influence of a divorce in someone’s social network has a positive or negative effect on their higher likelihood of getting divorced. Though there are plenty of instances where marriage is taken lightly, from TV shows like “Marriage at first Sight” to drive-thru wedding chapels in Las Vegas, our society takes divorce very seriously. Most people don’t get divorced willy-nilly. They struggle with the decision. It takes a lot of courage to be able to declare that you want a divorce. More research is needed and the details must be brought to light before we can really see how this phenomenon works. For more advice on getting through a divorce, read When “I Do” Becomes “I Don’t”: Practical Steps for Healing During Separation & Divorce by Laura Petherbridge.

Highlighting the Problem of Domestic Violence


Though lots of high profile cases exist, and awareness programs, art such as The Vagina Monologues and other programs try to highlight the problem of domestic violence, many people still don’t understand the phenomenon nor why someone would put up with such abuse. The truth is that there are a lot of battered women out there today, and some battered men. Questions like, “Why does someone batter?” and “Why would someone stay in an abusive relationship?” come up over and over. Victims eventually do leave their abusers generally. Often once a clean break is set with no going back, the abuser finds another victim. Until more awareness and programs to help fight this scourge are available the phenomenon will keep occurring, even in our own so-called free society. Victims are helped and supported for leaving, and if their supporters or program coordinators are savvy they also help the victim in staying out of abusive relationships and into more healthy forms of existence. If someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse show them your love and support. Make sure the victim knows you will stick by them and will always be there for them.

There are times when you wish you could attack the abuser. But legally that will muddy the waters and also get you in trouble. There may be other times when your friend that’s the victim may not be acting in their own self-interest. They may consider going back to their abuser, or down the road dating someone just like them. Though you may want to give up on this person or pull your hair out, understand that there are deep psychological forces at work here. This person is traumatized and it will take them time, work, help and perhaps even therapy for them to be in a healthy, proper mindset again and to make the right life choices including the act of choosing a proper mate. Seeing someone you love abused is one of the worst things of all. Abusers often isolate their victims. They may not know what is right or wrong behavior anymore, and what abuse is and what isn’t. You could be their only connection to the regular world. Find local domestic violence nonprofit organizations in your victim’s community. Leaving an abuser is dangerous business and takes a lot of courage. Be proud of and encourage your friend. Help your friend make plans so that they can minimize any contact with the abuser in this transition period and minimize any abuse he or she may cause. For more advice on this topic, read Family and Friends’ Guide to Domestic Violence by Elaine Weiss.

What’s up with Drunk Dialing?


Whether it’s been a while since you dated, or you recently broke up with someone or you are just hung-up on someone, drunk dialing happens. Everyone knows too that sometimes it’s just for a booty call. Maybe someone even drunk dialed you. That is both flattering and embarrassing. Of course whoever it is, drunk dialing is kind of embarrassing for both parties, at least the next day. Hopefully, everyone has a sense of humor about it. Some couples have even gotten back together after just such an incident. But what is this strange new human phenomenon? What’s up with drunk dialing? Why do people do it? The thing is that alcohol takes our inhibitions and shoves them way down to the ground. Subconscious desires start to leak out and you find yourself doing things that your sober self wouldn’t even consider. But is drunk dialing just about sex or is there something more going on? Psychologists Ferris and Hollenbaugh recently solved the mystery. 433 participants took part in a study to find out why people talk on the phone whilst drunk and if it is only about sex or more. Most of the participants were around the age of 20. It’s interesting to note that the participant’s age was by and large under the legal drinking age. They found five motives for drunk dialing.

Alcohol is often called a social lubricant. According to the study, “this motive meant that people drunk dialed because they had more confidence, had more courage, could express themselves better, and felt less accountability for their actions.” Surely anyone caught in some role in a drunk dialing situation can tell that this is true. Sometimes drunk dialing was merely a prank. The caller, “…thought it was funny, that others thought it was funny, and to have a good story to talk about later.” Sometimes drunk dialing was merely seeing what social options were available to them, “in order to meet up or make plans with others, or to see what others were doing.” Sometimes the drunk dial came in the form of a confession, “to tell a friend or romantic interest that they love and/or miss them.” Lastly, there was the booty call. They dialed “due to sexual arousal, to initiate sex, or to ‘hook up’ with someone.” Though often the sexes are portrayed differently in the media, in terms of the real life drunk dial researchers found that the genders motives matched up the same. How often they drunk dialed also turned out the same, men and women equally. Researchers now plan to investigate how this phenomenon transfers to texting, sending elicit photos and other such behavior. To learn more about the drinking patterns of young adults, read Getting Wasted: Why College Students Drink Too Much and Party So Hard by Thomas Vander Ven.

Dealing with your Spouse’s Checkered Past


Was your spouse romantically adventurous before you met? If so, you may harbor feelings of insecurity, jealousy, regret of your own past, and perhaps fear that experiences with you won’t measure up. Oftentimes the problem is worse if the spouse who was adventurous was female, as we still hold on to certain sexual stereotypes about women’s need for purity. But women can be just as insecure, jealous and uncomfortable with a man who had many lovers before marriage. Obviously it isn’t fair holding someone’s past against them. But you can’t just couch these emotions and hope they go away either. Instead, it’s best to let them surface and deal with them. Many people who have a jealous streak want to corner their spouse and have them confess each and every encounter. They think perhaps knowing all the details will make things better. But the truth of the matter is this often makes things worse. So how do you deal with your spouse’s checkered past? For one thing, realize that this was the person they were before they met you. Since you two are married, it’s obvious that despite their past, in the end they chose you. There must be something about you then that the others lacked. Ask what it is.

Realize too that envy, competition and jealousy play a major role. It’s okay to feel these emotions. Psychologists often say that emotions themselves are not good or bad. It’s how you deal with these emotions that makes them good or bad. In terms of insecurity, take a look at yourself and your relationship together. What are you offering to your spouse? How do you treat them? What experiences do you have together that make your relationship unique and special? What qualities do you bring to the table that others lack? Instead of wanting a confession or a detailed report of their past, perhaps focus on what qualities set you apart from the rest. Realize that your spouse’s honesty is an important show of trust, respect and love. They certainly were not required to be honest with you, but feel so much in love with you that they are compelled to be honest. Instead of focusing on the negative, focus on the positive. If you feel inadequate, talk to your spouse about it, they will reassure you. Seek out a perspective that puts you at ease. Talk honestly about how you feel and work through the emotions together. If you still can’t get over it, perhaps it’s important to seek out a professional to work through these issues. Everyone has skeletons in their closet and it takes a lot of courage to reveal them to someone you love. Don’t betray that trust, honor it and your relationship will blossom. For more on this topic, read the advice of Cris Goodman in his book, Jealousy Free- The Ultimate Guide to Overcoming Jealousy in Relationships Forever.