Important but Painful Realizations about Divorce

MAN-DIVORCE

Important but Painful Realizations about Divorce

Are you going through an unexpected divorce? This can be a devastating experience. Whether it’s being constantly reminded of your spouse or having trouble adjusting to single life, lots of people have made these important but painful realizations about divorce and come out the other end stronger. Though this advice may sound hollow or cliché, it may be exactly what you need to hear to help you get back on the road to independence, recovery and contentment.

Just remember that following a divorce should be a period of grieving. But things can only improve over time. In the beginning it can be an emotional roller coaster. But once things level out you do feel a little bit better every day. If you have children with your ex, you are going to have to get used to the situation. Don’t let seeing them again open old wounds. Find a healthy way to interact. Put on your best face and move forward. Find healthy ways to help yourself heal and feel better; exercise, meditation, or talking to a good friend are all good ways. Alcohol, junk food and locking yourself up for months at a time, not so much.

You’re going to be okay. This is a mantra for a lot of divorced people. But if you repeat it to yourself enough times, have enough talks with friends, cry, and reconnect with yourself, though the pain is immense in the beginning, you start to know that your happiness doesn’t begin or end with a divorce. It begins or ends with you, who you are, who you choose to be and the choices you make. Realize how better off you are without that person in your life. Is this the kind of relationship you want? Of course not. You need someone who is loving, supportive, appreciative and who will be there for you no matter what. And if you are reading this it’s obvious your ex wasn’t that person.

You can view it as the end of a marriage. Or you can view it as a new beginning. If someone tells you they are there for you to talk, believe them and use them. It will really help you. Gather your network around you. You need all the support you can get. When people tell you their sorry, understand that they are on your side. They don’t know what to say exactly. But they want to comfort you. If they say this, believe them. For more advice read, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow by Elizabeth Lesser.

How Long Does It Really Take to Get Over Your Ex?

breakup

How Long Does It Really Take to Get Over Your Ex?

When you are in the midst of a breakup or a painful divorce, usually people are there for you. It’s the one good thing about it. What they say though is sometimes another matter. For instance, people will give you all kinds of wild and contradictory advice, including how long it takes to get over someone. For a long relationship, say lasting five years, some say it takes twice as long to get over. But does that mean you’ll be stuck in a rut for the next decade? Others say it doesn’t take double the time. Instead, take the duration of your relationship and cut it in half. How long does it really take to get over your ex? The problem is way more complex than a simple formula. Plus not everyone is the same. In fact, there’s a lot of deviation when it comes to dealing with the emotional pain that follows a breakup. Some people have a tryst with a new lover and feel rejuvenated. Others pine away, spending months on the couch in sweats watching romantic comedies and wondering why they aren’t feeling any better.

There are a lot of reasons a breakup is not easy. One is biological. Researchers at the University of Berkeley found that dopamine, the reward chemical, is released when you are in love, the same kind of feeling you get from a drug high. You are, in a way, literally addicted to that person and must go through withdrawal. But everyone withdraws in their own way. According to British psychotherapist Elly Prior there are seven factors that influence how long it will take for you to move on after a breakup. These are: how long the relationship was, whether or not the breakup was recent, how obsessive or intense it was, whether or not it was meaningful to you, how things ended, if domestic violence entered the picture and whether or not one or both of you had an affair. Other important factors include if this is your first breakup, if you have a support network in your life, what other stressors surround you, if property or possessions still have to be split up, if you suffer from depression, how you interacted with one another and whether or not you are surrounded by reminders, say a photo on a shelf or your ex constantly springing up on your newsfeed.

One simple formula isn’t enough to solve such a menagerie. You may feel like you are being swallowed up in a pit of hopelessness and despair. But realize that emotions such as these don’t stick around for long. Pretty soon it will start to subside. There of course will be moments when you are reminded of the person. But those also pass. It’s important to tend to yourself at this time. Vent, have a good cry, spend time with friends and reconnect with people you lost touch with. Think about your future and what dreams you want to fulfill now that you don’t have any dead weight pulling you down. Reflect also on what you loved about the person. If things feel incomplete, make your own ritual and find an appropriate way to say goodbye. You don’t need their permission. They don’t even need to be there. Do it on your own. Try to turn around a breakup or divorce and make it a positive experience, one that you learn from and makes you a better person. For more on breakup recovery read, How to Survive the Loss of a Love by Peter McWilliams and Harold H. Bloomfield.

Science Helps with Breakups

heartbreak

Science Helps with Breakups

We’ve all been there: the week in sweat pants, balled up tissues on the couch, a book of bad poetry in our lap, gallons of empty ice cream cartons all around (wine bottles too) and tearful moments wondering how you’ll ever get over the loss. Breakups are one of the most painful moments in life. Certainly wallowing in misery is not one the most healthful thing you can do. Reflection on the other hand can help the healing process along. That’s according to one study published in the in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. The difference between helpful reflection and wallowing is the point of your ruminations. How long has it taken place? Are your thoughts severe? If you are reliving moments over and over again, just making yourself sick then it’s time to stop and shake yourself out of this funk. If you are looking at it in a somewhat detached manner, to see where mistakes were made, learning about yourself and vowing to do better in the future, congratulations; you are truly helping to facilitate your own healing, and making sure your future endeavors in the realm of love will not be fraught with misfortune and peril.

Graduate student Grace Larson at Northwestern University conducted the study. She found that a period of asking one’s self questions and deep reflection as she told NPR, “…helped them develop a stronger sense of who they were as single people.” But this isn’t the only science-backed method to employ after a breakup. In fact, there is a rather impressive body of evidence on how to recover. We say we have a physical ache in our hearts and that’s literally true, according to one 2011 study. Participants underwent brain scans while gazing upon a photo of their ex and suffering a breakup. Neurologists found that the same areas where pain is received lit up when the person was longing for their lost love. Another study suggested Tylenol might help relieve such pain. A breakup affects you in other ways physically too, not just being heartsick. When people are in a long-term relationship their biological rhythms synch up. When you break up with someone and are living alone your heart rate, sleep pattern, appetite and even your body temperature is out of sync and must readjust. That means post-breakup, instead of letting yourself go you should go out of your way to take good care of yourself.

Once your body has readjusted, it’s time to take stock of your psychological state. After a breakup your sense of self and identity is in flux. Reestablishing a sense of who you are and what you want out of life is the key to moving on, experts say. Some calm reflection on the relationship is in order. But avoid dwelling upon it. Adaptation is the best route. But adapting to a new environment sans significant other is not easy. A good portion of our lives revolves around our partner. When they are gone a portion of our life goes with them. The good news is we also have a tremendous opportunity to learn from our mistakes and make plans for our future, one better suited for us. One study using brain scans likened breakup pain to cocaine withdrawal. This may be why some of us act a little bit nuts after we and our lover have split. Just ride it out. Most research finds that the first estimate of how long it takes to get over a breakup is far too long. In the aftermath, when the emotions have cleared most people feel they’ve learned something, that the experience helped them grow and made them more goal oriented. That’s according to a 2007 study. People who survive a tough breakup come out stronger in the end, find purpose in life and learn to move on their own power. What may feel like a painful extraction at first turns out to be liberating. For more pick up a copy of, Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You by Susan J. Elliott, JD Med.

Your Marriage isn’t Hopeless

breakup

Your Marriage isn’t Hopeless

Lots of marriages seem to peter out. The couple lets the spark die and can’t renew it. Infidelity creeps in because one or another’s needs aren’t being met, or because the couple can’t seem to get along anymore. Or there are those who simply run into a roadblock they can’t seem to overcome. Certain issues will always creep into a marriage and be hard to solve. Marriage actually seems to go through cycles, periods of bliss, followed by a rut or perhaps a contentious issue, then settled and blissful again. But when a married couple gets stuck in one of these periods and can’t seem to climb out of it, the relationship stagnates and both people drift apart. If you are in one of these situations, realize that your marriage isn’t hopeless.

If all of the important things are there, respect, trust and love, everything else can be fixed. You’ll have to invest a lot of time, patience and understanding to get through it. But if you can do that you can turn a marriage that has fallen flat into one that is vibrant and fulfilling. Follow these steps to renew your marriage. The first thing to do is to make a list of all the problems you are experiencing, the things you quarrel about. The marriage will be reborn once you have addressed these issues in a manner acceptable to both parties. Remember you are looking for the win-win, or at least a compromise you can both live with. If someone feels slighted it isn’t going to work.

When you try to force your partner to change they will resent it, become defensive and throw up walls instead of inviting you in. This will impede progress. Next, a very difficult step to get through, address the issues you are bringing to the marriage. What emotional baggage do you have and how does it express itself when you and your spouse interact over a certain contentious issue? How could you address the issue in a different way? For instance, if you are nagging, consider using humor to address the problem. Start a to-do list for chores instead of bringing the matter up time and again, being ignored and getting angry. Perhaps finding other ways to communicate will alleviate the problem such as text or email. Let your spouse know that you are changing your behavior and working on your issues to make the marriage better. They will likely respond by examining their own behavior and ways to make it more copasetic to the relationship.

Listen actively. Repeat back what you have heard your spouse say in your own words. Don’t invalidate their feelings, validate them. “Of course you would feel that way because (blank) happened.” Lots of fights occur through misunderstanding and the invalidation of the other’s feelings. Jettison all negative communication. Sarcasm, finger pointing, shaming, passive-aggression and more have no place in a marriage. They poison it until it is dead. The latest research has shown that marriages that last have five positive interactions for each negative one. Inject positive interactions into you marriage: a hug, holding hands, a kiss, seduction, a love note, a little gesture of appreciation, a “thank you” even if it was their chore anyway. Cherish one another and your relationship will blossom anew. For more advice read, Fighting For Your Marriage by Howard J. Markman, Scott M. Stanley, and Susan L. Blumberg.

Things Change once you hit your Thirties

WOMEN-WORKING

Things Change once you hit your Thirties

The teen years and college are really young, fun, carefree good times. You kind of expect those times to last. But after college and especially once you hit your thirties, things change. For one there seems to be a black hole between college and the present moment. You think, “What happened to the last two, three, five years?” But you still feel young. And your bank account doesn’t look much better today than it did back then. “People” and by that we mean your parents start to wonder why you are still single. They verbally express that wonder out loud, embarrassingly. And this phenomenon surprisingly affects men and women, though women far more often. You don’t have to be married at any particular time. The elevated divorce rate alone, not to mention how hard it is to carve a place out for yourself in the world nowadays, is enough of an explanation. Lots of people are overwhelmed about dating and relationships in their thirties. Married people have a fear of missing out due to the single’s explosion via internet dating. Singles fear being alone forever.

Lots of people today in their thirties are so busy, they can’t see straight. Many don’t have time for dating, dealing mostly with the demands of a career. Some have kids which is even doubly time consuming, though more than worth it to see their cherub, smiling faces and those beautiful laughs. Still, finding time to squeeze dating in can be difficult. Lots of people in their thirties, if not married, are taking part in the hookup culture like those purported with the millennial generation. Others are cohabitating forever, fearing a messy and maniacal divorce such as their parents had in droves in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Those who are single and childless in their thirties will open up Facebook occasionally and think to themselves “Is this nothing but baby pictures?”

Sometimes folks in their third decade of life will try and replicate a time, an outfit, a style or a stance from a previous decade in their life, say the late teens or their twenties. This will not be pulled off, in fact it will just be at the tip of inappropriate. Instead, adopt something that’s young but a little more adult. No one is really forever 21. In fact, why not embrace the whole new, adult you? There are so many things better in your thirties than they were back then. Sex is definitely better. Most people know themselves and how things work much better and have gotten rid of their anxieties and awkward feelings. If you are single, there is a stock of great catches out there to be had like never before. And if you are in a long-term relationship, you are probably reaching the point of true intimacy, one of love’s and life’s greatest gifts. For more advice read, 30 and Single: Your Guide to Living a Fulfilled Life While Waiting by Crystal Hall.