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Life after a divorce - Guides For Divorce Series

Author: Louis Cobden

Life after a divorce - Guides For Divorce Series

Book Series: Guides For Divorce


INTRODUCTION

Everybody who gets married does it for the long haul and believes that the marriage is for life. Nobody plans to have a divorce, and when it does happen it is painful for everybody in the family.

The divorce process can leave you feeling empty and confused. Divorced women have so many issues to deal with at the lowest point in their lives. Children, rent or mortgage, career - so many decisions to make that you feel overwhelmed and at a loss as to where to begin. The loss of having somebody to make decisions with is very real for a divorced woman.

In terms of stress, divorce ranks up there right next to death. A divorce affects all the areas of a personís life. Your finances, your children, your home; nothing is left untouched by a divorce, hence that feeling of total bewilderment and shock.

Recognizing and being conscious of what youíre feeling or going through is the first step towards healing.

EMOTIONS AFTER DIVORCE

After you divorce you may feel like you are on a rollercoaster of emotions. One day youíll wake up feeling sad and missing your ex husband terribly. The next you may feel an avalanche of anger at your ex for everything that is wrong with your life. These mixed feelings are normal and they happen to most people who have gone through the painful process of divorce.

What are these emotions that overwhelm you and impair your judgment?

1. Grief and sadness - It is completely right and normal to grieve after a divorce. It is a loss and like death it should be allowed to run its course. Grief caused by divorce has stages:

-Denial - This is a refusal to believe that the divorce is happening or has happened. You keep thinking that it cannot possibly be happening to you. With time, your ex husband will come to his senses and realize what a big mistake heís making. This is the brainís way of refusing to process painful experiences.

-Anger at your ex. How could he break up your family? How could he be so selfish? Sooner or later, this anger will be spent and you will feel yourself move on to the next stage.

-Bargaining - This is a humiliating stage for many people because it involves lowering your pride and begging your ex to stay. A person in this stage will promise anything; to change, to be whatever your ex wants - Anything at all to avoid the divorce.

-Depression - You realize that the divorce is in fact happening or has happened and depression sets in. The knowledge that this is beyond you and there is nothing you can do to return things the way they were feels unbearable and unfathomable.

-Acceptance - You accept that things are the way they are and try to move on.

2. Guilt - Divorce may leave you feeling like a failure. And because you think you failed at marriage you feel guilty and obsess over what you might have done differently. Realize that it takes two to make a marriage work and if both parties donít do their part, the marriage will collapse. So you alone are not responsible for the end of your marriage. Guilt is a negative emotion that only corrodes your spirit.

3. Fear - Unknown waters are very scary and as a newly divorced woman you feel as though the fear will consume you. Mostly it is fear for a future that suddenly seems so uncertain. When you allow fear to consume you, you are unable to view your situation in a logical manner and draw up a course of action.

Identifying what you are going through makes it easier to be proactive when dealing with your emotions. You realize that while you feel as if this depression or anger will never abate, your rational mind will tell you that time will indeed lessen the pain.

Knowledge is power and thatís the purpose of this information. Knowledge will empower you and you will cease to feel like a prisoner of your own thoughts. You will deal with any issues you face with a clear head and be able to make wise decisions.

THE MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE TRYING TO GET OVER A DIVORCE

Divorce can make it seem like all those years of marriage were wasted, and at this time it is easy to make mistakes that you will probably regret all your life. By knowing the pitfalls it is easier to avoid them and the resultant pain and misery.

1. Rebound relationships - Many women leap into an affair right after their divorce perhaps hoping to fill that void that the ex has left and to mask that pain. It does not work. It only succeeds in temporarily hiding your pain. Being with a new partner will not exorcise your ex from your mind. If anything it may get worse. Youíll continually compare this new partner with your ex, and this is not a good basis for a relationship. It is not fair either to you or the new partner.

Giving yourself time helps you to work through the problems that you had when you were married and think coherently to resolve these issues in your mind. Give yourself time to heal when youíre alone. This is the time to get to know you again.

2. Stalking him - Calling him multiple times on his phone and leaving messages begging, threatening, crying, harassing him, and hanging around places you think you might meet. Your rational mind knows that this will not bring your ex back. Think of how humiliating it will be to remember the things you did, a year later. Keep your dignity and refuse to sink to those depths. Keep yourself busy or get help when you feel like youíre losing control of your actions.

3. Staying in the family home for the sake of the children - while this is a noble reason for hanging onto the family home it is not wise if youíre struggling to maintain it. Besides what is the point of keeping it and then a few months or years later, you still end up selling it? Children will definitely adjust to a new home and so will you. A new house may even be what you all need to signify new beginnings and a new way of life.

4. Destroying things he left behind or things that he gave you. This is a childish act that does nothing to ease the pain. You could pack the things away and tell him to pick them up or you could drop them off to him. A few years from now, you will have recovered partially if not completely. Donít be ruled by emotions and do things that will make you cringe with shame every time that you remember. Donít misplace your anger and pain by directing it to possessions. They have done nothing to you.

5. Being best friends with your ex - What for? Everything has changed and while during your marriage you were best friends, with a divorce itís time to accept that the friendship is over. Friendship with your ex is unnecessary and it does nothing to speed up the healing process, if anything it delays healing. Cut all ties with your ex to only what is necessary. Of course when there are children involved thereís a real need to communicate, however when the mechanics of co-parenting are in place, this need will be minimal.

6. Acting tough - while it is not healthy to let grief incapacitate you, the other extreme is not good for you either. Pretending that everythingís fine and that you are happy with the divorce only delays the process that you will eventually have to go through. Every day life will become a struggle because life becomes an act of pretending to be cheerful. Going out will be a chore when you think of all the smiling and acting that you will have to do throughout the day. Allow yourself to be sad and to cry. After all you are entitled to it. You have lost a large part of your life and your identity and with every loss comes grief.

This is not to say that every conversation and thought should be related to your divorce .No - not at all. A healthy balance of grief and trying to move on should be maintained.

THRIVING AFTER A DIVORCE

Life after Divorce is not easy and it requires a conscious effort to live your life well and be happy. Sometimes youíll feel like you are forcing yourself to move on but thatís fine too. Go through the motions and one day youíll feel real joy in your heart.

Tips to help you thrive

1. Take care of yourself by eating well and exercising. When you look good on the outside it makes you feel good on the inside. Exercising will also help you release those pent up emotions and also give you moments when your mind is not on your ex. Divorce is mentally and emotionally exhausting. Give yourself time to recover by resting and taking it easy.

2. Acceptance - Learn to let go. The divorce has happened and no amount of what ifs will change that fact. Acceptance means not obsessing over what you or your partner could have done differently. Put things where they belong and in this case the past. Accept that your life is different now, and that there are new experiences to live and that they will be just as meaningful as the ones of your former marriage.

3. Let go of anger - even years after a divorce some women still hold on to anger and bitterness. It becomes a part of them -- this bitterness. Meeting a new love is impossible, as potential dates cannot see past that anger to the person that you are inside. Choose to stop being angry and bitter. Anger held over long periods of time is like a poison that eats you up inside day by day.

4. Take responsibility for your life - Decide that you will not blame your ex for how miserable you feel. Take responsibility for your future and for your feelings. Make yourself happy, be a good parent, sort out your finances, in other words take an active role in defining how you will live your life.

5. Do something that makes you happy. Is it a hobby or do you love watching movies or maybe going for long walks? Whatever it is that brings lightness to your heart, go for it. If you have kids, a divorce could mean that you have more time to yourself when the children are visiting with their father. Take advantage of this time and use it to do something that will make you happy and fulfilled.

6. Forgiveness - Maybe the divorce was caused by infidelity by your partner or perhaps it was your infidelity that caused the breakup. Whichever the scenario, practice forgiveness. Forgiving others means that their past actions no longer control your present. Forgiving you means freeing yourself from the past and embracing the present. Forgiveness is a gift to you.

7. If you have children, do fun things with them. Explore your surroundings together; make new memories. Make a conscious decision to be a good mother to your kids and follow it up with action. Take trips with your kids and show them that life does continue and that it can be fun again.

8. Have a support system of people that you trust. Some days will be very tough and you need people who love you in your corner, cheering you on. Youíll need someone to tell you that the pain is not forever and to encourage you to keep putting one step in front of the other.

9. Rearrange your home to suit you. If you remain in the matrimonial home, change things to the way you like them. This is one advantage of divorce. No longer do you have to discuss things with somebody or take in another personís wishes in addition to your own; when you divorce, youíre free to please yourself.

10. Make the effort to be social even if you really donít feel up to it. Accept invitations for lunch/dinner and allow yourself to laugh and to have fun. You may start out the evening not wanting to be there, but by the end of the evening out you might be feeling better than you have in ages. The point is that if you force yourself to socialize after a while it will not be something that will require effort. It will come easily to you, and it will be enjoyable.

CO-PARENTING AFTER A DIVORCE

The days, weeks and months after a divorce, children are affected by the changes that happen to their lives. These changes could be new routines, a new home, absence of one parent, or even change of schools. Sometimes children find it difficult to make that transition from having both parents to having only one.

Co-parenting is difficult, made more so by the fact that divorce is rarely amicable. These two people who perceive each other as the enemy are parents and are required to parent their kids jointly. Children whose parents have divorced have insecurities too so unless there is cooperation, co-parenting becomes very difficult and emotionally draining for both parties.

Children can and do adjust well; however, you as the parents need to make an effort to ensure that the transition is as smooth as possible for the kids.

Tips for successful co-parenting

1. Minimize conflicts- be more understanding and donít be quick to jump to negative conclusions. Remember that you and your ex are co-parenting; it is for the sake of the children. Ask for clarification before deciding that your ex is out to intentionally annoy you. Youíll be surprised to know that if you adopt this attitude of minimizing conflicts youíll get along much better.

2. Be respectful - Treat your ex with respect. Donít yell at him, and if you need to get a message across do it in a non-confrontational way. If you do that, then it will be easy to discuss issues that the children are going through together and look for solutions together. Adopt a teamwork attitude, and for that to work there must be respect.

3. Keep the past where it belongs when co-parenting - Divorce happens when two married adults want to sever that relationship. So in effect, ranting to your ex and taking out your anger and frustrations on him is not only unfair but it is not right. Keep your feelings to yourself and deal with only the issues relating to the children. Remember the marriage is over so your feelings are really none of his business.

4. Be flexible- if your ex needs you to be with the children when itís his time by all means agree. And if he needs extra time with the kids, say to celebrate a birthday or to just be together, make it easy for everyone and agree. Donít use the children as a tool to punish your ex. The children are the ones who will suffer the most when you and your ex quarrel.

5. Provide a united front as the parents of the children. When the kids need you to attend sports events at their schools, go together and support them as parents. If your childís teacher requests a meeting, both of you go, and remember to be on the same page, as both of you have the childís best interests at heart.

6. Work at improving your relationship with your ex. Keep in mind that it is for the benefit of the children. Ask for his opinion with decisions that need to be made relating to the children. Apologize if you are in the wrong.

7. If you do disagree, which you are bound to despite your best efforts, try to do the following:

8. Establish ground rules - It may be necessary to sit down with your ex and discuss rules for co-parenting. Decide which rules are not negotiable and which ones are. This is especially true if your divorce was very bitter. You will both need rules so that everybody can know and do what is expected of him or her.

CHILDREN AFTER A DIVORCE

Nearly two thirds of all divorces involve children. They are the innocent victims caught up in their parentsí divorce. Some of these children will end up with psychological problems caused by the divorce, but the majority of them will go on to live successful and happy lives. So how do you ensure that your child is in the latter group of children?

Raising happy, adjusted children after a divorce

1. Children never give up hope that their parents will get back together. Donít ridicule them for those feelings. Instead show them how happy everybody is with this new arrangement. Point out that dad and mom do not fight and with the divorce they get along much better. Even after one or both parents remarry, children still carry a secret hope that eventually their parents will reconcile and live together again.

2. Treating your child as a mini adult- donít rob your children of a childhood by making them your confidants. They are not developmentally ready to shoulder such responsibilities. One parent may lean on a child for emotional support or use that child as a replacement for the ex. Make a support system for yourself and have people you can confide in, that way the temptation to talk to your children about your problems will not be there.

3. Keep the lines of communication with your children open. Let them know that they can talk to you about anything. However if they donít want to talk donít force it. When the communication lines are open they will talk to you at some point.

4. Keep up the discipline- Continue to enforce discipline even after the divorce. Children need to know that life will go on as before and that they are expected to behave themselves as they did before the divorce. Parents may feel guilty disciplining their children after going through the traumatic experience of divorce.

5. Donít use the children to carry messages to your ex- Initially you may avoid interacting with you ex and instead send messages with the children when they visit with their father. It is not fair to the child to be the carrier of messages between his parents. Figure out your own way of communicating with your ex without involving your children.

6. Donít grill the children about your exís new life - However subtle you try to be, the children will pick on the fact that youíre asking many questions about their dad. They feel as if they have to choose between the two of you and itís a terrible position to put your kids in. Let them enjoy both parents without fear of offending the other and being cross-examined.

7. Encourage the relationship with your ex- Understand that children need both parents and that you and your ex are not in a competition. They love you both. They need you both. Let them know how happy it makes you when they spend time with their dad. It may be difficult now but one day you will see the results of those sacrifices and the wise decisions you made.

8. Let the children visit their grandparents from your exís side and other relatives too. For you these people may be disposable but for the children they are family. Family ties and connections give children a sense of family and belonging. Encourage the relationships with other relatives.

9. Try to understand your children Divorce causes a myriad of feelings in children and working through them is difficult for them. Be a good listener without telling them what they should be feeling. Listen to how they feel. Try to put yourself in your childrenís shoes and treat their feelings with compassion. Donít dismiss their thoughts as irrelevant or silly. It may be silly to you but to the child it is a serious issue.

10. Make amends for the mistakes youíve done - sometimes knowledge comes with hindsight. Apologize for the mistakes you have made with the children. Maybe at the start of the divorce when you were fraught with worry, you told them more than you should have or you badmouthed your ex. Apologize to the children and assure them that it will not happen again.

DEALING WITH YOUR EX IN-LAWS

Youíre divorced from your ex-husband but what about his family? What about his mum and dad, whom youíve spent many years with or his sisters or brothers? What happens to these relationships? Do they die with your divorce?

Some women have gone on to have good relationships with the ex in-laws. This is especially important if there are children involved and you want the continuity of those relationships.

For yourself, your in-laws have probably become your friends over the years and the thought of being estranged from them breaks your heart. It does not have to be that way.

The short term is tricky when dealing with ex in-laws. They might blame you for the divorce and donít forget that the ex whom you feel so bitterly about is their son. To some extent their sympathy may lie with your ex. However over time, they do not blame you and are just glad to be part of your life and their grandchildrenís.

Tips for forging new relationships with ex-in-laws

1. Be willing to take the first step towards a new relationship with your in-laws. They may find it difficult to approach you, not knowing how to relate to you after the divorce. Reach out to them; you may be surprised by their warmth and willingness to keep in contact with you.

2. Know when to back off- sometimes despite your best efforts the relationship simply wonít work. It could be that was sour right from the beginning and the divorce has made it worse. Or maybe your in-laws cannot see past the divorce and they still feel angry with you - in that case give them some time and space. However there are some relationships that you feel are not healthy for your children. Say the ex-in-laws bad mouth you or your ex in front of the children. Your job is to protect them and if it means severing that relationship, then so be it.

3. Avoid bringing up your ex in conversation with your ex in-laws. This is the one area where conflict is likely to occur and sour the relationship. If they do mention him donít raise to the bait. Keep your cool, and let the conversation drift away.

4. If you have special occasions, do include them and send them an invitation. They will appreciate it and they too will make an effort to include you and the children in their lives. Call them once in a while, and find out how they are doing.

5. However difficult life has become, donít moan to your ex in-laws about it. What do you expect them to do? Besides nobody likes a complainer, so keep your issues to yourself and believe that over time, you will resolve them.

6. Donít expect to be included in every family event - some events will be awkward for your ex in-laws when you are around. For example your ex has a new partner. Your in-laws may decide not to invite you to avoid an uncomfortable situation for everybody.

7. Address issues that you had with them before the divorce- Just because youíre divorced from their son does not mean that the things that came between you have disappeared. They havenít; they are still under the surface waiting for the right moment to resurface. Before they do, it is better to sort these issues out.

8. You know the saying ďdo unto others what you want them to do unto youĒ? Well one day you too are likely to be a mother in law. How would you like to be treated by your ex daughter in-law? You would want respect and a chance to be involved in the childrenís lives despite the divorce. You ex in laws would most probably want that too.

9. Remind yourself of the greater good of the relationship with your ex in-laws. It is important for the children to have ties with their grandparents. If you keep remembering this, you will not be easily rattled.

10. If your ex does remarry, donít let that stop you from pursuing a relationship with your ex in-laws. They may feel as if they are disloyal but try to see things from their perspective. They can hardly ignore their sonís new partner however much they may want to.

MUTUAL FRIENDS AFTER DIVORCE

Friends are assets. After a divorce you may feel that you are fighting with your ex over who gets to keep the friends you made together during the marriage. You may not have much say in the matter because some friends will shun you. However, your attitude and how maturely you handle the matters that surface will play a huge role in how you yourself feel.

Itís very hurtful when you feel as if friends you valued are choosing between you and your ex.

How to navigate friendships after a divorce

1. Realize that it is awkward for everybody. Your friends too have probably never been in that situation before and donít know how to behave either. Who do they invite for a party or a dinner? What if your divorce was bitter and none of you would want to see the other? That leaves your friends in a very uncomfortable situation and they too may feel as if they are being forced to choose between you and your ex.

2. Accept that not everybody can remain friends after the divorce. When you shift your mind set and accept the inevitable, that you will lose some friends, it feels less hurtful because you feel in charge of the situation. The friends you made before marriage will remain your friends and the friends you made through your ex will probably remain his friends. Then there will be those friends who choose not to be friends with either of you. Thatís fine too because they probably reason that by picking one of you they will hurt the other so they opt to lose both friendships.

3. Married couples may feel scared by your divorce - There are couples that will feel uncomfortable by your divorce. It brings out their own fears that they may end up like you. Women have other fears too. They fear that your now single status is a threat to their own marriage. It is unfair and you may feel persecuted in your innocence, however understand that these fears are very real to this type of a woman. Graciously let the friendship go; besides no relationship can survive without trust, friendship included.

4. Find new friendships to replace the one youíve lost. These days with access to the Internet, finding people in your situation is only a click away. Look for people who are going through a situation such as yours and support each other. There is nothing like talking with somebody who is going through similar emotions and challenges like yours. This can help to bring your self-esteem back and give you a renewed sense of purpose. New friendships will also make you feel that you are not alone.

5. Donít drag friends into your divorce mess. If you see that some of your friends are trying to steer clear of your divorce by not wanting to discuss it, respect their wishes. They probably donít want to be too involved in the issues you and your ex are dealing with and who can blame them? If you had a choice you wouldnít want to be dealing with those issues either.

6. What about if your ex is working to have everybody on his side? Refuse to be drawn into a fight over friends. It is childish and will make fools of both you and your ex. Besides you will realize your real friends soon enough. Real friends will be there for you and they will reach out to you. It does not matter what your ex does to try to lure them to his side.

7. What if both of you get invited to a friendís party and the last person you want to see is your ex. Donít be upset with your friends or demand for an explanation of why theyíve invited your ex. Itís their party after all and they are free to invite whomever they want. If you feel that you donít want to be there, gently give an explanation to your friends. Most people will understand and empathize with you.

8. Talk about the friends issue with your ex and see if you can reach a consensus that is comfortable. Discuss who keeps which friends and be reasonable. You may even decide to share some friends with your ex. Agree not to speak ill of each other with friends especially mutual friends. Agree to be mature about it.

9. Communicate with friends and let them know how you feel. They would probably welcome some input from you on what they can do or how can handle you and your exís new status.

10. Donít try to hang on to friends who obviously donít want to remain friends with you. Let them go. They were not true friends in the first place. One thing about divorce is that it teaches you who your real friends are. Hang on to those and nurture those relationships.

LATER LIFE DIVORCE

Older couples divorce for more or less the same reasons as younger couples do. It could be infidelity or drifting apart, or any other reason. For older couples milestones such as retirement and empty nest syndrome magnify these problems and this often leads to divorce. Milestones force older couples to make decisions based on how they want to spend the next twenty, thirty or so years. There are other reasons why divorces for older people are very common these days. Here are a few of them.

-These days people live longer and more active lives. Over time tastes and interests change and this can lead to divorce.

-Serious illnesses by one spouse may cause the couple to divorce. The healthy spouse may not be willing to act as a caretaker for the sick partner.

-Changing times - Unlike the past where a divorce was a shame that followed couples for the rest of their lives, these days divorce is accepted as part of modern living. Women donít feel judged by getting divorced so they pursue this option if theyíre not happy in their marriages.

-Viagra and other sex enhancement pills have also contributed to the rising cases of divorce in older couples. Men especially will seek out new relationships with younger women with the availability of these pills. The pills give them the confidence to pursue new relationships.

The issues that older divorced couples face are more often than not worse than for their younger counterparts. The options of starting a career are very limited and older divorced couples donít feel confident about their future.

Thereís also the issue of loneliness and the real fear of poverty and dependence on public benefits, which some seniors really do not want. There are ways however for easing the transition as a senior divorced woman.

Tips on how to deal with divorce as an older person

1. One of the greatest worries is health insurance. Obtaining health insurance is vital for an older divorced woman because as you grow older health issues do crop up; itís important to know that your health will be taken care of.

2. Consider taking in lodgers or boarders for income. Financial insecurity can give the older divorced woman sleepless nights. Going back to work may not be an option and also the kind of job you are likely to get probably may not cover your expenses and enable you to have a nest egg. Taking in boarders can also help in alleviating loneliness.

3. The chances of meeting new people are lowered greatly due to age. When you do not have school-aged children it becomes difficult to meet people. Young children provide a great avenue to meet other women.

4. The sense of isolation for older women is increased by divorce. Give serious consideration to living in senior communities. These days, senior communities are social hubs in which you have a built in community of retired people, and making friends is easy. These senior communities have outdoor clubs and activities that can keep you occupied and happy. Unlike in the past where going to a senior community was a last resort, these days people opt for these communities and move into them earlier for security, social life and to be closer to their peers.

5. Develop a budget. A divorce leaves you financially worse off, and if youíre older you do need to be especially careful with your spending. Stick to your budget and understand that by doing so you are protecting your future. Accept that you cannot live the same lifestyle you did when you were married. Overspending can lead to credit card debts and the stress of this will affect your health. Avoid this by spending wisely and sticking to your budget.

6. If you are keeping the house think carefully if you can afford to keep that house. Donít let your judgment be clouded by emotions. Get an appraisal on the house so that you know exactly where you stand and make decisions based on fact.

7. Let your adult children and loved ones help you with your finances or discuss with them. Their input is valuable and they may point out things that you had not considered. Because they are not as emotionally involved as you, they will be more objective and fair to both you and your ex.

8. Protect your credit. If the divorce settlement gave the responsibility of settling debts incurred by both of you to your ex, monitor closely to ensure that these payments are made.

9. After many years of caring for your family, take the decision to care for yourself now. You can go back to college and earn your degree if this is something that you have always wanted to do. Donít let fear hold you back. Train to do something or pursue your hobbies actively. A whole new world is waiting for you.

10. Consider going online to meet other older divorced people like you. Donít live in isolation and loneliness, these days there are numerous ways of being connected to other people.

ULTIMATE LIFE LESSONS AFTER DIVORCE

More often than not the really big lessons in life that we learn happen after a major life event like a divorce. When we learn from them, these lessons make us better and wiser people and prepare us for other relationships.

Ten lessons you can learn from a divorce

1. You can live without your ex- at the start of a divorce itís impossible to visualize a life without your ex but somehow every morning dawns and you still survive. Months later, it hits you that you can live without your ex and more importantly you can live happily alone.

2. Being alone is better than being lonely in a marriage. Divorce teaches you to be happy even when you are alone. The fear of being alone disappears because you have done it. This helps the next time you are in a relationship and want to let go, perhaps itís not going as well as you would like. Rather than hang onto something that is not working you will have the confidence to end it and not be fearful of being alone.

3. You get to know yourself better. You can define what you want in a relationship and what you donít want. A divorce teaches you to be mindful of your needs and to define them. No one else can know what you need better than yourself.

4. You are stronger than you thought you were. A divorce brings out the best and worst in you. The worst being your dealings with your ex and your best is the strength that you have and you did not even know it. You have successfully gone through the divorce, sorted out your finances, and the children and you have carved out a new life for yourselves. All this takes a very strong person and you are one.

5. A divorce teaches you how resilient the human heart is. You never imagined that a time would come when you would forget your ex and fall in love with someone else. When you are in the middle of a traumatic experience like divorce you cannot believe that one day you will laugh again. But you will.

6. Forgiveness is a gift to you. When you forgive your ex, you learn that you benefit greatly from that act of forgiveness. You are better equipped to venture into new experiences unencumbered by past anger and bitterness. Forgiving your ex gives you peace and sense of calm.

7. Divorce teaches you compassion for others. You support your friends better after a divorce when they are going through their own crisis because you know how it feels to be in the depths of despair.

8. No one else can change your circumstances, only you can. Divorce teaches that no one can rescue you apart from yourself. Your children may need guidance after a divorce; no one will do it apart from you. You need to figure out how to live within a certain budget and figure out how things can improve over time. All this you must do yourself.

9. Seeking help is not a sign of failure - Divorce teaches you to accept help and ask for help when you need it. Giving charity is easy to most people but ask those same people to accept charity and they will shrink away from it. At one point or another everybody needs help and when you go through a divorce, you learn to put your pride down and accept help. Some women will not even go for counseling believing that itís a sign of weakness. Itís not; itís actually a sign of maturity to identify your needs and weaknesses.

10. The world is full of wonderful people- your loved ones may disappoint you but others will come through for you. Sometimes even perfect strangers or people that you have not known for long will lend a helping hand. You will lose some friends but others will stay and really give you a shoulder to lean on far more than the call of duty. And you will realize despite everything, life is indeed a gift and you are privileged to be alive.

DATING AFTER DIVORCE

Throwing yourself into the dating game after years of marriage and after a divorce can be a daunting prospect. However with the right information and advice it can be fun and easy. Dating after a divorce is different from when you were younger, before marriage. This time there are many more worries; who will pay for the bill? What to wear? Will you find something to talk about? When should you bring up your divorce?

Tips on dating after a divorce

1. Take things slowly - you probably feel the absence of a male companion after the divorce; however, it is wise to go easy when you start dating. Donít let a date rush you into intimacy when youíre not ready. Donít also rush to intimacy too quickly, take your time; you have all the time in the world. Itís true that you have to kiss many frogs before you get the prince however you surely can reduce the number of frogs that you kiss.

2. Plan your conversation - it might have been a long time since you went out with a stranger. Planning what to talk about makes you less anxious about gaps in conversation. When you have planned questions or observations, itís easier to get to know a person on a date.

3. Make the date fun - Try to do something different from what you and your ex did. Go to a different type of restaurant; pick an activity to do together with your date. Prepare yourself mentally to have fun. Donít approach the date stiff with fear and apprehension; see it as a fun event. Relax. You donít have to see your date again if you donít want to.

4. Be prepared to answer questions about your past but donít go into details, explaining to your date what a nasty person your ex is. Your date is not interested in knowing your ex; heís interested in you. Give a short answer to why you divorced and donít go into the gory details. Hopefully by now you harbor no bitterness towards your ex and this will enable you to give a light answer when your date asks about your former marriage.

5. Before you start to date, first ensure that youíre comfortable being alone. You donít want to appear too needy or clingy on a date. Start dating when you are good and ready and not to fill a void in your life. Itís also wise to be happy within yourself before you start dating. That way you will not be looking for someone else to provide happiness for you. Your happiness is your responsibility not someone elseís.

6. Make a list of qualities you would like in a future partner. Divorce has made you wiser to your needs so use that wisdom when choosing a partner. Donít be too rigid though or have unrealistic expectations. As much as youíd love a six-pack on your date, perhaps it would be better to settle for a healthy person who takes care of himself reasonably.

7. Date many people before committing to a relationship. Commit to a serious relationship with someone only if you are very sure that youíre ready and that person has the qualities that you desire in a partner. Enjoy the fact that dating is an opportunity to meet new and different people.

8. Learn to listen rather than to talk - Listen to your dates and despite the fact that you have probably missed male companionship resist the temptation to chatter on and on. The way to know someone is to listen to him or her.

9. Have a sense of humor - Dates will disappoint, some will be weird, laugh about it with your friends. Having a sense of humor will cushion you from high expectations and disappointments. It will also help you keep your interest in dating. You donít want one bad date to put you off dating forever. Itís like a cornfield out there. There are weeds growing together with the corn. You must sift through the weeds to get to the corn and when you get the corn, it is completely worth it.

10. Concentrate on your dateís character rather than watching out for chemistry between the two of you. Chemistry can be misleading. It can lead to a bad judgment of character and you really donít want to make a mistake with a life partner. Another thing to keep in mind is that sometimes chemistry grows as you get to know a person. Give yourself time to know that person before deciding heís not the right person for you.

MARRIAGE AFTER A DIVORCE

You have found the perfect partner for you and are ready to take the plunge. Remarriage the second time round is difficult because most likely you have children whom you need to consider in your new relationship.

Marriage is considerably different from dating. It requires careful thought and planning because once again, you will overhaul the family and everybody must adapt to new routines, perhaps even move houses, change schools, adapt to other family members. It can be overwhelming to children and it is important to consider your childrenís well being even as you go through this exciting period of your life.

What can you do to ensure that you and your children make a smooth transition into the new marriage?

Ten ways to help your children survive remarriage

1. Understand that they may not have the excitement that you do for your new marriage. For children, your remarriage kills their dream of having their parents reconcile. Be sensitive to this fact and donít accuse them of not being happy for you. They are kids and kids want their parents to be together. Give them time to adjust.

2. Have regular one on ones with your children. They need to feel that you still love them and that the special bond you share will not end because of the new family structure. The new marriage may also involve children from your new husbandís former relationship. This too may cause a lot of insecurity for your children and as a parent you need to continually reaffirm your love for them.

3. Avoid changing your childrenís names - whilst the new marriage may signify a new life for you, for your children, it is more of a continuation. They will cling to the old ways and forcing them to change is not fair on them. Donít change your childís surname. Children need this connection with their father; it gives them a sense of belonging.

4. Be patient - a child who got along with your new husband when you two were dating may change after the marriage and become rebellious and uncooperative. This may baffle you and test your patience. Be empathetic and try to understand how difficult this new marriage is for the children. Treat the children with kindness and a lot of love. Assure them that the new marriage does not change anything. Thereís room for everybody.

5. Donít force your children to call your new husband ďdadĒ. Perhaps one day they will but that will be their choice not yours. Sit down with them and discuss ideas for what they would feel comfortable calling their stepfather. By involving them in this decision, the relationship between your children and your husband is likely to be smoother.

6. Discipline is a tricky issue and although other people may think otherwise, you are in the best position to enforce discipline in your children. Disciplining of children is one area that has contributed to the breakdown of second marriages. Be aware of it and perhaps talk about it with your husband and discuss how you can deal with it.

7. What if your children hate your new partner? And they tell you over and over again. Find out the cause of the hatred but more often than not it is a fear that this person is replacing their father. No matter how annoying and irritating it is, keep in mind that you are the adult here. Let them know that they can feel what they like about your new partner but that they need to be respectful, respond when spoken to and generally be polite. Again, time does heal many wounds including your childrenís.

BLENDED FAMILIES

These days blended families have become the norm and you may find yourself living with your children from your former marriage as well as your husbandís children from his former marriage and children you get with your new husband. It is a lot to juggle and what started as a loving relationship full of goodwill may end up as a full-fledged war if this blended family is not carefully tended.

The odds are also against you as the statistics for blended marriages are not very good. However when you know the pitfalls your chances of success are greatly enhanced.

Problems that blended families face

1. Changes in family traditions - Children may feel resentful when they have to change to another tradition during holidays, birthdays and other special days. Come up with a new tradition for the blended family and try any input from all the members of the family.

2. There are more people to consider when making decisions and children may feel resentful over the new role their stepsiblings play in their lives.

3. Parental inexperience - it might be the first time that your new husband is entering a parenting role. Youíll find yourself acting as a referee or feeling like you have to choose between your husband and your child/children. Communication here is the key. Encourage more understanding from your husband and the children too.

4. Competition and jealousy - this is especially so if your husband has children too. Your kids may feel jealous over these stepsiblings and worry that you might love them more. Reassure them often that they are very special to you.

5. Step parent issues of insecurity caused by comparison to the birth parent. Children will often compare the two and this may hurt the stepparent. Understand that this is a stage and like all stages it will end and the relationship will move to another level.

Five ways to strengthen a blended family

1. Lower your expectations - You may invest a lot of time and emotion in your stepchildren and feeling like youíre making no headway. Give it time. Donít expect them to embrace you immediately. If you lower your expectations youíre less likely to be disappointed.

2. Donít expect to feel the same way about your stepchildren as you feel about yours. Love takes time to grow. Give yourself time to love them.

3. Insist on respect in the family. Lay a ground rule that everybody must be respectful to the other no matter how upset they are.

4. Talk openly and often - Lack of communication is to blame for most misunderstandings. Counter this by having regular discussions with the children and also with your partner. Arrest problems early before they spiral out of control.

5. Acknowledge that blended families are completely different from regular families. Blended families take a lot of work from everybody. You cannot take quarrels for granted as you do with regular families. Issues in blended families need to be resolved quickly before they cause a rift in the whole family.

REMAINING SINGLE AFTER THE DIVORCE

Supposing you have gotten over your ex and have dated and then decided that itís not for you. Thereís nothing wrong with that. If youíre happy with your single status that is OK, but try to keep an open mind with regards to being in another relationship. You may change your mind over the next couple of years or you may not.

Reasons why divorced women choose not to remarry

1. Women value their newfound independence and freedom. They revel in going and coming as they please and spending money without having to account for it to another person. After spending years catering to other peopleís needs, suddenly this woman will feel empowered and free.

2. Being a girlfriend feels better and easier than being a wife. A divorced woman will prefer to have a weekend relationship and then afterwards she can return to her normal life without responsibilities. This is especially true for women who have finished raising their children or who donít have children. Even if you do have children, it is easier not having to deal with the issues of a blended family.

3. You have more options and do not want to tie yourself down to one partner. If you take care of yourself, you can meet many more people and enjoy new and exciting experiences.

4. Time off from the children- when itís your exís turn to have the kids you get a lot more time to yourself. You can sleep all day if you like or snuggle in with a book or you can watch movies. This is a real luxury for divorced women and most would not be willing to give this luxury up and remarry.

5. Feeling set in your ways - most women get used to not sharing stuff and doing things their way and recognize that they are not ready to change and accommodate someone else. These women prefer to remain single rather than make changes to their lives.

6. You may not want intimacy all the time. A lesson learnt from your first marriage may be that you donít like intimacy every day. In this case you may decide that marriage is not for you. One advantage of divorce is that after the divorce, you know yourself and you definitely know what you want out of life and what you donít want.

7. Compromise. You have grown and matured and you feel like being in a new marriage will stop you from enjoying this new you. It is a real concern because marriage does involve compromising on many things to accommodate your partner. You may not be willing to compromise.

8. Not meeting the right person - many divorced women will agree that it is far better to be alone than to be in a relationship with the wrong person. Sometimes a woman simply never meets a person she would want to marry after her divorce. She may not be averse to remarriage but somehow that opportunity never presents itself and she makes peace with that.

9. Your children come first - You may also decide that you cannot or donít want to cope with another marriage and that your children for the moment are your priority.

10. Trust issues - Maybe you carry mistrust for men from your first marriage. It could be that you divorced because of infidelity and you donít feel like you are ready to trust a man again.

REMARRYING A SPOUSE

It happens often that a divorced couple may decide to remarry. What are the reasons that lead to marriage with an ex?

1. Sometime couples realize only after they have divorced how much they love each other.

2. After experiencing single life some women realize that their ex was not in fact so terrible.

3. Maturity - Divorce may accelerate maturity in both parties and you may realize that the divorce was unwarranted and there were better ways to handle your conflicts.

4. A resolved issue - Perhaps one of you was battling an addiction that is now resolved or the addict has sought help and has recovered. Perhaps the love between the two of you never waned.

Steps to make remarriage work

1. Go for counseling with your ex and work through the issues you had with a counselor.

2. Keep in mind that even though your ex may have changed some behavior, deep down he is still the same. That means the things that used to irritate you about him will still irritate you.

3. Commit yourself to working hard to ensuring the success of the new marriage. Use the wisdom learnt from the divorce to ensure that this time the relationship works.

4. Stay positive even when things are no so great. Remember that all marriages have their ups and downs; donít look for perfection because you will not find it.

5. Communicate with your ex and learn to talk about issues in a grown up non-confrontational way.

CONCLUSION

You can live a full and happy life after a divorce. While there is no formula, as you have seen there are ways to ensure that you are on the right track. Statistics show that women are happier than men after a divorce so choose to be happy.

By proving that you can be happy after a divorce, you have dispelled one divorce myth -- that women are not happy after a divorce.

Myths of divorce broken

1. Living together before marriage lowers the chances of divorce - It makes sense doesn't it that if you do a trial run, the rate of success is high. It doesn't really matter that two people have lived together. You can still get divorced even if you had done a trial run and lived with someone.

2. Second marriages are more successful than first marriages - actually the opposite is true. Second marriages are less likely to be successful. You would think that with the experience of a first marriage you would be better equipped during your second marriage. Itís not necessarily true because every marriage comes with its own set of challenges vastly different from the first.

3. The mother always gets custody of the children Ė sometimes, depending on the fitness of the mother to be the primary caregiver, fathers do get awarded custody. Or if both parents are fit parents they get joint custody of the children.

4. Children of divorced parents suffer problems because of it - The issues that children face after their parentsí divorce are not long lasting. What matters is the relationship with the parents after the divorce. Children of divorced parents do grow up to be healthy well-adjusted individuals.

5. Men initiate most divorces - The fact is that women initiate most divorces. This is probably because men are more likely to be having problems such as alcoholism, drugs, infidelity, more than women.

6. Women bitterly regret divorce - Most divorced women see an increase in their self-esteem and self-image. It could be because they take better care of themselves and have also learnt to be self-sufficient.

7. Divorced couples are antagonistic towards each other - over time divorced couples do learn to relate better. Most women will be comfortable attending family occasions when their ex is present. Time does heal old wounds and divorced couples do become friendly towards each other.

8. After the divorce is final, itís over - The court will dissolve your marriage but the children will keep you connected -- if you have them. You will be co-parents for life and your children will expect both of you to be present for major events in their lives. It will never be over between you and your ex.

9. The judge will resolve all your issue - The judge will resolve the legal issues but you and your ex will have to work out majority of your co-parenting issues. The judge cannot tell you everything you need to do. Most of the details will fall to you and your ex and some level of cooperation will be necessary to make this arrangement work.

10. All divorces are bitter and acrimonious- most divorces never make it to the courts. They are agreed out of court. Mediation law provides for peaceful divorce and most issues are resolved amicably.

Nobody wants to get divorced and nobody wants to see the children going through the pain of a divorce that they did not choose. However divorce unfortunately is here to stay and the best that you can do is to make it as easy for everybody as you can.

Be a positive thinker and view divorce as a chance to find yourself and to grow as an individual. Be there for your children and be dignified in all your dealings with your ex or his family. Look back twenty years later and be proud of yourself and how you carried yourself at a period of great upheavals.

In the end, you might find yourself to be happier alone or with your new spouse. Whatever the pain is you are going through during your divorce, just keep in mind that things do get better in the end. Someday, you may even be grateful that it happened.