The holiday season is supposed to be a joyful time but for many people who are going through difficulties, holidays can be tough. Divorce, loss, an illness or a marriage that’s in conflict can all make holiday time less joyful. But there are things that you can do to make the holidays better, even if you’re dealing with tough times.
1. Don’t put extra pressure on yourself
There is no rule that you have to celebrate the holidays in a certain way every year. Do you like having a big celebration or would you rather do something smaller and casual? Maybe you want to watch movies, read a book or go snowshoeing. You get to decide each year how you’re going to celebrate the holiday season. You don’t have to do what you’ve done in the past. You can make new traditions based on what’s best for you. This year, take the pressure off of yourself and create memories in a different way so that you can put your feet up and relax. You deserve it!
2. Spend the holidays with who you want to spend it with
You don’t have to spend the holidays with people who aren’t kind, caring and supportive of you. If you’re used to spending the holidays with family members who make you uncomfortable or who don’t really understand you, take a break from them this year. If you’re divorced and don’t have your children, find a good friend or family who you want to be with. If your in-laws are not who you want to be with, spend the time with just your immediate family. Too may times, we do things because we’ve done them in the past. This year, do what works best for you.
3. Make sure that you reach out to loved ones
Many people who are struggling during the holidays don’t tell their loved ones how they feel. They may be ashamed or don’t want to bother anyone. But people who are close to you would probably want to help. They might be going through their own struggle and they would benefit from connecting with you. If you don’t have anyone you feel comfortable talking to, you can always reach out to a therapist.
4. Focus on the positives
Even if times are tough there are always positive things going on in life. Every day you can watch the sunset or take a walk in nature. You have your good health or your children to focus on. You are able to walk, ride a bike and take a warm bath. There are so many small things that we take for granted that we can be grateful for. What is positive in your life?
When you’re going through a difficult situation, it can be hard to get through the holiday season. Make sure that you don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself, you’re intentional with who you spend your holiday with, reach out to loved ones and focus on the positive. There are ways to turn around a holiday season that you’re dreading and make it into a positive experience for you and your family.
Divorce is a difficult and overwhelming experience and can be especially challenging for those who are co-parenting with their soon-to-be-ex (STBX). You want what's best for your children but you may have difficulty communicating with your STBX. You both may have hurt, angry, and resentful feelings toward each other. There are things you can do to reduce the stress of co-parenting and make it more effective.
1. Communicate with your ex as much as necessary.
It's critical to keep the lines of communication open for the sake of your children. Schedules, pick-ups and drop-offs, extracurricular activities, medical issues and other details should be discussed. The more you can agree on in advance, the less stressful things will be when they arise. And, if disagreements do arise, try to handle them calmly. You don't want your children to see you arguing or hear negative things about their other parent. But you don't have to communicate about anything unrelated to the children. If there's something going on that you'd rather not tell your STBX, it's ok to keep it private. You're navigating a new relationship with your STBX and you can decide how much you share and how much you keep to yourself.
2. Do not use your children to communicate.
Using your children to communicate will only harm your children in the long run. Your children should never feel responsible for things that happen between their parents. If they are required to communicate because you aren’t able to, your children can feel an incredible amount of stress. It’s best to find ways to communicate including text, email and phone calls.
3. Focus on your future.
You and your STBX’s relationship is changing. You’re no longer going to be married, you’re going to be co-parents. That means that everything that happened in the past doesn’t really apply to your new relationship. Let go of the past and focus on your future as co-parents who both care about your children. Be polite and respectful no matter what your STBX does. Eventually you’ll be able to develop a healthy co-parenting relationship. Make sure that you’re taking care of yourself so that you won’t be triggered by any inappropriate text or confrontational attorney letter.
4. Talk about feelings with your children
Divorce brings up so many emotions. It’s important that you create an environment where your children can express all of their feelings, even if it’s difficult to hear. Ask your children how they’re feeling and listen to what they say. Listening without talking is an essential skill that parents need to be effective at. When your child expresses a fear, ask them to tell you more. Then ask them, “Is there anything else?” When your child is completely done talking, then you can try to address some of their concerns without minimizing them. Empathize with them and say, “I can see why you feel that way.” Be honest with your children and let them know that it’s hard for you too but let them know that you’ll all be ok. Come up with ideas together on how you can make things better. If your children feel comfortable talking about their feelings, you can all move forward and have hope for a really good future.
Divorce is one of the most difficult things to go through in life. You have to take care of yourself to manage the stress of co-parenting. If you communicate effectively with your STBX, focus on your future and talk about feelings with your children, you will have an easier time managing the stress of divorce and co-parenting. If you’re struggling with any of this, reach out to a therapist or an experienced divorce coach.
It's normal to feel angry from time to time. But when anger starts to take over, it can negatively affect your mental and physical health and relationships. If you're struggling to let go of anger, read on to learn how to let go of anger and focus on the present.
1. Figure Out What Triggers Your Anger
The first step in dealing with anger is to figure out what makes it happen. Is it a person or a situation that you’re dealing with? Or is it a general sense of being upset or powerless? You may be angry at yourself for doing something that you regret. If you aren’t sure where your anger is coming from, take some time the next time you get angry and think about what led up to the feeling of anger - what were you feeling before the anger? Once you know what makes you angry, you can start planning how to handle it.
You can learn to deal with your anger in a healthy way. You can calm down by taking deep abdominal breaths, counting to 10, listening to music or going for a walk. Whatever works for you, it's important to have a plan, so you don't let your anger get the best of you.
2. Be Assertive, Not Aggressive, When Communicating
Being assertive is very different from being aggressive. When you're assertive, you can tell the other person how you feel honestly and politely without putting them down or yelling. This is the best way to get across what you want to say without making things worse.
On the other hand, being aggressive means letting your anger get the best of you and saying or doing things that you might regret later. Before you say anything, try to take a step back and take a few deep breaths if you find yourself getting angry. This will help you stay calm and in control of your emotions so that you can communicate effectively.
3. Learn Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques can help you healthily manage your anger. Deep breathing is a straightforward technique that can help you calm down. To do this, breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose, counting to four. Then breathe through your mouth, again counting to four. Repeat this several times until you start feeling relaxed.
Other relaxation techniques include reciting a mantra (like “I’ll be ok”), meditation or visualization where you visualize a peaceful or happy place.
4. Practice Compassion
If we can step back and try to see things from the other person's point of view, we can often feel sorry for them instead of angry. Having compassion for another person can help you let go of anger. Letting go of anger does not mean that you’ve forgiven the person. It means that you can release all of the angry emotion and move forward. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to let go of anger and move forward in your life.
5. Talk to Someone
Many people suppress their anger until it becomes unbearable. They believe that keeping their emotions to themselves will help them cope. However, when anger is bottled up, it can only go inward. This can lead to depression or exploding in an uncontrollable outburst later. Expressing your angry emotions in a safe and controlled environment is a much better option.
Knowing that you have someone to help you process your emotions can be extremely beneficial. You can confide in a trusted friend or family member, a therapist, a coach or religious advisor. Having an outlet can keep your anger from escalating and causing other issues.
It takes work to focus on the present moment and let go of anger. It takes time, patience, and effort, but the benefits of living anxiety-free and in the moment are priceless.
You don't have to suffer or try to solve everything alone—asking for help is a sign of strength. Seeking professional help demonstrates that you value your well-being and are willing to make positive changes in your life.
Divorce mediation is a process where you and your soon-to-be-ex (STBX) work with an impartial third party to negotiate the financial and parenting aspects of your divorce agreement. There are ways to prepare yourself emotionally for the divorce mediation process to make it less stressful and more effective.
Keep In Mind That It's Not About Who Wins or Loses
You and your STBX are going to have disagreements as you go through your mediation process. It’s important to remember that winning is not as important as reaching an acceptable agreement for both parties. Be prepared to let go of the need to win and instead focus on finding a resolution that works for both of you.
Know What’s Important To You
Knowing what’s important to you is key to understanding how to prepare for mediation. Think of the dream solution – if you could have everything you want, what would that look like? Then think about what you could give up. Do you want to keep the marital home? How important is that to you? Are you agreeable to 50% custody? Knowing what’s important to you and what you can give up will help you keep your emotions in check so that you can get to an agreement.
Focus On The Future
The purpose of divorce mediation is to agree on what’s going to happen in your and your children’s future. Sometimes during mediation one party brings up something that happened in the marriage in the past. It’s usually not helpful to discuss emotional issues from the past during mediation. If you or your STBX starts to do this, respectfully redirect your attention to discussions about the agreement and the future. Mediation is about moving forward so think about the following questions:
Keep Emotions Out Of It
During mediation, you’re negotiating one of the most important transactions in your life. You must be able to think clearly in order to make all of the important decisions that you need to make. If you’re emotional, you won’t be able to think clearly. If you feel upset, take a few deep abdominal breaths and try to relax. It may also be helpful to take breaks throughout the mediation process to clear your head. Otherwise, you may say or do something that you'll regret later.
Divorce mediation can be a very difficult, emotional process. However, by preparing yourself mentally and emotionally for the journey ahead, you can make the experience a little more manageable.
If you're considering divorce mediation, it's important to talk to someone who can help guide you through the process and offer support. A divorce coach can be an invaluable asset during this time – they can provide information about what to expect during mediation, help you prepare for mediation, and help keep you accountable throughout the process.
No one tells you what to expect after a divorce. For some people, it's a total relief. They can finally start living their lives the way they want to. But for others, it can be challenging. There's so much change happening all at once, and it can be hard to know where to start. In this blog, we will go through ways to be happy in your post-divorce life.
Grieving Leads To Happiness
The process grieving is a necessary part of moving on. Research has shown that those who don't allow themselves to grieve after a divorce are more likely to experience long-term negative effects such as depression and anxiety.
So what does it mean to grieve? It means that you go through the five stages of grief: denial, bargaining, anger, sadness and eventually acceptance. And it’s important to remember that grief is not a straight line so you may be in any of the 5 stages at any point in time. These emotions are all normal reactions to grief and it’s common to cycle through these stages multiple times. Allow yourself the time and space to grieve in whatever way works best for you. Journaling is a great tool to help you process your grief. With time and patience, it is possible to feel happier and more fulfilled as you go through the grieving process.
Have A Support System
Divorce can be a confusing and emotionally charged process. It’s important to build and reach out to your support system. This could be a divorce coach, close friends, a therapist, a support group, a minister or family members. Talking about what you are going through can help you make sense of your emotions and move on. A support system can offer so much when you’re in need of practical advice, a safe place to vent or even help with childcare.
Learn To Manage Your Finances
Taking control of your finances after a divorce is important so that you can understand and have clarity about so many important decisions in your life. First, make a budget from your previous year of expenses so that you can project out what you need to live on. Start by listing your monthly income and expenses, then see where you can cut back or make adjustments. Second, get organized and keep all of your critical financial documents in one place so you can easily find them when you need them. This includes things like tax returns, bank statements, and investment accounts. A financial advisor, accountant and a CDFA can help you with all of this.
Being single after a divorce can be liberating. Your relationship status for so long defined you - now you get to define yourself. This is a time to reconnect with who you are and what makes you happy. It's also a chance to set some new goals and create a life that is even better than before.
Of course, there are challenges to being single, but that’s all part of the journey. Embrace your new status and enjoy being single. You may just find it's something to be grateful for!
Indulge In Self-Care
It can be easy to get lost in the shuffle of everyday life and put your own needs on the back burner. However, it's crucial to take some time for yourself to recharge and refocus. Dedicate some time each week to do something that brings you joy, whether taking a yoga class, going for a walk in nature, reading your favorite book, or getting a massage. You have to make self-care a priority because if you wait until you have time, you may not ever make time for this.
Develop New Interests
After a divorce, it can be difficult to know what to do with your life. You may have spent years focused on your family, and now you find yourself suddenly with a lot of free time. This is an opportunity to pursue interests that you never had time for. Maybe you've always wanted to learn to play the guitar or take up painting. Perhaps you've always dreamed of traveling but never had the chance. Now is the perfect time to develop those interests.
It will give you something to focus on outside of your divorce and help you meet new people. Don't be afraid to pursue your passions after a divorce – it can be just what you need to start fresh and build a great life for yourself.
Yes, You Can Be Happy After Divorce!
Divorce is one of the most difficult things a person can go through. But it doesn't have to be the end of your happiness. You can be happy after divorce. Take your divorce journey one day at a time, and don't be afraid to reach out for help when you need it. You’ll find that each step that you take to move forward will make it that much easier to continue. And eventually, you’ll become so grateful for the new life that you have and you won’t be able to imagine any other life.
The effects of divorce can be devastating for children. Children of divorce are more likely to struggle academically, mentally, and in their relationships. They frequently have feelings of betrayal, anger, and sadness. While some children can overcome these obstacles, others may struggle well into adulthood.
The good news is that there are several things parents can do to help their children through the process so that they are protected from the negative consequences of divorce. Here are three crucial things to keep in mind.
Explain What’s Happening in Your Family in Age-Appropriate Terms and Listen to What Your Children Have to Say
Telling your children that you’re getting divorced is one of the most difficult conversations you can have. It’s important to tell your children together with their other parent about the divorce. Create a script together so that you both agree on what to say. Avoid blaming either parent and instead emphasize that both parents still love them very much.
You can help your children understand and cope by explaining that sometimes couples grow apart and sometimes they should live apart. Let your children know how their lives will change. Children are primarily concerned about themselves and focusing on how their lives will be impacted is helpful. Let them know how their lives will be the same and what may change. Encourage your children to ask questions and provide answers to their questions. Only provide details that are absolutely necessary for them to know.
Younger children don’t need to know much about why the marriage is ending. Tell them simple, concrete terms - for example, which parent will move out, where they’ll live, what school they’re going to, etc. Older children may want to know more details about the divorce but it’s not necessary to go into too much detail. You can say that you tried to work to make things better. You can reassure them that you both will continue to work together to be there for them.
It’s important to allow your children time to process their feelings. Don’t push them to talk. Instead let them know that you’re available to them any time they feel like talking. Check in with them in the next few hours after you tell them and continuously over the next days, weeks and months. Children react differently, with some children having emotional reactions at different times.
The relationship between you and your spouse while you’re going through divorce has an impact on your children. Even if you and your spouse get along in front of your children during your divorce, your kids can still sense if there's tension. They may become anxious themselves or even start to act out. It’s important to maintain a consistent routine, communicate openly with your kids, and to be understanding of their feelings. It's also important to avoid putting your kids in the middle of any arguments. This will help your kids feel more secure during this time of change.
Make Co-Parenting A Success
Co-parenting is when both parents share the responsibility of raising their children even though they’re separated or they don't live together. Children have to deal with their parents separately which is very different from what happens in an intact family. They’ll be living in two different homes and having two different sets of rules. They may feel different from their friends and may be ashamed of being in a divorced family.
Parents must work together and focus on their children. Children require patience, love, and support from both of their parents. Parents need to put their own feelings aside and communicate with each other about the children’s schedule, how the children are doing emotionally, and how they can work together to support their children through this.
There are steps you can take to help protect your child from feeling caught in the middle of arguments.
Think of your children’s other parent as a colleague or coworker who you need to work with for the good of your child. Don’t discuss past emotional issues. Focus on the present and future in your discussions in a non-emotional manner.
Working With A Therapist Can Help
Children of divorce can benefit greatly from seeing a therapist. In individual therapy, they're more likely to feel safe expressing their authentic selves and discussing the hurtful feelings they may have towards their parents.
They may also feel more comfortable discussing complex topics, such as their fears and anxieties, with a therapist than with their parents. Furthermore, a therapist can provide children with tools and resources to help them cope with the challenges of divorce.
Divorce is never easy, but with the right tools and support, you can help your child through it. Your child's emotions are valid. No matter what your child may say, they are going through a lot of change and upheaval during a divorce.
It's important to validate their feelings and let them know it's okay to feel the way they do. They need your support now more than ever. We hope these tips have given you a good starting place as you begin to navigate this difficult time.
Are you in a relationship with someone who makes you feel like you're constantly walking on eggshells? Do you think you can never do anything right and that your partner is always ready to criticize or accuse you of something? If so, then you may be experiencing gaslighting.
Unfortunately, gaslighting is a common form of emotional abuse. In this blog post, we'll discuss what gaslighting is, how to identify it, and what steps you can take to protect yourself from it.
What is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a type of emotional abuse in which the abuser subtly or overtly undermines the reality of their partner. It is a particularly insidious form of abuse done gradually, making it difficult for the victim to detect. Even if the victim is aware that something is wrong, they may doubt themselves, believing that they are being paranoid.
Signs That You're Being Gaslighted
Listed below are common signs that your partner is gaslighting you:
What Can You Do About it?
Recognize the problem – It is critical to recognize the signs of gaslighting. Common examples of gaslighting:
Practice self-compassion – You deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. Fill your life with people who make you feel good about yourself and who will support you during difficult times. Healing from gaslighting will take time, but it is possible. You are strong and capable of overcoming this challenge.
Confront your partner – Try to have a conversation with them about it. There's a possibility they're not even aware they're doing it, and simply bringing it to their attention may be enough to get them to stop. You can also put up boundaries. If your partner treats you disrespectfully, end the conversation and let them know that you’ll speak to them when they are respectful.
Leave the relationship – It's critical to take action if you're in a relationship with someone who gaslights you and won't stop the behavior. If your partner becomes enraged or puts you in danger, you should think about ending the relationship. Remember that you’re entitled to a healthy and secure relationship.
Gaslighting can be a sign of emotional abuse, and it can have a significant impact on your mental and emotional health. If you're in a relationship with someone who is gaslighting you, a therapist or marriage counselor can work with you individually or as a couple to give you ways to improve the behavior and possibly improve the relationship.
Are you frustrated because your partner never seems to hear what you're saying? Do they only see their point of view? You might be dealing with a narcissist. Narcissists have trouble listening and understanding others because they are so focused on themselves. To effectively communicate with a narcissist, you need to understand their perspective and use tactics that will get their attention. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Don't take things personally
When dealing with a narcissist, know that their behavior has nothing to do with you. Narcissists are driven by a deep sense of insecurity and may resort to manipulation or bullying to feel superior. Therefore, it’s crucial to remind yourself that their misbehavior is not a reflection of your character but rather the result of inner conflicts and personal struggles.
When you disagree with a narcissist, it isn’t usually doesn’t go well. Therefore, if you’re going to talk about something you disagree about, you should choose what’s most important and let everything else go. A narcissist will do anything to make you feel small and insignificant and an argument is a great opportunity for them to do that.
Keep interactions brief
When dealing with a narcissist, it's best to keep your interactions as brief as possible. Listen more than you speak and don’t reveal any unnecessary personal information. Keep a half-smile on your face and pay attention.
Focus on the topic at hand
When you get into a conversation with a narcissist, you may notice that they consistently go on tangents, talking about things that are unrelated to the original topic. This is because they feel more powerful the more that you listen to them. As you become aware of this behavior, you can politely steer the conversation back to the original topic.
Avoid getting affected by the insult
Narcissists are masters of manipulation. They know what to say to get you into an argument. And they'll use everything against you, from past mistakes to current actions. To deal with a narcissist, ignore their insults; this will diffuse the situation and avoid a fight. If you engage with the narcissist, they will only hurt you more. Don't feel compelled to explain or defend yourself. Just bite your tongue and focus on what you need to talk about. If all else fails, make up a reason to end the conversation.
Remain calm and compliment
Remain calm when engaging with a narcissist by practicing deep abdominal breaths. This will enable you to think through how you’ll respond instead of reacting emotionally. You’ll more able to implement the above techniques. Also, make positive statements about the narcissist and be extremely polite. This will help them see you not as an enemy and therefore they may be less adversarial with you.
The narcissist is a difficult person to have a conversation with, but there are ways to make it work. Remember not to take things personally and remain calm so that you can think through how to respond rather than reacting emotionally and defensively. With practice, you’ll get better at being able to lessen the conflict and avoid being drawn into negative interactions.
As you go through your divorce, imagining life post-divorce can be difficult. You can get caught up in the day to day challenges and lose sight of what your life will look like after you’re legally divorced. One of the best ways to make the transition easier is to set goals for yourself. Doing so will help you focus on what's important and keep you moving forward. Here are a few tips on setting goals during a separation or divorce.
Keep your goals focused on what you want your future life to look like
Give yourself some time to think about your future life - post divorce. Write down where you’d like to live, what you’d like to be doing, how you’ll spend time with your children, and anything that you can think of that will make the next chapter of your life what you want it to be. If you’re having trouble with this, enlist a friend, a therapist with expertise in divorce or a divorce coach to help you. A therapist with expertise in divorce and a divorce coach are specifically trained to provide you the space and the tools to help you determine what you want in your divorce.
This step is key because you need to know what you ultimately want in your divorce in order to negotiate with your soon-to-be-ex (STBX). Too many people hire attorneys and ask their attorneys what they should fight for. Attorneys are trained in the law, not in helping people develop their divorce goals.
Divorce goals to consider:
Your STBX can have different goals and that’s ok. You’ll need to compromise so that you both are able to meet your most important goals.
Set your personal goals
Through divorce you can experience personal growth in a profound way. Below are ideas for personal goals:
Set dating goals
If you’re interested in dating post divorce, you want to make sure that you are fully healed from the ending of your marriage. You don’t want to rush into another relationship before you’re ready. Also, your children need you so you need to be able to balance taking care of your children, work and all the other responsibilities of life. A new relationship will require your time and energy.
Think about these questions:
If you need support with this, consider seeing a therapist to work through all of the grief, anger, and other emotions that you've experienced.
It's essential to take time for yourself and do things you enjoy, whether new hobbies, travel, or just reading a new book. Take a break before dating again and think about what a healthy relationship means to you.
Once you feel like you have fully grieved and are able to have perspective about your marriage and divorce, starting to date can be a very healthy experience. Each person you meet is another opportunity to learn about what you want and how you want a new relationship to be.
Achieving your goals
Write down your thoughts related to your goals in a journal. As you write your thoughts, you’ll process your feelings and learn more about yourself and what you want. Then you can run it by a friend, therapist or divorce coach and refine your goals to make them specific, measurable and achievable. You want to put a time frame on each of your goals so that you can be accountable to yourself. These steps will help you develop a well thought out plan to achieve your goals for your future post-divorce life.
Are you unhappy in your marriage and thinking about divorce? Research shows that a person thinks about divorce for an average of 7 years before making the decision to divorce. Divorce is one of the most difficult decisions and it makes sense to consider the following before making a final decision:
Jill Barnett Kaufman, MSW, LCSW and Certified Parent Educator is an experienced clinician who helps clients discover new ways to resolve a variety of challenges and bring more happiness and peace into their lives.