Divorce can be an adjustment in many ways, especially if you aren’t used to being on your own. One of the top struggles I hear from clients is that they are lonely. Being alone can be a positive as you learn to like yourself. Whether you’re going through divorce or not, learning to like yourself and enjoy your time alone is good for you.
Studies show the ability to enjoy being alone has been linked to increased happiness, better life satisfaction, and improved stress management. People who enjoy alone time experience less depression. Spending time alone also improves concentration and allows your brain to reboot. Instead of feeling lonely, you can embrace the time you get to spend by yourself and recognize the emotional benefits.
One way to spend time alone when you're separated or divorced is to take yourself on dates. Sometimes when you're married and raising children, you forget what made you happy before you were married. It’s so important to get to know yourself again after divorce and remember what you used to like to do. Taking yourself on dates is a great way to do that.
Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing what to do with your time on your own. Try to make sure that your time checks at least one of these boxes:
Do something that makes you laugh! Or feels fun.
Do something that helps you relax, mind and body.
Choose to learn something new and interesting
Do something that pushes you out of your comfort zone
Do something that gives you an adrenaline rush
Reconnecting with yourself is different for each of us. It’s up to you how much you focus on this - you could spend an hour on your solo date once a week or much more than that. The main thing to keep in mind is to do it regularly. Soon it will become something you look forward to and you’ll learn to welcome that time that you get to yourself!
Are you in control of your anger, or is your anger controlling you? During divorce, a certain amount of anger is normal and appropriate. But many people get stuck in their anger and have anger be your baseline emotion on a daily basis. When this happens, you may lose touch with your priorities and make poor judgments. Holding onto anger can feel like being in control but it can actually leave you bitter and result in you acting irrationally. Here are some clues that anger has hijacked your decisions during divorce.
What should you do if your anger has been calling the shots? Letting go of anger in divorce takes work. But identifying that it’s there is a positive first step! Anger usually covers up other emotions like sadness or disappointment. I recommend spending some time trying to get to the root of your anger and letting yourself experience the sadness and other emotions that might be behind the anger. Journaling or therapy are great ways to explore all of your emotions to find out what’s going on behind anger. Also, you can check out my blog - Letting Go of Anger in Divorce - to help you with this process.
As you go through the complicated and overwhelming divorce process, you start to realize how much time and money you’re spending. This can be extremely frustrating. Many people think hiring an attorney is the best way to protect yourself and your financial well-being. However, understanding how to communicate with your attorney as well as other divorce professionals can actually save you both time and money and decrease your stress.
Here are the roles of some of the key players that can be part of your divorce support team:
An Attorney takes care of the legal aspect of divorce. But they aren’t trained to handle the emotional piece. And divorce is extremely emotional. So if you vent to your attorney about your ex or talk to them about your children, they’re going to charge you a lot for the conversation (more than a Divorce Coach or Therapist) and they probably won’t help you very much. You should talk to your attorney about: questions about the law, how to get through the legal process and what you should expect to receive financially and regarding custody given your individual situation.
A Divorce Coach can help you decide who you need on your team and how to use each person effectively. They can also help you navigate the emotional piece of divorce so that you can start to think clearly and develop a plan for your future life. You should talk to your Divorce Coach about: questions you have about the overall process, strategies for communicating with your ex, or advice for helping the kids. A divorce coach is the one to turn to for expert advice about how the whole process works and helps you know what to consider for the future.
A Therapist can help you process the emotional aspect of divorce - the grief, anger, sadness, loneliness and stress. what emotions the divorce You should talk to your Therapist about: what emotions the divorce brings up, how your past impacts what you're feeling now and how to build your confidence and self-esteem.
A Financial Advisor or Certified Divorce Financial Analyst helps you think through decisions today that will affect your financial future and also helps you make a plan to achieve your financial goals. You should talk to your Financial Advisor about: your assets, your debts, your income, retirement plans and how to create financial stability.
A Divorce Mediator works with you and your ex and helps you come to an agreement. This can save massive amounts of money as you eliminate the need to communicate through attorneys and helps the process to be less adversarial than using lawyers. Much, if not all, of what you need to accomplish legally can be handled by a skilled mediator. You should talk to your Divorce Mediator about: who gets what, parenting plans, what really matters to you, what seems fair to you and where you are willing to compromise.
With support from a team of divorce professionals, you can be confident that you are going to lay a solid groundwork for your future without wasting unnecessary time and money. Divorce is stressful, but it can be manageable when you effectively utilize the expertise of each person on your team.
Divorce is painful. But the grief is compounded when you aren’t the one choosing it. Being in any situation you didn’t sign up for can make you feel out of control, angry and stuck. There are things you can do to move yourself to acceptance. As you work to accept a divorce you didn’t choose, you will be able find peace.
Here are specific things you can do to help get you through divorce and make it much easier on yourself:
Surround yourself with support. Seek out people who have been through divorce as they will be able to understand you best during this time. There are a number of support groups, both online or in person in most areas. You can also find a divorce coach or therapist who can help you focus on healing and moving on.
Don’t avoid your feelings. While it’s important to intentionally pursue fun and enjoyable things to take your mind off the divorce, you still have to make room for those painful feelings to surface. Unexpected divorce provokes many powerful feelings like rejection and shame. You’ll need to set aside some time to process them.
Build your self-esteem. When you feel shame or rejection from a divorce you didn’t choose, it’s important to build your confidence back up.. You can do this by recognizing what you say to yourself - your “self-talk”. You can change your self-talk, listing and reminding yourself of your strengths, reciting affirmations daily until you believe them!
Choose to learn and grow. There are always opportunities to learn and grow in life. What can you learn from this experience? Identify things that you did or mistakes that you made. Then, work to forgive yourself and work on changing your behavior.
Don’t try to punish your ex. If you have children, this strategy will hurt them and yourself.! While it’s tempting, you’ll gain peace and stay true to your integrity if you don’t give in to the desire to act and speak out of anger to get back at your ex.
“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
Work to feel and express your anger and then let it go. Journal, talk to a friend, divorce coach, therapist or join a divorce support group.
Divorce that you never wanted can be devastating, but know that you are strong enough to get through it. Each day you get through proves that you’re stronger than you realize. Take it one day at a time. You can do this!
Living with your STBX (soon-to-be-ex) is really hard! If you have children together, that makes it even more difficult because you're going to have to learn to communicate and work together. The good news is you won't be living together forever and I’m here to give you some solid help on how to live together during divorce more effectively.
The biggest key to navigating living together during divorce is to make some ground rules! Rules can protect each of you and provide boundaries during a time when things could get heated really quickly. Here are some ground rules that work well for other couples living together during the divorce process:
I hope these ideas help you navigate this tough time period that you’re in the same house with your STBX. These suggestions will help make this time less painful for you, your kids and your soon-to-be-ex.
Every parent wants their kids to turn out happy and emotionally well. In fact, many people delay divorce because they’re worried about how it will affect their children. But believe it or not, studies have shown that divorce is not what hurts kids. What hurts kids is high conflict between their parents, which they tend to internalize.
For years, research has shown that the quality of interaction between separated and divorced parents is a strong predictor of the mental health and psychological well-being of children. Although it may be difficult to get along with your ex, the more that you can minimize conflict, the better your children will be. Kids can actually thrive through divorce. Here are 2 BIG ways to help them.
Co-parent respectfully in front of your children. Never fight or argue in front of your children. Fighting in front of children can be extremely damaging. I know this may feel impossible, but you can do this. Take deep abdominal breaths every time you’re triggered by your ex. Think through how you’ll respond. Call your friend or family member to talk about how to respond in a respectful way. Ask yourself if you have to respond at all. Keep your children front of mind. No matter how angry or emotional you are, you can protect your children by changing how you interact with your ex.
Think of your ex as if he or she were a colleague or coworker. What does this mean exactly? Don’t think about the relationship when you were married because you have a different relationship now. You’re co-parents, not husband and wife. Try to relate to each other in a businesslike fashion without emotion. Put on your professional hat and know that how you feel about your ex is less important than how you act toward him or her. If one of the parties is not being respectful, the other can say, “Let’s take a break and speak about this later.” Keep in mind three rules:
If your ex doesn’t abide by these guidelines, keep at it and eventually your ex should begin to follow your lead. It may take a little longer for your ex to get on board. Keep reminding him or her, “For the good of our children, we need to be respectful and work together.”
You can do this! Your kids are worth the effort.
Want more tips to help you not only survive but thrive during separation and divorce? Take a look at my free webinar, 3 Critical Strategies to Save Time, Money and Heartache in Divorce.
What is the number 1 KEY to coming out stronger through divorce? Support! We all know, intellectually, that we need support. It seems like a good idea. Following are specific reasons why support is the key to thriving through divorce.
Loneliness- Divorce is often a lonely road, but it doesn’t have to be. Divorce can be so isolating- many people feel like they are the only one experiencing it. While your family and friends can be great, if they didn't experience divorce, they may not truly understand what you’re going through. When you connect with others who have experienced divorce, there’s a connection that’s hard to explain. They don’t judge you. They get it. Find a support system that includes others going through divorce. You’ll see what a difference it makes - you won’t feel so alone and isolated.
Shame- Divorce can be so difficult because many people are ashamed of the fact that they’re going through divorce. They feel like they’ve failed and that everyone is judging them. There’s a tidal wave of negative thoughts and feelings that pop up out of nowhere. Thoughts like:
“Everyone's looking at me differently.”
“They think I’m a failure.”
“I’m not good enough to make the marriage work.”
“There’s something wrong with me.”
These thoughts are common in divorce unless you're around others who’ve experienced divorce. They help you see that you're not the only one going through it. Hearing others experiences lifts the burden of shame so that we can put our energy toward moving through divorce and coming out stronger.
Hope- It's normal to feel overwhelmed, sad and that life is never going to be good again. You've never been through this before and you don't know what the other side will look like. Hearing from a divorce coach or other people who have made it through divorce and are now thriving is a huge help to give you hope for the future.
I find these song lyrics by Sara Groves about friendship articulate clearly the heart of why everyone who’s experiencing divorce needs support more than anything else.
“Every burden I have carried,
Every joy--it's understood.
Life with you is half as hard,
And twice as good.”
Take the time to reach out for support. I know life is busy and you may feel you’re just surviving. But if you put yourself as a priority and work on making connections, everything else will be so much easier. There’s so much support available out there for you when you just seek it out.
Here are two opportunities to get the support you need:
This past year has been tough and a lot of people have lost hope for a better future. But that can change by recognizing that we’re somewhat in control of our thoughts. Did you know that we have about 6,000 thoughts per day? And about 80% of them are negative! That means that we have a huge amount of negative self-talk. We spend a lot of time telling ourselves that we’re not good enough, not smart enough, not thin enough or not as good as someone else. When we do this often, it becomes a habit. We can start feeling bad about ourselves and lose hope.
The great news is that we can change these negative habits and train our minds to interpret our experiences in a more positive way. Sure, life can be HARD, but our patterns of thinking and the way we perceive the world can make it much harder than necessary.
In the words of Greek Philosopher Epictetus, “We are disturbed not by things, but by what we think about things.” Therefore, if we can change the way we think, we can change the way we feel!
Have you ever expected, even visualized disaster? Have you noticed or heard about a problem and started asking, “What if?” What if tragedy strikes? What if it happens to you? That way of thinking is called “catastrophizing” where we catastrophize a problem and make it worse by escalating our negative thoughts.
With catastrophizing, we worry that the worst possible outcome will happen. We exaggerate the problem. When you realize you might be catastrophizing, stop and ask yourself the question, “What story am I telling myself?” It might take a moment, but get specific. For example, maybe you are telling yourself that you are ruining your kids and that you are a terrible parent and that none of you are ever going to be happy again. Whatever it is, when you force yourself outside the thoughts and examine them, it becomes apparent how dramatic your story has become.
After identifying the story you’re telling yourself, ask yourself, “What other story could be true?” This is where you use your logical brain and reference facts. An example of this would be, “Patty went through a divorce and it was so hard, but her children are all doing well and she moved on with her life and is thriving. That can happen for me, too.”
When you identify the negative thoughts, and replace them with positive ones, you’ll feel better. If you think you are a good person who deserves to be happy, you’ll create a happy life. You’ll see possibilities for the future and have hope. While using these techniques takes mindfulness and work, it’s worth it as it can give you a tool to start the new year off in a great place.
I don’t know anyone who is not worn out by this crazy year. Friends, be kind to yourselves this holiday season. When you’re going through divorce, holidays can be tough. But when you’re going through divorce, there’s a pandemic and you’ve had the year we’ve all had, that just makes it so much more difficult. The following tips can be implemented when you’re alone, or they can be great habits to practice with your children. Some ideas here are probably familiar to you. But sometimes when we are worn out, we just need someone to remind us how to take care of ourselves again.
Zoom Out - Imagine you are using a zoom lens on your camera and zoom all the way in. It’s human nature to zoom in on the negative and have negative thoughts completely fill our “viewfinder.” When we zoom in on something negative - the pain of divorce, Covid, a misbehaving child - it literally doesn’t leave room to see anything else.
This holiday season, I encourage you to zoom out and see what else is in the big picture. When you zoom out, those painful things don’t disappear, they are simply put into perspective among all the other things in your life. And when they aren’t taking up your whole viewfinder, they leave room for you to look around and see the positive things you might have missed.
Gratitude - After you zoom out and you can see those beautiful things that are in your life, take a moment and notice them, savor them, even write them down or say thank you for them. Gratitude is not a denial of the things we are grieving, but a way to acknowledge that life is simply always a mixed bag and there are good things, even if it’s the holidays post-divorce and Covid has changed things.
Get Cozy - It is easy to get stuck in our mind or emotions and forget about our bodies. This becomes a particular struggle when we’re grieving. This year, be intentional about coziness and kindness to yourself. Make your space and your body comfortable and cozy. Light a candle or turn on the twinkle lights, snuggle in a blanket, have a cup of tea, find your PJ pants and slippers or read a novel. Other great ideas would be a bath or stretching to calming music. Do these things frequently!
Get Moving! - We all know it, but doing it is another matter. Going for a walk can do wonders for your mindset and it can help loosen up tense muscles, too. If you don’t have energy for a high impact workout, don’t worry. Just move your body somehow. In some places it may be cold, but remember, there’s no bad weather, only bad clothing! If you don’t want to go out, dance in your kitchen.
I encourage you to write reminders on your calendar for appointments with yourself to make time for movement, coziness and gratitude, and stick to it. We make sure to show up for everyone else, this season show up for yourself so you can make the holidays special and enjoy the time with your family.
First things first…. In order to get through feelings, you have to feel them! It may be painful to feel anger, sadness and all the overwhelming emotions that come with divorce or any other difficult situation but it’s necessary in order to move on with your life. Anger may be directed at your ex, at your situation, at people who don’t understand and sometimes it’s even directed at yourself. This is all normal, so don’t stuff it or feel guilty about it.
“But, Jill,” you may say, “I just want to MOVE ON… Divorce is hard enough without focusing on my uncomfortable feelings.” Letting go of your anger is the first step to moving on and while it’s hard, it can be done. Holding onto intense anger toward your ex can make it difficult for you to experience the happiness and peace for looking for in your life. Here are 3 tips to begin the process of letting go of your anger so you can truly move on with your life and get to the happiness and peace you’ve been craving.
Letting go of anger is a process, and acknowledging your feelings and then working to release them will help. My book I’m Getting Divorced, Now What? walks you through steps that will guide you through a process not only to release your anger, but to clarify your goals and priorities, help you co-parent and more. You can check it out here!
Divorce and separation are challenging no matter what, but when you have a difficult ex, the challenge increases exponentially. However, it can be managed, with the right perspective and some proactive strategies.
Your ex may have made you feel bad about yourself during your marriage/relationship so your self-esteem is low. You may be exhausted from years of dealing with your ex’s difficult behavior and you can get triggered by this. How do you co-parent when it’s so hard to control your emotions? Follow these 5 guidelines to make co-parenting with a difficult ex more effective:
1. Build your self-esteem and be patient with yourself. Treat yourself as you would treat a friend. Be patient with yourself – if you mess up, recognize that you’re learning how to deal with a very difficult situation. Change your self-talk from “I can’t believe I let her get to me.” to “I’m doing the best I can and it’s ok.”
2. Don’t get triggered by your ex’s provocative remarks. This is easier said than done. If you can take a pause before you respond, you’ll give yourself the time to think through how you’d like to handle the situation. A pause enables you to respond rather than react. Take a few deep breaths, meditate, call a friend – anything that helps you calm down.
3. Seek a parenting coordinator through the courts. Courts can appoint a parenting coordinator to coordinate scheduling and communication issues between the parents. It’s helpful to have a professional who is trained to deal with high conflict divorce handle these issues.
4. Develop your divorce strategy. What are your priorities? What kind of life do you want in 6 months or 1 year? Without a strategy, you can get derailed by your ex’s behavior. Remind yourself why you’re leaving the marriage and what kind of life you want going forward. This will give you perspective beyond the current struggle.
5. Don’t make your child the middleman. Don’t use your child to send messages to the other parent, don’t vent to your child about the other parent and don’t ask your child for information about the other parent. Let your children know that it’s not ok to do those things and if either parent tries to do any of those behaviors, they will know that it’s not ok. They can learn to set boundaries with their other parent.
The life you want is waiting for you. Ignore the noise that’s coming from your ex and celebrate that it can’t control you anymore. Focus on the present moment, breathe deeply, notice nature, appreciate freedom. Once you recognize that finding your peace has nothing to do with anyone else, you’ll have the life that you’ve been dreaming of.
Too many times we let our anger get the best of us and we get stuck. We can’t move on in our lives because we feel that what happened was unfair. Or there’s so much resentment built up over so long that you feel like you’re constantly struggling in your day to day life. Or you’re so used to getting approval from your ex that you desperately want that approval in order to move on.
Moving forward in your life requires work. You have to get used to your new life as a single person and re-discover who you are without being part of a couple. You must surrender to the process of grieving the life that you lost and recognize that you still can have a great life. You have to be ready to move – ask yourself, “Do I want to move on in my life?”
Moving on doesn’t just happen without doing the work (I’m not talking about moving on to another relationship…that’s separate from addressing the issues that have you stuck). So what’s the work that needs to be done? The work is assessing what your emotions are and why you’re having them. The work also involves processing those emotions.
How do you process your emotions? The first step is to acknowledge what feelings you have without judging yourself. If you feel anger, shame, sadness or envy, accept that it’s ok to have any and all of the feelings you have. Don’t deny or judge your feelings. Moving on is about overcoming them. Write down all the feelings you’re having and why you’re having them.
The next step is to stay with your feelings no matter how uncomfortable that is. Take deep breaths and say to yourself, “I can tolerate this feeling.” While you’re tolerating the feeling, you can cry, laugh, write, draw, exercise or anything else that allows you to stay with the feeling for a certain amount of time.
The final step is to be curious about why you’re having the feeling. Are some of your needs not being met? Is there a boundary that’s being violated? Is a childhood memory being triggered? Are you falling into old behavior patterns? Is this feeling due to distorted thinking? You may need help with this step by talking to a trusted friend, divorce coach or therapist.
Once you go through this process, you should be able to get unstuck and move forward. Don’t hesitate to get help with this and to give yourself time to go through these steps. Even if the work is difficult, it’s definitely worth it. Because at the end, you’ll feel so much more in control of your emotions and empowered to move forward in your life.
Setbacks, such as deep sadness or difficult days, are a normal part of getting through divorce. You may be feeling good for a while and then something triggers a strong painful feeling (like a text from your ex). Setbacks can be frustrating and can make you feel helpless. You can feel disoriented and scared about the future. You may feel exhausted, unable to sleep and anxious. You may question if you will ever feel good again.
Although it’s difficult, setbacks are an indication that you’re actually moving forward through your divorce recovery. Some setbacks are small and fleeting while others may be more intense where you don’t see an end to the pain. It’s important to address each setback as it occurs. If you avoid addressing each setback as it comes up, you can remain stuck in the pain or bitterness and it will take longer to move on. Throughout the process of tackling each setback you’ll take another step forward in your healing process.
Here are 6 tools to help you tackle any obstacle that you face:
If you focus on what you can control, it will help you move through your divorce with more confidence. Use the tools above and you will have an easier time facing your setbacks. These strategies will enable you to feel good again and to cherish your new life!
Join our Thriving Through Divorce Online Group Coaching Program here: https://go.divorcecoachjill.com/thrivingmonthly
Moving on from divorce isn’t easy for most people. You may feel overwhelmed, angry and sad and not know how to deal with these intense emotions. It’s difficult to start to find a new path for your life after you’ve spent many years building a life with someone and that person isn’t a part of your life anymore. But you will be able to recover and there are several things that you can do to build a happy and fulfilling life after divorce.
The first step toward moving on is to understand what went wrong in your marriage. This doesn’t mean that you assign blame, in fact it’s the opposite. Reflect on what was wrong in the relationship in a non-judgmental way. What was the relationship lacking? What needs weren’t met for you and for your partner? The more you understand your past, the easier it will be to start the process of letting go and moving on.
It’s normal to feel grief when you’re going through divorce and it takes time to process those feelings. Processing feelings involves thinking about them, talking about them and possibly writing or drawing them. It involves feeling the feelings which is difficult and many people avoid feeling the feelings for good reason. Although it can be painful, if you don't process your grief you can get stuck and you won't be able to build your new life.
Grief is processed by going through the following stages:
Journaling is one tool to help process grief. Writing down your feelings enables you to get out what you’re feeling so that you don’t stuff them. Stuffing your feelings can lead to anxiety, depression and physical illness. Also, counseling, divorce coaching and divorce support groups can be really helpful. I run a divorce group coaching program which helps people going through divorce find support from others going through similar experiences in a safe environment.
Another way to move on is to set small, achievable goals each day. Maybe it’s a chore that has to be accomplished or starting a new project at home or work – what is your first step towards that goal? Setting small, achievable goals, builds your confidence and enables you to start a process of moving in a positive direction.
These techniques take time and work. Having support while you go through this is one of the most important things you can do to get through this process so that you can move on in your life. But if you get your team of support behind you and work at this moving on process, you will be able to develop a happy and fulfilling life for yourself. It’s definitely worth it!
One way to start the divorce process in New Jersey is for one party (the plaintiff) to file a “Complaint for Divorce”. Although this is the way that a divorce can begin legally, many people don't start the process this way. There are many different ways to start the process of divorce and individuals must choose which method is best for their unique situation.
Divorce mediation is commonly used because it is relatively inexpensive and allows you to have control of the divorce process. In divorce mediation, you and your spouse hire an impartial person, a mediator, to facilitate the negotiations of the divorce agreement. The mediator doesn’t represent either of you or advocate for either one of you. Their role is to help you negotiate your disagreements. A mediator may be an attorney, paralegal or a mental health professional. This is the least expensive option (other than pro se where you complete the divorce on your own) and gives you and your spouse control over the process.
You should not use mediation in two situations: 1) If there’s a power imbalance, and you’re not able to advocate for yourself and 2) If there is a history of physical or emotional abuse. Mediation works best when you and your spouse are reasonable but have some disagreements on a few major issues. You can hire a consulting attorney to advise you during your negotiations or when your agreement is almost final before you file in the court so that you have someone advocate for you from a legal perspective.
Legal Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey
“Legal grounds for divorce” is the term that the legal system uses to recognize the reason for the divorce. New Jersey has several grounds for divorce:
What happens after the divorce is filed?
Once the divorce is filed, the party who did not file the divorce (the defendant) has 35 days after receiving the filed divorce to either file for an appearance, file an answer or a counterclaim.
Filing for an appearance means that the defendant isn’t objecting to the divorce itself, but doesn’t agree to what the plaintiff is asking for. Filing an answer means that the defendant agrees or disagrees to whatever is stated in the complaint. Filing a counterclaim means that the defendant can give new information and reasons for the divorce.
Property Division, Alimony and Child Custody in New Jersey
Laws in New Jersey state that all property is marital property. Inheritance is an exception if the funds haven't been co-mingled. A judge will decide who gets what by the following factors:
Property, alimony and child custody are not clear cut and each divorce has unique issues. If the parties come to agreement on any of these issues on their own, the judge will abide by that agreement as long as it is in the child’s best interest. Child support in New Jersey is determined by a set of state guidelines.
Divorce in any state is a complicated process. Getting good guidance is key to taking control of your divorce process and your life. If you have any questions, you can reach me for a free phone consultation through the following link: free phone consultation with Jill.
Jill Barnett Kaufman is a Divorce Coach, Therapist, Parent Educator and Divorce Mediator. She is an experienced professional who helps clients discover new ways to resolve a variety of challenges when considering divorce, starting the process of divorce or are already divorced.