After a divorce, you have two options: Let it define you and pity yourself for a failed relationship, or reinvent yourself and thrive. Reinventing yourself isn’t always an easy task, and it’s normal to feel lost , and have low self-esteem after your divorce. But with the right mindset and support, you’ll be able to see your divorce as an opportunity to learn and grow and transform into the person you’ve always wanted to be.
If you’re looking to thrive after your divorce, check out eight ways to reinvent yourself post break up.
1.Learn to Be Happy Alone
When you’re in a relationship, and especially when you’re married, you get used to being half of a whole. A lot of the time, other people define you by your relationship, which results in you defining yourself by your relationship. That’s why many men feel a loss of identity when their marriage comes to an end. They’re either scared to be alone or don’t know how to be alone, but being happy when you’re alone is key if you want to reinvent yourself.
Until you’re truly happy on your own, you won’t be able to move on and be truly happy with someone else. Go out to eat at restaurants on your own, go to movies by yourself, go on walks, cook new recipes, read, and just learn to enjoy your own company. You never know what you may find out about yourself.
2. Try New Activities
Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but never had the chance? Maybe join a hockey team or try your hand at golf ? Have you always wanted to learn how to play an instrument or fly a plane, or start gardening or go hiking? Now is the time to try out any activity/hobby you want. This is an essential step to reinventing yourself after divorce.
While women are much more likely to be involved in activities when they’re married, men may find they don’t have a lot to do post-divorce. Trying out new activities can help you find what you’re passionate about and can fill your downtime with interests that will help your growth and development. You may also find joy and purpose somewhere you never have before, which can help in the process of reinventing yourself.
3. Update Your Look
Whether it’s a new haircut, new clothes, or both, updating your look is a good way to say good bye to the old and hello to the new. You don’t have to completely change your style (unless, of course, you want to), but investing in quality clothing that makes you feel great is one of the most powerful things you can do to reinvent yourself. A new haircut can also make you feel like a new man. Is there a cut you always wanted to try, but your wife didn’t like it? Or maybe you didn’t have the guts? Try it now and see how transformative it can be.
4. Set Personal Goals
The best time to set goals is when you experience a change in your life, and divorce is one of the biggest life-altering experiences you can go through. Take this as an opportunity to sit down, reflect on what goals you have reached and what you still want to conquer! These can range from fitness goals to finance goals, health and/or personal goals, plus anything else you can think of.
Setting goals gives you something to work toward and look forward to. These goals can help to shape who you become post-divorce. Your goals may change as you do, but envisioning and planning out your life can be incredibly powerful, especially in times where things seem foggy and unsure. Take some time to think about what you want in life, your plan for achieving it and what you’re willing to do to make your goals a reality.
5. Take a Class
There’s never a downside to learning as much as you possibly can. Whether it’s a cooking class, an academic class, Spanish class, music class, or whatever you’re into, enrolling in a class can help you reinvent yourself into the man you want to be. Taking a class can help stimulate your brain and put your mind to good use. It also puts you in an atmosphere where there could be other singles for when you’re ready to jump back into the dating game.
6. Think About the Past
Who were you before your marriage? Whether it has been five years or 20 that you were with your spouse, you were probably at least a slightly different person before getting together. There may have been things you enjoyed doing that you stopped doing when you were with your partner. Maybe you loved to go out to eat, but she always wanted to stay in to cook instead. Maybe you loved to read before bed, but she couldn’t fall asleep without the TV on.
Think back to the things you loved to do that you sacrificed in your marriage. It could be big or small, but if it was something that made you happy, work it into your life again. These things, no matter how small, will have a place in shaping you as you reinvent yourself.
Traveling the world can give you a whole new perspective on life and the world itself. From providing a distraction to helping you slow down to showing you that there’s always something more to move on to, traveling can be the ultimate cure to divorce and give you the push to reinvent yourself. Your mind will be stimulated, a nd you’ll come back rejuvenated.
Go places you’ve always wanted to go, and places you never imagined yourself going. Each new place has the potential to help you uncover something new about yourself or re-spark something inside you. It also takes you away from the vicinity of your divorce and all the changes going on in your life. Travel will help you take your mind off the changes, and fill you with positive energy.
8. Rejig Your Social Circle
When you were married, you likely had many friends who were married couples. You probably hung out in twos and went on double dates. You can still hang out with your married friends as a single, but you might find it helpful to make new single friends. You’ll do and talk about different things than you would with your married friends, and you’ll be able to relate to them better. You don’t need to cut your old friends out of your life, but making a point to meet new single friends can help you reinvent yourself.
The Best Time to Reinvent Yourself After Divorce
When it comes to the reinventing process, everyone will go at their own pace, but the sooner you start, the better! Not only will it help you move on, but it will also help you grow into the person you’ve always wanted to become. Take as much time as you need to come to terms with your divorce and grieve the loss you feel, but don’t take too long before you get back on your feet.
Reinventing yourself after divorce is an opportunity to learn from your mistakes, get back in touch with your old self, and find out new things about yourself you didn’t know before.
Are you in the process of reinventing yourself? Let us know some steps you’ve taken in the comments below.
This is a great time for a fresh start.
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You’ve just made it through a divorce. Now it’s time to save yourself. Even if it was an amicable split, it is still a life-changing event and takes its emotional toll. Even more so if the end of the relationship closely resembled a flaming train wreck or the end of a hostage standoff. Odds are you came staggering out of the dust and debris feeling haggard and that much worse for the wear.
Getting Back on Your Feet
You may have looked around waiting for some form of disaster relief to appear and patch you back together. You’re ready for a M.A.S.H. nurse to bind your wounds and hold your hand. If life is still happening and you have no time to slowly convalesce you may wish that someone would just swoop in and save the day. You may wish that someone would step in and make everything that feels wrong in your life feel right. Guess what? Someone can. Guess what else? That someone is you. Yes, you have the power to save yourself.
Stand Up. As in, on your own two feet. Gain confidence in your own two legs again. Odds are they’ve been knocked out from underneath you. Learn to stand up straight and regain your composure. What does that mean? Go out as a single guy until being single feels good again. Go out as a single guy until you realize your own worth again. So what if your marriage ended in a flaming train wreck? It’s over. It’s the past. And just because that didn’t work out doesn’t mean nothing else ever will again. You’ve learned. You’ve grown, and you’re older and wiser for it. You’re only a failure if you quit and you’re no quitter. You’re a single guy who is single by choice. That may not have been the case yesterday, but it is today. Why? Because it’s your life and you’ve decided that to be the case.
Flex Your Emotional Muscles
You are a strong single man because you want to be, not because you have to be. When you can stand up, strong and steadfast in your own space, you will notice your life begin to change. You will get to be choosy. You won’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. When you can stand up, on your own two feet and not feel the need to lean on someone just to make it another step you’ll start to look at your life positively. You’ll feel the freedom of choice where the feelings of need or desperation once stood.
Start small. Accomplish little feats like sleeping on the other, other side of the bed. Get comfortable there; it’s your bed after all. You call the shots now. And when you’re ready to kick some ass, graduate to the full starfish, arms and legs fully splayed. Go ahead and roll around. Laugh. We’re throwing caution to the wind here. Enjoy it.
Choose Your Super Power
Now that you have your strength back and you’ve learned to stand on your own and enjoy it, you get to choose your superpower. Are you a cape-wearing avenger with full flight capabilities? Do you have a secret decoder ring and the ability to teleport with a nod of your head? Do you have a freeze-ray gun and can leap tall buildings in a single bound? Be deliberate in your choice. What does that mean? Be aware of your talents and do your best to develop them. Figure out a way to use your powers for good and not for evil. Use your special combination of talents and skills to make a positive difference in someone’s day, in your community or the world. You know how to save yourself. Who or what else needs to be saved? Who is your villain? What are you up against? What needs to be done to triumph? How will you use your superpower to make that happen? To let another day pass without developing and using your superpowers is like committing a crime against humanity. We need you. Today No pressure, mind you, just get busy.
Clothes Make The Man – Or Superman
Now that you’ve chosen your superpower, you must choose your outfit accordingly. Laugh if you want to, but look at history. All superpower wielding heroes have outfits that are equal parts functional, flexible, figure flattering with just enough badass to get the job done. What does that mean? It means when the alarm sounds you must be prepared, in this case suitably dressed, to employ the use of your chosen superpower. It means you must keep this outfit at the ready, typically in a very cool, well-displayed, museum-quality casing with melodramatic lighting. Accessories must be equally accessible. But do whatever works for you. You’ll want to look your best when the paparazzi captures you. It is against superhero code to appear on the front page of the local paper looking unsightly.
Save Yourself for A Bright Future
Go forth young man, and be heroically single. Stand strong on your own two legs. Develop your unique combination of super powers. Select that outfit that best suits you and allows you to shine. Now go save the world in your own special way. Welcome back. We need you.
(c) Can Stock Photo / ryanking999
Television, tabloids and true crime novels tell tales about the nitty-gritty hard-boiled characters who ferret out secrets: the private investigator. The 1920’s and 30’s were the golden age of tough, fictional P.I.’s; Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade: fedora sporting, trench coat wearing ‘dicks’ who were easily swayed to slap shoe leather for a dame in distress.
Times have changed. The information superhighway is much easier on the soles and with the advent of digital cameras and truly tiny spy devices, just about anybody can get a license. This new golden age is all about the spendable kind.
A Private Investigator Can Save Your Divorce Bacon
If you can afford one, hiring a private investigator during a messy divorce might be a smart way to go. Is a spouse suspected of nefarious activities? An affair? Neglect or abuse? Hiding assets? If true, any of these accusations can and will have a profound impact upon the outcome of your divorce proceedings, assuming, of course, you are the injured party. Suspicions of such behavior alone are worthless.
Unless the extramarital congress was caught on the JumboTron during the Super Bowl you will need more grounds for belief. In a judicial trial the participants are bound by something called “burden of proof”. What this means is to have – to provide to the court – evidence that supports the facts of what you suspect. Evidence that a judge can look at or listen to and decide whether or not he believes that yes, infidelity is or was taking place or there is a secret offshore account in the Caymans to which you are entitled a portion. In other words, can you actually prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that what you say is the truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God? That proverbial picture worth a 1000 words just may be worth a lot more than that.
What You Get From a PI
So what exactly does a private investigator do? Basically, they gather facts. Many specialize in specific areas like intellectual property, employee background checks, workman’s comp and insurance cases, business practice investigation and skip chasing – finding people who owe other people money, property or services.
Those who handle domestic work primarily tend to limit their investigation to public record searches and conducting surveillance. The former is tedious and time consuming, the later, following people without them noticing, while obtaining surreptitious photographs is not as easy as you might think and once again, runs up a good many billable hours.
Hours that average around $50 US per and can run up over a $100.00. Some will quote you a flat fee for a single service if say you wanted to find out the background of the guy your wife is seeing. Bear in mind that some good public record databases, archives and publications have a hefty subscriber search fee. An investigatory agency will recoup the cost of these annual charges as a business expense through the course of a year’s worth of clients. All of the financial details can be explained and arranged during a sit down with the investigator when you meet to outline your needs. It is important to be as honest and forthright as possible. The more information they have, the better they can produce results for you. Respectively, you can ask to be provided with a detailed accounting of the charges invoiced to you.
Manage Your Expectations
Before you rush off to Google ‘private investigators in my area’ there are a few things you need to be aware of. First of all, forget everything you’ve learned about the private detectives portrayed on crime shows and in movies. Licensed, professional P.I.’s are bound by law. They cannot, for instance, sneak into your wife’s house and copy financial records or snap in flagranti pics in the middle of the night. They cannot, in a majority of states, tap phones or obtain information by what is called ‘pretexting’ – which has nothing to do with sending a message on a cell phone. Obtaining information using a ruse, for example, putting on a uniform, carrying a toolbox and gaining entrance to a private residence or business is considered doing so under pretext and will land both you and your investigator in legal hot water. By hiring him or her you become just as legally culpable.
If you have or are retaining an attorney, chances are they already work with one or several investigators. If not, the smartest thing to do is seek out a licensed, experienced and reputable professional.
Know someone with a sneaky spouse?
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As if splitting the assets, adjusting to the single life, and sorting through the uncertainty of what lies ahead wasn’t enough, the worry piles on as you think about your children. Accounting for their physic al need seems clearer, but what about their emotional wellbeing? If you’re not even sure where to start, here is your quick guide to mental health awareness.
Divorce Affects All Children Differently
That’s right, there isn’t a one size fits all reaction to divorce. There also isn’t a cookie cutter solution to address struggles along the way. Age, maturity, awareness of the issues between mom and dad, disruption of routine, internal and external strengths and supports can all impact response to this life change.
To add an additional layer of complexity, the timing of issues presenting themselves may also vary. One child will move seemingly well through the life changes while another is in a state of total meltdown. Yet another child has issues that seem to come and go, both in timing and intensity. And then there’s the child who leaves you confused as to what’s going on inside that beautiful little head.
Mental Health Awareness: What to Look For
Now that you are completely freaked out about this lack of “one size fits all,” let’s ease some of that anxiety by identifying what you can easily be on the look for with regards to your children’s emotional response and behavior.
Symptoms of depression, anxiety, substance abuse and/or disordered conduct are the most commonly experienced for children who are adjusting to a divorce. For an understanding of what those symptoms might resemble, the following list, derived from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5) breaks it down in short order:
- Excessive feelings of sadness, emptiness, helplessness, irritability, worthlessness, inappropriate guilt, worry, and anger, are either observed or reported by the child.
- Interest or pleasure in formerly enjoyed activities is diminished.
- Changes in appetite are noticed. Significant changes in weight as a result of eating more, or less, can indicate a problem.
- Sleep problems or changes in sleep habits arise on both ends of the spectrum: inability to fall and/or stay asleep or a desire to sleep all of the time.
- Diminished energy and extreme fatigue are reported or observed.
- Your child is easily agitated.
- S/he has difficulty concentrating or paying attention.
- Aggressiveness toward others, including animals, is noticed.
- Serious violation of rules including deceitfulness, theft or destroying property becomes an issue.
- Your child begins, or increases use of substances.
- There is a decline in academic achievement.
- Regressive behaviors are observed (Your older child is suddenly behaving in a way more reminiscent of a younger child. Examples include: wanting to be swaddled and held, asking to drink from a bottle, accidents after being potty trained, etc.).
Parents should be looking for emotional responses that are more than what might be expected given the circumstances, and behavioral responses that were either not present before the divorce, or may have been present but have gotten worse since the life change occurred. Of course, a significant life change like this needs to allow time for adjustment to be made, but if your child doesn’t seem to be adjusting after the dust has settled for a few weeks, there may be a need for additional support.
Mental Health Awareness: What to Do
You are now armed with an understanding of what to be on the look-out for, so now what?
Strive to keep as much consistency of routine as possible. This is where effective co-parenting comes into play. Understandably, this can be difficult when the divorce is riddled with contention or one parent strongly disagrees with how the children were managed before the split and had decided to do something differently. As much as you are able, hold off on other significant changes to routine. For example, if your child is used to a bath, followed by a story, followed by lights out by 8:30 pm routine, strive to keep that the same. If your child is involved in extracurricular activities, hold that schedule as before. If your child was always expected to take out the trash and help with dinner dishes, continue that expectation in both parent’s homes.
You may notice, or receive reports from others who interact with your child (i.e. school, daycare providers, etc.), some of the markers indicated above. You wonder if this is a normal response given the situation, if resiliency will kick in and your child will pull through on his or her own, or if you need to seek help from a professional. A good rule of thumb is this: if you have done what you can to maintain as much consistency as possible and your child continues to struggle in a way that is having a significant impact on life, get the opinion of a professional.
Not every child and his or her family will require professional intervention, but a mental health professional can help give direction and make recommendations.
Inside the Office of A Mental Health Professional: Assessment
Seeking assistance from a mental health professional can be scary when you aren’t sure what to expect, and couldn’t begin to explain to your child what will happen. So, let’s walk through what that first appointment may resemble.
Every professional operates a little differently, but one thing remains relatively consistent: the first appointment is all about assessment. The professional you work with is going to have you and your child come into the office and will strive to learn about you, your situation, and your concerns. Depending on the age of your child, the professional may spend some one-on-one time getting to hear their concerns.
The aim of this appointment is to gather enough information to determine if ongoing professional support is needed, or if the behaviors of concern that brought you in are age-appropriate given the circumstances. If it is determined that ongoing professional support would be beneficial, recommendations for services will be made at that time and you will be engaged in a discussion about a plan for treatment.
Treatment And Support
The type of treatment/support recommended varies from client to client. Here we go again with that “no one size fits all.” The most typical referrals are going to fall into three categories: therapy, medical, and external (i.e. community) supports. Let’s give some definition to these categories, shall we?
- Therapy: therapy provides an opportunity for folks to process events and learn new ways of coping or functioning. This can be done individually, with the family, or in groups. Depending on the situation, a recommendation will be made for any or all of these formats to be utilized, and you and/or your ex will likely be called upon to participate. This article by The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychotherapy for Children and Adolescents: Different Types, does a nice job further describing the different techniques that may be used in therapeutic sessions.
- Medical: there is a strong link between physical and mental health. If your child hasn’t had a recent checkup with a physician, a mental health professional may make a suggestion for this to be done. The purpose is to rule out any physical health conditions that may be linked to, or exacerbating a mental health issue. This mind-body connection is called “psychosomatic”. The article Psychosomatic Symptoms, written by Alex Lickerman, M.D. for Psychology Today gives further definition to this concept. Additionally, in some cases, medications may be discussed that can help in conjunction with the therapeutic process. Sometimes a primary care physician will be willing to discuss and prescribe these sorts of medications, other times they may refer out to a psychiatrist who specializes in prescribing for mental health conditions.
- External/Community: external/community supports are often as valuable as, if not more valuable than, therapy. Tapping into these resources and engaging your children in prosocial activities provide an outlet for them and can remain a support when therapy ends (therapy is never meant to be forever). Mentoring programs, social groups, organized arts and athletics groups are examples of external resources that can have a lasting effect on youth.
So what happens if the professional determines that the behaviors are age-appropriate and don’t require professional intervention, but you’re still concerned? Ask about recommendations for external/community resources and supports that might be appropriate for your child. Mental Health Professionals often have lists of these resources in your community or can point you in the right direction for gathering more information.
If you still aren’t satisfied, it is well within your right to seek a second opinion. Do keep in mind, however, that not every child is going to require professional intervention and forcing them into treatment can have an impact opposite of helpful.
Divorce is tough on families, and children are no exception. There is no way to predict how, or when, your children are going to react to the circumstances. Rather than assuming something is or is not going to happen, keep mental health awareness in mind, pay attention and take appropriate action when needed.
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We’ve all pondered the question “which came first, the chicken or the egg?”. A similar question exists in the world of mental health: “is the body sick because the mind is distraught, or is the mind distraught due to sickness of the body?” Regardless the answer, there are two things…
Change is inevitable in any relationship, regardless of how close you start out. When you first get together, you may have many of the same hobbies, interests, and opinions. As you grow older and go through more life experiences, both of your views will start to change. Rather than changing together, you each are changing in ways the other doesn’t understand. Before you know it, you may not even recognize the woman lying in bed next to you.
Often, this will cause issues in the relationship. Both of you want the other person to change in the same direction. Perhaps you take up a hobby that you think is the best thing ever, and your wife thinks it’s dumb and a waste of time. Maybe your wife stops working out, and you get back into the gym. Maybe your wife decides to go vegetarian, and you love steak. All of these things will eventually cause stress in the relationship – simply because you and your wife have incompatibilities.
Don’t panic just yet though. Change is normal and healthy. If both of you were to stay the same, you’d both get bored. Your conversations would be stale and unexciting. Change, as scary as it is in a relationship, is very important to keep things hot. Alongside that, no one wants to date themselves. You need to have some difference in a relationship to bounce ideas off of, have things to talk and debate about, and cause the friction that is necessary to draw two people together.
So how can you and your wife make these differences work for you?
1. Take an interest in your partner’s hobbies
It’s so easy to discredit or toss aside things that you don’t think you’ll like. It’s very easy just to say, “Nah, that sounds stupid!” and go and do your own hobby. You know you already like your hobby anyways.
The problem with that is that you’re missing an opportunity to get to know your wife in a new way before you’ve even tried it.
If your wife is passionate about something, take an interest in it! And by that, I don’t mean you have to go to her knitting meet-up or Jiu Jitsu practice – but just ask her about it. Try to find out why she finds it cool or relaxing or interesting. When she starts raving about something new she learned, stop what you’re doing and listen. Even if that hobby doesn’t specifically appeal to you, at the very least, you can pretend to care about what she’s saying. If you just show her new passion respect, she’ll feel loved and heard.
If you have even a small amount of interest in her hobby, try incorporating that into your life. For example, if she loves yoga, go with her to a yoga class and see what it’s about. If she’s started learning the guitar, take her to a show on a date. The more you spend time with her doing those hobbies, the more time you have together doing something fun. Plus, you’ll see what she values in her hobby, and that will give you more to talk about.
On the other hand, you should try to invite your wife to join in your hobbies and passions. If you love playing board games, teach her the rules to one of your favorites. If you’re getting back into fitness, invite her on a date where you go for a bike ride together and grab dinner after. Of course, you can’t force her to join you – but if she seems tentative, try to think of subtle ways to get her to partake in your hobbies. Eventually, she may learn to love your hobbies too. ‘
Hobbies are a fun way to spend time together….especially because it’s been proven that hobbies release endorphins and those hormones create a feeling of bliss that can bond couples together. Changing together doesn’t sound so bad when I put it that way, does it?
2. Spend time together (and make it non-negotiable)
One of the main reasons people grow apart is because they let life get in the way.
Jobs and kids and extended families and traveling and money all start to overshadow the actual relationship. Suddenly, it isn’t you and your wife against the world – it’s you and your roommate against the world.
Don’t let that happen. Don’t take each other for granted because before you know it, you both won’t know who the other person is and you’ll be left wondering why you got married in the first place.
The easiest way to combat this issue is to spend time together. Yes, it sounds easy. In reality, it’s not. This is one of those things that tends to sneak up on couples. You both live together, and you think that means you’re spending time together. In actuality, you’re just both doing different things in the same area. That hardly counts as quality time.
So, make “You-time” non-negotiable. If you have kids, get a babysitter or the in-laws over to look after them and then go out. Talk about things other than your children and have fun. Hell, go on a week-long vacation without the kids and reconnect over margaritas and sunsets in some tropical location. If you can’t afford that, then go for a picnic at a State Park and reminisce about all the crazy things you used to do. Make an effort to keep the bedroom hot and spicy (easier said than done) and continue to reconnect sexually.
It all comes down to making an effort to spend time together. You both chose each other for a reason – so remember that. If both of you make each other a priority in your lives, you’ll enjoy changing together. You’ll discover new things together and have more to talk about during the more mundane parts of your lives.
3. Ask important/thoughtful questions
The longer you’re with someone, the less you have any need to talk to each other. You’ve seen those old people on park benches or sitting in Denny’s, right? They sit there in comfortable silence because they’ve seemingly talked about everything and they have nothing left to say to each other.
Don’t be them.
If your conversations with your wife are shallow all the time, everything’s not okay in your relationship.
I’m not saying you need to fill every silence with deep, meaningful life changing questions – but what I’m saying is that every question shouldn’t revolve around what your kids did at school that day or what’s on TV. You and your wife should be having fairly deep conversations about your values, passions, and plans. This will not only show you a side of your wife you might not have known, but you won’t be hit over the head when she tells you that she wants to move to Mexico and learn Spanish. If you guys have consistently been honest and had fairly involved conversations, these kinds of life-changing talks will inevitably come up.
Along with that, most people enter marriage with the hope that they’ll be able to share themselves completely with another person. Of course, this probably isn’t completely realistic – but the ideal is there. Asking your wife deep questions about who she is, what she values, and what she pictures her future to be like will make her feel that she is important to you and that you still care about her as a person. Alternatively, you’ll learn new things about your partner that will enrich your life together.
Sometimes for men, it’s hard to talk about these kinds of things. That’s normal. A very easy way to break the ice is to look up “Questions to ask your Partner,” get out a bottle of wine and some good food and spend the night trading questions. Make it into a game if you want. Have another couple over and play “The Honeymoon Game” where you have to guess your partner’s answers. Just get talking.
Once you’ve started asking harder/deeper questions on a regular basis, you’ll find that things end up getting easier in your relationship. You’ll have a greater respect for your wife, she’ll have a greater understanding of what makes you tick, and overall your relationship will just feel stronger. You’ll both start changing together, and a lot of the issues you have will be more about working through them together than fighting against each other.
4. Embrace/respect the changes being made
Sometimes you won’t understand the change your spouse is making and you won’t be able to relate to her. This is particularly the case when it comes to big life changes in your spouse. And what constitutes a big life change? It could be something such as quitting her job, becoming religious, deciding she wants to move, changing lifestyles, etc.
The first thing you need to do is evaluate the situation. Sometimes people change in ways that are ultimately incompatible because it crosses a boundary. For example, if you both got married under the assumption you would one day have a family, and she no longer wants children – this will probably cross your boundary. Another example could be that your wife wants to open up the marriage and you don’t. In these two situations, there is very little room for compromise, and so it will be hard to respect or embrace the change.
But in most situations, a clear boundary is not being crossed, and although the change will impact your life, your wife is ultimately doing it because she feels it will improve her life.
It’s hard to accept change that you don’t understand so the next step is sitting down with your wife and trying to figure out why she feels she needs to make this change. Why does she think this change will benefit her? Why does she want this change in her life? When you have this information, you can start to see things from her perspective, and that will make the transition easier on everyone. Perhaps she’s going to church because she enjoys the social atmosphere or maybe she wants to quit her job because she’s bored and unhappy at her current one.
Whatever her reasoning is, don’t try to poke holes in it. Nothing will make her pull away (and change without you) more than you trying to destroy something she thinks is valid. Instead, try your best to understand. Be respectful and don’t get overly emotional.
You don’t necessarily need to change with her, but if you’re supportive and try to understand the value it brings to her life, you can grow alongside her. She’ll feel that you are her ally, and she’ll be happy to share the changes she’s going through with you. If there is something that will affect you, she’ll be more likely to want to cooperate if she feels you’re supportive of her life changes and on her side.
And of course, if you do have concerns, you need to tell her about them. If something is impacting your life and making you miserable, then an open dialogue is where you both need to start. Being open and communicative with your wife is going to be the first step to fixing any issues that may come up between the two of you. Changing together sometimes won’t be easy, and compromises will have to be made, but it will be a lot easier if you’re both respectful, direct, and open about what’s going on.
5. Focus on the positives in your spouse
When your wife starts to change in ways that you don’t understand or in ways you don’t really like, it’s easy to start to see the negatives in her and the relationship. Maybe you resent the fact that she’s decided to change without you, or in ways that you don’t like, and you feel yourself growing distant and angry.
When you get into these downward spirals, you need to stop and remember all of the good things about your wife. Perhaps she’s started to spend more time with her friends, and you feel neglected. Instead of feeling jealous that she’s spending more time with other people, think of how that makes her happier when she comes home to you. Maybe she’s become more religious – instead of focusing on how you don’t believe in what she believes in, start to think of how that might be nurturing her compassionate side. A change in your perspective can stop those negative thoughts in their tracks and help to connect with what you initially loved about your wife.
There’s a theory called “the broaden and build” theory that shows that positive emotions open your mind more and broaden your sense of possibilities, which helps you build new skills and resources that provide value in other areas of your life. So not only will positive thinking help you in your relationship, it may help you in other parts of your life also. If you can spin a negative situation into a positive one here, what’s stopping you from doing that in your job, with your friends, or during your hobby? And hell, your wife will probably appreciate your new optimistic outlook and want to spend more time with you, doing things you both enjoy. Honestly, it’s a win-win for you – you see your wife in a new light, and the world seems just a bit brighter than it did before.
Changing Together Adds Spice and Excitement
You and your wife will not be the same person throughout the marriage – that’s a given. You’ll both change in a myriad of positive and negative ways. The key to improving your marriage is in making an effort to understand each other and see one another for who you are. If you both take the time to see the world from your partner’s perspective, you can use these changes as a way to add spice, excitement, interest, adventure, respect, and love to the relationship. If you focus on how terrible these changes are, then you will be fighting against something you can’t win, and ultimately, your relationship will suffer and maybe die. So respect your partner, enjoy the changes, and focus on the good. Ultimately, that’s the only true way to change together.
(c) Can Stock Photo / McIninch
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