As if divorce itself isn’t bad enough, when there are kids involved, it’s even worse. In fact, most newly divorced dads would say the hardest part about divorce is missing the kids when they are with the ex-wife. Going to bed without those bedtime romps and kisses every night or waking up to a lonely, quiet house can be extremely tough.
The good news is that you’ll learn to cope with the children being away. You’ll never stop missing the kids, but you can adjust to your new lifestyle. Here are five tips for coping when you miss your kids.
Stop Beating Yourself Up
As a newly divorced dad, it is really easy to blame yourself when aren’t with the kids. After all, you chose or agreed to this divorce, right? You may catch yourself saying things like “I am a horrible father for choosing my happiness over being with my children” or “I chose to be without my kids. I should have stayed even though I was unhappy.” You may feel guilty and selfish now that the reality of shared custody has set in.
Beating yourself up when you are missing the kids isn’t going to do anyone any good. After all, would you rather have the children growing up in an unhappy home? Two separate and happy parents can be better than two unhappy parents together. Remind yourself that choosing divorce in an unhappy marriage is often best for everyone involved, including the kids. Especially if the divorce wasn’t your idea, then you had no choice and shouldn’t beat yourself up.
Keep Yourself Busy When You Are Missing the Kids
Keeping yourself occupied will not only help you pass the time when you don’t have your kids, but it will help pull you out of a slump and begin the process of rebuilding your new life. You’ll have more alone time now so you might as well start to use it and enjoy it.
Fill your calendar with enjoyable activities when the kids are with your ex. Use this time alone to get back into a long-lost hobby or do something for yourself. Read a book, see a movie, focus on your career or learn a new hobby. Treat yourself to something special. As you move on and begin to date again, plan your dating for when you won’t have the kids. This way you will have something to look forward to and focus on during the times your children are away.
Take Care of Yourself
Divorced parents are a little bit like masochists. They feel guilty for having fun or taking care of themselves when they aren’t with their children. But when it comes down to it, you must take care of yourself following a divorce if you want to be able to take care of your children. Taking care of yourself will make you a better father, and it will set a good example for your children. Divorce can lead to anxiety and depression (especially when you’re desperately missing your children), and if you don’t make an effort to take care of yourself, this can spill over to your kids. So, take the time to get the help and care that you need to make the transition to single fatherhood. Take care of yourself so that you can take care of your children.
Be Flexible with Schedule Changes
Take advantage of every chance you get to spend with your kids. While it may be tempting to say “no” to your ex’s request for you to take the kids an extra night so she can go on a business trip or a date, take the high road and think about what you want. Is your desire to hurt her or cause her grief larger than your desire to get the kids an extra day? Take advantage of the extra time and thank her for it!
Communicate with Your Children
Divorce is tough on children too. They may have similar feelings of anxiety or guilt with the new lifestyle, and they may worry about you when they go to stay with their mother. So, talk to them about it. Let them know you are going to be okay by telling them about your plans. Tell them about the book you are going to read or the old friend you plan to catch up with. Don’t let them see how sad you are when they leave. Take the burden off of them.
When you are missing the kids, you may spend hours wondering what they are up to and if they are okay. The best way to silence the worry is to ask. When you have your kids, ask about their week. Get curious. Ask about their school and their hobbies. Ask about their feelings and how they are doing. Listen to their answers. Just don’t give in to the temptation to ask too much about their mother or criticize her to the kids. The kids don’t need to be in the middle of your relationship trouble.
Enjoy the Time With the Kids
Focus on the time you will have with the kids and don’t obsess about the times you won’t. When you aren’t with your kids, think about the activities you’ll enjoy together when they come back. It doesn’t matter what you do with your kids when they are with you. You don’t have to plan extravagant outings or spend a lot of money. Just enjoy your time together. Listen to their stories, make them giggle, and soak up every moment.
There are lots of distracted parents who don’t take full advantage of the time they have with their children. They turn on the TV or browse their smartphones while the kids play instead of getting down on the floor with them. They work extra hours at work instead of making it home every night for dinner.
Divorced parents, however, typically have more appreciation of the time with their children because it is limited. Sometimes quality is more important than quantity. Focus on what you do have. Be grateful for it.
Divorce is tough, and you can expect a period of adjustment after the final decree is entered. There will be days you don’t see your children at all, and it can be easy to focus on how much you are missing the kids. This can lead to even more unhappiness and loneliness.
Remeber, you have the power to decide what to focus on. You can choose to focus on the time you do have together and make the most of the time you are away from them. Divorce changes everything, and part of that change includes personal growth and improvement in relationships – including your relationships with your kids.
While the amount of time you spend with them may decrease, the quality of the time can actually increase. Focus on the positive. It may not make you miss your kids any less, but it can help you cope and adjust to the divorced lifestyle.
(c) Can Stock Photo / krasyuk
There are certain signs to look out for that could be grounds for divorce.
Whether you don’t see each other as often as you like because one of you is traveling for work, or you have a fight that goes on for longer than usual, rough patches are normal and can be resolved with work and over time.
Every marriage goes through rough patches. But do you know the difference between a rough patch and going through something that’s more than just a rough patch?
How to Tell It’s More Than a Rough Patch
- Your Communication Has Become Very Limited (or Has Stopped)
If you and your wife have stopped talking, this could signal major trouble for your marriage. Sure, if you’re not talking because you had a fight or your schedules have gotten hectic, you may be going through a rough patch. But if you’re not talking because you don’t care to tell each other about your days, or you have unresolved anger towards one another, it may be more than a rough patch.
Communication is key to a strong relationship, and it’s important to make sure that you don’t take good communication for granted. Communication is essential for support, comfort, and emotional well-being. Without proper communication with your spouse, you may feel like you’ve lost your connection or even feel like you’re living with a stranger. A lack of good communication is one of the main ways couples start to lose each other, and if it goes on for too long, could deteriorate into grounds for divorce.
Couples go through many tough situations that they’re able to work through, and even come out stronger on the other side. But sometimes, an issue is so problematic that the only way to solve it is divorce. If you’re going through something that seems beyond saving, see if you can work it out with couples’ therapy or individual therapy, depending on the situation. Seeking help will help you figure out whether or not you can work through your issues. If you try to work it out and it’s not getting better and seems unsolvable, divorce may be your best option.
- There’s No Trust in Your Relationship
A lack of trust in your relationship can stem from a number of different things. It could be that one of you did something to break the other’s trust, or it could be that someone from the past did something to break the trust and it’s still consuming your or your spouse’s thoughts and actions. You should never blame your spouse for the things someone else did, but sometimes people become obsessively jealous because they had someone in their past cheat on them. Wherever the doubts and jealousy comes from, a lack of trust can ruin a marriage.
If one of you breaks the other’s trust, whether it was infidelity, dishonesty, or any other type of betrayal, you need to decide whether you’re willing to put in the effort to get through it and gain the trust back. Jealousy and trust issues can seriously damage a marriage, especially if it’s due to insecurity and grounded in past relationships rather than the current one.
- Your Values Don’t Match
Some couples get married knowing their core values aren’t the same but are too in love to care. Love and infatuation can only take you so far. Over time, if your core values aren’t in line, and compromises can’t be reached, it could be grounds for divorce. For example, if you grew up in a family where your mom was happy to stay home and look after the kids, and you feel like that’s the way it should be, but your wife is adamant about having a career, this could become a major, unsolvable issue. Or, if one of you values independence but the other is completely dependent on the other and isn’t okay with them doing anything on their own, this could also spur serious problems.
- Your Relationship Has Become More Like a Business Partnership
Is your marriage feeling more like a business partnership where you’ve started living parallel lives rather than spending time together? Then you may be headed for a split. Sometimes when couples are going strong, they end up putting their attention and energy into other aspects of their life like work, kids, hobbies, friends, and pretty much anything else other than their spouse. It often doesn’t turn out well when this starts to happen.
You need to constantly put work into your relationship, even when things are going well. Make sure not to lose the spark. Keep spending time with one another, go on dates, take trips without your kids, do little things that show you care. If you start losing your connection and never make time for each other, it could be grounds for divorce.
- One of You Isn’t Willing to Work on Yourself
Marriage is a two-way street, and both you and your spouse need to constantly be working on yourselves to make the partnership work. In a strong marriage, you need to grow together while fulfilling yourself and becoming the best person you can be. If one of you is stuck in a funk, whether it’s substance abuse, unemployment, or a tragic loss, and isn’t willing to get better, it can be a huge burden on the marriage. Everyone goes through tough times, and sometimes it takes a while to get back on track, but as long as you realize that and are willing to work through it, you can overcome it and build on your relationship.
If you don’t grow together, you end up growing apart, and it takes work on an individual level to foster your relationship. If one of you continues to grow and the other stays in the same place, it can trigger major issues and negative feelings from both sides.
How to Know If Your Situation is Grounds for Divorce
The last thing you want to do is make a major decision about ending your marriage before you’ve given it enough time. Unless there was some sort of abuse, betrayal, or infidelity that can’t be forgiven, give your marriage time before jumping into a divorce. Depending on the situation, there could be something one, or both of you needs to work on. Marriage is work, don’t forget that. Even in good relationships, both parties still need to work on creating a strong relationship.
If your situation is unsalvageable or one of you isn’t willing to work on themselves to make things better, it can result in a lack of communication and a relationship that feels more like a business partnership than a loving union. Once the caring and work has stopped, you need to dig deep to decide whether your marriage is worth saving or if divorce is the best solution.
(c) Can Stock Photo / Nikolay_Sivenkov
We all know that feeling and looking our best requires doing things to promote our mental and physical health. The good news is that not everything that’s good for you is agonizing. Here are ten health tips you can start today that don’t involve turning your lifestyle upside down, spending a ton of cash or exposing yourself to excruciating torment.
While every guy needs to implement these healthy habits, it’s even more essential for divorced men to prioritize their health, because they are at higher risk for a slew of illnesses like cancer and heart attacks. And that’s not all: according to the Huffington Post, divorced and single men have higher rates of mortality and are more prone to substance abuse and depression than married men.
10 Easy Health Tips To Start Now
Laugh a lot.
Laughter really is great medicine; it eases stress and depression, promotes social bonding, and lowers blood pressure. Want to get your giggle on? Take a date or your posse out to a comedy show. For those days when putting on pants is too much effort, find a comedy special on Netflix. Reruns of Saturday Night Live, Arrested Development or websites like funnyordie.com also have good “laugh until you cry” sketches and shows.
Just breathe, deeply.
Taking time to take a breather can be one of the most simple but effective ways to relax and slow your heart rate. Breath through your nose until your lungs are full. They’ll fill with nitric oxide, a chemical found in the back of your nose that opens up blood vessels. The dose of oxygen will make you feel happier and more alert. This is also a handy way to calm yourself down when feeling anxious or nervous, like before an important meeting, presentation or first date.
Sleep on it.
Seven hours of sleep a night not only helps you live longer, but also lowers your stress, sharpens your memory, and reduces cravings for junk foods.
Keep it colorful.
Eat nine handfuls of colorful fruits and vegetables each day. The different colors represent different good for you things your body needs to function at its finest. These foods are often more powerful than the drugs sold in pharmacies, and without the scary side effects.
Get up, go out, and get going.
Sweat for just an hour a week and you’ll enjoy a range of benefits: reduced risk of heart attack, better mood, more energy, and lower blood pressure. Men who exercise enough to burn 200 calories a day also significantly lower their chances of impotence. Yeah, these health tips help your sex life, too! That’s because impotence often has the same cause as heart attacks: blocked arteries. So engage in a little activity that doesn’t involve tossing the couch cushions aside and fervently searching for the remote. Your, uh, little buddy downstairs will thank you.
Form tight social networks.
And I don’t mean that dude you went to grade school with on Facebook. Have a couple friends or family members you can talk to when things are on your mind and you can call on when you feel overwhelmed and need help. This is one of those health tips that can get you out of the house for beer and wings with a buddy. If you face life’s stresses alone, you will make yourself older. Not a people person? Get a dog or cat or bird or gerbil. Spending time with a pet is more effective at reducing stress than spending time with friends, girlfriends, or alcohol.
Get rid of the gut.
Visceral fat (the stuff that settles in your abdomen) lets toxins seep into your vital organs, which is why round-bellied men die sooner than flat-bellies. Grab a tape measure and put it around your body at the level of your belly button. That number should be less than half your height.
Moderation and food choices are key in trimming belly fat and keeping it off, so eat six small meals a day instead of three big ones—you’ll stave off hunger and avoid overeating. Keep the beer to 1 or 2 instead of 3 or 4 and eat some protein, veggies and healthy fats with those processed carbs. Bonus, you’ll reduce your risk for heart attack and diabetes.
Nuts are among the best sources of healthful fats and protein around. Best part is there’s no cooking or clean up. Unless you chew with your mouth open, which is a whole other problem.
Eat in more.
If you cook at home, you not only save money but also gain control over what goes into your meals. A tremendous amount of calories hide in sauces, dressing and soups at restaurants. Food is cooked in fatty oils, butter and sugar. Portions are usually double what your calorie intake should be.If you do eat out, take half home for lunch the next day. It’s cheaper and better for you.
Have regular colonoscopy and prostate serum antigen testing.
Both of these tests are crucial in spotting two common and potentially lethal diseases — colon and prostate cancer — that are still curable if detected early enough. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of a prolonged and painful death. As William Shakespeare might have said: check yourself, before you wreck yourself.
Every man deserves a happy and satisfying life, even after divorce. Start implementing these tips today for a healthier life – and have fun!
If you’re a divorced dad who hasn’t started saving for college, you’re not alone. Most parents want their child to go to college, but less than 40% have a plan to pay for it. With less than 25% of funds currently spent on college coming from savings, it’s no wonder student loan debt is so high.
Annual college tuition and fees are now averaging nearly $35,000 at a private, four-year institution. They are almost $10,000 at a public four-year college and $3,500 at public two-year schools. As costs continue to increase the struggle to pay for them will too.
Results from the 10th annual study, How America Pays for College 2017, show parents are paying 31% of these costs through savings or loans, with students picking up 30%, family and friends covering 4%, and scholarships funding for the remaining 35% of advanced educations.
As a divorced dad, saving for college on top of child support payments, everyday living expenses, and your future retirement, may seem impossible. Yet, with a bit of planning and perhaps some creativity too, you can start saving today. Thus, making advanced education an affordable option for your children in the future.
It’s Not Too Late to Start Saving for College
Choosing to attend in-state versus out-of-state schools is one way students themselves can reduce the overall cost of college. Earning college credits in high school, or attending community colleges for one or two years before moving on to four-year institutions are others. Living at home instead of at college, or living with one or more roommates, help as well.
Applying for scholarships and working while in high school are additional ways your child can help. This will minimize the impact later on your wallet and theirs too.
Even if your son or daughter is now a sophomore in high school, it’s not too late to start saving for college. Any savings is beneficial but the sooner you start, the better of course. According to Finaid.org, stashing away just $50 per month from your child’s birth to the time they turn 17 would provide $20,000, assuming a 7% return on investment.
Before starting college savings, however, experts suggest:
- Paying off any credit card debt or other high-interest loans.
- Establishing an emergency savings account with 3-6 months of expenses accumulated
- Regularly contributing to your tax-advantaged retirement savings accounts – 401ks, Traditional IRAs, etc.
Additional College Saving Tips
Cut non-essential expenses to provide more money for savings. Track your spending to see if there are any expenses you can eliminate to increase your savings for college. Think cable TV, gym memberships, subscriptions you don’t use or eating out less. $5, $10, or $25 savings add up over time.
Increase your income. Ask for a raise at work or apply for a promotion. Seek a position at a competing company offering a larger salary and benefits. Turn an interest or a hobby into a side hustle and create an additional income stream or pick-up a part-time job.
Keep substantial savings in your name with your child as beneficiary, to avoid any loss of student aid. For every dollar above $3,000 saved in your child’s name, 20 cents is subtracted.
Make savings automatic. Make it easy on yourself by automatically depositing a portion of your paycheck into your savings.
Where to Stash Your Money
529 College Plans
More than 30 states offer a 529 college savings plan with full or partial tax savings benefits. Also known as Qualified Tuition Programs (QTP), 529’s are funded with after-tax money you’re allowed to withdraw later tax-free, including any gains, for use on qualified education costs, such as tuition, fees, and books. These state plans offer various investment options and expenses, and contribution limits vary.
A 529 account owner is allowed to withdraw funds at any time for any reason – but the earnings portion of non-qualified withdrawals will incur income tax plus a 10% penalty tax. Should your child not end up going to college, you can typically transfer the account to another beneficiary.
Most plans allow you to change your 529 plan investment options twice per calendar year and allow for a rollover of funds into another 529 plan once per 12-month period. 529 programs have no income, age, or annual contribution limits, but may have lifetime contribution limits – $235,000 to $500,000 depending on the plan.
Roth IRAs, popular as tax-advantaged retirement savings vehicles, can also be used for college savings. As with a 529 plan, you contribute after-tax money to a Roth IRA, and any investment gains can later be withdrawn tax-free, typically for retirement after age 59-1/2. But a Roth IRA also allows you to remove funds tax- and penalty-free, after five years, when used to pay for qualifying educational expenses. Should your child not attend college, you can use the funds for your retirement.
There are income and contribution limits with the Roth IRA. Single taxpayers earning more than $129,000 per year are not eligible, and contributions are limited to $5,500 per year ($6,500 for those over age 50).
Coverdell Education Savings Account
Coverdell ESA’s may be used to cover not just college costs but also any educational expenses, including private school tuition at K-12 institutions. Like a 529 college savings plan, the Coverdell ESA is typically tax-advantaged when utilizing the savings for education expenses.
You may contribute $2,000 per child per year, although contributions phase out for anyone earning more than $95,000 per year.
Similar to the 529 and Roth IRA, money in a Coverdell ESA is considered your asset, not your child’s for financial aid purposes. Please note, however, funds not utilized before your child turns 30 may be subject to taxes and penalties.
Prepaid College Tuition Plans
Prepaid plans allow you to pay for a portion of your child’s college tuition today, locking in current costs and in turn protecting you from future tuition hikes. Like 529 college plans, monetary gains in these programs are typically exempt from federal taxes. A dozen plus states offer prepaid tuition plans but this not the most recommended method of saving for college, as it severely limits educational choices to the state they are purchased.
UGMA / UTMA Custodial Accounts
The Uniform Gift to Minor’s Act (UGMA) and Uniform Transfer to Minor’s Act (UTMA) accounts are custodial accounts to hold and protect assets for minors until they reach adulthood. Because the assets are considered the property of the child, they provide some tax benefits, but less than a 529 plan would. Additionally, unlike other saving plans, they can be considered your child’s asset affecting federal aid amounts your child qualifies for.
A custodian can initiate withdrawals for the child’s benefit provided the expenses are for a legitimate need. Unlike other college savings accounts, payments are not limited to education costs. Once your child becomes a legal adult, they may use the money for any purpose without custodian consent.
Other Ways to Save for College
- Sign up for Upromise – Register for a free at Upromise.com and earn cash back for college with your shopping, dining, and travel. You earn money by using your registered credit, debit, and loyalty cards at participating businesses. Accumulate savings in a savings account, a 529 plan, or have a check sent to you.
- Credit Card Rewards – Find a credit card specifically designed to earn college savings or use any cash back rewards card to amass savings for college. By using your credit card to pay for items such as your utilities, your cell phone bill, groceries, and insurance and paying off the balance in full each month, you’ll accrue some additional savings for college. Of course, utilize any credit card responsibly and don’t go into credit card debt trying to save.
- LEAF College Savings Gift Cards – Leaf provides family and friends a way to gift a monetary amount for your child’s education. A gift card is purchased via LeafSavings.com and sent to you via email, Facebook, or postal service. You then redeem the gift card on Leaf’s site and transfer it to your 529 college savings plan.
No matter how or where you decide to save for college, get started as soon as possible to take advantage of time and compounding interest. You and your child will be thankful you did. Remember, every little bit helps.
Sources and Recommended Resources:
What is a 529 plan?
Choosing the Best 529 College Savings Plan
(c) Can Stock Photo / karenr
My marriage ended because I cheated on my wife. It’s as simple as that. I can tell you all the reasons it happened, how I found myself in that situation when I’d never imagined I’d be that guy, why it didn’t really mean anything.
But none of those things matter. What matters is that I broke my vows and hurt someone I loved very much in the process.
Divorce is never easy. Even when it’s amicable, even when you don’t blame each other for anything – when you both just admit you’ve both changed, or have different goals, or have simply grown apart – it’s hard to deal with.
But what do you do when you know – 100%, without any doubt – that it’s your fault?
I Cheated on My Wife and She Left
After it had all settled down – after she’d packed up her stuff and left and I was alone in my house, just me and the cats – the hardest part to deal with was the guilt I felt for the hurt I’d caused. I missed her, of course; I often think the thing we miss most when the relationship ends is not what we had, but what we would have had, the life we expected to share with someone else. To have that life blown away, for her and for me, was excruciating. But so was the knowledge that it was on me. I had cheated on my wife.
There were other problems, of course – show me a relationship that doesn’t have problems and I’ll show you the last five minutes of a sappy romantic comedy – but this problem was one that I created, through my own selfishness and stupidity. It left me literally tossing and turning every night; in my dreams, I played Monday morning quarterback, endlessly replaying the last angry, tearful conversation, trying to figure out if I could have done something, said something, to mitigate the pain I’d caused, to find a way that we could work through it.
But worse than those dreams, of course, were the ones where it had never happened; where I dreamed of my wife and I going out, or going on vacation, or simply sitting around watching TV, the way we used to. Those were the dreams that hurt to wake up from.
Fooling Yourself Doesn’t Erase the Guilt
The easiest way to deal with the guilt, of cour se, is to fool yourself. Yes, you screwed up, but maybe if she’d been a little more this or done a little more of that, you wouldn’t have been driven to cheat or lie or whatever you did to make the relationship end. Maybe if she’d been a little more understanding.
This is all bullshit and it’s beneath you. You need to accept responsibility for your actions and their consequences. You screwed up. Yes, maybe there were other problems, but if so you should have faced them and worked on them rather than allowing them to drive you to do something you couldn’t take back. Part of being a grown-up is admitting to yourself that you did wrong. That’s the first step.
Unfortunately, that can lead you to a very dark place. I had to accept the fact that, despite a lifetime of believing in true love and finding that special someone and being faithful to them until the end, I was a man who had cheated on my wife. I was, in my own eyes, a faithless son of a bitch. I was not the misunderstood hero of the piece. I was, in fact, the villain. That’s a hard row for anybody to hoe.
Sometimes You Just Need to Grow the Fuck Up
It’s a terrible thing to realize that you’re not perfect, that you are, in fact, human and that you sometimes do stupid or thoughtless or mean things. It’s terrible to realize what you’re capable of. But in that realization is self-awareness. You have discovered something true about yourself – something unpleasant, certainly, but that awareness is important. It helps you understand who you are, how you got there and – most importantly – what you need to change, in yourself and in your life. To err is human…but so is learning from one’s errors. You need to take a long look at yourself in the mirror and really see the face there, looking back at you. And you need to understand what’s required to once again make that face one you can be proud to look at.
It’s different for everybody. Some people need to realize they have a problem with the booze or the pills. Some people need to realize they have an anger management problem. And some people just need to, frankly, grow the fuck up and realize they’re not the only person on the planet, that other people have feelings that are just as important as their own. Sometimes you need to be reminded that you need to tread lightly in this world because if you don’t you can trample people who don’t deserve it, people you don’t ever want to hurt.
You Will Always Carry the Scars
Then you need to take a deep breath and you need to just get moving, keep living your life, one day at a time, as the folks in Alcoholics Anonymous say. You can’t take back what you did, and maybe you can’t rebuild the bridges you burned, but you can do your best not to burn any more of them as you go. You can come out the other side of your pain and self-recrimination and find a more thoughtful, mindful, conscientious person there, waiting for you.
You will always carry the scars, though; don’t fool yourself about that. I sometimes wonder if it’s worse to be the hurter than the hurt; after all, the hurter has to live with what they’ve done. You may learn to forgive yourself, but you will never forget. She’s been gone over a year and I still ache when I think of her, think of the sorrow on her face, that I caused. Those scars will never vanish.
But that’s okay. Scars are snapshots of our lives; they remind us of what made us who we are. We learn from scars. We move on. We survive.
There’s a line from an old Tom Petty song I often think of when I think of my ex-wife:
I still think of her when the sun goes down
It never goes away, but it all works out
That’s the plain truth, right there. You will get through this. You will feel better. You will be better. That’s part of being human, too. You will survive.
(c) Can Stock Photo / dmitrimaruta