Your frame of reference is the attitudes, beliefs and assumptions define how you view specific situations and, more generally, the world around you. Whether your divorce was finalized two days ago or two decades ago, you may still be holding on to your old frame of reference.

As a married man you probably thought of yourself primarily as a husband and father. Your career decisions were shaped by family obligations, your weekends were filled with children’s activities and friends you’d made as a couple. There was hardly anything in your life that was yours exclusively. So what happens when the marriage ends?

Shift Your Frame of Reference and Face Reality

For a lot of people, each day becomes about pretending that nothing has changed. Even if you acknowledge that things are different, it’s hard to accept them or move on because you view everything through a family man’s frame.

If you’ve moved out of your home and are sharing custody of the kids, you probably feel pretty terrible sometimes. You may consider your new place to be a lot less comfortable than the house you spent years living in and might be spending much of your time resenting your situation. When that happens, you can’t enjoy the little time you do have with the kids.

But it wasn’t always like this? There was a time, maybe before you got married, when you were happy with yourself and your life. Back then, you knew who you were; you knew what you liked; you knew what your goals were.

So you have this amazing new way of looking at your situation and you are feeling great because you’ve picked up some new hobbies and finally let yourself off the hook. Everything is perfect right? Maybe not.

Guess what? You can still have that.

Divorced Male is not your only descriptor. You can still have the happiness and self-confidence you had in your pre-divorce world. All you need to do is change your frame of reference.
Lucky for you, it’s pretty simple to do.

Third Time’s the Charm!

This is the third installment of a three article series. If you haven’t read the first two, I urge you to do that first. If you have, let’s get to the good stuff!

As you saw in the first article of this series, your reality has changed. There’s no two ways about it, your world is totally different now. That’s okay. Embrace it!

Because guess what? You’re different too. As you saw in the second article, there are a lot of things about you that are different. Some of them you may be happy about and some maybe less so but, again, that’s okay.

With a clear view of your new reality (the good and the bad parts) and a much better understanding of who you are as an unmarried man, you have already changed your frame of reference. And you didn’t even know you were doing it!
But why does it matter?

Why Do You Need This New Frame of Reference?

Divorce is frustrating, infuriating and just downright messed up sometimes. If everything you’re seeing and experiencing is through the lens of anger, frustration and nostalgia for what you used to have, nothing will ever be good enough again.

In order to move on to all the amazing potential your post-divorce life holds, let go of what came before it. It’s easier said than done, I know.

And, of course, you’ll never forget the memories of your married life and you may never stop loving your ex, but a new frame will help you create a new life.

If nothing else, a new frame, a new lens through which to view your future, will make you just a little bit happier each day.

What If You’re Alone?

Sometimes we think that the person who instigated the divorce will automatically be the first one to get over it. Not true.

Divorce often requires a kind of grieving process and not everybody gets through that phase at the same speed. So what happens if you’ve moved into your new frame but your ex hasn’t?

It’s tough.

It’s tricky to be supportive while still being clear that the divorce is final and the relationship is over. It’s even harder if your ex begins to get aggressive or resents the fact that you’ve moved on.

Logic very rarely plays a role in these situations so although your ex may have left you, that doesn’t mean s/he won’t react to you moving on and finding some form of happiness within your new frame of reference.

The only solution here is patience and generosity. If your ex flies off the handle when you get to grips with your new reality and the brand new you, just be patient and try to be kind.

It’s not easy, not at all, but it pays off in the long run. When you’re ready to start screaming just focus on the end game and flip the script – answer anger and aggression with a smile every time.

Include the Kids!

So you have this amazing new way of looking at your situation and you are feeling great because you’ve picked up some new hobbies and finally let yourself off the hook. Everything is perfect right? Maybe not.

Your kids may not be such huge fans of your new situation, especially if your ex is struggling to move on. When the children see you adapting to your new reality and making the best of your post-divorce life they may get pretty angry. They’re probably wondering why you couldn’t be that happy with your ex.

Why did you have to leave them all to be this happy? Even if you’re not technically the one who left, they’ll probably choose to forget that detail.

The best thing you can do in this situation is explain to your minion army what you’ve been doing. You must be completely honest with your kids and explain that when you first split up everything was tainted by the sadness and anger around your marriage ending.

If your children are old enough, let them see your lists about what you lost and what you have now. They will probably appreciate these little insights into your life.

Most importantly, explain what you did to discover your new identity. Explain that you are always going to identify as their father but that now you’re taking on some new identities too. Let your children join you in discovering the new you and encourage them to try on a new post-divorce identity too. Hopefully not the surly teenager identity though!

Ditch Your Old Frame

Your frame of reference, your point of view, your outlook on life – whatever you call it – it’s critical to your mental and physical health.

As your doctor (and your mother) always tell you, you have to look after yourself. That’s true for anybody at any time but especially important for a man trying to navigate the murky waters of life after divorce.

Consider what Robert Anthony has to say on the subject: “Our consciousness, our ideas, our frame of reference and our belief system determine whether we go to the river of life with a teaspoon, a cup, a bucket or a barrel.”

The choice is yours: the teaspoon of frustration, resentment and anger, or the brand new barrel of positivity and experimentation?

What’s your current frame of reference? How did you begin to move forward after your divorce? Let us know if the comments!

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