Are you the poster child for couch potato? Does your life consist of a back and forth volley of work and couch? Has “couch” become a verb for you? “Nah, thanks for the invite, but I’m actually going to couch it tonight.”
It is incredibly easy to get into a brain and heart-numbing pattern after a divorce, mindlessly flipping through channels. After all you’ve been through, going into your man-cave is totally natural and necessary, but the key is to avoid getting so comfortable there that it’s a permanent change of address, rather than a temporary getaway. Luckily, there are several options from which to choose to breathe life back into your life.
We start with the most obvious of choices, and the shortest distance from the couch potato position to the front seat of life: if you want to know what it feels like to be fully alive again, come close to death. Kickstart your heart the old fashioned way and scare yourself. Jump out of an airplane. Bungee jump. Skydive. Run with the bulls. Anything that makes you kiss the ground in thanks once it’s over will suffice. Feel your heart in your chest and the adrenaline rush that let’s you know you’re alive. Repeat as necessary.
The next obvious choice is a good old-fashioned sporting match. A couch potato watches the game on T.V. You can do better. But don’t just go to a game; go to a pinnacle of an event, featuring the best of the best. Attend the World Cup. Feel the full impact of a rugby match. Get up close and personal at lacrosse. Any sport where the athletes are true athletes and fans have more than just the game on the line is a great choice. Attend a sporting match where you are a part of something larger than yourself, where you find yourself surrounded by fans for whom bragging rights, loyalties, and the blood, sweat and tears of generations are at play. Remember that life is about being a part of something greater, and let the energy of the moment lift your spirits.
(No, not the usual kind.) Does the thought of singing in front of thousands get your adrenaline going? If you can’t stand-in for the front man of a major band, no worries: go sing karaoke. Don’t laugh! You’re not just gonna simply sing karaoke, you’re going to rock. Big difference. Does your heart start pounding and palms start sweating at the thought? Awesome. That’s a good sign that you are not, in fact, dead. There’s hope for you yet.
If getting on stage terrifies you to the point of inaction, go in front of one instead. Buy the next available ticket to a band in town and just go. Get in front. Feel the bass reverberate through your chest. Get jostled around by people who are swept up in the fervor. Dance. Feel self-conscious? Guess what? Nobody gives two shits about what you’re doing. They are in the moment feeling the music. You can be too.
This is the least obvious of the four choices, but one that may have the most impact on your heart because, in the long term, it has the least to do with you. Find an activity that allows you to look at life from a different perspective, any other perspective than that from which you currently stand (or rather, sit, if you’re a couch potato). Find a cause that matters to you and volunteer; be a big brother, work with rescue animals, deliver meals to shut-in seniors.
Volunteer at a hospice or visit someone in a nursing home. Understand that there are those that don’t have as much time left on this beautiful earth as you do; maybe it’ll be just what you need to realize life is precious and it’s time to start participating again. Speak to those that are further down the path of life than you are. Listen to their stories of love and loss and understand that you will love and be loved again. Donate blood. Build a house. Anything that is not about you, but that will make you feel alive again.
It’s okay if your pace has slowed to the point where Mr. Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street could run laps around you, but now is the time to take matters into your own hands and resuscitate your life.
If You Need a Couch Potato Intercession
If you can’t muster the energy to make it from the couch to the car alone, email this article to a friend and type “Help” in the subject line. They’ll know what to do next. Getting out the door is the hardest part.
(c) Can Stock Photo / ocusfocus
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For men, sport leagues are often central to memories of growing up. Reminiscing on the camaraderie of a team, snack bar nachos, the thrill of competition, family screaming from the stands, and the exhilaration of a home run, a 3 pointer right at the buzzer or a perfectly placed goal kick — all of these can bring back emotions as fresh as if they happened yesterday.
Sport Leagues Aren’t Just For Kids
We shed much of our childhood joys as we grow into our adult lives, but playing on sport leagues doesn’t have to be one of them. Adult leagues from dodgeball (yes, I said dodge ball!) to indoor volleyball, flag football, and more exist in cities and towns all across the country. As the motto of The Las Vegas Dodgeball Society says, “Who says adults can’t have recess?”
Adult sport leagues are great for couples or singles. If you’re looking to bring back that youthful, carefree feeling of playing in a league, but also want to squeeze in more quality time with your partner while doing it, you can have your Twinkie and eat it too. As a couple, it’s difficult to find activities to do together that are affordable and out of the ordinary “dinner and a movie” routine. Since many adult sport leagues are co-ed, they can give those that are dating or married a chance to bond (or, in other words, get the “we never do anything fun together anymore” nagging to stop), in an active, social environment, all without bloating the budget.
For singles it can be a real score. You can make friends, and find potential love interests, without the pressure and expense of dating.
Relax and Be One of the Guys
Same-sex sport leagues can be a heaven-sent escape from the stress of work and kids. A softball league, basketball league, or soccer team can be a fun opportunity to grab relief from the responsibilities of family life, and just be one of the guys.
Adult leagues integrate a healthy, active lifestyle, with the fun and games that made team sports such a blast growing up. When compared with being stuck on a treadmill, or the sometimes intimidating and cliquish environment of membership gyms, getting out and smacking some softballs, capturing the flag or dodging balls as they fly at your face, can be a fun, stress-free recreation loaded with health and fitness benefits. Staying active is essential as we age, in order to maintain flexibility, a healthy heart, balance and metabolism. If staying in shape is something that we must do for ourselves, why not make it an entertaining routine you look forward to every week?
The Right Team For You
Whether indoor or outdoor sports are your preference, and whether you favor serious competition, or more friendly fun, there is an adult league that is right for you. Check online for the sport or recreation that brings back the old thrill of green grass, uniforms, sunflower seeds and pre-game pep talks.
And the best part about adult sport leagues? The post-game pizza comes with beer.
(c) Can Stock Photo / photocreo
Yeah, so your wife walked out on you. Or told you to get out, one of the two. Hey, I know the feeling. I’ve been there. One day my wife of thirteen years up and left, leaving myself and our children hanging out to dry. It wasn’t like the signs weren’t there, but you live in hope, right?
I had been working two jobs for the majority of our time together, just so we could get by. I suddenly had to quit one of them after almost ten years for the sake of childcare. (The next week, I got let go at my other one, the “day job,” but that was more coincidence than anything)
And then there were the questions I had to dodge from the kids about where Mom was, keep making excuses because the shock and anger and confusion was so fresh I didn’t know up from down.
The Getting Past It Process
This is really the first step in the whole Getting Past It process – resetting your mental state from Married to Not Married. It’s like the old saying: the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Once you realize that things are now no longer what they were, it’s easier to move on.
And no, it’s not going to be easy. I know that. There are going to be days you don’t want to go to work, get out of bed, shower, any of that. It’s natural. You just had a total system shock that has disrupted all your routines and functions, and you aren’t going to know what to do next.
This is why it’s important to get your head back into the game of Life sooner than later. If you don’t have your old routines and associations to fall back on, it’s imperative you find new ones of some kind. Humans are generally, by nature, social creatures, even if it just happens to be over the Internet. It is also completely natural to tend to isolate yourself in a time of extreme duress. Or worse, engage in self-destructive behaviors.
Don’t Give In
It’s a little reductive and simplistic to say “Don’t do that,” but, seriously, don’t do that. The temptation to drink until your heart stops may be great, but it never helps anyone. Least of all, you.
The temptation to drink until your heart stops may be great, but it never helps anyone. Least of all, you.
It’s also imperative not to succumb to the sort of bitterness and anger that will accompany events like these. It’s OK to feel this way; in fact, it’s perfectly natural, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But let’s not let it become the driving force in your life. Yes, Guy Talk sometimes revolves around how the Woman Done You Wrong. But even the most avid sports fans don’t want to talk football 24/7. Likewise, even your best friend doesn’t want to hear about your evil bitch ex from you either. Or worse, see your rage in action against people who more than likely don’t deserve to be on the receiving end of it.
Furthermore, it’s important to not let any of these feelings show with your kids. It had nothing to do with them, so as much as you don’t want to take it out on any innocent bystanders as I said above, that goes triple for your kids. And hey, things will slip out. I’m just as guilty of it too. But moving on also means knowing when you screwed up, and learning from it. If you slag off their mother in front of them, you screwed up. And trust me, you will hear about it at some point.
Really, it’s in everybody’s best interests to move on, and more importantly, move forward, after your wife walked out on you. Yes, it sucks. Yes, there’s messy divorce hearings coming up with custody questions and child support and division of property and division of debt and all that. Which is precisely why moving on sooner, rather than later, will be beneficial to you – you can deal with these problems with a clearer head, without overriding feelings of pain and anger complicating an already complicated process.
Reclaiming Your Life After Your Wife Walked Out
Seriously, go read a book. Write a book. Pick up a hobby (but not too expensive!). Reassess your life, your career. Make new friends. Reconnect with old ones you haven’t seen in a while. Do something for your children. Do something for someone else’s children. Do anything that makes you see a world beyond the point where your wife walked out on you and your family. If nothing else, it’ll get your mind off of it for a little while, and sometimes a little while becomes a long while.
Otherwise… well. You ever watch that show King Of The Hill? Yeah, you know Bill? That’s not a good look on you, man.
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Want a little help now that you’re starting over single? Not pie-in-the-sky advice, but something you can start today? Stop acting your age and take this opportunity to try something new. Give those preconceived notions the boot and learn to loosen up a little. No, we’re not talking the swinging single stereotype, just open yourself to a different experience, something you may have never tried on your own. Sound difficult? Don’t worry, we’re here to help, one step at a time. You’ve got this.
The Escape Room
You’ve met someone new. Met in person and had a few quasi-dates at the local coffee shop. She has an idea. “Don’t worry; you’ll love it!” She leans in, hand around your arm, explaining the premise behind the new escape room in town. “So we’re trapped in a room with ten other people, and we have to work together to figure out how to escape.” She waits expectantly, knowing you’ll be as excited as she is.
You aren’t. Puzzles aren’t your thing. Your idea was a day trip to a local winery, or maybe lunch along the coast. But hold off before you tell her no. Starting over means trying new things, and there’s no time like the present. Just because you’ve never done something before doesn’t mean you can’t try it now. Believe it or not, there’s room for new experiences and the winery tour. It’s all about mindset.
Too often, our early life experiences peg us as a very specific type. If you’ve ever taken a personality test, you may be thinking you fit neatly into a certain slot, and that’s not necessarily true. People are complex. After a while, we grow comfortable with the label and forget that we can change it. Everyone changes over time, but that doesn’t mean life needs to become predictable. Let’s go back in time for a bit. Here’s how to do it.
If you can dream it, you’re on the right track.
The first step to regaining that childlike wonder and desire to play (for real) is to think about it. To remember what it was to be like a kid, without worries or concerns about what someone else might think. Think back to how easy it was to jump in a lake, to fall when you were learning to skate. Worry stimulates the production of cortisol in the brain; chronic worry can wear you down, and even lead to depression in some instances.
Take a walk down memory lane and remember how wonderful it was as a child not to worry about everything you did. Now, think about what you might like to do now.
Michael was 55 years old with a teenage son keen on learning to snowboard. Eager to spend time with his son, with a bad knee and no knowledge of snowboarding, Michael signed them both up for lessons. It turns out the knee was okay, and both enjoyed the lessons. Season passes all around. “I thought I wasn’t going to like it, but I was completely wrong. I feel like a kid again in the snow,” says Michael. Opening himself to new experiences has provided a new way to connect.
How open are you?
We all carry preconceived notions of how we would handle certain situations. Some are based in past experience, but others find their roots in how we think people expect us to act. And then there’s the whole fear of the unknown thing. Having active imaginations, it’s pretty easy for us to imagine worse case scenarios. In reality, most of the things we fear will never come to pass. In reality, most of the benefits gained won’t even be considered. If you take the time to consider all the cons, do yourself a favor and try to name a few good results as well. You may be surprised once you think about it.
You’re never too old for starting over
John was widowed at age 72. For years, he had invested virtually every hour working and rarely took a vacation. When Grace died, he realized it was time for a change – for starting over. His grandchildren were growing up and would soon head off to college. Putting work aside, he jumped in with both feet. Waterparks and water slides, learning how to sew, teaching his grand-daughter carpentry skills, road trips with his daughter. There isn’t anything he won’t try. The result? He’s lighter and more accepting of the everyday. A perfectionist, he’s learned to laugh at himself and enjoy the experience, realizing that perfection isn’t necessary.
Loosen Up & Laugh…At Yourself
You’ve got to be willing to laugh at yourself. It may be difficult. We all want to think of ourselves as exceptional or at least above average. We can get it, and we can do anything, and do it well. Not always, and that’s okay. Learning to join in the laughter can be exhilarating and freeing. It releases you from the stress of perfection and allows you to enjoy the ride, realizing we’re all in this together and no one is perfect. Remember the laughter is not malicious, not meant to give offense. It connects us as we’re all in the same boat; no one is gifted in everything.
Act your shoe size, not your age
It’s an adage that can ring true, to some extent. We can all most likely remember things we said or did at 10 or 11 that weren’t out proudest moments. Skip those. Instead, remember the thrill of discovering something new, the pride you felt when you learned a new skill. You can still feel that way now, and your brain will thank you. Sure, there are any number of websites that offer brain games designed to stimulate new pathways and give your brain a workout. But consider going old school. Get out and try something new. Put that brain to work in an escape room. Learn how to ballroom dance. Or maybe give hip-hop a try. Climb on a snowboard or give a longboard a try. Want to start a little smaller? Try poetry, or graphic novels or read the classics. Be brave a little it at a time.
Broadening Your Horizons
Why bother? That’s the wrong question, try this one instead. Why not? As children, we are eager to learn new things, to take on challenges in a fresh, exciting world. As adults, we tend not to get as enthusiastic about change. We project a “been there, done that” attitude because as adults we have responsibilities, and there’s work to be done. And both of those things are true. But learning something new and managing adult responsibilities are not mutually exclusive. You can have both if you want. It really is a choice.
Back to that Escape Room Date
It doesn’t have to be a date with a new companion, though that would be fun. It can be with your kids, or your friends, or perhaps with a group of people you don’t know all that well. Regardless, the idea is to stretch yourself to embrace new ideas, to ponder new puzzles, to expand your horizons. You have the ultimate power to decide, to choose, how you want to live your life. Divorce was only one chapter. What’s next for you?
(c) Can Stock Photo / ollyy
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The #YesAllWomen hashtag popped up on social networks like Facebook and Twitter in 2014 as part of the social media campaign about women in response to the tragic May 2014 killings in Isla Vista, California by gunman Elliot Rodgers, who posted a lengthy diatribe and a YouTube video detailing his misogynistic reasons for committing the murders. #YesAllWomen was an attempt to show that, while not all men participate in what has come to be called “rape culture” — the culture which objectifies women and regards them as merely subject to the desires and attitudes of men — all women do participate, whether they want to or not.
If you’re a rational, intelligent, empathetic man, the #YesAllWomen hashtag and the discussions surrounding it make for heartbreaking, eye-opening and — if we’re being honest — depressing reading. It can certainly make you question your own unintentional complicity in the rape culture it describes — are you truly innocent of sexism and misogyny? And frankly, it can make you terrified of even attempting to engage romantically with women…particularly if you’re a recently divorced dude who hasn’t had to really think about it in a long time.
The Language Has Changed
The world changes, and we must change with it. Attitudes and behaviors that were once tolerated or even acceptable — even a few years ago — are unacceptable now. When I was a kid, growing up in the 1980s in suburban Texas, for example, we thought nothing of using terms like “faggot” and “homo” as catch-all playground insults against one another. But dropping those words into conversation at a cocktail party in polite urban society these days is a pretty good way to ensure you don’t get invited to the next one.
It took me years to stop using “gay” as a synonym for “lame”, as in “Dude, your car is so gay.” There was never any real homophobia behind my language — I grew up in a family that went through the AIDS struggle in a very personal way and I never had any hatred or even dislike of LGBT people. It was simply the way I learned to talk from those around me. And many people still use that as an excuse — that it’s simply the way they were raised.
The truth is that how you or I were raised is, frankly, irrelevant. In a civilized society, where we interact with people of all races, cultures, genders and sexual orientations, we refer to people the way they want — or do not want — to be referred. We treat them with the same respect we’d want for ourselves. There’s nothing political or religious about it, by the way: it’s simply good manners, the hallmark of a true gentleman.
And that most certainly extends to the way we talk to and about women.
A Sense of Entitlement About Women
When you’re a boy, girls are weird. They look different. They act differently. They care about different things. As you grow up, so do they…and rather than being weird mutants, they become heart-wrenching, otherworldly creatures, targets of our purest desire. I mean, they have boobs, for God’s sake.
It is a cruel joke of evolutionary biology that boys become desperately interested in girls right at the moment that puberty turns them into awkward, insecure, cracked-voiced, acne-ridden meatballs. But that’s the way it goes. For most men, our first attempts at romance are metaphorically accompanied less by sexy saxophone solos and more by the sound of a drunk hobo playing a sad trombone.
Unfortunately, a lot of us go into adulthood still thinking that women are a mystery, that we have to somehow trick them into liking us…especially if we’re not conventionally attractive or charming. Worse yet, we’re taught by society and media that we deserve their attentions and affections.
This sense of entitlement gives rise to a particularly noxious subculture, typified by the PUA (or “pickup artist”) movement, who treat seduction as a sort of sleight-of-hand trick that anybody can learn if they practice from the manual long enough. For these men, women are marks who must be conned or tricked into having sex. It never seems to occur to these men that women might be actual humans with their own agency or that the reason they perpetually fail to attract the opposite sex is because they’re just really creepy and gross.
Being A Nice Guy Isn’t a Free Pass
Many men go the opposite route: they try to be as adoring and accommodating and caring as possible to the women they want…only to be dismayed to discover that simply being nice to someone doesn’t automatically mean they want to have sex with you. These are the men who complain about being “friendzoned” or — like Elliot Rodgers in his pathetic imbecile’s memoir — that “women don’t like nice guys”. They fail to understand that they are not nice guys. A nice guy is nice because he’s nice, not because he expects a reward for his decency.
Women don’t owe men their love, or their bodies. They don’t even owe you a conversation. If you try to talk to a woman at a bar and she ignores you, she’s not a bitch. She just doesn’t want to talk to you, and it doesn’t matter how convinced you are that she might find you fascinating or intriguing or sexy if she just gave you a chance. She doesn’t owe you a chance. She owes you nothing at all.
Finding Love Is Like Finding a Job
If it’s any consolation, you can think of finding love — or even sex — as being like finding a job. You may think you’re the ideal candidate for the position: after all, you’ve got every possible reference, you’re totally qualified. But that’s not your call to make. It’s the person on the other side of the desk’s call, and all the whining in the world about women isn’t going to change that. (It should go without saying that the opposite is true as well; you may be the dream applicant for the job, but that doesn’t mean you have to take it.)
If a job interview goes badly, you don’t go home and get drunk and whine that all HR people are jerks because none of them want to hire you, do you? So why would you do that when a woman turns you down?
Here’s how you treat women in the 21st century: with the same respect and courtesy you’d treat a man. Do that and you’ll receive the same respect right back from women. Yes: all women.
(c) Can Stock Photo / rmarmion
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Divorce is often a two-way street. Even if one person initiates it, both parties are usually aware that there are major issues in the relationship. But that doesn’t mean no one has ever been blindsided by divorce.
In fact, if you feel like your divorce came out of nowhere, you’re in the same boat as many men who were unaware their marriage was in trouble. Two-thirds of divorces are initiated by women, and the men don’t always see it coming. If you were blindsided by divorce, here’s some advice to live by.
The First Stage of Being Blindsided by Divorce
If your wife files for divorce out of the blue, you probably feel like you were hit by a train. You may not know how to respond, and it will be tough to come to terms with your new reality for a while. You may start begging her to change her mind or blaming yourself for every little mistake you’ve made in the relationship. You’ll likely feel confused, shocked and betrayed, and it’s going to take some time to get back on your feet.
Every one of the strong emotions you’ re feeling are normal, and it will take some time to get your bearings. To be living happily one moment and all the sudden be hit with life-changing news would take a toll on anyone, but there are things you can do to help yourself through this troubling time and come out even stronger than before.
Think Back to Warning Signs
You may feel like you got blindsided by divorce, but take some time to reflect on your relationship to see if there were any warning signs. Did you and your spouse ever talk about the negative aspects of your relationship? Every marriage has its ups and downs, but when the going gets rough, communication is everything. It’s key to holding a relationship together. If you and your ex never talked about your problems and let the issues build up inside of you, that could lead to toxicity in your relationship.
Other warning signs could include your spouse finding excuses to spend less time with you, a lack of intimacy, or increased criticism. Disagreements over little things, again and again , a lack of respect and overly defensive engagements are also signs your marriage was heading downhill. Reflecting on the warning signs will help you come to terms with your divorce as well as help you in your future relationships.
Lean on Your Support Network
You’re going to need your support network more than ever when you’re blindsided by divorce. Lean on friends and family who are always there to support you and know how to have your back. Sure, it’s tempting to turn to someone who bad mouths your ex, but it’s much healthier and productive to stay away from them and spend time with encouraging people who will help you get back on your feet.
If you have a therapist, call them as soon as you can. And if you don’t, look into getting one ASAP. You’ll likely be dealing with a lot of emotions you don’t know how to handle, and although your friends are there for you, they may not know how to respond or give advice if they’ve never been through your situation themselves. A therapist can help you get back on track and deal with your overwhelming feelings.
Do Your (Attorney) Homework
You’re probably going to need an attorney to deal with your divorce, but hold off on hiring the first one you meet. You may just want to get it over with , or you may be scared and want to grab the first one you come in contact with, but make sure to do your homework. The first lawyer you consult may not be the right one for you, and when you’re dealing with a life-altering event like divorce, you want to make sure you’ve got the right person behind you. Make sure they aren’t just telling you what you want to hear, so you’ll hire them. They have to give you good advice, listen to you, and have your best interests in mind at all times.
Be Aware of All Financial Changes
Being blindsided by divorce is tough enough as it is without the financial changes that come along with it, and the last thing you want is to have your finances out of whack without being prepared. With attorney fees, court costs, and other expenses, divorce is expensive in itself, but you need to be aware of financial changes that come with a divorce.
Your tax filing status changes after a divorce, and you’re likely going to need to find a new place to live. If you were paying off a mortgage, car loan, or shared debt, make sure those is sues get addressed in your divorce settlement. Remember that as long as your name is still attached to a financial obligation, you have to be ready for anything. If you have kids, you need to work out child support, and a splitting of assets means rethinking your retirement plan.
Keep It Off Social Media
Social media has become somewhat of a public diary, and it can be tempting to tell everyone on your Facebook page what a horrible person your ex is because you were blindsided by divorce. Don’t be that guy that gets in serious trouble down the road. Keep in mind that anything you say on social media can be used against you in your divorce case.
Not only that, your friends, family and acquaintances on social media will look at you in a different light. Some may comment with encouraging words, but let’s face it, no one likes to see people airing their dirty laundry on social media.
It’s easy to vent and say bad things about your ex-spouse when you first get hit by divorce, but you’ll probably regret it down the road. The bottom line: if you want your divorce to go smoothly, keep quiet on social media.
Divorce Isn’t Always a Bad Thing
When you’re blindsided by divorce, it can feel like the world is crumbling beneath you, especially if it came out of nowhere. One day you see yourself as a happily married man, and the next you’re looking for a lawyer and figuring out when you’ll have to go to court. But most marriages don’t just end for no reason, and even if you feel like it came as a surprise, you were likely aware of some of the problems in your marriage beforehand.
Look at your divorce as an opportunity. Maybe there’s an activity you always wanted to get into or a different career path you wanted, but you got sidetracked when you got married. Divorce is a very good time for self-reflection and digging deeper into what you want your ideal life to look like. Take the opportunity to follow your passion and start fresh! It may not be a quick turnaround, and it will likely take time to get back on your feet, but when you look at it as an opportunity rather than a loss, you’ll bounce back much faster.
(c) Can Stock Photo / diego_cervo
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