You’re now a newly single dad. What was once a two-parent household with a one set of rules is now two households and to say only your lifestyle has changed would be an understatement. Life post-divorce brings a new routine, new systems and new rules. Adjustments will be made by both new households as the dust settles as life gets back to what will be the new normal.
Manage Your Single Dad Expectations
Take a few extra steps ahead of time and be mindful of what may come to pass. Prepare yourself for emotionally charged events that could put you into a tailspin of guilt-induced decisions. You’re a single dad packing an emergency roadside kit to handle what lies ahead. Let’s hope you don’t have to use it, but it’s nice to know you have a flare in the trunk should the need arise.
But Mom Said We Could.
The age of your children will impact their ability to adapt to the fact that they now live in two sets of households with varying sets of rules. It will also impact the pitch and level of whininess with which their protest will be delivered. Save time and your eardrums by giving some thought to your rules, boundaries and abilities ahead of time. Communicate those rules to your kids with a tone of understanding and compassion. They’ve been through a major life event. Knowing what they can expect from you and their new life will help them settle in more comfortably.
If you’re in a new house, it may be awhile before you allow their new friends to come in. If your work hours have changed, Saturday night sleepovers may be out of the question until things settle down. If you need some time to yourself, it may be lights out at 8 now instead of 9. Calmly, firmly and in a neutral setting, explain the new changes to your children at an age appropriate level. The younger the child, the less of an in-depth explanation is needed. Expect tears, exhaustion and allow yourself a heavy dose of patience as they, and you, adjust to your new routine.
The advantage of explaining the new rules to older children is that they have a better understanding of the divorce itself. They may have less difficult questions than the younger children as they have seen your marriage unravel. The potential downside to older children is their ability to verbalize their displeasure with varying levels of sarcasm, guilt and the occasional door slam. What flies as their mom’s house may not at yours. It’s neither good nor bad, it’s just what’s so. Explain the logistics behind your decisions and they will be better suited to understand and come up with creative solutions that will help everyone’s new life run smoother. They are your kids after all, allow them to surprise you with their brilliance and understanding.
Because I Said So.
Have you heard that come out of your own mouth yet? If not, just wait. It’s only a matter of time. And you know what? You’re damn right. You know why? Because at the end of the day, you’re the adult. What you say, goes. Period. I cannot stress this point enough. Yes, you are a divorced single dad. Yes, you have put your children through a life event that likely hurt them. Yes, you are likely carrying some guilt along with that, no matter how good your intentions were or what potentially hellish situation you left behind in the hopes of a better life without your ex.
Do not, I repeat, do not, allow a spinout by letting guilt control your new life and the decisions you make surrounding your children.
You are doing the best you can and that’s all anyone can ask for. Remind yourself of that fact on a daily basis and you will avoid tremendous amounts of unnecessary, battery-draining guilt. There will be times when the answer is no and it will stay that way, regardless of the methods of persuasion on behalf of the brilliant and understanding fruit of your looms.
Stay Out of the Pit
Keep your hands firmly at the ten and two position and avoid the possibility of allowing your children to pit one parent against the other, run rampant or be bought just because your marriage didn’t go the way you planned. When they get older they’ll understand, once they have your degree of life experience. At their age and with their vantage point of life, they simply cannot. Remember that and stand firm in your decisions. You are the adult. You’re in the driver’s seat
Remember that this is an adjustment period for everyone involved. At the end of what will surely be a long day in the not so distant future, pour yourself an extra glass of patience. You’re learning. You’re new to this whole single dad thing but you’ll get the hang of it. You’ll be a kick-ass single parent and you’ll hit your stride again very soon. Go easy on yourself in the meantime. And go easy on the kids too. Just remember, you’re the driver. You’re in control. Oh, and send up a flare if you need to.
Parents have hundreds of things vying for our time and attention. As a single dad, chaos seems to multiply! Between work, friends, hobbies, dating, housework, health, children, relationships, finances, safety, and social media (just to name a few) it is easy to get out of balance! There must be some…
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The decision to divorce is never an easy one. But when divorce is the only option, spending thousands on lawyers and spending months or years in a court battle isn’t necessary. If you and your spouse can work together, you might be able to get a quickie divorce.
No Fault Divorce is Faster
The waiting period for divorce differ from state to state. There are states that have practically no waiting period at all. Some have waiting periods of up to two years. Use our Divorce Law Summaries by State to get an idea of your local divorce requirements.
No fault divorces, where you and your spouse have reached an agreement on child custody and debt/property division are the most painless way to get divorced (if there is such a thing).
The following is a more detailed list of the topics you’ll need to discuss with your future ex before deciding if a do-it-yourself quickie divorce is right for your situation:
Decide who gets what. This includes all personal and joint property you accumulated as a couple, and even before. Everything is on the table here. The items you should inventory include: household furnishings, bank and investment accounts, cars/recreation vehicles and real estate.
Debt should be divided according to ability to pay, who actually took on the debt, and the division of the property.
If either you or your soon-to-be ex opted to leave the workforce in order to raise children, take care of a family member, or because of an illness or disability, alimony may be warranted. However, be very cautious when entering into an agreement to pay alimony or spousal support. Modifying such agreements can be tough.
Child Custody/Visitation/Holiday Schedule Arrangement
Decisions about who will be the custodial parent (the parent children live with for at least 51 percent of the time) how often the non-custodial parent will have access to the kids should be decided in advance. An outline of holidays and which parent will have the children on what day should also be outlined in advance.
Non-custodial parents are obligated, by law, to pay child support to the custodial parents. To determine how much child support should be paid in your situation, check your state’s website for a child support worksheet or calculator.
Do the Paperwork
In a quickie divorce, you and your spouse will have to work together to complete all the required forms and documents. The next step is to find state approved forms for uncontested divorces. To locate the proper forms, follow the steps below:
- Simply Google “[my state] divorce forms.” For example, if you live in Nevada, you would search “Nevada divorce forms.”
- Contact your county clerk’s office. County representatives can guide you to the proper web sites to download the needed forms or inform you that you need to come to the office to obtain certain forms.
After you’ve completed all the necessary forms, go over the documents to make sure that you’ve followed all of the instructions, that each answer is as complete as possible. Be sue to print and use only black ink. If you have questions or issues in filling out the forms, you can contact your county clerk or contact the Bar Association to get contact information for low cost or pro-bono attorneys.
The next step is to file the forms with your family court. The forms should be filed in the county you reside in. You’ll need multiple copies of the forms. There will also be a filing fee which is different in each county.
Finalizing Your Quickie Divorce
Uncontested divorces don’t usually require court appearances, but some counties may hold a brief hearing. Now it’s time to file your proposed final decree, along with any other documents your state requires. Once the judge signs it, a copy will be mailed to you. In most states, the time between filing and receiving the final decree is only a matter of weeks. The final decree indicates that you are officially divorced.
The process is rich in detail, and even the smallest mistake on a form or oversight in filing the correct form can lead to a delay. Be sure to look over the paperwork several times before filing, and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out to an attorney. Most are willing to give limited advice in filing, but don’t expect too much.
Divorce is painful enough. There are options out there for consenting adults to dissolve their union when they collectively decide to not make the process even more painful.
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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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Love it or hate it, social media plays a large part in our everyday lives. From Twitter to Facebook to Instagram to Snapchat to Youtube, it doesn’t matter how far you run, it always seems to catch up. Phones have become permanent fixtures in our hands, and we spend hours and hours staring at both small and large screens. We take photos of food, friends, and events to share with other people who write the same hashtag as us. We ask for advice from complete strangers before our families. We’d rat her spend a night commenting on Youtube videos than go out to the theater with friends. We do things for the views and not for ourselves anymore.
And of course, one of the places you can see the effects of online communication the most is on your marriage. Social media is one of those things that sneaks in under the radar because “everyone is doing it,” and before you know it, it’s caused a large rift between you and your wife and you don’t understand why. So, how can all this online activity harm your marriage? Let’s count the ways.
Tuning Out/Ignoring Your Partner
This is probably one of the most obvious ways online behavior harms your marriage. Have you ever tried to have a conversation with your wife in bed and she just kind of nods along while scrolling through Instagram pictures? Has your wife ever tried to stand in front of the computer so that you’ll hear what she’s saying? In both situations, the other person starts to feel disrespected, unheard and forgotten. Nothing feels worse than not being as interesting or engaging to your SO as random pictures or words from strangers.
The worse part about this is that, for the most part, people don’t understand that what they’re doing is hurtful or disrespectful. They’re just caught up doing something different. As much as humans wish they can multi-task, humans are better at focusing on one task at a time. So when you or your SO goes to interrupt the other, the person using social media can’t switch from one task to another. That’s why you get the nods and the “Uh-huh, uh-huh,” even when she’s not hearing a word you’re saying. And that’s also why your wife goes nuclear after you shrugged off yet another attempt to ask you about your day.
So, how can you fix this?
First, if you’re the one guilty of ignoring your wife, it’s time to make more of an effort to put down the phone, turn off the computer, or close the tablet and listen. Yes, look her in the eyes and engage with her. If you find it hard to disconnect, then maybe you need to begin to ask her for help. Ask her to take your phone or hide your phone after dinner. Go for a walk together and leave your phone at home. Have blackout times where both of you are forbidden from using your phone.
If she’s the one who seems to be ignoring you in favor of FB, then you need to bring up your concerns. Tell her that her social media usage makes you feel disrespected, ignored in your marriage, and hurt. Tell her that you want to reconnect and then, just as above, make times where you both aren’t allowed to touch your phone. If you and your wife have a competitive streak, you can even make it into a game (“The first person to touch their phone has to do the dishes….naked.”) 9 times out of 10, she probably doesn’t even realize she’s disrespectful and so you need to show her that this is no longer acceptable and you want a change. If she cares about you and the marriage, she should try to make an effort to help solve the issue
It creates unrealistic expectations
Social media is fake. Or rather, it’s an exaggeration on real life. Everyone wants to show the best parts of themselves online. It’s not very often someone posts something mediocre or dull online. Instead, everything is flashy and glamorous and perfect. Everyone has a perfect marriage, job, and house on the internet.
It’s easy to get swept up in these fantasies. When everyone around you looks like they’re having the best time of their life and you’re not, it’s hard not to wonder if things would be easier with a different partner.
Here’s the thing though
No one has a perfect relationship, job, body or life. When you start to compare your life to social media, you will always lose. Your wife will always lose when compared to an airbrushed supermodel. If you had that woman though, she wouldn’t be as perfect as you thought she would be. Maybe she’d be a violent alcoholic or someone all of your friends hate. You get my drift.
So, treat social media like you would a magazine. It’s nice to look at, but it’s far from reality. And when you look at your marriage – don’t compare it to everyone else’s “Online Marriage.” Instead, compare it to what it was before. Has your relationship gotten better or has it gotten worse? If it’s worse, why? Can you return it back to the way it was before? In what ways has it improved? That is the real test as to if your marriage is headed in the right direction.
It fosters jealousy, snooping, and infidelity
Social Media can turn a relationship into a toxic cesspool in one fell swoop.
Because online networking is so far-reaching, it’s very easy to connect with a million different people from a million different places. You can make new friends, new business partners, and yes, new partners. In fact, experts say that social networks have made it easier to cheat with both familiar partners and also previously unknown strangers.
So when someone is permanently on their phone (especially late at night or during times when normally they wouldn’t be), it can cause the other person in the relationship to question what they’re doing. It’s not unheard of, then, for one partner to go snooping on the other partner to see if their concerns are valid. Often, even if there aren’t any red flags on the social media account, the partner who snoops will find out something they didn’t want to know. Perhaps there’s nothing explicit in the chat, but the two people discuss their marriages or issues in their marriage. Maybe there are a few flirty chat messages here and there. Whatever there are, one partner is eventually going to end up questioning the other. The other partner is then going to get angry as well because their privacy was invaded. This causes an obvious rift between the couple.
Jealousy is also created when one person in the marriage is constantly “liking” or looking at another person’s online accounts. Often these “likes” will pop up on their SO’s homepage, which can deeply hurt the person who sees their partner is engaging with someone new…usually in a flirty or sexual manner.
Both of these scenarios are relatively normal occurrences when dealing with social media.
An excellent way to fix this is to be upfront with your wife and most im portantly, yourself. If you’ve started engaging with someone online for validation, you need to stop what you’re doing and take a long hard look at your marriage. Why do you need this person’s approval in your life? Why can’t you get this from your wife? Have you both been drifting further from each other? Once you realize that your marriage needs work, you need to be the one to cut off contact with your virtual crush and get to work rekindling the spark with your wife. Take all of that time and effort you spend on your online crush and put it towards your wife. Be upfront with her about where you’re at in the marriage and the things you would like to improve.
If she’s the one who is spending a lot of time talking to a certain someone online, sit down and talk to her. Tell her that you’ve noticed what’s going on, you feel disrespected, and you want to work together to get your marriage back to where it was. Be direct, but not accusatory. If you snooped on your wife, then also fess up this. Tell her that you know it was unacceptable, but you were worried about your relationship and wanted to look into it further. She probably won’t be happy – but don’t let her use this as an excuse not to talk about what’s going on with her online crush. Both of you did something wrong to hurt the other’s trust, and both of you need to work through those issues together. If you find that you’re both stuck fighting the same fight ad nauseum, it’s time to look into marriage counseling.
Of course, if you find hard evidence of cheating, then you need to consider if working on your marriage is worth it. Sure, social networks makes it easier to cheat, but your wife’s actions ultimately come down to her. Your boundaries are yours to decide, but make sure that if she has done something that you find unforgivable, then you need to find a divorce lawyer and start getting everything ready. If you’re still willing to work on the marriage, then marriage counseling should be your next step. Either way, know that you get to decide what is right for you and your life and that you have control of how you react. Make the choice that is right for you.
Creating a false life to get likes
Social media is addictive for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest ones is because it gives you immediate positive feedback. In fact, according to the UCLA Brain Mapping Center, the “social” and “visual” parts of your brain are activated when you receive “likes” on Instagram-like social networks. To add to this, it doesn’t matter if the like is from a complete stranger or your friend – it all feels the same. So if you post a picture and someone likes it, it makes you feel good. When you see people comment on your posts and respond, it makes you feel popular. You want to continue to feel good and popular, so you share things more and more.
On a small scale, this isn’t a problem in a marriage. It becomes a problem when you are no longer living your life for you, but instead, you’re doing things for a faceless group of strangers who have the ability to like your content. A great example of this is when you and your wife have been arguing, but 10 minutes later, you both take a cute photo together with big smiles on your faces and “I love you sooooo much!” as the caption. Of course, you love each other – but at this moment, it’s not real. You’re posting this for other people – not the two of you. And do you really think you’ll look back fondly on that moment or will you be thinking of the huge fight you had before you took it?
It’s hard to separate an online persona from the real life, but you and your wife need to do this to have a healthy marriage. It’s okay to have online presence as an accessory to your marriage, but when it starts becoming more about the facade than the actual relationship, it may be time to take a break. Go camping far from Wi-Fi, take a hiatus, or limit your recreation online time on a weekly basis. Put the phones down during dinner, enjoy the music at the concert without Snapchatting, and talk to each other like you used to do.
Social Media is a Tool
Overall, social media is a tool. And just like all tools, its usefulness depends on how you use it. If you let it take over your life, run rampant through your marriage, and take up all of your free time, then prepare to have a very chaotic relationship with your wife. If you decide to use it in moderation, then make a conscious effort to keep that standard in your marriage. If your wife is struggling with a social networking addiction, then you need to be direct and upfront about what’s going on. Ultimately, it is her choice to quit her addiction – but you can be the guiding light that shows her that her behavior is unacceptable and how to get help. And honestly, in the end, your marriage is worth more than a few hundred likes. Don’t forget that.
(c) Can Stock Photo / AntonioGuillem
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