Establishing a gratefulness practice is an excellent way to combat stress and overcome the effects of depression after divorce. A simple plan to be more thankful is likely to be one of the most profound changes you can make as you begin to adapt to your new environment as a divorced man.
Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.
― Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
Appreciating What You’ve Got
The concept here is very easy to understand, and it really doesn’t require you have a particular faith, only that you are willing to look at your life as a gift. We often go through our daily lives forgetting to take stock and be thankful for all the wonderful things that we have. Learning to recognize these gifts and show appreciation for them is one of the keys to living a happier life, and goes a long way for overcoming the lingering effects of depression after divorce.
One of my favorite quotes concerning life is from author Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comic series, spoken by the character Death: “You get what anybody gets – you get a lifetime.”
Personally, I really do subscribe to the belief that our merely being here is a ridiculously amazing thing beyond comprehension. That we are here at all is astounding, and that we can observe this and “feel alive” is certainly something I would consider a blessing. Life is a gift, whether granted from a higher power or simply the luck of a billion years of DNA recombining; either way, learning to appreciate it will have a profound affect on your sense of well being.
The point is; in order to experience life with a sense of joy and wonder, we merely have to remember to be thankful for what we have. Learning to do so, on a continuing and very conscious level, is what I mean when I refer to having a gratefulness practice.
Taking Stock Helps Combat Depression After Divorce
What is the first thing you do in the morning? I would suggest that here, when we first awake, is a really good place to begin our practice. True, we all take a minute, sometimes longer, to get present when we come out of sleep. Some hit the ground running while others linger with their dreams as long as they can. Whichever approach to your morning applies for you, once you begin the process of assessing your day, as we all do, work to notice the good things first.
Is your bed warm and dry? Did you sleep well? Do you have running water to look forward to? Is there food in the refrigerator? Is the sun shining? Do you get to do good work today?
These are just a very few ideas of things to focus on to get your grateful, thankful self to start running the show. Take a few minutes as soon as your brain starts to focus on the day, and begin to practice gratefulness. Say silent (or spoken) words of thanks for at least five things before you even rise out of bed. I promise you that within days you will begin to feel a noticeable shift in how the progress of your week feels.
The more we focus our thoughts on what is going right in our lives, the more we experience life as positive and meaningful, even when we are dealing with some level of depression after divorce. The trick is training our minds to actively seek out the good while dismissing the bad (dealing with negativity without giving it any additional space in our thoughts). Sure, we all can get frustrated, feel like we are being maligned, suffer unfortunate events or feel we’re having a run of bad luck. The point is to try and find things that make us happy, Learn to look for the silver linings.
The Only Change is to Your Perspective
A gratefulness practice does not require you to suddenly change all the little aspects of your life you are dissatisfied with. On the contrary, the practice is best suited to just learning to reframe your experience. Instead of getting mad because you seem to be continually late for engagements, use your practice to notice that you like to take your time, and embrace the part of you that moves slowly, instead of cursing it for making you late.
Of course, we aren’t trying to excuse problems in your life or lessen the need to address them. We just want to keep getting better at looking at what IS working, and keep reinforcing those behaviors. Taking time out of your day both scheduled and impromptu, to look at the good in your life, will slowly and surely transform your entire outlook on life.
So, if you’re feeling depressed, if you’re overwhelmed or just generally stressed out; take heart. Applying a simple practice of being grateful for the gifts of life that are right in front of you, will keep you finding more.
(c) Can Stock Photo / Gajus
With so many online dating websites and apps, trying to find a date can start to feel a little overwhelming, especially if you’re hot off a divorce. Meeting someone in real life (IRL) can be refreshing and much more meaningful. The best thing you can do is try to get out as much as possible. Spending all your free time at home, hiding behind your computer or smartphone isn’t the best way to get over a divorce. And don’t hide behind your screen when you’re out in public, either. People are much less likely to come up and start a conversation with you if you’re in your own world on your phone.
Why You Should Find a Date IRL
There seems to be an endless opportunity for dates in the online world, which is precisely the problem. The fact that there are so many options means people think they can sift through different apps until they find an ideal human they’ve conjured up in their minds. But dating apps encourage you to sit behind a screen rather than getting out there to meet new people. The problem with dating apps is that people are always thinking about the potential that the next person they come across could be better than the one they’re talking to right now. It’s often a never-ending cycle of feeling unsatisfied because of the possibility that there’s something better out there.
Getting out into the real world, you’re forced to be confident, be friendly and make meaningful connections with real people who aren’t at home scrolling through their phones waiting for the next best thing. Always make sure to smile and start a conversation with someone, even if it’s just to say hi. These small interactions will get you ready for more meaningful conversations that come your way.
If you’re ready to get back into the dating game after divorce, here are 10 of the best places to score a date IRL.
1. A Friend’s Get Together/Party
Meeting someone through a friend is one of the most popular ways to find a date. In fact, ReportLinker found that 58% of single Americans meet potential dates through friends. They’ve already got your friend’s stamp of approval, and you may be more comfortable knowing they aren’t a total stranger. When your friends throw a get-together or party, try to make it out to as many as you can and talk to as many people as you can. The more people you meet and the more you get yourself out there, the better chance you have to find a date.
2. The Gym
Do you spend lots of time at the gym? It may be a good place to find your next date. I know multiple couples who are now living together who first met at their gym. If you’re a regular at your local gym, you start to see familiar faces that spend their time there too. And you already have something in common you can chat about (fitness!). When you’re working out, your endorphins and adrenaline are already high, so it’s a good time to put yourself out there.
3. A Coffee Shop
Do you work out of office? Or enjoy spending Saturday mornings at your neighborhood coffee shop? There are likely other singles who are doing the same. Many people keep to themselves at coffee shops, but that doesn’t mean they’re totally closed off to a conversation. Test the waters. You can usually tell within the first few seconds whether someone is up for chatting or not. Start a conversation around the book they’re reading or the drink they ordered. You never know who you could meet!
4. The Dog Park
If you have a dog, take them to a dog park rather than just walking around the streets in your neighborhood. It’s so easy to strike up a conversation with another dog owner, and the fact that you’re both animal lovers can make your connection even stronger. Don’t keep to yourself at the dog park, put yourself out there and meet people. Your next date could be waiting for you.
5. Your Local Bar
It may seem cliché, but it’s still entirely possible to find a date at a bar. Just make sure you don’t get obnoxiously intoxicated before trying to find one. A drink can give you some liquid courage but stick to one or two at most if you’re trying to meet a woman. A bar with live music is always a good bet, and the band that’s playing could be the perfect starting point for a conversation.
6. A Bookstore
A bookstore is a great place to meet someone new IRL. A lot of people love browsing and spend hours on end at bookstores, and you know anyone who’s there values literature and learning, which are excellent values to hold. It’s a great way to form a connection with another book lover who you share common ground with.
If you have the time and money, travel as much as you can. There’s something about getting out of your own city that makes you more confident and not as scared of rejection. Obviously, the only problem with this is that you’ll have to go back home eventually. But if you’re looking to get back in the dating game with a few dates, traveling and meeting new people can be the best way to do it! Who knows, you might even happen to meet someone who’s on vacation from your hometown.
8. Join Extra-Curricular Activities
Do you like to cook? Play soccer? Sketch or paint? Join an extra-curricular activity you’ll enjoy doing on a weekly basis. It will be filled with others who have the same interest, which makes it easy to get to know people. It’s easier for some people to meet and talk to others in a group setting, so if that sounds like you, joining an extra-curricular might be your best bet!
9. Take a Class
Is there a topic you’ve always wanted to learn about? Or something you’ve always wanted to learn how to do? Take a class. You’ll get to meet a lot of like-minded people, and who knows, you could end up hitting it off with someone. You already know you have something in common and the class will give you tons of talking points to work with.
10. Don’t Be Afraid to Get Set Up
Ask your friends and family members if they have anyone in their circle that would be a good match for you. Don’t be scared to get set up on a date; it could end up being the best date you’ve ever been on. Your friends know you best and likely only hang out with people you would like, so trust them if they say they want to set you up with someone. They only have your best interests in mind, and especially since they know you just went through a divorce, they’ll only set you up with the best of the best.
Are you ready to find a date IRL? Try out some of these places and see how easy it can be when you put yourself out there!
(c) Can Stock Photo / AntonioGuillem
Divorce breaks your trust. It shatters your previously held believe how the people around you can stick with you through all the situations of life. I spent a lot of time exploring how I could regain the trust after divorce impacted my life.
When I went through it three years ago, I knew that I would be okay. It was not the end of the world as some people make it think. Society does not shun the divorced.
The challenge I had was figuring out how I could ever trust a woman again.
This is a big issue. After all, experts tell us that trusting your partner is one of the biggest predictors of success in a relationship.
The strategies I discuss below come from my experiences on the path to regaining this trust. I hope you benefit from my experiences.
Five strategies to find trust after divorce
1. Take some time for yourself
Divorce is tough. I thought I could handle anything before the divorce. Whoa! Was I wrong!
I knew things were not working right for a little while. However, when my ex finally discussed the break, I admit the event jaded me more than I could imagine.
After wanting to make it work for so long, it felt like I could trust no one except my immediate family and friends. Even then the potential for others to let me down was an ever-present fear. The one person I could rely upon was me.
I needed time to internalize what happened. My first solution to trust after the divorce was to take a sabbatical from dating.
I spent the next year regaining the trust I had in myself and then in others.
I started by striking out on my own. My parents offered me a couch for a month to get back on my feet. I refused. I need my space. To prove that I could do it on my own again.
Next, I reconnected with old friends I had not seen in a decade or more. My favorite was the road trip up to my old college where I crashed with a friend for a weekend on their couch.
The trip reminded me of old times and brought back a lot of great memories.
Once I did that, I also started working on improving my skills. For me, I wanted to learn some new career skills.
Fun fact: Did you know improving your business strategy skills can improve your paycheck by 4.3%? Contract negotiation skills can improve your paycheck another 5%.
The more I learn, the more comfortable I feel with my career. This gives me confidence in other areas of my life so that I can trust others.
2. Date for fun
Once you feel better about yourself, you want to trust others after divorce. The best way to do this is to go on a date.
Being single in your thirties is very different from being single in your twenties. When I dated in my twenties, you had dating websites. Not you have apps where you grade everyone within 2 seconds. It removes a lot of the personalization.
However, if you want to get out there, you must do it. 40 million Americans now use dating apps to find their partner. One in 10 people use them to find their next date. The big question becomes Tinder or Plenty of Fish? We could do something more local or based on similarities.
The choices are endless, and you parade through a gazillion potential matches in minutes. I might exaggerate a little, but this is what it feels like for someone who grew up in an era when the people dating online seemed a bit odd.
The first few dates were a disaster. However, that is why you go on a date with the first decent woman who swipes right for you. You need to get them out of your system.
You almost need a new woman to complain about besides the ex. Think about the new vistas of opportunity.
3. Keep Dating
Once you go on those first few dates, you get a little bit of your swagger back. You remember it really was her, and not you.
You also realize someday you can feel comfortable trusting someone again. This is what happened to me. After more dating apps than I care to discuss, I found an app that seemed like gold to me. The dating app was JSwipe. It is like the Tinder for Jews.
I went on some dates, and just as I was about to take a break, I went on one last date. We ended up talking for three hours at a coffee shop on our first date.
We are closing in on our one-year anniversary, and it reminds me that I learned I can trust after divorce.
4. The Kids
I dodged one of the biggest divorce bullets out there. I did not have kids. However, I have many friends who had kids when they divorced. It complicates things. You need someone who not only you can trust after divorce, but your kids can trust as well.
For example, one friend had a daughter. His divorce proceedings lasted five years when the mother suddenly decided in the middle of the divorce she wanted to move back to Green Bay from Chicago.
They both lived in Chicago and split custody. Challenges like this encourage couples to stay together. Over time, he also found someone he could trust. However, early attempts at this did not go so well.
This is why it is not surprising the divorce rate is 40% lower for couples who have a child. It unites the parents when they work on something greater than themselves.
If that is not possible, then it happens. Just take it slow for all sides. While you might be excited for your new squeeze to see your family, your kids might not. Make sure your kids are ready before you introduce them to a potential stepmother.
5. Learning from earlier mistakes
I told my new significant other that fear not, I plan to make a whole new category of mistakes with her. While I said it in jest, it has merit.
As Winston Churchill once said, “All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.”
The hardest challenge is not to compare what happened before to your current situation. I know, because I constantly remind myself just because the ex did this does not mean my girlfriend will.
This means I need to approach things in a different light.
The biggest part of is you need to be open and honest with your partner to find a solution. You never have all the answers. Getting a different person’s perspective can help you sort through whatever challenges you have whether large or small.
Finally, you need to have a sense of humor about the mistakes you made in the past as well as the upcoming mistakes. Laughter is really the best medicine for solving your challenges.
Regaining your trust after a divorce does not happen overnight. However, with the right temperament, you can do it.
The strategies you use depends upon your specific situation. For example, if you had kids then you might need to use some different strategies than if you divorced without children.
Additionally, in some cases, you might want to start dating sooner rather than later. The key is that you need to be able to finish a conversation without talking about your ex.
(c) Can Stock Photo / focalpoint
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
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.