When Is It OK to Tell Your Kids About The Ex? What You Can and Cannot Say

When Is It OK to Tell Your Kids About The Ex? What You Can and Cannot Say

Even writing the phrase ‘about the ex’ sends people scurrying for the exits, fearing expletive riddled diatribes and raging self-pity. But what about your kids, when they aren’t really kids anymore. As your sons and daughters head into their own adult lives, is there a point where it becomes okay to tell your kids about the ex?

There must have been some incredibly important reasons for you to go through the harrowing process of separation and ultimately divorce. But are there things that your kids need to know about their mum?

Young Kids vs Young Adults

You separated when your kids were younger, and honest discussions with them in those years reached the level of why they couldn’t have two packets of chips in their lunchbox like they did when mum packed it. Now that they are late teenagers, with boyfriends and girlfriends and part time work and all the things that makes up life pre-marriage, is there a time when it is okay to simply talk to them about the things that led to your separation?

Most professionals advise about the damage that we can do as parents if we fall into the trap of disparaging the ex in front of our kids. There is absolutely no doubt that one of the most important things we can do for your kids as they go through the divorce process with us is to bite our tongue and simply encourage them to have feelings of respect and admiration for their mother. Remember, they are already dealing with trying to find their feet in the lives of separated parents, two homes and readjustments.

There are a lot of things to be aware of as your young kids grow through the divorce and challenges that come with their age. There are many articles that provide good guides for what to do and what to say up to the age of 14. But, at that age your kids are beginning to desire more independence, they’re questioning parental authority, and they’re developing relationships outside the home which are even more important than their relationship with us. It is next to impossible to find advice on talking to your kids beyond the early teenage years.

But as they age they are no longer kids needing to be shared and managed between two separated parents. They are now young adults who are exposed to many adults in differing settings, and you and your ex are becoming less unique to them.

They are becoming young men, like you, and young ladies, like their mum. They are adults in secondary and post-secondary education and they are taught to think broadly, apply their understanding and their moral code to develop their own personal impressions and opinions on situations and events they experience. They will be developing opinions about the people who make up their lives, the things they like and dislike, and the things they need and detest.

You have very strong opinions about their mother which are undoubtedly a big part of why you are not together anymore.

Naturally, you want the best for your kids as they build their own lives. Don’t you need to tell your kids about the ex and what led to the divorce?

If you have a daughter would it be okay for her to never know anything of what it was that brought your love for her mother to end? Would you be happy for your son to choose the partner he will spend the rest of his life with without knowing anything of what it was that broke down the mrriage with his mother?

Tell Your Kids About the Ex

The kids probably spend a lot of their teenage years living with their mum. If anyone knows mum well, they do. They are now far more resilient and self assured than when they were the 7 or 8 years old when they just wished mum and dad still lived together. They now have seen many of their friends go through divorces with their parents, and discussing mom and dad’s divorce with these trusted friends is easier than with anyone else. These discussions likely have been going on for years, thus helping to forge their ‘critique’ of you as their dad and your ex as their mum.

So, if your son or daughter at 17 or 18 asks why you and your new partner don’t seem to argue as you did with their mum, or they raise an issue they have had with their mother, is it okay to be honest about their mum? Whenever there is an elephant in the room it is better to simply confront it than trying to beat around the bush?

So long as the discussion remains objective and has the right mix of honesty about yourself as well as about their mum then aren’t you arming your kids with knowledge that you likely didn’t have as you grew up in a generation when divorce was more rare?

Many articles point out that you may anger your children if you try to describe the process of separating as something like ‘mummy and I still love each other, just not in that way’. That’s because it minimizes your child’s maturity to form their own opinion.

Honesty is Always the Best Policy.

We have always been told that it’s best to tell the truth. It has always been drummed into us not to lie. In fact it is almost impossible to think of another area where telling the truth to your child is seen as anything but the best parenting practice.

It has become more acceptable to discuss sexuality with our kids. Thank goodness. And in the process we reinforce the importance of intimacy and feelings with the people that we choose to love and cherish in our lives.

We know we will have to comfort our kids hearts when their boyfriends and girlfriends have broken their hearts. Is it really so bad to admit that that was something missing from your marriage with their mother? Is it preferable to lie? Or won’t that go the same way as trying to tell them that you still love mummy? Your kids know you and they know when you are lying.

You have spent a lot of time talking about times past through rose-colored glasses only for the benefit of your young kids. If you have a strong relationship with your grown kids where you can speak openly and honestly about things such as your work relationships, your thoughts about the future, and your thoughts about the world, then speaking honestly about what wasn’t right about your marriage to their mum shouldn’t be taboo.

You can discuss how people change over time. It may have been a process of falling out of love with the woman you married as you discovered she was turning into someone you didn’t like. You can discuss the need to continue to develop as a person. You can talk about what it is like when someone stops listening. The kids would have similar stories in their lives already.

Part of parenting is helping your kids find the best parts of both yourself and your ex for them to emulate. In a strong marriage that endures, both partners are reinforced by the other such that pointing out each other’s strengths and weaknesses is a very normal part of life. Separation and divorce is oft times about two people who are no longer being reinforced by one another. And, as they go through the process they lose the opportunity to tell their kids the truth.

Separation Skills Every Guy Needs

Separation Skills Every Guy Needs

One minute you’re leading a blissful married life (not!), and the next you’re officially “separated.” What the hell is that supposed to mean, exactly? Is it like a Ross and Rachael break where anything goes, but not really? What are the rules to being separated? More importantly, what are the pitfalls? You need to learn the Separation Skills Every Guy Needs to know.

Every Couple Does Separation Differently

Separation means different things to different people. If you’re like most men, though, most of the rules of your separation will be dictated by your spouse, even if the separation was originally your idea. So, the first order of business, after collecting your things from off the front lawn, is to sit down with her and figure out how you’re going to do this. There’s no right way or wrong way to do a separation, so technically everything’s on the table.

Respect Her Privacy

Separation skills every guy needs include respecting your spouse’s privacy. That means no skulking in your car down the street, staking out the house to see what she’s up to. If she wants to have guests over, that’s her prerogative, even if you are still paying the mortgage. If she wants to have “adult sleepovers,” that’s her choice, too, as much as that might pain you to realize.

  • Respecting her privacy means no checking the call log on the landline account or cell phone bill. (Really, you’ll be a lot happier if you don’t do that, anyway.)
  • Don’t drive past her work to see if her car’s in the parking lot.
  • Don’t interrogate her co-workers and friends when you “accidentally” bump into them at the grocery store.

If you question whether something you’re thinking of doing is an invasion of her privacy, the answer is likely YES. Consider how you would feel if she did that same thing to you.

Don’t Use Your House Keys

Assuming you’re the one who got kicked out of the family home, try to retain a set of the house keys. If you promise not to use them unless it’s an emergency, you’ll probably be able to negotiate this for yourself. Once you’ve made the agreement, don’t renege on it. Ringing the doorbell to be allowed entry into your own house is going to take some getting used to. But if you go barging in using your keys, you may find them taken away. Worse, your spouse may change the locks or decide she needs to take out a restraining order on you, which you’ll want to avoid at all costs. The more space you give your spouse during your separation, the better things will turn out for you.

No Badmouthing

Until your divorce is finalized (and really, after that, too), avoid badmouthing your spouse. The less you talk to people about your relationship, the better. That includes your drinking buddies, your coworkers and that cute little number who lives next door in your new apartment building. The thing is, whatever you say could be used against you in the divorce proceedings. And what you say is likely to be inflammatory and possibly libelous. Yes, chances are slim that her lawyer will be able to dig up witnesses that say you made drunken threats. But play it safe. If you need to let out some steam, confide in your paid therapist, who is sworn to confidentiality.

Lay Off Social Media

Speaking of comments, you might want to disable your social media accounts, at least until the divorce is final. Social media becomes a torture platform when you’re separated. Do you really want to see pictures of your estranged spouse with another guy? Or read all the sympathetic comments from her friends (that used to be your friends), telling her she’s better off? You’ve got better things to do than check her relationship status. The best part of disabling your social media accounts is that you won’t be able to leave comments on her page that you’ll regret later.

Put Your Ducks in a Row

During a separation, there’s a chance that you and your estranged spouse will get back together. That would be great. Maybe. But on the off chance that things continue to go south, this is a great time to put your ducks in a row. You’re in your own place (or in your parent’s basement), and have the time and privacy to make arrangements for a worst case scenario. Don’t think of this as setting things in stone.  You’re just putting things in place to make it easier if the relationship moves on to divorce.  Here’s a list of what you should plan, depending on your situation:

  • Make a shortlist of divorce attorney candidates, based on reputation and known abilities
  • Research how to do a DIY divorce in your state
  • Organize your finances
  • Gather tax records
  • Gather business records if you own a business
  • Start thinking about how you’d take care of your kids for sole or joint custody (babysitter, sleeping area, extra-curricular activities, etc.)
  • Review ownership records (bank accounts, real estate, vehicles, etc.)
  • Think about the family pet situation. Would you want the pets? Shared custody?
  • Organize contacts (school, sports coaches, in-laws, accountant, spouse’s work, etc.)
  • Redo your will, Medical Proxy, Living Will and Power of Attorney
  • Review and or change your life insurance beneficiaries

Get on With Your Life

Surprisingly, separation skills every guy needs include learning how to get on with your life. For whatever reason, guys often take separation and divorce harder than women. If you aren’t careful, you could let your life stall while you’re in this sort of limbo state, wondering how the rest of your relationships are going to pan out. Don’t let that happen. It’s more important now than ever to keep things moving along in your life. Keep in motion whatever projects and plans you had going on before the separation. If you can’t continue with a certain plan because it involved your estranged spouse, come up with an alternate plan. Don’t go into “waiting mode.” Keep moving forward. If you do that, you’ll be in a much healthier position to deal with whatever comes next as far as your relationship.

Date Cautiously

No one expects you to be a perfect angel if you and your wife have separated and are legitimately on the road to divorce. The temptation to date might be too strong to resist. You’ll have to decide for yourself if dating is something you should do while you’re technically still married, but also technically separated. But the separation skills every guy needs to know include understanding the dangers of dating while separated. Carefully consider the potential ramifications of your actions. You could accidentally impregnate the other woman. You could jeopardize any chances you ever had for reconciliation with your estranged spouse. Your dating activities could be used against you during the divorce if you live in a ‘Divorce Fault’ state. Your spouse might resent you exposing your kids to your girlfriend. You might develop deep feelings for another, which would cloud your feelings about your marriage. Your girlfriend could develop a dangerous jealousy of your estranged spouse. Any number of scenarios are possible. If you must date, be cautious about it. Consider the risks as well as the rewards.

Learn to Take Care of Yourself

Marriage can be a comfortable place. You may have become used to having many things done for you, like laundry, cooking, cleaning or social obligations. If so, you’ll have to learn to take care of yourself. Even if you end up getting back together with your estranged spouse, you’ll be better off in the long run learning more basic life skills. If you do, you’ll be a lot less inclined to rush into another marriage for all the wrong reasons, just so you’ll have someone to take care of you.

Separation Skills Every Guy Needs

These separation skills every guy needs will help you to navigate the rocky road of separation. Occasionally, you may find yourself in a very dark place emotionally. Remind yourself that this situation is temporary. Being separated is trying for anyone, so give yourself credit for getting through it as best as you can.

 

You Can Reconcile Without Remarrying the Ex It may take years to achieve, but it is possible and it’s good us.

You Can Reconcile Without Remarrying the Ex It may take years to achieve, but it is possible and it’s good us.

There are couples that divorce, work things out and then re-marry. That is the classic definition of reconciliation. It is possible to achieve reconciliation with an Ex without redoing the marriage vows. It may take years to achieve, but it is possible and it’s good for our health if we can reconcile without remarrying. In fact, that is the only way reconciliation is possible if one or both of you have married someone else.

I recently had dinner with my Ex, our daughter, her husband and their younger daughter. After dinner we were attending a play together on campus where their older daughter had a part in Shakespeare’s play – Othello. Dinner was rather poignant since that day was the fiftieth anniversary of the day we met.  I opted not to point that out. There didn’t seem to be any good way to incorporate that fact into the dinner conversation.

Still Connected in Many Ways

I appreciated the opportunity to reminisce about our earlier years together, the houses we renovated, the history behind heirlooms now passed along to adult daughters, challenges overcome, and the status of one another’s various childhood family members.

I did wonder how, given we each had such strong memories of our formally shared lives, we stayed apart and estranged for so long. By the end of Othello all the major characters have died. The play is about jealously run amuck and the tremendous power our feelings sometimes have over us. Sometimes those powerful emotions are destructive. Sometimes they end marriages.

Reconciliation as the Path to Peace

Sadly, we each played a part in just such a drama, though mercifully the results were not fatal. Reconciliation is a peculiar thing. It is the sun shining after weeks of overcast skies and damp weather; it is the warmth of a fire on a night when temperatures dip to single digits.

Reconciliation with an Ex takes time. We play a leading role in the drama; but we must also be willing to let the process unfold in its own unique way by whatever path that may take. Reconciliation requires us to relinquish our personal preferences and patiently wait for an unknown outcome.

In ancient Israel Jacob and his twin brother, Esau, were estranged for decades. It started when Jacob and his mother connived to cheat Esau out of his rightful double inheritance as the first-born male. To say that caused problems would be an understatement of huge proportion. Jacob fled for his life. Years later – we’re talking two wives, over a dozen children, and decades of virtual slave labor to the uncle that took him in – Jacob and Esau were reconciled. Jacob quaked in his boots when the encounter with Esau was imminent. How would he be received? How would he respond? Years of animosity slipped away in an instant, followed by a tearful reunion.

Reconcile Without Remarrying

We don’t talk much about reconciliation following a divorce. We talk more about moving on, getting over it, and even forgiving – but not reconciling. What does reconciliation look like when one or both formerly married people are now married to other people? It can’t mean getting back together again. It can mean no longer having to avoid one another. It can mean accepting that the marriage is dead, but there are survivors and the survivors can come to a place of mutual respect, appropriate affection and appreciation for the other.

A friend, who is also a professional mental health counselor, pointed out to me that divorce ends the marriage. It does not end the relationship. Divorce certainly does change, absolutely, every aspect of a couple’s relationship.

In addition to figuring out who keeps what, there are all those family events that keep showing up on the calendar of life year after year. What about graduations, milestone birthdays, or the death of an ex-father or mother-in-law? What about the weddings of mutual children or grandchildren? In this case, what about showing up to the performance in which a mutual granddaughter was on stage?

An Endless Series of Emotional Land Mines

These and other family moments can feel like an endless series of emotional land mines divorced people must navigate. Each one requires the ex-spouse to decide whether to stay away and be left out, or go and risk being received like someone suspected of carrying a contagious and lethal disease.

In the midst of all the animosity, anger, depression, and confusion that often accompany a divorce, it may seem impossible to imagine ever being in the same room together again without a lawyer to mediate. The idea that sharing such special family moments could be mutually pleasant– or at least not a teeth grinding-stomach-lurching experience – seems like the definition of impossible.

Is Reconciliation Even Possible?

Is it possible? Perhaps it is, perhaps its not. Perhaps reconciling to the point where there is more pleasure than pain involved when two formerly married people both attend these events is a good post-divorce goal.

But how? How can we move beyond the issues and hard feelings that instigated the divorce? There is no magic formula, but it can and does happen. It may take many years to reconcile, as it did for Jacob and his twin brother. It may come only after many awkward encounters that make walking barefoot over nails seem like a better option than attending a family event together.

Advantages of Reconciling

It is possible – and to reconcile without remarrying the rewards are great. Children and grandchildren no longer fear an outbreak of unresolved anger and hurt spewing out to ruin the occasion. Other divorced couples might look on and consider the possibility of life without vitriol toward their own former spouse.

For me the seeds of such a possibility were planted at a casual neighborhood backyard party. Though the Ex wasn’t there, that party paved the way for future events when we would both be present. The hosts, Bob and Lucy, were friends of my daughter and son-in-law. Their kids were on community summer swim teams together.

I saw Bob’s father and mother, long since divorced from one another, chatting away the afternoon with his father’s current wife and his mother’s current husband. I only knew these were their relationships because my daughter pointed it out to me. To the casual observer the four appeared to be two couples that had been friends for a long time.

The Influence of Reconciled Couples

Though she said nothing at the time, I think our daughter was hoping the day would come her own divorced parents might have such a relationship. Such geniality was not how it went down for many family events following our divorce. Sometimes we would stay as far apart as possible to still be at the same event. Several times one or both of us came with a companion recruited to come along as a buffer; not quite a bodyguard, but closer to that role than a date.

Being at such events was about as pleasant as a root canal without benefit of Novocain. Other times I opted to skip the event, staying home to lick wounds real or imaginary. That led to dealing with feelings similar to what I imagine Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Match Girl experienced when she was on the outside looking in on the happiness of others.

Time Really Can Heal Old Wounds

It is true “time heals all wounds” and “practice makes perfect.” The ice between us began to thaw, slowly, as it does when winter temperatures rise above freezing. Encounters gradually became less like taking a test for which I was totally unprepared and more like walking into an unfamiliar place recommended by a trusted friend. Over time – much time – the temperature between us started to warm up a bit. It became possible to exchange pleasantries as two people just meeting might do. Yes, we were truly able to reconcile without remarrying

Meeting Again for the First Time

In a sense we were two people meeting for the first time. Divorce changes us in profound and deep ways. We are forced to look at our own inadequacies that prevented us from measuring up to the “until death do you part” expectation. Regardless of who did what to whom, when, or how; a divorce brings disillusionments and unrealistic expectations to center stage.

Starting over again as single-again adults forces us to come to terms with unresolved issues. Assumptions we could conveniently ignore as long as the other person was there to blame now demand our attention in the lonely hours when we are totally on our own.

Over a period of many years and family events, the bitterness receded, making it feasible to approach one another with positive regard.

I mark last Thanksgiving as the real turning point in our post-divorce relationship.

Our daughter invited me, and my current husband, to her home for the annual turkey gobbling meal. She told me she also intended to invite her father. The last Thanksgiving meal we shared was at least fifteen years ago.

“Well, your house, your rules. We will come anyway.” So there I was, sharing the same menu I’d eaten pretty much every Thanksgiving since I was young child.

Seated to my left was my former spouse. Sitting to my right was my current one. Across from us were our three young adult grandchildren. At either end of the table were our daughter and son-in-law.

We laughed. We recounted tales of adventures when we were the ages the grandchildren are now. We talked about trips taken and plans for ones coming up. Conversation around the table flowed back and forth like a good game of Ping-Pong.

Recapturing What We Have in Common

When I reflect on that day, I realize just how thankful I am for whatever subtle changes we’ve both experienced that made that meal possible. It took over a decade and many false starts, but we did it. We shared a traditional meal with people we both love – people in whom we both have a vested interest.

I have no advice about how to achieve reconciliation with an ex-spouse. I do think there are some mile-markers along the way that indicate reconciliation is replacing resentment. We’re moving toward reconciliation when:

  • We are able to again focus on the other’s positive traits that made them attractive to us in the first place.
  • We refrain from pointing out their flaws to others. No matter how tempting or how justified it may seem, confessing someone else’s shortcomings is like putting drops of rat poison in our own coffee and waiting for the other to suffer as a result.
  • We can walk into the room in spite of how temped we may be to turn tail and run. Eleanor Roosevelt’s wisdom comes into play in such situations. She famously said, “No one can insult you without your cooperation.” Choose not to cooperate when being insulted.

In our case reconciliation meant we moved beyond the tensions that kept us away from one another for years. We can again enjoy the fruits of our union together. Some divorced couples do re-marry each other. If you may be contemplating that, this article by Caroline Choi in Huffington Post may be of benefit to you.

Whether or not there is the possibility of re-marring the person you divorced, finding a way to be at peace is worth the efforts. Dina Haddad’s article at Mediate.com has tips for how to achieve a workable post-divorce relationship with your Ex.

Reconciliation does not come easily, which makes it all the more precious when we do experience it. Divorce hurts. Recovery takes time. Achieving reconciliation is the spiritual and emotional equivalent of getting a clean bill of health from the doctor after a serious illness. How sweet it is to enjoy the benefits of good health.

For more: Kathryn Haueisen is the author of Asunder a novel approach to divorce recovery. Asunder is both a novel of life beyond divorce and a study guide for personal and group reflection on the painful topic of divorce.

Don’t Be Friends With Your Ex After Divorce Keep Your Ex at a Distance

Don’t Be Friends With Your Ex After Divorce Keep Your Ex at a Distance

Many people will tell you that it’s healthy and mature to remain friends with your ex. Not everyone can do so. But being friends with your ex has some big downsides.  In reality, it’s best to remain cordial – but don’t be friends with your ex.

You Won’t Be Motivated to Make New Friends

If you were lucky enough to have a spouse that was also your best friend, you both may feel even more inclined to hold onto that friendship after you divorce. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s better to make a complete break so that you feel a void. You won’t be motivated to cultivate new friendships if you hang onto an old one, even if it’s a bad fit. If you feel like you no longer have a best friend, you’ll be more likely to get out there and make new friends, which is ultimately what you need to do after a divorce.

Don’t Deprive Yourself of Being Alone

After something as awful as a divorce, it’s very therapeutic to take time to be alone.  Even after those first few dreadful days, you’ll need to spend time exploring who you are as a single man. As part of a couple, it’s easy to get lost. You may have sacrificed a little part of your identity in order to give yourself completely into that relationship with your ex. There’s a unique, individual inside of you, and you need to be alone in order to rediscover who you are and what you really want. If you don’t remain friends with your ex, you won’t deprive yourself of this introspection. Even if you don’t succumb to a physical relationship with your ex, their continual presence in your life as a friend will keep you from exploring your true self, and figuring out what you want the rest of your life to look like.

You May Get Dumped Again

What’s worse than going through a divorce? Going through a second breakup – with the same person. Don’t be friends with your ex and stay emotionally attached to them or you may feel like you have a good, healthy relationship. So, why end it completely? What usually happens though, is that the ex eventually meets someone new. That someone new is not likely to be thrilled that you’re still in the picture, even if it is platonic. In a bid to please that new person, your ex dumps you as a friend. They may even ghost you, with no explanation why they’re no longer speaking to you. Now you have to go through the pain of rejection all over again, which prolongs your own healing process.

You Could Get Manipulated

If your ex is secretly angry about the divorce, or their motives aren’t entirely pure, you could easily get manipulated by remaining friends with him or her. While posing as your friend, they may intentionally give you bad advice, or keep tabs on you for nefarious purposes. They may even try to wreck your chances with another person. Since you trusted your ex during your marriage and you assume their friendship is genuine, you’ll be less likely to pick up on their actions until it’s too late.

The Perception of Yourself Stays the Same

Everyone you encounter has a certain perception of you, and they use that perception on which to base their interactions with you. For instance, your mother might still see you as a child (even though you’re a grown man), and talk to you as though you don’t know what you’re doing. You can’t do much about a doting parent, but you can do something about the way your ex perceives you. If your ex saw you as something less than who you are, underestimated your potential, or never really “got” you, it’s not doing you any good to continue that relationship in any form, friends or not. You won’t be able to alter their perception of you, and it’s not worth it to try. Worse, their unflattering image of you may stop you from realizing your own true self worth.

You Might Jeopardize Future Romantic Relationships

If you’ve started to move on with a romantic relationship but are still clinging to your ex as a friend, you may unwittingly jeopardize your new romance. Just as your ex’s new romantic partner won’t like you hanging around, neither will your new lover. And the more you try to defend your ex by explaining that you’re just friends, the more likely your new paramour will be to take a walk.

Don’t Be Friends with Your Ex

True friends are there for you when you need them. If you stay friends with your ex, you may start to feel entitled to ask for favors. That includes times when you may need help moving your stuff, a small loan to cover the rent, dog sitting duties, or even a ride home after a night of excess drinking. While it’s fine to ask a regular friend for small favors, asking your ex may come back to haunt you. You never want to feel beholden to an ex. If they begin to feel resentful, they could lash out against you or leave you hanging when you really need help.

One of You Might Want Something….More

If you enjoyed a healthy sexual relationship while you were married, there’s a chance that attraction will continue after the divorce. By remaining friends with your ex, you open up the possibility that your ex could begin harboring a desire to get back together, at least physically. If you don’t want to unintentionally lead your ex on, then ‘t be friends with your ex. The same goes for you, too. If your ex’s allure is like a drug to you, it’s time to cut the cord – cold turkey.

Reality is, the buddy-buddy relationship with your ex probably isn’t what you think it is. It’s not so much a friendship but a crutch. Divorce is tough, and staying friends makes it all easier, like pulling off a bandage slowly. While you both deserve credit for getting past your differences to remain friends, in the long term it’s not the healthiest situation for either of you.

Don’t be friends with your ex. What’s best for both of you is to be cordial and polite, but distant. There’s a difference between being friends and just knowing someone. Think of your ex as a close acquaintance. It’s healthy to stay on speaking terms, especially if there are kids involved, but don’t go out of your way to initiate communication unless it’s necessary. In this way, you’ll be able to figure out what needs to be negotiated between you without sabotaging each other’s lives or preventing one another from moving on. Be willing to let go for the greater good – for both of you.

Dealing With Your Ex and Her New Partner Life Just Isn't Fair

Dealing With Your Ex and Her New Partner Life Just Isn't Fair

You’ve survived the break-up, the children are finally settling into their new routines and it looks as though life might be on an even keel at last. Then, suddenly the bombshell drops. Your ex has a new bow.  And now you’re going to be dealing with your ex and her new partner. In an instant everything changes. You thought things were on the up and up, but suddenly you fell back to rock bottom.

This guy won’t just be in your ex’s life, he’ll be in your children’s lives, in your marital home and sleeping in your old bed. He’ll take over everything you used to own. He’ll be relaxing in your chair, cooking in your kitchen, eating food from your cupboard, smiling at your ex and listening to your children tell him about their day. Not surprisingly, dealing with your ex and her new partner will likely stir one of the most common emotions in life after divorce – anger.

Initially, it will be a huge shock. Even if you thought you were prepared for it, when your ex announces she has a new man in her life, you’re likely going to be consumed by the news. You’ll be resentful, jealous, or angry. And, you’ll be worried about the impact this guy will have on your kids.

Take A Deep Breath

Take some much needed time to adjust to the news. Don’t lose your cool. And don’t say the first thing that comes into your head. The truth of the matter is, no matter hard it is to accept, your ex was inevitably going to find someone new and start a new relationship. Keep calm. Focus on your own wellbeing and that of your kids as much as you can.

Think things through and make a list of your priorities, then you have a better chance of having a calm and productive conversation with your ex. You’ll want to know whether your children know about the new man, when they’ll be meeting him, if they haven’t already, how they are feeling, whether he’ll be moving in, or how often they’ll be in his company and a little about him. Try to push aside that image of him enjoying breakfast at your table and crawling between the sheets with your ex. Stick to practical matters. Remember, your ex loves your children and will most likely be looking out for them and doing what she believes is best for them. Even if you vehemently disagree, try to be realistic. You’re all in the process of moving on and creating news lives, and a certain amount of flexibility will be needed to keep peace. One day, it will be her turn to deal with the new woman in your life and handing her children over to you and some other woman.

Look After Your Mental Health

Be kind but firm with yourself. After the first few days of rage and self-pity, or obsessing about the injustice of it all, you’ll need to start to bury those feelings. It won’t be easy, but you need to understand that negative emotions can have a powerful effect on you physically and psycholgically.

Likewise positive emotions can affect you deeply too, so concentrate on promoting positive thoughts. If you find yourself regularly drawn to dwelling on the changes, purposely steer your thoughts to something happier. Distract yourself. Pour yourself into something you’ve been thinking about doing, or a meeting with friends or even a work project. Distract yourself from these cyclical anxious thoughts. Tell yourself, I’m not going to think about that right now, and then don’t. Focus, focus, focus – on you, and your kids.

This will be hard and you’ll keep dwelling and worrying about the same things, over and over again. But as time goes by you’ll find it easier to push negative thoughts aside. Try not to imagine his new place in your family’s life.

Don’t let anxieties about your relationship with your kids take over. Being anxious about your place in their lives is natural. You’ll wonder if they’ll like him more. He’ll no doubt spend more time with them than you if he lives with them. They’ll tell him things and he’ll give them advice. They’ll have fantastic trips together. He’ll get to do all the things that you thought you’d be doing as they grow up. Stop.

Remind yourself, they love you. You’re their dad and however big a presence he is in their lives, he cannot replace you. If they love him, that’s a good thing. It doesn’t mean they love you any less. It means they’re comfortable and happy with the people in their lives, which is how it should be. If you’re honest, you know that you wouldn’t want them going home to someone whom they don’t want to be around.

If things get too much for you, find someone to talk to. This could be a sympathetic friend, a family member or, if you’re really struggling, a trained counsellor. Just make sure that the person you’re talking to is giving you good advice. Friends are great for sounding off at, but it won’t be helpful to spend time with someone who is ready to label your ex as toxic. You’re looking for kindness but honesty. Sympathy is great, but a good friend will help you accept what you cannot change and won’t let you wallow in bitterness.

Dealing With Your Ex and Her New Partner

After you’ve got over the initial shock, make sure that you keep the channels of communication open so you can deal with your ex and her new partner. You’ll want a certain amount of information about her new partner if he’s going to be spending time with your children. You’ll need to know whether he’s moving in or how often he’ll be seeing them. Keep it civil. If things get heated you’ll miss the opportunity to find out what you want to know. And your input is more likely to be heard if you make your case calmly.

Stick to your existing routines and implement any changes cautiously. Everyone’s priority should be the kids and how they’re coping with the new situation. This article gives an idea of how to sensitively introduce a new partner into your children’s lives – and how not to.

Meeting Him

First, know that you don’t have to meet this new guy if you really can’t face it. But, getting to know someone a little can help stop your imagination from running wild. And, it would be useful if you can pick up the children from him if your ex can’t make it or have a phone conversation with him to make arrangements for the weekend.

If you do decide to meet him, make it somewhere neutral at first. Try hard to be polite and approachable. If you find him aloof or less than friendly, stick to your guns and be the better man. Don’t steam in and start trying to lay down rules as soon as you meet him. Start with more general terms; you should at least both be able to agree that you want your children to feel happy and settled. It would be more appropriate to leave detailed rules to a meeting with your ex at another time. Then at least you can say that you have met him and given him a chance.

Over time, things should ease up and become a little more comfortable between you and he. Keep the tone of any meeting professional and try and let the children see that you are able to speak to him without animosity. If you can be civil to each other, as well as easy going and helpful it will make everyone’s lives easier.

How You Can Help Your Kids

Your children will be going through a major change in their lives when your ex finds a new partner. They will suddenly be having to share their mother with someone else and may well have to adjust to a new person living in their home.

Make sure you’re not dismissive when you speak to them about him, however hard it is. Younger children in particular may look to see how you respond to him and pick up on your feelings. It won’t help if you manoeuvre them into feeling negative about him, it will simply give them anxiety and make their lives less happy. And if they do get on well with him, they may feel guilty about it.

Your role is to be a rock for them. Reassure them that nothing will change their relationship with you, he won’t be replacing you and you will always be there for them. And then make sure you are, as often as you can be. Don’t be tempted to indulge them with treats and gifts; what they really need is quality time with you. This doesn’t have to be trips out or vacations, quality time is simply time when you are connecting with each other, over meals, shared books, games or movies for example. Concentrate on giving them a relaxed, pleasant time with you. Let them talk about him if they want to, and try and put your own feelings aside for their sakes. It won’t be easy, but if you manage it you really will be a great dad.

Throughout this difficult time, remember to look after yourself. Remind yourself that there are still good things ahead for you and that this will pass. Focus on building strong, healthy and happy relationships with your children and on creating a good life for yourself instead of focusing on dealing with your ex and her new partner. These are your priorities now, and negative emotions have no place with you.

This is without a doubt one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do. Seeing your children accepting a new man into their lives and reacting with good grace can feel impossible at times. But persevere. You may be filled with negative emotions, but put every ounce of effort into putting the negativity aside while you’re with your children. In the end, this will help you too; by getting into the habit of behaving in a positive and easy going manner, you have a good chance of raising your own mood and being able to cope well with the change. As time goes by, the new situation will become easier and more comfortable for everyone and you’ll feel happier about the future as it becomes clearer that although your ex has a new man in her life, your place in your children’s lives will never be in doubt.

What Every Guy Needs to Know About the Financial Side of Divorce Prepare Yourself Before Its Too Late

What Every Guy Needs to Know About the Financial Side of Divorce Prepare Yourself Before Its Too Late

Divorce is like an emotional hurricane. It’s hard to think straight in the middle of the emotional storm, and it’s normal for your financial frame of mind to blur when going through a divorce. But no matter your stress level or your fuzzy frame of mind, it’s extremely important to prepare yourself for the financial side of divorce.

Your divorce is going to result in decisions that will have a huge impact on your finances both now and in the future. Don’t wait until you’re mid or post-divorce to figure out the costs. This can lead to unwanted surprises. But being prepared ensures you won’t be financially devastated as you move forward.

8 Tips To Help Handle the Financial Side of Divorce

  1. Get Educated about the Financial Side of Divorce

Your finances is an important element that you naturally think about in the break-up of your marriage. Divorce is stressful and traumatic, and with emotions running rampant, you’re likely not going to be thinking clearly during your divorce. But you need to be educated about the costs that come along with your divorce, and get yourself ready to deal with them.

From lawyers and experts, to real estate agents, financial planning, and therapy, costs can range between $10,000 to $20,000. If managed properly, the cost can be considerably lower. Whatever the case may be, make sure you’re prepared for the cost of your divorce by educating yourself.

  1. Know Your Financial Obligations

If you have children, you’re likely the one who’s going to pay child support.  If child support is part of your divorce agreement, you are legally obligated to pay it. Some guys who are supposed to pay child support don’t pay it or don’t pay it in full, which is a legal no-no. The well-being of your children should come first, and the amount of child support that’s decided by the court or mandated by the state is what you’re obligated to pay.

Always pay your child support in full. If there’s a significant change in your financial situation or in your custody agreement it can be adjusted. But, until then, you should pay what is required. Child support pays for everything from the basic necessities of life like food, clothing and housing, and may include child care, education fees, medical expenses and extra curricular activities. If you’re concerned about the money not going to your children, try to find alternate solutions where you can pay service providers directly.

  1. Be Open to Alimony

Whether you chose to be a stay-at-home dad, or your ex chose to be a stay at home mom, be open to the possibility of alimony. Lots of guys are closed-off to the idea of alimony, not wanting to give the Ex a free ride. But, paying alimony for some short duration of time should also reduce your child support obligation.

Keep in mind, when you’re the one writing the alimony check, the alimony payments are tax deductible, whereas child support is not. Try offsetting child support, dollar for dollar, with alimony so a to take advantage of the tax savings.

  1. Do Not Hide Your Assets

Divorce can be scary, but the last thing you want to do is panic and move money out of your bank account and into hiding. If the money is found (which it likely will be), you’ll lose your credibility in court and won’t be trusted in any asset discussions. Worse, you may be penalized by the court for your deceit.

Revealing your assets is a legal requirement of all divorcing couples, so disclose everything that belongs to you and don’t hide anything. On top of not being trusted in court, you could be ordered to pay your ex’s attorney fees or the court may even award her all of your undisclosed assets.

  1. Track the Money

You should locate all of your marital financial resources to help ensure your future. This includes everything from your bank accounts and assets to incomes, properties, retirement plan, vehicles, furniture, brokerage accounts, and insurance policies – everything that’s owned jointly and/or separately by the two of you. Then organize everything into 401(k) and IRA statements, employment retirement accounts, employment bonuses and stock options/awards, real estate holdings, insurance policies (those that have cash values), mortgages, house and vacation home appraisals, brokerage accounts, money market accounts and tax returns. Tracking your monetary assets now can help stabilize your financial situation in the future.

  1. Protect Yourself

There are many ways to protect yourself, your finances and your assets during the divorce process. Separate your non-marital assets – property belonging to you, such as gifts you were given, that are not subject to equitable distribution. Also, make sure to cancel any joint bank accounts and open individual accounts, but, be careful not to disproportionately take more than what is rightfully yours in the process. Check your credit reports from all three credit agencies (EquifaxTransunionExperian) and double check that all credit cards in your report are accounted for an/or cancelled. Get new credit cards in your name and close all unused credit accounts. You don’t want your Ex racking additional debt during the divorce process for which you may be held responsible

And don’t be afraid to talk to your spouse to get the information you need. It’s important you’re both aware of your complete financial situation and understand the debts you share as a couple and individually. To avoid unforeseen surprises, with the help of your attorney, ask for a full disclosure of all financial records and accounts and be prepared to share yours. Don’t forget to change your will (and beneficiaries), medical proxy, living will, and your brokerage account beneficiaries too.

  1. Create a Post-Divorce Budget

Your post-divorce life is going to look much different than your life did when you were married, and it’s important you prepare a budget to account for everything that may come your way. Every day expenses are going to change when you’re single, and if you have kids, you’re going to want to make sure you have everything they need to feel at home and comfortable in your new place.

It’s easy to just focus on divorce-related expenses like child support and alimony, but it’s key to recognize your new reality. Talk to a financial planner if you need to, and create a realistic and meaningful budget for your new single  lifestyle.

  1. Resist the Urge to Impulse Buy

It’d likely you did not initiate the divorce, but divorce always results in a sense of loss. You’re losing a big part of your life and it’s likely very devastating. People deal with loss in different ways, and sometimes we think, albeit illogically, that making a big purchase, like an expensive new car or a big new house will make us feel better.

Divorce is expensive. Your post-divorce life is going to come with new costs you won’t be accustomed to or prepared for. Resist the urge to purchase expensive items on impulse, especially within the first twelve to twenty four months of your divorce.

If you’re about to go through a split, don’t neglect the financial side of divorce. It may be the last thing you want to think about, but it’s crucial for your financial well-being.

What are your biggest questions or concerns when it comes to divorce financials? Write us and let us know in your comments below.

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