Ever heard of the saying “people can’t drive you crazy unless you give them the keys?” What if the keys are your kids?

When you meet divorcing couples who don’t share children it is fairly easy to cut ties, walk away and gain complete control back into your lives. However, everyone who has children knows that the saying above is utter non-sense, and really impossible if you are co-parenting with a difficult ex.  When you are dealing with that kind of reality you are giving those keys over to the person who drives you the most crazy about 50% of every single week.

To add insult to injury, you will come across lovely and well-meaning friends and family members repeatedly giving their golden nuggets of advice. I remember being told:

“You need to stop letting him control you.”

“When will you stop giving him so much power?”

“Nothing he or anyone says should matter once you have learned to trust and honor yourself.”

“Why don’t you put a stop to it?”

What all these well-meaning friends don’t realize, is that it’s quite hard not to give power over to an ex-husband that keeps on threatening to take you to court for full custody. It is also really challenging not to care and be effected by what your ex-spouse says about you to your children. For me these things seemed completely impossible to deal with and really overwhelmed me at the beginning of my journey.

It took a lot of time and inner mental re-wiring for me to get to a sane place and learn how to handle confrontation and challenging situations with my ex and gain some sense of control. It is this hard-earned work that I would like to share with you in the hopes that it will help you in moments when your sanity will be challenged.

Let’s jump right into it:

  • Respond don’t react:

We live in a world where most things happen instantaneously, simply because technology offers us so many ways and opportunities to respond immediately and if we need or want to. Just because you co-parent and share children with your ex doesn’t mean that you have to jump at his/her beck and call 24/7.  When you get a text or an email you don’t have to react on impulse and reply right away.  Learn to wait and respond after you have thought about the issue and are in a super Zen and calm state of mind. Most of the time it is NOT AN EMERGENCY, and unless it is one there is no need to respond immediately. Remember you don’t need to swing at every pitch your ex tosses your way.  Before you respond to any message or email be sure to go through the following steps:

  1. Calm your thoughts and think ….
  2. What is the question or issue at hand?
  3. How do I want to respond?
  4. How SHOULD I really respond
  • Be consistent

Be who you are at your BEST all the time. If you have an ex that is unpredictable and can be nice one day and nasty the next, do you VERY best to make your interactions consistent, in-spite of his instability. Regardless of what and how your ex acts remember to stay true to yourself and be YOU all the time.

  • Memorize this phrase: “It’s not about me.”

More often than not, when your ex calls you a name, accuses you of poor parenting, or puts you down in any other manner, that negative behavior is coming from something going on inside of their own psyche that has nothing at all to do with you. If you feel hurt please STOP and remember the following “This is not about me, this is most likely a projection of his/her feelings.” Knowing this will help you avoid any reactions and help you understand not to internalize the hurtful remarks.

Another thing that happens when your ex talks about you is the fear that others may believe what he says. As you already know you cannot control or stop what your ex is doing or saying. Rather then worry about what others may believe remind yourself that facts are FACTS, and that truth prevails.  Have a notebook where you make brief notes for yourself reminding yourself of the truth. Then move on.  and Explain to your children that people have different perceptions on reality and teach them to believe their own truth.

  • It won’t get better overnight

You know how bullies get tired when you don’t react to them? it’s pretty much the same concept.  When you repeatedly refuse to take the bait and don’t react, chances are your ex with up his ante. Do everything you can not to respond to situations that come up.  Over time as you continue to hold your ground chances are your ex’s confrontational behavior will become less frequent and intense.  He/she will get tired and realize that you are not the right candidate to push.

  • Recognize that your ex’s behavior is NOT surprising.

I love when I hear my divorcing clients say this all the time — “I can’t believe that he/she….!” Let’s be honest. You have chosen to divorce this person because the two of you did not treat each other the way either or both of you want to be treated. The behavior displayed by your ex is highly unlikely not to be behavior he or she displayed during your marriage, even if it was directed more often towards someone else, or if it was managed in a slightly better way.  At this point nothing should come to you as a surprise.

When you hear yourself begin a thought or sentence about your ex with “I can’t believe,” take a moment to ask yourself, “Wait, can I believe it?” When you remove the shock and awe factor that you have imposed on yourself, you reduce the overall impact of their words or actions quite powerfully. It is amazing how our self-talk impacts us, and after all you DO believe it and already know to expect it.

  • Find the keys to your calm. 

Everyone has their own was to their calm and de-stressing coping mechanism. For some it is meditation, for others humor. Some need to exercise, smash a punching bag, go for a long walk, or binge on reality TV. For me,  yoga and writing does the trick and helps me re-center and ground myself.  There is also a terrific app called iChill that walks you through brief audio and written grounding exercises. Another thing I discovered while I was helping my husband recover after his stroke, were these cool adult coloring books. They really helped me get my pain and frustration out and where very healing and soothing.  Regardless what your calm is, find it and use it as much as possible.

  • Remind yourself that it’s a disagreement, the threat is just to instill fear.

An unfortunate reality for many co-parents is a continued threat of impending litigation. Even though a very large amount of cases are settled outside of a courtroom, there is a seductive quality about the ability to exercise the threat of taking the other parent “back to court” that some people just cannot resist. I dare anyone to stand at the receiving end of such a statement without a sinking fear unlike any other.

That said, the vast majority of the time these threats are empty ones. If your divorce is final and your custody arrangement established, the best thing you can do when faced with these words is to walk through all the strategies above and respond to the issue at hand in the manner you feel best serves your children’s needs, rather than to the threat and fear of it’s actualization.

Don’t forget even if your ex threatens to file for full custody it is far from simple to attain and he/she would have to prove that you are truly an unfit parent that is incapable to care for your child/ren. So take a deep breath, de-stress and think things through calmly and objectively. Most of the time full custody threats are just that “Threats”.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST:  remember THIS is the reason why you got divorced in the first place, so tap yourself on yourself on your back and give yourself a round of applause for having made it this far!!

Don’t hesitate to reach out for support and get a PRIVATE (and free) consultation session with me.

Here is a bonus gift for you, don’t forget to download your free guide on how to avoid the top 10 mistakes you want to avoid during your divorce. http://Divorcehelp1.gr8.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whether your marriage lasted three months, three or ten years, a break up is a breakup. Breakups can leave us heartbroken, crushed, confused, lonely and sometimes even physically ill.  Who are we kidding, even if you were the one that wanted the divorce it still sucks and it will take time to get over it and move on.  Although there is no magic formula that makes the healing process go faster, there are some coping techniques that are essential in order to get over your ex and move on with strength and grace.

  1. Feel your feelings Take time to mourn

Allow yourself to feel what you are feeling, don’t fight your feelings. Fighting our feelings often makes them come back stronger and with a vengeance. This is the time where you can give yourself permission to be sad at times and mourn the death of your marriage. There are so many emotions involved in a breakup — anger, sadness, loneliness, feelings of rejection and uncertainty about the future — and it’s essential to confront them head-on. Particularly in the early stages of a breakup, try let yourself feel what you feel, without judgment. That being said don’t allow it to consume you and take over your whole being. If you feel like crying, cry, let it all out. If you feel like screaming, by all means scream go to your bedroom take a pillow and let it all out.  The healthiest way to deal with these feelings is to let them out and now allow them to consume you. Suppressing your emotions will only prolong your misery and cause anxiety in the long run.  Trust your feelings but don’t stay stuck in them.

  1. Support system

You will have times that you will need to express your feelings and frustrations to someone.  This is where a solid support group is essential. It is important that you have family, friends, and perhaps a professional such as a therapist or life coach in your team.  Try and surround yourself with people who are focused to help you move forward with a positive mindset. Avoid bashing sessions, where you just get together to bash out your ex and all the terrible things he did to you. Yeah, I know sometimes it makes you feel better to just go on a rant, but honestly does it help you move ahead? Focus on surrounding yourself with positive people who will motivate you to move forward, and help you shift away from your anger and sadness into a happier, healthier place.

  1. Take care of your body

Revenge may be tempting and feel sweet, but it always comes with a price.  You might feel like you want to go on a “breakup diet”, to get yourself looking great as a way of revenge on your ex. As good as it sounds it can easily become a way to punish yourself and reinforce feeling of rejection as well as potentially encourage you to develop an unhealthy relationship with food.  Instead of restricting calories, eat nourishing whole foods that are high in fiber, protein and nutrients to boost your mood and energy. A balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits, greens and stress-busting superfoods can help counteract the physiological stress of the breakup. On the flip side try not to overdo foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt as they can actually contribute to higher levels of stress hormones.

  1. Get active

You might be really down and out, and the thought of even thinking of putting on your running shoes or going to a yoga class is literally draining in itself.  Actually going? You are thinking to yourself, never going to happen.  Here is why you should really really push yourself and go get active with something you enjoy. Getting your endorphins pumping is a fantastic way to lower your stress levels, improve cognitive functioning and boost your mood.  Even if exercising is the last thing you want to do, the act of focusing your awareness on your body is extremely healthy and helpful in distracting you from your worries.  That being said do not over-exercise. Just like overeating, exercise can become a compulsive behavior.  Get active in ways that are enjoyable and feel rewarding. If you can do it with a friend, even better. Working out with a good partner is always fun.

  1. Remind yourself of all the great things in your life

A painful loss can be so overwhelming that it clouds your thinking so that it’s almost impossible for you to look past the immediate feelings of pain and loss. You might be so focused on the pain and the negative aspects of the breakup that you are having trouble even remembering anything at all that is positive in your life.  When my daughter was little we used to list five positive things we are grateful for every day at dinner time. This exercise was a great way for us to focus on the positive things in our lives which inspired us to be more grateful and boosted our moods. Try and think of positive things every day, perhaps start a little GRATITUDE journal. It’s a great way to inspire yourself.

  1. Do things you love again

When we come out a relationship we often forget who we really are and what we get excited about.  Think about the things you used to love doing, get out and do them. Treat yourself to something that makes you feel good, whether it’s a massage or getting yourself a good book. Just do it!   Pick up hobbies you gave up long ago. Perhaps you enjoyed gardening, or sewing or painting. It doesn’t matter what you loved doing, now is the time to pick it up again and get in touch with yourself.

  1. Socialize

I know, I am sure you have days where you really are not in the mood of talking to anyone or seeing anyone. It is perfectly normal for you to feel like you want to be alone now, but too much alone-time isn’t good for you. It can lead to depression and make this healing process a lot more painful and prolonged. Go visit some friends, or relatives.  Invite a friend out to a movie or for a walk in the park.  It is important that you find ways to distract yourself and discover new places, make new friends, and do things that can help you heal mentally and emotionally.  Remember to balance the mourning part with making sure to look forward and move ahead.

  1. Take time for yourself

It is not a contradiction to tip number 8. It is ok for you to be alone sometimes, as long as you are not running away from everything and everyone.  The key is not to jump into a new relationship too fast. Don’t just start dating to numb your pain. It will just mask things, but not make them better in long run and definitely not help you heal or gain clarity.  Instead take time every day to do something for just YOU. It doesn’t matter how long it’s for, as long as you make yourself a priority every day and take those few minutes to do what you enjoy doing.

  1. Reflect

Reflections are inevitable, and in many ways can be really soothing for your soul. Try and remove reminders, such as pictures of you and your ex or little gifts that have sentimental value. Pack them away, or give them away, but don’t torture yourself for having your memories. Memories are part of life, and I am sure part of them are even nice to have at times. However instead of focusing on the memories that trigger you emotionally, reflect on who you are and get back in touch with yourself. Take the lessons you learned from this relationship with you, but make sure to focus on what you want moving forward. Think about the life and future you want to create for yourself. Envision it, see yourself clearly. Make it all about you and leave the partner out of it for now.  It will come in due time.

  1. Limit contact

Limit the contact you have with your ex after your divorce or separation. Avoid discussing anything that isn’t imperative. One of my clients who has been separated for a few months, finally got her divorce. She seemed relieved and glad it was over. However, two weeks after her divorce she told me during our session “I find myself wanting to reach out to him and share what is going on in my life with him”.  Although this might be normal to feel and want it is really unhealthy and will just keep you stuck.  If you have children and need to talk to your ex, keep it short and pleasant and don’t get personal. It might be hard at times, but it is NOT impossible.

This is the hardest time of this process. Once you get through the first few months after separation or divorce things will get easier. This is a life changing step, but you will get through it.

Keep focused on the light at the end of the tunnel instead of the darkness that you are feeling right now.  Remember what lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies WITHIN us!

Don’t hesitate to reach out for support and get a PRIVATE (and free) consultation session with me.

Here is a bonus gift for you, don’t forget to download your free guide on how to avoid the top 10 mistakes you want to avoid during your divorce. http://Divorcehelp1.gr8.com

 

 

 

Although I am a divorce coach and mediator I am a big advocate for marriage counseling / coaching and therapy to help improve and salvage a marriage.

Yet when it comes to certain cases I am quite adamant about my feelings, and don’t hide them.  When clients come in and there is a real sign of abuse, I strongly stress the importance to work on an exit strategy and walk away from the relationship.

Why? Because I have seen what abusive relationships can do to people and let’s just say it’s really not pretty.

I have lost some people that crossed my paths; because they were unable to remove themselves and break free from the abuse they experienced and sadly got swept away into a dark troublesome world. What I mean by lost, that they are either no longer themselves and have lost their spark, or their spouses have successfully managed to take them away and cut them off from the people they were once close to.  It’s a terrible tragedy, one that can last many years and often ends in devastating results.

So when do I tell someone to leave?

WHEN THEY ARE IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP.

The painful truth is that in spite all of the awareness, domestic violence is spreading and is destroying the lives of millions of people. The center for Disease Control and Prevention states that on average 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.  Note that these statistics are only based on survivors of abuse who were willing to share their stories. Sadly, not everyone is a survivor and many people remain silent.

So what constitutes an abusive relationship?

Domestic violence is often more than just physical abuse. It encompasses, sexual, emotional, economic and psychological violence.  Some people have a really hard time identifying the signs of an abusive relationship, especially since the abusers usually use subtle tactics at first to gain power and control. Most of my clients who have been in abusive relationship only recognized the abuse once the abusers hit them, not realizing that the cycle of violence most likely started early on in their relationships.

These victims often beat themselves up for not seeing the signs till they are deeply trapped in the relationship. However, perpetrators tend to be really charming, manipulative and convincing when exerting power and control over their victims, making it difficult for the victim to have proper clarity over what is actually going on.

Last week, after working with one of my clients for a couple of weeks, and trying to get her through the process of getting clarity over why she wanted to leave her husband she said: “but maybe it is ME that is the problem, I mean I must be doing something to trigger his violent outbursts!” After delving deeply into their dynamics and how she feels herself, she was able to slowly start seeing that her husband is indeed a manipulative narcissist who is brilliant at manipulating her and putting her down all the time, all while making her feel that he is in the right and a great husband for putting up with her.  He was so successful in convincing that he successfully managed to control her mind and beliefs about herself.  It will take her some time to heal and truly understand who her husband is a person and what it has done to her, but she will get there.

So how can one protect themselves from falling into an abusive relationship? Here are some common signs of an abusive relationship:

  • Prevents contact and communication with friends and family
  • Controls money and important identification, such as driver’s licenses and passports
  • Causes embarrassment with bad names and put-downs
  • Critical about survivors appearance and/or behavior
  • Attempts to control what partner wears
  • Has unrealistic expectations, like partner being available at all times
  • Threatens to take away or hurt the children
  • Acts like abuse is not a big deal, or denies it’s happening
  • Plays mind games to place blame on the survivor
  • Destroys property or threatens to kill pets
  • Intimidates with guns, knives or other weapons
  • Shoves, slaps, chokes, hits or forces sexual acts
  • Threatens to commit suicide

Often, it can be difficult to identify what types of abuse are and what constitutes each type of abuse. These are some telltale signs of physical, sexual, emotional, economic and psychological abuse:

  • Physical: any use of force that causes pain or injury such as, hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting, hair pulling, etc.. This type of abuse also includes the use of weapons, denying a partner medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use upon him or her.
  • Sexual: Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact or behavior without consent. Sexual abuse includes, but is certainly not limited to, marital rape, attacks on sexual parts of the body, forcing sex after physical violence has occurred, or treating one in a sexually demeaning manner.
  • Emotional: Any pattern of behavior that causes emotional pain that can include, but is not limited to constant criticism, diminishing one’s abilities, name-calling, being unfaithful, or damaging one’s relationship with his or her children.  Perpetrators may also be emotionally neglectful, such as not expressing feelings or respecting the survivor’s feelings and opinions.
  • Economic: Making or attempting to make an individual financially dependent by maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding one’s access to money, or forbidding one’s attendance at school or employment. Forcing a survivor to use his or her credit to rack up debt is also very common and can present problems in the future when attempting to obtain credit.
  • Psychological: Elements include—but are not limited to—causing fear by intimidation; threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner’s family or friends; destruction of pets and property; and forcing isolation from family, friends, or school and/or work.

This video is truly frightening and a real wake up call to what abused women do in order to cover up abuse. MUST WATCH!

If you or someone you know, is being abused there is help. Please don’t keep silent and reach out to someone.

The Domestic Abuse Hotline: 1800-799-SAFE (7233)  Website: www.thehotline.org

Don’t hesitate to reach out for support and get a PRIVATE (and free) consultation session with me.

Here is a bonus gift for you, don’t forget to download your free guide on how to avoid the top 10 mistakes you want to avoid during your divorce. http://Divorcehelp1.gr8.com

 

Anyone going through a divorce is going through a very hard time, and requires a lot of support. You will have many recommendations for top attorneys who vow to “protect your interests”, and if not there is no shortage of options advertised. Hopefully you are blessed with great family and friends that will be there for you to support you during this trying time. However, none of these people are really able to help you collaborate with your ex-partner and help you navigate your emotional and logistical issues. That is where a divorce coach comes into play.

A divorce coach will not only help you deal with your personal emotional roller coaster and be your guide, but she will be able to help you clarify a variety of aspects associated with your divorce, from legal conflict management to discussing and balancing parenting issues. However, when meeting with any professional it is important to define your objective and expectation in order to utilize their services. The same goes for a divorce coach.

I want to take a moment to clarify what a divorce coach is and how they can assist you during and after the divorce process.  Divorce coaches are mental-health professionals that have received specialized training to help couples manage emotions, strengthen communication, facilitate conflict, and create plans to meet unique family needs. Usually, divorce coaches are part of a collaborative divorce team, but can also be used during mediated or litigated divorces.

Similar to the relationship you have with other professionals during a divorce; the key to an effective relationship with your divorce coach is understanding their role and being proactive. Here are some tips:

  1. Utilize Their Expertise

The emotional toll of a divorce can be significant, so having a mental-health professional to help guide you through those emotions can be tremendously helpful. Divorce coaches excel in helping couples communicate better, manage conflict, and navigate strong emotions. Many couples forego divorce coaches, only to have their emotions play out through strong conflict that increases the emotional and financial costs of divorce. In the same way that your lawyer helps you to work through the legal issues of divorce, divorce coaches help you work through the emotional issues.

  1. Set Goals

One of the most important things you should do with your divorce coach is to set goals. These goals should involve understanding your hopes and fears from your divorce, the key priorities you have for you and your family, and what you want from the divorce coaching process. This last piece is especially important to ensure that the work with your divorce coach is well-defined. For instance, you might want to focus on communicating more effectively so that you can have a healthier co-parenting relationship, or you may want your coach to help you be more assertive as you have always been conflict avoidant.

  1. Be Honest with Your Coach

Being completely honest with your divorce coach is necessary to get the most of the relationship. You will waste time and money if you leave out important information or bend the truth. Having honesty and trust will also set the stage for the good working relationship you will need when you have struggles during the divorce.

  1. Give Feedback

The relationship between you and your divorce coach is meant to be collaborative, and your coach should be open to your feedback. If you need more structure or input, let your coach know your concerns. However, remember that your coach might not always tell you what you want to hear. Going through a divorce is a difficult process (emotionally and financially) and nobody gets everything they want. Your coach might do a reality check with you at times.

  1. Keep It Divorce Focused

Your divorce coach is there to help you with your divorce in order to keep the process focused on the present and to help you move forward. Your coach is not your therapist and isn’t there to help you understand why your marriage fell apart or to heal you from the divorce. Many people find it beneficial to enter or remain in therapy during a divorce because it is such a stressful process. The roles of a divorce coach and a therapist are very different, and you will make the most of your divorce coach if you have these roles clear. That being said there are some coaches that do delve into the psychological aspect of the divorce and failed partnership, so make sure you have an open conversation with your coach about it.  Many coached collaborate with therapists and will happy to refer you to great professionals for anything they aren’t experts in.

Divorce coaches have a defined role in the Collaborative Divorce process, but they can also be utilized in mediation or litigated divorces. Some couples use one neutral divorce coach and sometimes it works best if each person has his/her own coach. These are issues you can better understand when you interview a few divorce coaches to find the right fit for you.

Divorce is a costly process, both financially and emotionally. A divorce coach can help you go through the process in the healthiest way possible and help you get on track to lead the life you want to lead post-divorce.

To find out if I am the right support and coach for you sign up for a PRIVATE (and free) consultation session with me.

Here is a bonus gift for you, don’t forget to download your free guide on how to avoid the top 10 mistakes you want to avoid during your divorce. http://Divorcehelp1.gr8.com