The divorce decree is stamped “final”. Yet, the challenges with divorce are far from over. With each there is a temptation that pulls you back into the throughs of frustration and stress. It can be exhausting.
There comes a time in a man’s life where he just needs to plant his feet and move forward. Here are 10 tips to help men move on with their life after divorce.
Moving on With Your Life After Divorce: Tip 1 – Set Boundaries
Identify the people who try to steal your joy, either consciously or unconsciously, and set boundaries. Your ex, more often than not, is one of these people. It is very common for an ex to act out through various tactics when she sees her former husband moving on with his life. I coached a guy who was getting along well with his ex, and she never interfered in his relationship with the kids. However, when he began a new serious, intimate, relationship his ex-wife changed course and really started creating challenges for him. He had to establish new boundaries with her in order to keep their former relationship out of his current relationship. Boundaries were new for him, but necessary.
There are people who appear to be on your side, but also attempt to hold you back. Another man I coached had all the means to pursue his new career dream, but he found that his father was speaking in ways to create doubt around whether he should make a change. Some people have our best interests in mind, but tend to give us advice that pertains to their own beliefs – not what is best for us. Keep an eye out for family, close friends, co-workers and others who find ways to project their fears onto your situation. If it becomes burdensome, then you may need to set a boundary.https://youtu.be/QT19nrZMn2E
Moving on With Your Life After Divorce: Tip 2 – Bring Your Best-Self Moment to Moment to Moment
Our job in life is to bring our best-self to all circumstances. This is a practice, not a perfection. Only a few highly evolved spiritual leaders in history have been able to exemplify this practice moment to moment to moment. But it certainly is an aim worth having.
The reason being our best-self is important is that your former relationship dynamic will test you to show your lower-self. That knocks your virtues out of integrity. Even though you are no longer married, your relationship continues. In fact, if you have kids, virtually all aspects of your marriage – parenting, finances, special occasions, etc. – continue except for the intimate involvement. Eventually, there will be a situation that triggers an emotional response by you. Your job is to bring your best-self to this situation. Practice the “24-hour rule” before responding to anything bothersome. This will give you time to allow the emotion to subside before engaging with your ex. And remember, not all things deserve a response. You are in charge of what you allow to exist in your life.
Moving on With Your Life After Divorce: Tip 3 – Forgive
As a continuation of the prior tip, realize that many men are not raised to understand and express emotions properly. Sometimes we are too harsh, over -react, or let emotions get the best of us. We try to bring our best-self to situations, but we slip. It’s okay. Forgive yourself for being human. Take the slip as a lesson and look at it with a curious eye to see what caused it to happen. Learn from it. You will find the more you can forgive yourself for the errors you make, the more compassion you can place towards your ex for the errors she makes. All forgiveness starts with yourself. Full forgiveness is not reached by forgiving some and not others.
Moving on With Your Life After Divorce: Tip 4 – Wear Your Scars Like Medals
Author, Paulo Coehlo, has a line that reads, “wear your scars like medals.” Divorce inevitably opens wounds and forms scars. Maybe you have regret, or a scar, around the things you wish you would have done differently during the marriage. Possibly you have scars from circumstances before the marriage, dating back to your childhood. These scars are part of who you are. Instead of hiding them, and not owning up to the mistakes we made that contributed to the divorce, wear those scars proudly as polished medals. If you look at the scars with an objective and curious eye, my bet is you will see that they are building your character.
Moving on With Your Life After Divorce: Tip 5 – Set Intentions
I recommend writing intention statements at any stage of pre- and post- divorce. In all actuality, setting intentions is a life skill that applies to everything from your relationship with your kids, to your career aspirations, to your new partnership, and much more. Being really clear with your intention is a necessary part of acquiring hope for a better future, and building faith around knowing you can create the pathways to achieve it as circumstances change.
Nothing worthwhile is earned without some sort of struggle to acquire it. If things came easily, our lives would be like that genie in the bottle granting wishes. If you have some want for change, realize that want is guided by “e-motion, or energy in motion” so that change can come about. The intention is the full clarity for what you want to happen. However, from studying Wayne Dyer, Lynn McTaggert, and other great teachers, it is important to realize that intention should be spoken as if it has already happened. Instead of saying “I want a great relationship with my kids”, speak it as “I am relating great with my kids”. The word want implies that you don’t yet have it. Yes, you do have it. The change is in the mind and it’s in your ability.
Moving on With Your Life After Divorce: Tip 6 – Feed Your Physiology to Fuel Your Psychology
A teacher of mine, Brian Johnson, hammers home that our energy governs our ability to focus. The better we gain energy from the way we sleep, plus the way we eat, plus the way we move, the better we are able to focus on bringing our best-self to our love, life, and work. I come across many men who are not serving themselves properly. Their hearts are in the right place in terms of trying to provide for their family and meeting work obligations. But it takes more.
Divorce creates many emotions that impede our mental strength. We men try to “tough it out” because we are not soft – at least that is what many of us were taught as younger men. The key to getting through divorce in a way where we grow from it is to actually face all the emotional challenges. In order to build fortitude to conquer them, our energy level is pivotal. Pay attention to how you sleep, eat and move. These are what feed your psychological strength.
Moving on With Your Life After Divorce: Tip 7 – Understand Your Standards
What key roles do you play in your life? Solo father, provider, aspiring career man, new life partner, son are a few. What are your standards for each role? Standards are behaviors built upon your expectation of yourself. These standards can vary, or have different levels of importance. Get clear around understanding your standards for each role.
For example, as a father you may have standards such as, holding your kids accountable for their actions, speaking with kind and encouraging words, being patient, and having meaningful one-on-one time. Whereas the provider role you play may have standards like being a good steward of your money, and helping your kids invest time and energy in what interests them. The new partner role might involve communicating what you need from the relationship, listening and understanding, and celebrating successes together. Understand your standards. The more you are living in integrity with them, the better your new life after divorce.
Moving on With Your Life After Divorce: Tip 8 – Surround Yourself with People of Integrity
When you understand your standards you know who you are not, which helps you determine who you really are. Any imbalance means you are beginning to act in ways that draw you out of integrity. It’s important to understand the company you keep, and how that company can also draw you out of integrity.
I coached a man who was aspiring to emulate certain healthy behaviors for his kids, but he was tied to a group of long-time friends. When they were at a party, they drank too much around the kids, and acted in ways contrary to the way this man was trying to instill as standards with his kids. It didn’t mean he had to end friendships. But he certainly became aware of the need to begin making different choices.
Moving on With Your Life After Divorce: Tip 9 – Keep Putting Fairness in Its Place
Many men reach points in their post-divorce where they feel the system is unfair. Now that marital property is divided, the areas where unfairness typically arise is child support and parenting.
Child support is something that can be revisited over and over again. Many men cite feeling that their ex is using the child support process as a way to get back at them, or as a means to get bailed out of poor financial choices. Certainly, that is not fair. Another area that seems unfair is when your ex does not support co-parenting and creates conflict. You have a court agreement that includes parenting, but parenting cohesion does not seem as enforceable by the court as, for example, not paying child support.
Both of these areas leave plenty of room for unfairness to live. The key is to put fairness in its place, and not let it live with you by ruminating the situation over and over. Instead, flip unfairness on its head. Accept what is not fair so you can move on with the next moment in your life. If you find yourself feeling victimized, and unfairness ruling your days, stop and make a list of all the things you can do instead to bring a better result. Rather than fighting the unfairness, focus instead on what’s within your control.
Moving on With Your Life After Divorce: Tip 10 – Laugh at Yourself
I often look back at my relationship with my ex and all the post relationship issues. I see the things I failed to truly see at the time. I take note of the many bonehead actions I made. Man, did I do a lot whacked out things! I can only laugh at myself. Laughing at yourself is a great gift. It’s certainly a lot better than living with some regret that causes self-judgement. Laugh at yourself and then commit that you won’t make the same mistake again.