23 June 2015

Trying to Move On After Divorce

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Few things in life are as difficult to recover from as divorce. This is especially true when there are children involved. Whether you wanted it or not, there are things you have to tackle if you want to ive a happy and fulfilled life after your divorce. While the road to happiness may seem long, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  These five tips will help you cope and start the next chapter of your life.

Take Time to Grieve
It is alright to grieve the loss of your marriage. Many people try to gloss over this grief with distractions such as shopping, throwing parties, spending time at clubs, etc…but it is difficult to cover up the feeling of loss with momentary distractions. Take the time to grieve and process your feelings. Unaddressed emotions tend to bottle up and spill over down the road. Crying is OK, and you will be able to move on more quickly if you have taken time to grieve.

Go To Therapy
There is no shame in seeking some help. When you seek help you are actually demonstrating strength.  You may need someone to talk to after your divorce who will help you tackle your issues once you are single. A professional counselor may help to uncover issues that led to your divorce, and they can give you coping tips for life.

Focus on Something Useful
If you have a job, you need to focus on your work. If you have kids, you need to focus on your kids. You need to have something in your life that is going to allow you to focus for at least a part of the day. However, it’s important to make a distinction between doing something useful and beneficial to your recovery and something that can ultimately be destructive. Drugs and alcohol will only temporarily mask your pain and may lead to potential addiction.   

Do Not Lose Contact
If your ex-spouse is the mother or father of your children, you need to keep in contact with them on some level. You have to do everything you can do to remain amicable so that you can have a good relationship for the sake of your kids. There are therapists who specialize in this area of counseling, and you must remember that this investment in your relationship with your ex can help you heal.

Feelings of unworthiness sometimes creep in after a breakup, but there is always someone out there who will love you for you. You have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and head back out on the dating scene. Now, no one is suggesting that you should go on a date the day after you get divorced, but you should be willing to put yourself out there. When you are dating, you are taking a chance on yourself that you might not have taken before. Often, it is your children and friends who are urging you to put yourself out there because you may find love again.
When you are recovering from divorce, it’s important to realize that the pain you are experiencing is temporary. While the light at the end of the tunnel may appear dim, it’s indeed there, waiting for you. Implementing these 5 tips will go a long ways to aiding in your recovery.

20 June 2015

Three Ways You Can Become a Great Stepfather

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At times being a stepfather can be a rewarding, challenging and disappointing experience. Like with any other endeavor worth pursuing you have to be intentional about being a great stepfather. To be a great stepfather requires maturity, perseverance and commitment. Underlying these attributes must be a strong marriage where there is unity of purpose regarding raising the children between the husband and wife. Anything less than singular agreement will weaken the stepfather's role within the family. While each stepfamily has its own unique dynamics and circumstances there are three things you can do to ensure you're a great stepfather.

Focus on Your Marriage. Statistics show one of the main causes of divorce in blended families is the stress of step parenting. As much as possible focus on your wife and marriage and not the children. This will ultimately benefit everyone including the children. If the children see love, respect and open communication between you and your spouse, they will feel more secure and may even learn to model those qualities. Keep in mind early on this might not necessarily be considered a positive by your stepchildren. In fact, they may be threatened by it. Some children who hold a strong fantasy their parents will reconcile will find your commitment a barrier to life as they would have it. Taking good care of their mom will help get the children to like you and maybe even love you the fastest. Set aside "alone time" with your wife by making regular dates. Take their mother out to do the things she loves doing and once in a while invite the children to join in. A fun and enjoyable event for everyone is a great catalyst for developing your relationship with the children. Be sensitive to your wife is also mom and there will be times when she will have to help or spend time with her child when you would really like her to be spending time with you. Finally, never put your wife in a situation where she has to choose between you or her children. She will always choose her child.

Practice Patience and More Patience. Take your time when joining a blended family. It is a complex family built out of a loss from death or divorce resulting in the breakup of the first family. Don't expect your stepfamily to work like a biological family. Given time close loving relationships between all family members may develop but it also might never happen. It takes time to develop common goals and values and establish family history and traditions. Don't set yourself up by expecting a close loving relationship with or acknowledgement and appreciation from your stepchildren. This may not happen for many years if at all. While you cannot expect instant attachment or love you can expect to be treated respectfully. Model respectful behavior towards your step children and let them see you set the example. Encourage trust by never making negative comments about the biological parent or siblings around your step children. Many stepfathers make the mistake of establishing authority over their stepchildren too early and the children will resent it! Let their mother handle the issues early on, but be on the watch for opportunities where you can step in and allow them to build some trust in you. This can transpire through casual conversations where you can allow them to open up and share their feelings with you. Present a unified parenting approach to the kids - arguing or disagreeing in front of them may encourage them to try to come between you.

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Relationship with Your Stepchildren. Talk to the children's mother about your role and ensure both parties understand and are in agreement. At least initially your role is more of a friend or mentor rather than a disciplinarian. Communicate to your stepchildren you're not their dad and won't try to take his place. Let the biological (custodial) parent remain primarily responsible for discipline until you developed solid bonds with the kids. Create a list of family rules. Discuss the rules with the children and post them in a prominent place. This may diminish custodial parent-stepparent-stepchild tension. Try to understand what the rules and boundaries are for the kids in their other residence, and, if possible, be consistent. A great number of stepchildren will have a hard time accepting you and will often defy your decisions and cause all kinds of problems within your blended family during these times it's important to remember it's not about you. Your stepchildren's negative reactions to stepparents are really about the child's losses and not you. Keep your expectations low -your stepchildren may not respect you or hold you in high regard. Remember they didn't have a choice as to divorce and remarry. The drastic changes they are going through need to be met with realistic expectations and understanding. Be approachable and accessible to your stepchildren. Being a great stepfather will probably require you to have your own support and feedback system. You shouldn't expect your stepchildren to thank you for the role you played in their life. Suggest viewing being a stepfather as a job where you establish measures for your effectiveness. Additionally, suggest finding another stepfather you can be accountable with and support each other.

16 June 2015

Want A Happier Life? Learn to Forgive

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If we truly want to live a happier life, we must dig deep and learn to forgive. Forgiveness is the most precious treasure that we can give ourselves and each other.
When we are willing to take responsibility for forgiveness, we are guaranteed a life of peace, gratitude, wisdom, expansion and growth.
If not, we are destined to a life of blame, resentment, pain, self pity, guilt and anger.

To be truly happy, forgiveness begins with our self first. Each time we beat ourselves up for the past, for mistakes or bad choices that we have made, we stay trapped in a shell of toxic shame and self–abuse.
Somehow we think that we deserve this. Maybe we were told that we were bad as a child by a parent or a teacher and part of us believes this. We believe that punishing ourselves will make us a better person or a more humble person.
But this lie will never make us a better person. It will only keep us prisoner to the shame that we continue to carry. Whether in the privacy of our own minds or out loud for all to hear, each time that we criticize ourselves for our own faults and mistakes, we are participating in our own self-abuse. We are telling ourselves that we are bad. We, in fact, become our worst enemies.
If what we desire is a love filled life, we must learn to love ourselves first. That can only happen with forgiveness.

“Although forgiveness often looks like a generous gift we are giving to someone else, it is ultimately an act of self-love and a gift we give to ourselves.”

Our resentments hold onto us like a ball and chain, keeping us prisoner to our anger and to the person that we are so angry toward. We think that we will show them by continuing to make them suffer. But we are the ones who are truly suffering!
We continue to try and prove that we are right and ‘they’ are wrong.
Our righteous attitude keeps us locked up in our own misery.
We find a sick kind of comfort in this.
Our freedom begins with taking full responsibility for our part and…
… letting go of blaming others.
The power of forgiveness does not require that we agree with, condone or tolerate abuse or bad behavior. We forgive the sinner, not the sin.
By forgiving, we set ourselves free to create and receive so much more.
By forgiving others, we do not become doormats for them to wipe their feet upon. It is important that we create and set strong boundaries for those who would continue to try to take advantage of us.
True forgiveness allows us to stop being victims and helps us to step into our power and authority so that we will not make the same mistakes again.

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