About the authors

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Edward M. Tauber, a corporate researcher and divorce counselor received his Ph.D. from Cornell University. A former full professor and department chairman at the University of Southern California, he’s also been a senior executive and consultant with many Fortune 500 companies. Ed is the author of Finding The Right One After Divorce. Ed and his wife, Monica, live in California.

Jim Smoke is an internationally known author, speaker, and life coach. He has been a pioneer in the divorce recovery field for more than 30 years. Jim has written more than 18 books geared to the single and single–again community worldwide including his bestselling Growing Through Divorce upon which much of this book is based. Jim and his wife, Carol, live in California. Comments@divorceheal.com

Divorce Healing and Moving On
Copyright © 2009 Edward M. Tauber, Jim Smoke Indian Wells, California 92210

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A Program for Hope What is it that you want when you find yourself in a divorce? You want to heal and get over the pain and agony of the loss, and you want to find a way to move on with your life and put the divorce behind you. In teaching divorce recovery workshops for over 30 years with many thousands of devastated divorced men and women, we have concluded that time alone will not achieve these objectives. We have seen people who have been divorced 3, 10, even 15 years still suffering the aftereffects of their divorce. Even some who have remarried carry the wounds and bitterness right into the next relationship. Is recovery from divorce that difficult? Yes it is. Divorced people agree that this experience is the worst or one of the worst experiences of their lives. Life is turned upside down by divorce. It destroys your selfconfidence. It upends your dreams and plans for the future. It brings seemingly insurmountable problems. Suddenly you have changes in your finances and living conditions. You have to deal with the emotional upheaval of your children. Your family and friends may take sides or begin to act differently. Marriage is like an ecosystem that is in balance; divorce wrecks that balance. If you have never previously been through a divorce (and for over two thirds of divorced people, it is their first), you don’t know what to do. No one suggested you even consider that your marriage might fail, even though half of all marriages do. You never received instruction in how to behave during and after divorce. As a result, you are probably like most people we encounter in our divorce recovery workshops, you feel lost, you are stuck somewhere in the process and you make a lot of mistakes. The truth is, much has been learned about how to heal, move on and get closure in divorce. From our years of teaching, we have written this book to help you achieve a successful recovery.
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How to Use This Book As the old expression goes, you get out of something what you put into it. This book is designed to help you heal, learn from your experience, plan for the future and begin to take action to build a new fulfilling life for yourself. Our 10 step process will help you accomplish all of that if you are willing to put in the time and effort. Each section has insights, recommendations, and action steps to direct you as you move from healing to closure. We organized these 10 steps in a workbook type format to involve you in the process. Just reading about divorce recovery will not get you there. You have to work the program. Our promise: If you will take the time to read this book carefully, attempt to understand all the ideas that sometimes may run counter to what your instincts want you to do, and do the exercises in the 10 steps; you will heal, move forward with your life and gain closure in your divorce. Full recovery from divorce takes two years; even more for some people. However, if you follow the process we advocate, you will begin to feel better and make progress in just 10 weeks. We see it in every divorce recovery workshop we have ever taught for over 30 years. We wish there was a quick fix for getting over a divorce. Sadly, many people try to shortcut the process by quickly dating or remarrying with the mistaken belief that a substitute spouse will fix their problems. History shows that this is a flawed strategy. Almost half of remarriages end in another divorce. Don’t take the “easy way” and have to go through this awful experience again. Commit to this program and believe that there is hope. Thousands of divorced people have used this approach and they now lead happy, fulfilled lives – single or remarried.
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You Can Grow Through Divorce or Just Go Through It What’s the difference between growing through your divorce versus just going through it? It’s all the difference in the world. Sadly, most divorced people struggle through their divorce never really healing, learning anything from it or progressing. Often, they simply bury themselves in their bitterness or quickly find a replacement spouse, half the time leading to another painful divorce. Let’s examine what it takes to grow through divorce. Here are some synonyms for the word “grow” taken from a number of dictionaries: To Grow Advance – to move forward, not be stuck Branch out – to expand beyond the life you’ve had Develop – to realize potentialities Expand – to increase your scope of activities Flourish – to thrive, prosper Mature – to mentally develop Show life – to function, not be dead inside Spring up – to move out of one place to another Stretch – to reach or extend into untried areas This is what we want you to achieve: to advance, expand your possibilities, realize your untapped potentialities, learn what happened in your divorce and how to fully function again, move out of the old dead place and stretch yourself to flourish and achieve a new fulfilling life. If you are recently divorced or in the process of getting a divorce, to achieve all of this may seem almost impossible. Where do you start? That’s what this book is about: helping you to be patient and take baby steps to pull yourself out of the nightmare of divorce and into a new life.
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Or Just Go Through Divorce What does it look like for people who just go through their divorce rather than grow through it? Here are some things that may characterize you if you try this approach: You stay stuck, frozen, and unable to act You remain in denial that you are divorced You remain bitter, angry, and remorseful You are steeped in guilt over “your failure” You perpetually play the “If only” game – If only I had done this or that or been this or that, he/she wouldn’t have left You obsess about why your former spouse acted as he/she did You encourage your friends to choose sides against your ex You continue to fight with your ex You allow your ex to control you or you try to control your ex You think about the divorce 24/7 You repeat your divorce story to anyone who will listen You blame your ex for all your problems You put your children in the middle of battles with your ex You encourage your children to spy on your ex You stay vengeful toward your ex, threatening, scheming You suffer declining emotional and physical health You search for someone to rescue you from your problems You remarry quickly to cover up your pain
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The 10 Steps for Growing Through Divorce Divorce is a very painful place. For you to get to the other side and to flourish requires four active things on your part: Healing Learning Planning Acting The purpose of this book is to show you how to do these. We have broken down the process into 10 steps. Step 1 How to heal Step 2 How to quit your marriage, end the war and end the control your ex has over you Step 3 How to accept your new identity as a single person Step 4 How to learn from your divorce Step 5 How to take responsibility for yourself and your children Step 6 How to become a better single parent Step 7 How to live in the present and let go of the past Step 8 How to plan your future Step 9 How to get closure in your divorce Step 10 How to know when you're ready to date and remarry

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Don’t Skip Any of the 10 Steps Some people try to make a quick fix of their divorce and get over it in a few days, weeks or months. Remember, it takes at least two years to fully heal from your divorce. Don’t rush it and don’t skip any of the steps.

If you try to avoid mourning your loss, you will never emotionally heal. If you don’t mentally detach yourself from your ex, you are likely to continue to have him or her control you or your emotions, sometimes in subtle but debilitating ways. If you don’t fully accept that you are now single, you will not truly appreciate all that your new status offers you and you will stay stuck. If you don’t learn what happened in your marriage that led to divorce and your role in it, you may be doomed to repeat the mistakes with the next person you seriously date or marry. If you don’t take complete responsibility for yourself, you will be vulnerable to “saviors” who want to rescue and therefore control you. If you don’t take responsibility for your children and learn to become a successful single parent, you will miss the opportunity to be important in their lives. If you don’t learn to live in the present with a new life, you will stay focused on your hurtful past and be bound to the old problems. If you don’t plan your future and take responsibility for executing the plans, you will never achieve your potentialities.
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If you don’t learn how to get closure in your marriage, you will stay part in the old life and part in the new and drag the old baggage along into any new relationship. If you don’t learn what you need to achieve to be ready to date and consider remarriage, you are likely to marry the wrong person under the pressures that divorce creates and find yourself unhappy or divorcing again.

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Diagnose Where You Are and Get an Accountability Partner Can you really succeed with a self-help approach to recovery or do you need to get counseling from an expert? There has always been a debate about whether self-help books and approaches work. You will be much more successful if you do two things before you start this program: 1. Identify and diagnose the problems you are having in your divorce or post-divorce life using our “Stuck in divorce” test 2. Find someone who will go through the process with you and hold you accountable In order to help you get a better idea about what is keeping you from healing, moving forward and gaining closure – in effect staying stuck – we have developed a brief quiz covering a range of issues divorced people face. Begin your 10 step program by taking this test to profile where you are in the divorce recovery process. Recovering from divorce is very difficult, especially when the pain and problems you face are extreme. The best way to assure that you will stick with the program and get the most benefit from it is to find someone who agrees to hold you accountable. This can be a friend, relative or even another person going through divorce. Rather that just commiserate about the bad things that happened to both of you, you can actually help and support each other in a positive way to take the steps necessary to complete the program. Whomever you choose, expose them to the chapter you are focused on and ask them to work with you and discuss how you are handling each recommendation in this book. When the chapter calls for action on your part, ask them to hold you accountable for completing it.

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Stuck in Divorce Profile If you are like most people who are going through a divorce, you don’t know what to do next. You are likely stuck somewhere in the divorce recovery process. Even if you are some years past the date of your divorce, you may still be stuck but with different issues. You may feel like you have never fully healed or obtained closure and you don’t know why or what to do about it. Recognizing where you are stuck is the first step toward recovery. Profile yourself by answering how well these statements describe you. Action: Check the box which best describes you for each of the following statements. Then place a circle around each statement that you rated a 4 or 5. This provides you with a profile of where you are stuck at present. Focus your attention on each of these issues as you work on your recovery from divorce. The book offers insights, recommendations and action-oriented prescriptions for each area where you might be stuck.

How well does this describe you?
Very well Not at all

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Stuck in grief & self-pity
In shock, unable to mourn the loss Sad, crying, grief stricken Rollercoaster of up and down emotions Haven’t acknowledged that divorce is a death – the death of a marriage Feel so sorry for myself Feel like I am a failure [] [] []

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See no hope for the future Have no self-confidence Feel rejected Full of guilt about the divorce

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Consumed with fear about my problems and the unknown future [] Can’t imagine ever being happy again Can’t think about anything other than my problems and my divorce Constantly telling my divorce story []

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Stuck in anger & bitterness
Bitter, angry, resentful Believe ex got the better deal in the divorce Feel life isn’t fair [] [] [] [] []

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Stuck in loneliness
Feel very lonely Have not identified coping mechanisms to use when loneliness occurs Have little support system to help me with my emotional and other divorce-caused problems Still spend time with toxic friends or relatives that blame me or put me down Believe I am a loser no one would want [] [] [] [] []

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Have not found any new friends, especially single/divorced/widowed friends Haven’t tried any new experiences; still doing the same old things

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Stuck in unreality
In denial that my marriage is over Still telling myself ex will come back Can’t say to myself: “I am divorced” [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] []

Refuse to give up the signs I am no longer married such as wearing wedding ring or not telling people the truth []

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Stuck in over-analysis
Think about my divorce 24/7 Keep thinking: “If only” I had done this or that, the marriage would not be over Frustrated that I can’t understand why my marriage failed Frustrated that I can’t understand why my ex left [] [] [] [] []

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Stuck battling with my ex
Frequently fight with my ex Fight about relatively unimportant things just to win [] [] [] [] []

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Letting ex push my buttons Can’t seem to set boundaries for the relationship with my him/her Frustrated that I can’t get my ex to do or not do something I want Frustrated that my ex is trying to get me to do something he/she wants Trying to get friends to take sides with me Ask children to take sides with me Plotting ways to “get even” with my ex for what he/she did

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Stuck clueless about the divorce
Have no clue what was my role in the failure of our marriage Have learned nothing positive from the divorce Married too young Married too quickly Married knowing there were problems Married on the rebound from another relationship or marriage [] [] [] [] []

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Stuck with the old identity
Have no idea who I am apart from my ex Haven’t developed a new sense of self as a single person [] [] [] [] []

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Believe what my ex used to say about me

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Stuck living in the past
Mentally live in the past Talk constantly about the old stuff Think about, talk about and ask others about what ex is doing Can’t let go of regrets Unable to focus just on today (live in the moment, one day at a time) [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] []

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Stuck by inaction in the present
Unable to take charge of my situation Frozen to act to resolve my financial and other problems Feeling helpless to do the new things I now have the responsibility to do [] [] [] [] []

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Stuck in managing my children
Unable to tell my children the truth about the divorce Unable to quiet children’s’ fears Unable to stop children from controlling me with guilt Divorce has minimized time and attention given to children [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] []

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Trying to be both parents Encourage children to spy on my ex Use children as messengers Talk negatively about my ex to children Make ex’s visitation with children unpleasant Allow children to stop me from having new romantic relationships Not providing economic support to children

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Stuck in managing my life
Overwhelmed with my new problems from the divorce Can’t seem to distinguish the things I have control over vs. the things I don’t Suffering declining physical and emotional health due to divorce [] [] [] [] []

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Stuck with no future
Have made no plan for solving the practical problems of living I face Have set no goals for the future Have no career plans for self-support [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] []

Stuck unable to get closure
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Can’t forgive my ex Can’t forgive myself Can’t ask my ex to forgive me

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Stuck in frustration about dating or remarriage
Believe being single is inferior to being married Believe it’s a couple’s world Hate dating (or the idea of it) Believe no one could replace my ex Constantly think about finding a new spouse Feel the need to prove I am desirable to someone Have no social life with other single people except for dating Deep down I believe remarriage will solve my problems and make the divorce go away Keep getting romantically involved with people who are wrong for me [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] []

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Have someone pressuring me to remarry [] Dating someone now, but red flags Don’t know how to tell if I’m ready to remarry []

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The Ten Step Program
Step 1: How to Heal Understand that divorce is the death of a marriage As painful as it is, you need to accept that your divorce is the death of your marriage, the death of part of your life as you have known it. Your expectations for what was going to be “till death do us part” are now gone. The person that you loved is now gone. Is it any wonder that going through divorce is such a sad and debilitating experience? The 5 stages of accepting a death are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. When you acknowledge that your marriage is over, you take the first step toward healing. Action: Circle the stage in the death process you are going through now. Write a brief paragraph about how you are feeling. Focus on moving on to the next stage with the goal of reaching acceptance. For some people this may take months or even a few years.

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Recognize the “divorce syndrome” This is a rollercoaster of emotions which affects almost everyone going through divorce - denial, shock, shame, guilt, sadness, anger/bitterness/resentment, low self-esteem, stress, insecurity, helplessness, hopelessness, loneliness, confusion, feeling stuck, etc. This will diminish over time. Relief may be another one of these emotions. When life leading up to divorce has been ugly and bitter, being removed from your ex can result in a feeling of relief that a the marriage is over and you have some peace and quiet. Action: Circle the emotions listed above that you have been feeling. Use the list to help you identify what emotions you are experiencing most often. As you go through this book, you will learn how to better deal with each of these emotions. At this stage, just diagnose where you are. Are there any other emotions affecting you?

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Mourn the loss In divorce, there is the loss of your spouse, your old life, and the dreams you had for it. You need to grieve about this loss. Don’t be hard on yourself because you feel bad, cry and feel depressed. This is a normal process. Depending on the length of your marriage and the way that it ended, this could last a while. Men especially often try to shortcut this process and tough it out. Don’t do that. You have a right to grieve. Action: Write a letter below (as if to a friend) telling him or her why you are sad. What have you lost from getting divorced? What dreams did you have that have now ended? What emotions are you now feeling? If you are angry at your former spouse, mention why? Get it all off your chest.

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Deal with fears Divorce creates unknowns that can lead to unrealistic or exaggerated fears. Examples: I will not be able to take care of myself, I will not be able to see my children, or I will never find anyone else who will love me. Such nonsense can seem real in the atmosphere of divorce. Action: Make a running list of your fears. Challenge each one to see that they are unlikely or even impossible. Get information that will help you clarify any issues you don’t understand about fears such as legal rights. Begin to deal with those fears that have any basis in fact.

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Deal with any rejection There are many ways to end a marriage like Paul Simon’s song “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”. Sadly, affairs or leaving to be with someone else is a cruel way to end it. In about 70% of divorces, someone left to be with another person. Being rejected heightens certain feelings – feeling like a loser, low self esteem and shame. Action: Rebuild your self-worth by listing below all the strengths and great qualities you have. Have close friends and family help by asking them to tell you what they see that is valuable in you. You are a desirable person.

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Deal with anger Anger is part of the natural process of mourning the death of your marriage. If you try to repress the anger or pretend that you are above that sort of thing, it will come out later in other ways. You have a right to be angry. No matter who initiated the divorce, your life and future have been turned upside down. When you recognize your anger, you give it a chance to run its course. Anger used constructively helps you avoid being taken advantage of in negotiating property settlements and custody battles. Anger helps you minimize guilt. Anger helps you set barriers with you ex. Anger motivates you to move forward and prove to yourself that you can do things that you thought you could not. Anger can also drive you to be vindictive, even consumed. Don’t let that happen. Action: What are all the things you are angry about? What injuries have been done to you? Write a note to your ex (but don’t send it) and tell him or her why you are mad and about the anger you are feeling. When anger overwhelms you, give yourself permission to shout, scream, wail, or whatever. Expect that the anger stage may last for some time. As you begin to take control of your life and make progress on your own, your anger and bitterness will subside.

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Deal with guilt The one who was “left” in a marriage generally has to confront rejection and the resulting damage to self-esteem. The one who is the “leaver” is plagued with guilt. Leavers feel they have broken their promise and wounded their spouse. No matter what justification there was for leaving, “leavers” have to confront the decision they have made and let go of the guilt. Action: If you were the “leaver”, write yourself a note below about the reasons you left. Recall the effort and time you spent trying to “fix” the marriage. Realize that if the marriage was that bad, you did yourself and your ex a favor in the long run by having the courage to end it. Ask close friends and family to understand your decision and support you. Let them know how difficult this was and that you are hurting too.

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Identify some coping mechanisms Loneliness is one of the toughest problems for divorced people. You need planned activities to help you when you are at low points or feeling lonely. Some examples of coping mechanisms for loneliness are: calling friends, inviting people to come over, going out to public places, going to shopping malls, attending meetings or hobby groups – anything that gets you in touch with people. Remember, the loneliest place in the world is in an unhappy marriage where you are stuck. Being divorced, you now have options! Action: List some mechanisms you have used and devise some new ones that you can use when you begin to feel isolated or down. Be creative. What will you do? Where will you go? Who will you contact? This preparation will serve you well when you have those downer days.

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Identify a support system You need to feel a sense of belonging and identity for this critical transition period. Lean on friends and relatives who can help you during the early months. Action: Who are the people you can call or spend time with that you feel totally comfortable telling anything about your divorce, your state of mind and your problems? Who can become your new extended support family?

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Expect that some friends may disappoint you Once you are single, some married friends may take sides or create distance from you. They may be mad at you, feel threatened by your being “available”, etc. Some relatives may criticize you for a variety of selfish reasons – example - your divorce has limited their exposure to grandchildren. Action: Identify any toxic friends or relatives who pull you down or criticize you about your circumstances. Distance yourself from them for at least the present time while you are in a healing mode. Who are the friends and relatives (who might mean well) but are critical and drag you down?

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Find spiritual support to help you heal Most recovery programs ask you to find support from a power higher than yourself. Action: If you believe in God, ask Him to help you and give you guidance as you deal with the sorrows and the trials of divorce. Ask Him to help you heal, remove anger and bitterness and direct you to make the right decisions in all areas. Write a prayer asking God for what you need at the present time.

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Commit to be happy This may sound silly, but in order to be happy, you have to decide that that is what you want. Some divorced people stay sad and depressed because they want to receive pity and don’t want to heal. If you want happiness again in your life, know that you will get it as you make progress in doing the 10 steps in this book. Celebrate your freedom. Action: Are you sabotaging your own happiness by choosing to feel sorry for yourself? Other people cannot make you happy. Only you can make yourself happy with good choices and positive actions to move forward with your life. Recognize the potential benefits of your newfound freedom. What are you unhappy about? What are you happy about? Write a list below which will help you be introspective about it. What do you need to do or what changes do you need to make so that you will be happier?

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Wean your focus off of yourself Don’t allow your grief to become a pity party beyond a number of months. Mourning is good, obsessing is a waste of time. You can accomplish this by refocusing your mind and your energy on others. Do this gradually in a weaning type process. Action: Commit to go out and help other people. This may sound insane because you know you are the one who needs help. But helping others is the best way to help yourself. You can do this by helping friends or relatives who have needs or volunteering at a charity or church. When you focus on others, you will feel a sense of satisfaction in helping them with their problems and you will spend less time thinking about your own problems. Also, focusing on others gives you a sense of perspective about your situation. Brainstorm a list of some people you can help. Are there people you know who would benefit from your help? Organizations you could join? Volunteering you could do?

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Join a divorce support group It may feel like you are the only person in the world who is going through divorce. Joining a group of other divorced people has a number of benefits. You are likely to see that your divorce situation is not a bad as some others. This helps you gain perspective. You learn from each other in a divorce group. In a group, people will give you the support you need to make tough decisions and get through tough times. And you will help others taking the focus off of your own problems. Action: Find a divorce support group or divorce recovery workshop to join. Look in newspapers. Call local churches. Ask any divorced people you know. Get a recommendation for a group and give it a try.

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Avoid emotional collisions Don’t become romantically involved with anyone before the two year period. This will only forestall your recovery. You cannot make a clear decision about a new mate until you have healed completely. If someone attempts to rescue you, don’t fall for that trap. It will just set you back, put you in a situation to be controlled, or worse lead you to another marriage and divorce. If marriage is your eventual goal, there is no hurry to make it happen. You need friends; you don’t need romantic saviors. Action: How will you deal with sexuality and relationships during the next two years? How will you avoid getting into another romantic relationship too soon?

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Monitor your progress so that you will see evidence that you are getting better over time When you see progress, you will be encouraged to make even more progress. You can do this with a simple exercise. Action: During the past week, what percentage of the time have you spent thinking, talking or doing something about your divorce? _____________. Monitor this percentage every week so that you will gradually spend less of your waking hours focused on your divorce and more on living a new life.

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Questions for Step 1: How to Heal Q. What is the difference between growing through divorce and just going through it? Q. Most divorcing or divorced people are stuck on something that forestalls their progress. Where are you stuck? Examples: Emotional: Sadness, crying, guilt, anger/bitterness/resentment, confusion, hopelessness Acceptance: Denial about your divorce, fighting with your ex, not quitting your marriage Frozen to act: Feeling helpless, inability to set boundaries with your ex, not taking control of your life, not taking responsibility for your children, not moving the legal process forward Q. Have you identified coping mechanisms to help you when you feel lonely or depressed? Q. Have you identified a support system? Who do you have that you can confide in and lean on for support? Q. How have people in your world responded to your divorce? Have you had friends who took sides in your divorce? Are there people who disappointed you? Do some criticize you and bring you down? How will you deal with them? Q. What fears are haunting you now? Which of these fears are unrealistic? How can you better deal with those that are just worries vs. the ones that are real? Q. Did you leave the marriage or did your spouse leave you? Those who are left have special issues. Do you have feelings of rejection? Low self34

esteem? Undesirability? Shame? What can you do to rebuild your selfworth?

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Step 2: How to Quit Your Marriage, End the War and End the Control Your Ex Has Over You

Quitting your marriage can be tough. It’s difficult to let go of the past and the person. You don’t want to fail so you keep trying. That’s fine. If there is still hope that your marriage can be saved, spend more time at it. You can always get a divorce. But sometimes, the marriage is really dead; maybe you have already received a legal divorce – and yet you won’t let it go. You need to decide to quit your marriage.

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Stop living in a fantasy world Having hope is wonderful, but if you’re simply in denial, then you have to recognize fantasy from reality. Action: Is your marriage over? Has your spouse told you emphatically that he or she is not returning? Or have you done that? Has your spouse taken actions that signal that your marriage is over even if he or she hasn’t said so – such as becoming involved with another person? Have you decided that no matter what promises your spouse makes, you know he or she will never change and you cannot make the marriage work? Accept reality, let the fantasy go and move on. Write a brief few sentences below stating “What is reality in my marriage.”

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Stop obsessing about the “What ifs” and If onlys” Self-blame accomplishes nothing. Many divorced people attempt to explain their divorce by thinking something like: My marriage would not have ended if only I had been better looking, a better provider, a better cook, a better housekeeper, a better lover, lost weight, been neater, blah, blah, blah.

Action: Don’t waste time reviewing over and over in your mind the hypothetical things you might have done that would have saved your marriage. If you beat yourself up over the “what ifs” and “if onlys”, nothing is accomplished by this other than stunting your movement toward a new life. Write a list of any “what ifs” and “if onlys” you have been thinking. Now make a conscious decision to let it go and forget about them.

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Stop allowing your ex to control you Recognize that you have the power to end most anything your ex is doing that causes you pain.

Action: If talking to your ex on the phone upsets you, don’t do it. Hang up if she calls. If seeing your ex, sets you back, make the decision not to see him. Make it clear to him you don’t want to see him. If you have to communicate because of children, keep it short and businesslike. Keep a running list of the things that upset you about what your ex is doing. Commit to take control and change the circumstances so he or she cannot hurt you anymore. Set boundaries. What steps will you take?

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Stop trying to control your ex You can become just as frustrated by trying to control what your ex does as vice versa. Recognize that you have no power to control his or her actions. For example: he is always late when he picks up the children or she won’t let you know when you receive mail. Sometimes the frustration is about the lies your ex tells everyone about you. It can be anything your ex does to punch your buttons. Action: If there are things your ex is doing that drive you crazy or upset you accept that this is his or her way of “getting even.” Note these actions below and recognize that you are allowing him or her to control you by the way you react to it. Instead, don’t give him the satisfaction of getting to you. You have a choice whether to play his game.

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Stop any vindictive thoughts or behaviors Spending energy trying to get even just keeps you tied to your ex. Anytime you have thoughts of getting even or you’re planning ways to hurt your spouse, you forestall your healing and demean yourself. Rise above it. Save your emotional energy for yourself. Action: What actions are you undertaking or seriously considering for the purpose of hurting your ex for what he or she did to you? Write them out so you have them listed in front of you. Now, stop doing or planning them and help yourself by moving on.

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Stop asking friends to help you against your ex You need your true friends for support, not for fighting your battles. Action: Never ask your friends to choose sides or to help you get back at your ex. Instead, think about what you would like your friends to do to be supportive during this difficult time – such as call you often, be available to talk when you are down, help you think through some tough decisions. Let them know your needs. What are the needs they can help you with?

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Stop complaining that life is not fair Many divorced people believe that their ex got the better deal in the divorce. – “He just bought a new car while I’m driving this old Junker”, “She got the house while I live in this small apartment”, “He has a new girlfriend while I am alone”, “She has the children most of the time while I get to see them only on weekends.” Action: Accept that life is not fair. Recognize that your ex has problems too. No one wins in divorce. He/she probably has the same thought that the divorce was unfair and may just put on a façade to appear that all is well. Instead of dwelling on what your ex has or does, focus on what you are going to do to make your life better. What are you going to do?

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Stop fighting about unimportant things There are some things that you may have to fight for such as your legal rights, division of your assets, custody rights of children, etc. Fighting about trivial stuff just keeps you involved with your ex. Action: Pick your battles. Decide what is worth fighting for and what is not so that you don’t get caught up in fighting endlessly for everything just for the sake of winning. When you do that, you really lose. What are you fighting about that is worthwhile? What is trivial? Be honest: Are you continuing the battle because you don’t want to let go of your ex? If so, reread the section on denial.

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Leave the combat zone It takes two to carry on a fight. You can prevent the fighting by just refusing to get drawn in. Action: If your ex tries to perpetually drag you into fights, refuse to play that game. If he starts a fight, walk away or say something like ‘I will not talk about that.’ If you won’t fight back, eventually, he will stop trying. What do you need to do to leave the combat zone?

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Stop the blame game Blaming is a way of shifting responsibility. Growth begins when blaming ends. Action: Begin to vigorously monitor yourself for when you think or tell someone all the bad things your ex did to you that caused your divorce. Catch yourself when this happens and stop. You don’t owe anyone an explanation of why your marriage ended. If they ask, just say something general such as “We couldn’t make it work” or “I’m not sure, I’m just sad that it ended.” What blaming have you been doing? What have you been telling people about how your divorce occurred or what your ex did? What statement can you use from now on that doesn’t include blaming your ex or yourself?

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Mentally compartmentalize your divorce Some divorces are finalized quickly allowing both parties to move on. But most divorces have issues that can drag on for months or even years. If you are in a protracted legal battle with your ex, this can keep the divorce alive in your life for some time. If you have financial issues such as joint property or a family business, you may not be able to distance yourself from your ex. If you have children, you have a continuing link to your ex which never completely goes away. This inability to put your ex out of your life can keep you from gaining closure. Some divorced people continue to live the divorce many years after it is officially over.

Action: How do you move on with your new life and be happy without being victimized by the past life? Mentally compartmentalize your divorce. Accept that some part of your life will entail dealing with your divorce. This time you give to it should diminish over time. During any day, think: I am in “divorce” time. Okay, now that is over. Now I am in “new life” time.

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Questions for Step 2: How to Quit Your Marriage , End the war, and End the Control Your Ex Has Over You Q. What is the reality in your marriage? Is it over, but you are in denial? Q. Do you blame yourself for the failure of your marriage? Is there anything you can do about it now or is it a waste of time to just review the “what ifs” and “if onlys”? Q. Do you feel responsibility for your ex or guilt about the situation he/she is in? Q. What does your ex do that ‘punches your buttons’? Q. In what ways is your ex still controlling you? What boundaries can you set to stop it? Q. Is there anything you are trying to get your ex to do that he/she won’t do? Do you really have the power to control your ex or are you allowing him/her to get to you? Q. What is your biggest struggle with your ex? What can you do to improve that struggle? Q. Are you planning anything or doing anything just to get even with your ex? Why are you wasting your energy on this? Q. Do you believe that your ex got the better deal in the divorce? How is that making you feel? What problems does your ex have now that might make his/her life not so good?

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Q. Are there things that you are fighting about with your ex that are relatively unimportant? Are you picking which battles to fight and which to walk away from? Q. Are you blaming your ex for the divorce? Is that allowing him/her to keep control over your feelings?

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Step 3: How to Accept Your New Identity as a Single Person In order to move forward and benefit from being single again, you have to accept and adapt to your new identity.

Accept that we all have the freedom to fail No one goes through life without making mistakes or having some bad things happen to us. Don’t let your divorce make you think of yourself as a loser. Remember, half of all married people get a divorce. Action: Commit to reinforcing your self-perception that you are a winner and not a failure. Your marriage failed, not you. Love requires risk and it sometimes does not work out. Think about the friends and relatives you have and the mistakes they made - all humans do. Whenever you think of the negative failure thoughts, immediately shift to thinking about all the things that make you a winner. List all the things you have done in your life where you have been successful. You have the freedom to fail.

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Don’t keep living in the role of the old identity Many divorced people stay in denial hoping their ex will return, talking as if they are still married, wearing their wedding ring, and even refraining from telling family, friends or co-workers about the divorce. Action: Look in the mirror every day and repeat to yourself: “I am divorced, I am single” Take whatever actions are necessary for you to fully accept and show the world that your marriage is over. If you don’t, you cannot progress to live a new identity. What steps have you taken to show yourself and others around you that you are divorced – single again?

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Accept that being single is not an inferior status More than half of the adults in the U.S. are single, widowed or divorced. You can be just as happy and fulfilled as a single person as you can a married person. In fact, you have more control of your life now that you don’t have to include another person’s wishes in your plans and actions. Action: Do you think you will be less happy as a single person? Why? What would make you happy? Write a list of the things that would make you happy as a single person. This should include short term as well as longer term things. Dream big!

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Find some new single/divorced friends There are many things your married friends cannot do with you. Other “same gender” single people can go with you to dinner, shows, plays, sporting events, clubs, dances, parties, singles groups even go on trips with you. Many of these are things that your married friends likely cannot do. To have a full social life, you need to meet single people. Action: Develop a plan to meet single people of your gender. Don’t be in search of opposite gender friends too quickly. If you are open and searching, you will find many single people your age at church, work, school, in organizations, in hobby groups, etc. Where will you look to meet them? What single/divorced/widowed people do you know that you can contact? Are their things that are stopping you from reaching out to other single/divorced people?

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Create some new experiences Singledom affords freedoms that did not exist for you previously. Use this newfound freedom to explore new adventures. Action: List some things that you like to do or would like to do that you never could do because of your ex. Look in the newspaper and internet for ideas – entertainment, travel, hobbies, new work, etc.

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Build your new identity Many people have their identities so tied to their marriage partner that they never develop their own identity. Action: Who are you now without your ex spouse? Write a brief paragraph describing who you are. Include what gifts, talents and interests you have that make you special. I (Your name) am___________________________________________

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Questions for Step 3: How to Accept Your New Identity as a Single Person Q. Which stage of accepting your divorce are you in now: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression or acceptance? How can you move forward and not be stuck there? Q. What are the things you can control in your life now and the things you cannot? Are there people (like your ex) that you are trying to control where you are doomed to fail and just cause frustration for yourself? Q. Which of these two statements best characterizes how you feel? You failed. Your marriage failed. Q. Are you doing anything that suggests that you are not a single/divorced person? What actions or thinking reflects that you have not accepted your new identity? Q. Do you believe that being single is inferior to being married? Why? Q. Have you made an effort to make some new friends who are single/divorced or do you spend time only with your old married friends? What would be some advantages of having some new friends that are not married? Q. Have you made an effort to have some new experiences? What things can you do now that you could not do as a married person? Q. Who are you without your husband/wife?

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Step 4: How to Learn From Your Divorce “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it” Winston Churchill Divorced people often get stuck trying to understand history. Unfortunately the history they are trying to understand is the behavior of their ex spouse. Don’t let your progress in recovery depend on trying to understand why your former spouse behaved as he/she did. He or she may never tell you and may not even know the answer. Marriage is complex and its demise can be equally complex. Accept that you will never fully understand the big questions such as: -why did my marriage fail? -why did my ex have an affair? -why did my ex leave me? -why did we drift apart? -why couldn’t we make it work? -why did he/she quit trying? If your ex left you, it could be because of some problems he or she had that had little to do with you and there was nothing you could have done about it. Mid-life crises, boredom, sexual vulnerability and other similar issues can lead to divorce. Marriage requires two people to make a decision, divorce only takes one. However, it is important for you to learn something about your role in the divorce (even if it was just making a bad choice of mates) so that you don’t repeat the mistakes. When all of us are first divorced, we blame our ex and claim no role for ourselves. But over time as anger and bitterness subside; we begin to see our role more clearly. So if your divorce is recent and still painful, what can you learn about your role?
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Clues In spite of the difficulty in explaining the reasons for divorce, there are usually clues. Try answering these questions (honestly) and see if you can learn some things to help you avoid future mistakes.

Question: Suppose your ex is in a divorce recovery workshop reading this book. When he is asked: “Why did you get a divorce?” what would he or she give as answers?

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Question: During your marriage, especially the last months or years, what did your ex complain about? What did you do or not do that upset him/her and vice versa?

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Question: Men are wired to need respect and women are wired to need love. How would you say you performed in providing that to your ex and vice versa?

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Some reasons why marriages fail Marrying with fatal flaws Many marriages fail because of a fatal flaw in one of the spouses – drinking, drugs, sexual addictions, overeating, overspending, etc. Question: Were there any such fatal flaws in you or your ex? What did you try to do about it? What have you learned from that experience?

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Marrying too young If you marry at a very young age, you will likely not know who you are and your spouse doesn’t know who he/she is either. It is only good luck that as you mature, you grow together and are a good fit. Question: Did you marry when you were too young to make a good choice of mate? Did you grow apart over time as you both matured? What have you learned from that experience?

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Marrying too quickly Many people say they found “love at first sight” and they didn’t wait to truly get to know each other – the good, the bad and the ugly. This often leads to nasty “surprises” which can be marriageending. Question: Did you marry before you dated your ex for at least two years? If you did, why did you feel the need to marry so quickly? What have you learned from that experience?

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Marrying knowing there are problems Many marriages are doomed to fail on the day of the wedding. People in divorce recovery mention a variety of problems in their marriage that led to its demise. But they also confess that they saw these problems in their fiancé or in the relationship before the wedding, but chose to get married anyway. If you saw some problems during the dating phase and decided to marry anyway, then you must take that responsibility for the marriage failure. Question: Before the wedding, did you see any flaws in your ex that caused the failure of your marriage? What were they? Were there warning signs or ‘red flags’ that you chose to ignore? Were there things you saw that you told yourself “That will change after we are married”? List any of these things you saw prior to the marriage. What have you learned from this experience?

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Marrying on the rebound If your divorce was from a remarriage, all of the above issues apply. But in addition, you may have remarried for the wrong reasons such as trying to escape the problems from your previous divorce. If you had not grown through your divorce and fully healed, you may have married on the rebound and chosen poorly. Question: If this is a repeat divorce, did you grow through your previous divorce and fully heal? In hindsight, did you marry the wrong person on the rebound? Did you marry because you had problems that you wanted your new spouse to solve for you? Did you marry because you needed to be needed? Did you marry someone who was not ready to remarry because they had a host of problems or where still recovering from their divorce? What have you learned from that experience?

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Questions for Step 4: How to Learn from Your Divorce Q. Are you stuck trying to understand why your ex did what he/she did? Or why your marriage failed? Q. If your ex were doing this divorce recovery workbook instead of you, what would he/she say were the reasons he/she got a divorce? Q. Even if you believe your role is quite small, can you identify things that you did that led to the ending of your marriage? Q. Were there issues prior to the marriage that were red flags that the marriage may not work out? Did you see major flaws (or did you have such flaws) that existed before the wedding took place? Q. Did you marry when you were too young to know who you were? Did you marry too soon without really getting to know your ex? Did you marry on the rebound from a prior divorce? Q. If you wrote a book about what you learned from your divorce, what would be the title of the book? What would be the two or three key points you would include in the book?

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Step 5: How to Take Responsibility for Yourself and Your Children In a divorce, you get custody of yourself.

In most marriages, responsibilities are shared. Your ex may have had the responsibility for some things you never handled: provided most of the income, paid the bills, shopped for food, cooked all the meals, cared for the children, took care of the cars, cleaned the clothes, or handled the gardening, etc. etc. Now you will have to do all these on your own. This is a challenge for many people, but YOU CAN DO IT.

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Identify what you need to do to take responsibility for your life Action: List all the things that you are now responsible for. Especially note those that were handled mainly or exclusively by your ex during your marriage. How will you begin to do the things once done by your ex? Do you need to enlist help or advice?

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Identify which activities you need to learn more about and where you need to get help Action: Who do you know that can help you with each activity? Do you have friends who are knowledgeable in some of these areas you can call on? Conduct some research to find experts where you need advice such as financial planners, cooking schools, specialty mechanics, cleaning services, etc. If you have serious financial problems, investigate government services that help such as the WIC program. Do not hesitate to lean on friends and family to help you get organized and direct you or chip in to your new workload.

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Take responsibility for your health Many divorced people succumb to the stress of divorce with a decline in their health. You may find yourself with weight loss, sleep loss or various medical problems. Don’t let your health deteriorate. Make a special effort to eat well and get exercise. Don’t overwork or use drugs to cover up your pain. You need to feel strong and fresh to deal with the choices you have to make and the things you have to do. Action: What do you need to do to eat better and get sufficient exercise? What health problems do you have now? Do you need to seek medical care for any emotional or physical problem you are having?

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Take responsibility for legal issues with the divorce Don’t be passive when it comes to legal issues in divorce. Do your homework. States differ in the way that they treat divorce, financial settlements and child custody. You don’t want to have regrets later that you were taken advantage of because you were negligent in not getting good advice. Action: Contact an attorney to learn your legal rights. Think twice about a do-ityourself divorce. Make a list of all the assets your family has that need to be negotiated. Bring this list with you when you get legal help.

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Take responsibility for your children Children can be traumatized in a divorce and they need a stable environment and reassurance when this happens. Younger children may have abandonment fears. Don’t allow the battle between you and your ex to take so much time and energy that you do not focus on the needs of your children. Action: Spend sufficient time with your children and discuss subjects with them (appropriate for their age). List some of the topics you intend to discuss such as -explain what divorce means -confirm that both mommy and daddy still love you -confirm that you are not in any way the cause of the breakup -tell what arrangements are made, where you will live, with whom, when you will see the other parent, etc. -ask about their fears, feelings, etc. to be able to address them -reassure them that their lives will continue with as little change as possible

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Recognize the things you can control and the things you cannot Think about the serenity prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.” This is a major step for achieving serenity under the trying circumstances of divorce and for identifying the things you need to change. Action: Make a two column list of the things you can and should change and the things you cannot change or control. This will help you refrain from spending wasted energy on the things you can’t control such as your divorce, your ex, other people, etc. and spend more energy on what you can do and should do to move yourself forward.

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Identify your options and ACT Repeat to yourself these key words of divorced people: “I Have Options” “I Can Do It on My Own.” Yes, you have options. Many divorced people get stuck because they fail to investigate or brainstorm the options they have. They are frozen and don’t act. Learn to control your life after divorce. Don’t let the divorce control you. Now that you are in control of your life, begin to take advantage of it. Begin to fix the problems you face and make the decisions you need to make. Action: Think about what options – what alternatives you have. Then decide what you need to do and take action. Examples- What will I do? Where will I live? What do I need to do to get financially stable? What do I need to do to assert my legal rights? What boundaries do I need to set with my ex, with his family, with his friends? What changes do I need to make right now?

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Questions for Step 5: How to Take Responsibility for Yourself and Your Children Q. What did your ex do while you were married that you now have the responsibility for doing? Have you begun to do these tasks on your own? Q. What responsibilities do you now have where you need to get help? Don’t try to do everything on your own if you can call on others to help or advise you. Q. What new responsibilities do you have with your children? Q. What can you do to shift your focus more toward you, your needs, your responsibilities, and your future and less time, thought and energy spent on the Big D (divorce)?

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Step 6: How to Become a Better Single Parent You are not a single parent pioneer. Almost half of all children will live in a single parent household during some time in their life. From the experience of many such households, we have constructed a list of some do’s and don’ts to help you be a better single parent. What is a successful single parent? It is very similar to a successful married parent. The main differences are that you now have more responsibilities since the other parent is not present. The pressures from these responsibilities can drive you to do things not in your children’s best interest. Likewise, the negative attitude you may have toward your ex can lead you to behaviors that are not best for your children. So to be a good single parent requires identifying what is best for your children even when that is not what you would naturally be prone to do. If you put your children ahead of your needs (wanting to spy on your ex, to get the kids on your side, to badmouth your ex, to get revenge, etc.), you will take great strides in being a better single parent.

Action: Review each of the following do’s & don’ts and rate yourself on how you are performing. Answer the questions addressed for each one. Consider what action you need to take to do a better job in that area.

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Do’s Action: Do talk to your children and tell them the truth about the divorce. This can be painful, but it will build trust. Your children will know that you respect them. The truth does not require you to tell all the adultoriented details that children would not understand. Have you told them the truth? What is stopping you? Write out the points you intend to convey.

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Action: Do deal with children’s emotions - fear, rejection, anger, powerlessness, loneliness, guilt, abandonment. Let them know that the divorce was not their fault. It was an issue between the adults and had nothing to do with them. Encourage the children to express their feelings when they are ready to do so. Have your children been willing to talk about how they feel? Do you know how they feel? What do you need to ask them? What do you need to tell them?

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Action: Do provide economic support to your children. You don’t divorce your children. Financial support says “I love you and care about your needs.” Have you made arrangements to provide child support? Do you need to better understand their financial needs? Have you established a long term plan for them such as for college expenses, etc?

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Action: Do make arrangements to accommodate the other parent seeing the children. Courts mandate visitation rights, but only you can make this a pleasant or unpleasant experience. Have you made the visitation experience easy and enjoyable for the children and the other parent? Do you need to make any changes in how you handle it?

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Action: Do let children be children. Don’t ask them to take on the role of the missing parent. That is a level of pressure that children cannot handle. Have you identified nonburdensome tasks that the children can assume to help you (e.g. taking out trash)? Have you asked them to do things beyond their ability? Has this eliminated their playtime? Have you asked them to act as an adult?

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Action: Do spend time with your children. Don’t let your divorce so preoccupy you that the children get ignored. What percent of your time do you spend in meaningful activities with them now? What changes can you make to do a better job here?

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Action: Do give each child the Children’s Bill of Rights (below) and review it with them. This document provides a way to share with your children your concern for their needs. Have you reviewed this with your children? What was their response?

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Children of Divorce Bill of Rights
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. The Right to know that I am loved unconditionally The Right to know that I didn’t cause my parent’s divorce The Right to know what caused the divorce The Right to the security of where I will live and who I will live with The Right to be aware of how stress affects my life and how I can adapt to it in a healthy way The Right to be a kid and not be afraid of being myself The Right to have the guarantee that my physical and emotional needs will be met The Right not to be a victim of the past marriage and not to be used as a pawn between my parents The Right to have my own space for privacy to ensure respect of my person The Right to have a normal household routine and discipline to warrant a sense of security The Right to possess positive images of my parents so that I can love each parent equally The Right to have access and time with each parent equally

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Don’t s Action: Don’t put down the other parent. Children need to be able to love and respect both parents. They cannot do this if you tell them all the bad things you think the other parent did. This is adult conversation, not to be discussed with the children. Are you in the habit of putting down the other parent? Does the other parent put you down to the children? Have you discussed it with them?

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Action: Don’t try to get children to take your side in the divorce. Any attempt to do this will divide the children from their other parent. Have you told your divorce story to your children in a way that solicits their taking sides? Acknowledge to them that both mommy and daddy were responsible for the divorce.

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Action: Don’t use your children against your ex – as spies, messengers, manipulators. Have you asked your children to spy and tell you who your ex is dating, etc.? If you need to communicate with your ex, do so and don’t rely on your children. What changes do you need to make to stop putting your children in the middle in battles with your ex?

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Action: Don’t try to be both parents to your children. If you are the mother, let the father be the father and vice versa. Don’t deny them the right to have two parents because of your anger, hostility, guilt or vengeance. Are you letting the other parent play their full role? If they are not doing so, can you encourage them to do it?

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Action: Don’t let your children intimidate you. Children can sense if you have guilt or feel frustrated and use it to manipulate you. Show that you are in charge. Through guilt or being overworked, have you given in to your children when you should have remained strong? What changes do you need to make, if any, to reestablish your role as a “parent in charge?”

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Action: Don’t become an “entertainment parent”. The parent who does not have custody often only spends time with the children taking them for entertainment (Disneyland, etc.) or buying them things. Identify some more meaningful activities you can do with your children so you stay emotionally close to them – e.g. reading a book, helping with homework, shopping for clothes, teaching computer skills, going to the library or bookstore.

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Action: Don’t become a prisoner to your children. Out of guilt, don’t overcompensate for the missing parent. You have a right to date and have a full social life. Don’t let your children’s attitudes about this prevent you from doing so. Have your children reacted negatively when you date someone or have an adult evening out with friends? Firmly explain to them that you have the right to be an adult similar to their rights as children.

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Action: Don’t allow your children to grow attached to someone you are dating until you see that the relationship shows permanency. Children should have limited exposure to your dates until you know it is serious. How will you accomplish that?

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Questions for Step 6: How to Become a Better Single Parent Q. How did you or your ex tell your children about the divorce? How honest have you been with them? Q. What emotions are your children experiencing about your divorce? Have you talked to them about their fears, anger, etc.? Q. How do your children relate to your ex? Is there anything you are doing that is hindering their relationship to the other parent? Helping the relationship? Q. Have you made arrangements to accommodate the other parent seeing the children? Is visitation painful or enjoyable? Is there anything you can do to make it work better? Q. How can you talk to your children about your ex so that they will have respect for him/her? Why is that important? Q. Do you ask your children to take your side against your ex? How can that divide them from their other parent? What damage is done by causing division with the other parent? Q. In what ways, if any, do your children attempt to intimidate you? Use guilt trips on you? Manipulate you? Q. If you are the parent who does not have custody, what can you do with your children that is meaningful vs. just taking them for entertainment – movies, theme parks, etc.?

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Step 7: How to Live in the Present and Let Go of the Past Forget the past… There’s no future in it. Don’t allow yourself to be continually haunted by the ghosts of a marriage that failed. Why do many divorced people mentally live in the past? -thinking and talking about past hurts helps us heal -we are confused about our divorce and we try to understand it -we really don’t want to let our ex go because there is an odd security in the relationship even if it was not a good one -our future may seem so bleak or uncertain, that it feels better in the past -distant memories are likely more pleasant than recent ones -we’re stuck and don’t know how to move forward When you get a divorce, thinking about it, telling your divorce story and getting compassion from others does help you heal – up to a point. But if you continue to live in the old life, you will never heal and progress to a new happy fulfilled life. Here are some steps to help you move forward and become unstuck:

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Stop asking people and talking about what your ex is doing Letting go is very hard. One of the ways you may hang on is by trying to find out everything your ex is doing. Who is she dating? Where is he living? What has she bought? What is he telling people about me? Etc. Etc. Etc. You may try to get information by asking friends to tell you, quiz your children or spy yourself on the activities of your ex. Realize that this behavior is guaranteed to keep you perpetually upset. If you want to move on, you have to be willing to accept that you are no longer a part of the life of your ex and vice versa. Action: Stop any activity to get current information about your ex. Discourage any friends or family from telling you. They may want to gossip about it. Let them know upfront not to mention anything they know. Who do you need to speak with to ask them to keep such gossip to themselves? How can you stop talking about what your ex is currently doing?

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Let go of regrets Regret = a sense of loss and longing for something gone. Whether you were responsible in a large or small way for the end of your marriage, it is gone. Learn so you avoid repeat mistakes, but don’t waste time beating yourself up. Action: Bring all your regrets out in the open by thinking about what you regret doing or not doing in your marriage. Also, what regrets do you have about what your ex did or didn’t do? List them all below. Acknowledge them and then begin to let them go.

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Stop overanalyzing We divorced people have a knack for reviewing things in the past over and over in our mind. This is a waste of time. It changes nothing and just keeps us stuck in the past. Action: What are the subjects that you review constantly? Most of them probably begin with the word “why.” Keep a running list of the things you mull over more than a few times. Ask yourself: Am I going to know the answers to these? Will I be able to figure this out? Will it really make any difference to my life if I did? - Likely not.

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Stop telling your divorce story Heal but don’t get stuck dwelling on the past after a reasonable time period. You will know when you are getting better by how often you tell your divorce story or some part of it. You can drive away caring friends by perpetual negative stories. Action: During the first year of your divorce, storytelling helps you heal and receive sympathy. However, after that time begin to monitor how often you are telling your story and to how many people. Make a conscious effort to refrain from talk about “My divorce.” If need be, ask your friends to help you by reminding you not to do this when you slip. You will find that if you follow this advice, it will force you to begin to talk, think and act in the present.

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Focus just on today Live one day at a time. Before you attempt to plan for your future, you need to learn to live one day at a time. This will help you stay in the present and leave the past. Action: Catch yourself during the day if you shift to thinking about the past. Likewise, don’t worry about what will happen tomorrow, next week, or next year. At this stage, just acknowledge that you don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but you can get through this day. For some people, keeping a journal helps them stay focused on today.

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Live a balanced day Depression, hopelessness, or helplessness can cause some divorced people to go into hibernation or become frozen. Living in the present in this mode is harmful. Instead have a plan each morning to give you encouragement. Action: Begin each day with a plan for the day containing a balanced mix of work, recreation and accomplishment toward solving your divorce created problems and reestablishing yourself as a single person.

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Don’t make divorce a hobby or career Some people dedicate their lives to a continual quest to recover from their divorce. We have had a few divorce workshop attendees come year after year. Others establish their new identity as “a divorced person” and seek out like-minded divorced people to commiserate with about the injury done to them from their divorce. Action: Healing from divorce takes time. But don’t allow your divorce to become who you are and what you do long term. Commit to allowing two years to heal, but monitor your progress so that the topic of divorce becomes less frequent in your life. Make sure some of your new single friends are not recently divorced so you have interests other than divorce.

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Questions for Step 7: How to Live in the Present and Let Go of the Past Q. What percentage of the time do you think or talk about the past vs. the present? Q. What percentage of the time do you spend analyzing why your marriage failed, why your ex left or why you or he/she did what you did? Will you ever know the answers? Is this just a frustrating waste of time? Q. Do you have regrets about your marriage or your ex that are keeping you stuck? Can you change any of that now? Q. How is the experience of “telling your divorce story” healing vs. just keeping you angry and stuck in the past? What can you do to talk about your divorce and your ex less often? Q. When you recognize that you can’t change the past and can’t know the future, you can begin to focus exclusively on the present? What steps can you take to ‘live one day at a time’ and think just about today? Q. Are you in a state of hibernation? Do you feel so depressed that you are frozen? What baby steps can you identify that you can begin to take to move you forward? Q. Is your daily activity balanced – work, recreation, accomplishment, fun, etc.? What changes do you need to make to have better balanced days? Q. If you have been divorced for a couple of years or more, why is divorce still a topic in your life? What is preventing you from healing and getting closure? Are you using divorce as your identity? Are you
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making divorce a hobby or a career? Are you mainly around friends who are divorced and who still complain about it? Are these people keeping you tied to divorce?

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Step 8: How to Plan Your Future Once you have learned to live in the present, you may be ready to begin planning your future. What do you want to do with the rest of your life? You need a sense of direction to give you encouragement and a roadmap for progress. The key to achieving this is to set goals in a number of areas. This process should begin by identifying some very short term goals that you can achieve quickly. What can you accomplish during the next two weeks, the next month, and the next six months? Set realistic goals you can achieve which will build your confidence. Later begin to set longer term goals. The key is to begin with baby steps. Achieve some small things every day. This will eventually add up to big accomplishments. Once you set some goals, discuss these with friends who can hold you accountable to completing them. Accountability will keep you on track.

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Set some relational goals These are goals for finding a new support system of friends, a new “family” for you as a single person. Questions to help you set goals: Who do you need in your life now? Who do you need to let go? What groups of people would you like to be with? Who do you need to find to help you with different tasks or goals you have? Who might you like to date? How will you find these people?

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Set some personal goals These are goals you set for yourself that are not contingent upon anyone else. Questions to help you set goals: Would you like to improve your appearance? Would you like to lose or gain weight? Would you like to move to a different neighborhood, city or part of the country? What would you like to accomplish? What did you always want to do, but never could do while married? Write a ‘wish list’.

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Set some vocational goals You may need to go to work or begin working fulltime. You may be unhappy at your job and want a new one. You may want to investigate a new career. Questions to help you set goals: Are you in need of more income to support yourself and your family? Are you unhappy with your job? Do you get fulfillment from your work? Is there a different career that you would like to pursue? Is what you are doing the best use of your gifts, talents and abilities? After answering these questions and setting goals, think about what you need to do to make changes happen.

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Set some spiritual goals Divorce causes some people to move away from God and others to draw closer. Questions to help you set goals: Where are you spiritually? Full? Empty? Do you have friends, family, or a church that can help you and pray for you? Would you benefit by taking time to seek God in reflection, prayer and worship? What steps do you need to take to accomplish goals you set for yourself here?

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Set some financial goals Divorce divides. As a result, you are likely to be worse off financially. You probably have bills to pay and debts and need to acquire things for your home that the ex got in the divorce. Questions to help you set goals: Don’t panic. Do you need to get financial advice? Do you know how to develop a simple financial plan to get you on an even keel? Have you obtained your own checking account and credit card? Do you have a monthly budget? How will you pay current bills and debts? Do you need to sell a home and find a new one? Do you need to find an attorney and negotiate fees? How will you acquire furniture or home necessities you need? Would getting additional education improve your job market worth and therefore income?

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Set some educational goals Learning is valuable for fun and career. Would going back to school help you achieve some of your other goals? Questions to help you set goals: What type of education do you need to advance in your field or to move into a new one? What skills are you lacking? What training can you receive? What will it cost? Are there government grants or loans to help you? Do you qualify for college scholarships? What would you like to learn about just for fun?

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Set some family goals If you have children, you need to set family goals – even if you are the non-custodial parent. Questions to help you set goals: What do you want to achieve when you spend time with your children? In these new circumstances, what can you do to best help them? How will you share responsibilities with your ex? How will you resolve disputes over decisions regarding your children? Do you need to save for their care, college education, etc?

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Set some health goals The stress of divorce can destroy your emotional and physical health. Don’t ignore it. Questions to help you set goals: Do you need to visit a doctor and get a physical checkup? Have you developed an exercise program or routine? What changes can you make to improve your eating habits? Are there classes or a local gym that would provide an environment to encourage your exercise and health regimen?

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Set some sexual goals The desire for sexual activity does not go away after divorce. How will you handle this? Some people become very promiscuous to prove to themselves that they are desirable. There are consequences to every action. So it is important to think about this subject before you begin doing anything you may later regret. Don’t let other people convince you to do things that violate your values. (For the Christian, it’s not what other people think, it’s what God thinks.) Questions to help you set goals: What are your values? What standards do you want to set for yourself? How would you feel if you slept with someone who was not your spouse? What type of people of the opposite sex will you be willing to spend time with? What type of places will you be willing to frequent to meet such people and what type will you refuse to visit? What will you do if a date insists on having sex? How will you let other people know what your standards are?

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Set some emotional goals Emotional stability takes time. The first year of divorce will likely be a rollercoaster. You can help this process if you set some goals for yourself and think about how to achieve them. Questions to help you set goals: Where are you emotionally today? Would you benefit by getting professional counseling? Which friends and relatives are the most supportive? What activities or events set you off the most (seeing ex, legal battles, the new girlfriend/boyfriend, etc)? How can you minimize their impact? What are the most stabilizing activities or events in your life? How can you do more of them? If fears are contributing to your emotional imbalance, can you seek information or advice to help alleviate them? Should you consult a medical doctor who can prescribe medication to lessen stress and depression?

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Questions for Step 8: How to Plan Your Future Q. What are you going to do with the rest of your life? Q. What simple goals can you set for yourself this week to help you become more independent? Q. Finish this statement, “Now that I’m divorced, I want to _____________. What would you like to be? To do? To accomplish? Q. Can you think of one goal you might set to start a new career or advance the one you have? Q. Has your spiritual life changed or does it need to change since the divorce? Q. What do you need to do to get your financial situation stabilized? Q. If you could get additional education, what would you study? What would a new degree help you accomplish? Q. What one goal can you set for your children that you are confident that you can achieve? Q. How would you go about meeting one new person this week? If you set such a plan, you might have an entire new cadre of friends in a few months. Q. When was the last time you visited a doctor to get a checkup or physical? Are you ignoring your health needs?

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Step 9: How to Get Closure What do all divorced people want? - Closure. We want to get the divorce behind us. We want the nightmare to end. We want to stop thinking about our ex. We want to move on with a new life.

How do you do that? -Complete the previous steps 1-8 -Build a new social life with other singles Finally, the most important step to achieve closure: Forgive your ex and yourself. When you forgive, the pain and anger subside and you are ready for the next phase in your life. When we say forgive: You don’t have to excuse the wrongs that your ex did to you You don’t have to try to forget about what he/she did, you can’t You do have to renounce anger and resentment You do have to release your ex from guilt and act as if nothing bad ever happened between you Why forgive? You are the victim of your hate, bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness. Forgiveness is the key to healing yourself. Your feelings toward your ex-spouse or a third party (affair) have no impact on them at all. Most exes don’t know or care what you think. He or she may even be happy that you are distraught over them. If your ex feels guilty for his actions, it is because of what he did, not because of
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how you feel. Your lack of forgiveness just eats you up. It steals your joy. It keeps you tied to the one you can’t stand – and to the past. It takes energy to stay angry, wasted energy you could apply to your own life. When there is unforgiveness, you are giving your ex power over you. You are allowing him or her to control you and your emotions. The 6 benefits of forgiving: 1. Forgiveness removes the power your ex has over you 2. Forgiveness eliminates wasted time and negative energy 3. Forgiveness removes temptation to do something stupid 4. Forgiveness allows you to trust and love again 5. Forgiveness heals and leads to your emotional and physical recovery 6. Forgiveness is the key to closure Forgiving your ex may seem incredibly hard to do. Here are some steps to help you achieve it:

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Decide to forgive your ex Forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling. Action: Make the decision today to forgive your ex. You do not need to tell your ex that you forgive him/her; instead the goal is to truly forgive in your heart. It won’t happen by just saying you decide to forgive. But it takes this first step of commitment. Ask yourself if you have any of these barriers that are stopping you from forgiving. Pride: You know you were right and your ex was wrong. But both of you played a role. What was your role? Don’t let pride keep you from doing something that is in your own best interest.

Revenge: Getting even just keeps you tied mentally to your ex. What would you like to say or do to your ex? Write it out and then let it go.

Bitterness: The only person injured when you are bitter is you. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. Bad things happen to good people, but they only cripple you if you choose to let them. What are you bitter about? Identify it and then put it behind you.

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The following 3 steps can help you move closer to forgiving your ex: Get a perspective on your marriage Remember the good in your marriage. If you review all the good things and good times you had during your marriage, you will gain perspective on the past that divorce can negatively color. It will help you begin to forgive. Action: Make a list of all the good things that happened during your marriage such as children you had together, special times and places you went, the love you shared when things were good. Let these facts help you have a more balanced view of your past marriage.

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Get a perspective on your ex Your ex has many problems from the divorce. Don’t trick yourself into thinking he or she has it made. No one comes out unscathed in a divorce. You may decide that you’re happy that you are not in your ex’s shoes. Action: People who have completed the following exercise often report that they see their ex in a new way, even feeling sorry for him or her given the problems he has and what he faces. Role-play that you are now in the position of your ex. -What is he going through? -What problems does he now face? -What does his future look like? -What has he lost due to the divorce? -What do friends and family now think of him? -What does he not have that you have? -What mean or unethical things did he do during the marriage or afterwards that he has to live with?

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Get a perspective on your thoughts Don’t dwell on negatives. Divorced people often stay stuck thinking about the ugly things their ex did or is still doing. Don’t let anger, bitterness, and retribution control your thought life. You cannot control where your mind goes, but you can control how long it stays there. You cannot forgive as long as you remain angry. Action: Change the channel. A simple way to avoid dwelling on the past and your divorce is to select a substitute subject or thought that you will shift to every time your mind drifts back to your unhappiness or anger, your ex, the divorce, or anything negative from the past. You could select a subject such as a trip you are planning, your plans for your education, your child’s poem, your thankfulness for the positive people in your life, etc. etc. Think of some positive subjects that you will switch to whenever the old junk pops in your mind. List them below.

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Ask your ex to forgive you The purpose of this act is to put a “period” on the divorce. This is tough, but it is necessary to get closure. When you have truly forgiven your ex in your heart, you will find this easier to accomplish. Even if you believe your role was minimal in causing the breakup, use what you found in Step 4 to help you accept responsibility for your divorce. Once you do that, you will be able to ask your ex for forgiveness. Remember, you are doing this for you, not for your ex.

Action: Write below what you will say to your ex asking for his or her forgiveness. If you cannot bring yourself to speak to your ex in person or by phone, send an email or letter. End the discussion or note with words like this: “I am sorry for my role in our divorce. Please forgive me.” Keep it simple and short. Do not go into any detail about what you think might have been your role. Just simply say you are sorry for your role in the divorce. It doesn’t matter how or if your ex responds. He may be humble and ask you for forgiveness as well. She may say she accepts your forgiveness. He may be mute, in shock and not respond. Or she may get mad, be nasty and try to pull you into a fight – don’t get drawn in. Remain calm and don’t comment on how your ex responds. You’ve accomplished your job once you have asked for forgiveness. You will have a sense of relief and release when you forgive. It’s Over.

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Forgive yourself We all feel some guilt for the failure of our marriage. Maybe you did things you are not proud of. Maybe you feel like the divorce was somewhat or mainly your fault. It is important to forgive yourself so that you can let go of the guilt. I do not know how to do this except to ask God for forgiveness. Action: Ask God to forgive you and accept His forgiveness. Do this in a conversation with God, a letter you write to Him or in a prayer.

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In summary, forgiveness…  is a decision you make to help change your heart toward your ex  is for your benefit and not for your ex; though it may help him heal  shows mercy and kindness toward your ex even if you feel the injury that was caused you was cruel, deliberate or purposeful  is accepting your ex as he/she is – warts and all  is taking a risk  is choosing to have love again in your heart  allows you to heal emotionally and even physically from the stress  is offering an apology in order to put a period on the divorce  releases you from your ex and provides you with closure

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Questions for Step 9: How to Get Closure Q. What would “closure” in your divorce mean to you? What evidence do you see that you do not have closure? What is preventing you from gaining closure? Q. Have you forgiven your ex in your heart? If not, have you made the decision to begin the process to forgive? Do you still harbor hate, bitterness, anger and resentment toward him/her? Q. Even if the marriage ended in an ugly way, were there good things and good times that you experienced from the marriage? Can you put the recent unpleasant events in perspective? Q. Pretend that you are your ex. Answer these questions: What are all the problems you are now facing? What have you lost by going through a divorce? (See if you now think your ex has it made!) Q. What can you do to stop dwelling on negative thoughts? Identify some positive subjects that you will switch to whenever your mind wanders to the old junk from the past. (Learn to change the channel) Q. Are you able to write or speak with your ex and ask his/her forgiveness? What do you have to do to be able to get to the point where you can honestly do that? Q. Do you still feel guilty about your role in ending of your marriage or have you forgiven yourself? What do you have to do to be able to get to the point where you can honestly do that?

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Step 10: How to Know When You Are Ready to Date and Remarry Dating You have to date to mate. If you have allowed at least a year to heal and grow through your divorce, you will know when you are ready to date. The real problem for most people is the stress of dating as an older adult especially if you have been married for many years. We have identified 4 types of dating styles, 3 of which are not healthy:  One-stop dating. Since you hate the thought of dating, you marry the first person that will say I do. You are not selective. You may just wait to be chosen rather than actively looking and evaluating.  Mission dating. You hate being single so you are on a mission to marry. Marriage preoccupies your mind. You talk about marriage on first dates. You pressure your dates to commit. Your judgment is impaired because your marriage goal is so overriding.  Marathon dating. You’re looking for Mr. or Ms. Perfect – usually searching for the opposite trait of the weakness of your ex. You date frantically - as many as you can pack in a week. You date so much that you become confused and tire of the game. When you burn out, you settle for someone who isn’t the best for you.  Sensible dating. You are not needy or desperate to remarry because you are happy now as a single person with a full social life. You make an active effort to meet appropriate people through friends, the internet, etc. You make no snap decisions. If someone is not right for you, you acknowledge it. You don’t get trapped in long term relationships that offer no marriage potential.

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Evaluate your attitude toward dating It is helpful to think through how you really feel about dating. Once you face it head-on, you will be able to avoid the unhealthy dating types described above. Action: What words come to mind when you hear the word “dating”? Write as many as you can think of below. This will help you profile your attitude toward dating. For example, are you fearful, apprehensive, excited, frustrated, etc.? What do you have to do to avoid becoming a one-stop, mission or marathon dater?

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Identify and challenge any false assumptions you have about dating and the odds of finding a new spouse Many people are stuck avoiding the dating process because they believe they are undesirable or that there is no one out there for them. Challenge false assumptions and excuses such as: -there are no single people my age -all men/women are alike -all the good ones are taken -no marriage would be as good as my prior one -I am too unattractive, have too many children, have too much baggage, blah, blah, blah -I have no time to date -I have dated so many people; there is no one out there for me -I have had bad experiences dating, therefore it’s hopeless Action: Write a list of the implicit assumptions you have about your chances for dating and finding a marriage partner. Ask about each one whether you are using these as just an excuse. See if these assumptions are coloring your attitude toward dating. If you are not dating when you feel you are ready to date, what is stopping you? What active steps do you need to take to increase the odds of meeting some appropriate people?

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Remarriage If you are in the process of divorce or newly divorced, the last thing on your mind is likely to be remarriage. So why are we discussing it now. Statistics reveal that while 80% of divorced people remarry, almost 50% get another divorce. We don’t want you to make that mistake and go through this all over again. Why do so many remarry and divorce again? Here is what we have learned from conducting a large national survey of redivorced people: Many subsequent marriages fail because a previous divorce creates circumstances that lead us to remarry before we are ready. As a result, we marry the wrong person for the wrong reasons. Divorced people often choose a new spouse from weakness rather than strength - You are still coping with all the problems of your divorce - You marry out of neediness - You repeat mistakes because you didn’t learn from the previous marriage - You marry too quickly – not allowing two years to heal or dating your prospective spouse for less than two years - You ignore red flags you find in the new relationship - You choose a person recently divorced, someone with many problems, or someone not ready to remarry Would you want to marry someone who was in your present condition? Then why offer that to someone else. Wouldn’t you want someone who was happy and whole and had it together? Isn’t that what you want to offer someone? Then you have to grow through your divorce and be ready to remarry.

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Take the Ready2Remarry Test Action: Make a number of copies of the following test. Even though you may be far from being ready to remarry, take the test now. See how you perform. Work on areas where you score poorly. Take the test again in six months to gauge your progress. Avoid getting serious with someone until you score well on all aspects of the test. The Ready2Remarry Test
Describes me
Very well Not at all

5
Emotional
No longer in denial about my divorce []

4
[]

3
[]

2
[]

1
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Have mourned the loss of my marriage

[]

[]

[]

[]

[]

Allowed enough time to grieve/recover (two years or more)

[]

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Don’t feel overwhelmed by responsibilities

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Free of excessive fears and anxiety

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No addictions to alcohol, drugs or prescription medicines

[]

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[]

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Balanced spiritually, psychologically and mentally

[]

[]

[]

[]

[]

Have let go of anger, resentments, hostilities or mistrust

[]

[]

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[]

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Have no desire to prove something or get revenge against ex

[]

[]

[]

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Have stopped talking all the time about my divorce

[]

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[]

Am no longer feeling like a victim

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[]

Have mentally and physically let go of ex

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Have no feelings of desperation

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Have made progress toward forgiving ex

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Feel a sense of peace and stability in my life

[]

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[]

[]

[]

Financial
Have established own accounts, credit, etc. [] [] [] [] []

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Am out of debt or have a functioning plan to accomplish it

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Am financially stable (for at least 18 months)

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[]

Not in search of a financial savior

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Have resolved all major legal issues in my divorce

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[]

Have my career on track or am progressing toward it

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[]

Social
Have lived without roommates, live-in lovers or parents (two years or more)

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[]

Have a stable set of true friends, acquaintances and supporters, single and married

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Have dropped all negative people

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Am not feeling lonely all the time

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Have an active social life

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[]

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Have hobbies and interests that are fulfilling

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[]

Parental
Have worked out arrangements about children with ex [] [] [] [] []

Am taking care of children without need for a spouse

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[]

[]

[]

Am not in search of a co-parenting savior

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[]

[]

[]

[]

Learning
Have learned what my role was in marriage breakup [] [] [] [] []

Have assumed responsibility for what I did that led to the divorce

[]

[]

[]

[]

[]

Future
Have a life plan involving relational, personal, vocational, spiritual, financial, educational, family, health, sexual, and emotional goals

[]

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[]

[]

Have evolved a clear idea of my life purpose and am pursuing it

[]

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[]

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Living Situation
Am not living “in sin” so that guilt becomes a factor in marital decision

[]

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[]

Do not have my ex as part of my day-to-day life

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[]

[]

Am living in the present now, not in the past

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[]

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[]

Attitude Toward Remarriage
Believe single life can be as happy as married life [] [] [] [] []

Have achieved enough self-confidence to avoid the need to rescue or be rescued

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[]

Want to have a marriage partner, but don’t need to have one

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Have no timetable for remarrying

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Am not overly craving romance

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Have identified the healthy personal needs a committed relationship would fill

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[]

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Am ready to take care of someone else (not just be taken care of)

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Am not expecting someone to make my life exciting

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Now feel like I can trust my judgment

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Dating
Have dated enough potential partners to determine what I want and don’t want

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Have a clear profile of what a new spouse should be like

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Am not focused on only one or a few traits that are opposite from ex

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Have rejected soulmate mentality that can cause lack of objectivity in evaluating prospects

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Am not subject to or have learned to resist remarriage pressures from friends, family or dating partner

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Am not desperately wishing dating life would end

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Prospective Remarriage Partner
Have a prospective partner I’ve dated in a committed relationship for at least two years

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[]

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[]

Have a strong friendship with prospective partner

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Am in love with partner

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Don’t expect to change partner in order to be happy

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[]

Have tested partner to see how he would perform in a parental role

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[]

[]

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[]

Feel no obligation to marry this person

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Have become familiar with partner’s family and friends

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[]

[]

[]

Have made a list of partner’s negatives and not overlooked problems

[]

[]

[]

[]

[]

Source: Finding the Right One After Divorce, Edward M. Tauber and Jim Smoke, Harvest House Publishers, 2007 The seeds of divorce are often found in the reasons people marry.

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Don’t get married for the wrong reasons Our survey of redivorced people revealed that many of the repeat marriages were doomed from day one! That is because the people remarried for the wrong reasons choosing the wrong partner. Action: When you consider a remarriage prospect, ask yourself whether you are remarrying mainly for one of these wrong reasons. 1. to be rescued from divorce problems (you should have solved yourself) 2. to prove something to your ex or yourself 3. out of fear of dating or burnout from over-dating 4. out of loneliness 5. ignoring red flags in a state of romance blindness 6. due to boredom, wanting someone to jumpstart your life 7. because of pressure from friends, relatives or a dating partner 8. because you suddenly feel it’s time to marry (age, biological clock) 9. just because you have a “live prospect”, marrying out of guilt, fear or obligation 10. when you believe you found your soul-mate at first site 11. to solve money problems or the appeal of a moneyed fiancé 12. just for the children’s sake 13. just to rejoin what you believe is a “couples’ world”

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Consider marriage only when these conditions exist: 1. You are in love with the person (and not in love with love) 2. You want to get married, but don’t need to 3. You are in a position to be able to give more than you get Action: Write an honest statement about why you want to get married. Evaluate whether any of the wrong reasons exist and whether the above conditions exist.

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Consider marriage only when you are sure you have the right person. Don’t make any of these mistakes when selecting a spouse: 1. Become involved with a person who is not ready to remarry 2. Become involved with a person who makes it clear that they are not interested in marriage 3. Push someone who is hesitant about marrying you 4. Try to be a do-gooder and save another person from their problems through marriage 5. Choose someone who has tons of baggage and wants to offload it on you 6. Choose someone who shares few dreams, history or values with you 7. Choose someone who has children they put before you or where you and the children face jealousy, rivalry or resentment 8. Choose someone who has addictions or other serious problems 9. Choose someone who does not truly love you and shows it Action: Write an honest statement about why you want to marry this person. Evaluate whether you are making any of the mistakes listed above. What red flags do you see billowing in front of you that you are trying to ignore?

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Questions for Step 10: How to Know When You’re Ready to Date and Remarry Q. Do you feel like you are ready to date? Q. What thoughts come to mind when you think about dating? Q. Are you afraid to date? What fears do you have about dating? Q. Have you taken any active steps to meet someone or are you just waiting for the doorbell to ring? Q. Do you believe there is someone out there for you? If not, why not? Q. Are there any false assumptions or excuses you are using that prevent you from dating? (No one wants someone my age, I am not attractive, I have too much baggage, I am too busy to date, blah, blah, blah) Q. Are you willing to commit right now that you will wait at least two years after the divorce before you get serious with someone so that you will enter a relationship from a position of strength rather than weakness? Q. Finish this statement: “When I think of remarriage, I…” Q. Have you taken the Ready2Remarry test in the workbook? Do you know the areas where you are weak and where you need to improve before considering remarriage? Q. Did you marry previously for any or the 13 wrong reasons mentioned in the workbook? What condition were you in that caused you to do that?
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Q. What is important to you in selecting a new spouse? How are these criteria different from those you used when you married previously?

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How to Date Again
A guide for women who divorce at an older age

Most participants in our divorce recovery workshops are in the midst of getting a divorce or are newly divorced. However, a sizable number are women whose divorce has been final for two or more years. These women have a unique set of issues – a major one being dating again at an older age. They may not have gone on a date in 10 to 40 years! Things were, no doubt, a lot different then. Our interviews with such women revealed a common set of concerns and barriers to a happy successful dating life. As a result, we developed this set of prescriptions in the same vein as the rest of the book to guide you in moving forward. We find that older divorced women are often stuck in the dating process – some at the starting line. They don’t know how to begin to meet men or exactly how to prepare and what to do when they do meet them. The main reason that women don’t date when they are ready is procrastination. This lack of momentum is due to fear and confusion. If you find that this situation describes you, you should benefit from the suggestions put forward in this section. There are questions to ask yourself, advice for planning and actions you should take to move forward.

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Make certain you are ready to date
Allow enough time to heal At least two years unless you have been emotionally divorced within your marriage Some people require 5 years or more before being ready – trust your feelings Dating even with no wedding intentions has risk – emotional involvement that can lead to renewed heartache with a likely breakup

Solve your divorce-created problems first Solving divorce problems through a new spouse is a mistake because you enter a relationship of dependency. When someone fixes your problems, they have control You will gain renewed self-esteem if you become independent and see you can thrive on your own

Don’t date when you’re desperate or vulnerable Desperate women are vulnerable women. You are likely to ignore red flags Vulnerable women are an attraction to men who want to fix you and therefore control you. A man who is self-assured does not want a fixer for a wife

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Get a full single social life first Human beings are social animals. We need other people. Don’t try to tough it out staying locked at home alone The answer to loneliness and vulnerability is finding single friends and many social activities

Have something to offer When you are divorced, what do you have to offer a partner besides divorce stories, problems and misery? Would you want to date someone in your mental state?

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Understand what is stopping you from dating
Decide whether you really want to date Some women have decided they do not want to marry again. They appreciate the newfound freedom they have over their own lives. Don’t succumb to pressure from others. If this is your true feeling, stay single Some women find the idea of dating at 47 like they were 17 repulsive. If so, an alternative is to decide to find male friends and let the rest develop Angry you have to date and start over because of divorce. Deal with the anger and conclude you are not healed and not ready to date

Stop procrastinating Many women are not dating because they procrastinate. They are passive. Stop waiting for someone to knock on the door. If you are passive or frustrated, analyze why Don’t know where to start Don’t know any single men

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Fight the fear of dating Fear of failing again in a new relationship Fear of going out with strange men Fear of rejection Fear of not knowing how to behave on dates – shyness from lack of recent experience Fear of the expectation of having sex Fear my children will be upset if I am with someone other than their father

Reject false assumptions and beliefs Many women who want to date are stuck believing that there is no potential because of various beliefs that are unfounded. Here are some typical thoughts that stop women from trying: I am not attractive anymore – not beautiful, have gained weight, have too much baggage There aren’t any single men my age who are desirable Men my age want younger women I have had my chance at love No one wants a woman with children
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No one could measure up to my ex

I’m damaged goods - as a divorced person, men will think I’m a loser I’m not marriage material I never see anyone who is attractive to me Here are the facts: Over half the adult population is single, divorced or widowed. You are only looking for one person. Beautiful and homely people all marry – look around if you don’t believe it. The odds are in your favor. About 80% of divorced people remarry. If you have been living, you have baggage and so does every man you meet. Half of married men get a divorce too.

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Know what you want
Identify qualities you want in a man What are necessities? Desirable traits? Stoppers?

Avoid seeking the opposite of your former spouse Divorced people can easily state all the negative qualities of their former spouse Don’t assume that if someone has the opposite traits (doesn’t drink, kind with no anger problem, etc.) they would be an ideal date

Don’t go for labels You can’t tell a book by its cover! Don’t assume labels define a person – Christian, Doctor, CEO, etc. Women often say I thought because he was a Christian, he would be different.

Don’t limit yourself to a type – be open to serendipity Men and women are often attracted to a “type” If you let typecasting dictate who you will date, you will miss the opportunity to meet someone who may be right for you – maybe better than the type you usually pick

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Analyze why you are attracted to your type. Is it a healthy reason?

Set boundaries of what you will and won’t do when dating No need to wait for dates to decide what you will do. Decide what values you have and where that takes you. This will prevent you from experiencing an emotional reversal On first date, will you let him hold your hand, kiss you goodnight, come in your home, etc. Women who decide to sleep around to boost their self-esteem after being rejected by a spouse run the risk of further depression Be careful: Being used in “sex without love” can damage your ego more than boost it

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Have a plan for how to meet men
Meet the right men Target the men you are looking for

Go to the right places Are the men you want to meet at church or in a bar? Are they prowling for women or are they caring for their children? Are they in places where you have interests or where you might have nothing in common with them? Where would the right men for you hang out?

Get exposure Network with friends, relatives and especially other single women who are more likely to know single men Attend workshops, parties, conferences, retreats Join clubs, dating services, internet sites, and a gym Be seen where men hang out – sporting activities, sports bars & restaurants, car shows, coffee shops, grocery stores, launder-mats, bookstores, galleries Advertise personal ads, internet ads

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Participate in your hobbies, interests Try new things – new places, new hobbies, new events, new experiences Take classes – dance classes, computer courses, college courses, foreign language courses Approach – Start a conversation, ask a question, make an opening, smile at someone, flirt, ask someone for coffee. Women know how to signal if they’re interested in a man Travel – Take vacations, singles cruises, visit out-of-town friends

Expand your universe Go somewhere out of the ordinary Try computer dating where you could meet someone who lives far outside your area of acquaintances

Be persistent Learn and understand what works for you in dating and what does not Recognize finding the right person is a numbers game Be patient in your search and don’t get discouraged

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Adopt the right dating style Waiting for someone to ask and taking no initiative Mission dating - dating on a mission to marry, rather than to have fun without expectations Marathon dating - dating as many as possible which leads to confusion and frustration Stuck with you dating- getting stuck with "go nowhere" relationships Selective dating - the right way. Make an effort, be selective, don’t get stuck, don’t give up

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Understand why you are still single if you’ve dated for awhile

Don’t have unrealistic criteria Looking for Mr. Perfect Expecting to be worshiped by men

Don’t send the wrong signals Know what you have to offer to a marriage partner - strengths & weaknesses Be yourself, but don’t communicate something that may be a turnoff. Are you: Ms. Unapproachable Ms. High Maintenance Ms. Disheveled Ms. Ready for Action Ms. Tough Biker Chick Ms. All Business Ms. Nerd Ms. Prim & Proper Ms. Hippie Ms. Plain Jane Ms. Single Mom Ms. Socialite

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How you dress, makeup, actions all speak to who you are. Do you send any of these signals: I’m desperate, in chaos, confused, needy, disoriented?

Don’t waste time with impossible men Many women get tied up in go-nowhere relationships that are doomed to end in heartache. If you don’t end it, you take yourself “out of the market’ for finding the right man Say no to dating any man that doesn’t offer marriage potential: Married men Men who say they are "planning" to get a divorce Newly divorced men: men who are looking for a transition woman Older never married men: commitment-phoebes Men who don't want to marry: they tell you or their actions or history tells you Men not in a position to marry: (financial & other responsibilities)

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Men who are still involved (even emotionally) with another woman Men who are losers: broke, unemployed, lost, addicts, etc. Men who are “not from your neighborhood”: men who are in a different socioeconomic class, have different value systems, different beliefs, goals, dreams

Guard against dating turn-offs Are you: Angry, bitter from your past divorce – still caught up in it – talk about it all the time Too tied to your parents, your ex, an old boyfriend Have unruly children who turn off dates Have too many obligations - no time for a potential spouse Have objectionable personal habits - appearance, hygiene, manners Lacking in home skills - can't cook, house a mess, etc. Too forward on dates Too demanding on dates Too indifferent on dates Too self-absorbed on dates – talking non-stop about yourself Too defensive

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Reject rejection Everyone is not for you. Expect men to be selective also Accept reality. If he has not called back soon, he is not interested. So what? But don't make assumptions or draw wrong conclusions when men don't call back When a man doesn't ask again, it may be for many reasons that you will never know about. Don't assume it is rejection. You don't know why he is dating or why he didn't call back: He may not be ready for anything serious He may want to date a number of women He may be too busy to date often He may not know what he wants He may have unrealistic ideas about the perfect woman He may think you are too good for him Your success and status may scare him off if he's insecure He may already be involved emotionally with someone else He may still be involved (literally or emotionally) with his ex or a recent girlfriend He may judge that you have different interests, goals, values, etc. - maybe you do He may think he is not be able to afford you or to afford to date often He may just want a sexual relationship and he judges that you want more

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Think like a salesperson. They make many offers and don’t get discouraged when someone says no They know it is a numbers game. Feeling rejected can stop you from dating

Learn to say No and Goodbye Be alert to the truth about someone you date. If you see red flags, pay attention and say goodbye if you need to Don’t settle for extended dating for years, living together, etc. If a man won’t commit, end it Don’t get involved or stay too long in "no potential" relationships. Say goodbye Ask early in the dating cycle what a man wants -just a friend, a sex partner, just someone to live with, or a wife. Ask and then say goodbye if it’s not what you want Don't fail to hear when a man tells you the truth. Don't hear what you want to hear

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