Couples therapy

Light at the End of the Tunnel: Surviving Divorce

Divorce is hard. Divorce is staring down the barrel of all the years the two of you spent together, and feeling the weight of your decisions. Divorce is loneliness and fear. Divorce is cataloging your entire life and deciding what you get to take with you. Divorce is so much more than just the emotional toll it takes on you. If you have children, they will crave answers to why their lives are shifting. Custody will have to be decided. The custody of pets must also be determined. From there you have to add up all the financial and physical wealth you’ve gained as a team and divide it to both parties satisfaction.

It doesn’t matter which side of the divorce you’re on, whether you asked for it or not, there is an uncertainty there. Having to start everything over again will give you pause, if only for a moment. A lot of things happen during a divorce, and it can be easy to get swept up in it. There is usually anger from at least one party. If the anger is yours, don’t give in to it. Divorce doesn’t have to be a brutal fight, a desperate need to wrestle every ounce you can from the other party. In the end, none of that stuff will matter. Fighting with each other over Tupperware, Aunt Helen’s tea cozies, and a pizza cutter won’t truly make either of you feel better. “Winning” one of these items might feel good in the moment, but dragging out proceedings over every object will leave you both hurting more.

Even though you are divorcing, remember, not all the times were bad. This person is someone you once loved. You planned a future with. You have inside jokes and funny stories. The relationship didn’t work, and that’s ok, but don’t lose sight of all you gained from the marriage. Don’t burn the bridge more than you have to. If you have kids, this is a bridge you will have to walk on often. Burning it makes you just as likely to get hurt. If you have kids, they are watching how you treat their other parent. It’s setting a baseline for every break up they have.

No matter how long the divorce seems, no matter how hard it is to get through the changes and the loss, all of it will come to an end. You will walk out the other side. When you do, there is an internal push for change. Cutting your hair, buying all new furniture, a need to pull all of the pieces together immediately. Be wary of that inner voice. It’s all too easy to overspend and end up in very troubled waters. This time all on your own. Make the changes, pull things together, but do it mindfully and responsibly.

Divorce is a fresh start. Divorce is a way to reinvent yourself. Divorce is the beginning of the next phase of your life. Divorce is pushing yourself on to better things. Divorce can be scary, but it’s usually for the best.

Taking Care of Yourself and Moving On After a Breakup

Breakups affect everyone—those who are married and those who are unmarried, those who have been together for ten years and those who have only been dating for six months. So if your breakup is affecting you, remember that you’re not alone. There are many people around you who feel the same way.

Not everyone may feel equally comfortable expressing how they feel after a breakup; they might keep their emotions bottled up inside. This doesn’t mean that they don’t feel anything. They might be letting their emotions out when they are alone.

It’s normal and necessary to grieve after a breakup. But at some point, you need to make a decision to move on. Here are some tips to help you do so:

Self Care                                   

One of the most important things you need to do after a breakup, which will enable you to move on, is to care for yourself. Be good to yourself in any way possible. For some people, self-care might take the form of reading a mystery novel or doing yoga. For others, a spa day or just a manicure will do the trick. You probably know what makes you feel good. So do that.

But remember to also take care of your health by eating well and exercising. Make an effort to dress well too as this will help you to feel more confident when you’re ready to start dating gain. Keep your home clean and tidy. These are all really basic things but a lot of people tend to ignore them when they are feeling depressed after a breakup.

Dating

At some point, you’re going to feel ready to start dating again. Don’t rely on meeting people by chance. It’s true that a lot of people meet their spouses at work or at school. However, you may not be in school anymore. And there may not be anyone interesting for you to date at work.

So don’t be afraid to go online and set up a profile at a dating website or on an app. Be very clear in your self-description about what you are looking for so that you’re not inundated with “likes” and “superlikes” from people who are looking for something different from you. For example, if you’re looking for a long-term relationship, you should say so. On the other hand, if you’re just looking to socialize and meet new people, you can state that as well.

Couples and Relationships: 4 Things Couples Should Shape Up Their Mutual Finances

Handling your finances is one of the biggest metrics that determine when you’ve reached adulthood in the eyes of society, your parents, and potential romantic partners. Not having your finances in order is also something that can cause unwanted tension in a relationship, Living paycheck to paycheck has a sort of grunge appeal for those who like the starving artist lifestyle, but anyone who’s been on that diet for a while will recommend getting your act together in a big hurry.

So, whether you’re just starting a relationship, or you’re thinking about popping the question, here are 4 finance basics every couple needs to have on lockdown.

#1: Banking

Unless your wages are so low that you use check cashing services exclusively (which is a reality for a lot of people out there), you probably use a bank. And while you might think, “what’s the big deal? A bank is a bank,” they really aren’t all the same. For starters, ask if your bank requires a minimum balance to keep your account open. Look at the kinds of overdraft fees they charge, and ask if there’s an annual service fee. Lastly, if you have a money market account, or a savings account, look at what sort of interest your bank is giving you. You might be getting screwed without even thinking about it.

#2: Bills

We all know how bills work. They show up in the mail, you send them a check, and everyone’s happy. However, you might be paying a lot more for your bills simply because you’re not looking at them. For example, if you are paying a monthly car insurance or medical insurance bill, see how much money you’d save if you bought your insurance in 6 month intervals instead. That can take a chunk out of your savings for right now, but that hole will fill in pretty quickly over the next six months. Ask your power company if they give you a discount for enrolling in an automated bill paying plan, and see if your Internet provider can cut you a deal on your package. A lot of the time you can spend less just by asking.

#3: Budgeting

If you had economics in school, you know how budgeting works. You sit down, figure out how much money you make a month, and then figure out how much you spend. If you know your gym membership is $19.99 a month, you put that in your budget. If you know your Internet is $39.99 a month, you put that in your budget. Fill out all the things that are a solid fee every month first.

Once you have your known values, you assign the variables. For example, sometimes your power bill is $25, and sometimes it’s $50. You’re better off assuming that it will be $50, because that way you have money left over at the end if it’s low. The same goes for your fuel costs, and any other costs that are central to your life. After that’s figured out, you assign a value to everything else. That’s food, clothes, savings, entertainment, etc.

A word to the wise; don’t budget down to the penny if you don’t have to. A flexible budget is a forgiving budget, and you should be able to cover costs as you need to. Small costs, like a hike in gas prices or needing to get a new pair of shoes for work, anyway. Bigger costs will have to come out of savings.

#4: Plan Long-Term

This one doesn’t start with a B, but it’s no less useful. One of the keys to financial success is being able to plan for long-term goals in your life. For example, rather than buying a cheap $20 pair of work shoes every two months, buy a $60 pair of work shoes that will last for several years. Rather than buying fast food for lunch every day, buy bulk food you can eat for weeks.

A lot of this seems like common sense, but it’s surprising how much money we save once we start knuckling down on our in-the-moment pleasures, and keep our eyes on the long-term prize.

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