How long should it take to get over a divorce?

The other day someone asked me how long it should take to get over their divorce?

While I would have loved to give them a simple answer, it is not that cut and dry. The truth is it will take—as long as it takes. Every situation is different. Divorce itself, even if you and your partner agree that the marriage is not working and divorce is the best option, is not easy.

Your marriage ended for any number of reasons that can be hard to accept. Your divorce challenged your innermost voices, it put strain on your self-esteem and turned your entire world upside down. It is not supposed to be an easy thing to recover from. Even if you know in your heart that it was the right choice, it doesn’t mean that you will instantly feel wonderful. 

Your Internal Core

When you got married you expected to be with your partner forever. You made a commitment to each other to care in sickness and in health, to stand by each other in times of stress, and to grow old together. Just the mere factor of that not working out is a huge disappointment. It is a major blow to your internal core as a human being. 

That is not even taking into account things like children, pets, shared possessions—like homes, cars, etc. You are now faced with figuring out a new normal. If you have children you are likely feeling the strain of their own emotional distress. You are trying to make things as easy as possible on them, while it is hurting you to see them hurt. You may have been forced to move out of your home, split up possessions that may have been of high importance to you, and you may be feeling more financial strain than ever before—divorce is not cheap. 

All of these things make getting over such a thing extremely difficult. Don’t try to rush your heart. Instead, take comfort in knowing that you will find that new normal. You will. You will be able to move on. Your kids will be ok. You will find that happiness, that relief, whatever it is that you need. You will. In time. These things take time. 

Counseling services are always there for you if you need an extra set of ears to bounce things off of, or if you need guidance in how to move through this major life change. 

Signs You Need A Mental Health Day

Your mental health is just — as if not more — important than your physical health. Your brain and all the different emotions you could be facing impact you physically. When you have a sore throat, a cough, a stomachache, a migraine, or other ailments, you take a sick day. When you aren’t feeling good mentally, it could be time to take a mental health day. 

We tend to ignore much of our mental health symptoms, brushing them off and saying “they will pass” only to have them resurface stronger than before. We don’t want to waste the time off, we don’t feel like we have the time to waste. But, we forget that when we aren’t operating at our fullest we aren’t being as efficient. By taking the time to tend to your mental health you are only helping yourself to be more focused, motivated, happy, and…well. 

Here are some signs that you could use a mental health day:

1.) You are distracted by something that needs to get done outside of the office. Maybe it is your taxes, a personal project, or a goal that requires your attention. Now I am not telling you to skip work whenever you need some extra time, but rather when you are distracted, forgetful, overwhelmed by something that needs to be tackled. Take a day to get it done. You will feel better for taking care of it, you will gain some control back over your life, and you will be more productive at your job when you return. 

2.) You have been neglecting yourself. Maybe you have been super busy at work or overcome with a project that is taking over your life. You aren’t taking care of yourself because you don’t feel like you have the time to spare. You could benefit from recharging your batteries. Take a mental health day to take care of you. The day can look any way you think it should — catch up on sleep, meal prep, go for a walk, take a fitness class, spend some extra time with your kids, meet a friend for lunch, whatever it is that you feel you need. A day away from the daily grind can do wonders for your inner self. 

3.) You are struggling with depression and anxiety symptoms that feel unmanageable. Maybe you are easily emotional, you are crying a lot, you are struggling to get out of bed, everyday activities are hard to accomplish, you don’t feel like you, whatever it is a day away from the stress you are consumed with can help. Allowing yourself to feel whatever it is you are trying to push past can be necessary to your healing. If you had the flu, your coworkers would never expect you to come in, they would not find you weak, in fact, they would likely thank you for taking the time to get well. 

There is nothing wrong with taking a mental health day. It can take courage to admit that you need one. It can be hard to allow yourself the opportunity to have this day but it will be worth it. If you are having trouble taking care of you, I encourage you to seek help from a licensed mental health professional. He/she/they can help you learn ways to fit time in for you. 

How often do you take mental health days?

It only takes a second: My take on McCain child trafficking apology

It was in the news the other day, Cindy McCain (wife of deceased senator John McCain) apologizes for wrongly accusing a woman of child trafficking. She decided to say something because the woman’s child was of a different ethnicity than her and they were traveling through the airport. She was wrong, and apologized for the distress she put the woman under. 

Every nanosecond

I am conflicted. It is really difficult to make a 100% judgment in a split second. When we are talking about child trafficking—which is a very big, yet somewhat silent, problem—every nanosecond counts. Many factors come in to play—different race, behavior of the child, location of the event, etc. The woman was in the airport and while nothing was wrong, if McCain felt even the smallest inkling that something was off it was good she said something. 

There are two ways this situation could have played out. There is the best case scenario where she said something and was wrong. She may have offended the woman but at least we know nothing was happening. Or, she could have not said anything out of fear of offending the woman and the child could have really been trafficked. 

Better safe than sorry

Several years ago I made an observation an airport that I thought may have been child trafficking. I chose to be quiet about it out of fear of offending another. I still think about that child and regret that I did not say anything. What if it was a situation where the child needed my help? If I see the same today, I don’t mind risking offending someone. If there is any chance that I could be helping to prevent a child from being trafficked then it is worth offending another. 

Follow your gut in these situations. So what if you are wrong, at least you know. We need to be the eyes and ears out there. Too many times things happen because we turn a blind eye, because we are fearful of making mistakes. 

Source:

https://www.thecut.com/2019/02/cindy-mccain-falsely-accused-woman-of-child-trafficking.html?utm_medium=s1&utm_campaign=thecut&utm_source=fb

Anxious Attachment is Harmful to Teens

Is your teen falling for someone easily? Are they easy to pick a fight? They likely have an anxious attachment style. 

Anxious attachment is something that develops when a child is young based on their relationship with their primary caregivers. In many cases it is a result of a parent who sometimes was very in-tune to their child’s emotional needs while in other cases was emotionally unavailable, creating confusion for the child on what to expect when turning to a parent. These children, as a result, often develop clingy tendencies as they have learned the best way to get their needs met is to cling to their parent. 

As that child turns into a teen, that anxious attachment manifests in other ways—jealousy, insecurities, over-dependence on a partner. This can be dangerous to teens who instead of focusing on their self-growth become dependent on their relationships to determine their self-worth. They grow emotionally desperate and can become over-bearing for their partners. These teens and adults are often always looking for ways the relationship is going to end, anticipating that they will ultimately be rejected. 

As a teen who is already going through a lot of changes and confusion in their life, anxious attachment puts them more at risk for unhealthy behaviors. They are more likely to do whatever they can to get the attention and acceptance of others around them, and likewise, they are deeply hurt and distraught at any actions of rejection. They become angry when they don’t receive the attention and reassurance they need from their relationships. It can lead to unhealthy patterns that can follow them through adulthood. 

By recognizing that your teen may have an anxious attachment style, you can help them change their patterns and get the help they need to become confident, healthy adults. Licensed mental health professionals have tools to assist in helping teens to feel more comfortable in their skin, more self-confident, and secure. Your teen can be taught how a healthy relationship should look. 

Source: https://www.psychalive.org/understanding-ambivalent-anxious-attachment

Teaching your teen honesty

The teenage years are crucial for a number of reasons—personal and emotional development, self-confidence, and it’s usually your last chance to have your child at home. While your teen is still living under the same roof, it’s a great time to teach them the tools for healthy relationships that can set them up for life. 

Teach your teens to be honest and upfront. It is always easiest to “ghost”—or avoid—an uncomfortable situation. Many teens fear confrontation and would rather walk away, not answer the phone, not reply to the text, not speak to a person, etc. This is avoidance and it is not healthy for any relationship. It is passive-aggressive behavior that can be harmful in adult life in many ways, not just romantically. It can impact jobs, professional relationships, friendships, etc. 

You can help discourage your teen from ghosting by setting an example. If they do something approach them about it, rather than ignoring. Have the conversations. Open the doors to communication. Teach your teen the benefits of honesty. It may be uncomfortable for a bit, it may result in anger or distress, but ultimately it will lead to better results. Relief off your chest. Forgiveness. Openness. Respect for others. If your teen shares with you issues at school, work, or in friendships encourage them to face their problems head-on. 

Explain to your teen that avoiding problems usually leads them to compound into bigger issues later. By taking the small steps to act on issues as they come up, they will be setting the stage to have better relationships with those around them, to make smarter decisions, and to open more doors personally and professionally. Nobody likes a ghoster. Teach your teen that ghosting can be seen as disrespectful, weak, and “giving up.” 

As a parent you want your teen to be successful in life. You want them to make smart choices and be respectful to others. These are important lessons that you have the ability to teach them before they experience the harshness of the world on their own. Even if you aren’t really sure if your teen is listening or absorbing the information you are trying to teach them, keep at it. Setting an example as a parent can go a long way.

Why tracking your teen’s sleep is important

Sleep is super important, especially for growing minds. It is as vital to your health as the food you eat and the water you drink. Yet so many of us, especially our children and teens, are not getting enough good quality zzzzs. 

The National Sleep Foundation reports that teens need between 8 and 10 hours of high quality sleep each night to function at their best, yet only 15 % report getting that much on school nights. Even if you know your child is going to bed at a certain time and waking up at a certain time each day, it is the quality of sleep that matters more than the quantity. Many teens and adults suffer from treatable sleep disorders such as narcolepsy, insomnia, restless legs syndrome, or sleep apnea but many don’t know it. By tracking your child’s sleep using a Fitbit, Apple watch or another device, you can get a better idea of how your child is really sleeping. 

Lack of sleep makes it hard to focus, contributing to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and solve problems. Tired kids and adults have a hard time learning and absorbing information.  It can also contribute to aggressive behaviors, unhealthy eating and weight gain, acne, and increased use of substances like alcohol and nicotine. 

Cognitive Behavior Therapy can help to treat insomnia and give your teen the tools he/she/they need to fall asleep and stay asleep. Other conditions like sleep apnea may require more medical attention. If your child is displaying unhealthy sleep patterns it is recommended that you seek advice from a licensed medical professional. 

Sleep needs to be a priority in your teen’s life. Limiting screen time, caffeinated drinks/pills, and stressful behaviors before bed along with setting a strict bedtime can help to establish a regular schedule and ensure your teen is getting the rest they need to function at their best. Keeping the same nighttime routine can make sleep easier. 

SOURCE:

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/teens-and-sleep

Surviving Valentine’s Day Post-Divorce

The day of love is here, but you aren’t feeling it. You recently got divorced and want to forget this day even exists. And maybe that is what you do, maybe you distract yourself with something else. Valentine’s Day can be a hard day for anyone not in a relationship but especially for someone who recently got out of a marriage. 

Create a new normal

Maybe burying yourself under the covers of your bed looks really good right now. I get it. But, I generally don’t encourage avoiding situations. This day might be hard but doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of it. Avoidance just pushes away feelings that will show their face later down the road with more strength. 

Rather than avoiding the dreaded Feb. 14, embrace it in a different way. You can celebrate Galantines Day, as it is often called, and treat your friends to a special date. Share a moment with the girls and relish in how loved you are. If you have kids, treat them to a special dinner. Embrace the day as a time to show love to those in your life, not just a romantic partner. 

Try something new

Take it as an opportunity to do something you wouldn’t have been able to do before. Make a new normal. Maybe you love Thai food but your ex did not, take yourself shopping and buy yourself something special, get your hair cut, your nails done, or get a massage. Use the day as a day to love yourself. Recognize that the most important person in your life is you. You deserve to take care of yourself, to treat yourself, to show yourself how much you are loved and how much you deserve. 

Call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. Take yourself to a movie, do something special for someone else, whatever it is that makes you feel good. Read a good book. If the idea of being out with other couples just makes you cringe, then don’t. You don’t have to expose yourself to uncomfortable situations. Rent a movie, order in food. The bottom line is to ask yourself what matters to you? What is something that would make you feel good? Then do it. 

If you are feeling particularly down, take a moment to think of five things you love about yourself. Write them down, repeat them to yourself. You do you. Make this day about love, loving you, loving your friends, your family, your pets, whoever has been there for you. You will get through. Tomorrow is a new day. 

Why is your partner acting distant?

All relationships go through ups and downs. Sometimes your connection might feel off. Your partner feels distant and you aren’t sure what to do, or why he/she/they are feeling so far away from you. Your conversations might be simply transactional— what time do the kids need to be picked up? Will you make it to practice? What are we having for dinner? Etc. 

Before you jump to conclusions about your relationship, have a conversation. Communicate with your partner. Pick a quiet time, free from distraction and talk. Let them know you feel they are being distant and ask them why that might be. It might be something as simple as your partner needing some alone time. Maybe they are stressed from work or other things and need to clear their head. Maybe they feel overwhelmed, smothered, or just plain exhausted. Maybe they need a break from the day-to-day. 

Your partner could also be struggling with depression. It might have nothing to do with you at all, but they just don’t feel themselves making it hard to let you in. By clearing the air and letting your partner know that you are there for them in whatever way they need you, you are helping to open the doors of communication and increase closeness. 

Other reasons your partner might be acting distant could be they don’t feel as close to you anymore. Maybe you need a date night, some time to reconnect. Maybe you need to find a hobby, a tv show, a common interest of some kind to bring you back together for a few minutes a day or a couple hours a week. It can be easy to get caught up in life and lose touch of what really matters. 

There might also be a cycle of avoidance. Could there be serious issues that you keep brushing off? They all come to the surface eventually and need to be addressed. Is there a cycle of criticism that makes your partner not feel comfortable opening up to you? Maybe they feel judged or uncomfortable for some reason.

Much of the problems couples face come down to the fact that they aren’t talking about them. Issues are arising and they are ignoring them. They are thinking maybe if they pretend they don’t exist they will go away. But, if something is really bothering someone it won’t just go away. It needs to be talked about. There needs to be a solution agreed upon or a compromise. The air needs to be cleared. 

If you and your partner are having difficulty communicating, it could be helpful to seek couples counseling from a licensed professional.

Ask Mabel: A wife questions why she can’t get over her husbands affair.

Dear Mabel: Why can’t I get over my husband having an affair?

I am a mom with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, who is deeply religious. I recently found out my husband has been having a longterm affair and I am struggling with moving past his actions and repairing our marriage. It is all I can think about. 

After a brief time away from our family, as a result of his confession, he claims he is a changed man. He, who has also struggled with alcoholism, no longer drinks. He has started attending individual counseling, as well as couples counseling, and he regularly attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. He repented in church and prays every day with me and our children. He claims he is “over the moon” in love with me and is constantly telling me how sorry he is and how he will never do such a thing again. But, I just can’t move past this. 

Every time he leaves the house I immediately begin thinking that he is going to be with another woman. I think about his actions all the time, and especially during sex. I don’t know if I will ever be able to trust him again. I don’t know if I can get our marriage back. What do I do? What can I do? Why can’t I get past this? 

Mabel: 

I am so sorry that you are going through this. Infidelity is an extremely difficult thing for anyone to accept. There are a few things that I think are making this situation even harder for you to move past. First, because of your religious affiliations, you have an internal battle you are struggling with. Religion teaches that sex is sacred which is the opposite of what your husband was doing when he had an affair. You are married and have children with this man. That means that he made a pact years ago to stay committed and loyal to you always, and he has betrayed that. 

While he did go to the church to repent and become a reformed man and had the church pray for your family, the expectation is that you would forgive him and sometimes it is just not that simple. He did his job of apologizing to the church, which gives the expectation that he should receive forgiveness in return. But that expectation is only suppressing and invalidating your rightful anger. It is ok to be feeling betrayed, hurt, distraught over all of this. You have every right to those feelings. 

Your emotional security is in turmoil. Your marriage to your husband was a secure relationship, a place where you felt safe. That sense of safety is in question now. You feel emotionally unsafe, insecure, and are anxious that these actions will repeat themselves. But, this is your husband and your family and deep down you are scared to lose that as well. 

Those are a few of the reasons you might be having trouble getting over these actions. I want you to know, your feelings are completely warranted. My suggestion would be to give yourself time. Don’t feel like you need to rush into instantly repairing anything. I also suggest you get yourself some help. If you haven’t already, seek out a licensed counselor who can help you to work through things and help you take care of you. 

boundary title

Boundaries and Relationships Intersect

Boundaries in any relationship — whether between family or a romantic partnership— are extremely important to maintaining a healthy, happy relationship. That being said, there are logical and illogical ways to set a boundary. 

boundary graph

Let’s talk about Joan (a fictional client). Joan is very close with her father who lives in another state. They have always talked frequently, sharing news of their days. Joan recently got married and is beginning her life with her significant other, but Joan’s dad’s (we will call him Joe) calls are getting more frequent and are beginning to cause issues in Joan’s marriage. Joe is calling Joan every morning before she goes to work, waking up others in the home, and every evening. He is hurt when she doesn’t answer and begins to worry if she is ok—sending her multiple texts and calling repeatedly. Joe just loves his daughter and misses her, but Joan is feeling smothered and overwhelmed. She is trying to build a new life with her husband and her dad is making it difficult for her to do that. How should she approach this sticky situation?

Joan could call her dad upset and ask him to stop calling her and stop texting her nonstop. She could ignore her feelings and struggles and keep letting the calls come in, while building resentment against her father. These are opposite sides of the spectrum. One is establishing a boundary but in a major, and hurtful, way. The other is failing to set a boundary at all further harming the relationship. 

A more logical way to establish a boundary would be to come up with a happy middle ground. She can explain to her dad that the frequent calls are playing a toll on her marriage and instead offer to call her dad on her way home from work a few times a week. She can explain to him that while she still loves him dearly, and he will always be her dad, she also needs to work on her marriage. By setting a boundary like this she is maintaining the integrity of the relationship. Her dad might be disappointed at this news, but he will likely be able to get over it and understand.

Boundaries are all about protecting yourself, your relationships, and living your happiest, healthiest life. If you need help with establishing a boundary, seek help from a licensed mental health professional who can help to guide you.