Divorce is a major life event… that seems to go on for years. The decisions one makes are filled with both immediate and long-term consequences. The aftermath that follows can be traumatizing and have a lasting effect on your overall happiness.
Women and men have different perspectives when it comes to how to handle the daily problems, decisions and demands. This is true too, for future plans. While women rule with emotions and often come from a place of reacting vs. being proactive, men are usually more strategic and end-goal focused. But this too can be only by appearance, when in reality the outcome may be due to the women’s impulsivity and nesting. How do we navigate this very treacherous territory of divorce and avoid the inability to not just survive, but to end up mostly intact and ready for new relationships and a happy life ever after?
Let’s face it, when a divorce starts, there is one home, two people and potentially children. The house cannot be divided down the middle… unless you want to end up with two piles of debris. Should the primary parent, and subsequently the children, remain in the home? Should the other parent have to provide financially for the home he, or she, no longer lives in or should we sell? We often see this alternative in cases where the primary parent is a stay-at-home parent. Often times, the “breadwinner” offers this option, out of guilt. Most of the time, the discussion of the home ultimately surrounds the woman fighting to stay in the home, regardless of whether or not she can financially afford to. Women have a need to nest and thereby stay in the home they built, lovingly decorated and raised their children. It is there sanctuary. The problems with this thinking are many. Women will fight for the home and everything in it and it becomes the source of “winning”. In the end, this ends up being an emotional and psychological mistake. Keeping the home means keeping the memories… all of them… good and bad. Keeping the possessions within the home also keeps the marriage ghosts lingering. This keeps a woman tethered to the past and unable to move on. The man, who wants to sell or keep the home, as well, and then ends up “losing” or succeeding it, actually does better mentally and psychologically. He is also more cognizant about the financial stress of keeping the home. He can replace all the “stuff” and move into a fresh start. This allows him to be free of the past quicker and he is able to find peace. His new place becomes his sanctuary and the woman is high on the hill… in emotional hell, clinging to all her memories and the home she built with him, thus unable to heal and move on. None of this is meant to imply that a man who gives up the house, merely moves on and his past life or his family never existed, it just seems to allow him the ability to compartmentalize and free up his head space without constant reminders of what could have been or used to be. Where women tend to want to hold on to the memories and that is fine on the surface, but deep down it prohibits the healing growth to find a new life.
Another matter to discuss regarding keeping or divorcing the house, is the matter of when one is ready to get rid of the past possessions and move on, whether it be in the house or physically moving to a new place, is the act of discarding all the accumulated “stuff”. Depending on the timing, this too can create old scabs to fall off. Not to mention, the actual physical labor that goes into carry things curbside. In the meantime, the one who moved out, does not have to face these wounds. As a woman who walked into her home and felt the weight of the past on her shoulders, from the marriage 10 years long gone. I was kept in this state of angst, could have, should have, victim role because of all the stuff in the house. The couch, the bed, the holiday decorations, etc. Why didn’t I buy new things, you ask? I simply could not afford to. This was a dollars and cents matter that has had a lasting impact on my psychological well-being. Selling would have been my better choice, possibly ending up with some cash to buy new furnishings.
Pros and Cons in summary:
REASONS TO KEEP THE HOUSE IN YOUR DIVORCE:
§ Chances are, you will have less money when you divorce. If you’re forced to leave the home, you will likely move to smaller, less desirable home.
§ The home is the biggest financial asset for most couples. You walk away from that, you may lose a lot of assets — even if he buys you out.
§ Historically, real estate has been a more stable investment when compared with stocks (recent years being an exception).
§ Because your household income will be lower in the short-term, the tax write offs like mortgage interest and property taxes will be even more valuable post-divorce. Plus, if you were to sell your home, you can likely pocket most or all of the profits tax-free.
§ The emotional reasons to keep the house include providing a measure of stability for you and your kids during a tumultuous time. This includes staying in the same schools and close to friends and neighbors who provided emotional and practical support. This can be a catch-22 and the emotional and memory filled home can also cause more strife and the inability to move on.
However, as previously mentioned, there are lots of very good reasons to let your marital home go — whether to your ex, or to sell it on the market. One of the biggest mistakes I have seen in my work, as well as have heard from divorce attorneys, is women’s insistence on keeping the marital home in divorce — to her detriment.
REASONS NOT TO KEEP THE HOUSE IN DIVORCE:
§ You can’t afford it. Accepting that your income is now lower after divorce, and therefore you lifestyle must change, is often very difficult — especially for the lesser-earning spouse, who unfortunately is usually the woman. Going into debt, facing losing that very home you so desperately want to hang on to, and the emotional turmoil that financial stress it induces is just bad news. Don’t.
§ Selling helps you move on. Houses are emotional things. That house likely represented a family and life that you wanted very much to succeed — but things turned out differently. Nothing like new real estate (and furnishings!) to start fresh with your new life, and put your old one behind you.
§ A new home is empowering! Whether you are purchasing a new house or renting a place on your own, moms tell me that doing this solo is one of the most empowering things they’ve ever done.
§ It may even help teach your kids financial responsibility. Because your home is likely your biggest financial asset, you should treat it with as little emotion as possible. Compromising your finances, emotional well-being and good sense for the sake of keeping a house you really like is not a good financial example for your kids.
§ Selling may teach them emotional resistance. Sometimes life sucks! It just does. Divorce is usually like that. But showing a measure of grace, moving on, and making wise decisions for your whole family in the face of difficult times is one of the greatest gifts you can give your kids.
So, when it comes time to decide whether or not you “must have” the marital home. Please weigh all the options, most importantly the long-term psychological consequences and whether or not you want to come out healthy and ready to find a new happy ever after without a semi-truck worth of baggage or a mini-Cooper. The women should be very cautious, as in all divorce matters, to not make impulsive and emotional decisions… trust me on this one. The men should make decisions and suggestions with a little more concern for the aftermath and future effects of the full divorce fallout.
Disclaimer: this article does not reflect any gender bias, it is meant for example and discussion topic only and of course, the gender roles may be different in each situation.
Divorce is unquestionably one of the most stressful events anyone can experience. Life as you have known it is dramatically and irrevocably altered. Your world may feel like it has stopped spinning or maybe like it is spinning out of control. Fundamental, foundational aspects of your existence—things you may have taken for granted—must be re-evaluated, negotiated, and ultimately may be determined by a third party.
Whether it’s where you live, custody arrangements for children or pets, the division of assets, earnings and memories, or just the fracture of a relationship you expected to last forever, all of these issues are life-altering. When dealing with the dissolution of so many of the certainties you once depended upon, it's easy to move into a place of constant anxiety… becoming paralyzed with ambivalence. This places an unhealthy, unsustainable amount of stress on your mind and body.
The first step toward healing is actually to take a step back. Try to get perspective on the situation. Slow down, give yourself time, and look for ways you can care for you. Over time, fears and apprehensions begin to dissipate, and confidence begins to grow. Life moves forward.
Here are some strategies that I adopted—and the ones I know made all the difference in seeing me through to my own new beginning:
It might sound cliché, but that's because it works. Truly, the best way I have found to relieve stress is through exercise. Whether it’s hot yoga, running or cycling, a workout with a friend, or kickboxing to relieve anxiety and release aggression, I came to depend upon a combination of the adrenaline rush of an all-consuming workout and the meditative inward yoga practices. But what works for me might not work for you. If those high-intensity workouts don't do it for you, try going on a hike or even a walk. Getting out and moving around is beneficial to both mental and physical health—and you get added benefits from doing it outdoors.
Exercise releases endorphins in your brain, which fight stress, minimize the discomfort of the exercise, block feelings of pain (physical and emotional), and are even associated with feelings of euphoria. Exercise and yoga made all the difference in my journey to the mindset of resilience I needed to make it through my divorce and beyond.
It’s important to commit to investing time into taking care of yourself. I could've languished in bed, depressed, when I was in the throes of my divorce, and I did for a time, but I quickly chose instead to discipline myself to fill my empty hours with things that nourish me—mind, body, and soul. I still make time for a workout every day because it clears my mind and gets me ready for the challenges I will face—both personally and professionally. A recent study from Harvard Medical School even shows that exercise improves memory and critical-thinking skills. Make sure, even during the most hectic of days, you set aside some time to focus on yourself and your well-being.
3. Get uncomfortable. (You won't regret it.)
Once you've boosted your resilience through exercise and nurtured your internal balance with self-care, challenge yourself to take on a new endeavor. Learn to cook; travel to a country you've always had an interest in; take ballroom dancing classes. It’s been proven that people who engage in new activities are more likely to focus more on the positive aspects of their life.
“Though it may feel unfamiliar—and maybe even a little uncomfortable—you'll experience incredibly positive feelings if you stick with it. Our minds and bodies are connected. When you take care of your body, your mind benefits, and vice versa. Ultimately, when you feel good about yourself, you’re able to be stronger for others in your life—as a parent, friend, sibling, or partner. Life—especially in the midst of divorce—is undoubtedly difficult. But for exactly that reason, it becomes more important than ever that we put our best, strongest selves forward to face the challenges before us”.
LIVE A BROWN DOG LIFE
Browns and greys are perfect colors for many things; brown puppies are adorable, milk chocolate is brown, grey walls in your home are classic and chic, Fifty Shades of Grey sold over one hundred million copies. But, too much of anything is bad; brown puppies sometimes leave brown messes, milk chocolate can cause unwanted weight gain, the grey walled rooms require pops of color accents, even FSG has a red room.
February in the northeast can be downright dismal and depressing with the dullness of brown and grey day after day. It seems like forever since you've felt the warmth of the sun on your face and the “brey days” are turning your grey matter blue. Holiday bills are high, temperatures are low, and the days are way too short. It is the middle of winter and the winter blues are the only pop of color accenting your browns and greys.
It’s right around this time every year when you start to feel a little bummed. You don't have to wait until Spring to get out of your funk and start smiling again. Here are 9 scientifically proven ways to lift your spirits and ease the winter blues… err browns, greys and blues.
1. Brighten your environment. When your body is craving more daylight, sitting next to an artificial light—also called a light box—for 30 minutes per day can be as effective as antidepressant medication. Opening blinds and curtains, trimming back tree branches, and sitting closer to windows can also help provide an extra dose of sunshine.
2. Eat smarter. Foods, like chocolate, can help to enhance your mood and relieve anxiety. Other foods, like candy and carbohydrates provide temporary feelings of euphoria, but could ultimately increase feelings of anxiety and depression.
3. Simulate dawn. People with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that usually begins in late fall or early winter and fades as the weather improves, may feel depressed, irritable, lethargic, and have trouble waking up in the morning—especially when it’s still dark out. Studies show that a dawn simulator, a device that causes the lights in your bedroom to gradually brighten over a set period of time, can serve as an antidepressant and make it easier to get out of bed.
4. Exercise. A 2005 study from Harvard University suggests walking fast for about 35 minutes a day five times a week or 60 minutes a day three times a week improved symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Exercising under bright lights may be even better for seasonal depression: A preliminary study found that exercise under bright light improved general mental health, social functioning, depressive symptoms, and vitality, while exercise in ordinary light improved vitality only. Try yoga. to find your inner self and peace. Yoga is food for the heart and soul.
5. Tune in. In a 2013 study, researchers showed that listening to upbeat or cheery music significantly improved participant’s mood in both the short and long term. Choose your genre and exercise the “brey days” away.
6. Plan a vacation. The beach is calling. Research shows that the simple act of planning a vacation causes a significant increase in overall happiness.
7. Help others. Spending time at the soup kitchen for the local shelter or volunteering your time can improve mental health and life satisfaction. The act of helping others is rewarding and humbling.
8. Get outside. Spending time outside (even when it's chilly!) can improve focus, reduce symptoms of SAD, and lower stress levels.
9. Reconnect. Reconnecting with friends and spending time laughing and sharing makes memories that comfort the soul. This does not mean via social media, but rather Face-2-Face.
Don’t get stuck sitting in your room with grey walls, your adorable chocolate lab puppy and a box of chocolates, while reading FSG… sans a Valentine. You can always paint your walls orange and adopt another puppy. Orange is the happiest color! Or you can wait for Spring… it will be here soon!
"The Universe seeks balance. In seeking balance, our part of the Universe creates everything with two poles. Everything has it's opposite. Like has dislike, black has white, light has dark, hot has cold". -execonn
My best friend and I have known each other for almost 25 years. In all those years we have seen marriages, divorces, babies, countless jobs, etc. In our younger years we were carefee and living in the moment. As we have grown, we have often discussed "the Universe" and whether or not it dictates our paths. We have shared EVERY single corner of our worlds. The one thing I keep questioning: the universe demanding balance. Is it possible that we are two people whose lives are so connected...or, disconnected...that we are living polar opposite lives? We have NEVER both been happy or content at the same time. Like clockwork, if one of our lives starts to be filled with joy and positives, the other's will be taking a downward spiral. How can this be? We are best friends. We support each other through everything. We remind each other to remain positive and work on ourselves constantly. We rejoice in each other's accomplishments and good fortune. But, on some deeper level, we know...We feel the shift in the Universe. It is not a good thing. It is a pull in the wrong direction for one of us, always. If we cease to be friends would we still be the polar opposites? Can we affect the Universe with our mental state?
The ancients say "To change your mental state, one must change their vibration, by deliberately turning your attention onto a more desirable state. If you are sad, focus on remembering times when you were happy. One does not have to get rid of the darkness, just bring a candle into the room and the darkness will disappear."
The Law of Compensation is that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. If the pendulum swings one way, it must always swing back the other way. Much like my best friend and I and our ever-opposite lives that oscillate between happiness and sadness. To know the highs, one must know the lows. It is all relative. In other words, if you have never known sadness or low, how would you recognize happiness or the highs in life? Mentally, however, it is possible to escape the lows by rising above with our thoughts.
"You only get to keep what you give away". The Universe is a giant mirror, always reflecting ourselves back to us. -Edgar Cayse. We are always compensated for what we do. Every thought we think, every action, every deed, creates results both directly and indirectly.
A disorganized home creates stress...emotionally, mentally, and physically. Too much stuff in our homes is one of the greatest stress triggers. When we have a lot of stuff and disorganization in our homes, we can become overwhelmed and it can cause chronic anxiety and restlessness.
For most of us, all this "stuff" accumulates over time. We don’t notice how much stuff we are accumulating until we hit a breaking point. Often it's a major life event — such as a move, death, marriage, divorce, or even empty nesting – that forces us to find organization and balance...to simplify, so that we can move on free from the weight of objects that have outlived their usefulness to us or that carry memories of the past.
Organize your home...organize your mind. Take the time to put your home in order and your thoughts will become clearer. I have read the Kon-Mari Method, which I found helpful and definitely simplifying. I must caution that I did throw away A LOT of things that I have needed since. It may be that I was a bit impulsive in my attempt to gain control and peace instantly. There is no magic remedy for the clutter and chaos that has built up over time.
Sometimes, in this rush-rush, extremely fast-paced and seemingly disposable world we live in, we are too quick to discard people and things. We believe that out of sight is out of mind, but the people and memories that truly impact us, cannot be erased...they always resurface.
EVERYTHING IN MODERATION...Eat often (small amounts), Stay open to Love (not everyone has rock climbing skills), Cherish every Breath (we only get a finite number), Practice Yoga (nourishes the body and mind), Stay Humble (be a better you, Be Kind to Everyone you meet (you never know what people are going through or why your paths have crossed), Be Kind to Yourself (you are doing the best that you can-this life is not easy), Laugh often (it burns calories), Laugh at yourself (this builds humility), Be Good company (you attract who and what you are), Spend Time with your Family (remember whens are what life is about).