My Honest Truth About Divorce – Get Over Yourself

Divorce is something I’ve always called “The Big D”, it reminds me of that country song “going to the big D and don’t mean Dallas …” I went into marriage knowing darn well that I wouldn’t back out of marriage with divorce on a whim, it wasn’t something either of us “believed in”, unless absolutely necessary. Still, after two sons and about 3 years of marriage, we were divorced. I often wonder if we made the right decision, if that was indeed what was best for us and our family.

It was the best decision at the time, based on circumstances and our sons are happier now than they ever could have been with us under the same roof.

As I co-parent with my ex husband in such a perfectly normal way, it still creeps into my mind once in awhile that I wish we could have made this work better as a couple. We couldn’t have back then though, and together we are two different people. It’s easier for us to co-parent so positively and be friends because we ended our marriage before we got to the bitter hatred point and because as co-parents we focus on our sons without anything else mattering.

As a divorced couple, all that matters is our children. That’s it. It’s easy really.

I am here to talk about the honest truths about divorce, in hopes that I can get more people to think harder before jumping to that decision, you see, I learned a lot from my divorce and some lessons learned were extremely valuable to me as an individual. I thought I would share my honesty about divorce today.

Thoughts/Circumstances that Come into Play After Divorce:

  • Hindsight is always 20/20 – If you are currently divorced and raising your child(ren) amicably, get along with your ex and can even be friends it’s normal to have some questions about whether divorce was the right answer. Remember, we always see things differently looking back, than in the moment. Circumstances that led to divorce were real, don’t ever think they were not, apparently certain things were important at that moment in your life and you need to accept that, not dwell on the “what ifs”.
  • Confident in Divorce - No matter how confident you were in getting divorced, it’s usually not easy for anyone, especially if you can’t just divorce and move on, never speaking to that person again due to raising children together.  Remind yourself, when those whimsical thoughts come into your mind, that you divorced this person for a reason, even if the reason wasn’t extreme, it was a valid reason during that time period.
  • Friendship After Divorce – I have met far too many people who are co-parenting and despise their ex. I say Let it Go. I don’t care if they cheated on you, I don’t care what in the heck they did to you to hurt you deeply, get yourself help through therapy and move on. This is to better yourself as a person and to ensure you don’t allow negative feelings towards your ex affect your parenting responsibilities.  I will be honest, many ex’s are a much better person after you get divorced, because they too learned something from this life changing experience!

What you should do before filing for divorce:

  • Has Communication Broken Down – Raising kids can take a lot out of you, as an individual, which means communication can be broken during the child bearing days. Even if your partner isn’t taking the initiative to communicate properly with you, do your best to try your hardest to be a better listener for your partner, lead them by being a compassionate example of great communication.
  • Therapy - I am an avid supportive of counseling services, these are great people who specialize in getting you two back on track. They don’t work miracles, but you must be certain to try couples therapy before throwing away a marriage, believe me, it may be a lot of you causing some issues and you just need a professional to open your eyes to it.
  • How Will This Benefit the Children – Many people will say it’s best to stay married for the children, sure they do play a huge toll in whether divorce is the right answer or not. Remember once you are divorced, you have to give up those wake ups, goodnight kisses and so much of the family unit time together. Make sure that you are fully aware of how the family dynamic will change after divorce and that this will be beneficial to the kids long term.
  • Have You Stopped Paying Attention to Each Other – The days of listening to your spouse in awe over their excitement and joy in life can dry up, you may be sick and tired of hearing their voice. You may be tired and exhausted from working hard to support the family. Whatever reasons, drop the excuses, your partner should always be treated like gold. Even if it’s something simple like doing a kind gesture for them, saying a kind word, snuggling up to give them a kiss every night, even if they have already fallen asleep. If things have gotten real bad, they may not take to this right away, but keep trying!

My Last Tidbit of Opinion About Divorce

If there is any part of you, whether large or small, debating if divorce is really the right answer, listen to yourself. Take the time you need to fully absorb all that divorce will entail; the changes the kids will have happen, the changes for you as a person, the changes for your spouse, etc etc. Think long and hard, make sure all of these challenging changes that come about after divorce are worth going through without your spouse. Be certain that you are not making the decision to divorce for your own selfish reasons, this happens without us even realizing it.

Also, remember, even if you did divorce this person that it’s possible to turn back the decision and re-marry them. Just get over your stubborn self and accept that you made a mistake, I have seen many couples who got divorced early on in the marriage, then find out later on that they were ready to be together, forever. They re-married and have been together for many years since! Nothing is final in life, except death and even that is questionable.

Divorce Could Create Financial Hardships … at First

Everyone has bad days, even months, but nothing hits you harder than a life event, such as divorce, that leaves you financially jaw dropped. Divorce happens very often these days, so it’s a life event that many can relate to, I’m sure. I was divorced in 2010, with that came a change in household income. I was no longer the work from home Mom who added income to the household’s main form of income; I was it. I became the sole financial supplier in the home. It was very difficult to get used to managing money that I had coming in net 30, 60 and sometimes 120 days to feed and support my three children.

It took me quite some time to find tools and resources that would assist me in successfully working from home while raising my three children and keeping food on the table as well as a roof over our heads. Finally, I found a system that worked well for me; an Excel budget template. A friend of mine had this Excel spreadsheet all set up with formulas and she shared it with me as a means to get me back on track financially after my divorce. The budget template lays out what I need to save weekly in order to keep things afloat financially. This was a true blessing, but what I also found was that there are resources outside of just word-of-mouth from friends, such as SunTrust’s website where they have a wide range of tools & resources at your disposal.

What I love most about SunTrust is that their website has tips to help you keep your budget on track as well as tips on saving money for goals later. Saving money is extremely important, especially when I was found living on one income. I had to learn to save every little bit I could as a means to attempt to accumulate emergency money. We all know that having kids means there are unexpected expenditures that arise, being a single Mom back then, made savings all that more vital to our financial survival.

Three Tips That Worked for me to Gain Financial Success –

  1. Do not fall for “deals” - if you didn’t need the item in the first place, no deal is worth spending your money on.
  2. Stick with your Budget - work to create a budget sheet, print it out and never, ever allow temptations to steer you away from your budget.
  3. Lock cash Up – if you have to lock your weekly allotted budget amount for bills in a firesafe lock box, do it!

Those top three tips are what assisted me in overcoming the financial hardships that divorce created for me back in 2010. I still stick true to my budget this day and have started to be able to save some money too! It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that you are capable of rising above any financial hardship life event if you just stick to budget and keep moving forward.

At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well being. They help you get organized, make a plan, and stay on track so you can get and stay in control of your finances. When you are confident about about your money, you can save for your goals and splurge knowingly on waht matters most to you.

To get started visit suntrust.com/getorganized.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust Bank. The opinions and text are all mine.

How to Make a Valid Decision and Follow Through

Many are faced with decisions to make every day, whether it be what to purchase for groceries, what items your children need or much bigger decisions such as divorce, we all have decisions to make on a daily basis. I decided that I would make an easy to follow list of how you can make a valid decision and follow through.

Because you know, I am like so good at that myself. {if you are sensing sarcasm, you are correct}

While I may not be great at following my own advice, and really, who is? I am very great at lending advice that if followed through with makes perfect sense and actually works out as a benefit to your life as you know it! Come along with me, amuse me if you will.

Read on …

How to Make Valid Decisions and Follow Through

Yes. No Maybe. We live in a world full of non-committal responses and actions. We fear to say YES and NO more and tend to lean closer to MAYBE. This is not okay. Maybe doesn’t get you anywhere. Except, well, honestly I firmly believe maybe will get you nowhere fast.

Okay, are you ready for my advice to start? I hope so. I really do. I need to feel as if I am helping someone because Spring is here and it’s time to turn over a new leaf!

  • Acknowledge that there is a Decision to be Made – Come face to face in the mirror with your own self and make a firm realization that things just have to change. A decision has to be formed, sooner rather than later.
  • Understand What Decision has to be Made – Take the scenario that you are faced with, a piece of paper, a pen and write down a pros and cons list of this decision you are faced with. Do not do this during times of high emotion or hormone fluctuations.
  • Share Pros and Cons with a Close Friend – Take your list of pros and cons with the decision written above it and ask a close friend if they feel your pros and cons list are truly valid enough to argue a point to make the decision you must make. Logic, emotions and a third unbiased person’s opinion matter in the decision making process.
  • Set a Date – Make yourself commit to a date that you have to address this decision by and do not back peddle. Stick with this decision, even if it’s the hardest decision you have ever made in your life. Setting a date allows you to take time to continue to think it out, rationalize with yourself and hold yourself accountable to take action.
  • Speak Truth and With a Matter of Fact Tone – This is a great tip for those deciding to divorce or end a friendship, we can notice if a person is using a confident “they have made their final decision tone” or not. Do not allow the other person to feel as if there is hope, room for them to change your mind or anything like that. Keep a matter of fact, this is how it is type of tone when speaking.
  • Be Sure to Address Valid Reasons for Decision – When making the decision be sure that you are dealing with it in regards to logistical reasons and emotions. Sometimes, depending upon the decision to be made you may have to weigh heavier on the emotional side than logistical side, but I am sure you can determine which type of decision this falls under.
  • Breath and Follow Through to the End- This is the last step, be sure to breath and move forward from here. Do not fear how the other person affected by your decision is going to respond because in all reality you are the one person who matters most and that goes to saying without being selfish. You are not selfish for putting your own needs/sanity/emotions/well being ahead of anyone else. Do not stop to look back, we only move forward in life!

These tips are pretty much great for any scenario but with some situations it may require a long process to completely finish and follow through with. The whole point to this post really is to …

Allow yourself to be important. Your needs and emotions are valid. Life is about living it to the fullest in your  happiest of ways, do not allow anyone else to make you question your own well being. It isn’t fun to hurt others, but sometimes in life we have to in order to find our true self and love our true self.

“Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

You Need to Separate From your Son

Prior to the diagnosis of Autism this past week, we met with Aj’s counselor. I say Aj’s counselor but really he helps my ex husband and I to move forward with Aj and occasionally he does play a game to interact with Aj, overall he is more there to ensure we are keeping up with the parenting techniques that work for Aj. While I will tell you that I would highly recommend Aj’s counselor, I was left feeling jaw dropped at an appointment we had about a month ago.

Here’s what happened…

On this particular visit the emotional connection between Aj and I was very prevalent in the room. The counselor noticed it, my ex husband noticed it and of course I noticed it. Aj was having a rough time this visit and needed to have a time out, a time out with Aj usually means to-be-restrained, because usually he will not handle sitting in a time out without the basketball hold restraint. It took everything out of me emotionally to watch as my ex husband restrained our son, I don’t like it. I always feel there has to be another solution to working through Aj’s frustrations with communication or redirection.  Yet I do realize restraining had become the only option up until that point because of the medications messing with our son.

This restraining situation is what pushed the next topic in the session …

The counselor told me that I had to separate that emotional connection I have with my son, because as I spoke about Aj tears began to form in my eyes, my heart was breaking for my son as I spoke to the counselor. Mind you, this was before the autism diagnosis and I was simply starting to feel lost, as if we would never find a good solution for my son to thrive. I understood what the counselor meant, but I don’t think he realized what I meant. You see, emotionally connected to Aj, means that we have this energy about us, we have this connection much unlike the connection I have with my other two children. While I love and connect with all three of my children, this particular connection between Aj and I is different, it feels almost spiritual.  I left that appointment feeling upset, angry and frustrated. I was upset that the counselor wasn’t really seeing that my emotional connection with Aj is more beneficial than harmful for my son.

Here’s what I’ve now realized about that emotional connection …

For one, I am the primary parental unit for my children, specifically with Aj I have been the one constant, meaning while he does have a relationship with his father and my fiance, I am the one who works from home, is here for all appointments and takes him to the appointments, goes to all events and is home 24/7 so it’s only natural that Aj has formed more of a connection or bond with me versus the type of bond he has with others he loves. Once I felt in my heart that Aj was on the spectrum, which happened within the past couple of months that he’s been medication-free, something changed in me. I started having more patience and I started being more aware of what works for Aj and I started to work with and for Aj versus trying to get him to adapt into what I felt he should be. While I am not that parent that pushes a child to be a certain way, I simply mean that Aj couldn’t adapt to the parenting ways that his siblings can, so I stepped back and started to adapt my parenting techniques to him. This decision to adapt to my son has made Aj thrive in ways he never has. In this past month I was able to convince Aj to attend THREE functions; Family Math Night, Family Literacy Night and The Library Arts Center Elementary Art Exhibit Show.

I would have never in a million years been able to convince Aj to go to any events. Aj has always been that kid who thrives on a rigid routine, when we arrive home from school there is no leaving the house again, without a fit. For me to use the emotional connection that I have with Aj as a way to gain trust in him to go outside of his comfort zone tells me that there is nothing wrong with the emotional connection Aj and I have. Aj is on the spectrum and he is going to be that connected to those who he has a bond with, plain and simple. If one were to try to separate that connection we have, it would be detrimental to his growth. Our emotional connection has allowed me to get Aj to go outside of his comfort zone, to try a few new things, to be open to the idea of small changes. While this is a lot of work using my words and tones to get him to come around and take part in extra events, I am willing to do that work if it means he is showing signs of advancement socially.

Aj didn’t last more than 30 minutes at Math Night, he only lasted 45 minutes at literacy night and the art show; but he wouldn’t have even gone into the van to leave just a few months ago without a fit of rage and me having to drag him to the van. To me, that is what our emotional connection has done for Aj. My emotional connection with my son and patient, loving, nurturing personality is what has allowed my son to thrive in more ways than he ever has in the past on medications. The gift of Mama’s love and encouragement has shown me that medicine isn’t always about popping a pill.

My Plain and Simple View on What Co-Parenting Is

Co-parenting to me is what I refer to when two parents are no longer residing in the same household, they have separated, divorced or just broke up having never been married, but they have children who bind them forever.

That is co-parenting. Two parents who have children who bind them forever. Plain -n- Simple.

All About Co-parenting, What is It?

I tend to look at co-parenting in very simple terms because after all, I have already been through 11 years of co-parenting my daughter and now about a couple years or so of co-parenting my boys. My ex husband and I resided in same household off and on after our divorce, but we aren’t here to talk about that.

So I have co-parenting for a lot of years and have already had the experiences that occur when one is attempting to share a child, remember a child is a human being, your child does not belong to you nor to the other parent.

A child is an individual with their own thoughts, their own feelings and should be felt as if those feelings are valid at all times.

Maybe the fact that I have more experience in the area of co-parenting leads me to have less tolerance for those who just cannot seem to get it right. One would think it’s not a difficult concept but then I remember back to the drama filled years of my daughter’s baby days and realize, well it takes time to get it just right. When there are hurt feelings between the ex’s that makes it more difficult to co-parent as well.

It takes a big person to be able to separate feelings of hurt from a failed relationship in order to focus on what matters after the fact; parenting your children together.

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to co-parent with someone who makes personal jabs at you based on mistakes made during a relationship that is no longer a relationship. Once you two people become co-parents, all that matters is the children & raising them. A business-like arrangement will work best to allow the children to flourish in both parents homes now and into the future.

Co-parenting is all about agreeing to disagree, letting go of control; neither parent can control the rules or scenarios that occur at one household over the other, but each co-parent should encourage the children to respect both parents and respect the rules set forth in both homes.

Co-parenting is all about letting go …. being able to realize that your children may, at times, wish to see one parent over the other and that is okay. Children change almost daily and sometimes they feel the need for one parent over the other during various stages in their lives.

Co-parenting is about communication, the ability to stay on focus with kid-only topics and to work together to ensure both households, regardless of how you feel about the structure or rules set forth, are safe for the children and that if something does go wrong, both parents can discuss it without throwing personal jabs or having a screaming match over who is the better parent.

Co-parenting is about loving your children. Letting go of how the other parent may have hurt you or upset you and focusing strictly on the children.

Co-parenting isn’t easy, neither is parenting. Life isn’t easy, if it were, then there would be no real adventure, now would there be?

“Image courtesy of Rendeeplumia / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

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