Life after Divorce

Kelly collapsed on the steps, right alongside life as she knew it.

Her husband had been having an affair, and he was leaving her. Loneliness and despair crept in on her until her dog tethered her to reality and gave her the strength to call her mom.

“I couldn’t even get the words out I was crying so hysterically,” said Kelly. “Normally it takes 40 minutes for her to get to my house, but that night she was there in 20.”

Having a failed marriage started to make Kelly feel like a failure in general. She started to think she was a terrible nurse, a bad friend, a loser in life. But with every day that passed, she got more perspective and realized that with every end comes a new beginning.

“There’s a sadness, a grieving, but in some way it’s almost liberating, like this is my new starting point,” said Kelly. Here are some ways she got through her divorce.

  • Find a healthy distraction.

Kelly had just started a nursing job when she was going through the divorce process, and she credits that with not only pulling her out of a deep depression but also with helping rebuild her confidence.

  • Work it out.

Divorce creates a whirl of emotions – everything from intense sadness to anger to apathy to elation. To stabilize emotionally, head to the gym or go do something outside. Kelly took quick runs or did some yoga to work through her emotional swells and felt an immediate improvement in her overall mood.

  • Surround yourself with support.

Kelly took a vacation with her family right after she told them she was getting divorced. She was worried they were going to be disappointed in her because no one else in her family had ever divorced, but by spending time with them she learned that they’d have been more disappointed than if she’d stayed.

“That helped me build up my confidence,” she said. “They made me feel like I can do better and I can move on.”

  • Decide to be happy.

When you’re staying in your pajamas and going through a box of tissues every day, deciding to be happy seems impossible. It’s absolutely counter to what you’re feeling. But it’s important to choose that path ultimately or you will be consumed by bitterness, and that could affect your future relationships (yes, if you want them, you will have future relationships).

“It’s funny because I wanted to be angry, but I didn’t want to be angry,” said Kelly. “It’s really an inner battle. Do I want to be angry with him, and if I am, what does that do for me? It was a conscious decision for me – don’t be angry, don’t be jaded, and don’t be that miserable person because that will just consume you.”

  • Live your own life.

Kelly said she struggles sometimes with seeing her friends living the life she expected to have. They’ll have babies or celebrate anniversaries, moving full speed ahead with their lives while hers has come to a screeching halt. Those feelings will creep in, but, as Kelly said, “You really have to tell yourself that this is your life and you can’t compare it to other people.”

Divorce comes with depression, sadness, loss, grief. But it also comes with possibility, excitement and opportunity. Just like all the other tough things in life, divorce can help you be a better person if you let it.

“I learned I was strong, that I can support myself, that I don’t need anyone to help me,” said Kelly. “I learned me – re-learned me – because I went back to figuring out what I like to do, what I enjoyed. It was like a rebirth for me.”

Real women, real romance

Real women share the most romantic thing someone’s ever done for them… And you’d be surprised at how much of an impression the little things make.

How to get the man of your dreams

Alissa is a beautiful and successful massage therapist–complete with her own podcast! This woman has done a stunning job at composing her life. However, when it came to finding Mr. Right, Alissa needed a bit of assistance.

After a string of heart wrenching breakups, Alissa opened herself up to the idea that she might need some professional help. She signed up for a course called “Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women,” which centered on the ideas of understanding men, knowing what you want and knowing what it takes to create a great partnership.

So what did she learn?

Check out these four tips for preparing yourself for a healthy relationship.

1. Get yourself together.

Remember those airline instructions from that last flight you took? You can’t do anything for anybody else until you’ve put on your own air mask. Be the grownup in your life, help yourself get it together first, then you’ll be better equipped when a the right person comes along.

2. Be honest about what you want.

One really great way to make knowing what you want into getting what you want is to say it out loud. Even write it all down and tell other people, keeping our wants and needs to ourselves doesn’t get us anywhere.

We have to have enough self-confidence and self-love to walk away from the things that we don’t want and be brave and bold enough to ask for what we do want without reservation. Practice authenticity, practice truth and practice getting what you want by saying it out loud every day.

3. Learn to speak their language.

Men speak in layers and in time they will reveal more of themselves to you if you give them the space and silence to uncover those layers. When you ask questions, wait, sit quietly and listen. Alissa found that it’s in that quiet that a man reveals the depth of who he is. He’ll give you the superficial, then a little deeper and then the juicy stuff. It takes practice but in the end it works.

When it’s your turn, keep it focused and figure out exactly what you want insight on. When a man is listening to a woman, he’s taking it all in. He’s going to wait until you’re finished before he gives you an answer.

4. Don’t turn yourself into a pretzel.

Alissa discovered that her relationships were failing because she was constantly contorting herself. She would find men who were the basic molds of what she wanted but then instead of remaining solid in the woman that she is, she would begin to meld into what she thought they wanted of her. Alissa wasn’t able change her ways until she realized that twisting herself into something she wasn’t would never allow someone get to know the real her.

After taking time to learn more about communication, Alissa is in a more confident, clearly open space. “I’m going to try to understand who the man sitting across from me is. If this man is a square, I am not going to try so hard to fit him into a triangle of what I want. I can take my triangle and move on, and that’s okay. It’s a whole new world for me now, it’s a whole new way of dating and relating with men. And it’s a lot more fun.”

Click here to tune in to Alissa’s weekly podcast for insight on understanding your man and more importantly, yourself.

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How to know if he’s marriage material

Dr. Wendy Walsh, a dating expert and psychologist, drew from personal dating disasters to create a relationship rule book called “The Boyfriend Test.”

Her aim was to help women understand men and better stick to their guns when it came to dating. She found that dating happens in phases, and at any point during the first three months, women should be hyper-sensitive to where the relationship is headed. Here’s how they find out:

Step 1: The Girlfriend Test

The first step to having any healthy relationship is to take a look at yourself. You have to understand your own issues and desires before you can subject someone else to them. In order to have some kind of intimate connection, you can’t fantasize about how things could be. We have to learn to be really clear about what we want, what is achievable, and to be able to communicate that in a kind way. After passing the Girlfriend Test, you can move into dating.

Step 2: The Telephone Test

When you’re out there in the world meeting people – sometimes online, sometimes in person, you’re eventually going to get asked for your number. At that point, if he interests you, you have an opportunity to do some telephone screening.

There are things to look for during a phone conversation that can help you decide if someone is worth promoting to a first date. Is he calling at an appropriate time of day considering he doesn’t really have any idea about your schedule? Does he seem hyper focused or touchy about any subjects – his ex, his mom, his work, money? Is he telling you all about himself or is he showing interest in you too?

The little tidbits that people leave in conversations can tell you a lot about who they are and whether you should accept a date with them.

Step 3: The First Date Test

Wendy said women should expect a guy to be a gentleman and use old-fashioned manners on the first date. But it’s also important to recognize the difference between good manners and a controlling personality.

“Put your ears up and listen for the social cues,” she said. “Manners are designed to help people feel more comfortable around you, but if someone makes you feel controlled or put down, end it after the first date.”

Step 4: The 5-Date Consistency Test

After five dates, we’re looking to see if this is building into a relationship, if he’s boyfriend material. It’s enough time to gauge his consistency and to see if his early actions were based on character or based on the thrill of the hunt.

Does he play phone tag? How does he use e-mail? Is he still making and consistently keeping plans? Has he followed up on the little promises he’s made? Has he displayed any anger yet?

If it’s not working after five dates, women think that means they should try harder. No! Pay attention. Men don’t speak with words. They speak with actions. Five dates into it he’s telling you if he’s worth keeping around.

Step 5: The 90-Day Consistency Test

At three months in, you should be somewhat associated with his life. Do his acquaintances – his concierge, his mechanic, the people that are a part of his practical daily life – know you by name? Where does he keep your toothbrush? If it’s stuffed in a drawer somewhere, you know he has other people over in between.

Does he always reserve Saturday nights for you? Has he begun to reveal any of his addictions? “Let’s face it, we’re all addicted to something, and it’s gonna come out within 90 days,” Wendy said. “What you have to do is figure out if you can live with it.”

The #1 Question

Of all the questions on The Boyfriend Test, the most revealing one is, according to Wendy, how is his relationships with his mother.

“If he’s really angry with Mom, I promise you, it’s only a matter of time before he replaces Mom with you in his head,” she said. “If he’s a little too close to Mom, sorry, girls, he’s already got a wife. You’ll only ever be the mistress.”

The Boyfriend Test is ultimately about boundaries for women. Wendy said many women have so few boundaries in dating that they spend their time selling themselves rather than realizing that they’re the one taking applications.

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The secret to lasting monogamy

After years in the dating trenches and endless research to earn a Ph.D. in psychology, Wendy has pinpointed the one thing every relationship needs to stand the tests of time.

Patience.

“Look and listen, ladies. If a man wants your eggs, he should expect to have to work for them,” Wendy says. “Trust your intuition, and if someone feels like a whirlwind, they’ll probably blow through as quickly as they came in.”

1. Patience is a virtue.

“Our personality and our unconscious processes sneak through in all kinds of little behaviors. If you’ve got your relationship radar on, you can tell whether someone will be a good partner by simply looking for patience,” Wendy says. “Patience comes into play at the very beginning of a relationship, and it’s the very thing that will keep it going until the very end.”

2. Delay gratification.

“The most important thing for healthy, happy, long-term monogamy,” Wendy declares, “is the ability to delay gratification.”

Being able to delay gratification is important because in any long-term relationship there will be times – many, many times – when you won’t get what you want when you want it.

For instance, say you’re nine months pregnant with his child and he’s got to wait for some nookie. Maybe you’re busy working and you’re late for dinner and he’s got to wait for dinner.

“These situations will come up, and he’s either got to figure out a way to get his needs taken care of within the safe boundaries of the relationship or know how to delay gratification,” Wendy says.

3. Watch for signs from the get-go.

“You can look for signs of right-nowness the very first time you meet a guy,” Wendy says.

Pay attention to his manners. Is he impulsive? How does he act on the first date? Does he open doors? Does he let you go first? First impressions aren’t everything, but they do mean something, she cautions.

Now take Wendy’s advice and get out there and start dating! You’ll never meet anyone sitting in that bath tub full of bubbles and rose petals (though it does feel quite nice). Take these tips and get going on finding the relationship of your dreams.

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How to live together without killing each other

Cora and her boyfriend Tom had a great relationship, but she lived in Kentucky and he lived in Georgia. Every time Tom would visit, Cora would send a few things back with him.

“There was no way our relationship was going to work if we lived so far away,” she said. So Cora decided to move in with Tom. “I had half of my stuff in one place and half of my stuff in another place, but then I finally made the move. This is the first time I have ever lived with a man before.”

In a way, Cora was prepared for the difficulty: she had talked to some married women before she moved in with Tom. They told her that it wouldn’t be easy… and it wasn’t.

For instance: one morning Tom rolled over and said, “Cora I love you so much, but you have got to give me room to sleep on the bed.”

Cora loved Tom but the probationary period was tough.

To whet your appetite for researching co-habitation, read this article on moving in together.

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