The Number 1 Lesson You will Learn After Divorce

books_and_appleAt the very beginning of my divorce, a good friend, who happened to be divorced himself, told me, “Everyone should experience a divorce once.”

I looked at him baffled. “You’re kidding, right?” I exclaimed. He insisted I hear him out.

He told me, “You may think it’s absurd now, but you will see what I mean.” You will learn things about yourself and about others. You will learn how to appreciate the other person in your life more. You will relearn things you thought you already knew and your perspective will change.”

As the years passed, I remembered his words. How true they rang!

Divorce will benchmark many of your life’s future challenges. I now look at things like, “Well hell, if I can get through a divorce I can get through just about anything.” It does that for you, but it also makes you realize that there is always a brighter tomorrow, life does go on…and it really does only get better.

I didn’t always feel this way. At first I didn’t ever think my life would be normal again. I didn’t think I would ever feel joy when all I could feel was sorrow and sadness for myself and my two children. I was now on the dark side. I had somehow crossed over. My children were now of divorced parents. I no longer filed my tax return as “married filing joint”, I had to get used to saying the “D” word.

At first there was something about admitting I was divorced that bothered me. I would cringe at checking the “divorced” box on those marital status questions when filling out any kind of medical history at the doctor’s office. It was like confiding that I was someone who didn’t know how to work out relational problems with others. I felt like that one word just said it all, divorcee (i.e. relationship loser). I could tell that even my widowed friends hated being confused for someone that was divorced. There seemed to be this unspoken stigma about being divorced even in this day and age.

Prior to my divorce I held a very narrow view of divorced people. When I was married I equated them to a different class, the them’s and the us’s. I think a lot of married people who have never been divorced do subconsciously segregate people based on their relationship status. When I was married and everything was good, I didn’t understand why people couldn’t just work out their problems.

I later learned to embrace my new found marital status and change my view of divorcees. I found that there is an immediate bond shared by people who have been divorced. They are able to recognize what stage you are at in recovery quicker than others. They know your pain. People who have been through it (to hell and back) know that divorce is something you survive. They have an acute homing device that says, “Ah, there’s one in trouble now.” Suddenly the people who I thought needed to learn the most about relating were now my superhero mentors for survival.

Even though I feel I learned more of life’s lessons than any legitimate university could have ever taught me, going through a divorce is a lot like enrolling in a crash course on emotional survival at the School of Hard Knocks. The difference is there is no grade at the end and you don’t have to pay tuition to attend. There is no instructor, no classroom, and no rules. There are definitely no rules. There are occasional tutors and other students in this lesson with which to share notes, but overall you are on your own for the final exam in life. There are no professors holding office hours to guide you. If you are confused and in need of help you can explore your misunderstandings with a professional therapist.

Divorce opened my eyes spiritually, but the number one thing I learned after my divorce is that I have more to learn… Visit tomi at www.tomituel.net.

Going It Alone With Children

Going It Alone With Children – A Divorce Warrior’s Way

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Here’s one I wrote for Singlemindedwomen.com for their March 2009 issue.
It’s tough raising kids and even harder as a single parent. Hang in there, it does get easier.
After divorce, the process of morphing your life from ‘married’ to ‘divorced with children’ is a lot like going through Army boot camp for divorcees. You get a break when they say you get a break (they being the court). And you quickly learn to improve upon your time management skills. The rude awakening you are in for, will only serve you well. And one thing is certain, divorce is no Camp Cupcake!
Playing the role of both parents can be hard and sometimes leave you craving a break from your little darlings. When your “break” does come, it is usually consumed with running errands and grocery shopping. And if you blow off your responsibilities and have any kind of fun at all (like go on a date) during this so called “break,” you and every other divorce-warrior, like you, will be doing double time in the week to come. But fear not the hungry children awaiting you whom aren’t interested in your excuses. The Divorce-Army has taught you well. You will be prepared as evident by the crockpot meals you have learned to master and the trip to the grocery store on Monday’s noon hour…now, Double time MARCH soldier!
When it comes to bedtime, you will learn to be militant in your routine. As a single parent you can not afford the luxury of talking on the phone during the early evening. Between 8:30 and 9:15 you will be bedding the children down for the night. You will learn not to take even a five-minute call, as it will set you back thirty minutes making you late for the 9:30 roll call with Captain Kitchen. Ingeniously, you will learn to unplug the phone and let the messages go to voice mail until the children are asleep. Friends and family will know you are doing combat and will wait for your 9:30 distress signal…Mayday, Mayday!
When you start dating again you will have a curfew, of the court-ordered kind, to pick up and receive your children. Detaining the enemy is bound to inject a hostile situation and should be avoided at all cost. However, when this happens you will once again rely on your military training in hostage negotiation. Ultimately, you will learn to limit the distance of your retreats on your ‘off’ weekends…About FACE!
When parents are at war, children often become the POWs. Just remember, children will have divided loyalty, but will always defend the underdog parent. They don’t care who was right or who was wrong. They just want peace and freedom…Oh, Say, Can You See?
Be kind to your ex – at least eventually, and don’t talk bad about him/her in front of the kids. Just because you may not like your ex doesn’t mean you should crush your child’s image of them. They will eventually develop their own opinion without your help. Did you hear me soldier? Don’t teach them to hold your grudges…Yes, Drill Sergeant!
You’re soft! You’re weak! Quit your pouting! Of course disciplining children alone is hard. As a single parent you have to be both the nurturer and the enforcer. It is a hard role psychologically and as a single parent, you have no one to back you up. But you’re a divorce warrior, you can do this. Keep the rules simple and the consequences logical…Now drop and give me twenty!
Always keep in mind that your children come first. Do you hear me Private? This will guide you in your decisions. It’s not about you and your ex anymore. It’s about the children. Keeping this in the forefront will help guide you when you are not quite sure what to do. It’s not always about doing for your kids; it’s about doing what’s right for them. Now that you are a single parent, your life will have challenges you didn’t have before. Sure you may be more inconvenienced, now that you have to do it all, but when you weigh the inconveniences out with the benefits, you just learn to suck it up because it will payoff 10-fold in the long run…Atten-HUT!
Children can give you immense strength and are great teachers of the obvious, especially when you’re in the trenches. Just asking a child what they want can give you clarity. I’m not talking about leaving decisions up to a child, that’s not fair to them. But, when you are confused and need clarity, just ask your child what they think and then just listen, go brain dead after that and don’t judge their opinion…At EASE!
Location, location, location! Live close to your ex, at least while the kids are school age. It may be hard and you may not like it, but if it’s possible, living closer together for the sake of the children will make your life simpler. For one reason or another, it may not be possible — the neighborhood may not be of your choosing, or it may be too far from your job. But if both parents share custody, it will make your life a whole lot simpler as the children get older and you shuttle them between activities and each other…Recon! Recon!
When divorce strikes like an air raid, we have to be ready. We didn’t all recruit ourselves, some of us were drafted. Everyone’s divorce reality will be different, but one thing is certain, it can be the most difficult thing you ever go through and the most life altering experience you ever come out of. Many soldiers have fallen from the battles of Heartbreak Ridge, but not you. You are a survivor, and that’s an order from your Brigadier General!
Tomi Tuel is the Author of 101 Things I Learned AFTER My Divorce. You may visit Tomi at her website: www.tomituel.net or on Twitter.

 

Top 5 days of the Year for Romance

Here are 5 of the top days throughout the year that romance is a must. These tips are not expensive eitehr, but are big on impact. These were just a jew quick ideas, but please let me know if you have some better ideas. I would love to hear from you.
1. Birthday – Ask in advance of her actual birthday what she  wants to do. If she doesn’t give you any ideas, then make plans for her prior to  the day. Plan a day trip to take a drive, hike, walk, or bike ride. Start her  birthday out with flowers and coffee and the rest will be gravy.
2. Anniversary – Have a weekend-get-away somewhere. Buy each  other’s anniversary gift in the town you get away to. It will have extra special  meaning. Make it something for the house and you will see all the time.
3. Valentine’s Day – Draw her a candle light bubble bath. Leave  her a gift of jewelry wrapped up in her towel. (Be sure the tub is clean and the  bathroom is tidy. She will appreciate the little extra touch.) Have headphones  and her favorite CD waiting along with a glass of champagne, then disappear.  Leave her a bell to ring when she is ready for your return. When you return  bring her two chocolates on a plate and the bottle of champagne with another  glass. (This is the part where you are naked!) Pour yourself a glass of the  champagne then hop in the tub with her. Feed each other the chocolates, then  enjoy the champagne and each other.
4. Christmas time – Share in the delight of your family at this  time of year. Take a night to see the lights around town together as a family.  Sing Christmas songs together as you drive around in the warmth of the car.  Maybe do this in your p.j.’s. Pack hot chocolate and Christmas cookies for the  ride. Build a fire when you return and watch a classic Christmas movie together  under a blanket with the kids all around.
5. Special Occasion – Give her your credit card and let her pick  out a nice outfit for your special occasion prior to the event. Make  arrangements for the kids and on the night of the event take them to their  activities for her while she gets ready and get make sure they are fed. Have the  car ready and the route planned. Leave plenty of time for dinner and the event.  Take a picture of her before you leave. Tell her how beautiful she is. Get to  the event and ask someone to take a picture of the two of you together. Hold her  hand and make lots of eye contact.
What are your top 5 days?

Do You Suck At Valentines?

Do You Suck At Valentines Day?

Do you struggle with coming up with the perfect Valentines Day gift? Don’t. It’s not that serious. The key to a memorable Valentines Day is to keep it simple. Time is the best gift you can give some. It is something you can never replace, never take back, and comes in limited quantities.

So when you are stuck thinking, how should we spend our time, or what should we do, just remember: KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid. (I’m not calling you stupid, that’s just the expression.) Women love the traditional Valentines Day gifts: a box of chocolates, flowers and jewlry. So what if she’s on a diet, we all love to receive chocolates. We all love flowers and jewelry too. These things don’t have to cost an arm and a leg either.

Use your imagination and just do something together or alone if you are single at the moment. Get out of the house for awhile and just go do.

What are some of the best ways to spend Valentines Day on the cheap? I’d love to hear your ideas or ways you have spent cheap Valentines Day together. The cheaper the better.

Everybody Wants To Find Their Soul Mate, but…

Everybody Wants To Find Their Soul Mate, But Do You Have Soul?

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Let’s face it, if you suffer from Relationship-ADD your chances of finding your soul mate are slim. You have some work to do. When you are sincere about finding lasting love, you will project sincerity. Though unspoken, it will be heard.
If you are ever to find your soul mate you must first be in touch with your own soul.
By that I mean, what moves you? What gives you goose bumps in life? What energizes you? What are your priorities and what are your beliefs? How do people remember you? These are the things that define your soul. When you can define yourself in this way, you are more in touch with your soul.
Some people are motivated by causes to help others, others by the desire to please, and still others by challenges. Ask yourself what motivates you? Being more aware of who you are increases the chances of finding your soul mate.
The coming together of two hearts can happen in the simplest of moments. When one soul recognizes another like soul, it is magic. When I first met my current husband, my soul knew immediately. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. I was standing in a doorway watching him, and I remember thinking to myself, “Darn it, I’m going to like him.” I was just starting to like being alone, and then, without warning, it was over. My soul knew before I did.
I was attracted to his soul first and then his looks. Two weeks after he touched my soul, my heart felt the attraction. What does that mean, you ask? During that initial two week period of seeing Todd more and in different clothes, different situations, and studying him, my heart began to feel the attraction. But how he touched my soul is a different story – that was instantaneous.
Ask anyone who has ever experienced the soul connection and they will tell you very specifically when and where they were and what they were doing. Todd touched my soul through my 3-year old daughter. As I stood in the doorway to my kitchen I watched him practice tying his shoes with her. It was that simple. The strange thing about it is, you could ask 100 different men to perform that simple act and it would not mean anything other than grown men tying their shoes with a 3-year old. So why was it so significant to me when Todd did it? I don’t honestly know, but I can tell you that fate had a lot to do with it.
Like every good tale, there is a story behind this story. Prior to meeting Todd I had briefly dated a guy in construction. One day he was trying to be helpful and unscrewed the drain line to my water heater. In protest I told him not to mess with it. It was old and had never been drained. It caused a slow leak and over a couple months caused some major damage.
Not everyone believes in fate, but I do.
Todd was my claims adjuster and I felt that fate had sent him to me. It was a Monday afternoon and he came to inspect the damage my water heater was causing.
Having a soul attraction is different from a physical attraction. The best way I can explain the difference is that a soul attraction will scare you. It’s that pivotal moment you swallow hard and think to yourself, “Uh-oh what’s that I’m feeling?”