Sunday, July 20, 2008

Dating After Divorce - Friends First

Divorce can really wreak havoc with children's perception of relationships. They ofter completely lose trust in the permanency of any relationship. When their parents start dating after a divorce, there are even more opportunities to screw up kids' futures - especially with younger children.

One way to help is to ease your children into the idea that you're seeing someone new.

Gently ease them into the new relationship. First, get the kids used to the idea that you're friends. It should be (seem) casual at first - bumping into each other at events and such.

Once your kids become comfortable with the other person, the next step might be to let them know that you're doing something together as friends. After a few of these "meetings." it might be ok to then tell your kids that you're going on a "date."

It's a much healthier message for children to see a parent dating someone they were friends with first than to suddenly see a lover in their parent's life. Hopefully it will be a message the kids will remember when they're old enough to enter the dating world themselves.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Children of Divorce and Self Confidence

Yesterday I picked up one of my younger son's friends from day camp with my son so they could play for the afternoon. This boy is a child of a divorce - he lives with his mother and visits his father. This afternoon with an unfamiliar boy reminded me of how a child's self confidence can be affected by divorce.

For the time that he was with my son and me, everything was perfectly normal. He seemed just like every other kid I've been around. However, at the end of the afternoon when his mother arrived to pick him up, he became somewhat aggressive with my son and very stand-offish with me. It was almost like he was a completely different kid.

I've been around him and his mother in group settings before, so I know she deals with her son appropriately. She's a great mother. However, something was bothering this boy.

His relationship with his father isn't what it should be. As soon as his mother kicked his father out of their house, his father moved in with his girlfriend and her two kids. On each of his weekends with his dad, this boys comes in second to her kids.

When his mother arrived, the group dynamic changed. It was no longer a friend and his dad. It was his mother and him with a man and his son. He became threatened (unconsciously) by the completely reasonable amount of attention his mother was giving to my son and me. I can only imagine how he will react when his mother eventually starts dating.

If his dad knew what his actions were doing to his son, I'm sure he'd be willing to make a small effort to make him feel wanted again. I just wanted to use this story to illustrate just how sensitive our children can be to the changes in their lives and how these changes, if not handled appropriately, can potentially lead to longer-term issues.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Dating After Divorce - It's All About Expectations

I know. Many of you don't even want to think about dating yet. But it will (eventually) happen, no matter how scary it might seem today. If you're able to take a step back emotionally, the idea might be a little easier to deal with. I think one of the most important things to remember when starting to date is having the right expectations.

If you remind yourself that when you start dating, you're not looking for a life partner, it takes a lot of pressure off. When you start dating, you're just going to be meeting people and perhaps spending a little (or a lot of) time with someone. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? But when it comes down to it, dating isn't about tomorrow, nor should it be. It should be about spending quality grown-up time with someone we enjoy being around.


I think it's natural for someone who is post-divorce to think through their long-term goals, and often they try to fit dating into this box as well. However, the dating world doesn't work that way. Ease in, enjoy the moment, and let things develop if the person is right.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Co-Parenting - It's About the Children

Yes, you were treated badly in your marriage. Your ex is impossible to deal with and always tries to twist things and take advantage. Every time you talk, things degrade into an argument.

What does this do to your children?

You each need to come to terms with the fact that while you are no longer married, you will always both be your children's parents. You will always have a parenting relationship with your ex-spouse - as uncomfortable as that though may be.

At some point, one of you (probably the one reading this article...) will need to put aside your anger and try to have a serious conversation with your ex about the new nature of your parenting relationship. It should no longer be about either of you nor your feelings about the divorce. If there's a new partner involved on either or both sides, they shouldn't enter into this equation, either. The goal is to try to create a new cordial, or at least businesslike relationship so that your children feel secure with both parents.

Except in extreme cases, for better or for worse, your children still love both of you, and want both parents in their lives. It doesn't do your kids any favors by trying to poison their relationship with their father/mother because he's/she's a bad person who "left the family for another woman/man." It's time to let go of the anger and try to find a way to work with your ex as parents.

Does this mean that you'll always agree? Of course not. But you should come to an agreement that these conflicts won't reach the children, at a minimum.

This seems like a big leap, I know. But just like anything difficult, it all starts with one small step. Talk with your ex about the need to have a cordial, respectful parenting relationship, and you just might be surprised with the results.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Review - Save My Marriage Today

Save My Marriage Today
I get the opportunity to review a lot of products that come across my desk, so its easy to lose interest in a lot of what I see. That was, until recently when I met Amy Waterman. Amy, online author of Save My Marriage Today asked me to have a look over her book and tell her what I thought. At first I was skeptical, but I thought, hey, I have friends who are in bad marriages, and this information might be good for one of them, so I decided to read it closely. By the time I had finished, I was hooked! I realized for the first time, that this book would be really helpful for couples with marital difficulties. I don't just mean young couples either. This book applies to couples young and old. So I thought I would share this book with you too.

Nobody said marriage was going to be easy, and if they did, they were lying. It's perfectly normal in a marriage to have disagreements and times when things involve a little more effort than they used to. In an ideal world we would sit and talk about these changes and differences in a calm and rational manner, and establish an outcome and move on. Unfortunately things don't always work like that. Its all too easy to get caught up in the moment and let things deteriorate to the point where you are both wondering why you are still in it.

Amy has developed a book that encourages couples to break the ice and develop ways to interact and strengthen their failing relationship. She deals with topics such as:

  • Tips on how to rescue your marriage
  • How to reintroduce passion
  • How to repair your marriage after an affair
  • Self assessment
  • Gestures that are more important than words
  • And much, much more....

Over 2 million couples divorce every year, and many of those could have been avoided if those couples communicated and applied the techniques that Amy shows us in her book. She can't work miracles and save every marriage, but if you are serious about resurrecting the love you once had for your partner and saving your marriage, you should maximize your chances and read and apply the relationship advice that Amy has to offer.

Amy is able to identify where you have been going wrong, and shows you how to avoid those crucial mistakes that actually jeopardize your chances of saving your failing marriage.

In addition to this she has included a free email consultation so that customers can discuss their specific problems with her.

I really do believe Amy is onto a good thing here, and she really can help.

The techniques she reveals are thought provoking and have been proven over and over to help save marriages. I was very impressed when I finished reading this material and have recommended it to everyone I know.

But don't take my word for it, see for yourself! Take a look at:

I promise you won't be disappointed, and best of all, it could turn your life around!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Children & Divorce - No Suprises, Please

After a divorce, children worry about everything. They worry that their mom or dad will move out of the city. They worry that their mom or dad blames them for the divorce. They worry that their mom or dad will meet someone new and will start a new family, forgetting their "old" one. These worries are perfectly normal.

One way you can help your kids overcome their worries is by communicating with them as much as possible. Obviously, you should keep the discussions age-appropriate, but just like adults, children don't react well to surprises (unless they're fun surprises).

As an example, compare the following two scenarios:

Billy only sees his dad every other weekend and on Wednesday nights. His dad missed last Wednesday for some reason - Billy wonders if it's because his dad is mad at him. On Friday night, when his dad picks Billy up and brings him to his place, there's a strange woman there. His dad ignores Billy and spends all of his time talking with his new "friend." Even though she leaves early in the evening, Billy is hurt and confused - he's afraid this new woman will take his dad away from him (it already started on Wednesday in Billy's mind).


Misty only sees her dad every other weekend and on Wednesday nights. One Wednesday, several months after her parents' divorce, her dad tells her, "you know that at some point, both your mother and I will probably start dating other people, right?" They then have a discussion about how it's important for adults to spend time with other adults, just like it's important for kids to spend time with their friends. At the end of the conversation, her dad tells Misty that no matter what, she'll always be his daughter and they'll always be together.

A couple of weeks later, on their Wednesday night, Misty's dad tells her that he's met someone and is thinking about asking her out on a date. He doesn't spend too much time talking about it, but he answers all of Misty's questions. The next week, he gives Misty details on some of the things they did on their date (went to dinner, went dancing, etc. - just the things kids would be interested in), and tells her some of the details about his new "friend." Again, he keeps this brief, but answers all of Misty's questions.

The next weekend, Misty's dad tells her that they're going to play mini golf with his new friend on Saturday afternoon. Although Misty is nervous, during the game, both her father and his friend spend all of their time with Misty, so she feels more assured that she won't lose her dad.

It's kind of like getting into an icy pool. While the result is the same, diving in can be a shock to your whole system. Sometimes easing in a little bit at a time can get you used to the different depths before you submerge completely.

It's far easier for everyone involved if there are no surprises.

What are some examples you've dealt with where your ex-spouse threw your kids a nasty curveball (or the steps you took to keep from surprising your kids with your life changes)?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Children and Divorce - The Need for Consistency

My ex and I share custody of our boys on a bi-weekly schedule. Yesterday was the end of my week with them, and our scheduled switch-off time is 7pm. At 6:00, my oldest son told me that they would need to leave at 6:30 because they had something planned to do starting at 7:00 (I suspect they were going to see Indiana Jones).

It would be easy in this situation to have put my foot down and force them to stay with me until 7:00, however, I feel that it's important to remain cordial and reasonable flexible.

At the same time, their mother is very controlling, and I'm sure she had my son tell me about the change in plans so that I would agree. This can be a slippery slope with her, and I've had to clamp down on this in the past.

This all reminded me about how important it is to be consistent with children during and after a divorce. My boys know that they will be switching homes at 7pm on Sunday. It makes the evening much smoother for all of us, and there's never the question of when they'll be ready.

At the same time, I realize that a little flexibility is necessary when dealing with real-life situations. A hard-and-fast time might look good on paper, but it's important to be able to compromise when it's reasonable -- without opening up the door to being taken advantage of.

My question is, where do you draw the line? What's a reasonable request, and at what point do you say "enough?"