How Divorced Are You?
New divorcees proudly wave their court document and chant their final divorce date. It is a huge accomplishment that many celebrate with divorce parties. Some wear T-Shirts with slogans like “The #1 Cause of Divorce is Marriage” or “Free at Last”. But are these people really divorced?
Although the court process is exhausting and can be very drawn out it is actually the easier part. Making the necessary changes to your life is what really makes it over. Here are some things to consider when moving on.
- Does your ex still have the freedom to enter your home without knocking or unannounced? Many women will rationalize that it was their shared house and they are just used to that. Another common excuse is that the kids like when their dad pops over. The kid “excuse” can usually guilt us into anything. You are divorced and need to set some clear boundaries. You should be able to have a date over without fearing that your ex will show up. Sure they might be offended or annoyed by your request but this all part of the divorce process. It is time to take care of you.
- Does your ex still do tasks for you like feeding the dog while you’re away, mowing the lawn, fixing the car, make you dinner? This may seem helpful, and we can certainly rationalize the money we are saving by accepting their help but really the dependency you continue to you have on your ex hinders your ability to be able to move on. Unfortunately it keeps you constantly connected to someone you’re trying to get over. Give yourself the space you need to recover from the divorce and honestly, it’s not that hard to push a lawnmower or grill a steak.
- When something interesting happens in your day, is your ex still one of the first people you want to share it with? If you answered yes then you’re still dependent on them to be a part of your emotional support system. Keeping this connection makes it very difficult for someone new to come in and offer you that emotional support. Do you really want to keep relying on your ex to fill that position? Look towards replacing that connection with a close friend, family member, or better yet a new love interest.
- Stop planning vacations and activities together. If you are cordial and respectful to each other it is acceptable to both be present at a child’s birthday party. But you need to draw the line on holidays and vacations. Many feel guilty that their children have to experience this change however; the truth is that kids have to experience many changes after a divorce. Pretending that you are still a family that vacations together is not the answer; instead if your child expresses missing a family tradition let them talk about it. This in no way means you have to run around trying to bring it back, let them miss it, they will survive. Use this time to start some wonderful new family traditions!
- Sex with the Ex is a no-no. Yes it’s a little bit nostalgic and makes you feel a little less lonely. It can also be really great because there’s no longer the pressure and stress of living together and dealing with “married life”. You both know what the other likes and you know where they’ve been (hopefully) and that intimate bond between two people is tough to break. Trust me when I say you are supposed to feel lonely after a divorce. Let yourself experience the feeling and know that it is temporary. The sooner you’re done sleeping with your ex the sooner you’ll be able to have a healthy relationship with someone new.
A good way to measure how divorced you are, imagine dating someone that is newly divorced. You meet someone who seems great, they tell you they still have a good relationship with their ex which is fine with you. Then, you slowly discover that they still vacation together, they show up unannounced, and there’s a certain spark that comes over them when their ex walks in the room. Be careful! There is a famous quote out there that reads, “If two past lovers can remain friends, either they never were in love, or they still are.