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Divorce Advice: Common Mistakes People Make

Written by Jackie Pilossoph. Posted in divorce advice, divorce process, newly separated

 

Divorce Advice

Andrea Muchin, Divorce Attorney and Partner at Schiller DuCanto & Fleck

Divorce Attorney, Andrea Muchin has seen a lot in the world of divorce, which isn’t surprising, given the fact she’s been in the field for 25 years!

I sat down with Muchin and asked her for divorce advice for my readers, specifically wanting to know, “What mistakes do you see clients make?”

Here is Muchin’s helpful guest post.

Mistakes People Make While Going Through Divorce by Andrea Muchin

 

Having practiced divorce law for approximately 25 years I feel I have a perspective on the issues that many people face while going through a divorce. Although each person’s case is unique, there are certain mistakes I see people make over and over again. While these seem obvious to me, most people going through a divorce for the first time do not have any perspective on why certain things may be problematic.

The following is my list of some common mistakes I see people make while going through the process and why:

1. Using your divorce attorney as a therapist.

First, this is very expensive. Most divorce lawyers charge hourly for their time and it adds up very quickly. Moreover, while I may have been personally drawn to becoming a divorce lawyer because of the therapist type relationship some attorneys have with their clients, I have no formal training and I am likely not the most qualified person to get my clients through this very emotional time. Therefore, I encourage almost every client I have to find a good therapist. Not only does it help them get through this difficult period, but usually it is cost effective.

2. Overusing written communications.

Today, emails and texts are they way many people communicate with each other. When a spouse (or soon to be former spouse) asks for something, it is much easier to instantly respond, which is oftentimes preferable to having a live conversation. Unfortunately, however, these communications can read and sound different than they were intended, and are sometimes misinterpreted or taken out of context.

First, people going through a divorce must realize that any written communication between parties can be attached to a pleading or document. Although when it was written it may not have seemed like a big deal, when attached to a pleading or read out loud to you while on the witness stand, all of a sudden the seemingly innocuous text or email is now a big deal.

In any case where there is a disputed issue concerning children, I strongly suggest that people refrain from texting and emailing except when absolutely necessary. I frequently ask my clients to send me their emails first, both because I can offer an outside perspective as to how the written communication may be perceived and because with the inherent delay, they may no longer feel the urge to send it.

Finally, never read an email as an isolated event. Keep in mind that there is usually a prior and subsequent email and unless you have read the whole trail, the communication may be a misrepresentation. Even when the issue is seemingly simple, people in the midst of a dispute should be extremely cautious when emailing and texting.

3. Making decisions when angry

Many people are angry when they begin the divorce process. While there may not be a right time, this is absolutely the wrong time to make a long term decision. For instance, even though your spouse may infuriate you, withholding parenting time is not necessarily a good decision for you or your children. Moreover, once the anger subsides, having a night or weekend off may be a plus. Another example might occur when you feel the urge to air your spouse’s dirty laundry to his or her co-workers. At the time, it may seem like a good way to let off steam or get back at them. However, this could have a negative impact on their professional status and, in the long run, could adversely affect their ability to earn an income. When people are angry, I encourage them to slow down and not make any life changing decisions. Divorce is a process and once you are not embroiled in anger, better decisions are made that will last for the long term.

4. Not doing something merely because it may be bad for the divorce

A classic example of this situation occurs when the standard advice told to a parent going through a divorce is not to move out of the marital home under any circumstances. However, if the home is filled with tension and hostility, this advice is not necessarily good for the parent or their children. When people ask me whether or not they should move out, assuming they can afford to do so, I often inquire whether or not it will be personally good for them or their family. If the answer to either is yes, I sometimes encourage it.

Another classic example is when a non-income earning spouse is told not to look for or accept a job during the divorce because it may hurt their support chances. Sometimes, however, the perfect job opportunity arises. When this occurs, I ask them if this opportunity will make them feel better or get them out of their rut. If so, I sometimes advise people to go for it. In most instances, the good outweighs the risk and the price may well be worth it.

5. Getting remarried without a prenup

When I first started practicing in this area, I thought many people did not need a prenup and a good estate plan could protect them. While that may still be the case, in second marriages I usually think it is helpful to have a prenup. After surviving a divorce, the last thing you need to worry about when you remarry is having to repeat the process. Unfortunately, some people look at the prenup as a way to take advantage of their spouse, which I do not endorse. Assuming that is not the case, however, a thoughtful prenup, designed to protect and not penalize and looked at with an eye towards both parties, is usually a benefit. This way, both parties can start their new marriage with an open mind and educated slate.

Andrea Muchin is a Partner at the law firm, Schiller DuCanto & Fleck, where she has worked for over two decades. A graduate of Boston University Law School, Muchin resolves cases both through settlement and litigation. Muchin also specializes in pre and post nuptial agreements. Learn more: www.sdflaw.com/attorneys/amuchin/

Divorced Woman Seeking Breakup Advice says “It’s Hard To Breathe”

Written by Jackie Pilossoph. Posted in breakup advice, relationship advice, relationships after divorce

 

 

breakup advice

It’s kind of ironic. You get divorced and you don’t think anything can be worse. Until…the heartbreak of your next relationship. Read this woman’s email to me, followed by my breakup advice for her.

 

I’m a 35 year old mother of two. I was married for 15 years and have recently (as of January) divorced. I am over the grief period and have moved on with my life. My ex and I have a good relationship now and are more like brother and sister at this point.

 

I’m not writing about divorce, I’m writing about dealing with a breakup after divorce. I had all the thoughts of not finding anyone, of thinking no one would want to date a single mother, etc. In April I met an amazing guy. He is sweet and caring, patient and laid-back. He accepted my boys, loved me when I didn’t think I could be loved, and didn’t let me push him away.

 

He isn’t from the town that we live in and my fear was always that he’d relocate since he was only here for his job. He assured me over and over that he had no intentions of leaving. He looked at houses here; we made plans for a future together.

 

Last week he told me that he is moving to another city half way across the country to be near his family (whom he doesn’t really have a close relationship with). I was completely blindsided and shocked. He was crying and very emotional when he told me. He said that he still loves me and meant everything that he said, but something is telling him that he needs to leave. He can’t explain it to himself and is hurting too.

 

He doesn’t want to stay together until he leaves because he said it will be harder in the long run. And he doesn’t want to do long distance because he’s done that and knows how awful it is. I am so confused, shocked, hurt and heartbroken. The night that he told me, he got a tattoo that we had designed together and he unexpectedly added a piece to represent me…which only adds to my confusion.

 

It is hard to breathe and I have to force myself to get through the day. I’m trying to focus on the day ahead of me, instead of thinking too far into the future. If not I get overwhelmed and am flooded with memories of being alone after my divorce. My boyfriend is 33, has never been married. He has never lived in the same town as his girlfriend…has only done long distance. My therapist thinks that he is scared of commitment since this is so opposite of his normal behavior. She said that he is ending things so abruptly in order to try to avoid the heartbreak. I have asked him if commitment is the problem and he said no. It has nothing to do with me…that he loves me and was happy with me.

 

This breakup is so much worse than my divorce. With my boyfriend, we were truly best friends and lovers. Losing both at the same time is excruciating…especially when there was no fight, no growing apart. I guess I’m hoping you might have some words of wisdom or a different perspective to offer. I am trying to take this as a lesson…to figure out what it has to teach me. But I can’t see anything but heartbreak.

 

Wow. This truly sounds heartbreaking and so disappointing. I am very sorry you are going through this.

You might not like some of my breakup advice, but I’m going to be totally honest. Something doesn’t seem right and I see a few red flags. Here are the reasons why I feel this way.

 

  1. He’s moving across the country without a job?
  2. He doesn’t want to stay together until he leaves?
  3. He has never been in a relationship that wasn’t long distance?

 

Hmmm…

 

This man has a choice. He is making a choice to move away from you. That is completely out of your control. It’s nothing you did, nothing you said, has nothing to do with the way you acted. This is about him and his issues.

If this man wanted (or wants) to be with you, he would be. It doesn’t seem like there were issues in the relationship. It sounds like it was kind of blissful. He is creating issues. And he either is running from commitment or there is something he isn’t telling you.

I would definitely give this man space. Do not call, text or email him. Do return his texts, calls or emails. Give him the distance he needs to figure it out.

If he really truly loves you, he will let you know. If he doesn’t chase you, you have your answer. Either way, you will know the truth in time.

Remember this. I’m sure this isn’t easy for him either. He is probably devastated just as much as you are. Let him figure things out. But, if you are in his face, he cannot do that.

I would go out with my girlfriends if I were you, I would flirt with guys, I would even go out on other dates if you feel like it. I would totally live like this guy is not coming back. But trust me, he isn’t finished yet. He will be back. And, if he isn’t, again, you have your answer.

Listen, I know this is hard. I have a dear friend who got divorced several years ago and then met this guy she dated for two years. When he ended the relationship (abruptly) she was so devastated, she lost 10 pounds, cried all the time, and told me it was 100 times worse than her divorce.

Part of what is happening to you is that you are reliving the pain of the breakup you had with your husband. It is opening up your wounds from your past. It’s like when a scab opens. I get it. I really do.

Be strong. Focus on your children. Your career. Your passion—hobby, volunteer work—whatever makes you happy. Live your life everyday with the thought it mind, “How can I make either my life or someone I love’s life better today? And, how can I enjoy my life today?”

I don’t know you personally and can only answer this based on your letter, so I hope you aren’t offended, but I want to say something else. You got married at 20, and then got involved shortly after your divorce. Do you know how to be alone? Please learn!! Because it will give you self-confidence and peace you never knew existed. Give yourself a little time to learn how to enjoy not being someone’s girlfriend or wife. Independence is really really empowering. It makes you strong and healthy and wise and more interesting. I’m not saying you aren’t those things now, but being alone makes you these things even more.

Remember that you can only control what YOU do, not what HE does. Please keep me updated, because I am pretty sure you are going to tell me he wants to get back together at some point. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s my guess. In the meantime, don’t wait around.

By the way, my friend met this other guy and has been happily married to him for 10 years! How’s that for a hopeful ending?! Good luck with everything. xoxo

 

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Relationship Advice: 15 Ways to Be Sweet that Don’t Cost Anything!

Written by Jackie Pilossoph. Posted in dating, dating after divorce, Marriage advice, relationship advice, relationships after divorce, Second marriage

relationship advice

relationship advice

In my “Love Essentially” column, published yesterday in Sun-Times Media local, I offer relationship advice as it pertains the upcoming “Sweetest Day” (which is tomorrow.) Not particularly a fan of Sweetest Day, here are some really “sweet” things you can do for your spouse that don’t involve sugar, and that won’t cost you a dime!

15 Ways to be Sweet that Won’t Cost you a Dime by Jackie Pilossoph

 

Like most people I know, I sort of roll my eyes when I notice on my calendar that “Sweetest Day” is coming up. I’ve never really understood the purpose of it. Isn’t Sweetest Day the same exact thing as Valentine’s Day? I decided to Google it.

According to Wikipedia, Sweetest Day, which takes place annually on the third Saturday of October (and happens to be this Saturday), is a holiday celebrated only in the Midwest and in parts of the Northeast. Sweetest Day, which first took place on Oct. 8, 1921 in Cleveland, Ohio, was started by a group of 12 confectioners who distributed 20,000 boxes of candy to poor people.

Since that seems like a really “sweet” gesture, and actually makes me a fan of Sweetest Day, I have to wonder how the holiday evolved into what I and millions of others view as just another Hallmark holiday, where men and women feel obligated to buy their spouse a card and a gift.

I did a Facebook poll, asking people to give their opinion of Sweetest Day. Responses included, “Stupid,” “Honestly, the worst idea ever,” “Dumb,” “Another gimmick created by retail and restaurants,” and “I got married on that day and then divorced, so it doesn’t rank high on my list.”

Two responses were particularly notable. The first: “Why can’t every day be Sweetest Day? I don’t need an excuse to adore someone.

My response to this man is, “Yes, I will marry you today. Seriously.”

The other response I found intriguing was, “I prefer random acts of romance,” which was written by a woman.

These comments were my inspiration in coming up with 15 ways to turn this potentially sugar binging holiday into a meaningful one that you and your honey won’t soon forget.

None of these “15 ways to be sweet” will cost you a dime, and additionally, you won’t be left with that sugar crash and those extra two pounds on Monday morning!

1. Wash his or her car (inside and out).

2. Arrange a surprise girl’s night out for her and best friend, and babysit the kids.

3. Write him or her a romantic love letter using a pen.

4. Give him or her a 30-minute back rub (and don’t keep stopping when you get distracted or tired.)

5. Put up a bunch of post-it notes around the house that explain the reasons you love him or her.

6. Ladies, put the kids to bed, and then put on your sexiest piece of lingerie and model it for him.

Click here to read the rest of the article in Sun-Times Media local!

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“I Am Working On Myself:” The Best Thing a Newly Separated Person Can Say!

Written by Jackie Pilossoph. Posted in coping with divorce, divorce advice, newly separated

 

newly separated

I seriously want to hug the woman who sent me the e-mail below! Like almost every newly separated person, she is fearful of the unknown, sad, and lonely. But, she ends her e-mail with, “I am working on myself,” which is really the best thing she can say and do right now. Here is her e-mail:

Jackie,


Newly separated about 10 weeks I left our home of 25 plus years. feel
really panicked at times to go home. Was married 30 yrs. I am living with
my mother and it a big house I’m ok with it, I just need to get some of my
furniture, bed, and I am working on it.


My feelings are over the top with all the unknown. how will it all turn
out in court? Am I doing everything right, am I going to be taken
advantage of. it’s so many emotions.


I am involved with much volunteer work at my church. it helps a lot.
I am lonely for male companionship and am concerned that I will ever meet
someone where I am located.  I am not into dating sites or anything like
that.


I am working on myself. Any suggestions?

 

My reply:

Do you realize the power of “I am working on myself?” You are so ahead of the game! I cannot count the number of newly separated men and women who either go into victim mode and blame everyone else for their problems, or rush into another relationship to try to put a Band-Aid and fix everything with romance and sex.

 

So, GOOD FOR YOU for being so insightful and strong! I would love to hear what you are doing for yourself, besides volunteering at your church (which I admire tremendously!!) My suggestions for “working on myself” include things like focusing and enjoying your kids (if you have them), yoga, therapy, faith, exercise, leaning on good friends and family, and taking life day by day.

 

A couple more things.

 

Living with your mom

 

I have no idea what your relationship is like with your mother, but I hope it’s a good one! Enjoy her and take advantage of it. I’m sure you won’t be there for long, so treasure this time with her. If your relationship is strong, you need her now.

 

The unknowns

 

Yes, these are very hard to deal with. Being in unfamiliar territory (the divorce process) is scary. It’s a lot of ups and downs and unexpected things (both bad and good.) Try to look at it as a journey, and try to make sound, ethical, UNEMOTIONAL decisions. If you make decisions based on logic instead of anger or bitterness, you will spend less money on your attorneys and be a happier person, in general.

 

I’m not into dating sites

 

My suggestion is to make yourself get into dating sites. How about this. Try dipping your toe in the water. What I’m saying is, no need to go crazy and put pressure on yourself to go on 5 dates a week. Start with one. Drive your own car, do not tell the guy where you live, don’t have more than one cocktail (if you go to a bar or restaurant) and see what happens. If you hate it, don’t do it again for a couple months and then try again.

 

Also, it sounds like you live in a small town and I just want to tell you that there are single people EVERYWHERE. Divorce doesn’t only happen in New York City or LA or Chicago.

 

Another great way to meet people is to make new friends. Platonic friends. Ask your friends if they know any single people and just go out as friends. I love my guy friends, just as I love my girlfriends. Just be upfront and make sure the guys know it’s platonic (if that’s all you want.) What could end up happening is you could fall into a group of single people and have plans whenever you want. It’s really nice to have that. Plus, you never know who they might know which could lead to a romantic relationship for you.

 

You sound great! Just keep “working on yourself,” as you said. A big part of the hardest part is over for you: your unhappy marriage. You are on your way to a happier, better place!

 

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Divorce Advice for a Young Person With No Kids

Written by Jackie Pilossoph. Posted in coping with divorce, divorce advice, newly separated

 

divorce advice

Divorced Girl Smiling received this e-mail from a young woman seeking divorce advice. It made me realize how little I write about divorce with no kids involved (with the exception of second marriages that end in divorce with no kids.) But what I want to say is that divorce is painful whether the couple has kids or not. I think people tend to minimize the intensity of a childless divorce, comparing it to a bad breakup, when in reality, it’s still a divorce; a broken promise of a life together.

Jackie, I came across your blog today and noticed that most of the articles are
geared to people who have been in a marriage for a long time and/or have
children.

I am 26 and going through a divorce after 5 years of marriage (no kids).
We’ve known each other for 10 years. Even though the divorce is amicable
it’s been extremely painful. He’s relieved and happy while I’m left
feeling like my heart has been ground into the pavement. He has also
already moved on with someone that he’s apparently loved since high
school. Part of me is happy for him because he is happy and I love and
want the best for him but the other side of me is crushed, confused,
angry, humiliated, and hurt.

How do I move on? It’s been six months since he said he wanted a
divorce and 4 weeks since he moved out. I feel like things are getting
worse, not easier.

Thank you for your help.

The first thing I want to say to you is that there is no way he is “relieved and happy.” Yes, he’s connected with some other girl, but that’s just a temporary Band-Aid he’s putting on.

When a couple gets separated and one of them enters into a new relationship, it’s like a punch in the stomach for the one who is still single. Trust me, I’ve been there. It feels really isolating, it feels unfair, and it makes you feel alone, like he is going to live happily ever after and you are never going to get over this or meet someone.

The good news is, nothing could be further from the truth! I think it’s really healthy that you are saying things like “my heart has been ground into the pavement.” You are letting yourself grieve the pain. That is so important before you move on.

Your soon-to-be ex, on the other hand is seemingly “relieved and happy,” and basically has chosen to jump into another relationship to cover his pain. See the difference?

You said “It feels like it’s getting worse.” I think that is very normal. But one day, you are going to wake up and realize things are getting better. There will be less bad days, less crying and more good days. You will meet some guy when you least expect it and you will feel like you just woke up out of a coma. Life will seem really great again.

The best news is, you are only 26. You have your whole life ahead of you, and you might not want to hear this, but I’m going to say it anyway, because I have lots of friends in their late 40’s who got married young, got divorced, got married again and now have kids and are happy. Their first marriage is like a distant memory, and I can tell you firsthand from a close friend, she has only positive memories of it. In other words, there is no bitterness or anger. It’s just something that happened in her life and I don’t want to say it’s insignificant, because it isn’t. But, it’s not something she really thinks about too often, and when she does, she smiles in a nice way.

My last piece of divorce advice for you is, I’m going to give you a “to-do” list, so here goes:

1. If you aren’t already, begin doing yoga. Like this week.
2. If you are feeling pain, write down your thoughts. (but please don’t send them to anyone, especially your ex.)
3. If you aren’t ready to date, that’s ok, but please go out with your girlfriends—the ones you really love and trust—to a movie or for coffee or a drink.
4. Go to church or synagogue and discover your spiritual side.
5. Do whatever it takes to love yourself. In other words, make decisions that will cause you to be proud of yourself. Be kind and thoughtful. When you like (and love) yourself, you will ultimately be a happier person.

Big hugs and best wishes on your journey to a happier, better life!

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