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How to be Happy After Divorce: A Simple Exercise that Might Help!

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

 

how to be happy after divorce

I wrote a blog post a couple of months ago called “How to get from Hopelessness to Happiness after Divorce,” and it got probably the most views of any blog post I’ve written. Why? I think because separated or divorced men and women are always looking for ways, solutions, ANYTHING to solve that problem of how to be happy after divorce. 

Let’s be honest, there really is no “solution” to being happy, everyone has to get their on his or her own. But in my opinion, it’s the choices, the actions that people take that can make a difference both in becoming a happier person, or unfortunately making things worse and becoming unhappier.

Some men and women try to get happy through a new relationship. They jump in quickly and hope that love will make them happy. That is Jackie’s least favorite way to find happiness after divorce, and don’t get me wrong, there is no bigger fan of romance than me. It’s just that I hate when people use a relationship to mask all of their issues, instead of fixing the issues in more head-on, honest ways, like therapy, faith, exercise, and time.

Additionally, men and woman sometimes take to alcohol, drugs, sex or other addictions to make them happy. But we all know how temporary and potentially deadly that solution is. 

So, how to be happy after divorce?  I asked Dr. Sarah Allen, a therapist who holds a Ph.D,  if she would let me post a blog she recently wrote on the subject. She didn’t just write this for divorced people, but for anyone who wants to be happier.

The reason I loved it so much is that she offers an easy solution to being happier, something you can try that doesn’t take a lot of time (5 minutes a day), but that might make you realize after a couple weeks of doing it that it’s really helping! Try it! You have nothing to lose!

 

How to be Happy, by Dr. Sarah Allen, Ph.D

One of the most successful techniques to come out of the Positive Psychology movement (Seligman) is the task of keeping a daily journal where you write down three positive things that have happened during your day. It doesn’t need a lot of journaling if that’s not your thing. It’s simple, list three things that have made you feel happy.

Why does this work? Well, if we know we have to write something in the evening, we keep our eyes open during the day and therefore are more likely to notice and pay a little bit more attention to positive events. Quite simply, noticing something positive and noting how it makes us feel happy makes our brain increase serotonin. If we do this regularly, over time we increase our happiness.

I have tweaked it a little bit and have divided this daily task into two sections; things that we just observe and things that we made happen.   It only takes a couple of minutes to write down three examples of each.

Three Things That Made You Smile/Feel Good

Write down three positive things that you noticed today.

“I saw the daffodils were poking through the soil next to my garage and it made me smile that Spring is finally on its way”.

“My son came through the door and gave me a big hug hello”.

“I looked at a cartoon on Facebook and thought it was so funny I laughed out loud”.

When we are feeling down we tend to just focus on the negative and ignore the positive. Part of therapy is to widen your focus to include things that went well and that you enjoyed, not just what irritated you. The act of noticing and paying attention to the experience makes the brain take more notice and therefore feel more pleasure. This is the opposite of being on automatic pilot as you go through your day.

Three Things That You Had A Part In Making It Positive

Jot down three things that went well for you today. Why did it happen, what role did you play?

“I began the morning in a relaxed way by lying in bed cuddling with my kitty cat – because I set the alarm to go off ten minutes earlier than I needed to get up I still had plenty of time to get ready”.

“I felt very connected to my child because I put down my phone and really listened to how his day at school had gone”.

“I had a lot of work to get done but I made myself take a break and take my friend up on her offer of going for a walk. Afterwards I felt more refreshed and was able to be more productive”.

Just as we tend to ignore the positive and notice the bad things that have happened, we also tend to ignore the positive influence we have over things and events. I think it is so important to recognize not only what was good, but how you came to make it happen so you can hopefully repeat it in the future.

The same with negative things – if you have the attitude that things just happen rather than recognizing what you did or didn’t do to effect the outcome – it makes events feel out of your control and we humans are happiest when we feel some sense of control.

Thank you, Sarah! By the way, I have been in Sarah’s office to interview her for articles for the Sun-Times and I have to say, if you want to be happy, just walk in there! It’s a wonderful, warm, cozy environment, and I would recommend Sarah as a therapist a million times over!

Sarah’s Bio and contact info:

Dr. Sarah Allen is a psychologist who specializes in empowering women to live the life they want. She sees clients in her Northbrook office or via telephone or Skype sessions. Visit www.drsarahallen.com for more blog posts on a variety of issues relevant to women. She can also be reached at (847) 791-7722

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How Dating and Sex After Divorce Is Different

Written by Jackie Pilossoph. Posted in dating after divorce, Sex

 

 

 

dating and sex after divorce

One of the biggest fears for divorced men and women is getting back into the dating scene and having sex. If you think about it, a recently divorced person hasn’t been on a first date in years — maybe even decades. Here are four ways dating and sex after divorce is different than before you were married.

1. You no longer look for a mate, you look for a soul mate

As a young person dating, I remember looking for that perfect mate, the one who was going to make a great dad, who would be a good co-provider financially, a person who was looking to embark on the same life journey as I was, and someone who would grow old with me. Now that that plan was shot to hell, what’s plan B?

I find that most divorced people are just looking for someone they like and nothing more. They’ve been so unhappy in their marriage for so long that just spending time with someone who makes them laugh, or who challenges them intellectually, or who makes them feel good about themselves is all they really want. There’s no clock ticking and no pressure to have children, and so there’s no rush to get married.

Many divorced people just enjoy that refreshing feeling of being happy, really connecting with someone, and perhaps, falling madly in love without worrying about how perfect or not perfect the person is for them.

2. You now have other people to consider: your kids

When people are young and single, the only responsibility they have is to get to their jobs every morning — and for even the hardest of workers, that still leaves time for socializing and dating. After a divorce, however, many people have a job and kids, which sometimes feels like there are no more slices in your pie for anything else. You can’t spend hours and hours on a date because you might have a babysitter at home, you can’t talk on the phone every night, and get-togethers are limited.

Also, kids can make or break a post-divorce romantic relationship. If your kids like your new boyfriend (or girlfriend), everything is wonderful. If they don’t, feelings get hurt and things can get complicated.

Click here to read the rest of the article, published in the Sun-Times. You really need to read #3 and you really, really, really need to read #4!

 

First Date Tips: What You Should Talk About and What Topics are Taboo

Written by Jackie Pilossoph. Posted in dating, dating after divorce

 

first date tips

First dates aren’t easy, especially blind dates, which is why this post is dedicated to first date tips.

First dates usually consist of moments of awkward silence, fear of having food between your teeth, wondering if he noticed your nervousness, thinking you said something really stupid and wishing you could take it back, and the worst one, trying to think of what the heck you should talk about!

On my recent Steve Harvey show appearance, where I gave divorce advice to two recently divorced women, I was asked to give some first date tips.

One of my tips was: don’t talk about why you got divorced for more than a few minutes. Why? Because your date might be going through his or her own divorce, and is probably viewing dating as refreshing. The last thing he or she wants to do is relive your divorce, hear your complaining and analyze what your ex spouse might or might not be thinking and feeling.

I got to thinking, besides not talking about your divorce, there are other topics of conversation you should stay away from on a first date. There are also some great topics that are perfect for a first date; topics that will spark intellectual, emotional and positive conversation, hopefully resulting in a second date!

1. Bad topic: Politics. Obamacare is not first date stuff! People get really sensitive and offended if the person they are with doesn’t share their political views.

Good topic: What’s in the news. If you aren’t already watching the news and reading the paper, please start. Aside from the fact that it makes you a more intelligent person, that it’s healthy to be informed and knowledgeable, and that you are setting an example for your kids, knowing what’s going on really does make you more attractive and interesting to your date. Plus, it sparks interesting, thoughtful conversation. I know you are busy, but you can get caught up on world news if you invest even 15 minutes a day reading the paper or news online.

 

2. Bad topic: Old relationships. Just like your date doesn’t want to hear about your ex, no one wants to hear about an old boyfriend you still miss dearly, or the one who got away.

Good topic: Kids or family. Your date went out for dinner with you to get to know YOU, and the best way he or she can do that is to hear you talk about your kids or your family, the people you are closest to. I always like to watch a man’s expression when he talks about his kids. That tells me everything I need to know about what kind of father and person he is. Or, one time I was dating this guy and he talked about how “stupid” his mother was. I RAN the other way, seriously.

 

3. Bad topic: Your job (if you are unhappy). I think there are two types of people. Those who go to their jobs only to bring home a paycheck, and those who truly have passion for what they do. If you are the former, keep your job description brief and instead talk about your hobbies and/or interests outside of the office. By the way, I have nothing against people who work for a paycheck. I’m not judging. I’m just saying, whatever you talk about with your date, talk about it with passion and happiness, versus “My boss is an asshole.”

Good topic: hobbies, interests, travel. Let’s say you just got back from Spain, or you have a trip planned to China. Or, you just started doing yoga and you love it! (That’s what I would talk about if I had a first date tonight.) Or, you are learning Spanish. First dates are all about figuring out if you want to have a relationship with this person. And so much of that comes down to having things in common. So, tell your date what turns you on!

 

4. Bad topic: Sex. It’s just in bad taste to start talking about sex on a first date. It just is.

Good topic: Love. You might disagree with me, but I think it’s okay to talk about love and relationships, and what you think makes a good one. Get it on the table! Tell your date what you want and don’t want. I’m not saying to tell your date you want to be married within the year, but saying, “I’m really looking to fall in love,” or “I would like to be married again someday” aren’t forbidden. Use your best judgment, but be honest. Chances are, your date wants that too.

In closing, of all the first date tips I can give, the best one is to just be yourself. Be authentic. BUT, be YOUR BEST self. Offer your date the things you love about yourself. Your passion, your heart, your humor, perhaps. Leave your divorce baggage at home tonight!

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Divorced Girl Smiling is Listening! Divorce Advice in Response to Your Comments

Written by Jackie Pilossoph. Posted in cheating and divorce, divorce advice

Divorce Advice

 

 

 

 

Divorced Girl Smiling has been in existence for 14 months, and during that time, I’ve done my best to offer divorce advice not only in an inspirational way, but I constantly strive to be impartial, nonjudgmental, and of course, funny, at times to lighten things up.

What I want you all to know is that I’m listening! That means when you send in your comments, I read them. I hear you. I try to respond to some of them, but time constraints and work sometimes prevents that.

Well, now I am responding! Here are three comments you made, along with my answers.

Divorcing with no children

I am in my late 40′s, married almost 22 years, and no children. It see so few conversations that deal with women who are in a similar position. If people feel alone and have children at home, imagine the loneliness of realizing you are completely alone in this situation. It seems like none of the blogs address this. I really feel like an outlier. Is that so?

 What you seem to be asking is, “Is divorce less of a big deal if you don’t have kids?” Here’s my answer: NO!

I apologize if I give that impression in my posts. I think because I have children, I write what I know. What I can tell you is that I can’t imagine your breakup being easy after 22 years together. I am so very sorry.

However, I would like to address your comment about loneliness. People who have kids have that same loneliness you have, even when the kids are around. Not because we don’t love or appreciate our children, but because every divorced person feels that void of having a spouse, a partner, a friend with them, and it’s a void children can’t fill. You can also be married, and if it’s to the wrong person you probably feel loneliness.

My wife gave up too soon

 I just had to add something to this as a man who’s wife just left him 4 weeks ago and asked for a divorce. I have given my heart, soul, mind, and body to my wife. It hurts more than anything I have ever dealt with. I am in the armed forces and had to deal with a lot that would make people cringe. So hear me when I say that just leaving and saying I want a divorce is the wrong way to end a marriage. Go to counseling together and talk about your issues, date each other again, make sure you both do everything humanly possible, especially when there are children involved. Now there are good reasons to end a marriage but what I am talking about is for those men and women who don’t have no reason other than, I don’t love him/her anymore, or they do this or that and I just can’t take it anymore.

 I’m mad at her for abandoning me and the kids, our family that we spent ten years putting together.  If a divorce is in your horizons, do everything you can to save it no matter how you feel, but if you put everything you have into it with your spouse, and if it still is not working then yes talk about divorce. You will find yourself more at peace, and it will be a much smoother/amicable transition.

 First of all, the tone of this apparently shows what a rational person you are, and I applaud you for that. This doesn’t sound like so many angry, bitter, irrational messages I receive. This is smart and thoughtful. Not to mention, you are in the armed forces so I want to give you a big hug and say thank you for what you provide everyone in our country every day!!

I am so sorry your wife left you. I truly am. It is very painful, I’m sure. Are you telling me your wife wouldn’t even consider counseling? That’s so sad to me. You are correct when saying “date each other again.” Marriage is a constant effort, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. But when people forget to water their plants, they die. Same goes for marriage.

I am wishing you all the best and I have faith that at some point, you will realize that things happen for a reason and you will end up very happy. Just keep being a great dad and do things for yourself, as well!

Child support money NOT used for our children

I pay $2000/month to support 2 teenage children. My ex-wife has never really signed them up (or allowed them to be signed up for music lessons, SAT prep classes, art classes, or any one the myriad things most functional parents do.) Yet she works in a profession that earns her a high 6-figure income. She rarely seems to purchase clothing. She has saved less than half of the amount that it would take to send them to a state university.

 It doesn’t take a particularly savvy accountant to sort out the fact the check I’m sending her is not going to support these kids. I love my children dearly and don’t resent in the least what I do for them; but the money I send to their mother – I will resent in perpetuity, because it is plainly observable that it is disproportionate to their actual and realized needs.

 Okay, so this is a tough one for me, being on the other end, i.e. receiving child support. I feel like what you are feeling is very common, and I’m sure you must be frustrated beyond belief. Here’s what I can tell you as a single mother. With two growing kids who are eating me out of house and home, a mortgage, bills, even school expenses, I think there are a lot of things I spend money on for my kids that my ex really doesn’t realize, only because he isn’t here to see the checks I’m writing. Again, I can only speak for my situation, but my child support check isn’t paying even half of my kid expenses.Even with MY income, I struggle financially.  And I don’t resent my ex for it, I’m just saying, that check doesn’t go as far as you think.

My advice to you is to ask your ex, talk to her. I know that’s difficult but if you go about it in a nice way, and just say, “Could we maybe talk about why you aren’t signing up the kids for these classes? Or buying them new clothes?” Let’s be honest, she’ll probably get really defensive, so be prepared. But isn’t communicating worth a try?

If you have any questions or comments that you’d like me to address with some divorce advice, please reach out!  

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Divorce and Children: How to Answer Those Tough Questions They Ask

Written by Jackie Pilossoph. Posted in Children and divorce, Divorce and children

 

Divorce and children

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When it comes to divorce and children, there is nothing more gut-wrenchingly sad than when your child, wide-eyed and hopeful, asks you this question: “Are you and dad ever going to get back together?”

These and other divorce questions from kids can feel like a punch in the stomach, causing anxiety, guilt and sorrow. There are no magical answers to your kids’ questions because a divorce is undoubtedly very difficult for any child. But the silver lining is, if you put some thought into how you answer these difficult questions, if you have an unselfish attitude by filtering your answers, and if you end every answer with “We both love you,” it makes the sting a lot more manageable.

Here are six common questions kids ask after a divorce, and suggestions on how to answer them.

1. Why did you and mom/dad get divorced?

Because your dad was cheating on me. Because your mom drinks too much. Because dad and I can’t stand each other and we don’t want to live together anymore. This is what you are probably feeling and what you’d like to scream at the top of your lungs. The fact is, you can’t. A better way to answer this very difficult question is by saying something like this: “Your dad/mom and I once loved each other very much, but people change and people grow apart. Neither of us wanted that to happen, but it did. We tried very hard to work things out, but in the end, we both felt it was better. What hasn’t changed is that your dad and I still love you, and both of us will always be here for you.”

2. Do you still love mommy/daddy?

You might and you might not. If you do still love your ex, you might want to say, “There is a part of me that will always love your mom/dad. We share so much history, and most importantly, we share you. I will always love him/her for giving me you.” If you don’t feel like you can honestly say something like that, you could answer, “I don’t love your mom/dad in the same way I used to. I respect him/her and I think he/she is a good mother/father. But now we are just going to be partners in parenting and hopefully good friends, some day.”

 

Click here to read the rest of the article! Wait till you read question #5!

 

 

 

 

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