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Discussions about the Smooth Divorce Transition process

Divorce Recovery Failure: Are You Being Seduced by the Status Quo?

By Jerald Young, Ph.D.

This article answers the question, “What makes recovering from divorce so difficult?” A higher percentage of second and third marriages end in divorce than first marriages. If we actually learned from our divorce experience, the percentage of second and third divorces should decrease, not increase. Hence, if subsequent divorce rates are any indication, the track record of how well we recover from divorce is truly abysmal. Why is that?

(This is the 4th article in a series of articles describing how contentment and satisfaction with life after divorce depends on being able to dissolve the very human resistance to the changes that divorce imposes on our lives.)

A successful recovery from divorce requires us to make the transition from being coupled with our spouse to being uncoupled and single again. Sounds straightforward. Dare I even say “easy?” Oh, were it only that simple!

How Desperately Will We Cling to the Status Quo?

A few months after my first divorce was final, my ex invited me to come visit our daughters for a week. I leapt at the offer. When I got there, my ex and I fell into the old, familiar daily routines we had lived for ten years, including rekindling intimacy as if we were still married.

In retrospect, I was still holding on to parts of “how life used to be,” the old status quo. This prevented me from taking advantage of all the good my new life situation offered and kept me locked up in my fantasy of the past.

We Fight to Maintain the Status Quo

Having a successful recovery from divorce demands: “You have to let go of your attachments to how life used to be. You must give up your attachment to the old status quo. You have to change.” However, we almost always reply, “No way! Not even if it would be in my best interests to do so. I am not going to do it!”

The status quo is the on-going, consistent existing state of affairs. In divorce terms, the status quo refers to the existing state of affairs before the divorce, that we had come to take for granted. The status quo promises predictability and reassures us of (the illusion of) control in our lives. It gives us a stable “foundation” for our life. Who wouldn’t be attracted to that? Who wouldn’t want to embrace and hold it dear?

And in fact, we cling fiercely to the stability promised by the status quo, even in the most dire situations, in order to prevent, or at least delay, the terrifying changes a divorce brings.

Once again, resistance to change wins.

Resistance to Change – The Root of All Divorce Recovery Evil

The Achille’s heel of a successful divorce recovery and the guardian of the status quo is simple, garden-variety resistance to change. And, even though dissolving our resistance to change is the one thing that will set us free to enjoy our life after divorce, we almost always refuse to do it.

What is resistance to change? It is the very human, emotion-based reluctance to accept a change in our lives, even if the change is for our own good. Change means casting the status quo aside and we just do not want to do that.

This emotion-based reluctance to accept a change is driven by two primary emotions, fear and loss: (1) our fear of an unknown future, and (2) our distress over what we have lost from how our life used to be. These emotions, fear and loss, spawn a whole host of related emotions that overwhelm us and paralyze most efforts to release our attachments to the memories of the past, the old status quo.

Resistance to change is present in every major life transition, including divorce. Its elimination is necessary to move on and thrive in your new life after divorce.

So, What Can You Do?

You must:

  • Become hyper-vigilant and ruthlessly critical about your attachments to the status quo of your past.
  • Be willing to release your grip on the status quo and venture open mindedly into the next chapter of your life, your future.
  • Be courageous enough to figure out what specifically it is about your new set of life circumstances you are having trouble accepting.
  • Determine what parts of your past life with your ex you are trying to drag along into your present life.

In other words, you must make the effort to dissolve your resistance to change!

The stakes are high. If you don’t successfully recover from your divorce, the odds are over 60% that you will end up back in divorce court. And, the single most important thing you can do to successfully recover from your divorce is to release your death grip on the status quo and dissolve your resistance to change. Only then will it be possible for you to access and enjoy all the good that your new life offers.


(Originally published on EzineArticles.com at http://EzineArticles.com/10260827)

Divorce Recovery – A Revolutionary, New Approach: Out with the Old, In with the New (and Better)

By Jerald Young, Ph.D. This article answers the question: “Is there a new way to recover from divorce that actually works better than the traditional way?” A revolutionary, new approach presents a brand-new take on how to recover from divorce.  It addresses the shortcomings of the traditional methods and offers a foundation for hope that …
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Divorce Recovery and Disappointment: Why Don’t Support Groups, Therapy, or Time Work Very Well?

By Jerald Young, Ph.D. This article answers the question: “Why don’t the common methods for helping people recover from a divorce  (support groups, therapy, and passage of time) work very well?” The divorce rate for second marriages is higher than the divorce rate for first marriages. And the divorce rate for third marriages is even …
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Divorce Recovery and Unhappiness: What’s Preventing You from Enjoying Your New Life after Divorce?

By Jerald Young, Ph.D.  This article answers the question: “What is the key to achieving happiness in your life after divorce?” Turns out it’s not what everybody thinks. All the strong, negative, paralyzing emotions caused by divorce are not why over two-thirds of second and third marriages end in divorce. It so happens it is …
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Divorce Recovery and Loss – Are You Grieving “Losses” You Never Lost?

By Jerald Young, Ph.D.

This article answers the question, “Did I really lose everything I think I lost?”

Are you sometimes overwhelmed by everything you have lost in your divorce? Have you ever wondered if you will ever get passed the grief and get on with your life? It doesn’t have to be this way! Read why the picture is almost always rosier than it feels.

Divorce recovery is tough enough without our making it unnecessarily difficult, isn’t it? Aren’t the losses we endure quite enough to deal with without adding more imagined losses to the pile? The obvious answer to these questions is, of course, “Yes.” However, we routinely ignore the obvious when dealing with the fallout from our divorce and increase the difficulty of our recovery by assuming imaginary losses to be real.

Our Emotion-Bases Reactions to Divorce Exaggerate Our Perceived Losses

Divorce brings distress over what we have lost. It also brings a fear of an unknown future. These heightened emotion-based reactions cause us to exaggerate what our actual losses are. Minor issues become huge problems. The real issues get lost in the fog of perception and imagination. Our vision of the situation gets distorted and it becomes virtually impossible to see and solve the divorce recovery problems we are facing. Thus, we routinely think we have lost much more than we have. This makes an already difficult situation even more difficult. It doesn’t need to be this way.

Intangible Losses Are Harder to Grieve than Tangible Losses

Loss comes in two types – tangible and intangible. Tangible losses hurt. Losing the house, car, financial security, or the comfort of the daily family routine is not fun. But at least the nature of the problem is clear and how to solve the problems is known. It is the intangible losses in the form of lost hopes, dreams, and cherished beliefs that cause the most havoc. They are not as clear cut, or obvious and, therefore, are most vulnerable to exaggeration and distortion.

For example, some of the most common laments I hear from recently divorced folks are, “I will NEVER find true love again. I will ALWAYS be alone.” “My best years are BEHIND me.” These people have assumed that their original dream of living a fulfilling life with someone they love and want to grow old with is now utterly IMPOSSIBLE. The loss feels overwhelming. A typical reaction is to jump to the conclusion that we will NEVER realize our hopes and dreams without our ex as our partner.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

A Personal Experience with Unnecessarily Grieving an Imagined Loss

I carry around a picture album in my head with all of my hopes and dreams for the future. We all do. Several years ago, I was married to Anne. I had a picture in my head of what my retirement was going to look like. There was a cabin on the side of a mountain in North Carolina with a huge porch overlooking a big valley with a clear-water stream running through it. Anne and I are sitting in rocking chairs watching three of our grand kids jump on and off the porch, on and off our laps. A pretty picture.

Then reality struck. One afternoon Anne came home and announced, “I want a divorce.” I was devastated, partly because a divorce meant I would never realize my dream of a picture-perfect retirement cabin in North Carolina.

A few days later while grieving the loss my North Carolina retirement dream, I realized, “Wait a minute! I CAN have the cabin in North Carolina if I want it! North Carolina is not going anywhere. The cabin will still be there. Rocking chairs are plentiful.” I did not lose the entire picture. I DID NOT lose my dream. I only lost the person in the picture sitting next to me. I could still have my dream environment, and if I choose to, I could share it with someone new.

The realization that my personal hopes and dreams for the future were not lost was powerful. It gave me some much-needed control over my grieving and divorce recovery process.

So, What’s the Point? Don’t Grieve It If You Didn’t Lose It!

We do not have to grieve anything we did not lose! We can focus on our actual losses, and not waste our time and energy on the imaginary ones.

What I suggest you do when dealing with the loss that comes with divorce, is figure out what you are truly going to lose and grieve ONLY what you actually lost. Ask yourself, “Am I really going to lose all of it? Or, just a part of it? Could it be that I am not going to lose it at all?” You probably should ask a friend to provide a “reality check” to help determine if your assessment of the losses is accurate.

If you do this, your transition from divorce hell to a satisfying, successful life after divorce will be easier, faster and less traumatic. You will also feel some much needed control over your recovery from divorce.

Divorce Transition Success: 7 Tips for How to Make a Smooth Transition from Divorce

Making a transition from divorce is hard. The good news is YOU CAN DO IT. In fact, with some focused effort and a little help from your friends, you can make your divorce transition faster than you ever thought possible.

When I first got divorced, I was at a loss for how to handle it. I thought no one else had felt the shock and shame I felt. Nor did I realize I possessed the necessary personal resources to get through the transition process. I thought I had to make my “comeback” alone if I were to feel good about myself.

I knew I was afraid of venturing into an unknown future but I had no idea how to deal with it – especially the emotion-based reactions I was having. Nor did I realize the importance of dealing with all the hopes and dreams I had lost. In a nutshell, I was a basket case roaming free on an unsuspecting society.

Had I only known that what I was going through was similar to what millions of others had gone through – and the key to a successful transition from divorce had certain steps and phases that had to be walked through.

The following seven tips highlight what I did not know then, and describe what needs to be done in order to thrive in sculpting your next chapter of “life after divorce.”

Tip #1: You’re not unusual – You are not alone

Statistically, there are a lot of us. 40% of first marriages and 60% of all remarriages eventually end in divorce. Emotionally, everyone is pretty much in the same boat. Ambivalence rules the day. Roller coasters are the preferred method of emotional transport. Realistically, anyone you know whose has gone through, or is going through a divorce, can identify with the reactions you are having. You are not alone.

Tip #2: You can make a successful transition from divorce – because you have done it before

You say you haven’t been divorced before? Doesn’t matter. All transitions force us to go through the same process of change – whether it is losing a job, getting married, starting a family, death of a loved one. Whatever. What we’ve learned from these life experiences we can apply to making it through our current transition through divorce.

Tip #3: You already possess all the personal resources necessary to make a successful transition from divorce

Confidence, a sense of direction, and hope seem to be the first to go when making a divorce transition. But, not to worry. You have the ability to deal with it. More specifically, we gain confidence from successfully navigating past major life transitions where we:

  • Find stability of direction from our unique set of personal principles,
  • Obtain courage to press on from our personal sources of hope, and
  • Obtain reassurance that we are on the right track through a sense of gratitude for the good present in the current situation.

Tip #4: You need to recruit at least one “change buddy” for social support and feedback

We need to find people (or at least one person) we can lean on for emotional support and count on for objective feedback while we make our transition from divorce. These folks must have two important characteristics. They must have no personal agenda and they must be able to be honest with you. Only then can you count on their feedback as being objective.

Tip #5: You can and must dissolve the massive resistance to change that comes with divorce

Fear, loss, and uncertainty about what to do next sabotage our efforts to make a victorious transition from divorce. However:

  • We can handle our fear of the unknown future if we have a plan,
  • We can let go of how things used to be — even the good stuff — when we realize there is even more good stuff in the next chapter of our life after divorce, and
  • We can resolve our rational reservations for making a transition with old-fashioned problem solving.

Tip #6: You can and must use what you have learned from going through the divorce process to make your transition successful

Only by using your experience to clarify your future requirements, needs, and wants for our life after divorce, can you capitalize on the great opportunity divorce offers.

Tip #7: You must lay the groundwork for the many changes that will occur in order to make a successful divorce transition

Divorce brings change in our relationships, our health, our financial situation, and our opportunities for creativity and self expression. A successful divorce transition demands that we attend to and plan for this wide range of changes in order to fully and joyously embrace the next chapter in our life after divorce.

Divorce Recovery and Forgiveness: Busting the Myth of the Traditional Understanding of Forgiveness

By Jerald Young, Ph.D.

This article answers the question, “How can I ever forgive my ex after what I’ve been put through?”

Weary from people telling you that you should just forget and forgive your ex and move on with your life? Frustrated by how easy that sounds, but how difficult it is to do? Would you like a new way to “let go” of your ex without feeling you have absolved him or her for what he or she did to you? This article shows you a new way to deal with forgiveness that works without compromising your values or minimizing your experience.

We’ve all heard it before. “Forgive and forget.” “Turn the other cheek.” “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” “To err is human, to forgive divine.”

This is all well-intentioned advice, I’m sure. However, while it might look good on paper, or sound good in a sermon, forgiveness is not that simple for mortal human beings. Nike’s slogan, “Just Do It,” may work on the playing field, but it does not work in the field of human relationships, especially when dealing with divorce.

The Fundamental Difficulty in Forgiving Your Ex

I don’t know about you, but when I got divorced, these socially appropriate prescriptions for what I “should” do could not have been further from my mind. I felt angry, resentful, abandoned, apprehensive, disconsolate, frightened, furious, hurt, and overwhelmed, among others. Well-meaning advice telling me simply to forget it, forgive her, and move on was silly. However, that was all I heard!

Divorce, including recovery from divorce, is a life transition. It takes time. Likewise, letting go of our attachments to how things used to be takes time. This includes our attachments, both positive and negative, to our ex. Letting go of the emotional ties to another is not an act of logic and can’t be accomplished by making a rational decision.

A More Helpful, And Humane, Approach to Forgiveness

Then I ran on to a book by two educators and psychologists, Sydney and Suzanne Simon, entitled How to Make Peace with Your Past and Get on with Your Life. This book puts a human touch to forgiveness. It removed my guilt about not being able to make the simple decision to “forgive” my ex. For the first time I had a way to think about forgiveness that was truly useful. Their book laid out what forgiveness is, and what it is not, and in the process, pointed out the way to let go of the past so we can get on with our lives.

What Forgiveness Is Not

Simon and Simon point out that what all major religious traditions tell us about forgiveness is not scientifically true. That is, forgiveness is NOT
(1) a Clear-Cut, One-Time Decision that is usually communicated by some form of
(2) Public Pronouncement, preferably to the ex, in which we acknowledge a degree of
(3) Self Sacrifice by promising to
(4) Forget what was done to us, and offer
(5) Absolution to the perpetrator, while in the process giving the impression that we actually
(6) Condone what they did.

What Forgiveness Is

On the other hand, they tell us that Forgiveness IS (1) the By-Product of an 2) Ongoing, Internal, Healing Process in which, over time, we Let Go of the intense Emotions attached to incidents from our past with our ex.

Some outcomes of this “letting go” include the recognition that we no longer need our grudges, resentments, hatred, and self-pity. In addition, we no longer want to punish our ex who hurt us because we realize that nothing we do to punish our ex will heal us. That is, it is an “inside job.”

What Does This Means for You and Me?

Some consequences of treating forgiveness as the by-product of an ongoing healing process include:
(1) Don’t expect forgiveness to come all at once. The negative feelings will linger until they are “dissolved away.”
(2) We must take personal responsibility to engage in the healing process. Time alone will not do it. Making a public, or private, declaration will not do it.
(3) Well-meaning people will tell you to do stuff concerning forgiveness, and how you feel about your ex, that is just wrong. We must courteously ignore them while we go about healing ourselves.

The good news is, if we “do the work” required to heal from the pain of the divorce transition, one day we will wake up and realize it has been days or weeks since we had any strong feelings about our ex. This means forgiveness is complete.

So, what is “the work” we have to do? What does this “healing process” look like? Where can I go to get it started?

Divorce Recovery and Social Support – Everyone Needs a Change Buddy in Their Recovery from Divorce

By Jerald Young, Ph.D.

This article answers the question, “What do I do if I can’t make this recovery from divorce alone?”

Who do you select to help you through the divorce recovery process? Find out why the typical first choices will not be helpful. Find out who can actually help walk you through your recovery.

Recovery from divorce requires us to confront the emotional reality of lost hopes and dashed dreams. We also have to confront our fears of an unknown future. When we are immersed in this emotional process, often we can’t see our options or understand the reality of the situation as clearly as when the pressure is off.  We need someone whom we trust to help us handle this life transition effectively.

The Value of a Good “Change Buddy”

When effective, this person can significantly reduce the pressures and stress of change facing us. They can help you sort out the reality of the situation from our perceptions that are notoriously “squirrelly” during this time in our life. This person can clarify the “right-headedness” of our decisions and “right-size” the effects of our emotional reactions. I call such a person a “change buddy.” However, not just anybody will do.

Two Necessary Qualifications for Your “Change Buddy”

Change Buddy’s should have two critical qualifications.

(1) First, they should have NO PERSONAL AGENDA. Their only concern is your happiness and success – regardless of what the ultimate form or final arrangement may be. In addition,

(2) they should be able to tell you the TRUTH, even when it is not what you want to hear. That means you have to trust this person enough to give them permission to be honest with you, without endangering your relationship and friendship.

Ironically, this usually rules out spouses, family members, and bosses. Those people almost always have a preferred solution they would like us to accept.

An Example of The Pitfalls of Choosing a Change Buddy

A young acquaintance of mine had been married for four years. She realized the marriage was not going to work. They had no children and she knew divorce was the right thing to do. She needed someone to assist her through her transition. She chose her mother. Bad choice.

Her mother, having been through the pain of two divorces, had her own personal agenda for her daughter, which was to “protect her daughter from that pain and financial loss at all costs.” She pressured her daughter non-stop to reconcile with her financially stable ex, even though that was the last thing her daughter needed or wanted. After a few heart-rending weeks, the daughter “fired” her mother from the change buddy role, recruited an old college friend, and made a very successful recovery from divorce.

Having someone we trust to have only our own happiness at heart will make things much easier and saner while we march down the path of our personal recovery from divorce.


Divorce Recovery and Blessings in Disguise – Find the Confidence for Making a Smooth Divorce Recovery

By Jerald Young, Ph.D.

This article answers the question, “Where do I find the confidence needed to handle recovering from my divorce?”

Are you concerned you may not be able to handle your divorce recovery successfully? Find out why that is nonsense. And uncover the treasure chest of confidence you may not even know you have that will help deliver a smooth recovery from divorce.

Divorce leaves everyone, at some point, awash in self doubt. We wonder, “How am I going to deal with this? Can I deal with this? Will I get through it without life-long scars? What gives me the confidence to believe I can really pull this off?”

“Been There, Done That” – The Key to Building Confidence for Handling Life Changes

“Been there, done that.” The message is, if I have done it before, certainly I can do it again. But what if I haven’t done it before? What if I am being asked to do something that is brand new, unique, foreign, strange, unwanted, even surreal? Such is the experience of divorce for many of us, as well as its sequel, recovery from divorce.

We never planned to get divorced. We never received training in school in how to recover from divorce. In fact, we often thought divorce was something that happened to “other people.” However, here we are, knee-deep in our stuff, trying to make a recovery from divorce, and wondering: “Can I really do this?”

Blessings in Disguise – The Source of Confidence for Making A Divorce Recovery

It turns out, “Been there, done that” is good news for anyone wanting to make a recovery from divorce. Even though we may not realize it, we have “been there, done that” – even if we’ve never been divorced before.

Our life experiences teach us how to make it through major change. Whether it is getting over our awkward first love affair in junior high school, making a comeback after getting downsized, changing careers, etc. – everyone has gone through unwanted change and eventually has come out the other side. Almost always we are able to acknowledge we learned something valuable about ourselves we would otherwise never known.

We call it a “Blessing in Disguise.” A “blessing in disguise” is a change we did not want to go through, but did anyway, after which we realized that we derived some good for going through the experience. Acknowledging blessings born by change gives us confidence to face other life changes, including recovery from divorce.

An Example of How Your Blessings in Disguise Can Help You Recover from Divorce

Sally’s life was turned upside down when her husband of 10 years filed for divorce. She felt adrift, powerless, and relatively hopeless. She was all but paralyzed in making her recovery from divorce. Then it was pointed out that she has made it through a setback in a successful career, a long-term recovery from a chemical dependency, and the death of a child. These difficult life experiences had given her the blessing of knowing she was very capable of successfully handling difficult, unwanted, major changes in her life. And, that dealing with her recovery from her divorce was not that much different from what she had already weathered. Within weeks her attitude shifted and she began to thrive in her new life after divorce.



Divorce Recovery & the 5 Sources of Hope – How to Find the Courage to Make a Smooth Divorce Recovery

By Jerald Young, Ph.D.

This article answers the question, “Where do I find the courage to handle the uncertainty of making a recovery from divorce?”

Uneasy about stepping into the unknown future that is the essence of divorce recovery? Inside you will discover where to find the courage to move forward in the face of the doubt and worry caused by going through recovery from divorce.

Recovery from divorce requires us to make a “leap of faith” into an unknown future. Since we haven’t done it yet, we don’t really know for sure how it will turn out. Our personal source of hope gives us the courage to move forward in the face of the uncertainty.

But the hard question is, “Where can I go to find my personal source of hope?”

Hope Can Be Found Within Ourselves

A person’s “source of hope” might include an implicit trust in him or herself. People use their belief that they have the ability to handle anything that they may encounter to give them courage to face their recovery from divorce.

Hope Can Be Found in Others

Hope can also be found in a belief in the trustworthy, good intentions of their friends. They have experienced what they consider “trustworthy” treatment in the past, and subsequently trust others to protect them from harm and help them as they face the challenges of divorce recovery.

Hope Can Be Found in Our Philosophical Belief Systems

Still others’ seek their hope in more intellectual areas, like philosophy. We all have been exposed to explanations about what life is all about. Sometimes it seems to “fit with our experience” and therefore “makes sense” to us. We may not have called it “my philosophy of life,” but that’s what it is, nonetheless. Search that philosophy for its basis for hope, especially where it addresses the reasons for being optimistic about life. It will almost always hold out hope for making future transitions, including divorce recovery.

Hope Can Be Found in Our Religious Or Spiritual Beliefs

Some find hope in their spiritual beliefs. It may be in an organized religion. It may be a non-religious, spiritual belief in the existence of good in this world. A strong spiritual belief enables us to “act as if” good is there waiting for us in all unknown future situations.

Hope Can Be Found in Nature

Others find a basis for hope in the infinite complexity and beauty of nature. Some find it in the cosmos. Others find it in the microscope. Others find it in flowers, lakes, mountains, oceans. I had a client whose divorce recovery had been stuck for four years. Then she spent a week enjoying the woods of New Hampshire. When she returned the logjam that had been preventing her from moving on had broken up, and she was able to make a “miraculous” divorce recovery in the next four weeks.

Which Source to Use Does Matter

However, what it matters on is what makes sense to you personally! When faced with making our recovery from divorce, we must FIND our source of hope and USE it! There we will find the strength to know things will work out for the good. The result is courage to confront the demons that threaten our successful recovery from divorce