Things don’t always turn out for the best, but you can make the best out of how things turned out. So now it’s time to start rebuilding your life. Some of the topics I will talk about may not apply to you, but all too often a man loses a lot through divorce. You lose money, your house, possessions, dreams, goals, self-confidence, friendships. Let’s start with rebuilding your living environment.
If you left (or are court ordered) to leave the marital house, you need to find the least expensive place to stay for a while. Ask to stay with parents, family or friends. It may seem humiliating, but you need to conserve money. Remind yourself (and them) that this is only temporary and you will be rebuilding your life soon. Staying with family or rooming with a friend is more cost effective and it will give you some time to rebuild your savings so you can eventually get a place of your own. It may take 90 days or longer to get your portion of the money from your house, settlement, etc. This is also a time for you to analyze what your new style of life will cost you on a monthly basis.
If you have a lot of furniture or personal belongings, rent a storage unit. If you’re still in the midst of the divorce, or the divorce has not been granted yet, your attorney will explain how this can be considered as an expense to you until the divorce is over. If you’re left with no furniture, try to keep expenses at a minimum. Don’t go spending money like a drunken sailor. Don’t go shopping crazy. Try to pay for things with cash or check so you don’t rack up huge, unnecessary debt. If you need furniture, just get the basics. Bed, microwave, small TV, etc. Consider buying what you need from a resale shop or at rummage sales. Remember, this is only temporary, you don’t need top-of-the-line right now.
You may not be able to live at the standards you were accustomed to prior to divorce. Then you must learn to spend less and eliminate needless expenses from your life. Just get basic cable, cancel magazine subscriptions, get a cheaper phone plan, raise the deductibles on insurances, opt for a lower life insurance policy, turn the heat down or A/C up, use food coupons. Every little bit helps. I’m sure that if you really thought about it, you could eliminate $100 or more per month in unnecessary expenses. On the other hand, you might find out that living on your own is less expensive than when you were married (if you don’t have to pay child support or maintenance). If that is the case, I still urge you to lower your expenses and increase your retirement contributions or send more to savings. Rebuilding your life and your finances will take time, but time passes faster than we realize.
I truly dislike using worn-out clichés, but there is no better one to use than: “It‘s time to REINVENT YOURSELF.” You may not feel that you need to reinvent yourself. You might be glad to be divorced and enjoy your new life just the way it is. However change will occur around you and to get the most out of life you need to adapt to these changes. That’s where “reinventing yourself” comes into play. This doesn‘t have to be a dramatic change or undertaking, you can go about it slowly, but it should be sincere.
The first part of reinventing yourself is honest reflection on your own personal flaws. What actions did YOU do that caused your marital problems. Too often we self-justify our flaws or bad actions. “I was a jerk because she was a bitch“ or “I had an affair because she did.”
I am guilty of self-justification and many of the men I have interviewed are guilty as well. I believe that self-justification is the biggest problem in having great relationships. When we self-justify, we mentally support and approve our own actions because of what someone else did (or what we think they did). It‘s time to stop blaming others for your actions. Take responsibility for yourself and plan to be less reactive towards others. One of the best things that you can do to reinvent yourself is:
1.) Make a conscious effort to be a pleasant person. Be willing to apologize and admit when you are wrong.
Don’t project yourself as bitter or angry towards marriage and women in general. Just because your ex may have screwed you over doesn’t mean that all women are alike. If you are bitter and treat all women the same, you may miss out on some wonderful friendships and possibly a wonderful mate. People can sense if you have bitter feelings and they will gravitate away from you. Consciously avoid complaining about your divorce, your life or your job.
Be willing to admit when you don’t know something or when you are wrong. Don’t be shy to apologize to people if you hurt them or do something wrong. I don’t believe it is necessary to go back and personally apologize to everyone that you may have hurt. Maybe you just need to say to yourself: “I was wrong, she/you/they were right.” Accepting the fact that you are a fallible human will help you forgive yourself for blunders that you have made (and will make). Being willing to apologize does not give you license to treat people poorly or act in bad behavior, then say “I’m sorry.” The less you feel obligated to have to say “I’m sorry” the better. Hopefully this means that you are treating people in a kind and caring manner.
2.) Take a hard look at yourself in the mirror.
We rarely see ourselves the same way others see us. So take the time and look closely at yourself in the mirror. Do you need to go on a weight loss program or improve your physique? Maybe you want to try hair restoration or a change of hairstyle. Grow a mustache or shave your beard? How healthy are your teeth and your smile? Do your eyebrows need a trim? Big bushy nose and ear hair? Primp yourself up, look clean. Trim your own eyebrows and facial hair or have your barber do it. Look at your wardrobe. You might want (or need) to update your clothes. Try wearing different colors than you usually do. This isn’t just superficial. It’s good to do things and buy things that make you look and feel better.
Ask a trusted friend what they think. A lot of men relied on their wife to help keep them looking clean and fashionable. Enlist the help of a female friend to go clothes shopping with you. Let her pick out clothes that look appealing and comfortable on you. Have her suggest a hairstyle for you. Don’t try to dress like or be something that you are not. Ask a good friend “do you think I’m fat?” Don’t get mad if they say “yes.” Ask for constructive opinions and then listen to what people have to say, don‘t interrupt or argue. Allow them the freedom to speak honestly. Some feedback may not be what you were hoping to hear. You don’t have to do everything that people suggest, just take it into consideration. We don’t always know just how we look through someone else’s eyes.
3.) Get out of your comfort zone.
This is another old cliché, but it’s a good one. Step outside of your comfort zone occasionally. This doesn’t mean that you have to go sky-diving (but you might want to). Try a few sports that you have never done before. Listen to some music you have never heard before. Go see a live band, a play, a comedy show. Strike up conversations with new people (you don’t always have to be “on-the-make”). Try to start some friendly, non-threatening conversations with people. Make the assertive move to say "Hi."
It may sound scary to “get out of your comfort zone” but you don’t have to go wild. You don’t have to force yourself to do things that you are uncomfortable with. Just be willing to try some new adventures. Who knows,,, you might find a new interest or a new hobby? Take it slow and pick the things that you have always thought about or dreamed about. You are in control of how far you want to go out of your zone. Unless you are forced into something, the only way to experience new sensations is to step beyond your current activities and boundaries. Accept offers from friends to try new (non-destructive) things. Ask some of your friends to go and try new things together. Feel free to laugh! Laugh at yourself, laugh at jokes, enjoy humor, even if it’s simple and silly. Ask yourself “what’s the worst that can happen if I, try bowling, try tennis, go to a play, talk to this person, etc.”
4.) Resolve to exercise.
I can’t stress enough how important exercise is to your physical and mental health. You don’t have to go “fitness crazy”. Simply go for walks, bike rides, swimming. Resolve to exercise on a regular basis, even if it‘s just once a week. It is important to pick out a scheduled time and stick to it. Exercising will help you turn up your energy level at home and at work.
5.) Listen to people.
Learn to be an active listener. Make a conscious effort to hear what the other person is saying. We might think that we are listening, but we’re really enwrapped in our own thoughts, planning our response or wanting to interrupt and give our own opinion. Concentrate on the other person’s words, tone, volume, body language, facial expressions. Listening to someone takes your mind off your own problems. Simply listening can be the best therapy for you and the other person. By listening you can discover wonderful things about this person that you may have never known before. Listening can enlighten you to a wealth of new ideas as well. Listening is also a way of showing someone that you respect them as a person, that they are important to you.
Read books, not just the newspaper and magazines. Reading books expands your knowledge, your vocabulary and your view of the world. Reading a book can be a commitment of time, but that is a good thing. You don’t have to read every book you start. If it’s not interesting, start another book. Try reading a variety of books. Some nonfiction, some fiction, self-help. Read a book on the history of your favorite hobby, on economics, relationships, quantum physics. Mix it up a little. Occasionally read a book that is difficult, something that causes you to work your mind. Try to read 15-30 minutes every day. Once you get used to reading books you can use this activity as a way to keep yourself occupied during “down time”. Reading a book can make waiting for the doctor go quicker, flights seem shorter, commutes and traveling aren’t as boring. Discussing books can also be a great topic of conversation with new people.
7.) Surround yourself with positive-thinking people.
This seems like it should be obvious, but we don’t always hang out with the best people. Just as “misery loves company”, the same holds true for a few other sayings like “happiness loves company”, “success breeds success”, “what you think, you are”. You might think that peer pressure only affects teenagers, but even as adults, our friends and acquaintances have more of an influence on us than we may realize. Surrounding yourself with positive people starts by listening to people. Do your current friends always gossip, complain about their job, and talk about how bad things are for them? Or do they talk about projects they want to do, goals they want to accomplish, fun stories about vacations and family events? Hang out with people who are optimistic, energetic and project themselves as truly happy. Overachievers and self-centered opportunists may look successful but they aren’t always positive-thinkers. Choosing who you hang out with is completely up to you.
8.) Review your habits.
Most of us are creatures of habit, but all habits are not bad. Some habits are clearly destructive (crack, meth, heroin) but other habits aren’t as obvious yet are still destructive or limiting. Try mixing up some of your regular routines. Get up earlier for work and take a different route, skip your nightly snack, don’t smoke on the way to work, etc. You might discover that you can do without some habits. Habitual activities block us from trying new things and new methods. Breaking habitual routines (if only temporarily) helps you learn to be flexible which ultimately allows you to cope with change.
9.) Work on your creative and competitive advantages.
What things are you naturally gifted at? Take advantage of these natural talents and expand them even further. Get better at things that come easily to you. What things do you have difficulty with? Math, letter writing, public speaking? Make it a point to practice these things and get better at them as well. Having multiple skills boosts self-confidence and it will make adapting to change much easier. An adaptive, talented person has a better chance of advancement in their careers and relationships.
Your entire way of life and what you were accustomed to will change after a divorce. Regardless of whether you were a good husband, good provider a good father or not, you will be helping yourself if you spend the time and effort to figure ways to reinvent yourself.
A smart person learns from their mistakes, but a smarter person learns from someone else’s mistakes.
Mark A. Tuschel.
I welcome your questions. I do NOT offer factual legal advice - I am not qualified in this area. I do offer a compassionate ear and can give some constructive feedback to problems.
All information, names and email addresses are kept strictly confidential. You will NEVER receive junk mail from me. If you want an email response, be sure to add my email to your address book - otherwise overzealous spam blockers may delete me.Mark@freedivorcesupportfor men.com
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Published by: CW Media, Inc.
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