Tag Archives: exes

How to Handle Your Little Monsters

Dealing with Kids of Divorce on Halloween

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The pumpkins are carved, the ghosts are hung and the Disney Princess and Storm Trooper costumes have been purchased.  Everything is all set for creepily jovial, sugar-high fueled fun!  Everything, that is, except the logistics regarding who is taking the kids trick-or-treating; you or your ex.  Uh-oh.  This could be a potentially frightening night, for all the wrong reasons.

Before you end up forever haunted by the memory of this spooky holiday, let’s take a look at what the divorce experts have to say about successfully wrangling the wee ones this year.  We’ve collected information from Diane L. Danois, J.D., bonusfamilies, hermentorcenter.com, brendashoshanna.weebly.com and divorce360.com in an effort to keep the kids grinning widely on this much Hallowed Eve.

Some holidays can be tough for divorced parents; luckily Halloween typically isn’t one of them

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Determining who will have custody of the kids on Christmas/Hanukkah or Thanksgiving can be a truly trying experience.  Expectations from both sides of the families can be huge (“I need to see my beautiful grandchildren on the high holy days!”)  Thankfully, Halloween isn’t really viewed as that important to most parents (the kids don’t even get off from school), so relinquishing control of the tykes usually isn’t that big of a deal.  On the other hand, Halloween is very highly regarded in the kid community as much celebrated and glorious day (they get to dress up AND eat a bag a’ candy), so it’s important to think about their wants more than your own.

Come Together?

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Unlike a lot of other holidays, actually sharing the evening experience with your ex can be decent (granted, depending on how much you would like to see your ex as an actual skeleton, of course).  The kids are obviously adorable in their little Batman and Frozen outfits and the atmosphere is generally light (despite the frolicking devils, witches and demons, naturally).  Pairing up with your ex partner to drive your offspring door to door to beg for cavity inducing morsels can be a relatively harmless experience, all things considered.

Pick your Poison

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If you fall into the ‘I can’t even be in the same room as my ex without taking a machete to them’ camp, then taking the kids out together is not really an option.  So, you need to decide who will mind them.  The easiest solution?  Whoever enjoys the holiday more themselves should take them.  Meaning, if you revel in all the ghoulish elements yourself, the result is that your children will have more fun with you.  The whole point of this day is for your babes to have a good time, so obviously put their interests first (C’mon, you’re a parent; you should be beyond used to this).  Another factor that can help you and your ex decide who should have them this eerie eve is if your kids have a group of like-minded goblins they want to troll a particular neighborhood for Reese’s with.  If they have a set cadre of trick/treating chums, let whichever parent is more conveniently situated, geographically, have them.  It just makes the most sense and won’t confuse the kids at all.

You’re the (Boogey) Boss

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All of the professionals in the child psychology field unanimously seem to agree that this should be your decision (who takes whom), not your kids.  Putting them in the middle is not a good idea (clearly there are few, if any, circumstances where this is advocated).  You and your ex should determine who’s taking them beforehand and then that’s it, end of discussion.  The final nail in the coffin…

Play Nice

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As with all holidays in general, the kinder you can be (or at least appear) to your ex in front of your kids, the better for their overall well-being.  Nobody wants to see Mummy and Dad-ula arguing about petty things on a day that’s supposed to be full of creepy cheer.  Slap a grin on your face and get through the day; you’ll have the rapidly approaching Thanksgiving to grumble about soon enough.

Keep your Solo Spirits Up!

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Finally, if you hand the kids off to your ex and will be spending the night by your lonesome, don’t let the little ones think you are sad about it.  Wish them luck in scaring the other kids so bad that they wet their pants, kiss their clown-make-up laden cheeks, check to see if they’re wearing those annoying reflectors you got them and send them on their merry way.  Even if you’ll be Netflixing a scary movie all alone, make sure the kids think you are genuinely happy about it.  Nobody wants to treat-or-treat while thinking about how sad their left behind parent is (womp womp).

Follow these scarily simple tips and a good night will be had by all.  Then, you will have truly earned the right to ransack their sugary loot and gorge yourself silly on mini-Snickers.

-Joe Leone 

How to Avoid Bad-Mouthing Your Ex

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After a divorce or break-up, you are going to be angry. When people are angry, they often want to express their negative emotions, but that is not always a great idea. In fact, giving in to the temptation to bad-mouth your ex will probably work against you, and, what’s worse, against your children.

Therapist Ashley Davis Bush advises that you strive to remember that your children are one-half your ex, which means negative talk about him or her is negative talk about them. Whether or not it is immediately apparent, they are genetically predisposed to be like the person you firmly dislike, so they can be directly hurt by the things you say.

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Another, less easy to digest piece of advice is to remember that you once loved, or at least thought you loved, this person. Have respect for the time in your life when things were different, and try to learn to accept and respect the choices you made in the past. Saying negative things about that individual will only make you internalize the idea that your time with him or her was a mistake.

Avoiding derogatory talk about the other person may be fairly easy at first, but what happens when they start saying bad things about you? Resisting the urge to retaliate or defend oneself is extremely difficult and often goes against human nature. However, the other person’s behavior should not influence your own when it comes to what’s best for your kids. Their inability to control themselves means they are hurting, and while you may not be able to lend a helping hand or an understanding ear, you can at least be the bigger person and give your kids an opportunity to talk about what they hear without having to also hear your rebuttal.

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One way to approach this is to stop thinking of that person as your “ex” and instead think of him or her as your child’s other parent. This will reinforce the responsible role both of you should be playing in your child’s life and take the emphasis away from your relationship that went sour. Use the time you interact with your ex to create positive experiences that teach them how to get along with others, and if that’s not possible because of your ex or because you are simply too upset, then re-focus your energy on doing something fun with your children instead of dwelling on the insult and anger you feel.

Regardless of your situation and the personality of your ex, it is advisable to have a thick skin and avoid letting negativity from the other side get you down or lower your resolve. Your primary goal should be to show your child love and compassion, both for them and the situation. Bad-mouthing ultimately brings you down and can create a risk of being alienated from your child. Even if your ex is saying mean things to your child, such as, “You are not smart because your mother doesn’t push you hard enough to do well in school,” resist the urge to respond directly by saying something about him or her. Try instead to create an open environment in which your children can talk to you about the painful things they are hearing.

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Even if you do find yourself slipping and resort to saying negative things about your child’s other parent, you can stop. Ashley Davis Bush also advises creating a habit of saying, “Cancel that,” even mid-sentence, and beginning again. You can substitute negativity for more neutral words, such as, “My child’s other parent and I regularly disagree,” rather than saying something along the lines of, “My ex does things in a stupid way.” The key to not bad-mouthing your ex is keeping an eye on the future, not the past. Move forward into the future with strength and determination, not vengeance.

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What Leads to Divorce?

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The most common cause of a marriage crumbling has got to be infidelity, correct?  Nope.  While cheating has caused many a marriage to dissolve, the following issues are responsible for even more mass destruction of the holiest of unions.

Rush, rush…

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Rushing into things

One of the primary reasons why divorce occurs is the simple fact that certain couples should never get married in the first place.  People often feel that they should just “go with the flow” once marriage in on the table.  Whether it’s because you’ve found the perfect new house to live in, your parents “really, really like” them, you’ve finally booked that wedding venue that’s impossible to obtain or you just think you’d produce really cute kids, you shouldn’t rush into marriage.  You need to be fully and fundamentally prepared to spend the rest of your lives together.  If something just doesn’t feel right, the odds are in favor that you will end up consulting with a divorce attorney at some point down the line.

I Can’t Live Without You

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Have you noticed that you all but lose the ability to do anything on your own once you enter into a serious relationship?  Beyond enjoying their company, do you need your partner with you at all times?  If this is the case, there is a probably a deeper issue at hand, which needs to be dealt with.  If this doesn’t get addressed, and you enter into marriage, then very hard times are indeed in store.  Either you will fall further down the rabbit hole and your personal identity will become more opaque and/or your partner will tire of your incessant clinginess.

New Kid in Town

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Going from ‘couple’ to ‘parents’ 

If you elect to produce a brood of your very own, there are some pitfalls that you could inadvertently (and easily) end up in.  The most detrimental thing that happens, quite a bit, is that married duos cease to be a “couple” anymore and fully transition into “parent only mode.”  Their identity is now solely that of “mother” and “father.”  Even if these newfound roles seem to be working out for a while, eventually a major roadblock pops up.  Guess what happens when the kids go off to college?  That’s right; mom and pop no longer have anyone to spend their days ‘parenting,’ and the couples now just stare blankly at each other, completely having forgotten what they ever had to discuss other than their kids.

I can see clearly now…

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Disparity in vision

When couples enter into marriage without discussing what their immediate, short and long term goals are, they can be headed for serious trouble.  Aside from major issues (which typically are addressed by even the most impetuous couples), which include having children, purchasing homes, etc., there are smaller topics that may seem too inconsequential to discuss before getting married, but then come back with a vengeance.  If your ideas of what constitute a vacation, a romantic evening, a relaxing day together differ or are conflicting, over time this can really wear on the relationship.  Sometimes it can seem as if your spouse has changed over time and that you no longer understand their wants/needs – but the truth is that these things were always just under the surface, and neither of you took the time (or were subconsciously scared) to confront them.

You’re As Cold As Ice

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The loss of intimacy

This can be tricky.  One day, everything is fine in the romance creation department, and then whoops…either one person says the wrong thing, the other exhibits a less than open attitude in the boudoir and then…BAM:  Ice Age, the Marriage.  Now an invisible wall goes up between partners and it can take some real effort to demolish/melt it.  The key is that women, usually, like to be romanced; to be made to feel special, desired and loved.  Men can be more physically oriented, and simply respond well to contact/touching.  If both partners aren’t getting what they need, then things can continue down a very negative path which ultimately leads to insurmountable distance.

Blame game

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Not taking responsibility for your happiness

If one person isn’t feeling blissful, they can take it out on their partner.  Certain times, the unhappy party will feel it’s their spouse’s responsibility to make the changes necessary to accommodate their woes and subsequently make them happy again.  Unfortunately, this hardly ever works out.  Each member of a couple should always be sensitive to their partner’s needs, but you are ultimately the only one in charge of your personal happiness.

Money money money…Mon-ey!

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Financial misunderstandings 

The ironic thing about couples that argue intensely over money is that they do not necessarily lack it.  The discrepancy is usually about how their money should be spent.  When each person brings a contrasting financial philosophy to the table (ie – ‘spend now’ versus ‘save for tomorrow’), a cornucopia of complications can arise.  These problems just become further exacerbated as the years go by.  Each person’s financial habits become more and more ingrained in their lives, thereby frustrating their partner exponentially.

You’re out of touch…we’re out of time

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The absence of physical contact

Aside from sexual healing, every couple needs to be intimate in the physical realm outside the bedroom.  The simplest morning kiss, hug or other embrace can set the tone for a lovely day.  Without this form of contact, a great emotional divide begins to set in.  At the end of the day, if you don’t want to touch your partner, there is a real crisis in connection which can very often lead to the big “D.”

Let It Go

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Holding on to bitterness

Some people have a very difficult time letting go of resentment after an argument or disagreement.  When this occurs, there is a cumulative effect, essentially creating a reservoir of negative feelings.  It only is a matter of time before the damn bursts, and a devastating outpouring of vitriol is unleashed.  Try to resolve disputes whenever possible, and then talk about your feelings, rationally, afterwards.  Otherwise, a one way ticket to divorce court could be in your near future.

-Joe Leone

After a Break-Up …How to Make Your Ex Jealous

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There is undoubtedly a plethora of articles out there (on the wild wild web) which give solid and sound advice on how to cope with break-ups and move on in a mature and emotionally sound manner.

This is not one of those articles.

While some people may tell you to ‘think about the future,’ about ‘what’s next,’ who’s to say that it’s not just as ‘healthy’ (…or morbidly satisfying) to dwell on the past, to really luxuriate in every painful, heart-wrenching moment, and to dream up new ways to make your ex-partner seethe with jealousy?  Here is a fairly thorough list of marvelous methods and spurious schemes that you can employ to pull your former flame into a web of personal turmoil and regret.

(If you have any other inventively insidious ideas, please comment!)

Photo Fun Bonanza

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So, we’ve finally identified the real purpose of social media.  It is the perfect outlet to post pictures of yourself having SO much fun, with all manner of cool, exhilarating (and possibly new) “friends”/potential lovers.  The goal is that your ex then views these titillating pics and feels instantly envious of your exciting experiences while they sit home alone in their underwear gorging themselves on Cheetos and Haagen Dazs, whist “marathoning” some insipid Netflix show.  Make sure your photos always showcase you with a radiant smile on your face, in as many electrifying places as you can drum up.  That said, you don’t want to have pics where you are aggressively making out with some sexy stranger, though; that just comes off as ostentatiously sad.  Just the hint of a new beau, vaguely situated somewhere in the photo (or, the insinuation that this person is the one taking the picture) will do the trick.  The unknown is always more frightening (and annoying) than facing full-on reality.

The Glorious Grapevine

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Simply hearing about how splendrous your post-them life is will really irk your ex.  If you have mutual friends (who are more in your corner than your ex’s) that can relay messages of your newfound liberation, happiness and utter love of existence (even if none of these things are actually occurring) to your preterite sweetie, then this step will be a piece of cake.  The challenge comes when you no longer have a direct or even tangential line of communication to your ex.  How in the heck are you going to rub it in their faces that you are more jovial than you’ve ever been?  Easy.  You just need to start a blog.  Similar to an Instagram account stuffed with joyous pictures, a blog is another great way to relate your new tales of wonder and bliss, but now with ever so potent words.  The best part?  You can make it all up!  While a picture usually needs some semblance of truth to convey your glee (unless you are a master at staging faux gaiety), a well crafted blog post can express sundry magical journeys and emotions like no other medium.  Or, if you’re fairly adept with a video camera, combine both methods of voicing your exultation into one: a vibrant and secretly villainous vlog.

C’mon, Get Healthy 

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What’s the one thing you want to do after you get dumped?  Why, eat a eat Krispy Kremes until you can’t buckle your pants anymore.  Most counselors would tell you that this is not a good way to approach emotional recovery; that you should take care of your physical health in order to benefit your mental health.  Well, they are right, but for the wrong reasons.  Now is the time to shun all fat, carbs, gluten or anything else that tastes good and attack the gym like Rocky did in every single Rocky movie (except Rocky 3, that was just awful).  You must shed any extra poundage and get yourself in ship-shape condition.  Next, it’s off to the most expensive salons you can unearth, for a full body everything.  You need to look your absolute BEST, so the next time your ex encounters you (or even a grainy tagged photo of you), you look so stunning that they all but weep, throw themselves to the filthy sidewalk and beg forgiveness for their foolhardy ways.  Truly much more satisfying than any Snickers bar.

The Ring’s the Thing 

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Now, this one requires a bit of patience.  Timing truly is everything here; if you show up too soon with a colossal rock or gleaming gold band on that deliciously conspicuous left ring finger, you’re going to look desperate and weird.  Wait about ten months (this way it won’t look like you did it in order to supersede any sort of illegitimate pregnancy), and then don that symbolic ring of beautiful betrothal with flare!  Once you do this, you won’t even need to force this information on your ex – news of it will just spread like wildfire.  The best part of this maneuver?  That’s right, you guessed it: you don’t even need to be dating anyone.  The ring alone conveys volumes of devastatingly delectable information.

(*Once this diamond ring has worn out it’s usefulness, rather than toss it into the recycling bin, feel free to let diamondlighthouse.com recover the highest amount of cash for it, for you.  This further explained here.)

Ok…  Perhaps some of these measures seem a tad extreme.  Ultimately, it’s up to you exactly how you want to make you ex jealous, envious or agitated.  The most important thing to realize is that your happiness is of ut most importance, whether it’s genuine or simply fabricated for the sake of a Pinterest post.

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-Joe Leone

The Basics of Successful Coparenting

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“Coparenting” refers to when two separated adults (through divorce, a break-up, or having never been “together”) raise their children as a team after a separation or divorce. While people have been coparenting for ages, the word describing the concept is fairly new. It was brought to the public’s attention by the Associations of Separated Parents in Italy in the early 2000s.

Coparenting can be messy business. The psychology of you, the psychology of your ex, and most importantly, the psychology of your children all make every day a surprise.  As difficult as it can be, it really will behoove you to try to open up communication with your ex to work collectively toward doing what is best for your children.

Boundaries With Your Ex

Divorce is not exactly about agreeing and getting along, but when it comes to the happiness and well-being of your children, it should be. If your circumstances lend themselves to it, commit to specific boundaries with your ex that can define your relationship as coparents. Those boundaries should include specific details about how to deal with one another, even when you are not together. Do your best to come to an agreement with your ex that neither of you will speak negatively about the other person. Then, try to enhance that positive relationship by agreeing to preclude your children from speaking negatively about the other parent.

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Boundaries also include more concrete and easy-to-follow rules, such as those for visitation. Some sources suggest that the parent who drops off a child (to school, practice, etc.) before a visitation switch should never pick up the child and bring him or her to the other parent’s house (after making sure the child is aware of who is picking them up, of course), making each visitation a clear and peaceful transition for your child.

These boundaries with your coparent may be difficult, and what works in theory may not work in reality. Keep open communication with your coparent, and support his or her relationship with your child. Doing this may require a willingness to bend or change the rules for situations in which they do no work out.

Boundaries With Yourself

Since you are the only person you can control, you can control yourself with the best interests of your child in mind. Sometimes this can be extremely hard, especially if your coparent isn’t, well, cooperating. Regardless of the other person’s actions, Dr. Phil advises against allowing yourself to use your child to get back at your ex, which includes digging for information or interfering with their relationship in a harmful way. This may include refraining from asking your child to choose between you or your coparent, as well as holding back from revealing frustrated feelings and aggravation if your child tells you something you don’t like about the other parent.

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Openness With Your Children

Believe it or not, among all the things parents should not do, there is some consensus as to what coparents should do. Psychology Today offers general advice on talking to your children about divorce and coparenting, making it paramount that coparents, first and foremost, allow their kids to be kids. Proactively keeping your children out of adult problems will help them understand that the divorce is not about them, and that it is not their fault.

While your children’s childhood needs to be preserved, there are some heavy life lessons they will simply have to deal with because of your divorce, and it may force them to grow up faster. Be willing to talk openly with your children about your divorce, and provide them with a safe environment in which they can ask questions, share opinions, and expect to be treated with respect. To bolster this, be present and supportive of your children as they deal with various and unpredictable emotions that arise regarding both your divorce and outside problems they encounter. Being emotionally present for ten minutes is better than being physically present but emotionally distracted for thirty. If your child is concerned about the play at school or his or her skills on the soccer field, listen and try your best to give deference to their issue, even if it seems small to you.

No one said coparenting is easy, and there is no right way to do it, but it can be done in a thoughtful and focused manner that is best for all parties involved. Parenting is a duty and a right, and the concept of coparenting is borne of that duty. Entering into each situation with thoughtfulness and intent can help you create the best world for your child.

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