A divorcing client commented that she would like to feel happiness again. She wants to be sure of herself and not afraid of the future. She can’t make it without his support; it’s rough being tied together for so many years through the kids and the money.

Certainly, monetary stress is a big problem. Moving on is much more difficult for women who remain dependent on custody share, child support or alimony. It’s hard to get closure when the contact and financial dependency continue.

The solution is obvious, but also a challenge of the divorce. So you commit to being happy or commit to being right. The smartest women choose happiness, and this has been the key to rebuilding their life. It’s never too late to start.

No More Feeling Sad

Wise women make an emotional shift from being a victim to a survivor, and they take the necessary steps to get there fully. Definitely the most important and hardest step is to implement a timeline on feeling sorry for yourself, even if your differences are ongoing. The first year, it’s common to obsess over the separation, to cry or grieve, even lash out to family and friends about details. But afterwards, even though you’re still hurt, it’s important that you quit seeing yourself as the victim. Even though your husband is still acting up, you shouldn’t make the burden of divorce define you.

Your depressing feelings won’t disappear all at once, and of course this isn’t the first time. Sadness and misery appear when you least expect it. It’s not so uncommon to take antidepressants for some period of time to pick yourself back up. Many women also find it beneficial to look at their feelings therapeutically, such as with a private therapist, in a divorce support group, or church counseling service.

Friends can be a huge help, but don’t use them only as for sympathy. If you’re associating with someone who spends her time man-hating and telling you how you’ve been mistreated, that friendship is keeping you stuck. Connect with women who are optimistic and can be peers for moving ahead with strength and hope.

Accept the Financial Consequences

The smartest women realize that life changes after divorce. They stand by their priorities or commit to changing their lifestyle. They do not depend on their ex-husband as their long-term financial provider nor do they wish to find someone else as the solution.

Unless you’re rich or an actress your finances will be reduced when you divorce. The same income that used to run one household is now running two. Women don’t typically get paid the same as men for similar work and women’s careers are adversely affected by choosing to raise children, but this is the way it is and not an obstacle to happiness. Smart women will handle the situation. They accept the decreased lifestyle. Their happiness comes from their children or the opportunity to be an involved parent, or appreciation of their job and the flexibility it gives them even if it doesn’t pay as well as another job.

They choose to increase their wages by themselves, with a better job, more hours, or more education and training. Either of these choices leads to a better sense of self-esteem and serenity.

Create a Financial Plan

Smart women take charge of their finances during and after divorce. Even if it’s threatening, this step is very empowering.

Going through divorce may be the first time you’ve handled finances and planned for the future. Although it feels daunting, don’t have unrealistic expectations that you’ll be able to make it forever on what you’re getting in support and property, or that you’ll meet someone who will take care of you.

Educate yourself about financial planning through a book, class or online. Find an expert that will review your finances and spending with you.

Repeat to Yourself That You Cannot Change Your Ex

Smart women realize they can’t change their ex-husband. They choose their battles and let go of issues that don’t really apply or can’t be changed, and they accept with grace and maturity the general discomfort of custody sharing, knowing that this is just what happens in divorce.

It’ usual to think you can choose how your ex behaves, especially with kids. But save yourself the challenge. In a weird way, this is a step about taking control of your inner life and letting go of outside factors.

Sharing custody involves aggravations. Some of the most common ones are: he doesn’t show or is late; he feeds them junk food; he has no limits at his house on TV or the computer; he buys them toys or electronics instead of buying the shoes and school clothes they need; he complains about costs for the kids’ extracurricular activities, he doesn’t return their clothing or returns everything dirty; he doesn’t make the kids do chores and they complain when you enforce this rule at your house; he has joint custody but you still have to be responsible for doctor and dentist appointments or extracurricular activities.

This parenting isn’t fair but it’s not worth getting upset over. Unless he is abusing the kids or constantly not showing up, you can’t usually control his behavior. It’s a costly attempt.

I’m not saying smart women allow themselves to be passive. Sometimes you need to take legal action. Be sure the issue is worthy and has a good probability of resulting in change. Also try to let go of the rest.

Concentrate on the Future and Commit to Improvement

Smart women focus their post-divorce momentum on reviewing their life, goals and mistakes and how they can learn from those. Instead of delving into another serious relationship or complaining about their ex, they focus on their own life issues. They redefine what’s important to them. They grow into themselves as women whose identity is not defined as a mother or wife.

We’ve been there and lost ourselves in marriage. For many women, their identity becomes tied to their husband or children early on, and so when the marriage ends and these roles are lost or diminished, the woman feels unsure of her identity. This is one reason divorce can be catastrophic.

The smartest women use divorce as a chance for change and growth. They look at their life, with all the mistakes, and put time and energy into discovering who they are and what they want for their future. This discovery takes time, patience and commitment, but in the long run, these women are able to put their divorce in perspective. They go on to be centered, stable, self-assured, competent women who find the joy they thought they had lost.

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