This morning I received an invitation to my ex-husbands wedding. Yes, you read that right. My ex and his fiance have invited my boyfriend and I (as well as my brother and his wife) to his upcoming wedding. When I opened the invite, I felt a pang in my stomach. It wasn’t sadness or jealousy. It was happiness and a sense of pride. Happiness because I truly am happy for him that he has found someone(and an awesome someone at that) and pride because I am so proud of both of us for the way we have handled our separation and divorce since the very beginning. Not many people can or ever will be able to say what I just told you. We are not normal but one thing we both are, is HAPPY.
After two and half years, our divorce became final in May. Although we mediated, the process still takes forever. When we began the process, we thought that because we weren’t going to fight each other, it would be quick. But, no matter what the situation, it is impossible for it to take less than a year. If you’ve done it, good for you and please share your secret because I have yet to meet anyone that’s gotten through it quickly. Over the last two and a half years, I’ve had countless people commend me (and my ex) on the relationship we have with each other. The day the papers arrived from the courts, my ex stopped by my office so that we could share the moment together. You might think that’s weird but for us, it’s the way we chose to handle things from the beginning. There were fights, screaming matches, throwing things and people threatening to quit but at the end of it all, I learned a tremendous amount about myself, my ex and about making it less painful than it needs to be. So, whether you are miserably married and feel stuck, seriously contemplating divorce or in the midst of your proceedings, keep reading.
To Divorce or Not To Divorce? That is the question and the one with the hardest answer. Just like having a baby, you don’t really know what you’re in for until you’re in it. If you have a good man but he’s just annoying and pisses you off time and time again, figure out a way to work on it. If you’ve still got that lovin’ feeling somewhere deep deep inside you then find the things you fell in love with at the beginning and try to get them back… together. It takes two. On the flip side, if you fall into any of these then it might be time to call the attorney:
- you are oil and he is water
- he/she flat out sucks and you are at the point of hating each other
- the slightest things annoy the shit out of you – like the way he/she breathes
- you’re getting angry at each other just for sneezing
- you spend moments of your day thinking about ways to kill the other person if you could get away with it
So, if you’ve settled on getting out, the insights below just might help you and your ex to keep things civil.
Lawyers v. Mediators. There is a huge difference here – hundreds of thousands of dollars in difference. If you can’t be in the same room together and can’t stand to look at each other, a mediator will most likely not want to deal with you. However, if you can mediate, I highly recommend it. It’s not an easy process but it’s worth the money. Either way, divorce isn’t cheap and at the end of all the back and forth, you will both be down at least $50 – $100k – money which could go towards your kids and other things. If you go the lawyer route, and no offense to any divorce lawyers reading this, their job is to fight for you and fight hard. They will talk you into things that they think you deserve and only make you more angry at what he ‘isn’t’ offering you. The more they fight, the more they make. Bottom line, you may not win, but either way, your lawyer will.
It’s ALL About The Kids. If you share children, your ex will never truly be out of your life so why not try to keep things civil. You will always have to speak to each other regarding your offspring so try to speak kindly and if you can’t find nice words, just send a text and let them take it however they want to take it. If in the company of your children, try not to completely ignore each other or be nasty to each other… what lesson are you teaching your children if you can’t even speak to the person they love as their mother or father.
Cha-cha-cha-Changes. NOT! What you hated about your ex while you were together will still be the things you hate when you are divorced because people don’t change (and I fully include myself in this comment. I am still guilty of doing all the things that pissed him off when we were married). Take comfort in knowing that they have not changed and never will but a new person might bring out a better side of them…. and you need to just deal with it.
Moo000lah. During the process it all becomes about the money even if you go in trying not to focus on that. Don’t be selfish, at the end of the day, it should only be about the kids. If you left her because you don’t love her or found someone else, don’t skimp out on alimony and child support. If you left him for the same reason, don’t ask for what’s NOT yours. Just do right by each other or every month you will have a bad taste in your mouth.
Hugs. At the end of a fight or mediation session, hug it out no matter how angry you are, how much you want to kill each other or how sick the other person makes you feel. As silly as it sounds, it changes your emotional state and you can leave a little less bitter. (I know a lot of people are saying there is no fucking way this one is gonna happen). Trust me, it makes a difference and in hindsight, I’m thankful that he made me do this every time. When we signed our papers, a hug wasn’t enough so we went for a cocktail, took a picture, friended each other on Facebook for 5 minutes, shared the picture and then unfriended each other. You don’t need to be friends on Facebook – as much as we like each other, there is absolutely NO need.
Sharing is Caring. You made babies together, one of you probably will have more time with them than the other, which leaves one of you missing out on day to day things. Send a picture of your kid on the first day of school or in a new cute outfit or send a message about something funny that happened. You’ll appreciate the pictures or the messages when the roles are reversed. And if you can handle it, try to share a meal together once in a while…. for the sake of the kids. But, again, don’t be friends on Facebook.
Consideration. If you have a new love in your life and your ex doesn’t, try to put yourself in their shoes and think how you might react to certain situations like bed sharing, attending the kids events together or decision making. Tread lightly. You may be on the opposite side one day and wish they considered your feelings. And remember, don’t be friends on Facebook.
Moving On. Don’t rush the next relationship. So many people have asked me where they should be looking for men to date or get back in the game(Tinder, POF, Hinge, Ashley Madison… that last one might be why you’re getting divorced). I’m not saying don’t get out there. The best way to get over someone is to get under someone else. (I wish I could credit the person that told me that because it’s a great line – feel free to use it). Enjoy your time alone and find yourself again. Chances are you got lost somewhere between marriage and kids, homework and soccer games. Take the time to find whatever it is you lost. It will set the stage for your happiness in your next relationship.
Be happy. For goodness sake you got divorced because you were miserable or he was miserable or you were both miserable. Find your happy place and wrap your arms around it because no matter how old you are, you have time to find an amazing partner to spend the rest of your life with and not make the same mistakes you made the first time. And if you have kids, one of the perks is your off time. I’m sorry, it might sound sad, but when you’re single and working or lunching or whatever it is you do, every other weekend ‘off duty’ allows for ‘you-time’ and time with your new person.
My ex and I have both moved on. We are both blissfully happy. We found new partners that are not only amazing, but respect our relationship and support it. We spend time together(yes, all 4 of us) with the kids and sometimes randomly run into each other at concerts or parties, at which his new partner and I can be found laughing and having a blast on the dance floor… together. It’s not normal but it works and not only are WE better for it, but our kids will be better for it as well.
Endless nights of feedings
Potty training and bad dreams
Always offering a snuggle or kiss
To mend the broken seams
110% percent is given
Nothing less will suffice
A shoulder to lean or cry on
And always our best advice
We’re patient and understanding
We love unconditionally
But we also scold and punish
And sometimes put you over our knee (maybe not in today’s day and age)
We spend our days running
With a schedule like no other
We didn’t realize what was required
When we took the job titled “Mother”
But looking in those eyes
And seeing the love they feel
It fills your heart and wells up tears
‘Cause there is nothing that’s more real
Their little laughs and giggles
Make you smile with all your heart
In this play of life
I’ve chosen the very best part – “MOM”
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you out there. I hope your day is filled with love, laughter and all the things that make you happy. Thank you to my Mother who will always be my best friend, my biggest fan, my mentor and my savior. I love you today and always and I am who I am all because of you. Love you Momma.
When I was pregnant with my second child and found out I was having another girl, a little piece of me was sad that my older daughter wouldn’t grow up with a brother. Having a brother was the only sibling relationship I knew and I worried about the sister rivalry that might occur. More importantly though, was the loss of not having the brotherly figure in her life. From the time I was a little girl, all I ever wanted, was to be ‘cool’ like my big brother. He had a paper route, I wanted a paper route. He knew how to ski, I wanted to know how to ski. He liked Led Zeppelin and Beastie Boys, I wanted to like Led Zeppelin and Beastie Boys. He smoked weed, I wanted to smoke weed. He was a pervert, I wanted to….. Some might say that I am who I am because of his influence.
To know my brother is to know me and vise versa. I often tell people that he’s me, except he has a penis (and some body hair). We have a relationship that not many siblings have with each other and one that during the years of beating the shit out of each other, I never imagined we would have. But my mother always used to say, one day you will love each other and be best friends. YEAH RIGHT! Well… of course, mother is always right.
I’m not sure when it actually started – maybe sometime around 5th grade when he thought it would be cool if I dated his girlfriends little brother so we could go on a double date together to go see The Outsiders. By the time we got to High School he accepted that I wanted to go to the same parties with him and drink Old ‘E, dive down flights of stairs, other stuff I wont mention and watch reruns of Pink Floyd’s The Wall. My parents trusted him with my life, for some odd reason, and left us alone for 3 weeks while they travelled to Spain. Needless to say, we spent all of our spending money on the way home from dropping them at JFK and then proceeded to fill our house with paraphernalia and party for the next three weeks. I’m actually shocked we ever made it to school during that time and that all of our friends (most notably Stein) made it out alive.
One of the saddest days of my teenage years was when he decided he was heading out west to finish up his last two years of college (which actually took him another 4 years and graduating 2 weeks after I did). I ate tubs of ice cream and played Going to California by Zeppelin over and over and over again for weeks. It was a breakup like no other. But even 3,000 miles couldn’t put a damper on our relationship. Visits to the Del Mar apartment, San Diego Zoo, Board and Brew, Concerts at SDSU, Los Gatos, road trips to LA and many many more awesome times were had.
By far, 41 years is the longest relationship with a man that I have ever had… and we are closer now than ever. We only get to see each other and get our 4 girls together a few times a year, but the trips are priceless and we make the most out of them with visits to electronics stores, home depot and some other place to get some other part to try and fix some other thing. He’s the only person that could convince me to give up meat for a year and I’m probably the only person that could convince him to do a Tough Mudder.
Today he turns 44 and while I know he’s aware of how much I truly admire, adore, support, trust and love him, I wanted to share with everyone else. Although he is not perfect by any means (no man is for that matter), he’s the most amazing brother any girl could ever ask for.
I love you B. Happy happy happy birthday. Wish I was there.
Why is it that Valentine’s day is about flowers and chocolates and romantic gestures? These are things that make most people, not just women, happy 365 days a year. Don’t wait for February 14th to go out of your way to show your significant other that you love them. On a day that has been touted as a Hallmark holiday and one that men all over the world dread, here are a few thoughts on making not just today special but practices that we should try to incorporate into our daily lives as much as possible.
Giving. It doesn’t have to be a $150 bouquet of long stem roses or a box of decadent chocolates. I recently gave someone half a bag of Dove chocolates (I kept the other half) and every time we opened one, we sent the other person the sweet message that was under the wrapper. The sentiment lasted for weeks and those little love messages were even better than the smooth creamy chocolate inside.
Partnership. One of the biggest things I’ve learned in marriage and in being an Entrepreneur is that if your partner isn’t a partner, then you are better off going at it alone. Everyone could use an extra ear to listen, a shoulder to lean on, another set of hands. Not just when it comes to work but also when it comes to a relationship. Know your partner – how to speak to them, how to listen to them, how to react to them and most importantly, understand them and what they need from you as their partner. Last year I wrote about the 5 Languages of Love – look them up, figure out what your partner is and learn to speak their language. Thank me later.
Respect. The way you speak to each other and treat each other…. alone and when other people are around…. says so much about your level of respect for each other. Treat each other the way you want your kids to treat other people. And remember that your actions speak a lot louder than your words.
Adoration. Remember in the beginning of your relationship when you truly went out of your way to make your new love feel special and loved. You may have sent them sweet notes, walked their dog for them, shoveled their driveway or picked up the phone in the middle of a chaotic day just to say hi and hear their voice. Maybe you had a cute name for them like pookie or cupcake or baby. Start again… let them know you adore them with little gestures….. use your pet name for them again if you haven’t in a while, leave them a little love letter. It will bring back memories of the early days and maybe create a new spark.
(card courtesy of http://www.elumdesigns.com)
Reflect. Granted we were a lot younger and dumber back in the 80’s and early 90’s when it came to relationships but remember when you didn’t have a cell phone in your hand 24/7? Remember how you had to communicate when you couldn’t send a text and you actually had to call someone and talk to them with the spoken word? We are all busy these days and caught up with our phones, computer and ipads and the endless amount of shows we have access to thanks to Netflix and AppleTv. Try to take a few hours a week (I initially wrote day instead of week and then realized how much that would be asking) without technology and focus on the person in your life without the constant interruptions. Enjoy the moment that you’re in without having to share it with the world on a social media channel.
Happy Valentine’s Day from WTHayley
Last Wednesday night I hosted an event at my house for the UJA in which one of the Rabbis from my synagogue spoke about bringing Judaism into your home. This post isn’t about being a super-Jew so just keep on reading.
Going into the evening I wasn’t sure what to expect. My Synagogue is reform and very family/community focused – (nothing like the one I grew up in where you feared the Rabbi or Cantor when they looked in your direction). The Rabbis are down to earth and up on the times. The head Rabbi reads his sermons on the high holidays from his iPad and our services are broadcast live over the internet. They are on FB, they tweet and blog and one, if not both of them will probably read this post.
The evening was truly special, invigorating and further justified (not that I needed it) my love for the community I live in and the people that make it what it is. Rabbi D didn’t come in preaching about saying prayers three times a day or mandating to us that we obey the rituals of Shabbat. What he did talk about were the little things, spiritual things, we can do daily or weekly, traditions we can start establishing now while our children are young and how we can use the basics of Judaism as a foundation for the things that are important to us, not just as Jews but as human beings in general.
My big takeaways were as follows:
Be Grateful: Judaism says we should pray to g-d three times a day. The first prayer should be said the second we open our eyes and we should be thanking g-d for giving us life for another day. How many times do you wake up and say ‘ugh, please give me 10 more minutes’ or ‘kids go back to bed I’m not ready for you to wake me up yet’ or ‘I hate Monday’s’. Whatever it is you are cursing probably sets your mood for the entire day. What if… when you wake up tomorrow, you open your eyes and you say to yourself or out loud, something that you are grateful for and think about how that gratitude is going to carry on throughout your day. Its been proven that people that write Gratitude journals and happier people. With the exception of today, I have done this the past few days and have to admit that my days have been a whole lot better because of it.
Give Back: The prayer that is recited in the middle of the day is the blessing for daily miracles. How often do you see someone struggling with a door and ignore them or pass someone that had just dropped something and you don’t say anything or the person in front of you doesn’t have enough on their metrocard and you give them a dirty look when they have to go back to the machine? Next time, do something out of the norm – buy someone a coffee, help someone in need, say something nice when someone is having a shitty day or swipe your card and give someone a free subway ride. Pay it forward or give back – either way, you’ll feel better about yourself and chances are you will have impacted that persons day and hopefully they will pass it on as well.
Life Lessons: At the end of the day we are supposed to be reflect on our day and ask for peace and that we may wake up the next day after a good rest. Tonight, before you go to sleep, think about what you learned today that you can take with you to bring into tomorrow and what do you want to leave behind. Go to sleep with a clear head.
Weekly Ritual: Weekly we are told that we should stop and take a break. Even g-d took a day to rest. Shabbat is what that day is for. We didn’t focus on the importance of lighting candles, going to temple or having challah bread. Instead talked about taking time to be with our families and people we love and doing something special – make Challah French toast on a Saturday morning, wake up and sing your favorite song with your kids or just do whatever you love that makes the time special between you and your loved ones. Not so hard, right? Put the phone down, stop rushing and take a break and just enjoy each other.
Bless Your Home: I realize this one sounds more religious but the way we discussed it was more about writing a blessing for your home that means something special to you and your family. Some people have a blessing that is inscribed in an Hamsa(the hand of Fatima) or in a plaque on the wall. Rabbi D gave us a drawing of a Hamsa hand with nothing in it and told us to sit with our kids and ask them ‘what makes this house a home or what makes this home special to you?’ Take their words or have them write them on the paper and color it in and make it their own. Frame it and hang it on the wall. Each time you walk past it, you will remember the time you made it and the little people that made it with you. Memories are what makes a house a home. (Hmmm, maybe I’ll put that in mine)
We each have things that make our home special or traditions that we have carried on from other generations. These little things are what makes us who we are and sets the precedence for who hope our kids will someday be. I truly hope that you can take just one thing from this post and bring it into your daily life – no matter what your beliefs are, we can all learn something from the teachers around us, like Rabbi Danny and Rabbi Z, or from the big man up above.