Friday, December 28, 2018

My Holiday Wish for You

   Happy Holidays
Every year, I close my practice from the weekend before Christmas until January 2.  I spend that time with my family.  Daughter and I get mani/pedis and sometimes do something special, just the two of us.  Then we head over to Mom’s to help her with the final preparations for the holiday.  Then the hordes of family descend upon us and a kind of orchestrated chaos ensues.  I wouldn’t change it for the world.. It is my time to relax and recharge.  In past years, it has also been my time to hav eat least one freak out because things did not go as planned.  I had a vision in my mind of how things should be, and I held on to it, even in the face of a reality that looked quite different.  It made for a lot of tension for me - and the ones I love.

This year was different..  I decided that whatever happened. I couldn’t control most things, so I concentrated on what I could control.  I knew what jobs I had for the holiday festivities.  I did all of my holiday “jobs” ahead of time, so on the day our family got together, I could just enjoy my family and friends.  It was wonderful, not just for me, but for all those who came into contact with me.

Isn’t this so like the Trenches? When people decide to divorce, they have a vision in their heads.  It might be a vision of their lives after divorce.  It might be how the divorce process will go.  It might be how their children will react to the divorce.  Some of these visions are based in reality. Some of them are based on how they perceive their best friend’s/ sister’s/brother’s divorece went. Some of them might be based on how they perceive other people’s lives are after divorce, nor how their friends tell them their life is.  Some are based on what they perceive other people’s divorce settlements gave them.

Here’s what I have to say. Your divorce is your divorce.  It’s not the same as anyone else’s, nor is your life.  What’s more, most of those oither people’s lives are not even what they seem.  The passage of time makes the not so successful parts of the divorce process fade.  Some people exaggerate their divorce settlement, their post-divorce lives. Others outright lie about their lives and their settlement.  Why do you care about what someone else has?  I know this is a time where you feel unsure of yourself and your life, but trust yourself.  Figure out your goals, at least short term, and stick to them.  Let go of expectations and stop comparing yourself to others.  All those others aren’t living your life.  You are.  Pick the right people to guide you through the process and take their advice.  Listen to those friends who support you and not to those who try to make themselves feel better by telling you what you’re doing “wrong.”  Think about what you need to do and do it; and most importantly, don’t do something because others did it or because it matches some picture in your head of what your life should look like.  This is your divorce, hopefully your only one, so do it the way that works for you. Here in the Trenches.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Put. Down. That. Phone.

Put. Down. That. Phone.  I have an app on my phone that shows how much time I spent on screen each week.  The first time it posted, I thought it had to be a mistake.  I'm not one of those people who sit on their phone all the time, at meals, in the evening.....My use, unlike everyone else's, is miniscule. Right?  Well, if that's true, then everyone else is on their phone all the time.  When I reflected a bit, I realized that I was checking my screen while I was walking, during breaks in TV shows, as I moved between tasks at work, when I got up and before I went to bed.  In short, I WAS on my smartphone a lot.  Being a not so competitive person (cough, cough), I started to make it a game to see if I could reduce my screen time each week.  I have and I feel virtuous.  What else have I found?  Well, I enjoy my walks much more because I can hear the wind in the trees and the birds singing, and also because I focus more on the world around me.  I have more conversations with my significant other.  I miss less of the action on the TV shows I actually like.  Plus, I'm sleeping better.

Being present and communicating with your spouse or significant other are two of the most important things to do to preserve your relationship.  Article after article stresses the importance of these two actions to the health of a relationship.  Just yesterday, there was an article on solving the problems in your relationship on NBC News Better.  Not surprising, one of the top strategies was better communication and the other was being in tune with your partner's feelings (in other words, being present).  Here in the Trenches, the overwhelming majority of our clients say that their spouse doesn't communicate or pay attention to them.  These folks aren't talking about wine and roses - what they're talking about is listening when they talk and being present in the room.  That doesn't take a lot of time, but it does take effort.  We're so used to the immediate and the now that we forget that those things aren't what's really important.  What's important is building and continuing to build relationships with the people in the room with you, and not the ones on social media.  Leave the phone at home every once in a while.  Park it by the front door when you get home.  I won't make you do it all the time, but just for a few minutes every day.  Your relationship will thank you, and you may avoid being in the Trenches.