- To be a priority – you should never feel like you or the relationship takes the back seat. You should have time together because you both make the relationship a priority. They should fill you in our their plans and what is going on and you should do the same.
- To know how they feel about you – even if they don’t constantly tell you, you should know how they feel about you. Actions speak louder than words, although it is nice to hear and read, too. Open communication, asking a lot of questions and not being afraid to be vulnerable all contribute to this. If you are shut down, don’t expect them to open up. Tell them how you feel and what you want and don’t want often.
- Touch – this speaks for itself, but affection should come naturally.
- Grace – we aren’t always the best version of ourselves. We aren’t perfect and make mistakes. We hurt feelings and can be selfish, too. You should be with someone that loves all of you, even the not so pretty parts. They should be forgiving, understanding and give you grace in these moments. This does not mean you can be an asshole. But it does mean you should be comfortable being 100% YOU, say you’re sorry when you’re wrong and offer the same understanding and grace in return.
- To be supported and taken care of – nothing should limit your dreams and your partner should support you. In fact, they should make you believe in yourself more. You should feel like someone has your back and no matter what, everything will be ok because you know you have someone to solve life’s challenges with.
- To trust and be trusted – trust is the backbone of a relationship. Without it, there is no relationship. You should feel trusted because you are trustworthy – so BE trustworthy and honest so you never have to be questioned. If you are trustworthy and honest and still questioned, you are not trusted and this is NOT a fun place to be. So don’t allow that to happen. In reverse, you should trust your partner. If they give you reasons not to trust them, take a long, hard look at the relationship to see if it is really what you want.
- Laughter – you should have a reason to smile everyday and laugh until your stomach hurts sometimes. Laughing together is an absolute non-negotiable for me. Someone needs to love my weirdness and dorkiness. It’s not an option not to. Always make sure you can laugh at yourself, too.
- The little things – whether it’s your favorite food, little notes, help without being asked, random flowers delivered to work because they know you’re having a stressful week, a back rub or simply watching your favorite show – all of the little things are truly the biggest things. It can be easy to overlook them, so take time to write down things you notice because they add up and can show you someone is truly trying to take care of you, thinks about you and wants you to be happy. You should do all of this and more in return. Remember – everyone loves differently – so talking openly about how someone shows and receives love will really help out in this area. Speak your partner’s love language for them and allow them to speak yours to you.
- One life – if you open your life to them, they should open their life to you in return. Even if you are just in a committed relationship and not married, it should not feel choppy. You should feel like one unit and equally involved in each other’s circles. You should talk about the future, what it looks like and how you’re going to get there together.
We get so busy in life that we sometimes forget to live. We spend time capturing or recording a memory instead of just living in it. I read this last week and it was too good not to share on this topic.
Here is Bob Moorehead about the importance of the little things:
“The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.
We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships.
These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.
Remember, to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.
Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.
Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.
Remember, to say, “I love you” to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.
Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person might not be there again. Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.”
Let’s live this life. We only have one.
Before I had kids, I didn’t think about sleep really at all. I pretty much always got enough of it and if there were a few nights I stayed out too late, I could catch up. And being in my early twenties, I could still go out and then go to class or work the next day and somehow function.
Then I had my daughter. I knew people said that babies keep you awake at all hours, but as a young mom, I don’t think I fully comprehended what that meant. In those moments in the middle of the night when I could hardly keep my eyes open to save my life, I learned that sleep is one precious commodity. I vowed to myself to never, ever take sleep for granted again. And thirteen plus years later, I still do not take it for granted.
At the point of getting separated, both of my children were very much past the waking up in the middle of the night stage. So, I had a few years of some very good sleep – of which I soaked in every single moment. I didn’t think I’d ever have to face a sleeping shortage again. Well, I was wrong. I don’t know if anyone else who has been through a divorce experienced insomnia, but I sure did – and still do – to this day.
As I sit here writing this post, I’ve probably yawned ten times. Like bringing out the big guns yawns. I’ve been awake since 2:30 this morning when I woke up and simply could not get back to sleep. I’ve adjusted to this lifestyle of many sleepless nights at this point. When I do have a night where I wake up less than two times, or a morning where I am able to sleep in a bit, I take full advantage. I take Benedryl, Advil PM and melatonin on occasion to at least help me go back to sleep if I wake up in the night. I usually do this when I know I have flexibility to sleep in the next morning. However, this strategy also backfires on me. I’ve learned that I can take one and it might work, but two gives me worse insomnia. That really annoys me.
There are several reasons why I link my insomnia to divorce. The most obvious reason is because it started at the same time. Also, at the beginning stages of divorce, it is rather difficult to live in what I call the limbo or in-between period. This is where you have made the decision to move forward, but so many pieces have to fall into place before you can really feel like you have somewhat of a normal life again. If you have kids, add a multiplier of stress to this time period.
I was numb for a long time even before my divorce, as I had to be strong and cope with things that wouldn’t have been possible for me to get through had I not blocked out emotion. It must’ve been a flight or fight instinct in me that pushed me to that point, as I really don’t think I would’ve been strong enough to get there on my own based on how emotional and sensitive I am at my core. Because of this, the transition or limbo period wasn’t as difficult on me as I have heard it’s been on other people. I think my limbo period just started years before my divorce, so I lived in it for a long time without even knowing it. While this might’ve made it a bit easier from an emotional standpoint, it was still a change with many, many unknowns.
I slept better when my kids were with me (and still do) because that seemed more normal. It was when I was alone that I never slept. I would even turn into a bit of gypsy and stay at my sister’s house or my parent’s house just to get some sleep versus zero sleep. I would avoid staying alone overnight if I could. The odd thing is I wanted to be alone and I spent many days all by myself because I didn’t want to go anywhere or see anyone, but when it got closer to bed time I would go stay somewhere else.
I remember the first Christmas Eve following my divorce. I didn’t have my kids, so after church I went to my third story condo all by myself and that’s when I cried – ugly cried to be exact. I knew I needed to stay there because I had to be Santa Claus and be there in the morning when their dad dropped them off to see what Santa delivered. That was a moment in time I will never forget. Looking back, getting through the year of firsts – just like with the grieving process – is what helps you get closer to a feeling of normalcy.
Eventually I just made myself stay alone no matter what. Some nights are still better than others. I get scared easily, so if I wake up to noises, it’s over and I’m not going back to sleep. But for the most part I am doing much better than in the beginning. I know if I continue to give time it’s proper time that one day I’ll be sleeping like a baby again.
A lot of people actually ask me these questions about my ex-husband. How do you guys get along so well? He still comes to some of your family functions? You give him dating advice? All of you can still go to dinner together?
I don't know how I got so lucky in my divorce situation, but I really did. No one envisions divorce, nor is it any sort of an ideal situation to be in at all. However, sometimes it just IS. And once it's over, all you can do is make the very best of your situation for everyone involved, especially if that includes kids.
There has never been a time in the 4.5 years since being separated that we did not respect each other and didn't work through everything in order to be the best co-parents we could be. Some people don't understand this set up. They think there needs to be clear separation in order to move on – and in some instances I am sure this is more than 100% true. In situations with no kids, I can definitely see that being the best situation for everyone. There is also the quote from When Harry Met Sally that a man and a woman cannot be just friends because someone always wants more. I tend to believe that quote, but if there are boundaries set up front, I know it can work.
So, how do we do it? I've come up with the critical elements below.
- Put first things first – your kid(s) – you have to start there. This will help shape how you want things to look and what you need to get past in order to make the best out of divorce for them. They didn't ask for this and part of them will always be affected by it. So it is your job to be mature and figure out how you will put them first. This also includes never bad mouthing your ex to the kids.
- Be transparent with your kid(s) – having a friendly relationship with my ex-husband has caused some strife with my kids wondering why the heck we just can't be married if we get along? Being transparent does not mean to tell them every detail as to why you got divorced or anything they are not emotionally equipped to handle. It does mean that you let them know that you will be friends and co-parents for them because it is what they need and deserve. Letting them know up front that it doesn't mean you're going to get back together is a good idea.
- Let go of the past – obviously there is muck or you wouldn't have gotten divorced. It is time to let go of the past and move on. Give grace, forgive and see the best in your ex so you can be the best version of yourself in this situation for your kids.
- Set clear boundaries with each other and your families – this is probably the biggest element. Someone probably might want more (or be misled to think there is a chance) if you don't set clear boundaries. This includes boundaries with your families, because there might be some instances where it is best to keep things separate and not always be together at family events, unless it's one of the kids' birthdays. My family tends to go overboard and wants to include all of the time when that is not necessarily the best set-up, either. There needs to be space and you need to determine what that space should look like, as well as let others in your close circle know.
- Actually be friends – my ex-husband and I talk about things going on with the kids, but we also ask how work is going, how his favorite team did in the game, and he even asks me for dating advice. I give it to him because all I want is to see him move on and be happy. And I want to help pick out my kids' stepmom – I am kind of selfish with this one! Just the other day, I helped him decide to send flowers to the girl he has been dating and made sure to tell him at this early point in their relationship to make them fresh flowers with a fun and flirty message, not red roses with a creepster message. And it totally worked and scored him some big points. I live for that.
- Be transparent about the set-up and expectations when you do enter a relationship with someone else – I saved this one for last because it can be tricky. Not everyone will be ok with me being friends with my ex-husband. And that's ok. I will make it clear up front what the situation is, though. I will be loyal to who I am in a relationship with, but he has to be open to this in some way or it will not work. In my last relationship, my ex-husband graciously bowed out of many things in order to give the guy I was dating the chance to be with my family alone.
So there's my advice on how to be friends with your ex-husband. It isn't always easy, and most people will look at you funny, but I have learned that there is no "right" way to do divorce. You need to do what works for your situation. I also understand that in a lot of cases there is one side that absolutely will not cooperate, even for the kids. That is unfortunate but I know it is reality. There is also abuse involved and other things that make it not possible. I understand that. In those situations, all you can do is be the best parent you can be on your own for your kids.
So. One thing I’ve learned in my old age is that women are different than men. I know, right. I’m sure I knew this back on the playground when we were chasing them and they were running away…or throwing things at us. It certainly didn’t stop us, though. I see this in my daughter today – I told her just last weekend that boys like it when girls are chill and don’t snap them…like 20 times in a row. She acknowledged that and then responded with, “But, mom, self-control is so hard.” I hear ya kid.
I can be thinking about everything that is going on in my life at practically the same time. Some things might get a little more focus than others, but the rest of it is never too far away. I can switch back and forth like a ninja – all while holding a conversation with someone, driving, or seeing something that makes me think about one of these things. I can switch mid-conversation to another topic and then pick up right where the other topic left off like nothing happened (although my memory is starting to disappoint me a bit the older I get.) I am not unlike many women. We are experts at the above.
Where we go wrong is we try to do the above with men. Aaaannd…it doesn’t work. I do this with text messaging all the time. Instead of just letting the one thought float out there, if another one happens to pop into my mind before I get a response to the first one, I go ahead and add in the new thought, too. Because, well, that makes sense to me, and why wouldn’t someone want to weed through and respond to three completely different topics in one text string? This also makes complete sense to my daughter, mom, sisters and girlfriends. And, you can totally tell it in our text messages with random gifs that practically switch topics for us. How much fun is that?! Guys? Oh…not that much fun?
There is actually a marketing lesson here – know your audience. I’ve done a little research (completely non-scientific) and discovered that most men don’t skip around from topic to topic like most women do – they don’t like it and it’s not easy for them to do so, either. This means that they are able to keep their feelings and emotions about one topic separate from other things. Oh my goodness. I wish I had this quality. For example, if he is at work, he is AT WORK. He is in his work compartment, worrying about work stuff, thinking about work stuff and talking about work stuff. Sure, he can talk about other things with his co-workers or even send some texts to his significant other, but unless there is something else that is totally taking over his mind at the moment – he is at work and only at work.
Now, if he’s with his buddies watching football and drinking beer, this is safe zone. No one is nagging, there is no one to impress…and he is truly only in this compartment, needs this compartment and does not want to feel like this compartment will ever be forced away from him. I once asked a guy who was about to propose to his girlfriend what percentage of his time he needed for this “bro” time. I thought his answer was more than fair. He said only counting his free time outside of work and other obligations, it would be 73/27 – that is 73% with his significant other and 27% with his bros. I then asked the guy next to him (who was married) and he said 40/60 – that is 40% with his significant other and 60% with his bros. Interesting, huh.
If women took a little step back and tried an ounce harder to understand the compartments enough to not make him jump from one to the other like a ping pong game and let him enjoy his favorite ones fully and enough (I do think the 27% is enough if they feel it is not restricted), there would be a lot less frustration in relationships. Just like if men tried an ounce harder with women and wrote them more notes out of the blue, sent flowers on a completely random day, gave them compliments other than being beautiful, came home with their favorite take-out, made them dress up for a surprise date they already had planned…you get the drift…
Women – try and see if you can tell what compartment he is in. Then, try to stay there with him and only move onto the next if he moves on. See what happens. Then comment and let me know.
Men – try to make more of an effort in showing her that you are thinking about her and that she is special to you. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been together. She still needs it. And the smallest actions will go a lot farther than you can imagine. Then comment and let me know how it goes.
30 Ways to Love Yourself in 15 Minutes a Day
15 minutes a day. 105 minutes a week. 450 minutes a month. That’s only 90 hours in an entire year. Do you think you can carve that out of your life to focus solely on loving yourself? We should all take more time to love ourselves, but in the busy world of work, sports, side jobs, cleaning, shopping, running the kids’ taxi service, exercising, etc. it is not as easy as it should be to squeeze in this extra 15 minutes.
This is not something I’ve done as a set schedule, but as I write this post I am now committing to 15 minutes a day (I usually tend to save it all up and spend a couple of hours each week) to simply loving myself. There is nothing more important than loving yourself. If we don’t love ourselves, then no on else can, either. If we don’t see our own worth, then no one else can, either. If we don’t enjoy our own company, then no one else can, either.
While moving on with my life post-divorce and truly living on my own, I have had to come to terms with these truths. Facing my deepest insecurities head-on has not been easy or pretty, and I’m still very much working on loving myself without limits or conditions. That’s why the following 30 ways to love yourself in 15 minutes a day is just as helpful to me as it is to anyone reading this. Self control, self talk, saying no, boundary setting and enforcement all take practice, like anything else in life. Are you ready to practice? Are you ready to let yourself be truly seen so you can be truly loved? If so, here are 30 ways to practice loving yourself everyday:
- Pray in reverse – don’t be the one doing the talking with God – be silent and see what the Holy Spirit speaks to you in your mind
- Call someone important to you that you haven’t talked to in a long time – don’t text, CALL!
- Make a list of all of the qualities you like about yourself and all of the qualities you don’t like about yourself – re-visit this list every few weeks and see what progress you’ve made toward the qualities you don’t like
- Journal or blog – this can be about anything, about your day, a relationship, something you’re trying to work through, your raw thoughts, literally ANYTHING, just let your mind flow onto the paper and see what happens
- Learn something new – a hobby, language, sport, anything
- Make a list of your life goals and set reasonable time frames in which to accomplish them – pick one to focus on during your 15 minutes until it is accomplished
- Find a good yoga app
- Sit outside and simply observe everything around you
- Make a list of all of the things you are thankful for
- Draw or paint a picture
- Write yourself a letter and forgive yourself for something you need to forgive yourself for
- Take a bath, light a candle and relax in silence or to your favorite music
- Drive around and sing at the top of your lungs
- Go to Target – YES this is a way to love yourself, I promise! I also get a large fountain Diet Coke and a bag of popcorn from the snack bar to shop with me – WARNING – this may exceed 15 minutes but doesn’t have to 🙂
- Lay in the sun and let your face truly feel it soaking in
- Go for a walk or bike ride
- Figure out the rules and boundaries you want for yourself – what do you need to be saying no to?
- Make a list of your favorite things
- Write a card to someone and send it in the mail
- Write a card to yourself and send it in the mail
- Dance to loud music and watch yourself in the mirror, too! Smile and HAVE FUN doing this one
- Bake cookies
- Read a few chapters of a book
- Get a coffee and people watch in your favorite coffee shop
- Buy yourself fresh flowers and put them in your kitchen
- Ask someone for feedback
- Do some sort of puzzle – jigsaw, crossword, word search, etc.
- Record yourself saying something you want yourself to hear in the future – play back these recordings often
I could probably keep going, but here are the 30 ways to love yourself in just 15 minutes a day. What do you think? What would you add?
I’ve realized something lately. It’s not earth shattering or something I didn’t know before. But, does something ever hit you, like really hit you, and even though you knew it before – all of a sudden you just see things a little differently? This is what happened to me. ***I’m placing a long post warning right here – if you want to just get to what I’ve realized, skip down to the last two paragraphs. If you want to follow how my crazy mind works, well then read on from here. 🙂
I’ve always had the best friends. I have been so blessed in this department my whole life. I was single for a very long time, so maybe that is part of the reason why. I was always ALL about my friends throughout high school and college and could pour a lot of me into them. In fact, I was just telling my teenage daughter last year that if you aren’t making an effort in friendships/relationships, you aren’t going to get anything out of them. My lesson to her was simple – as a girl, you NEED girl friends. It is essential to every part of your being. She wanted to be instantly liked and included – and not have to step out of her comfort zone in order to develop deep friendships. This is when I told her that you have to put your real, authentic self out there. (Which I realize can be really scary in 7th grade at a new school.) She had a Christmas movie marathon at our house in December and invited old friends, as well as people she was just getting to know. And the rest is history, really. My number one thanks to God in my prayers over the last several months is seeing her with what is now down to a group of four of them that have become so close. I can tell she is 100% herself around them and vice versa. It literally brings tears to my eyes as I type this because it makes me so happy. Maybe this is where this revelation started even, I don’t know.
Moving on…I never wanted to be a divorced person. I didn’t want that label and honestly, I was ashamed of it. I felt that all of a sudden I got looked at differently and stopped getting invited to couple or family parties…because I was going to start hitting on all of the husbands?! However, I’ve tried my best to not let those thoughts and insecurities control me. At first, I hid out. A lot. I moved away in my own little place and only let in those closest to me. But, little by little I started to let my guard down. I gave time its proper time (and still am) and have been able to accept the situation and forgive myself for the most part.
Then I did something really brave. I got out of the almost four-year relationship I was in immediately after my divorce. This was probably one of the most courageous things I’ve ever done. I know that sounds pathetic, but it was a moment when I broke my own cycle. I took what I learned from my past and decided it wasn’t going to affect my future. I wasn’t going to get to one or five years down the road just to receive validation that my gut was right. It was scary to leave what was comfortable and who I knew loved me…no matter what. I could have stayed forever just for that alone, because then I never would have had to face the risk of not being loved ever again. However, I knew God was with me and would get me through – and in the end I would look back and know that the beauty waiting for me on the other side was because of the risk I took to let go and break the cycle. This is truly when I chose myself and risked living this life alone in order to choose her. What I’ve learned in this time, however, is that even if I’m not in a relationship or married, I’m not living this life alone. And that, my friends, opened my eyes and provided me more strength than I’ve ever had. Do I still have insecurities? Of course. Do I still get lonely and long for one complete family and to build a home with someone? Yes! And I know all of that is ok because it is just who I am. (This is girl is one HOPELESS ROMANTIC…I just know I have to embrace her and simmer her down a little when needed.) I also know that I need to be patient and LIVE moment by moment for once in my life.
I pray a lot for God to SHOW me how I can help – to make it abundantly clear what I am called to do. This is because I am so blind and there are so many times I miss something obvious or don’t act on a thought that crossed my mind. I forget that the Holy Spirit lives within me and gives me these nudges, but so many times I disregard them as my own thoughts. Acting on the things in which we know are good and we know must be heaven-sent is where we start to become closer to the person God created us to be. I read this question somewhere recently: what if at the end of your life you were able to meet the you that you could have been? That is a powerful thought. The gap could be so incredibly large or we could work now everyday to make sure the gap is as small as possible. And this isn’t about money or success – it is about a heart that takes action. I digress because that is not what this post is about, it is just how my thought process works. However, part of my realization stemmed from this notion of tuning in and acting on those nudges, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem.
Living moment by moment has helped me realize what I tried to get to in the first paragraph. And that is that sometimes the call to action is literally right in front of our eyes. It can be our closest friends, family members, or someone you just pass by and say hi to everyday at work and have no idea what he or she is really going through. It is about not being scared to tell your story because you never know who needs to hear it. We all go through muck in life and every single one of us has our own unique muck. God knows this because he knows everything. He knows who He can use to help his children through whatever muck they happen to be in. After encountering new friends and old friends that have been or are going through a divorce right now, it clicked for me that this is my call to action. I haven’t thought a lot about friendships being a call to action from God because like I said, I just always had good ones. However, I didn’t have a girl friend with kids that knew what I was going through when I got divorced. I had great girl friends that were there for me, don’t get me wrong, but no one that I could really connect with. It was kind of like when I had my daughter because I had kids many years before my friends did. I had to go through it first. Was I perfect? Not in the slightest. I was forced to figure things out, though.
SO…what I have realized is that I am BLESSED with those around me…with my girl friends…old and new. I have also realized that I have friends right now who truly need me. That is weird to write out loud. And I am truly willing to lose sleep for these friends and give up other things so I can spend time with them to listen or to just validate what they are going through. I want to be there to watch romcoms, laugh, snort and give hope in the fact that everything WILL be ok…with their hearts, with their kids, and with their lives. And I know because I’ve been there. And in many ways I am still there…I’m just at a different point in the journey. We are walking this journey arm in arm because we’ve been connected with our stories and our muck. Our muck happens to be similar so it bonds us together. I know there are many other stories like this – wives that have had to see their husbands on multiple deployments, those battling cancer, those coping with sick kids or loss. This is what we are called to do in this world. This is God at work. This is God being omnipresent. I know it with all of my being. If I’ve had to go through all of my own unique muck (and I know there’s more to come) just to get to this point of realization, I can honestly say it’s all made me a better person and certainly closer to the woman God created me to be. I am working to be more like her every single day. I am looking right under my nose for ways to help others in my life here, right where I am.
Thank you to all of my friends – every single one of you holds a special place in my heart and helps me in SO many ways. And then there is FAMILY. That is like multiple posts, so I’ll just end with a huge thank you. There is nothing like the feeling of a grateful heart. And mine certainly runneths over.