7 Critical Mistakes Divorced Women Make and How to Eliminate Them

Stop Doing What Doesn't Work

Mistake #7: You Don’t Make a Financial Plan

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” – Benjamin Franklin

The key word in this mistake is “plan”. Divorced women are so busy just making ends meet, working, taking care of their children, parents, and the world that they just don’t (seem) to have time to plan anything, even if it’s for their own good. However, the facts about divorced women and finances should outrage all of us to action.

Here are just two:

  • 27% of recently divorced women had less than $25,000 in annual household income compared with 17% of recently divorced men.
  • 60% of people under poverty guidelines are divorced women and children.

Eliminate This Mistake With A Shift In Mindset And 1 Action Step

Recognize that YOU have control over your money. Yes, you do! If you weren’t in control while married, you certainly are now that you are divorced. If you feel incompetent, admit that and get advice. It’s better to get advice than to barely make ends meet, especially as you enter your older years. There are many resources to help you make a financial plan. Here is one: National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. Find a financial advisor today. If you already have one and haven’t had a financial review in over a year, call your advisor today. Schedule it into your calendar just as you would a medical or dental appointment for a loved one. For great articles on becoming financially strong and smart, find information and encouragement here: First Wives World

 

Mistake #6: You Go It Alone

Somewhere along the journey of life, you got the message that you had to be Superwoman! What a crazy expectation.

Why?

Because playing Superwoman is not only exhausting, the reward is debilitating: chronic stress! Chronic stress leads to heart attacks, strokes, and cancer, just to name a few. Yet, we keep playing this role and society certainly supports us in it. However, if you go it alone, you work against your basic nature as a woman. A woman’s basic nature is to “tend and befriend”. Meaning, you are hard-wired to protect/look after (tend) and connect with others (befriend), particularly during times of crises and hardship.

Eliminate This Mistake With An Understanding And A Commitment

Understand this: divorce is quite common (fortunately or unfortunately), which means: 1) you are not alone, and 2) other women are wanting to connect with you too. Someone has to make the first move to declare that it’s okay to need one another (befriend). I’ll make that first move here: I NEED YOU DIVORCED WOMEN! I need to hear from you, mingle with you, laugh with you, and go out dancing with you, vacation with you, and drink a glass of wine (or two, or three…hell, the whole bottle!) with you!

There…

Now, commit to connecting with a great group of divorced women who are fun and have learned to take on divorce and make it a blast! Visit www.MeetUp.com or do an internet search of your own.

Mistake #5: You Don’t Plan for Your Happiness NOW

Let’s face it: one day the kids will be gone (if not already). You may retire one day (if not already). You may move again one day. The point is, your circumstances will change but you can be happy wherever you are if you plan it NOW! What I mean by “plan” is to be intentional about doing things that make you FEEL GOOD. If you have forgotten what makes you feel good, discover your feel good zones (What did you like to do before? When you were single? When you were a child?). It is your right to be happy. In fact, being happy in and of itself brings healing at the cellular level. Being unhappy because you don’t intend happiness means you become the sourpuss in the room. You become the ex-spouse badger who sounds like a broken record. And, you burden others to pity your unhappiness.

Bets are that this is not the kind of woman you really want to BE.

So…BE happy…on purpose…NOW!

Eliminate This Mistake With A Good Book

There are many great books on happiness, being happy, finding happiness, thinking happy thoughts, etc. If you just don’t know where to start with planning your happiness, read this great book by bestselling author, Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun.

I don’t know Gretchen Rubin and she sure doesn’t know me. However, I sat in her book tour talk and was inspired by the day-to-day simplicity of happiness that she shared. I bought her book on the spot. One idea she explored was, “Enjoy the fun of failure.” If that makes you bristle, go buy the book…NOW!

“When we change our habits, we change our lives.” – Gretchen Rubin

 

Mistake #4: You Still Blame Your Ex

If every time you open your mouth to speak about your divorce, and the first words that come out are: “He did this or that…” or, “He is such a this or that…” then you are still blaming your ex for this AND that.

I get it…I did too. Our ex-spouse needs so much improvement. Right?!

Blame is a way to discharge pain. By blaming your ex, you are attempting to extricate yourself from the pain of the breakup, disappoint, betrayal, upset, and so on. It’s normal to want to release the pain. However, to blame is temporary relief. That pain will only return after it’s released because there is a rubber band attached to the end of it. Guess who’s holding the end of the rubber band?

Yup! You.

Eliminate This Mistake With A Courageous Move

Put on your Courageous Gear because here comes the move:

Take responsibility for your contribution to a marriage that ended.

(Do I hear you shouting and cursing at me over this move?)

Take responsibility for your contribution. Why? Because when you do, you move through pain and into freedom. Blaming is imprisonment. Imprisonment is self-inflicted. You do it to yourself. Freedom, however, is liberating. Freedom is self-inflicted too. You GIVE it to yourself. When you are free you are empowered.

Think about this: whenever you encounter your ex (in person, by phone, email or text), what emotions run through you? Likely, those emotions are not ones that make you feel good and your actions coincide with these emotions. But, if you cease blaming (I know, he is an ass) and take responsibility (whereby he morphs from ass to asset), then your encounters with your ex will feel to you – at a minimum – neutral (not upset, annoyed, or wanting to jump him in a dark alley). As you take responsibility, your encounters may actually feel empowering.

When you taste the delicious freedom taking responsibility holds, the feelings you experience when you encounter your ex will be yours to choose. You, my Dear, get to select the feelings and thus the encounters as you say.

And, from personal experience I just wanna say “freedom is silky smooth like Godiva chocolate!”

Mistake #3: You Don’t Make Your Health A Priority

I’ll admit it…this is my pet peeve.

I get deeply bothered – heartbroken – by our addiction to putting the needs and wants of others first while ignoring our own. I did this and suffered profoundly. I put the needs and wants of my children and spouse first while ignoring my own during 18 years of marriage. Only in year 17 of my marriage did I change course to prioritize me. This shift was inspired by learning and practicing Transcendental Meditation.

Allow me to share an excerpt from my book, Muddy High Heels: 14 Lessons Learned from My Breakdown, Breakup, and Breakthrough:

I couldn’t stop crying. The more I told myself to stop, the harder I cried. Down- stairs, in the basement of my home, my crying episode erupted unexpectedly and in the worst of company. Panicked, my seven-year-old grabbed the phone and called her father at work: “Mommy is crying and she won’t stop.” My husband calmly instructed my seven-year-old to wait while he called one of my friends. She would know what to do until he got home, and home he would be shortly.

By the time my husband arrived, I had gone upstairs, taken all of the keys to the bathroom door, and locked myself in the powder room. On the small, cold linoleum floor I continued to sob. My body heaved with each teardrop. By then, the children were out of their minds with confusion and despair. They couldn’t understand in their innocence how their mother – the one always in control – was clearly out of control…

That day, I hit “rock bottom.” “Hitting rock bottom” is an idiom that means to reach the lowest possible level or to be in the worst possible situation. Most people are familiar with this idiom as it relates to alcoholics or drug abusers (or other addicts). In this situation, addicts either die or reinvent themselves.

I was an “addict” of sorts. I wasn’t addicted to drugs or substances. I was addicted to putting everyone’s needs first while neglecting my own. Day after day, year after year, this was my ritual. The “high” from the stress of being wife and mother to four children was deleterious. I couldn’t see the toxic build-up of constant stress in my blood stream. Without the relief that self-care would have provided, hitting rock bottom was inevitable, and I didn’t even know it. My daily tasks of giving baths, washing clothes, grocery and Costco-shopping, cooking meals, making, bagging, and packing lunches into backpacks, cleaning the kitchen, driving children to and from school, putting other children on the school bus, driving children to play dates and staying for them, checking and supervising homework, refereeing arguments, changing diapers, picking out school clothes, kissing boo- boos over and over again…reading bedtime stories, and tucking all into bed one by one meant there was no time for ME. I did these tasks seamlessly, while I kept my hair groomed, my clothes clean, my body washed, my teeth brushed, and said “yes” to sex, whether I wanted to or not.

 

Eliminate This Mistake By Celebrating YOU!

Let’s start incrementally because switching from taking care of the needs of others before your own takes practice and intention. For the next 30 days, do 1 thing to celebrate YOU! This means you do one thing that’s worth your attention (as celebrations are). Now, don’t complicate this and think about $$$ and lots of time. Start simply. For example, celebrate that you are a good person. Celebrate that you work hard to make sure everyone else is okay. Celebrate that you get up every morning and do your best whether or not you feel like it. Celebrate that you are a good friend. Celebrate that you are a good mom.

Celebrate YOU!

How?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Buy yourself some flowers (or pick them from your neighbor’s garden, lol)
  • Put on your favorite outfit and prance around town (who cares if you have not specific place to go. You’ll look good. Jive with the good feeling.)
  • Write down 3 traits you like about yourself (if you struggle with this one, call your friend and ask for help) and read them throughout the day
  • Light some candles and take a bubble bath
  • Sleep in (I promise you the world won’t come to an end and your kids will be just fine)
  • Have that bowl of ice cream with the chocolate topping and enjoy every single bite
  • Dance to your favorite song, naked! (This is what I did because it was THE MOST CHALLENGING but felt THE BEST of all the celebrations)

Mistake #2: You Don’t Think You Are Good Enough

If you already thought you weren’t good enough, divorce will magnify this feeling. “Not good enough” runs the show of our life. Most of the time we are unaware it’s running the show. This subtle thought reminds you that you aren’t pretty enough, smart enough, thin enough, educated enough, articulate enough, tall enough, funny enough, friendly enough, personal enough, thoughtful enough, firm enough, deserving enough, and on and on and on. These are all lies. All of them! Unfortunately, we believe them and act consistently with this belief. Why then, do we wonder why we don’t experience the happiness, love, success, and peace others seem to have?

Eliminate This Mistake By A Declaration

In order to switch from “not good enough” to “good enough”, you must declare the truth about your duality. The truth is, there exist You and your evil twin. You (your higher self) says you are good enough. Your evil twin (your lower self) says you are an idiot to even believe there is a higher self.

The truth of who you are is YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH! Yes. YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH! Doesn’t matter what your momma told you, what your daddy told you or even what you ex told you (God knows he was speaking from his own sense of not good enough). You are good enough for anything you desire. You are good enough just as you are, lacking nothing. What you have done is tell yourself a story about not being good enough, and now you live out that story as the main character. Declare you are good enough (fake it for awhile if you must). When you do, you will begin to notice when the evil twin tells you the opposite. Once you can identify the evil twin’s voice, you can replace her words with the truth. This will require a bit of practice. Anything worthwhile will take some time to cultivate.

So, cultivate you!

 

Mistake #1: You Use Your Kids to Punish Your Ex

This is a big one.

Humongous.

Gargantuan.

Your kids (our kids, our future, our hopes, and our dreams) did not ask to go through a divorce. They did not sign-up for the aftermath of this wretched process. They are innocent in all respects. They deserve to be protected and kept ill-informed about your disdain for, disappointment and issues with your ex.

There is only one recommendation appropriate for this mistake:

STOP DOING THIS!

Eliminate This Mistake With A Simple Action

STOP DOING THIS!

Bottom line: when you use your kids to punish your ex, you do irreparable damage to their emotional development and you make yourself become a small, petty person. Going through divorce requires strength and maturity.

There is nothing mature about using your kids.

Period!

Choose at least one of these critical mistakes and commit to eliminating it. Practice the suggested elimination (or one of your own) for 30 days. In 30 days, you will recognize a difference in yourself that I believe you will really like.

And, others will notice too.

Others: “Have you lost weight?”

You: “Yes…from the baggage I was carrying by making 7 critical mistakes.”

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2 Comments

  1. Great tips Pamela!

    Do you meet many recently divorced women who immediately jump into another relationship with another man and relive the same type of relationship?

    • Hi Orlando. Unfortunately, I do. What I have discovered is that the pain of being “alone” is so great that most are willing to be with anyone who will “love” them. Helping women work through that discomfort is their best solution to find healthier relationships.

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