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Dating, Divorce 360, Mindfulness, Self-Care
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Surviving Valentine’s Day During Divorce

Who says Valentine’s Day is only for couples?   We can all participate in this holiday, by expanding our notion of love.

Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays, more so now that I’m divorced.  Gone are the expectations and disappointments that often accompanied it in the past.  Now, I can participate in my own way.   

I know many people view this mid-winter pop-up holiday as a manufactured exercise in consumerism and insecurity.  But I see it as an opportunity to celebrate love more broadly.  Romantic love is NOT the only kind of love around.  And as anyone who has had a partner knows, it can be pretty thorny.  We all have love in our lives, and this a great chance to celebrate the people we care about.

We don’t want to feel that our own happiness is in the hands of someone else, or dependent upon an ideal from which we are excluded.  Resilience after loss has been correlated with a sense of agency, the feeling that you do have control over your own life and your own happiness.

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Family & Friends, Image Cards, Joint Custody, Parenting
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Parenting During Divorce? Trust Yourself


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Many people feel uncharacteristically insecure during divorce, questioning every decision, unable to trust their gut.  This “divorce onset insecurity” makes sense; your entire life is in the midst of changing. But when it comes to parenting, much of what you need to do, you already know.

Yes, we need to pay extra attention, make an extra effort to create stability in the midst of change, and avoid bad-mouthing our children’s other parent.  But we also need to trust ourselves as parents, and rely on our own good judgment, wisdom and love.  You can be an excellent parent in divorce.  Here are some tips for helping kids thrive.

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Amicable Divorce, Courts, Divorce Apps, Joint Custody, Parenting, technology
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Divorce As the New Cottage Industry?

What do you do when your longtime marriage ends?  Start a small business about divorce.  At least, that’s the answer for an ever-increasing number of formerly-weds. An entire cottage industry is growing around divorce.  For many people, helping others get through it is the best way to manage divorce.

Some of the current companies existed back in 2012, when I began working on (what now looks like) my own bid into the divorce wellness marketplace,  Splitopia: Dispatches from Today’s Good Divorce and How to Part Well.  That was before Gwyneth Paltrow’s announcement of her own “conscious uncoupling,” back when the notion of a “good divorce” was still somewhat new, even suspect.  Today, I receive a press release or announcement about a new divorce-focused company every month.

For example, back in the early 2000s, I freelanced for a mind/body-building magazine founded by iron-pumping fitness guru Bill Philips.  A few months ago, I got an email from my then-editor, who had begun content for untangletheknot.com.  This Denver-based startup was launched last year by former corporate exec/business coach Julie Gannon, after her 13-year marriage ended.  Gannon said she’d envisioned running an online resource but found that people wanted more personal connection and hand-holding. “So I’ve started coaching and working with people one on one and hosting workshops,” she said.

Part of the reason for all of these apps, online companies and divorce-support services is the rise of entrepreneurship itself.  Entrepreneurship, the new “it” vocation, promises the freedom and creativity of being an artist, without the starving part.  Marriage-for-life advocates may point to divorce as an outgrowth of a consumer culture on overdrive, a symptom of our endless quest for some newer, better model.  But I think owning your own business is the real shiny bauble, promising a life of passionate self-expression, if you can handle the risk.

“Anybody can start a company today,” said Brian Mac Mahon, a serial entrepreneur/ entrepreneurship coach, and founder of the start-up incubator Expert DOJO in Santa Monica, CA.  “Twenty years ago, you would have needed to spend money on a shop, advertisement, accountants, attorneys.  Today, you can build your own website on GoDaddy for $50. Social media is free. You can hire virtual assistants for a couple bucks an hour.  There are no barriers to entry.  It’s never been easier to start, but never been harder to be successful.”

Many of the new divorce businesses are tech-based.  We’re all living more of our lives online, on apps, on DropBox.  According a 2014 PEW survey, 87-percent of American adults use the Internet, as compared to only 14-percent in 1995.  Nearly three-quarters of adults online use social media.  The market is wide open for new applications to help with divorce.

Or maybe the surge has to do with the nature of entrepreneurs themselves.  “They’re creative, mile-a-minute people, pulled in lots of different directions, passionate about their ideas,” said George Washington University law professor Jeffrey Manns, who is overseeing an entrepreneurship initiative at the school.  All that passion directed toward the next hot idea can torpedo a marriage. There’s no official stat on entrepreneurship and divorce, but talk to anyone who’s been an entrepreneur, or coached one, and they’ll warn about the strain it can put on relationships.

“A true entrepreneur, when being exposed to a new set of problems, will come up with interesting solutions, so it’s not surprising that they would be innovating in this space,” said Manns.

Not all of the new businesses will last.  But is this more than a passing trend?  I had the opportunity to further investigate this topic for The New York Observer.  Read the article here.  Please share with others.  And write to let me know what you think: wendy@wendyparis.com.

Don’t forget to pre-order Splitopia, and tell others about it.  And check out my new Events page for upcoming readings and talks.

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Image Cards, Mindfulness, Resilience, Self-Care
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How to Survive Divorce? Self-Compassion


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In one of the most interesting studies done on divorce, researcher David Sbarra at the University of Arizona, and his team, showed that self-compassion correlates most strongly with positive divorce recuperation. It was more important than other positive traits such as self-esteem, and more significant than relationship details such as length of marriage.  As the study authors concluded, “Higher levels of self-compassion at the initial visit were associated with less divorce-related emotional intrusion at the start of the study, and this effect persisted over nine months.”

Self-compassion is a three-part idea borrowed from Buddhism that involves viewing yourself with understanding and forgiveness, seeing the universality of your struggles (rather than thinking you’re the only person on the block with problems),  and practicing mindfulness. Unlike other traits, such as height or eye color, self-compassion can be built.

Kristin Neff, a psychology professor at University of Texas, Austin, is one of the leading Western researchers of self-compassion.  As her website, Selfcompassion.org, explains, “With self-compassion, we give ourselves the same kindness and care we’d give to a good friend.”  Check it out to learn more about the concept, try a guided meditation, sign up for a workshop, or simply rate your own current state of self-compassion.

Find more information and concrete tips for building self-compassion in “Chapter Two: Principles of Parting,” in Splitopia, now available for pre-order. Or write to me at wendy@wendyparis.com.

Please forward this post to anyone who could use a little more self-care.

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Divorce 360, Image Cards
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Is the “Good Divorce” the New Norm?


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While the old-style, adversarial divorce positioned marriage and divorce as opposite ends of the relationship spectrum, the truth is often a different story.  As I’ve written about before, divorce allows some couples—my ex-husband and myself included—to get along better.

Increasingly, we’re seeing stories of former couples who have restructured their relationship into something less intense and more functional.  I really liked this piece in the The New York Times about couples living close together for their children.  The paper positioned it as a “New York thing,” but I know people around the country similarly choosing to stay close for their children’s sake, And their own.

Today, legal innovations continue to improve the divorce process.  Collaborative law, for example, still somewhat new, is a legal approach in which both spouses hire a lawyer, but each lawyer signs a contract to settle the case out of court.  “There’s been a movement to make divorce less contentious,” says George Washington University law professor Naomi Cahn, co-author of Marriage Markets: How Inequality is Remaking the American Family.  “In the past six years, a dozen states plus Washington D.C. have enacted the Uniform Collaborative Law act. It represents the use of collaborative law and an effort to standardized it.  The fact that there is such a thing is pretty exciting.”

The Uniform Collaborative Law act is just one example of how the law increasingly supports today’s good divorce, and is catching up with the reality of modern family life.  As more divorcing and separating couples chose collaborative approaches to parting, we’ll likely hear more stories of decent divorces, and happy, well-adjusted families—whatever the marital status of the parents.

What do you think? Write me at wendy@wendyparis.com, and let me know.  Please share with anyone you know in the midst of divorce.

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