How To Exit A Marriage Gracefully

Not one to reign doom and gloom on what should be the happiest time of year, but it’s given that many couples decided to part in the new year . I can only guessing it’s a case of out with the old, in with new which trigger most people to make such a momentous decision. Or maybe the stress of having extended time together makes people realise that they simply can’t abide another year or for some the drinking and partying led to extreme behaviour which couldn’t be forgiven. Who knows?  What ever the reason, though, it happens. My own parents are testament to it,  January 4th, if you need dates.

So if this is you,  lets put those extreme emotions aside and look at the practical side. First thing first, it happens, shit happens and it’s not a failure or a dirty word. It takes a strong person to stay in an unhappy marriage but an even stronger one to say I tried but it’s time to walk away for my own sanity and that of my family.  So for those with an inkling it’s on the cards, I’m dishing the dirt  on some of my own experience as I face the first Christmas on my own. (Not that I’m ever truly alone, I have my rock steady tribe of friends and family that see to that, but you get the gist.)

Lets begin by facing facts; Separation and divorce  is NEVER a private affair no matter how hard you try. Everyone has their opinion, it’s only natural that people take sides, whether it’s Team Husband or Team Wife. It’s where true friends show their allegiance and families stand firm and proud. It’s great if you can split amicably, I’m not saying in a grown up way as lets face it, how many grown ups do you know who wouldn’t want to defend their friends or family in this situation. There’s nothing grown up about it, quite the opposite, part of being grown up is supporting each other in their time of need. It’s the bitterness and nastiness that needs leaving at the Jeremy Kyle / Jerry Springer studio.

I personally have been trying my darn hardest to do things a little different. When I finally accepted that our time was up, I made a conscious decision to exit my marriage with grace and respect, to not play the victim and to hold my head up high,

And I’m not going to lie, it’s been one of the hardest approaches to something I have EVER made.

Inside I was screaming for injustice and revenge but as the fire died down and I reflected on what was and what could now be, the right and only course for me to take was the calm one. I’m not a drama queen by nature,  neither am I vengeful or scheming. So I had to go with what I do and know best and be calm, collected and in control.

Bonkers you say? “Get out there and fight” was that?

Just think about it, where exactly will it get you? You can’t fight fire with fire and there’s no more damaging emotion than hate and anger. So why be everyone else’s drama topic of the day? Nope, it’s the low road for me, plus karma does a pretty good job of sorting out the deserving & not so.

And while the practicalities of the situation mean you will have to exercise your own opinion in some shape or form. Keeping your counsel and letting the professionals do what they do best. You need to try mediation prior to any divorce proceedings. This is involves sitting with a trained mediator who is completely neutral  while you discuss between you how to approach childcare arrangements, divving up your assets and anything else you need to discuss with your ex partner.

Once that’s all done and dusted (and whether it worked out or not, it’s not always suitable, especially in cases where there was domestic violence) Next step it to make it official by moving on to the divorce proceedings. If mediation worked out ok (which is the MUCH cheaper option) you can file for divorce by enlisting a solicitor firm online  check out Slater Gordon divorce solicitors to give you an idea of how this works, or  visiting a local firm. Most offer an initial mini free session which helps you get a feel if they’re the right person to take charge  of such a whopping great big life choice.

What’s important here is to try not to air your dirty washing on social media. Once those words are out there they’re permanent and can’t be unsaid. Choose your sounding out boards wisely, gather up the fun ones who’s distract you and  filter out the trusting few who you can vent to and know that it’ll go no further.

And while I’ve still got a lot of ground to cover before I’m out of the woods, I’d like to think that there is still a possibility I can exit this  marriage gracefully, even if I do trip up a little along the way.

If you’d like to read more posts on my journey from married to single try these;

 Status update, theres something you should know

What The Early Days As A Single Mum Feels Like

end of a long term relationship

why you need to hit rock bottom How To Exit A Marriage With Grace And Respect  

Disclaimer

This is a collaborative post. 

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Did I Tell You About The Time I studied With Digital Mums?

Digital Mums? What’s she banging on about now? Read on and I’ll tell you about the time I retrained as a social media manager with a course especially aimed as mums looking to study around family and work.

It all began one late summer evening……….

So there I was wondering how I was going to take my social media skills to a new level step on yet another switch on the career path. Despite spending most of my thirties studying for an Open University degree and finding a dream job I got itchy fingers and something didn’t feel right. A new baby meant when I went returned to work I’d be juggling jobs, childcare and mum guilt, I just couldn’t see it all panning out right and beside, blogging was fast becoming an even better dream job which I could do it around naps and in the evening.

Along with blogging came a little knowledge about social media, it goes part the parcel and the more I blogged the more I learnt, but it’s a fast paced world and I had a thirst for knowledge. I needed to find out more, really get my head around it then along came Digital Mums with a cup full of that knowledge and some. Blogging’s great but it’s not a steady income, retraining as a social media manager would fill that steady income gap I needed, and as a single mum to three kids, I needed that steady income more than ever.

I signed up, took the interview and the rest is history.

if you're looking to make your business more environmentally friendly then why not consider running a paperless office? Starting with my own small

‘Cause history is what’s already happened, right? 6 intense months of history in the making, studying as a social media manager on the Digital mums community manager course, my history in the making.

I’m not going to lie to you, it was tough.

Not only did I have personal stuff bobbing along in the back ground. I was now chief in charge of EVERYTHING at home. By day I was mum, doing mum stuff, house stuff, keeping fit stuff so I didn’t get ill, (getting ill just isn’t an option) and by night I was Ali the Digital Mum student and Mum in a Nutshell the blogger.

For 6 months there’s been a long stream of burning the candles at both ends and panic rants to my mum.

Along with the reading, (all on-line luckily, I have a dodgy knack of putting anything paper in the log burner, homework included) I had a weekly Google Hangout with my Social Sisters tutor group, definitely the highlight of the course. Online learning can be pretty lonely when it’s just you and a laptop, but with those ladies it all felt real and when the going got tough, we spurned each other on.

Then came the campaign, and that was when life got exciting.

Suddenly it all became real and everything I learnt put into practice as I grabbed social media by the horns and rode that bad boy through a full on round of social media-ing the pants out of east Devon. I tweeted, grammed and Facebooked within an inch of social media’s life. My phone glued to my hand as I tried to kick my targets into touch. It was hardcore live learning and I loved it!

Sure, there were moments when I was spinning so many plates, I contemplated whether I’d bitten off more that I could chew, but this was a social media course aimed at mums, created my mums who knew exactly what their students (who were mums) would be juggling.

The struggle was real but knowing I was riding it out with women all in the same boat as me took the edge off. I wasn’t the only one working, studying and mum-ing at the same time and when you see everyone else managing it you realise it’s not such a struggle after all, it’s simply a case of being box clever with your time.

And I did it….still here to tell the tale of ‘the time I became a Digital Mum’ ready to set out on an exciting career managing social media from the comfort of my kitchen table/sofa/bed/

The commute doesn’t get more perfect and my co workers a dream.

I managed to juggle family life and working while studying to become a social media manager completing a Digital Mum course

If you’re a small business looking for a social media manager please do get in touch or pop over to my website for more information (click here)

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5 things I’ve learnt as a single parent 

If I’m honest, this whole single parent title still doesn’t feel real. I know  that I am one, but I try hard to not to let it define me or what I do. I just get on with being me, mum to three amazing boys. It is tough at times; you can’t make plans at the drop of a hat knowing you’ve got a partner or husband around to hold the fort. Far from it tbh, any occasion which requires childcare takes careful consideration and planning.

On the plus side, you know you do have certain times where you do have a day or night sans kiddos and this is where you really get a taste of a valuable life skill;

I time manage like a pro

I know that for the next month at least, I have definite days where I’m child free and I use those days wisely. These are the snippets of my week where I schedule the pants out of every hour to get as much as I can done. On the flip side, my weekend day with my boys are precious. Week days are spent running errands, working my butt off to keep the wolf from the door, keeping on top the housework, making sure the kids are doing homework and carring out their chores while I get the sole pleasure of any house maintenance which doesn’t require a professional.

In a nutshell, my week is chuffing, great, supersized busy with sparkles on . My planner in my co pilot and  off days just aint happening.

There are some valuable life skills I've learnt since becoming a single parent, here's 5 of them;

I roll with the punches

From the outside, I probably look like I’m occasionally lacking in emotions. (aka Cold-Hearted-Bitch) taking situations at face value, assessing the damage & rocking on. My close friends and family will tell you otherwise. But what I do have to do is be very careful not to let stress define my parenting. I compartmentalise those tricky situations and deal with them in my own time, putting them aside while I do mum stuff. If a drama doesn’t seem worth the effort I don’t give it the time of day. I’ve been through immense emotional stress, hit rock bottom and that’s my gauge. I know I can roll with the little punches as I’ve hardened up to the little stresses and as sole carer I can’t afford to give in and crumble.

I don’t feel guilty taking my mum hat off

Don’t get me wrong, I’m always a mum and even on my child free days I’m thinking about my kids. But I’ve learnt not to feel guilty when I’m not with them. That one took a lot of soul searching and long phone calls from my go-to family and friends, but I got there. Tough love (from them) wise words, hugs, tea and sympathy got me to a position where I know I need a me-time recharge for the week ahead and fun times to ease the responsibility.  I make use of every minute I’m away from them and when it’s pick up time, I;m straight back into my mum role. It’s also given me the confidence to let go little, my kids are safe and happy with their dad, and I that’s all that matters.

I’m a budget queen

Being good with your money is a must whatever your relationship status, but when you’re on your own and you have mouths to feed, children to clothe and entertain as well as a house to run, every penny counts.
Not having 2 wages coming in is completely pants but in some ways it’s actually easier managing your finances as a single parent. I have complete control of the finances. I know exactly what’s going in and out. Every silver lining and all that jazz.
I’ve learnt to rein in the impulsive spending sessions, and when I do splurge. I budget the rest of the month. And I’ve had to learn to say no. It kills me when the kids ask for things I know I can’t afford, I’ve had to drag out that tough love again and again and bargain with alternatives.
When I first took on this whole new adventure I sat down and went through all my outgoings with a fine tooth comb. I changed electricity suppliers, got rid of insurances I didn’t need. Switched to a water meter and set up a buffer account to handle emergencies. I also listened to the advice of other single parents.

There are some valuable life skills I've learnt since becoming a single parent, here's 5 of them;

I am stronger, braver, smarter than I think

Wise words from Mr Pooh. Sometimes that chubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff knows his stuff when he utters those little words of wisdom. Being a single parent has taught me that I’m stronger than I thought I was. The thought of running the helm single handed once terrified me.

How will I cope at the end of the day, when my energy is at its lowest, my patience is waning and I have no one coming through the door to share the load?

I’m not going to lie to you, it’s tough. There are days when the sofa has a magnetic pull so strong I have to fight every urge to curl up and hide from my duties. But that’s simply not an option. When those times hit, I dust myself down, push through the wall of ‘I can’t do this’ and get on with it.

I’m stronger than I think.

On the really tough days I pop a pizza in the oven, justify the lack of fresh, nutrition with a few slices of cucumber & chopped pepper on the side and we eat.

I ask for help, something which I was never very good at before. But I got brave to admitting I need help for the simple reason that I can’t let things slip, especially my health.  Sick days are not an option, I’ve just got to get on with it and look after my body and mind in the best possible way; I eat healthy, I keep fit and I practice mindfulness.

I’ve braver than I think!

And I stop beating myself up that I’m failing at this single parenting lark.

My house is clean, the bailiffs aren’t knocking on the door, my boys are happy, healthy and I haven’t hit the social services radar. I’m not doing too bad in the grand scheme of things, time to have few words with my self and see the glass as half full.

Seriously lady, you’re wiser than you think!

There are some valuable life skills I've learnt since becoming a single parent, here's 5 of them;

 

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Do You Feel Guilty For Enjoying Your Kid Free Days?

So there I was, sat in bed drinking my much needed coffee in bed, mentally planning what to do, where to go and what time to do it. Weekends mean very little to me as far as relaxation time. With a toddler in tow it’s just as much all systems go as any other day of the week. Even with my kid free Saturday, while the boys are with their dad, I still seem to be cramming as much as possible into my day and night. Every second mentally scheduled,  just like any other. And it was that exact point, in amongst my dashing from A-B, that I realised my initial dread I had about being away from my boys had gone,  I was fine with the idea of kid free days. Better than fine, I realised that after a chaotic week of work and every day family routines, I needed it.

I always thought I’d struggle on the days that the boys didn’t dominate my schedule. Even pre separation, on the days when I wanted to run for the hills following a to-do, the thought of having to spend any of my weekends apart from my pride and joy filled with panic and were usually the grounding point for the nonsense of said barney. It was those days which sent my thoughts into over drive over what was really best for the kids. 2 days of just so parenting or a day of fun with mum and another with dad. Is there ever a right answer in those situations?

Who knows.

It’s a toughie and one many parents sum up when considering the pros and cons of ‘should I stay or should I go?’ But when push comes to shove you have to deal with it.

So that’s where I am now, dealing with it.

Which isn’t as hard as it sounds as once you’re in the right mindset,  you learn to accept  the situation

 “it is what it is”

As a single mum you’re on call 24/7 or 24/5 in my case (give or take a few numbers.) You do all the wake ups, the early starts and the bed times. Days you don’t fancy cooking, tough, you have to cook. Kids need help with their homework, drop what ever YOU need doing and help. Middle of the night wake ups., the lot there’s no sharing the burden.

But what makes it manageable is knowing that you will have some time to yourself on your kid-free days.

Which is why I don’t feel guilty. I do a kick ass job on those other days and I soon learnt, in the single parenting rule book, you have earnt permission to be as indulgent or selfish as you like  (within reason, the kids still always come first.)

Once word spread about my new status update,  old friends, new friends, people I’ve never met in my life offered words of wisdom, one thing they all had in common  was having been in my very, scary single mum shoes. Never in my wildest dreams was I expecting the camaraderie and virtual lift from these amazing, empathic women, Amazeballs didn’t even come close. I kept every Facebook message, every text and every email. Those who took me aside and shared their tips and support logged a memory bank of must do’s for as long as my memory will see fit.

The power of a problem shared, a collective experience and a shoulder to cry on was the silver lining in my big black cloud.  And to this day, one snippet really stood out and took me by surprise;

don’t ever feel guilty for enjoying your kid free days.

“bonkers.” I thought. I’ve never been happy to see my kids go.

Even if I’m just doing housework with my music cranked up, or sitting in bed til noon working and drinking endless cups of coffee, I don’t feel guilty having that time to myself.  The important thing is they’re  having quality time with their other parent which they need and they WANT that.

Seeing how excited they are when they walk out the door knowing that they’re not missing out on having 2 parents in their life is a bitter-sweet emotion but one which also trumps any emptiness of not having them around.  Sure the house is a little strange. Yes, it’s way too quiet, but those days when it’s just little old me, are the days I get to do what I want, to re balance the order of parenting and to recharge ready for the week ahead.

So no, I don’t feel guilty on my kid free days.

 

why I don't feel guilty on my kid free days

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End of a Long Term Relationship, What’s Next?

I’ve decided it’s high time I shared the experience of what happens following the end of long term relationship. Some of you reading this will recognise what I’m about to say, some will completely disagree and some won’t really give a stuff, you’re just intrigued and passing time before East Enders starts. But I thought it may (or may not) benefit someone who’s just stepped onto the rocky road of singleton. So here goes;

First off, keep focused, keep positive and most importantly, keep looking forward. If there’s one piece of advice I can give anyone in this situation is that there WILL be a positive, even if you’re struggling to see it right now. Dig deep, even if it’s something as simple as having full hold of the remote control, there is always something.

Sure, there are things you will miss which will try to hog your thoughts from time to time. I really missed having someone bring me coffee in bed, stupid I know, but I’ve decided a coffee machine next to my bed is the way forward. See, negative thought gone and shopping trip scheduled.

There will be good days and bad, and the bad days will catch you unaware. I shocked myself how well I handled the fall out of my marriage breakdown. Surely it wasn’t supposed to feel this good? But just as I thought life couldn’t get any better, one little thing brought it all crashing down. And that is all it will take. For me if a was a little comment which brought home the reality of what had happened. So I wallowed, moaned, listened to Alanis Morrisette, searched out quotes on Pinterest which matched my emotions.

And then messaged a friend.

And that leads me seamlessly into my next snippet of advice. NEVER under-estimate the power of your friends and family.  I have an amazing support network which I can call on and who I know will pull me out of the doldrums, even when they don’t realise they’re doing it.

I have my funny, crazy bestest friend who never fails to make me giggle. We swear, we laugh, we send silly GIFs, I rant, she rants, and we plan. I don’t even have to tell her I’m feeling crap, she just knows. Same goes for my sister, 100’s of miles away and living a crazy busy mum life, she’s the one to tell me how it is. Facts are facts, straight talking but caring. Lecture if need be, but always says the right thing and, along with my mum, dad and brother, is my rock.

And then there’s the ones who I coffee with, drink wine with and talk about our children with. They’re my distraction, where I don’t have to disclose too much and stop me going to where my negative thoughts are trying to take me.

Get your support network in place, it doesn’t have to be huge, but you will need it.

how to survive the early month of the end of a long term relationship. this quote is a perfect reminder of how to see the situation

Look after yourself, your emotions are taking a battering right now and you need to be able to take what ever life throws at you. Don’t let yourself get too stressed. This has huge implications on you mentally and physically. I’m a huge fan of reflexology to help balance and restore. I tend to internalize stress resulting in unexplained aches and pains. The problem with this is that pretty soon you get over loaded and you find little things you could once shrug off start to bother you.

Think of your body being a vase, each stressful situation is a cup of sand, filling it up until you can’t hold it anymore. It over flows. Think of the mess & how heavy the glass now feels. If you can find balance & ways to offload that stress and overloading you emotionally  (talking is always a good way of doing this too) you can cope with so much more. Keep that space in your head for when you really need it.

And I’ll say it again, keep looking forward. Don’t look back in anger (sing it Oasis style if that helps) Embrace the occasional down days, your body & mind needs to process what’s happened and move on, but don’t let the bad outweigh the good or play the victim, you’re the navigator of your own happiness.

What’s done is done. Be graceful in your departure from the old you, things happen for a reason and sometimes beyond your control. Embrace the next adventure on which your life is leading you,

Exciting times are ahead.

I promise you.

 

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