Making successful, lasting changes in our lives is usually not dependent upon one single factor.  It’s usually multiple concurrent, deliberate changes that we make that lead to fixed improvements in our lives.  Self improvement after divorce doesn’t have to be difficult. It is human nature to be resistant to change; we seek out stability and uniformity in our lives. Despite the desire to hold consistency in our lives, the world, people, and events around us will change.  It is a challenge, but learning to accept and embrace the change can lead to major strides and breakthroughs in our personal growth and development.

Be patient with yourself.  The lasting changes we make in our lives usually occur slowly, over a significant period of time.  Your path to becoming a better person, especially at this time, will be challenging. This is a time for you to seek out positive influences and inspirations that will make you stronger, wiser, and more resilient.  

I found the Buddha’s teachings on impermanence to be both enlightening and comforting.  The Buddha found that the source of suffering lies in resistance and clinging (or aversion and desire).  Realizing that all we know is ever-changing and transitional can be liberating. There are many books and resources available on the subject, if you wish to learn more.  If the concepts of Buddhism are completely unfamiliar to you, and you would like to learn more, a great starting point would be to Google the phrase “The Four Noble Truths.”  

It may not be the circumstances you wanted, but you have found yourself here now.  Despite all the difficult surrounding circumstances, try to see the opportunity at hand.  You may never again have an opportunity like this to focus on your own personal growth and improvement.  This is a time for you to focus on what really matters now, and that’s your children and you.

Post-Divorce Dating & Romantic Relationships

I started dating too soon after my divorce, but that only became clear to me much later on.  I lived as a single father one week, and as a bachelor the next. There was a little crossover, but I worked hard to keep the two lifestyles separate.  Our children never met anyone I was dating unless our relationship was exclusive and had progressed to at least six months; this includes my current girlfriend of five years, and one prior girlfriend whom they met only briefly on two occasions.  You’ll want to be careful here, your children are way too important to expose them too early to your potential love interests. In hindsight, I would likely change the six months exclusive rule to at least one year.

Always try to remind yourself that your role as a parent comes first, that your children’ needs come first.   Get out there and have fun. Embrace your new life, date multiple people, become a swinger, experiment, party well into the wee-hours, sleep late, relive your college years – it’s all good stuff.  Just keep it away from your children. They don’t want or need to know about it. It is one of your key responsibilities as a parent to isolate your children from such debauchery, even if you partake in it yourself (a little debauchery can be fun).

Your children love your ex-spouse and likely want the two of you to be together.  They are not going to feel as excited as you do that so-and-so, from the dating website, is so intelligent, gorgeous, and loves all the same movies you do.  For a very long time, your children’s sole context of you, in a romantic sense, will include only you and your ex. Don’t meddle with that too soon.

Continue Reading – Chapter 1: Get Physically Healthy Too