Secrets to a Harmonious Divorce

IMG_2724Divorce: A permanent separation or a formal ending of a marriage between two people who were once connected.

We have seen it, heard it, observed it, and perhaps even experienced it ourselves: how unpleasant, emotionally stressful, and mentally draining a divorce can be between two people who once were madly in love with each other. Do all divorces have to end so ugly? I do not believe so, and I am speaking from my own personal experience.

On my 42nd birthday almost two years ago, the court granted my request to divorce my best friend and soulmate.  Did our divorce end on bad terms? Certainly not, but that does not mean it was not stressful.

Many people were quite surprised. They thought that my ex and I were perfect for each other since we were both driven and outgoing entrepreneurs who also share similar values and upbringings. But that was not enough. When you have two passionate, impatient, driven, hot-headed, and equally strong-minded crazy entrepreneurs together…it equates to an explosion, an imbalance of yin and yang energy.

On paper and in photographs, it seemed perfect.  In reality, we both knew that we needed to be each other’s opposite balance, and that was quite difficult.  For almost two years, we sought coaching, couple’s therapy, retreats, prayers, and romantic getaways to make things work.  At one point, we even thought that perhaps having a baby would change it all, and thank goddess we did not go that route. It just was not in the stars for us to be together as a couple.

We both still love and respect each other very much; we are each other’s best friend and family. Don’t get me wrong: it was very emotionally stressful, and it felt like failure because we both do not give up that easily. But we did promise each other that we would work together to make it a harmonious and painless separation.  And we did so through honest communication. We stayed 100% open and upfront with each other the whole time even when it was difficult and confronting.

I have friends and clients who are going through nasty divorces that have been dragging on for years. It is even more difficult and complicated when children are involved.

While each journey is different, here are some things my ex and I did along the way that contributed to our divorce being harmonious and heartache-free:

  1. Honest and open communication.  During the whole journey, we stayed in communication and shared our thoughts openly, even when they were not so positive.  We knew where we stood with one another.  There was no guessing or playing of games or even walking on eggshells.
  2. Assume good intent. Even before we were married, we were partners in crime and we watched each other’s backs. In this situation we wanted the best for each other. I wanted him to be happy, and he the same for me.
  3. Respect.  What more can I say? The only reason why divorces end ugly is because the two people who were once madly in love have lost respect for one another.  In our case, we have always respected each others’ decisions, actions, opinions, and beliefs. 
  4. Treat it like business. You may not think this is romantic, but really, if you can put your emotions aside and treat your divorce like a business exchange (as you should all relationships to an extent), you both will be much happier.  Communicate, collaborate, prioritize, strategize, plan, and visualize a positive desired outcome. This will help tremendously.
  5. Speak your truths and express yourself.  Please listen to me: no matter how bad it is, speak your truth, even when you know the other person may not want to hear it.  By speaking your truth, you build trust with the other person so that they know you are not just putting up a front.  This will put them less on the defensive side and encourage them to share their truths with you as well.  Getting the unsaid said is the best thing you can do for any relationships.
  6. Lastly, take care of yourself, emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically.  Seek help and support by talking to friends, family, a trusted advisor, or get professional counseling. Exercising and eating healthy, along with lots of sleep, really helped me with my emotional stress. Also, prayers, meditation, yoga, walking in nature, and spending time with my little nieces was oh so heart-healing and calming of the mind. But the biggest stress reliever for me was writing. I wrote in my journal a lot – some days, it was pages and pages of thoughts and emotions….and that is how this blog was born. It has been so therapeutic for me in my spiritual journey of self-discovery and awakening.

Currently, I am in a good place and ready to start a whole new life.  My ex and I are still best friends, and he is one of my biggest clients that I support and counsel. He is dating a wonderful goddess and has already moved on with his life. As for me, I am spending a lot of time getting to know myself and dating me for the first time. It’s actually quite fun and I am loving it! My whole life has been around others’ happiness before my own. Now it is time for me to rejuvenate and put myself first. It feels like being born again. The exciting part is I get to create and design the life I have always wanted. 🙂

Do I see myself being married again? Absolutely! Only this time, my recipe for a happy and long lasting marriage will be of my own, and not of my family, my friends, my culture, nor the Catholic church.  Are you going through a tough divorce right now? Please let me know if I can support you in any way.

Much Love Always,

tu-anh

The Marriage Advice That Every Man Needs To Read

Yesterday I was watching The Today Show when a particular guest caught my attention.  His name is Gerald Rogers and he is a life coach and motivational speaker and what he shared made my heart melt with emotions.  Gerald just went through a divorce after 16 years of marriage and recently he shared on Facebook his 20 tips of what he would have done differently in his marriage.

I am moved by his honesty and courage in writing this list and exposing his inner private thoughts to help inspire husbands out there.  Read his list below. Although it is written for husbands, I think everyone in relationships would benefit.  I relate to every single one of them, but what resonates with me most are #1, #3, #8, #10, #11, #12, #16, and my most favorite is #20.

In the end, it’s all about love.  You would not know the meaning of life if you have not experienced love.  In my opinion, that is all you need to live life fully. So gentlemen, if you have that special woman in your life that you are crazy madly in love with who causes a tingling sensation in your body, heart and soul, I suggest you follow this list and don’t let her slip away.  Trust me: I am a woman and I know what I am talking about. 🙂  Which ones from the list below are your favorite?

Gerald Rogers and his wife on their wedding day

Gerald Rogers and his wife on their wedding day

MARRIAGE ADVICE I WISH I WOULD HAVE HAD:

Obviously, I’m not a relationship expert. But there’s something about my divorce being finalized this week that gives me perspective of things I wish I would have done different… After losing a woman that I loved, and a marriage of almost 16 years, here’s the advice I wish I would have had…

1) Never stop courting. Never stop dating. NEVER EVER take that woman for granted. When you asked her to marry you, you promised to be that man that would OWN HER HEART and to fiercely protect it. This is the most important and sacred treasure you will ever be entrusted with. SHE CHOSE YOU. Never forget that, and NEVER GET LAZY in your love.

2) PROTECT YOUR OWN HEART. Just as you committed to being the protector of her heart, you must guard your own with the same vigilance. Love yourself fully, love the world openly, but there is a special place in your heart where no one must enter except for your wife. Keep that space always ready to receive her and invite her in, and refuse to let anyone or anything else enter there.

3) FALL IN LOVE OVER and OVER and OVER again. You will constantly change. You’re not the same people you were when you got married, and in five years you will not be the same person you are today. Change will come, and in that you have to re-choose each other everyday. SHE DOESN’T HAVE TO STAY WITH YOU, and if you don’t take care of her heart, she may give that heart to someone else or seal you out completely, and you may never be able to get it back. Always fight to win her love just as you did when you were courting her.

4) ALWAYS SEE THE BEST in her. Focus only on what you love. What you focus on will expand. If you focus on what bugs you, all you will see is reasons to be bugged. If you focus on what you love, you can’t help but be consumed by love. Focus to the point where you can no longer see anything but love, and you know without a doubt that you are the luckiest man on earth to be have this woman as your wife.

5) IT’S NOT YOUR JOB TO CHANGE OR FIX HER… your job is to love her as she is with no expectation of her ever changing. And if she changes, love what she becomes, whether it’s what you wanted or not.

6) TAKE FULL ACCOUNTABILITY for your own emotions: It’s not your wife’s job to make you happy, and she CAN’T make you sad. You are responsible for finding your own happiness, and through that your joy will spill over into your relationship and your love.

7) NEVER BLAME your wife If YOU get frustrated or angry at her, it is only because it is triggering something inside of YOU. They are YOUR emotions, and your responsibility. When you feel those feelings take time to get present and to look within and understand what it is inside of YOU that is asking to be healed. You were attracted to this woman because she was the person best suited to trigger all of your childhood wounds in the most painful way so that you could heal them… when you heal yourself, you will no longer be triggered by her, and you will wonder why you ever were.

8) Allow your woman to JUST BE. When she’s sad or upset, it’s not your job to fix it, it’s your job to HOLD HER and let her know it’s ok. Let her know that you hear her, and that she’s important and that you are that pillar on which she can always lean. The feminine spirit is about change and emotion and like a storm her emotions will roll in and out, and as you remain strong and unjudging she will trust you and open her soul to you… DON’T RUN-AWAY WHEN SHE’S UPSET. Stand present and strong and let her know you aren’t going anywhere. Listen to what she is really saying behind the words and emotion.

9) BE SILLY… don’t take yourself so damn seriously. Laugh. And make her laugh. Laughter makes everything else easier.

10) FILL HER SOUL EVERYDAY… learn her love languages and the specific ways that she feels important and validated and CHERISHED. Ask her to create a list of 10 THINGS that make her feel loved and memorize those things and make it a priority everyday to make her feel like a queen.

11) BE PRESENT. Give her not only your time, but your focus, your attention and your soul. Do whatever it takes to clear your head so that when you are with her you are fully WITH HER. Treat her as you would your most valuable client. She is.

12) BE WILLING TO TAKE HER SEXUALLY, to carry her away in the power of your masculine presence, to consume her and devour her with your strength, and to penetrate her to the deepest levels of her soul. Let her melt into her feminine softness as she knows she can trust you fully.

13) DON’T BE AN IDIOT…. And don’t be afraid of being one either. You will make mistakes and so will she. Try not to make too big of mistakes, and learn from the ones you do make. You’re not supposed to be perfect, just try to not be too stupid.

14) GIVE HER SPACE… The woman is so good at giving and giving, and sometimes she will need to be reminded to take time to nurture herself. Sometimes she will need to fly from your branches to go and find what feeds her soul, and if you give her that space she will come back with new songs to sing…. (okay, getting a little too poetic here, but you get the point. Tell her to take time for herself, ESPECIALLY after you have kids. She needs that space to renew and get re-centered, and to find herself after she gets lost in serving you, the kids and the world.)

15) BE VULNERABLE… you don’t have to have it all together. Be willing to share your fears and feelings, and quick to acknowledge your mistakes.

16) BE FULLY TRANSPARENT. If you want to have trust you must be willing to share EVERYTHING… Especially those things you don’t want to share. It takes courage to fully love, to fully open your heart and let her in when you don’t know i she will like what she finds… Part of that courage is allowing her to love you completely, your darkness as well as your light. DROP THE MASK… If you feel like you need to wear a mask around her, and show up perfect all the time, you will never experience the full dimension of what love can be.

17) NEVER STOP GROWING TOGETHER… The stagnant pond breeds malaria, the flowing stream is always fresh and cool. Atrophy is the natural process when you stop working a muscle, just as it is if you stop working on your relationship. Find common goals, dreams and visions to work towards.

18) DON’T WORRY ABOUT MONEY. Money is a game, find ways to work together as a team to win it. It never helps when teammates fight. Figure out ways to leverage both persons strength to win.

19) FORGIVE IMMEDIATELY and focus on the future rather than carrying weight from the past. Don’t let your history hold you hostage. Holding onto past mistakes that either you or she makes, is like a heavy anchor to your marriage and will hold you back. FORGIVENESS IS FREEDOM. Cut the anchor loose and always choose love.

20) ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. In the end, this is the only advice you need. If this is the guiding principle through which all your choices is governed, there is nothing that will threaten the happiness of your marriage. Love will always endure.

In the end MARRIAGE isn’t about Happily ever after. It’s about work. And a commitment to grow together and a willingness to continually invest in creating something that can endure eternity. Through that work, the happiness will come.

Marriage is life, and it will bring ups and downs. Embracing all of the cycles and learning to learn from and love each experience will bring the strength and perspective to keep building, one brick at a time.

These are lessons I learned the hard way. These are lessons I learned too late.

But these are lessons I am learning and committed in carrying forward. Truth is, I LOVED being married, and in time, I will get married again, and when I do, I will build it with a foundation that will endure any storm and any amount of time.

If you are reading this and find wisdom in my pain, share it those those young husbands whose hearts are still full of hope, and with those couples you may know who may have forgotten how to love. One of those men may be like I was, and in these hard earned lessons perhaps something will awaken in him and he will learn to be the man his lady has been waiting for.

The woman that told him ‘I do’, and trusted her life with him, has been waiting for this man to step up.

If you are reading this and your marriage isn’t what you want it to be, take 100% responsibility for YOUR PART in marriage, regardless of where your spouse is at, and commit to applying these lessons while there is time.

MEN- THIS IS YOUR CHARGE : Commit to being an EPIC LOVER. There is no greater challenge, and no greater prize. Your woman deserves that from you.

Be the type of husband your wife can’t help but brag about.