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How to Cope With Divorce without Turning to Social Media

How to Cope With Divorce without Turning to Social Media

Couples embarking on marriage love the feeling of connection as they choose to build lives together.

Partners of a divorcing couple, on the other hand, get slammed with a sense of disconnection and loneliness. Now that our communities live online, it’s no wonder so many divorcing partners vent their anger, insecurity and anguish on social media.

We’re here to say:  don’t do it.

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Social networks not only contribute to the decision to divorce, they also impact divorce settlements, including child custody decisions. Recently, Facebook has provided evidence for petitioners and defendants documenting marijuana smoking and participation in other illegal activities. Petitioners claiming they were home with the children have been caught in lies when photographed at out and about at certain venues at specific times. More frightening, psychologists and other experts now search for evidence of personality disorders, drug and alcohol use and more in the personality profiles and timeline posts that social media users create for themselves. One post or profile appearing on the Internet can forever be retrieved, even if deleted.

Facebook Really Isn’t Your Friend Right Now . . .

. . . nor are the other social media networks.

First of all, keep in mind that you may have been still married when you first signed up. The number of friends the average Facebook user can boast is 338 (but the median is 200) and 15% have over 500 friends.  Who can keep track of that many people? You’ve probably accrued friends who, since your separation, count themselves more as your ex’s friends. Posting your activities and ideas on Facebook can be like sending a letter directly to your ex and his or her attorney.

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A post on Lifehack explains:

“While Facebook can feel like a forum of friends to whom you turn for sympathy and support, it can also be a trap. Extreme emotion, fatigue and alcohol and render reality in all kinds of exaggerated shapes and colors. Do yourself a favor and find another way to vent when in these conditions.”

It also contains a list of do’s and don’ts, including “turn off location indicators” that could prove your whereabouts. Keep in mind that you ex, the judge and even your attorney are watching you. Don’t hand them the binoculars!

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Coping with Intense Emotions:  3 Alternatives Far Superior to Facebook

Have we scared you?

Despite the stern warnings we’ve delivered above, please understand that we understand the need to feel connected.  Facebook proved a popular tool for divorcing couples to use for handling immediate pain. But popular tools are not necessarily effective. Understanding why Facebook tempts so mightily helps prevent giving into the temptation. While emotions may be ruling you right now, please take the time to carefully read the next few paragraphs. It should only take you a few minutes.

Married couples enjoy the support not only of their own friends and families of origin but those of their spouses. It’s only human nature to long to be in a network or social group. Newly single people dread the descent into isolation. Further, no matter how strenuously they assert that the divorce had to be, they’re usually plagued by self-doubt, not only about the decision to divorce, but about their role in the failure of the marriage, their chances of finding another life partner and even their own worthiness.

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Therefore, they look for the reassurance of their communities. With long work hours followed by more shifts performing child and home care, much of our communities have shifted online. Many of us touch base with friends and family several times a week, daily, and even several times a day through Facebook, Twitter and others. They build us back up in perhaps the worst time of our lives.

Three far more robust and helpful alternatives to venting on Facebook and other social media exist. Those divorcing dwell in a dire time daily that requires back-up and outside support. Consider these three alternatives to reaching out on Facebook:

  1. DivorceCare.org:  This nationwide clearinghouse gets you to a local support group immediately. Once there, they make it clear that friends and family who’ve never divorced tend to share bad advice. Plain English? They’re clueless.

Workshops focusing on the divorce process acknowledge the intensity of your feelings and provide lots of chances for you to share your story and your plans for your new life. Your zip code leads you to groups held in churches (but not affiliated with the church), schools and many other locations. They provide workbooks to help you journal your feelings and a group of people in the same boat to talk to.

  1. Therapy:  With as much pain as you may be in, you risk wearing out your friends (Facebook or otherwise) with your angst, anger and sadness . . . all of which is understandable, heart-breaking and legitimate. Directing some of your emotions to a trained professional not only refreshes you, it makes you a better friend because you’re more available to LISTEN as well as vent.

Most health plans have free or low cost visits to a counselor. Therapists are trained to help you make smart decisions amid emotional turmoil. Contrary to popular fears, they are more problem-solvers than critics. Going to a therapist does not mean something is wrong with your mind or mental health. Even family court judges view therapy as a positive.  Understand that the emotions you’re dealing with will deplete your energy significantly.

  1.      Join new groups, go new places, make new friends:  when you do this, you see that a whole new world is out there for you to explore. Consider journaling as you go. As Katie Couric says, “Life is a series of re-dos.” Re-do-it UP!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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Peter Mueller

Founder of Father's Rights Law Center

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

Conflicts are literally everywhere.

Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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