Alone at 57, a man makes new rules for living a positive, fulfilling life.
Bella DePaulo (Ph.D., Harvard, 1979 and ), a social psychologist, just published an article about what’s different about the people who are least likely to be undone by divorce. DePaulo talks about David Sbarra’s study concerning one’s health and well-being after getting a divorce. The Associate Professor & Director of Clinical Training at the University of Arizona found that “most people are psychologically resilient and fare quite well following divorce.”
But! Sbarra found many men and women to have “long-term decreases in life satisfaction, heightened risk for a range of illnesses … and even early death.” Apparently people falling in to this category are about one in every five divorcees. That is not a small percentage! According to the U.A. study, people who do poorly after divorcing are those:
- that may already have a history of psychological problems.
- who were anxiously attached to their spouse.
- who are inclined to ruminate about the experience.
- who “recount their experiences in a blow-by-blow manner rather than reconstrue their experiences to find meaning.”
- who come out of the experience without any greater clarity about who they are.
I just finished a book that my mother gave me because of what has gone since my November separation, “Living Successfully with Screwed-Up People” by Elizabeth B. Brown. It has helped me to analyze the past, and this positive book has encouraged me to keep up my upbeat attitude about my future. Brown’s website says that she “offers hope and suggestions that shine light in the chaos swirling around difficult life issues.” She assures you that you can find JOY, in spite of curves life may throw at you. When dealing with someone who causes your emotions to spin, the person who is obtrusive, uncooperative, and unreasonable chooses his behavior. You, also, can choose—choose to be unflappable, imperturbable, and unflustered.
From what I read in Brown’s book, it seems to me that one in five people fare poorly because they have what I call, preexisting personal problems. My ex-wife is one of them. I feel that my ex-wife is a good person, but something is wrong with her “wiring.” I could never pinpoint exactly what was wrong with our relationship until we separated six months ago. Only since I walked away from my marriage have I been able to see the problems with clarity. Few people are screwed up in all areas of their life. That’s why their behavior is confusing. This includes my ex-wife.
Brown says it’s crucial to be yourself. She reminds me that no one owes anything; a relationship is a gift. At times, my heart aches for the “screwed-up person,” but it is her responsibility to stand up and overcome her problems. I can only help my ex-wife so much from afar, especially as she has declared war against me to both of our sons on several occasions. There’s always a danger of being sucked in to dysfunctional behavior, but I will do my best to take the high road.
Having a realistic and positive outlook on life, I plan to extricate my mind, body, emotions, and spirit from the agony and longing that come with my twisted relationship. Brown warns people like me that it may be a tough road to hoe as she states, “Sometimes detaching in love is not possible. I believe it is better to detach in anger than to stay and exude poison toxins that destroy your emotional stability, peace, or other relationships. Mentally distancing is crucial if you are to objectively discern ways to live in a less-than-perfect relationship that is important to you.”
My fear is that these “poisons” are still present despite being physically separated. Brown is spot on about detaching in anger. I would add that controlled anger with a clear mind is needed. Uncontrollable anger blurs one vision and ends with bad results for everyone. I am angry at the way my ex-wife is currently handling things. This includes her lack of communication most of the time, and her determination to not negotiate an equitable distribution in a timely manner. The goal for me is to live the rest of my life with joy and bliss. My future is wide open, and the possibilities are endless, especially with a woman who will accept me exactly as I am … warts and all.
Some professionals state emphatically that it is not necessary to forgive to feel better about yourself and find inner peace. They postulate that forgiveness has two requirements: 1 – giving up justifiable revenge; and 2 – absolving the guilty party of responsibility. These are definitely part of my approach to the divorce negotiations. It is also how I plan to move forward with my life. I left for my inner peace thus revenge is not in my game plan.
Holding my ex-wife responsible for the divorce is an unfair claim for me to make. We both contributed to our marriage’s downfall. There is no need to list the reasons nor is it right to do so. Putting a percentage on who is at fault is not appropriate. The bottom line is that I absolve my ex-wife of any wrongdoings. It is history; I am looking to my future.
I have just celebrated my 57th birthday thus I want to end my thoughts on an upbeat note. Long-term decreases in life satisfaction are what I shall avoid. I am 57 years young, with a lot time left on earth. During the rest of my life, I plan to remain being positive.
- I will no longer have other people control how I feel and will cease living my life through someone else. This means I will not fall in to the same trap I did with my first marriage.
- I will appreciate and build on what I have. Material goods do not mean much compared to a good and happy life.
- I will find healthy ways to meet my needs. No one else can do it for me.
- I will keep an open mind about everything so I can continue to learn. My thirst for knowledge and understanding will make me a better person.
- I will take advantage of opportunities to continue growing emotionally and spiritually. It will make for a more fulfilling life.
- I will be grateful for every moment. Life has so much to offer.
- I will treasure my own value. My happiness and pride increases my self-worth.
All of these excellent values and life lessons shall be applied to my life right now and with my future wife. I still believe in marriage, it just has to be with someone that has the same positive views about life, including what makes a marriage work. When that day comes, my heart will be hers.
“A heart in love is tender, gentle, humble, and patient.” ~ San Juan de la Cruz
This article originally appeared on Divorced Moms.
Photo credit: Getty Images