Alone Again

How to Pull Yourself Back Together Again After The Big Break Up
Published in Complete Woman Magazine

Remember when you were a child and every story ended with and they lived happily ever after? Just as we believed that a witch's house could be made of gingerbread, we also believed all love affairs had a happy ending. No one told us life and fairy tales were sometimes very different and those happy endings are not always a sure thing. Occasionally, the prince turns back into a frog and hops off to another princess's castle.

Statistics show that each year, in the United States alone, over ten million women become along again through the ending of a marriage or a long-term committed relationship.

If you're one of those ten million women, you're probably facing some tough times. Psychologist Elizabeth Urbaitis, Ph.D. advises that you shouldn't be too hard on yourself, and you shouldn't idealize the other person. "We have a tendency to remember the good times and to gloss over the bad. Be realistic in your assessment to get a true picture of what occurred. This give you more power to deal with the situation effectively."

Urbaitis also has a warning about some common reactions to this critical time. "Don't feel you have to avoid being home along. Learn to enjoy your own company and to be comfortable with who you are."

So how do you cope? The doctor suggests that you take advantage of this emotional period and use it as an opportunity to consider some important issues in your life - career options, personal enrichment, self-discovery. "When you're in a relationship, you can only expect to meet 50 percent of your needs," explains Urbaitis. "Now is the time to concentrate on yourself and what you need and want from life." In other words, it's time to start meeting 100 percent of your needs to put yourself on the road to a healthier life - and possibly a healthier future relationship.

So you've made it past the emotional post-break up period and you're ready to meet a new partner. Before you start dating like a madwoman, you need to make sure your present life is as fulfilling as it can be. How? By becoming a self-reliant, confident person-not only will your future relationships benefit from your new-improved status, but you'll be able to stand on your own two feet should the next guy suddenly turn into a frog. A few things to consider to get you moving in the right directionů

Develop your own set of friends. Even if you are part of a couple, it doesn't mean that you have to do everything together. In fact, when you have your own activities and friends, you contribute so much more to the relationship by keeping it lively and interesting.

Linda, an assistant librarian, says that friends were her biggest help when her ten-year marriage went bad. "They comforted me and supported me. They were there for me whenever I needed them and they kept reminding me that I was doing the right thing. They gave me the courage to see it through. Now, when I look back, I'm so grateful to them."

Go places on your own. As a couple, you have similar interests with your partner - but you also have individual interests and ideas that you feel passionate about. Explore and enjoy these along. If you like to try different and unusual restaurants and he like the tried-and-true, indulge yourself in a dinner without him.

Family get-togethers can be a thorn in the side of any partnership. If he prefers not to attend, go alone - don't miss out because he doesn't want to be there. Barbara, a nurse who has been along again for 11 years remembers, "When I started to fulfill family obligations and accept invitations from friends by myself, that's when I knew I was prepared for the break. Initially, if he wouldn't go, I would stay home too."

Financial security. Females in general have a tendency to be more dependent than men do. Unfortunately, when a woman enters a relationship she will frequently abdicate all financial responsibility to her partner. Don't do it. Money is necessary to maintain independence, and independence is important to a full, satisfying life.

Janet Bouma, stockbroker and financial consultant advises, "Be in charge of your money." She insists that every woman should have her own bank accounts. "Just putting your name on a joint account is not enough. You need your own." She proclaims. Bouma suggests that you have regular meetings with your partner to update each other on any investments the two of you own together. You should have a good understanding of what investments you have and why, who handles them and where the statements are kept. "It would be very advisable for you to handle a portion of the investments yourself," says Bouma. "That is, take complete control and be responsible for any decisions. This is experience you can't buy, and it keeps you up on what is going on with your money."

Take over paying the bills occasionally, too. Some women happily turn this chore over to their partner and never look back-which can lead to serious trouble if the relationship does not last. A good system is to take turns every other month. You will become more aware of where the money is going and why.

Establish credit. Bouma states that every woman should have at least one major credit card in her name only. "I'm talking about a major credit card, not just one from a department store," she says. "Be careful of dual cards because if he walks away - you pay."

Before 1977, all credit transactions on joint accounts were reported in the husband's name only. Then the Equal Credit Opportunity Act went into effect, stipulating that married women could require creditors to report account activity separately under both names. In order to assure that you are getting the proper credit, the Federal Trade Commission has the following important recommendations.

  1. If you are married, divorced, separated or widowed, you should make it a top priority to call or visit your local credit bureau to make sure all relevant information is being credited to the correct name.

  2. If your name is changed due to marriage or divorce, notify creditors or credit bureaus to avoid losing your credit history.

  3. If you have had a joint account since prior to 1977, write and ask that a file be opened in your name and that all future account activity is reported in your name as well as your husband's.

  4. After you have taken any of the above actions, wait a few months then write to the reporting agencies and request a copy of your credit report. Study this carefully to make sure your requests have been complied with.

Think about your career. In today's society, no one can be assured of job security. However, you would do well to check out the possibilities of continuous employment and the prospects of advancement. Knowing you have a source of income available to you is a certain method of maintaining your independence, confidence and self-esteem. A word of caution: If what you are presently doing does not satisfy you, or you want to pursue a different line of work - do it and do it now. Don't wait until "later" when you may not have the resources to allow you to change careers.

Many Women find, after a time of adjustment, that living along is not only tolerable, but also enjoyable. Paying attention to a few details can provide you with the time and the opportunity to concentrate and work on achieving your desires. Then maybe you can truly live happily ever after- with or without him.

10 Ways To Pull Yourself Back Together

  1. Exercise daily. Exercise not only keeps your body in shape, but also helps you to feel better about yourself.

  2. Plan advance activities. Make sure these activities are those you will be obligated to do, such as season tickets to concerts or theaters. Getting out of the house and mingling will help breathe new life into your old routine.

  3. Invite people over. And accept invitations to other people's houses!

  4. Take a class. Keep your mind occupied with learning.

  5. Plan your time. Don't leave huge blocks of time with nothing to do. You want to keep busy and active, instead of sitting and wallowing in your situation.

  6. Find something you're passionate about. Indulge in it. If you don't want to indulge alone, see about joining a club-there are groups for every activity.

  7. Play games. Tennis, golf and other sports are excellent ways to stay trim and meet new friends.

  8. Join a support group. There is nothing better than the support of people who have been through the same situation and understand.

  9. Learn to enjoy simple things. A walk in the park, planting a garden or caring for a pet can help you to relax and love life once more.

  10. Volunteer. Hospitals and charitable institutions are always in need of volunteers. Spend some time giving to others.

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Barbara Killmeyer
2850 Middletown Road
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Call 412-922-0675 or 412-922-2743
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