You know how people and their dogs often look alike? Sometimes they even seem to have the same personality. It can be that way with spouses as well. Live together long enough and before you know it you eat the same food, dress the same way and do the same things. It's easy to lose yourself in the relationship, subjugating your wants and needs in the name of peace and harmony. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. As we head into New Year's resolution time, I'm taking this opportunity to remind you that you can change a lot of those things now that you're divorced.
Consider these eight areas and ask yourself if you're where you want to be.
1. Living space. People often like to move out of a shared space. If that works for you, great. Often, it's just not possible. Think about how you can make the space more yours and less his/hers. Getting rid of items that remind you of your ex can get expensive, but sometimes it's worth it. Painting, rearranging, redecorating and leaving your personal stamp on each and every room is helpful. Even small changes can have a positive impact.
2. Style. I'm talking hair, clothes, makeup, nails and anything else you created with your now ex-partner in mind. She liked wired rim frames to make you look more intellectual or a day-old growth to make you look like Bradley Cooper. He liked long, blond hair, blood red lipstick and stiletto heels to make you look like, well, you get the picture. Ask yourself if you really want to be driving that mini-van now that you're single again. Take back control and decide how to express yourself with your style choices.
3. Interests. Much as we like to consider ourselves individuals, it's tough not to take on the interests of our significant others. It's great to expand one's scope by trying new things. Now you can decide if you really want to continue going on that annual wilderness camping trip, watching football or cooking gourmet feasts. What are you really interested in?
4. Schedule. Early bird or night owl? Dinner at 8 or 6:00? Exercise in the morning or afternoon. Getting up earlier to have time with your significant other and doing things that please them is great. But now that they're gone, you can do things on your own schedule and it may be one that works better for you. After all, it's your biorhythm.
5. Relationships. Whether it's how you handle your relationships with friends or how you relate to your children, couples tend to morph into the same patterns. You can break out of those patterns now. Want to have your friends over for a game of Bunco or poker on a school night? Want to spend Saturday night with your kids watching movies and eating nachos in bed? Go ahead. These are all choices you can make.
6. Work. How much time we spend at work is often a flashpoint for couples. Somehow, one's own work always seems infinitely more important than one's spouse's. Now it really is. Maybe those extra hours you put in to be able to afford the luxury vacation no longer seem worth it. When you perform those labors of love at home like laundry, grocery shopping and cooking are also things over which you now have decision-making power. It's all about figuring out what works for you.
7. Vacations. Vacations can be very challenging in the newly single. Sometimes it's difficult to imagine a solo vacation, or a family vacation without two parents. Decide what your dream vacation is and what you can manage. Ask the kids what they want. Travel with a friend, a sibling or anyone who will be fun, or go it alone. But be sure to schedule a break from work, even if it's to stay at home and relax.
8. Holidays. Holidays and other celebrations, like birthdays, tend to be tradition-bound. This is the time to create your own traditions and decide how you'd like to do things. There are no rules. If you can't afford those expensive gifts this year, no worries, people will understand. If you can afford that trip to the Bahamas for the holidays, why not? Want to stay at home? Visit friends? Go to the movies? Anything goes.
Don't eat caviar on New Year's Eve if you're a nuts and granola kind of person. Don't continue to act like a fancy poodle if you're really a down and dirty hound at heart. Figure out the authentic you…and be yourself.