A Life Beyond My Ex And Kids... - Fridays with Ferne: Episode #34

Have you ever left an unhealthy relationship and realized that you didn’t have any other friends beyond that person?  

Only after Ben got divorced did he realize that he didn’t have any life beyond his wife and kids. Now that he has free time, he doesn’t know what to do with it. He doesn’t have anyone to spend time with or really talk to. He is scared that all his old friends will tell him, “I told you so” and doesn’t know where to find new friends. Ben feels lost and lonely and doesn't know how to move forward.

I recommend starting with self-reflection. What does Ben like to do? What does he want to be a part of? Who does he want to be surrounded by? What kind of relationships does he want? Ben has the opportunity to start again and choose the people he wants to surround himself with. He should follow his interests and join groups and clubs with like-minded people.

Episode Transcript

[00:00:05] Kim Ades:
Hello, hello. My name is Kim Ades, I am the President and Founder of Frame of Mind Coaching™ and the Co-founder of The Journal That Talks Back™. If you haven't heard about The Journal That Talks Back™, now's the time to hear about it!  

We just launched something new. It's a coaching program specifically for young professionals. Check it out. Go to www.thejournalthattalksback.com, and if you want to hear more about it, I'd love to share it with you. Reach out anytime.  

But today is Fridays with Ferne and I'm thrilled to welcome Ferne back. Ferne, welcome.  

[00:00:40] Ferne Kotlyar:
Thank you! Always, always, always a pleasure to be here. I love these conversations. 

[00:00:46] Kim Ades:
So do I!  

[00:00:47] Ferne Kotlyar:
I'm glad! [Chuckles] Are you ready for your case today?  

[00:00:51] Kim Ades:
I sure am. I got my seatbelt on. 

[00:00:55] Ferne Kotlyar:
[Laughs] You might need it.  

[00:00:56] Kim Ades:
I have no idea what you're going to throw my way, so let's go.  

[00:00:59] Ferne Kotlyar:
All right, let's get into it. So today's case, maybe it'll be a good one for you. Today's case is about a guy named Ben. And Ben essentially married this lady who he fell in love with, they had a pretty good relationship, but he burned a few bridges on the way to being with her. Not many of his friends liked her and it was tough for people to hang out with both of them, so he lost a few friends along the way.  

And now 20 years later, they have two kids and they're in the middle of getting a divorce. Obviously, Ben's having a really tough time with that, but what he's particularly struggling with is finding a way to kind of get back into a life that his own.  

For so long, his life revolved around her and the kids, and now he's starting to have free time and he feels a bit lonely. He doesn't know who to spend it with, he doesn't know how to go back to his friends and say, you know, "you were right about her", or to kind of make new friends now that everything's online. So he feels a bit stuck and lonely, and doesn't know how to move forward or to kind of make friends and find his way again. So, what advice do you have for him? 

[00:02:20] Kim Ades:
Why do I advice? Well, the first thing I have is to... I'm really interested in the marriage, in the divorce, in what happened, but we don't have all that information today, do we?  

[00:02:32] Ferne Kotlyar:
[Shakes her head no]  

[00:02:33] Kim Ades:
No. I also am interested in his relationship with his kids. How often does he see them? How does he spend time with them? How old are they? What does he do with them? But we might not have that information either.  

[00:02:45] Ferne Kotlyar:
Well, I mean, there's a bit, you know? They have 50, 50... The kids, 50% of the time. They're a bit older now, you know, one's in high school, the other one's in elementary school, grade eight. So they're a bit older, they do their own thing, but he only sees them 50% of the time anyway.  

[00:03:04] Kim Ades:
Okay. So he's asking himself, "what do I do with myself the other 50% of the time?" And is he working? What does he do? Do we know?  

[00:03:12] Ferne Kotlyar:
Yeah, he's working. He works as an accountant, but everything's online.  

[00:03:17] Kim Ades:
Okay. So there's not much social interaction? 

[00:03:20] Ferne Kotlyar:

[00:03:21] Kim Ades:
Okay. So, I mean, let's start with his old friends. Is it okay for him to go back to his old friends and say, "Hey, you know, here's my new reality. It took me 20 years to learn this lesson" or whatever? Sure. Yes. However... And I encourage him to do that and it's no big deal, he can do that. 

However, I find that people change over time and sometimes we reconnect with our past and sometimes our past is there for a reason, and it's okay to move beyond the past and find a future. And so, yeah, sure, go back to your past, see if there's anybody that's interested and willing to reconnect with you and interested in hearing your story, interested in hearing about his journey, right? So yeah, sure, go back.  

And it's not that he needs to have his tail between the legs, 'cause everybody has a journey that they're on, and part of his journey was meeting this woman, getting married, having these two lovely kids and bringing him to this point now. So he doesn't have to go back and grovel. He doesn't have to go back and feel bad about himself. He has to go back and say, "I'm sorry, we lost connection. I'm sorry we lost touch and I'd really love to be reconnected if possible". So that's one option for sure.  

But another option is "how do I build my future? If I look back at my 20 years of marriage, what were my friendships like? Did I build any friendships? And if not, why not? What was actually going on?" Because for me, that's an important question to understand where his relationships kind of fell apart and why, because that will provide him great insight about himself and where perhaps he's not nurturing the relationships that are important to him and why he is doing that specifically. 

So there's a learning to be had in this moment to look back and say, you know, "where did I let things go? Why did I allow this kind of tension between my wife and my friends to overtake the relationship? What's up with that? What wasn't I seeing?" And more importantly is "what am I not seeing now? What would I like to see?" 

So for him, building new relationships is a great opportunity. And the question is, how does he do that? Where does he find those friends? And I'm always a fan of following my interests. So if I'm interested in reading, then I might join a book club or find one. If I'm interested in knitting I'll join a knitting group or a knitting circle. If I'm interested in business, then I'll join a mastermind, and so on.  

And so right now, the real question for him is "what am I interested in? What do I want to be a part of? Who do I want to be surrounded by?" And there's always groups and communities around you that he could be a part of. And so we would encourage him to go and first ask himself some critical questions. "What do I want in my life? What am I interested in? You know, what kinds of relationships do I want?"  

You know, if we look back at his past relationships, it's not that relationships are necessarily a two way street, that's not what I'm trying to get after, but something interfered with these past relationships.  

And so, the question becomes, what kind of relationship do you want now? And where can you find those people? And so, there's an opportunity to look ahead and really design the kind of life and the kind of interactions he's looking for.  

[00:07:01] Ferne Kotlyar:
Well, I think that in the past a big issue was his wife, that it was tough to have good relationships with her in the picture, you know? She would get jealous, and this factor of relationships was a big part of why they broke up, why they got this divorce.  

But now that she's no longer in the picture, she was always kind of the social one, in a good way and in a bad way, because sometimes she caused drama. But now that she's gone, he doesn't even know... yeah, I mean joining groups, but how do you really create new relationships? Somebody to spend all your– not necessarily all your time with, but to talk to, to have a real relationship.  

Because generally when you join groups, yeah, you're part of a community, but are these people really friends? Especially at the beginning, like how do you really foster that relationship to have somebody to rely on now that he doesn't really have anybody?  

[00:07:57] Kim Ades:
Well, we don't want him to have relationships so he has someone to rely on. We want him to have relationships because they are mutually fulfilling, right? Even in a marriage. When you're married, you don't get married to someone because you can rely on your husband or your wife, right? You get married because it's a mutually fulfilling relationship.  

And what we want to do is really breed a sense of independence, even within relationships. So it's not about him finding new people to rely on, it's about him looking at "what do I want to be talking about? What do I want to be experiencing with others? What am I interested in? And so when you ask the question, how do you form relationships?  

So you go to a group, you find someone to talk to, and you then take it beyond the group. You say, "Hey, you want to go for a coffee?" And if it's an in-person coffee, then it's a virtual coffee. You know? "Hey, I'd love to talk to you about this. Can we set up some time outside of this group to chat?"  

And what's the impetus for connecting with others? Is really, truly deeply taking an interest in others, asking them questions, being curious, learning about them, seeing what matters to them. So it's funny, right? Relationships you think are about you, but they're not. A relationship takes hold when you really take an interest in another person. And when you're taking an interest in another person, you're able to learn about them and decide whether or not they're a good fit for you, but also taking that interest, sparks the relationship.  

And so, what he's looking for is a bunch of little sparks, whether it's with other men, whether it's with women, it doesn't really matter. But what he needs to do is really explore and ask himself the question "what am I interested in?" And start really getting curious about everything, about himself, about others, about what they're doing, what they're up to, how they interact, what matters to them, what their values are, and dive into that interest. 

So it's not about finding something to fill a hole because nothing can fill his hole. That's his job. Right? So we don't go looking for relationships to fill this emptiness that we feel. We look for relationships because we want to bring something to the relationship and we want to experience something mutually fulfilling. 

[00:10:28] Ferne Kotlyar:
So how does he fill the hole?  

[00:10:31] Kim Ades:
By taking some time for himself, by getting involved in things that are interesting for him, because they're interesting for him, not because he has this secondary motive, right? So it's really looking at "what will invigorate my life?" And committing himself to taking care of himself.  

When we're in a marriage for a long, long time, and it sounds like this was the case with this gentleman too, Ben, it sounds like he put his wife first or he really kind of allowed her to lead the way with respect to their social life and their interactions, et cetera. And so he was in a way kind of putting himself on the back burner.  

Well, now's his opportunity to put himself first and to really explore, you know, "what do I want to do with my time? What do I want to learn? What do I want to hear? What do I want to experience? What do I want to see? What do I want to taste? It's my time. Let me go do those things". And on the journey, he will meet people who are like-minded, who he will connect with. But the first question is, "what do I want? What's cool for me? What have I always wanted to do?"  

[00:11:46] Ferne Kotlyar:
Yeah, I think that's super important. So if you were to give Ben one last piece of advice, what would that be?  

[00:11:53] Kim Ades:
Well, for starters, I would say don't jump into the next relationship just to fill a hole. I would say, take this time to really, really learn about yourself and what's important to you and what you want next, and experience all of the things, try different things, right?  

Join different groups, read different books, go to different places, eat different food and seeing the side. What is it that you like? Just you, without any consideration for what your ex-wife used to push you towards. It's a time to relearn about himself and his preferences, his desires, what he wants for the future.  

[00:12:34] Ferne Kotlyar:
Love that. Thank you. 

[00:12:38] Kim Ades:
Yeah, it was a good conversation. I think a lot of us find ourselves in relationships and then at the end of the relationships, they ask themselves, "who am I now?" And if you're in that boat and you're at the end of the relationship or afraid to end a relationship because you're afraid to face yourself, relationships are a great impetus to start to ask yourself "who am I? What do I want? What do I want next? What's important to me?"  

And so, very often at the end of relationships, people jump to the next one and I encourage them to just slow down a minute and look inwardly instead of looking outwardly to fill that hole.  

If there's a challenge that you want to share on the podcast, please reach out to us. We'd love to hear from you! Ferne, what's your email address?  

[00:13:22] Ferne Kotlyar:

[00:13:32] Kim Ades:
And you can reach me. And my email address is kim@frameofmindcoaching.com. We'd love to hear from you, we want your cases, please send them to us as well, so that Ferne can throw them my way. 

And we'd love to get your feedback, your comments, your likes, your shares. Please, we need all the support we can get.  

[00:13:52] Ferne Kotlyar:

[00:13:52] Kim Ades:
Have a great day.

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