Modern Divorce - The Do-Over For A Better You

Divorced Dad Tips For The Newly Single

November 09, 2023 Attorney Billie Tarascio
Modern Divorce - The Do-Over For A Better You
Divorced Dad Tips For The Newly Single
Show Notes Transcript

After a long-time marriage, how do you juggle the emotional needs of the kids after a divorce while rebuilding your life?

Joining Modern Divorce Podcast Host Billie Tarascio is Zach Dees, a business owner who found himself divorcing two years ago after running out of options to fix his marriage. In today's episode, Zach talks about how he navigates the muddy world of single dad dating, and the sometimes bewildering transition into single life when there's no playbook for doing it right.


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Billie Tarascio: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Modern Divorce podcast. I'm your host Billie Tarascio and today's going to be a great episode joined by a friend of mine who is a recently-ish divorced dad, professional business owner navigating what it's like to be a single father and dating post divorce.

As somebody who is highly successful, managing all the things, kids, work, all the things. So, welcome to the show, Zach. How are you doing? 

Zach: Good. Good morning. Pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.

Billie Tarascio: I am so happy to have you here. We've been talking about doing this show for a long time. So I've known Zach for a couple of years.

Um, his office is next to my office and I'm divorced and he's divorced and we just have a lot in common, but we've been talking for a long time about having you on the podcast because you've been talking to me about the challenges of dating. 

Zach: Things we can relate on quite a bit. You've helped me a lot through this process.

In fact, you were one of the [00:02:00] first people I reached out to. No one really anticipates. being divorced ever, and you were, you were probably the first that I reached out to. So thanks for being there the whole way, and yeah. 

Billie Tarascio: You are so welcome. You know, having a divorce attorney as somebody you can call is a good thing.

So everybody should have a friend that's a divorce attorney just in case. 

Zach: Right, right, good reasons for sure. Yeah, 

Billie Tarascio: so how long has it been now that you've been divorced? 

Zach: It's so coming up on two years. 

Billie Tarascio: Got it. Okay. And yours was fairly amicable, which is great. Um, it went by fairly quickly, uncontested. So, here you are navigating your post divorce life.

Um, what has that been like? 

Zach: Um, it's evolving, right? There's a lot of learning. Uh, there's no roadmap for this. I'm, I'm finding out it's different for every single person and there's no rules. And so it's an individual [00:03:00] journey, learning from different people, professionally, family, friends, and trying to piece it together, um, day to time.

And it, and it takes time, just like you know. Right. Eventually there's more good days than bad and it just, it takes... It takes time. So I think that's one of the biggest, uh, biggest elements is time. And how old are your children? So I have a son, he's 17. And then three girls, 14, So girl dad over here, lots of pink and glitter at my house.

Love it. I have four total. And they're with me half the time. Got it. Okay. 

Billie Tarascio: So you have a fairly standard plan for Arizona. Um, and I think most of the country is kind of going to that 50%. So you'd think that it would be easy, right? You'd have a lot of time to be, you know, newly single, unencumbered. And also balancing kids, but in reality, it's [00:04:00] not easy, is it?

Zach: No, there's, there's nothing easy about it at all. I think especially if you want to do a good job, because kids need to be the priority. If anything, I'll be okay. Um, my number one priority is that they're, they don't suffer any negative impact. They're startling statistics about, um, how children end up post divorce, and I, I don't want that.

So my number one priority is that they, They're okay and that this negative becomes a positive for them. It becomes a learning opportunity and the conversation we had was You know, there's no normal. There's no comparison And this is our normal and that's okay. And we can take that, plant the seeds, and learn and grow and be better from it.

So that's how I approached it with them, is that we're not a broken family, we're not a different family. Everyone is unique. This is our normal. And, um, and make it the absolute best that we can. And we have. So... It's hard [00:05:00] to lose time with your kids. Right. That's, that's probably the hardest thing is to lose a piece of your family in that regard.

So the trade off of fewer hours is better hours. So it needs to be more quality time. So I would say I, I have more quality hours with my kids. than before, even though it's less. But it does take a lot of work to put the business to the side, to put, um, my personal life aside or whatever other, uh, demand on my time and make sure it's face to face and, and take that time with, with the kids.

Billie Tarascio: I think so much of what you said there is just really important. You get fewer hours and so you have to make them better. And your kids need you more. 

Zach: They do. They need you present. 

Billie Tarascio: They do. They do. So how are your kids doing? 

Zach: I mean, trying to get details from a 14 year old girl is impossible. [00:06:00] Um, I take them to school.

I take all of them to school every day. We have our routines. I take each one on a one on one date every once a month. Mm hmm. And... Between those one on one experiences, we, we have the deep talks or we try, I ask questions, they bring things up that they want to. So as far as I can tell, um, I mean, they're doing really, really well.

All things considered, I've talked to some child therapists and they say the worst part of a divorce on the kids isn't necessarily the separation, but it's the conflict and the trauma. And fortunately in my scenario, there was no. There was no conflict per se. There was, there was nothing hostile. Um, so they circumvented all of that and I think they're doing pretty well.

The younger two, they don't know any different. They're, they're 9 and 11 now, so it's status quo for them. Um, and then the older two, they just notice things are a little bit different, but we check in [00:07:00] fairly frequently. We did family therapy, continue to do that. And thankfully, it seems like they're doing very well.

Mm hmm. 

Billie Tarascio: That's awesome. So what has it been like dating and having a personal life after being, well, how old were you when you were married? 

Zach: So I got married young, relatively. I was 23. Yeah. And there's no, there's no good advice when you're 23 on how to get married. Right. You don't know. Right. A lot of the functional guidance I've learned and understand now, I didn't hear about, no one told me.

Compatibility is important, chemistry is important, there's so many important elements. of getting married. And I was married a long time, 17 years. Mm hmm. Um, and, um, transitioning from that and four kids back into single life was, is a very difficult, um, [00:08:00] process. 

Billie Tarascio: Right. And the world changed. Very, very new. In 20 years, right?

The world changed. Dating changed. How people date changed. So... Everything's 

Zach: different. 

Billie Tarascio: Yeah, how have you, how did you go about entering, did you do the online thing? Did you get online? 

Zach: Yeah, I've tried, um, online, in person, I've had, um, mutual friends give me an introduction. Um, and that's, that's always interesting too.

You, you find out how people see you a little bit when they introduce you to someone and, uh, um, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but, um, yeah, it's very, very complicated. 

Billie Tarascio: Right. Yeah, so have you tried to, um, keep dating away from the kids, like very separate, or have you tried integrating at 

all? 

Zach: So I'm, I'm very protective.

Of my kids, and I think anyone should be, who's recently [00:09:00] divorced or not recently divorced. They just, they went through a loss and they're adjusting and their, their health is priority. So, no, no one has met my kids yet to date. Mm-Hmm mm-Hmm, . And what about their mom? No, I, I date and go out. Uh, but they've never met anyone.

I've never integrated that. It's come close, uh, once or twice, but we've never got that far, so I think at that point, it needs to be very serious, exclusive relationship because people coming in out of their lives is not self deprecating. It's not healthy, and it took them a while just to get comfortable with the fact that dad goes out sometimes, and that's okay, and then that's healthy, and mom needs to go out sometimes, and that's okay, and that's healthy, and at some point in the future, there could be step siblings and step parents, and they're okay with, they're, they're getting okay with it.

Yeah, 

Billie Tarascio: so mom does not, mom has not remarried. 

Zach: No. Okay. She has not. Mm hmm. [00:10:00] 

Billie Tarascio: Yeah. So it's interesting, many, most people who get divorced get remarried within two years, which is kind of crazy, but that's the statistic. So it's, it's, And there's, I think, pros and cons to that. On one hand, people, adults who have another adult in the home have more support.

There's more resources for the kids. But if the relationship's volatile, then you're doing more harm than good. So it's a hard 

Zach: thing. So you said that within two years, the majority are actually married? Remarried. Legally remarried? Yes. Wow, that's staggering. It 

Billie Tarascio: is. It is staggering. It is staggering. Um, as a divorce attorney, because divorces are so traumatic that, I mean, you really, after you go through one, you really want to avoid that.

Zach: And the easiest way to avoid getting a divorce is not to get married.

Billie Tarascio:
But most people are much more comfortable in that type of a relationship and just want to [00:11:00] get back to being comfortable.

Zach: Yeah, I have, I have some theories about that. I think, right, I think some people want to fill a void. Yeah. It's uncomfortable.

We don't want to be uncomfortable. It's uncomfortable. And there's coping mechanisms, and it seems that the majority are negative. I reached out to a lot of people, well, how do you cope with this? How do you deal with the new norm? And I didn't get a lot of positive coping mechanism recommendations. In fact, most of them were don't do what I did.

It was negative. It doesn't work. Right. So that was very surprising too. I, I, from my limited experience, there aren't a lot of positive coping mechanisms people employ post, post divorce, because you have to feel it. You have to take time alone and you have to be uncomfortable until you're comfortable being uncomfortable.

And none of us really like doing that. No, 

Billie Tarascio: loneliness is one of the worst emotions. It's a very uncomfortable [00:12:00] feeling. And the easiest way to not feel lonely is to just be around people, right? Whether or not those people are good for you. And then the other thing is like, do you feel like if you're single too long and you get too comfortable alone for too long that it'll be hard to do all that adapting that it takes to be with somebody else?

Yeah, 

Zach: I think we all probably get a little more Rigid. Right. Things where they are. This is my space and the adaptability maybe starts to go down. You know, two years for me is not a long time, but I, sure there's, there's some adaptability that I think will be more difficult the longer someone's single.

For 

Billie Tarascio: sure. Such an interesting thing, all of it. 

Zach: And it's complicated. Everyone comes with a whole life. We're not in our 20s, so we've had careers, children, traumatic experiences from past relationships, and there's no perfect puzzle piece that fits [00:13:00] together. And there's got to be some adaptability. I think that's one thing that surprised me a little bit is, for whatever reason, I feel most people, um, may be shy away from a challenge or conflict resolution in new relationships.

It's easier just to go to the next one, to go back to the friend circle, to go back to being alone, than maybe put some effort. Into it. Sure. 

Billie Tarascio: Yeah. So what have, what have you found are some healthy positive coping mechanisms? You've now been doing this for two years. What have 

Zach: you learned? So I've learned a lot and from lots of different sources and it's what's worked for me.

It may not work for everybody else, but number one is you have to sit with the discomfort and being alone and feel it and so I got into meditation and And mindfulness and being present and [00:14:00] being able to walk myself through the negative emotions and literally just sitting by myself in my living room in the dark alone.

And you have to feel it and talk to these emotions as if they're a third party. And they're welcome here. Um, welcome that they can stay. But interestingly enough, when we, when we allow our bodies and our minds to feel the emotions, Our bodies and minds are capable of dissipating that energy. It has to go somewhere, and we almost get in the way of that process by trying to avoid it, and bottling it up.

It has to process, and you sit with those emotions, they do go away. And they dissipate, and there's breathing techniques, um, whether it be special forces or Wim Hof, the breathing techniques help a lot, so being present, being mindful, exercise, being healthy, going to the gym, having positive outlets, um, positive, uh, social [00:15:00] group, friends that you can rely on, trust that you can reach out to when it's difficult, um, but I think, I think that's the biggest one is confronting and facing the negative negative.

Emotions. I've met a lot of people, maybe divorced 10 years, and they never had that alone time, that processing time. So subconsciously, consciously, those issues manifest behaviorally way far down the road because they were never dealt with. And I believe that they have to be dealt with. You can't, you can't bury them, you can't hide them.

It's going to manifest in some way or another in a healthy or healthy fashion, and we, we choose. So, just feeling it. Feeling it, processing it, not numbing it out with whatever behavior. And you have to be present with the uncomfortable feelings. Got it. 

Billie Tarascio: Okay, so what about friends? Have you been able to create a new friend group post divorce?

Zach: Um, I, I have, [00:16:00] yes. That's, that's been difficult though because my married friends that I had before were still really close, but they can't relate. Hmm. At five o'clock when I'm done with work. It's, it's family time for them, and when I don't have my kids, well that's my open time, so everything's backwards now.

So it's difficult, and I, and I couldn't, my brother's divorced, so when he got divorced before I did. Looking back, I can see how I couldn't relate to him. I thought I was, and that's not the thing. I thought I could relate to him, but, but I couldn't. Only he could see it from that end, and now I see it, uh, first hand.

So, yeah, trying to find other single males that can relate, um, is, has been important, and I do have a few close friends. Some of them have kids, some of them don't. That's another relatability. Um, so still working on that, but it is important to find someone who can relate. Yeah. It is isolating. 

Billie Tarascio: Yes, it is [00:17:00] isolating.

And you don't have a lot in common with people who've never been married and don't have kids. They have a very different world than somebody who's Extremely different. Very different world. Yeah. So you're looking your niche of possible friends is who really will will get you. And then you add the fact that you're a business owner, like you've got a very small group of peers.

How do you find those 

Zach: people? I don't know. I welcome suggestions. One issue for me too, just personal decision, mostly health related, I don't drink and I don't party or go to clubs. And socially, it's what most people do. And since I don't, there's another degree of potential, uh, Being unable to relate in that regard.

And that's been an issue actually in, uh, in dating. I thought maybe women would be concerned that, um, I have kids or I am divorced, but it's, it's been that I don't. drink and therefore they feel somewhat socially isolated or [00:18:00] uncomfortable, um, with that. And I don't mind if someone drinks around me. That's what my family does.

It's not a problem, never been an issue. But I was surprised at how much of an issue for compatibility that I don't drink. I thought it'd be a positive. Um, for most people, I guess it's not. So, uh, there's, there's another layer there. Goodness 

Billie Tarascio: gracious. Like the takeaways that I'm getting is that. This is hard.

It's hard. It's not easy. There's no road map. There's no easy answer It wasn't like but are you can I ask are you happy that you got divorced? 

Zach: So that that's a really Interesting question and I've been asked that before

So some people say, you know, we're all surprised when we get divorced And we think, you know, divorce was never an option. And I agree with that. If there's options [00:19:00] to solve and maintain a marriage and keep it. Divorce should never be an option. Divorce for me was only when it became a necessity. There were no options.

The options were exhausted, so it becomes functional necessity. And anyone short of that, don't get divorced. Right. Don't get divorced. Solve it. My therapist told me something extremely interesting that is just stuck in my head the whole time. He said, most people, once they get divorced, they fix themselves and they're better for their second marriage.

And I said, well, hold on. Why don't people fix themselves and stay married? Be your best self. Show up as your, as your healed best self. Work together. And he said, I don't know, people just don't typically do that. And it, I still can't process that a hundred percent, but if you can keep it, fix it, fix it, keep it.

When it's a functional necessity, well then... It's a necessity. And that was my scenario. So, so am I happier? I'm, I'm, I am better off. I'm in the process of healing and I think full happiness [00:20:00] comes when you, you find that missing piece. Would I go back to the prior scenario? I wouldn't. It was not healthy. So am I better off?

Am I happier? Yeah. So I guess I would say it's a nuanced answer, but yes. Overall, there's different challenges, but there's new opportunities, the future's bright, and it's only been two years. There's a 

Billie Tarascio: lot to go. Zach, I have really enjoyed this conversation, really, and I thank you for being a guest, thank you for...

Um, your friendship and your vulnerability and sharing with our listeners everything you shared. I think it was just so insightful, um, and I know, uh, if any ladies are out there and you're seeing Zach and you are single, amazing, evolved, um, and maybe you don't go out and party all the time, contact me and I've, I've got his number.

Thanks for the plug there. Is that okay that I just did that Zach? That's okay. [00:21:00] Awesome. Well, thank you so much. And if you've enjoyed this episode, make sure to like it, download it, rate it, send it along to your gorgeous, amazing single people, and we can do game night. Sounds good. All right. Take care, Zach.

Thank you. Bye. Thanks so much for listening to the Modern Divorce Podcast. Remember, 

Zach: anything you've heard today or anything you read online is not the replacement for actual consultation with an attorney and does not create an attorney client 

Billie Tarascio: relationship. Even 

Zach: if you called you are anonymous and we don't have your details and you have not become a client of Modern Law.

However, we would love to speak with you or you should seek out the advice of legal counsel or counseling or any other expert near you. And if you have an idea for a show topic or you need to speak with an attorney in Arizona, you can reach me at info, I N F O, at mymodernlaw. com.