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Divorce Happens. What Now?

divorce May 14, 2019

Marriages fail.  Some individuals choose divorce and take a chance on living differently with the dream of being happier and more fulfilled.  

Once the decision to divorce is made, and it is rarely if ever an easy one, there are approaches to make divorce simpler, gentler, and less contentious.  It is worthwhile to pay attention to these approaches.

I am a divorce coach.  For the last decade I have seen too many divorces that, by the time one of the spouses reached out for support, the couple had squandered a large portion of the family’s resources, damaged the psychological health of everyone involved, and done severe damage to most if not all of any remaining good-will.  

It doesn’t need to be this way.  By beginning to consciously examine your thoughts about your relationship and choice to divorce as early as possible, you will be able to eliminate an immense amount if not all of the carnage.  If you are contemplating or have recently initiated divorce “What now?” is a question to look at deeply.

There are specific practical steps necessary to divorce; determining a legal approach, how to inform your spouse, your children, and your community of your decision, who to hire on your professional team, getting your financial documents in order, seeing to the distribution of assets and debts, designing a parenting plan, etc.  These are the “to dos” that every couple divorcing accomplishes sooner or later. Yet there is a critical stage often skipped prior to diving in to the practical steps. Before you dive into “doing” the above, SLOW DOWN and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who am I going to “be” while I am doing the above steps?, and
  • What outcome do I want for me and my children?

Answering the first question determines how effective you will be at being successful at accomplishing what you determine you want for the second.    

The first step is determining who you will be while you are divorcing, conscious or unconscious.  If you want to be conscious you must SLOW DOWN so you can become aware of and begin to analyze your thought process.  Listen to what you are telling yourself then STOP and examine your thoughts for validity before taking ANY action.  

It is high time to begin putting distance between you as the thinker of thoughts and the thoughts you are thinking.  If there is no distance you have no freedom to maneuver. You are locked into performing in ways that will undermine your goals and further fuel the emotional fires. You know these fires. They have torched your relationship already and if not controlled will continue to burn after your divorce. With awareness, you can begin to rob the flames of the oxygen and extinguish the bulk, if not all of them.     

Examine your thoughts about why you are divorcing.  Do you start the conversation in your head with “I am divorcing because he/she...”?  That puts the responsibility for divorce over there, with your spouse. How do you think this conversation will go once you open it up to your spouse?  Is this even accurate? Are you divorcing your spouse because of who he/she is OR because you want something different than what you are getting?  

What impact would it have on you to shift your perspective on why you are divorcing?  What impact could it have on the process if you didn’t hit your spouse with fault for your choice to go and instead spoke to what you want and need and your willingness to create that for yourself?  

If you are able to shift your perspectives and ultimately your conversations and actions and begin assuming responsibility for what you want you can begin toning down current and potential hostility.  This serves everyone well. No matter who your spouse is or what he/she did or didn’t do, you have months of negotiation ahead of you. If you have young children together your spouse will, if he/she is involved or becomes an involved parent, be interacting for life.  

 

This awareness allows you to transform how you interact in all relationships and to improve all of your relationships through the crucible of divorce.  You can shift your part of the relationship you’ve developed with your spouse so you can divorce well, come out with as fair a settlement and parenting plan as possible, and set yourself up for a happier, more conscious post-divorce life.

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