No one plans on getting divorced when they get married, and yet that is a possible outcome for some. If you have spent your life mastering people pleasing, always saying yes, being diplomatic, and putting everyone else's needs before yours, you will suffer tremendously if you are confronted with going through a divorce. The following are some areas of negotiating a divorce that people pleasing needs to be replaced with having a Backbone.
1. Fight for you Marriage
As you have heard me say in the past, no divorce should happen until the couple tries everything they can to fight for their marriage. If you are the only one asking for therapy, workshops, time, and or spiritual counseling, you will need a backbone to take a stand for fixing your marriage before moving forward with divorce. "I think we have something special with our family. I ask that you join me in working to get our family back the way we know it can be." If you get to therapy, you will need a Backbone to take a stand for what you believe the marriage needs to flourish. If there are no deal breakers in your marriage, you will want to try everything you can so when your children (as adults) ask why they had to go through a divorce you will be able to say "we tried everything."
2. Hiring your Support Staff
If your marriage cannot be saved and you need to move forward with divorce, more than likely you will hire professionals to help. It will be up to you to have a Backbone to interview these people with tough questions. You need to find out if this person is right for you. That is surely not going to happen if you are trying to please the person. It is paramount you understand you are looking for someone who can have your back, not the other way around. Whether you are hiring a lawyer, a mediator, an accountant, a therapist, or dealing with your soon to be "ex", it is imperative you convey that you have opinions, ideas, thoughts, and a voice. If you are focused on how to please everyone, you will successfully throw yourself under the bus!
3. Negotiate Rigorously
During the actual divorce negotiation, if you are focused on "not rocking the boat" or "afraid of conflict," you will more than likely end up in a pool of resentment. It is your job with your professionals to take a good look at the financial pie and assess what you will need to reinvent yourself. Your lawyer can give you parameters on what might be realistic. It is then your job to find your backbone, your voice and ask for what you need. Have the same strong voice when it comes to negotiating custody and what is in the best interest of the children.
4. Protecting your Family/Children
Parents need to protect their children (and themselves) when it comes to interfacing with the world. Your children will have doctor's appointments, teacher's conferences, athletic events etc. and you will be called upon to sort out what is going on e.g. is your child being bullied, did the doctor miss a key observation, does your child need extra help etc. It is important you approach these meetings as an advocate for your child. When you are married, you may have advocated together or one may have been the advocate with the other's support. If you have an amicable divorce you can still support each other here. If you have a contentious divorce it will be your responsibility to be aware that you need to be the advocate in these situations. If you are focused on making all these people like you or you don't want to upset them with the truth, you and your children will be thrown under the bus.
As you enter the worlds of career, play/friends, and dating, you will do best if you have found your backbone. For whatever reason a single person appears more vulnerable to the takers in the world. It is imperative you stop the takers in their tracks. Say No to people who want to take advantage of you in your career, friendships, and the dating world. Say No to people who won't accept your children. Say No to people who think they can steamroll you because you are alone. Say No to requests for your time that interferes with your commitment to yourself and your family. Say No to inappropriate financial requests. It is important you bring into your world people who respect you and your family. If you are feeling vulnerable and you want to please everyone, you are a catastrophe waiting to happen. If you are feeling vulnerable and you have a backbone, look out world.
Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it. ~Tori Amos
Dr. Anne Brown PhD, RN of Sausalito, California, is a psychotherapist, speaker, coach, and the author of Backbone Power: The Science of Saying No . Anne's approach is especially applicable to people affected by divorce. Backbone Power is a no nonsense self help guide to making decisions while having backbone and integrity in all your choices, short term and long term. In addition to helping the divorce community, Anne has over twenty years experience as the trusted advocate and advisor to influential corporate leaders, trial attorneys, athletes, leaders, physicians and others seeking actionable guidance. Brown is a graduate of the University of Virginia, BS in Nursing; Boston University, MS in Psychiatric-Mental Health in Nursing; and International University, PhD in Addiction Studies. In 1997 Brown also reached a personal goal of obtaining her Black Belt in Soo Bahk Do. You can contact Dr. Anne Brown through her website: www.BackbonePower.com .