“Getting divorced just because you don’t love a man is almost as silly as getting married just because you do”. Zsa Zsa Gabor
Assuming you and your partner have fought for your marriage and you now have decided to get divorced, it is time to move forward. I hope you both know why your marriage didn’t work and I hope you each know your part in why your marriage failed.
Regardless of why the marriage failed the words, “why me” have no place in your speaking from this point forward. Your new words are “what are my lessons.” Reframe the whole process for yourself. If it is springtime, you are shedding “the skin” that doesn’t work for you anymore. You will reinvent yourself through this whole process.
I believe after my experience of seeing years of “unfairness” in relationships, there are always lessons for both people. Often the more egregious things a person reports in a relationship, the more the person needs to develop a Backbone to say No to abuse and yes to health. If you have subscribed to an old outdated discourse of “being a victim/martyr gives you a badge of honor”, sell that idea fast! Stop talking about what was done to you and start looking for “how did I let this happen and where should I have said No” even if it becomes clear you should have walked from this relationship on the first day.
So hoist up your self-esteem, grab your courage, add a hefty dose of curiosity, mix with a strong sense of humor and lean into this sword called divorce.
Armed with your lessons you will now interview for your team and only hire those you trust will have your back, fight when necessary, understand you may need a good cry, also have a good sense of humor and will get you the best, fairest settlement possible.
Ideally, your team will include a good mediator (when possible), or (collaborative lawyer) when possible, or lawyer who will represent you well (necessary when you have a contentious partner involved). If possible you also want a therapist/divorce coach and/or religious/spiritual advisor. If numbers scare you, hire a competent bookkeeper to help you put together your budget. If you have a complicated financial pie, you will need more financial advisors e.g. forensic accountant etc. Get the best team possible and don’t be afraid to fire anyone who is not carrying his/her weight. Remember no victim mentality allowed.
Most likely you will be tackling this divorce when you are newly single and trying to figure out how to make all that work. If you are taking care of yourself, standing up for your health, your emotional well-being, and what is best for you everything else will fall into place. If you don’t take care of yourself, well we all know what happens then. What does this mean?
- Eat well.
- Get a schedule for you and the children (if children involved).
- Let your team shield you from the “nastiness” as much as possible.
- Only open difficult emails on your time frame when you are ready.
- Have check-ins with your team regularly.
- Ask questions.
- Have me time.
- Reframe why me to: This is happening because of lessons I need to learn.
- Find private time to rent sad movies and cry.
- Create a positive mood when you wake up in the morning with music, dance, a friend, a walk.
- Spend time with friends not talking about your divorce.
- Talk about your divorce with your team.
- Reframe I can’t do this too: This too will pass, this too will pass.
- Reframe Can I do this too: I can handle this.
- Reframe I miss the suffering I know to: I am shedding what no longer is working in my life!
- Reframe I am scared to: I wonder what the universe has in store for me?
Divorce with dignity! Be committed to be on the healing in two years, not five-year track! Children want to be normal again, not kids of those divorcing parents who are always fighting. Believe in yourself and what the future holds! Lean into the divorce, move through one step at a time, don’t waste time blaming or being a victim, and get ready to reinvent yourself!!
“Divorce isn’t such a tragedy. A tragedy’s staying in an unhappy marriage, teaching your children the wrong things about love. Nobody ever died of divorce.” Jennifer Weiner
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.