If you’ve been thinking about getting a divorce, your most overwhelming feeling is going to be fear – and that is perfectly natural. After all, you have been used to being “us” and now you’re thinking about becoming “I.” That can feel like you are stepping off a cliff without any knowledge of what awaits you.
First, understand that your emotions are going to be extreme. Very few people really enjoy confrontation, so if you’ve put off broaching the subject, it is likely that marital tensions have risen higher. There is the fear of hurting your partner with your decision, the uncertainty of financial repercussions and, if you have children, the reluctance to put them through this trauma.
The truth is that waiting until you feel the time is perfect is just a way of stalling because there will never be a perfect time. Now that you’ve made the decision, there are some sensible and sensitive ways to go approach this process.
Who You Are
First, remain true to yourself. This will help you start to build the post-divorce you in a strong and balanced way. There is bound to be disagreement but that doesn’t mean you have to abandon your personal standards. In other words, don’t get into the gutter with your soon-to-be ex even if that is what he or she seems determined to do.
There’s an old saying, “Why should I bark when I have a dog?” Well, why should you get all worked up when you have a lawyer who can handle the situation with objectivity while still advocating for you?
Your lawyer may suggest a mediator, and it’s a very good idea. This objective person can help you make equitable decisions about property, money, etc.
How to Tell Your Spouse
For some reason, people seem to think that breaking the news in a public place like a restaurant will keep emotions in check. Not true. This is one of the most personal decisions you will ever make, and it deserves to be done in quiet and civil surroundings. Send the kids to grandma’s house, turn off the cell phones and create an atmosphere of calm.
If it is impossible to deal with your spouse for any number of reasons, remember once again that you have a lawyer.
You haven’t reached this crisis point without a lot of emotional and psychological stress, and there is no reason that you shouldn’t relieve yourself of this enormous burden you’ve been carrying. What applies to you also applies to your partner and your children. Kids are always aware of tensions in the home, and they often start to feel scared and upset by what they are sensing before anyone ever mentions splitting up. Having this out in the open will allow you to talk to your children and reassure them that they are still loved and still your priority.
And your spouse has probably been in nearly as much turmoil as you. So be kind and tell them clearly that you know that your happiness depends on you, not on them, and set them free from the responsibility they may feel. Even if the divorce is full-speed ahead, this is a good time to seek help from family counselors who are used to dealing with the pain and grief that accompanies divorce.
Children and money are the two most problematic and worrisome aspects of divorce; indeed, they are often the excuses made for not getting out of a toxic relationship before you’ve frayed your last nerve.
When it comes to finances, fight for what is rightfully yours, but remind yourself that there is no terrible situation that can be fixed with money, and that living on less but being happy is worth everything. While it may be hard to believe during the divorce, this change is paving the way to future happiness, even if it means living in a smaller house.
A Brighter Future
Divorce can actually propel you into re-energizing and reinventing yourself. Yes, you may mourn the loss of your partner on some levels, but allow yourself to get excited about projects, trips and goals that may have slipped far away during the marriage. Go blonde, learn ballroom dancing or climb Everest – start exploring what the world holds for you and allow yourself to feel how exciting that can be.