Divorce is almost always hurtful; here are ways to turn it into the less painful "unmarried."
I don’t know about you, but I did not want to get divorced. Who wants to get divorced? It’s so heavy, traumatic, full of conflict, upheaval and ultimate failure. Who wants their children to come from a “broken home?” Nobody, that’s who. Getting divorced sucks. I would much rather get unmarried.
My own marriage ended with a bang. After two years of intensely working on our relationship with a life coach, it all exploded with an admission of infidelity, and an “I-don’t-want-to-do-this-any-more” proclamation. Though we were working on our issues, and the process wasn’t going smoothly, I was still absolutely stunned, shocked, floored, traumatized, angered, distraught, scared, and overwhelmed…it was all so intense, that I literally fled from the coach’s office and out into the street. My whole world went inverted. This was NOT the plan. We were fixable. Anything can happen if you put your mind to it, right?
Wrong. Oh, I was so wrong. (Or as I prefer to say: “seriously mistaken.”) The 20+ years we were together, unraveled in just 13 months. The promises we made to each other were tossed aside…lawyers were hired, nest eggs spent on unnecessary legal battles and astronomical fees. I didn’t recognize my ex-husband; I didn’t recognize my life. The whole situation was one big vortex of chaos.
I’m guessing this sounds familiar to you in many ways. Divorce is often crazy, out of control, mind numbing, and distressing. So how did I get a hold of it? How did I create clarity and compassion in a situation that was so beyond my control? I let go. I got familiar with my new reality. I worked on acceptance every single day. I stripped away all the layers of hope—the memories of what had been, and of the future that I had so lovingly planned would be… I paid attention to how my ex was acting, and tried to recognize that this man is who I would be co-parenting with…not the one I went to college with and married. I worked on my resilience, my communication skills, and my support system. I learned about conflict resolution, and came to terms with failure. And I won’t lie…it was hard, scary, and sometimes dreadful. You don’t want to do this alone.
My personal experience led me to my life’s work, teaching other women (and some men too!) how to end their marriage with as much dignity, compassion, and cooperation as possible, and to move forward—redefining their lives with intent, direction, and positive energy.
Getting unmarried is a choice—a conscious one. Many people have no choice in whether or not to divorce, but you absolutely have a choice in how you “get unmarried.”
There are huge decisions to be made in divorce that will absolutely affect the rest of your life. You cannot just rush through the process, no matter how painful it is, and I know you just want it to be over. Slow down, take a breath. Give yourself permission to pause, think, and reflect. This is your life we’re talking about, and the lives of your children, if you’re a parent.
Getting unmarried takes considered action. Think about when you were getting married. You probably spent months (maybe even years!) dreaming about your wedding day. You read bridal magazines, and scoured the wedding websites. You thought carefully about your ceremony, and who the best person would be to marry you. You planned the type of celebration you wanted: large and lasted for days, small and intimate, or a dream destination. You searched for the perfect venue, caterer, florist, dress, musical entertainment, décor, favors, invitations, etc. The thought, research, and intention that went into the planning of your wedding was significant, as was the expense to put it all together and have it go off without a hitch (or with a hitch! Please excuse the pun…).
I recommend you apply the same amount of consideration, planning and energy to getting unmarried.
Think about these questions:
- How do you want the divorce to go—do you want to do it yourself or use a mediator, a collaborative law group, or an attorney?
- How will you divide your assets?
- What’s important to you when it comes to co-parenting?
- How do you want your children to see you as you move through this process?
- What do you want your life to look like when you are finished?
These are just some of the issues you will face when you are getting unmarried. And you want to know the answers to them. I’m not saying that your divorce will go exactly as you would like it to…chances are your wedding didn’t either, but without a road map, without careful thought, there is a good chance that things will fall through the cracks—and you will find yourself reacting frantically, rather than responding carefully. Get educated. Write your thoughts in a journal. Talk with family, friends, and other people who have been through a divorce. Surround yourself with the proper support, and the best experts. Be clear, and kind to yourself, and you will get through this. You and your life will not be the same, but with conscious choices, and determined efforts you will absolutely find happiness along the way.