When you think about being prepared, it's most likely in the context of a natural disaster or small emergency. Most of us keep a first aid kit, flashlight, and batteries handy — just in case. However, natural disasters and small emergencies are not the only times you need to be prepared. You never know what twists and turns everyday life may hold for you.
Kelly knew things were rocky in her marriage, but she never seriously thought about getting divorced. Her husband had always had a quick temper and she had weathered it many times before. This most recent fight however, had escalated quickly into something much bigger; Kelly realized she didn't want to do this anymore. She needed to gather her things and leave — quickly. She knew she'd need money but her husband was a CPA and Kelly had always trusted him to handle their money and bills. She didn't know where to start. She went to look for copies of her bank statements but realized her husband had everything locked up. She ended up combing through the recycling bin to find what she could. What she couldn't find, she spent hours on the telephone tracking down.
More from YourTango: Subtle Abuse: 6 Questions You Should Ask Yourself
Divorce or separation tends to be one of those situations that no one plans for because, well, no one wants to assume the worst. We operate under the assumption that everything will be fine. It's when things suddenly aren't fine that we realize, in hindsight of course, that we could have taken some simple measures that would have saved us a lot of time, energy, and anxiety.
Laurel had been thinking about divorce for years. She was torn between being desperately unhappy in her marriage and wanting to hold it together anyway for her two beautiful girls. They deserved to have two parents and she did her best to make it work. Eventually though, as the relationship with her husband deteriorated, she realized it was not a healthy situation for anyone, especially her girls. She started making plans to leave. Among many things, her husband had always controlled the household finances but Laurel knew it was important to start to get a sense of these things for herself. So, she began the painstaking process of sneaking into her husband's files when he left for work each day, taking a few at a time, and making copies of their important documents. She was glad she did, because, when things got tough later on and the word "divorce" was uttered, her husband went to the file cabinet and locked the drawers.
In any event — regardless of the current health of your marriage — you should always have access to items related to your finances, your household, and your children. Save yourself some anguish now, and create an Important Paper File that you can refer to at a moment's notice.
If you are considering divorce, or are unsure of the state of your relationship, these items are especially important to have readily available. Gather them now. Don't worry too much about online passwords. Chances are, your spouse will change the passwords anyway. If you can find the account numbers, you'll have an easier time accessing the information you need when and if you need it. There's no harm in making a few copies of important papers now and tucking them away for safekeeping. If you don't need them, great! If you do, you'll be very glad you took the time now.
We tell our clients that we know it feels strange, even wrong, to take steps to prepare for a divorce when you may not even have decided that it's necessary. However, we started SAS because there were many things we wished we had known before, during, and after our own divorces. We know from experience, sometimes you see change coming and sometimes you're taken by surprise. Either way, it never hurts to be prepared.
If you are feeling confused about where you are in your marriage or relationship, you should know that it is perfectly normal at times. At SAS, we educate women on what their choices are and we help our clients connect to what they really want in terms of their relationship. We are educators who believe in the power of information. Contact us today for your free consultation.
More from YourTango: Important Papers Everyone Should Have in the Event of A Divorce
More divorce coach advice from YourTango: