WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT DIVORCE
I would like to share some insights I’ve gathered through my experience, that might help you initially with your decision.
Steps to consider:
Think things through beforehand.
The decision to divorce should be a sincere and highly self-aware one. Ensure that it isn’t driven by emotion or ego. Or fueled by anger or depression. This is a big decision and deserves to be made with a cool head. Genuinely confront your intent in wanting the divorce. Are you pursuing any agenda (other than ending the relationship) such as trying to change your partner’s behavior or attitude?
Expect mixed feelings
It is likely that you will have conflicting feelings about your decision. You may simultaneously feel guilt and certainty, or betrayed and hopeful. Anticipate and accept the duality of your emotions.
Consider the process.
No matter how you handle your divorce, the destination is pretty much the same. How you choose to get there is entirely up to you. Take a moment to make the choice that best reflects your own goals and desires for the divorce process and the life you wish to create.
Don’t wing it.
Consider how you will deliver the news to those who matter most and will be most impacted by the decision. Plan and practice telling your spouse, family, friends and children. People may have very strong reactions which can range from wild optimism to feelings of anger and betrayal. Understand that people will process the news differently and that even well intentioned concern can take many forms.
It’s important to prepare yourself for their reactions. Visualizing (and even practicing in front of a mirror) how you will handle their varying responses can help you remain calm.
Build your support network.
You will need the love and support of others. Act in ways that allow them to help. Try not to badmouth your spouse (as much as you might want to)—you will need to gain trust and support of (often mutual) friends and relatives. It’s important to place the lives you and your spouse have built together in context, and understand that to move forward positively, you must respect each other today and tomorrow. This will help you create a network of people who support you through the process (and its aftermath).
Do your homework, but expect inconsistent advice.
Talk to people who have gone through divorce if you can, and contact mediators or collaborative lawyers/attorneys to get their feedback. Learn from their experiences and differing perspectives. But expect a broad range of opinions. Everyone has their own experiences and has heard their own horror stories. Making sense of the conflicting information will be challenging and will require a certain degree of detached and critical thought. Beware of information overload and trust that you know best what makes sense for your unique situation. Ultimately, the right answer for you won’t be found “out there” but “in here.”
Take stock and prepare for the future.
Assess your situation honestly. Consider your finances, your temperament and personality and that of your spouse. Think about employment possibilities. Expect change.
Seek professional advice.
Talk to a licensed therapist. Explore the idea of marriage counseling. And if you’ve decided to separate or divorce, talk to you partner about how you want to handle it. It’s easier to talk before a contentious litigation turns you into adversaries.