Once you’re clear that you want to get divorced, the next step is to prepare the way. While it’s great to have made a decision, to be willing to pull the trigger, the consequences of that decision can be dire if we don’t think through how to handle our emotions and those of the other players as we initiate and prepare for divorce.
Pulling The Trigger
It’s not unusual to reach the point where you finally decide to get divorced and breathe a sigh of relief. You think, “at last, I’m done living with one foot in and one foot out”. “At last, I’m going to move forward with my life!” These are valid thoughts, just beware of the tendency to stop there.
Let’s not mistake making a decision for the actions required for the long haul that is divorce. The divorce is going to take a minimum of 6 months and can take as long as 10 years depending on how emotionally prepared we and our soon-to-be-ex are.
We can line up our attorney, our divorce coach, our financial planner. We can get all those pieces in motion. However, what makes the difference between an expensive divorce and a less expensive divorce is our emotional state. When we make the decision to get divorced, it is really helpful to also make a decision that we are going to move emotionally with the divorce. That we’re not going to get hung up on blame and anger but focus on what’s really important.
Are We Having the Feelings? or Are They Having Us?
This is the $10,000 question. Let’s explain what it means. Have you ever had a feeling so intensely that you’re just writing it out? Been so enraged that you’re just acting on it! You’re not worried about the consequences, you’re just riding that wave of emotional anger. That is the feeling of “having” us.
Inevitably when we allow our feelings to have us, we regret it afterward. These are the instances where we can’t believe we said what we said to who we said it. Sometimes these are life-changing moments and not always in a positive way. Sometimes we’re able to clean them up and grow closer to people despite these instances.
What we’re looking to do is to have our feelings without them having us. This is where we can allow ourselves to be angry and still maintain some sense of rational thought. My family likes to call it having filters. This is where we’re careful about what comes out of our mouth because we realize that words have consequences
For some of us, we’re going to be so intensely emotional about divorce that it’s going to be very hard to reach this state of having filters. Some of us never had filters. Don’t worry. If this is you, you can grow them. Are you someone who has always lived in reaction? Never fear, this behavior can be learned!
We’ve had huge success working with clients in developing filters. The secret is to allow yourself to have the feeling with intensity privately so that when it comes up in a social setting you have a handle on where it’s coming from, what it’s about, and what it is you really want to say to other people.
Stages and The Work
To some extent, we’re going to be going through the five stages of grief. These are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Studies have shown that these aren’t actually stages that happen in a row. They can actually occur out of sequence, we can have some of these feelings at the same time, or separately. Inevitably though we’re going to have these feelings and we need to be aware of them to prepare for divorce.
Making a distinction between grieving and mourning is going to help us in this process. Mourning is the process of allowing ourselves to have our grief uninterrupted, without filters. We may want to take a day, a couple of days, a week, whatever we think we need in order to do this. The idea is that during the allotted period we’re going to allow ourselves to have our grief with intensity. We will allow ourselves to be complete and total victims. At the end of the time., We’re going to be ready to move on. It doesn’t mean we won’t experience grief, but we’ll experience it in a more manageable way. This will help with the development of filters and using them as well.
We like to call this the work at Rich in Relationship. The work is all about managing our own feelings. Managing them so we’re having them and they’re not having us. Doing the work is really what preparing for and executing this major change in your life is all about. It’s about being willing to remain emotionally engaged in the process so that our feelings don’t come out of the left field and bite us in the tuckus.
Divorce is a particularly challenging journey. It is a journey nevertheless. During this time we’re going to want to take extra special care of ourselves. Having a charged “battery is key! Not caring for ourselves is a recipe for disaster. Caring for ourselves means we show up 100% in everything we do. We are more present with our kids. Our work performance is better when we care for ourselves.
We may discover that there are ways that we have not been charging our battery that we need to be. Maybe we’re not taking as good physical care of ourselves as we’d like to. Perhaps there are spiritual practices that we have been ignoring. Inevitably we are on a journey of self-discovery.
Creating A Vision
What’s going to keep us on track emotionally is our vision for the future. Keeping the well-being of our children and our family on the front burner is central here. Remembering that well-being is what’s primal here is going to help us through a lot of tough negotiations.
For example when you and your soon-to-be-ex are fighting over that piece of sticky furniture, when you have well-being on the front burner you might realize that what your lawyers are making per hour is way more than the furniture is worth. The emotional value of objects becomes a lot less when you have your family’s well-being on the front burner. In fact, you’ll be able to use your soon-to-be ex’s attachment to these objects to your own advantage as you become more detached from them.
Putting Together Your “A-Team”
Last but not least, you’re going to want to put together your own special team. This is your network of support. You’re going to want to have someone to help you with your mental, physical, and spiritual condition. This might be several someone’s. You’re going to want your legal team, your financial team, your child well-being team. All of these players are going to be vital to the stability of the divorce process for you and your family. Put great care and consideration into putting together this team.
You’re going to feel financially stressed no matter how much money you have. It will surprise you how expensive this process can be. Be willing to spend money on managing your emotional state and your children’s well-being above all else. We are true to our vision when we are emotionally balanced and using our filters. As long as you’re being true to your vision, the divorce will be shorter and cost you less.