BEING ALONE / FEELING IT

The Analysis:

Getting divorced is a lonely endeavor.  In the midst of the emotional upheaval and the reshuffling of your life, the impact may not be felt immediately, but it will hit, and hit hard.  Who is there to catch you? Do you have the emotional fortitude to withstand each push?

The Recommendation:

First, attend to the logistics of being on your own. Make backup plans for child care when the children are sick and you have to go to work; rearrange your bedroom so you’re not constantly reminded of your spouse’s absence; improve the way your household runs and assign chores for the kids; find a handyman; schedule your time better, including time for yourself.

Realize that you may need support, that sadness can overwhelm unexpectedly, and that you will get through it like so many others.  While trying to remain strong, you can allow yourself to feel weakness and vulnerability.  Divorce is a life altering event which requires change in the way you think and live.  Don’t minimize the impact, but recognize that you have control over how you live and make choices which make your life better.

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WEIGHING ADVICE

The Analysis:      

Decisions need to be made and strategy considered. Do you go it alone?  Who do you turn to for help?   You will find that many lend you a sympathetic ear for awhile, some stay for the long haul, many will give opinions without all the facts, and some will give advice which conflicts with your instincts and the advice of others.    Some advice will be productive and some will incense you.   Who do you believe?

How do you weigh the advice you get from others?  How do you reconcile the comfort that their support gives with their questionable advice?  Can you sift through it all and make reasoned decisions while those around you are chanting their own mantra for your life?

The Recommendation:

Before your head begins to swirl in confusion, determine how much you want to involve each person in the trials and tribulations of your divorce.  Identify the friend or relative who gives reasoned, not hysterical, responses.   Talk to them about the burden your dependence might bear on the relationship, and solicit limited opinions from others as needed.  But remember that it is you that has to live with the consequences of each decision, not the advice giver.

MANAGING ON YOUR OWN

The Analysis:

In some marriages, management of the marital finances, investment, budgeting and bookkeeping were primarily assumed by one spouse.  If so, then sudden transfer of these additional responsibilities to the other may either seem like more you can bear, or a welcome return of control.   You may also find that 100% management of childrens’ schedules, work commitments on top of daily chores put you over the top.  Figure out where you need help and the best way of getting it, even from your spouse.  You need not be responsible for everything.

The Recommendation:

Taking and making critical financial decisions is a tremendous step toward independence.  Decide what you need; who can help you, how and when you can get it done.  Set financial and other personal goals to achieve.  While you prioritize your daily obligations, keep your focus on the long term.

THE ROLE OF EXTRAMARITAL AFFAIRS

The Analysis:

Whether it’s yours or your spouses, extramarital affairs throw a marriage into another realm.   The excitement and illicitness of your affair is a contrast to the disappointment of your marriage.  Escape from it gives you promise and optimism; a seamless transition from the bad to the wonderful.   The discovery of your spouse’s affair is a shock into another reality.  How long has it been going on, when and why did it start, with whom, and why didn’t you notice the signs earlier.  It becomes a pendulum of self-doubt and enormous anger.  The discovery of your affair springboards many spouses into rages which drive the divorce into expensive litigation.  It’s used against your morality, your parenting, your integrity. He/She will use it over and over again whenever they can. Don’t give them the chance.

The Recommendation:

Manage your expectations.  Your affair may or may not be your escape.  Keep your feet on the ground and think strategically about how it impacts your divorce.  If necessary, put the romance on hold temporarily to keep it from becoming central to the divorce.  Don’t let it become the fuel which drives the litigation.

An affair may be emotionally debilitating to you, but must not be disclosed to or discussed with the children, nor provide the fuel for your fire.  Unless marital assets are dissipated by the affair, they are of little consequence to a judge.  Do not let your divorce become a forum for revenge; it’s only a vehicle for separating two lives.   Sadly, the process doesn’t pay much attention to the personal pain affairs inflict.