There are many truths that come with divorce proceedings.
One of them is that you will very quickly be thrust into a marathon of serious decision -making, some of which could impact the rest of your life. You need to clear your muddled head and think before you agree to anything.
Where do you begin?
Acknowledge that these decisions are important and will take time. If you have kept a journal through parts 1 and 2 of this recovery series, there will be questions for you to answer with this piece as well.
These decisions will impact you and the people you love. Do not let yourself be pressured into decisions but also do not use reluctance as power and control over the divorce proceedings because more tension is not helpful. Take time but do not use time to incite emotion. The goal is to keep moving forward and you do that by maintaining a steady pace.
Open mindedness, thinking creatively and communicating clearly will help you find your way through some of the difficult decisions that need to be made. They will also help you understand the implications of the decisions.
Open-mindedness may seem like an odd starting point, but it is particularly important in the overall outcome.
It means shedding the potent ‘get even’ attitude and looking at issues from everyone’s perspective. Open-mindedness involves active listening. You help your decision-making process by focusing on what is being said or offered and responding thoughtfully when negotiating. Really listen to the points being made and evaluate them as objectively as possible.
Journal Prompt: Are there any obstacles to being open minded? List them and the reasons why.
If you have children, this divorce is their worst nightmare come true and it is important to keep their feelings in mind as decisions are made. You both want what is best for your family. Being reasonable and open minded is a start.
Along with open mindedness, remember to consider your wants and needs. You may have lost a sense of self in the lead up to the divorce and now is the time to reclaim the ‘you’ that was neglected. Again, being mindful that this is not about ‘getting even’ or ‘keeping score’ but about healthy choices.
Journal Prompt: List everything you feel you need to satisfy your wishes for your future. Be honest but reasonable. If it is important then it is worth defending and you defend with well thought out reasons why.
Journal Prompt: Ask yourself “Why do I want this…? Or “Why do I not want this …?
Writing down your answers to the questions will help you be prepared for the negotiations.
To make these decisions you need all available information. This is not the time to withhold from each other. The best negotiations happen with a level playing field of trust. These are not one-sided decisions because there are two of you and each has an equal stake in the outcome.
Divorce usually goes hand in hand with some history of betrayal and lack of trust. Commit to each other that you will be forthright in this final stage of your marriage. There has no doubt been enough game playing and harsh words to last a lifetime.
As you consider decisions try to project their impact on your future. Can you see where these decisions will take you in a year or five years? The emotion of the moment tends to make us think in the moment but some of these decisions will have lasting impact. Perhaps there is the possibility of revisiting some decisions in a year or so. Does it make sense to the people involved?
Journal Prompt: Write about where you see yourself in a few years. What are the decisions that will get you there?
Remember that this is all to make your future the best it can be. Decisions should be made with as much information as possible and the least amount of emotion. Doing that and you stand a good chance of benefiting from them for years to come.
Responsible decision-making means acknowledging your role in the decision. If you decide on something, then you owe it to yourself to ensure they are decisions that will work for -you.
There has probably been more hurt and anger than you ever imagined. The way to move beyond that is by being decisive and taking responsibility for the result.
Believe in yourself. No doubt your self-esteem has been knocked about in the lead up to the divorce. As difficult as it may be, believe you will succeed in making the right decisions at this time. Consider realistic goals and balance expectations. Do not overestimate or underestimate yourself. Believe you will succeed and have the future you want.
Journal prompt: Make a list of all the reasons why you can make the right decisions. It is time to appreciate your qualities of decision -making.
Remember that you can take a reasonable time out from decisions. The whole divorce process is overwhelming and making important decisions for your future is a huge responsibility. If you need time, do not hesitate to take the time. Do not use time to create any more hostility. If you need a few days or a week or more then take it but be reasonable.
It is probably the biggest expectation of all to sideline emotion at such a difficult time. If you can control your emotion, it is in your best interest to do so. If you make caring and constructive choices, then you and everyone you love will benefit for years to come.
We are living through difficult times and if your life has been impacted by divorce contact The Divorce Magazine UK for your complimentary divorce coaching session with Linda. She is a divorce coach who is also a traumatic divorce survivor. Her insights and empathy will help you find your path forward to a brighter future. She looks forward to meeting you – firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT LINDA SIMPSON
“I take strength from your calm, your honesty, and the hope you give me for my future.” Cheryl
Linda is a fresh voice in the divorce advice world. She offers a pragmatic, common sense approach to life after divorce issues based on over twenty years surviving and thriving following a very traumatic divorce.
As a single parent, her sons are an enormous source of joy in her life. She is a loving mother and grandmother to four delightful grandchildren.
She holds a degree from the University of Waterloo with concentrations in sociology and philosophy and guidance counselling certification from Queen’s University.
She is an accredited trainer for The Peace Education Foundation, a leader in conflict resolution training. The institute is ‘dedicated to educating children and adults in the dynamics of conflict resolution and promoting peacemaking skills in home, schools, and community.’
In a long and successful teaching career, she also served as a counsellor and workshop facilitator for SEL (social emotional learning) programming and The Peace Education Foundation throughout her school and school district and was a frequent conference presenter for SUNY Potsdam Faculty of Education USA.
She writes for The Divorce Magazine UK and her blog is seen regularly on Huffington Post Canada where the focus is life after divorce and parenting issues.
She is a writer and poet and is presently at work on a book based on her divorce experience.