When people come to me for divorce advice, the first thing I ask is why they want out. Typically they tell me, "I can't take her nagging any more." "He's a cheater; I'm done!" The explanations indicate a belief that once they leave the marriage, life will improve drastically. This type of thinking is not only unrealistic, it's based in pure fantasy.
Often times people erroneously think their lives will remain the same after divorce, with the exception of the spouse being gone. Nothing could be further from the truth. Divorce causes every aspect of a person's life to change. Too often both spouses suffer financially. Family dynamics change significantly and a court order stipulates when and how long you get to see the children. Social circles change as the people closest to you pick which side of the friendship fence they want to go. It's a never-ending series of painful daily surprises that show as a divorce proceeds.
Few people are prepared for what's coming when they decide to divorce. To make a more successful transition from married to divorced, giving up the fantasy is the first step. Getting down to the nitty gritty mechanics of how to deal with the fallout is hard work, but it's necessary.
Before you take one more step toward divorce, answer these question. Looking at the approaching storm will allow you lessen the potential damage coming your way. It's from this perspective that you will be able to make smart, well-informed choices. To print out a free Sabotage The Divorce Fantasy worksheet, go to The Divorce Help Clinic.
Question 1: Who will be impacted by your divorce? It's easy to discount how each person in your life will be impacted by a divorce until you deliberately think it through. Not only will your children's lives be altered -- so will your closest friends and extended family members who share your life.
Question 2: For the people closest to you, how will they be impacted by a divorce? There are tremendous losses involved for everyone in a divorce situation. When contemplating leaving your marriage, it's important to flesh out not only who will be affected, but also how. Once you know what you are up against, you can make a strategic plan to handle each situation. As a starting place, consider the following:
- Children--Each child will no longer have an intact family for everyday living, vacations or holidays. And, depending on finances, the children may lose the family home and with that, possibly their friends, school and community. How will the children handle being shuffled from one parent's house to the next?
- Family--What changes will take place for extended family members? Will your spouse's family still accept you after you file for divorce? Will you be able to spend time with your stepchildren?
Question 3: What will be impacted by your divorce? People commonly make the mistake of overlooking key aspects of their lives that inevitably result in change. Consider the following points to help give you clearer picture of what life might look like after announcing, "I want a divorce.":
- Housing--Will you have to move to a more affordable place? Will you have to move in with your parents while you get back on your feet?
- Care--If you want to spend more time with your kids, will you need to cut down on overtime at work? Will you have to return to work, or get training or education to make your marketable? Will you have to relocate to find a job?
- Finances--How much will you have to pay your ex? And, for how long? Will you get enough in spousal support to maintain your standard of living (probably not)? Will you have to take a second job to make ends meet?
- Social--What areas of your lifestyle will you need to change if you divorce? Will you be able to socialize with your couple friends like before? What about dating?
- Transportation--Do you have a car? Do you need one? Will you be forced to sell your nice car for a more affordable one? Who will be putting the miles and gas on the car when transporting the children back and forth?
This article is meant to open your eyes to the reality that is divorce. People who refuse to acknowledge the truth that their decisions have on every aspect of their lives are also those who suffer the most when the unexpected -- yet normal -- consequences take place in their lives.
As the adage goes, "Plan for the worst and hope for the best." Facing the ugliness of divorce head on will put you in a proactive role, ready to deal with the challenges coming your way.
Editorial change note for reader: There has been a small change to the original article. The author has added a link to a printable worksheet that accompanies this article.