Keeping Your Emotions out of Your Divorce

Divorce gives you a lot to juggle. Not only is there the business aspect to deal with – the negotiations that take place in and out of the courtroom – but there’s also internal work to be done that will enable you to deal with your present emotions and transition to an independent future.

The more you can keep those two parts separate from each other, the more smoothly your divorce will proceed.

At the start of my own divorce, I remember clearly my therapist telling me I was about to be very busy. At the time, I had no idea what she meant. How could there be more to keep me busy than the emotional upheaval I was going through?

Soon enough, I found out what she was talking about. The sheer logistics of ending a marriage are overwhelming. The financial paperwork to be handled. The legal documents to be completed. If you think doing your taxes is complicated, try orchestrating a divorce.

All right, I thought. Fine. All this paperwork will be good for me. The exercises will help me create a budget and get me up to speed on everything I don’t know.

The third worst day of my divorce (the first was the day I found out I was getting one, and the second was when I had to tell my children) happened when the business and emotional aspects of my divorce collided.

I’d been doing my best to deal with all those financial statements and keep my life on track. Then something happened that threatened to derail everything I’d accomplished. I asked my husband for a couple of missing documents. He’d already sent the documents to his attorney and ignored my request for copies. I assumed I’d get cooperation from him throughout this process. It turned out I was wrong.

I felt angry and alone. I’m ashamed to say I let my emotions overrule my thinking. I called up my husband and yelled, cried, insulted, threatened, and cried some more. We both said unnecessarily mean things. Needless to say, we were completely exhausted by the end of the call. Even worse, all the credibility I’d earned was shot in a few careless moments. I know he hung up thinking: she’s lost it, she’s crazy, how can I leave the kids in her care?

If I’d had a divorce coach, things might have gone differently. First of all, I would have been able to vent to her, rather than lash out at my husband. And then we could have calmly considered the possible reasons he didn’t provide the information I wanted.

Had I been that divorce coach, I would have asked me:

  • How transparent had my husband been up until now? (Answer: Very.)
  • How did he benefit from not sharing the documents? (His attorney would have gotten a head start, but then would have had to share the information with mine, so there was no real advantage.)
  • What kind of challenges might my husband have been going through? (Well, actually, his dad was very sick.)

The truth was, my husband had simply forgotten about the documents, distracted by his father’s health issues. All my tears and rage were for nothing.

This was one of the occasions when these two aspects of my divorce – the financial and the emotional – collided. There were others. If I’d had a thinking partner, a sounding board, it would have saved me from the destructive effects of allowing those two parts to get tangled up. And that’s just one way a divorce coach could have reduced the stress of that difficult time.

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