I’m contributing pieces on Family Today and Medium. Follow me below and on Instagram for my quotes. #WomanResurrected On Medium @ColleenOrme Follow me on Instagram @colleenorme Facebook @Colleen Orme National Columnist #WomanResurrected E-mail: Colleen.Sheehy.Orme@gmail.com
There are a ton of unhappily married couples but seldom do you hear someone say, “Hey, I might give divorce a try. What’s it like? Can you tell me a little more about it? Do you think I could handle it?”
Nah! That just doesn’t happen.
Divorce is more frightening to the average individual than remaining in an unhappy marriage!
No matter it’s for the REST OF YOUR LIFE!
Wow! Think about that – It’s a lot to process.
No one wants to jump off a cliff they have seen others pushed and nose-dive from.
Instead, the ‘unhappy’s’ party on the marital cliff with you and stay far enough back they can witness the divorce demise but not so close they may accidently fall off the cliff themselves.
Worse, a lot of the ‘unhappy’s’ have a somewhat irrational fear divorce could and may be contagious.
Hence, divorce remains a dirty little secret. Even to those who ultimately succumb to it. Making critical survival information fairly scarce. But boy DO you ever need a plan! The wicked wilderness of divorce will eat you alive and the scary animal screams will keep you up all night long.
So whatever you do, don’t just go out and naively hire an attorney. Have an “I better be massively prepared, this is a super big cliff, my parachute might not hold me, God please help me kinda PLAN!”
A few things to do before you party too close to the cliff:
1. Save Money:
This means be prepared for a rainy day, a bad divorce, a primary income earner having too much control over your ability to begin again type of savings goal.
It does NOT in any manner, mean unethically and dishonestly trying to gain a financial edge on your soon to be divorced, partner.
This is a tricky dilemma.
I myself believed this was an unethical thing to do in the time I gave thought to leaving my marriage. Therefore, I refrained from doing so. However, as a woman who spent many years at home raising my children, I ultimately put myself in a more vulnerable position. Though I had worked part-time for nearly a decade I was not the primary income earner and because I didn’t need the money, most of my work was devoted to people I knew or my freelance work.
I should have honestly saved. This means not concealing or stealing to take from one spouse or another. It means the very moment you believe you may have exhausted your options, starting just a modest slush fund in case you are left with zero ways to pay for groceries, gas or necessities if your spouse does decide to opt for unethical behavior.
2. Do Not Underestimate Your Spouse:
My marriage counselor once told me, “Colleen, you have always worn rose colored glasses and now they are black.”
I was indeed ready to end my marriage and decidedly fed up, but down deep I was still leaving the love of my life. Not a person I chose to believe the worst of though at times it may have seemed that way. No, those were the words of a wife venting. Down deep I still saw the best in my husband.
Make no mistake. Divorce is ugly and people who do not do the hard work of counseling will use it as a means for venting their anger.
More than likely, the person you divorce will not be the person you married. Worse, any faults could intensify ten-fold. If they worshiped money they will worship it more, if they were controlling they will be obsessively controlling.
It’s hard to process this notion when considering a divorce. A better way to prepare for it is to understand the dissolution of anything is arduous. A business going belly up is NOT pretty.
Take the emotion out of your expectations. Rather expect this could be an individual you no longer recognize who may be capable of things you never dreamed you could imagine.
3. Stock Up On Essentials:
Good, bad or ugly, money is a commodity in divorce.
Even minus any financial bad behavior, you are dividing one household into two.
Get ready for this.
Start clipping coupons, catching buy one get one free specials and the like. Stock up on toiletry, pantry, and necessity items. Remember the days of stockpiling diapers and baby wipes.
Once again, seize that mentality. BE PREPARED!
When you are low on funds, you will be thankful.
Tell your family and friends who understand where your life is heading, to please buy you gift certificates rather than Birthday or other special occasion gifts. The day you are out of gas and Starbuck’s is a divorce luxury, you will be able to fuel up in more ways than one.
Take the time to anticipate your first year of separation leading to divorce. Buy presents for your children’s birthdays so they have the luxury of a typical birthday and do not get lost in their parents divorce drama. Buy them clothes they may need for the next six months or so. Whatever ensures they suffer the least amount of disruption as the emotional disruption will be more than enough for them even when done as well as possible.
4. Get Yourself in Counseling:
Believe me, you will not be prepared for the impact of the fall from this cliff.
You need someone to help catch you before you hit the ground.
Go to counseling as soon as the marital problems start – even if you have to go alone. You are entering into a supremely treacherous territory.
Think about the classic airplane parental air mask. Give yourself emotional oxygen so you will be able to help your children breathe.
5. Get Your Kids in Counseling:
If it is not possible to have your children in counseling before your divorce, they certainly should be in it throughout your divorce. In fact, if you and your spouse are in serious marriage counseling, i.e., not a little marital hiccup, it’s a good idea to get them to a few counseling sessions at that time.
Kids understand when their parents are struggling. Therefore, including them in several counseling sessions to see how they are doing while their parents are experiencing difficulty is healthy for them.
Then, if it does lead to divorce, the child or children may be more open and comfortable with the idea of counseling in general.
Again, since funds can be minimized in divorce, any pre-divorce counseling may be critical.
Both parents can become different people in divorce, stress can change people. Children deserve a thoughtful plan.
6. Have a Workout Plan:
Let’s be honest, unless you are a supremely type A personality, you are not going to have the energy to commit to working out regularly. And even a few type A’s may fall by the wayside.
Develop a plan and figure out what type of plan will best work for you. What does it look like?
Is it enrolling in six months worth of spin class ahead of time? Is it asking a friend or two to keep you on a regular walking plan? Is it going to sleep in your workout clothes so you literally wake up and walk the dog or jump on the treadmill?
Do not fool yourself into believing you will have a physically healthy plan without developing one. Unless of course, exercise is your drug of choice and something that no matter what spin your world takes will call to you.
7. Have a Healthy Meal Plan:
Think about it – stress and fatigue not necessarily the bedfellows of nutrition.
As in the gym rat analogy, unless you are a foodie and it is your passion, chances are divorce will deep six any healthy nutritional habits you may have once had or aspire to.
Enlist the help of some family and friends – maybe even ask one to help with a meal plan.
In the beginning of a divorce, so many people attempt to help us only we believe we can go it alone until we are knee deep in the pizza and the pinot.
At that point, we feel pretty crummy and have passed the point of a friend knocking at the door with a healthy meal.
All we need to do is get a jump start on divorce. It is grief. If we can attend properly and accept the help of those who love us we may navigate the first few difficult months and transition with more momentum to eventually care better for ourselves and our children.
8. Check Out Your Financials:
Run your credit score. Find out all you can about your financial situation. Is there anything you were not aware of? Is there debt you did not know about?
A troubled and neglected relationship distracts us. It throws us off of our proverbial game.
While we sludge through the muddied waters we lose sight of the shore and how long we have been out there. Hence, without even realizing it, you may not be aware of half of what is truly happening in your financial arena. Whether you both have your own jobs and debt or whether one of you has the primary income-earning job.
Take the time to assess a situation you may have inadvertently let your guard down on.
9. Get a Job:
I worked part-time so I did not fear re-joining the workforce. I kept my resume current and progressively stayed ahead of the trends in my field. I made myself a perpetual student even in the years I stayed home with my children. I read all the industry news I could get my hands on.
I somehow believed I would have the luxury of a year to resume full-time work. I would give my youngest son what I gave my other two children. I believed divorce was a desire to heal on both sides. A dedication to our children and what they needed.
What a surprise when I realized my husband believed divorce to be a game of monopoly.
He would rely heavily on the words of an attorney who advised, “Don’t leave her until she’s got a full-time job.”
Of course, these sage words of advice were to counsel my husband into paying the least amount possible. To not let the ‘wife’ get one over on him.
All the while, the ‘wife’ was ill-prepared for these type of intimidation games. The more bills left neglected to incent her into service, the more stressed both she and her children became. The financial and emotional warfare blew up in his face. It had the opposite effect.
The children and the ‘wife’ became immobilized by the constant unpredictability and fear of anticipating his next move.
Don’t lull yourself into the belief you can attempt to give all of your children the same experience.
Unfortunately, divorce means be prepared immediately for change or someone else may change your sense of well-being.
10. Find Your Safe People and Hold Onto Them:
Whatever you do, don’t expect the world of the people in your world.
Instead, be mindful of the select people who no matter how crazy your world still remain crazy about you.
They are your ‘safe’ people.
The ones who regardless of your crazy cliff dives – alternate between cheering you off the cliff while fluffing your parachute…
OR nose dive before you so they can catch you when you fall.
As the famous saying goes, or to paraphrase – look for those who remained in the room (or for our purposes on the cliff) while the rest of the world walked out of the room (or off the mountain).
They are the adventure seekers in your life.
They will pitch a tent beside you in the wicked wilderness.
They will fend off the scary animal screams that threaten to keep you up all night long.
And they will make sure divorce doesn’t eat you alive.
(Photo courtesy of Pexels)
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