It’s almost impossible to make an omelette without breaking a few eggs and if you are on the lead up to leaving, you will almost certainly be feeling palpable trepidation for what lies ahead.
If you believe you have done all you can to make things work and if you believe that you will be healthier, happier, calmer, safer or more, the other side of your relationship, then you have to trust your instinct and slowly and steadily, put one foot in front of the other and make it so.
The trouble is with trouble, is nobody wants it. If you get the ball rolling, you can put money on the fact that some will come a’calling.
Be strong. Think about how things are right now. Think about how your boundaries have been pushed. Think about waking up someday soon without the weight of angst bearing down on you. Think about the fact that it will end. Think about yourself. Think about your life.
Think about smiling again sometime soon. Think about cracking the first egg.
Chartered psychologist Felix Economakis famously said, “The end of a relationship has a number of stages, similar to those of grief, namely denial, anger, bargaining, depression then acceptance.”
I might contend the order of a couple of them, but essentially I’d say he was right on the money. I would also add how lovely it would be if you could add ‘relief’ to the end of the list; oh, if only life were that simple!
My time analysis of his theory is thus: (a) there will likely be many wasted hours cogitating the first one, shaking your head as you would a snow globe. (b) If you are an emotional soul, realistically there are probably going to be a good half dozen Vesuvian explosions as you deal with the components of anger during an ensuing divorce. (c) Bargaining generally kicks in when the mediators and solicitors sink their teeth into the embers of your marriage. What’s funny is if you stand back and look in on the conversations you’re likely to have, it will seem laughable as you brawl over TVs and kitchen implements, so 4 days is a good estimate at the time you’ll throw down the pan here if things get hairy and sticky. (d) D for depression. It’s the only toy in the playpen that’s impossible to weigh. The data I’ve gathered on this indicate 12/18 months from the point at which you graciously accept you are covered in it, to planning a countdown from your medication, but it can easily carry on for many years following a tortuous divorce; how long is that piece of string? I wish I could tell you. Then finally, (e) acceptance. I’ve seen that take 2 seconds flat to wash over somebody once they’d been asked the question directly, following a night of turmoil as they chewed over what went wrong. For others, like a ghostly night bus, it quite simply never comes.
Timetabling your divorce is as tricky as nailing jelly to the ceiling, but I bet you give it a good try.
If you have a growing mass of problems to solve and they’re stressing you out, sit down with a piece of paper, a pen, a phone and a cup of tea.
Problems are like shadows, often appearing bigger than they actually are when they’re rolling around in your head. Start by writing down what you consider are the biggest issues you need to deal with right now and draw an encompassing circle around them. Move on through the other problems and do the same, listing them all as they fall from your fingers and include tiny irritating ones, like, ‘Remember to pay the milkman or he’ll stop delivering!’
They do need your attention but when you look at them in black and white, you’ll see some of them are easy little tasks that you can take on, then put big, fat red ticks through once you’ve completed them.
With a comprehensive list on paper, you can go about prioritising them. You may find that once you’ve done the most daunting task, it will lead to another simple task and so on. Write numbers in the boxes and draw a line from 1 to 2, then 2 to 3 and join up as many as you feel you can tackle in the first instance.
Accomplishment will spur you on to addressing the next item on the list but remember, slowly and surely does it and not necessarily on your own, that’s what friends are for.
If you are on the lead up to leaving, believe it or not, you are in a better position than the partner you are about to deliver the news to.
Forearmed is forewarned and perhaps the most important decision you need to make is where you are going to lay your head after you’ve pressed the Big Red Button.
Once you set your mind to it, you may find that retreating to a good chum’s house for a bit of quiet thinking is your best move. It can be difficult to weigh everything up, especially if you are feeling delicate and emotional. Somehow, a different set of four walls can be just the sobering experience you need to get things straight in your mind.
However, if you are beyond this step and ready to make that move, put deep thought into where that move is actually going to be. Indeed, are you going anywhere at all, or do you intend to ask your spouse to move out?
Whichever way it pans out, you will need some security in your mind about where you are going to sleep in the first instance while things get underway. A bit of planning might save you a stack of much needed cash.
As soon as you have made the decision to proceed with a divorce, previously significant dates change colour and feel a little strange, mostly because you’re not sure how you are supposed to feel about them.
The birthday of your ex is a good example. What do you do? Send a card, don’t send a card; to be honest, that’s an easy one to deal with by comparison to your wedding anniversary.
Whether you spent a year together or three decades or more, that date signifies the day you promised to work real hard at giving marriage your best shot for life and for whatever reason, things went a bit wrong.
Personally, I haven’t managed to find the right mix of emotions to get through the day emotionally unscathed and hey, I’m the gal that hands out the sage advice!
I think perhaps the best we can do on that day is to let it wash over us and to remember not to line up trouble by setting too many expectations in that 24 hours.
If you’ve been a non/low wage earner in your relationship and you suddenly find yourself separated and depleted of funds, the first thing you need to do is find out where you stand financially by getting a clear picture of what you are entitled to.
The Citizen’s Advice Bureau is an extremely useful organisation (UK) but it can take some time to get an appointment in which to lay out all the facts for a comprehensive assessment.
If you have most of your financial information to hand and can access the internet, a little time invested filling in the interactive forms on EntitledTo.co.uk, will probably pay dividends.
They touch on just about every aspect of your life but by the end of the grilling, you’ll have a very clear idea of who you need to contact, what you need to tell them and how you can start to get any benefits or assistance you are entitled to.
Don’t be afraid to ask!
There’s a growing trend in the US for divorce parties and they seem to be catching on and gathering strength in the UK too.
Whilst I understand the significance of celebrating the fact that this unpredictable period is over, I’m not entirely sure I get wedding ring coffins and black iced cakes with plastic icons of dead grooms perched on the top, but it seems the commercial wheels still turn even for the most morose of life events.
The Unitarian Universalist Clergy actually has a service to mark the day, known more fondly as the Ceremony of Hope and that I can understand. We generally make such a fuss as we get into this club, for those who like to commemorate significant happenings, I can understand them wanting to mark the termination of their membership.
Perhaps, ultimately, a divorce party is just a good excuse to have a get together with the chums who have helped you through your difficult times and a perfect opportunity to put a full stop at the end of your immediate pain.
Whatever you decide to do on your D-day, be sure to give lots of positive thought to a brighter future.
The distractions that come with a gentle responsibility can be incredibly welcome when all your mind can focus on is the dreaded divorce.
Have a look around your immediate vicinity to see if there’s anything you can get involved in that is gentle on your mind. Consider doing a minimal amount of volunteering in a charitable organisation, or think about joining a reading group perhaps.
Something that fits into a regular slot but isn’t too taxing can offer a nice way to steer your thoughts and you’ll undoubtedly expand your social circle too if you want to, which isn’t a bad thing.
I can recall all too easily how at the height of my divorce, Monday felt just the same as Sunday or Wednesday and Friday, it was just a blur of mis-shapen hours. A little structure felt good and helped me find the shape of the week again.
Consider your married years as an apprenticeship to finding the real you and uncovering your full potential.
I often think that the troubles we experience during divorce are so unique and sometimes so devastating, it might be easier to scoop the entire event up and file it under, ‘Forget the lot!’
But if we do that, we run the risk of forgetting some of our great awakenings too. Everyone we interact with, including our ex, has an influence on us, even the blooming solicitor you’re using does too.
Take the good bits from your history and from the tumultuous period known as divorce and acknowledge the rough bits and build upon them until you find a newly sculpted you, then roll out all of that freshly discovered potential.
If your divorce is going badly (and let’s face it, few of them go without an upset hitch) and you have children, you may have to face up to the reality that you might end up in court.
This last resort route is expensive for all concerned, both emotionally and financially and it’s potentially excruciatingly painful for your children.
Despite any vile behaviours exhibited by your ex, you must fight and resist the urge to go on to your favourite social media outlets and wax lyrical about how awful they are.
If you do end up standing in front of a judge in due course, they will not take kindly to your actions and it may work against you if you do, which would be especially upsetting if you have been wearing the goodies uniform all along and simply using FaceTwit to let off steam.
Hold your composure, bite your tongue and rise above the temptation.