Crying is a very common pastime when you are clenched in the wiry grip of divorce but did you realise that there are three types of tears.
Firstly there are basal, which lubricate the eye keeping it clear of dust. It’s a fluid not dissimilar to blood plasma. The are also reflex tears which come to wash out irritants like onion juice, they are also linked with coughing, vomiting and yawning.
The third type are emotional tears, more often provoked by sadness and stress but also from being enormously joyous too. Emotional tears have a different chemical composition than the other two, they contain protein based hormones, one of which is a natural painkiller and research suggests that it is the chemical element responsible for making you feel better after crying.
One fact is certain, when you cry you dehydrate and lose some of your essential salts, so after a good session, be sure to top up your water levels, maybe pop a little cream on your eyes and get some good sleep and rest. Tomorrow is another day and you’ll be closer to the goal of the end of your divorce.
It’s funny how books and movies can have such a strong impact on you when you are feeling emotionally vulnerable.
I remember being on my lead up to leaving and watching ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ based on the memoir written by Elizabeth Gilbert.
I’d spend a day drifting in and out of my own thoughts and ended up at the cinema desperately seeking something to lift my spirits. I’d never heard of the book or the author come to that, but it was either this or a mad shoot ‘em up flick; I went for ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ and am so glad I did.
This celluloid presentation of a lady seeking solace through a difficult divorce was just what I needed and I remember clearly feeling her palpable torment before leaving her husband, as if it were my very own; I guess part of it was.
Here is a quote from the lady herself: ‘This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something’.
How true that is.
As tempting as it might be to have your children deliver messages to their other parent when they visit them, don’t do it!
This warning comes with an exclamation mark too, it is a serious parental offence and one that you’ll end up paying a price for, eventually.
Children are delicate souls and they might not show it, but their emotions run as high as yours, if not higher, especially if you reach the, ‘I don’t want to see that person ever again, let alone talk to them!’ stage.
Be the grown-up here and preface phone calls to your ex with something along the lines of, ‘Look, I realise we aren’t doing too well at this communicating thing, but I need to tell you X, Y and Z. Why don’t you chew that over and get back to me when you have a moment, thanks, bye’…
Alternatively, call them when you know the answerphone will intercept the call and you can speak with more confidence because you know you won’t have to engage conversation.
Be sure to be out when you get the return call and everybody wins.
Once the divorce is underway and the legal pens have started rolling regarding your financial settlements, ensure all the stones are properly upturned.
All property owned by you or your partner from before or during your marriage, all savings, investments and pensions will be taken into account by your respective legal teams to determine the eventual monetary split between you.
Do not attempt to hide anything, it is not worth the hassle and your partner will probably flag it up when things move along anyway, at which point you are likely to be penalised by the courts for being covert.
Lay all your cards on the table and don’t play games.
If you are wallowing in overwhelming feelings of sadness and failure in respect of your divorce, it will undoubtedly have affected your entire disposition.
Let me take the liberty of reminding you that you are not a failure at all, these things happen, divorce is a pathway walked by close to 50% of the American and UK married population; they aren’t failures either, they are just regular Joes and Josephines like you and I.
It might not feel like it right now, but you are so much more than an ex-spouse. Lift your spirits by reminding yourself of your other identities: are you a much loved scoutmaster, are you a great colleague at work, are you a valued member of a voluntary organisation, are you an unsung hero of a carer? You are a multi-faceted work of magnificence who is just not feeling very well at the moment.
Your self-esteem will rise again, as will you, like a phoenix from the flames.
If you live in the US, have separated from your spouse and want a divorce but are unable to agree on child and/or financial matters, you are standing on the edge of a contested divorce and probably drowning in questions about what happens next; here’s a brief summary of what can be an arduously long process.
1. You meet with your attorney
2. Your attorney serves the divorce petition
3. Your soon-to-be ex responds to said petition
4. You document all of your financial affairs and custody issues, sometimes aided by court petitions, also referred to as ‘Discovery’.
5. Hopefully, ‘Settlement’ follows once all information has been gathered; the courts will strongly encourage you to settle out of court, or you may face a lengthy and expensive trial.
6. If not, ‘Trial’ surely follows, often with scathing cross-examinations, witnesses called and more, at the end of which a judge will take everything into account and make a ‘Final Order’
7. however, if things haven’t gone as hoped, both parties have 30 days to file ‘Post-Trial Motions’ if they wish and the other side typically has 30 days in which to respond.
8. This is followed by the ‘Appeal’, an even more lengthy and expensive process, which will by now leave both parties ready to affirm the agreement, at which point, it is finally over.
Difficult separations are bad enough to deal with and they’re often made worse when children are thrown in the mix.
Prioritising what’s best for you emotionally, whilst respecting what’s best for the children, is an exceptionally tough call; so, who should win and why?
On a personal note, I struggled enormously with this one and there is no straight line solution, because it is extremely difficult to get through the day when you have a flailing ex to deal with and you know it’s not good for the children to hear you venting about how awful their other parent is behaving, either now or historically.
Children process things very differently to grown-ups and sometimes they struggle to cope with an unsolicited influx of unpleasant information. It’s next to impossible to try to make them grasp an adult relationship gone wrong, so try not to expose them in the first instance.
Mortgages, separations and divorces are generally complex and it’s worth getting on top of your situation as soon as you possibly can.
In the UK, if you have a mortgage in both of your names, you are jointly and solely liable to keep up the payments; this is referred to as joint and several liability. In the event of one of you ceasing those payments, your lender reserves the right to ask the paying partner to repay the outstanding amount in full.
However, if the mortgage is solely in your exs name and they’ve stopped paying it but you wish to stay living there, you will need to take over the payments or face possible eviction action from the lender. If you are married, you do have a right to make those mortgage payments if you wish and the lender must accept them.
If you are in a sticky situation regarding your rent or mortgage, seek professional advice at the earliest opportunity.
I am a strong believer in the beneficial powers of distraction and whilst I recognise that it doesn’t hold the key to all the answers you seek right now, it can do a great job of taking your mind off of their ever presence.
Instead of allowing the hurt in today, why don’t you enter the day with a personal mission to relieve somebody else’s pain.
If you have a chum who is down in the dumps, or recovering from a tricky personal time or in recovery from an operation or illness, see what you can do to help lift their spirits.
It might be something as simple and practical as getting them a few groceries, or doing a spot of babysitting so they can make an appointment, but whatever good deed you do for them will be repaid in self-worth many times over.
If you are a US resident and have had an overseas divorce, things may get a little more complex than usual.
According to the US Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, divorce, just like any other major change of circumstances, affects your eligibility for federal benefits.
The three main organisations involved in said decisions are the US Social Security Administration, the Veterans Administration (if applicable) and the Internal Revenue Service and they have the final say with regard to foreign divorces based upon the laws of your state of residence.
Visit www.SSA.gov type ‘Divorce’ in the search bar and scroll through the list of scenarios to get a better idea of where you stand.