No one has ever had your divorce before.
This can be a source of frustration and creativity. Frustrating, because you have to decide where to start. Creative for the same reason. And even once you’ve worked out how to get started, there are plenty of decisions ahead.
There are no rules per se: there are many ways to get divorced (and come out smiling). It sounds obvious but sometimes the hardest part is deciding how to get started.
There’s no one size fits all process and this means you need to know your options in order to make decisions thoughtfully, some in collaboration with your spouse.
During the divorce process – which typically lasts several months – you will have to become comfortable with uncertainty. You may have to be more patient than you’d like, you may have to accept compromises you aren’t crazy about, you may have to juggle several balls at the same time. You may feel nervous, angry, excited, exhausted – all the feels. When you get started, it gets easier. You don’t have to do everything in one go. There are plenty of professionals to help you.
Sometimes you will want to rush ahead while your spouse is dragging their heels: at others, you’ll be the one needing more time. This all falls under the umbrella of ‘normal’ so I want to reassure you that it doesn’t last forever, even if it feels as though it might. It can feel nerve-wracking or upsetting to get started but as you become familiar with the process and optimistic about your post-divorce future, it often gets easier. It is important to note that making a decision to separate does not automatically assume a decision to divorce.
Fear and uncertainty are real: so is hope.
I am of the opinion that once you’re sure divorce is the way forward for your family, then the best place (for both of you and for your children) is out the other side. Sometimes I describe this as ‘across the finish line’ with the caveat this isn’t exactly a race.
Decisions lead to actions… which lead to more decisions and more actions. And one day, it’s done.
Divorce is a slow process – uncertainty and delay can be expensive, frustrating and sometimes even harmful. As such, it’s helpful to have a plan and commit to taking action. Make that call, get the information, do the hard thing keeping your eyes on the finish line. A plan need not be carved in stone to be effective.
The first decisive action towards getting a divorce can be the hardest. It’s normal to be nervous about how your spouse will react, to feel emotionally overwhelmed at the path ahead, or to be confused about the administrative process ahead. If you’re taking those first actions, make the first step a small one and make it with support. There’s nothing you have to do first, except decide what to do and how to do it.
Talking to someone with expertise, be they an estate agent, financial planner, lawyer or of course a divorce coach, will reassure you that you’re not doing this on your own: experts and professionals love talking about their field of work and are waiting to hear from you. They’re here to make things easier for you and they don’t expect you to know how to do it all.
Information is power: if you’re nervous about making a decision or having a conversation with your spouse, do some groundwork in preparation so the conversation can be factual and constructive and not a shortcut to a slanging match. Bounce ideas off a trusted friend or family member or note your key points on a post-it before having a ‘tricky’ conversation. Do some research: note the questions you seek answers to and then find the book or website or professional who can give you informed advice. But take action and don’t let your head explode with questions, fears and uncertainties (unhelpfully, it’s human nature to plan for problems we don’t even have yet).
Remember to plan other activities to absorb the stress of the divorce process – it’s all too easy for it to take over your time and thoughts. Looking after yourself has never mattered so much.
A clear idea of what you need to do now, next and later can help you move forward. Without a plan it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and upset, and add weeks or months to your divorce. You don’t need to do everything in one fell swoop: there are some joint tasks which can be divvied up between you, if not shared in the conventional sense.
Tasks which fall into this category include getting the marital home valued, drafting a parenting plan or making an appointment with a mediator.
Some things are more personal: getting a pensions valuation, or taking action to keep you feeling emotionally fit and well, perhaps. Sometimes there’s no right decision, but the act of making a decision drives the process forward and removes that ‘agony of choice’ which weighs so heavy.
Be business-like; be kind; be boundaried and don’t let fear and overwhelm scare you out of taking the action you need to get through this.
Coaching could be for you if you’re ready to take action, ready to move forward. Want to know more? Book a call today.