Mad or stupid?

by | 25 Feb 2020

Divorcing mums always hope it will be straightforward – separation is never a decision people take lightly and we want the best for our children.

With record numbers of couples fighting it out in the Family Court, what happens to make divorce go sour?

There are two contributing factors I see all the time: ignorance and emotion. 

This is not to say you’re mad and stupid: divorce is extremely emotional, and it’s not you that’s stupid, it’s ‘the system’. 

So what can you do to mitigate this?

First, divorce help needs to have a focus on your emotional wellbeing .

Inevitably emotions are running high for you. Whether you’ve never have felt such pain or fear – or perhaps you’ve never felt such excitement and relief, remember that wisdom comes from principles, not emotion.  All too easily, judgement can be clouded; self-worth nosedives; legal fees skyrocket and the relationship with your STBX is on the road to ruin. Emotional support is a priority, not only for you but also for your children. 

It’s not easy, that’s for sure – easy is: 

  • complaining
  • shouting
  • pretending
  • blaming
  • judging
  • resenting
  • taking
  • ignoring
  • expecting
  • demanding
  • doubting

Much harder is:

  • trusting
  • collaborating
  • accepting
  • taking responsibility
  • waiting
  • committing
  • lovingly overlooking
  • empathising
  • learning
  • nurturing
  • listening
  • compromising

It’s impossible to achieve these ‘harder’ tasks if you’re feeling depressed and overwhelmed. This is never a sign of failure on your part but it could be the first time you’ve accepted you need to do things differently or that you need additional help.

Getting emotional wellbeing in hand means different things for different people. This is about you getting it right for you. 

And now, how to become less ignorant about the legal process.

Fortunately, it’s pretty straightforward to get a grasp on this, even though it is mindboggling, archaic and infuriating in places. Ideally, you’ll do this before you embark on haemorrhaging money to a solicitor or threatening court action to your ex, but if you’re already up to to your eyes in litigation and you still don’t really understand how everything works, now is the time to gen up. You’ll find some book recommendations at the end of this article, and there is plenty of info (not all of it helpful) online including

If your ex is abusive or shows narcissistic tendencies, I recommend you devise a specific strategy for dealing with this. You are under additional pressure at an already difficult time. Divorcing a narcissist, abuser or someone seeking to control you is often harder than being married to them. I don’t say this to scare you but more to help you make a realistic appraisal of the situation. You, especially you, need your eyes wide open.

Divorce is never one-size-fits all, which is why it’s so important that you work out what your needs are when it comes to feeling good, and feeling informed. It can go some way to taking the weight of worry off your shoulders.

Books that explain how divorce ‘works’

NB these have quite a focus on the litigation process. Remember to find out about methods for alternative dispute resolution (ADR) – court is not the only way.

  • The Family Lawyer’s Guide to Separation and Divorce – Laura Naser
  • How to be a Lady Who Leaves – Emma Heptonstall
  • Uncoupling – Sara Davison
  • How to Represent yourself in the Family Court – Jason M. Hadden & Rhiannon Davies
  • The Family Court without a Family Lawyer – Lucy Reed
  • High-Conflict Divorce for Women – Debra Doak
  • Crazy Time – Surviving Divorce and Building a New Life – ed. Abigail Trafford


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