“How did I get here?” wondered Jane. “And, what can I do now?” As she looked at the divorce papers, Jane saw her life falling to pieces.
Deep down, Jane wasn’t really surprised. Dale had been asking for changes in their marriage for years. He pushed for counseling, for couples retreats, for talks. But, how could she take time for all that? As CEO of her company, every minute was booked.
And, was their life really so bad? Because of her they had a great house, exotic vacations, and top schools for Daniel. Sure, she was gone a lot–but she loved her job. And, the family did well because of it.
“I don’t even know how to fill these financial papers out. Dale does all that.” And, the parenting questionnaire–what was she supposed to do with that? Jane slumped forward. Questions pounded.
The biggest question–How bad was life going to get?
How do I use what’s coming to make life better?
No one can, or should, deny the pain of divorce. Divorce means losing the most important person in life and changes in every area of life. If people can save their marriage, everyone wins.
But, when couples have lost their ability to trust each other and can’t rebuild that connection, they divorce. Even if not legally–they divorce physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. This reality often causes someone to finally push to make the divorce official.
Yet, facing legal divorce causes people to live in dread. They see life only getting worse.
It doesn’t have to.
While divorce certainly can make life much worse, it also offers opportunity to use the forced transitions to make life better.
People decide to divorce because their marriage is not working. Bad financial decisions. Poor communication. Differences over the children. Competing priorities. Mismanagement of other relationships. Any and all contribute to losing that sense of, “My spouse has my back and will be there for me no matter what.” Unless this trust is rebuilt, marriages die.
Yet, to divorce—couples must make decisions in these same areas: finances, parenting, lifestyle, and priorities. Thus, divorce isn’t just an end. It’s the opportunity to make positive changes in the very areas of life that aren’t working.
Define what went wrong–find a way to make it right.
The mediator walked Jane and Dale through a comprehensive listing of their assets, their liabilities, and their monthly budget. “I had no idea,” thought Jane.
Faced with a concrete list of where she spent money, Jane realized that Dale’s pleas for conversation were not as ridiculous as she thought. Though she made excellent money, their failure to work together was far more expensive than she realized.
Jane and Dale discussed what each would need to provide for Daniel and for themselves from two homes. The mediator offered several options for using the assets they had to meet current liabilities and to fund their transitions. Jane found it much easier to make needed decisions with Dale once they both understood their financial picture.
Because she had no idea how to even begin budgeting, Jane reached out to the financial planner recommended by the mediator. He helped her make a realistic budget that allowed her to keep the house for Daniel and rebuild her side of the investment fund. With a plan in place, Jane felt much more optimistic about her financial future.
Even more daunting for Jane was the idea of parenting alone. Though she wanted time with Daniel, she knew full well Dale had been the prime parent. No doubt–he had always supported and encouraged her. She just didn’t know what to do. It was so much easier to go to work than to play with a toddler, answer the questions of a preschooler, or talk to her child.
Now–what was she supposed to do on her nights?
Jane met with Patricia, the Child and Family Advocate. Patricia offered Jane insights into what boys at Daniel’s age struggled with, enjoyed, and needed. She also gave Jane specific ideas for how to shape their time together. When Jane and Daniel struggled, they met with Patricia and found a way through.
Jane had always left the parenting to Dale because it was easier and he was better. But, now she found a side of herself she didn’t know she had. She could be a mom. In her own home and in her own style, she forged a relationship with Daniel that wasn’t anything like Dale’s–but it was still good.
The key to creating positive outcomes in divorce
Work together. First, couples need to decide to work together. Decisions for a positive future can only be made when spouses choose to cooperate. If spouses can’t work together to make decisions, decisions will be made for them. Decisions based on legal standards that impose cookie-cutter solutions. “Solutions” which rarely work well for anyone. Solutions that have created all the bad divorces people fear.
Whether they still care deeply for each other or struggle to be in the same room, spouses can choose to cooperate. Those who find a way to do so put themselves in a position to create a better life for themselves and everyone involved.
Pick your process. Second, couples must choose a process that protects their ability to work together and make decisions about their future. Attorneys who combat each other to gain the advantage for their client at the expense of the other destroy these possibilities—whether in a courtroom or in shuttle negotiation.
When couples instead pick a process that walks them through the decisions of divorce and equips them with the information to make sound choices, couples make decisions that work. Conciliation-Mediation offers couples the chance to address the factors in life that aren’t working and to choose healthier patterns going forward.
If you have questions about how Conciliation-Mediation might serve you, please feel free to email info@TheResolutionCenterIndy.com or call 317-344-9740. We look forward to talking with you.