6. Permeable boundaries. Are you unable to stop others from treating you poorly? If you’ve suffered from permeable boundaries or are unable to take responsibility for yourself, then your divorce is going to be a huge growth spurt. This is when you get to try on a new you and go for speaking up, go for saying “no” and creating some integrity. It won’t be easy, and your ex might not like it. But this is the one time when you’re the decision maker, and being involved and forthright with the decisions needing to be made will make you stronger and more in control.
7. Equally, having your own way. If you’re conditioned to getting your own way, it’s going to be a rude awakening experiencing courts, or judges, or an attorney, and the law, who simply don’t see things the way you do and don’t really care about you getting your way. It’s tough to be told “no” and to have to follow rules for your own life, your children, your income, and your future because you’re getting divorced. It’s really tough. But you’ll survive, and better yet, instead of sticking to the idea that it’s “my way or the highway,” try growing out of your comfort zone and begin negotiating. Stand in the other person’s shoes, your kids’ shoes, and imagine what’s best for the family’s future.
8. Lifestyle. I think this is the most difficult thing to let go of as you stumble into divorce and out the other end. Divorce causes everyone to lose wealth and money. It especially affects women. But in truth, men who go through divorce also suffer a shift in the quality of their lives. This is admittedly stereotypical, but women who haven’t worked have to go back to work (or risk marrying another man just like their ex). Men will have two households to maintain plus may want money to woo a woman. I am being stereotypical, but the gist is… lifestyles change. It’s often difficult to pay thousands of dollars to an attorney AND go on that vacation.
9. Playing the guessing game. Chances are that during your marriage, you played what I call the guessing game where your beliefs and assumptions found their way into your marriage bed without serious consideration, conversation or comparing beliefs, romantic ideas, and visions of marriage. Chances are that during your divorce you found out that your ex didn’t share those same beliefs or perhaps assumed something different. When these moments occur, you may feel like, “WTF, who was I married to?” But, in actuality, you’ve been married to that spouse the entire time. As you move forward with your life, guessing games have to go the way of your high school prom dress and can’t be allowed into your future. As the legality of divorcing unfolds, decisions about the practicalities of life begin to come to the forefront of your mind. Use them as opportunities to learn how to ask difficult questions, insist on clarity, and make sure you understand every statement, what any expectations are, what the agreement says, and in the future, who that new person is sitting across from you on a date before you sign anything!
10. Gossiping. All of it—from your ex, to your girlfriends, to their husbands, to your divorce. The problem with gossiping is that it keeps you distracted from the things that matter and keeps you caught up in the story of your past. It also gets others all upset and makes you, going through an already difficult time, suspicious and permanently on edge. I always say, divorce isn’t contagious, but become single and then find out how many of your married friends invite you to dinner! When gossiping gets added into the picture, friendships go away. It causes false conclusions and suspect motives. Once gossiping (retelling your divorce story or catching your friends and family up on the progress or lack of progress with your separation) becomes the norm, you remain brittle, emotional, and difficult to be around. Your friends, if you want them in your future, deserve a chance to help you be you. Let them bring you back to your fun side.
I say all this for one reason and one reason alone: We’re all rooted in this imaginary fairy-tale when it comes to our futures. We have to be in order to leave an unhappy marriage! But in order to have what we want in the future, we need to let go of beliefs, thoughts, behaviors, and ideas that no longer serve who we want to become. We divorce to create a more balanced and easier, even happier life, and the moment separation begins is the moment to start letting go of the person and life you had and begin changing.
New York, NY