Patterns and Similarities

June 19, 2016

As I’ve spent the past couple of years working with people and helping them
through the journey that is divorce, I’ve started to see patterns emerge.

As unique as every person is and as individual as every marriage is, there
really are similarities.

Unless you’ve actually been through a divorce before, you have no idea what
you are about to face… the lovely process that is divorce.

I don’t care how fabulous your lawyer is, they are not going to tell you
everything because it is just too much to deal with and again, unless
you’ve been through it…and they don’t see it from the eyes of the new
person that is facing having to deal with a divorce, with no understanding
of what that means. And who feels like their life is ending and their world
is imploding.

The actual ending of the marriage, the divorce paperwork, is the
easiest part. It’s everything that goes before it that’s difficult.

Too many people let things drag on too long for fear of rocking the boat
or not wanting to upset the other party too much. This seems to happen,
to be done by “nice” guys way too often. And they often end up losing a lot
because of handing things this way. Money and time with their kids are the
biggies. They just want to choose the option that appears easiest to deal with,
either just leaving things as they are, or even not dealing with them.

But what I have seen in the long run is the opposite.

Not making decisions, letting things go, not nailing down details creates
bigger problems the longer the situation goes on. And it creates a precedent
for not changing things.
If things have been okay like this for this long, why
do they need changing now? But they weren’t actually okay like that.  And
now it’s hard to go back and change it.

My advice is to find someone who understands what you are dealing with,
can help you understand what you need to pay attention to, and what the
consequences of the decisions and actions you are taking today are going to
have on your future. Find someone who can make sense of the insane world
you are dealing with at the moment. Who can help you sort through the
craziness you are dealing with.

At least then you will be making informed decisions.



Decisions you make today…

September 17, 2013

Yesterday was Stepfamily Day. I know you may never
have heard of the day, even though it was first started
in the U.S. 16 years ago, and I suspect right now, you
can’t even contemplate getting to the point where you
are part of a stepfamily. But, consider these facts:

  • One in three North Americans live in a stepfamily;
  • More than 50 per cent of North Americans will live
    in a stepfamily at some point of their lives;
  • 30 per cent of children are growing up in stepfamilies.

There is a very good chance you will end up in a stepfamily situation.

But then again, you may already know this. Apparently
“parenting differences” is the #1 reason that remarried
couples, sometimes called encore marriages, end up
breaking down. About 37 per cent of U.S. second marriages
end before they hit the 10-year mark. And 20 per cent of
Canadian second marriages never make it to the eight-year
mark. That’s one in every five second marriages!!

What the stats can’t tell us is the emotional turmoil that comes
with having to deal with divorce. The anger, the bitterness,
the vindictiveness, the sense of helplessness, the sense of
fear, the tiredness, the confusion…it goes on and on.  You
honestly don’t know what it’s like until you have personally
been in the situation.

And here’s something else you may not realize: the agreements
you make as you deal with your divorce — the parenting
agreements and the financial agreement — are what you will
be living with for the rest of your life.  It’s very very important
that you make the right choices and the right decisions at the
beginning of this process. It takes a lot of time and a lot of
awareness to figure it out.  And the legal process is a long,
complicated, convoluted one. Whether you choose to do
mediation or go to court, can cooperate civilly with your ex
or find yourself in an intensely high-conflict situation, it is
important that you handle things right, from the beginning.
Your future depends on it. And your future stepfamily will
be dealing with the choices you make now.

Something to keep in mind.



Hurry Up or Go Slow???

July 11, 2011

The day I officially became separated, I was faced with a
million choices. While none of them were easy, some
were more obvious to decide than others; guess I need a
lawyer now; who can I call to get a referral; guess this
means we’re not going to the cottage tonight as planned…

One in particular I wasn’t sure how to handle:
do I move through this process quick as I can or do I slow
it down and inch along?

It may seem like a funny question to ask yourself, but the
reality of it is that when you are plunged headfirst into
monumental life changes there are two immediate reactions.
One is to close up, withdraw and back away from the danger
for a time. And the other is to plunge forward and tackle
immediately what has to be handled. That good ole fight or
flight response you always hear about in times of stress.
And make no bones about it, this is one of the most stressful
times in your life.

What can further complicate your
decision-making process is if you are new to the concept;
if your partner is the one who has
presented the idea and you are hearing about it for the first time.
Or if you even had an inkling, you may still not be thinking,
“yup, divorce is the way to go, right here, right now.”

Just as there are two sides to every marriage and divorce,
there are two sides to every decision. As I have taught in
crisis and issues communications courses through the years,
you don’t want to be caught reacting; you want to respond.
The difference is having something thrown at you and
immediately jumping into the fray and reacting, often before
you have all the facts and understand completely what you
are facing. Responding means that you have considered
what is in front of you and evaluated the options and then
made an educated, informed decision about the choice
you are making.

Choosing between reacting and responding can be difficult,
especially if someone else is pressuring you to make a choice,
ideally the one they want.

So, my house and cottage did not immediately go up for sale
even though I recognized that my marriage was in fact over
and that ownership of these properties needed to be considered. 

I hired a lawyer and figured out what my first steps needed to be.
And I allowed myself a month and a half to sort through the initial
divorce details. And I recognize now that my separation and divorce
actually moved through quite quickly compared to most that I
hear about.

The flip side of this is what I have heard from the lawyer of a client
recently: my client is now paying for decisions made, or actually
not made, at the beginning of their process. The consequence of
going too slow is hurting them today.

It’s human nature to want to hide our heads and pretend the bad
stuff isn’t really happening;
that you can deal with the situation tomorrow.
It’s especially difficult to deal with when you feel as
low and vulnerable
as you do.   And it doesn’t matter what
side of the divorce equation you are on – it’s still a difficult
time with l
ots of
emotions involved.

The reality of it is the nasty stuff will still be there tomorrow. And the
next day, and next month and next year. And the longer it goes on,
the harder and more difficult it becomes. I know of one person who
has become frozen with the decisions and nine years later is still
no further ahead.

Change is hard. Recognizing that life has changed forever is hard.
So, if you find yourself facing change and can’t imagine how to deal
with it, remind yourself that you are not alone and that there are
people – family, friends, and experts – that can help you to deal
with the details and the change.

Without change, there would be no butterflies…

June 22, 2011

I came across an old proverb soon after my divorce process
was initiated:

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was ending,
he became a butterfly.”

It was funny how it just popped out at me one day as I was
reading something. It hit home for me. And then I was out
shopping and as I was running through a store on my way to
someplace else, a magnet with the saying caught my eye.

And I thought okay, there is a message here for you.
Pay attention.

Imagine what it’s like for the caterpillar: it’s dark, it’s lonely,
there’s strange stuff going on even while all spun up into that
tight cocoon. Life must be ending. And then through the miracle
of change, a beautiful butterfly emerges to start on its new journey.

It became my mantra. It summed up for me what I was going
through and helped me to emerge on the other side of my divorce

It’s true that your life as you currently know it is changing and coming
to an end, but embrace the door that is opening in your life. Know that
there are different opportunities on the other side.

Without change, there are no butterflies.
And you have an advantage over the caterpillar: you are not on your
own through the changes. You have family and friends.
And I would be honoured to help you on your journey.

Welcome to the Divorce Details blog!

June 15, 2011

Actually, I should start by saying, welcome to Divorce Details!
And thank you for wanting to learn more about Divorce Details and
for being interested in finding out what this blog may have to share
with you.

Starting the blog process is very similar to starting your divorce
process. You’re not sure what you have to do, how you have to do
it and the best way of doing it, but you know something has to be
done. So you do some research, talk to friends and colleagues
and then you throw yourself into it. And just do it.

The one big difference is the kind of emotions I’m dealing
with right now versus when I was thrown headfirst into
my separation and divorce process. I’m excited about this
new venture, which is starting almost two years to the day
that my divorce process started.  Emotions were very different
back then.

Divorce is a difficult process. You feel like your whole world
has ended. Life is changing, maybe for the better, maybe not…
or at least that’s the way it feels at the time. You really do feel
like you’re trying to keep it all together – your emotions,
your career, your family, your everyday life demands that just
keep on coming. None of that stops just because your life as a
married person has come to an end.  And then all of a sudden,
you have to deal with all the details that going through a divorce
demands as well.  You don’t really think of that in the midst of
making or reacting to a decision to separate.

Getting a divorce is about following a legal process. And that
means a lot of paperwork. And quite frankly, numbers.
A lot of them.
It took me five hours to pull together the numbers
I needed for my first meeting with my lawyer. And that was just
the beginning of what I realize now was my fairly quick 14-month
divorce process.

For many of you, it may be the first time you’ve had to deal with
some or all of these numbers. Maybe you don’t even know where to
start. Or maybe you just don’t have the emotional ability to be able to
deal with all this work at the point you are at right now. Or the time or
energy. It’s taking everything you have to get your family to school,
lessons and scheduled activities and yourself to work — or let’s face it,
out of bed some mornings — without trying to also pull together what
your lawyer needs.

I understand. I’ve been there.

It’s why I decided to start Divorce Details. As I worked through the
process of my divorce and then helped others, I realized that there
was a need for this kind of service; that I could help people at a time
when they really needed it.

As one friend said to me, talk about finding the silver lining in
your divorce!

So, if you don’t know where to start, start with Divorce Details.
I’ll try and share some of my thoughts and learnings with you
through this blog. I’m not your lawyer. Or your financial advisor,
or mediator or even your counsellor. I’m hoping I can be a guide and
help you find your way through the maze you are facing.