Maybe your marriage began this way. Suddenly, you realized you’re in love and want nothing more than to spend the rest of your life with this perfect person by your side. Sunbeams followed you, birds sang to you, and the entire universe stood in awe of your love. There was no mistake, this was a match made in heaven, and you thought that you would be one of those very lucky few who find themselves celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.
But, in reality, people change. Events and circumstances change. Things that you found so cute seven years ago, are just annoying and frustrating now. The ship of your marriage has begun to flounder in turbulent waters, and now you find yourself navigating your divorce well shy of that 50th anniversary.
How did this happen? There are lots of reasons for marriages to end. A study in the U.K. shows that adultery is tops the reasons, with 27% of the cases, while domestic abuse comes in at 17%. Not surprisingly, mid-life crisis follows closely at 13%. While the reasons are plentiful, there are some, like abuse that should not be tolerated. Adultery, abuse and more are marriage deal-breakers, for certain.
Now that your next course has been set, all you can think of are the divorces you’ve seen or heard of that became a rodeo of conflict and negative emotions. Rest assured, there are ways to keep this from happening.
Let's consider some strategies for maintaining your civility and dignity while navigating your divorce.
Educate yourself! – Take time to learn what divorce is, what it entails, and what you can expect. Learn the process.
Consult a lawyer – Don’t assume that everything will work out and that your finances are secure. The chips should be placed, not allowed to fall randomly. A good lawyer is essential!
Take your time – Be sure you’re making the right choices about your family and your finances. Don’t make hasty decisions just to “shut them up.”
Respect – Find something about your ex that you respect and focus on that. Maybe the fact that while she might have been a horrible wife, she was a great as a parent. By keeping focused on this, you’ll be able to keep your cool no matter how heated the debate gets.
Control your emotions – Try to remember that divorce is only a transition. It doesn’t define you as a person in any way. Keep family and friends close for support, and, if need be, consult a professional counselor. Navigating your divorce can take its toll on you and your children.
Take care of your health – Divorce can and will put a great strain on your body, as well as your mental state. Keep an eye out for any trouble signs and visit your doctor soon after your proceedings start.
Be sensible – Don’t demand things if you’re only doing it out of spite. For instance, you have a dog that you love. But are you in the better position to care for it? Looking out for best interests while navigating your divorce will go a long way in helping your emotional state.
Finally, what effect does your divorce have on your children? There is nothing worse for children than watching their parents degrade each other. In the middle of divorce can you really ensure that you are being reasonable and that all the problems are coming from your ex? If you’re actively using the above list, maybe you can, but can you take that chance? While navigating your divorce the best thing to do is talk to your children. Keep their world as stable as possible. No matter what differences have come between you and your spouse, your children should not pay the price for them. In fact, they might actually help keep your divorce civil by being your common bond.
Kenny Leigh and Associates is a men-only family law firm with six offices in Jacksonville, Daytona, Gainesville, Fleming Island, Fort Walton Beach, and Boca Raton, serving all of North and South Florida.