Harry L. Munsinger, J.D. Ph.D.
In the middle of a divorce it’s hard to believe things will ever get better. A divorce is unpleasant whether you opt for litigation or a collaborative divorce. No matter whether you wanted the divorce or not, it’s traumatic. But you can make less difficult by opting for a collaborative divorce. If you are angry and want to punish your partner, you should hire a litigation attorney and fight it out in court. You will have your day in court and get to tell the world what a jerk your spouse is. However, don’t imagine for one second your time in court will be satisfying. You will be humiliated by your spouses’ attorney and you won’t feel vindicated, no matter the outcome.
Choose A Collaborative Divorce
If you want to begin healing, choose a collaborative divorce. Guided by an experienced team of professionals you will do the hard work of separating your finances and deciding how to co-parent your children while beginning to make yourself whole again. And, you will have an opportunity to preserve a relationship with your ex-spouse and children. Another benefit of the collaborative divorce is your children won’t be put in the middle of the divorce and they will love you for it.
Plan Your Future
Begin thinking about what you want your life to look like after the divorce. There are decisions to make immediately, including where to live, what sort of lifestyle you can afford, when to begin dating and how to recover from the financial damage caused by the divorce. Even more important than these pressing immediate decisions is what you want long-term. Is there something you always wanted to do but couldn’t because you were married? Now is the time to consider doing what you love rather than simply working for a living.
Change Your Life
Make a commitment right now to change your life for the better. To do that, you need to understand where you’ve been (your past history) and what you want (your aspirations). Some people want to be successful, happy, popular or rich. Others want to achieve their personal dream and not be bound by the demands and expectations of others. To sort out where you want to be in ten years it’s important to understand what has happened in the past and how those experiences have affected you. You may need to discuss these issues with a counselor.
Experience Your Feelings
To change, you must pay attention to your feelings. Spend time every day attending to how you feel and try to discover triggers for your emotions. Feeling lonely? Is it because you are afraid, bored, depressed? Depressed? Is it because you are grieving from the loss of your marriage or have you repressed anger and turned it in on yourself? Feeling anxious? Try to discover the causes of your fears by asking what frightens you. Are you angry? Is it because you’re frustrated and can’t get people to do what you want? That’s a hopeless goal–the only one you can control is yourself. You need to face your inner feelings, fears and fantasies by yourself–they are your responsibility. The sooner you accept that fact the better off you will be.
To discover your long-term goals, distinguish your own thoughts from the things people told you. Recognize that you need to take responsibility for your own health and happiness. Eat right and exercise every day—you will feel better and live longer. Embrace the fact that you must become comfortable being alone with yourself if you want to learn about you. Pay attention to your feelings and find something you care about. Let go of the need to be loved and approved by others. Ask yourself hard questions: If I had plenty of money, what would I do with my life? What do I regret doing or not doing? How do I want to be remembered? Expect to make mistakes and learn from them.
Finally, recognize and reject the defensive patterns you acquired during childhood. Acknowledge your negative habits and thought processes and try to overcome them. Develop your own moral code and live it every day. Strive to become an adult by paying attention to your feelings while making rational decisions. Develop and follow long-term goals. Be proactive and receptive to new ideas. Follow the ones that appeal to you.