Are you in a difficult marriage and afraid to get out? Do you fight all the time, think about divorce every day, but are paralyzed with fear? Feeling depressed and unhappy, but too frightened to see a collaborative divorce attorney? Do you worry about being alone and broke after a divorce? Are you staying in your marriage because of the kids? Everyone feels anxious about getting a divorce. However, if you want to feel better, you must deal with your fears and either work on your marriage or get a divorce.
1. Fear of The Future
All of us fear uncertainty. You naturally wonder what life will be like after a divorce. A big fear for many people contemplating divorce is not knowing what will happen afterward: where will I live, how will I pay the bills, and will I be alone for the rest of my life? No one knows what will happen in the future. To avoid being paralyzed by uncertainty, recognize that you can’t know what will happen next, whether you get a divorce or stay married. Learn to live with the uncertainty of live.
2. Fear of Being Poor
Everyone worries about having enough money after a divorce. The solution is to focus on the assets and income you expect post-divorce. Calculate the value of your community assets available after divorce. Ask for the brokerage account rather than the pension, because you will need cash to pay bills. If you already have a job, that’s great. If not, start looking for one. Once you know the value of your assets and monthly income, you can develop a budget and begin to master your fear of being poor. With a little advance planning, you will be fine.
3. Fear of Being Alone
The fear of being alone is caused by our need to avoid abandonment. As a child, we had a caretaker who kept us safe and feeling secure. It’s reasonable to be dependent when you’re three, but as an adult, you need to take care of yourself. If you fear being abandoned, you have transferred your childhood dependency to your spouse. Being lonely is a fact of life–you can feel alone in a marriage as well as after a divorce. The answer is to take responsibility for your own happiness and not remain dependent on others.
4. Fear for Your Children
Divorce is stressful for kids. However, most recover and are fine in a year or two. In fact, children in high-conflict families are better off after divorce, because their parents aren’t fighting all the time. Most children are adaptable, so divorce has few lasting consequences for them. To minimize problems, parents should avoid fighting, maintain a loving relationship, and help children understand their feelings about the divorce. Be sure to discuss feelings in words children understand.
5. Fear of Emotional Pain
Divorce causes emotional pain, including shock, depression, fear, and anger. These feelings are experienced by everyone who suffers a serious loss. Grief is a natural reaction to divorce. The first feelings are usually shock and denial. As denial disappears, we often mask our grief with anger. Next come thoughts of what we might do to prevent the divorce. Following the bargaining stage, many people become depressed or angry again. After a year or so, the sense of loss diminishes and most people come to terms with their grief and pain. Loss is an inevitable part of life. Grieving is a personal process and there is no “right” way to handle it–you must experience the pain to recover.
Getting a divorce is frightening, but can be liberating if you learn to be more independent and self-sufficient. The key to surviving a divorce is to face your fears and learn to cope with life’s challenges. The more you know about divorce, finance, and emotional health, the better you can handle the pain of a divorce. If you are afraid you can’t support yourself, find a way to make money. If you are worried about your kids, see a psychologist and discuss what you can do to help them cope with the divorce. If you are overwhelmed because you don’t know what to expect from a divorce, meet with a collaborative attorney and learn about the process. Knowledge will help you face your fears and overcome them.