There are recipes for the perfect life, the perfect job, and the perfect kid, but they rarely turn out quite the way you hope or expect. Something goes wrong in the leavening, or it gets over-baked and never quite achieves the light, fluffy consistency it’s supposed to. Such is life.
But if you could conjure the dream divorce, what would it look like? Would your ex disappear like smoke and leave you to live the way you choose? If the emotionally wrenching part of divorce is what worries you it turns out you have more control of the outcome than you might imagine. The following are a few aspects of divorce that can be dialed up or down to more closely resemble the dream scenario you desire:
It can be cathartic for you, but divorce often involves screaming in front of others who don’t benefit from it, like your children, friends, or complete strangers. This sort of screaming leaves scars on everyone involved and is to be avoided if at all possible. Even if the witnesses are strangers who understand that there’s a profound rift taking place that’s transforming lives, you’ll never get over that episode in the parking lot because you’ll forever think, what if I see those people again? And the strangers are thinking, I hope I can avoid that situation. Most of all, screaming in front of children or friends leaves scars. Things that shouldn’t be said above a whisper are suddenly broadcast for the world to hear, and young ones get confused and hurt (which is why states mandate family counseling for divorces when minor children are involved). Nobody else has your perspective on the situation and you could lose friends for bellowing your ex’s personal secrets. Do your best to avoid screaming by finding other ways to vent your negative energy.
There’s a stage of divorce that is rarely discussed, and that’s when you obsess about the details, whether you should have seen it coming, what could have been different, or what the changes ahead will do to your lifestyle – the sorts of things you’ll have to live without after your split. Lots of time is wasted obsessing, because you’re usually so deep in the weeds that it’s unproductive and you’ll never find a reason or a solution. Excessive obsessing can be detrimental to your health, mentally and physically, if you let it go on too long. In the normal course of events obsessing is kept to a minimum, you maintain your job and don’t sink into the pizza-and-cookies diet, and the situation passes. If obsessing is continuous and excessive you may lose sleep, lose your appetite, and become depressed and despondent. It’s best to be avoided.
Moving toward a separation or divorce with peace of mind is priceless. This could be the elusive unicorn of divorces, a feeling that your ex doesn’t have a trump card to play, a desire to stab you in the back, or some other hidden “bomb” that will detonate in your life 10 years from now. Rather than relying on another person to provide that peace of mind you should find it in yourself. Develop a routine that brings you relaxation and inner calm, whether through yoga, long runs, meditation, or something like crochet. Any measure of peace will provide immense benefit during a tough time.
Dividing assets, childcare responsibilities, and leaving behind the life you knew can be very challenging to the point of frustration because it often feels unfair. If you were the unpaid domestic partner who shouldered raising children, shopping, cooking, and home maintenance duties while your spouse worked, it’s hard to get an objective and reasonable accounting of the hours and effort you put in. On the other hand, if you were the breadwinner you may feel that child custody and support rules discriminate against you. In the end, keep in mind that agreements reached with attorneys or mediators can be negotiable and change over time according to the partners’ needs, so instead of losing your cool over the issue of fairness now try to stay level-headed.
When you realize that you’re likely to spend $15,000 you don’t have on divorce attorneys, it’s probably too late to consider the financially ruinous results of splitting up. A perfect world would allow you to follow your muse without concern for where your next meal is coming from, but that’s not in the cards. (And speaking of cards, don’t think that running up debts on a co-signed credit card is ever a good idea during divorce because that will come back to bite you.) Unless you wed a billionaire without a prenup, there will be financial repercussions following a divorce. You can minimize the impact by taking a strict accounting of your needs and living within them.