As a Family Law Attorney, I deal with divorce and modifications of support and custody. I represent both men and women. Oftentimes I'm in the position of helping clients through the emotional process of transitioning from married to unmarried and adjusting to their new singlehood, with a few new twists. Adding to the complexity of the transition is the possibility that they may now be single with kids, or single again for the first time in many years - perhaps even decades - and the entire singlehood landscape has changed.
With these factors in mind, there are a few truisms I like to share with my clients to help them make the adjustment to their new life as singles.
Nothing In Life Has Any Meaning, Except For The Meaning You Give To It
This is my all-time favorite thought to share with people, whether they are clients, friends, even strangers. Regardless of what happens in your life, it's up to you to decide how you view it, how you feel about it, and what you do about it.
Studies on longevity have revealed that one of the secrets of those who live to be more than 100 years old is that they handle losses much better than those who don't live that long. The ability to maintain one's healthy sense of self, and self-worth, after a devastating loss (such as the death of a child, spouse, or in the context of this article, a divorce) is a key factor in moving on and finding brighter days and reasons to smile again.
I explain to my clients is that regardless of the reason for the divorce, something wasn't working within the marriage. Even if they feel they were doing everything right (including staying faithful to a cheating spouse), the other person's value of the marriage, and of them, wasn't what it should have been.
I'll often ask them if they were happy in their marriage, and for many, the answer is no, but they were keeping their commitment-a commitment sometimes made decades earlier.
By the time I meet them, they are either looking to file the divorce papers, or are responding to the filing by their spouse. They are often emotionally traumatized, and I try to help them to reframe how they view their impending divorce: not as the scary unknown or betrayal they initially feel, but as an opportunity to find happiness either on their own, or with someone who will value them infinitely more than the spouse they are becoming divorced from. After learning how dysfunctional and unhappy some clients' marriages were, and upon learning that they never would have filed for divorce, I've even commented to some clients that their spouse may have done something for them that they never would have done for themselves: given them their freedom from an unhappy, unfulfilling marriage! How's that for seeing things in a different light?
Life Is Too Long To Be Unhappy
We're all familiar with the phrase "life is too short to be unhappy", and it's true! Did you ever stop to consider that life is also too long to be unhappy? I encourage clients (and you) to see things differently and realize that you probably have decades left to live, perhaps another 30-50 years depending on your family history and your own individual health. If they (or you) are in an unhappy marriage, that's a very long time to live in that situation! Scientists and health professionals have already confirmed the link between your mood and the release of hormones like cortisol that can lead to heart attacks and other life-shortening ailments. So if you're facing a divorce, whether it's your choice or not, view it as a release from something that made you unhappy and opportunity for a happy new beginning (after a reasonable grieving period, or course), rather than mourning the loss of something that wasn't working for one or both of you. If counseling and attempts to save the marriage don't work, a divorce is a chance at a new beginning if you view it as such. Keep yourself focused on the brighter days ahead. Remember that you may not have had the opportunity to enjoy those days if you or your spouse hadn't made the decision to end a marriage that wasn't working. You deserve happiness, and your children need to see both of you happy, even if you aren't together.
It Is What It Is, So Let's Deal With The Here And The Now
We live in a world of "would've, should've, could've." It's so easy to fall into the trap of looking at yourself or your spouse and wishing things had been different, or blaming them (or yourself) for the issues. But you're here now facing divorce, and while the past matters a bit, within the context of moving on it doesn't matter as much as people sometimes want to make it matter. One of the keys to getting through the divorce process without falling apart is to accept that you're here at this point in your marriage and deal with what's in front of you, not what's behind you. Also, they must have faith that the sun will shine again.
I have to remind clients sometimes to not waste today or tomorrow grieving over yesterday. Respect your spouse's "right to be wrong" (either in their actions or in their decision to divorce you), ask yourself if you really want to be with someone like that (the answer should be a resounding "NO!"), and focus on the great future you can make for yourself-either by yourself or with someone who really values and appreciates you and your presence in their life.
I hope I've given you a few thoughts you can carry with you, and share with others, for getting through life's tough situations, especially divorce. I discuss these and many other Divorce and Child Custody topics in much greater detail on my website at Hecht Family Law as well as on my Facebook page at Hecht Family Law. You are invited to visit them today!
Disclaimer: This article and the information "Redefining How You View Your Divorce (And Life's Other Tough Situations" discussed herein are neither advice nor opinion on specific legal questions, but are furnished only as general information on areas of interest. The applicability of the legal principles discussed in this article may differ widely in specific situations. Therefore, the information contained in this article cannot be construed as individual legal advice and no attorney-client relationship shall be construed or created by this article.