Some of the time there is mutual agreement as spouses head for divorce. Of course this is the ideal situation for two people heading for such a significant transitional period in their lives. Even under the best of circumstances, however, there are challenges and obstacles as each individual embarks on their independent lives. Sometimes one must ‘pick up the slack’ that was the alternate partner’s responsibility in the relationship and sometimes one must learn to tackle their own independent finances for the first time.
Much of the time, however, the decision to divorce was made by one spouse and the other is dragged into this life transition against his or her will. That is when the future looks all the more daunting to the unwilling party. This is when it is most important for that individual to ‘take the bull by the horns’ and become most aware of being the captain of their life’s ship.
Laura Campbell wrote a very helpful article in the Huffington Post, “This Is Not Where I Thought I Would Be.” Ms. Campbell likened divorce to the game of pick-up sticks. “After holding the sticks tightly together, you released them with force, sending them all over the table. Then, one stick at a time you pick them up, making sure not to touch or move any other stick as you do it.
It took patience and a good strategy for addressing which stick should be picked up first so that none of the others would be affected.”
Most people don’t expect that their marriage will end in divorce. It is often very difficult for those who have the decision thrust upon them to come to terms with the fact that we cannot force someone to remain in a marriage unwillingly. “There are things over which we have control, and there are things that we do not.”
What everyone has control over is creating the rest of their lives. Ms. Campbell suggests writing down the elements of your life for which you feel grateful.
- “[W]rite down all of the things that are present in your life today.”
- It may be hard to feel grateful at this time in your life but if your children are healthy, you may feel grateful for that most blessed gift.
- “If you have a home that you live in comfortably,” you may be grateful for that.
- If “your children are grown, or you don’t have any, and you are free to live anywhere you want, write down ‘I can live anywhere I want!’”
- “[L]ist your assets, attributes, and accomplishments. Your abilities, strengths and opportunities.”
“[A] big part of the planning for what comes next and the designing of your new life after divorce is being able to see and create opportunities and possibilities, even when they ‘feel’ impossible.
Don’t limit yourself to what you can already see, open yourself up to what might be. I know it can be frightening, but just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it is not there!”
This may not be where you thought you would be at this stage of your life. Focus on how you want to design your future. Don’t let your fear take control. You are the only one who can hold you back. Take control of your ship and turn those divorce lemons into lemonade.