Divorce is big business.
In fact, it’s a $28 billion dollar per year industry with the average breakup estimated to cost $20,000. In light of that I can easily understand the axiom “it’s cheaper to keep her”. But for those who’ve been through their own the emotional costs can be incalculable. The moment a couple decides to dissolve the marriage a noticeable and psychological shift occurs. Virtually overnight two people who once promised to love, honor, and cherish one another till death to they part don armor and become sworn enemies. Their attitude is suddenly defensive with self-interest being the preeminent motive, while their actions take on militaristic like qualities as they are near hell-bent on getting or keeping what they feel belongs to them.
Divorce is dirty business.
For most the thinking behind the divorce drama is “to the victor goes the spoils” and almost everything is considered spoils including grandma’s china set, the 401k, that lake house, and the bedroom furniture; even frequent flier miles become assets or at least bargaining chips for sweeter rewards. And is often the case the more spoils on the line the nastier and more drawn out the divorce can get. Sometimes the process moves at a rapid pace, when I realized there would be no reconciliation in my own marriage I pushed all parties and finalized the deal in 2 months while other divorces can go on for years held up by all that stuff – especially money.
The depths to which some people can and often go in a divorce are startling. I’m still amazed at how quickly two people, who once claimed so much affection for one other, can turn so angry and vindictive. And it seems peoples’ depravity knows no bounds whether it’s subpoenaing unforeseen witnesses to denounce her character or making false and outlandish accusations about his parenting nothing is deemed off limits if it might help them win.
It all helps to make divorce juicy reality TV or intriguing courtroom showdowns but it’s hell on the spirit and when both parties finally and often resentfully come to an agreement the scars left are deep and painful. And to make matters even more difficult, if kids are involved the two battle weary warriors now must try to move beyond their bitterness and differences to become effective co-parents.
Divorce is emotional business.
But moving beyond is something men find particularly difficult to do. Research indicates women file 60-75% of all divorces and often the husband is taken by total surprise when he gets the papers. While admitting to martial difficulties he is usually oblivious (purposefully or not) to how bad things really are. So harboring feelings of rejection he moves forward in the divorce relationship. But looking at life through a lense of indignation leads to choices based primarily on emotion which take any number of forms including disrespect and disparaging comments about the ex to temporarily withholding child support payments and flaunting the new girlfriend all as a way of ‘getting back’ at the ex.
The best divorce advice I wish I’d gotten earlier.
For several years after my own breakup I struggled to find a way of dealing with my ex without wanting to set her on fire. And those feeling of homicide were intensified every time I wrote a child support check and dropped my kids off at her house. Too often I allowed my emotions to take my actions in a direction that wasn’t healthy or helpful, which made a strenuous situation even worse. Until I finally came to an epiphany.[pullquote]Co-parenting is a relationship by court order and it’s indefinite.[/pullquote]
Treat the divorce relationship like a business.
No one tolde me this sage advice I just kind of came up with it on my own. I had to remember that settlement agreement and divorce decree are more than just a ticket to relationship freedom. It’s a contract with certain stipulations that her and I must abide by. Co-parenting is a relationship by court order and it’s indefinite. With two children under the age of five we’ll be dealing with each other for a long time. So like any good businessman it was time to institute some standard operating procedures.
First, there is no room for emotional warfare in a post-divorce relationship. Hostility, anger, and revenge serve no purpose but to further deteriorate an already difficult situation. So it became incumbent upon me to pack away any of that remaining emotional baggage. A co-parenting relationship is only adversarial if we make it so and her and I share one common goal, to parent our children the best way we can in light of the circumstances. The change hasn’t been easy but therapy, time, and insight from the Queen made it possible. Our relationship today has become one purely of business and it’s treated as such. I have put boundaries in place that aren’t crossed. Our discussions center on issues with the kids and their schedule while never delving into each other’s personal lives. We are cordial and polite but I wouldn’t consider us friends. Managing a divorce relationship is often a fulltime job.
But there’s an upside to all this businesslike demeanor. And that upside is two priceless gems, namely our kids, that have acclimated brilliantly to the modern family. Which I’m convinced would not have been possible were it not for taking care of business.