continued from PART 1
Financially divorce can often be the most obvious area where you feel the pain and loss. It usually means about a 50% or more reduction in income. When their are children involved the impact can get much more emotional when you have to negotiate support payments regardless of whether you are paying or receiving them. Sometimes it requires relocating to smaller and or less expensive accommodations. Divorced people and their kids often experience a loss of freedom created by the reduced income. They often report feeling “poorer” than before.
So what is the financial up side? Since you are usually on you own, about half of you permanently and the other half temporarily until you find another partner, it tends to drive you to move from a present focus to a more future focus.
I remember Jinny, a woman with a 12 year old daughter, who worked part time for Walmart before her spouse ended their relationship. She immediately sought more hours and soon a full time position to meet her financial needs. Jinny said to me one day, “I was never a saver before but now 10% of my take home pay goes to my saving account and we live on 90%. It was really tough at first but I had to create some kind of security for us so I could sleep at night.”
Look at your situation and find out how you have become smarter with money, with your wealth in some way because of your divorce. It might be shopping more carefully, clipping coupons, spending less on non essentials or planning your financial future with more of a long term perspective like Jinny. Whatever form it took, in some way you got wiser, smarter and more independent regarding your wealth since your divorce.
These benefits will impact your future finances in ways you may not even imagine yet. Again notice how the losses and gains counter – balance each other. I bet you can’t imagine going back to the way you used to be because now you are here it is where you need to be, to be you.
It is in the social area of your life where divorce can also be very devastating to either party. Some believe it effects females more than males, but that has not been my experience. While women are often more open about the alienation they experience, I have seen it frequently in men as well. Couples often socialize with other couples so when a couple breaks up their couple friends feel caught in the middle and avoid taking a side and so avoid both of them. This even happens with friends who are single, who, knowing both partners, feel awkward and so minimize contact with both partners.
Georgina was married for over ten years when she parted with her spouse. They had two children, four and six years of age. Georgina struggled with feelings of being discouraged and alone for several months before she realized to have a social life she would have to initiate it herself rather than wait for others to come to her. She said to me on one occasion, “Once I realized everyone experiences loneliness and depression, whether they are married or not, I knew I had to take action and create my own social circle.”
So, considering your own situation, have you noticed some of these social benefits such as: a broader social network, more true friends, more new acquaintances and potential friends, less dependence on a select few people, more independence across a broader network, more of your own friends rather than your ex-partner’s friends, more self appreciation from your new network and other similar evolutions in your social life.
Now ask yourself would you want to go back to the old network you had when you were married with all its limitations you now can see. I bet you would not. While it cost you, it also benefited you in ways you are starting to notice. A simple test will help demonstrate it. Take a piece of paper right now and write down the name of the friend you have got a lot closer to since your divorce.
It is often hard at first to notice the benefits within the family to divorce..but they are there too. It is easier to notice the costs like the conflict, hurt, anger, loneliness and embarrassment. While they are also very real…there is the other side as well.
Consider your own situation and identify where benefits have surfaced for you. Here are some possibilities to consider. Have you become more appreciative of your own family in important ways? Identify who you have become close to in your family since your divorce? Who has drawn closer to you or rallied to your support emotional, socially, financially or in some other form? If you have children, identify how they have grown, perhaps in independence or maturity?
Ben became a single dad quite suddenly when his partner ended their six year marriage. He was co-parenting their daughter within two weeks and was stunned by the change in his lifestyle. He commented one day, “My Mom, and even my Dad, have appeared…kind of out of the blue, once they heard. They have been great! I have not felt this close to them since I was a kid. And they are so good with Samantha when I thought they would be too busy traveling to make time for me.”
Since research shows six out of ten children will live in a single parent situation at some point in their childhood and you can’t pick these kids out in the school yard, they must adapt really well to the challenge of divorce…well so too their parents, because you can’t pick them out of the crowd either.
It is in the physical health area where many divorcees miss the benefits of their new situation. It is here where you probably only notice the stress, the sleepless night, the worry, the weight gain and so on. But nature’s law of symmetry still applies and often in very dramatic ways.
Mark and Mary were struggling in their three year marriage when they came to see me. She with heavily medicated and bloated with an unknown auto immune disease and he wasn’t getting along with his in-laws. Mary finally said she didn’t really want to be married but was afraid of hurting him. They soon negotiated a ‘collaborative’ divorce and retained their relationship in a new form as friends. Within three weeks Mary reported being able to cut back her medications significantly, much to the surprise of her physician. Her improvement continued. At some level of her awareness Mary sought out help to get her health back through her divorce.
So let’s checkout your situation since your divorce. Remember your general heath state before your divorce. Compare it to now. Here are some questions to consider and be truthful with yourself. Are you more health conscious now knowing you are on your own? Are you more conscious of your appearance and or fitness? Have you made any specific efforts to enhance your physical health by adjusting your eating style or exercise regime? Where have you acted decisively to manage the additional stress of your situation by seeking new information or life skills? It is always there in some form either consciously or unconsciously. Go find it in your life!
In summary then, the law of balance or symmetry has operated for billions of years on this planet, long before humans arrived and long after we have left if we annihilate each other. Scientists prove repeatedly, probably daily, this law continues to function at all levels of our universe including in human relationships. This is why it takes a pessimist and an optimist to create a stable relationship.
So also with divorce. It is not a failure, it is equally a success! Truthfully, it is an evolution for each and every person involved.
It is unwise to deny the costs or the benefits of your divorce. Find them and honor them by balancing them. Then get on with your life. If we fail to find the symmetry of our life experiences we are destined to repeat them in a new form so we get another opportunity to learn to appreciate our life as it is rather than how we fantasize it should be.