I Bit Off More Than I Could Chew


I bit off more than I could chew.

My kids’ school and their extra-curricular activities, my book group, speaking opportunities and volunteer work, my husband’s travel schedule, social lives for all of us, and – oh, yeah, my job — each grew bigger than I was prepared to handle all at once. The next thing I knew, my blog was down to once a week, then once a month, then somewhat sporadic, and then, after my Christmas 2012 post, I stopped.  My blogging voice went silent in my head, and the posts froze in mid-December.

Ever go into a mall with little kids? Ever get so sick of the phrase “Can I get that?” that you almost wish you could go deaf?  It’s not really their fault. They just want everything they see, and have not yet learned how to turn it off.   Not like us Grown-ups, right?

Or, is it…

I just finished a divorce. Nice people, amicable divorce.  They appreciate each other more from a distance than they ever did when they were still married. I am happy for them and their kids that their divorce did not cost a fortune or take years to complete.  But, there were moments during the process where I thought we might never get to the end.

The Wife wasn’t ready to get divorced as quickly as the husband was.  So, she just kept looking for the thing that would make her happy.  The mature woman’s version of, “Can I get that?”

He offered alimony for half the length of the marriage – a standard measurement – she wanted unlimited alimony.

He offered to take all of the marital debts.  She wanted him to also pay off her car.

He offered her the time share. She also wanted his frequent flyer miles.

Eventually, I told them to stop talking to each other. I said, “If he offered you the skin off his body right now, it would not be enough.”  They finally saw what I meant. We took a break from negotiations.

And, after a few weeks of no more skin peeling, and no more “can I get that?”  We met again, reached some reasonable compromises, and finished their divorce.

I think all of my running around from activity to volunteer to dinners to book groups was my own version of “Can I get that?”  A giant plate piled high with more than my life could possibly handle.

And then we all learned our lesson. Some things just matter more than others.  For me that order is family, work, writing.  In that order.  The rest is a tie for “later.”  For my client, the order is her kids first.  She decided that the amount of money she takes away with her matters less than her kids’ happiness.  She can always earn more money; but she can never get back these moments of their childhood. She would rather spend them focused on the children than fighting with her (now ex-) husband.

My client and I both got to the same emotional moment, the one that stops saying “Can I get that?” and instead says, “This is good.  Let me focus on what is good.”  Not only are she and I both better off for it, so are our children, our families, our friends, and our jobs.

What We Love:  The clarity to see what matters and release what does not.

Published by Sharon Oberst DeFala

Sharon Oberst DeFala has practiced low-impact safe divorce since 1992.

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