Keep your eyes on the road ahead..

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What divorce does (and does not) solve

Well, the truth is, it only solves a few specific things.  Divorce does not make you more (or less) organized, motivated, sober (or carefree), responsible or irresponsible.  It might, for a while, increase or alleviate a few of those traits.  For example, if you are an ordinarily organized and responsible person, you might spend a few months during and immediately following the divorce process feeling completely out-of-sorts.  But, once you settle back in, you will likely revert back to your true reliable self.

If you think that divorcing the lump on your couch and replacing that lump with someone new will change your life; the truth is that it is not the divorce which will make that change for you. Only your own will and determination can get you to change old patterns.  So often when I have the opportunity to meet my client’s new significant other or spouse I am shocked that they were able to find such a close replica of the one we just finished divorcing. 

If you have a drinking problem, for example, not a full-blown “I need to get to a meeting” alcoholic, but someone who wakes up too many mornings thinking, “wow – I drank more than I meant to drink,” you might be blaming your spouse, or your divorce.  “As soon as we can sell this house and get separated from each other, I won’t need to go out as often.”   While that may be true, you might also be surprised to find yourself a year post divorce drinking comfortably in your own apartment and waking up too many mornings still feeling the effects of the previous night.

Similarly, people do not change in the course of the divorce process itself.   If you are divorcing a bully, that person will keep right on bullying you every step of the way.  In fact, in a last ditch effort at getting her own way, she might be even more ferocious now than ever before.

If you are divorcing someone who cannot keep a job, then don’t expect him to suddenly stay gainfully employed, just because all of the lawyers and judges say he should.  He knows he should have a good work ethic without being told.  If he could have gotten it together, he would have done so by now.

So, what is the value of the divorce? If it does not fix you or your spouse, why go through all of the work and cost and hardship?  Because of the few things it does solve.

1.  You cannot “fix” another person.  But, once you are divorced, you are no longer responsible for what is wrong with that person.

2.  You have a unique and precious opportunity to fix your own life.  This is your true chance to change old habits and patterns; get yourself off of that couch; stop dating lumps; drink less; or escalate your career.  Whatever it is that you have been thinking you might want to change about yourself, divorce is that clean slate to make new choices for the life you are just beginning.

WHAT WE LOVE:   You are your own best project, and with one fewer person in your life, there is that much more time and attention for you.

Published by Sharon Oberst DeFala

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

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