Are your assumptions costing you money in divorce?
Are your assumptions costing you money in divorce? It’s possibly a question that you haven’t pondered before. Rarely do we think about the assumptions that we make. Making assumptions is a normal part of life and one which helps our relationships move forward with flow. For example, imagine that you know that your husband has had a busy week at work, and so you assume that he will appreciate some down time at the weekend. You ask the grandparents to have the children so the two of you can have some time together relaxing. When your husband comes in on Friday, he is pleased that you made this assumption and you both went on to enjoy the weekend. Fast forward to your separation and divorce, and making assumptions is causing difficulty.
The danger of mind reading
This mind reading which was a normal part of your relationship when you are happy can cause significant problems now you’re separating and divorcing. Communication is already difficult. You look for and see the worst in your husband possibly out of anger frustration and hurt. All this is understandable, but mind reading will actually make things worse. Perhaps you hate it when your husband accuses you of not wanting him to see the children, or of you wanting him to suffer emotionally or financially. Perhaps it annoys you when he insists that you have a new relationship when you don’t. Your anger reaches new heights.
Once we start mind reading, it’s difficult that is to recognise fact from fiction because the two become so blurred, we actually forget that we have made an assumption; we begin acting as if our thoughts are real. When this happens, two civilised people who used to feel that mind reading was ‘cute’ or was a sign of how connected we were, begin to feel frustration and bitterness. The idea of an amicable divorce feels like a pie in the sky. So how do you deal with the propensity to mind read when you are struggling in your communication?
Before you jump to conclusions….
Before you jump to conclusions about what your husband is, or isn’t thinking, just take a step back and a deep breath and ask yourself, whether you are jumping to a conclusion, for which there is no evidence. Being honest with yourself like this can be hard particularly when you’re angry and frustrated. It’s not about being hard on yourself, it’s just about recognising the truth. If you can recognise that you have jumped to a conclusion, you can take steps to find out whether your belief is founded in fact or fantasy.
Perhaps there is part of you that wants to find fault with your husband. Maybe that’s based on the need to punish him (even though that might be unconscious), or as a means for you to justify your decision to leave because you feel guilty about it. Maybe it’s mixture of both and that’s okay if you recognise it. Recognising it allows you to open up communication by asking questions.
Asking questions of your husband about his intentions, his thoughts and the meaning of his behaviour can be challenging. Challenging because you’re frightened of the answer – it might be something you don’t want to hear. Challenging because it might start yet another row. Only ask questions if it’s safe for you to do so. Asking questions is important because it shows your husband that you’re interested in finding out what he actually thinks and feels, rather than making it up. It gives your husband is the opportunity to be open, honest and feel heard. Now, I’m not saying that he will take that opportunity, he may not, but you will have shown him that you are open to hearing what he thinks.
When you ask questions, you open up dialogue and you allow stuck situations to move forward. Often we are so convinced at the accuracy of our mind reading which is so way off-kilter that the other person is totally surprised that we made such an assumption in the first place! When this incorrect assumption has been driving your behaviour, its easy to see how negatively powerful assumptions can be. I’m talking about those times when your husband is totally shocked that you thought a particular way about him – and that thought could have been years old. Sometimes it’s this mind reading that has led to the breakdown of the relationship in the first place, only to be perpetuated throughout the divorce. If this is you or your husband, take steps to stop it now!
You will see what you look for
You will always see what you look for. Bought a new car in an unusual shade of blue? Drove out the showroom thinking that you are unique, only to see three other cars in the very same hue on the drive home? This is because your filters set to look for it as it’s important to you right now. Look for the worst in your husband, you’ll find it just has he will find it in you. Will it move you forward in your divorce? It might do, but at what cost both emotionally and financially? Is it really worth it?
What would happen if you began to look at the positives and accept that both of you want to move forward without killing each other emotionally and financially? For some of you, that might mean that you get taken advantage of, and if this is genuinely you, it’s more important than ever that you get legal support. But the majority of people, if they are being honest, just want to divorce as quickly, effortlessly, and cheaply as possible. It’s in nobody’s interests to drag out the divorce because you’re angry. Because you want to score points and cause the other person pain. Remember, if it costs your husband more money, it’s going to cost you more money.
The Four Agreements
It might be that you have to be the bigger person and decide to believe that your husband does want what’s best for you and the children (if you have them) just as much as he wants what’s best for himself. Perhaps he doesn’t always act that way (and maybe you don’t always cover yourself in glory either), it’s just human nature. In his book The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz talks about four attitudes to life. They are particularly pertinent to divorce:
Be impeccable with your word
The first Agreement is always be impeccable with your word. This basically means, say what you mean and mean what you say. Speak with integrity. In the context of your divorce, avoid saying words to punish and blame. If you want to move things forward, if you want to put your children first, use language that promotes this.
Don’t take anything personally.
Don’t take anything personally. What?! It’s quite possible that you’ve been taking everything your husband has said and done personally and that he does with you too – it becomes a vicious cycle. Not taking anything personally is particularly important in divorce. Remember that your husband’s behaviour it’s not about you, it’s about him and where he is at emotionally. Don’t take his behaviour personally. Recognising this allows you a sense of detachment when you feel angry and frustrated.
As we have seen, making assumptions particularly when communication is a challenge, is a recipe for disaster. By finding the courage to ask questions, you can completely transform your experience of divorce. Will it always be easy? No! But will it be worth it? Almost certainly. Avoiding assumptions avoids drama, and drama in divorce is expensive. Sometimes the support of an independent person can help you to recognise your assumptions and to challenge them gracefully. You might decide that a divorce couch can help you with this a one-to-one basis so that you strong enough to face your husband. Equally, Family Mediation is a good venue for both you and your husband to examine the assumptions that you have made and to look beneath them.
Always do your best.
Your best will vary from day-to-day and possibly hour by hour as you move through your divorce, but by recognising where you’re at, you can have greater control over how and when you respond, and also some insight into the behaviour of your husband at this time. Perhaps you were told as a child to always do your best, and that your best is always good enough. That didn’t stop being true once you grew up. If you can look back now and recognise that perhaps you haven’t always done your best, just decide that from now on you will.
Stay open in heart and mind
Stay open in both heart and mind. Staying open doesn’t mean that you have to allow yourself to be taken advantage of. What it does it allow you to feel your fears and anger, to acknowledge your frustrations and worries and to move forward anyway. You will never be in control of what your husband does or doesn’t do, but you will always have the responsibility of how you respond to it. If that’s a struggle, get in touch, I can help you.
I’m Emma The Divorce Alchemistwww.emmaheptonstall.com/about-me. I support Ladies who Leave to make smart emotional and financial decisions on divorce. If you don’t have your copy yet, you can download The Smart Woman’s Divorce Guide by completing the box below. Please note, by signing up, you will receive a series of 7 emails over 28 days to accompany the Guide. You will also receive an email from me each Wednesday morning UK time with hints, tips and advice. I sometimes promote my coaching packages too – I’m sure you understand that this is my business :). You may unsubscribe at anytime.