Has the Coronavirus pandemic made you consider divorce?
For many of us, life in lockdown has helped us see what’s important. This is especially true in our relationships. Since March 2020 I’ve written several blogs about navigating divorce during the Covid-19 lockdown. You can start here to catch up with them. Has the Coronavirus pandemic made you consider divorce? is especially for you if you are reconsidering the quality of your marriage as a result of lockdown.
This blog takes you through a series of questions to explore how your experiences with Covid-19 might affect your decision-making – in terms of divorce, and more widely. It will help you ground yourself at a time when the ground always seems to be shifting, and help you think through what you want your life to be like now.
Remember life pre-lockdown?
Do you remember the world pre-Covid? It might feel an eternity ago, or it might feel like we’re still in March – lockdown does strange things to time! But take yourself back to the beginning of the year. How were you feeling?
Take a few moments with a journal or notebook and consider:
- How was your energy? Were you excited by life or feeling in a rut?
- What was important to you? Were you spending time on those important things and people?
- What have you missed from pre-lockdown life? Is there anything you haven’t missed and don’t want to return to as lockdown lifts?
How has Covid-19 affected you?
All our lives have been touched by Covid-19 to some degree, but the impact on some of us will be greater than others. I consider myself fortunate. Other than the frustrations of not being able to go out or see friends or family, having to spend hours queuing at supermarkets and missing my beloved coffee shops (I’m still missing them terribly), I’m safe and well as is everyone in my family and social circle. However, I have clients working in the NHS, clients who’ve been made redundant and clients who’ve lost friends or family to Covid.
What’s your personal experience? Have you enjoyed lockdown? Some people have thrived. Many have not. How has homeschooling been for you? A fun experience bonding with your children or a stressed out nightmare?
Perhaps you’ve had highs and lows (both you and the children). How has your spouse been throughout the last few months? Has lockdown strengthened you as a team or highlighted holes in your relationship? Has the Coronavirus pandemic made you consider divorce? Notice any changes in your perspective on life and divorce.
Is everyday life different?
Are you working from home for the first time? Have you missed the hustle and bustle of commuting or are you relishing that you have two hours extra in your day? What about your spouse – how have they dealt with the changes?
How have any children adapted to life at home? How is their mental health? What have you learned about your children in the last few months that you didn’t know before?
New ways of being can help us grow. They can support us in our resilience. We can also recognise resilience in others or situations where we see others needing support.
Perhaps you’re seeing yourself in a new light? What can you celebrate and do more of? Where do you or your children need extra care and nurture?
How has your relationship changed?
In my experience, big life changes often highlight differences in our expectations. Things we had taken for granted are blown apart. You may have heard of ‘silver splitters’ or ‘grey divorce’. Whilst neither of these are flattering terms, they refer to the phenomenon of older people divorcing when their children leave home and they retire. Suddenly they are with their spouse more or less all the time. There aren’t the distractions of employment and a busy family life. Suddenly there’s time at home and plenty of it. One or both spouses recognise they no longer want to stay together. They want different things.
Are you feeling similar now you’ve been in lockdown? You might have been thrown together spending more time with one another than you usually do – working from home and homeschooling. No real outlets.
What has it highlighted for you? If you feel your spouse hasn’t stepped up, how does that make you feel?
Or if they’ve been a great partner, ticked all the right boxes, but you still have a nagging feeling that you don’t want to be married any longer, how does that make you feel?
Think about the emotions you have towards your spouse. Has the Coronavirus pandemic made you consider divorce? And think about what you want. Is the situation fixable, and, more to the point, do you want to fix it?
Your perspective on life and divorce may be very different from how it was four months ago – and that’s normal. It might have brought to light issues that you’d been ignoring, or hoping had gone away. It might have got you thinking that things aren’t as strong as you want them to be and that you need to act (and that doesn’t necessarily mean divorce – read on).
How do you decide if it’s time to divorce?
Are you reading my blog for the first time? As we begin the process of easing lockdown, are you thinking that now is the time to take action? Has the Coronavirus pandemic made you consider divorce?
Perhaps you are no longer willing to accept the state of your relationship. Has lockdown brought the realisation that life is too short and you want and deserve a different life? Maybe you suspect you’ve been settling.
What should you do?
My recommendation, unless you are at risk emotionally, physically or financially, is to do nothing. Sit with your thoughts. Journal. Speak to a divorce coach if you need to (I am here to help you make the right decision for you, not to encourage divorce for everyone!). There’s no need to rush. You might decide you aren’t in the right place to make a decision about divorce right now (and that is also a decision – it is perfectly valid, just own it).
The first section of my Amazon bestselling book How to be a Lady Who Leaves -The Ultimate Guide to Getting Divorce Ready is a great place to start.
Should you have relationship counselling?
I recommend relationship counselling to the majority of my clients (though definitely not if you are in a high conflict relationship). Relationship counselling can be a great place to communicate better, and maybe resolve key issues so your marriage is back on track. Or it can help you get clarity within yourself, even if your spouse doesn’t want to engage. That can support your own sense of closure.
Relationship counselling is also a great place to share that you want a divorce and why. You will be supported to say how you really think and feel and he will be supported to listen (whether he does or not is an entirely different matter)!
If you are unsure about whether divorce is right for you, a divorce coach can also help you clarify your thoughts and feelings.
You’ve decided to divorce. What next?
Stepping into the unknown is often scary. It’s common to experience anxiety, fear, self-doubt and worries about how you’ll cope are common. These emotions are all part of the process – they accompany any big life change.
Be kind to yourself and take one step at a time. If you need to see a solicitor straight away (usually because you have complex finances, or a high conflict relationship) then choose carefully. Find someone who resonates with you. It’s worth following up on recommendations for specific people. When you meet don’t be shy about asking if they’ve dealt with a case like yours before. A good lawyer won’t mind you checking them out in this way – in fact they will welcome it as it’s a sign you know how to handle yourself.
If you don’t need a solicitor from the get-go, don’t instruct one yet. Save yourself money and stress by building a divorce team first. What’s a divorce team? A group of loved ones and professionals, hand-picked by you, to support your emotional, practical and financial decision-making as you navigate divorce. You can read all about building your team here. Know who can support you and when. Start being the CEO of your divorce and you’ll feel much more in control and confident.
Is lockdown the sign you needed to act?
Has the Coronavirus pandemic made you consider divorce? If you’d decided to divorce before lockdown and felt too scared, worried or nervous to act, perhaps the pandemic has given you greater resolve to get your divorce done. So take your divorce plan and revisit it. What are you not doing that you could be? Where are you giving yourself excuses? What is it costing you emotionally and financially?
Just like after a pandemic, life after divorce is different. But it doesn’t have to be worse. You can focus on the sadness and the negative or you can look forward with gratitude and hope. Does that mean not acknowledging the grief you feel? No. Embrace grief – it is normal and healthy, even if it’s not comfortable or pleasant. Allow it. Move through it, riding the waves as they come. Know that your post-divorce life is worth fighting for.
Should you use a divorce coach in a pandemic?
Working with a divorce coach in a pandemic may feel like a real luxury. In these confusing and uncertain times, however, chatting with someone like me can really help you focus and begin to take smart, focussed steps forward. Which saves you both time and money (and I’m talking thousands).
As I’m not your best friend, sister or mother and I don’t know your ex, I can stay focused on supporting you to make the best decisions for you, free from any judgements, agendas or biases. My job is you, and your future.
If you’d like to book a call with me to find out how I can support you and your divorce, during and after lockdown, I’d love to hear from you. Just book in a chat here.
Emma Heptonstall, the Divorce Alchemist is author of the Amazon best selling book How to be a Lady Who Leaves, the Ultimate Guide to Getting Divorce Ready. A former lawyer, Emma is a family mediator and founder of Get Divorce Ready the online self-study and group programmes. Emma has been featured on BBC Radio, The Telegraph, the iPaper and in Marie Claire Magazine. To find out more visit www.emmaheptonstall.com