How To Renew Your Commitment To Divorce If You’re Stuck

written by

Emma Heptonstall

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date published

7th March 2024

Most women who read these blogs are either thinking about whether to divorce, or they’ve made the decision and are some way into the process. And, wherever you are, it’s easy to get stuck.

If you don’t know whether divorce is right for you, start here to help you make an informed choice.

If you’ve already made the decision, wherever you are in the process – this blog’s for you. It’s all about how to renew your commitment to divorce if you’re stuck.

Taking a break is not the same as feeling stuck

One of my pieces of advice that most surprises people is to consciously plan breaks from dealing with your divorce. The first thing I advise you to do once you’ve made the decision to divorce (if it’s you instigating), is… nothing. Let the dust settle for you, first, before you have other people’s emotions to deal with.

And once the process is started, I recommend planning in regular breaks, including:

  • Daily – give yourself permission to switch off from divorce every day, and plan activities to make sure your brain is occupied with something else (a book or a podcast work well!)
  • Weekly – have a longer stretch of time when you nourish yourself as a person, not as someone working/parenting/keeping the show on the road
  • For holidays – literally set an out of hours on the email you use for divorce admin, and put all your paperwork out of sight over Christmas, when you have annual leave, or when you’re going away. It will help your brain switch off too.

I advocate regular breaks because divorce is a marathon, not a sprint. You will have more energy to see it through if you can put it down regularly.

The difference between taking a break and being stuck is how deliberate it is. If you’re stuck, you’re standing still because you can’t move forward – like being stuck in the mud. And that’s exhausting, because your brain will keep whirring around, nagging you to do something about it. So it’s important to renew your commitment and regain control.

Why are you stuck in your divorce process?

There are a whole mix of reasons why you might be stuck in your divorce at the moment. I’ve listed some of the most common ones clients tell me about here, along with some starting points to get things moving again. Quite often, when people get stuck, more than one of these are at play at the same time.

Let’s start with some practical sticking points.

Missing information

If you’re trying to reach a financial settlement, you can’t (you really can’t and mustn’t) do this without actual figures. Don’t guess at the value of your assets, or the cost of your living expenses. You need to work it out.

What are you missing and how can you find it? If you can’t find it, enlist a financial adviser or me to help you make an informed plan, rather than guessing. If you’re not sure how to make a financial plan for divorce, start with this blog.

Waiting for your soon-to-be-ex to respond

One of the many difficult things to accommodate as you proceed with your divorce is that you and your soon-to-be-ex will have different ideas, feelings and timescales. Maybe you’re the one pushing for things to go through, maybe they are. Quite often, people drag their heels as a way to take control.

If you’re having to wait, there are three things you can do:

  1. Think about what aspects of divorce aren’t contingent on their response. Are there plans you can make, or other things you can move forward?
  2. Use the BIFF method (communicating briefly, informatively rather than emotionally, firmly and in a ‘friendly’ rather than antagonistic way) to state what you need and by when. It might simply be that they have left it drop down their list, and a polite but firm reminder gets things moving.
  3. Enlist legal support to prompt them to act. Of course, any work from legal professionals incurs a cost. But it can be worth it if it gets your soon-to-be-ex playing ball.

Waiting for the courts or other authorities

Remember, the cheapest and fastest way to reach a divorce settlement isn’t through the court hearing process. But, sometimes it’s unavoidable.

The courts are busy, and, in some cases, still backlogged from the covid lockdowns. If social services are involved in your family, you may also find yourself waiting on them.

In this case, other than wait it out, there are only two things you can really do: set a reminder to check in and chase every week. And focus on the aspects of divorce you are able to move forward with. It might be that now is a time to think about your future life – how can you build the work and lifestyle you want for your post-divorce self?

Now let’s take some internal factors.

Indecision

This is often the biggest factor stopping women from moving forward in their divorce. Not sure about whether they’re doing the right thing. Not knowing how to get to a financial settlement that is fair to their future. Not wanting to damage the children’s wellbeing.

If you’re struggling with indecision, I say this with love and urgency – please get someone to help you! Someone you trust. This sort of work is exactly what I’m here for. It doesn’t have to be me, of course! But make sure you choose someone who knows the legal system, who is trained to listen and support with impartiality and confidentiality, and who you know you can be honest with.

Fatigue

Sometimes women leave things hanging because they’ve just had enough. Life is throwing too much their way, and they need to stop. And, if that’s the case for you, my advice is to own it. Don’t just flail around in the mud, waiting for things to be different. Acknowledge where you are and take control in setting a pace that works for you.

If you’re worn out because things have been tough for a long time, then it’s no surprise you need a break. Again, I do suggest you enlist some support. Just as with anything – fixing the sink for example – you could probably figure it out on your own (with the help of YouTube and several trips to B&Q in the case of the sink). Or you could go the quicker route of getting an expert involved and have the peace of mind that brings too.

Grief

People associate grief with death, but, in truth, the emotion and process relates to anything we have loved and lost. Including a happy and healthy marriage.

It’s absolutely normal to grieve what once was, or what you wanted and didn’t get. And that grief takes time. I’m not saying you pause your divorce completely while you process it emotionally. I am saying it’s important to acknowledge your feelings and give them space. It’s much more difficult to make smart decisions for your future when you’re in denial or raging with anger. You can read more about divorce and the grief cycle here.

The first step to renewing your commitment to divorce lies in recognising where you’re stuck. And then, recognising what you can do about it. Where you don’t have control right now – let it go. Put your attention to something else. Where you can influence, use ‘BIFF’ to keep the heat out of communication. And where you need help, because you’re struggling with a lack of information, energy or clarity – get it.

I’d love to be with you as you commit to the future you want and need. Whether you want to join the group of empowered women in The Absolute Academy, or book 1:1 coaching so we get to the heart of things fast, I’m here for you. Book in your free consultation today.

 

About Emma

Emma Heptonstall, the Divorce Alchemist is the 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 programmes, and the newly released ‘Should I be a Lady Who Leaves?’. For More Information on Should I be a Lady Who Leaves? click here.

Emma has been featured on BBC Radio, The Telegraph, the iPaper and in Marie Claire Magazine. Emma is also the host of  The Six Minute Divorce Podcast. To find out more visit www.emmaheptonstall.com

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