Is status an issue in your divorce?
Is status an issue in your divorce? I’m not talking about your Facebook status, although I have written about that, you can read it here (Why Facebook can cost you thousands in your Divorce), I’m talking about the social status of either yourself or your husband.
You see, if you fail to recognise the important role the issue of ‘status’ can play in your divorce, it can mean that you spend a significant amount of money and inordinate amounts of time and anguish trying to reach agreements about money. As a lady who is leaving, you may well be realistic about what you can afford post divorce. You might have already started looking at your borrowing potential, house prices and rental prices in the area you feel you’ll move to. It might be that, on the journey to deciding to leave, you’ve made peace with the fact that you’ll be leaving the family home. But what if you haven’t come to terms with that, or your husband is refusing to discuss divorce because he says you can’t afford it?
When you are struggling with the loss of status
Often there is a lot of guilt about struggling with the loss of status. Because there are homeless people, and starving children in Africa. Because you have girlfriends who make ends meet on a third of what you do. But do you know something? It’s absolutely fine to struggle with the loss of your material life. It doesn’t make you a ‘shallow’ or ‘bad’ person. It was your life. It was real for you. It was part of who you are.
The important thing to remember is, that there is so much more to you than the financially abundant life you may be leaving. And the truth is, isn’t it, that if that life really was that important to you, you wouldn’t be leaving, would you? Will your girlfriend’s think less of you? No. Your true friends will be there for you just as they have been up until now. Will your self worth be impacted? No. The truth is, if your self worth has been resting purely on your material wealth, you have poor self worth and now is perhaps the time to invest time in yourself so you remember and recognise all the great things that there are about you!
Be honest with yourself. If you are really struggling with the loss of status, admit it first to yourself and then to your girlfriends. Seek the support, understanding and reassurance that you need. It can be overwhelming wondering how it will be moving to a new home away from familiar surroundings.
Remember that this change in your status may be temporary. Begin to think about ways in which you can earn more money to change your situation. Learn to embrace a different way of living. Independence, freedom, choice are there for you. If you’ve moved areas, what new connections will you make? What new opportunities are waiting for you?
Be kind to yourself. Remember, you are more than just your social status.
When your husband is struggling with the loss of status
If you’ve ever read any books about the differences between men and women (yes I thought so), you’ll likely have heard and possibly experienced that social status is important to many (and yes I know, not all) men. The size of pay packet, house, car and the kudos of his job title play an important role in shaping his core identity. When those things are under threat, a man doesn’t feel good. That means, if divorce isn’t his idea, the impact of divorce upon his status may well be a huge issue for him.
Often the women I work with tell me that their husband’s refuse to discuss divorce. Even when they’ve been in counselling for years, even when they bicker relentlessly, even when they sleep in separate rooms and lead almost separate lives. The reason?
Lack of money? No.
Loss of status. You see, you may see your family home as just that – a home for your family. For a man, it’s that AND it’s a sign of his success. It’s a signal to the world about his value and worth as a provider. Will he be destitute and living on beans with a two-bar fire if you divorce? Hell no! But for him, he might as well be!
So. If this is the situation you find yourself in, what can you do?
The first and most important thing is to consider whether his refusals are based on reality i.e, money is tight, or based on his loss of status. If money is tight, it’s likely that you’ll both have to compromise, but the needs of any children will come first. If you are aware that it is possible to separate, begin by gently explaining that you understand the family finances and that, based on research you have done relating to needs, you’ll both be able to have a nice place to live.
Avoid mocking him or expressing frustration at his point of view. Share that you understand that the house means a lot to him and that you understand how difficult it will be for him to let go of dreams and financial plans he had for the two of you. Remind him that his self worth isn’t purely linked to his material success but to his career and the health and happiness of himself and his children (if you have them).
If you’ve been thinking about divorce for a while, remember that you’ve already gone through the anger, the bargaining, and the grief for your marriage and all that you built together. In wanting to move the divorce forward, you’re in a place of acceptance that your marriage is over and it’s time to move on. Give your husband that support he needs to arrive at that place and you’ll find that the divorce is easier for you both to deal with and it will save you thousands too.
I’m Emma The Divorce Alchemist. 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.