So you’ve decided to divorce. What now?
Well done. You made a big decision. The decision to divorce is never easy. Guilty, worry and anxiety with sadness and grief can be an overwhelming combination. So you’ve decided to divorce. What now? You’ve got here. Recognise that in itself is an achievement. You’ve thought about the options. You’ve considered relationship counselling. You’ve looked at what it is you can change in yourself, and whether that will make a difference to your marriage. Perhaps you’ve worked through 7 Simple Steps You know what’s important to you in life. And you’ve decided divorce is the way to go. So what on earth do you do now? Hold onto your seats, because I know my answer is going to knock you for six.
You do nothing.
That’s right. No picking up the phone to all and sundry to break the news. Or, heaven forbid, to a solicitor. No Facebook announcements. And no rushing to tell your soon-to-be-ex-husband it’s all over. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, especially if this has been brewing for some time. I know that for some of you, the action-takers, a pause at this stage feels impossible. But it’s an important part of the divorce process, if you want to do it on your terms, rather than be swept away on an emotional rollercoaster. Here’s why.
You get clarity
Letting things sit for a while means you get a whole lot more comfortable with them. Think of it like buying a new pair of fancy shoes (or walking boots, if that’s more your thing). Before you embark on an eight-hour jaunt – whether that’s a night on the dance floor or a hike up the mountain – you break them in. And that’s how it is with your decision to divorce. Give yourself time to sit with it, get comfortable. Own it. That will give you so much more confidence when you do take action.
You nurture seeds
If you’re a gardener you’ll know that you don’t plant many seeds straight out into the veg or flower beds in cold weather. And even if you do, you prepare the ground first. Often, when you plant seeds, you nurture them indoors, where they are safe from the elements and you can tend them carefully. And so it is with your divorce. Don’t expose your newly made decision to the elements of criticism, questions and what-ifs straight away. By this point, you’ve already done the thinking about other options. You know they’re not right for you. So don’t let other people’s shock and bias take you back there. Give yourself time to strengthen first.
It will save you time and pain in the long run
When you do nothing, you can think about how you want to share your news. And this can make all the difference – especially with your soon-to-be-ex. You get to set the tone, the level and the nature of communication. You’ll approach that conversation with more ease and confidence, and your ex will pick up on that, as will others around you. I often help clients at this stage – some people find it helpful to talk through exactly what they mean and what they want and need to say. It can head off conflict and escalation at the pass. Remember, you can’t control how others react. But by being clear about your decision, and why, without descending into emotional blame games from the start, you raise the odds of a lower conflict divorce, which is a good thing all round.
When it’s high conflict…
When it’s high conflict, the same principles don’t apply. Of course, if you are concerned about your emotional or physical safety, you need to take action. And it’s wise to gather your resources – locate your paperwork, identify your support crew, call in the experts who can help you. I am the UK’s only trained high conflict divorce coach, and I can help you get through this. So, are you ready for the next step? Contact me to book in a call and get your divorce moving, your way.
The Divorce Alchemist
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 practising family mediator and founder of Get Divorce Ready the online self study and group programmes. Emma is featured on BBC Radio, The Telegraph, the iPaper and in Marie Claire Magazine. To find out more visit www.emmaheptonstall.com