Maybe you are going through a divorce right now, or maybe you are just thinking about it. There are lots of things about divorce that really stink. When looked at in comparison to life’s major stressors, such as death of a loved one, losing a job, bankruptcy, etc., divorce is right up there at the top. In addition, getting a divorce is expensive. On top of legal fees, you may have to part with ½ of your life savings and either pay more spousal support than you would like or receive less support than you need. And this doesn’t even take into consideration the kids…
There is a silver lining to divorce
Why do people go through all this stress and conflict and expense? Because they are unhappy in their marriage and they want out. When people come into see me, I ask them how badly they want a divorce on a scale of 1 to 10. People that tell me they are at a 4 or 5 are still, generally speaking, exploring their options. They are unhappy but are looking for ways to fix their marriage. As I discussed previously, staying together with your spouse is the best legal advice I could give you.
On the other hand, people who rate themselves at 8 or above are highly motivated. They want out of the house now, or they want their spouse to leave. The situation at home is highly volatile and stressful – they can’t continue to live in that environment with that person.
Divorce can be an opportunity
As we come to the end of another year, it is time to take stock in our lives and figure out what goals we want to set for the next 12 months. For many people this includes getting a divorce. If you fall into this camp, don’t despair. Divorce is not the end of the world. I was in the wedding of a friend of mine from law school a while back. A couple of years later, he called me up to tell me he was getting a divorce. I’ve since lost touch with this person, but just saw on Facebook that he was getting remarried. My guess is that he is much happier now than he was in his previous marriage.
Divorce can be a time to reinvent yourself. Oftentimes, a married couple morphs into one “person”. You may not be able to do things you want to do, or move to a place you want to move, because of your marriage. After a divorce or separation, you can become a new person and can do whatever you want.
I’m reading a book by Adam Grant right now called “Give and Take“. Although the book is appropriately targeted to people who are looking to get ahead in business, its principles can just as easily be translated to your personal life. Mr. Grant talks about three types of people – givers, takers and matchers.
Givers are people who are looking to help everyone they come into contact with, because they believe that by doing so everyone will benefit, including them. Takers are looking to gain something from everyone they come into contact with, for mostly selfish reasons. Matchers are looking to maintain an even balance between giving and taking.
What Mr. Grant found in writing this book is that givers and takers can both be successful in business. However, the things that takers do to become successful will catch up with them over time and their network will be less likely to help them once they become found out as takers.
If you are going through a divorce or separation, this book could be helpful to you. Try to discover what type of person you are and how this may impact both your personal and business lives. If you are a genuine giver, good for you. Try to reconnect with some of your lost or “dormant” connections. They will be happy to hear from you.
If you are more of a taker or a matcher, see if you can start to adopt the giver mentality. See what types of positive change you can impart into the lives of the people around you. Helping others is one of the best ways that you can not only help your self-esteem, but also make you feel better about (or even take your mind off of) the situation you are in.
Divorce doesn’t last forever
One last thing. Remember that divorce doesn’t last forever. A year or two from now, your divorce will be a distant bad memory. You will start to date again. You will make new friends. There are support groups out there for divorce that can help you get through this dark period.
Stay positive. Keep an upbeat attitude. Life will get better.
If you have been through a divorce or separation and would like to share a positive experience, please comment below. Also, if you live in the Triangle and have a support group to recommend, please post a comment below. Thank you!