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The top 10 emotional whammies of divorce

One divorce is really four


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Divorce can be a shattering experience. It knocks your socks off even when it is best to end the marriage. When you go through a divorce, you really go through four divorces: emotional, parental; financial and legal. While you must be educated about all four aspects of divorce, I am going to focus on the 10 emotional factors that must be considered.

1) A divorce is similar to a death.  And it is a death. It is the death of a relationship; it is a death of the dream, of an idealization for the future. As such, one goes through the grief process, with emotions including, denial shock, anger, and, hopefully, resolution.

2) Divorce, especially if there are children, can be more stressful than the death of a loved one because the other parent is still alive. So, you are called upon both to grieve and to find a place for the living person.

3)  Emotionally, you must develop a "hands-off" or “keep-a-distance” style of communication.

4) There will be many emotional ups and downs. Each person is often preoccupied, resentful, and accident prone. You have to keep your health in mind (a glass of chardonnay, rather than a bottle).

5) Especially at the holidays, ignore those Hallmark-style cards, films, and other commercial items where ‘every family is a happy family.’

6) While you might feel broken at times and relieved at other times, be patient with yourself. It takes time to emotionally resolve the process. A good therapist or support group is very helpful.

7) Don't try to figure everything out at once. Financially, you need to identify, value, and divide what is marital and what is separate property.  You need to do the same with emotions.  If you are proceeding to file for divorce, you have identified your needs.  But the emotional actuality has to catch up.  One person is usually emotionally ahead of the other.  Sometimes, one person has left the marriage emotionally for a long time. This is not so eloquently called the "dumpor" and "dumpee" mentality. Recognize where you are emotionally.

8) Try not to let emotions drive your actions. If you have children, you have probably stayed in the marriage in an attempt to put their best interests first. Try to keep this is mind, rather than the denial, hurt, anger, and disappointment when drafting a parenting plan.

9) Avoid toxic relationships. Some family members and friends will be very helpful and others will not be available to you. Pick and choose those around you who are being emotionally present.

10) Honor your emotional needs, but don't let them drive your important decisions.  Listen to professionals around you.  Some persons cannot afford an attorney. But, if you can afford to hire at attorney, it is usually very helpful. Choose your attorney carefully and make sure that he/she is tuned in to you as a person. That includes your "higher" and "lower" self.  You want to surround yourself with professionals and friends whom you can trust and who have your best interests at heart.

 

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Sheila Gutterman

Shelia Gutterman is co-founder and senior counsel of Gutterman Griffiths PC located in Littleton. Ms. Gutterman is a nationally recognized leader in educating legal and nonlegal communities about the options for resolving family crises. In her practice, she strategizes with clients as to which process, alternative dispute resolution or litigation, best achieves the goals of the client. She can be reached at sheila@ggfamilylaw.com or 303-858-8090.

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