So, I don’t write much about my experience in divorce because I try and keep the focus on you but after a recent radio interview with Amanda LaPlante– an integrative nutrition health coach and talk show host- on anxiety, I guess I will open up and share. Part of our conversation on the local station 92.9 FM included some questions about how I ended up being a therapist. Getting a divorce wasn’t a part of that decision, but our conversation made me think that sharing some of my personal experiences may do my readers some good.
The rule of thumb for therapists is to share when we feel like it will be useful and healing for clients.
Well, there is a lot to learn from my decisions during divorce. I was a masters level educated person at that point, but stay at home wife/mother of 12 years.
I knew nothing and certainly made a lot of mistakes I hope you don’t make… I guess I did some things right too.
I was your traditional stay at home wife and I was young on top of it. My mom gave me the best advice as a young woman:
“Educate yourself because no one can take that away from you.”
Thank god she gave me that advice because it is that one single piece of advice that saved me post divorce. When I divorced in 2014 all I had was my education and a settlement. That’s it.
Why didn’t I go for half of the assets?
Well, I didn’t want to fight and I didn’t see “the assets” as mine (that’s a personal problem). My parents had a ugly divorce and I wasn’t about to do that to my kids… and also- Pride. I was sick and tired of being told:
“You are so well taken care of.”
“Oh-he does so much.”
What did people think? That I was sitting at home drinking martinis and Jazzercising? I was running a household in all of it’s glory… Okay, okay, I was teaching Zumba too!
My pride blinded me from what I needed to do- Get serious about my future…
I knew nothing about our finances besides we had some… finances… and that I never had to worry about paying the credit card off.
I come from a charmed background and was dense enough to just think life would continue that way- why wouldn’t it?
To this day, I still have no idea how much we made monthly… he made monthly- or where the 10 grand came from here or there that appeared in my account from time to time. Now that I am a business owner and have some life experience of my own, I can surmise what he made but that is very different from knowing and a far cry from understanding anything about how the money worked.
Not understanding the finances was my biggest mistake. Not understanding them in the present or what it meant for my future as a single person on my own.
This is what I did:
I took that pride I was just talking about and I took a settlement- enough to buy a small, but nice house in cash and I took a hike. Oh- yeah, and $1,200 in child support for 2 kids per month.
To be honest, thank god, again, that my ex wasn’t out to get me because on the surface this is a pretty good situation. The deeper issue is that I had no idea what to do with the lump sum I got or what my future looked like.
There was NO PLAN of any kind besides- find work, and yesterday.
At this point I STILL had no job and never had worked for anyone other than family my whole life. I was 30- just turned.
However, my approach did keep the peace. Looking back, I could have kept the peace in a similar way, ran with my pride but having a freaking plan would have saved me about 20 grand to date- or more- who knows, I sure don’t because I didn’t know who to turn to. If I would have known someone like Nicole Davis, my close friend ( I hope she doesn’t mind me saying so) and also financial guru, I would have had a plan and a vision for my future. I know Nicole and I would have a graph of my past present and future- leaving not much to chance.
If you have kids, keeping the peace is very important.
Major conflict in divorce is a sure fire way to have confused, depressed kids that grow up to be confused, anxious adults. High conflict is damaging to say the least.
You don’t have to “lawyer up” or rip each other’s heads off to have a great plan and future after divorce.
Even if you happen to be the spouse who would love to rip the proverbial head off your soon to be ex, remember that the ensuing drama will cause you as much pain as it will them. Go talk to a therapist like me- you will feel better. That need to inflict pain is coming from a place of pain.
I am thankful that creating a bunch of unnecessary strife after my divorce was one mistake I didn’t make. The kids did not have to endure constant arguing or be pitted against their dad for my benefit. That is a blessing they don’t even know they have that I have been glad to give.
Remember, planning can be done in a peaceful way, with a neutral financial professional.
Your attorney has an agenda, to advocate for you, of course, but their guidance can feel a bit tainted with what “should” happen or what “the law” says.
Sometimes you may reach out for help and come across someone that feels like a neutral but if they are working for sales and commissions they are NOT neutral. Useful -when it comes to buying life insurance or whatever else, but they have a quota to meet. When someone has a quota, neutrality goes out the window.
Find someone to help you that has no sales quota to meet. The professional you will need will be strictly a consultant with NO products to sell.
So who do you need in your back pocket?
Attorney (preferably one that is trained in mediation and collaborative)
Possibly a Divorce Mediator (there are several ways to divorce)
So the best of luck to you. My biggest mistake was not getting help and knowing what I did not know. I said “okay” to everything without any understanding of what it meant.
If you need help or a referral feel free to contact me. I have added some links in this article to help! Nicole and I will be offering a webinar on this very subject that goes into more detail in the near future- stay posted!
If you are already divorced, that’s okay- It is never to late to make a plan for your future.
Other Blogs on Divorce: