Have you ever noticed that change excites some people and terrifies others? This is something that can be attributed to both our inherent personalities and our personal experiences. The human brain is surprisingly elastic and, as a result, if we’ve typically experienced change in a negative way, we’re significantly less likely to view it positively and vice versa. We’re all capable of feeling anxious, though; any one of us can become worried about the future and how our decisions will affect it, particularly when a major change, like the end of a marriage, is afoot. As normal as it is for a divorce to cause these negative feelings, though, my experience has taught me that they can be placated by asking yourself three simple questions:
1. Did you think your divorce through?
I’ve worked with divorcing couples for more than a decade now and I can confidently say that I can count on one hand the number of people that didn’t painstakingly consider their decision to end their marriages. Often, the couple will have attended counselling and/or therapy, engaged in multiple compromises, separated for trial periods and more. More often than not, when a couple decide to divorce, they’re making the right decision and, if a
couple can say that they’ve genuinely made an effort to try and save their marriage, they’re almost certainly doing the right thing.
2. How much will things change?
Surviving on one income; finding a new place to live; creating and adjusting shared-parenting plans – divorce can certainly have a substantial impact on how you live your life but, if you think about it, these changes are probably already in effect. When they get around to filing for a divorce, spouses have normally been living separate lives for several months if not years. This means that the relevant changes have already taken place, that those affected have adapted and are, more than likely, doing just fine. Such concerns nigh-on always stem from change-induced anxiety so taking a moment to think about how life has changed since separation is certain to allay them.
3. Can you put your differences to the side?
We’ve mentioned children before and, yes, you’re going to need to be flexible with your former
spouse if you’re both responsible for children. This often causes anxiety because people fear that their former partners will be unreasonable. This is understandable; people are frequently unreasonable, particularly when the matter at hand is emotive and, sadly, separated parents often fall out. Trust me, though, it’s not as bad as you think. These fallings out are usually minor and, provided you can recognise this, forgive your former spouse and move on, you’ll be absolutely fine. Remember, you’re both going to want what’s best for your children so you’ll have all the motivation you’ll need to make things work.
Even when couples have been living apart for some time, divorce can still be scary. We’re designed to find change, particularly big changes, stressful. This stems from a time when major alterations to our surroundings and arrangements often placed us in peril but, with this no longer being the case, anxiety can be tackled with rational thinking – and asking yourself the three questions above is a great place to start.
Jay Williams works as a case manager at Quickie Divorce, one of the largest providers of uncontested divorce solutions in England and Wales. He lives in Cardiff, Wales, with his wife and two-year- old daughter Eirys.