Asking for a divorce is one life event that triggers the entire colorful spectre of emotions. This emotion overload makes it imperative for the spouse who is about to ask for a divorce to take 10 deep breaths and count to 10 before going ahead.
If love is a many-splendored thing, divorce is a multiple loop of tangles that can choke both husband and wife physically, emotionally and financially.
Before asking for a divorce, you have to sit down and measure your feelings, anticipate the future, prepare some answers to questions, and decide what you’re prepared to settle for regarding division of property and assets, and visitation rights.
When your lawyer says “no problem, I’ll get you that divorce as soon as I can”, take that with a grain of salt. If he hasn’t met your spouse, then he doesn’t know what your spouse is capable of doing, no matter how many nasty divorce cases he’s handled. Chances are it won’t go like clockwork, especially when the spouse that’s being asked for a divorce isn’t expecting it.
Before Asking for a Divorce, Think About...
Think back to the day of your big wedding. Remember the hundreds of details that you had to take care of? Still have memories of the stress, confusion, mix-ups, delayed deliveries, the band backing out the last minute, the pastor being suddenly ill, and the guest list that kept expanding? Not to mention the invitations that had the wrong ribbon and the wrong telephone number on the RSVP card, the photographer who ran out of film just when the most important picture had to be taken, and the cake that had only three tiers instead of the six you originally ordered?
Planning a wedding is a lot of work. Planning for a divorce is just as much work, if not more. When you plan a wedding, there’s anticipation and excitement. When you plan for a divorce, there’s dread and lots of antacid.
Here’s a 10-point checklist to guide you before asking for a divorce:
Respect for your spouse – if you’re planning to ask for a divorce don’t talk about it even with your closest family and friends until you’ve spoken to your spouse about it. If your spouse finds out that everyone else knew, think about the hurt you’re inflicting because he or she was the last to know.
Consideration for your kids – after your spouse, your children should be the next ones to be told about the divorce. Decide with your spouse if you should break the news together or if one of you should do it. Think about all the questions they’re likely to ask (where will we live, do we have to change schools, who is going to our soccer game, what about our summer vacation, etc). They deserve that much.
Timing – the right time to ask for a divorce is not when it’s convenient for you. Choose a time when your spouse is feeling relaxed and receptive, and not when there’s an urgent office matter that has to be dealt with.
Stop the blame and accusations – if you’re asking for a divorce, that means you’ve decided to move forward. Don’t make the situation worse by hurling accusations at your spouse and making him/her believe that it’s not your fault. You’re better off setting aside any past resentment so you could have an intelligent discussion when the divorce actually happens.
Sending out feelers – if you’ve been unhappy for sometime, it isn’t fair if you don’t say so. Letting your spouse believe that the marriage is going well only to be told suddenly that you want a divorce is out of taste and...cruel. A spouse is not a mind-reader. Husband and wife get caught up in their own worlds and are not aware they’re hurting each other.
Write down your wishes - regarding joint property, joint accounts, the kids, and who’ll do the moving out. If you ask for a divorce, make sure you also ask for things you believe you’re entitled to. Sometimes the spouse asking for the divorce feels guity and tries to appease that guilt by renouncing everything. You will regret this. We’ll say it one more time. You will regret this. So take what’s yours and don’t be generous to a fault.
Forward planning – your decision to ask for a divorce signifies that you’ve made plans for the future – alone. Are you moving out of town? Where will you live if you both decide that you’re the one who has to move out, how will you break the news to your friends and family, and how much money will you need for the next 48 months. As for the children’s expenses, how will you divvy up the costs?
Find a good lawyer – talk to him about possible scenarios. This is one time in your life when you’ll need large doses of expertise. Be honest with your lawyer, don’t hide anything. If you’re asking for a divorce because you’ve fallen in love with someone else, say so. Don’t try to be sneaky about it by saying, “my spouse never appreciated my qualities as a homemaker.” Or “my wife spends too much money.” If you’ve found someone else, admit it. There’s nothing in the Constitution that says you’re not allowed to fall in love.
Friendship – emphasize to your spouse that his or her friendship is important, if only for the kids’ sake. Show your willigness to remain friends so you can settle post-divorce issues in an amicable manner . Behave like two mature, educated adults.
Love is lovelier the second time around – we don’t mean falling in love with another person. If you’ve found someone else that you love, good for you. But if you’re asking for a divorce because there are things that you can’t accept in the marriage but you’re still in love with your spouse, take 10 deep breaths and count to 10 before asking for a divorce like we said earlier. Maybe all you need is dialog. Maybe your spouse isn’t aware that the marriage needs a re-tooling. Maybe you’ve sent some signals that you’re not interested in your spouse anymore. Being physically together but separated emotionally is not exactly healthy for the marriage.
We’re waxing poetic again. We love these snippets of wisdom and have two to share about this thing called anger. The first one is from Aristotle:
“Anyone can become angry. That is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not easy.”
And from Ambrose Bierce: “Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.”