Divorce isn’t an easy process, no matter who you are. If you’re feeling anxious and depressed and overwhelmed and emotional, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s totally normal to be feeling any one or some combination of all of those feelings. Divorce involves tremendous changes that are difficult (and even traumatic) for people to handle.
When you think about all the things that a marriage combines – a house, retirement accounts, investments, children, debt, insurance – it’s a little disorienting to think about dividing all those things up. Separating the homes, the utilities, the credit cards, the health insurance policies, the cell phone plans… Well, let’s just say, it’s a lot to consider, and it leaves a lot of uncertainty.
Couple that with custody, and you’ve got a real recipe for drama. I don’t mean that in a bad way, either. It’s normal. If you weren’t feeling like it’s a huge transition and a earth shattering change, I’d be confused.
Where can I get help dealing with the emotional side of divorce?
It’s such a good question! Everyone thinks to hire a divorce attorney; very few people actually think about what they need to do to help them weather the transition in as healthy a way as possible.
I think it all comes down to, when your body is in fight or flight mode, it’s too much to think about the bigger picture. When you consider, for example, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you’ve got to meet those basic needs – for food, shelter, love – before you move on to intellectual or existential issues. Your mental health is probably taking a backseat to your need to know where you’re going and what’s going to happen to you and your children throughout this process. (If you’re not familiar with Maslow, you can read more here.)
You might be surprised (or maybe not, I don’t know) to know that much of what a divorce attorney winds up counseling her client on relates to her emotional, rather than her legal, needs. And an attorney isn’t necessarily equipped to handle those emotional issues. After all, we’re trained to apply be unemotional. We’re trained to look solely at the law, and the issues raised under it. We’re trained to issue spot and solve problems, but not so much to hand hold and help a client deal effectively with the trauma they’re experiencing.
We try! My goodness, we try. But there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes than we can really deal with (and, of course, we don’t take insurance), and there are large fees involved with working with an attorney.
We usually counsel our clients to meet with a therapist, if at all possible, to help deal with the issues relating to the divorce. It may seem less important than your need to figure out where you’re going to actually live, and whether you’ll have to subsist on cat food because you can’t afford your groceries (you won’t) – but it isn’t. Being able to deal with the challenges coming your way, and do it in a way that puts both your and your children’s mental health at the forefront, is hugely important. So important, in fact, that we recommend it in almost every single case.
Am I crazy? Is that why you’re telling me to talk to a therapist?
You’re NOT crazy. You’re dealing with very real, very important issues. It’s only natural that you’re feeling frantic. But you owe it to yourself (and your children) to take steps to put yourself in as strong a position as possible.
Still, many women resist the idea of involving a therapist in their case. Whether they’re worried about being thought crazy, or whether they don’t place much value in sitting down and talking about their feelings with someone, I’ve heard pretty much every objection there is.
I get it. I really do. I would probably resist it, too. I like to think I’m strong minded enough to weather any transition, and I’m always afraid to show weakness. I can admit that about myself. So, if you’re feeling like therapy just isn’t for you, you’re not alone.
And, in fact, I have an alternative for you.
Using a divorce coach in your Virginia divorce
Divorce coaches are, in a word, awesome.
Instead of providing you with therapy, a divorce coach helps you deal with the stresses particularly related to your divorce. They have experience with the process, particularly with litigated and collaborative divorces, and can help put you in a strong mental position to help deal with the challenges associated with your divorce.
For many women, just the idea of facing their husband in court is overwhelming and stressful. A divorce coach can help prepare you for that experience, which will make you better prepared to handle it successfully.
I talked to a divorce coach the other day who told me about a case in another state where there was a settlement offer on the table of over ten million. The wife walked away from an amazing offer over something really trivial. He said that emotionally, she just wasn’t ready. She kept repeating that it wasn’t the money, it was “the principle”, even though she wasn’t able to articulate what the principle was, exactly.
That’s one of my worst nightmares. A client gets an amazing offer – and, for whatever reason, she can’t convince herself to take it. I understand that the principle DOES matter, but it doesn’t matter to the extent that you’d harm your financial future in order to argue over principle. The best situation you can be in when you’re facing divorce is one where you’re calm, collected, and able to objectively analyze the situation, so that you’re prepared to take an offer or make a decision that will be in your long term best interests.
For a lot of women, it’s hard to do that without having your emotional needs met. A divorce coach can help you handle these issues so that you can face your divorce successfully. It can ultimately help you save money on your legal fees (because then you just use your divorce attorney for what a divorce attorney should be used for – namely, giving you legal advice about your divorce), and help you overcome some of the more difficult challenges posed by divorce.
Another positive? You can bet your husband likely won’t have a divorce coach. (I haven’t had any cases where a husband used a coach, and the only ones I’ve heard of are in collaborative cases where both the husband and the wife use a coach.) Honestly? I think it gives you a leg up, especially if your case is litigated. He’ll show his feelings in the way he deals with you at settlement conferences and at trial, and that can be bad for his case – especially if he deals with his feelings in a visible way – scowling at you, being insulting or condescending, banging his fist on counsel table, etc. It can make him look unbalanced, especially if you, on the other side, are cool and collected.
Divorce coaches are a really great option. If you’re serious about being successful in your divorce, it’s definitely worth looking into.
For more information about divorce coaches, or to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys, give our office a call at 757-425-5200.