EPISODE 5: DIVORCE DON'T DO IT!
Divorce: Brief Dos and Don’ts List
BY JODY MILLER M.F.T. - www.jodymilllermft.com
Since most of the couples I see are hoping to resolve their issue I don’t experience or write much about divorce. When I do see a couple for separation mediation they are already deemed highly intelligent and incredibly emotionally mature…sophisticated. This is a badge of honor very few of us get to wear when we experience the tumultuous and chaotic period that manifests at a marriage’s end. However, it behooves you to know some of the basic dos and don’ts when you are rocking out if your ex or soon- to -be ex turns into the “enemy”. This is particularly pertinent when children are involved which, unfortunately, they usually are.
#1. Get a good attorney! The best you can afford will suffice. If resources are not fabulous (what else is new?) try to find some one starting a new practice or a junior partner fresh out of school. They are HUNGRY and will answer your calls and are anxious to prove themselves both to you and their boss. So do not be afraid of a newbie. If resources are nil try calling Legal Aid and asking for help.They are a pretty good non-profit outfit that usually can get you the attention you need.
#2 Sometimes things get really ugly and one needs to be prepared. If you are getting bullied or berated (especially in front of the kids) or if there has been any destruction of your personal belongings; ALWAYS have a video and audio device handy to record the activity….a simple smart phone will do. Recording will not only give you necessary records, it is a means of intimidation for the offending ex.
#3 Big Problem: Your ex tries turning the children against you. Please realize this is a projection of the hurt and pain and anger being experienced because no one really wants to hurt their kids in that way….so understand they are not thinking clearly. From that attitude try having a chat (or a therapy session) with your ex and remind him/her that this only hurts the kids. If that is impossible then you must sit down with your children and explain what I did above. Their mother/father is upset and does not mean to hurt them. Have an ‘open door” policy in that they can come to you anytime and tell you what has been said and then you may gracefully explain if there is any true meaning underneath the statements. If not, tell the kids it simply is not true…they understand a whole lot more then we give them credit for sometimes. And…never ever do this yourself. DO NOT undermine a child’s other parent no matter how angry you are or what they have said about you. It is your chance to rise above and set an example for humanitarian behavior (to yourself and your kids) which declares everyone on earth deserves to be treated with human dignity.
#4 Last, but not least. Your ex-spouse has a “dirty” attorney. Someone willing to undermine and snoop, digging up dirt you never even thought could pertain to a divorce…ultimately effecting emotional stability and financial resources. KEEP YOUR COOL!!! This is a time to really focus and not let that tidal wave rock your shore. Here is where you may need a little more support from a professional. At the very least, enlist some support from friends and family members (not kids of course) all with the assignment of empowering you to not come undone and fold. In the end…what comes around goes around and the scale will balance. Have faith in yourself and the universe (if you can’t have it in the legal system) and one way or another, justice will prevail!
Divorce is the hardest part of many marital journeys.Know that every hard thing that happens to us has the potential for expanded emotional growth and developed strength of character. Stay the course, don’t go down with the ship, remain humane and as compassionate as you possibly can and it will be ancient history in the near or not so distant future. In other words: This Too Shall Pass….
Jody Miller, M.F.T.
Individual, Couples & Family Therapist