Filing and Reconciling: The Divorce Decision
The decision to divorce is excruciating, and as we have seen recently with celebrities and supermodels, it’s not uncommon for couples to file and then reconcile. Supermodel Stephanie Seymour and publishing tycoon Peter Brant decided, after months of contentious court battles, accusations and millions of dollars in legal fees, to try and make their marriage work. They are not alone in the celebrity world of indecision with public figures like Larry King and Shawn Southwick who filed for divorce in April and halted the proceedings one month later.
So why the change of heart and mind when it comes to divorce? The decision to reconcile can stem from many things including financial strains, custody of children, and the finality of signing the papers. The pain and stress of going through a divorce sometimes brings couples back together, just as other life challenges can. While it’s never a good idea to throw around divorce as a threat, it does test the marriage to see how willing one or both partners are to get out of a marriage. Getting a divorce is one of the most important decisions that one can ever make, and it is essential to make it from a grounded, clear and honest place.
Hear are some issues that can get in the way of making a sound decision about whether or not to divorce:
Fear is at the core of most bad decisions. When we make choices in life based on fear, we are using the most primitive part of the human brain that was designed to help us respond to dangerous situations for survival purposes. Human beings are the only species with a more evolved part of the brain that allows us to assess, reflect, and consider a situation before acting on it. This is the part of the brain we actually want to be using when making decisions about whether or not to divorce. Slowing things down, not acting hastily, and talking with a professional will help you to achieve this goal.
Many divorcing couples base their decision to stay in a marriage on their children. While it is extremely important to consider the impact of the divorce on your children, it is helpful to not make them the determining factor. Children can easily be used as scapegoats to help parents avoid looking at all the options, even if those choices do not offer the most ideal consequences. There are many divorced households where the children actually do better, so staying together for the children is not always the only and best solution. Meeting with a divorce professional and reading up on the impact of divorce on children will help you to make an educated decision.
Staying in a marriage because you are afraid there is nothing better out there is an issue of low self-esteem. Not feeling worthy of something better leads people to stay in bad marriages at the expense of their own happiness. Working on building your self-esteem and being clear about your own value will help you to make a proper decision about staying or leaving. Feeling empowered and worthy is a valuable goal regardless of where you are in your life so use this opportunity for personal growth.
Black and White Thinking
Thinking in terms of right and wrong is the most obvious form of black and white thinking. It is easy to slip into a moralistic or righteous place during a divorce, particularly when you have been hurt, but it’s just a way of coping with the painful truth. Black and white thinking is very limiting and can lead to making a decision that is not founded on the whole truth. It is important to approach the decision to divorce with flexibility and an openness to all options. Staying in the gray, as opposed to rigidly clinging to the black or white, allows for a more efficient and genuine decision.
Anger, not unlike fear, is not the best state of mind to be in when making a decision about your marital situation. Anger is a defensive mechanism we use to gain control in a powerless situation, and it can cause us to make rash decisions that are not based on fact. If you respond to the circumstances of your marital conflict with anger as opposed to a calmness and clarity, you become blind to the possibility of potential solutions or answers. While the anger you feel may be justified and expected, it still does not serve you in dealing with this important decision.
Uncertainty breeds the tendency to cling to what we know. When it comes to the unpredictable future that is inherent in divorce, the first instinct is to hold on to the past because it’s familiar. The decision to stay or leave a marriage can be clouded by the unpredictable nature of your future without your partner, but the truth is that your future is unpredictable whether you are married or not. However, it is important to remember that the best predictor of the future is the past, so use your past experiences, successes, and failures to provide you with an accurate assessment of what you are capable of doing going forward. This will help you to make a choice that is founded on the realities of who you are.
Deciding to stay or leave a marriage can be torturous. Often the heart and mind are conflicting when it comes to marriage and divorce so it is normal to feel confused and uncertain about what to do. Consulting a divorce professional, becoming aware of what you are thinking and feeling, and taking the proper amount of time and space is integral to make the best possible decision for your future.
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