As a family law attorney, I run into people, clients and non-clients alike, who hold views on divorce and child custody cases that are sometimes so off from what the reality of the situation is that I need to take a step back and consider how should I approach the person that I am talking to. The scenario usually breaks down as follows: the person I am speaking to tells me some off-the-wall experience that a friend’s cousin’s brother experienced in their divorce, and it has the person I’m talking to all shook up. A bad experience with an attorney or judge or a crazy ex-spouse has led this person to believe that every divorce is hell on earth and that all attorneys are corrupt and money-hungry. As a person who tries to preach sanity and rational thought as much as possible, I have my work cut out for me in this situation.
I will usually take a breath and attempt to address every point raised by the person. I’ll go through what a typical divorce looks like and discuss an attorney’s role in the case. With any luck, the person will have calmed down enough to begin to admit that they have never been through a divorce but are just relaying to me what was told to them. Regardless, I can tell from these conversations that there is a certain degree of mythology surrounding divorces in our society. If you are in a position where you believe that you need to file for a divorce hearing, a story like the one I described above may be enough to cause you to postpone the divorce- to the detriment of you and your children.
It’s normal to have apprehension about divorce.
Let me start this blog post by stating that there is nothing wrong with feeling anxiety or unease about a divorce. If the divorce were a wholly pleasant and positive experience, people would be lining up to get a divorce. That is not the case, nor should it be. The fact is that divorce is unpleasant and challenging, no matter the circumstances. If you don’t have mixed feelings about terminating the relationship that has defined your adult life, you probably need to take a long look at yourself in the mirror to see if something may be the matter with you.
Having a reasonable apprehension about divorce is different than having an outright fear of divorce. Fear is false evidence (or the lack of evidence altogether) that appears to be accurate. You can take these “worst-case” scenarios and build them up in your mind as a likely outcome or as something to watch out for and plan for. Your fears rarely, if ever come true because the evidence in your mind that supports the fears are either wholly not there or are so insignificant as to be falsely leading you to conclude that our divorce will be the worst experience possible.
If you are not careful, you can hear and take in a lot of outright lies that people tell about divorce. At the very least, when you hear others talk about divorce that has only heard stories, your fears can cause you to take those stories and apply them to your very much real life and the circumstances that you have before you. Thoughts that your children will never forgive you for divorcing their other parent. Thoughts that no person will ever want to be in a relationship with a divorced person. Or that you will not be capable of loving another person like you loved your spouse. These are the fears that our subconscious uses to paralyze us into indecision.
You do not have to embrace these fears, however. There are alternate ways to approach divorce, and that is what I would like to spend today’s blog post discussing.
Permit yourself to feel the way you do- but be reasonable with your expectations.
I cannot tell you that you should give yourself a firm slap on your face with a command to snap out of it and focus on reality. The fear that you may be feeling about a potential divorce needs to be examined if you are going to overcome those fears. Start by considering how you have every right to feel however you do and that your feelings are legitimate. From there, you should examine each fear and analyze if that fear is a legitimate concern in reality. As we’ve previously discussed, no fear is legitimate because it is made up of false evidence. Talk to a trusted friend or therapist about these feelings and fear if you need to. In my experience, the fears will melt away once you take the time to examine them rather than merely considering them in your mind without actually approaching them analytically.
Why exactly are you concerned that your children will never forgive you for initiating this divorce? What about your fear that you will never be able to date or be in a relationship again after your divorce? Your fears may have legitimate sources of concern that you need to address before beginning your case. Maybe you are ashamed that your marriage has failed, and as a result, you feel like you will need to hold your divorce as a secret. This secret won’t allow you to be an unburdened parent or romantic partner, and your fears are derived from that shame. I can’t speak for you, but this is the sort of analysis that could be very helpful.
Consider the truth of your feelings and fears.
Please do your best to be objective about your fears to determine how much time you need to examine them. Is there any shred of truth to your fears? How sure of that are you? What reactions do you have to the thoughts that are bothering you? Finally, ask yourself what position you would be in if you were not experiencing these thoughts. Does thinking that specific thought does anything positive for you? For your children? If not, it is probably something you need to work on discarding or at the very least pushing into the periphery of your mind.
Divorce is tough, but your false beliefs can make it even more challenging.
If you are considering a divorce from your spouse, you have likely already overcome several obstacles to get to this point. So much of our identity is tied up in our family and the relationships we share with our family members. Your spouse is the foremost person in your family that you have a relationship with, so it should come as no surprise that in many instances, we will attempt to hang on to that relationship as long as possible- sometimes past the point where it is healthy for us.
The bottom line is that if you are to overcome your fears and move forward in life, you need to examine the source of your thoughts and determine if those fears and doubts are based on fact or if they are a creation of your inner self-doubt. Permit yourself to feel the way you do but do not let your fears hold you back. Again, those fears are likely based on false evidence and not reality. Once you come to grips with this, you will be better off and begin making the kind of decisions that will benefit you and your family.
Questions about divorce and family law? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
If you have any questions about divorce or are simply wondering if you are making the right decision to consider a divorce, please contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. Our licensed family law attorneys would be honored to meet with you in a free-of-charge consultation to address your questions. We represent clients across southeast Texas and are eager to do the same for you and your family.