"You are aware of what you have endured during the divorce process, but it does not define you."
Even before the divorce process has begun, your internal dialogue reflects the negative experiences you may be having. Any type of spats you may be having with your spouse can create a variety of voices that reflect the negativity in your household.
These voices can whisper anything from “You’re messing this all up” to “You don’t deserve to be treated this way,” and while they may share sentiments that vary depending on the person and the situation, the insecurity that they incite can decimate your self-esteem, shifting your focus away from you and your own well-being.
Struggling at home
You may feel that you are no longer welcome in your own home or in your own marriage and that these roles are privileges that you have to earn. That is the insecurity talking, caused by feelings of doubt and stress. The difficulties of your relationship can manifest all of these sentiments, leaving you feeling powerless or desperate to fix what is broken.
You may try. There are many who do whatever they can to fix their broken marriage, while neglecting their own wants and needs. While they cling to the hope of reconciliation and future happiness, they ignore what is broken and what may be right in front of their own eyes.
You may fight back, utilizing the emotions of the situation and standing your ground, hoping that your spouse may back down. You may be hoping that you can rebuild your relationship with your spouse from a position of strength; that they may be more inclined to approach your marriage in a different way after seeing you stand your ground.
Both of these outcomes neglect yourself and fail to acknowledge the difficult reality of the situation. There may be something unequivocally broken in your marriage. You may not see it, and you may not be alone in your obstructed view of the situation.
You and your spouse may forget the happiness that is supposed to be in a marriage. You may forget that your spouse is supposed to be your best friend, and you forget how you are supposed to be appreciated and cared for, just as much as you are supposed to appreciate and care for your spouse.
You start to see the marriage as an inaction, unaware of the benefits that are supposed to exist in it. You forget how important it is to spend time with one another, to laugh, to joke, and to have fun with one another.
These sentiments depict the dangers that can take place without the honesty to acknowledge that you are in an unhappy and dysfunctional relationship, and they exist, because you and your spouse are actively avoiding the reality that your marriage may be over.
The start of the process
Bringing up divorce to your spouse can be a scary thing, but the scarier thing would be to bring up divorce to your spouse before doing any sort of research on the vast topic. Before you pursue divorce, you need to be aware of what you need to do, in order to protect yourself in the future.
This can be difficult, because it may be the first time in a long time that you have prioritized yourself. You may have worked night and day on your marriage, to no avail, and it just has not worked. You need to be aware of what you are in for during the divorce process.
As a guy, that requires knowing the ins and outs of what the divorce process is like for you. That means partnering with an attorney that can guide you through the experience and represent your interests.
If you are in an especially vulnerable place, this may be harder to grasp, because you may not have had someone thinking of your needs in a while, but partnering with a law firm, like Cordell & Cordell, that focuses on the needs of men going through the challenges of the divorce experience, is a smart way of protecting your future.
Once the topic is approached, there is no turning back. It can be difficult to gain any sort of semblance of anything that once was, but if you were in a marriage without any sort of amicability, nothing is lost in the situation.
The family home
The challenges begin when you face the demand of someone asking you to leave the family home. Neglect that demand.
According to Principal Partner and Co-Founder of Cordell & Cordell Joseph E. Cordell, leaving the marital home “voluntarily” gives your spouse’s attorney the opportunity to label you as abandoning the family. This can be damaging to your case and give your spouse the leg up during the divorce process.
In his book, “The 10 Stupidest Mistakes Men Make When Facing Divorce,” Mr. Cordell talks about how leaving the house hurts your odds of gaining equal time with your children, if you have them. In addition, you may lose some of your valuable belongings.
Mr. Cordell talks about the false perception that many men have, regarding the necessity of them moving out in order to appease their soon-to-be ex-wives.
“I think some men see the family home as a place where they can live as long as their wives agree,” Mr. Cordell wrote. “For whatever reason, men want to do the presumed right thing – even when their marriages are collapsing and the world is crashing down around them.”
If you already have taken the step and moved out of the family home, there still is time to move back into the house, in order to prevent the perception of abandoning the family dynamic.
“We tell men who have moved out: ‘Nothing has been filed yet? Move back in. Right now. As soon as possible. The less time you have been gone, the better,’” Mr. Cordell wrote. “The less time you’re away, the less opportunity she has to claim you don’t care about the kids or the home.”
While it may appear that the issue regarding living in or moving out of the family home is an issue focused on combatting your soon-to-be ex-wife and her possible claims, it actually is one focused on you and your future.
Chances are, you are not actively being forced out of the house by any sort of authority figure, so you have the opportunity to write your own narrative and dictate how you want your story to be told in the divorce process. This level of control will give you a better leg to stand on in your legal battle.
Assets and custody
When it comes to dividing marital assets, it will depend on what state you might be in. If it is Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, or Washington, it is a community property state (If you are in Alaska, divorcing couples can opt to go by community property instead of equitable distribution.). This means that both parties are assumed to equally share all income, property, and debts accumulated during the course of the marriage.
If it is any other state, they are in an equitable distribution state, which means assets are not necessarily divided down the middle and courts look at a variety of factors in determining the division of all marital property.
Understanding these differences and how the state you live in can impact your case will help modify your expectations and give you a more realistic outlook of whom is entitled to what during the divorce process.
Once all of the property is divided, either through mediation or through court proceedings, and alimony is determined, the divorce decree can be signed. If you have children with your spouse, you will have to iron out the child custody agreement and determine what type of situation you and your ex-spouse would employ in the best interests of your shared children.
Focusing on yourself, the future
After child custody and child support are ironed out (if you have children) and the divorce decree is finalized, you are free to focus on yourself and your future. You are given the opportunity to see the world through your own lens and are not bound by the negativity of the past.
There is an inclination after the divorce is finalized to become cynical, and given what needs to occur in a marriage to incite a divorce, as well as how difficult the divorce experience is, it is no wonder that the prospect of moving on or finding someone new may be uninteresting.
However, this moment in your life is a new start. It is a chance to explore your identity outside of the confines of your marriage. You get to be your own person, and you get to decide who that person is going to be. If you decide that the person you are going to be is cynical, then that is on you, and if you decide that the person you are going to be is going to embrace this opportunity, then that is on you too.
You no longer have to worry about the challenges that a new day in your marriage may bring. While many may require seeking the services of mental health professionals that can help provide the clarity that they need, others may simply look to throw themselves into new endeavors, simply because they can.
You can explore any of these options, because you no longer have to worry about the difficulties you may face at home. Your work productivity may increase. You may sleep better. The health risks that you may have experienced during the marital discord and divorce experience may have subsided.
You now have the opportunity of going out and being social. You can date freely and pursue a better relationship than the one that you ended. You can find someone that makes you happy and appreciates the benefits of being in a relationship. If you run into someone who thinks being divorced is a deal-breaker, then find someone else. You no longer have to accept that level of judgment.
You can surround yourself with a support system of friends, and while many of the faces may have changed after the divorce experience, you still have people in your life willing to be there for you during an incredibly challenging situation.
There also is no pressure, regarding talking about what you went through during the divorce. If you want to discuss it with your friends, they will hopefully be accommodating and supportive. If you do not, they will not pressure you to do so.
You get to dictate your next step, as you pursue a new life for yourself. You are aware of what you have endured during the divorce process, but it does not define you. You have quieted the voices of uncertainty, insecurity, and doubt and can focus on the promise of the future.
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.