Every divorce has different circumstances, but the emotional toll of the process is something that will be felt by everyone. This can lead to tempers flaring, angry outbursts, feeling lost, depression or any number of strong feelings that may cloud your ability to keep a level head throughout the long and arduous litigation. It is very important that you don’t let raw emotion lead you into doing something rash that may hurt your side in court, and here are a few things to remember about keeping your composure at the toughest of times.
Keep a Positive Outlook
A divorce is one the most stressful situations in a person’s life, and it can be very difficult to remain positive. Marriages require the mutual agreement of two people, but it only takes one to decide they want a divorce. This can be particularly hard if you were not the one to make this choice, and with all of the destructive stereotypes associated with divorce, it is easy to become bogged down in all of that negativity.
Maintaining an optimistic perspective may sound cliche, but it is key to getting through the process. It is important to remember that everyone has their faults and it is not singularly you or your spouse alone that caused the end of the marriage. Consider the divorce as a life lesson, not a synonym for failure, and know that it is possible to move forward with dignity and still find happiness.
Many feel like getting the divorce finalized as soon as possible, regardless of any long-term sacrifices they make in doing so, is the only way to move forward with their life. Samuel Sorensen, a divorce attorney from the Salt Lake City office, said this attitude can force people to lose sight of the future.
“I try to give the client a perspective on how they will think in five years or when they are remarried, and what they wish they would have done in their divorce,” Sorensen said. “I see many clients come in 5-15 years after their divorce and they are still paying alimony and did not get to see their kids as much as they wanted to. I try to relate those stories to my current clients. It helps them see beyond the current situation.”
Focusing on the new and exciting aspects of getting a fresh start to life instead of dwelling on the past is one of the hardest, but most important steps in seeing things through a positive light.
During the divorce proceedings, it will often feel easier to roll over and agree with whatever terms the opposing party is putting forward instead of getting in a bitter argument over details that aren’t in your favor. This attitude can lead to blindly signing unfair terms, purely to avoid confrontation. Jamie Kinkaid, a Cordell and Cordell Attorney based in Omaha, said he keeps a “blame me” policy open with his clients for everything that might lead to conflict.
“Many clients find it easier to simply agree and not ‘rock the boat,’” Kinkaid said. “For instance, if it came to alimony and the wife earns 10 times as much as the husband, but the husband really does not want to argue with the wife, he can ‘blame me’ in asking for alimony. He can ‘blame me’ for discovery. He can ‘blame me’ for doing my due diligence.”
Most attorneys will have no problem being the “bad guy,” particularly in the tougher aspects of the divorce, such as settlement negotiations. They are there to be an advocate for you and get the best arrangement possible, but they cannot do their job if you simply sign agreements to avoid hostility.
Meeting regularly with a professional therapist can be a very beneficial way to help regain confidence and find a positive direction, despite the common societal view held by men that opening up about your emotions is an embarrassing sign of weakness. However, that doesn’t stop some from unloading everything they are feeling during meetings with their lawyer. Sorensen said this is not inherently a bad thing, but it can be expensive and there are situations where he would suggest seeking professional help.
“Many times, I will just let them talk, because they just want someone to listen. I don’t mind being the sounding board for my clients and listening; although, it can get quite costly for them depending on how long they talk,” Sorensen said. “However, in some situations, when the client either continues to talk about the same issues over and over or I get concerned about some of the things they are saying [such as] violence against themselves or another, distorted views of reality, etc., I will strongly recommend that they utilize a counselor or therapist.”
While seeking a professional can be very beneficial for dealing with the stress and emotional toll of divorce, take into consideration that it can help or hurt your divorce proceedings depending on where you live. Therapists’ records are discoverable in some states, meaning they could be detrimental or embarrassing depending on what was discussed if they are brought up in court. Attorneys can also recommend seeking a professional counselor in situations where their client has been accused of emotional or psychological abuse to show the court they are working on the problem. Either way, it is probably best to ask your attorney’s advice before seeking out a therapist to ensure it doesn’t hurt your case.
Keeping cool during the divorce and maintaining an optimistic outlook is very important for getting through, and beyond, the proceedings. It may feel crushingly oppressive at times, but the world will continue to turn, there is still plenty to enjoy and much greater happiness to find. Keeping control of your emotions instead of giving in to reckless action will help you avoid unnecessary problems and have a better perspective after everything is over.
Mat Camp is a former Lexicon Services Online Editor, who focused on providing a comprehensive look into all aspects of the divorce experience. On MensDivorce.com, he concentrated on issues, such as parenting time, custodial rights, mediation, the division of assets, and so much more.
Mr. Camp used the wealth of experience of Cordell & Cordell attorneys to bring tangible answers to reader questions in Ask a Lawyer articles, as well as offer a step by step process through the divorce experience with Cordell & Cordell Co-Founder and Principal Partner Joseph E. Cordell in Divorce 101: A Guide for Men.
Mr. Camp used thorough research to highlight the challenging reality that those who go through divorce or child custody issues face. He helped foster the continued success of the Men’s Divorce Survival Guide, the Men’s Divorce Podcast, and the Men’s Divorce YouTube series “Attorney Bites.”