Before Christmas, I wrote an article called “I Want a Divorce – Dropping the Christmas Bomb” which was then republished on Huffington Post. The purpose of that article was to provide a word of caution to rethink the timing of announcing to your spouse you wanted a divorce. It was intended to raise a warning flag to spouses considering divorce that to make such an announcement less than 30 days before Christmas will cost you both financially and emotionally.
Well, they have sequels in movies, so this is my “sequel,” “part 2,” or whatever you wish to call this blog. I call it “I Want a Divorce: 5 Tips to Act on Your New Year’s Resolution”. According to the Report of the Family Justice Working Group in Canada, January is the busiest month for launching a divorce or separation. The reason for this should not be a surprise.
If you followed my advice and held off telling your spouse before the holidays that you want a divorce, you likely cannot wait a minute longer after New Year’s to tell them. It is likely your number one New Year’s resolution.
If you had reservations before Christmas about ending your relationship, it is quite likely that being in close proximity with your spouse, in-laws, family, friends, and children over the two-week “break” has reaffirmed your inability to remain committed to the relationship. You see the New Year as the ideal time to make a new start.
So, why am I writing about your New Year’s resolution in February? You may not have told your spouse yet that you want a divorce. Or if you have, your resolution may have fizzled. The following tips address some of the reasons why you may need a jump start to your resolution.
5 Tips to Act on Your New Year’s Resolution
1. Do NOT Procrastinate
How would I procrastinate if it is my number-one New Year’s Resolution? Well, as much as you may have been gung ho before Christmas or in making it your number-one resolution like many of us who have made New Year’s resolutions – we lose steam. Ever made the “I want to lose weight” resolution? We are faced with the reality of the work we will have to do. Saying is not doing. You have to overcome the inertia that will plague you not just now but throughout your divorce process.
2. Checking the list twice
No, this is not Santa’s Naughty or Nice List. This is your Pros and Cons List for ending your relationship. If you have not already done this – do it now. Write it down. As a divorce coach, I tell my clients by writing down an exhaustive list, it does several things. First, it helps you make a more rational decision rather than a knee-jerk emotional decision to something said or done by your spouse. It is a way for you to be really honest with yourself and help you explore the underlying reasons for your decision and answers the all-important question: Can I go on like this? The answer, whatever it is, should be convincing to you and remove all doubt. Lastly, it will identify worries and fears that you will need to address in your plan for going through your divorce.
3. Do some research
It is beneficial if you can do some early reconnaissance. No, this is not an excuse to procrastinate as you can be in research mode forever. Refer to tip one above. There is an enormous amount of information available to you on the Internet. It will help you better understand the issues you will need to face in your divorce journey and, more importantly, questions you should ask of the professionals you need to engage to help you. CAUTION! There is so much out there, you can be overwhelmed. The intention is not for you to become an expert in divorce. Professionals take years to reach that status. The intention is get rid of the deer-in-the-headlights look.
4. Seek professional help
I am referring to third party, neutral help. Professionals trained in their field and who can assist in helping you have the preliminary conversation with your spouse about ending your relationship. Family, friends, and colleagues are wonderful for support. However, they are not neutral. If they have been through a divorce themselves, their experience may not have been positive and their advice may not be the best for your circumstances. As a divorce mediator and coach, I give the spouse who is initiating the divorce advice on how to have a conversation to inform their spouse of their desire to end the marriage. A professional can get you started or restart your process.
5. Tell your spouse
Human beings by nature avoid difficult situations or telling someone something they know will be hurtful or negative. I am going to repeat what I said in my earlier article. Take a deep breath and be honest with your spouse. It takes a lot of courage to be the one to say it is over. Now is the time.
Written by Mary Krauel, CPA, CA, EMBA, CDFA, owner and senior negotiator of PRM Mediation.