I was married 23 years, and I truly believe I did everything possible to keep my family together. After all, isn’t that what we are supposed to do?
Somewhere in my heart and gut, I always knew the marriage was never going to last, but for the sake of my children, I marched on. I read every book and article on communicating effectively with my spouse. I made excuses for my ex and his bad behavior to everyone he treated poorly.
“Is this going to be my life – the rest of my life?” I wondered. Every year I thought about divorce, but I always hoped things would change.
We went for marriage counseling on a number of occasions, but to no avail. After years of horrible misdeeds and broken trusts, my marriage was starting to take a toll on my strength and health. I thought about my vows: “Till Death Do Us Part,” and knew the marriage was killing me.
It was then I knew that I had a decision to make. Divorce was the only way out. I had to create a marriage exit plan.
Now the questions begin and reality set in as I was no longer in limbo but in action.
- How am I going to plan for a life after divorce?
- How do I get out of our business?
- How do I regain my confidence and self-esteem?
- How and when do we tell our daughters?
- How do I determine child support and will it last (as he was married before with children and I watched the games he played)?
- How do we divide the assets and liabilities?
- And what about all the emotions?
So many questions I had to answer. But this was my journey in life, and so I had to begin to execute marriage exit plan.
My Marriage Exit Plan: 5 Lessons I Learned
1. Check Your Credit Report
Surprises can be abundant and this is the time to make any and all corrections. If you do not have a credit card in your own name (not a supplemental), this is the time to apply.
2. Gather All Your Documents
- 3 years federal personal and business tax returns, all pages
- 1 years checking, savings, brokerage, retirement account statements, all pages
- All current credit card, car loan, personal loan, mortgage statements
- All insurance policies: health, life, car, home, auto
- All legal documents such as wills, living trusts, power of attorney (your beneficiary will have to be changed post-divorce)
- Take photos of jewelry, art, furniture, anything of sentimental or monetary value.
3. Think About Your How You Will Make Money
Start to seriously look into upgrading your education or job training if you have been a stay at home spouse or have owned a business together. Remember, that if there are children or you are a product of “Gray Divorce”, most times extra money will be needed to keep up your current lifestyle.
4. Get Legal Advice
Meet with 3-4 attorneys prior to your divorce. Many attorneys offer free consultations. Know where you stand legally. Make sure the attorneys you meet with explain to you the different paths you can take to obtain your divorce. You will also have a better feel for the attorney you are ready to hire when the time comes.
5. Get Help
Begin meeting with a therapist and a divorce coach.
Therapy is needed to work on the wounds, figuring out the why’s and the overall emotional impact of your divorce. Therapy is usually a long process. Divorce coaches are your professional best friends. They are trained in moving you out of the emotion of divorce and into the business of divorce. Divorce coaching is future-focused and saves you time and money.
It took over one year of planning and preparation, of course, hoping and praying I wouldn’t really have to pull the plug. But that was wishful thinking – and then the worst happened, which made me find the courage to ask for a divorce. I don’t think I could have done this without being prepared.
I created my marriage exit plan and divorced in in 1999, and I have since re-married. I have been happily and blissfully married for 18 years to the love of my life, my soul mate, my partner, my best friend. You see, while I choose to help people through divorce, it isn’t because I believe that marriage is bad. I believe in not staying in the wrong marriage but being in the right marriage. I believe in finding your best self again, being passionate, curious, and wanting to give and receive love. And that’s when the magic begins.