Once you’ve made up your mind to end your marriage, there can be a sense to urgency to move ahead with filing for divorce and physically separating especially. However, barring any pressing needs to protect yourself, the best action is to slow it down. Recognize that breaking up takes time and don’t allow yourself to be pressured.
That’s exactly what my current guest, Suzy did. Her and her husband were separated for two years before they divorced. That time was a period of healing for both of them. Here’s Suzy:
Since we were living in Asia and we were being moved back to the U.S., it made sense to split at that move. He went and bought a house in Washington D.C. without my permission, part of his, “Let me just try to create this great thing. I’m going to buy this really nice house so she won’t leave.” Poor guy, right?
He had bought this house in D.C. and sent me a text and said, “By the way, I bought a house.” He had created this scenario and I thought, “If I move in with him with the kids, how am I going to get out?” It’s just drama. So, I sat down with him and said, “I want to split. I want a divorce. This is what I want. How are we going to do this?”
He said, “You can’t have the kids. You can’t have the house. I get the kids and the house and you can move out.” It was just so negative. I know he regrets that.
Anyway, I went to Washington state for a month to be with my family and the girls came with me. He went to Washington D.C. and did the move. He basically handled the move. Then, I was supposed to follow.
I visited a psychic and after that I decided I wouldn’t follow him. So I called my husband and I said, “I’m not coming,” and he hung up on me.
We talked again a few days later and I said, “I need money to set up and I need a monthly allowance for four years, because I’m going to go back to school.” This was something the psychic had told me. She said, “You’ve got to get the money, because he’s got money stashed away and you take care of yourself. You need to do this. Stop enabling him..” And he did. He had $50,000 stashed away that I didn’t know about.
The psychic laid it out. It was so intense. Of course, I had no idea. There’s such a naïve part of me, which is why I got into this situation. I needed it to wake me up. I think that’s what divorce is, it’s a wake-up call and totally with me it was a wake-up call. So, I did. I asked him and I was shaking. I’ve never asked for anything like that before and he said, “OK.” That was it. He mailed me $10,000 and supported me through college.
I was getting to the idea of taking time, not rushing into divorce. It’s all big emotional stuff. His father passed away from cancer a month before we did this big move. I thought he was going around the bend. He was having nightmares. He was talking to himself all of the time. He was really getting depressed. I could tell this was having a huge impact on him and then, also me physically I lost 20-25 pounds, which is very stressful. So, I thought, “Let’s just take a break.”
I sat down with a lawyer and I said, “Can we hit pause? What can we do here?” and he came up with a legal separation. Not all states do that, but Washington State does. That meant I still had healthcare, but he wouldn’t be responsible for my debt for going back to school.
I think the separation helped both of us to recover. He ended up seeing a therapist. I never did, because I never felt like I needed that. I felt like what I needed, which was moving forward, I had in a life coach.
The Divorce Coach Says
As Suzy says, a legal separation may not be available where you live so it’s one of the questions to ask a divorce attorney during your initial consult. You’ll also want to understand exactly what a legal separation means for your situation, what protections it offers and if there are implications for a later divorce. If a legal separation is not available then you can still decide to have a period of separation before starting the legal divorce process but you will want to discuss with your STBX your expectations of each other during this period.
Many of the conversations around breaking up are hard and we have to brace ourselves to have them. When I need to psych myself up for a hard conversation, one of my tactics is to figure what’s the very worst that can happen by asking? If it’s just a, “no” then I have nothing to lose by asking and everything to gain. I’ve also found that some hard conversations are easier to have via the phone.
How do you prepare for a hard conversation?
P.S. Curious about the psychic … more on that tomorrow …