When I started Lori’s series with the post, Bipolar can break a marriage apart, I mentioned that Lori is a little different from most of the other ladies I’ve interviewed because she isn’t yet divorced. They’ve been separated for almost two years and neither of them have even filed for divorce. In this final post in Lori’s series, she shares her perspective:
Part of it is that I’m scared and I don’t know where a divorce would lead financially. I’m also concerned about the time this is going to take. I’ve just heard stories, I’ve never sat down with a lawyer.
My husband and I have talked about it. We’ve sat down and done the ugly, “Well, just get a lawyer,” or “It’s over anyway. Go ahead and you take care of it.” Neither one of us has done anything. I don’t know what my husband is waiting for, to be honest.
He doesn’t see the children, he doesn’t text them, he doesn’t call them, he doesn’t email them. There’s really nothing there. Yet, I’m scared of losing my children because I don’t understand how divorce works. I just couldn’t imagine being without my kids.
All of my children are enrolled in the Colorado Virtual Academy. It’s an online school so we school at home. I don’t want to give that up because we’re doing so well with it. I want to keep my kids at home. I can’t see myself going out to work for eight hours a day and then coming home and schooling and I can’t see leaving them at home by themselves.
I’m not sure if their dad supports the home-schooling. It just depends what day it is, what day of the week it is because he’ll say sometimes he loves the idea because I’m the best teacher and he loves the school and what it has to offer. Then other days, he’ll just say, “Give them back to the government. Put them in public school.” It really does depend on what day it is and that’s difficult not knowing.
Then there’s the financial part of it. He’s still supporting us but it’s hard not knowing because he has in the past not deposited paychecks. I have just started in Herbal Life as a distributor to help take care of finances and eventually, down the road become financially independent. I’m just trying to find something I can do at home. I think once I was feeling financially secure, this would be a whole lot easier.
Personally, I would find it difficult to be in Lori’s situation. I would find the uncertainty unsettling. I talked to Lori about at least trying to find out what her legal position is. Talking to a lawyer doesn’t force you to go ahead and file or to commit to anything but I do think it is important to know where you stand. When I went through my divorce, I had an hour’s no-charge consultation to begin with before committing to that attorney. That hour helped me understand what would be givens and what would be gray areas. I would caution about relying too much on what friends say – for one thing, divorce is governed by state law and so there’s much variation. Secondly, I’ve decided that people’s stories about their divorce are a little like women’s stories about childbirth – who had the quickest/slowest/scariest delivery – and it can be very intimidating listening to them.
I do think there’s value in being separated for some time before proceeding with the divorce. It gives both of you time to adjust emotionally and I do firmly believe that will increase your ability to look at all the issues from a “what is best for the children” perspective. It’s important to remember, the divorce may be the formal or legal end of your marriage but it is also laying the foundation for your co-parenting relationship and that’s a relationship that can go on for many years, possibly longer than your marriage.
I know that cost concerns are often a factor in involving attorneys – during our conversation Lori was wondering if she could get a divorce online. I used an attorney and would do again, if I had to do it all again. There are so many issues you don’t even think about and I liked having somebody covering my back. But the more you and your spouse can agree on, the more you will save in attorneys fees and avoiding going to court is a significant cost savings. I also liked the collaborative divorce that Kathleen Christensen talked about. It was effective in Kathleen’s case because she and her ex needed to talk in depth about so many issues and doing so made them both comfortable.
Through my divorce, I came to appreciate that these life events have a natural timing to them, there’s a natural pace that they move at and if you mess with that pace, you mess with the process and you mess with how smoothly it goes. This was a big lesson for me – I have never been the world’s most patient person – I’m much better now than I was. But I did have to learn to give my ex the time he needed to think about a specific topic and I learned I didn’t have to make decisions right away and I didn’t have to react right away.
Lori talks about being scared and I think divorce IS scary for most of us. It’s ‘out-there’ as this nasty thing that you don’t ever want to happen to you. Now as I look back, sure it was difficult but it wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it was going to be … just got to take it one step at a time.