One of my universal truths is that all divorces are painful and the emotional process of dealing with the end of your marriage is often very long. Contrast that to the legal process. For some, it’s a quick and easy visit to the courthouse. For others, it involves months of wrangling and haggling over the details but when the divorce is final, it’s final. Done. Over. Then there are some for whom the legal arguing just keeps going and going and going long after the ink has dried on the final decree. That’s how it is for my current guest, Grace.
Grace was married for over nineteen years although she doesn’t count the last six or seven of those years which were marked with infidelity and betrayal. Her divorce was final in 2007 but they’re still fighting. Here’s Grace:
I’ve been in litigation for over five years, nonstop. Well, there may have been a week in there when there were no motions pending.
I hate it and it feels so unsettled. The way I deal with it is I keep my eye on the big picture, how good it’s going to feel to finally have it all behind me. Even during the divorce, you get up everyday and you just have to keep going, you can’t not. Now, it’s not as bad as what it was during the divorce, that was just pure misery. Now it’s more of this nagging…it’s like you’re standing in a chicken coop being pecked all day…it’s not going to kill you, but it’s just a pain and something you’ve got to deal with. I told somebody yesterday, on my tennis team, I think I’m in the third set, I’m just done with it, but then again, with this man, you never know what you’re going to get, so we’ll see.
About a year ago I moved from Atlanta to Florida. I waited until my middle child graduated from high school. I moved about two weeks after she graduated from high school and I told my son I loved him but I wouldn’t survive if I waited until he graduated.
The harassment was an ongoing thing, and I had to have something different to break that cycle. His parents lived down the street from me, he was close by and it was this attitude of, “We own you. Even though you’re not married anymore, we still can have a say in your life,” because of my children. My daughter would get in trouble, I’d take her car keys away, he would come back and hand them back to her and say, “Don’t listen to your mom, she’s just crazy,” that kind of stuff, all the time, and I finally just felt I was going to crack. In a sense, I did pack it all up and move away and leave.
I’m still very, very close to my children. My girls in college, I talk to them very often. My son, I talk to him every day and he’ll be staying with my next week for Spring Break.
All three of them said they didn’t want me to move. They wanted me to stay in the family home and save it for them, they didn’t want any change but then they all said, “Yeah, we know why you’re doing it and we understand.”
The Divorce Coach Says
Grace and I didn’t discuss why she is still in court with her ex – I suspect it may have to do with her blog which is silly because she doesn’t name him so although we know the character, we don’t know who it is actually. Anyway, the reason almost doesn’t matter because I think some people will find a reason to drag their ex back to court no matter what.
I think sometimes, such battles may be driven by a wish for vengeance and anger. Divorce Consultant, Deborah Moskovitch argues that harboring these emotions will stop you from moving on. She says forgiving your ex is key. From what Grace says though, this isn’t her ex. She said that her ex was was used to having people do what he wanted and that gives me a sense that he’s driven by the need for control.
If you have an ex like that then what is important, is how you deal with it emotionally. How do you stop your ex from controlling you? How can you compartmentalize that conflict so it doesn’t spill over into the rest of your life? In Grace’s case, she moved away to put distance between herself and her ex, creating a physical barrier and in the next post, Grace shares how that has helped even though it was painful leaving her son behind.
Moving away, certainly across state lines, isn’t feasible for many people especially if there are young children involved. So how else do you deal with a litigious ex? Do you constantly wonder if each little slip and fall of your child could result in a child custody battle? Who pays the legal fees in these situations?