Are you in a difficult marriage, but afraid to get out? Feeling depressed and unhappy, but too frightened to see a collaborative attorney? Do you worry about being alone and broke after the divorce? You’re not alone–everyone feels anxious when they think about getting a divorce. However, if you want to get out of a difficult marriage, you must deal with your fears so you can fix your life.
Fear of The Future
All of us fear uncertainty. You naturally wonder what life will be like after a divorce. A big fear for people contemplating divorce is not knowing what will happen. Most people worry about where to live, how to pay the bills, and whether they will be alone for the rest of their life. However, no one knows what will happen in the future and change isn’t always bad. Getting out of a dysfunctional marriage will improve your life. To overcome your fear, recognize that you can’t know what will happen next, whether you get a divorce or stay married. You must accept the fact that everyone lives with uncertainty and become confident enough to deal with your fears.
Fear of Being Poor
Everyone worries about having enough money after a divorce. The solution is to focus on your assets and income and be realistic about your port-divorce needs. First, calculate the value of the community assets you will have after the divorce. Then, think about which ones you will need. You may want the brokerage account rather than your pension if you need to pay bills after the divorce, because there are penalties for withdrawing pension funds. If you already have a job, that’s great. If not, start looking for one. Once you know the value of the assets you will have after the divorce, and the amount of your monthly income, develop a budget and begin to master your fear of being poor. With a little advance planning, you will be fine.
Fear of Being Alone
The fear of being alone is caused by our need to avoid abandonment. As a child, we had a caretaker who generally kept us safe and secure. It’s reasonable to be dependent when you’re three, but as an adult, you need to take responsibility for yourself. If you fear being abandoned, you have likely transferred your childhood dependency to your spouse and that’s not a good foundation for a healthy marriage. You need to assume responsibility for your own happiness and not remain dependent on others.
Fear for Your Children
Divorce is stressful for kids. However, most children are fine a year or two after the divorce is finished. In fact, children in high-conflict families are better off after divorce, because their parents aren’t fighting all the time. Most children are adaptable, so divorce has few lasting consequences for them. To minimize problems, parents should avoid fighting in front of their children, maintain a loving relationship with them during and after the divorce, and help each child understand their feelings about the divorce.
Fear of Emotional Pain
Divorce causes shock, depression, fear, and anger. These feelings are experienced by everyone who suffers a serious loss. The first painful feelings are often shock and denial. As denial disappears, we may mask our grief with anger. Next come thoughts of what we can do to prevent the divorce. Following the bargaining stage, many people become depressed or angry again. After a year or so, the sense of loss diminishes and most people come to terms with their grief and pain. Grieving is a personal process and there is no “right” way to handle it–but you must experience the pain to recover.
Getting a divorce if frightening, but can be liberating if you learn to be more independent and self-sufficient. The key to surviving a divorce is to face your fears and learn to cope with life’s challenges on your own rather than being dependent on others. The more you know about divorce, finances, and emotional health, the better you can handle the pain of a divorce. If you are afraid you can’t support yourself, find a way to make money. If you are worried about your kids, see a psychologist and discuss what you can do to help them cope with the divorce. If you are overwhelmed because you don’t know what to expect from a divorce, meet with a collaborative attorney and learn about the process. Knowledge will help you face your fears and overcome them.