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10 Things to Know Before You Decide to Divorce

10 Things to Know Before You Decide to Divorce

The decision to separate and divorce from your spouse can be one of the most stressful and pain-staking decisions you will ever make. Feelings of uncertainty, sorrow, grieving, denial, and guilt can paralyze you, and make you feel stuck. While there is no easy way to make this very difficult decision, preparing yourself for the emotions that lie ahead of you may help ease the burden when the time comes to have The Talk with your partner. Knowing what to expect when you and your spouse decide to end the marriage can also make this time a little less difficult.

1. Fear

You will be afraid to call it quits because you don’t know what lies ahead of you. You may be scared of the Unknown and because of this, you may tell yourself that you are comfortable even if you are miserable. You will will try to weigh the pros and cons of staying married, and tell yourself you can continue to endure your unhappy marriage. You will tell yourself lies and reason that you should stay together for the kids, for the finances, etc. But fact that you’re trying to bargain against your happiness indicates that something is wrong. You are bargaining because you are scared, but know that this is normal.

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2. Insanity

Know that when the decision is make to split, the roller coaster of emotions you will feel is unlike anything you have ever experienced. Grief, pain, relief, heartbreak, confusion, and the desperation of wanting to be loved can feel like waking up every morning and learning that you are the only survivor to a nuclear war. Do not hide these emotions, but accept them and deal with them in a healthy manner. And once you do, know that there is a weight that will slowly start to ease from your shoulders—the same weight that you denied all this time when you told yourself nothing was wrong.

3. Desperation

Even if your self-esteem was in the dumps from your martial troubles prior to the split, know that it will shatter once the separation occurs. You may find yourself wanting to be loved and validated, desperate for attention that your spouse no longer provided. You will think that nobody will ever love you or want you again, and you may be tempted to to date immediately and latch on to the first person who catches your eye. Resist this urge to attach yourself, even if you have not had that romantic touch or intimacy for a long time. Trying to fill that void with another relationship robs you of the chance to heal, and may set into motion a cycle of dependency for you, when what you need is to be strong and focus on loving yourself.

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4. Denial

You may tell yourself that you are find and holding up well, but do not mistake that complacency with merely bootleg up your emotions. You will need a support system: a therapist, a support group, good friends, the non-judgmental anonymity of online forums. Whatever combination of systems you choose should help you attain two objectives–creating a safe place for venting, while also helping you find constructive ways to cope with the divorce in a healthy manner. Do not convince yourself that you are better than that, stronger than that. You are human. Go talk to someone.

5. Overwhelm

You will feel like you are getting sprayed with an industrial fire-hose, especially at the beginning when you aren’t sure what you should be doing. The number of  “to-do’s” and “should-do’s” regarding emotions, finances, legal issues, custody, and other logistics will arrive with incredible urgency. Shifting prorates and conflicting advise may make you will feel paralyzed and overwhelmed.  Understand that splitting is a process and you don’t have to do everything at once. There will be things to take care of immediately (safety, shelter, income), things to address a little bit later (finding a good lawyer, mediator, and therapist) and there are things to address later on down the road (agreeing on a second separation plan, assuring you and your children are adjusting). You will need to remind yourself that divorce is like a marathon and it requires patience and persistence. Show compassion for yourself, even if things seem to take forever.

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6. Anger

Understand that you can only control your behavior, and not your spouse’s.  For serious offenses (threatening harm, screwing with your finance), you should absolutely take action. But there will also be annoyances that may not endanger you, but still make you mad. It may seem like your spouse is gong out of their way to make your life as miserable as they can, which could result in a long, drawn-out, expensive, soul-sucking divorce for you, if you let it.  And although you can’t control their behavior, you can control how you react to it. Taking the high road, although not instantly gratifying, may save you future stress and drama. This will be easier said than done.

7. Being Reactive

You will be tempted to make decisions driven by emotion, rather than logic. You will constantly forget that divorce, boiled down, is a business transaction–a splitting of assets and incomes. The logical part of you will understand this, but the part of you that is hurt may spend months fighting over things that have nothing to do with money at all.  During the legal process, you will be forced to choose your battles. Choose wisely. You will need to learn that nobody wins in divorce. Otherwise, you will find yourself robbed of years of your life fighting in court, having spent tens of thousands of dollars on legal fees that could have been put to better use in your post-divorce life, and so emotionally distraught that moving on will be extremely difficult.

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8. Discomfort

You will find yourself in new uncomfortable situations. There are too many to mention here. You may be re-entering the workforce. Your budget may be tight. Your children may have trouble adjusting and exhibit behavioral problems. You may find friends treating you differently, thinking for some reason your split means that their relationship is in jeopardy. Social situations where there are couples may make you feel lonely and miserable. Understand that you are not alone in all of these struggles and that there are infinite resources are out there to help you. Do not allow any of this discomfort to make you bitter.

9. Self-Pity

There will be dark times where you wallow in self-pity. You may cry and say to yourself, “my life was not supposed to be like this. I thought my marriage was perfect and we’d be together forever.” You maybe be ashamed and feel like a failure. Know that this is part of the grieving process, and understand that you must accept your circumstances have changed and adapt to them before you can learn how to heal and move on. You will learn that are not a prisoner to those circumstances, and you have the power to emerge a stronger person.

10. Empowerment, if you let it

You will learn that divorce gives you a choice.  You can choose to look at this split as a trauma from which you will never recover, and to be guided by anger and fear and and panic, or you can choose the path that takes more work–the path where you ask for assistance, get the support you need, educate yourself about every aspect of the divorce (and there are many), and understand that you will have the power to get through it all. No one can make that choice but you.

Featured photo credit: Riding the Train by Colin Logan via imcreator.com

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Martha Bodyfelt

Certified Divorce and Recovery Coach

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Last Updated on January 24, 2021

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

    Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

    Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

    6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

    If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

    Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

    Final Thoughts

    Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

    Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

    Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

    More Tips on How to Say No

    Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
    [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
    [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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