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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

More by this author

Martha Bodyfelt

Certified Divorce and Recovery Coach

How To Kick Your Divorce Anxiety In The Ass 5 Divorce Screw-Ups to Avoid 3 Steps for Beating Your Divorce Fears 10 Things to Know Before You Decide to Divorce 9 Ways to Pick Your Divorce Battles

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Published on September 23, 2020

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

I don’t know about you, but many times when I hear the word negotiate I think of lawyers working out a business deal or having to do battle with a car salesman to try to get a lower price. Since I am in recruiting, the term “negotiation” comes up when someone is attempting to get a higher compensation package.

If we think about it, we tend to negotiate almost every day in a wide variety of things we do. Getting a handle on the important negotiation skills can be incredibly beneficial in many parts of our lives. Let’s take a look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

What is Negotiation?

First, let’s take a look at what negotiation is. Put simply, negotiation is a method by which people settle their differences. It is a process in which compromise or agreement can be reached without argument or dispute.

Anytime two people or sides disagree on something, they are almost always looking for the best possible outcome for their side. This could be from an individual’s perspective or someone representing an organization.

In reality, it’s rare that one side gets everything they want and the other side gets nothing that they are seeking. Seeking to reach a common ground of sorts where both sides feel like they are getting most of what they want is the key to being successful and maintaining the relationship.

Places We Negotiate

I’ve mentioned that we negotiate in just about all phases of our life. For those of you who are shaking your head no, I invite you to think about the following:

1. Work/Business

This one is the most obvious and it’s what naturally comes to mind when we think of the word “negotiate”.

When you first started at your current job, you might have asked for a higher salary. It could be that you delivered a huge new client to your company and used this as leverage in your most recent evaluation for more compensation. If you work with vendors (and just about every company does), maybe you worked them to a lower price or better contract terms.

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In recruiting, I negotiate with candidates and hiring managers all the time to land the best talent I can find. It’s very common to accept additional work with the (sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken) agreement that it will benefit your career in the future.

Recently, I took over a project that was my boss was working on so that I would be able to attend a conference later in the year. And so it goes, we do this all day long at work.

2. Personal

I don’t know about you, but I negotiate with my spouse all the time. I’ll cook dinner with the understanding that she does the dishes. Who wants to mow the lawn and who wants to vacuum and dust the house?

I think we should save 10% for retirement, but she thinks 5% is plenty. Therefore, we save 8%. And don’t even get me started with my kids. My older daughter can borrow my car as soon as she finishes her chores. My younger daughter can go hang out with her friends when her homework is done.

Then, there are all those interactions in our personal lives outside our homes. The carpenter wants to charge me $12,000 to build a new deck. I think $10,000 is plenty so we agree on $11,000. I ask my neighbor if I can borrow his snowblower in the winter if I invite him over the next time I grill steak. And so on.

3. Ourselves

You didn’t expect this one, did you? We negotiate with ourselves all day long.

I’ll make sure I don’t skip my workout tomorrow since I’m going to have that extra piece of pizza. My spouse has been quiet the last few days, is it worth me asking her about, or should I leave it alone? I think the car place charged me for some repairs that weren’t needed, should I say something or just let it go? I know my friend has been having some personal challenges, should I check in with him? We’ve been friends for a long time, I’m sure he’d come to me if he needed help. I’ve got the #4 pick in this year’s Fantasy Football draft, should I choose a running back or a wide receiver?

Think about that non-stop voice inside your head. It always seems to be chattering away about something and many times, it’s us negotiating with ourselves. I’ll finish up that report that the boss needs before I turn on the football game.

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Why Negotiation Skills Are So Important

Put simply, negotiation skills are important because we all interact with other people, and not only other people but other organizations and groups of people as well.

We all rarely want the same thing or outcome. Most of the time a vendor is looking at getting you to pay a higher price for something than you want to spend. Therefore, it’s important to negotiate to some middle ground that works well for both sides.

My wife and I disagree on how much to save for retirement. If we weren’t married it wouldn’t be an issue. We’d each contribute how much we wanted to on our retirement funds. We choose to be married, so we have to come to some agreement that we both feel comfortable with. We have to compromise. Therefore, we have to negotiate.

If we each lived on a planet by ourselves, we would be free to do just about anything we wanted to. We wouldn’t have to compromise with anyone because we wouldn’t interact with anyone. We would make every choice unilaterally the way we wanted to.

As we all know, this isn’t how things are. We are constantly interacting with other people and organizations, each one with their own agenda’s, viewpoints, and opinions. Therefore, we have to be able to work together.

6 Negotiation Skills to Master

Having strong negotiation skills helps us create win-win situations with others, allowing us to get most of what we want in conjunction with others around us.

Now, let’s look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

1. Preparation

Preparation is a key place to start with when getting ready to negotiate. Being prepared means having a clear vision of what you want and how you’d go about achieving it. It means knowing what the end goal looks like and also what you are willing to give to get it.

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It also means knowing who you are negotiating with and what areas they might be willing to compromise on. You should also know what your “bottom line” is. By “bottom line” I mean what is the most you are willing to give up to get what you want.

For instance, several years ago, I decided it was time to get a newer car. I say newer because I wanted a “new to me” car, not a brand new car. I did my research and figured out what type of car I wanted. I decided on what must-have items on the car I wanted, the highest amount of miles that would already be on it, the colors I was willing to get it in, and the highest amount of money I was willing to pay.

After visiting numerous car dealerships I was able to negotiate buying a car. I knew what I was willing to give up (amount of money) and what I was willing to accept, things like the color, amount of miles, etc. I came prepared. This is critical.

2. Clear Communication

The next key skill you need to be an effective negotiator is clear communication. You have to be able to clearly articulate what you want to the other party. This means both clear verbal and written communication.

If you can’t clearly tell the other person what you want, how do you expect to get it? Have you ever worked through something with a vendor or someone else only to learn of a surprise right at the end that wasn’t talked about before? This is not what you would call clear communication. It’s essential to be able to share a coherent and logical vision with the person you are working with.

3. Active Listening

Let’s do a quick review of active listening. This is when you are completely focused on the speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information, and respond appropriately. This is a necessary ingredient to be able to negotiate successfully. You must be able to fully focus on the other person’s wants to completely understand them.

If you aren’t giving them your full attention, you may miss some major points or details. This leads to frustration down the road on both sides. Ensure you are employing your active listening skills when in arbitration mode.

4. Teamwork and Collaboration

To be able to get to a place of common ground and a win-win scenario, you have to have a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

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If you are only thinking about yourself and what you want without giving much care to what the other person is wanting, you are bound to wind up without a solution. The other person may get frustrated and give up if they see you are unwilling to meet them halfway or care little for what they want.

When you collaborate, you are working together to help each other get what is most important to you. The other upside to negotiating with a sense of teamwork and collaboration is that it helps create a sense of trust, which, in turn, helps provide positive energy for working to a successful conclusion.

5. Problem Solving

Problem-solving is another key negotiation skill. When you are working with the other person to get the deal done many times you’ll face new challenges along the way.

Maybe you want a new vendor to provide training on the software they are selling you but they say it’s going to cost an additional $20,000 to provide this service. If you don’t have the additional $20,000 in the budget to spend on the software but you feel the training is critical, how are you going to solve that problem?

From what I’ve seen, most vendors aren’t willing to provide additional services without getting paid for them. This is where problem-solving skills will help continue the discussions. You might suggest to the vendor that your company will also be looking to replace their financial software next year, and you’d be happy to ensure they get one of the first seats at the table when the time comes if they could perhaps lower the pricing on their training.

There’s a solution to most challenges, but it takes problem-solving skills to work through them effectively.

6. Decision-Making Ability

Finally, having strong decision-making ability will help you seal the deal when you get to a place where everyone feels like they are getting what works for them. Each step of the way you can cross off the list when you get what you are looking for and decide to move onto the next item. Then, once you have all of your must-have boxes checked and the other side feels good about things, it’s time to shake hands and sign on the dotted line. Powerful decision-making ability will help you get to the finish line together.

Conclusion

There you have it, 6 effective negotiation skills to master to lead a more fulfilling life. Once we realize that we negotiate in one form or another almost every day in every phase of our lives, we realize how critical a skill it is.

Possessing strong negotiation skills will help you in nearly every one of your relationships at both the workplace and in your personal life. If you feel your arbitration tools could use some sharpening, try some of the 6 effective negotiation skills to master that we’ve talked about.

More Tips to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com

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