Divorce can make you feel like you’re lost in a foreign land without a map. The familiar guideposts – home, finances, social circle, station in life – either vanish or morph into something that you don’t recognize. Even if you loathed your spouse, you might prefer the comfort of being a plus-one to navigating a whole new life and making decisions as a single person.
That was David’s experience. At 45, David’s wife of 20 years announced she was leaving him for a younger man. And when she left, she took the ground under David’s feet. An advertising executive who worked long hours, David was used to his wife singlehandedly running the household. Not only did she manage their finances and wrangle their children’s activities, but she also planned their meals, their social schedule, and their vacations. David had grown used to walking through the door after work to a neat and tidy home life that seemed magically handled.
David spent several weeks obsessing about his wife and her lover, alternately plotting revenge and ways to win her back. But as a professional who helmed large projects, he knew he needed to stop reacting and start taking charge of the life transition that had been thrust upon him. These are the steps he took to bring order back to his life.
Legal Steps to Divorce
Select an attorney: Before he even met with a divorce attorney or took any legal steps to divorce, David began gathering important financial and property documents. He took copies of these documents to consultations he made with three different lawyers before he found the right one.
What to ask an attorney: David brought a list of questions to his initial consultation. He asked about each one’s skills, experience, basic legal strategy, case management, and retainer agreement.
Moving forward with the legal process: The attorney David ultimately selected helped him proceed with his dissolution by taking the following steps: filing a complaint for divorce; scheduling a case management conference to determine custody and property issues; and requesting financial documents from his wife in discovery. Fortunately, David and his wife were able to reach a settlement without going to court.
Once the divorce was in process, David was able to begin work on his personal growth. The demands of work and family had caused him to feel burdened and act in ways that made him and others feel bad. He realized he couldn’t change the situations that life handed him, but he could change the way he related to his circumstances.
Mindfulness: David began to develop skills to keep from regretting the past and worrying about the future. He practiced mindfulness in order to learn how to be aware of his feelings in the moment so he could make more conscious, positive choices. Although therapy was helpful, it was also expensive, so David found more cost-effective ways to hone his mindfulness skills.
Yoga: David found that attending even one yoga class a week helped him focus his attention on what was going on in his mind and body.
Bibliotherapy: There are many books that can teach you how to transform reactive mind states into skillful living. David found Emotional Chaos To Clarity particularly helpful as it is targeted towards outwardly stressful professionals like him.
Setting Intentions: David began a weekly practice of “setting intentions.” He spent a half hour journaling on Sundays, recording how the past week had gone, and writing down his areas of focus for the coming week. That list did include tangibles such as a new relationship, but it primarily included intangibles such as manifesting gratitude and a calm state of mind.
Ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu wrote: “In the midst of chaos there is also opportunity.” Although he was writing about war, his wisdom applies to most situations. As devastating as divorce is for most people, it also provides an opportunity for deep personal growth. The antidote to feeling out of control is not taking control of circumstances, but taking control of ourselves and the way we relate to our circumstances.
Considering divorce or made the decision to file? Our skilled attorneys are here to provide the legal guidance you need. Please contact us to schedule your confidential consultation.