Relative Evolutions - Evolve, Don't Dissolve

For a Child of Divorce, This Sucks

I say it often:  I love divorce. This stance comes mostly from my positive personal experience both as a child of divorced parents and an ex-wife. I’ve listened to plenty of conflicting opinions, and I’ve heard lots of horror stories. Still, I love divorce because I know it can be a solution for families in crisis.

It’s not often that I feel emotionally triggered around the topic. I frequently refer to my parents’ divorce and the benefits that came from it. I believe it was one of the best things to happen in my family. I think of myself as a well-adjusted adult who learned a lot from the experiences of my childhood. I never wished my parents would reconcile. I don’t feel damaged. I’m not devastated because my family doesn’t resemble some cookie-cutter image of what I’m supposed to believe a family is supposed to look like.

But, yesterday, I saw this:

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And I felt sad. It wasn’t my parents’ divorce, specifically, that precludes me from enjoying this idyllic fantasy. In fact, for several years of my adult life, the above scenario was my reality. I didn’t live at home anymore, but I still had a key. And I didn’t think twice about helping myself to a snack.

Then my mom moved away… and then she got married. She married a man who’d been part of her life, but not mine. They live in a small town I’d never heard of prior to their relationship. My mother’s house has never been my home. When I visit, I knock on the front door, because that’s what guests do.

It seems I hadn’t really thought about it until now. Before reading those words, I’d lived day after day, blissfully ignorant to any sense of loss. But… I guess divorce did, indirectly, leave a void in my life. I no longer have that same sense of home.

This bittersweet nostalgic longing isn’t going to change my opinion of divorce, of course. However, it might have made me a just a little bit softer.

 

 

Jul 12, 2016 - divorce    2 Comments

Yes, I Love Divorce. No, I’m Not Anti-Marriage.

I get some funny reactions when I tell people about my work. Most people who’ve been divorced say something like, “I could’ve used you two years ago.” They’re often understanding, supportive and encouraging.

And then there are the others… those who are offended or otherwise just plain uncomfortable. Most will stay quiet, while others feel the need to erect a wall. Sometimes they share their own views of marriage and divorce, often using religious references to justify their positions. Occasionally, people interpret my work as a direct threat to their marriage. Couples will grasp hands while one tells me in a firm voice exactly how long they’ve been married and how happy they are. As if I’m some kind of grim reaper.

Even among friends, there are jokes about my efforts to end marriages. I can laugh about it. I have to. There’s no denying the fact that I’ve chosen a somewhat odd career. But honestly, I’m not anti-marriage. Sometimes I think I should put it all on a T-shirt:

Hi, I’m a Divorce Coach.
No, I’m not out to destroy your marriage.
That’s up to you.

Untitled design-3Over the years, I’ve asked a lot of questions about marriage. I’ve criticized the way our culture approaches such an important commitment. I’ve suggested odd alternatives to our sacred traditions.

I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I’ve come to realize that marriage, like divorce, can be as unique as the family it serves. There are “traditional” marriages, plural marriages, open marriages, same-sex marriages, child marriages, arranged marriages, common-law marriages… the list goes on. It’s hard to take a stance against something which shape shifts to serve so many.

And when you think about it, without marriage there would be no divorce. Furthermore, many who get divorced move on to find love and marry again.

I’m not anti-marriage. I’m anti-Bad Marriage (a good divorce is better than a bad marriage). And honestly, I can say the same about divorce (bad divorces are the worst). I wish more people felt the same way.

 

Jun 29, 2016 - divorce    No Comments

The Voicemail That Launched 1000 Feelings

Last week, I received an interesting voicemail. The caller told me her name and said she was looking at my ad. And then…

“…I’m a Bible believer, and I hope you know this, in America we have freedom of religion.”

I’m happy to report:  I was indeed aware of this fact.

She continued, “And we don’t believe that the Bible teaches that we should look at our feelings and motives, but at the knowledge of truth.”

She went on to tell me that I’m living in sin, and I’m helping people to sin against Jesus Christ and his word. And then finished her message by reminding me, “We are a different religion in America. We have freedom. And please don’t make us think we have to feel ashamed. We know better. We have the knowledge of truth. Our feelings don’t matter. We live by the truth. The Lord bless you in Jesus. Amen.”

I found her message to be quite stimulating. To begin, I’d like to call her back, assure her that I am an American and explain:  “Freedom of Religion does not mean everyone believes what you do.”

And yeah… of course she thinks I’m living in sin because I’m an advocate for divorce. I’ve heard that one before. However, this is the first time a stranger has called me to deliver such news.

The most fascinating aspect of her message was what she said about feelings. Feelings don’t matter? Christians aren’t supposed to pay attention to their feelings? I feel confused. What about love, and all the feelings that go along with living a kind, compassionate, giving, helpful, loving existence? I was under the impression that those things were important.

(Then again… I guess this is why there are tens of thousands of different denominations of Christianity)

Her comment caused me to recall how I felt during my marriage. The anger and resentment… the loneliness… the numbness and depression. During that time of my life, those feelings were my truth. They clouded ever corner of my reality, and there was no escaping them. They mattered. In some ways, they were a matter of life and death.

I know now that those emotions weren’t Me. I understand that I could’ve meditated my way out of them. Yet, I couldn’t have spent all of my time in meditation. My marriage wasn’t a healthy environment for either me or my husband. Our feelings were there to tell us that something was wrong. When the status of our partnership changed, our feelings toward each other improved. And, our lives overall improved.

That’s progress, right? I think so.

Looking back at my marriage, I’m grateful I hadn’t been influenced by anyone quite like the woman who called me last week. I’m also saddened for all those who feel as I did, yet think as she does.

 

 

 

Jun 6, 2016 - divorce, family    No Comments

Let’s Talk About Gray Divorce

While “Gray Divorce” (Baby Boomer Divorces) has been a hot topic for a few years now, I haven’t written about it. There are a few reasons for this:

1… I divorced in my twenties, so I’m not personally familiar with the phenomenon.

2… My parents divorced in their thirties, so I can’t comment as a child of such divorces.

3… Personal preference:  I’ve never liked the branding. For as awesome as I think Divorce is, I don’t want to treat it like a trend. 

But, despite my ignorance-and-arrogance-induced silence, Gray Divorce isn’t going away.  It’s time for me to embrace it (and appreciate the fact that the trendiness is bringing more attention to the overall topic of divorce). And so a few weeks ago, I decided to delve into the matter with someone who has been there, done that and created a web site devoted to the issue.  Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to Barry Gold, Coach and Proprietor of DivorcedOver50.com.
 
As you’ll see in the interview below, Barry and I had a nice chat. We compared personal stories and discussed some challenges (and advantages) of separation at different stages of life.

I now find myself contemplating which, in theory at least, is “better”… Those who divorce young typically have a lot of time to reset, recover and rebuild their lives.  On the other hand, those on the Gray end of the spectrum have the advantage of maturity, self-confidence and grown children. …But of course, age and income can’t predict everything, thus the process and outcome of divorce depends mainly on the individuals embarking on the journey.
 
If Gray Divorce pertains to you (or just piques your curiosity), check out my interview with Barry and then head over to DivorcedOver50.com where you can dig deeper into the trend. There’s even a special section for those who are “Di-Curious” 😉

If you have an opinion about whether gray or non-gray divorce is better, feel free to leave a comment.

Jun 1, 2016 - divorce    No Comments

The Second Saturday Program

The first time I heard about the Second Saturday program was a few months ago when I received a LinkedIn connection request from Second Saturday Central Mass. I looked into it and saw that it was a monthly program for individuals embarking on their divorce journey, and I was intrigued… But then I got distracted and forgot about it for a while.

I was reminded again, last month, when I was planning a trip to Cape Cod. Staring at the calendar, I noticed I’d be on vacation over the second weekend in May. Second weekend… Second Saturday! I consulted the web to get some more information. I learned that Second Saturday is a nationwide program which takes place at countless locations across the country. I also learned that the Central MA location was only a two-hour drive from where I’d be staying on the Cape. I could work that in to my trip.

So I did… I arrived at the office in Westborough in time for the 9am start of the program on May 14. The program hosts were Polly Tatum, an attorney and mediator, and Pedro Silva, an Investment Executive and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst.

second saturdayPolly spoke first. She provided an overview of the divorce options and processes in Massachusetts. She also discussed child support, alimony, custody and insurance. Polly was extremely knowledgeable and patiently answered a plethora of questions from the audience. I was fascinated and took a lot of notes— there are many differences between MA and PA.

Next up, Pedro talked about the financial side of Divorce. He reminded attendees to act, not react, and to keep their emotions out of their transactions (such good advice!). He also noted the financial documentation that will be needed as couples travel through the separation process (tax returns, investment statements, pay stubs, etc), and he reminded the group to review all beneficiary designations.

Overall, I thought the program was a fantastic value. I paid $25 for three hours with skilled professionals who not only provided useful information but they also answered individual questions. If I was preparing for a divorce in Massachusetts, I’d be feeling pretty empowered right now.

And did I mention it was only $25?

For more information, check out Second Saturday on the web. Here’s hoping there’s a workshop near you.

 

 

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