Relative Evolutions - Evolve, Don't Dissolve
Jan 29, 2015 - divorce    No Comments

The Real Reason for My Peaceful Divorce

My ex and I had a peaceful divorce; one full of cooperation, communication and compassion.  It cost less than $400 and took only as much time as the state required.

When I refer to my experience, some people dismiss me.  After all, I’m the exception, not the norm.  Most divorces are ugly and expensive because most exes are assholes.  And I couldn’t understand that, because my ex is obviously a really great person, otherwise I would’ve had a more typical divorce.

As I read about divorce I find more and more articles to help people identify and deal with various personality disorders.  The most popular one I see is narcissism.  Narcissists are focused only on themselves.  They lack empathy.  They engage strategically.  They want only to win.  They don’t compromise, and communication is difficult.

It seems these days most exes are narcissists.  I don’t know if mine is/was because, to the best of my knowledge, he’s never been evaluated by a trained mental health professional.  But I can tell you that if I’d been a student of divorce when my journey started, I’d probably have diagnosed him myself.

You see, although my divorce was peaceful, my marriage was not.  No, he didn’t beat me.  But we fought.  A lot.  We screamed and slammed doors.  Sometimes things got broken.  We called each other names.  He put down my job and my friends, and he knew how to “push my buttons” (don’t all married people know how to do this?).  He thought he was right about everything.  And if he was right, I was wrong.  And if I was wrong, I was stupid.

The marriage wasn’t a good fit for either of us.  Quite simply, we wanted different things, and we each resented the other for imprisoning us in the life shared.  As a result, we got angry.  And things between us got ugly.  Oh, and he got himself a girlfriend too.

When we decided it was over, we could’ve run off to separate lawyers and began the traditional proceedings.  We had enough assets to fight over and enough money to fight it out.  I could’ve spent an hour (and several hundred dollars) telling an attorney how difficult my ex was to deal with.  And he could’ve done the same.  We could’ve easily had a typical divorce.

But we didn’t.  Instead of feeling angry about the end of our marriage, we were relieved and grateful.  Instead of calling lawyers, we sat down together to talk through the division of our assets.  We remained logical, compassionate and, at times generous, as we discussed budgets and timelines.  And when we were done, we put our plan into action.

About two months later we’d separated everything and were living in different homes.  The only thing left to do was legally dissolve the marriage, so I called a lawyer.

Like any good attorney, he was thorough.  He wanted me to tell him everything, but I refused.

“I just need to file for divorce,” I insisted.

He explained that there was much more to divorce than simply filing the documentation.  He needed to know about our bank accounts, properties, debts, etc.

“We’ve already divided everything,” I explained.  “The only thing left is the paperwork.”

My attorney agreed to send me some forms to sign and return with a check.  I complied.  My ex complied.  Three months later, I received a divorce decree featuring an official gold seal.  The divorce was done, and six weeks after that, I had a new (old) last name.

The experience left me with the knowledge that a good divorce is possible following a bad marriage.  Because our separation was a welcome solution to a problem, we found ourselves joyously in agreement about our future.  It was easy and exciting to work together as we accomplished our shared goals.

In short:  I didn’t have a peaceful divorce because my ex was a saint.  I had a peaceful divorce because we chose cooperative communication over hired guns and mudslinging.

 

Jan 21, 2015 - divorce, marriage, Uncategorized    No Comments

Marriage is a Womb. Divorce is a Birth.

Marriage is a womb.  Divorce is a birth.

This metaphor has been taking form in my head for months… I figured it was time to write it down.  Have you ever considered it this way?

In the beginning of a marriage, there is room to grow.  We are warm and protected and the environment is nourishing.  It’s fun… safe… soothing… and comforting to know that we are cared for by another.

And then things change.

Sometimes we feel too cramped and we reach out in search of greener pastures.  Other times we are extricated from the womb by unforeseen forces.

In either case, birth commences.

To say it’s uncomfortable would be an understatement.  We’re squeezed in many ways as the whole world changes.  We cry.  We’re trembling.  We feel exposed, vulnerable and in desperate need of support.

At first, we can’t hold our heads up, let alone stand on our own two feet.  There are no words to express how we feel, and we need help with just about everything.  If we’re lucky (and most of us are), we’ll find ourselves surrounded by those who cherish us, even in our weakest moments.  They patiently offer support and guidance as we learn to be human.

Eventually, we learn to hold our heads up, and we find our voices.  We become more mobile as we curiously explore this different life, and through new experiences we continue to grow.

As time goes by, we become.  We learn the art of self love.  We make new friends.  We provide for ourselves, and we conquer new heights.

Divorce is a birth.  And, from a safe distance, it is a miraculous gift.

 

Jan 12, 2015 - divorce    2 Comments

A Post-Divorce Letter to The Ex

pen and paperThe subject of today’s post comes from an old friend of mine and regular reader of Relative Evolutions.  A few years ago, Lauren made the difficult decision to leave her marriage.  Today, she reflects on her journey in the following letter to The Ex…

 

Dear You,

Three years have gone by since I rocked your world, blindsided you, and probably broke your heart.

Please know that my decision to leave was largely based on my discontent with myself, and had little to do with you.  I firmly believe that if you don’t love yourself, you can’t possibly love someone else.  I hated myself, and didn’t want to drag you along for the ride.  So I begin this with an apology.

I’m sorry I hurt you.  I’m sorry I wasn’t the wife you expected to get.  I’m sorry I wasn’t the rest of your life like we thought.  

There comes a time in life, and I suppose the finalization of our divorce is as good a moment as any, when we have to thank the people that came into our lives and the ones that have let us go.  I have to thank you for both.

Thank you for loving me, unconditionally. 

But also, thank you for letting me go.

I’ve learned a tremendous amount about myself in these three years.

I’ve learned I can’t be everything to just one person.  I know now that I can’t control everything, nor do I want to; life is so much better NOT knowing.  Materialism is no longer my way of life; living broke for a long time makes that no longer a viable option.  THINGS no longer rule my life; I derive enjoyment from the people that surround me and the life I’ve made for myself. 

I’m doing everything I’ve ever wanted to do.  I write for a living, I’m a writer, can you believe that?  I’ve seen places and things I never thought I would see.  I’ve also been knocked the fuck down, dragged through the dirt, and had to start over more than I’d like to admit.  The strangest part?  I wouldn’t change it for anything.

I did love you, with all my heart.  It broke me to hurt you.  You were my best friend in the world, and I’ll never forget you.  It is because of your love that I’ve been able to have the life I have since I left.  So once again, thank you for letting me be the selfish bitch that left.

Love,

Me 

Three years after sitting in my living room and hearing the news of her separation, I couldn’t be more proud of Lauren.  She risked everything with a leap into the Vast Unknown.  She learned.  She grew.  She created a new, more fulfilling life for herself, and her wonderfully written words are finally reaching the masses.

I asked if Lauren planned to send the letter to her ex.  She told me she’d like to, but he’s a different person now and she doesn’t know how he’d take it.  I understand.  Experiences can change us to the point where we speak different languages, and even the best intended sentiments might be interpreted as a painful attack.  Sometimes all we can do is heal ourselves and energetically release our love and gratitude into The Universe, trusting the message will reach the intended recipient.

Have you ever written a letter like this?  Have you ever received a letter like this?

Deck the Halls With Divorce Folly… But Preferably Not

January 5, 2015 is “Divorce Monday”….

‘Tis the season for divorces
Fa la la la la la la la la

When couples stop beating dead horses
Fa la la la la la la la la

Will they make it quick and clever?
Fa la la la la la la la la

Or will the kids be scarred forever?
Fa la la la la la la la la

It’s that time of year:  For many weeks, miserable couples gritted their teeth and faked smiles through the pre-determined Home Stretch of their time together.  And now the Holiday Season has passed.  The pretty paper has gone to the curb.  The dishes are done.  The leftovers are gone.  The kids are going back to school.  It’s time to get back to Life… and it’s also time to make good on that resolution to consult a divorce attorney.

If you’ve found this page because you’re one of those beginning the process and are searching for divorce advice, Welcome!  If you’re a regular, Welcome Back!  And regardless of your Visitor Status, Happy New Year!!

As we embark on this trip around the sun, let us remember…

  • We’re all human (even our exes)
  • Everyone makes mistakes
  • Forgiveness is a selfish act which has nothing to do with the offender
  • A little compassion can go a long way
  • Divorce is about the evolution, not dissolution of families
  • Never underestimate the power of appropriate boundaries
  • Children are biologically 50% of each parent.  Don’t denigrate their DNA

I have high hopes for 2015 as our paradigms about divorce continue to shift ever-so-slightly.  When I look at my social feeds, I see more and more efforts (and some successes) toward family law reform.  When I look around myself, I see more and more cooperative and communicative divorced couples.  When I look to the future, I imagine a culture that rallies to assist evolving families as a whole (not simply vilifying one member).

Can you see the future with me?  Won’t you take a moment to energize my vision?  Imagine a world where divorce (like death) is an unfortunate, yet accepted, occurrence.  Think about the opportunities for improved communication, respect and healing when couples opt to hold a divorce ceremony.  Consider the benefit of divorce registries (perhaps branded with a prettier name) for those who’ve lost 50% of their household items.  Feel the guilt and shame dissipate as you envision happy and well-adjusted children thriving in a peaceful and supportive bi-nuclear environment.

What do you think?  Is this a vision worth striving for in 2015?

Nov 17, 2014 - divorce, family    2 Comments

Divorce Corp Family Law Reform Conference

You might recall how excited I was back in January when the movie Divorce Corp came to a theater near me (I wrote about it here).  This past weekend I was even more delighted to attend the Divorce Corp Family Law Reform Conference in Alexandria, VA.

Divorce Corp ConferenceThe event was attended by a wide variety of people:  lawyers, therapists, coaches, consultants, moms, dads, friends…  each one with a personal story and a deep desire to see some serious changes in the family court system.  The speakers were passionate, knowledgeable professionals with captivating stories, facts and missions to share.  I laughed.  I cried.  I stood to applaud.

It was wonderful.  But… it also made me realize how much farther we have to go as a culture.  Because while “reform” is a great start, it isn’t enough.

The moment of clarity came Saturday afternoon as I was seated in a small room full of people examining the topic, “Litigation vs. Mediation.”  Personal introductions of participants caused me to shake my head in disbelief and breathe several sighs of sadness.  It was apparent, without question, that our current system of family court litigation is tragically broken and causing far more harm than good.  Everyone agreed  mediation is a helpful and hopeful alternative.  Yet, mediation has been around for decades, and it hasn’t caught on.  Why not?  What needs to be done?

We talked about the lack of public awareness about mediation.  We talked about the lack of standards and certification for mediators.  Lists were made to say we need:

Mediation Degree Programs
Mediation exposure at the elementary level
Mandatory mediation
Flat rates to avoid price gouging

The list went on.  The suggestions were good, really.  However, my mind started to drift as the words of a popular song by The Who came to mind…

“I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution, take a bow for the new revolution.  Smile and grin at the change all around…”  … “There’s nothing in the streets looks any different to me.  And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye.  And the parting on the left are now parting on the right…” … “Meet the new boss.  Same as the old boss.”

I felt sad, to say the least.  No doubt, a mandatory mediation process would be a monumental improvement over the current litigation structure.  But… that’s not the kind of Ideal Divorce Norm that I dream of.  In truth, I don’t think we need a system through which families transition.  What we need, I think, is pretty simple:  We need community.

When the word “divorce” can be spoken without shame, blame and fear, we’ll know that our communities have risen to the occasion.  When separating couples are supported by society at large, they’ll feel empowered to handle family changes as a devoted team.  There will be no need to fearfully place their fates in the hands of a bunch of “experts.”  (Seriously, who are the real experts when it comes to your family?  You!)

Of course, that kind of change doesn’t happen overnight.  Battleships don’t turn on a dime.  I realize progress should be slow and mindful.  As long as a system is being utilized, let’s at least make it a better one that doesn’t rape, rob, imprison and alienate.  We might have to try out and tear down several new models before we realize that our families are our own business.

In the meantime, I hope we can bring more awareness to the public.  People need to know about the human (non-litigious) resources which exist to educate and assist families as they move to a bi-nuclear model.  I long for the day when the phrase, “I’m getting divorced” is met with something other than a recommendation for legal representation.

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