“If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.” ~Lawrence J. Peter
I always thought the word “goals” sounded rather nerdy (never mind the fact that I’ve always been a bit of a nerd). Of course, I understand the value of having a plan… it was just the G-word that was a turnoff. So, historically speaking, I haven’t been one to write down my G-words and make a plan to reach them. But then I discovered Zig Ziglar. I’ve been listening to him in my car for years. He’s one of my favorite travel companions. And Zig has really helped me get over my issues with the G-words.
For the first week or two after my marriage officially unraveled, I spent a lot of car time listening to Julie Roberts’ song Break Down Here (link to video). But then I realized that I wasn’t super sad. I wasn’t even all that scared about the turn my life was taking. That’s when I ordered Zig’s CD, How To Get What You Want. And I made a list of what I wanted (in no specific order):
- Divorce finalized as quickly as possible.
- No nasty divorce games.
- Maintain relationships with Ex and his family.
- Financial independence.
- Buy a house closer to work.
…And I’m proud to say that I accomplished those goals. Our divorce was finalized in the least amount of time required by state law. We dealt with the necessary issues professionally (mostly, anyway… minimal snipping, snarking and sarcasm) and because of that no bridges were burned. I didn’t want any spousal support, thus I balanced my budget according to my own income. And five days after the divorce was final, I settled on a house which allowed me to cut my commute in half. Yay, me!
But what if I hadn’t set those goals? What if I’d kept listening to Julie Roberts and other sad stars of country music? What if I allowed my pain, anger and resentment to drive my actions instead of calculating my actions according to my goals? I can only hypothesize…and the picture isn’t pretty.
What about you? Did you have a goal-oriented divorce? Or not? Are you happy with the result?
I had clear goals when I started my divorce. They came from a place of anger and hurt. I could not accept what was happening (my wife’s behavior), but I accepted myself as I was. I sought to change her, but without seeing the truly deep changes I needed. And I did not have the patience to recognize so many things I needed to be aware of.
I saw every interaction as a fight to be won. I was failing miserably. But my wife became greedy too; both financially and emotionally. Her original goal was to move on and start over, but as she prevailed in hearing after hearing she came to see it as a fight too – and she was winning. She was no longer concerned with moving on, just winning. Almost for the sake of it it seemed.
While she focused on “winning” I took stock of myself. As Dr. Phil would say, “How’s THAT workin’ for you?” Fighting and trying to win wasn’t working for me. I was lucky enough to find a new therapist who could show me acceptance (of what is), change (for myself), and awareness. I was finally on the path of moving on. Now I am a better father to my kids and I have better relationships with the people in my life.
Thank you so much for sharing your story here. That’s a great journey of personal growth.
Most people expect that fighting to win is what divorce is all about. When I went through mine, many of my friends encouraged me to “get as much as I could out of him”. There were times when I felt conflicted regarding what I wanted and what other people told me I “deserved”.
I have to say, I am glad you were guided by your mind instead of your emotions. Unfortunately you are the exception and not the rule. I often hear women give each other the same advice that your friends gave you such as “get everything you can” and talk about what they “deserve”.
Welcome! I truly believe we need a complete cultural attitude adjustment regarding marriage and divorce. The standard way of thinking is problematic and allows for too much damage to be done.