I’m done! Why isn’t this over yet?
If I had a dime for every time a client has said with exasperation “I am done with this marriage! Why am I not divorced yet?”, I would be a very wealthy woman who no longer spends her days providing the explanation. The journey to divorce occurs simultaneously on two very different paths. There is the psychological divorce and then there is the legal divorce. Ideally, people travel along both paths to closure simultaneously
at a relatively similar pace. In reality, this “ideal” journey is rarely traveled. In my experience, the trouble occurs when someone stalls on the psychological path and one of the following two scenarios tends to epitomize the norm.
For the individual who faces the prospect of divorce stunned and/or hemorrhaging sorrow, the path towards a psychological divorce is long and filled with emotional land mines. Figuratively speaking, when one of these emotional land mines explodes it spews shrapnel that inflicts devastating emotional injuries. Such pain and suffering takes a very long time to heal. If you are barely managing to make your way down this road and you are consumed with the business of emotional healing, the legal road to divorce can be nothing short of torturous for you. This set of circumstances is what lies at the base of every divorce horror story ever told.
You know the ones I’m talking about – couple married seven years but takes eight years to get divorced because they fought over the snow blower, or the couple who battles for years in court only to, in the end, give everything they own to the attorneys who waged the war they insisted upon, or, how about the couple who spends ten years fighting over a child only to have the war end when the child turns eighteen, essentially aging themselves out of their parent’s war. These are classic examples of what happens when people stall along the psychological road to divorce. Simply put, if you are having difficulty emotionally coping with the end of your marriage you may unwittingly, if
not purposefully, use your emotional stagnation to impede progress down the road that leads to the legal end of your marriage.
Conversely, people often reach a place of emotional closure long before they obtain legal closure in the form of a Judgment of Divorce. These people are DONE on day one of the legal process! The complexity of the legal procedures that need to occur before they can be declared divorced are of no interest and the attorney who attempts to educate them on the process will inevitably be accused of stalling. Frustration and impatience may lead to impulsivity which in turn can undermine an attorney’s ability to negotiate a favorable settlement on your behalf. To those of you who may recognize yourself in this scenario…believe me your attorney is not trying to prevent your divorce or take your money, they are trying to help you think beyond your impulsivity and overwhelming need to “just have it over”. They are trying to help you
make thoughtful and responsible decisions for you and your children that will afford you a sound financial future. To those of you who “just want it over”, take a deep breath and be mindful of the fact that it took you a long time to get to where you now find yourself. Use this time to reflect on what went wrong, the lessons you hopefully have learned and to empathize with the fact that although you may be waiting impatiently at the psychological finish line, your spouse (the person you once loved) may have just stepped on an emotional land mine and is busy digging emotional shrapnel from their soul.