What to Divorce When You are Divorcing: Unrealistic Expectations

Maintaining a positive attitude is one thing.  Harboring unrealistic expectations about some of the challenges you may face in the process of moving on after your divorce is something else altogether.

Here are a few of the cold and hard realities you should be prepared to confront after your marriage ends.

After your divorce, it will be difficult to maintain the lifestyle you had during your marriage.

How can this be true? What about alimony? Yes, alimony was designed to support women who were dependent on their spouse’s income in maintaining the standard of living they enjoyed during the marriage. However, persuading a judge to award alimony is sometimes easier said than done, and actually making your spouse pay alimony after it has been awarded can be equally challenging. If you are fortunate enough to get alimony it may not be enough to live on. If you didn’t work during your marriage, you may be forced to get a job; if you worked one job during the marriage, you may need to work two.

Divorce may be the most emotionally painful experience of your life.

Research a list of the most stressful events in life and you are likely to discover that divorce is at the top, somewhere in the neighborhood of death of a loved one, serious illness or loss of a limb. Since divorce results in broken hearts and fractured families, it should come as no surprise that it is an event that on good days can be described as extremely painful and on bad days as excruciatingly painful.

You may be judged unfairly after your divorce.

Some people may question your decision to end your marriage. Your parents may wonder why you couldn’t stick it out, since they have been married for thirty years and cannot understand why you can’t do the same thing. Your single girlfriends may talk about how crazy you are for ending your marriage when it is so hard to find a husband. Your minister may question your decision to break your wedding vows.  But, everyone is entitled to an opinion. However, your life is not a democracy in which everyone you know gets a vote. You alone decided to say “I do” and you alone have the right to decide when it’s time to say “I don’t anymore.”

 The legal system is not always fair.

Your spouse could be the dirtiest, rottenest scoundrel that ever walked this planet.  But the legal system is not designed to punish him for his misdeeds.  He may be allowed to stay in the home because you can’t afford the mortgage payment. He may be awarded joint custody of the children. And two days after your divorce is final, the woman he was having an affair with may move into your old house.

But, is it fair that you were born in this century and not during a time when women were treated as property and had no legal rights? Is it fair that you were born in the U.S. as opposed to countries that have no legal system at all? Expecting life to be fair will leave you disappointed. Accept what it is, make the most of it and move on.

 Winning doesn’t mean you will get everything you want.

The legal system was designed to divide your stuff and to resolve legal issues regarding who should get what and who should be forced to do what. However, the fallout from divorce goes way beyond your stuff. Divorce involves fractured families, broken hearts and shattered dreams. So, even if the judge awards you the house, $10,000 a month in alimony and full custody of the kids, the underlying issues will remain to be addressed.  Recognizing that there will still be lots of work to do after your legal case is closed may make you mindful of not wasting all of your emotional energy over the stuff. Save it for the heavy lifting that needs to be done after the courtroom drama ends.

Getting divorced may make you feel like a failure.

No one—with the exception of a few celebrities —gets married with the intention of getting divorced. We the say the vows because we believe we are going to live happily ever after. So when the marriage ends, despite your best efforts to do everything you can to save it, it may leave you feeling that you are unlovable, and questioning whether you will ever find love again.

 It may take years to resolve your legal issues.

The legal system moves very slowly. This should come as no surprise when you consider that thousands of other people file for divorce at the same county courthouse where your divorce is filed and they have only a handful of judges assigned to the cases. And a single alimony trial, for example, could take several hours or several weeks to resolve. The more complex your case is (e.g., the more stuff you have) the longer you can expect the case to take. Lawyers have little incentive to expedite the case, because the longer it takes the more they get paid.   You have to approach the process one day at a time. You can’t stress out over things you can’t control and you can’t control the legal process.

Starting over will require you to do more than you believe you are capable of doing.          

Most women have to start over after a divorce. They have to start over rebuilding their credit, reestablishing themselves in the workplace and sometimes even finding new set of friends. You may need to relocate to a new city and find a new job. You may need to enroll your kids in a new school, and set up a new bank account. Your to-do list will be overflowing with more things than you believe you are capable of doing.   You may not believe you can do everything that you will need to do after your divorce. But, you don’t have to do everything at once. You only have to do the next thing.


This is an excerpt from What to Divorce When You are Divorcing:  Download a copy below:
What to Divorce When You are Divorcing

Photo Credit:  bettina n on Visual Hunt



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