This is the last of three posts extracted from my article "Divorce: Five Ways to Move Beyond."
- As You Heal, Concentrate on Your Long-Range View
The divvying-up of money and goods at the termination of a marriage is one of the most difficult parts of divorce. In most states, divorce is "no-fault," so it should be straightforward: the assets generated during the period of the marriage are split 50/50, and formulas determine income equalization. But it's never quite that easy. Who values the assets? If two appraisals are miles apart, what happens? What constitutes "income"? How will college expenses of the children be split? Sticky items have to be decided individually, at the most difficult of times, often making the degenerating relationship even worse.
Family law doesn't typically make provisions for children's education past high school. That may be glorious news from your financial planner's perspective, but if you've raised your children with the expectation of college, the divorce proceedings might be a good time to ensure their educations. You could, as part of the settlement, indicate that you'll participate in funding. If, for example, you marry and your new spouse doesn't see this as a legitimate expense, you've already established your conviction with the divorce agreement. "Sorry," you can say. "I already signed the papers."
While you're taking the long-term view financially, it might be a good time to work with a therapist to see how the divorce fits into the other events of your life. Perhaps, like me, you've got kind of an ‘emotional glass jaw,' whereby it's harder for you than most to rebound from a hard emotional hit. Someone who had to deal with abuse or alcoholism as an adolescent can find a divorce particularly difficult. Psychologists talk about a ‘narcissistic wound,' where someone's sense of self-worth is decimated early in life. A powerful blow like an unexpected divorce can put them back in their teens overnight. Their recovery will be difficult and could take many years.
I'm convinced the key to long-term mental health is forgiveness. Both parties make multiple mistakes in a divorce. The obvious necessity is to forgive your spouse his or her mistakes; less obvious is that, in order to thrive, you also must forgive yourself.
Causes Kevin Arnold Supports
Poetry Center San Jose -- President