Decisions! Divorce is full of them. The big, key, kicker decision is whether to divorce, whether to embark on what will be a difficult, or at least uncertain, journey into a different life.
Then divorce itself is full of tricky decisions. Which lawyer to use. Whether to use a lawyer at all. How much to stay in touch with your ex. Practical decisions around divorce include where to live, who will look after the kids and how the finances can be organised, on a day-today basis , while you are divorcing.
Eventually at the end of the tunnel of divorce you get to make decisions about your future, rather than your past. At this point, there can be a jumping off into a totally different life. Minor choices about lifestyle can seem as significant to you as major ones – my minor choice after divorce was to unsubscribe to Sky Sports. Nothing against football as such, it just doesn’t particularly interest me. Oh what joy not to have football on in the background of my Saturdays (note to footie fans – do substitute your own pet hate in this paragraph!).
So there are dozens of decisions that have to be made in divorce. Now divorce is a stressful time, and any major stressful event can atrophy your decision-making muscles. So here are some pointers for helping you with your divorce decisions:
1. Sort your laundry list | Many sheets have to be washed but they don’t all go in the same load. Similarly many divorce decisions have to be made, but they all don’t need to be made now. Write down your laundry list of options (without sorting, this is just a brain dump of stuff), then decide on the priority decision for today.
2. Avoid last straws | Don’t make decisions when you are very tired, angry, upset. In these states you just don’t see things clearly. If you are tired it’s tempting to make the easy decision but that might not be the best one to make. If you are angry or tearful it will be impossible to see all the factors of the decision making process. Your anger or distress will make the decision for you – a ‘That’s the last straw’ decision made in haste often doesn’t work.
3. Give yourself time – but calendar it | Recognise that good decision-making takes time. You need time to sit down and at least do a list of pros and cons. Or a more sophisticated matrix that lists all the factors that matter to you with a relative weighting for each. This stuff is work, because in this process you are having to make decision about the decision! (A complex process I work though with my clients, so they don’t endlessly get wrapped up in the process of deciding about deciding).
4. Don’t be a Lone Ranger | You can ask other people’s opinion and get their point of view. You should do this at an age-appropriate level with your children. If you are asking others you may just get their opinion, not real advice, but that’s OK, you can process that too. Be especially aware of ignoring advice that points out all of the snags in what you want to do. It’s annoying to be reminded of the snags but you should at least prepare for them in your divorce plan, so this kind of advice, irritating though it is, can be very useful to you.
5. Be future focused | Be really clear about the outcome you want, including what future relationships you want with your ex and your children. Also what your boundary is for what is essential, what is fair and what is negotiable. You both have to make divorce decisions. Divorce is essentially a negotiation and you will make much better decisions if you clarify up front for yourself what you want.
My work as a coach centres around decision making (deciding what you want in divorce), communication skills (telling your ex and others what you want) and strategic planning. If you feel this could be of help to you in your divorce do contact me to discuss divorce coaching support, so that your divorce decisions will work for you.