Less Divorce Strategy and More Raw Emotions

It’s been almost 4 years and it still hurts. Don’t get me wrong. I am so much better off now that I am not in an abusive relationship, but I miss my dream of being with my soulmate no matter how delusional it turned out to be. I dreamed of having someone know me on all levels sharing a life walk as well as a spiritual walk, now I feel silly and childish even entertaining the thought. The emotions are still raw. The emotions will continue to be raw, because we share children. The ex’s abusive words are now flung at me from a distance. There are surface trimmers of what the children must endure while they are with him, but I am not forced to see it firsthand anymore. I am no longer in a state of being conditioned to accept his abusive ways towards me and the children. For that I am grateful. They are in God’s hands. I am a God-fearing woman, so I know this is a season. It is a season to learn from, grow from and gain strength from. I could not have survived everything up until this point by relying on myself. The burden was and is still too great to bear alone.

Some people isolate themselves when they are going through a divorce (do not do that!), I cling to the promises of Jesus (and if you do not know Him, seek Him and you will find rest); He supplies my every need. When divorce graced my path, I had no preconceived notions all that I grasped was that maybe I could live a normal life again without the abusive man my ex had become. Normalcy is ahead; however still out of reach. Divorce so far has been my darkest hour and unfortunately this dark hour is also shared by the children on both sides of the parental equation.

When divorce occurs, the messiness spills all over, it is so incredibly difficult to shelter the children from the turmoil. They do not understand. They have adult emotions in little bodies, and they do not understand the anger they feel. I imagine many children in divorce feel like my own; although maybe at a lesser extent considering my divorce felt so terribly abusive and wrong it could be a great piece of fiction based off a true story. Yes, it was that bad. People tell me it will get worse, but so far I feel like the worst abuse is over and I certainly hope I am right. I read the book, Between Two Worlds, the Inner Lives of Children of Divorce and truly every child responds to divorce differently. I pray that I respond the right way for my children for things I cannot even anticipate in the future that have to do with my ex, their dad.

I don’t think Divorce will be in my past until the children are grown. Divorce is not an escape like most people think. If escaping is a potential motive of divorce, when there’s children it is nearly impossible to escape the other person. Even people who have children out of wedlock find it impossible to escape the other parent. If only I had hindsight before I got married. If only… Now I just hurt. I hurt that I cannot share experiences with my children in a family unit, I long for a supportive spouse that will cheer me up when things get hard or pray for me when I need it. I long to be held like I hold my children. Physical reassurance from someone stronger, someone that is better equipped at handling the blows that life inevitably brings. Fun too, I want the fun a spouse brings to the table, comic relief when things are hard (all husbandry concepts foreign to my ex unfortunately). Thankfully I have the Lord. He is my refuge and my help. He is always there. His words are always true. His faithfulness sustains me. His love is perfect. His words restore my soul. Oh Lord, my God do you have it in your plan for me to be married to a person that is genuinely in love with you or is my fate sealed as an unmarried woman who’s life’s purpose will be solely devoted to you… a heart undivided and hopefully a heart completely healed and restored one day. Still hurting, but hopeful.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Does divorce really have to be this way?

Divorce has to change.  The courtroom drama needs to stop.  Placing useless stress on families is having an unseen ripple effect in the community that is impossible to measure.  Divorce has not always been the way it is in the 21st Century.  The history of divorce goes all the way back to Biblical days; however, back then the only details surrounding a certificate of divorce was essentially a one-time send-off drawn up in one legal document.  There was no drawn out process or a specific time of separation.  There were no court dates.  There were no meetings with attorneys.  The certificate of divorce did EVERYTHING (Matthew 5:31).  It legally severed the marriage, it divided assets and outlined how both people are to move forward.  There is nothing in the Bible that shares how the children functioned in Bible times during a divorce.  Going beyond Biblical days, marriage and divorce in ancient Rome sounded like it favored the male ALWAYS.  According to Wikipedia, “Under Roman Law, the head of the family had absolute authority.”

Women in the Roman era could leave at any time, but they essentially left everything behind.  She left her wealth and her children.  I would say those situations were probably abusive situations.  No one in their right mind would leave their livelihood and relatives unless they felt forced to do so.  In some cases women could leave with their dowry, but still there is no indication how dowry allotment was enforced.  Divorce also was considered a private matter, so only family and close friends knew of the personal matter.  Divorce registration was not required until 449 CE.

The process as it is now has become a monstrosity for people in high conflict situations or people with a lot of assets.  If there is low conflict and you have assets, better get ready for a high conflict divorce.  The system as it is now is designed to twist the emotions of both parties so much that neither party recognizes who they are afterwards.  Divorce is not pretty and it surely does not solve all the marital issues that surface after children.  Why?  You have children!  If you have children, the other person does not fade into the background like a normal break-up; they are around for everything the children are involved in.  They will be at the school.  They will be at the children’s events.  They will be contacting you still via email or some sort of co-parenting application.  They will insist they are involved with the children and that means they are ALWAYS indirectly involved with YOU.

Additionally, if one person in the relationship was abusive divorce with children does not change their abusive tendencies it just morphs the abuse into a different form.  This abuse can surface as control and/or abusive words whenever the person is angry or misunderstands something in communication.  An extreme case is using the children in their abusive tactics.  Divorce court only gives one option for abusive situations…  A restraining order.  Also very rarely does a restraining order become permanent unless the person has a criminal record, or the abuse led to a crime.  Newsflash, if the abusive person is a “good” citizen on paper, the victim has no chance of justice. Please consult an attorney for any legal advice surrounding a restraining order.

Divorce must change.  The community needs to take more responsibility in the union and the separation if it comes to that.  The marriage and ceremony is designed to be the first public commitment the couple makes; however these days the people attending a wedding ceremony are never consulted if the happy couple all of the sudden decide to call it quits.  When people get married they should be given options up front.  Something like opt-in to family court or opt-out of family court; that way if a divorce becomes an inevitable solution the couple has a document to fall back on that they both originally agreed to.  I would vote for a community private divorce rather than a public family court divorce, because truthfully no one in public court really cares about the people involved and the court system only makes things worse for everyone involved.

Avoid Divorce Drama & Choose Mediation

Relief swept over me when the final documents for the divorce arrived in the mail.  It was over.  Finally.  No more court dates, witnesses and paperwork submissions.  Going to court puts stress on everyone involved.  Little did I know, I would be summoned to court almost a year later after it was finalized. If you have an ounce of good in you, go to mediation if you decide to be the petitioner in your divorce.  Settle everything in less than a year.  Divorce court is grueling and there is no end!  If you are in an abusive situation, court is the only choice unfortunately.  My heart goes out to you.  Here’s the plea, if you are set on divorcing your spouse for any reason and you have some love for them, go to counseling first and if divorce is still the only answer go to mediation.  If you are heartless and there is no abuse involved you will choose court; hardhearted or ill-informed always do.

Although I have no personal experience with mediation, an acquaintance of mine was the respondent in his mediation divorce.  He cheated on his wife with someone in his office.  They had one child under the age of 5.  After listening to his experience and how merciful his ex-wife was in the whole ordeal, mediation sounds so much better for the following reasons:

  1. Mediation is less stressful.  If you find the right mediation group, they will walk you through the divorce process and counsel you on your decisions for both parties.
  2. Mediation is less costly.  A court case has no end in sight if one spouse cannot handle stress.  Court becomes costly quickly and the judge does not hold the attorneys accountable even though the parties involved are under such emotional stress from their lives being ripped apart. Every minute counts towards your invoice.  EVERY MINUTE.
  3. Mediation is more fair.  Both sides are heard equally.  In court, there is no guarantee of fairness or equality.  The judge must listen to many court cases a day and depending on the judge’s mood your court case could go one way or another.
  4. Mediation is more private.  Court is a public affair.  Anyone can sit in on the hearings.  The documents submitted can be accessed by anyone with a driver license.
  5. Mediation is more family friendly.  All court documents are signed in an office and no one must go to court.  This is helpful especially if you have young children, because there are no delays.  No delays mean, you do not have to take advantage of your child care options thereby burning bridges because you could not set appropriate expectations with your family, friends, babysitter, or nanny.  Also mediation is more flexible with the custody schedule.  The court will give standard options; however, these options have not been monitored nor tested to find out whether the schedule was good for the children.  There is absolutely NO ACCOUNTABILITY.  Parents, you know what is best.  If one parent is more active in the children’s lives, let that parent decide or come to a happy compromise.

Mediation is less stressful, less costly, more fair, more private and more family friendly than court; therefore mediation in theory is so much better than court.  Do not take your spouse to court if you do not have to.  If you do not have children and you do not have assets, you don’t even need an attorney.  Many states will allow you to divorce online.  Divorce is so difficult.  Do not make it more difficult than it needs to be.  Follow your agreements with your co-parent and always do what’s best for the children.

Finalize your divorce through mediation, it is better for everyone.

Considering Divorce? Read this first!

Circling back through the divorce memories, reveals how unbelievable it truly is.  Divorce is an unknown entity by practically half the population.  Every divorce is unique and every divorce shatters relationships like removing a glass card from the glass house of cards.  If people knew better, they would divorce online, or they would use mediationLitigation requires deep pockets and although it looks official to the untrained eye; it is a theatrical play of attorneys playing puppeteer.  In fact, it could be described as the ultimate revenge tool.  Not only is it a revenge tool used by angry spouses, but it most likely is a revenge tool used by rich people as well, people who are not even directly involved in the relationship (this trajectory could develop into a story all on its own).  Oh, the tangled web just keeps getting more complicated.  Only certain people decide to litigate.

People who file for divorce and choose the litigation route can be defined as the following:

1. They have no idea what they are doing or they know the system intimately and choose to use the system for its many pain inflicting levers

2. They want their way no matter what

3. They are impulsive

4. They lack compassion

5. They have secrets they want to protect

6. They are not communicators

7. They do not care about the best interests of the children

8. They will be manipulated by the system whether they know it or not

9. They will use the system to punish their spouse

10. They will try to use every tactic they can to screw over the other spouse, to the extent of submitting false coerced testimony

Understanding divorce is somewhat corrupting in nature.  Innocence and ignorance is a blissful state that has long since died by going through the divorce process (which actually starts the moment the petitioner starts talking with attorneys) – consumers beware.  It is disheartening that the American government does not value its citizens enough to modify and/or do away with the litigation system that is in place.

If you have a heart, do not litigate.

If you have a soul, go to counseling consistently for at least 6 months (don’t settle on a counselor that only one of you likes, find one that is a good fit for both of you).

If you must divorce, do your research and put your broken family first as much as possible.

What do you do about parental alienation?

Parental alienation is an unfortunate outcome of divorce.  If at first your divorce is amicable and then suddenly turns sour due to attorney involvement (attorneys can plant the seed of alienation even if it is not happening) or the jungle of emotions that naturally occur with divorce can inadvertently make the children pawns.  Sourness can happen, no divorce is immune.

Parental alienation will not happen if both parents are invested in seeing their children persevere through their divorce.

In some situations, one parent can be the extremist and abduct the children or constantly miss visits and taint the children’s ears with lies and/or truths that negatively impact the other parent in the children’s eyes (this occurs on both sides: custodial and non-custodial).  This emotional abuse, will lead to the child or children externalizing or internalizing problems.  The most bitter and vengeful parent will use anything in their arsenal to punish the other parent (this could be the same behavior that existed before the divorce – poor married behaviors become exaggerated in divorce).

No matter what, your children need both of you.  They need to know you are listening.  They need to know that you care.  Constant conflict between divorced parents hurts the relationship on both sides.  Once your children are in college, you don’t want to be the parents that only get phone calls for money.  Know what to do when you are the custodial parent and when you are the non-custodial parent if a form of alienation is happening.

If you are invested in seeing your children persevere through your divorce YOU NEED TO DO the following if you are the custodial parent:

  1. Follow the court order. The courts are flawed on many levels and mistakes can happen in the courtroom without a doubt; however, if you are the custodial parent it is your JOB to be the RESPONSIBLE one.  No excuses.  If the order is wrong you must get it corrected before you change anything in the schedule and you MUST get the other parent’s permission if it is a one-off change.
  2. Do not engage when the non-custodial parent is mudslinging. It is your JOB to be the RESPONSIBLE one.  No excuses.  Children can pick up on this right away.  Remember children are the smartest in the room.
  3. Be unbelievably consistent. It is your JOB to be the RESPONSIBLE parent since you have physical custody.  If the other parent misses a visit, act as though it was planned or turn it into a better situation by doing something special with the children.  If the non-custodial parent has trouble remembering the schedule, remind them constantly with traceable documentation (email, text and/or mobile divorce app) – so there are no surprises.  That way if it is the day before your vacation they can’t say, how come you didn’t tell me sooner or I didn’t agree to that.
  4. Silent coyote when the children are present. Remember, it is your JOB to be the RESPONSIBLE parent.  That means no specifics on the other parent while your children are present.  Schedule time to get together with friends while the children are in school or make sure the children are occupied in another room out of earshot if you are discussing your feelings about the divorce situation (this goes for family too while you are not present).
  5. Reverse the damage. If the non-custodial parent is alienating the children from you, address it right away.  Do not wait for a better time.  Do not rationalize.  Do not make excuses for them.  Tell it as it is and then move on.  Reinforce your love. You are the custodial parent, it is your JOB to be RESPONSIBLE and that includes safeguarding your relationship with the children without engaging in the same scheming tactics as the other parent.

If you are invested in seeing your children persevere through your divorce YOU NEED TO DO the following if you are the non-custodial parent:

  1. Follow the court order. If it is wrong or you feel there has been an injustice, fight to get it changed, but DO NOT disrespect authority by terrorizing the custodial parent.  If the custodial parent is being irresponsible it is your JOB to be the RESPONSIBLE one.  No excuses.  Custodial is skipping your visitation days, be gracious and then GO TO COURT (get legal advice to steer you in the right direction).
  2. Do not engage when the custodial parent is mudslinging. Your children need you to be the RESPONSIBLE one, it is your JOB especially since the custodial is stooping to low levels to gain control or punish you.  They are not punishing you; they are unknowingly punishing the very people they should be protecting, the children.  Take the high road, because your children will notice and when they are old enough they will request to live with you or it could be sooner if you present a strong enough case before the judge (DO NOT manipulate the children to request anything, be kind only and hope for the best).
  3. Be unbelievably consistent. If the custodial is missing visits, find a way to have constant contact with your children.  If your children are in school, do something special for them each week and visit them there.  If your children see their grandparents and you still have a relationship with them, try to see them then.  It is imperative that you be RESPONSIBLE by maintaining contact.  It is your JOB to undo everything the alienating parent is doing and you MUST be relentless.
  4. Silent coyote when the children are present. If you can’t say something nice do not say anything at all.  Children will replay everything that is mentioned in front of them in their heads.  Even if the custodial parent has said horrible things, be silent.  If the children ask about the things that are said, explain them, refute them, fill their ears with good things and your love and leave it at that.  By setting the example you are doing your JOB and being RESPONSIBLE. Document everything.
  5. Reverse the damage. Since you have less time with them, it is more difficult for this to occur.  You must keep fighting to get a court order that gives you time with them.  Every time you are with them it MUST be more POSITIVE than negative especially since you see them less.  You have less time, so there is no room for stupid mistakes like checking your phone constantly while you are with them.  Be grateful for the time you have and show your children you will persevere in adversity.  Your strength will encourage them, because you are showing you are RESPONSIBLE and putting your parent JOB as top priority.

Whether you are the custodial or non-custodial experiencing parental alienation, follow the court order, do not engage in mudslinging, be unbelievably consistent, silent coyote when the children are present and reverse as much damage as possible.  Coparenting and even parallel parenting requires BOTH parents be RESPONSIBLE.  Being a good parent is hard work and being a divorced parent is twice as hard, so take it seriously.  Being a parent is as important if not more important than any JOB or career that exists.  Being a parent is a privilege.  Do not squander the role and most of all DO NOT alienate the very person that your children love the most and DO NOT claim alienation when it is not happening.

I have two children and I’m facing this Wild West court system alone.  If you read or get ideas from my original content please donate any amount on PayPal and send money to info@fyidivorce.com.

Thanks for supporting an unbiased divorce opinion blog at FYIDivorce.com

10 Questions to Ask Before Marriage

Divorce is looming for anyone that jumps into marriage without asking the right questions. Know thyself and know thy future spouse.

I’m compelled to write in the first person this time around.  Divorce emotions are coming out in full force and what needs to be written needs to be personal.  A drawn out contested divorce such as mine is difficult.  My responsibility has tripled since separation (my youngest was one month old).  It is too bad my younger self was not given a heads-up on marriage complications once children come along.  Now that my youngest is almost a toddler and teething; my patience has reached an all time low.  The drool, incessant cries and elevated temperatures come at nightfall and make me want to scream, because I never wanted to face parenting alone and I am so dead tired.  I never thought I could have such negative feelings as I do for the father of my children, not in a million years.  Oh wait, it was even worse when we were under the same roof after my first was born, because of the abuse that ensued once we both went back to work.   (Both parents working is another topic for another blog.)  I stayed quiet about the abuse in all areas of my life, because I thought every relationship has its peaks and valleys – the thoughts of an optimist.  By acknowledging how bad it was then, I already feel better in the present.  I only wish I had been more of a realist than an optimist.  My naïve nature during it all kind of disgusts me now.  If I had been more of a realist and faced the music I probably would not have had a second child from the seed of Jekyll & Hyde.  It hurts my heart severely to reflect on that notion.  I love my children and I wanted four children before the tides changed.

Oh, there is so much advice I have for my younger self.  No one was giving the advice I needed and I knew several newlywed blended families at the time our camouflaged frayed knot was tied.  Do people hold onto their past stories in secret, because they want to maintain a happy image to bury the hatchet or do people temporarily forget the divorce turmoil amid new bliss and love?  I hope it is the latter and not the former.  I also want to be the person that boldly remembers, so that I can help people make good decisions and minimize repeating a history full of mistakes (sometimes mistakes are inevitable and in a strong relationship mistakes make the relationship even stronger instead of destroying it).  FYIDivorce.com aligns with that goal.  If I could write a letter to my younger self, it would go something like this:

Dear Optimist,

You have no idea what you’re doing when it comes to marrying someone, especially if you have known them for less than a decade or even less, only two years.  You should wait and develop your career and goals before jumping into anything.  YOU HAVE TIME.   You have lasted this long without a committed relationship, what is a few more years?  Please try to answer the following questions before you say “I do,” acquire a marriage license and decide to make all your life decisions with someone else steering the ship.

  1. Does the person make you uncomfortable in public situations?  If the answer is “yes.” Please move on and kick this one to the curb before there is a proposal.
  2. Does the person isolate you from others in a group? If the answer is “yes,” please move on immediately.  This is learned behavior from a dysfunctional family.
  3. Does the person talk about themselves most of the time? If the answer is “yes,” this does not mean they’re a good conversationalist, it means they’re self-centered and prideful.  Take a hint, the person won’t change once your relationship is more serious.
  4. Does the person push your physical boundaries?  If the answer is “yes,” they’re indirectly disrespecting you and they will do the same thing in different contexts later.  Do not rationalize the behavior by saying “By doing this it makes things more fun or this is an indicator there will never be a dull moment.”  This is the biggest red flag, do not stay.  End it.
  5. Is the person critical of anyone in your family?  If the answer is “yes,”  stay clear of danger!
  6. Have you asked every question you can think of about their past?  If the answer is “no,”  make a list and start checking them off.  Write down the answers, so you have a record.  The history of a person determines how they will react in the future; it’s in their (nature) and in their learned behavior from childhood (nurture).  Make no mistake, familial ties run deep.  Any questions avoided, run like the wind and do not look back.
  7. Does the person have a busy schedule or are they spending most of their time on you?  If they are spending most of their time on you; they don’t have a real job, they are not living on their own nor do they know how to manage a relationship when real life hits them in the face.  They are only making you feel special, because they don’t have anything else better to do.  Do not be a fool.  Take it for what it is and say goodbye.
  8. Do you get along with the person’s family and do they feel like family?  If the answer is “no,” and all the previous answers direct you to move on, what are you waiting for?
  9. Has the person done illegal things in front of you?  If the answer is “yes,” you should no longer look to the last item on this list!  That qualifies as corrupting.  There is no way this person should even be dating you much less become your spouse.
  10. Do you often yield to that person’s desire?  If you say “yes,” you should know this person is controlling and has no interest in sharing a world, but wants to monopolize your life to feel validated and secure.  Once you show you have a voice, they will turn on you. Get out while you still can!

Please do not take this advice lightly.  You have a life ahead and every decision you make impacts your life.  Granted, even the bad decisions can make you a better person, but please avoid some turmoil by really understanding what it means to marry the wrong person.  Being with the wrong person is worse than being single and truthfully being single can sometimes be better than having a relationship.

With enduring love from your older wiser self ,

Realist

I wish I considered the 10 questions above before marriage.  Do not avoid these questions.  I read so many relationship books it makes my mind spin and I wonder if someone gave me this advice whether it would have fallen on def ears.  It is very possible it could have.  I drank from the love cup, it happens to the best of us.  All the questions above contributed to the demise of my marriage, because they all impact parenting.  When there are only two people in a relationship there is less conflict, especially if one person is always agreeable. I was the agreeable one.

I have two children and I’m facing this Wild West court system alone.  If you read or get ideas from my original content please donate any amount on PayPal and send money to info@fyidivorce.com.

Thanks for supporting an unbiased divorce opinion blog at FYIDivorce.com

Co-parenting with Jekyll & Hyde

Divorce is not pretty.  The more time goes on the more terrible the other person’s character becomes.  It’s scary.  What’s even more terrifying is that you are faced with this new person every time the court forces you to exchange the children.  This ache starts to happen in the pit of your stomach, you get a bad taste in your mouth and slowly you can feel your facial expression change from happiness while being with your children to utter disgust and contempt (See the blog: Divorce? Beware, it’s an Emotional Jungle)  as your feet take you closer to Jekyll & Hyde.  This response is totally natural after any type of abuse has occurred.  Luckily the disgust and contempt does not get plastered on your face as a permanent mask, at least this has not happened yet.  Faith and forgiveness are the only practices that quickly wash these negative emotions away inside and out.

It would be nice if everything could be washed away immediately, but that is not real life.  Imagine having someone verbally assault you every day and then having to face them?  Or even worse, that same person comes back the next day and says, “I just want peace and whatever is best for the children.  Why won’t you work with me?”  The following day the insults come whizzing by your head once again.  Every fiber in your body wants to scream out in agony at the pain those words cause.  Silence; however, is the only loyal friend in this situation.  This silence and limiting communication with the other parent is more accurately called parallel parenting not co-parenting.  Without any vocal words, somehow the other person maintains their cool on the outside and the world for a moment feels safe to the one verbally assaulted at least half the time.  There is absolutely no one to help in this situation, especially after supervised visitation is dissolved.  Side note: qualifications are not required to be a supervisor of visitation other than a simple completion certificate, but the service still costs an arm and a leg to maintain.  Supervised visitation is a story for another day.

Co-parenting with a Jekyll & Hyde type is rough.  When days seem to get better this type of person wheels you back to their shadowy world with very little effort.  Could be like quicksand; although, once quicksand consumes you, there is no coming up for air after.  It is more like a turbulent ocean. On some days the serenity and calmness take you back to a place of peace; however, once the tide changes and the weather shifts things can get quite dangerous and you wonder if you can survive another day of chaos.  Is this the happy co-parenting image that people are preaching about in the divorce industry?  This is what really happens in a high conflict divorce, but I do not hear the courts or anyone else talking about it.  Attorneys and the courts put fuel on the fire.  Be extremely thankful you are not in a divorce with a Jekyll & Hyde person, it’s really difficult. Faith and forgiveness are the only practices that help co-parenting or parallel parenting in this type of relationship.

I have two children and I’m facing this Wild West court system alone.  If you read or get ideas from my original content please donate any amount on PayPal and send money to info@fyidivorce.com.

Thanks for supporting an unbiased divorce opinion blog at FYIDivorce.com