By Alan Freed
Going through a lawsuit is almost always difficult, but going through a divorce adds an extra layer of complex emotional responses. That’s why, when husbands and wives are attempting to negotiate a settlement of their divorce cases, their conversations, usually centered around money and children, are rarely only about money and children. Those conversations have embedded within them the entire history of the marriage: the disappointments, betrayals of trust, the emotional (and sometimes physical) scars, and all of the other elements that go into ending a marriage.
When a husband bristles at the notion of paying his soon-to-be-ex-wife a sum for spousal support, his reaction may be a result both of concern over his ability to make the payments and his anger that his wife has decided to end a relationship that he hoped would last for the rest of his life. When a couple argues about how to divide the contents of their house, sometimes spending more in attorneys’ fees than the value of the disputed items, their ability to make rational decisions sometimes goes out the window because their house full of furniture is also a house full of memories, both good and bad.
Decisions that two strangers would be able to make in the course of an hour can take weeks or months when the emotional connections between the two people are a central element of the discussion.
Lawyers have to wear many hats when trying to assist their divorcing clients. Our training is in the law but we recognize that we are dealing with people whose vulnerabilities are laid bare. We do our best to provide good legal advice and information while helping our clients understand the psychological trauma that goes along with a divorce process.
If you are going through a divorce, you can help yourself by taking a few steps to deal with these emotional issues:
- Recognize that negotiations over money have overtones of emotion. When your spouse reacts in a way that seems grossly out of proportion to the issue, don’t feel a need to respond in kind. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate your wisdom and maturity.
- Take care of yourself. Your lawyer is the person to go to for legal advice, but your lawyer is not your therapist. Most people going through divorce can benefit greatly by having a professional to talk to about your frustrations, fears, disappointments, and anger.
- Stay healthy. Use your gym membership. Spend time with supportive friends. Hug your children. Divorce can be grueling. You need to stay in shape.
- Recognize that most cases are settled and you are not going to get everything you want. Be prepared to make compromises so that you can get a resolution that’s good enough. That’s the best way to get back in control of your life.
For all of your divorce questions, consult with one of the family law attorneys at Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal.