Divorce is a tricky dance, often an ungraceful one, where you and your partner are unsure if every step taken is even part of the choreography.
As I sit down to write this article, recalling when I was on the other side of that “dance,” I start to get that feeling in the pit of my stomach again – the feeling sparked by the unknown, a wrong decision and the fear of losing everything. While I am now remarried and in a place in my life that feels right, it wasn’t always an easy journey.
Overall, I am proud how my first husband and I successfully went about our divorce and came out of it, but that doesn’t mean it was all smooth sailing.
To be completely honest, there are a few things that I might have done differently – especially when I was just getting married – in an attempt to have a long range projection of my own personal and professional future. While I believe everything happens for a reason and have no regrets, here’s hoping you read this article and avoid some of the mistakes that I made.
I can say there are some things I did well and others where I was dancing like I had two left feet.
Take a “Business-Serious” Approach to Love
I didn’t have a serious conversation with my then husband, or myself, when I got married. I was in love, everything was going great and there was no reason to think it would change. Looking back, I would give this advice: Simply make a plan, not a plan of today and tomorrow with a slight spectrum of a few years down the line, but a long term plan filled with goal setting and a deep look at your lives. Reflect not only the amazing relationship you currently have, but what type of future landscape you want to create with your mate. When life is beginning and dreams are formed, try to look into your future in increments – 5, 10, 15 and 20 years from now. Imagine your work, finances, your family dynamic and your specific needs as individuals and as partners.
Being the Stay-at-Home Parent Can Be Risky
Being the “stay-at- home” parent can be risky when divorce comes into the picture. It’s a blessing to be home for every moment in your child’s life, and I am grateful to have that privilege to watch my daughter grow up. There were times, however, when I was by myself and didn’t know what to do.
Take a good look around and see if you could be employed should you need to be. My sister moved out of a city environment where her specialty of work was abundant. After divorce, removed from the city and unemployed for years, she had a very hard time getting the specific type of work that she was highly qualified for when trying to re-build post-divorce. Now, she has to contemplate relocating or staying, not an easy decision. When you are putting down your roots, they often grow in different directions – so the easy “let’s pick up and move!” becomes very complex within a blink-of- an-eye with time settling into your home or settling into a divorce, should that happen.
Sometimes It’s Better to Stay Put
In my first marriage, I moved away from my family so we could be closer to his. While I’m not complaining about living in gorgeous, southern California, not being near my family at times became a sad reality and I regret that my daughter didn’t grow up with her grandparents nearby. Instead, I created a huge support system of amazing friends, which are my “family”. With visits, my family remains close and in touch. We all adapt.
Overall, divorce can be geographically restricting and challenging. When you face a challenge like divorce, having family close by is a blessing. If you’re in a serious relationship and your partner wants to move somewhere, take a second to think about it. Project out, “If I had to do it alone, what would my support system look like? How do I feel about that?”
Plan Ahead, Further Than You Think
Look at all your financial options in buying a home – be wise to what you can afford. Head off future possibilities such as if one partner stops working, what are your savings now and future goals, retirement and plan for the future. Always seek a CPA or financial advisor for direction if you’re buying anything together – a house, a car, etc. For example, a home purchase is not just about the home, but about the location. Always do research on your local schools, regardless if you plan to have children or not. Schools contribute to real estate values and knowing this information prior to purchase is in your benefit.
Real Estate and Romance
And, since I’m on the topic of real estate, as a real estate broker I have a few quick thoughts … when you and your mate are looking for a house, always consider the true market trends. If you are planning on moving in a few years and the market is looking shaky, it may be a good time to rent and purchase later when you know the market is stronger and you will be staying for a longer period of time. Take into account that a home is often the largest finical investment people make- hold that investment near and dear to your heart from the beginning. If you are ambitious, try to buy “the worst house” in the best area. Location, location, location. If you have the tolerance and vision for making improvements or over time adding on, this usually is a benefit to the value of the property.
“If you’re going through hell, keep going,” -Winston Churchill
I spent 10 months in therapy with my first husband to honor my marriage and see if I could stay.
Ultimately, I came to the decision that divorce was what I was going to pursue. Emotionally, I had come to grips with it. Psychologically, I was terrified. I didn’t think I was going to be able to survive it. I had a big fear I couldn’t see what it looked like, but I took a leap of faith anyway. Be kind to yourself and let the process make the decision. Winston Churchill’s quote says it all – keep going.
Finding Love Twice is Possible
Divorce was dark for me – when it was happening, I woke up every day thinking there was this giant cliff that I was going to fall off of, but that I still had to jump into the darkness, anyway. I am grateful the darkness never divided my daughter and my first husband. While he may not have been the right husband for me, he’s the greatest and most loving father to my daughter and I never lost sight of that – it was important for me to come out of this knowing she would still have both parents in her life.
In finding marriage again to a man I knew in high school 30 years ago, I feel thrilled to have reinvested in love and a home again.
Things are not always perfect but when you’ve got love, it makes a big difference. Now I am saying, “I do – and may I be blessed with ‘forever’.”
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**As ALWAYS, we recommend that you consult a divorce attorney, tax/financial expert, and/or other divorce-related professional for advice pertaining to your specific situation. With regard to asset (or personal property) division, financial or legal guidance, etc, please consult your legal/financial professional for personalized direction. The above is considered information only, and does not constitute specific or general legal/financial advice.