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The New Reality After Divorce

The New Reality After Divorce

The New Reality After Divorce By Melissa Burns{3:06 minutes to read} When couples are going through the divorce mediation process, they are sometimes in different places. Even though they know the marriage is over, for some individuals, this change in marital status is very difficult to accept. They feel a sense of failure for not being able (or willing) to make the marriage work, and selfish for wanting out.

For others it is seeing how their lives are going to look after the divorce, that gives pause. Within many relationships, there are different roles/responsibilities for each person:

  • One handles the finances;
  • One maintains the home;
  • One is more involved in the day to day activities of the children; etc.

Now, each person will be responsible for all of those things on their own, and that can be very scary.

I have found that as I work with couples, the closer we get to reaching an agreement and the clearer the picture gets of how each individual’s life will look, the more overwhelmed they can become.

  • But I’ve never balanced the checkbook.
  • I don’t know how the washer works.
  • I don’t know how to dress the kids for school.

Panic sets in, and they begin to question whether or not this is the right decision. Maybe they can make things work between them, not because they want to save the marriage, but because they view the alternative as the greater of the two “evils,” at this point.  In reality, they are just not ready for this new picture of their lives.

Sometimes, they simply need some time to make the plan a reality so they can be assured that it is sustainable. After a set period of time, they can return to mediation to revise and finalize the Agreement. Especially for the spouse who is feeling overwhelmed by these added responsibilities, this window of time can help them accept what their new life will look like.

Once a tentative agreement is made, these couples engage in “reality testing.”  Again, this gives them time to live with the terms and see what works and what doesn’t.  Reality testing agreements is so important, whether it is done through discussion, or going and living with the terms for a period of time. Identifying potential issues is one way mediators help their clients come up with realistic expectations and make choices that will still feel like good decisions down the road.

How have you addressed “the new reality” in mediation?

Melissa Burns

16 Pearl St., Suite 201
Glens Falls, NY 12801
Phone: (518) 529-5200

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One Comment

  1. Charlotte Carter December 2, 2015 at 11:07 am

    Divorce was hard.I am firmly convinced the only thing worse would have been fighting it out with lawyers and court filings. With the help of Burns Mediation we were able to work our own way through the process without harming our children. We were a tough couple to work with! Dealing with the new reality of finances and facing a very different future was daunting and scary.

    Ten years later: we have a cordial relationship, full and happy separate lives, and we take pleasure in attending graduations and other milestone family celebrations together. I’m proud that our kids never have to worry about us and significant others getting along. Maybe I’m lucky, but I wished I’d spared myself some of those worries about finances, supporting myself, living on my own. It has all worked out, and wasn’t the toughest thing in life after all.

    Hope my backwards perspective is helpful to others who are in the middle of tough marital transitions. Mediation was enormously helpful.

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