No one marries with the plan to divorce down the track (well, very few people). Once you have made a commitment to share your life with someone (til death do you part), divorce is the farthest thing from you mind.
But if it comes around (and unfortunately it does) you may be forced to navigate the minefield that is divorce, sometimes with no idea about what to do or how to get through it.
Naturally you turn to the people you love for support and they try to give you divorce advice on how to manage your despair and come out sane on the other side. But is this advice inspiring you to grow? Or at times condemning you to feel lost?
Leah Spellman in her article 5 things I hated hearing when I got divorced (but they were all true) talks about the things people tell you when you’re going through a divorce and how this advice can sometimes have the opposite effect to how it was intended.
The advice included: “accept the things you cannot change”, “at least you don’t have kids”, “congratulations!” or “you’ll be better off in the long run”.
But the question is, do these little pearls of wisdom really help?
The Advice Conundrum
We’ve all been there – stuck in a conversation we can’t get out of. But usually it’s about the weather or how well your colleague’s dog went at doggy school. Not a conversation about how to pick up the pieces of a broken marriage.
Advice can sometimes lift you out of your funk or be excruciatingly tedious to hear. If you know what I am talking about, you know that sometimes this “advice” can heighten your sense of loss or confusion about the situation especially if you don’t want to accept change and don’t think you will be better off.
The more forthright of you might simply refuse to accept such advice. Others might politely nod and accept such advice whilst silently wishing it would stop.
Who do I listen to then?
The one person you should accept advice from is yourself. Be confident enough to know that you will get through it and you can withstand the ordeal. You will become (eventually, not straight away) a happier and stronger person, but when you are good and ready!
The other person you should take divorce advice from is your lawyer because we have your best interests at heart. It’s also not a bad idea (or a defeat) if you talk to a psychologist to help you through.
Overall, the pain of a divorce is a surety but the way people deal with it is far from the same. Take their advice with a pinch of salt or, think twice before dishing out potentially unwelcome divorce “advice”.
At Farrar Gesini Dunn, we understand divorce is not just a legal process, but an emotional one as well. That is why we have our own in-house Family and Child Specialist Amy McGinn.
Talk to your lawyer about how we can provide support to you as part of our team approach to your matter.
Cristina Cocchiaro is a family lawyer at our Melbourne Office.
[i] Leah Spellman, 5 things I hated hearing when I got divorced (but they were all true), 19 May 2017, http://www.canberratimes.com.au/lifestyle/-gw7dcx.html