As a CEO, certified divorce financial analyst, money manager, divorcee, and co-parent of a child with special needs, I have learned a lot about how to handle crisis. My personal and professional experiences have taught me many valuable lessons, some I believe are pertinent as we navigate the current global health and economic crises.
Positivity is Power
Over time I have learned that any big crisis brings out the best and worst in ourselves and the people in our lives. Three minutes after my son was born, I was told he had Down syndrome. As I focused on doing what needed to be done for him and his health, my husband at the time shut down. When I help many separated couples navigate alongside the current corona emergency, I see every kind of reaction. There are those who manage to figure things out and co-parent effectively. There are others who find themselves fighting more, rehashing old issues, and creating new ones. My positivity and optimistic nature are what propelled me forward as a new mom, and they are the keys to seeing beyond the hardship of a current situation. I left no room in my life for negativity and negative people. I made sure that I was surrounded by people who shared my enthusiasm. I recognize that the familial and financial realities of this crisis are not easy, but if you remain positive and focus on action, things don’t have to be devastating.
It’s OK to Need Help
My career is focused on helping women build a financially stable and sustainable life after their marriages end. Divorce is not something anyone should do alone. Even with all my professional experience, I made sure that I had the most competent legal and financial team on my side when I was going through my own divorce; and wanted to make sure my ex had the same. I approach co-parenting a child with special needs in much the same way: it takes a village. That is why I partnered with a network of parents to build a new school and academic curriculum for special needs kids. Now, more than ever, the value of community cannot be understated. It’s time to get comfortable asking for help. We have virtual and real-life villages who want to be there for us when we need them. The key is to be clear and specific with our requests. Say what you want, and what you need, and embrace the help you receive.
Find the Shared Goals
In the midst of de-coupling, it is still important to focus on the values and objectives that once brought you together. Focus on the respect you have for one another and direct that toward your divorce settlement. You are not likely to get “rid” of your ex-spouse once the papers are signed and the divorce is final, especially if you share children. Keeping things cordial and constructive is the only way to make things as smooth as possible moving forward. Use the current pandemic as an opportunity to rethink the ways you are separating: you can avoid lengthy and costly court proceedings, excessive litigation, and the ugly disputes through mediation. With the right professionals, and the proper mindset, you can reach a fair, equitable, and civil outcome for all involved. Families (married, divorced, or otherwise) are spending more time together during this crisis. By concentrating on shared goals—like cohesion, health, monetary sense—you can gain a restorative sense of empowerment and calm.
Even in the best familial realities, any kind of crisis can be upending. The realities I have seen in my work, and the situations I have had to deal with in my own life, have taught me that no matter the size or nature of the struggle we face, we are responsible for our reactions. When we respond to crisis with positivity, self-awareness, and compassion for ourselves and others, we will gain strength and fortitude for the future.