There’s never a good time to dissolve a marriage. Especially as a parent. With family time – holidays, the school schedule, a birthday or long-awaited vacation – the timing to breakup never seems right. You question hurting the kids and it becomes easier to push your pain further and further into the future.
It doesn’t matter if that decision is being made because of a cheating spouse, the mundane loss of intimacy or even the fear of another day with an abusive partner. Parents always try to ignore what’s going on while getting through family time. But there’s much you can do when the time isn’t right to make the move… four ways to get through family time when divorce is coming.
The decision to divorce is immense. Most people know long before the words are uttered or the attorney hired that their relationship is over. Too often one spouse knows before the other; way too often a cheating spouse has broken all the rules. But when it’s family time, it’s tough to imagine breaking up. Few are emotionally ready. Most people fear hurting the kids because of getting a divorce.
But it’s tough to be a kid in this situation too. From a kids’ point of view, they know what’s going on. Your kids may be too young to label the reasons why the tension is there but they feel it. The thing parents fear the most is already going on: your children are going through their first divorce.
Prepare emotionally. A divorce has many legal, tangible steps. But in order to help yourself and your kids, you have to deal with the thing you don’t want to deal with. This is the time to find a therapist or two. One for you, one for each child. You may need a pediatrician to help you and their other parent figure out how to tell your children. Together. No parent wants that conversation and during family time it won’t feel right.
Feeling secure in your decision, understanding the consequences, evaluating your own efforts and the health of the entire family structure is a must. Remember your children already know on a certain level. That helps.
Put good practices into place. In order to deal with a divorce, it’s a good idea to start taking care of yourself now. Instead, most couples begin acting out – there’s the cheating spouse, the drinking, the hiding as well as spending of money, the lack of sex. Instead of misbehaving and making things worse (surviving betrayal and infidelity is significantly harder than dealing with the lack of intimacy) start thinking like a single parent.
No child wants to see their parents drunk, flirting with other people, hiding their cell phones, and mysteriously leaving in the afternoon. And family time is filled with kids watching and needing their parents.
Create that Plan B. Even though it may feel wrong because you’re all supposed to be having fun, you’ll eventually need to get your proverbial ducks in a row. Just as you’re watching every move your spouse makes, start paying attention to where your money goes.
Research and gather everything you can and put copies of important documents somewhere safe. Copy credit card statements, insurance policies, school tuition statements, and tax returns. The more you learn, gather, and know now, the less time and money you’ll spend with your attorney on discovery later.
As you work pragmatically and emotionally, there’s one more thing you must do.
Despite wanting out, for whatever the reason, most couples look upon their family time and wonder if they’re making the right decision. No one can tell you what to do for your family. Your children. You’ll want to be emotionally strong to withstand the hurt and pain everyone will eventually feel. Even when it’s expected or welcomed.
Start to find the courage you need so you can get through family time intact. Make sure you’re certain. Assess your actions, beliefs, and behavior. Your family needs answers that are clear, clean, and honest. As you reflect and watch, monitor and consider, know a new life is available. A good life. Trust that your timing will be perfect.
Laura Bonarrigo is a Certified Life Coach and a Certified Divorce Coach at laurabonarrigo.com. Laura’s a writer, public speaker and the founder of doingDivorce™ School an online coaching program for those ready to shed the pain of divorce. For empowering and practical ways to lose the identity of your past, visit www.doingDivorceSchool.com and laurabonarrigo.com.