The Life After Divorce Fantasy
If I leave him, I’ll find real love. New love. A love that lasts.
If I end my marriage to her, I’ll have more money and more time to myself.
Divorcing my spouse means I can finally focus on myself-the kids-my work-my golf game.
These and many other variations are fantasies I’ve heard from divorce clients and people contemplating ending a marriage. There’s a sense that all the unhappiness, acrimony and arguing of a troubled marriage will just go away if the marriage ends.
Rid yourself of the person and the ties to them, and all will be good again. Success will arrive at your front door. You’ll suddenly feel happy and complete and attractive.
Oh and the biggest one, you’ll fall in love with someone better, with whom you’ll be happier.
I’ve seen this play out in so many ways, and it’s hardly ever what people imagine. Divorce doesn’t end your problems. It ends your marriage.
The problems often remain, especially if you have children together and need to co-parent them for years (or decades) to come.
In Collaborative Divorce especially, we try to build realistic expectations of life after divorce. It’s a life that includes a new family – but a family nonetheless. It’s not you single and your spouse single – it’s the two of you in a new version of the family you created – and anyone else you decide to bring into that picture.
Because post-divorce, you still need to work together.
When one or both ex-spouses are not on board with this new picture of life-after-divorce, things get rocky. If post-divorce life isn’t what you hoped it would be, let go of the fantasy and create a new vision for what your life can be.
Also, don’t take it personally.
Say you’re excluded from plans your ex makes with your children – especially if those children are late teens or adults. All the members of your family have their own vision of what the post-divorce family will look like.
It may be everyone together at graduation dinner, celebrating the graduate.
Or it may be two separate dinners because your kids just don’t want the tension of sitting with both of you through a meal. And that meal may include – or may exclude – your new significant others. Again, don’t take it personally. You all have your own visions of this brave new world.
The most important thing for divorcing spouses to remember is that they can only claim their own vision of post-divorce family life. You can’t change how your kids view it or how your ex-spouse approaches it.
Try to be understanding of everyone and give them the space they need to process scenarios. Be flexible in building new definitions of family. And most of all, let go of the fantasy that divorce fixes what went wrong.