If you've felt the COVID-19 quarantine has turned your life upside down in every dimension, you're not alone. We all continue to adapt as simple things in the past such as haircuts and work/school logistics now cause decision fatigue. Many are feeling stress in their Massachusetts marriage as well.
Situations of extreme stress and uncertainty can crack fissures in relationships wide open or reveal ones that may have otherwise been hidden. But how do you know if these are passing storms, or signs of deeper issues?
Perhaps you're seriously considering divorce. Or, concerned that the decision may be forced on you by your spouse come the end of quarantine.
Regardless, if the question has come up you're smart to carefully consider all aspects before you decide what's best for you and your family. Asking yourself three questions will help you consider the bigger picture to choose the right path.
How will divorce affect your relationships - with your spouse, your kids, community, and even yourself?
Divorce has ripple effects well beyond your family, for years to come and, in ways you may have never expected:
- Your relationship with your spouse may end, but you'll always be co-parents to your kids
- You may lose friendships, not just because your friends may take sides. It's even possible that their own marriages are under stress, and they can't or won't handle the possibility of yours ending because of what it means for their own lives and beliefs
- Your own identity may undergo a seismic shift as a single person
Write down the potential positive and negatives of staying married vs. divorcing on each relationship. Are you comfortable with how they stack up?
How strong is your financial position - your cash, credit, career and earnings along with your ability to fund retirement and access healthcare?
Divorce is expensive even without a pandemic. And the true impact of COVID-19 on employment, healthcare costs, your retirement accounts and a host of other factors is completely unknown at the moment.
- Regardless of how many zeros are in your paycheck or bank account, can you live comfortably on less than half your income even without this uncertainty?
- Are you up to speed on how much you earn (income), own (assets) and owe (liabilities)? If you haven't taken a good look at these critical numbers recently, use my readiness checklist to get a head start
- Do you know how much you might need to support a comfortable life post-divorce? Take a look at your lifestyle and figure out what you can and can't live without, and whether you'll have what you need to support that standard of living
How meaningful of a change will divorce contribute to your future? Is it worth all it takes?
The true cost of a divorce is not the dollars but the amount of "life" you spend on it - the hours of time, energy, collateral emotional damage and of course, the money. The best way to ensure that you come out ahead in all four areas regardless of your ultimate decision is to have clarity that you're doing what's best for you and your family.
- Is there any way you can work to build a happy marriage? THEN DO IT!
- If not, you may be better off getting out of the relationship sooner rather than later
Options to Help You Make the Right Decision
Even when you think you're sure, it may be hard to feel confident that your decision is an authentic choice based on self-awareness, and not an emotionally reactive decision from the stress of COVID-enforced confinement.
This is where discernment counseling can help.
Discernment counseling is a relatively new approach to help couples examine all aspects of the decision to stay or go. While marriage counseling focuses on change, discernment counseling focuses on decision-making.
Being time-limited, this process focuses on getting to a decision on the future of your marriage with clarity and confidence. In one to five voluntary meetings, you get to decide if it's best to maintain the status quo, to divorce, or start couples counseling to do what's needed to strengthen your marriage.
Discernment counseling gives you the time, space and information you need for clarity and confidence in your decision. You'll also learn the communication and negotiation skills essential in a divorce process should you ultimately decide to go that route. You'll learn how to balance logic and emotion to arriving at a wise decision.
What does this process look like? Here's a quick overview:
Writing Your Next Chapter with Clarity and Confidence
Regardless of whether you choose marriage counseling, discernment counseling or divorce, what's most important is that you find experienced professionals specializing in the help you need.
While it may feel temporarily "safe", being in a holding pattern of "Should I stay or should I go?" is not a healthy long-term destination.
Of course, you must make sure you're not making a knee-jerk decision. But it's also important to bring closure and resolution to issues that may be eating away at your happiness and well-being. Whether you end up writing The Next Chapter of your life as a pair or solo, the fact remains that you hold the pen and the power on how that chapter will be written. Use it wisely.
Should you be in the midst of a divorce or contemplating divoce, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation.