Are you in a difficult marriage and afraid to get out?   Now that you are staying home together because of the pandemic, do you and your spouse fight all the time?  Are you feeling depressed and unhappy, but too frightened to see a collaborative divorce attorney?  Do you worry about being alone and broke after a divorce?  Are you staying in your marriage because of the kids?  Don’t think you are alone, because everyone feels anxious about getting a divorce, especially in these times of recession and COVID-19.  However, if you want to feel better, you must deal with your fears and either work on your marriage by seeing a counselor or call a collaborative divorce attorney and get out of your difficult situation.  People who are contemplating a divorce say they are concerned about the future, afraid of losing their job and being poor, they worry about being alone after the divorce, wonder what will happen to their children, and want to avoid the pain of grief.  Here are some ways to deal with your fears.

            Fear of The Future.  Everyone is afraid of uncertainty.  Big fears are not knowing where you will live, how to pay the bills, and whether you will be alone for the rest of your life.  No one knows what will happen in the future, so don’t become paralyzed by uncertainty. You can’t know what will happen next, whether you get a divorce or stay married.  By becoming proactive, you can overcome your fear of uncertainty and exercise some control over your life.  

            Fear of Being Poor.  Everyone worries about having enough money after a divorce.  The solution is to focus on the assets and income you will have after the divorce.  Calculate the value of community assets available after the divorce and plan a budget.  Decide whether you will need cash to pay bills after a divorce or can begin planning for retirement by taking more of the pension plan.  If you already have a job, that’s great.  If not, begin looking for one, even in this difficult job market.  Once you know the value of assets and monthly income you will have after the divorce, you can begin to master the fear of being poor. 

Fear of Being Alone.  Concern about being alone after the divorce is caused by fear of abandonment.  As a child, we had a caretaker who kept us safe and feeling secure.  It’s reasonable to be dependent on someone else at three, but adults need to take care of themselves.  You must learn how to take responsibility for your own happiness and not remain dependent on others.     

            Fear for Your Children.  Divorce is stressful for kids.  However, most recover and are fine in a year or two.  In fact, children in high-conflict families are better off after divorce, because their parents aren’t fighting all the time.  Most children are adaptable and will survive a divorce.  To minimize problems, you should avoid fighting with your spouse in front of the children, maintain a loving relationship with them, and help your children understand their feelings about the divorce.  

            Fear of Emotional Pain.  Divorce causes emotional pain, including shock, depression, fear, and anger and there is no way to avoid these feelings.  Everyone who suffers a serious loss experiences grief.  Understanding the stages of grief can help.  The first feelings are usually shock and denial.  As denial disappears, many people mask their grief with anger.  Next come thoughts of what you can do to prevent the divorce.  Following the bargaining stage, many people become depressed or angry again.  After a year or so, the sense of loss diminishes and most people come to terms with their grief and pain.  Loss is an inevitable part of life.  Grieving is a personal process and there is no “right” way to handle it–everyone must experience pain in their own way to recover–denial will just prolong the grief.

            Getting a divorce is frightening, but can also be liberating if you learn to be independent and self-sufficient.  The key to surviving a divorce is facing your fears and learning to cope with life’s challenges.  The more you know about divorce, finance, and emotional health, the better you can handle the pain of getting a divorce.  If you are worried about the kids, send them to a psychologist.  If you are overwhelmed because you don’t know what to expect from a divorce, meet with a collaborative divorce attorney and discuss the process.  Knowledge will help you face your fears and overcome them.

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