I got divorced four years ago, and while that may not be a long time, it feels like a lifetime ago for me. My life has changed drastically, my children are older, and I even got remarried. Over the course of writing my thoughts and personal experiences throughout the last four years, there is one thing that keeps happening to me each time a post is shared — the solicitation of how to get a divorce.
Seeking Unsolicited Advice
The messages come in the form of Facebook messages, texts, and even phone calls from people I wouldn’t expect, complete strangers, former classmates, and beyond. Make no mistake that when it comes to close friends and family members, I am all in when it comes to talking to them about my own experience and will happily answer any questions they have to help them in a situation that may be similar to what I went through. I’m primarily talking about the strangers and acquaintances where I want to yell, “I’M NOT YOUR DIVORCE GURU!”
I Am Not Tony Robbins
I didn’t sign up nor ask you to sign up for my life-coaching event, and while I received a degree in psychology, I didn’t become a therapist. I’ve never been a lawyer, a judge, or even someone who claims to know everything about a divorce. In fact, I didn’t even get my divorce in the state of Florida, and there are a lot of rules and regulations that differ from state to state. Yet, here I am, reading and listening to borderline and not-so-borderline strangers’ stories about wanting a divorce. And I can’t figure out why and what to do.
My Empathy Has Limits
I am empathetic. (To a fault.) What I have trouble with is the seeking out advice from someone whose blog you read or Instagram post you liked. I have trouble understanding what you want to do in your life with your marriage when, honestly, I don’t even know your spouse’s name or the ins and outs of your relationship. I certainly cannot tell you what to do legally. But the messages keep coming. The stories that range from possible abuse to just wanting to know if the grass is greener and people who I guarantee were snooping around to find out what happened in my own marriage. Most of the people who have messaged me over the last four years are still with their spouse and posting on social media about how #blessed they are to have them. (Insert my eye roll and glimpse back at the messages you sent me.) I get it, people are nosy, and I was damn private about why it all ended. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Unless someone makes it your business, don’t ask them why they got divorced.
Free Advice Solicited By You
Right here, right now, here is some advice so I can avoid the messages from here on out. If you are thinking about ending your marriage, here are my NOT-a-divorce-guru tips:
- Get a good therapist: It doesn’t have to be a couples one, simply start with yourself. You’re going to need one if you actually do go through a divorce, so you may as well start now. If couples therapy is an option, do it. Get yourself in a mental space where you can be ready for what next steps you need to take. Whether it is repairing the marriage or knowing its time for a divorce.
- If abuse is involved, leave and seek necessary attention ASAP: I didn’t have this as an issue, but many women have messaged me alluding to abuse possibly being an issue. If it is, keep yourself and your children safe.
- Find a good lawyer: If you choose to move forward with a divorce, this is not the time to be cheap and not do your homework. You need to find someone who specializes in family law and has a strong knowledge to get you through this legally and fairly. I can’t tell you how many people I know whose divorce became a shit show. It’s a divorce, it’s not going to be perfect, emotions are high, and you need a person who can navigate that for you when you may want to just yell and scream.
- Be 100% confident in your decision: I knew with certainty that it was time to end the marriage. I had tried everything. I wanted to be able to look my kids in the eyes someday if they ever asked what happened and say that I tried everything, that I didn’t make my decision with haste or under any emotional outbursts. The therapy part of my advice was key to this, as was my gut instinct.
- Find your core group: You learn very quickly who you can continue to be friends with and trust during and after a divorce. People will choose sides, they will believe what they want, and guess what? Those aren’t your people. Your real friends will stand by you, listen to you, and ensure that you end up on the other side of the divorce with your head held high. The others will just be nosy jackasses who don’t care about you. Learn to trim down the friend list and be more private. (Unless you become a writer for a local parenting blog, then well, “Hi, how are ya?”)
Now that it seems I have given you the (very) basics of what helped me, please stop messaging your divorced acquaintances and asking. Seriously, stop. Unless you want me to charge you whatever it is that Tony Robbins charges, so I, too, can have a private plane while I make you jump up and down while clapping and half-crying. Life is personally better for me since it was four years ago. Everyone is different, each story is its own. Know that if you do find yourself in a divorce, it’s not the end of the world. It’s the end of a moment in your life, and it’s time to “trust in the magic of new beginnings.”