Thursday, June 18, 2009

When Divorce Hits Home (Part 1)

Nobody really likes it, but our culture has come to accept the "D" word as part of our everyday language. Most people in the US know someone who has been divorced or has been affected by divorce. Never did I ever imagine that we would divorce, but we did three years ago.

Just last week, in my men's Bible study, three men shared that they were going through divorce. For some reason, I can't stop thinking about the pain, anguish and disbelief I saw on their faces and heard in their voices as they shared the latest developments in their failing marriages.

Alone in my house, I began to contemplate about the what these men shared and it made me think back on the pain of my own divorce and all that we went through. There are some things that I learned and maybe those will be helpful to others who are going through the same things.

1 - RECONCILE, if at all possible. Even when things seem their darkest, it's best to "stick it out" and try to reconcile. Emotionally, divorce rips apart the two marriage partners and their children. Going through the divorce is far worse than the pain of reconciliation.

2 - MEDIATE, even when the temptation is to just go to court and let the judge make all the decisions. Communication is essential, but when or both parties refuse to communicate, the couple basically turns their lives over to the court. When the divorce was final for one of my friends, her attorney turned to her and said, "Congratulations, Mrs. So-and-so, you've just turned your children over to the State of Tennessee." In all truth, when this happens, the parents are little more than court-appointed guardians. Not only does mediation allow the two parties to retain control over their decisions, it's far less expensive than going to court.

3 - FORGIVE the other party, even when you don't feel like it. By forgiving the other party, the chains that keep the unforgiving person bound to bitterness and anger are broken. To forgive, you'll have to let the other person go.

4 - DO NOT DEFAME the other party. Doing so only accentuates and roots the bitterness and anger that the defaming person has. It not only hurts yourself, but also your children, extended family and friends. Early on, I made the conscious decision to not speak negatively about my ex-wife. To this day, I have honored that commitment and because of it, I am able to sleep peacefully at night.

5 - Surround yourself with OBJECTIVE FRIENDS. Too many times, people play the role of the victim and surround themselves with people who take their side in the divorce. The better situation is to find friends who can, and are willing to, challenge you to "do the right thing" in the divorce. Unfortunately, too many people enjoy watching the couple divorce as if it's a true-life reality TV show.

6 - Above all, HUMBLE yourself. There is absolutely nothing wrong with admitting that you've done something wrong in the marriage. There is also nothing wrong with asking forgiveness from the other party. It takes two people to make a marriage and two people to break a marriage. No matter what the legal filings say, both parties are at fault.

7 - FIND AN ATTORNEY who is not going to battle it out in court. Divorce is a money-maker in Tennessee. Anyone can get divorced on grounds of "inappropriate marital conduct". This means that a wife can divorce her husband for being rude to her at the breakfast table. Divorce attorneys enjoy dragging things out, but that is often not in the best interest of the client or the client's children. Find an attorney who will encourage the parties to work things out together.

There's more on divorce next time with discussions about how real estate is impacted by divorce and what couples should do to protect themselves.

This real estate agent has experienced personal divorce and has also represented clients who have gone through divorce. While painful, things can be worked out for all parties. For help with your real estate transactions, please give me a call and I'll be glad to discuss the process of selling and/or buying real estate as the result of a divorce.

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