The previous blogs in this series talked about both the negative and positive aspects of fear. In Part III, let’s take a look at the different fears outlined in Part I and think about how we can start making constructive decisions and plans to resolve them.
- How will I live as a single person again?
Remember that even when in a relationship, you are in charge of your own happiness and well being. It is an illusion to think that your significant other is the source of your happiness. Living alone may not be easy, but you will adapt and you will find a way to build a new life as a single person.
- Where will I be living?
The decision about where you will live is in your control and should not be feared. Both practical and financial issues need to be taken into consideration. Location can be chosen depending on commuting time to work, proximity to family and friends and your own lifestyle. If you have children, the location of their school and easy access to both parents is of importance as well. All of these factors and others that may be particular to your specific situation can be taken into account as you work out living arrangements during your mediation sessions.
- Will I have enough money to live on?
This is one of the biggest and scariest fears in a separation or a divorce. Income that supported one household will now have to support two. Analyzing present expenses and creating a projected budget are a good place to start. These difficult but long term beneficial exercises can be done during the mediation process, and a conversation will take place to help you make a plan that takes care of everyone.
- Will I have to give away many of the furnishings or objects that created my home and that are familiar to me?
There will probably have to be some compromises made in dividing up the contents of your home. Fear of losing things should not be a deterrent to moving forward. Sometimes, you may find that the things you care about may not be the same as the ones your ex-spouse cares about, and this will immediately neutralize this fear.
- Who will take care of me when I am feeling sick or lonely?
Though you may not see it at the time, you do have a network of family/friends that you feel comfortable with and that you can call upon if you feel the need. Friendships are important whether one is single or not. Once you are out of this very difficult marital situation, you may find that space has opened up around you and within you for new friends and/or relationships to develop.
- Am I going to be a single parent? What if my kids blame me for the divorce?
Being a single parent can be daunting, but is not impossible. Mediation will give you the forum to create a parenting plan that will allow both you and the other parent to stay involved in your children’s upbringing even though you and your spouse are no longer living together. It is important that as parents you talk to the children together and let them know that the separation/divorce was a joint decision and that your relationship with them will not change.
- Will my relationships with my friends and family change?
Experience has shown that some people do shy away from their divorced friends for a number of reasons. Some may have rocky relationships of their own and fear that divorce is contagious. Some don’t know what to say to friends going through hardships and keep away because of their own inability to find the appropriate words. Sometimes, strained relationships with friends and family improve when the source of the strain is removed and you may discover friends where least expected.
- Will I lose friends who knew us as a couple?
Sadly, the answer to this is yes, probably. Some people may feel torn or caught in the middle if they try to remain friends with both of you. Some people may just feel more akin to one person than to the other and so may remain friends with just that person. If you have a friendship that you don’t want to lose, reach out and tell that person. Don’t go into the details of the separation/divorce, as they probably don’t want to hear both sides nor do they want be put in the position of having to weigh the pros and the cons. You can simply ask them to be your friend and depending on the answer, move on.
- What will my coworkers think of me?
Unfortunately, people are often quick to make judgments but if you conduct yourself in a professional manner and try to maintain the status quo in the workplace, there should be no negative repercussions. Actually, so many people have been through similar hardships that you may find that some of your relationships with coworkers will get closer because they feel that you are now a kindred spirit and understand them as well!
- What will my friends think? and members of my family?
Like co-workers, friends and family are sometimes quick to make judgments as well. True friends, however, will support you no matter what. The same can be said for some family members. You may have to make some choices about whom you want to spend time with. Surround yourself with the positive and supportive influences and allow any negative ones to drift away.
And as you embark on reshaping your new life, if you are concerned about being in the same room as your spouse in mediation, you can be assured that an experienced and empathetic mediator is well aware of many of these feelings and concerns and will be there to support both of you through the process. And unlike in the adversarial process where others, lawyers and possibly judges make determinations about your lives, mediation allows you to take charge of your own life. In making decisions for yourselves, decisions that you will “own”, you will gain more control, start looking towards rebuilding your future and find that many of your fears will be relieved.
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