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Robin Graine, JD, CDFA and Divorce Coach will help you figure out the most important issues that you need to work on when deciding “should I stay married?”
1) Focus and Determine Your Most Important Issues
Break it Down. Before you can make a decision about a complex problem — like whether to stay married or get a divorce — Robin will help you separate your issues into four manageable categories:
(1) solvable issues;
(2) unsolvable issues;
(3) issues you can live with; and
(4) issues that you cannot live with.
Highlight Most Pressing Issues. Sometimes there is overlap in these categories. That is a good thing. If your issues overlap, that actually highlights what your most pressing issues are that will help you determine whether to get a divorce or stay married.
Untangle the Web of Troubles. Having a professional, like Robin, who can look at your marital situation from an experienced and practical perspective, will guide you through the untangling of your web of troubles. For most people in a difficult marriage, it is too overwhelming to figure out what problem to tackle first. After nearly twenty years helping people get through these situations, Robin will help you sort through and untangle what needs to be done.
See How Your Problems Relate to One Another. With Robin’s help, you will determine how your various issues relate to one another. This makes the work easier when we determine which problems are solvable and which are not. It also helps us see how solving one problem can often completely resolve another.
Generate Options to Resolve Problems. Once you and Robin establish the true issues, and how they actually relate to one another, the two of you will start generating options to solve your problems — whether you stay in your marriage or move on to divorce.
2) Assess the True Severity of Your Fears
Assess the Severity of Your Problems. Robin will help you view, in realistic terms, all of the fears and worries that are holding you back from making the decision about whether to stay in your marriage or get a divorce. Robin has nearly 20 years of experience — as a divorce coach, mediator, attorney, hearing officer, and divorced mom — helping people assess the true severity of their fears and worries. Many problems are not as bad you think and, sometimes you are focusing on the wrong issue. Robin will help.
Address Your Fears. When you begin thinking about divorce, your fears and worries are often related to money, parenting, community, and just being able to make it on your own. Somehow, though, it all seems to get mixed up and ends up creating a stew of anxiety. You don’t know where to start and you lose track of what is really bothering you. You feel kind of crazy. You will feel better after Robin helps you focus on matters that you can manage right now. You will feel a lot better when you take action to solve your problems.
- Finding Work. I have seen many cases where perfectly competent and qualified people worry about getting a necessary job once they divorce. This is a fear. But it is often not a rational fear. It is a solvable issue. There are tons of ways to make money in this internet environment, especially for people who need flexible work schedules. You and Robin will roll up your sleeves and work on this in your coaching sessions.
- Finding Someone to Love You. I have seen adorable and attractive people worry themselves to death that they will never again find someone to love them. This is simply not true. There are millions of people out there. If being in a relationship is really what you want — and you are willing to compromise and be honest with yourself about what you really need — you can do better the next time around. You are smarter now. We will work on what you really want and how to get there in our coaching sessions.
- Doing Right by Your Kids. I have worked with many parents who drive themselves crazy worrying about “ruining their children’s lives” with a divorce. While this may seem like a legitimate concern, all of the research shows the damage is actually created by the conflict between the parents, not the divorce itself. In our coaching sessions we will compare the potential negative effects of divorce to the guaranteed damage to your children’s relationship skills if they continue to be subjected to your quietly hostile and loveless marriage.
Look at Your Situation from All Angles. I will help you think, prioritize, and compare your situation now to what it might look like — from a variety of angles and outcomes — if you
3) Get the Bills Paid
Assess Your Financial Situation. In addition to being a coach, Robin is also a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. In our coaching sessions, we will assess your current financial situation and determine what you will need to do to build a solid foundation for your post-divorce life or how to take the financial pressure off your struggling marriage.
We will review your:
- Assets; and
Child Support and Alimony. In our coaching sessions, we will discuss child support and alimony. If you will be the receiver of this support, we will determine how that should play into your financial planning. If you will be the payer, we will also need to determine how that will impact your financial future.
Career Planning. If it looks like you will need to go back to work, we will examine your skills and talk about necessary re-training, re-purposing of your skills, and how to refresh your resume. Robin will build up your courage to get out there and get a job. She understands how hard it can be to go back to work. Robin had been a stay-at-home mom for 11 years when her marriage broke up. She rebuilt her own financial life and will help you do the same.
Get Smart About Money. Many people’s financial worries are based, primarily, on not understanding money. Robin is a great teacher and will help you learn what you need to know. She is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst and will make sure that you understand your family’s financial picture before you move forward with a divorce.
4) Keep Your Kids First
When you have children, you need to do what is best for them. If you don’t know what that is, we will figure it out. You need to think long term. If you are “staying married for the kids”, we will dissect what that really means.
You are your children’s primary role model for what marriage should look like. No one expects you to have a perfect marriage … but a horrible marriage will almost certainly do some damage. It will affect your children’s ability to have good relationships as they grow up. If you decide to stay married, we will work on conflict resolution skills, speaking up, and learning how to pick and choose your battles. If you decide to get divorced, we will focus on how to divorce with dignity so that your children are not scarred by an ugly break-up.
If you and your spouse are committed to do the work necessary to have a loving and respectful marriage, we will figure out ways to help you attain that goal. We will work on how to resolve conflict for the good of everyone in the family. We will discuss intuition, communication, and just doing what you know is right. We will assess which conflicts are worth the effort and which ones you can let go. We will determine which disagreements cause resentment and put an end to those first. We will work on how to put an end to the “four horsemen of the apocalypse”:
Conflict is fine … as long as it is eventually resolved and not left simmering for your kids’ entire childhood.
5) Assess what can and cannot be changed in your marriage
Robin will help you assess what can and cannot be changed in your marriage. She will also help you determine which of those issues you can live with and which are intolerable. In your coaching sessions, Robin will help you see down the road — based on her nearly twenty year of experience working with divorcing couples — to determine what changes are necessary to sustain a long and fulfilling marriage, or what needs to be done to prepare for a divorce.
Determine what you can comfortably live with for the long haul. There are many things that you cannot change in a marriage. The trick is to determine what you can comfortably live with for the long haul and what you absolutely cannot tolerate.
Affairs. If your spouse had an affair in the past, but you believe he or she will never do it again, can you live with that without always wondering “what is he or she up to now?” If you cannot completely hit the “reset” button, your marriage will surely struggle. Marriage without trust are almost always lost causes.
Addiction. If your spouse has an addiction, and has repeatedly failed to rehabilitate him or herself, can you live with that? Some people can. They know what they are dealing with and have chosen to stay. If the addicted spouse is a pretty nice person and makes a decent living, they deal with it. However, if you want someone who is present and contributing to the relationship in a meaningful way, you will need to think long and hard about staying in a marriage with an addict.
Narcissism. If your spouse is a narcissist, but you have learned to navigate around that disorder, can you continue to make that effort for the long haul? Sometimes you can live with a spouse’s narcissistic personality, but only with your teeth gritted and only for a short period of time. That won’t work for a marriage. If you find that you can deal with your spouse’s narcissism, but only because you ignore him or her, that is not a marriage. That is détente.
You Cannot Change Another Person. It is important to remember that you cannot change your spouse. You can only change yourself. While it is true that your spouse can also change, he or she will have to want to do that very strongly. Personalities are made up of many habits. Habits are hard to change. If you find yourself changing yourself in order to accommodate your spouse’s personality, in a manner that makes you wonder “who am I?”, you have gone too far. That marriage will not work in any meaningful way.
Imagine Life with Peace of Mind
Imagine having clarity and relief instead of being confused and angry. Imagine feeling optimistic about your future instead of feeling stuck in an unhappy marriage. It’s all possible
Posted by Robin Graine, JD, CDFA – Divorce Coach | Mediator | Problem Solver
This blog and it’s materials have been prepared by robingraine.com for informational purposes and are not intended to be, are not, and should not be regarded as legal advice or advice of any other kind or nature. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client, coach-client, mediator-client relationship. Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.