“You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”—Joseph Campbell
When I’m working with divorcing couples, one of the most important things I do as a mediator is to attempt to alter time and space! What does that mean…?
Going through a divorce is stressful and consuming. It’s a major adjustment. But what lies beyond that? What happens when you have adjusted, and have the space to move forward? People have the rest of their lives ahead of them—it’s just hard to picture that as you are going through the divorce.
My job is to help my clients look into the future and to get them to imagine how their lives will look five, ten, twenty years from now. That plays a large role in the choices they are going to make in their divorce agreement. What financial support would you need to go back and finish your master’s degree so you can get a better job, now that you are living on a single income? What if you are going to want your children to go to religious or other private school once they are school aged? What would you want in your parenting plan if you or your spouse meets someone? Marries someone? What if you get a great job offer in another city?
The areas covered in a separation or divorce agreement need to include provisions for these types of situations, or at least include commitments to get together, discuss them and come to agreements in response to a triggering event in the future.
Too many people going through divorce feel stressed, guilty, or withdrawn from the situation to the point where they decide they just need to get it over with. It’s a position they may regret later on.
Sometimes helping my clients make the best choices means making sure they understand their options, sometimes it means referring them to the appropriate professional who can go through financial needs or legal rights with them, but always, it means getting them to think “What will be my story? What are the different paths I might take from here and how can I be prepared for them?”
That’s why it’s so important for me to hold a window to the future open to my clients and get them to think, “What if….”