You don’t have to let divorce spook you

By Kate Kovats

I’ve been thinking about how October is a spooky month – and how many people who are on the cusp of a change in their relationship are spooked by the next possible chapter: divorce. Just like my colleague Tonya Graser Smith wrote last October about how not to be a ghoul during your divorce, this year I want to talk about how not to get spooked by divorce.

Chances are you are spooked by three things: failure, finances, family. Let’s face each of those fears.


I made vows … how is this not a failure? What will my parents, friends or {fill in the blank} think?

The fear of failure or being seen as a failure often keeps people stuck in relationships that are not working. Many people must get past this thinking to go through the divorce process and find their new normal.

How to get past it: Start by reframing your notion of success and failure. Your marriage – no matter how long or short – is something to be celebrated. You made a commitment that not everyone can make. Your marriage yielded happy memories and perhaps even children you otherwise would not have. That is a success.

Keep in mind, people are forever changing and evolving. You are not the same person you were when you got married, and neither is your spouse. You will either change together or grow apart. And that’s OK. What you can do from here is to try your best to divorce with dignity. Even if you still think you “failed” at marriage, you can make it your goal to “succeed” at getting divorced as amicably as possible so you can each peacefully move on and live happier lives.


How will I pay my bills on my own? How will I fund my retirement or get the kids through college?

Money is a big one. Divorce itself is expensive and so is the process of establishing separate lives again.

How to get past it: First, remember that unfortunately you are not the first person ever to get divorced. Many others found their way through it, and you will too. You don’t have to do it alone either. You can have the help of experts like financial planners and maybe even one who specializes in divorce (they’re called Certified Divorce Financial Analysts). Even if you can’t afford one of these experts or think you can’t afford one, there are other things you can do to get a handle on your current and future financial situation. For example, your bank might provide its customers with access to financial advisors. Or you might start reading up on personal finance topics. You can always hit up your local library for books on personal finance, budgeting, retirement planning and more.

Another thing you can do: Keep your divorce as amicable as possible. Divorcing as peacefully and drama-free as possible will ease your feelings of failure and lessen the impact on your finances. Divorce is expensive. The less drama, the lower the lawyer fees. For real.


How can I not see my kids every day? How will we do Christmas or summer vacations?

A lot of the fear over divorce has to do with family. Not just the impact on the kids, which is not nothing, but it’s also about how it will feel to spend less time with the kids, who will, of course, split their time among two households. Understandably, there’s a lot of feelings over not having certain holidays with the kids every single year.

How to get past it: Find you again. There is beauty in that. Suddenly you have time to do nights out with friends or join a Bible study or eat take-out and chill rather than cooking a big holiday meal. When you’re married, you yearn for time alone or time to spend as you please, and now you can have that. And the truth is, you would come to this crossroad eventually anyhow. The kids don’t stay in the nest forever.

Bottom line: The sooner you stop being spooked about divorce, the sooner you can start living your new normal – and the happier you will be. You are not the first to go through it. You are not a failure. It’s time to focus a little bit on you.