How To Cope With Divorce After A Long Marriage

Hi I’m Dr. Paul Jenkins. Welcome to hero TV. We’ve got a great topic today which is a difficult topic, how to cope with divorce after a long marriage. One of the chapters in my book, “pathological positivity” is titled Surprise!

Surprise… you’re going along through life you expect certain things to happen and then something else happens instead. Divorce is one of those things. Nobody goes into a marriage thinking, “yeah I’m going to get divorced someday”. We know that it happens in fact the divorce statistics are alarmingly high and the number one correlated cause of divorce think about this is marriage. That’s the highest correlation actually. with divorce. So it happens so commonly and so frequently. Well none of us plans on this so when divorce surprises us sometimes after a long marriage, sometimes after just a few months of marriage, it still sets us off a little bit. So, to put a visual on this, picture you and your spouse as you start out on this, this path together right? So two lovely people on a path to what? Well, you get married for a lot of reasons and I like to ask people this question when they come to visit with me for coaching, “why did you get married in the first place?” And there’s a lot of reasons let’s summarize it with just a goal over here, Whatever that goal represents for you. So the star is happiness, or bliss, or a strong stable family, or whatever it is for you. And, and, it has to do with joy and the whole reason why you got together in the first place. And then, as you’re traveling along this path you notice probably that stuff happens, right? All kinds of stuff. So let’s picture next a giant who appears on your path blocking your way a big intimidating none shall pass kind of a giant. You don’t get to have that. Now the giant represents all kinds of things it could be a financial issue, could be a health problem, it could be infidelity, it could be anything that pops up in the path and says you don’t get to go, you’re stopped. Okay well most people try everything that they can to take down the Giant and sometimes you can. Some giants however just persist they’re still there. So let’s take that kind of a giant decide what we’re going to do. You know, our goal has to be the same. In fact, I tell my clients this all the time the non-negotiable outcome here is your joy. That’s what we’re still having for but we got this giant in the way so what are we going to do? well we’re going to chart a path around the Giant. So we’ll either take one path or the other but we’re going to go around this giant now there’s two ways to get around the Giant and this path, let’s label, “together”.

Now if you’re already in the thrills of a divorce, you’re probably not on that path. If you are anticipating that it might go that direction, you’re wondering if you can keep it together, you’re not quite sure. Well, you’re still approaching that intersection. This other path is the separate path. and sometimes for no apparent reasons of your own that’s the path that you end up on. Now, both people get to vote which path we’re going to go on. To go to together out requires a unanimous vote do you know what that means? it means that everybody votes for it. if anybody, votes for the separate path, that’s the one we take by default. So that might help to put some things in context worried about, why you are where you are? Now if you’re not yet divorced you’re on the approach to the intersection. Now this is important because you are here. You are not here or here, yet. You can see that that choice is coming up but you’re not quite there yet, If you’re already in a divorce situation and you’re taking the separate path we still have the same outcome that we’re going for. If you’re working through some things with your spouse and trying to correct or heal some things in that relationship then maybe we’re on this path still working our way around the giant with the same goal. Now here’s what I found.

The very best way to negotiate the together path is by principle. Now principles are natural laws like gravity, they’re always on In fact, let me show you something real quick. A little demonstration of gravity that I think you’ll appreciate. This is a steel ring, I am going to let go of this ring and I want you to just see if you can predict which direction it’s going to go. okay? now you got this? you’re going to be totally surprised if it goes anywhere other than where you’re predicting. So I’ll let go. ready? Oh What a surprise it fell toward the earth. Why? because gravity is always on. You never get up in the morning and think, “Oh I wonder if gravity’s on today” it tends to be and it pulls things down predictably, statistically. Now, what if I put that same ring onto a chain first. Now what’s going to happen when I let go? still going to fall right? wait a minute how did that happen? principle. Now magic, well, we call things magic when we don’t fully understand what the principle was that caused the outcome we observed. There’s a principle behind this I understand the principle I apply it and I get a different outcome than what you might have expected. What if you knew what I know? do you think you could pull off the the chain and the ring trick? yeah, you could and that’s not what this particular video is for. But if you understood what I understand about that, you could get a whole different outcome that’s what I’m talking about with principles and there are principles that determine the outcome of the together path. Principles like love, compassion, respect, okay? and there’s dozens of them I won’t go into all of them but you can see that, that’s what would be required to negotiate the together path. What if, by our own vote or by someone else’s vote, we end up on that separate path? well folks, there are principles that determine the success of that path as well and with hundreds of couples that I’ve worked with, here’s what I found… they’re the same principles. Let that sink in for a minute. They are the same principles. The problem with divorce and taking the separate path, is that the principles that would determine a successful marriage outcome on the together path are exactly the same principles that determine success on the separate path but they’re harder to apply. Because when a divorce happens divorce brings out the worst in people, have you noticed this too? and you’re not immune so don’t tease yourself or trick yourself into thinking that maybe you’re above all of that. You’re not. divorce brings out the worst in people here’s why, it’s a principle called “cognitive dissonance” Cognitive dissonance is just when what I believe and what I experience don’t match. So I have to adjust one or the other to bring that into compliance. It’s not okay in the human mind, it’s not okay to be divorced from a really awesome person. So, our mind creates an ex to hate. And you’re not immune from this. Okay? I use strong words for that I just want you to take a look at it. What that means is that people typically choose to handle the separate path with anger, resentment, frustration, okay that doesn’t help. In Fact, it makes things worse. What if you could negotiate this path using the same principles that would make a marriage successful? I’ve seen people do this and it is powerful so let’s get it down to just a few practical things for just a minute.

First of all, activate your brain we’ve talked about this in other episodes. Activate your brain through gratitude and self-care. That’s step, step number one. Activate your brain through gratitude focusing on what you have, what you like, and what you want staying in the positivity vector that we talked about in the first video of this series and making sure that you are taking care of yourself. That’s step one, Step two, practice positivity to foster hope. Because when something like this happens, when the giant shows up, and, and it’s so bullying and intimidating it’s hard to see past that giant to what your goal is in the first place. Practice positivity to instill hope and then the third step that I would recommend to cope with divorce is to choose love. No matter what. No matter what.

Now, every interaction we have with someone else is going to fall either on the love side or on the hate side. Either a little, or a lot and it is so tempting when we’re in that divorce situation in the separate paths to choose hate. But folks, that makes it worse. I have 13 years of experience doing child custody evaluations for the court. I have seen some of the nastiest stuff you can imagine in family dynamics and it always comes from a hate choice. Maintain your own integrity by choosing love no matter what and especially when it’s hard. That is one of the most powerful principles that will allow you not only to cope with this divorce but to move forward in a way that allows you to create some phenomenal outcomes you still are entitled to that joy and it’s accomplished through the principles that we’ve talked about here. I appreciate you sharing those things Paul. Really important information and I bet, I bet, you as a viewer can think of somebody who had benefit from watching this video so I recommend you share it with them and look forward to seeing you in the next video. Remember to live on purpose, make a difference, and be the hero.

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