by Andrea McGrath
Almost every relationship starts with that giddy period of falling in love, imagining a life together with your spouse, maybe having a couple of kids and even a dog to round out the happy loving family. What most people do not imagine, is what happens if that love, admiration, and respect morphs into something unlike a fairy tale and even spirals into dysfunction. If you find yourself here, there are some things to think about before you make the irreversible decision to divorce.
Take An Honest Look At Your Marriage
The best place to start; with the man (or woman) in the mirror. Have you done everything you can to make it last forever? Certainly, your wedding vows were not meant to be taken lightly. So in order to avoid deep regret, make sure to do everything you know how to do to save your marriage. Have you been brutally honest with yourself about how you feel? Have you been brutally honest with your spouse about what you are thinking, how you feel, and what you need? Is it really fair to expect them to know where you are? Have you insisted that you both try marriage counseling? Did you give 100% of yourself to the process?
The Financial Reality of Divorce
If you do feel that you have done all that you can and the relationship is irretrievably broken, the next step is toward the future. Are you ready for a drop in your standard of living? Do you understand that the same money that supported one household will now have to stretch to support two separate households and you will BOTH have a reduced standard of living? This is the point where you carefully consider what you will be able to afford. This is also a good time to consider meeting with a financial planner like me to evaluate your options and look at what potential settlements would look like.
If you are not 100% clear on your financial situation, now is the time to get prepared. Start to gather your financial documents so that you can be fully informed about your household finances. If you have no idea how much money you will have or how much it will cost you to live, it will be impossible to plan for the next phase of your life. A financial planner or CDFA can be a very valuable resource for you at this time.
Check Your Support Network
This is one of the most difficult things that a person can face in life, and you can count on the process to last at least six months to a year. Be sure to surround yourself with people that will love and support you without being judgmental. You will need all the support you can get. Take a deep breath and take one step at a time. You WILL get through this.