What are the rules for divorce?
Kathryn R. just sent me this email:
"Regina, I need your help in establishing 10 rules of divorce. My husband announced he is leaving because he is not "in love with me" after 14 years. We have two children ages 5 and 6. I have yet to tell my family and most friends.
"I need something to keep me in check. I am incredibly hurt, and have a strong suspicion of an affair (not fully confirmed, I wish he would just admit it). But right now, I need 10 rules to keep on the right track. Thanks, Kathryn"
Kathryn, I feel honored that you turned to me for help. I've never been divorced but married a man who was and have countless friends who have been through it. Here's what they taught me:
1. It's too soon to tell:
It's too soon to tell if this is a good thing or a bad thing. If it's forever over or just a temporary split. You are just at the start of a process. Don't judge it or you or him too harshly. Don't analyze and awfulize this every minute of every day. It's too soon to tell what it all means and how it all ends.
2. Be the heroine of your life story, not the victim of it.
That's up to you. No one can make you a victim without your permission. You don't need him to be the villain and you the victim. That doesn't help anyone, especially your children.
3. This man will always be the father of your children.
Your children need to hear you speak kindly and lovingly of their dad. If you need to bash him and vent, do so when they are not around. They share his DNA. They don't want to feel they, too, are the bad guys.
4. Appoint yourself CEO of your joy.
It is no one else's job to make you happy. Period. Maybe he did for a while, maybe he never did. Doesn't matter. It's up to you to build a life of joy no matter what life hands you. See it through the eyes of gratitude. You can survive without him. You can't survive without you.
5. Create a 9-1-1 list of people to help.
Put their names and cell phone numbers on an index card you carry with you at all times. Ask them to be "on-call" to lend you an ear, a shoulder, a tissue, an old plate to break in an empty parking lot, the number for a good attorney. Create your own support Dream Team of the most positive people you know.
6. No playing bad home movies.
It's tempting to drift back in time and replay all the times he hurt you or loved you like crazy, which can make you feel crazy now. Stay present. Stay put in this day.
7. Pray for the serenity to accept the things you can't change.
If he had an affair, you can't change that. If he is in love with someone else, you can't change that. If he can't be talked out of the divorce, you can't change that. Acceptance means you align yourself with what is and start from there.
Just pause and breathe. Take a deep breathe and count slowly to six. Exhale slowly as you count to six. The slower you breathe, the more you will feel calm. Breathe in the love of God; breathe out the love of God. There is a place of peace inside of you -- find it. It is there. It's like the centerpiece in the snow globe. He shook your snow globe and all the pieces went flying, except for the core of you. No one -- no one -- has the power to shake that.
9. Nothing you want is upstream.
I love that line. Stop strugglng. Stop swimming against the current. Stop forcing yourself on life and insisting it change. Turn and go with the flow. A God who loves you is in charge of this flow. Trust where the current is taking you. It's somewhere better. Trust me. Better yet, trust you.
10. The best is yet to come.
As good as he was, you deserve better. You deserve the best. If this relationship is truly over, then he must not have been the best. He was a dress rehearsal. Maybe he was a great appetizer or the salad course. But he wasn't the main dish. And he sure wasn't the dessert.
The next relationship will be even more life enriching and life affirming. Tell the Universe, "I am ready for my perfect good." Include your children in that perfect good. Keep your heart wide open and be ready for it to fill up with even greater love.