Every couple fights. It’s an inevitable part of humans living together – conflict happens, and we deal with it (or don’t) and move on, right? But how do you differentiate between those arguments that pass and those that contribute to the brick wall that slowly goes up between two spouses? Some people can see the end of their relationship coming – they know there are irreconcilable differences, and legal separation or divorce feel like the only two options out there. But for those who have a hard time seeing that wall being built, divorce can be a smack in the face – they’re blindsided by the fact that their spouse is unable or unwilling to continue on in their marriage. If you find yourself in this difficult situation, where your husband or wife asks for a divorce out of the blue, it can be extremely difficult and painful to walk through.
The sad fact is that this is actually a very common scenario, so much so that it’s been given a name – ‘Sudden Divorce Syndrome’. While this usually affects men more than women, regardless of who is the one shocked, the marriage actually started unraveling way before the divorce was asked for. ‘Sudden Divorce Syndrome’ assumes impulsive behavior on the part of the woman, yet nothing is further from the truth. The decision to divorce didn’t come easy and wasn’t so sudden. Dr. Donna Ferber, a psychotherapist, goes on to say that perhaps a better term would be ‘Shocked Divorce Syndrome’ because that is how most men feel when their wife asks them for a divorce.
Where Do We Go From Here?
While your spouse has obviously had time to think about and prepare for this moment, you are likely feeling confused, hurt, and probably angry. To handle a sudden divorce, it’s important to keep your cool and take it one step at a time. If you have been blindsided by divorce, follow these helpful tips:
Taking hard news in stride is much easier said than done, but it is still extremely important that you try to retain a sense of calm in the face of such a shock. Your spouse’s sudden blow might have hurt you, angered you, or embarrassed you, but the last thing you need at this point is to say or do something you’ll regret later. Remember, your spouse has already been processing and accepting the idea of divorce – they’re ready to move on, but you need time to do the same. So try to remain civil, collect your thoughts, ask only the necessary questions, attempt constructive conversation, and take some time for yourself. This step is especially important if you have children. It’s one thing to blow up at your spouse when nobody else is around to suffer for it. However, if you have children, any damage you do to one another is likely to impact your kids negatively. Even if they aren’t in the home when your spouse breaks the news, it’s important that you and your spouse remain civil, at the very least, for the sake of your kids.
Find Your Support System
This is going to be one of the hardest times in your life. If you have a support system – loved ones, family members, church community, good friends – this is the time to accept help from them. They can be there for you as the divorce progresses, including with your children. This may also be the time to find a counselor for yourself or for you and your spouse together. Because this is a type of loss, you’ll find yourself going through the stages of grief, and you may need help processing your thoughts and emotions. Between lawyer meetings and court dates, you’re going to need all the help you can get.
Start Protecting Yourself
While the shock of the situation may still be fresh, you have to start protecting your interests immediately. Divorce can bring out the worst in people, so even if you think your spouse is still a decent, caring person, you have to make sure you are protected – they’re doing the same thing, and they already have a head start on the proceedings. If you don’t already have a family attorney, now is the time to consult with a few different firms to get an honest, legal assessment of the situation. You’ll need help separating finances, understanding the legality of divorce, gathering important documents needed for court, etc. An experienced family attorney can help you walk through the whole process.
Think About the Future
Being positive during this type of situation may seem impossible, but you do have a future to think about. While it is important that you allow yourself to be upset and grieve the loss of your marriage, it’s equally important that you try to stay encouraged. Every person is different, and divorces end in several different ways, but it never hurts to be your own advocate. Instead of focusing on what you are losing, try to focus on the new opportunities you might have after divorce, and invest your energy into your own well-being.
If you’ve been blindsided by a divorce complaint in the state of Alabama, and you need a solid attorney in your corner, contact us at the Alabama Family Law Group. Our staff can help you navigate the waters of a sudden divorce and make sure your assets are handled properly. Give us a call today!