The Divorce Decision: To File or Reconcile?

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The decision to divorce is excruciating, and as we have seen recently
with celebrities and supermodels, it’s not uncommon for couples to
file and then reconcile. Supermodel Stephanie Seymour and publishing
tycoon Peter Brant decided, after months of contentious court battles,
accusations and millions of dollars in legal fees, to try and make
their marriage work. They are not alone in the celebrity world of
indecision with public figures like Larry King and Shawn Southwick who filed for divorce in April and halted the proceedings one month later.

Change of Heart

So why the change of heart and mind when it comes to divorce? The
decision to reconcile can stem from many things including financial
strains, custody of children, and the finality of signing the papers.
The pain and stress of going through a divorce sometimes brings
couples back together, just as other life challenges can. While it’s
never a good idea to throw around divorce as a threat, it does test
the marriage to see how willing one or both partners are to get out of
a marriage. Getting a divorce is one of the most important decisions
that one can ever make, and it is essential to make it from a
grounded, clear and honest place.

Hear are some issues that can get in the way of making a sound
decision about whether or not to divorce:

Fear

Fear is at the core of most bad decisions. When we make choices in
life based on fear, we are using the most primitive part of the human
brain that was designed to help us respond to dangerous situations for
survival purposes. Human beings are the only species with a more
evolved part of the brain that allows us to assess, reflect, and
consider a situation before acting on it. This is the part of the
brain we actually want to be using when making decisions about whether
or not to divorce. Slowing things down, not acting hastily, and
talking with a professional will help you to achieve this goal.

Having Children

Many divorcing couples base their decision to stay in a marriage on
their children. While it is extremely important to consider the impact
of the divorce on your children, it is helpful to not make them the
determining factor. Children can easily be used as scapegoats to help
parents avoid looking at all the options, even if those choices do not
offer the most ideal consequences. There are many divorced households
where the children actually do better, so staying together for the
children is not always the only and best solution. Meeting with a
divorce professional and reading up on the impact of divorce on
children will help you to make an educated decision.

Low Self-Esteem

Staying in a marriage because you are afraid there is nothing better
out there is an issue of low self-esteem. Not feeling worthy of
something better leads people to stay in bad marriages at the expense
of their own happiness. Working on building your self-esteem and being
clear about your own value will help you to make a proper decision
about staying or leaving. Feeling empowered and worthy is a valuable
goal regardless of where you are in your life so use this opportunity
for personal growth.

Black and White Thinking

Thinking in terms of right and wrong is the most obvious form of black
and white thinking. It is easy to slip into a moralistic or righteous
place during a divorce, particularly when you have been hurt, but it’s
just a way of coping with the painful truth. Black and white thinking
is very limiting and can lead to making a decision that is not founded
on the whole truth. It is important to approach the decision to
divorce with flexibility and an openness to all options. Staying in
the gray, as opposed to rigidly clinging to the black or white, allows
for a more efficient and genuine decision.

Anger

Anger, not unlike fear, is not the best state of mind to be in when
making a decision about your marital situation. Anger is a defensive
mechanism we use to gain control in a powerless situation, and it can
cause us to make rash decisions that are not based on fact. If you
respond to the circumstances of your marital conflict with anger as
opposed to a calmness and clarity, you become blind to the possibility
of potential solutions or answers. While the anger you feel may be
justified and expected, it still does not serve you in dealing with
this important decision.

Uncertainty

Uncertainty breeds the tendency to cling to what we know. When it
comes to the unpredictable future that is inherent in divorce, the
first instinct is to hold on to the past because it’s familiar. The
decision to stay or leave a marriage can be clouded by the
unpredictable nature of your future without your partner, but the
truth is that your future is unpredictable whether you are married or
not. However, it is important to remember that the best predictor of
the future is the past, so use your past experiences, successes, and
failures to provide you with an accurate assessment of what you are
capable of doing going forward. This will help you to make a choice
that is founded on the realities of who you are.

Make the Best Decision for Your Future

Deciding to stay or leave a marriage can be torturous. Often the heart
and mind are conflicting when it comes to marriage and divorce so it
is normal to feel confused and uncertain about what to do. Consulting
a divorce professional, becoming aware of what you are thinking and
feeling, and taking the proper amount of time and space is integral to
make the best possible decision for your future.

About the Author

Andra Brosh, Ph.D. and Allison Pescosolido, M.A. are the leading divorce recovery experts in Los Angeles. Founders of Divorce Detox, a proven program guaranteed to speed recovery through the divorce transition, Andra and Allison are certified grief recovery experts, and both hold advanced degrees in the field of psychology. Friends for over 20 years, these dynamic women treat the trauma of divorce and see divorce as an opportunity for personal growth and a better life; they are changing the face of divorce in our society. Visit www.divorcedetox.com to learn more about their programs and cutting-edge work.

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