With the Jewish High Holidays upon us (Happy New Year!) and Halloween (and then Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years) soon to follow, it is time to start new family traditions to celebrate the holidays. If your goal is to be divorced by this time next year, now is the time to start new traditions. You can test drive a new plan to celebrate and see how it works. If you are newly divorced then this is the year to execute your new parenting plan. The first year of doing something different than you have always done it tends to be the most difficult- emotionally and logistically. Think about when you were a newlywed and needed to walk through the minefield of how to spend the first year of holidays as a married couple. Our house, in-laws, my parents, my aunts, your grandmas, etc. It is tough to please everyone. But new traditions were created then and they can be made now.
Mom and Dad need to figure out a plan then tell the kids and the extended family. If you need help figuring out a plan on how to share the various holidays then see a mediator. A mediator can help you resolve all the issues of a divorce or just the ones that you want to address. After you have a plan, be very clear with your support system of friends and family that you need kindness and compassion, not guilt and anger, from them. Yes things will be different but they do not have to be bad.
As I am writing this I keep thinking of the song Tradition from Fiddler on The Roof. Even Tevya saw that while old traditions provide comfort, sometimes it is necessary to forge a new path and create new traditions for everyone to enjoy.
Money problems often lead to the unraveling of marriages. Couples argue about expenses and debt. The wife may feel her husband isn’t working hard enough to support them. The husband may think the wife is spending too much money that they don’t have. Resentment builds, everyone wants out, yet no one knows what to do to move forward. Is divorce the answer?
Maybe. But, these financial pressures don’t disappear once you are divorced. In fact, the cost of maintaining two households is greater than the cost of one. So if you feel like you can’t afford to stay married, and you are worried you won’t be able to afford being divorced, what should you do?
One answer is to start living now like you will have to when you are divorced. In other words, start preparing now for your post-divorce financial situation, and you will reduce some of the pressures that are leading you to divorce. For example, if the wife isn’t working full-time because she cares for the children, she should consider getting a job. After all, she will probably have to work once she is divorced. Start looking into child-care options to see what is available that works for your family. Both husband and wife should make a realistic post-divorce budget and try to live within it -- even if involves cutting expenses. If you have good credit, consider refinancing your mortgage. If not, consolidate your debts either on your own or with the assistance of a reputable credit counseling agency. If necessary, investigate the advantages of filing for bankruptcy.
You will need to take these steps after your divorce, so you may as well start now to see if you can alleviate some of the pressures that are sending you to divorce. After your efforts, you may decide to stay together, but even if you still want to divorce, you will be better prepared for your new lives.
~Randi M. Albert, J.D.