Nothing instills fear like the prospect of a divorce. Midlife crisis brings up the possibility of midlife divorce. When facing the fear of legal separation Julie and I can help you find answers. Understand, alternatives to divorce do exist. More importantly, divorce shouldn’t be feared, since for some people it’s part of their future growth.
To fear divorce ironically will push a person into divorce. We will help you work past the fear. Let’s look at all the angles so you can understand each alternative to divorce and when legal separation is the best option for you.
Divorce by the Numbers
In working with hundreds of people each year the patterns of divorce become much clearer.
7 Times out of 10
A surprising truth, despite the fear of divorce, in most midlife crisis counseling cases we work with: divorce initially isn’t the upfront issue! Seven out of ten times when I work with a person the first step is to slow everything down.
While divorce is often feared, it usually isn’t where you should focus your energy. Instead, the first step is creating space and sorting through the problems at hand. Even in situations which seem dire, the process of teaching we have developed works in helping sort out problems.
Ironically the prospect of divorce can drive a separation to happen sooner than both parties are ready to address. The fear of divorce creates insecurity, causes people to say hurtful things and damage a relationship towards a legal separation.
When you fear divorce, you drive the odds of a divorce happening towards 100%.
Part of the problem in midlife crisis, when a marriage problem comes up, the problem is far deeper than the two people realize. In fact, the basic problem often comes down to a marriage running on fumes and being more broken than a person wants to admit. Marriage counseling doesn’t work on a fundamentally broken marriage. Sadly in this situation, the more couples work to repair the old marriage the faster things fall apart. At this stage, you have to take another approach. You have to work towards creating a new marriage.
1 Time in 10
One time out of ten: a person needs to go straight to divorce. This is the divorce that people fear. Every time this is the case it’s due to an abusive partner. All answers have already been played out. The partner being abused requires the legal separation to protect themselves.
When abuse is present, the first step is to go to a lawyer and get legal protection.
We don’t work with people when abuse is present. While abuse is a larger problem in relationships in general, victims rarely call to get help or stand up to escape their abuse.
After a person has left an abusive relationship, we can help them regain personal power and find answers in improving their life.
2 Times in 10
Two times out of ten: one person in the relationship truly does need to leave as part of their growth in life. In these situations, it’s best to slow everything down and create a graceful separation. The endpoint will be legal separation, but we can help you move it along in such a way to help both partners grow.
Because most people don’t approach separation with patience or kindness, without help, this situation can devolve into a bad divorce. However, it’s possible to redirect and make this a graceful divorce. Every case we take, we navigate our clients towards the best possible outcome.
When this situation happens, people will focus on the reasons. That will only create more conflict. The focus needs to be flipped forward to how both partners re-balance their power. Most marriages have power imbalances; it’s a cultural problem. Once a person starts to leave, the power imbalance causes a spinning out of control situation, like driving on ice. Even worse, emotions will cause people to react out of sync with each other and amplify problems. This creates a negative feedback loop that quickly devours all goodwill and any chance of a peaceful resolution.
In these cases, I will help you break the negative emotional feedback cycle.
It’s critical to time the process of separation to be more graceful. Typically when a person truly needs to leave, they have hidden their change from their partner. This makes people seemingly leave out the blue. The partner has no chance to adapt and instead will cling extra hard and push push push to repair something too out of sync to repair. Learn how to buy time for each partner to adjust to shifting power dynamics.
I have carefully scripted out methods to walk people through the process while minimizing emotional damage. Be aware this is a complicated process, and I optimize each solution on a case by case basis to match all the variables in play.
Why Marriage Fails
Marriage is a social contract between two people. As a social contract, once invoked, the unconscious terms each partner holds for the marriage tend to not change over time. In other words, marriage resists change; it doesn’t evolve as fast as the two people within the relationship. Marriage becomes a third person in a relationship. Where the two people now work hard to keep that third person, the marriage, happy, happier than their individual selves.
The good news is the nature of marriage allows for trust and creates a robust framework to keep people together during rough outside challenges. The harder truth is the unchanging nature of how you hold your expectations of marriage also makes personal change hard within many marriages. Old expectations are often what breaks up a marriage later in life.
During any life crisis, within times of greater change, all marriages get tested by that change.
A Changing Marriage
Like clockwork, every 7 to 9 years we become a new person. Welcome to the famous seven-year itch. Our personal stories evolve as we mature and how we see and hold ourselves changes more deeply and profoundly than people realize.
Marriages fall into trouble between these 7 to 9 years gaps due to this change.
What happens when you married 14 years ago, and now you have changed twice over, and your partner has changed twice over? That is a tremendous amount of time and differences to make up in just a month or two of reconciliation. When two people can change so much, it’s no surprise, so many marriages go straight to legal divorce.
Midlife is a time of life when these change cycles come into focus more than other moments of life. Men and women handle a midlife crisis differently and part of healing a marriage is to realign both partners to work with their needs in a compatible manner.
How do I avoid divorce?
Many divorce alternatives exist. Some examples, you can do nothing; you can sleep on the couch, or you can run away. The simple truth: most divorce alternatives suck.
When considering alternatives to divorce factor these 6 critical truths into your process:
- Part of a healthy divorce alternative is accepting the need for outside help.
- Any alternative to divorce should not include the other partner as a healer or teacher. To do so, actually, will accelerate a divorce.
- Any process you undertake has to empower each person.
- Take care of yourself during the process!
- A divorce alternative should help each person grow. Keep in mind your partner may not want to grow. If that is the case, ironically they are forcing you to release the marriage.
- You and your partner will make mistakes. An important part of any successful alternative divorce process should include how to turn each mistake made into a learning experience that makes each partner stronger rather than weaker.
We work over the phone and also offer couple retreats!
Guides like Julie and myself are present to help mediate the process. As teachers, we intercept conflicts before they arise to tear apart two people further.
50% of the time we only work with one partner. Many people come to us confused, feeling the need to run away or in the backwash of problems. In this situation, it’s all about helping a person rediscover expanded options for their life.
We help resolve out affairs, teach new ways of finding your power, release judgments and pain, help a person strive toward new goals. Often a person running towards divorce is only trying to get time and space to reinvent themselves.
Divorce Alternative #1: Relationship Rebalancing
Multiple options exist for rebalancing an existing relationship. Here are three examples of how to change a relationship.
Release or Change the terms of your Marriage Contract
Changing what your marriage looks like is a valid divorce alternative.
Sometimes two people have to redefine their marriage rules radically. This requires a deep release of your expectations and past viewpoints. Many variations of what a marriage could look do exist.
Most people are pretty traditional, so this is a harder option. Only one out of a hundred clients will take this path.
We work with many individuals to reinvent themselves. In fact, many times their partner never even knows they wanted to leave. Reinventing oneself usually takes 18 months to 3 years to fully realize. It feels like a slow and hard path, but it speeds up rapidly as a person begins to reinvigorate themselves.
How Do I Create a New Marriage?
The first step is not to mention divorce or start with legal separation. However, once one partner expresses the need to divorce, the request needs to be respected, and you need to select one of the divorce alternatives as a starting point. A well thought out divorce alternative can prepare two people for both a divorce and a new relationship at the same time. Sometimes working on separation can save a marriage.
The second step is to create space. LOTS of space.
The third step is to work at empowering each person to be more confident and stronger within themselves.
The fourth step is to become active in your life, get in shape and make life improvements.
Over time as problems come up, as spiritual mediators Julie and I help the couple resolve out these problems. Resolving out issues helps bring people back together.
Creating a new marriage takes time, and fast fixes won’t work now. Creating a new marriage first requires letting go of a relationship and healing damage. That process of release is scary and ironically makes a person cling to old marriage tighter, which only drives two people towards divorce.
So pay attention: your odds are better than you might suspect, when being proactive, getting help, re-balancing space and communication within your relationship.
When two people come to us this often the option taken. However, both people have to want to walk this path. If only one person is interested, then they have to use the reinvent oneself or spiritual divorce option. When both people are working to their growth, if they decide to leave, it’s because they both realize they are stronger with separation. It’s strange, but everyone who walks this path is always happy with how it completes.
We work with many couples in helping them rebalance their relationship. You can contact us to see what options could work for you.
Divorce Alternative #2: Spiritual Divorce
At times a relationship is so damaged that a deeper timeout is required to resolve the differences between two people. In these cases, the Spiritual Divorce process we created works wonders in opening up new options in your relationship. This is a more intense option than creating a new marriage option since you are accepting up front the marriage needs to be fully released for healing to happen.
Initially releasing your partner seems counter-intuitive on what needs to be done. But it works! To quote one client:
The idea of a spiritual divorce offered me a gleam of hope, and I wrote to Casey asking for help.
It was the hardest time of my life. I was so broken, following Casey’s advice was a leap of faith. But Casey’s insights have proved correct, and his strategies have worked. Over the past eighteen months, I have learned to be patient and discovered the rewards of letting things unfold over time instead of forcing the situation; I have become less needy and emotionally more self-sufficient; I have explored new activities and rediscovered old interests. Casey has enabled me not only to get through the pain but to come out on the other side feeling whole, more realistic and in a better position to start again.