Sunday, March 1, 2020

The Need for Patience

Many people take quite a long time deciding whether or not to get divorced. That's normal and probably a good thing. It is such an important decision that we shouldn't jump into it lightly.

However, once they make the commitment to divorce, many of these people become anxious to get it over with.

As unwelcome as the news is, sometimes people just have to be patient. The Collaborative Divorce process takes time and it may take time for the other party to become comfortable with the prospect of divorce, which may have been unexpected. 

So, we often have one person who was slow to decide initially who is now in a hurry, while the spouse is unprepared and slow to adjust to a new reality of divorce. The different speeds of people can create conflict.

Here are some suggestions for dealing with that friction between the parties.

1.  Most importantly, the "speedier" person needs to be able to honestly explain why speed is important.  There may be good reasons which everyone can understand.

  • The person may be moving or starting a new job.
  • The person may be in a new relationship. That's often not a popular explanation until the second party is emotionally in the same place. Patiently waiting to discuss that is usually a virtue.
  • The person may want to end the financial drain of a divorce. Divorces aren't cheap. Even a Collaborative Divorce is somewhat expensive. It's probably in everyone's best interest to not drag out the divorce with continuing meetings (which is similar to the desire to stop court hearings in litigation).
  • The person may be ready to start over fresh.
  • Any divorce is emotionally stressful (although Collaborative Divorces are usually less stressful than litigated ones). It makes sense that getting out of the stressful situation may be a priority.
  • At some point, almost everyone is ready to get out of a difficult or uncomfortable situation just to get out of limbo.  The uncertainty of a continuing divorce can be draining.
2.  Both parties need to recognize that a divorce process, even Collaborative Divorce, takes time. It cannot and generally should not be a speedy process because people need to be thoughtful about such important issues for their lives.

3.  Each party should accept that their spouse may need time to adjust or prepare. Be kind and be patient and you will be rewarded.

4.  Be sure there is time for each party to be heard. Sometimes just having an opportunity to speak up and explain things can be very beneficial. In Collaborative Divorces, we work on improving communication between and parties. A big part of that is learning to be a good listener.

5.  Finally, both parties need to recognize that their assumptions about how fast the process should work may be wrong. Each case is different and each person is different, so timing will vary from case to case.

Having experienced Collaborative professionals involved in the case should ease some of the stress, including the speed stress. You should have a good discussion with your attorney about your needs, your assumptions and your spouse's position on the speed of the case.  Together you should figure out how to balance the desires for a quicker or slower process so that neither party is over-stressed.

The overall best advice on the topic:  Be Patient!