A company in the USA is offering divorce insurance. Yes – divorce insurance! Some people might think that it would be giving your marriage the kiss of death, just to apply for that cover; it would seem to show little faith in marriage. How are you going to face the challenges, if you already believe that your marriage is doomed? There may be some merit in this argument, but then it would apply to all the other risks we insure against, too.
In fact the company (‘Wedlock Insurance’) has spotted a valid insurable need; divorce usually causes enormous financial stresses and sufferers need all the help they can get. But, divorce foreshadows far more than mere financial stresses – there are many other aspects. Most people considering calling ‘enough!’ to their spouses have not considered all the factors. It can be useful to do so whether you are a divorce candidate, or not. Here are five of the most important things that women should consider before pulling the plug on their marriages:
Even when you are sure that divorce is the only way to go, you will find that you have periods of doubt. You’ll wonder if you are doing the right thing and you’ll worry that you don’t have the emotional strength to last the distance. Don’t do it alone and don’t ask the wrong people for advice. Friends may be willing to help, but beware their real motivation. The support may help you to ignore your own responsibilities. Or, your ‘good Samaritan’ may be a person who has a score of her own to settle with men. You can make things worse by listening to the wrong kind of advice. It is far better to consult a qualified professional. A psychologist or clinical social worker has the skill to see the issues objectively and help you constructively.
Do you have a plan for the future? How will you support yourself and your children? More urgently, how will you get by in the short and medium term? Don’t rely only on your soon-to-be ex-spouse to provide. One of the responses to the rejection that divorce implies is likely to be a powerful resistance to funding your new direction in life. In any event, it costs far more to keep two homes than one. Make sure that there will be enough to get you through the tough times ahead. A shortage of money can introduce such severe stress that you cannot cope with the other issues. Prepare a budget, count everything in terms of cost and know where the money will come from.
It is not always realistic to stay in the matrimonial home during, and after, the divorce. If you move, where will you go? How will you furnish the home with the things you need? Some husbands are extremely helpful at this stage, but most are so pre-occupied with trying to deal with their own shock, uncertainty and financial issues, that they are not going to co-operate. Do you go back to your parents? Can they handle the stress, financial and otherwise? What will rented accommodation cost?
The children will need more attention than ever. Apart from the need to ‘babysit’ them, there are the emotional problems they will suffer. Some children blame themselves when their parents’ marriages fail. Many have a tendency to use the opportunity to play their parents off against each other, as the adults both try to appease the wants and needs of the children and prove themselves the better parents. Adolescents and teens have their own hormonal and situational challenges – don’t assume that they are just ‘being difficult’. Get professional advice before you jump ship – there are real and imaginary dangers in the stormy seas of divorce. Sometimes it feels as if your own kids are the sharks!
Logistics & Legal
Do you have a car of your own? If your spouse provides it, can it be taken away without notice or recourse? Do you have all the other things you need? The cost of setting up a new home is additional to the monthly budget referred to above – you need to pay deposits and buy new items. Do you have an emergency fund and good legal advice? Before you pull the ripcord, see a specialist in divorce and family law – not necessarily one of the ‘fighters’ (they can aggravate the problems), but somebody with enough knowhow and experience to help you to look at the likely problems and possible solutions.
When marriage issues seem overwhelming, it is tempting to think that divorce will provide relief and the solution to long-term happiness. You might be right, but don’t take drastic steps until you are adequately prepared - you may well find yourself in deeper trouble than you had before.
Written by Roger Knowles – copyright 2010
Roger Knowles is a Durban-based attorney, a specialist in Divorce and Family Law. See his web sites www.maintenanceguru.co.za and www.divorcelink.co.za