LAKE OCONEE — I ran across this article recently and it reminded me that I might write again an article on divorce and some of its ramifications. Divorce does happen often, especially during the summer when kids are out of school, and divorced couples often add to their separation pain by doing, or failing to do, certain things that are in their best interest, as well as for any children that may be involved. So let me share “The Seven Deadly Sins of Divorce” as seen through the pen of Natasha Burton as she gleans insight from a book entitled LAST ONE DOWN THE AISLE WINS by family therapist Shannon Fox and divorce attorney Celeste Liversidge. An interesting collaboration.
Before getting into the “Sins” Ms. Burton cites an interesting study from the University of Pennsylvania that correlates age of marriage and education with marital happiness. The study found that 81 percent of college graduates who wed during the 80s, at age 26 or older, were still married twenty years later. That number decreased to 65 percent for college grads who married before age 26. There are a number of studies pointing out that the more education you have and being older than 25 increases the probability of marriage success.
And the “Sins” are:
Forcing your kids to take sides: “The last thing a parent wants to do during a divorce is to cause more pain for the children. Unfortunately, more often than not, the way a parent acts during the divorce makes things worse for the kids than necessary. … Using your kids as pawns in the process will cause irreparable damage to them. Don’t force them to take sides or to prove their love to you by defying their other parent. … Remind them that both of their parents love them and always will have a relationship with them.”
Using your attorney as a therapist: “Your attorney may be a whiz when it comes to the law … but he or she is not a trained mental health professional. … and you are on the clock. And that’s a pretty pricey sounding board.”
Spending $10,000 to get $1,000: “Time and time again we’ve seen couples make the mistake of fighting to the bitter end of who gets the …. By the time you pay your lawyers to duke it out, who do you think ends up the winner? That’s right, the lawyers. … Making your lawyers rich off your refusal to back down is definitely a losing proposition.”
Taking a laissez faire approach to your case: “You do yourself a huge favor by staying on top of your case and holding your lawyer accountable for his or her hourly billing and timeline for finishing your case. … Request a weekly email update from your attorney.”
Refusing to mediate: “You may not be able to settle all the issues in your case without hearing from the judge but even knocking out a few issues through mediation can really save you time and money.
Demonizing your ex: “When you trash a child’s mom or dad, you are trashing a part of them. This is their one and only dad/mom. … If your ex is a bad person, your children will discover it on their own. … Their relationship should remain unencumbered by your relational baggage.”
Jumping into a rebound relationship: “Refrain because you are nowhere near ready to give another person what they deserve in a relationship. Refrain because your kids will be further traumatized by bringing in a ‘new parent’ into their lives when they are reeling from the loss of their intact family. Refrain because you will never learn from the mistakes you made in your first marriage if you don’t take time to figure out your responsibility in the failure of the relationship.”
I hope that the above material is helpful for those of you divorced, contemplating it, or know someone in that position. For a more complete elaboration on the above “sins” and further issues that you might consider I refer you to my web site – drstathas.googlepages.com. There you will find a number of articles related to going through a divorce and the impact on children. One article is entitled: “Divorce: minimize the pain and damage, especially to kids.”
Dr. Stathas can be reached at (706) 473-1780. E-mail: Stathas@plantationcable.net.