If your divorce is not final yet and there is drama and instability in your relationship with your soon-to-be ex, then the 1st-Things-1st Program provides a way to navigate the process of getting uncoupled/divorced that minimizes the trauma and sets the stage for your subsequent recovery from divorce.
A fast and effective recovery from divorce requires a sense of stability in the relationship with your ex or soon-to-be ex. That can be realized in two ways: (1) the divorce is final, or (2) even if the divorce is not final yet, there no longer is any drama, anger, resentment, or turmoil surrounding your relationship with your soon-to-be ex. Stability and the absence of turmoil are the keys.
The Surprising Power of the Final Divorce Decree
Recovering from divorce assumes the turmoil surrounding the breakup has subsided. The most common way to end the turmoil is to get the judge to sign the Divorce Decree. On the one hand, the Final Divorce Decree is just a piece of paper, and as such appears to be rather insignificant, especially when compared to all the pain and suffering that preceded it.
However, this innocuous-looking signed document ends the uncertainty that reigned during the divorce process and enables the recovery process to begin. All of the jockeying between you and your spouse about what the agreement will contain is over. All the disaster fantasies about what your ex’s lawyer will do next have ended. Regardless of whether you like the content of the agreement or not, it is no longer subject to change. It is what it is. The legal context of your life going forward as it pertains to your ex is now fixed, firm, and permanent. All the wondering and worrying about what the legal realities will be are now behind you and now you are free to begin to recover from all the trauma the divorce has caused.
Until the judge has signed the agreement, the two parties are living a life of non-stop, 24/7 uncertainty. It’s like they are dancing on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean during a hurricane. As soon as you think you have got your footing, the dance floor tilts dramatically, throwing you off balance and threatening to bring more pain and suffering. Stability is not possible. Not until the storm passes or you are docked in port will the dance floor stop moving. Only then can you take stock of the trauma and damage the divorce storm has caused. Recovery from divorce is how we deal with and dissolve our emotion-based reactions to the trauma and damage caused by the divorce. The Final Divorce Decree, appropriately signed, sealed, and delivered, ties the ship to the dock and brings the stability needed to fully assess the damage and begin our journey to Recover from the Divorce.
1st Things 1st: Getting Uncoupled and Ending the Turmoil
1st Things 1st provides a place of safety and stability. It helps you keep your eyes on the prize: Getting Uncoupled from your spouse or partner with a fair legal agreeement. You receive assistance in making the shift from an intimate relationship with your spouse to a “business-like” relationship with one and only one goal: To Get Uncoupled from your spouse or partner so you can get on with the business of recovering from all the pain and trauma the divorce has caused.
So, if the divorce is not yet final and there is turmoil in your relationship with your spouse, then we first need to attend to the obvious and get your divorce finalized as fast and painlessly as possible. We call this Preliminary Step in the Divorce Recovery Process: 1st Things 1st. (See the purple box in Figure 3 below.)
Figure 3. 1st Things 1st Program – Getting Uncoupled and Ending the Turmoil
1st Things 1st helps you understand and handle with cool self-confidence the 9 Stages of Getting Uncoupled. These stages include:
Stage 1: The Build Up – The Dumper’s discontent runs silent and deep. No one else knows.
The Dumper is slowly becoming aware of the severity of the problem in the relationship. The Dumpee is oblivious; sees issues as normal and routine.
Stage 2: The Dumper’s Decision – “I just can’t do this anymore.”
In quiet, solitary reflection the Dumper concludes that the marriage or relationship is over and admits to him or herself: “I can’t do this anymore.” At this point Job 1 for the Dumper becomes getting uncoupled.
Stage 3: The Dumpee’s World Explodes – “O god NO! Why is this happening to me?!”
The Dumper tells his/her spouse and the Dumpee’s life comes crashing down. Feeling devastated permeates all areas of Dumpee’s life. It feels permanent. Thankfully, it isn’t.
Stage 4: The Acknowledgement of the “Gut-Wrenching” Reality – “O, #%&*! This is really going to happen!”
The Dumpee comes to the realization that the marriage is over and divorce is a fact of life. The old relationship is forever changed. Habitual ways of communicating don’t work anymore. The result? Misunderstanding and frustration. Trust begins to erode. Job 1 for the Dumpee becomes getting uncoupled.
Stage 5: The Distractions and Side Trips – “How can I avoid facing reality?”
Both parties resist getting uncoupled. Energy gets diverted to side issues such as affairs, reconciliation hopes, blaming, trying to live together, couples therapy, etc. Trust continues to erode. The figure below is how I picture the endless convolutions, digressions, false alarms, and debilitating efforts we endure when we get stuck in this step. As the diagram notes, we are always at choice as to whether remain stuck in the diversions or not. However, like a lot of suggestions for successfully handling a divorce, it is easier said than done. (Note: Zoom in to read the detail of the following figure.)
Stage 6: The Attempt to Uncouple Simply and Amicably – Trust is a wonderful thing.
Many couples want to divorce amicably: “Let’s do mediation.” This requires mutual trust, especially since full financial disclosure is required. The crucial question: “Is there enough trust left to make this work?” Bottom line: No trust? No way it will work.
Stage 7: The Necessity to Uncouple with Force – Distrust is a very common thing.
Afraid your spouse might screw you? Letting lawyers fight for you is the only option. But beware! Your only goal is to get uncoupled with a fair, not lopsided, judgment.
Stage 8: The Final Decree – Finally, No More Whack-a-Mole!
With the Final Decree, your life changes from dealing with “what might be” to “what is.” It brings an end to unwanted surprises. Only now is true divorce recovery possible.
Stage 9: The Surprise that It’s Not Over Yet – “O god! There’s more? When will it ever end?”
After all the agony of getting uncoupled is finished, we hope, “That’s it! I’m over it!” Turns out we not. The good news: Now you can recover from your divorce without distraction and begin the next chapter in your life 10 times faster than the norm!
Here is how it works: As soon as the turmoil you feel about your relationship with your spouse is resolved, either by the legal process or by a reassessment of the situation by you, then you move on to the regular Smooth Divorce Recovery Program.
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