Do you have clients who are paralyzed with fear about getting a divorce during the COVID-19 pandemic? Are they depressed and unhappy, but too frightened to move ahead with a collaborative divorce? Do your clients tell you they are worried about being alone and broke after a divorce, especially now that the economy is in recession because of the pandemic? Explain to your clients that everyone feels anxious about getting a divorce and their fears will be worse because of the pandemic and economic recession. However, they won’t feel better if they do nothing—they must deal with their fears and either work on their marriage or get a divorce. Because they are facing the extra fears of getting ill and losing their job while getting a divorce, they need to be proactive. Most clients who are contemplating a divorce say they are concerned about the future, afraid of losing their job and being poor, they worry about being alone after the divorce, they wonder what will happen to their children, and they want to avoid the pain of dealing with grief. Help your clients deal with their fears by sharing information with them.
Fear of The Future.
Everyone is afraid of uncertainty. Big fears are not knowing where they will live, how to pay the bills, and whether they will be alone for the rest of their life. No one knows what will happen in the future, so your clients should not be paralyzed by uncertainty. Explain that they can’t know what will happen next, whether they get a divorce or stay married. By becoming proactive, your client will be able to overcome their fear of uncertainty and exercise some control.
Fear of Being Poor.
Everyone worries about having enough money after a divorce. The solution is to focus on the assets and income they will have after the divorce. Help your client calculate the value of community assets available after the divorce and explain how to plan a budget. Discuss with your client whether they will need cash to pay bills after a divorce. If your client has a job, that’s great. If not, recommend he or she start looking for one, even in this difficult job market. Once your client knows the value of assets and monthly income, he or she can begin to master the fear of being poor.
Fear of Being Alone.
Explain to your client that fear of being alone is caused by fear of abandonment. As a child, he or she had a caretaker who kept them safe and feeling secure. It’s reasonable to be dependent when a person is three, but adults need to take care of themselves. Encourage your client to take responsibility for their own happiness and not remain dependent on others.
Fear for the Children.
Divorce is stressful for kids. However, most recover and are fine in a year or two. In fact, children in high-conflict families are better off after divorce, because their parents aren’t fighting all the time. Most children are adaptable and will survive a divorce. To minimize problems, parents should avoid fighting, maintain a loving relationship, and help children understand their feelings about the divorce.
Fear of Emotional Pain.
Divorce causes emotional pain, including shock, depression, fear, and anger and there is no way to avoid these feelings. Everyone who suffers a serious loss will experience grief. Explaining the stages of grief can help. The first feelings are usually shock and denial. As denial disappears, individuals often mask their grief with anger. Next come thoughts of what they can do to prevent the divorce. Following the bargaining stage, many people become depressed or angry again. After a year or so, the sense of loss diminishes and most people come to terms with their grief and pain. Loss is an inevitable part of life. Grieving is a personal process and there is no “right” way to handle it–everyone must experience their pain to recover.
Explain to your client that getting a divorce is frightening, but can also be liberating if they learn to be independent and self-sufficient. The key to surviving a divorce is facing fears and learning to cope with life’s challenges. The more your client knows about divorce, finance, and emotional health, the better they can handle the pain. If your client is worried about the kids, send them to a psychologist. If your client is overwhelmed because they don’t know what to expect from a divorce, explain the collaborative process. Knowledge will help your client face their fears and overcome them.