Support: A Curse or a Blessing? (by: Dr. Anne Brown PhD, RN CS)
It really is up to you every day whether you see support as a curse or a blessing! Whether you are the giver or the receiver, I recommend you reframe it as a blessing. Is this easy? Of course not! However, if you actually go through the trauma of getting divorced and you stay married through your anger that seems pretty self-destructive! Remember, “Letting someone live rent free in your head” has bigger costs than a monthly check.
Unfortunately, there are people who see marriage as a business. If you are married to one of these people and they managed to do well by you, you WILL have to really work at letting go and moving on. The blessing may have to be the support you owe is the price you pay to get rid of a life that wasn’t nurturing you anyway. If you are surprised at the person who showed up to divorce you, do better research next time! In many ways finding the right partner is like a research project. You want to see how your potential partner handles relationships, how he/she treats people, family and money for starters. If you have had a really contentious divorce ask yourself the question, “what was my part in this?” Answers can be: you lived in a marriage where someone was angry at you and you pretended everything was fine, you were controlling, you neglected your marriage, you married a fighter for whatever reason, you married for selfish reasons and guess what so did they for starters.
When the final order comes down for your monthly check, if you are the one who has to write it maybe write them all out for the next year, put them in stamped and addressed envelopes, and just pull them out to mail once a month. Tell yourself you are paying off a debt and getting closer every month. If you are the receiver and you feel your “ex” sends the check just enough not the way it is ordered (late, miss a month, etc.) but not enough to be taken back to court, make a commitment to make so much money and be so happy in the very near future you won’t notice when the check comes in. Make up your own ways to let go, move on, and BE divorced emotionally when your divorce has been finalized.
Support is one distinction of a divorce settlement. If you negotiated hard, felt you did your homework hiring your team, cannot bring any further legal action, accept it and move on. You can be on the 2-year recovery plan or the 5-year recovery plan. Guess what plan being bitter and resentful will keep you on?
Another “unfair” aspect of support is how it is spent. When an irresponsible parent spends support irresponsibly and doesn’t take care of the children, it will be another test for you. If there is nothing you can do legally, make your home the healthiest you can and move forward. The lessons are about learning what you can control and what you cannot. These are the injustices children have to deal with when “acting out” parents get divorced and won’t be responsible adults.
When a couple decides to turn one home into two homes, the biggest challenge is to realize what you can control and what you can’t. By making your home healthy and safe you can only hope your children will be able to discuss what they struggle with in the unhealthy home. At this point you can, with the help of a good therapist, give them tools, compassion/empathy, and the strength to deal with their challenges. You can be sure if you are bitter and resentful your children will not feel safe to talk to you. Is that what you want?
These are just some of the reasons why “moving on” is really the only option for a healthy recovery post divorce. If you are stuck in bitter and resentful, find a good therapist who can help you let your divorce go and move on to reinvent yourself. Set a goal post divorce and focus on achieving it successfully. Goals have a beginning, middle and end which makes them perfect for building self-esteem. Run a marathon, remodel your apartment/home, learn to play an instrument, learn a new language, learn how to garden or cook, build a tree house for the children, and see how it will help you move on. First of all you don’t have the time to focus on the negative “support issue” and you will know how to do something new which not only builds self-esteem but will also bring new people into your life. Your task post divorce is to reinvent yourself! Framing your support as a blessing is the only way to move forward!
© 2019 Dr. Anne Brown; Psychotherapist, Speaker, and Author of Backbone Power The Science of Saying No. Permission needed for any form of reproduction.
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