Gay marriage is marriage - with everything that comes with it… including divorce. If you're in an LGBTQ union and considering a permanent split, here's what you need to know.
Not too long ago, while driving in the car, my 5-year old son told me about two of his classmates that got “married” at recess. My older son quickly rebuked him saying that it wasn’t a real marriage. So, I asked them what they thought marriage was all about. Even at their young ages, they had a television-produced image in their minds of marriage as what happens when a boy and a girl get all kissy-face with each other. So, I enlightened them. I told them that any adult could get married as long as they weren’t relatives. Boys and girls. Girls and girls. Boys and boys. I told them that the only thing that mattered was two people loving each other enough to commit their lives to one another … in a legal union where they combine their lives and their assets. And as a divorce coach, I had to make the point that couples could also choose to be together and love one another without the legal complications of marriage. Of course, they had stopped listening by this point.
I hope I made an impact on them though. I truly believe that everyone – of any gender, color or race – should enjoy equal rights. Marriage is a union of two lives – emotionally, physically, financially and legally. Too often, heterosexual couples focus on marriage purely as a representation of their love and commitment and forget what it really is. Marriage is a legal union that provides rights, protections and benefits that should be available to any couple that wants them. Just like any couple though, LGBTQ couples who choose marriage are just as susceptible as the rest of us to divorce … and the legal process that requires us to untangle and divide our lives, assets and custody of our children. While the LGBTQ community deserves to celebrate their equal right to marriage, they also need to recognize that almost 50% of those marriages could end in divorce. So, be prepared if it happens to you.
Don’t Act Based on Negative Emotions
Divorce opens the door to all of our worst saboteurs – self-doubt, denial, confusion, fear, anger, hurt. None of these inner critics will serve you in this process. Decisions and behavior based on these negative emotions will only make this process … and your life … more difficult. The best way to silence these inner critics is to examine and acknowledge them, so that you will recognize them when they pop up and make a different choice. Make choices based on what is best for YOU -- what is most important to YOU – because you and your children are the only things that matter right now. Don’t accept that fear should rule your life.
Don’t Take It Personally
It’s important to recognize that divorce is a legal process. While it signifies the end of your marriage, which can be incredibly painful, it’s just business as usual for your divorce attorney and the court system. Indulging in your anger, resentment, sadness or fear of the future with your attorney will not serve you in any way besides exponentially increasing your legal fees. Separate your negative emotions from the legal process in order to use this resource wisely and cost-efficiently. You also need to shift your focus away from your ex and onto yourself. What happened is in the past. Leave it there and start creating a better future for yourself.
Don’t Do It Alone
Realize that there are specialists who can help you just as much as your attorney in this process, such as mediators, financial analysts, forensic specialists, therapists and divorce coaches. Create your own support team of resources, family and friends that will support you emotionally and legally. You don’t have to do this alone. You do need to own this process, though, to ensure that you are optimizing your probability of getting what you want from it. As a divorce coach, I work with individuals to help them eliminate their self-sabotage and focus on what’s most important to them. You need to know what you want so you can ask for it. Make sure it’s your game plan though and your team is following your lead.
Don’t Compromise Your Values
Everyone knows they have values, but few people can name them when asked. And yet, knowing your personal values is critically important in this process. Whether you realize it or not, you make your most important decisions based on them. Your values might include family, love, contribution, achievement, health or others – all of which represent your personal rule book for who you choose to be in this world and what you choose to do. Your combination of values is unique to you … and everyone else has a different set of values guiding them in their decisions. Honoring your unique values is essential to your peace and happiness. And when your values are compromised, by you or others, it feels miserable. Relationships crumble due to lack of shared values. Know your values. Honor them throughout this legal process, so there is no doubt you are doing what is right for you. Honor them so you will be confident in yourself and your actions. Honor them so that you know you did your best.
DO What You’ll Be Proud Of!
What would your life be like if you always did what you would be proud of later? What kind of new life would you build for yourself with that guiding principle? This is your time to live according to your higher purpose – without compromise. So, create that vision for yourself. Use it to motivate and propel you forward in this process. Take baby steps to start creating that new life right now. Imagine yourself there already. When you focus on what you want, your purpose becomes clear. Your saboteurs are silenced. You’ll make better decisions in your divorce and increase the probability of getting what you want.