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Five Ideas to Meditate on during your Divorce
When you are in the middle of your divorce, keeping your focus on the positive can be one of the greatest challenges that you may face. But it is in adversity where you can really challenge your beliefs and hone your personal skills, and deepen your personal spirituality. It's one thing to be happy, in the moment, cheerful, and appropriate when things in your life are going well. However, when your world is falling apart because your primary relationship is disintegrating, it is quite another matter altogether to be happy, in the moment, cheerful, and appropriate; especially with your former significant other. It is at that time when you will call on and deepen your inner strength, and remind yourself not to be reactive, but to be proactive. You will remind yourself to be kind and to take the high road, even when you are feeling pulled to retaliate on a lower level. If at this time, you can remind yourself to be calm, to breathe, to meditate on your thoughts prior to taking action, and to treat yourself and your former partner with kindness and compassion at this time, you will emerge from this abyss a stronger and with deeper understanding of your own self, and of human nature in general.
In the book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” by Viktor Frankl, the author time and again focuses on the positive, and assists others through their pain and suffering, physical pain, emotional pain, loss of family, loss of humanity. One of the main lessons of that book is that you can choose how to respond to a situation; your internal thoughts dictate your experience. Through your divorce as well, your internal thoughts dictate how you feel and how you act, toward yourself, toward your former partner, and toward the rest of the world. You can respond with bitterness and further feed that part of yourself and become an embittered person, or you can choose to respond with kindness and compassion and feed that part of yourself and become a kinder and more compassionate person. It truly is your choice. The question is, who do you want to see when your look in the mirror?
Often, in working with my clients regarding the financial aspects of their divorces, I have the chance to observe and coach them as they translate these philosophical ideals into cash. It’s one thing to wish the former spouse “well” in the abstract, and another to write a check each month to ensure their well-being in the future. Sometimes the reason the relationship drifted apart in the first place was the divergent perspectives around money, earnings and spending. If one partner has an “earn and save” mentality, and the other partner has a “spend” mentality, the kindness and compassion that you show for each other can quickly change into greed and entitlement; the theory of abundance can topple into hoarding and scarcity and the helping mentality can leave one person feeling used while the other feels at the mercy of the higher earner. Attacks at each person’s checkbook seem to be fortified by the legal system, and often result in each person fighting for “less” as the higher income earner reduces efforts and effectiveness and the lower income earner scratches for a bigger percentage of a smaller amount. In these cases, I invite my clients to think about making the pie bigger.
If you were in a relationship where one person was the chief earner, and now you are looking at spousal support, one way to pay less spousal support is to earn less money. For instance, if you have a business that was generating $200,000 income after expenses, the split might look something like: $67K to you, $66K to your spouse, and $66K to taxes. You might be tempted to earn less so that your spouse earns less – however, that also means that you have less. If you are the spouse that will receive spousal support, it is in your best interest to encourage your former spouse to be as successful as possible – and one way to do that is not to “fight” for everything that is “yours” but to encourage their efforts toward future success. In other words, making the pie smaller or bigger leaves both spouses with increased opportunities and a better financial future.
In my work of Certified Divorce Financial Planning, I help couples individually and collectively find ways to make the pies bigger and help them achieve success, mostly on a financial basis, but also help them to look at their finances with a broad perspective. What are the best ways to solve the financial puzzle of keeping yourself and your former spouse happy, in the moment, and focused on the positive?
California divorce laws recognize that both spouses make valuable contributions to any marriage regardless of their employment. Property is labeled either "community property" or "separate property." Community property is all property, in or out of the state, that either spouse acquired during the marriage. Each spouse owns one-half of all community property. It does not matter if only one spouse worked outside of the home during the marriage or if this property is in only one spouse's name.
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