Life does not stop after divorce, it begins anew!
So yesterday I was doing research for the e-book I am writing, and I came across a divorce readiness test written by Dr. Phil. I have always admired his tough views on parenting and marriage and the great instincts about people he usually has. However, that said, his “readiness test” for divorce was not something I agreed with at all.
Dr. Phil makes a point of telling folks not to make life-changing decisions when you are in the midst of emotional turmoil, which I think makes sense in theory. But can we make a completely unemotional decision when it comes to our spouses or divorce?
According to Dr. Phil, before people divorce they should ask themselves these five questions:
- Are you still in love with your spouse?
- Are you hurt?
- Are you scared?
- Are you angry?
- Are you confused?
He then says if you have answered yes to ANY of those questions, you’ve failed the test, which he means: This is not the time to make a life-changing decision like divorce, and you have more work to do.
In his own words from a video on his website he said, “You know you’re ready for a divorce when you can walk out the door with no anger, frustration or hurt. Otherwise, you’ve got unfinished business. Unless you can look each other in the eye feeling peace, no hatred or resentment, you’re not ready to get a divorce.”
I had to replay that audio several times for it to sink in. And every time I heard it I was left with my mouth ajar. Seriously, how many people do you know who go through a divorce who aren’t, to some degree, hurt, scared, angry or resentful? How many divorced couples look each other eye to eye without any of those lingering feelings? His view is all very utopian and not at all realistic.
As for my divorce, we went to three different marriage counselors and we still parted with intense negative feelings between us. In fact, a huge part of our marriage was like that. I could not have stayed a minute longer than I did, even if Dr. Phil was advising me to. I agree that ideally if we parted in a good way it would have been helpful for co-parenting, but when you are married to someone who is verbally abusive that is never going to happen.
I also don’t understand why it’s not okay to be pissed off with your ex. Isn’t it okay to dislike someone for how he/she treated you and your family, and in some case continues to treat you? I think it is okay as long as feelings can be balanced and put aside when you are co-parenting.
I also believe that anger and hatred are powerful motivators for change and growth. My anger toward the ex propelled me forward toward much change and growth and five plus years later, I am still growing and changing. Now I’m not saying that you won’t run the gamut of emotions while you are going through a divorce and thereafter, but I don’t think anyone should feel guilty for having left the marriage if you left with negative feelings.
When my divorce was finalized, the main emotion I experienced was joy. Not the joy Dr. Phil ideally speaks of, but the joy that I was free. Every day that I walked through the door of my new home and life, I had to keep pinching myself that it was real. So in some respects much of the negative feelings diminished when the main source of my anger no longer shared housing with me.
However, the ex, always being true to his rigid, angry, difficult persona, has an uncanny way of keeping the negative feelings alive and kicking.
All I can say is I do my best not to take the bait, and most times I succeed. Also, I am happy in my life and I do believe that being happy and living well is truly the best revenge.
And finally to Dr. Phil: I know you’re a doctor and an expert, but in this particular instance I think you are way off the mark!
Does anyone agree with me?
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