From my very unofficial polling of people that I come across in life, it seems that money and parenting issues are the major causes of divorce. I had a slightly funny and slightly tragic conversation with a friend the other day. We were commiserating on the fact that we both separated from our spouses because we could just not get along when it came to money or parenting. Then we both looked at each other and said – “yup, and we still have have to deal with our ex’s on those issues even though we are divorced.”
For all you newly separated people, I’m sorry to be the bearer of this bad news.
That’s the irony. Just because you get divorced does not mean you no longer have to discuss parenting and money with your ex. In actual fact, you end up having to do more communication around these two subjects. And it will require more effort because you live in separate dwellings. Not to mention the fact that you likely aren’t very motivated to talk to this person that causes you emotional angst. You will probably have to hire lawyers and counsellors too and spend lots of money to figure out how to communicate once you are in the divorce process. Then once you have a separation agreement you will have to spend a couple of years figuring out how to implement that separation agreement. Because you know what? Even when things seem clearly written down and understandable in an agreement, you and your ex will likely interpret it differently.
When we signed our separation agreement I was so relieved. I thought that finally things would be clear and we had a map to resolve all future parenting and money issues. I was so wrong. I was naive to think that we would interpret our agreement the same way when we could never do this before. We continued to fight and argue about what each sentence in our agreement meant. Our kids continued to be caught in the middle of our conflict.
Our agreement could not solve our problems. The only thing that could help us solve our issues was learning to effectively communicate with each other, a thought that I had resisted for a long time but came to adopt after spending a year of being continuously surprised by how my ex interpreted our agreement. I realized that figuring out a way to communicate with my ex was a better option than living on an emotional roller coaster.
So as I see it, eventually you are going to have to learn to communicate with your partner about the big issues like parenting and money. You get to decide, do you want to do it before things start to go horribly awry or do you want to be proactive and figure out if you can live with this person and start a life and family together before you actually do so?
How do you start? Here is one way.