Great Expectations, Trust & The Irrational During Divorce

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By Margaret, Guest Author - February 22, 2014

I’ll never forget the moment when I was in counseling with my ex husband and I knew that things were simply not going to work. It was such a mixed state of feelings. On the one hand, it was a huge relief that some how clarity had finally surfaced in order for me to make a decision. On the other hand, how would we now proceed?

At that moment in time, even given the fact that my ex wasn’t the one choosing to end things, I truly believed that we could do this in a really positive way. I had wondrous expectations. I had not only heard great stories of people being able to do this, but I had witnessed another couple in our community work very hard to rise above their differences to create an alternative family situation involving two houses and two very different parents. I could tell it wasn’t easy, yet they would head out on ski trips together for the weekend and other outings as a “family.” I just knew that my ex and I could do this.

Fotolia_50352970_XS.jpgThe Necessity Of Trust

My nature is kind and nurturing and trusting…very, very trusting. I really thought that I was dealing with a partner who could rise above and do what was the best for the kids. Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that he felt that he could not trust me, and trust really is the key to collaborative work.

My favorite definition of trust by Bob and Megan Tschannen-Moran is:

“the willingness to be vulnerable to another based on the confidence that the other is benevolent, honest, open, reliable, and competent.”

It’s easy to see that simply being vulnerable to another when the other person has torn the foundation out from under you by wanting to end the relationship might be challenging. In my case, I believe he questioned my ability to be any of these things: benevolent, honest, open, reliable and competent. In fact, I believe that it made it easier for him to toss our marriage aside when he could put it in a context where I was not any of those qualities, and also not capable of those qualities. Please note, that I do not judge him for this. I understand how this happens, but the key is that I didn’t EXPECT it to happen in this manner.

Realizing that our husband/soon to be ex doesn’t trust us is an important piece of how we will move forward both in navigating and negotiating the divorcing process. It can be very tricky to perceive when trust is broken depending on the person you are dealing with. There can be two faces that are shown to you. The one that SAYS, “sure use this bank account” and the other that ACTS by doing the following, “I’ve stopped putting any money in that account.” Mixed messages are a big red flag that you are not trusted; that trust has been broken. And that is where expectations can be dashed.

Trustless Divorce is not the end of the world…it can be the sign of something BIG

Now it’s not the end of the world to not have trust there. It’s just something to note that you are going to be dealing with a different situation. Your expectation of collaborating has been broken; however, to me this is a sign of something bigger that is transpiring. You see, expectation is reliant on the reasoning mind. However, life crisis situations, such as divorce, that become irrational and unreasonable are the sign of a break down of the current life structural situation in a way that resembles the dark night of the soul.

The experience of constantly expecting my ex to behave “normally” to act “kindly” and then being let down time and time again in ways that were so incredibly horrible was exhausting. It was like the expectations were always there and the low blows got worse and worse and worse. It got to a point where it became so irrational and unreasonable and unfair and all of the above that I had to accept that there was something bigger happening.

What I Had Sought Out and Wanted More Than Anything During My Divorce:

Harnessing the power of the dark night of the soul can be very powerful in transforming an adverse situation and a life that was harmful to one’s spirit into a life that embraces joy, love and freedom. But if you don’t know what is happening, it can be crushing and overwhelming. We experience tendencies to go into blame and hate and anger. And I had great bouts of this myself.

What really changed things for me was taking a “spiritual eye-view” of the landscape. I searched and searched through many teachings and was able to come up with a roadmap that at least explained what was happening to me as my world broke down around me into this totally un-expected and unreasonable “mess” that was a sort of primordial soup for transformation. I teach this framework in my webinar The 9 Things You Can Count On In Divorce, and if you are interested in learning more, I invite you to join me in my next presentation.

Three Key Take-Aways Around Expectation:

Embracing the unexpected and its wily ways takes great strength, courage and fortitude as many of you who have gone through divorce can attest. And it takes these qualities to continue parenting children with your ex as well. Here are the three key points to ponder

  1. Does trust exist between you and your ex.
  2. If there is no trust, are you willing to embrace the unreasonable circumstances that have headed your direction.
  3. In beginning to create the life you choose, how can you begin to create behavior patterns that allow you to slip into states of joy, gratitude and self-love/compassion

Moving forward after accepting crushed expectations:

In order to create the life we know exists for us that embraces this beauty of joy, love and freedom, we have to teach ourselves behavior patterns that nourish a breeding ground for states of joy and gratitude, and self-love/compassion. These things can be challenging when we must be present and in the “fight” so to speak that is transpiring during divorce. 

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