Fear is a big motivator for lots of people, but it can also drive people to inaction. I recently came a TED talk by author Karen Thompson Walker which discusses how fear is like a story, and can help us to imagine all possible future scenarios and how to cope with them.
In watching this video, I began to think about what fears are driving a lot of my divorce clients. Divorce in North Carolina is scary stuff – one of the scariest things that will probably happen to you in your lifetime.
Here is a list of fears that I came up with:
- Fear of telling your spouse
- Fear of separating/moving out
- Fear of the unknown
- Fear of the cost of divorce (i.e. legal fees)
- Fear of how much support will be paid/received
- Fear of how the divorce will affect the kids
- Fear of how much time I will get with the kids
- Fear of how the stress will impact my job/life/friendships
- Fear of living alone
- Fear of dating
- Fear of moving on
This is just a start – I’m sure there are many more fears that I haven’t touched on. Ms. Walker, in the talk above, has done an excellent job of explaining how many times, our fears are unreasonable. However, our fear of the unknown keeps us from telling our spouse that we want a divorce, or going to see a lawyer to start the process.
However, beginning to confront these fears is the best way to start to take action and control the direction that your divorce will take. If you are scared of telling your spouse, I recommend going to see a therapist who can assist you with that process. If you are scared of the cost in legal fees, start by going to see a lawyer and figure out exactly what the costs might be. The best way to handle these fears is by gathering information and taking things one step at a time.
Here is another fear – the fear of what your life will be like if you don’t take action. Getting a divorce is a difficult decision, and it is a decision that only you can make. The motivations for getting a divorce are varied and can include, non-stop fighting, adultery, having grown apart, financial stressors, etc. Ultimately, you have to weigh whether your motivations are strong enough to outweigh your personal fears about the divorce process.
My only suggestion is to gather information, form a plan, and take action… or don’t. Own and take control of your fears. Don’t let your imagination about what could happen control you.