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Christine Hickey, Esq.   120 East Washington Street, Suite 711, Syracuse, New York 13202   (315) 422-9756

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Realistic Expectations during Separation and Divorce 


Expect to feel angry.  Anger often occurs when we don’t get what we want, or we get something we don’t want. It is not so much the anger that is the problem, it is what we do with the anger and about the anger.
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Expect that if you do not take responsibility for your actions and your feelings, you will experience more suffering.  We can feel angry, and it does not feel like a choice.  We can feel the anger subsiding, and our heads will begin to clear but as soon as we experience not getting what we want, or getting something we don’t want, the anger returns.
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As humans, we make mistakes, all of us do.
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Expect that if you do not explain your perspective, you will not be understood and agreements will either be out of reach, or will not meet your needs.  One way to deal with this is by describing your experience out loud.  You will suddenly be perceived as a fallible human being with hopes and expectations like everyone else and with whom a solution is possible.
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Expect to have really difficult days when you are not sure that you can survive, and expect to have days of surprising optimism.
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Expect to be afraid, and expect your spouse or partner to be afraid even though you may believe he or she has all the power, all the control, all the money, all the influence.   You are both entering the unknown future without all the usual signposts and routines and that can be frightening for anyone.  
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Expect that you will need to ask people for help.  If people cannot help, they will tell you.  If they can help, they will feel good about themselves.  And, in the future, they may need to ask you for help and it will be easier for them to do.  
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Whether you work in or outside the home, when you are going through a separation and divorce, you have to hope that your clients, co-workers, employers, friends, family, children will cut you a little slack.  You may not be functioning at your best during this time and it takes a long time to fully recover.  It could be two, three, four or more years before you begin to feel like yourself again.  Try to actively find opportunities for healing because people will be patient with you but it may not be for as long a period as you need.
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When initiating the legal/mediation process there are often a few false starts.  To expect to feel 100% about your decision to separate 100% of the time can be illusive.  Also, if you are hoping to mediate your Separation Agreement, both people need to be willing to negotiate.  Rarely are two people at the same stage or phase of willingness to leave the marriage.  In fact, like the grieving process associated with the death of a loved one, there is an important process of grieving that takes place to release oneself of the bonds and commitments of a marriage.  That too is a profoundly personal process in the sense that everyone goes through it in their own way and in their own time. 


When one person has been ready to start the divorce process and is anxious to begin the process and the other is not so ready, I often suggest that we move forward but at a very slow pace.  In this way, the person who would like to make progress is getting their needs met, and the person who is struggling to understand and accept the coming change has time to seek out support, and gain strength to work through the issues. 


It is not uncommon for one person or the other to call lawyers for initial consultations, or engage lawyers to represent them. Time is spent on the internet researching the law.  Phone calls are made to experts and trusted confidants. Sometimes one person calls me on the phone to inquire about mediation during which I ask him or her to invite their spouse or partner to call me too.  Sometimes the other person calls immediately, other times they call months or years later.  This is not unusual. 


After I have spoken to each person on the phone, I send an information packet out to both of you.  After receiving the packet, some people schedule an appointment immediately, others seek psychological counseling, some hire lawyers, and sometimes people settle back into their routine without assistance from a third party.  


If people choose to mediate, we schedule an initial meeting.  After attending the first meeting, some people immediately schedule another appointment to continue negotiations, others implement the decisions they made in mediation (usually parenting and support) without returning to mediation for months and sometimes years. This too is not unusual.


CNY MEDIATION SERVICES, Inc.
Central New York Mediator
120 East Washington Street, Suite 711
Syracuse, New York 13202
(315) 422-9756 Phone (315) 479-5651 Fax
mchickey@a-znet.com
Website by Cristin Manfredi and Content by Christine Hickey
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