Sandra is a successful professional woman who married in her early 20’s, just out of undergrad studies. She then went on to get her MBA, while working full time for a financial firm, and starting her family. After 11 years, and two beautiful daughters together, Sandra describes her marriage as “loveless”. Sandra is a high achiever, and she sees her husband as an underachiever, not living up to his potential. He has tried a couple of business ventures and not been successful.
Sandra’s husband has not worked in 7 years. Sandra works hard, long hours and she relies on her husband to keep their home running, and their children physically cared for. Though her husband makes meals for them, and drives the children to their school and activities, Sandra sees him as emotionally distant from the family.
As a writer, and an introvert, Sandra’s husband thrives on spending hours alone immersed in thinking and writing. His writing is not about people, but is high-tech science related. Sandra notices that her husband doesn’t seem to have an ability to empathize with emotional issues – including hers or their children’s. Though she knows that he apparently loves them, Sandra sees her husband as emotionally cold. Sandra sees herself as the emotional, spiritual foundation for the family. Her children share their experiences, fears, and hopes with her. She is the one who uplifts and encourages them.
When I met Sandra, she was running on empty. Her energy was going in too many directions, and each of those directions needed more of her energy than she was able to give. She was feeling defeated and confused about how to remedy her life, which felt like chaos. Sandra had always had the answers to her problems – go back to school, take another job, climb the corporate ladder, join a church … this problem confounded her.
The idea of divorce had crossed her mind many times over the course of their 11 year marriage. But the idea of that only seemed to create more chaos, and less support, for Sandra. Sandra had to take a good hard look at her priorities and values. She was making excellent money, but the cost of her career – at least the way she had designed it – left her feeling locked into a loveless marriage.
She knew she could be happier, and she was finally ready to start working on this and made the decision to hire me as her divorce consultant. I worked with Sandra on alternative solutions to her current career path, first of all. She enjoyed her work, but it left her very little time or energy for mothering her two young daughters – something which brought her deep satisfaction.
Sandra poured herself into developing a side business, offering consultation to companies in her industry. Sandra was so effective that news about her expertise spread fast. Within 6 months, Sandra was earning almost as much in her consulting role as she did in her full time position.
The hours during those months were grueling, but Sandra reached a predetermined income goal in her consulting business, and decided it was time to leave her full time position. When she approached her directors, she was surprisingly offered a consulting role with the company! Sandra realized that she was meant to be doing this kind of work, and had just missed the signals that had been there all along for years,
With the freedom now to be more involved in her girls’ lives, and less dependent on her husband for caretaking them, Sandra felt confident that she could approach him about her feelings and the desire to separate. We talked about a plan for this, and Sandra executed it.
There was – and always is – some push back on the idea of separating, when it comes from only one of the partners in a couple. In spite of her husband’s reluctance, Sandra was able to take the lead in getting things started.
She initiated intro meetings with several mediators. After together mapping their ‘big picture’, Sandra decided that mediation would be the optimal method to use to dissolve their marriage. Because they had two minor children, there would be financial decisions to make as well as a parenting plan that would have to be developed. Finding the right mediator and child specialist, with cooperative attorneys to hand off the agreement afterward, is crucial.
Together, we found an attorney who mediated the financial part of the MSA, or marital settlement agreement, and who partnered with a Child Specialist to help write the parenting plan. This duo of professional expertise is very helpful in writing a plan that is sustainable, and open to possible growth and change within the family.
They saw their family as existing in two homes, but still one family that supported their daughters. Both Sandra and her husband, working together, found that they could creatively write a plan that would minimize opportunities for conflict as they coparented their daughters. Likewise, they had created decisions for an MSA that represented a division of their assets which was law-based but also creative in meeting both of their needs.