Hurry up and Get a Divorce… Say what?

Relationship Therapy Bethesda MD

The New York Times just published an article stating “Hurry up and get a divorce: For the rich, there is an incentive”. With that title I was hooked. There is no way I would not read this. The article explains an upcoming tax law change regarding alimony. It encourages people to get a divorce before the end of the year so that they can claim alimony in all their future taxes.

The article makes several excellent points and from a financial aspect seems to make sense. I am left wondering. Is there ever a time when people should hurry up and make life changing decisions? Should we marry in a hurry? The old adage may be true here. Marry in haste, repent at leisure. When we make decisions impulsively without consideration, there may be a higher probability of regret.

Then, should we get divorced in a hurry? Financial analysts and CPAs are not marriage counselors. Their goal is to  help you with your money. They don’t necessarily think about your children or your emotional well being. That’s not their job. Money is just one aspect of our lives. As complex human beings, our lives are defined by more than just financial decisions. Relationships are, at their core, based on emotional connection, so should people hurry to get out of a relationship based on a financial reason?

Impulsivity in marriage tends to be negatively associated with satisfaction. So, is it beneficial to be impulsive in getting a divorce? Most of my clients who have considered divorce talk about how painfully difficult the decision to divorce is. This is especially true if there are children. Instability is damaging to children. Divorce can create instability and people know it. To take your time deciding to divorce is healthy. Relationships are not meant to be broken. Yet, there are circumstances that require us to do so.

No matter how fast the decision was made or how soon the divorce was granted, my clients likely would tell you that it took them months to feel like the world was normal again. In reality, the divorce process takes from 1 to 3 years. I am not talking about the law here.The emotional process of letting go, grieving and accepting the new normal takes time. So, I don’t even know that to “hurry up and divorce” is possible. How do you hurry up at letting go? Divorce is not just signing a paper, but is a process spanning months or years.

So, the New York Times is wrong. Instead of hurrying up and getting a divorce, the title should have been “Thinking of getting a divorce? Act in the way that you will be proud of no matter which decision you make”. Of course, that is a much less effective title in grabbing attention so they get points for creativity.

If you are here, think things through. Examine all aspects. Listen to your wise mind- all of yourself, not just some parts. Don’t hurry yourself for financial reasons. Why? You will make more money. Tax laws change. Divorcing is a major life decision that comes glued to a painful process. For those that do choose it, there is healing and new beginnings, but it does not erase the painful and difficult transitional period.

So, don’t hurry, in case you don’t need to go through it. Be thorough in your process. Give yourself plenty of chances to change your mind.  Examine yourself. Try counseling. If at the end, you still end up deciding to, rest in knowing that your decision was considered in every aspect of your life, not just the financial aspect.