Consider that divorce is a wild race, that anything can and will happen. Blisters. Thunderstorms. Nausea. Wardrobe malfunctions. ANYTHING!
My reasons for leaving my marriage were simple: I had married an abusive man. By the end of our marriage, he had been arrested for domestic violence, and had an Order of Protection served for a period of one year, which was eventually extended to five years.
Throughout our marriage, these intimidation tactics had been his primary way of treating me when he grew angry. Or frustrated. Or stressed. Or whatever it is that drives abusers.
I had not anticipated, however, that he would be able to influence people we both knew to speak against me. I had not thought that emails would be generated in my name and sent to people I knew as if the emails came from me.
Then, when I finally said the out loud “I want a divorce” statement, this electronic trail was in place for not only the leaders of my congregation to see, but also our friends, my parents, and our thirteen-year-old daughter. This was all he needed to destroy my reputation.
Wow. Just — wow.
While I thought he was emotionally capable of this kind of thing, quite honestly, I hadn’t accounted for the possibility that he was technologically capable. If I had mapped out my course, acted on my knowledge of him, and prepared accordingly, I may have been able to stem some of the bleeding from this grave wipeout. I had never seen Parental Alienation Syndrome as a storm I would have to weather, and in the end became estranged from my daughter because I wasn’t prepared to deal with it.
Knowing your course, planning for any disaster you can think of, no matter how improbable, and having a backup plan are keys to making it to the finish line intact. I have known of several amicable divorces that still ended up with tension, finger pointing, and shocking behavior. You’re sure that won’t happen? Guess again. The level of stress created by divorce will not only bring out the worst in your spouse; it may very well bring out the worst in you.
Being aware that this can and, in all likelihood, will happen, is a big head start in minimizing the damage.