It hit me the other day like a ton of bricks—my business seems to focus more on the female perspective. This is not intentional; this is just the way it seems to shake out. I have been working with divorcing clients for quite some time. I’m passionate about providing options for people regarding the marital home post-divorce. It saddens me that I can easily count the number of men who have come to me during contemplation or negotiations seeking help to make sure they are making good, informed decisions regarding the marital home.
I’ve been concerned about this becoming something that could be perceived as a bias, so I asked my good friend Jenny Stevens, LCPC and divorce coach, what she thought about this conundrum I’m facing. Not surprisingly, her explanation brought so much clarity to the situation.
She started by pointing out that typically, the person asking for the divorce didn’t wake up one day and decide they would like to end the marriage. This may have culminated after weeks, months or years of contemplation. It’s likely that this person has already processed many stages of grief to get to that point.
The other person, however, may have a different experience. Jenny explained that when someone gets hit with the realization that they will be going through a divorce, their brain gets hijacked by anxiety and fear and sends them typically into a “fight or flight” response. Also known as the acute stress response, this refers to a physiological reaction that occurs in the presence of something that is terrifying, either mentally or physically. The response is triggered by the release of hormones that prepare your body to either stay and deal with a threat, or to run away to safety.
Women inherently accept that they have emotions; they are tribal, conditioned to talk about their emotions, and willing to ask for help and support. This is largely due to societal norms and the way men have historically—and unfortunately—not been taught to deal with big emotions. Divorce is obviously something that has the power to trigger big emotions.
Once someone’s brain is hijacked, and the amygdala—the part of the brain that serves as the integrative center for emotions, emotional behavior, and motivation—is affected, the ability to make good decisions is no longer accessible. When this is happening, the first step is to seek out a good therapist and a divorce coach. Therapy can help process the emotions and get you unstuck, and coaching is a support system to get you moving in the right direction. At the very least, one should seek out a trusted friend or family member they can trust to talk through these emotions. Choosing someone who may have been through something similar is often beneficial.
When it comes to divorce, making well-informed decisions and surrounding yourself with a team of professionals is the very best way to ensure you will get through the transition and help guide you through decisions that will affect your future.
I welcome every opportunity to help both men and women by offering my knowledge and the resources through my expert team of divorce professionals. I encourage everyone to seek help and take advantage of these resources that can ultimately provide a better outcome for everyone involved. It takes work to separate emotion from the divorce decisions, but eventually being able to view it as a business transaction will help create the foundation for a brighter future.