It’s 7-Level Sunday! This week I have been working on a chapter for an anthology book with several other coaches from IPEC. The title is TBD, but the theme is all about turning challenges into opportunities. My chapter includes some reflections from my 2006 divorce. I thought divorce could be a good topic for 7-level Sunday. Here are 7 possible perspectives on getting divorced, when you have made the choice to do it because you weren’t getting what you needed in the relationship.
Level 1 (Victim/ Apathy): I would be certain that my spouse had done something to me, and it would be completely the other person’s fault that the relationship came to an end. I would feel as if I had don’t everything I could, while in reality I would have probably given up pretty quickly, assuming I had no power to change things. I would recount the story about all the things my spouse had done to me to all of my friends and family who would listen, and I would get their agreement about how right I am. I might not even try to have the divorce decree be “fair” in my view because I wouldn’t think it was possible, and I would not want to put up a fight or deal with the conflict involved in that. After the divorce is final, I would likely continue to feel victimized by it, and potentially it would take many years for me to let that go, if I do at all. I also may carry a lot of shame and label myself a failure.
Level 2 (Anger/ Conflict): Guess what happens at Level 2? I am angry! I would be complete pissed off at my spouse for whatever they did that I perceived to be “wrong.” Some of my behaviors would be similar to those at level 1 – I would complain to my friends and family, and I would recap all of the reasons that I am pissed off, and they should be too. However, I would have a lot more energy behind my ranting than I do at level 1. I probably spent a lot of energy trying to make the relationship work simply because I didn’t want to “fail,” but I would have tried on the surface while secretly harboring resentment. In the decree, I would be very committed to getting what’s mine, or getting revenge. I would be sure to get the best, toughest lawyer to make sure I didn’t lose anything. I would hold on to my anger and resentment, and I would probably bring it into my next relationship, looking for signs that the new person is like the last one. I would keep a lot of defenses up.
Level 3 (Responsibility/ Forgiveness): At this level I am all about the rationalization. I would like to be responsible for my contribution to the break-up of the marriage, and I seek to forgive my spouse, but I am not really going release it and let it go because I still have a lot of judgment. I will probably allow my friends and family to complain about my spouse because it makes me feel better, but I generally won’t join in. My overall attitude toward decision-making throughout the process will be to take the road that will help me avoid conflict and make it happen quickly. I will make concessions as necessary to make that happen, but I am engaged in making them, as opposed to at level 1 where I make them by avoidance.
Level 4 (Concern/ Compassion): From a level 4 perspective I am not concerned about myself, and I am not taking anything personally. I put aside the hurt and I approach the divorce by looking at the impact it has on others – children, family, and even my spouse. I may determine that if I am not happy, then my spouse must not be happy either, and I will trust that I am doing the right thing for everyone invovled by releasing the agreement. In the divorce proceedings, I will be concerned about my spouse feeling as if everything is fair, and that my spouse gets what is desired. I will feel good about myself for having taken the high road, and I will do my best to put it behind me so I am at my best for others.
Level 5 (Reconciliation/ Acceptance): At level 5 I look for the opportunity in my marriage and divorce. I would focus on what is right about me, my decisions, and even my spouse. I would look at the opportunity in the decree as well – could we use this as the chance to move and live where we most wanted to, or to sell or fix up a house, etc. I would be excited about what there is to learn about myself and about life by going through this process. I know that relationships are here to teach us more about who we are in relation to others, and I am eager to reflect on what I have learned. I accept exactly how things have unfolded and leave the relationship with a sense of peace.
Level 6 (Synthesis/ Joy): At level 6 I believe that we are all connected, and I believe that whatever good comes to my spouse also comes to me, and vice versa. I would look for the greater good throughout my choices. I would actually be able to experience joy during the divorce process because I don’t make it mean anything about myself. I would have no concern about what people think, or judgment about anyone in the situation. There is no such thing as right and wrong. I would move through this and make the most of it. I would be trusting that the appropriate next step for myself and my spouse would appear when it is time, and would bring more life to each of us.
Level 7 (Non-Judgment/ Passion): In a level 7 view, there would not be any significance to marriage or divorce. It simply is, and I would be as passionate about the divorce as the marriage. (OK, I know this is strange and not really practicle, but it is still another way to think about it! :))
Are you divorced or in the process? From what level are you approaching the situation?