Divorce's emotional debt

2013-08-26 07:01
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Cape Town - Just like a major health issue or any other significant life event, the fallout from divorce can ripple out into your financial life in unforeseen ways.

Godfrey Madanhire, a professional motivational speaker and life-coach with Dreamworld Promotions, warns that just as the loss of a life partner affects your finances, the emotional distress which invariably accompanies divorce can also jeopardise your bank balance.

“When going through divorce, people rightly focus on securing their future in this new stage of their lives. This often amounts to finding solutions to how bills will be paid, children fed, clothed and schooled, and other important concerns.

"However, this focus often comes at the expense of dealing with the fact that divorce is primarily an emotional process,” Madanhire says.

He points out that the literature on how to deal with divorce shows there is no connection being made between its administrative aspects and the emotional pain involved.

“We tend to deal with the two separately. This ignores the fact that your emotional wellbeing is intrinsically tied up with your financial wellbeing,” Madanhire points out.

“In that sense, the most important advice I can give to those in the throes of a divorce is firstly to forgive and accept what has happened.

"Although your marriage didn’t end the way you had hoped, holding onto anger - the most negative of emotions - does you no good. Having accepted this, it’s easier to take the next step, which is key in trying to minimise the negative effects of your divorce.”

To give a basic example of how holding onto anger can have ramifications on your bank account, Madanhire says it’s often anger more than anything else that fuels attempts to strike back at an ex.

“If you’re looking to strike back at a former partner, the greatest opportunity to do so is perhaps when dividing marital assets. Whether you will be the one claiming or providing support, any attempt to be unfair or false when it comes to money and divorce can backfire spectacularly.”

Madanhire also believes that if you don't deal promptly with divorce's emotional fallout, it can affect your financial life long after the break-up has been finalised.

“Divorce can leave you in literal debt. But what about the unseen debts – the debts in your heart? Just as you must deal with the literal debt that divorce can leave us with, you must also squarely deal with any emotional debt.

“Financial debt that isn’t managed and dealt with only becomes a larger problem. The same goes for emotional debt. When you avoid dealing with the emotional debt of divorce, it will show up in other areas of your life.”

One of these areas is in your finances, and ignoring emotional debt left from divorce can lead to irrational and impulsive behaviour when it comes to money, says Madanhire.

“To have strong control over your money during this precarious time of your life, you must have strong control of your emotional wellbeing.

"If you’re ignoring emotional debt left over from divorce, you can’t control your finances,” he says.

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