Ask The Divorce Coach: Archives



In order to address specific issues of mediation and litigation, please feel free to ask questions; the responses will be posted here without your name, to maintain the confidentiality that is so important at this time.

Are you going through THE 7 STAGES OF DIVORCE? Are you having unprecedented mood swings? Do thoughts suddenly appear, causing you to feel terrified, enraged or confused? For some of my clients, discovering and understanding THE 7 STAGES, immediately improves their state of mind, as you may feel when you discover that discomfort after a big meal is indigestion and not a heart attack! Once you understand that these STAGES are the natural progression during divorce, you may more easily process through them, step by step.

THE 7 STAGES OF DIVORCE are: PANIC, DENIAL, AGONY, RAGE, EPIPHANY, NEGOTIATION and PEACE. There are many options that allow you to successfully deal with any of these STAGES so that you reach PEACE and the first step is to understand your process. Some of my clients experience these STAGES in the order in which they are listed; some do not. Other clients may be unaware of experiencing one or more STAGES. As you become more familiar with each STAGE as it appears for you, you will acquire responses that generate cooperation and peace and in that process you begin healing.

Each divorce is a "Hero's Journey", a private odyssey. You begin the process with your Declaration of Independence to yourself and for many of us, that decision is accompanied by PANIC. But you may discover that divorce is the opportunity to effect a dramatic transformation by recreating yourself. A key secret is to allow your divorce to motivate you to heal the pivotal issues in relationships, parenting, and sexuality that you did not complete before marriage. Just as you will see that this is one opportunity of divorce, you may realize that divorce can become the path to PEACE that had previously eluded you.


PANIC is an extreme mental and emotional state of fear. It is normal to experience the "fight or flight" impulse. In divorce, it may be appropriate to flee at one moment; to fight later; or vice-versa.

"We experience a fear of the Fear which is Panic. Fear of the fear is the ultimate extent of any fear but it cannot be a stopping place. It must be a reflecting place where you look at your strengths, forgive yourself for loving and trusting someone who hurt you and face the greatest challenge of all, which is to turn fear into faith."

Dr. Frank Zizzo, Ph.D. for The Divorce Forum™

Dear Divorce Coach,

Some mornings I awaken in such a state of terror that I can hardly get out of bed to go to work. On the weekends, I just lie there and imagine all the terrible things that my husband is trying to do to me. Then I feel even more worried because I need to fix the kids lunch, get them ready for school and it's like I'm made of lead. What can I do?

Scared to Death

Dear Scared,

Many of my clients have described the same experience during divorce. One client found that learning to meditate made all the difference. When she learned to meditate she began to first ignore and then silence the inner voice that sounded an hourly alarm. The most valuable tool I have found is "Self-empathy" of Nonviolent Communication SM that allows us to observe instead of judge our situation and connect with our feelings and unmet needs and breathe and to "unstack" ourselves, one feeling and one unmet need at a time. In this process of connecting deeply to your feelings and understanding that each feeling of fear is the result of a need that is not met, you begin to have the mental focus to consider beneficial actions and to take them, one at a time.

Dear Divorce Coach,

Thank you! I'm over my PANIC now. My wife and I have been married for 22 years and have a child. I have just visited my accountant as you suggested so that I could discover my financial exposure in potential spousal and child support. Now I understand the formula that the judge will use. I love my children and will do anything necessary in order for them to have the best life; and it's taken me years to realize that this image doesn't require that I stay married! Since it's going to be tough enough to meet the court's requirements, and have 2 homes, I now understand why you have been saying, "mediate, and don't litigate!" I have decided to offer my wife a settlement to avoid extensive legal fees as you recommended. Of course that's all very well and good but she's so furious I don't see any way to make her give up the whole drag me into court process! Is there a solution here?

Sincerely yours,

Crossing My Fingers

Dear Crossing,

Congratulations on putting your PANIC aside and taking this crucial defensive action with an accountant who specializes in dissolution (divorce). Your willingness to investigate the facts proved that in this instance your fear was worse than your situation because you had an "ungrounded" assessment of the amount of money your wife is entitled to receive. Many of my clients become convinced during the PANIC stage that they will need to endure a torturous divorce. Only by utilizing your "professional support module" can you discover legal precedents and reality. Now that you understand the risk-reward ratio of a settlement, you can negotiate. In order to generate mediation, you will need what I refer to as Motivate to Mediate Training so that you begin to connect with your wife's feelings and needs and begin to demonstrate that more of her needs are met by a peaceful collaborative settlement than by a court battle.

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